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December 28, 2006

Comments

emptywheel,

pehaps Woodward is able to get some of these "one of a kind" stories because he is trusted to keep his word and follow his source's instructions as to when the story can be told. Do you think Ford would have spoken to him thus and so, if Ford doubted his word?

I think we owe Woodward a debt!

As for him being a journalist, well I think that he is has established his credentials beyond doubt, and for small people to cast stones at the mighty edifice he has built in his life as a journalist is, well ..., small.

Money? Sure he is affected. Journalists, historians, book authors (hmmm....) don't take vows of poverty. But maybe there are exceptions?

Jodi, Jodi, Jodi... Didn't you notice Woodward didn't tell his bosses he was involved with Libby and the Plame affair until he was forced into revealing it, instead pretending to be the uninvolved reporter Above The Fray? Does this sound like someone you can trust?

That's some scary stuff, EW. The question it raises in my mind is if it's Iran-Contra Mark II (or XXIII, depending on how you're counting), how can we best pressure our new Congress to smack it down better this time, and put away the criminals involved for good?

Redshift

We really really need to get rid of Cheney. Not sure if it's via impeachment--or something else (since he's a Constitutional officer, it'd almost have to be impeachment). But it has to happen. The man is going to bring us into WWIII.

Bush will throw the 2008 Republicans overboard and try to cut the best "legacy" deal he can from here on out. Whatever's going on with Saudi Arabia is to put something on his headstone/library that says something other than "failure". And he'll do it by any means necessary.

vachon, Bush's headstone should read: Here lies one damned liar.

Sally: I think it is traditional for the occupant to be deceased before you write the epitaph. Wishful thinking?

This is chilling. And since it involves Cheney we can be certain that this is just the ripe fruit hanging from the tree that we see. As he is busily making pacts with the devil, the devil will have his due. China has her hand out to Iran, the Saudis are counting on Cheney's arrogance to blind him. Oh yeah, and this is a guy who HAS "foreign policy experience". If this kind of operation speaks of foreign policy experience then I'm all for John Edwards' lack thereof.

Hi EW- and from a couple of threads down the page, yes, I'm from MI, but haven't lived here for years. I'm at mom's house in Kalamazoo right now, doing the family thing for a couple more days.

I did not know about the get-together at the Corner, unless you're talking about the Corner Bar on Vine Street in Kalamazoo... and even then, I don't know anything about a planned GTG there. And as for Bell's, I loved Larry's brew long before it was strictly legal for me to do so. I still have one of the original Sol-Sun logo T-shirts, before they changed the name to Oberon.

I actually have a question for you about Michigan politics that's thoroughly off-topic for this blog, so I'm going to try to email you direct.

On-Topic Content: Let's put these crooks in prison, for a long time, so that they can't come back in 20 years and try the same schemes again! I agree that we must impeach, now, before they have a chance to launch an attack on Iran.

Wonderful: our foreign policy is run by Israel, via AIPAC and the congresscritters it's bought, and by Saudi Arabia, which has bought Cheney and PNAC. It explains a lot of the decisions of the last decade.

P J Evans: It explains a lot of the decisions of the last decade

such a sad story... the American military, sold to the highest bidder.

For the record, I'm not sure even how far Dick is driving this illegal bus. I was serious when I said they've got us by his nuts. And I would imagine he's just going to do anything he can at this point to get his nuts out of their claws. He's not in the position, anymore, to be making the decisions.

smiley

email me at emptywheel at gmail dot com.

Jodi, the only reason "reporters" get access to anyone, is because of the "reader's right to know." It's us, "the little people," who empower reporters to ask the tough questions. One of the reasons we at tnh dislike/distrust Woodward so intensely is because he has not done what he did during Watergate. Back then he and Bernstein published the information they had as soon as they got it. That was consistent with the "public's right to know." That's what PJ Evans was trying to explain above. Once a "reporter," stops reporting, s/he violates the only thing that makes them a reporter, the "public's right to know." That's what Woodward has done consistently. In addition and even worse, he writes what the elites want to hear, not what's actually happening. This guarantees him access and helps maintain his access to the rich and powerful. It also means he is no longer a news reporter. He's an entertainer trying to make a buck. If Woodward and others of his stature/notoriety, Tim Russert, had asked the tough questions and reported what they knew about Iraq, when they knew it, you probably wouldn't have family fighting in Iraq right now.

