|Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
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Product Description As Baer makes clear, the U.S. has been aware of problems within the bitterly divided Al Sa'ud family for years, but has ignored the facts in order to keep lucrative business deals afloat. (The amount of money the royal family spends to influence powerful American politicians and lobbyists is staggering.) Particularly damning are his details regarding Saudi Arabia's support of militant Islamic groups, including al Qaeda. The ruling family funnels millions of dollars to such groups in order to dissuade them from overthrowing the monarchy--a protection scheme that is shaky at best, given the hatred most citizens feel for the ruling family. To prevent economic disaster that could come from either a local uprising or an interruption in the flow of oil due to terrorism, Baer raises the possibility of the U.S. seizing the Saudi oil fields and forcing a regime change on its own terms: "An invasion and a revolution might be the only things that can save the industrial West from a prolonged, wrenching depression," he warns.
Saudi Arabia is more and more an irrational state--a place that spawns global terrorism even as it succumbs to an ancient and deeply seated isolationism, a kingdom led by a royal family that can't get out of the way of its own greed. Is this the fulcrum we want the global economy to balance on? In his explosive New York Times bestseller, See No Evil, former CIA operative Robert Baer exposed how Washington politics drastically compromised the CIA's efforts to fight global terrorism. Now in his powerful new book, Sleeping With the Devil, Baer turns his attention to Saudi Arabia, revealing how our government's cynical relationship with our Middle Eastern ally and America's dependence on Saudi oil make us increasingly vulnerable to economic disaster and put us at risk for further acts of terrorism. For decades, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been locked in a "harmony of interests." America counted on the Saudis for cheap oil, political stability in the Middle East, and lucrative business relationships for the United States, while providing a voracious market for the kingdom's vast oil reserves. With money and oil flowing freely between Washington and Riyadh, the United States has felt secure in its relationship with the Saudis and the ruling Al Sa'ud family. But the rot at the core of our "friendship" with the Saudis was dramatically revealed when it became apparent that fifteen of the nineteen September 11 hijackers proved to be Saudi citizens. In Sleeping with the Devil, Baer documents with chilling clarity how our addiction to cheap oil and Saudi petrodollars caused us to turn a blind eye to the Al Sa'ud's culture of bribery, its abysmal human rights record, and its financial support of fundamentalist Islamic groups that have been directly linked to international acts of terror, including those against the United States. Drawing on his experience as a field operative who was on the ground in the Middle East for much of his twenty years with the agency, as well as the large network of sources he has cultivated in the region and in the U.S. intelligence community, Baer vividly portrays our decades-old relationship with the increasingly dysfunctional and corrupt Al Sa'ud family, the fierce anti-Western sentiment that is sweeping the kingdom, and the desperate link between the two. In hopes of saving its own neck, the royal family has been shoveling money as fast as it can to mosque schools that preach hatred of America and to militant fundamentalist groups--an end game just waiting to play out. Baer not only reveals the outrageous excesses of a Saudi royal family completely out of touch with the people of its kingdom, he also takes readers on a highly personal search for the deeper roots of modern terrorism, a journey that returns time again and again to Saudi Arabia: to the Wahhabis, the powerful Islamic sect that rules the Saudi street; to the Taliban and al Qaeda, both of which Saudi Arabia helped to underwrite; and to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most active and effective terrorist groups in existence, which the Al Sa'ud have sheltered and funded. The money and arms that we send to Saudi Arabia are, in effect, being used to cut our own throat, Baer writes, but America might have only itself to blame. So long as we continue to encourage the highly volatile Saudi state to bank our oil under its sand--and so long as we continue to grab at the Al Sa'ud's money--we are laying the groundwork for a potential global economic catastrophe.
According to Robert Baer, the center of the global economy is a "kingdom built on thievery, one that nurtures terrorism, destroys any possibility of a middle class based on property rights, and promotes slavery and prostitution." This kingdom also sits on one quarter of the world's oil reserves, thus ensuring that it receives the full support and protection of the U.S. government. Sleeping With the Devil details the hypocritical and corrupt relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the potentially calamitous economic consequences of maintaining this Faustian bargain.
Baer spent 21 years with the CIA, much of it in the Middle East, so he is an informed guide to this complex subject. His alarming book deserves to be read for raising many important and troubling questions. --Shawn Carkonen
- Sleeping with the Devil
One must read Robert Baer's first novel, "See no Evil" to get the real value of "Sleeping with the Devil" and how all of the players in Washington D.C. tie-in. Terror is an industry in the Middle East and we are the consummers who pay for that terror through oil. Iran & Saudi Arabia purchased the Washington elite and will forever "own" our politics to vote in their favor. I now know that my vote will never count for anything....more info
- All innuendo and no evidence
This book is full of innuendo, allusions and outrageous claims with virtually no evidence. It is one long conspiracy theory without proof. Lines of text are even blacked out, as if with a Magic Marker, implying that the CIA censored sensitive text. I have never seen any other book that blacks out text. That is such a cheap shot that it is laughable.
