President Joe Biden has been praised on the left for his deft statecraft and ability to rally our allies against Russia. Yet the Wall Street Journal reports that the president of the United States, the most powerful man on earth, was unable to get the theocratic petrol-sheikhs of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the phone. Both had spoken to Vladimir Putin a week earlier. Biden was going to beg them to open the spigot and ease oil prices. But why would they? They have us over hundreds of millions of barrels.
It was the Biden administration that took Yemen’s Houthi militants, an Iranian proxy, off the Justice Department’s terror list. (The group launched missiles at an American base in Abu Dhabi soon after.) It was the Biden administration that pulled missile-defense systems out of Saudi Arabia even as the Houthis were escalating their attacks. At the same time, the president’s envoy, Rob Malley, was forging a deal with the Russians to lift sanctions against the Iranian dictatorship and its numerous terror proxies, giving them, as the Saudis and Israelis rightly believe, a glide path to nuclear weapons.
As Richard Goldberg notes, the “US-Saudi relationship historically, albeit with certain exception, was built on the concept of oil for security. Saudi swings to stabilize the market when needed and the US provides security guarantees to defend Saudi Arabia.” In 2018, for instance, after pulling out of the disastrous Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, Trump convinced the Saudis to increase oil production and stabilize prices.
Pundits will argue that dealing with the Saudis is a threat to democracy, as Iran-booster Ben Rhodes risibly did yesterday. The media, angry over the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, champion of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, by the Saudis — which far surpasses any anger they have at Iran over its role in the murder of 600 American servicemen — will play along. If we really want to be less reliant on bad guys, the only answer is to dramatically expand American energy production and North American imports (even then, fossil-fuel prices will be affected by the world market and beyond our control).
But that’s not a genuine argument, is it? In its alleged fight to save democracy, the Biden administration has approached tyrannies like Iran and Venezuela (but hasn’t looked to Texas or Canada). It is the Democrats’ obsession with getting an Iran deal that has come at the expense of relationships with liberal democracies like Israel and strategic oil-producing allies like Saudi Arabia, which is now far less inclined to mitigate some of the coming oil-price shock. Biden, the crafty super-diplomat, helped do that.
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