The Saudis Are Neocons, And Other First Wikileaks Impressions

By Jeffrey Goldberg

1. How does the United States Government store its secrets? In shoeboxes?

2. Quote of the year: "Ahmadinejad is Hitler." This from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed in July 2009. And then there is this very astute comment from the Crown Prince: "'Any culture that is patient and focused enough to spend years working on a single carpet is capable of waiting years and even decades to achieve even greater goals.' His greatest worry, he said, 'is not how much we know about Iran, but how much we don't.'" Some of you recall the international kerfuffle that erupted when the U.A.E.'s ambassador to the United States told me at the Aspen Ideas Festival that a military strike on Iran may become a necessity. It turns out he was understating the fear and urgency felt by his government, and other Gulf governments.

3. Since we all know that only Israelis and their neocon supporters in America seek a military attack on Iran's nuclear program, Bahrain must be under the control of neocons: "There was little surprising in Mr. Barak's implicit threat that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities. As a pressure tactic, Israeli officials have been setting such deadlines, and extending them, for years. But six months later it was an Arab leader, the king of Bahrain, who provides the base for the American Fifth Fleet, telling the Americans that the Iranian nuclear program 'must be stopped,' according to another cable. 'The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it,'" he said.

The Saudis, too, are neocons, apparently: The Bahraini king's "plea was shared by many of America's Arab allies, including the powerful King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who according to another cable repeatedly implored Washington to 'cut off the head of the snake' while there was still time."

4. How does Robert Gates know this? In a conversation with the then-French defense minister about the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, the defense secretary "added a stark assessment: any strike 'would only delay Iranian plans by one to three years, while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker.'" I am not suggesting that I know this is untrue; I'm just puzzled at how someone could reach this conclusion so definitively.

5. None of the Iran-related revelations, so far at least, would be surprising to anyone who has followed this issue. Some of us have been writing for years about the potential for an Israeli-Arab alliance over this common threat. The depth of Arab worry about Iran gives lie to the notion that the neutralization of the nuclear threat is an Israeli concern alone. I believe I even mentioned this in this story, from the summer.

6. I have something in common with Muammar al-Qadhafi, in that I, too, cannot travel with my senior Ukrainian nurse:

Qadhafi appears to rely heavily -- ----- ----- ---- -----, and reportedly cannot travel with his senior Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska. He also appears to have an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, reportedly prefers not to fly over water, and seems to enjoy horse racing and flamenco dancing. His recent travel may also suggest a diminished dependence on his legendary female guard force, as only one woman bodyguard accompanied him to New York. End Summary.

I wonder if Qadhafi prefers not to fly over Lockerbie, Scotland, either.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/the-saudis-are-neocons-and-other-first-wikileaks-impressions/67094/