The Corner

Saudi Charm

Here’s an extract from Megan Stack’s piece in the LA Times on Saudi Arabia:

The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. All U.S. fast-food franchises operating here, not just Starbucks, make women stand in separate lines. U.S.-owned hotels don’t let women check in without a letter from a company vouching for her ability to pay; women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes.

The hideous problem is that whatever follows the Saudi despotism, vile as it is (and the Bush family is disgraced by its association with it — an association that appears to go far beyond the unpleasant necessities of Realpolitik) may well be even worse.  And that’s one of the main reason why the US needs to intensify its efforts to diversify its energy supply away from the Saudis and other regimes like them. Do I see a lot happening in this direction? Nope. Relying on the market price mechanism alone is not enough.