Friday, August 26, 2016

Scott Shane's "Saudis and Extremism": Mostly More of the Same

Now, because of the cumulative stresses of work, that I have abandoned almost entirely the discipline of waking up at 4:00 a.m. to read the newspaper and then record a few comments here, I wonder how I was able to do it for more than three years.

Reading Scott Shane's lengthy "Secrets of the Kingdom" expose, "Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’," was truly enervating. Shane, who appeared in cameo on The Wire's final season, is usually given edgy assignments by "the newspaper of record." He lays out everything we basically already know about the House of Saud's export of Wahhabism worldwide.

If you have a half hour, I'd say the story is worth your time, if only because it establishes how Saudi Wahhabism is suffocating local, multi-sect, tolerant, syncretic Islam. War promises to be an ever-expanding reality.

But Shane blunts the impact of the piece by regularly spicing his reporting with caveats from Saudi-friendly academics and diplomats that there is little or no evidence that Salafist violence is directly linked to Saudi charitable support for Wahhabism. The overall effect is to create a blur, an "Oh, it is all so complex. We'll never know for sure. The poor Saudi royals are such easy targets."

Shane never references his past reporting connecting the Saudis to 9/11 and Al Qaeda, nor anything about the recent declassification of the 28 pages from the congressional investigation that strongly implicates a Saudi official with aiding 9/11 hijackers.

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