Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul For Saudi Crude

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9780739304143: Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul For Saudi Crude

Former CIA operative Robert Baer examines the dangers behind America's collaboration with Saudi Arabia. Nominally based on a "harmony of interests" - the Saudis sold their oil to the American government very inexpensively - what we offered in exchange has damaged our position in the Middle East and left our country vulnerable to economic and terrorist threats. Baer goes behind the scenes to show how the U.S. willingly overlooked the corruption of the Saudi royal family, its financing of violent Islamic fundamentalist groups that spread hatred of the West throughout Saudi society, and its bribery of American officials. From a close-up with a corrupt Arab family to the inside scoop on how we helped fund the Taliban, Baer shows what's at stake in our pursuit of oil.

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Review:

According to Robert Baer, the center of the global economy is a "kingdom built on thievery, one that nurtures terrorism, destroys any possibility of a middle class based on property rights, and promotes slavery and prostitution." This kingdom also sits on one quarter of the world's oil reserves, thus ensuring that it receives the full support and protection of the U.S. government. Sleeping With the Devil details the hypocritical and corrupt relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the potentially calamitous economic consequences of maintaining this Faustian bargain.

As Baer makes clear, the U.S. has been aware of problems within the bitterly divided Al Sa'ud family for years, but has ignored the facts in order to keep lucrative business deals afloat. (The amount of money the royal family spends to influence powerful American politicians and lobbyists is staggering.) Particularly damning are his details regarding Saudi Arabia's support of militant Islamic groups, including al Qaeda. The ruling family funnels millions of dollars to such groups in order to dissuade them from overthrowing the monarchy--a protection scheme that is shaky at best, given the hatred most citizens feel for the ruling family. To prevent economic disaster that could come from either a local uprising or an interruption in the flow of oil due to terrorism, Baer raises the possibility of the U.S. seizing the Saudi oil fields and forcing a regime change on its own terms: "An invasion and a revolution might be the only things that can save the industrial West from a prolonged, wrenching depression," he warns.

Baer spent 21 years with the CIA, much of it in the Middle East, so he is an informed guide to this complex subject. His alarming book deserves to be read for raising many important and troubling questions. --Shawn Carkonen

From the Inside Flap:

"Saudi Arabia is more and more an irrational state--a place that spawns global terrorism even as it succumbs to an ancient and deeply seated isolationism, a kingdom led by a royal family that can't get out of the way of its own greed. Is this the fulcrum we want the global economy to balance on?"
In his explosive New York Times bestseller, See No Evil, former CIA operative Robert Baer exposed how Washington politics drastically compromised the CIA's efforts to fight global terrorism. Now in his powerful new book, Sleeping with the Devil, Baer turns his attention to Saudi Arabia, revealing how our government's cynical relationship with our Middle Eastern ally and America's dependence on Saudi oil make us increasingly vulnerable to economic disaster and put us at risk for further acts of terrorism.
For decades, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been locked in a "harmony of interests." America counted on the Saudis for cheap oil, political stability in the Middle East, and lucrative business relationships for the United States, while providing a voracious market for the kingdom's vast oil reserves. With money and oil flowing freely between Washington and Riyadh, the United States has felt secure in its relationship with the Saudis and the ruling Al Sa'ud family. But the rot at the core of our "friendship" with the Saudis was dramatically revealed when it became apparent that fifteen of the nineteen September 11 hijackers proved to be Saudi citizens.
In Sleeping with the Devil, Baer documents with chilling clarity how our addiction to cheap oil and Saudi petrodollars caused us to turn a blind eye to the Al Sa'ud's culture of bribery, its abysmal human rights record, andits financial support of fundamentalist Islamic groups that have been directly linked to international acts of terror, including those against the United States. Drawing on his experience as a field operative who was on the ground in the Middle East for much of his twenty years with the agency, as well as the large network of sources he has cultivated in the region and in the U.S. intelligence community, Baer vividly portrays our decades-old relationship with the increasingly dysfunctional and corrupt Al Sa'ud family, the fierce anti-Western sentiment that is sweeping the kingdom, and the desperate link between the two. In hopes of saving its own neck, the royal family has been shoveling money as fast as it can to mosque schools that preach hatred of America and to militant fundamentalist groups--an end game just waiting to play out.
Baer not only reveals the outrageous excesses of a Saudi royal family completely out of touch with the people of its kingdom, he also takes readers on a highly personal search for the deeper roots of modern terrorism, a journey that returns time again and again to Saudi Arabia: to the Wahhabis, the powerful Islamic sect that rules the Saudi street; to the Taliban and al Qaeda, both of which Saudi Arabia helped to underwrite; and to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most active and effective terrorist groups in existence, which the Al Sa'ud have sheltered and funded. The money and arms that we send to Saudi Arabia are, in effect, being used to cut our own throat, Baer writes, but America might have only itself to blame. So long as we continue to encourage the highly volatile Saudi state to bank our oil under its sand--and so long as we continue to grabat the Al Sa'ud's money--we are laying the groundwork for a potential global economic catastrophe.

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