THEN AND NOW….Kenneth Pollack, about a year ago:

As Saudi officials explain strenuously in private, they will support a U.S. effort to topple Saddam if it is done “properly”….

But what does handling regime change “properly” mean to the Saudis? In means an invasion and nothing less….As one very senior GCC official put it, “When you are ready to use all of your forces, we will be there for you”….For them, an invasion is the only option that makes sense because it virtually guarantees that Saddam’s regime will be overthrown, and it promises to do so quickly.

The Los Angeles Times, today:

Saudi Arabia will withhold the $1 billion in loans and credits that it pledged last month for Iraq’s reconstruction until the security situation is stabilized and a sovereign government takes office, U.S. and Saudi officials said.

The Saudi decision is a setback for the Bush administration, which had hoped that the kingdom would set an example for other Arab governments by providing vitally needed aid. At an international donors conference in Madrid in October, Saudi Arabia pledged to give Saudis willing to do business in Iraq $500 million in loans and $500 million in export credits over the next five years.

….U.S. officials say the ambivalence of regional governments reflects in part their fears that shifting U.S. plans for Iraq may produce a weak and divided state, the first Shiite-led Arab state or the most democratic state in the Arab world ? all unsettling prospects for the region’s authoritarian regimes.

Things didn’t turn out quite the way Ken thought, did they? Damn perfidious Saudis.

Of course, I left out a couple of sentences from his book:

The Saudis are throroughly disenchanted with the Iraqi opposition, particularly the U.S.-created INC, which they consider feckless, manipulative, and without any support inside Iraq….In addition, the Saudis are concerned that after Saddam, Iraq will be left stable and not fall into chaos or disintegrate. They believe that only an invasion will allow the kind of reconstruction that would ensure that Iraq is not worse after Saddam.

If it weren’t for the fact that they run a cowardly, medieval theocracy, you’d almost feel sorry for them. They got the invasion they wanted, but never imagined that we’d be stupid enough to put our hopes in a con man like Ahmed Chalabi and then become so blinded to reality by neocon theology that we would, in fact, let the whole place fall into chaos. To coin a phrase, it’s almost literally unbelievable.