The Corner

The Saudis

One of the most critical questions over the next few years (if we have that long) will be whether the Saudi regime can reform itself before it is overthrown, to be replaced, almost inevitably, by something even more friendly to terror. This article in today’s New York Times would suggest that some progress is being made. The piece does, however, contain a reminder of just how unpleasant the ‘Kingdom’s’ governing ideology has been and in many, many ways still is:

“Emblematic, perhaps, of the contrary nature of the changes is the theology textbook for 10th graders in Saudi schools.

“Previously, it contained lesson after lesson emphasizing that Muslims should shun those outside the faith — saying, for example, that a good Muslim living among foreigners “must feel, deeply inside, hatred for them, their religion and everything they represent.”

“That passage and indeed the complete chapter were cut from the books introduced this fall. But an entirely new lesson suggests the danger of dividing mosque and state, warning that anyone supporting Western methods of government deserves “excommunication from God’s mercy, from Islam.”

Of course, one of the mysteries of the past decade (choose your conspiracy theory now) is as to why the West has been so indulgent about a country that had nothing (officially at least) but contempt for our way of life. Prior to 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an obvious strategic case to be made for treating the Saudis as allies. After then, there was none. Sure, they had the oil, but their need to sell it was as great as the West’s need to buy it, so “oil” is no alibi. The explanation is probably a blend of bureaucratic inertia, lack of imagination and, let’s admit it, money, in which case, something that Lenin was said to have said about capitalists, rope and hanging rather comes to mind.

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