Let's not forget the back channel connection that allowed a private jet to spirit out several Saudis including a bin Laden from the US immediately after 9/11.

If Bandar and Cheney want a regional war it may come back to haunt them. Although the Shia are a minority in Saudi Arabia they are concentrated in the oil producing region. There is also probably a lot of intrigue in the Saudi royal family with many princes wanting to grab the throne. So the outcomes for a regional war may not follow the script Bandar expects.

As this "partnership" between Bandar, Cheney and the Israelis comes to light with more color in the Middle East its not going to do wonders for their street appeal in Arab lands. The Bandar-Israel connection could spell desertion by even many die-hard Sunni supporters of Saudi Arabia. Its probably not that difficult for them to fund, arm and then initiate a civil war in Lebanon. But if Hezbollah's summer performance against the much vaunted Israeli military is an indicator the neocons may be in for a surprise if and when a civil war breaks out in Lebanon. Now of course it could also be a pretext for the Israelis and the US to get directly involved militarily in other parts of the Middle East. I am sure regime change in Syria maybe a higher priority because as Cheney said about the Iraq invasion "its doable".

So does their brilliant stratagery involve supporting the Sunni insurgents against the Shia in Iraq or is it that they will be on the side of the Iran-aligned Hakim in Iraq while against the Shia in other parts of the region? Whatever it is, one thing I am certain of is that the outcome will be nothing like what they expect it to be. They will once again demonstrate poor judgment.

There are the times Bandar has been to Washington, and then there are the times Cheney has been to Aspen. I think it was when the Huffington Post was first starting up that she reported on Cheney's mysterious trip to the hospital there. But here's what I don't understand: weren't we hearing for a while that Cheney was advocating tilting to the Shiites?

A couple of weeks ago it became clear to all of us that President Cheney and Bush boy will not pull out of Iraq no matter what the ISG, no matter what anyone, says. I asked the question then, "Who is the handler, who is running Cheney, who's interest does it serve to stay there?" It seems that we are beginning to get our answer. In addition to the Sauds, I think we have to give some thought to Israel. (Throw in a couple of major arms dealers and you've got a party. Back to my thought-) Iran clearly makes Israel very nervous, but what a hell of a position they are in. They'd love to see Iran slapped down, the Sauds would as well, but the Sauds want something for the Palestinians out of this thing. I'm guessing a lot of backroom horse-trading is going on to work that out, thus aligning Saud and Israeli interest to the point that Dick may soon find both of his balls back in the same grasp. Any takers?

PS - Jodi, Woodward ain't the man he used to be. Enough said.

yo, pj evans

it's all a little to complicated for jodi to understand

jodi is one of the little people who believes everything that herr georbells says

the concept that We The People might have something to say about how our country is goverend is a little too much for jodi to handle

jodi is just happy to be in the hand basket, and the fact that the hand basket is going to hell is something that jodi neither understands nor cares about

woodward is a sold out hack

the REAL journalism is being done by people like Marcy Wheeler, and jodi is fighting like hell to protect the cocktail wienie set from the mean people like Ms Wheeler

so when you see a post from jodi

PLEASE DON'T FEED THE TROLLS

isn't this the reason childlike mentalities are favored for the saud?
who would want someone smart around if you have family members plotting your demise?
and please, the inbreeding is a very popular thing in the royal house, and among the general population. our species has genetic issues with this, and prolonged repetition of such practices, can have real effects on the offspring.
the folks that deny known science are always good for a laugh. at the planet's expense

Instead, it seems the Saudis are holding us by Dick Cheney's nuts.


After reading your latest, a certain phrase comes to mind: shadow government.


The question remains, though: why is it that the Saudis have Cheney in such a position? It's got to be something more than just influence over the U.S. economy. I haven't found a satisfactory answer yet.


Is it possible that the Saudis were the ones who insisted that Cheney be installed as vice-president? Anyone with more than passing familiarity with George II had to have realized that he was unfit to be president.

All this intra-family intrique confirms for me just how ripe the Aramco upstream oil supplies are for plucking away from the Royals. The al-Sauds and al-Faisals are splitting in multiple segments, like ripened figs dried in the sun.

If history is any guide, the deeper the Saudi push into the middle of the American/Iranian dance macabre in Iraq, the more vulnerable they become to destabilization from within.

The greatest threat to the Saudis isn't the five percent Shi'a minority within the Kingdom, or even Dick Cheney, but their violent succession struggle that continues to pull in outside players. Ultimately, the time comes when someone says, keeping these 10,000 Princes in control isn't worth the trouble, and puts an end to the game. That's the day the supply-starved multinationals have been eagerly awaiting since 1973.

If I were Saudi, this would not seem to be the best time to test the American commitment to maintaining the status quo in Riyadh.

When push comes to shove, the same unhappy fate also awaits the Bush family. Both are one wrong step away from oblivion. The two Houses fall together.

Leveymq:

The Bush family is a pestilence upon this nation. I say good riddance.

leveymg

I remember, not long before the beginning of the Iraq Debacle, the Brits came out with a study that gave the Saudi family a 50% chance of falling to prison intrigue in the next year or so. I imagine their chances aren't much better now.

The Lawyer who fell off the balcony was a Woodward source?

Let's not forget that it was from Woodward in his Plan of Attack book that we learned (after the fact) that Prince Bandar was shown by Bush classified pre-invasion Iraq War plans and maps... even before Powell. Plus I think Bandar's relationship has also earned him the nickname Bandar Bush...so this special back channel plot certainly wouldn't surprise me in the least. And after Bandar witnessed the Chalabi backchannel duping of Bushco, I'm sure he figures it's pretty easy to get what he wants from this group of megomaniacal chumps that run our country.

Jodi, Jodi, Jodi - how utterly charming the naivete of so many Americans, and how unspeakably pathetic.

Woodward prints what he presents as "interviews" after the sources are dead, and thus unable to verify, or refute. How convenient.

One need look no further than his preposterous claim that he got William Casey's "death-bed confession," which the old pig deemed worthy of Bobby Woodward's ears, exclusively - but not, say, his own wife or someone else truly close to him.

Yeah, right.

Woodward is a phony, and has been for many years.

He also said, drumming up public support for the invasion of Iraq on CNN, that "his sources" had told him that Saddam "has these unmanned drone planes, you know, that are capable of flying 500 miles without refueling...it is scary to think that he could pack one of those with a nuclear weapon, a biological weapon, and attack the United States of America..."

That would be your country, which is located just a bit farther away from Iraq than that, with a lot of ocean in between.

Of course, the CNN hack never asked the question, nor did anyone else among the willfully ignorant American public.

Woodward is someone you trust?

Why not ask the tooth fairy?

Marcy - in your 10:49 comment this morning when you quoted from a British study, did you mean to say that the Saudi royal family had a 50% chance of falling to palace (rather than prison) intrigue in the next year or so?

In yesterday's 16:51 post, you stated when you referred to Dick Cheney that "he's not in the position, anymore, to be making the decisions." Could you please elaborate on what has led you to that conclusion?

Continued chaos in Iraq is in the interest of Saudi Arabia... and the only way to maintain chaos in Iraq is if US troops remain there.

The reality is that once US troops leave, Syria and Iran will carve up Iraq "spheres of influence", and basically put an end to the civil war through "ethnic cleansing" -- but a "kinder gentler" ethnic cleansing that is going on right now.

But more importantly, with the US gone, and order restored to Iraq, nobody is gonna want all those al qaeda type foreign fighters hanging around -- and they will wind up going home.... a couple of thousand of them to Saudi Arabia.

And their next target will be the 'corrupt and apostate" Saudi Royal family.

WHile the days of the Saudi monarchy are obviously numbered, none of them want to jump off the gravy train just yet -- so continued chaos in Iraq means they get to run their own country a little bit longer.

