Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Saudi Arabia – America: it’s time to drop everything, and just get out, NOW!

The recent Iraq war has almostly certainly cured America’s long-standing military-quagmire-phobia – a potent negative force since the early 70s, and irrevocably seared into global memory in 1975, as the last chopper was filmed leaving ‘Nam. It was much more than simply a borderline military withdrawal/defeat, it was a messy and humiliating exit. If Vietnam were a house fire, America had verily ran for its life, wearing only its undies. And not a fire brigade or blanket-giving charity within coo-ee, either – you see, America was both these things, too (and more).

Well, shame happens, and its not just to do with military quagmires – economic ones can sometimes occur, too. With the Saudi withdrawal the stakes are higher, and the game much clearer than in the case of Vietnam. Oil wise, America has long since strategically weaned itself off Saudi petro-dependence (currently only taking 8% of its needs from Riyadh), and so it could cope with a withdrawal tomorrow, on this front. That is not to say that an already weak US economy would not take a devastating hit from a complete and total Saudi pull-out. But I don’t see that it has any other choice. The only variable, in fact, is whether it is an orderly withdrawal (as the Americans, not to mention the Saudi royals, would certainly prefer), or a chaotic scramble to get on the last chopper out of Riyadh.

The troubles with the “orderly withdrawal” approach are many. When looked at closely, in fact, orderly (but complete) withdrawal as a tactic becomes hopelessly confused with wishy-washy partial pull-out.


Paris-based defence analyst Francois Gere said [in late April 2003] Saudi Arabia was also entering a complex reorganisation of its leadership. "There is less need both for Saudi territory and Saudi oil, but one should not exaggerate. I think the second message is 'we Americans are going to withdraw a bit from Saudi Arabia and let these people sort out their domestic problems'," he said.


The Washington Post last month [Jan 2002] quoted a senior Saudi official as saying his government might ask the United States to stop using the air base on a regular basis once the war in Afghanistan is over. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. confirmed in an interview with CNN that the Saudis want a reduction of U.S. forces, and said the United States is interested in "reducing the [American] footprint" in Saudi Arabia. Card predicted that "it will happen over time."

Maybe it’s just because I have been in a long-term, bad co-dependent relationship myself, that I see the slow withdrawal strategy as a refusal to face basic facts (unless, at the conspiracy end of things, it is all artfully planted misinformation to cover a third option – a surprise, blitzkrieg withdrawal). So, assuming that I’m ahead of you, Mr Bush, let me tell you something for free – bad, co-dependent relationships never get better. So just let Saudi go down the toilet, and get out now – your own country may or may not soon follow them down the same channel, but, as we habitually say in Australia; “such is life”.


The Washington Post ran an excellent series on the post-September 11 Saudi/American relationship in Feb 2002:

Part I
Part II
Part III

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?