Huffpost Business
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Raymond J. Learsy Headshot

Hillary Clinton, Saudi Arabia and "Foggy Bottom"

Posted: Updated:

Last Thursday Bill Clinton disclosed his complete donor list of contributors to his foundation that funds his library and charitable work, in an effort to abate concerns of conflicts of interest should Senator Hillary Clinton be confirmed as President-elect Obama's Secretary of State.

Does it, or does it just raise additional and potentially disturbing issues? According to Bloomberg, the Clinton foundation collected at least $41 million from foreign nations. Leading the list of open-handed generosity was a donation of between $10 and $25 million from Saudi Arabia. And that of course is singularly worrisome as it raises the question of whether our putative Secretary of State would be, in any way, beholden to Saudi Arabia.

We have come to realize that Saudi donations and contributions both direct and indirect, have achieved insidious influence on the American Government extending from the price and supply of oil to U.S. policies toward the Persian Gulf states, Iran and Iraq. The incestuous relationship between the American government and Saudi Arabia, seeded by President George H.W. Bush and his appointees, has reached its apogee under the presidency of George W. Bush. During these years the nation has endured the embarrassment of having Prince Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, treat the Oval Office as an annex of the Saudi Embassy.

The relationship with Saudi Arabia has had debilitating cost to the United States in lives and fortune. 9/11 came and went, and under President George W. Bush Saudi Arabia has never been held to account for the fact that the majority of hijackers who carried out their murderous attack were Saudis. Nor has there been a serious American policy of bringing to an end the billions of Saudi money from Saudi citizens and charities that are flooding Wahhabi schools and cultural centers in Pakistan and around the world, forming today's and tomorrow's extremists, while teaching young minds hatred of Shiites, Hindus, Christians and Jews. Not to speak of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan where Saudi Jihadists are part and parcel of the irredentist fabric of murder and pillage.

And then of course there is the issue of oil where Saudi Arabia, in its leadership role within OPEC, has led OPEC to the promised land of $147 barrel oil. This, while our administration continued to stock up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve irrespective of price or market perception, nor effectively initiating meaningful programs for alternative energy nor significantly reducing our fossil fuel consumption. And of course never seriously confronting the Saudis on their manipulative production and pricing policies, much to the pleasure of the administration's friends in the oil industry, and at enormous cost to the nation as a whole.

On December 17, 2008 the Financial Times would categorize Saudi Arabia's pricing influence within OPEC, and I quote, "Saudi Arabia's willingness to sacrifice market share should consolidate its power as the only country able to influence the price of oil and therefore the world's economic health."

A benign and cooperative American administration toward OPEC is key to the Saudis and their focused policies for ever higher oil prices. We are in effect the de facto protectors of their independence and we have extended that protection under an amenable Bush administration without any meaningful quid pro quo. Herein the State Department of the next administration will have to play a key role.

Senator Hillary Clinton is a personage of outstanding ability and extensive experience. If Bill Clinton's brush with the Saudis makes her more pious than the pope in encouraging arms length monitoring of Saudi issues and limiting Saudi access, so much the better. It is long past time that our relationship with Saudi Arabia be based on clear cut national interests and not clouded by Saudi access, influence, and personal relationships at the highest levels -- influence that is forever at the expense of this nation and its citizens and to the benefit of the Saudis and its royals. That has been the case these last eight years, and to some degree before. Can Hillary Clinton assure us that there will not be any Saudi preferential access to Foggy Bottom in spite of the myriad millions visited on the Clinton foundation? That there will be no preferential treatment given to that telephone call seeking to jump the line coming from Riyadh or the Saudi Embassy, even if its 3 A.M.?!