Our country’s foreign policy is generally a well-mannered affair that’s been known to mask truly bizarre events as reasonably tidy. But every once in a while the absurdity of it all is revealed for even the must gullible to comprehend.
Such a moment occurred in Saudi Arabia when Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken clerical leader of the kingdom’s long-suppressed Shiite minority, was executed on charges of being disloyal to the ruling family, using violence and seeking foreign meddling. His nephew, arrested as a 17-year-old participant in Saudi Arabia’s brief Arab Spring protests, was also sentenced to the same fate: beheading.
Suddenly an executioner’s glimmering sword exposed the fallacy of a crusade— conducted by a dozen Presidents—based on the absurd notion that the U.S. would make the Middle East safe for democracy by embracing Saudi royalty. Saudi Arabia is the darkest theocracy the modern world has witnessed, so dark that the penalty for abandoning the fanatical Wahhabi version of Islam is public decapitation, while those convicted of adultery are stoned to death by local residents. That’s the closest Saudi Arabia comes to democratic participation in governance.