The Obama administration keeps desperately trying to “reassure” the Saudis:
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will soon head to Saudi Arabia to discuss ways to increase cooperation in the war against the Islamic State. But there’s little indication he will be able to restore a vital relationship that’s become riven with distrust in the last year, which would require him to reassure the Saudis on the very nature of the U.S. commitment to the kingdom and the region.
Carter has previously been dubbed the “Secretary of Reassurance” because he has been sent on so many of these ridiculous hand-holding trips, and it seems that he will keep playing that part for the rest of Obama’s presidency. It’s absurd that a patron has to keep “reassuring” its reckless clients when it should be the other way around. Better yet, the patron should withhold support from clients that cause it too many headaches. Instead Obama and his officials rush to smooth over the ruffled feathers of bad client regimes that do little or nothing for the U.S. except to get it involved in new conflicts. Obama may claim to hate free-riders, but in practice he does his best to encourage them in their worst habits.
The administration should understand by now that there is no amount of “reassuring” that it can do that will ever satisfy Riyadh or the other Gulf states. The U.S. pledges to protect them, sells them weapons, takes their side in Syria, backs their appalling war in Yemen, gives them diplomatic cover, and goes out of its way not to criticize their abuses in public, but they still complain about being neglected or abandoned because the U.S. won’t do absolutely everything they want at our expense. And the more that the U.S. does to try to placate its despotic clients, the more they will demand from the U.S. in the knowledge that they can extract far more from Washington by whining about neglect.
Supporting their war on Yemen is the most obvious and horrific example of how far the U.S. will go to try to keep these awful governments happy, but it is just one part of the bad, lopsided relationship that the U.S. has with these states. It is typical that Yemen barely receives a mention in that article. The only hint that the U.S. is aiding the Saudis and their allies in destroying a poor country is this line:
The U.S.-Saudi relationship is complex, and there’s still robust cooperation on several levels, including in Yemen.
“Robust cooperation” is how our media outlets describe enabling indiscriminate bombing and supporting a starvation blockade. No wonder the public neither knows nor cares about what the U.S. is helping the Saudi-led coalition to do to Yemen.