Will the US Drone Base in Saudi Arabia Inspire a Blowback?

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The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf says Saudi Arabia may be the most provocative place in the world for the US to build its drone base:

It would’ve been nice to publicly debate whether the strategic value of a drone base in Saudi Arabia outweighs the potential for blowback. Operating on a four-year time horizon, Obama has a potentially perverse incentive to over-weight short-term outcomes. If he’s especially worried about preventing a terrorist attack on his watch, it’s easy to forgive that understandable psychological bias, but it would be nice if politicians with different biases helped shape policy.

Of course, the chance of blowback might have decreased if the drone base had been kept secret forever, but what were the odds of that? Zero.

The American military presence in Saudi Arabia was used as a pretext by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to launch terrorist attacks inside the country in the past. Although the Saudis have managed to effectively quash al-Qaeda threat in recent years, this new revelation about the US drone base should be a source of concern.

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