Money or Democracy


I personally commit to not protesting in the streets (of Seattle) against the Saudi Arabian king. Where's my check?
Blind to the inevitable, the House of Saud trembles.
One of the worst reflexes of American commentary on foreign affairs is to assume that, wherever something happens in the world, America must be involved. Surely this is a plan that the Saudis could have drawn up on their own. It is, in fact, just an expansion of their previous policy of propping up the domestic economy with government spending (the aid to students studying abroad is also not new). Also, if I were the King, I would hope I could find advisors who were better versed in Saudi domestic affairs than the State Department, as it doesn't exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to understanding the Middle East.
@3 America must be involved

Oh no, Charles is right, black and brown people can't and don't do anything themselves without whitey's input. They're children you see, in Charles’s mind. When they grab a hot iron? It's whitey's fault for not turning it off. When they drown in a pool? It's whitey's fault for not closing the gate.
"Everything here smells of the State Department."


Everything here smells of one of the most effective and well-known means to preserve a failing monarchy, in all of human history. Even the Caesars knew this one: Keep the people in bread and circuses, and you can do anything you want.
Well, I have to admit a 15% raise would certianly make me shut up for awhile.
Obama didn't make a call like that. They have the oil & our debt; they tell us what's what.
Um, right, it has to be our idea, because well, those kind of people just can't think of it on their own. WTF?

Joke's on the King because revolution comes from rising expectations, not the downtrodden.
"...include funding to offset high inflation and to aid young unemployed people..."
Yep, nothing like a 15% raise plus crowds of young jobless with new income/benefits to curb inflation, alright. Keep adding gasoline, this fire's gotta burn out sooner or later...
Yeah the US never supported, armed, advised and protected middle eastern dictatorships. No, the US is not the Saudi's biggest client, ally, advisor and enabler. I swear some posters are nothing but a bunch of wee tools.
The thing to remember about Saudi Arabia is if the current government falls, it *will* be replaced by a fundamentalist Islamic state that will be ten times more repressive. This is because the only way the government there has stayed in power at all is by agreeing to turn a blind eye to extremist groups inside their borders. It's a Faustian bargain that will eventually be their downfall.
@6, you might not be THAT ecstatic about that 15% raise if your income had been cut by 2/3 over the past twenty years, as they have been in Saudi. Saudi Arabia rises and falls with the price of oil, which until recently has been at historical lows. It's headed back up, so there's more cash to spread around.

This is how the Sauds have always operated. They have one of the most extensive social giveaway programs on earth. Free health, free school forever. Everything is perfect as long as you don't want to vote and keep well away from the religious police.
@11: Of course the US has supported, armed, advised and protected the Saudi regime, but the Saudis don't seek the advise of the US on everything. Clearly, there are many issues where the US is not consulted, since their current policy is at odds with American interests (the ban on alcohol is an obvious one, since US economic interests would favor access to Saudi markets, but many of their most objectionable social policies, like the ban on women drivers, is arguably contrary to American interests in that it looks bad for the US government, and to a lesser extent in that it makes it harder for US businesses to work there). At most, they are asked to turn a blind eye (which the US has shown very little reluctance to do). In this case, it seems much more likely that the US was asked to provide no support to the protesters. US foreign policy is conflicted on the matter of democracy in the Middle East, so it would seem unwise for for the Saudis to ask their advice, lest they receive an answer they weren't looking for.
Yeah, bread and circuses came to mind... Don't know why Obama would have anything to do with it.
@9: Good point, but not complete: revolutions don't find their leaders and their inner circle from the poor and downtrodden, but bad conditions for the poor encourage some in the middle classes to become revolutionists, generally out of both natural sympathy and because being unable to rise looks like a threat when the mass of people are in a bad way...and the poor and downtrodden can end up making good troops for the cause later.

For my own: I think the right term for this gambit would be "gulyás Royalism", much like the "gulyás Communism" that worked decently in Hungary and works extremely well in China.

(And "gulyás capitalism" worked pretty well here for a long while, but since the expectations have risen, the rich grown less afraid of Communism [and so willing to make some concessions], and globalisation making it seem both harder and less necessary, it's been harder to pull off.)
When capitalism is so bad leaders are forced to bribe their subjects it's the first sign of a failed state.