Thursday, November 22, 2007

Do I Exaggerate What the Saudis Could Do?

I wonder because I have a mental image of Saudi Arabia with a competitive political system being the lions of the Middle East.

The Saudis have a lot of oil, but they do not have nearly the population of Turkey, South Korea, or Brazil and somewhere around half the population of Argentina if you do not include foreign workers.

Australia has a population close to that of Saudi Arabia. Taiwan and Singapore are also similar in population size with Saudi Arabia. A competent Saudi Arabia could use its position in the oil market to ensure it has access to capital and technology on terms at least comparable to those of Australia and Singapore. An incompetent Saudi Arabia would end up with a position closer to Ghana on the scale of international power.

But a bunch of countries like Ghana together were the most important factor in ending Apartheid while Saudi Arabia is watching Zionism expand. I guess an incompetent Saudi Arabia has ended up in a position lower than Ghana's.

It is clear that all over the world monarchies do very poorly when they have to compete against modern political systems. It is also clear that most people in the world do not tolerate monarchies when they find their countries consistently being outcompeted.

But how much better would the Saudis be specifically? Would it have the powerful and modern high-technology armed forces that would be expected of a small population high resource country? Would it have the manufacturing capabilities of Taiwan or Singapore? And if it was this resourceful, how would a resourceful Saudi Arabia impact the rest of the region of the Middle East?

I wish I did but I don't have a good answer to those questions. I'm sure Saudi Arabia could be a lot more powerful than it is. But a mini-great power like Australia or Taiwan? Maybe, maybe not.

Certainly Saudi Arabia would have far more resources that could be used to handle the problem of Zionism, and the vast reduction of regional instability that accompanied the end of Apartheid would be reproduced to some degree in the Middle East if it did.

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