Much of the "evidence" in this book follows the formula of "George H.W. Bush is on the board of Carlyle Group, and so is a distant member of the Bin Laden family, so by transitivity George Bush must be supporting terrorism." No.
The author acts surprised throughout the book that the US has such a close relationship with Saudi Arabia. For instance, the Saudi ambassador typically has easy access to staff at the White House. But so do ALL strong allies - Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Mexico etc. and the author does not mention this. Of course the US will have a close relationship with Saudi Arabia; the US needs oil from its primary supplier. This is not a shocker.
What is a shocker is that the author uses exaggerated tabloid language throughout the book and does not site evidence to back up his statements. It is like reading the National Enquirer on foreign policy.
- Interesting intersection of authors
I highly recommend reading this book along with Craig Ungar's "House of Bush, House of Saud". It's beyond the ability of most of us to ever be privy to the workings of either corporate political dealings, international alliances, or high stakes politics in this or any country. So to have just two books such as these arrive within the same year is a fascinating glimpse into all of those realms. Under Reagan the U.S. made a fateful decision to forsake human intelligence gathering capability for technological methods of knowing our enemies, and we are paying a heavy price for that now. Get Baer's from-the-ground-up perspective and then read Ungar's historical biography of the intertwined fates and fortunes of two powerful families, the Bushes and the Sauds. Without demonizing anyone it's just so sad to see how the morals-free zone of business as usual-good for me, good for you has taken us down a path to hatred and bloodshed. These books will give you a large framework for understanding how we got there, and two books isn't much to invest to gain that understanding....more info
- Sobering View of the Politics of Middle East Oil
Baer provides a coherent and sobering picture of our dependence on Saudi oil, the political powderkeg in the Gulf region and the twisted maneuvers by which the U.S. tries to deal with it all. It is shocking, but he connects the dots well to make it all (unfortunately) quite believable. Along the way he paints a picture of a bureaucratic and politically paralyzed CIA that had no clue before Sept. 11th, as it was too risk averse to delve into the real world deeply.
I strongly recommend also reading The Prize, by Daniel Yergin, which is a long but enthralling history of Oil and its role in shaping the modern economic and political realities. This book made it clear to me that Oil is a hidden subtext to many of the most inexplicable aspects of our foreign policy....more info
- much better than I thought it would be
The biggest trap that most government officials/employees fall into when writing books is not that they're uninformed, it's that they're not particularly good writers. The text can simply be dry and boring. In most instances the information is important to read, but it's just hard to get through the book.
Fortunately Robert Baer does not fall into this trap. Sleeping with the Devil was full of interesting and easy to read information and opinion that provides one side to the debate over Washington's relationship with Saudi Arabia. Baer does quite a good job of keeping the book interesting by including opinion, history of the region, as well as interesting personal anecdotes from his career.
When first seeing the title of the book, I thought it might be some polemical rant, but thankfully that was not the case. While Baer does rattle off some rather easy/mindless comments about Iraq towards the end that lost him some points in my mind, the book comes across as trying to be helpful and educational.
I think this book would be a great place to start for someone interested in learning more about the Middle East, and Washington's relationship with it. It's not really a book written for or by a policy wonk, but even as a political science grad student, I found it informative and entertaining. A very good summer read....more info
- Important but not riveting
A scathing indictment of every presidential adminstration's self-delusions about the most decadent and corrupt regime in the world. But: it seems poorly organized, unfocused, and fixated with minor players....more info
- Well crafted and very thorough
This is the second of Mr. Baer's books I have read - both books are equally fascinating. Unfortunately, his research and field experience demonstrates that we, as a nation, are truly unaware and unprepared for the upcoming clash of cultures, indeed of civilizations. It demonstrates are basic failure to gain intelligence, and to actually apply said intelligence "intelligently". We would rather rely on techno toys and nebulous political agreements than solid evidence and above board negotiations. One day, as Mr. Baer demonstrates so well, we will become crippled as an economy and as a nation because of our failure to understand our real place in the world....more info
In this damning expose of the hopelessly corrupt US-Saudi relationship, Robert Baer takes us behind the closed doors of the House of Sa'ud, recounting the history of its rise to power along with its troubled connection with American presidential administrations and major US corporations, all the while illustrating the degree to which the Saudi royal family plays an enormous role in funding the operations of Islamic terrorists.
Baer paints a bleak but accurate picture of the current state of affairs in Saudi Arabia, and ingrains in our minds a quiet truth that US officials are reluctant to admit to themselves, much less to the general public: As today's powder keg of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is not only contributing its fair share to global destabilization, but its tangled web of interdependence with the Americans prevents any true reform from taking shape in the foreseeable future.
The origins of the Wahabbis, the Muslim Brotherhood, the crazy escapades of the Royal family, the shocking connections between US and Saudi leaders... it's all here. This reads better than a fiction novel....more info
- Baer's Second Success
I read Baer's See No Evil recently in one breath; I had more trouble with this book, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's longer or somehow worse. Sleeping with the Devil is just denser, covering a wide range of Saudi Arabian history and providing facts and figures that are often difficult to swallow.
