“For the last 50 years, America (and Europe and Asia) have treated the Middle East as if it were just a collection of big gas stations:
Saudi station, Iran station, Kuwait station, Bahrain station, Egypt station, Libya station, Iraq station, United Arab Emirates station, etc. Our message to the region has been very consistent:
‘Guys (it was only guys we spoke with), here’s the deal. Keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t bother the Israelis too much and, as far as we’re concerned, you can do whatever you want out back.
You can deprive your people of whatever civil rights you like.
You can engage in however much corruption you like.
You can preach whatever intolerance from your mosques that you like.
You can print whatever conspiracy theories about us in your newspapers that you like.
You can keep your women as illiterate as you like.
You can create whatever vast welfare-state economies, without any innovative capacity, that you like.
You can undereducate your youth as much as you like. Just keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t hassle the Jews too much — and you can do whatever you want out back.’”
– Thomas Friedman,
New York Times,
Feb 22, 2011