Coercion is the name of the game as Dems play politics with national security. Democrats, in a fit of pique, are pushing to punish Saudi Arabia for leading the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – more commonly known as OPEC – in the group’s decision to cut oil production. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) are at the pointy end of the indignity spear. They want to temporarily hold all US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom elected to side with other OPEC+ members and cut oil output by two million barrels per day. But really, is putting a hold on US arms to the Saudis a good idea when the Kingdom is one of the major bulwarks preventing Iran from gaining greater Middle East influence?
Saudi Arabia made its decision despite President Biden’s visit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). During the discussions, the US president, according to a White House source, “actually begged the Saudis not to cut production before the elections,” Joseph Curl revealed in The Daily Wire. But the crown prince rebuffed the US chief executive’s plea, and now the White House is miffed.
Consequences for OPEC Cutting Oil Production – Really?
“President Joe Biden said Tuesday [October 11] there will be ‘consequences’ for Saudi Arabia as the Riyadh-led OPEC+ alliance moves to cut oil production and Democratic lawmakers call for a freeze on cooperation with the Saudis,” Aamer Madhani reported for the Associated Press. To that end, Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation. Additionally, on the heels of Biden’s earlier comments, in a televised news conference, Senator Blumenthal explained Biden’s intention is that the OPEC+ decision should have consequences, and “one of the consequences should be a temporary halt in arms sales. This one-year pause in sales of all arms, repairs, supplies, support really is in defense of our national interests and security interests,” he asserted.
The senator explained that the Saudis owed it to the people of the US to revisit the OPEC+ decision to reduce oil exports. During his remarks, Blumenthal suggested the “only apparent purpose” for which Saudi Arabia joined OPEC+ in this initiative was to “help the Russians harm Americans.” As you would expect, when US officials malign another country’s motives, there will be a quick response. “[T]hese statements … are not based on facts, and … are based on portraying the OPEC+ decision out of its purely economic context,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry responded. The ministry went on to blast the notion of helping the Russians, saying, “Saudi Arabia affirms that any attempts to distort the facts about the Kingdom’s position regarding the crisis in Ukraine are unfortunate and will not change the Kingdom’s principled position.”
Where the ridiculous becomes the sublime is Blumenthal warning the Saudis and, by extension, all of the Gulf nations, they’ve made a “humongous blunder.” From a US regional and national security perspective, the blunder is Biden’s. First, the US chief executive had an inflated understanding of his US diplomatic currency, believing he could persuade Riyadh to act contrary to its national economic self-interest just because it was what Biden wanted.
MBS and the Riyadh government recognized the request for precisely what it was – an exercise in hubris to satisfy a political problem of Biden’s own making. Destroying US energy independence put the president in the position of going hat-in-hand to Saudi Arabia. Notice the administration asked MBS not to cut oil production before the midterm elections. Afterward, who cares? Let the prices at America’s gas pumps skyrocket.
More Consequences for Biden
Second, the consequences of halting arms sales to the Kingdom will be borne by American companies and national security policy. Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of US weapons, military equipment, and services, with a purchase of $1.4 billion in 2021. Moreover, those sales support US aerospace and defense companies with a total workforce numbering 950,000 skilled workers, according to the 2021 Aerospace and Defense Workforce Study. This means that while the Biden team touts the number of jobs it takes credit for creating, it jeopardizes a significant market for American goods and services. Additionally, during the joint press conference, Congressman Khanna asserted, “if it weren’t for our technicians their [Saudi’s] airplanes literally wouldn’t fly.” The hubris in the statement, accompanied by the notion the US halting for a year arms and support would really “show them who’s in charge,” demonstrates a breathtaking level of naiveté.
If history is any indicator, when foreign military sales are used as means of coercion to move friends and allies to a US foreign policy point of view, it has prompted the US’ foreign customers to find alternative providers. Often those providers have been China and Russia. The aerospace and defense market is highly competitive, and weapon systems have become roughly equivalent in capability. Furthermore, the world is full of Modification, Repair, and Overhaul firms that would salivate at the chance to replace American technicians to keep Riyadh’s planes flying. Threatening not to honor arms contracts with Riyadh for a year is an invitation to the Saudis to stop doing 73% of their arms buying from the US for longer than a year.
Saudi Arabia is an imperfect partner and ally in the Middle East. However, the Riyadh government is the most powerful of the Gulf states and a significant regional security asset against the hostile activities of Iran. Again, the Biden administration gambled in a political game using oil production as chips with America’s national and Middle East regional security on the pass line. This time the White House rolled snake eyes.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
Liberty Nation Today:
A Sneak Peek
BREAKING: House Passes Rail Strike Resolution - Will the Senate follow suit? - Read Now!
Media Ready to Become Attack Dog Once Again? – LN Radio Videocast - The Fourth Estate braces for a volte-face. - Watch Now!
Russian Oil Price Cap Will Fuel Energy Crisis - The US and its allies may do more harm than good. - Read Now!
Ex-CEO Crushed by Cancel Culture – ‘I Call It Social Terrorism’ - Cancel culture succeeds when fear and intimidation make people change. - Read Now!
Ukraine Today – Photos and Facts - The latest news and pictures from the Ukrainian front. - Read Now!