The problem I have with books like Baer's is that he weaves a tangled web of corruption, but instead of focusing on one web, he covers them all. Then, he references these webs a hundred pages down the road, and if you're not taking notes, chances are, you're going to have to go back and remember why it is exactly that the acronym "SLM" sounds familiar.
However, boiled down to what it is, Sleeping with the Devil is just another installment in the Baer adventure series, only with more historical context for the people who wanted. The book has all the makings of a weird, Saudi James Bond-type flick: corrupt princes, ambitious wives, incompetent rulers, and everyone looking to score a plank off a sinking ship. Baer's sense of adventure and interest is contagious. His writing is simple, often humorous, and sometimes, even in this second effort, a little condescending. Albeit he seems to have a very clearcut cowboy/outlaw-like image of himself, Baer is still an extremely adroit writer, no question about that.
Sleeping with the Devil is by no means a definitive account of the disaster we've been harvesting in the Middle East, but it's a great starting point. For anyone who wants an introductory course in oil politics, mixed with some of Baer's personal stories, this is the book to look into....more info
- The fictional terrorist attack in the prologue of this book nearly became reality
Jan. 24, 2006: A team of Al-Qaeda operatives attempt a suicide attack upon the Abqaiq oil production plant in Saudi Arabia.
Robert Baer details in the prologue of this book how disastrous an attack on Abqaiq would have been.
I think Bob is on to something with this book: The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, and the link between oil and the survival of civilization at that, is extremely fragile. The success of the attack on Abqaiq would have shown that.
Read this book to understand the significance of what nearly happened yesterday, and how important it is for it to be taken seriously....more info
- A case for Insomnia
I could hardly put this book down. It was fascinating. This is one of the books that allows you to see into areas you had no idea existed and to see relationships and a rationale for world events. It offers insights into the historical relationships of Saudi Arabia and world leaders in business and government. ...more info
- More opinions than evidence, and still a good eye-opener
I liked "See No Evil" a lot better. I learned a lot from "Sleeping with the Devil", and encourage others to read it as well. Given the lack of evidence to back up some of his assertions, I would suggest getting this from a library, rather than buying it. Or get the paperback. While he gives the reader a LOT to think about, there's a lot more personal anger in this book, which made me wonder about his objectivity. It has a more superficial, hurriedly written feel to it, as if he just sat at a computer and vented, without much editing or background research. Still a valuable read....more info
- Perhaps Time to Wake
Until recently most Americans knew little and cared less about Saudi Arabia. It's a desert and we get a lot of oil there. Then a couple years ago people began paying more attention to what Robert Baer and a few others in the various spy agencies had been saying about Saudi Arabia for many years: no oil is cheap enough to be a good trade-off for what's cooking over there. Cheap oil isn't worth allowing an "ally" to keep half it population (the female half) in the equivalent of apartheid. Cheap oil isn't worth allowing an "ally" to nurture terrorist organizations on its own soil and to send money to them elsewhere. It's not even worth it when the Saudis reciprocate by buying huge amounts of military hardware and commercial aircraft from US companies. There's got to be a change, and Baer tells why.
The fact that a book like this is published, albeit with various names blacked out, suggests the wheels are beginning to turn on the Saudi problem, which in many ways is linked to the terrorism problem. Baer follows the by-now familiar path leading from 15 Saudi 9/11 thugs: Al Qaida, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is hosted and protected by the Wahabi sect of Sunni Islam, which is in turn hosted and protected by the Saudi royal family. Unlike many books on the US/Saudi connection, this one doesn't spin off into blame assignment or polemics on solar power and tax policy. Baer stays focussed on the central question: How did we get into the unhealthy and too-close relationship, and just how bad is it?
The roots reach back to Franklin Roosevelt. The supply of oil that had been crucial to the war effort Roosevelt saw as vital to America's postwar development, so he made it permanent. After FDR inked a deal with King Ibn Saud aboard a US warship in 1945, every president from both parties continued and expanded the relationship. One problem, as Baer sees it, is that in all their dealings with Ibn Saud and his successors, American presidents made no mention of Ibn Taymiyah, patron saint of the Muslim Brotherhood. That is to say all administrations failed to take seriously the threat of Muslim fanaticism that has always been present in Saudi Arabia.
The US government continues to accept, even post 9/11, intelligence access to our "ally" that is so severely restricted as to be non-existent. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, when there was no longer any reason to accept restrictions in order to combat a greater evil, nothing changed.
For our part, neither Congress nor any administration compelled the CIA and NSA and others to shift their focus and resources to the Muslim Brotherhood, not even after the assassination of Sadat, nor the first World Trade bombing, nor the Luxor attack in 1997, nor dozens of other less publicized attacks. Now the focus and resources are there, but they can't be deployed at the epicenter of Brotherhood growth, Saudi Arabia. Why? Because the Saudis don't want us there. Why don't they want us there? Because they are doing things that can't be justified by any religion or political ideology.
