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    Editorial / Guest Op-Ed Point-Counterpoint

    Good Policy Or Royal Pain? LB Reps. Vote To Deny Financial Aid to Saudis

    On July 15, reported that LB area Congressmembers Juanita Millender-McDonald (D, LB-Carson) and Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV) joined a majority of House members in voting for an amendment to a foreign aid bill that would strip financial assistance to Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration opposed the July 15 House action, which passed by a 217-191 margin. To become law, the Senate would have to pass a similar ban on foreign aid to Saudi Arabia (either directly or in a House-Senate agreed conference bill). To view our coverage, click here.

    We agree with the House action. We consider the Saudi "government" basically a medieval autocracy with cell phones. We were glad that former NYC Mayor Giulliani refused post 9-11 Saudi money. We believe President Bush deserves much credit (and has received bipartisan support) for focusing on what previous administrations ignored: the need for democracy in parts of the medieval mideast. Democracy requires overdue tolerance for divergent views and beliefs, free speech and a free press. Where will Saudi royal family be when that happens?

    That's our view...but we received a thoughtful email from a former U.S. Marine who spent time in that part of the world and sees the issue differently. We are proud to present the views below of Matt Lorscheider, Machine Gunner, Lance Corporal, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in Iraq, as well as a previous overseas tour during 9/11. His active service ended in June.

    Op-ed Text Below By Matt Lorscheider

    I understand that Saudi Arabia hasn't been exactly the most cooperative country in regards to the war on terror. I agree that something should be done to perhaps bring them around to our way of thinking. However, one must first understand that the Saudi people and the Saudi government dont quite see eye-to-eye about relations between their country and the United States.

    The Saudi government faces alot of criticism and discontent within their own borders, and so must do things to save face with their people, not unlike our own government does when we aren't too happy. But for the House of Representatives to strike down financial aid to the Saudis is, at best, foolhardy.

    Consider the following: Democrat leaders have often accused the President of being too heavy-handed in his dealings with Arab nations, yet when he has tried so long to be diplomatic to the Saudis, the House then cuts him off at the knees by cutting off aid, damaging the President's already shaky diplomatic sway with the Saudi government.

    Also, if the Representatives were indeed so concerned about Saudi cooperation, don't they think that pulling away aid money would be counterproductive? The Saudi government already had very few tangible reasons to aid the U.S. at all, now they have even less.

    And since support for the war in Iraq continues to wane here at home, I think they can sleep safe knowing that they dont face U.S. military action. Saddam is gone, there is no other threat to their existence left that they need our help with. So now why cooperate with us at all? Some may view this as a victory in the war on terror, I believe it may prove to be our biggest folly yet.

    In light of new developments in U.S.-Iranian relations, the last thing we need is to have a valuable-if not always reliable-ally in the region to discontinue their support.

    From an economic standpoint, this cannot prove good for the average Joe American. Yesterday, I paid $2.09 for 87 octane gas, and this is the best price I've paid in over a month! And when oil is more expensive, believe me, everything else starts getting more expensive.

    And pulling our aid money from the Saudis is only going to make them less willing to support us in OPEC, and less willing to try to cut us a deal. The fact remains, until the Iraqi government proves itself stable and the country is able to produce and export the mass quantities of oil that it once did, America is highly dependent on Saudi oil.

    I may not be an economic analyst, but even in my limited understanding of the world market, I know that it's not going to make things easier to have an angy Saudi Arabia with a stranghold on over half of our oil imports. I've been living in hopes that things will get back to normal soon, and that I may one day pay less than two dollars a gallon, but now I don't see that as possible.

    To conclude, I don't think you can see this as anything else but a little boy's attempt at foreign policy. The Saudis dont play by our rules, so the House takes our "ball" and goes home...solving absolutely nothing, and making it less likely that anything will be solved.

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