And the Saudis have us by the balls, because they can throw the world economy into a tailspin just by stopping the flow of oil.....

So, we're staying in Iraq, because the Saudi Royal family doesn't want a couple of thousand fully trained terrorists with extensive experience in guerilla tactics bringing the war home to Riyahd....

Stephen Parrish

Oops--that should say "palace intrigue."

And why isn't Dick in a position to making decisions anymore? Honestly, because they have us by his nuts. They are, explicitly, threatening to ally with Al Qaeda against the US unless we do as they say. That is disastrous for Dick in several ways: because it means we'll be fighting them over here as well as over there, because he has staked his personal reputation on fighting Al Qaeda, yet has only made it more likely they'll combat us directly. In other words, the Saudis are at a point where they're unwilling to negotiate (for the reasons p luk says). And they're willing to use the leverage they've got to make sure we do as they say, regardless of the consequences for the US.

It seems that wherever money and influence exist ineffective qualities of the human species intensify to a level of self destruction. Power corrupts absolutely. I remember now why I thought (in my naivete) that the answer was communism. (when I was 12). It seems so clear that absolute power corrupts absolutely and that the only philosophy that has a snow balls chance in saving the human race is one that ameliorates the corruption that accompanies power. It seems the only solution that might work is the one Jesus (and many others) role modeled for us. What blows my mind is how willing we are to die to protect our ideas, our religions, our governments, our money, our oil, our power, but how impossible it is to find those who willing to die for peace. How would wars exist if people could not be persuaded to die for them.

Woodward prints what he presents as "interviews" after the sources are dead, and thus unable to verify, or refute. How convenient.

T.Long-- Woodward's interview with Ford was taped, as I bet were the others. Important parts of it were played on Chris Matthews's show. As a practice, I don't believe Woodward stuff words into the mouths of dead people. That's a different order or perfidy than withholding stories, and withholding stories is bad.

FWIW

From everything I've seen, Woodward is meticulous about keeping notes and recordings of his conversations...except the key one with Libby in the Plame case.

I'm curious about what exactly the Saudis are threatening; what the "by the balls" metaphor really means.

Supposedly the Saudis have declared that if we withdraw from Iraq, they go in and support the Sunnis in a civil war. Fine. They've also said that if we "tilt" to the Iraqi Shiites, they will absolutely fuck us over, again by funding the Sunnis but this time against the Shiites+Americans, instead of the Shiites only. That is definitely a threat against America, but a pretty mild and predictable one really. I strain to imagine us ever tilting too hard toward one side in a civil war, especially the Iranian side, and so the Saudis just made it clear that no, fucking over the Iraqi Sunnis is not a real option and never will be.

Their suggested alternative is to create a multi-country Sunni-vs-Shiite war, with the Americans on the side of the Sunnis in all countries (Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi-vs-Iran, and maybe even Alawite Syria). Assuming the differences over Palestine are negotiable, the Israelis tend to agree.

The Saudis did make a threat to the USA, but from what little I can see all they did was rule out one stupid option, and propose another stupid option. As long as we're not being forced to accept that stupid Saudi option, I think the USA hasn't really been blackmailed too badly.

Now, if the Saudis are actually standing in the way of US withdrawal options, then we're in a serious situation. If they have ruled out not just the "Shiite tilt" but also the "USA packs up and leaves and lets the Iraqis work it out" plan, which is what Nawaf Obeid seemed to be threatening, then they really do have us by the balls. I don't know what leverage they would have to do that, unless their version of "supporting the Iraqi Sunnis" includes setting up bona fide terrorist training camps, Afghanistan 1980s style. That or they could just fuck with the dollar, although somehow I doubt they're that absolutely opposed to US withdrawal; rather it's just that they know that their plan once we withdraw will incidentally hurt the USA a lot, and they want us to know it. The only reason I can imagine their opposition to US withdrawal being categorical, rather than incidental, is if they know for sure that the Iranians will win the aftermath, and that not even Saudi intervention can stop them, and that an Iran-Iraq bloc will pose a real mortal threat to the survival of the Sauds. In that case they might oppose withdrawal centrally, rather than just incidentally.