Baer's book and career are proof that 9/11 wasn't the result of an "intelligence failure". He and certain other intelligence agency operatives have long wanted to get more information and take more action against the world's largest terrrorist organization. It was a policy failure of presidents and Congresses, who after the Cold War failed to see the necessity of redirecting the intelligence agencies' resources in general, and of gaining access to Saudi Arabia in particular. One can only hope that books like this will have a stronger influence on policymakers as time goes by....more info
- the real 'Axis of Evil'
Robert Baer, a twenty year veteran case officer of the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Operations (the people who have their feet on the ground in foreign nations around the world) who most recently served as vice-director of operations, Iraq, shatters the consensual naivet¨¦ of Western populace with his compelling and disturbing work, "SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude." In a work that spans nearly the entirety of his two-decade experiences and takes us through the dark and disgustingly murky intrigues and backroom graft that have made regime of Saudi Arabia virtually inseparable from the political process of modern America.
Let's get something straight; unlike most of his contemporaries Robert Baer makes no socio-political argument within his text. The truth, as he sees it, is his only cause. Regardless of your political persuasion and the vagaries of your opinions on the social contract of the individual vis-a-vis the state "Sleeping with the Devil" will make you take a second look at the party you favored with your vote. In fact, Baer refers to the last half century of corruption within Washington to be "the greatest bi-partisan effort in the history of Washington politics". A period which began with a briefcase containing one million dollars accidentally "forgotten" by Khashoggi, a Saudi billionaire (who is still active in Washington today), in the Nixon White house and has continued unabated and in ever growing depth to the modern day.
The road to corruption is paved in black gold it seems. Baer leads us down this miasmic path and walks us through backroom deals of Washington's K Street lobbyists, intrigues in sub-Saharan Africa, the 4.6 billion dollar palace of the most corrupt Saudi Prince and pool-side meetings with Russian Mafiya arms-traffickers. How does it all come together? Baer's brutal truth should make every American reader shudder; it is our nation's political elite who have blindly subsidized the very terrorism of which we have recently become victims.
Through our alliance with the House of Saud (the Saudi Royal Family) we have seen billions of petrodollars go to regime who has returned that money to us via graft and commissions to buy all the influence it needs. The rest of the western money is largely spent in two fashions. The lion's share goes to funding their own decadent excess. A Baer gives us insight into a lifestyle of depravity which includes almost ten-thousand princes, twice again as many palaces, the thousands of Filipino and Moroccan women who serve at their pleasure, and a lifestyle in which there is open competition for the greatest amount of excess.
The Saud royal lifestyle has not gone unnoticed by the people of Saudi Arabia and it brings us to the far more disturbing second use of western oil-money. The Saudi's own people have suffered the most at their hands; they have no rights and referred to as property on their own passports. Religious fundamentalists have long decried the `heretical' lifestyles of their "rulers" and here lies the truth of things. The despotic Saudi regime is holding on by the most tenuous of grips. In attempt to placate the fundamentalists who want to drag them into the streets the Saudi's have spent countless billions funding their actions. After fourty-years of such protection payoffs the largest Arab nation has been transformed into a breeding ground for militant fundamentalism. The Saudi educational system has been entirely conscripted, all children save for those of royalty and their retainers are educated in madrasahs, schools of Islamic hate that enforce faith with brutality, ignorance, and censorship. 75% of all collegiate graduates earn degrees in Islamic Studies, which creates a working class who are unqualified to hold any job. This majority of educationally indoctrinated, poor, and religiously fanatical citizenry is the source for much of the destabilization of the Arab world and is a reality that is about to boil over. Is it any wonder than nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were born and raised Saudi subjects? Worse, the Western world (and more recently China and Russia) were the ones, by proxy, responsible for its funding. This is the picture Robert Baer paints for us.
These accounts aren't after-the fact punditry and are only the tip of the iceberg, Baer was there. In fact, prior to publication the book was vetted by the CIA and significant sections were deleted due at their demand. Rather than leave gaping wholes in his arguments and making note of their removal in his epilogue Bear leaves the blacked out print in place, giving the reader a tantalizing contextual insight into just what `the company' wanted removed. The reality Robert Baer shows us is a disturbing one and like a modern Paul Revere, "Sleeping with the Devil" is his clarion call, here is the enemy and they're coming....more info
- An excellent, well-supported and frightening read.
A seemingly fact-based narrative of the history and possible future(s) of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Baer claims to have been a case officer in the Directorate of Operations for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1997.
His description of the fragility of the Kingdom and the development of our relationship is, in a word, frightening.
Baer traces the history of the relationship with a non-partisan eye, which is refreshing. He details how Saudi Arabia has literally bought its way into the United States government and that nation's business, political and civic leadership over seven decades. Not only are the usual suspects on the Kingdom's payrolls, but many other names that may strike the reader as surprising. If what Baer says is true, it is surprising in a way to see what - and who - money will buy.
