Monday, June 14, 2004

Is Saudi Arabia going to become the French Revolution?

This is my understanding of the French Revolution: The extremists kept getting their way and chopped off the heads of those who were nominally in charge, but once they got their way, someone more extreme popped up, who chopped off the heads of the previous batch of extremists, but then someone even more extreme turned up, etc. etc. There was no central authority, so it all sort of slid downhill. Madness begat madness.

When viewed in these terms, the parallel to Saudi Arabia is worrisome, I think. The House of Saud struck a deal with, uh, the devil years ago. The Wahhabi clerics would espouse their ideology, but they would tacitly support the House of Saud as it got fantastically rich. The House of Saud would let the clerics spout off. The young men who'd been indoctrinated would go off to fight the in Afghanistan, or Bosnia, or wherever.

But what if the extremists start killing the moderates and take over? It's easy to imagine the next batch of extremists being much worse. What if they become nationalists, and decide to cut off the oil spigots? If the people of Saudi Arabia destabilize it, we're all in trouble.

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