The dangers to Iran posed by the Israeli lobby have come to light on this web site and in the blogger community. Juxtaposed to this lobby, is another dangerous force to Iranians, It is subtle, religiously driven and indirect. It is important to be aware of, considering the increase in tension and possibility of military action. It is mainly religiously driven.
DC is home to a diverse neighborhood of “think-tanks”. The scholarly names and titles for these provide neat covers for the ugly work they are often responsible for. Overall it’s a pretty incestuous political machine and entry to it offers steady jobs and celebrity status (the dusty, McLaughlin Group kind) as panelists and analysts in media debates. Not to mention invitations to lavish dinners at the homes of foreign dignitaries residing in Washington.
One such organization is the Middle East Institute. While they hardly speak for the Israeli cause, they work against Iranian interests in a number of ways. MEI acts as the mouthpiece for the Saudi royal family.
MEI does an excellent job of deflecting attention from the US-Saudi alliance’s influence on Iran policy. They are helpful in deflecting criticism of Saudi society as it appears to the State Department: full of anti-American sentiment and egregiously neglectful of human rights situation within Saudi society. This is important in light of the Bush administration’s unfair Iran sanctioning and lack of engagement.
What makes all this even more important is the Saudi hate for Shia in terms of Iranian political motivations.
Here is a classic example of how this works: On June 14, 2007, the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight held a hearing titled “Is There a Human Rights Double Standard? U.S. Policy Toward Saudi Arabia, Iran and Uzbekistan.”
The opening witness, and man of interest here is Mr. Thomas W. Lippman, Adjunct Scholar from the Middle East Institute. A bit more background on Lippman included in the link explains that “he is also the author of the essay on Saudi Arabia’s defense strategy and nuclear weapons policy published in 2004 by the Brookings Institution Press in The Nuclear Tipping Point, a book on global nuclear proliferation.” The man is also big in the Saudi US Relations Information Service.
In his testimony on June 14, he states that in the case of Saudi Arabia, there is a double standard. He explains that the historical respect for Saudi culture is the main reason for this of the policy.
The founding King told the United States in the 1930’s: “We will use your iron, but leave our faith alone.” If only Iran’s kings had been as astute.
The testimony is full of reasons for the double standard, and why it is good. Keep in mind the significance of having a white male speaking about the economic value of the US-Saudi alliance in spite of “negative” human rights reports, as opposed to a Saudi in traditional kit/headdress.
Lippman basically makes the case that Saudi’s are happy, the Iranians are not. Focus regime change on the Iranians. Here’s what he tells the panel as proof. Keep in mind, this is coming from a “scholar”.
He stresses the US cannot assume that Saudis want change or “desire a society according to our standards of individual liberty and personal freedom” (p 5). “The Saudis were always very proud of the fact that when the Iranian students were so unhappy with their country, when they came here, they stayed.” (p 40) Whereas, Saudi students return home after completing their education. He cites no evidence for this.
He labels Saudi society as “evolving” (p 5), because after Kissinger came to Saudi, the taboo of Jews in the kingdom was broken. Ridiculous. He tells the panel that the Saudi risk themselves by advocating peace with Israel, while “Iran’s leaders call for Israel’s extinction” (p 14).
In a joint statement in 2005 from Crawford Ranch, President Bush and King Abdul Aziz said “The United States considers that nations will create institutions that reflect the history, culture and traditions of their own societies.”
This isn’t true for Iran though. Part of democracy is giving people the tools to make build a strong civil society. Sanctions will harm that. Worst of all, Iran has invested a large amount of money in its nuclear program, and the US is threatening to damage it. Meanwhile, the Saudis are allowed to use America to strengthen their economy and commercial interests.
According to the Congressional Report on Saudi Arabia, the Saudi cabinet released a statement “if the Israeli military savagery continues to kill and destroy, no one can predict what will happen” and “should the option of peace fail as a result of the Israeli arrogance, only the option of war will remain.” (p 16) The double standard is painful.
Lippman and the Saudi PR strategy machine have worked to such an extent that the Saudis are being permitted to work on gaining nuclear power.
The Saudi Prince told reporters “nuclear technology is an important technology to have for generating power, and the gulf states need it equally” (p 21) No one has said a word about that statement at the last Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh. Iran stands to lose a great deal of her interests. Meanwhile, the double standard helps the Saudis gain more regional power as the US supports an economic alliance and nuclear power for a country that is full of hatred, but fortunate enough to have the right influence on Capitol Hill.