More disturbing is Baer's description of the Royal House of Saud, its extravagence and corruption - which Baer asserts leaves the Royal Family and the United States sitting on a powder keg with a short fuse.
Like ostriches, the Saudi Royals have attempted buying or killing off internal dissidents. Baer paints a bleak picture of how just a few targeted terrorist attacks could seriously damage the economies of the United States and nearly all other industrialized nations. His account of how a takeover by Islamic elements of the Saudi nation and its oil reserves could have calamitous results.
Baer, whatever his actual background, has done a credible job here of describing a very difficult situation. I consider it "must reading" for any citizen who considers themself well-informed. It is, unfortunately, reading tomorrow's headlines today.
- Interesting read...sometimes off on tangeants.
This was recommended to me about six months ago. I found it a very interesting topic given the situation with terrorism. The author is a former CIA Field Officer specializing in the Middle East. His description of corruption and political repression in Saudi Arabia sheds light on part of what fuels terrorism in the world today. I was left with the feeling that the House of Saud was a house of cards ready to tumble in the next few years. The author also recommends a closer relationship with Syria, and cites successful practices by the Syrian govt. in fighting terrorism. One drawback to the book, however, is what I perceived to be the author's tendency toward going off on tangeants. All in all, though, an interesting read. After reading this you won't want to hear the Saudis referred to as 'Our friends in the region...."....more info
- Good with one flaw
I really enjoyed this book. It gave a really honest view of the us-Saudi relationship. My only problem was the third chapter, the background, which was pretty useless in affecting the rest of the book.
I like how this books was non-partisan. Much better than "house of bush, house of saud." i would recommend this book. Though it could of been a little longer. ...more info
- Aiding and abetting terrorism
Aiding and abetting terrorism. How many times have we heard this phrase attributed to such rogue countries as Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, & The Sudan? Well, as an irrefutable addendum, one would be remissed so as not to add Saudi Arabia - and, sans doute, to the top of this list, a most dubious distinction to be sure. Robert Baer, due to his 21 years in undercover ops for the CIA primarily in The Middle East, possesses the savoir faire of how to obtain seemingly impossible information that is revealed in this book. Although none of it seems to knock your socks off, it does, however, shock and awe at times.
The increasingly alarming volatility in the already imminently combustible region, coupled with the chaotic rule(or lack thereof) of Saudi Arabia, makes for a veritable catastophic calamity just waiting to ingnite. Saudi Arabia, as well-documented by Baer, is nothing short of a schizophrenic little child trying to keep both the U.S. and thug terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda happy - presenting a diametrically opposite persona(with money & oil being the common denominators, of course)to each, and equally scared of each's potential reproach and the ensuing repercussions.
What will happen in Saudi Arabia? Only time will tell. However, one man can serve two masters for only so long before one becomes jealous....more info
- A real eye-opener
This book really opened my eyes to two facts. One, Saudi Arabia as it is, is circling the drain. Revolution is imminent. And two, they are NOT our friends, however much oil they may give us.
Robert Baer traces back the sordid history of U.S.-Saudi relations, and is very critical of the U.S. Government's ignorance in these matters. If Baer is correct, we are in for a disaster of epic proportions. I find it interesting that the CIA even allowed him to publish this book, let alone simply censor it. You can tell Baer is a man with a lot of experience under his belt....more info
- So Much Money...
That was the thing that most shocked me about this book. I know that Saudi's are corrupt and that American administrations are far too cozy with them, but I didn't really understand the hundreds of millions of dollars that our politicians get on the side. I'm no fan of the Bush administration, but this takes it too a new level. They are fabulously, fabulously rich. All of them, including Powell and Rice. They're going to leave office that way, and we the people are going to be left with the consequences.
I suggest anyone interested enough in this topic to be reading this review should definitely read this book. It's wide-ranging and convincing, and makes a lot of sense out of things that otherwise seem to float around in the news, names and places and vague notions and rhetoric. It's hard for regular people to know what to make of our war on terror, etc, partially because we don't know what's going behind closed doors. This book lets you in on that. Problem is, what's going on behind those closed doors is worse than anything you'd likely imagined. We're in for troubles, people. This book, just one of many, can give you some understanding of how and why our leaders let future tragedies happen....more info
- Probably the best argument to by a Hybrid...
... and one more reason to be angry an the gas pump. This book was much better. or should I say revealing than I thought it was going to be. Mr. Baer's knowledge of the subjects and the way he weaves the reader through this tangled web of money. oil. backroom deals, blind eyes turned against the actions of our so-called "allies", and the way Washington politics works is a true wake-up call. The book is jammed with information and is kind of like a tell-all, revealing many of our leaders as just more powerful people who are looking out for their own interests while everyone else is getting bent over. The book would probably need to be read a couple of times to truly understand all the information.
