Josh Earnest signals Obama will veto bill allowing 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia

President Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia this week may go a little smoother thanks to Josh Earnest’s signal to reporters yesterday:

“The whole notion of sovereign immunity is at stake,” Earnest told reporters Monday. “It could put the United States, and our taxpayers, and our service members and our diplomats at significant risk, if other countries were to adopt a similar law.”

He added that it is “difficult to imagine a scenario in which the president would sign the bill as it’s currently drafted.”

Saudi Arabia has threatened to pull three quarters of a trillion dollars out of American investments if a bipartisan, overwhelmingly popular bill passes that would enable 9/11 victim families to sue nations whose government officials sponsored terror attacks.  But it is not that threat in particular that worries Obama, but rather the specter of the United States being sued overseas for all kinds of actions, once sovereign immunity no longer becomes a bedrock principle of American foreign relations.

And that is the grown-up thing to do, no matter how sympathetic the 9/11 victim families are, and no matter how outrageous the fact that Saudi officials apparently did support the 9/11 perpetrators while they were preparing their attack.

The Saudi regime, a medieval absolute monarchy, is reprehensible on its face.  It survives only because of petrodollars (now diminished well below the levels necessary to support current spending), bribery of ultra-conservative clergy with support for spreading Wahhabism worldwide, and American military support – not to mention millions of foreigners who do most of the real work of the Saudi economy, from menial tasks to high-level managerial and technical functions. 

The royal family, numbering in the thousands thanks to the practice of taking multiple wives and siring as many children as possible, contains factions at odds with one another.  It brutally represses its opponents when not bribing them.

The only reason to support it is the specter of Iran invading the Eastern Provinces, inhabited by Shia Muslims and containing most of the oil, and the fundamentalist clergy leading an Iran-style revolution elsewhere.

Unfortunately for Obama, his duties require him to take a position against sympathetic American victims and in favor of corrupt and disgusting foreigners.  I bet he can hardly wait to get out of office.