"Will Saudis Ban the Letter 'X'"?

Youssef Ibrahim, former New York Times Middle East correspondent, writes in the New York Sun:

The letter "X" soon may be banned in Saudi Arabia because it resembles the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom: the cross.

The new development came with the issuing of another mind-bending fatwa, or religious edict, by the infamous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice -— the group of senior Islamic clergy that reigns supreme on all legal, civil, and governance matters in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The commission's damning of the letter "X" came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether it should grant trademark protection to a Saudi businessman for a new service carrying the English name "Explorer." ...

Among the commission's deeds is the famed 1974 fatwa -— issued by its blind leader at the time, Sheik Abdul Aziz Ben Baz — which declared that the Earth was flat and immobile....

Still more interesting details in the article; thanks to David Kaplan of for the pointer.

UPDATE: Bill Poser (Language Log) points out that "in some circles in Israel, the plus-sign is avoided due to its resemblance to the cross and is replaced with a version that looks like this: ﬩ It is actually in Unicode, at codepoint U+FB29, dubbed HEBREW LETTER ALTERNATIVE PLUS SIGN." Zayiny! (Well, OK, not quite.)

Poser's correspondents report that "the truncated plus sign turns up in some ulpan (Hebrew language classes for non-Israelis) and in the lower grades of primary school." That strikes me as pretty silly -- a weird signal of insecurity that shows you're obsessed so with the other religion that anything that even reminds people of it is somehow seen as a threat. But at least not as bad as trying to demand that private enterprises do the same.

On the other hand, those crescent-shaped bananas ....

There was a story a while back, maybe within the past year, that the Saudi "religious authorities" were destroying all Saudi archeological sites, especially cemeteries and buildings linked to Mohammed, because to allow them to exist would be a temptation to idolatry - Mohammed worship. Even some Saudi's were aghast.

So this sort of thing is nothing new.
2.3.2007 12:06am
If the cross is "the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom," what is the Star of David?
2.3.2007 12:17am
Randy R. (mail):
Well, at least they are in good company. Religionists over here don't like the X in Xmas.

It is ironic that in the land of the birth of the concept of zero, they would ban the concept of X, which is that of the unknown, at least in mathematics.

Kinda makes you wish you were a philosopher to find meaning here.....
2.3.2007 12:17am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
I guess the lower case "t"'s days are numbered :(
2.3.2007 12:24am
Jim Lindgren (mail):
What will become of Malcolm X?
2.3.2007 12:44am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Randy R.: I may be mistaken, but I believe India is generally credited with the zero. Also, the concept of the unknown isn't the concept of X in mathematics; X is just a customary name for an unknown.
2.3.2007 12:48am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
This is actually an old story. See my discussion on Language Log. And I'm afraid that Muslims aren't the only crazies like this. See my follow up.
2.3.2007 1:57am
Alioth (mail):
Well, algebra, homeland of the X, was born in Arab lands. Or at least its original name, al-gebr (sp?) is in Arabic. Not sure exactly what country.
2.3.2007 1:59am
Syd (mail):
It must be hell to do mathematics without a plus sign.
2.3.2007 2:38am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Part of the absurdity is that they depend on their Crusader allies in the U.S. in particular to keep the sea lanes open and to bail them out when their Moslem neighbors get too greedy for their oil revenues.
2.3.2007 3:17am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Actually, I would suggest that prior to the second half of the 20th Century, the Saudis and other Moslems had more of a problem with Christians than with Jews. It was, of course, the creation of the modern state of Israel that changed all that.

But for much of the past 1300 or so years, it was the Christians whom the Moslems were fighting for dominence. And by the 19th Century, they were losing badly, often ending up as pawns in the "Great Game". And it was primarily the Christians who split up the middle east as we see it now and installed their choices as the new kings.
2.3.2007 3:25am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It is ironic that in the land of the birth of the concept of zero, they would ban the concept of X, which is that of the unknown, at least in mathematics."

According to Wikipedia the number zero was first used in India.

"The oldest known text to use zero is the Jain text from India entitled the Lokavibhaaga, dated 458 AD."

"The first indubitable appearance of a symbol for zero appears in 876 in India on a stone tablet in Gwalior. Documents on copper plates, with the same small o in them, dated back as far as the sixth century AD, abound."

