Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Hummers Here, Hummers There

Thomas Friedman has an interesting take on the US-Saudi relations of late. Regarding the recent bombing of Westerners (including and expecially of US citizens) in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Friedman notes:

In private, Bush aides have been fuming: The U.S. gave the Saudis intelligence warnings before the recent attacks, but they took no
steps to deter them. Publicly, though, the Bush team bites its tongue. We never talk straight to Saudi Arabia, because we are addicted
to its oil. Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

If we were telling the Saudis the truth, we would tell them that their antimodern and antipluralist brand of Islam - known as
Wahhabism - combined with their oil wealth has become a destabilizing force in the world. By financing mosques and schools that
foster the least tolerant version of Islam, they are breeding the very extremists who are trying to burn down their house and ours.

Here Mr. Friedman is clearly showing the Saudis are not truly our allies, and we need to take steps to break ties with them as soon as possible. Drilling in Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is the first of many steps to this goal.

Mr. Friedman, however, goes astray in my view, when he leaps to the conclusion that the rest of the world dispises us because we're wasteful:

In the wake of the Iraq war, the E.P.A. announced that the average fuel economy of America's cars and trucks fell to its lowest level
in 22 years, with the 2002 model year. That is a travesty. No wonder foreigners think we sent our U.S. Army Humvees to control Iraq,
just so we could drive more G.M. Hummers over here. When our president insists that we can have it all - big cars, big oil, lower
taxes, with no sacrifices or conservation - why shouldn't the world believe that all we are about is protecting our right to binge?

Evidence is mounting that in order to reach these lofty average fuel economy numbers, Detroit will have to make smaller, lighter vehicles. These vehicles will be both unsafe and unappealing. Having Iraqui oil on the open market -- outside of OPEC and its monopoly -- will upset the entire Saudi regime and make the prices for EVERYTHING go down.

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