I am giving it 5 stars even though the book really pissed me off. What I don't know is what I am most angry at? That part of my gas money will find its way over to the Middle East, or that we Americans are truly trapped by our dependence on foriegn oil, or that just about every politician who is someone (and many of the high ranking employees of the government) are in the pockets of the Saudi's and/or Big Oil, or that other than a few cars sold, many manufacturers still refuse to develop cars with better mpg. Hey Ford, GMC and Chevy, you know why you keep having losses year after year and are losing out to Toyota? It is because you have not designed a dependable, efficient fleet of cars most people want.
Back to the book. Everyone interested in Washington politics, the energy crisis, etc. should read this book. It may just make you mad, but getting mad may just be the first step to action. By the way, I just sold my gas guzzling SUV....more info
- Another shocker from Robert Baer.
If you want a great insight into the problems this country has with the Middle East and crude oil pick up this book. This man knows his stuff and has written it down for you to read. This book will open your eyes and clarify a lot of things that you watch on TV and read in the media. Educate yourselves and become better citizens. Let Mr. Baer help you. ...more info
- OK, so we are up to our neck in Alligator's, drain the swamp !
Robert Baer has produced another step in the stairway to understanding the catastrophic clash of cultures erroneously known as the War on Terror. I reviewed all the reviews to see if there was something I could offer. As I read the other 99 offerings I found predictable responses. There were the reviewers who wrote a synopsis the entire book, and some did so very well. There were those critical of the War in Iraq who criticized the current administration. Those from Islamic lands, or who had lived in Islamic countries variously decried Baer's expertise. Some of that group justified the current upheaval in Islam over the issues attributed to the west by Islamic Fundamentalism given the recent (50 year) history of US-European involvement in Mid-East affairs and politics. Seemingly all saw what they wanted to see, a money grubbing George Bush/Dick Cheney, an evil America, an Bill Clinton desperate enough for re-election to take bags of money while al-Queda grew in strength and wealth, even a shot a Richard Nixon from the 1970's. As a former Intelligence Officer, one who believes we are in the midst of a global war between cultures, shaped by religion, I want context.
No serious book should be read in a vacuum. For me this has not been. It has been a progression from the earlier works by Thomas Friedman (From Beirut to Jerusalem) and David Shipler (Arab and Jew) to some very revealing newer works. David Pryce-Jones (The Closed Circle), who allows a reader to almost predict how Arabs, Muslims and Islamo-Fascist will behave due to their cultural imprinting in any given political-international circumstances, as alluded to, but not so clearly specified in the Friedman/Shipler writings. Bat Ye`or (Eurabia) describes the road to Dhimminitude that Europe has blindly followed, step by step (until the recent cartoon imbroglio) and the plan Islamists of whatever level of political or fundamentalist persuasion are using to craft the capitulation by nearly, but not quite peaceful means. David Spencer (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, or any other of several he has written) gives us a view of the teachings of the Koran used by the Fundo-Fascists and those who are emigrating to Europe and using the laws, culture, parliaments and press of their European hosts to lull/gently force them into accepting Sharia Law. Other works to place Baer's words in this book into context include Melissa Boyle Mahle's (Denial and Deception) wonderful description of the loss of human intelligence capabilities from the mid-1970''s (the Church commission and Carter administration efforts to curtail the unsavory parts of intelligence gathering) onward (not from the Reagan administration as one reviewer miscast it.) The Boyle book had all of the footnotes and references anyone could ask for. Baer's book, See No Evil, sans the extensive footnotes and references, was a magnificent second witness to Mahle's revealing testimony, although more earthy and specific about the locations where he did his CIA work than she was. Books describing the sorry state of affairs in US human intelligence (spying) capability include Bob Graham's Intelligence Matters and General Odom's Fixing Intelligence, and of course the WMD bi-partisan Senate Select committee study completed in July 2004. All of these provide some evidence, some small shards and others large pieces of the overall picture that validates the grander view, even with the polemics, grandstanding, and prejudices in every work. Sleeping with the Devil is no different. So what is it's value?
Of course it is sad to see the sorry state of affairs in which our political leaders, driven to distraction by the need to collect money for elections, accept millions in contributions. Like the Shah of Iran, brought to power by the CIA, yet who mistrusted it so because of that, who would not allow any CIA of any kind in the country, the US has been kept out of Saudi Arabia for decades by agreements cemented with cash. (The fact that the Shah was over thrown so quickly and completely should be a lesson for our allies in troubled regions.) It is a cold hard fact. Our leaders have been part of the problems (no matter as legal as in contracts or very questionable as in bags of money left under tables or in cars) of the house of Saud, and of the country of Saudi Arabia, and now of the world. Baer's numbers may be in error, but even if off by an order of magnitude, cash has still changed hands in an unseemly way. Yes, an attack on the Saudi pipelines is easy. Yes, refineries would be a small problem to dedicated terrorist warriors, especially since they live in the country, and may even work at the facility to be destroyed. Things are or have the potential to be as ugly as Baer says they are.
