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The High Price of ‘Reassuring’ Despotic Clients

William Hartung chides [1] the Obama administration for trying to buy Saudi goodwill with weapons:

One justification that has been put forward for the continued flow of weaponry from the United States to Saudi Arabia is that it provides reassurance to the kingdom’s leadership that Washington won’t tilt toward the Iranians in the wake of the deal reached last year over Iran’s nuclear program. But if demonstrating a commitment to the Saudi government entails supporting deadly and reckless initiatives, like the war in Yemen, the policy is not worth the price.

It is a measure of how indefensible the administration’s support for the war on Yemen is that this absurd “reassurance” argument is the only one available to defend it. The U.S. shouldn’t have to “reassure” the Saudis and the other Gulf states of anything. The nuclear deal imposes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, and the supposed “windfall” that Iran was going to get from sanctions relief has actually been a trickle of a few billion dollars so far. At most, Iran will gain access to maybe fifty billion dollars of their own money when all is said and done, and that is less than the Saudis’ annual military budget. The Saudis and the other Gulf states should be grateful to the U.S. for ensuring that Iran won’t have the ability to acquire nuclear weapons for decades to come, but they know that if they bleat about being betrayed and abandoned they are more likely to receive a bribe to keep quiet. The administration didn’t let the whining of its useless regional clients keep it from successfully negotiating the nuclear deal, and they shouldn’t be catering to them once it was concluded.

Even if there were some need to placate the Saudis and the other Gulf states, keeping them happy isn’t worth the price of enabling war crimes and implicating the U.S. in the senseless devastation and starvation of an entire country.

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2 Comments To "The High Price of ‘Reassuring’ Despotic Clients"

#1 Comment By collin On April 19, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

This obviously good advice but it is probably harder in practice as the neoconservative are constantly complaining that Obama is against our Allies. (Also I wonder how much of the Iran and Saudia jawing is due to the crash in oil markets.)

Additionally, I believe Obama is doing ‘trolling’ with the infamous 9/11 28 pages stuff and get less support for Saudia Arabia. I wish they would release the findings as I bet of the material is widely known with most foreign policy experts. By not releasing the information formally, the infamous 28 pages becomes more notorious on the internet.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 19, 2016 @ 3:51 pm

Daniel,

What do you think is the purpose of Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow?

Is there anything in the Obama visit that you think might give us hope for a change in US pandering to Saudi Arabia — especially re Yemen?