Kurt Ayau's Reviews > Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude

Sleeping with the Devil by Robert B. Baer
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's review
Jul 22, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: Everyone
Read in October, 2006

If you saw the Movie Syriana and were a little confused, this book will explain much of what goes on in the film. Syriana was actually based on a previous book of Baer's (a former CIA agent who specialized in the Middle East). This is a very interesting book given these times in which we find ourselves. This is not a novel, but a nonfiction piece with some speculation in it--such as, what it would take to cripple Saudi oil production. The book lays out the "big picture" for our involement with various Middle Eastern regimes and how oil greases most, if not all, of those relationships. After reading this book, I wished Baer was in government still, but as a policymaker and not a spook.

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message 1: by Chris (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Chris Coffman Kurt, so does this mean that Baer agrees with Bush that US policy should change its historical direction from supporting dictators who supply us with oil to promoting democratic regimes, regardless of who they sell their oil to?

I've heard people saying that Saudi is "the next Iran" for 25 years but it hasn't happened--ie a revolution. Lenin said that capitalists would sell communists the rope they needed to hang the capitalists with, and in the case of Saudi Arabia the model seems to have a lot of truth to it! Best, Chris

message 2: by Kurt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kurt Ayau I would put it the other way 'round: there have been many, many folks in the "know" who've pinched their noses closed and dealt with the Saudis for decades. It's hard to say that Bush would have this view, because his family has been dealing with the Saudis and their corrupt regime since the 60s, if not earlier. The Saudis really are the linchpin to the whole Middle East mess, but our position has been that, well, since they're our "allies," we'll look the other way when they support Al Qaeda and other types of organizations. The Saudis are oriented to do two things: a) sell oil and make as much money as possible; b) use that money to keep themselves in power--as in letting the Wahabbi (sp.) sect work its evil. A colleague of mine at VMI, a Marine reservist who spoke/taught Arabic and who, conveniently, left VMI to go "work for private industry in Qatar," (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)said long ago to me that the Wahabbis were the problem in the M.E., more so that the Shia. (He also said, though, in Nov, 2002, that there wouldn't be a war.)

As for the position of us "promoting democratic regimes," we'll see how we do w/Nigeria, the next big "Whoops" in the oil business. Have you read Sebastian Junger's "Blood Oil" in Vanity Fair? Some of my freshman did papers on M.E.N.D. and their crusade. I also happen to have bought a bunch of shares in a Nigerian/U.S. company with development rights in the Gulf of Nigeria betw. Sao Tome/Principe and Nigeria some years ago. We'll see how that turns out.

What a wandering response to a very specific question. By thy by, regarding the "War on Terrorism," when Binny Peay, 4-star Army gen, former Cent-Com commander, took over as VMI's superintendent in 2002, he told us in our first general faculty meeting that we are going to "be at war for the next 30 years." Hmmmm. Think he knows something?

message 3: by Chris (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:44AM) (new)

Chris Coffman Hi Kurt, I'm sure Superintendent Peay is exactly right . . . it'll be like the Cold War in terms of its duration.

One interesting issue will be the pressures on Western society that come out in the long period of conflict . . . early on, there are numerous irrationalities, for example, the American soldiers actually fighting the conservative Islamicists probably don't provoke the cultural outrage that the Islamicists are feeding on for their support in the Islamic world . . . it's the San Francisco gays, Hollywood, etc. who are the Great Satans and epitomes of American decadence in the eyes of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc. but these Americans who are themselves the very targets of Islamicist hatred of course vehemently oppose the War.

It's like the still on-going bitterness in the US between the anti-Communists and the anti-anti-Communists . . . I wonder whose side the American cultural establishment--right now largely on the side of the enemies of America just as they are uniformly anti-anti-Communist--will end up on as the Long War unfolds?

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