Frenemies Forever

How Washington stopped worrying and learned to love Saudi Arabia, again.

BY STEVE LEVINE

Over the past decade, the American public has been presented with the case against Saudi Arabia, and it’s a damning indictment: oil (dirty), terrorism (evil), fundamentalist Islam (dangerous), human rights (shockingly bad). President Barack Obama has spoken of the need to "get off Middle East oil" so that America is no longer beholden to the "whims of oil-rich dictators" — rhetoric that will inevitably increase as oil prices approach $100 a barrel for the first time since 2008. Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and others argue that petroleum profits fuel terrorism and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. Human rights groups point to the reality that women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia, that beheading is a common form of punishment there, and that the country still has no constitution — only an austere, seventh-century interpretation of the Quran.

The verdict: Guilty. But so what? You can’t throw a country in jail. In fact, a decade after the 9/11 attacks were mounted by a team of mostly Saudi terrorists, America needs Saudi Arabia more than ever.

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