The Hindu-Arabic numerical system, which is a pure place-value system requiring a zero, also originated in India. This system was introduced to Europe through the Islamic Middle East. Otherwise we would call it the "Hindu numerical system." Note that the Maya Indians in Central America had a radix-20 positional number system that used a shell Glyph as a placeholder for zero. However it's not clear that had a concept of zero meaning nothing in the modern sense.

It seems to be a common misconception that the Arabs invented zero.
2.3.2007 3:26am
Could someone please explain what on earth it means to have "invented" zero? It seems to me that not having any of some particular thing is a pretty basic concept. I'm not being flip; I've often read "invented zero" related comments and been supremely puzzled.
2.3.2007 4:36am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
The concept of "nothing" is presumably old, but the idea that "nothing" is a number is fairly recent. The invention (or discovery) was that there is an integer preceding one whose value is "nothing".
2.3.2007 5:28am
A. Zarkov (mail):

The notions of "nothing" and "zero" are not necessarily synonymous. As Bill Poser points out "nothing" can mean a count of zero, and you treat it just like any other number. For example zero can be the solution of an equation. Thus the equation x^2 -2x = 0 has two solutions x=0 and x=1. But the equation x^2 + 1 = 0 has no solutions, or "nothing" is a solution to that equation (assume the solution must be a real number). Understanding the difference between "nothing" and zero can be crucial. When NASA engineers plotted the number of "o-ring" failures versus temperature they treated zero counts as "nothing" and didn't plot the point. As a result the graphs of "o-ring" failures versus temperature were deceiving and they missed the temperature dependence. Thus the Challenger Space Shuttle was allowed to launch on a cold day, the rings failed, and the Challenger blew up. Giving NASA very costly lesson on confusing "nothing" and zero.

The distinction between "nothing" and zero really didn't become clear until the concept of the empty set (set with no members) came along. So now we can say the set consisting of the solutions of x^2 + 1 = 0 is the empty set. All this might seem trivial to the modern mind, but was far from obvious to the ancients. Zero really had to be invented.
2.3.2007 6:30am
Pine_Tree (mail):

If the cross is "the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom," what is the Star of David?

Ummmm, grandmother?
2.3.2007 8:24am
Elliot123 (mail):
I lived and worked in Saudi for ten years, and fact does surpass fiction at times. One correction: the article says the commission reigns supreme in Saudi. It really doesn't. The Muttawwa - the Commission to Promote virtue and Prevent Vice is a quasi governmental group whose enthusiastic volunteers roam the streets harrassing folks for anythng considered unIslamic. They can be safely ignored unless they are accompanied by a cop. They are generally considered pests by the average Saudi.

However, regarding letters -

In the Eighties an employee of Saudia Air was awarded a prize for discerning an unIslamic message in the airline's logo. At the time one of the logos was the lower case word "saudia." The font used left white space between the "s" and the "a" which could be seen as a cross. The employee won a cash reward, and the logo was changed.
2.3.2007 9:27am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I commented on this last month at Crossroads Arabia, where I follow the tensions between reformist, traditionallist, and the ordinary Saudi-on-the-street. Interestingly enough, these conflicts are being reported in the Saudi media, both Arabic and English.

The "Commission" is now more formally under government control and they are always accompanied on their patrols by police. That is both because the Commission members lack arrest authority and to protect the members from very unhappy Saudis. (There are several reported instances of members of the public putting a beatdown on Commission members for going too far.) The government is instituting an academy where it can keep the ignorant zealots out of what it considers an important religio-social function: keeping temptation away from would-be sinners. They are also seeking to keep the vigilantes off the street by considering things like uniforms for Commission members.

BTW, the "Star of David" is known to Muslims also as the "Seal of Solomon". It's a fairly widely used motif in Islamic design, to be found in mosaics, tile work, and other decorative arts. Context is all.
2.3.2007 9:51am
English teacher:
The story about changing the airline logo sounds silly, but a similar event occurred in New Jersey when the number of Route 666 was changed in response to complaints that it was "Satanic.)
2.3.2007 9:55am
The plus sign seems a bit Episcopalian to me whereas the multiply sign is a good, sound Presbyterian symbol.
2.3.2007 9:57am
lucia (mail) (www):
If the cross is "the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom," what is the Star of David?

