As Fareed Zakaria put it on last night’s Daily Show, the U.S., and the Bush Administration in particular, supports democratic reform only in “strategically insignificant” countries like Burma — and not in, for example, Pakistan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, where U.S.- and Bush-friendly dictators, or seemingly friendly dictators (like Pakistan’s Musharraf), accept U.S. aid in return for their compliance with U.S. interests, or seeming compliance with seeming U.S. interests. It’s all about seeming, you see, which is to say, about appearance. In the end, for Bush and the Bushies, democracy means much less than whatever it is they can get out of their friendly dictators, like oil, which may be real, or support for Bush’s war on terror, which may not be — support in speech is not support in deed, something Bush has yet to figure out.
Billions to Pakistan — for what? Billions to the Saudis — for what? For a hug, for a photo-op, for empty promises, for nothing.
And now Bush is in the Middle East making nice with his dictator pals. Indeed, not long after arriving in Riyadh, Bush announced that he was going ahead with the sale of sensitive military technology, specifically laser-guided bomb technology, to Saudi Arabia.
In what is surely related news, Abdullah awarded Bush the Saudi Order of Merit.