A real country dog lives at the Delta outpost. When I forget to feed her, she just finds a rabbit or squirrel for dinner. Now and then she brings home the haunch of a deer. And she doesn’t come in the house. Country people don’t allow dogs in the house. Let pets in the house and you are headed down the slippery slope to spoiling them. Then watch out or they will become like Saudi Arabia.
Dogs and cats and horses are great to have on the farm. But treat them too well and they will control your life. At Meadowcreek, we had a resident who loved her chickens. So much so, she brought them inside. They had the run of her house. And we had to clean it up after she left. Cats are probably not as bad, but they sure do leave a lot of hairs on the furniture of cat lovers. Dogs are fine inside if you ignore the little accidents they will have now and then.
Saudi Arabia resembles a city pet spoiled by the West. Eighty years ago, nearly all Arabs were primitive goat and sheep herding tribes who had turned their lands into deserts and were continually raiding each other. The heyday of Muslim science and mathematics (algebra or al-jabr in Arabic was first systematized by the Arabs and our numbers are still called Arabic numerals) was long gone. Creativity, enterprise and science were stifled by strict religious hierarchies.
On their desert peninsula, this control was exercised by the Saud family who had defeated all the other tribes. Before oil was discovered, Saudis produced nothing of value to the outside world. The royal family and their government was supported by taxes on imports and pilgrims to Mecca and the other Muslim holy sites. The land was a few tourist sites in the midst of the goat and sheep herders.
Then oil was discovered. After the Second World War, American oil companies developed and managed oil production. The oil facilities were manned by Americans and other foreigners trained by Americans. American companies created a new company, Arab-American Oil Company or ARAMCO to extract wealth from the world in exchange for oil. In return, all the Saud family became a pampered pet. The Saudis did nothing except let the American companies operate and extract profits as they wished.
But the xenophobic Sauds were gradually able to get more and more control and profit from the Americans. Then the riches really started to pour in. Nearly all the work in the Kingdom was done by foreigners. Meanwhile arch-conservative religious extremism–known as Wahhabism–continued to control all life in Saudi Arabia. The most popular major in their new colleges was religious studies. Saudi wealth enabled them to establish Wahhabist schools throughout the world. These schools provided employment and a base for proselytization by the graduates of Wahhabist schools.
I’ve only been to Saudi Arabia once. On the flight in, all alcohol, Bibles and other forbidden materials were ordered locked up as long as the plane was in Saudi air space.
The most extreme version of Wahhabism was suppressed in Saudi Arabia itself because it threatened the rule of the Saud family. Instead it flourished in Wahhabist schools in Afghanistan (where the 9-11 plot was hatched) and Iraq (where it gave rise to ISIS).
Saudi Arabia once was a pampered pet maintained in luxury by its American oil company masters. Then it grew more and more demanding until the former master was almost the slave to the pet. Now the pampered pet has become a violent beast still supported by the wealth pouring in through the system established by its former masters.
Saudi Arabia has long executed scores of people every year for crimes including atheism, adultery, sorcery and witchcraft. Until recently they have limited their executions to their own country. Now it appears they may have executed a journalist in their consulate in Turkey. The pampered pet first took over the house, made its former master its lackey, and then began spreading its spawn across the world. When will we wake up to the danger it represents?