The most exciting issues to me, easily, were the 6th and 7th chapters. Therein we learn how the Islamic Brotherhood and the Wahhabis are aligned to bring about the next caliphate. In earlier chapters we learn of the creation of the Islamic Brotherhood after the dissolution of the Turkish caliphate by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 (although he is not mentioned in the book, but he is a significant part of a story not to be told in a vacuum). Based on the principles of Ibn Taymiyah, a 13 century cleric, Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian founded the Islamic brotherhood in 1928 to re-establish the caliphate and purify Islam and the world. By 1947 they were burning Jewish businesses in Cairo, in 1948 they assassinated the Egyptian prime minister. In 1954 they made an attempt on Nasser's life and in 1981 they succeeded in assassinating Anwar Sadat. In 1993 they tried to kill the interior minister and the prime minister and in 1995 made an attempt on Hosni Mubarak's life. The associated history of displacement rather than to imprison for life or put to death these Fundo-Fascists, Egypt exported them to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Germany and other places. There they have festered and dispersed to yet other locations over the decades. That is what brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the arms of the Wahhabi, a staunchly fundamentalist sect, in Saudi Arabia. The end of these great chapters describes the only measurable success enjoyed by any government over the Muslim brotherhood. It makes for an exciting read!
And then we remember Osama bin-Laden was influenced by an Egyptian cleric, a member of the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood, in the 1980's. He displaced the cleric in a classic example of the Honor-Shame-Power Dialectic in the early 1990's (from David Pryce-Jones insightful book). al-Queda, the Base, is currently the action arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Baer's conclusions are reasonable, his projections are rational given the threat, at least for an argument on how to deal with this very perplexing and complex world situation we find ourselves in. Do not discard his proposed solutions out of hand. Remember, for generations the ditty "he is not a good dictator, but at least he is our dictator" prevented the Cold War from turning Very, Very Hot. This clash of cultures is not like the war on Japan in the 1940's. It is more a culture in turmoil, which has chosen to take the world into it's struggle. Germany in the early 1930's was a country much like this religion, but when the dark side won the cultural battle in 1932, the relatively small population (compared to rest of the world) ensured that through a titanic struggle the rest of the world would eventually prevail. Now we shudder to think of an asymmetrical war, where one man kills thousands, and hundreds of thousands can not find one threatening man to kill. All the while the potential enemy, gladly willing to die for his beliefs, hides in a population estimated to be 1.3 BILLION spread to nearly every country on the globe, with rapid efficient transportation and weaponry sufficient to kill 10's of thousand's suitable for enclosure a backpack.
This is not a book that can stand alone, for the reasons pointed out by dozen's of reviewers. But it is a book that can not be missed, for it contains huge pieces of the "big picture" puzzle. If your business is defending freedom, or you are just an enquiring mind who wants to know, this is a DO NOT MISS !...more info
- OK--the sky really IS falling
After reading this book and Baer's earlier book, SEE NO EVIL, a number of things became depressingly clear to me:
*In a country who runs its foreign policy based on "interests, not friends" (or principles, for that matter) we are doomed to make stupid, arrogant and avoidable mistakes--over and over again.
*Money will be the death of us.
*Ignorance is not an excuse -- not for me and not for my country.
*It might not be a BAD thing to get the oil bidness out of the White House--and Congress and.....oh, pretty much anywhere people have control over armies or taxes.
I won't go into the specifics (see wizardofuz's review), but given Baer's years of experience on the inside, it's hard not to treat this stuff as credible, ergo apalling. (Baer's periodic table thumping and cynicism can be excused (like Richard Clarke's alleged Bush-bashing) as the result of years of banging his head against the wall of bureaucratic inertia.) The book is highly readable, full of recognizeable incidents, names and places. Instead of basing the problems in Islam, Baer puts the focus squarely on the politcs-as-usual/business-as-usual environment of the rich, powerful and incestuously interconnected. It won't leave you feeling particularly pleased with your elected government, but at least you'll have something concrete to write them about. I recommend this book as a good, first-person primer on the Byzantine relationship(s) between the US and the Saudis.
AND WHAT IF......since the Bushes have been in the bidness with the Saudis for a long while, and Wolfowitz and Perle, et al, had that nice big axe to grind, and things were going from bad to worse anyway over there, just WHAT IF all those boys in the west wing decided to secure another, contollable source of black gold while the gettin' was good, before the House of Saud just falls over and the whole area just goes to hell in a handbasket?.......I mean, I'm just sayin' -- what if.........more info
- Quite a revelation!
Robert Baer by putting his experiences as a CIA field officer into the public domain, has done us all a very substantial favour. In his first book "See No Evil" he provides a rare insight into the practice and murky business of espionage. In his second book "Sleeping with the Devil" he outlines how gross incompetence, politics and corruption has inadvertently aided and abetted Muslim extremists hell-bent on enforcing their world vision.
I found no reason to believe that Mr Baer was anything except a highly credible witness to events in a volatile region. The inferences he draws from what he's seen or been told, may or may not be completely right, but he certainly puts a compelling case.
