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The Saudi Summit
Why Obama Won’t Give (or Get) Much in Saudi Arabia

President Obama will have his hands full in Riyadh later this week working with the Saudis in light of recent policy differences. Unlike Lehman Brothers, however, the U.S.-Saudi relationship really is too big to fail.

Published on: March 25, 2014
Aaron David Miller is a Vice President and Distinguished Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He is the author of the forthcoming The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.
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  • Andrew Allison

    On what planet does somebody who can write, “Unlike his relationship with Vladimir Putin (or Lehman Brothers), the U.S.-Saudi relationship really is too big to fail.” reside? To paraphrase Stalin: The Saudis! How many divisions have they got?

    • PKCasimir

      All you have to do is to look at the title of his forthcoming book to know where he resides – in that bizarro world of the professional State Dept. functionary who never defends America because he doesn’t believe in it. In their view, America is always at fault.

      • Andrew Allison

        It depends on what you mean by the word “professional” I’ve come to the conclusion that if there are any professionals, in the sense of knowing anything about foreign policy, left at State they are not being heard. Prof. Mead please note.

        • El Gringo

          Absolutely. There are many intelligent professionals at State who are deeply knowledgeable about foreign policy. Unfortuantely, their voices are rarely heard. Stovepiping has become endemic in the foreign policy establishment. The White House relies exclusively on a very few appointed officials who in turn rely exclusively on a very few favorites who ignore information that does not conform to their narrow world view.

  • Anthony

    “…This, as it happens, is more or less the position of the Obama administration. The first post-imperial American presidency since world war II telegraphs nothing so much as exhaustion with world affairs. Obama essentially wants regional powers (such as Japan in Asia, and Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East) to rely less on the United States in maintaining local power balances.” Additional background to Friday’s Riyadh visit as highlighted by author.

    • Andrew Allison

      I beg to differ. IMNHO, the Obama administration telegraphs nothing but utter incompetence in the arena of world affairs, as elsewhere. The, perfectly sensible, desire for regional powers to look after their own interests should not be confused with the gross failure to look after those of the country of which he is President.

      • Anthony

        You may beg to differ as is your prerogative but quote belongs to Robert Kaplan and his insight provides perspective – and Andrew I am done here.

  • Fat_Man

    Why do we need the Saudis? We have plenty of oil here. What we need to do is build the Keystone pipeline, drill on federal lands, straighten out Venezuela, and strangle the last environmentalist with the entrails of the last lawyer.

    The Saudis are the worst. They do nothing but spread terrorism and ignorance. Best we throw all of them out of the US and tell them not to come back.

    • cammo99

      The fact is we built the Saudi oil machine with the Brits why shouldn’t we take advantage of purchasing barrels of oil from them if they will deliver them more cheaply and in enough quantity to keep prices from rising in this country?
      Obama promised to pass what essentially is a fart tax on carbon emissions, good luck on the keystone deal or fracking in NYS the politicians haven’t figured how to impose eminent domain on it so the savings goes in their pocket yet until then development will be at best limited. And the Suadis are trying to buy into American development too. With our national debt growing at a trillion a year we will be giving it away and our grand kids can go back to burning whale blubber.

  • El Gringo

    There are no permanent friends only permanent interests. Just because American interests have aligned with Saudi interests for so many years does not mean they are friends. The U.S. has an interest in stable oil supplies and the House of Saud has an interest in making barrels of money and that’s about as far as it goes. The fact that 15 of the 19 highjackers on 9/11 were Saudi should have proven that long ago.

    Why should the U.S. be involved in a war between the authoritarian Shia administration of Iran that is bent on religious imperialism and the autocratic Wahabi administration of the Saudis who are also bent on religious imperialism? If the Middle East is determined to fight its own Thirty Years’ War then the U.S. would do well to get shot of it.

  • michael

    Its time we (America) step back and allow these factions (Sunni,Shia) to find voice outside of our picking sides. For most of us questions as to how we got here or how they got to the point of enemies. More important is why we have to be the middle man in this great divide? If we step back maybe this will force them to reconcile there differences with one another. For to long we have giving aid and comfort to crimes and criminals that we shouldn’t have and this president at this time has changed coarse and we must see it through.

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