Well, so much for fist-bump diplomacy.
When President Joe Biden met recently with Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, he began by exchanging a very public fist-bump with the man who is linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden, it seemed clear at the time to everyone, was ready to move beyond any efforts to punish the Saudis for their misdeeds and get down to business.
Now, though, after the kingdom’s decision to cut oil production by up to 2 million barrels per day, despite entreaties from the White House to do otherwise, Biden is talking big. The president has said he’s going to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Whatever that means.
One imagines the Saudis chuckling, perhaps not entirely secretly, to have heard these reports. Go ahead and reassess to your heart’s content, Joe, they are probably thinking. Let us know when you are finished. Not that it will matter.
Biden was knocked back on his heels after the Saudis rebuffed his pleas for increased oil production. According to some reports, our nation’s president had asked the kingdom to delay the announcement of their cuts until after the Nov. 8 midterms. If this is true, of course, it demonstrates once again how much Biden is willing to politicize most anything that could benefit him and congressional Democrats.
The Biden White House backed itself into a corner by shunning fossil fuels and moving broadly to adopt green energy policies before they were ready for prime time.
In theory, a democratic nation’s leader seeks to do business with countries that have generally shared values. But we don’t operate in theory. We move in the actual, real and messy world, with complex characters, some of them good, others bad, a great many a bit of each, depending on the day, or the issue at hand, or the moment. As such, a president who’d work only with someone he likes and approves of wouldn’t be interacting with very many folks.
Still, you’d like to think that a U.S. president would have enough integrity not to be fist-bumping with and kowtowing to the likes of MBS. At least not out in the open. And then showing himself as a weakling by vowing to reassess the relationship, when there’s really nothing he could do except muse and stew and look foolish.
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