Ties between Bushes, Saudi royal family

I don’t have time to read all the books that I want. So I read book reviews when I can’t read the books.

If this book is based on fact, I’m very concerned.

House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties. By Craig Unger. Scribner. $26. 356 pages.

On Sept. 13, 2001, the United States grounded all commercial aviation, yet more than 140 individuals were permitted to leave the country. Nearly all of them were Saudi, and roughly two dozen were kin to Osama bin Laden. What kind of intelligence failure allowed that to happen? Were those individuals seriously questioned? Who allowed them to leave? Given that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, what was the rush in squandering what may have been a potential intelligence mother lode?

Craig Unger first reported this story in Vanity Fair magazine. In “House of Bush, House of Saud,” he places this incredible scenario in the context of a decades-old relationship between the ruling clan of Saudi Arabia and America’s pre-eminent political dynasty, the Bush family.

To begin, Unger takes us back to the 1960s, when George H.W. Bush was an oilman in Texas whose success included drilling the first offshore well for a tiny Middle Eastern country called Kuwait. Bush got out of oil in 1966 to get into politics and wound up as head of the CIA just as Saudi businessmen close to the royal family began investing in Bush’s home state. They bought up real estate and purchased planes. They bought a bank in Houston with former Texas Gov. John Connally. They developed a skyscraper known as Texas Commerce Tower, which housed Texas Commerce Bancshares, the bank started by the grandfather of James A. Baker, Bush’s right-hand man.

But this is just the beginning of the relationship. continued…

Winning the Real War By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Excerpts from

Winning the Real War

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

For me, though, it is a disturbing thought that the Bush team could get itself so tied up defending its phony reasons for going to war — the notion that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that were undeterrable and could threaten us, or that he had links with Al Qaeda — that it could get distracted from fulfilling the real and valid reason for the war: to install a decent, tolerant, pluralistic, multireligious government in Iraq that would be the best answer and antidote to both Saddam and Osama.

…Over 20 mass graves have already been uncovered in Iraq, and there may be as many as 90. One grave alone in Hilla is estimated to contain 10,000 people murdered by Saddam’s regime. Human Rights Watch estimates that there are 300,000 people missing in Iraq. President Bush is flailing around looking for Saddam’s unused weapons of mass destruction, when evidence of his actual mass destruction is all over the place in Iraq. Yet the Pentagon has done almost nothing to help Iraqis properly exhume these graves, prepare evidence for a war crimes tribunal or expose this mass murder to the world.

Eyes on the prize, please. If we find W.M.D. in Iraq, but lose Iraq, Mr. Bush will not only go down as a failed president, but one who made the world even more dangerous for Americans. If we find no W.M.D., but build a better Iraq — one that proves that a multiethnic, multireligious Arab state can rule itself in a decent way — Mr. Bush will survive his hyping of the W.M.D. issue, and the world will be a more hospitable and safer place for all Americans.

The Third Bubble

Excerpts from The Third Bubble

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Like the stock market and corporate bubbles, the terrorism bubble was the product of a kind of temporary insanity, in which basic norms were ignored and excessive behavior was justified by new theories. In the case of the terrorism bubble, we were told that suicide bombing was the work of desperate people who had no other way to get America’s or Israel’s attention.

People across Europe and the Arab-Muslim world bought such theories. Some Muslim religious leaders even came up with rulings justifying the suicide bombing of civilians in pizza parlors. Arab media called the terrorists “martyrs.” It was moral creative accounting: if you are weak, there is no limit on what you can do, and if you are strong ? like America and Israel ? you have no moral right to defend yourself. Worse, after 9/11, some in the Arab-Muslim world actually believed they had found a new balance of power with America ? through the suicide bomber.

And we in America believed them, so we blew up the bubble more. We contorted our whole open society, and imprisoned ourselves. My daughter’s high school symphony orchestra trip to New Orleans was canceled because of the recent terrorism alerts. Insane.

Yes, this Iraq war was about Saddam. For George Bush and Tony Blair, though, I think it was about something larger, but unstated. They were implicitly saying: “This terrorism bubble has come to threaten open societies and all they value. So, we’re going to use Iraq ? because we can ? to demonstrate to you that we’ll come right into the heart of your world to burst this bubble. Take note.”

We and the Arab-Muslim world must now draw the right conclusions. One hopes Americans will now stop overreacting to 9/11. Al Qaeda is not the Soviet Union. Saddam was not Stalin. And terrorism is not communism. America sliced right through Iraq. It did so because we are a free-market democracy that is capable of amassing huge amounts of technical power. And it did so because our soldiers so cherish what they have that they were ready to fight house to house from Basra to Baghdad. That was the real shock and awe for Iraqis ? because the terrorism bubble said Nasdaq-obsessed Americans were so caught up with the frivolity of modern life, they had lost the will to fight. Wrong.

We are strong because of who we are. Iraq was weak because of what it was. So, yes, let’s add a metal detector or two at the airports, but let’s stop thinking we have to remake our whole society, constrict all civil liberties, ban all Arab students and throw out all our foreign policy doctrines that have served us so well ? from deterrence to collective security to the usefulness of the U.N. ? to meet this new terrorism threat. We do not, and we must not.

The New York Times 4/20/2003

Some looters returning booty

Muslim cleric forbidding Iraqi wives from having sex with looter husbands

Click here for Story…

Some looters returning booty
Carol Rosenberg
Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Some people are surrendering the booty they took in the Dura district of Baghdad, perhaps in response to a rumored edict by a Muslim cleric forbidding Iraqi wives from having sex with looter husbands.

Muslim clerics have been demanding that ill-gotten goods be surrendered, though none here could confirm the sex-ban order, said to have been issued in Najaf. One cleric said the rumor of the edict was widespread and that it would be consistent with Islamic teaching.

A good Muslim woman would not let this man touch her, as a signal to everybody that this is not a way to behave,? said Sheik Ali Jabouri, who also preached Monday morning that people must give up their loot.