A partial—in both senses—life of the Saudi diplomat and powerbroker dubbed “Bandar Bush.”
“If you knew what we were really doing for America,” Prince Bandar once proclaimed, “you wouldn’t just give us AWACS; you would give us nuclear weapons.” Among the things he’s done on our behalf: pushed for war with Saddam Hussein following the invasion of Kuwait; laundered money in Iran-Contra; engineered the ouster of several officials in the Reagan administration; brokered side deals with China that nearly plunged the Middle East into an apocalyptic war. All that, by fellow fighter-pilot trainee Simpson’s account, can be written off to Machiavellian vicissitudes; otherwise, Bandar is a good guy, the kind of guy Thatcher could do business with and inside whose soul Dubya could peer approvingly. An illegitimate scion of the royal family brought in from the cold, Bandar helped formulate the Saudi foreign policy that can be simplified thus: “The Communists are atheists; they don’t believe in religion and we are fighting them for religious reasons.” Thus the ethic of Osama bin Laden, another royal outsider, about whom there is not much newsworthy in these pages; indeed, the better and best part of Simpson’s narrative takes place 20 and more years ago. Simpson takes it as given that the U.S. government is controlled by the “Jewish-Israeli lobby,” determined to keep Saudi Arabia from taking its proper place in the world (by, one supposes, denying the regime nuclear weapons and long-range missiles). Just so, the neoconservatives in the second Bush administration are a “cabal” that “consistently thwarted efforts to achieve a just settlement to the Palestinian problem.” As such, be warned that this unofficial biography of an undoubtedly interesting fellow bears official stamps.
Those interested in the Bush part of the Bandar Bush story might want to have another look at Fahrenheit 9/11. Simpson’s revelations, however, have use for readers seeking a view of how Washington really works.