My recent post on The 10 Postulates of PC generated a thread of comments over at Neo-neocon. Part of it was a conversation with Michael B., and it went like this:
|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.
Hopefully our government is able to recognize the Muslim position on lying, which I have detailed below. Well done, Baron.
What was Muhammad’s attitude towards lying?
Muhammad treated truth and deception according his own style of situational ethics. Muhammad condoned, and actually permitted, lying to further his goals:
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” The Prophet said, “Yes,” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). “The Prophet said, “You may say it.” … (Sahih al-Bukhari 5.369, cf. the article on Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf for further details)
Muhammad clearly condoned dishonesty, as well as murder, when it suited his purposes.
Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: “Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible.” (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, page 745)
Note that Al-Ghazali is one of the most famous and respected Muslim theologians of all time.
You are right about the Koran and lying. Dymphna researched it for one of her posts; I believe the practice is called taqiyya.
Here’s a question: What IS the name of that inside-Salafi cult that permits acolytes to move into the enemy camp, and join in all his ways–including the strip-club/booze/porn lifestyles of some of the 911 Nineteen–for as long as it may take, in order to position for a surprise strike? OBL’s right-hand man, the Egyptian physician guy Zawaheri, is said to be a member.
Thanks for the reminder about Salafi. Been meaning to look into that…
About taqiyya: there’s another kind of lying, like an inner version, called kitman.
Studying Islam is sooo interesting. My PoMo self wants to say there isn’t really any evil, and then I read up on Islamists and my reasonable self reminds me that the Jesuits didn’t invent Jesuitical logic, they just copied from the Muslims…
As Jinnji might say, “ewww”…
Excellent piece Baron, but Karl Rove is going to have to keep that speech in the icebox in the west wing for a long time.
Do you not feel that supporting the house of Saud is by far the lessor of two evils.
Even though the Royals spend much of their wealth spreading Wahhabism through the western world, they are by far the most rational members of Saudi society.
If we allow the Saudi people to drag the Royals through the streets of Riyadh, how does that benefit our security?
They are nothing but a reflection of Saudi society, and their replacement government would most likely drop all pretensions of friendliness with the infidels, and use oil as a weapon against us.
I am not trying to be a Saudi apologist. No one would love to see them taken out and beheaded more than me, I just think when that day comes the aftermath will not be positive for America. Unless of course we are willing to remove the indigenous population and replace them with rational human beings.
Anything less than a Nova Scotia type of solution is only going to make the situation worse.
Redneck, I should have addressed this issue in the post, but wanted to keep it concise.
I agree with your premises, but don’t you think it would be better to have our enemies out in the open where we could see them and deal with them accordingly?
Because we pretend that ol’ Prince Abdullah is our best buddy, we have to overlook and make excuses for all the bad behavior the regime engages in. What would the “extremists” do that is so much worse than what the House of Saud is doing? Export terrorists? Fund madrassas? Behead people for apostasy? Been there, done that.
If the extremists took over, they could hold oil hostage, just as the current bunch is doing. But they’re subject to the same problem: if they don’t sell it, they don’t get money to fund their terrorist hobbies. If they do, it gets into a fungible market.
And if they were out in the open as our enemies, we would be able to actually fight them, instead of having to play all these games while they pour gasoline on the world’s fires.
I think we’d be better off.
Great blog guys.
Rather than give a speech, why not let actions do the talking. Let them wither on the vine.
If just one fricking administration would commit bigtime $$ to developing energy alternatives, it would speak volumes to the Saudis. I certainly don’t pretend to have the golden answer, but I know that the way things are headed on oil consumption, we need something radical to change directions.
Sammy — actually, if we bell the Saudi cat it may bring that day closer. The higher the price we have to pay for oil, the more motivated commercial researchers will be to develop alternative energy sources.
But it will hurt when it happens, big time.
A major political-approach problem, as this de Borchgrave article @ the great Benador site will inform, is that there are allies as well as enemies within the House of Saud, and apparently the AQ sympathizers are powerful enough that if they fall, so will fall our friends–and so will fall the dove OPEC wing.
Did someone say Taqiyya?
Everytime I drink this stuff I end up lying myself.
Now I know how you got the first part of your name… 😉
Yea well, that does make sense Baron. To me the the worst part about the war on terror is we are afraid to even name our enemy.
Typically we have to vilify our enemy’s leader (Saddam, Omar, Zarqawi, Osama, Assad, etc)and operate under the false assumption that he is responsible for his populaces / followers behavior, when in most cases the leaders are just a reflection of their constituents. Then when we get on the ground and remove those leaders we have lost the ability to treat his former supporters with the same zeal we pursued him. I Saudi Arabia we have done just the opposite, we have put a smilie face on their leaders to mask how much their populaces hate us.
I don’t know exactly how to explain it but Americans are just no longer prepared to admit their enemy is virtually the entire population under these vilified or smilie “faces” of evil.
Similarly America has no bigger enemy than the rank & file Islamic Clergy. They are without a doubt the main source of hatred filled minds bent on our destruction. And even though they never actually pull the trigger themselves they, from a logical standpoint, should be the prime targets of our efforts to reform the region. But the odds we are going to start targeting Mosques throughout the Middle East is virtually zero. In fact we went into this war with the houses of evil totally off-limits to our military.
We cant admit to ourselves this really is America’s first holy war. Our enemies know it is, but we refuse to admit it. In comparison to our past political wars the current situation is like attacking only the soldiers that shoot at us first, and pushing straight through the enemy’s line while leaving the Generals unmolested in their bunkers when we drive by them.
We can force them to change political leaders without breakin a sweat, but as long as we wont allow ourselves to commit regime change in the Islamic Clergy, and they in fact pay no price for their actions, we are pissing in the wind as far as reforming the culture that has been attacking us for the last 25 years.
I am sure you are aware that the House of Saud came to power in conjunction with the Wahabis Clerics. Once they impaled all resistance in a Arabian Peninsula village, the Clerics followed them like a logistics tail and cleansed the weak minds of the survivors. The generational result of which is that the ignorant people of Saudi Arabia are homogeneously committed to our destruction, and they are the only country in the Middle East that has never been occupied by a foreign force. They think thats because they are players, but its really because they had nothing of physical or strategic value until we discovered their resources for them. The only way we are going to break their false sense of relevance is to collectively punish the entire indigenous population, and I think we both know America lost the ability to do that a long time ago. So that bi-partisan lack of political courage leaves us with no choice but supporting the back stabbing bastards……as long as we have a choice. But I can see the logic in your plan if we allow the choice to be taken away from us.
The choice will be taken from us eventually. For example: when a dirty bomb goes off in Chicago or London, with Saudi nationals responsible and the money trail leading back to the Saudis, the perfect storm of public opinion and liberal media opportunism against “Big Oil” will blow the ship of state onto a new course.
But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. There must be better ways to do this…