Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Adults Are Now in Charge

Some people-- they shall go nameless-- were thrilled that the Biden presidency would put the adults back in charge of American foreign policy. One might ask the Ukrainians how that one is working out, but one will refrain, for now.

Everyone knew that a seasoned foreign policy hand like Joe Biden would take charge of American diplomacy in ways that the Trump administration had not. Of course, Joe Biden is currently suffering from a cerebral impairment. Everyone around the world knows about it. Even most Americans know about it.

And everyone also knows that the Biden administration has made a complete hash of relations with Saudi Arabia. One recalls, wistfully, that the Trump administration remained on very good terms with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab states. The Abraham accords were a diplomatic triumph, and only awaited Saudi Arabia’s joining.

One recalls the grand summit meeting between President Trump and Saudi officials to announce a renewed alliance and renewed war on terrorism. 

Nowadays, the Biden people cannot get Saudi leaders on the phone. Rarely has diplomacy failed so decisively so quickly. 

So, the Biden administration rejected the premise of the Abraham Accords and returned to what wizzened old John Kerry calls the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The result was that within a few months of the Biden presidency Hamas was shooting thousands of rockets into Israel. And the terrorism has continued, on a daily basis.

Hamas knows that it has friends in the White House. Most Americans, and especially liberal American Jews, did not know that a vote for Joe Biden was a vote for Hamas.

As for the Biden administration’s handling of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, we know that, in the midst of a worldwide energy crisis-- one that is taking place on Joe’s watch-- Biden’s people turned to Saudi Arabia to ask them to pump more oil. Nothing like more oil to tamp down energy inflation. As you know, the Crown Prince rebuffed the Biden administration. No more oil would be forthcoming. 

Moreover, to add insult to injury, the Saudis have largely supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine and now are awaiting the arrival of Chinese president Xi Jinping next month. Rumors have it that China is going to buy lots more oil from Saudi Arabia, and is going to pay in Petroyuan-- thereby striking a blow at the hegemony of the dollar.

Anyway, the excellent Wall Street Journal account of the Biden administration diplomatic failure will seem rather complex and detailed. And yet, all human relationships, especially between adults in business situations, maintain this level of complexity. One does well to study this object lesson in how not to do it.

Among the buffoons conducting Biden administration foreign policy is National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. One does not know who is pulling Sullivan’s strings, but one imagines that old Joe has some say-- sadly.

So, here is a report of the first communication between Sullivan and the Saudi Crown Prince. This occurred last September, before the Ukraine incursion. One does not understand why it took the Biden administration eight months to set up such a confab, but here goes:

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, wearing shorts at his seaside palace, sought a relaxed tone for his first meeting with President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, last September.

The 36-year-old crown prince ended up shouting at Mr. Sullivan after he raised the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The prince told Mr. Sullivan he never wanted to discuss the matter again, said people familiar with the exchange. And the U.S. could forget about its request to boost oil production, he told Mr. Sullivan.

The relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has hit its lowest point in decades, with Mr. Biden saying in 2019 that the kingdom should be treated like a pariah over human-rights issues such as Mr. Khashoggi’s murder.

So, the adults in the Biden administration did not know enough about diplomacy to be diplomatic. They followed senile old Joe in calling the Crown Prince a murderer. It did not and could not have gone down well. 

But then, importantly, the Saudis have been selling more oil to China and less to America. So they do not need to make nice to a hostile administration, one that cares more for justice than for diplomacy:

But the economic underpinning of the relationship has changed. The Saudis no longer sell much oil to the U.S. and are instead the biggest supplier to China, reorienting Riyadh’s commercial and political interests.

But, the problems go back to before the Sullivan phone call. Then again, the Biden denunciation of the Crown Prince dates to 2019.

Last summer, well before the Russian invasion, the Saudis had already diminished their cooperation with the Biden administration:

The Saudis cut short a high-level military delegation to Washington last summer and called off a visit last fall by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. A planned visit last month by Secretary of State Antony Blinken was canceled.

But, the Biden administration has been playing the justice card, even to the point of releasing a report accusing the Crown Prince of murder:

Prince Mohammed doesn’t like his treatment by the Biden administration, which released an intelligence report last year about the crown prince’s alleged role in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Central Intelligence Agency concluded the prince likely ordered the killing. He denied directing the attack on one of his high-profile critics but has said he bears responsibility because it happened on his watch.

