|Michael B: Via Daniel Pipes, some attenuation may be in order as regards the President and the religion of peace motif.|
|Baron Bodissey: Michael — Yes, I saw that one, too. I’ll defer judgment until I see how he modifies his public statements when he’s at ecumenical prayer breakfasts with the CAIR and AIC guys. At some point the public rhetoric simply has to change.|
|Michael B: I understand perfectly what you’re indicating, though it’s a point upon which I’ve decided to suspend judgement. It’s the real-world effect, short and long term, rather than the immediacy of the rhetoric per se, that is important. Too, it’s not a matter of honest vs. dishonest rhetoric; instead it’s a matter of tempering or finely tuning one’s rhetoric (at the level of the presidency) such that it conveys the appreciable, if also varied, content it needs to convey to the various audiences it will be received by and in turn, and inevitably, variously interpreted by. This type of over-arching rhetoric seeks to set a general tone; not supply an inviolable definition to be set in stone.|
|Baron Bodissey: I don’t require honesty in presidential rhetoric. He has a job to do, and being totally, personally honest in presidential speeches is not part of the job description. He has to pretend to like people he hates, and express approval of things that he does not really support, as a part of public diplomacy.|
|But rhetoric does matter. At some point, if public policy is going to change, the change in rhetoric will have [to] precede it. We can’t keep warbling about the Saudis being our best friends right up until the moment the Special Ops boys parachute into Mecca to capture the Grand Mosque. There has to be a period of rhetorical change first, beginning with the polite but public disapproval of the regime and its actions, right up through diplomatic isolation to the ultimatum before the ambassador is pulled.|
|Things like this take a long time to change, but I am looking forward to the first visible steps.|
Rhetoric does matter. Before we change what we do vis-à-vis the Saudis, we will have to change how we talk about them.
And a change in what we do is definitely necessary. President Bush has said that liberty is the birthright of the people of every nation in the world, and Saudi Arabia is among the most repressive regimes on Earth. In addition, the Saudis fund, encourage, and supply the manpower for the bulk of Islamist terror worldwide.
So something has to be done. If we are in thrall to Saudi oil, it is time to get us out of thrall. Yes, I know, I’ve read the rumors that say the regime has booby-trapped all its oil-production facilities and infrastructure with dirty bombs, and will render all the oil unusable for thousands of years if anyone touches so much as a hair on its keffiyeh-covered head.
But the fact remains that the US could survive if Saudi oil disappeared. Life would be difficult; the economy would tank; but we would survive. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, can’t grow enough food to feed itself, and its people would starve to death fairly quickly if it destroyed its own oil and could no longer sell it to the rest of us. Collective suicide does not seem all that likely. We should call their bluff.
So, in anticipation of the day when American policy changes, as a service to the Bush administration, I have written the President’s speech announcing the change in policy to the American public. Karl Rove can keep it in the icebox in the West Wing so it’s fresh when needed:
My fellow Americans,
Tonight it is my sad duty to report to you that the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia can no longer continue as it has in the past. After conversations this afternoon with Ambassador bin Sultan and Prince Abdullah, I have concluded that the Saudi regime, as presently constituted, cannot be democratically reformed, and will continue to undermine peace in the Middle East and the entire world.
In the early years of the 20th century, the United States made a bargain with the House of Saud: “Keep the Arabian peninsula quiet, maintain the flow of oil, and we will protect your regime.” Ladies and gentlemen, the term of that bargain has run its course.
As I have often stated, the expansion of liberty in the world is the calling of our time. Unfortunately, the cause of liberty is ill-served by the House of Saud. In Saudi Arabia all the basic freedoms that you and I take for granted are denied. In Saudi Arabia women have no rights, and their fathers, husbands, and employers can abuse them abominably with impunity. In Saudi Arabia, practicing your Christian or Hindu faith can cost you a limb or even your life. In Saudi Arabia no one has the right to speak out against the regime or against Islam, and nobody has the right to choose the people who will govern him.
But, most importantly, the House of Saud is a danger to the peace and stability of the entire world. By funding, educating, and supporting terrorists, the Saudi regime has exported its illiberal culture to six continents. It utters unctuous words of flattery to our governments and our news media even as it hands out suitcases stuffed with cash to the most depraved and deadly terrorists across the globe. It even prints and ships vile anti-American and anti-Christian propaganda to mosques in this country, propaganda that advocates the violent overthrow of our government and the establishment of an Islamic state.
In short, the House of Saud is a danger to the freedom and well-being of the American people, and the time has come for it to step down. Therefore, I am issuing the following ultimatum to King Fahd and Prince Abdullah…
That’ll do for starters.