Obama losing the Saudis?

Remember when Barack Obama promised that his foreign policy, unlike that of George W. Bush, would strengthen ties with America’s friends and improve relations with our antagonists?  Neither does Tom Brokaw, who not surprisingly failed to mention Obamas’ “smart power” in his report last night from Baghdad.  Too bad, because as CNS News reminds us, the irony is palpable:

After remarking on the difficulty of establishing democracy in the Middle East, Brokaw said that Defense Secretary Robert Gates “will face some tough questions in this region about the American intentions going on now with all this new turmoil, especially in an area where the United States has such big stakes politically and economically.”

“And a lot of those questions presumably will come from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia,” reported Brokaw on the Nightly News. “I was told on the way in here that the Saudis are so unhappy with the Obama administration for the way it pushed out President Mubarak of Egypt that it sent high level emissaries to China and Russia to tell those two countries that Saudi Arabia now is prepared to do more business with them.”

Earlier, many warned that the aggressive demand for Mubarak to resign from power would have serious implications for our other allies in the region. Even if we hadn’t eroded our economic power, tossing aside Mubarak would cause others whose cooperation we need to re-evaluate their relationship with the US. Given our current financial position, we can hardly afford to alienate the nations in the region on which we rely for a counterbalance to Iranian dreams of hegemony as well as a mostly-quiet peace with Israel.

Some may not consider the Saudis much of a loss, being a absolute monarchy with plenty of corruption and radicalism, and there is a fair amount of truth in that argument.  At this critical time with Iran, however, we’re better off keeping them on our side both diplomatically and financially rather than losing them to China and Russia especially.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on December 09, 2022