Didn't you watch the Da Vinci Code? The Star of David represents the uniting of male and female and so it would be both parents of other religious symbols.
2.3.2007 10:01am
Eugene Volokh (www):
English teacher: There is a difference, it seems to me, between the government's choosing not to use certain symbols to accommodate some people's (or most people's) preferences, and its forcing others not to use those symbols. Consider, in a slightly different context, the debate about whether certain Southern states should remove Confederate symbols from their flags and the debate about whether private entities or individuals should be barred from displaying the flag.
2.3.2007 10:41am
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
Why are these savages considered our friends? They sound like the very heart of the problem.
2.3.2007 10:41am
Perhaps we should introduce them to the letter U, for uranium.
2.3.2007 10:53am
This makes me wonder what operating system the Saudis might favor. Obviously, OS X is out of the question. That's okay, because Windows is still the dominant OS on the planet. But wait, what about their XLS files? And their Active-X controls. To say nothing of the familiar X required to close windows on the system.

Linux? Er...this could get difficult.
2.3.2007 11:25am
David Maquera (mail) (www):
Oh, good grief!
2.3.2007 11:40am
David Maquera (mail) (www):
Let's pull out our troops from Iraq asap and watch the Iranians make mincemeat of the Saudis. I will never get over the fact that the 9-11 hijackers were all Saudis.
2.3.2007 11:41am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
English Teacher: In addition to what EV had to say there are many buildings that don't have a floor 13 because that's a bad luck superstition. I don't have any research to support my opinion, but it seems to me that most people who wouldn't want to travel on Route 666 would have that feeling not from a deep seated religious belief but because since they were taught 666 is a symbol of the beast/satan its viewed as potentially unlucky. In other words if I had the choice to travel one of two different roads, both equal to my purpose and destination in all respects, and one of them is named 666 I'd probably choose the other one. Not because of religion nearly as much as I'd be likely to view it as potentially unlucky.

I think if my analysis above is correct then there is a qualitative difference between the Saudi X and Route 666. EV's points about government action to censor itself versus government coercion to censor private actions is the more tangible and important point.

Says the "Dog"
2.3.2007 11:42am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
EV, The Israeli laws that regulate free speech by making it a crime to talk to a non-christian about christianity and are actually enforced by the government as opposed to quasi government organizations (as is the Saudi case) seems to be an even more egregious example of religious zealotry and insecurity in Israel's culture. Am I wrong?

Says the "Dog"
2.3.2007 11:47am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Quick Follow-Up. Yes I know Israel let's christians and muslims freely worship inside their own churches and mosques (and Saudi Arabia doesn't) but I am comparing the government speech censorship of the Saudi X with the government speech censorship of Christians outside of their Church. So let's avoid the diversions into yeah but Israel is better than Saudi Arabia on X, Y, and Z that are irrelevant to the question I asked. (oops I used an X, I'd replace it with the upside down cross that some Israeli's use as a plus sign, but an upside down cross is the symbol of the debil).

Says the "Dog"
2.3.2007 11:51am
Eugene Volokh (www):
JunkYardLawDog: I know some countries -- including otherwise nonrepressive ones, such as Greece -- have laws banning proselytizing; I think they're serious violations of free speech and of religious freedom. (On the other hand, bans on
italicized comment signatures, especially ones that contain a joke that might be funny once but not when repeated on each post, would be a different story.)

I'm unfamiliar, though, with the Israeli law you mention. Might you point me to some source that describes its details?
2.3.2007 12:04pm
Barry P. (mail):
Many Muttawa are ex-cons, who think that becoming a religious policeman will signal that they are now pious and reformed. Too frequently, they're not.
2.3.2007 12:33pm
My favorite Sesame Street episode was brought to me by the letter X.
2.3.2007 12:55pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

I guess the lower case "t"'s days are numbered :(

Life is weirder than humour. A Language Log reader who has lived in Saudi Arabia emailed me about his experience there. He said that in fact Saudi schoolteachers were careful to write the letter "t" without letting the horizontal stroke cross the vertical stroke lest they be accused of spreading Christianity.
2.3.2007 12:56pm
Elliot123 (mail):

