Bill Quick opines
- But even terrorists don't exist in limbo. They must have
money, communications, weapons, places to train, places to hide,
places to store up supplies and otherwise create the infrastructure
that even a non-territorial organization needs to maintain
effectiveness. And that is where real states come in. For various
reasons, (usually of deniability or unpredictability), certain states
find the ability to make use of terrorist organizations not directly
controlled by themselves to be highly useful. And in order to make use
of such groups, they offer to trade the things the terrorists need in
return for the right to task the terrorists with missions favorable to
their own goals and interests.
Like, for instance, Saudi Arabia, which conducts telethons on
government-sponsored TV for the families of suicide bombers, in which
government-connected clerics exhort the Palestinians to enslave
- Saddam Hussein's Iraq is such a nation.
Quick goes on to make a few more points which fail to distinguish
between the two:
- The documented connections
between Hussein's regime and innumerable terror groups are
legion. Even today, it is Iraqi and Saudi money that principally
bankrolled the various Palestinian Arab terror groups - even to
subsidizing the families of the suicide bombers.
But I exaggerate --- there are distinctions. The Saudis live in
idle luxury and still have money to burn on terrorists elsewhere;
Saddam is starving his civilian population to keep his own army
together, and doesn't have a whole lot of cash these days to blow on
anyone else's. And as for his connections for terrorism, they aren't
numerous enough to keep the Iraq hawks from trying to invent more,
such as the supposed meeting of an Iraqi agent with Mohammed Atta,
whose significance would be far from clear if it even happened in the
Other people as well see Saudi Arabia as the more active threat. A
briefing at the
Pentagon the other day by Rand Corporation analyst Laurent
Muraweic, has this to say about the Saudis on just one slide:
The House of Saud today
- Saudi Arabia is central to the self-destruction of the Arab
world and the chief vector of the Arab crisis and its
- The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from
planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to
- Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies
- A daily outpouring of virulent hatred against the U.S. from Saudi
media, "educational" institutions, clerics, officials -- Saudis tell
us one thing in private, do the contrary in reality
It further describes the Wahhabi muslim sect, Saudi Arabia's official
religion, as Islam's "lunatic fringe", strongly and violently opposed
to democratic government and Western values. It credits the
sect and Saudi oil money for creating the Taliban, and describes a
state strategy of creating Wahhabi-aligned Muslim regimes "throughout
the Moslem world and beyond", the goal being to establish Saudi Arabia
as "the indispensible state" for wild-eyed Muslim lunatics everywhere.
Long-time readers may sense, in my citing this briefing, a
different level of confidence in Dubya's advisors than I've heretofore
displayed. But then again, its point of view is hardly unanimous in
the administration. Other officials, including prominent hawks like
Donald Rumsfeld, are scrambling
to dissociate themselves from it, explaining that we would never do
anything to offend our dear,
dear friends the Saudis. Even Richard Perle is ducking questions.
Perle is the guy who invited Muraweic to the Pentagon (though he is
still apparently trying to pretend he doesn't work there himself).
As for the briefing, Muraweic (a former disciple of Lyndoan
Larouche) concludes with a cryptic slide labeled "Grand Strategy"
which explains that Iraq is the "tactical pivot" in the Middle East,
and Saudi Arabia the "strategic pivot", but concludes that Egypt,
which Muraweic doesn't otherwise mention, is "the prize". This has
Slate's Jack Shafer baffled. But unlike me, he hasn't seen the "Yes,
Prime Minister" episode in which Sir Humphrey Appleby, prince of
bureaucrats, persuades his befuddled boss that British nuclear
strategy not only is, but ought to be guided by the same unwavering
principle which has steered English foreign policy for hundreds of
years --- containing the threat from France. Muraweic is simply
casting his keen eyes even farther back, to when Egypt was the
breadbasket of the Roman Empire. My faith in the wisdom of Dubya's
advisors is restored. And remember --- Dubya's own inexperience,
particularly in matters of foreign policy, doesn't matter much because
he knows how to pick good advisors.
In the meantime, we may note that there are other potentially
threatening states with which Dubya's administration has managed
varying degrees of constructive engagement, or even alliances:
- North Korea, a slave state run by a madman and his sycophants,
which starves its population and sells advanced missile technology to
all comers, with which the administration is cautiously
- Pakistan, an unstable state with nuclear arms, whose leader claims
now to be restraining Kashmiri terrorists but who has been their ally
in the past, and whose intelligence service, a likely source for a
coup d'etat, built the Taliban.
- Saudi Arabia, which more or less spawned al-Qaeda.
- China, whose growing embrace of the market economy has led it to
butcher its citizens and sell them for
spare parts. China has massacres in its recent past, and lent
crucial technical assistance to both the North Korean
missile program and Pakistani nuclear
As for Saddam, as Jim Henley
has noted, he was America's creature for years (during
which the governments of the day, mostly Republican, turned a blind
eye towards his unseemly domestic activities). He even tried to clear
his invasion of Kuwait with the United States --- receiving an answer
from George H.W. Bush's ambassador, April Glaspie, which may not have
exactly said "yes", but which even she has admitted was
hardly a firm "no". On one occasion, asked what she was thinking,
when she told Saddam, face-to-face, "We have no opinions on the
Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.", she
replied, "I didn't think . . . the Iraqis were going to take all of
Kuwait;" on another, she told the
Senate that "we foolishly did not realize [Saddam] was stupid."
(And note well that her veracity on other matters has been questioned).
It's not support for terrorists which make Saddam Hussein unique,
nor the occasional foreign adventure; plenty of tinpot dictators have
done as much. Even his yen for weapons of mass destruction is hardly
unique. But Saddam Hussein has done the one thing that the current
occupant of the White House can never forgive. He embarrassed daddy.
(Quick quote via Meryl Yourish, who
won't much like what I've done with it).