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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ugly world of realpolitik is exposed, July 24, 2002
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This review is from: Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the Failed Search for bin Laden (Paperback)
Brisard and Dasquie's "Forbidden Truth" is a very solid piece of research that contains more than a few surprises about the realpolitiks of the Middle East, especially as it pertains to the United States and Saudi Arabia. The book turns a number of received wisdoms on their head and should give everyone concerned about the war on terror a few things to think about.
Of course, the authors show that fossil fuels drives American policy in the region. The Clinton and Bush administrations both negotiated with the Taliban for the construction of a natural gas pipeline to be built in Afghan territory despite clear-cut evidence of the regime's human rights abuses. However, the book also makes the eye-popping suggestion that U.S. representatives may have recklessly threatened the Taliban prior to the September 11 attack, thereby provoking Al Qaeda into action.
Basically, Brisard and Dasquie explain that Saudi Arabia supports radical Islamic movements (including the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Usama Bin Laden) in order to extend its hegemony over the area. Saudi support of the Taliban, for example, helped keep Afghanistan from falling under Iranian influence. Interestingly, the authors point out that the first arrest warrant ever issued against Usama Bin Laden came not from the U.S. -- which wanted to overlook Usama's behavior in order to keep Saudi oil flowing -- but from Libya.
I must admit that all of this came as quite a surprise to me, since Saudi Arabia has always been portrayed as a staunch ally of the U.S. In fact, Brisard and Dasquie recall how U.S. oil companies helped the country develop, but they also show that the Kingdom remains dependent on religion to maintain control over its people. So the country is practically schizophrenic in its need to simultaneously maintain business ties with the U.S. and defend against the spread of Arab nationalism by covertly preaching the gospel of anti-Americanism.
The authors go into considerable detail illuminating the people, organizations and financial relationships that make the Saudi-supported terror network possible. The indictments reach the highest levels of Saudi society. In this light, it appears that Usama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda simply spun out of their master's control and took the anti-American cause too far.
All this should give us pause to consider why the U.S. allowed the Saudis to play such a dangerous game for so long. Also, one would think that prudence should compel the U.S. to develop an energy policy that does not depend on Middle Eastern oil. But already, Brisard and Dasquie report that talks for the pipeline have resumed since the installation of the Karzai regime in Afghanistan in May 2002.
On a technical note, the book could benefit from additional editorial work to correct a few grammatical errors (presumably due to the translation from French to English?) and several footnote mistakes. Stylistically, the author's research sometimes makes for dry reading, but that is only because the facts have been meticulously documented and presented. So although "Forbidden Truth" is at times far from entertaining, the reader is nevertheless impressed with the professionalism of the research and its air-tight conclusions. (Indeed, sensing the threat that the book poses to its business empire, the Bin Laden family succeeded in getting the book banned in Switzerland.)
"Forbidden Truth" is recommended for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the dynamics underlying the war on terror.
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