The Saudi King will not be coming to dinner. Oh, and neither will Jordan’s
King Abdullah. However, it’s the former that reveals a tremendously dangerous
sign in the ever unraveling foreign policy disaster of Mr. Bush’s presidency.

President Bush enjoys hosting formal state dinners about as much as having
a root canal. Or proposing tax increases. So his decision to schedule a mid-April
White House gala for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah signified the president’s
high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush family friend.

Now the White House ponders what Abdullah’s sudden and sparsely explained
cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good — especially for Condoleezza
Rice’s most important Middle East initiatives — is the clearest available
answer.

Abdullah’s bowing out of the April 17 event is, in fact, one more warning
sign that the Bush administration’s downward spiral at home is undermining
its ability to achieve its policy objectives abroad. Friends as well as foes
see the need, or the chance, to distance themselves from the politically besieged
Bush.

Official versions discount that possibility, of course. Bandar bin Sultan,
the Saudi national security adviser, flew to Washington last week to explain
to Bush that April 17 posed a scheduling problem. ” ‘It is not convenient’
was the way it was put,” says one official. … ..

Bush’s
Royal Trouble

Why Is King Abdullah Saying No to Dinner?

Not convenient? How very diplomatic. But let’s get serious. The real
reason resides in the disaster continuing to unfold in the nearby desert.

Saudi King Abdullah delivered a harsh verdict on Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy. It
was naked in its fury.

Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, on Wednesday slammed
the “illegitimate foreign occupation” of Iraq in an opening speech
to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh.

“In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow
of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil
war,” Abdullah said. … ..

Saudi
king slams ‘illegitimate occupation’ of Iraq

The
Agonist
also offers some thoughts.

I’m really amazed that the son has so totally walked away from his dad’s intellectual
stance to put our entire Middle East policy on its head, but also do it in a
way that ignites the Sunnis even further. Ah, the perils of religion when unleashed through foreign policy. It’s a good moment to revisit Seymour Hersh and the reality of a new Sunni-Shia cold war (with video).

Bush has never been more isolated.
That’s when people, especially presidents hell bent on a legacy, become very dangerous. When you couple it with the Iranian situation we’ve got a real powder keg on our hands with the worse possible people in charge.