Computers do provide some humor in Saudi. When the internet was introduced at Aramco there were extensive filters placed on the browsers. These kept the search engines from honoring requests for pornography. However, they did go a bit far. For example, I was stumped on how to install a new version of MicroSoft Excel, so I typed "MSExcel" into Yahoo to find a page about Excel. It was rejected with a stern warning. Note the second, third, and fourth letters of my search request.
2.3.2007 2:08pm
Bleepless (mail):
A few years back, some Russian nutjob found a Jewish conspiracy in the layout of Moscow streets. A star of David, right? This is nothing new. Sergei Nilus, the godfather of theProtocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, was forever finding signs of Jewish perfidy. In his belongings when he died was a pair of galoshes, apparently because they were from the Triangle Rubber Company. Half of a star of David, right? One writer commented: "The thought of elderly Jews making subversive footprints in the snow as they slosh about at night hatching nefarious plots for the overthrow of mankind is delightful."
Somebody ought to tell the Saudis about triangles.
2.3.2007 2:18pm
A Jewish mother and father are concerned about their son who is not doing well in arithmetic. They try everything - tutors, extra problems - and nothing works. A friend suggests enrolling him at the local parochial school which has a good reputation for dealing with children who do not focus well on primary subjects. The parents hesitate but, after Rob flunks yet another arithmetic test, they decide that there is nothing to lose and reluctantly enroll Rob at the parochial school. Every day, Rob comes home and heads straight up to his room to do his arithmetic homework. The parents are impressed; Rob start doing better and better in arithmetic. He scores A's in arithmetic and does not seem to be interested in watching TV or playing, only in doing his arithmetic homework as soon as he gets home. The parents are happy but curious. What could be happening? So they ask, "Son, what has caused this improvement? Do the nuns use special teaching techniques? Is it the textbook?" Rob replies, "Well, when I walked in the first day and I saw that they'd nailed a guy to a plus sign, I knew this was a school that was serious about arithmetic."
2.3.2007 3:05pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
EV, Sorry I don't have a cite. I was thinking of Israel's laws banning proselytizing, but I don't know the details. Its not a big enough issue for me to find them and read them. Same thing for the upside down cross as a plus sign.

Why does my signature seem to irritate you? You've already banned *bold* is italics far behind. Its not a joke its a personalization or affectation. It seems perfectly harmless to me, but seems to rub high powered law professors' egos (or some subset thereof) the wrong way for some reason that totally escapes me. Sorry.

I would have thought it was the content of posts that bothered some people, and not my personal affectations.

To quote a common saying from pop culture American Idol "Come on Dog".
2.3.2007 3:47pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
EV, BTW, the follow-up post to my question to you wasn't intended to be directed at you but at potential commenters. I realize now that the follow-up post doesn't communicate this intent properly.

Says the "Dog"
2.3.2007 3:54pm
Barry P. (mail):
Elliott: For a while, the Saudi filters blocked access to Hotmail.

On the other hand, trying to do a search on the Pussycat Dolls here in the Emirates brings up the "verboten!!!" screens.

And MBC leaves in all the "shit" and "fuck"'s in movies, but bleep the last word in the sentnence "I'm as fat as a pig!"

And maybe I'd like the job of covering the ass cleavage in copies of Maxim and FHM with black magic marker.

It really is an absurdity a day here in the sandlands.
2.3.2007 3:57pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
JunkYardLawDog: My ego isn't rubbed the wrong way by your affectation; but the affectation is indeed annoying. First, the point of italics is to catch the eye, so one's eye is distractingly drawn to this repetitive but meaningless item. It's not as bad as bold, but it's not good, either. Second, it comes across as an attempt at a witticism even if not precisely a joke -- if you weren't trying to be amusing in some way, why would you have the signature? -- but the humor was stale months ago. Repeated stale jokes/witticisms/affectations do tend to be annoying.
2.3.2007 4:06pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
EV, The Israeli laws that regulate free speech by making it a crime to talk to a non-christian about christianity and are actually enforced by the government as opposed to quasi government organizations (as is the Saudi case) seems to be an even more egregious example of religious zealotry and insecurity in Israel's culture. Am I wrong?
Yes. No such law exists. There is what's always called an anti-proselytizing law, but it doesn't forbid proselytizing per se; it only forbids giving anything of value to anybody to induce them to convert.

