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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Over the weekend, President Bush met with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and while he praised the steps taken by the Indonesians to fight terrorism in the wake of the bombing of the dance club in Bali, he was reported by the AP to have said that the Indonesians had a long way to go.

One simple question: have you ever heard Bush say that the Saudi Arabians have a long way to go? Quite the contrary; Colin Powell has praised the Saudis for fully cooperating on the war on terror. The folks in the Bush Administration, and the conservatives that support it, pride themselves on their "moral clarity". But they've got this one exactly backwards. Megawati's government in Indonesia is exactly the sort of thing we should be celebrating and holding out as an example to the rest of the Islamic world: a democratically elected government in a difficult to govern, predonimantly Islamic country doing its best to manage hundreds of islands with different and feuding populations. Add to that the fact that the President is a woman!

Meanwhile, our "friends" the Saudis run one of the most oppressive countries in the world for a woman to live in-- polygyny (but not polyandry), arranged marriage, enforced submission to husbands and fathers, no right to drive or to ride in the front seat of a car, and the forced wearing of the chador, a covering only slightly less oppressive than the burqa (the Saudis are gracious enough to let women expose their eyes). The Saudi government has never held a free election, is made up of a clan that plays by a different set of rules than the rest of the population (stealing millions of dollars, and engaging in huge amounts of adultry and fornication, both of which would merit severe punishments under Islamic law if done by a commoner) and whose members actually believe that they are superior and more fit to govern than the rest of the population due to their bloodline. (Monarchism is, at bottom, a form of racism, just more narrowly drawn to encompass a particular clan or family rather than an entire race.) And most importantly, unlike Megawati, who, for all of her faults, is actually trying to do something about terrorism in a very difficult-to-control country, the Saudis openly support terrorism, with payments of protection money to Al Qaeda, telethons to suicide bombers, and a state-sponsored propaganda and religious education campaign that spews anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism.

Conservatives are often driven up the wall when liberals condemn Bush and Cheney, and his cohorts, for their backgrounds in the oil industry. But the Bush / Cheney deference towards Saudi Arabia flows directly from that background. (The only other inference is even worse-- that Bush sees a kinship with the snobbish obscenely rich plutocrats of another society.) If Indonesia had one-fourth as much oil as the Saudis control, Megawati would surely be seen by Bush as having done enough to fight terrorism.

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