Tom Friedman is the only globally oriented analyst I know who has spent years trying to understand the Arab world (many have attempted belatedly since 11 September). So it’s interesting to read his theory of two schools of future development for Saudi Arabia.
Tom proposes that the country will either follow a Soviet path (with the ruling al-Sauds as the politburo and the Wahhabi sect as the ideology) or a Chinese one (where a ruling ideology successfully encourages a seemingly contradictory reform). He fudges, however, the conclusion: “Which school would I bet on? Ask me in five years.”
Not incidentally, Tom produced the scoop on the Abdullah plan which might (emphasis on might) break the current Israel-Palestine deadlock.