Shift­ing sands

The Times-Tribune - - EDITORIAL -

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

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