Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oily Pundits

As President Bush leaves for Riyadh to mark the 75th anniversary of US-Saudi relations, there is for a change something other than terrorism on his mind:

Bush is going to ask the Saudis to do what they can to stabilize oil prices, which to some extent at least, the Saudis can help do by increasing production.

He could be asking the impossible, since the market may be out of control as world demand has surged and speculators are jacking up the market. (Does it remind you of the last couple years of housing price insanity before that bubble burst?)

But Bush's request is not unreasonable because the Saudis have plenty of reason to try to control the market, and oil man Bush knows it. But that doesn't stop the oily pundits from spouting off:
John [sic] Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies issued a caveat of a different sort, warning that the US president should not be too hopeful about winning Saudi cooperation.

"In past years, the Saudis have really put themselves out to help American presidents," Alterman said, adding that "they're not really going to put themselves out to help this president."

Washington, he said, will be hampered by the legacy of its massive missteps in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe over the past few years.

"There is suddenly a need to hedge against US incompetence. That changes the whole way these meetings go, and it changes what happens when the US president says I really need you to do this," Alterman said. (AFP)
The "massive missteps in Iraq" have had many downsides, but it hasn't been particularly detrimental t the Saudis. Bush's boldness in taking on Saddam (yeah, second guess that; I don't blame you) kept the oil markets stable to the Saudi's great benefit.

Plus, our presence in Iraq has probably contained Iran. Who knows where the mad Shi'a mullahs would be if there weren't US troops on their border. Another big favor at Bush's (and our) expense.

Then this: "There is suddenly a need to hedge against US incompetence." I really don't have any idea what Alterman is trying to say here. There is no reason to hedge against Bush any more; he's in his last months and won't be doing much. Besides, even if you say Bush is incompetent, what has that incompetence cost the Saudis? $115-a-barrel oil? It could be worse, eh?

So whose incompetence is Alterman talking about? Obama's? That's credible, but I get the sense he's got an agenda and that's not at all what he means.

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