Amid all the coverage of President Obama’s address to the United Nations, we should also note the obsequious “salute” that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave yesterday to Saudi King Abdullah. Using the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s national day, Clinton heaped unqualified and unrelenting praise on the monarch for, among other things, enhancing our security, showing friendship to other religions, helping liberate women, reforming education, and supporting peace with Israel.
On this historic occasion, Clinton said, I want to salute King Abdullah for his leadership on key regional and global challenges, from championing the Arab Peace Initiative to working to respond to the international economic crisis. King Abdullah has extended the hand of friendship to people of other faiths. He has provided leadership in developing and strengthening the Kingdoms institutions, working to diversify the economy, support knowledge-based education, and expand opportunity for women. And he has established a powerful dialogue that seeks to promote the principles of moderation, tolerance, and mutual respect core values that we all share. These bold steps put Saudi Arabia on a path towards a stronger, more prosperous, and more secure future. The inauguration of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which promises to become a world class center of excellence, research, and learning, is a testament to the Kings far-sighted leadership. The commitment to learning and research that this new university represents will serve Saudi Arabia well in the future.
No mention was made of the fact that Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world without a public church, or that is has been singled out by the State Department as one of the worlds worst religious persecutors. In Saudi Arabia today, women still cannot leave home without the permission of their male guardians, and even then are banned by the state from driving. Meanwhile, the Saudi Ministry of Education continues to post online its curriculum of hatred and violence toward Jews, apostates, polytheists, and (generally speaking) the religious other, which even Saudi journalists and editors themselves acknowledge has led to easy recruitment of suicide terrorists from among Saudi youth. Those Saudis who dissent from such of the monarchy’s repressive policies are often charged with blasphemy and similar offenses and thrown into the Kingdoms deplorable prisons.
King Abdullah has, however, done at least one thing that warrants a tribute from Clinton: He was one of the largest donors to her husbands foundation.