Andrew Sullivan

Idiocy of the week: Mary McGrory


Salon Staff
September 19, 2002 1:15AM (UTC)

"The president made the case against Saddam Hussein as an outlaw and a malign dictator who represents 'a grave and gathering danger.' But the particulars of his tyranny rather strikingly resemble those of Saudi Arabia, which is our ally in the war against terrorism."

Let's unpack this particular piece of characteristic inanity from Mary McGrory in the Washington Post last Saturday.

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How is Saddam's tyranny in Iraq strikingly similar in its particulars to Saudi Arabia?

Iraq is not a theocracy, as Saudi Arabia is. It's an ostensibly secular military police state, run by a single despot. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, is an oil-rich, religiously conservative theocratic oligarchy. However noxious both regimes are, it's indisputable that they are very different in their particulars.

Iraq has been developing weapons of mass destruction. Saudi Arabia hasn't, isn't and won't.

Saddam has fought two disastrous wars against its neighbors, Iran and Kuwait. He invaded Kuwait and threatened to invade Saudi Arabia if the West hadn't stopped him. Saudi Arabia has never invaded another country.

Iraq is in violation of umpteen U.N. resolutions. Saudi Arabia isn't.

Iraq has gassed its own citizens and used chemical weapons in wartime. Saudi Arabia hasn't.

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Don't get me wrong. Saudi Arabia's financing of Wahhabist Islam is deeply threatening to the region, Western interests and Western values. At some point, we'll need regime change there as well, if we are to stop Islamo-fascism's growth and appeal. But the very religiosity of Saudi Arabia distinguishes it from Iraq in the particulars of its tyranny. And its threat is financial and ideological, not military. We even have a military base there!

Now these are simple, obvious, readily available facts, obvious to anyone with even the slightest passing knowledge of the region and its history. Yet a leading liberal columnist is able to make such a statement and have it printed in the Washington Post. And the knee-jerk left wonders why it isn't relevant anymore.

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