I've recently come across a book by former CIA officer Robert Baer, Sleeping With The Devil:
How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude.
The Saudi government probably spends more per capita than any other country in the world on arms. (It acknowledges only that it spends 13 percent of its gross domestic product, but half of its revenue is earmarked for the military.) That’s basically without having to provide for its own external defense; U.S. carrier groups and F-15 combat air patrols over the Gulf take care of that. (And the U.S. still manages to spend less than 4 percent of GDP on the military.) Also, Saudi Arabia has never fought in any Arab-Israeli war, from 1948 until today. In fact, the Al Sa’ud’s military hasn’t fought a war since the 1930s. To understand the significance of its spending on arms, look at the French for comparison. Although France has a modern, combat-ready mobile army that fights in a handful of African bush wars and participates in peace missions all over the world, it spends only 2.57 percent of GDP on its military.Baer presents the Saudi monarchy as the corrupt alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood, which, to Baer includes Al-Qaeda and which would control the country if its leaders were elected.
This fantasy of a democracy is corrupting foolishness. We all know what version of “democracy” the State Department has in mind for Saudi Arabia. (Think Kuwait.) It’s insulting to try to make us believe it’s the real thing, just as it’s degrading for all those executive-branch officials and spokespersons who get trotted out to pay lip service to the myth. Say that the truth is something else for long enough, and you’ll forget what the truth really is.In fact, Baer's position is that before allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to take control of the oil resources available, the US should be prepared to directly take control of the oil wells in Saudi Arabia by force.
Even if we confine a takeover to Saudi Arabia, we couldn’t count on it going smoothly. Whether the House of Sa’ud were still in power or had been supplanted by some sort of Wahhabi putsch, we would still have to contend with all those weapons Washington sold the Saudis, and all those fighter pilots and infantry officers trained by American military personnel and private contractors to use the planes and other weapons. Happily, the U.S. has an adequate base of operations in Qatar. Additionally, U.S.-trained Saudi forces would realize the futility of resisting, in part because they know that however many planes and missile launchers they have, the U.S. has the next generation in far greater numbers. Also, corruption in the kingdom is so thorough that spare parts for its planes and tanks would quickly be truly spare and sparse.Basically what one would expect a former CIA officer to write. A cog in the US' imperial apparatus, but never getting any deep appreciation of what that means. On the other hand, details are available in this kind of work that are difficult to find publicly discussed.
Sure, terrorism would likely increase, locally and globally. Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, you name it - none is going down without a fight. Even if the Saudis aren’t widely loved in the Middle East, the enemy of my enemy is still my friend. Vilified for the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. would take an even worse beating in international public-opinion polls. We would have to run roughshod over international organizations and our own long-standing principles, although the newly promulgated “doctrine of preemptive warfare” would certainly provide cover. But would all that be worse than standing idly by as the House of Sa’ud collapsed and the world’s largest known oil reserves fell into the hands of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired fundamentalists dedicated to jihad against Israel and the West? I don’t think so. Some things are more calamitous than others, and if the Bush-Cheney administration knows anything well, it ought to be how to rebuild and run an oil field.