By the end of this book, I must admit I was just aghast at what I was reading.
- Superb, gutwrenching
Another great book by Robert Baer. I couldn't believe what I was reading. It took me a while to get over the emotions I was experiencing. ...more info
- Book Review
The author has written a well thought out account of his experiences being employed with the CIA while stationed in the Middle East. Even though this book was written 5 years ago, it still translates well and is applicable for today's reader. I personally was shocked and dismayed to discover how our country's leaders are so embedded with the Saudi Royal Family. More importantly, I am dismayed to read how entrenched our leaders of today are entrenched with the Royal Family who has fueled and funded the very men and women who are trying to destroy our country. Mr. Baer does an outstanding job detailing how respected citizens, such as Colin Powell, are paid salaries associated with companies who are affiliated with the Royal Family; how the CIA missed vital clues to 9/11 and because of politics how the very people who are elected to be protecting our country have indeed sold our country to the highest bidder. No longer can I remain naieve and idealistic and I am looking forward to reading his other books with trepidation but knowing I will again learn something about how our country is truly run....more info
- Compelling and Informative Read
A lot of disparging things ave been said about former CIA agent Robert Baer in the years following the collapse of the twin towers. That said, this book provides very informative background on Saudi Arabia and its importance to our economy as well as the principal actors within the kingdom. Others have said and I agree that the book is choppy in parts, depends on minor actors and its deletions are the author's attempts to make the book appear more than it is. That said, it is a great book about a fascinating part of the world we are all starting to learn about for the first time....more info
- Takes no prisioners.
If you think of yourself as an Iconoclast, then this is the book of modern politics for you. All oxen are gored, rocks are turned over, and the scandal of American politics and money are revealed. It helps to have a map of the middle East and a note pad to keep track of all the unfamiliar names (what is the deal with every male in Arabian society having several name sets and aliases). Think tribalism rather than terrorism....more info
- The Saudis: Our friends and our worst nightmares
Ex-CIA operative Robert Baer obviously doesn't have a very high opinion of the Saudis judging from his title, and he clearly explains why no one really should. If what Baer says is true, we should be ashamed of our strong support of the ridiculously corrupt and autocratic regime that is the Saudi royal family. Saudi Arabia is currently in a very precarious state. A king incapacitated by a stroke sits on top of a heap of money and power hungry princes, corrupt advisors and associates, and what other detritus makes up the royal family. To compound the problems generated by the profligacy and corruption of the royal family is the Islamist movement that would like nothing more than to see the royal family disappear from their holy land. Ironically enough, in order to maintain a facade of religious devotion to take attention away from the royal family's favorite pasttimes (prostitutes, alcohol, big business, etc.), the Saudis have built thousands of religious schools (madrasahs) that teach their extremely conservative version of Islam called Wahhabism. Unfortunately, the very students trained at these schools now view the Saudi royal family's existence as contrary to what they have been taught. Just keep in mind that quite a number of al-Qaeda's operatives have been trained in Saudi-sponsored madrasahs.
Baer spent a great deal of time in the Middle East and the Central Asian republics getting to know about the budding Islamist movements in those regions. Unfortunately, the more he became concerned about the threats presented by terrorists, many who are funded surrepitiously by the Saudis, the more he realized that his own government was reluctant to antagonize them. The root of the problem is, of course, oil. With a significant percentage of the world's oil reserves sitting underneath Saudi soil, the US has found itself repeatedly overlooking egregious errors and questionable moves made by the Saudis so as not to endanger the oil supply that we are dependent upon. Why have the Khobar attacks not been investigated thoroughly? Why has the US still not been able to conduct a full investigation into the terrorist underworld in Saudi Arabia that produced 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers? Why does the US continue to defend the Saudis despite their continued funding of terrorist organizations. Oil, oil, oil!
Baer describes in detail the crimes perpetrated by the Saudis, but thankfully, he does not forget the other major player responsible for the present situation - the US. Baer is rightfully dienchanted with US policy toward the Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia. The tragedy of 9/11 is often viewed myopically as a terrible crime committed against innocent people. It is indeed so if we are only considering the act itself. However, it should not be overlooked as Baer reminds us throughout his book that the US's soft policy toward Saudi Arabia secondary to it's addiction to oil has allowed terrorist organizations to fluorish for the last several decades. 9/11 is only the largest expression of the terrorists' hatred for us, but it is certainly not the last. If we continue our present policies of overlooking Saudi complicity in nurturing these organizations for the sake of the oil business then we should only expect further attacks on our soil and abroad.
Baer does a fantastic job of taking us to places we've never been and that few are priveleged to see. He helps us understand the role of CIA agents such as himself in gathering intelligence, and he vividly describes the frustration he faced when his own government chose to ignore the information that he gathered. Most importantly, he exposes our government's attitudes toward Saudi Arabia which are partially responsible for the situation we find ourselves in today.
I highly recommend this book for those who want to understand that the problem is not so much "us vs. them" as it is "us and them."...more info