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But of course, if we did, the Saudis would publicly condemn US military strikes against Iran. And if you understand that, then you understand everything there is to understand about the Middle East.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly exhorted the United States to “cut off the head of the snake” by launching military strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.
The April 2008 [classified diplomatic] cable detailed a meeting between Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, and then-U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, King Abdullah, and other Saudi princes.
At the meeting, Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir “recalled the King’s frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program,” the cable said.
“He told you to cut off the head of the snake,” Jubeir was reported to have said.
I’m torn. Part of me is gratified that the Saudi leadership has such a clear-sighted grasp of the dangers of a nuclear Iran. Part of me is irritated by their hypocrisy. And another part of me (I have lots of parts, okay?) wonders when, exactly, the Saudi leadership is going to show actual leadership — when, for instance, it’s going to say publicly what it acknowledges privately: that Iran is a dangerous threat, that military action is probably inevitable, that the United States is a force for good in the world, and that Israel — all of 11 miles wide in some places — isn’t the root of cause of the rotten state of the Middle East.
Put it this way: would King Abdullah be okay if Israel went ahead and “cut off the head of the snake?” Does it matter who kills the snake, as long as it’s dead?