FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Saudi Spillover

How are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going? Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to look at what is happening in Saudi Arabia.

Until about a year ago, Saudi Arabia was one of the safest countries on earth. Crime was rare, and everyone, including Americans, was secure almost anywhere in the kingdom. In a world where the most important distinction will increasingly be that between centers of order and centers of disorder, Saudi Arabia was a center of order.

That is no longer true. War has come to Saudi Arabia, Fourth Generation war waged by Islamic non-state forces. Battles are almost a daily occurrence. Foreigners, on whom the Saudi oil industry heavily depends, are frequent targets for assassination. A number of incidents suggest the Fourth Generation forces have penetrated Saudi security forces–not surprising in a strict Islamic country where the non-state elements represent an even stricter Islam. They have the moral high ground.

In Washington, the “bouffesphere” whispers nervously about Saudi Arabia’s future. It is obvious that the trend-line is not favorable. When will the House of Saud fall? What will replace it? Will the cheap oil on which America depends continue to flow? Schemes abound–send the Marines to “secure” the oil fields and exporting facilities, impose democracy (including, of course, Feminism) on the Saudi monarchy, give Mecca and Medina back to the Hashemites–but the debacle in Iraq effectively makes it impossible for us to act elsewhere. Plus, invading the homeland of Wahhabism would make Iraq seem like a walk in the park.

What Washington cannot understand is that the crumbling of Saudi Arabia is part of the war in Iraq, and that in Afghanistan as well. We still think of wars as delineated by state boundaries, because we still envision a world made up of states.

Non-state forces such as al Qaeda use a very different map. Their map has no state boundaries on it; they only think of the dar al Islam, the Islamic world, and the dar al harb, the world of war. For them, our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is an invasion, not of two countries, but of the dar al Islam. Their response can come anywhere, with equal validity; it is all one “battlespace,” to use the U.S. military’s latest buzzword for battlefield (an historical question: do all failing militaries change their terminology frequently?). Their actions in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Europe and North America are all one. Reacting to what we do in one state with actions in another is no different from, in conventional war, counterattacking in the south when your opponent attacks in the north. Like the Washington Establishment, al Qaeda also believes in “one world.”

If we use our enemies’ map, it is difficult not to conclude that we are losing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to increasing instability in Saudi Arabia, we see General Musharaf tottering in Pakistan, President Mubarak of Egypt flying to Germany for “back surgery” (is that diplomatic-speak for terminal cancer?), Islamic militancy rising in Europe, and who-knows-what in the way of terrorist incidents being prepared in the United States itself. All of these play in the Afghan and Iraqi wars, no less than car bombs in Baghdad and ambushes outside Kandahar. It is all one war, one battlefield. State boundaries mean nothing.

Of course, it is not going very well on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan either. But in this war, events in those places are in effect merely tactical. The strategic centers of gravity are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt. Al Qaeda, I think, understands this. Washington does not. That fact alone suggests we have only seen the opening moves in what promises to be a very long war.

WILLIAM S. LIND is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the
Free Congress Foundation

More articles by:

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail