Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Clinton's Saudi Policies Were No Different Than Bush's

In a letter (third one down) to Craig (House of Bush, House of Saud) Unger, Rachel Bronson takes on one of the central denunciations made by Michael Moore and Richard Clarke.
I think it's worth returning to the original question: Has the money that has flowed and the history that has passed between the House of Bush and the House of Saud affected the course of American politics to the detriment of the American people? I think we both agree that the administration has made some major missteps. But I don't think the evidence stacks up that it's because of a personal relationship between the families. …

Before 9/11, did Bush pursue such a different policy toward Saudi Arabia than Clinton did? Clinton's relationship with Saudi Arabia around terrorism was relatively cordial, much to the chagrin of those in Clarke's shop. Clarke was pushing Clinton to come down harder on terrorist financing, but Clinton worried that if he did, it would have a significant and possibly unrecoverable negative effect on the global economy, and so he chose not to pursue the advice of Clarke on that one. There's no evidence that the Clinton folks were coming down hard on the Saudis and then Bush suddenly changed course. The Clinton folks, by the end, were much more concerned with terrorism than the Bush team was at the beginning of their tenure, but for reasons addressed earlier, it has less to do with money and ties than Cold War blinders.

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