That would suck, but I'm inclined (based on zero information -- when will I learn to shut up in environments where I know nothing?!?) to think that they in fact don't oppose withdrawal centrally, because they don't think that Iran will necessarily totally win Iraq post-withdrawal. It will be a bad situation, but also a less-than-mortal threat to Saudi, so they'll be making less-than-mortal threats to the USA, which means no petrodollar stuff. If they're not standing in the way of a US withdrawal, then we're in a survivable position. They'll probably have to train some terrorists in Anbar if they want to fight the Iranians to a draw, but hopefully they'll keep decent tabs on them this time and we can roll up the mujahedeen when the war is over. Saudi and American interests both dictate that the terrorist element in Anbar not get out of control. As long as it doesn't, we still have a clear enough path to withdrawal. Right?

Oy, I'm out of my depth. Again.

I have to wonder who is pushing for Saddam's execution *now*: it is the eve of Eid, and there are 2 million pilgrims in Saudi - already in a religiously excited frame of mind. It will not be hard to make some of them angry how the "Crusaders" publically executed one of them during Hajj.

Is it counter blackmail against the Saudis?

Or mutual plan for a casus belli against Iran? Any violence is "obviously" Iran's doing. That carrier group is steaming towards the Gulf, while the Bush war cabinet keeps stalling for time...

I have no clue, but like saltinwound, I suspect pieces are moving on the board. And I won't like where they are going.

texas dem, I think we're all out of our depth. We depend on 'inside sources' that speak to 'reporters', and once there is a consistent narrative, we almost have to believe it's the truth. But, of course, it's usually only part of the truth, and sometimes none of the truth.
I find EW's supposition that the Saudi's have Cheney by the balls doubtful. I also doubt that Cheney was 'called on the carpet' by Abdullah, basically from my purely amateur psychological reasoning.
1. The Saudi's are rabbits, they don't trust their army, or their people, they do not want to rock the boat, war with Iran would rock the boat, big time.
2. Cheney is running US foreign policy, he has disposed of the ISG, and is planning to strike Iran, the Saudi's are scared and Cheney went to Riyadh to keep them in line.
3. Bandar's roll is problematic, he is close to the Bushes, but this is Cheney's game.
4. I don't trust the Washington Post's account. Whether they are spinning, or just spun, something smells wrong.
We'd like to find out in time what really is going down, but if we have to depend on Woodward and his like, we won't.
Cheers!

texas and Dick

Make no mistake, by "supporting the Sunnis" (in the event Dick doesn't make Abdullah happy), the Saudis mean "open support of Al Qaeda." What will it mean for the US if OBL effectively gets control of the Saudi oil?

And few people see the consequences, in the event of our withdrawal without some agreement with Iran, as Iran maybe kind of winning. What will happen is that between Iran and the southern Iraqi fields, Iran will become the new swing producer of oil in the world. That is the basis on which Saudi power has been built, and that is why they're willing to throw in with AQ to prevent it.

I still find it amusing that when Woodward was doing CYA on Plame, he called it his "aggressive reporting" mode. Just wish I knew to whom he was reporting; it certainly wasn't the readers of the Post.

E.W,

As to the Saudi threat, isn't it plausible, (at the risk of sounding like a nutcase conspiracy theorist-won't be the first time) that the Saudi's threat pertains to terrorism. Isn't it plausible that we allowed 9/11 to drum up support for the war, that BushCo. cut a deal with the Saudi's "no terrorism if you go in and take out Saddam." It is just so clear that Bush had evidence that a terrorism threat was possible and he so clearly ignored the warning. It's easy to believe he's just stupid or ignorant, but this Iraq study group talk has been around since the early 90's. Isn't it possible that Bush/co took a "let go and let God" attitude about terrorism, and in the back of his mind knew he could use it. Isn't it possible then the the Saudi's and Bushco had a deal regarding terrorism? After reading Dad's book about his reign as president, the peice that is clear is how close the Bush family was to the Saudi royal family. Literally describes his children playing together and spending vacations together. Then we have the exodus after 9/11 of the royals. Then we have the fact that the hijackers were from Saudi. I just think there is something there...and also a reason that Bush quit treating Bin laden life like it mattered. Something...with the Saudi's is shady as hell.

