Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Crapshoot in Saudi Arabia

George W. Bush, who wants to talk about oil prices, is spending the day with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who wants to talk about pulverizing Iran.

Four months ago, when our President asked his Mideast friend for help, the price of crude was $91 a barrel. Yesterday it closed at $127. But the White House National Security Adviser says, "There are limits to how much that production can be ramped up without enormous investments of dollars and enormous investments of time."

Translation: The Saudis won't do much to help their lame-duck friend lower American gas prices between now and November unless they are spooked by the prospect of a President Obama. In 2004, they boosted Bush's reelection chances with a production surge.

On the Iranian front, the White House announced that Saudi Arabia will join the 70-nation Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the 85-nation Proliferation Security Initiative, and the U.S. will " work with" the Saudis to help protect their energy resources and develop "civilian nuclear power" to be used in medicine, industry and power generation.

Translation: The Saudis get vague promises of help with nuclear weapons if Iran pushes on with efforts to get them.

As always, the dice are loaded against us in the Mideast crapshoot, no matter what we do. When the Democrats take power next year, they will have to figure out a new way to play the game.

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