Wednesday, January 21, 2004


The House of Bush and the House of Saud

Richard Perle and former Bush speechwriter David Frum have a very strange op-ed in today's New York Times. The argument is that none of the Democratic candidates gets what President Bush gets: "that we would not distinguish between the terrorists and the states that harbor them." According to Perle and Frum, "[]t]his is a point Mr. Bush has held steadfastly to from [the September 11th attacks] through last night's State of the Union address. And he is right: no longer can we afford to hunt down individual terrorists while leaving the states that sheltered them unmolested."

But then Perle and Frum go on to note that in their opinon the most salient example of a nation harboring or encouraging terrorism within its borders is Saudi Arabia:

Rather, we must prevail on the Saudis to stop financing the extremism that breeds holy warriors, young men willing to die in order to realize their vision of an Islamist universe. The United States is the main obstacle to this extremist vision, which is why we are engaged in a war on terrorism.

If the Democrats are serious about their stated analyses of the terrorist threat, then they need to tell America their plan to destroy the terrorists and change the policies — or, if necessary, the regimes — of the states that support them. In addition, they need to propose a policy toward Saudi Arabia equal to the magnitude of the Saudi problem. Such a policy would be based on this direct challenge: either the Saudis put an end to the direct flow of money from the kingdom to extremist organizations or else the United States will no longer have an interest in the continued tenure of the present regime.

Can the Democrats credibly convey this message to the Saudis? Will they fight terrorism rather than chase terrorists? These are tests that they have thus far refused to take

Why, one wonders, are Perle and Frum going on about the Democrats? Given their argument, the main culprit here President George W. Bush and his father. There's no reason to think that the Bush family wants to take on Saudi Arabia; nor for that matter, is there much reason to think that the President wants regime change in that country. And, unless Perle and Frum have forgotten, Bush is the person who is in the White House right now. It was Bush, after all, that suppressed 28 pages of a Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks because it might have embarassed the Saudis. Indeed, Bush's continuous policy of looking the other way when it comes to the Saudis completely undermines Perle and Frum's argument that the President has been steadfast on going after countries that foster terrorism since 9/11. So why isn't this editorial a broadside against the Bush Administration rather than a taunt against the Democrats?

Could it be that Perle and Frum have different standards of consistency for Republicans and Democrats? Nah, couldn't be.


In case you never get a second chance: don't be afraid!" "And what if you do get a second chance?" "You take it!
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