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The U.S. Doesn’t “Need” to “Stand With” the Saudis

Max Boot predictably defends [1] 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 [2]:

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 It is a case of continuing in bad, outdated habits that no longer make sense.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.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "The U.S. Doesn’t “Need” to “Stand With” the Saudis"

#1 Comment By Chris Chuba On January 5, 2016 @ 11:22 am

Max Boot writes like a total lunatic, he was a huge supporter of the 2003 Iraq war, and he still indulges in the same hysterical prose. So Iran is culpable of genocide because they are helping Assad in Syria and Assad has murdered at least 200,000 of his own people. This logic is so twisted and sick, where does one begin or does one simply have to ignore some points just to keep it simple?

If the standard is that helping a country makes you guilty of all of their actions then we are guilty of all of Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses as well as every country we have ever helped throughout history.

Assad has not ‘murdered and committed genocide’ he is fighting a civil war. I am certain that he may have committed some war crimes, as have the rebels, but not every single death in a civil war is a war crime. In Max Boot’s world, it is a war crime to oppose any U.S. policy that he favors in his utmost prose and anything can be justified to implement U.S. policy, including war crimes but then they aren’t really war crimes in that case but are justifiable acts of self-defense. He is a lazy thinker and never questions himself.

#2 Comment By Richard W. Bray On January 5, 2016 @ 11:50 am

I once saw Max Boot on CSPN waxing on about the Great Generals of WWII and he could hardly contain himself.

This Modern Day Miniver Cheevy is a real War Wanker. God help us that he is considered a Serious thinker in some circles.

#3 Comment By William Burns On January 5, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

How long before Boot advocates an alliance with ISIS?

#4 Comment By sglover On January 5, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

As always, the big question that Boot needs to answer is: If the war on Yemen is really so vital, what’s keeping him from jetting off to Riyadh and marching to the front? These chickenhawks need to be confronted directly, personally, whenever they talk up this week’s favored war.

#5 Comment By Ian G. On January 5, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

I wonder if Saudi Arabia really stepped in it this time. It’s impossible for even the most disinterested American to miss the comparison with ISIS in the mass beaheadings of religious dissenters. Or with North Korea in the mass execution of regime opponents. Should we stand with North Korea, Max?

I imagine the neoconservative Borg will be releasing increasingly grating pronouncements in the coming days, lest the US stand by while another worthless Middle Eastern “ally” against the phantom Iranian menace self-immolate. I’m honestly hoping for a full Shi’a uprising in Saudi Arabia. I’m not taking any sides in an ancient Islamic blood feud, but if the past 15 years of Sunni extremism is any indication, the Shi’a are easily the lesser of two evils.

#6 Comment By jk On January 5, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

William Burns, you would be surprised. Neocon darling former General Petraeus did advocate siding with Al Qaeda to fight ISIS.

#7 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On January 5, 2016 @ 4:09 pm

Isn’t this agitation mostly about Israel, which has chosen Iran as its bête noire these days?

#8 Comment By Jay C On January 5, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

Well, if Michael Hanna’s assessment is correct, it sounds like the Iranians are going to need to do some quick-footed diplomatic maneuvering to shore up its regional position…
Maybe they might be wise in at least considering an alliance – or better relations, at the minimum – with a distant (and nominally disinterested) superpower which might use its still-considerable political/military/economic leverage to keep the regional scales somewhat balanced?
Hmmm: wonder what country might fit that particular bill…?

#9 Comment By Uncle Billy On January 5, 2016 @ 7:49 pm

If Max Boot had his way, the United States would invade and occupy Iran, and install the Shah’s son as the new Shah. That would certainly be a big hit with the Iranian people.

#10 Comment By Dennis Brislen On January 5, 2016 @ 10:25 pm

I sometimes wonder if the neoliberals and neoconservatives haven’t devised the whole “Obama is soft on terror” meme to provide him cover for the incredible expansion of the GWOT he has overseen.

There is no credible reason that US policy should support the Wahhabi loving tribal descendents of the House of Saud while creating an enemy of the region’s most historically cultured, intelligent nation, Iran.

Even today with all the phony CIA/Mossad conjured hate campaign in full force, in Iran Jews and Christians are free to worship and are protected by fatwa. Some work in low level government jobs. It’s not a picnic but try that in the House of Saud.

Obama ought to suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia yesterday and as David Stockman has noted, within six months the crown prince and relatives would be on their jets to relocation spots around the globe. And the US and rest of the world would be the better for it.

#11 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 6, 2016 @ 2:43 am

Das Boot has sunk to new depths.