I think Bush cut a deal, and now the deal is being threatened as Bush's power is threatened. Cheney is trying to negotiate it and keep a terrorist attack from occuring on us soil.

The Saudis put Bush in office with bags of unreported cash, financed 9/11 and ordered the invasion of Iraq as their quid pro quo for keeping quiet about it all. Remember Bush's stricken press conference two days after 9/11? I think he'd just gotten the word he'd better dance to the Saudis tune or else. And does anyone remember this small fact? EVERY SINGLE U.S. TROOP was removed from Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Iraq. They were a threat to the royal family, a rallying point for those "destabilizing forces" who want to overthrow the monarchy. Wake up America -- thousands of our citizens and soldiers have been sacrificed to keep these evil bastards on their blood-soaked thrones.

Can we pressure Congress to investigate this? Because we're just spinning our wheels [sorry EW] with speculation and theories at this point, and little to back those up.

For those who are watching Saudi Arabia and are speculating on the succession issue, or trying to read the direction of Saudi foreign policy, I would encourage you to read my recently published book - "The Prince: The Secret Story of the World's Most Intriguing Royal Prince Bandar bin Sultan."

It provides a remarkable insight into Prince Bandar - a Machiavellian prince and now kingmaker - or future king? Certainly as Secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council and frequent White House visitor, he has his hands on the reins of power.

See reviews on my book at http://www.prince-bandar.com

See also his interaction with the White House since Jimmy Carter was president, more on Iran-Contra and discover why he is called Bandar Bush.

Bill Simpson

I think there are connections among the following:

1. from EW started here, Wright's story in WaPo story on the rumoured rivalry between Princes Bandar bin Sultan and Turki al-Faisal, and that Turki left at a time when the KSA's US Embassy has a notable amount of unpaid debts accumulated during his ambassadorship,

2. the link to Steve Clemons' posts on Prince Turki at Washington in ew's "Sneaking Away In the Dark of the Night", and

3. the comment here by William Simpson in the context of hawking his book ( NTTAWWT ):

"...Prince Bandar - ... future king?"

Both ew and Clemons linked to a story in the LAT about Prince Turki's campaign-like tour of the US over the past 18 months.

My comments:

A. I don't mean this analogy to be taken too literally, but there is this parallel between the way the House of Saud runs its "business" (Saudi Arabia Inc., if you will) and how the New Jersey mob is portrayed in The Sopranos to run its business:

Rather than the strictly legit corporate model of reporting all revenues from all operations, paying out operating expenses and long term debt obligations first, and then distributing shares from profits, each member of the House of Saud is pretty much on his (No need for political correctness here.) own in financing his operations. If you go to a general information source like Wikipedia and look into the Al Yamama project and all the efforts to have that subjected to scrutiny by the UK's Serious Fraud office, there are strong implications that the particular Saudi ambassador to the UK in place during all the years that project was ongoing would receive millions in ex gratia payments from those companies interested in hawking their wares through the project - including the then-Carlyle Group-owned United Defence (since sold to BAe).

After 20 plus years as head of RSA's intel community, and before coming to Washington 18 months ago, Prince Turki served in the role as RSA's ambassador to the UK, and it's not as if those stories ended.

That is, it appears that Prince Turki, when he had the opportunity to do so, got his - like every other major player in the House of Saud.

It also means that when Turki was redeployed to the US 18 months ago, he would have reason to expect the US equivalent of those kinds of ex gratia payments would be at least as available in Washington as they were in London.

Further, given that when Turki arrived the US had already been in its War on Iraq, er, Terror in Iraq for over 2 years, and the then-GOP Congress had proven suitably disciplined by the current Bush Inc. ambassador to the White House to provide a virtual blank cheque to anything that involved the Middle East, I would think Turki would have expected that the Saudi Embassy in Washington had no debt and no expected problems in the medium term with maintaining cash flow at a level more than sufficient to meet the Embassy's expenses.

