Editor’s note: Jason D. Greenblatt was sent from the White House to the Middle East in the Trump administration. He is the host of “The diplomat“podcast on Newsweek and author of the new book”On the way to Abraham.” follow him @GreenblattJD. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. See more reviews at CNN.
After being offline for 25 hours observing Yom Kippur, I opened my phone and the reports poured in. The most compelling story was OPEC+’s decision to drastically cut oil production, which understandably caused a lot of consternation in Washington.
Therefore, some Democratic lawmakers are waving to withdraw all US troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, claim the decision is “a hostile act against the United States and a clear signal that it has chosen to side with Russia in its war against Ukraine”, this “despite President (Joe) Biden’s overtures to both countries these last months”.
I think what is happening to Ukraine is appalling. I also don’t like paying higher gas prices than the next person, especially in this wild inflation world we live in. But the accusation of these legislators is misleading, dishonest and largely political.
If the OPEC+ decision harms the United States, we cannot ignore the fact that these countries have their own national interests and strategies. Saudi Arabiathe United Arab Emirates and others have grand plans for national transformation that are breathtaking in scope and extraordinarily expensive. We have no right to tell them to abandon their plans and sell us their valuable assets at discounted prices.
Likewise, arguing, as Senator Dick Durbin arguedthat US foreign policy can be imagined “without the (Saudi) alliance” is unrealistic and detrimental to the interests of the United States and our allies in the Middle East.
These lawmakers also criticize Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for making their decisions despite Biden’s overtures. It is a distorted view. If we take the case of Saudi Arabia, remember that as a candidate, Biden said that the US-Saudi relationship had to be recalibrated, that he would no longer sell arms to the Saudis, vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah”, and said “there is little socially redeeming valuein the current government of the kingdom.
Once in power, Biden did not take threats against Saudi Arabia (or the United Arab Emirates) seriously; he mostly paid reluctanlty to such attacks.
No overture would have been necessary had Biden handled the relationship with the kingdom differently from the start. Instead, after trying to throw the kingdom and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the curb, then weakly trying to mend the fences with a brief trip and a punch, these critics are disappointed that the brief visit of the president in the kingdom did not give in. the desired results.
Biden was disappointed with the OPEC+ decision “as the global economy faces the continued negative impact of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to A declaration National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council.
Consider that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others could turn the tide on this statement in a hot second. Undoubtedly, the kingdom, the UAE and others are disappointed, or more likely furious, with Biden’s Relentless Attempts signing a weak, shorter and incredibly dangerous deal with Iran.
Biden has at least tempered his public comments, in stark contrast to what some of his fellow Democrats are asking with their incredibly alarming idea to withdraw all US military forces and equipment from the kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. This would cause even more instability in the Middle East and would undoubtedly backfire on the United States.
While these monarchies should (and I think they do) appreciate anything the United States does to help them, our relationship with these countries is a two-way street. The United States benefits greatly from the presence of our forces and our equipment. If we didn’t, the staff and the equipment wouldn’t be there. Let’s not pretend to put the interests of other nations before our own. Likewise, we should not ask other nations to put our interests ahead of theirs.
Biden also said that “we are looking for alternativesto oil from OPEC+ countries. That’s fair, as long as it doesn’t involve making deals or easing sanctions against rogue and brutal regimes such as Iran Where Venezuela. Instead, he should focus again on increasing energy production at home.
How many times do we have to learn the same lesson? Look no further than Europe to see what might befall us. It will be a cold and expensive european winter. And let’s stop hypocritically calling for clean energy while demanding that energy producing countries increase their production. This charade does not help to make our planet cleaner. The world is simply not ready to wean off fossil fuels yet.
It is time for us to recognize that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others in this region are powerful, moving states and not vassal states of the United States. It is also time for us to recognize that the world is driven by reality and practicality, hopefully working alongside lofty goals. We can still be a great nation and make the world a better place while living by these truths.