Memo to Clinton, Schumer: Block Bush’s Saudi Sale

In a dangerous world, the United States has every right to reward nations that support our war on terrorists and rogue nations around the globe. So when the Bush Administration announced a $43 billion military-aid package for friends and allies like Israel and Egypt this week, it made perfect sense.

But the 10-year package isn’t limited to allies and friends. The White House has designated billions for Saudi Arabia, underwriters of Islamic fundamentalism and, therefore, bankrollers of America’s enemies.

The package must be approved by Congress, which gives New York’s elected representatives a chance to raise their voices on behalf of American security and common sense. Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer ought to do all they can, as prominent members of the Democratic majority, to make sure that the Saudis do not receive a penny in aid, at least not until they shut down their support for hate academies that produce thousands of anti-American fanatics every year. Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Anthony Weiner have taken the lead by preparing legislation to block the Saudi portion of the package.

We need to remember that 15 of the 19 terrorists who murdered 3,000 people on 9/11 were Saudi nationals; as, indeed, is Osama bin Laden. What’s more, thousands of disaffected young men and women are learning to
despise the West in general, and America in particular, in schools financed with Saudi money. Some friends, eh?

It’s true that Saudi Arabia has suffered terrorist attacks from Mr. bin Laden’s disciples on the Arabian peninsula. The Saudis insist that they are not soft on terrorism because they, too, have terrorists, who would love to see the nation’s royal family overthrown.

The Saudis say they want U.S. military aid so they can improve their
missile defenses, upgrade their air force and improve their navy. If they really want security, they should consider a far-cheaper means of defense: They ought to shut down the madrassas that are churning out terrorists by the thousands, and they ought to cooperate—really cooperate—with the United States on Iraq and Iran.

The government in Egypt, while hardly a model of democracy, has taken risks in cracking down against Islamic fundamentalists. Israel, of course, has been battling terrorists since the state’s foundation. They deserve our help.

The Saudis, by contrast, are content to stir up trouble elsewhere, assuming that the beast of terrorism will not turn on its financier.

The administration of George W. Bush, like that of George H. W. Bush, seems to have a soft spot for the Saudis. For reasons known best to themselves, the people around both Bush presidents apparently believe that the Saudis really are fine folks who are looking after our interests in the Persian Gulf. And they seem to see nothing wrong with arming one of Israel’s enemies to the teeth—is this the best way to build stability in the Middle East?

Senators Clinton and Schumer ought to use this opportunity to remind the administration and the nation that the Saudis have a good deal to answer for in the battle against Islamic terror. If the Saudis want our assistance, they have to assist us first.

Memo to Clinton, Schumer: Block Bush’s Saudi Sale