Premium Essay

Saudi and Us

In: Historical Events

Submitted By stop2006
Words 1450
Pages 6
What Underlies U.S.-Saudi Relations?

America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. By Robert Vitalis. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006. 353 pp. $29.95.

Thicker than Oil: America's Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia. By Rachel Bronson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 353 pp. $28.

National Security in Saudi Arabia: Threats, Responses, and Challenges. By Anthony H. Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid. Westport: Praeger Security International, 2005. 428 pp. $54.95.

State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. By James Risen. New York. Simon & Schuster, 2006. 256 pp. $26.

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. By Lawrence Wright. New York: Knopf, 2006. 470 pp. $27.95

Oil is interwoven into the modern history of the Middle East. University of Pennsylvania political scientist Robert Vitalis tackles the early history of Aramco in Saudi Arabia prior to that kingdom's 1980 nationalization of the industry in America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier. Vitalis's research demonstrates that while a security-for-oil understanding forms the basis of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, the origins of the bilateral relationship were private financial interests.

He approaches his study with an academic's love for archives and declassified documents. He does not whitewash Saudi history with the happy, pre-9-11 narrative so popular among Saudi scholars. Instead, he talks about the racism that pervaded Aramco camps, not only dividing Saudis and Americans but also segregating Palestinians and Pakistanis, who formed an intermediate tier. In an age of heightened political sensitivities, he points out early strains caused by U.S. workers draping a Saudi flag over a company bar and personal ridicule directed toward the Saudi king.

Interest in Saudi Arabia grew after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Perhaps the...

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