I just had the pleasure of attending a luncheon featuring the new Ambassador from Saudi Arabia. During his remarks, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, covered some of the most current events in the world from the respective center of Islamic thought and the birthplace of everyone's favorite bogeyman, Usama Bin Laden. I found the Ambassador to be forthright and reasonable. He acknowledged the necessity for continuing reforms in his nation and the sorrow felt by Saudi's to have had fifteen of their countrymen involved in the September 11th attacks.
This is a man who is the youngest son of the former king and was educated from high school through undergrad in the united states (specifically New Jersey and Georgetown). The audience was then permitted to submit questions, many were quite direct. He did not shy away from answering them. To the contrary, he took on some tough issues (including Iran) and revealed much about what I think Saudi Arabia would like to become.
I want to believe him. I do believe he speaks for his country's government. I also believe he recognizes the great obstacles which much of the developing world faces. Perhaps his most telling comment came as he noted the United States own struggle with personal liberties and freedoms. These did not spring in whole form from the Bill of Rights, rather they have evolved through struggle and debate. We have fought a civil war over these freedoms and continue to struggle in skirmishes every day. We are far from perfect, but my understanding of his remarks left me with no doubt that the United States still represents the model for freedom and liberty.