After the king of Saudi Arabia died on January 23, President Obama embarrassed himself by abruptly ending his visit to India in order to lead a march of American politicos bowing and scraping before the new Saudi king. John Kerry, the secretary of state, was also there, along with Bushites Condoleezza Rice and John McCain.
Neither Obama nor the other American worthies had anything to say about the Saudi government’s latest outrage, sentencing blogger Raif Badawi to be tortured with 1,000 lashes over a span of months for offending fundamentalist Islam. If Badawi survives that, he has a 10-year prison sentence waiting. Contrast the U.S. establishment’s echoing silence on the Badawi case to the president’s response when ISIS beheaded U.S. citizen Peter Kassig. Obama called ISIS “a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity.” Perhaps ISIS is simply copying the Saudi royals, who regularly order public beheadings for “crimes” that include witchcraft.
Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Canada with the couple’s three children, has said that she believes global pressure on the Saudi government can free her husband. There is evidence that the international outcry is having an effect. Two scheduled floggings of Badawi have been postponed, and Haidar reported that his case has been referred to the country’s supreme court. The Obama administration has called for Badawi’s release, in an utterly half-hearted manner, but the president could step up the pressure with a series of public statements starting now. Let’s let him know that. Here is the contact form for sending a message to the president.
Of course, all this obsequiousness in the face of the Saudi rulers is due to their economic power. There is the matter of their control of OPEC, of course. But they have also been buying up America for the past decade and a half. A useful measure of that phenomenon is ownership of U.S. government securities. There is no separate entry for Saudi Arabia in the Department of the Treasury’s list of foreign owners of government securities, but “Oil Exporters” rank fifth on the list at $278.9 billion. (China is first at $1.25 trillion.) The biggest increase in Uncle Sam’s debt peonage to Saudi Islamofascists came under George W. Bush. Oil exporters’ holdings of American securities rose from $48.5 billion to $186.6 during the decider’s tenure.
It is astonishing that Fox News Channel, whose talking heads panic daily about assorted Muslim threats to America, did not notice growing Saudi influence over our government during the Bush years. On the other hand, a Saudi prince, Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, owns a big chunk of the company that owns Fox News Channel, and has done so since the 1990s. (He now holds the second-largest stake in that company, behind Rupert Murdoch.) So maybe the silence of Fox News “patriots” isn’t surprising.
Since Bush headed back to Texas, the Saudi ownership stake in our government has risen, due to borrowing caused by the economic collapse that occurred during Bush’s eighth year in office. Of course, that is a bi-partisan fiasco, thanks to Democrats’ support for banking deregulation under Bill Clinton and their failure to get the economy back on track by passing a real jobs-and-infrastructure bill in 2009.
Back in 2007, I wrote a review of Craig Unger’s Fall of the House of Bush. In his previous work House of Bush, House of Saud, Unger had addressed the Saudis’ malign influence on America and the world. In the follow-up volume, the author focused on another cadre of over-privileged sociopaths: the neoconservatives. Unger’s analysis of the neocons was excellent, but I thought he understated the influence of the Saudis that time. On balance, the Saudis held more influence over the Bush-Cheney gang than the neocons, and their sway has lessened little under Obama. You can read that review, which was published by the Chicago Reader, here.