SUMMONING CHENEY… Two days ago, Laura Rozen wondered why the White House was being so cryptic about Vice President Cheney’s trip to Riyadh on Saturday to meet with Saudi King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan. Today, Robin Wright and Tom Ricks of The Washington Post provide the answer:

Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats. The visit was originally portrayed as U.S. outreach to its oil-rich Arab ally.

Pathetic. The U.S. government is so weak that the Saudis can summon our veep for a stern talking-to.

Speaking of Laura, looks like she was also right when she reported almost two weeks ago that the administration was debating the merits of throwing its full support behind the Shias as a way to settle the growing violence in Iraq. From the same Washington Post piece today:

But in a sign of the discord in Washington, the senior U.S. intelligence official said the situation requires that the administration abandon its long-held goal of national reconciliation and instead “pick a winner” in Iraq. He said he understands that means the Sunnis are likely to bolt from the fragile government. “That’s the price you’re going to have to pay,” he said.

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Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.