Six weeks ago, the President gave the U.N. a week to deal with his proposed new resolution aimed at enforcing the 1991 disarmament agreement with Iraq. Since then, the U.N. debate has progressed not at all, due mainly to the efforts of Saddam's clients, France, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Last weekend, the President said that the U.N.'s time is running out. In truth, it ran out long ago.
In 1991, it was the Saudis who convinced George the First that keeping them happy, and the "coalition" together, was more important than solving Saddam once and for all. In 1998, the French and the Russians (aided and abetted by the Chinese, and terror's handmaiden, Kofi Annan) sold out the weapons inspectors and made their job impossible even before the Iraqis threw them out. France and Russia are driven by money and ideology. Saudi Arabia is driven by a far simpler motive: its desire to overthrow our culture and way of life.
France is neither an economic power nor a military one. Its prominence on the world stage is undeserved. General DeGaulle, France's post-World War II leader, bluffed France's way into a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. But for that, France would have all the significance of, say, Cameroon or Mexico, both of which would be utterly insignificant but for their temporary seats on the U.N. Security Council. France's economy, like most in Continental Europe, is strangling on its own social spending. Like Italy, its citizens don't even bother to reproduce much anymore, so its population is aging and fewer workers have to support their overworked 36-hours-a-week government bureaucrats. In short, France needs Iraqi oil contracts to stave off economic disaster. It is voting to protect Saddam for that reason, and that reason alone.
Russia's motivations are slightly -- only slightly -- more complex. Saddam's regime owes Russia about $8 billion, which is real money for Putin. Russia has been our enemy for so long, that any weapons pointed at us that are not also pointed at Russia -- such as Saddam's weapons of mass destruction -- must give the old KGB judo champ a big warm fuzzy.
It is tempting, and wrong, to say we should simply buy off France and Russia. We could induce the Iraqi opposition to give assurances to them that their oil interests would be secure, and their debts repaid, when Saddam is removed. But that would take the heat off their economies, possibly at the expense of ours. Make no mistake: having all that Iraqi oil on the open market after Saddam will lower the market price and bring America's economy roaring back like nothing since the California gold rush. We shouldn't allow French or Russian control over that oil once the coming campaign is over.
Dubya seems to be on the right track. The U.N. won't pass a tough resolution this week, next week, or any other week no matter how much he persuades or cajoles. The whole exercise is designed by us to pass something with teeth in it. France and Russia only want to avoid vetoing our resolution, so they'll stall and -- with the Saudis' help behind the scenes -- try to ensure that we don't have enough votes to pass it without a veto. It's time to call a halt. Come Friday, Dubya should tell the U.N. that its chance has passed. It is irrelevant in world affairs, and the grownups have got to get on with the war on terror. Which, inevitably, brings us back to the main source of the problem: Saudi Arabia.
The fact that the Saudis are working behind the scenes to thwart us in the U.N. should surprise absolutely no one. Our problems with the Saudis are not their refusal to join in the Iraq campaign, or even their announcement that they will fingerprint Americans entering their country because we are -- finally -- fingerprinting everyone coming in from there. The French are, well, French. We are used to Russians being enemies, almost comfortable with the idea. But the Saudis are supposed to be our friends, and not even Dubya or his Dad were able to recognize their deadly enmity for us.
You only have to look at the Wahabbi dogma, and the pronouncements of their mullahs to understand what we are up against. In Saudi Arabia, a fundamentalist Islamist doctrine reigns, as virulent as Iran's, but smarter, cooler, and more dangerous in the long term. You have to remember that the Saudi government is Wahabbi down to its core. We all have to remember that the Saudis still hold about three dozen American citizens -- most of them young women -- against their will. Their fathers, under Wahabbi law, are entitled to decide for them.
Just a few weeks ago, the people at Memri.org translated several sermons given just before September 26 by some of the leading Wahabbi mullahs in Saudi Arabia. One Sheikh Adnan Ahmad Siyami criticized Pope John Paul's trip to Syria as an "empty and false slogan of religious harmony," saying of the Pope "…may Allah punish him as he deserves." Another, Sheikh Muhammed Saleh Al-Munajjid, preached that "Muslims must … educate their children to jihad" and called for "educating children to jihad, and to hatred of the Jews, the Christians, and the infidels; educating children to jihad and to revival of the embers of jihad in their souls. This is what is needed now ..."
What is needed now is our clear recognition that these words are not merely the rantings of obscure preachers, but the policy of the Saudi government. In November 2001, the search of the Saudi High Commissioner for Bosnia's office revealed the connection between al-Qaeda, the Saudi intelligence agency, and a world-wide network of Saudi "charities." Last week, the director of one of those "charities," Enaam Anaout, was indicted in Chicago for supporting al-Qaeda with money solicited fraudulently for Benevolence International. Anaout faces 90 years without parole.
Saudi "charities" like Benevolence International operate all over the world, raising and passing money for terror in some cases. In others, they spread Wahabbi dogma and incite hatred of America. It is time to call the Saudis to account, and to treat them as the adversary they are. In the long run, either we deal decisively with the Saudis, or we lose the war on terror. Better to start now.
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