In the Hersh piece in The New Yorker we learn that the US has essentially decided to get out of the al Qaeda/Sunni-jihadist fighting business and redirect our efforts toward fighting the Iranian peril. The real war we're in the midst of now, it turns out, is the trans-Middle Eastern Sunni-Shi'a civil war. And we're going to side with the Saudis, who will in turn enlist a bunch of al Qaeda type groups to work on our behalf against Iran.Well, that's just about it, I think. The US government is now arming and training Salafi militants in order to hit Iran, and has entrusted as managers of this particular franchise... the Saudis. Because of course, that's never ever gone wrong before.
Now, you may be worried that this sounds rather like how we got into this mess in the first place. But don't worry. As Hersh writes, the Saudis are assuring the White House, that "they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was 'We've created this movement, and we can control it.'"
It was always kind of absurd to think that the US would take actually-existing terrorism seriously, in the sense of putting the screws to the Saudis and Pakistan for funding and organizing the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Client-patron relationships are always complicated, more so when we're talking about states. The problem, of course, is that the puppeteer is not really autonomous of the puppet -- the US, having armed and protected the Saudis for decades now, couldn't abandon them even if they wanted to.
I think we underestimate the amount to which personal relationships really do drive history. I'm not a big fan of the Bush-Saudi connection conspiracies (and calling them conspiracies is not meant to be derogratory) but can anyone doubt that US policy towards the Saudis has been skewed by the close relationships between those two families? Bush picnics with these people, but I'm supposed to think he can pursue America's interests rationally?