Violent fanatical movements burn out. Some take longer to fade than others, but none endure. Inevitably, their ever-increasing excesses take the gravest toll among their own kind, alienating the population from which they demand support. If “revolutions devour their own,” religion-driven insurgencies are the ultimate cannibals: Witness al Qaeda’s wanton butchery of its fellow Muslims, a blood-lust that, along with our successful anti-terrorist strikes, have pushed the last decade’s great bogeymen to the far margins of events (al Qaeda’s recent announcement of its—unwanted—support of the anti-Assad rebellion in Syria is another desperate attempt to remain relevant).
My point? It’s time to shift our focus to more-serious Islamist enemies of civilization, freedom and elementary decency: the Saudis. Al Qaeda carried within it the formula for self-destruction, but the Saudis are the kind of threat that lasts: pernicious, perverted and patient.
I don’t worry much about the Obama administration’s recent blessing of the sale of another $30-billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, since the Saudis are too cowardly, lazy and incompetent to use them effectively. The threat from Riyadh isn’t military—it’s militant.
The one area in which the Saudis are dangerously skilled is global subversion of any society in which Muslims are present. The first thing you have to understand about the Saudi rulers is that they don’t care about Muslims, but only about Islam—their sick, Bedouin-hillbilly (dune-billy?) version of it. This is a critical distinction most of us miss, but I’ve seen it at work first-hand, from Kenya to Indonesia. The Saudis don’t care if tens or even hundreds of millions of Muslims live failed lives in squalor and misery—as long as they keep Islam “pure.”
In every country in which the Saudis are at work—not least, in the USA—their goal is the same: Prevent Muslims from integrating into the host society and accepting that society’s shared values. The Saudi nightmare is an educated, self-made man in a free society. So the Saudis pour in money to train radical mullahs, to bankroll mosques and Koranic schools most noteworthy for their intolerance, and to persuade families not to provide their children with sound, secular educations. Wherever they can get away with it—I’ve encountered this time and again—the Saudis bribe poor Muslims to take their children out of state schools where they might learn marketable skills and put them in madrassahs where they focus on memorizing the Koran (a skill not yet in high demand among Fortune 500 companies).
To further this agenda, the Saudis also spend extravagantly on building mosques at the extreme fringes of Muslim penetration—first, to mark the territory for Islam, and, second, to purposely anger non-Muslim locals as another tool to prevent Muslim integration (what do you really think the “Ground-Zero mosque” was about?). The Saudis’ front-men may preach tolerance when invited to the White House, but their consistent goal is to maintain—and expand—a firewall between Muslims and the rest of us. Foolishly, we play along.
Of course, all this means that their greatest victims and the worst sufferers are their fellow Muslims. One value the Saudi royal family shares with al Qaeda is a disdain for the average Muslim: al Qaeda kills them outright, but the Saudis kill their hopes for better lives—and then demand that they thank Allah for it.
Protected by Democrats and Republicans alike, the Saudis make sure we never know exactly how much they spend to spread their moral poison and tribal-cult version of Islam. But right now, in 21st-century America, estimates project that at least 70% of mosques and madrassahs in the United States receive Saudi funds, directly or indirectly. And they are not interested in developing good citizens for Uncle Sam.
The Saudi royals lack the courage of al Qaeda’s terrorists, but their dreams, if not their time-lines, are the same: A world that’s a vast prison camp of believers, in which piety for the masses is rigorously enforced, while those in charge can still do what they want behind closed doors (one suspects that the Saudis would keep London and Paris open as vacation spots where princes can whore and drink to their hearts’ content—it’s hard work keeping other people moral).
