Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Get Colonized!


Rachel Ehrenfeld’s “Saudi interest in America” tries to sound the alarm about Saudi Arabian ownership of commercial and media properties in the U.S. Ms. Ehrenfeld writes that Saudi investors have approximately $400-$800 billion invested in the States, and worries that these investments could be leverage in an “economic jihad.”

Most interesting to me is that, while the U.S. takes years agonizing over where to use its few public-diplomacy dollars, Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal can simply write a check—and has:

... Substantial Saudi and Gulf financial contributions "to bring the proper message to America's brightest minds," are pouring into U.S. educational institutions through Arab and Islamic centers and professorial chairs. Last month [Prince Al-Waleed] gave $20 million each to Georgetown and Harvard universities. According to the Center for Religious Freedom, the Saudis also supply textbooks for public libraries, schools and colleges, and provide the content concerning Islam to some U.S. textbook publishers.

The prince’s donations to Harvard and Georgetown grant him direct access to the minds of two of the most respected U.S. universities, from which much of the policy establishment consistently originates. (Just at the very top of the food chain are Theodore Roosevelt, Harvard ‘80, John F. Kennedy, Harvard ’40; William Jefferson Clinton, Georgetown ’68).

I’d love to hear about how much Saudis spend to buy textbooks for U.S. libraries, schools and colleges, and especially—shades of video news releases!—which American textbook publishers are accepting the Saudis’ prepackaged words on Islam.

(Thanks as always to John Brown's Public Diplomacy Review for the initial item.)

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