Jewish World Review March 5, 2002 / 21 Adar, 5762
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
The Saudi scam
ON occasion, theatrical productions of the ancient Greeks would end
with a god being lowered onto the stage via a crane, a device that became
known as a "deus ex machina." Websters' offers a contemporary definition of
the term as "a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is
introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an
apparently insoluble difficulty."
Such a "thing" was recently lowered by the de facto ruler of Saudi
Arabia, Crown Prince Abdullah, onto the stage on which the increasingly
bloody Mideast passion play is being performed. It has taken the form of a
so-called Saudi peace initiative and has been seized upon by everyone from
President Bush and the European Union to Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon as a
device that may allow resolution of the apparently insoluble Arab-Israeli
The only problem is that, given the true nature of this Saudi
"initiative," it would be more accurate to describe it as a "deus ex
Machiavelli" -- a stratagem worthy of the great and devious Italian
Renaissance-era schemer who authored The Prince, a tutorial on the art of
effective, if often unethical, statecraft. The Abdullah gambit is far more
likely to propel the parties towards new regional war than produce a real
and durable peace. Consider its attributes:
In due course, the Abdullah deus ex Machiavelli will be seen for
what it is -- a Saudi scam that makes the Middle East far more dangerous,
not less, for American interests and those of its ally, Israel. The
question is, how much damage will be done before that reality is recognized
for what it
- Saudi Arabia gets to change the subject. The fact that 15 out of 19
of the terrorists that executed the deadly attacks of September 11 were
Saudi nationals was a wake-up call for many Americans -- including some Bush
Administration officials -- about the true character of a regime long
portrayed as one of the United States' most reliable allies in the Middle
Now, the Saudi Arabian government apparently was not directly
responsible for the actions of these al Qaeda operatives. The Saudis do
bear responsibility, however, for the world-wide -- and ongoing -- promotion
of the teachings of the radical and virulently anti-American Islamist sect
known as Wahabbism that is spawning new recruits for such terrorist
operations. This practice makes all the more troubling the kingdom's
continuing refusal to make a full and public expression of regret over the
attacks perpetrated by its citizens. And, under Abdullah (a member of the
royal family long known for his hostility towards the United States), Saudi
Arabia has constrained our ability to use American assets in the region as
part of the war on terrorism's Phase I (Afghanistan), to say nothing of
Phase II (Iraq).
The hints about a Saudi peace initiative (there is, at this writing,
no actual proposal, only hype, speculation and undeserved plaudits) have had
the effect of giving its Prince an overnight diplomatic makeover worthy of
Machiavelli. No more talk about a Saudi Arabia that actually spends more
time in the "against us" category rather than the "with us" one. Today, the
hope that the kingdom will finally play a constructive role in the
Arab-Israeli conflict is giving it vital cover, even as Abdullah undermines
U.S. efforts to mobilize international support for ending Saddam Hussein's
malevolence in Iraq.
- Saudi intervention helps its friends, hurts its foes. The Abdullah
plan, such as it is, appears to call for Israel to relinquish all the
territory it captured in 1967. That would mean all of the West Bank, not
just the roughly 95% that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had on
offer at Camp David. Its logic would also compel the return to Syria of the
strategic Golan Heights. In other words, if this deus ex machina actually
came to pass, the Arabs will be rewarded for launching the last
With the same stroke, Abdullah has reinvigorated the otherwise
prostrate "peace camp" in Israel and its advocates elsewhere. Suddenly, if
Saudi Arabia will participate, the "peace processors" insist, there are
grounds for ignoring the abundant evidence that the previous process begun
in Oslo a decade ago has only served to empower, arm and provide safe haven
for terrorists aimed at liberating all of what Arafat calls "Palestine"
(including the territory controlled by the Jewish State prior to the 1967
Six-Day War). If the Bush and Sharon governments are not careful, they will
prompt Israelis who are understandably discouraged at the prospect of
open-ended warfare to embrace a dangerous course of action in the belief
that doing something, even if it is counterproductive, is better than doing
- The Abdullah "plan" will reopen the Arabs' "war option." Just how
counterproductive the surrender of all the territory Israel captured in
defensive wars since June 1967 would be can be adduced from an obvious fact:
The Jewish State is simply indefensible without the strategic depth and high
ground along the West Bank's Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights adjacent to
The surrender of the "occupied territories" will both 1) encourage
Israel's enemies to realize their historic and oft-stated goal of "driving
the Jews into the sea" and 2) give them the avenues of attack by which to do
so. The very unreliability that prompted growing American concerns about
Saudi Arabia -- to say nothing of the unrelenting hostility of the rulers of
Syria, Libya, Iran and Iraq -- make such a prospect a formula for the
destruction of the State of Israel, not its assured security thanks to a
prince's undeliverable promise of normalized relations with the entire Arab
JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.