And yes, I think that's a violation of speech rights as well, but it's hardly the same as "making it a crime to talk to a non-christian about christianity." And it's not "actually enforced" at all. It's never enforced.

(Interestingly, there's a current bill being proposed -- not yet passed -- which would forbid proselytizing BY ORTHODOX JEWS to secular Jewish minors.)
2.3.2007 4:07pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I guess they will all be in a hurry to upgrade to Windows Vista.

2.3.2007 4:48pm
Elliot123 (mail):

I had forgotten about the magazines.

For the uninitiated, every single copy of a magazine in the Kingdom is censored. Sometimes they use black markers to obscure unacceptable items, but then moved to sticky tape to cover ads for beer, Scotch, Vodka, womens' legs, womens' breasts, womens' midsectons, womens' butts and women. Besides women and booze, anything about religion, pictures of crosses, religious figures, churches, etc were also blotted. Articles about Israel never made it. I once saw a map of the mideast in TIME where a little square of tape blotted out Israel. It was not unusual to read half a story, turn to the contuation on page 51, and find the story blotted out because adjacent columns had a picture of a BudWeiser.

With practice, a steady hand, and a great deal of patience one could learn to peel back the tape without tearing the page. Putting it back on the library shelf then gave one a great deal of satisfaction. We took our small victories for free speech in the desert where we could find them.

In fairness, I have to say this really annoyed most Saudis.
2.3.2007 4:58pm
Elliot123 (mail):
The last sentence above is not clear. Most Saudis were annoyed at the censorship, not the peeling of the tape.
2.3.2007 5:01pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
David N:

Thanks for the clarification. All I can say is that several jewish people have described or responded to questions about this law in my lifetime, and none of them did anything but defend the law. They never said they didn't know anything about the law and how its enforced or that it was limited only to speech offering money to convert. I had no reason to doubt these otherwise rational, sane, and likable people when it came to discussing this matter. I guess they were also misinformed.

EV, stop reading here:

Says the "Dog"
2.3.2007 5:02pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):

why would you have the signature?

Because its my signature and I'm obsessive compulsive about signing what I write. Its no different nor annoying than it is to have the name of each poster constantly repeated at the top of their posts. At least to me anyway.

Says the "Dog"
2.3.2007 5:05pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
With all the outrageous things the Saudis do why is the US government so tolerant and downright obsequious towards them? The State Department is forever making excuses for them as in "Saudi law requires …" when they do something outrageous. By that standard apartheid in South Africa was ok, as one would merely have to say "South African law requires …" The usual answer is "oil," and that answer has a lot of merit, except I don't think it goes far enough, and is really a cover for something more sinister-- the corruption of our government by Saudi money. I would like to see a list of all the retired State Department personnel and other former US government officials now in the pay of the Saudi government either directly or indirectly. I'm one really not given to conspiracy theories, but with that much money to dispense, I can't help feeling their influence in American government has reached dangerous levels.
2.3.2007 5:21pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
JunkYardLawDog: You're hanging out with the wrong Jews. I expect that most of the Jewish bloggers on this blog would firmly condemn a law such as you describe, though (like me) they'd like to see the text of the law to make sure the description was accurate.
2.3.2007 5:41pm
Loki13 (mail):
A. Zarkov,

Well, there are several strains of reasoning re: KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)...

1. Oil. That's the biggie. They've got it. Lots of it. We need it. Lots of it. While their oil doesn't necessarily go to us, it goes to the world market, influencing world prices, and making the world economy go round and round. Also, they have the spigot (aka excess capacity) which they can turn on and off. If there is a shock to they system (invasion of an oil producing country, another pipeline going boom in Nigeria) the Saudis are the only country not currently maxed out in production.

2. General princimple of non-interference. Call this the Kissinger, or realpolitik model. The Saudis are our allies. Have been for a long time. Why cause problems in a country that is an ally of ours? There are many dictatorships, despots, and couuntries that aren't like America. It is not our job to interfere or invade with every one we do not like.

3. Until recently, the Saudi people were very friendly to Americans. I can only speak to 1993 (last time I was there) and the Eastern Province, but the people there were realtively friendly to Americans. From conversations I've had recently with friends that have been there in the aughts... not so much anymore. Still, the leaders continue to be pro-Western.

