There is something surreal about the spectacle of President Bush touring the Persian Gulf. It calls to mind the signature line of Mad Magazine’s mascot, Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?”
Mr. Bush’s trip is, after all, premised on the notion that the Arab leaders he is courting there are reliable allies. Such a proposition should be subjected to the closest of critical scrutiny by Congress, the press and the American electorate since a number of highly debatable, and increasingly portentous, policies are predicated on this assumption. These include:
* Saudi Arabia and the other, smaller desert principalities are “moderates” who are as opposed as we to the totalitarian political agenda of fanatical ideologues such as Osama bin Laden.
* The Gulfies share our concern about the rising power of Iran and therefore can be counted upon to join us in countering that region’s would-be Islamofascist superpower. It follows not only that we can safely provide these autocracies with an array of advanced weapons, but we must do so.
* The Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf will be helpful in brokering a peace between Palestinians and Israelis – if only the United States pressures the Jewish State to make territorial and other concessions that may imperil the latter. And,
* The willingness of the Gulf’s potentates to recycle the immense wealth they have accumulated in recent years – primarily through oil sales at exorbitantly inflated prices – to purchase big stakes in U.S. companies and capital markets is a welcome development. Such investment is to be encouraged, and those who say otherwise should be condemned as “Chicken Little xenophobes” in the words of former GE chairman Jack Welch and his wife, Suzy.
In fact, the Welch tag-team used a January 21 Business Week column to admonish a letter-writer worried about Arab and other sovereign wealth funds buying up American corporations: “In trying times, U.S. companies always attract opportunistic, activist shareholders. Sometimes they look like Carl Icahn or Nelson Peltz. Sometimes they look like shiny-faced hedge fund managers just out of Wharton or Harvard Business School. And sometimes – like now – they look Chinese or Saudi or whatever. It doesn’t matter. They’re all after the same thing: the opportunities in America’s capitalistic market.”
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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