Saudi Arabia sponsors demotic Sunni radicalism throughout the Middle East, which has extended human conflict and contributed to the waves of refugees heading into Europe. Once in Europe, these refugees turn to mosques, funded by the Saudis, that preach a far more radical version of Islamism than what they had back in their home country. If in the past few years you ever stumbled on one of those confusing videos of various actors in the Syrian civil war using materiel provided by the U.S. Department of Defense to fire on others in the Syrian civil war who were using materiel provided by the CIA, well, you can thank Saudi Arabia for that too.
One of the reasons that Donald Trump says that he’ll wait for instructions from Saudi Arabia is that he and the political class wouldn’t dare consult with the American people. When our relationship to the Saudis is explained, there are halting gestures at history, and a vague threat that somehow the Saudi royal family is better than any alternative regime. Saudi Arabia’s bone-saw, cholera-epidemic foreign policy doesn’t exactly inspire Americans to cry out to their government to support our gallant allies in the Peninsula. Americans like to be told they are fighting for nations with similar values — friends of freedom. American reporters who, until recently, attended “ideas conferences” in Riyadh used to burble credulously about how the country was modernizing under its new leadership. And yet Saudi Arabia will happily torture and behead a kid who was accepted to one of our universities because he attended a pro-democracy protest.