Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Luke-warm Alliance

RealClearPolitics today links to two columns reflecting competing visions of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. They are:
Congress seeks to formally condemn Saudi prince for journalist’s death - Al Monitor
Punishing the Saudi prince rewards Iranian mullahs - Washington Times
What we have in the Middle East is one of those “a pox on both your houses” situations. It would be nice if both Saudi Arabia and Iran could lose. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way.

As presently constituted, neither the Saudis nor the Persians of Iran are natural allies of the U.S. Major elements of both societies are abhorent to most Americans. The Obama and Trump administrations obviously arrived at different choices about which was less evil, and with which we might sort-of ally.

Taking a cold-eyed view of the region, the only natural ally we have there is Israel. So perhaps our decision paradigm should be which of the three would-be regional hegemons (Turkey being the third) is least hostile to our ally. The temporary answer, which could change tomorrow, is the Saudis.

Whichever of the three would-be hegemons (Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia) finds itself our temporary ally takes as dim a view of us as we do of them. All three are, at base, antagonistic to Israel while recognizing its military and economic strength.

While we hold our nose and make common cause with one of the three, it does the same in return. All three view Israel as an outpost of antithetical Western values, much as the Crusaders once were, and those values are today as unwelcome as they were a millennium ago.