Max Boot predictably defends Saudi Arabia and U.S. support for them:
The American policy should be clear: We should stand with the Saudis — and the Egyptians, and the Jordanians, and the Emiratis, and the Turks, and the Israels, and all of our other allies — to stop the new Persian Empire. But the Obama administration, morally and strategically confused, is instead coddling Iran in the vain hope that it will somehow turn Tehran from enemy into friend.
All of this is wrong. For one thing, almost all of the states listed here aren’t allies. Almost all of them are clients, and all of them are increasingly liabilities for the U.S. More to the point, there there is no “new Persian Empire” that needs to be stopped. Iran has been doing a fine job alienating most states in the region all on its own, and it has been presiding over the steady decline of its influence for the last five years. Michael Hanna sums this up very well here:
Iran in past 5 years: soft power collapsed + forced to adopt militaristic, sectarian+costly posture to simply maintain its alliance strucure
— Michael Hanna (@mwhanna1) January 5, 2016
The threat that Boot invokes to justify continued support for a bad and reckless client regime is grossly exaggerated. Boot refers to “growing Iranian power” at a time when Iranian power is clearly not growing. He is insisting that we “need” to “stand with the Saudis” at a moment when Iran is steadily becoming weaker. Aligning with the Saudis isn’t a case of doing the ugly-but-necessary thing. It is a case of continuing in bad, outdated habits that no longer make sense.
But the reality is that the U.S. has been consistently taking the side of the Saudis in virtually every conflict that involves them and the Iranians over the last several years. This has been a terrible mistake in both Syria and Yemen, but it is what the U.S. has actually been doing. The U.S. may not be as aggressive as they want in pursuing the Saudis’ goals in Syria, but it pursues them all the same. Incredibly, Boot claims that Saudi Arabia “is not seeking to subvert its neighbors” at the moment when the Saudis and their allies are pummeling and starving the Saudis’ southern neighbor. Their record of war crimes in Yemen is already quite long, but Boot isn’t interested in any of that. The Saudi-led blockade is contributing to near-famine that affects tens of millions of people, but you won’t hear anything about that from him, either. He takes it as a given that “the Iranian regime is far worse” and that’s all that he needs to know.
The administration is actively aiding the Saudis as they combat phantom Iranian “expansionism” in Yemen and inflict horrible suffering on the civilian population. This is just the sort of thing that Boot should want the U.S. to be doing, and yet he never says anything about it because it contradicts his larger complaint that Obama is supposedly not supportive enough of the Saudis and their allies. It’s a thoroughly misleading and dishonest argument for maintaining a client relationship that neither benefits the U.S. nor stabilizes the region.