B. That suggests that Prince Bandar had both the opportunity and the cultural incentive from his family to "get his" while he served as RSA's ambassador to the US. Indeed, Bandar's ties to the Bush Inc., The Carlyle Group, United Defence, British Aerospace, the State department, the CIA etc. over HIS two decades plus in THAT job, suggests that Bandar would have treated that group as HIS "franchise".

So - when Bandar was redeployed back to RSA in favour of Turki taking over the Saudi Embassy in Washington, I should think that he would be concerned that such redeployment might mean, no, NECESSARILY meant, Bandar would run into a major cash flow problem,

UNLESS he were able to secure a position in RSA in which the opportunities for self-remuneration were on par with those he'd enjoyed in the US (which I very much doubt, given King Abdullah and lead Princes Sultan - Bandar's pop - Nayaf and Saud - Turki's big bro - would have any Home Base franchises too close to them to resist),

FAILING WHICH it might constitute an AWFUL temptation simply to return to Washington each month and keep picking up the cheques from the same places as always -

leaving no money to pay for the Embassy's substantial expenses from Turki's See America campaign (which doesn't appear to be anything Bandar every did anyway), and no money to pay for groceries and baubles for Turki's wife and kids.

C-Assuming, as I do here of course, that each of Bandar and Turki "gets his" not from that part of the Saudi economy with the biggest international profile - the ohl bidness - but instead from a 'secondary' or 'incidental effect' business - military hardware and security - I would think that NEITHER of them is high up on the list of likely successors to King Abdullah.

From all reports, Abdullah is far from a dull fellah, and among other things seems to have embraced a future of improved relations with and tolerance for the existence of Israel (see hi "Abdullah Plan"), rights for women (assuming they can get past the all-male corps of driver testing examiners), economic diversification in Saudi to encourage work for the - or more accurately "a" - middle class (although he like others was deluded into thinking the Reagan model, "trickle down", works - though indeed it does work for business owners, like the shareholders in WalMart), and, importantly for present purposes, royal succession.

Though the current Crown Prince is Bandar's dad, who is well up in his seventies, and a father's love and promotion is a valuable asset, any affection King Abdullah might have for the Crown Prince would be dwarfed by his sense of responsibility for the future of the country/family/familybusiness and his greater admiration for descendants of those of his predecessors proven most able - namely, his late brother Faisal - Turki's dad - and any among the other remaining sons of his own dad, and the founder of RSA, Aziz.

Most of those "remaining sons" are old codgers, and many that aren't just too frail have proven themselves less than suitable to lead this difficult country/family/familybusiness - but, by golly, there are a few that present intriguing bios. THAT's the stable housing the horse that I would back, and then I'd look THAT horse in the mouth to forecast the future of Bandar and Turki.

Here's my pick for the favourite:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muqran_bin_Abdul_Aziz

And given his age and interests, and the fact that his resume suggests he's spent an awful lot of time with ONE of Bandar and Turki, I very much like the odds for the following:

-That Turki's voice will rise above that of Bandar in Abdullah's tent,
-That Abdullah's appreciation for the complexities of the US having been significantly deepened by Turki's perspective, the RSA will NOT choose to jump into any boat just on the basis that it is piloted by Dick Cheney, or just on Bandar's recommendation of Dick's seamanship (that is, there better be other good reasons), and
-some time during 2007, UNLESS Dick gets his way and bombs Iran before it can happen, King Abdullah will succceed in getting together a Pan Arabic/Pan Muslim/Pan Oil conference including all the players there, and NOT including any of the players from out of town - that is, not Turkey, not Russia, not China, not France, not the UK, and certainly not the USA), and have them listen to the sweetly intoned rational stylings of Maestro Turki al-Faisal, just like Bushboy and his Base get to listen to the stylings of Dick, until that group comes up with something like the Abdullah Plan, cloned to the idea of a commitment from the US not to trod on Iran.

And that's as good as it's ever going to get for Bushboy.

- LabDancer

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