Biden's failed secret deal with the Saudis

Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP

Joe Biden, or at least Real President™ Ron Klain, thought they had a cut a deal with the Saudis that would save the Democrats’ bacon in the midterms.

Now they are fuming that their conspiracy failed.

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So says The New York Times in a bombshell story that were it about Donald Trump would lead to an impeachment. But because we are talking about a Democrat the story will only cause the Establishment™ to shake their heads in embarrassment over the incompetence of this particular White House. They tried to defraud the American people–all well and good–but failure is difficult to forgive.

Because they failed, Congress is likely gone.

WASHINGTON — As President Biden was planning a politically risky trip to Saudi Arabia this summer, his top aides thought they had struck a secret deal to boost oil production through the end of the year — an arrangement that could have helped justify breaking a campaign pledge to shun the kingdom and its crown prince.

It didn’t work out that way.

Mr. Biden went through with the trip. But earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Russia steered a group of oil-producing countries in voting to slash oil production by two million barrels per day, the opposite of the outcome the administration thought it had secured as the Democratic Party struggles to deal with inflation and high gas prices heading into the November elections.

The move led angry Biden administration officials to reassess America’s relationship with the kingdom and produced a flurry of accusatory statements between the two governments — including a charge by the White House that Saudi Arabia was helping Russia in its war in Ukraine.

Boost production through the end of the year. Not boost production period to save the world economy, about which nobody in the White House cares a whit–but to save the Democrats’ electoral prospects which are being destroyed by raging inflation and the (unacknowledged) recession devastating Americans’ finances.

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Biden is being politically bit in the ass by his improbably following through on his pledge to destroy the fossil fuel industry. His policies have constrained oil supplies, and fuel prices have spiked, helping accelerate the inflation that the explosion in the money supply and government spending have fue. That was the intended effect; what was not intended was the harsh backlash from the voters, who unaccountably don’t feel they can afford electric cars (and there aren’t enough built to replace the current fleet in any case), don’t want the range anxiety, and surely don’t want to rely on public transport. For some reason people don’t want to be assaulted by roaming bands of criminals. Go figure.

Lawmakers who had been told about the trip’s benefits in classified briefings and other conversations that included details of the oil deal — which has not been previously disclosed and was supposed to lead to a surge in production between September and December — have been left fuming that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman duped the administration.

Fuming at whom, exactly? The Biden Administration demanded that the Saudis bail them out politically–against their own obvious interests–and the Biden Administration screwed up big time.

The Saudis aren’t our allies because they love us. We have a transactional relationship, not a special one as with Britain. Sure, backing off our military support of the kingdom is a possibility, but doing so only empowers our greatest enemies in the region, including Iran and every extremist in the region. The Saudis need us, but we need them just as much. So we deal with them.

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Biden’s moral posturing against the Saudis because they are autocratic thugs was never wise, not because the claim is wrong, but because the fact that they are is irrelevant to whether we support them. Putting Saudi oil under the control of our enemies would harm us far more than we could bear, so we support the current Saudi government. Case closed.

This supposed “secret deal” is far more serious than anything Trump was ever accused of. Biden has been putting the vital interests of the United States in the hands of people he has declared pariahs, and now he is paying a political price. Unfortunately so are the rest of us.

What happened over the last half-year is a story of handshake agreements, wishful thinking, missed signals and finger-pointing over broken promises. Far from rebuilding a relationship with a leader Mr. Biden had once pledged to treat as a “pariah” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the outcome has been another low point in America’s tumultuous ties with Saudi Arabia.

The episode is also a revealing example of how Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of its ambitious and often ruthless crown prince, appears eager to shed some of its longtime reliance on the United States, with Prince Mohammed trying to position Saudi Arabia as a powerhouse of its own.

American officials said that, even days before the OPEC Plus decision, they had received assurances from the crown prince there would be no production cuts — and when they learned of the Saudi reversal they made a futile last-ditch push to change minds in the royal court.

The Saudi Energy Ministry said in a statement that “the kingdom rejects these allegations and stresses that such mischaracterizations made by anonymous sources are entirely false.”

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Whether or not the Saudis punked Biden is irrelevant. Misunderstanding, or intentional punishment for Biden’s attacks on the Crown Prince, Biden screwed up big time. Americans are hurting, our economy is sputtering, and the world itself is teetering on the brink of an economic crisis because Biden slammed the brakes on domestic oil production while simultaneously attacking the most important source of oil for Western governments in the world.

Biden caused this problem, 100%.

The White House has indicated it might seek retribution for the Saudi decision, and some Democrats in Congress are making a push to scale back some military and economic ties to the kingdom. Even some of the president’s staunchest supporters have called the episode an example of the administration sacrificing principles for political expediency — and having little to show for it.

“There’s now a level of embarrassment as the Saudis merrily go on their way,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Retribution? Adding injury to insult that would be. Biden has to repair relations with the Saudis, not cut them off and push them further into Russia’s orbit. Biden’s failure to get the Saudis on board with bailing him out is largely due to his failure to treat the Saudi government with respect–whether they deserve it or not–and going further out on a limb is the worst possible decision. Knowing the Biden Administration, they will likely do it because they always make the worst possible decision.

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Europe is set to begin boycotting Russian oil come December–at the same time the Biden Administration’s failed deal with Saudi Arabia was set to expire. This gives further evidence that Biden never cared about actual oil supply–he and his allies are working to constrain it even more–but only after the November elections.

Biden’s anger, then, isn’t about the Saudis not helping him relieve the pain at the pump afflicting all Americans.

It was solely about relieving how own pain at the polls scheduled for November 8.

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David Strom 8:00 AM | July 25, 2024
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