Of course, it's one thing to produce the report. It’s quite another to advertise it-- and thereby to make it feel like an indictment.

Besides, there is the matter or criminal liability:

The prince wants to put Mr. Khashoggi’s murder behind him—he faces civil lawsuits over the killing—and secure legal immunity in the U.S., Saudi officials said. Mr. Biden could facilitate that by directing the State Department to recognize Prince Mohammad as a head of state.

And then there is the Biden policy toward the Houthi rebels in Yemen. One recalls that the Houthis are backed by Iran and that the Biden administration has been performing a massive suck up to Iran, the better to get back in the Obama era nuclear deal:

Saudi leaders are also upset about the U.S. approach to Yemen. The White House no longer classifies the Houthis as a terrorist organization and announced it was reducing support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, imposing a freeze on the sale of precision-guided missiles. Saudi Arabia saw an uptick in cross-border drone and missile attacks by the Houthis and was alarmed by the Pentagon removing several antimissile systems from Saudi Arabia in June. The U.S. said the move was for maintenance.

So, the Saudi wish list involves the Yemen civil war. And this matters because the Houthi rebels have been shooting rockets and drones into Saudi Arabia. Whatever the reason the Biden administration chose to cut back support for the Saudis, the result has been rocket attacks on the kingdom:

Saudi Arabia wants more support for its intervention in Yemen’s civil war and to bolster its defenses against cross-border attacks from Iran-allied Houthi fighters. Riyadh also wants help with its civilian nuclear capabilities and more investments in its economy by U.S. companies.

According to the Journal, Congressional Democrats have no warm feelings toward Saudi Arabia. They seem to want to side with Iran and also, dare we mention it, against Israel.

Mr. Biden is unable or unlikely to meet most of these demands, given the lack of support for Saudi Arabia in Congress, especially among Democrats. On April 13, 30 Democrats, including the leaders of the House foreign affairs and intelligence committees, called on the administration to take a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia, largely over the Saudi response to the Ukraine war and its refusal to boost oil production.

Last July, when a Saudi delegation traveled to Washington to discuss support for Saudi military defenses, things did not work out as the Saudis had expected:

In July, Prince Khalid bin Salman, who is Prince Mohammed’s younger brother, met Messrs. Austin and Sullivan in Washington to discuss bolstering Saudi air defenses, U.S. and Saudi officials said.

Prince Khalid, the most senior Saudi official to visit the U.S. during the Biden administration, canceled a dinner for U.S. officials at the ambassador’s Washington residence after being told he wouldn’t get the amount of time with Mr. Blinken he had requested, a Saudi official said.

Last month, when the president himself softened his approach to the Crown Prince and requested a conversation, the Saudis turned him down. They were happy, however, to take a call from Vladimir Putin, thus cementing their relationship with Russia and China and taking more distance from America.

In March, weeks after rebuffing the White House invitation to speak with Mr. Biden, Prince Mohammed took a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin and affirmed Riyadh’s commitment to maintaining its oil deal with Moscow.

If this is foreign policy conducted by adults, perhaps we need to revise our view of the Biden presidency. It seems more like a clown posse than a group of seasoned diplomats.


Anonymous said...

On the opposite side of American politics, many progressive groups are preparing to mount a rebellion against Donald Trump. They see solidarity among racial minorities as their goal, and largely blame Trump’s election on racism and white supremacy. We all love shekels, especially in our paywalls. American Jews voted against Trump, and many support the progressive vision. Netanyahu won’t be happy with the administration’s intention to upgrade relations with the Palestinian Jews but won’t fight it. If there is conflict, it will be over Biden’s focus on changing the situation on the ground and restoring cooperation and some measure of trust between Israelis and Palestinians. Biden will expect Netanyahu to refrain from moving ahead with major infrastructure and high profile settlement. You're a dedicated reader We’re really pleased that you’ve read Times of Israel articles in the past month. That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world. So now we have a request. Unlike other Jews outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. The insatiable ladies in here have one rule: The Bigger, the blacker, the better. Scenes in this area consist of hot interracial and more. Who wants a taste of this black thick BBC Plus White wimmens Hung black bulls fight tight white to the max stretch hole and lot more. When Biden met the voter's granddaughter, he asked her age. After she replied that she was 13 years old, Biden turned to her brothers and said, "You've got one job here, I grab men and women by the pursey."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.