Editor: President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched his alliance with Saudi Arabia in 1943. He sealed it in 1945, returning from the Yalta conference with Russian leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, when he hosted Saudi King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud aboard the battle cruiser USS Quincy, in the Red Sea.
The alliance called for the Saudis to supply oil while America provided security for the kingdom. Since the days when FDR and King Ibn Saud chatted in 1945 on board the Quincy much has changed.
The United States has become the worlds largest oil producer, so Saudi Arabia does not matter as much. To have a meaningful relationship with the kingdom America needs a clear-eyed assessment of our current and future needs and not rely on past strategic requirements. The core elements of today’s U.s.-saudi relationship are of critical importance.
First, there are common values such as human rights, the rule of law and religious pluralism. America does not share these values with the autocratic Saudi monarchy.
Then there are common strategic interests. Although we don’t need Saudi oil the kingdom has become even more dependent on American protection and its new foreign policy is worrisome. The Saudis used to work behind the scenes with checkbook diplomacy but recently have taken on an increasingly reckless and aggressive posture with Iran and we need to be certain not to get drawn into an indefinite war.
The final element of a mutual alliance is beneficial business ties. The Saudis say they intend to purchase $110 billion in arms, which could go unfulfilled. Only $14.5 billion has been purchased so far. This transactional element is not strong.
It appears an assessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia leaves much to be desired from our perspective and we need to be cautious about becoming involved in a Saudi-iranian conflict. GEORGE J. MOTSAY, M.D. UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., LEHIGH COUNTY