My Word for October 25, 2001

The cat is out of the bag. The Sept. 11 hijackers were not from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, or any of the other bloodthirsty terror states.

We know that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader, was from Egypt — an American ally, a country we have drenched in some $50 billion over the last decade.

We know that 15 of the other hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, that stalwart American ally in the Middle East which provides us oil as long as we provide them the fighter jets they need to keep Saddam Hussein minding the store in Baghdad, and not wandering around Riyadh like he owned the place.

So let's look at this again. Our two biggest allies in the Middle East — not counting Israel — were the sources of the Sept. 11 attacks. We can rest assured that reports from both places of people cheering the attacks are sickeningly true.

Whose fault is this? Is it our fault because we won't abandon Israel? We also haven't abandoned Saudi Arabia, and we haven't abandoned Egypt, but we don't see Israelis flying jets into New York skyscrapers. So what is going on here?

What's going on is … the Arab street is a much different place than the Arab corridors of power. Those with power say: Yell at America. You have free speech. But yell at us, and we will jail you.

Anti-Americanism has been a safety valve in these corrupt countries for decades, back to Gamel Abdul Nasser. Completely corrupted regimes tell people: You are right to be angry. You are wrong to be angry with us. Be angry with America. Be angry with Elvis, and with Tom Cruise, and with that guy in Des Moines who goes to work at the local Wal-Mart without giving a thought to the grievances of the Arab street.

In this way ... fat, besotted sultans, sheiks and potentates have kept the power of their thrones. Generations of young Arabs have grown up thinking things will be better at home if only they can blow up something in America.

It has led to the terror against us. We know bin Laden is our enemy. We know Saddam is our enemy. Our enemies are easier to deal with than our friends — the Saudis and the Egyptians who smile and scrape, holding the bloody dagger behind their flowing robes.

Tell you what. Next time, let Saddam take the Arabian peninsula. I'd rather buy oil from the Russians. Next time let the Israelis drive all the way to Cairo unimpeded by the so-called Egyptian army.

Sultans and sheiks and potentates don't listen to me, so there's no danger they will be insulted. But we should drop these good friends like a hot rock, and take our chances with our enemies. I like our odds better that way.

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