Josh Marshall, 20 April 2003:
Consider how this changes our reliance upon and stance toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition to their oil, much of our security relationship with the Saudis has been based on our need to project force against and counterbalance Iraq and Iran. With the Iraqi government out of the picture, our need to counterbalance them disappears. And if you want to project force against or counterbalance Iran, Iraq is a much better place to do it from than Saudi Arabia.
What this adds up to is that most, if not all, of our geostrategic interest in Saudi Arabia evaporated over the last month. If the Saudis give us grief or won't cut off terror money to various bad-actors we have a much freer hand to squeeze them.
This is really about Saudi Arabia. The 'debate' in ruling circles is over whether or not to continue to rely on the regime in Saudi Arabia as the linchpin of US 'post-neo-colonial' hegemony over the world's access to Mideast oil, or to radically change the paradigm. The Bush Jr, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al faction urgently wants a new US-backed Shah-like regime in Iraq to quarantee US interests in the region (albeit a somewhat more democratic regime than that one, if possible), and is afraid of what might come in the near future in Saudi Arabia when the king finally dies -- perhaps even civil war (e.g., Wm. Safire, NYT Op. Ed, 12Sep02). The growing instability of the SA regime, which the US has defended and relied on for decades, presents an enormous crisis for the US elite in maintaining its all-important hegemony over middle eastern oil resources. The fruits of their longtime propping up of the Saudi royals could very well be not only disruption of Saudi and Kuwaiti oil, but, for them, the REAL catastrophe would be the loss of US control over the world's access to this oil.
I have to admit that I was somewhat skeptical of Tom's ideas back in September, and I still think he sees what he calls the establishment as far more clueful than it really is. (Many ex-Marxists do.) But still...