Friday, September 01, 2006

Clueless in Crawford

GWB speech 8/31/06 -- BBC News Service.

"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict," Mr Bush said. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st Century."

He said those who brought down the World Trade Center in New York five years ago were united with car bombers in Baghdad, Hezbollah militants who shot rockets into Israel, and terrorists who had recently attempted to bring down flights between Britain and the US.

"Despite their differences, these groups form the outline of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology," he said.

"And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam."


Sorry Mr. President. The one Islamic society which best fits your definition of being totalitarian and in opposition to a free society is Saudi Arabia. Its hereditary, authoritatian, theocratic ruling family are longtime personal friends of your family.

Iran has elections and its citizens vote to elect a President. Saudi Arabia does not. Saudi Arabia is a hereditary monarchy and intends to stay that way. A profile of Saudi Arabia prepared by the U.S. Library of Congress states in part:

Political System: Saudi Arabia essentially operates as a near-absolute monarchy. It has no national legislative body, political parties, or democratic elections. The king does not have unfettered power, however. The Basic Law, which was introduced in 1993, articulates the government’s rights and regulations and sets forth the civil rights, system of government, and administrative divisions by which the state is run. Foremost, the Basic Law mandates that Islamic Law come before all other considerations. The Koran and sunna (Islamic custom and practice based on Muhammad’s words and deeds) are the state’s constitution, and both the government and the society as a whole dismiss the notion that separation should exist between
church and state. The king must not only respect Islamic Law and tradition but also build consensus among members of the royal family and religious leaders (the ulama). The king can be removed if a majority of the royal family calls for his ouster. When a king dies, the royal family and ulama choose the new king.

"Religion: Islam is the official religion of Saudi Arabia, and the country's legal code and constitution are based on Islamic law. Largely distinguishing Saudi Arabia from its neighbors, 95 percent of Saudis follow the Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam. Five percent, based mostly in the eastern portion of the country, are Shia Muslims. Public worship of other religions is prohibited by law, and is regulated and punished by the state's Committees for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (mutawwiin). Proselytizing by non-Muslims and by non-Sunni Muslims is strictly prohibited. Conversion from Wahhabi Islam to another religion is a crime. The government controls all mosques and is the direct employer of imams. It also operates centers designed to facilitate the conversion of foreigners to Islam. Non-Sunni Muslims are largely eliminated from consideration for government employment and educational opportunities."

(see entire profile at:

The President's self-described "Freedom Agenda" for the Middle East conspicuously omits reference to the above facts about Saudi Arabia. It would not be far from literal truth to say that a key strategic goal of the President's "Freedom Agenda" in the Middle East is to protect and maintain the totalitarian, theocratic character of Saudi Arabia. A "Freedom Agenda" which has one of its goals to protect the least free and most totalitarian nation in the Middle East is not a freedom agenda -- it is a US oil security agenda.


The President's comment that "[This] is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st Century" is so sweeping it demands a proportionally sweeping amount of evidence, especially because 94 percent of the 21st century has yet to occur. How is this different than saying in 2006 that the 21st century will be the rainiest century?

Clearly Bush's speechwriters would like to equate (insert whatever) with the Cold War and communism. Countries falling one by one like dominoes and all that. But the facts don't fit the model. Bush can't even define the threat. On one hand he cites totalitarianism. Well, Iran has an elected government and an elected president. Saudi Arabia does not. In Bush's view the elected government of Iran is part of the Axis of Evil. In Bush's view the totalitarian, theocratic monarchy of Saudi Arabia is a trusted, friendly ally. So this is really about certain countries and certain leaders of those countries and not about a broad ideology which has as its goal the extinction of citizens' rights and the right of countries to have representative democracies.

Therefore, there is no "decisive ideological struggle."

What about a "twisted view of Islam"? Again, Saudi Arabia is the most non-democratic, conservative, die-hard Islamic theocracy on the planet. According to the Library of Congress, Saudi Arabia forbids all non Muslim citizens and all Muslims except Sunni Muslims from "consideration for government employment and educational opportunities."

Yet Saudi Arabia is the key ally and friend of the US in this "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."

It would be a lot easier to swallow a claim that the US is engaged in the "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century" if the President could actually define it.

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