July 08, 2004

Brainy Bronson v. Unctuous Unger!

Rachel Bronson, Middle East analyst at the Council (by coincidence, I was just on the phone with her today--actually in the middle of her cyber-debate with Craig Unger at Slate [ed. note: Sorry Rachel!]) gets some much merited kudos from an admirer in Chicago.

Congrats, Rachel. Be sure to go read Drezner's spot on take on the debate.

Here are a few sample grafs where Bronson engages in some much needed de-Mooreification (Unger plays Moore this Thurs.):

As we conclude this debate, 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.

Had Saudi terrorists been able to leave the United States because Bush liked Bandar, that would be something. But there's no evidence that that's what happened. They were probably given preferential treatment and allowed to begin organizing themselves to leave when the airspace fully opened, but they didn't leave until it was opened, and their names did not match suspicious ones in the database when they were checked. More to the point, I don't believe any administration would have acted differently in such circumstances. They were given preferential treatment to start organizing themselves because Saudi Arabia is a long-standing close partner of the United States and had an ambassador with strong personal ties to each and every president since he became ambassador under Ronald Reagan.

Had Bush attacked Iraq because the Saudis wanted it or to divert attention from the Saudis, that would have been something, too. But we know that folks in this administration wanted to attack Saddam well before 9/11 for reasons having little to do with terrorism. Terrorism was something they added to their list after 9/11, but again with very little reference to Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, the administration was rightly or wrongly concerned that Saddam might pass WMD to terrorists. The Bush/Saud relationship has little if anything to do with this.

Indeed.

Posted by Gregory at July 8, 2004 10:32 PM
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