I am happy to see prominent members of Congress from both parties starting to question our support of the deeply flawed government in Saudi Arabia. I don't want to make war on them (repeating the Lybia mistake) but I also have been leery for quite a while about supporting a country that funds so much terrorism and is frankly as socially backwards as any place in the world.
So here is my question: Had it not been for the shale oil and gas revolution in this country, would the US Congress be willing to question this relationship today?
I was going to write a longer post on foreign policy vis a vis terrorism and ISIS, but I lack both the time as well as confidence in my foreign policy knowledge.
I will offer this, though: There seem to be but two policy positions being discussed
- The largely Conservative position that there is a dangerous and violent authoritarian streak running through the world of Islam and that we need to saddle up the troops and go break some heads and impose order
- The Progressive position embodied by the Obama Administration that there is nothing abnormal going on in Islam and that what we see is random violence spurred by poverty and thus we should not intervene militarily (I consider the current AUMF proposed by Obama to be political posturing to satisfy polls rather than anything driven by true belief).
Why is there not a third alternative to be at least considered -- that there is something really broken in a lot of Islam as practiced today (just as there was a lot of sh*t broken with Christianity in, say, the 14th-16th centuries) and that Islam as practiced in many Middle Eastern countries is wildly illiberal (way more illiberal than any failings of Israel, though you wouldn't know that if you were living on a college campus). But, that we don't need to saddle up the troops and try to change things by force.
Conservatives who can look at things like serial failures in Federal education policy and reach the conclusion that we should be skeptical about Federal initiatives on education seem unable to draw similar conclusions from serial failures in US interventions in the Islamic world. And for its part, the Obama administration seems to be living in some weird alternate universe trying desperately to ignore the reality of the situation.
Yes, I know the first response to all folks like me who advocate for non-intervention is "Munich" and "Czechoslovakia". So be it. But if we sent in the military every time someone yelled "appeasement" our aircraft would be worn out from moving troops around. And we seem to be totally able to ignore atrocities and awful rulers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As a minimum, I would like to see a coalition of Arab states coming to us and publicly asking us for help -- not this usual Middle East BS we hear that Saudi Ariabi (or whoever) really in private wants us there but publicly they will still lambaste us. Without this support we can win the war but we have no moral authority (as we did after WWII) in the peace. Which is one reason so many of our interventions in the Middle East and North Africa fail.
From Foreign Policy
Every turn in the investigation that led to Petraeus's resignation perfectly illustrates the incredible and dangerous reach of the massive United States surveillance apparatus, which, through hundreds of billions of dollars in post-9/11 programs -- coupled with weakened privacy laws and lack of oversight -- has affected the civil liberties of every American for years. The only difference here is the victim of the surveillance state's reach was not a faceless American, but the head one of the agencies tasked to carry it out.....
It seems the deciding factor in opening the investigation was not the emails' content, but the fact that the FBI agent was friendly with Kelley. (Even more disturbing, the same FBI agent has now been accused of becoming "obsessed" with the Tampa socialite, sent shirtless pictures to her, and has been removed from the case.)...
One would assume, and hope, police have to get probable cause for all emails, just like they would for a physical letter or a phone call. But the law governing email -- the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) -- doesn't have such requirements for emails more than 180 days old. Because ECPA was written in 1986, before the World Wide Web even existed, archived emails were an afterthought given the incredibly small storage space on email servers....
While these details may shock the average reader, these privacy-invasive tactics are used regularly by both federal and local law enforcement around the United States. In fact, as the New York Times reported, referring to Petraeus, "Law enforcement officials have said they used only ordinary methods in the case." The only difference here is the target was the director of the CIA and one of the most decorated soldiers in modern military history.
Electronic communication needs better Fourth Amendment protection.
By the way, another scandal here that interests me more than the sex thing is that the head of the CIA has such a terrible grasp on basic fieldcraft
Petraeus and Kelley were communicating not by sending each other emails, but using an old (and apparently ineffective) trick -- "used by terrorists and teenagers alike" -- of saving drafts in the draft folder of Gmail, thinking this was more private than if they sent them to each other. But as the ACLU's Chris Soghoian explained, this was not so