KSA has a lot of problems. I don't believe they've corrupted our government, however. There are vested interests on both sides that go back to when Standard Oil of Cal. first started drilling over there.
2.3.2007 5:42pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
You can't spell fatwa without a "t" ...
2.3.2007 8:03pm
Wonko The Sane (mail):
I believe the flat earth fatwa is an urban legend.
2.3.2007 8:19pm
godfodder (mail):
I have to confess that I find events like this x-banning one to be completely alarming. It is one of those little slaps of reality that make you realize how utterly alien Muslim culture is. "Alarming" because it makes me suspect that setting off a nuclear bomb in a Western city (for the greater glory of Allah, of course) is not really all that far-fetched a scenario. How do you negotiate with such attitudes? I think far too many people in the West are living in de-nile.

Oh, and to answer this question:

If the cross is "the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom," what is the Star of David?

I'm thinking of something like... a slutty, spinster aunt? Or possibly the "funny" uncle who drinks too much at reunions and insists on personally putting the children to bed?
2.3.2007 9:00pm
Fcb (mail) (www):
"On the other hand, those crescent-shaped bananas..."

Reminds me that there was a time when the EU tried to do away with them!

Memories, memories.
2.3.2007 9:07pm
Ken Arromdee:
EV, Sorry I don't have a cite. I was thinking of Israel's laws banning proselytizing, but I don't know the details. Its not a big enough issue for me to find them and read them.

If it's a big enough issue for you to use it in an argument here, it's a big enough issue for you to look up to verify.
2.4.2007 12:09am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Oh come on Ken, are you telling me you and everyone else here research and verify every fact that you or they believe to be true or have no reason to believe is false just to make sure before making a post. We aren't posting Supreme Court briefs here.


Says the "Dog"
2.4.2007 1:15am
In Israeli primary schools, the sign for addition is not the usual cross -- the lower pip is removed leaving an inverted "T". The motivation is religious, of course.
2.4.2007 11:53am
A. Zarkov (mail):

Those are all very good reasons. I'm not surprised that the Saudi's were pro American in 1993; after all we were protecting them from an Iraq invasion. But Saudi Arabia is not our friend. We have ample evidence that SA supports terrorism and is hostile to the West. Here is but one example of many. The 1977 booklet, The Facts That the Muslim Must Know about Christianity and Missionary Activity, argues that Christianity has been converted into "paganism, polytheism, and fables." The booklet bore the seal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on its cover and was issued by the General Presidency for the Directorate of Religious Research… a branch of the Saudi Government. Numerous radio and TV broadcasts in Arabic from SA are full of hate-filled venom against Christians and Jews. Hated is taught in Saudi schools. All this comes not only from fringe groups, but from the Saudi government itself.

When you say, "It is not our job to interfere or invade with every one we do not like," how come that didn't apply to South Africa, or Rhodesia? Let's not forget that the Carter administration helped undermine the Shah of Iran because he was an autocrat. Remember Iran was our ally then. While the oil explanation goes a long way, I don't think it goes far enough because we don't have to be that friendly towards them for them to supply the world's oil market. After all we buy most of our oil directly from Mexico, Nigeria, and Venezuela. I think my model makes more sense, the US government at many levels has been directly corrupted by Saudi money. Money paid to ex-congressmen, retired State Department officials, law firms, retired military etc to act as lobbyists and agents for the Kingdom of Hate. Now I can't prove my assertions without further research, but I think it makes a lot of sense.
2.4.2007 6:50pm
Seamus (mail):
When you say, "It is not our job to interfere or invade with every one we do not like," how come that didn't apply to South Africa, or Rhodesia? Let's not forget that the Carter administration helped undermine the Shah of Iran because he was an autocrat. Remember Iran was our ally then.

And wouldn't you agree that what Carter did in Iran was a damnfool stupid thing to do? Would you really want to repeat that experience in Saudi Arabia (with the result being a Sunni mullocracy instead of a Shiite one)?

(Oh, yeah, and we should have left South Africa and Rhodesia alone. Although the harm from interfering there was a lot less than it was in Iran, or would be in Saudi Arabia.)
2.7.2007 1:24pm