Saudi King Abdullah’ has oh so graciously pardoned the woman who was gang raped. What lies behind such incredible generosity? Kathleen Parker:

“It seems obvious that the king’s decision was influenced in part by pressures both from the international community, including the United States, and within Saudi Arabia, where some writers and others bravely expressed outrage and embarrassment.

“I would like to propose another possible factor less easily assessed – first lady Laura Bush’s October journey to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries to promote breast cancer awareness, research and treatment.

“In Saudi Arabia, the first lady met with the king and his wife Princess Hessa as Mrs. Bush launched the Saudi portion of the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research. Other participating countries include Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

“The trip, while officially aimed at improving women’s health (an acceptable and ‘safe’ first-lady enterprise), was in fact a brilliant diplomatic maneuver in the arena of women’s rights.”