The Saudis are not going to succeed. Humanity just isn’t wired that way. But, in the meantime, they’re wrecking millions of lives—overwhelmingly, Muslim lives—while doing their best to subvert multi-faith democracies and spread the sort of religious fanaticism that leads lost souls to terror. The Saudis may not have steered Major Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood assassin, along his path to mass-murder, but their fanaticism inspired Anwar al Awlaqi, the butcher behind the butcher. And you can bet they were delighted by the news from central Texas…not least, because it drove another wedge between American Muslims and the rest of us: The only art that’s cherished in Saudi Arabia is the art of hatred—of Westerners, of women, of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, Shia-Muslims—you name the faith–and of anyone else who doesn’t sign up for the grim Wahhabi program.
Okay, so what should we do? We can’t do much overseas, since Saudi bribes are far more effective than our timid, inept diplomacy. The Saudis will continue to hold back Muslims from social and intellectual development around the world, wherever they can. But we can act here in the USA.
The biggest hurdle is money, which the Saudis employ as their primary weapon against free societies (and we support them each time we stop for gas). Over generations, they’ve bought good will from a long parade of American politicians, bankers and corporations. They can afford the finest lobbyists. Our defense industry loves them, since they buy the most-expensive junk on offer. And, amazingly, they’ve conned American liberals into believing that intolerance is tolerance—George Orwell would have fainted in disbelief.
We’ll never convince the Bush family or other political dynasties with whom Saudi diplomats have shared many a single-malt scotch and tennis game that these hate-mongers are really bad hombres, so we’ve got to work on Congress—especially, the House, where grass-roots movements still can make a difference.
What should be step one? Apply common sense—and call ‘em out in public. Our leaders permit the Saudis to fund—and pervert—religious institutions on our soil in the name of religious freedom. Well, whoa, Flicka! How about a quid pro quo? For the Saudis to continue funding hate-mosques and hate-schools here, we should get to establish churches and synagogues in Saudi Arabia, right? I mean, fair’s fair. And if they can send mullahs and missionaries here to poison American neighborhoods, we should be able to send a few thousand polite, well-scrubbed and earnest young Mormons to Jiddah and Riyadh to knock on doors (we’ll skip Mecca, just to be nice).
What, no deal? I’m shocked. Isn’t this all about tolerance?
Seriously, we must press Congress to forbid all direct and indirect funding of religious institutions on our soil that originates from states or governments that do not allow corresponding religious freedoms, as well as outlawing subsidies and grants from all non-governmental organizations (the usual disguise) and private individuals registered, funded or holding citizenship in the intolerant state in question.
Think about it: Isn’t it incredible folly to allow the most-intolerant religious tyranny on earth (much worse than Iran’s, folks) to poison American immigrants and native-born citizens with fanatical hatred, while we can’t even open a tiny chapel for expats in Saudi Arabia? This isn’t tolerance—it’s mindless support for intolerance.
Let me be clear: I believe there are many peaceful, admirable strains within the complex realms of Islam. I don’t believe for an instant that all Muslims spend every waking hour thinking about how to hurt us (Muslim societies consistently do the most harm to themselves). And I’d much rather live next-door to an honorable Muslim-American than beside a nominally Christian hypocrite who expedites home-foreclosures, but can trace his or her ancestry back to the Plymouth Colony.
Instead of condemning all Muslims, we need to recognize that we share common enemies: Yes, that means al Qaeda–which has killed vastly more Muslims than infidels—but it also means the primitive and degenerate Wahhabis of the Saudi royal family, who have done their best to hold back the Muslim world; to stunt the lives of Muslims living in mixed-faith societies; and to use our own sloppy “tolerance” to poison our society. The Saudis are the worst enemies of Islam since the early, devastating waves of Mongol invasions. And they ain’t our pals, either.
Al Qaeda is on its way out. Now we need to stop letting Saudis in.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Ralph Peters is a retired military officer and former enlisted man, a media commentator and journalist, a traveler and researcher with experience in over 70 countries, and the author of 28 books, including works on strategy and prize-winning fiction. His new novel, Cain at Gettysburg, will be published on February 28th. Earlier this month, he testified in Congress about Pakistani support for terror and in favor of a free, independent and US-aligned Baluchistan.