Why is Bush preparing for war with Iraq when there is unfinished business with Al-Qaeda? Ex-President Clinton suggested that he settle the terrorist threat first before starting a new war.
I think the two are connected. Bush knows that Al-Qaeda is supported by oil-rich Saudis whose Wahhabi ideology spawns the likes of Osama bin Laden. The Wahhabi version of Islam can be described as religious fascism.
Saudi Arabia is simultaneously an US ally and an ideological enemy. The Saudi regime and the US are in a marriage of convenience in which the US offers protection in exchange for a stable oil supply.
The US stands for secular democracy, pluralism, religious freedom and the separation of church and state. The Saudis are an Islamic theocracy that does not separate mosque and state. It does not allow other faiths in Saudi Arabia and shariah law is held to be supreme.
Saudis are taught in school to hate unbelievers and encouraged to take part in jihad to expand the borders of Islam violently. It is no wonder that Osama bin Laden is seen to be a hero, a holy warrior and not as a terrorist. They are spreading their wahhabi world-view through the world by using petro-dollars to build madrassahs and mosques.
Such differing ideologies as that of Wahhabism and American secular democracy are bound to clash. But Bush knows that it needs Saudi Arabia to maintain a stable oil supply. Otherwise, the fragile world economy will fall into a recession. So it cannot press Saudi Arabia to rein in the militants in their midst.
While the Saudi government is doing something, the Bush administration clearly wants them to do more. Private charities in the desert kingdom continue to provide funds to terrorist organizations and the government blocks investigations. The main source of Islamic terrorism is Arabia.
The Saudi regime is walking a tightrope between US pressure and its own militants. It needs the cloak of religion to gain legitimacy and has for centuries relied on the Wahhabis to provide this. It can only do so much to appease Washington without provoking a backlash.
I think Bush knows the terrorist problem lies more with their ally, Saudi Arabia than with their enemy, the secular Saddam Hussein. But the key to Riyadh lies in Bagdag. To pressure the Saudi regime, Bush needs Iraqi oil.
Right now, only a trickle of Iraqi oil reaches the world markets because of UN sanctions. To get more Iraqi oil in the market, Bush needs a friendly regime in Iraq.
With more Iraqi oil, dependence on Saudi oil would be lessened. This means that Bush would be able to wave the big stick at the Saudi regime.
I think the Saudis understand all this and they are therefore not enthusiastic about the idea of regime change in Iraq.
Pressure from the US to rein in their militants may provoke a backlash and threaten the Saudi regime. They may not survive.
Of course, there are other good reasons for Bush to attack Iraq. Besides the need to take control of Iraqi oil, there is the genuine fear of allowing a madman like Saddam to possess a nuclear weapon. Had he possessed one in 1990, the Gulf War may not have been fought.
If he gets one in the next two or three years, he may invade his neighbours. This time, it would be difficult for the US to expel him. Any US attempt to do so will result in Saddam passing nuclear weapons to Al-Qaeda (which he may do anyway to avenge his defeat). Leaving him in control of Persian Gulf oil will have disastrous consequences for the world.
Given his track record, I think it is safe to assume that his goal is to dominate the Persian Gulf. That is why he wants nuclear weapons. The world is left with a choice. Who do you want to control Persian Gulf oil? Saddam or Bush? I vote for Bush.
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