In the years following 9/11, neoconservatives argued against coddling the princes of Saudi Arabia and other autocrats in the wider Middle East. Bush promised to “persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.”
The released cables, however, show a United States that worked closely with autocracies to ensure the success of its aims in Iraq. Gen. David Petraeus worked to build support in Egypt for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Another cable shows U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith was frustrated by Saudi fundamentalism but felt the alliance “has proven durable.” And another document recounts a meeting of U.S. senators with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that was cordial. Instead of demanding intelligence cooperation and political liberalization, senators contented themselves with politely inquiring about collaboration on regional peace talks and Assad’s thoughts on Iran. This is hardly the persistent clarity of pushing a regional democratic revolution. It is diplomatic and foreign-policy realism.
Please read the whole thing. One other notable aspect of these stories has been the reaction of neoconservatives. I mentioned Jennifer Rubin and David Frum in the piece. But The Washington Times‘ Eli Lake and The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg have also rushed to point out that Wikileaks proves “that it is not just Israel that seeks to pull America into a fight with Teheran.” This is a red herring. No one with any familiarity with the region would doubt that other Arab nations are uncomfortable with Iran’s ascendency. The problem with an American strike on Iran isn’t that it would be in Israel’s interest, it is that it is not in the American interest. Adding King Abdullah doesn’t make a hill of difference. Why should Uncle Sam muscle up on his behalf?
Needless to say, I find it strange that an ideological cohort so anxious about the charge that it advocates policies primarily in the interest of a foreign nation would bolster its case for war with Iran by dragging in a Saudi Royal as their leading witness.