Joe Biden Has a Saudi Problem

Jul 13, 2022 · 359 comments
Mike (Texas)
The USA has close ties with India, which is persecuting its Moslem citizens.. The USA is working closely with and praising Poland, which is deeply flawed democracy that welcomes Ukranians but turns away Middle Eastern refugees. The USA is working closely with Turkey, whose leader has crushed democracy and dissent in his country. In international affairs, you deal with the world you have, not the world you want.
MtnFrost (Colorado)
AMERICA has a Saudi problem. It's not the President's issue, it's one for America. We all agree the crown price is a murderer. And we all want Biden to make gas cheaper. Pick which is more important, lower prices or a moral stand?
Aaron (Orange County, CA)
Start revoking Visas and begin deporting the Saudi Royal families who reside in the Upper East Side of NYC and Beverly Hills. Watch how fast their oil wells start pumping oil. Desperate times require desperate measures. We have to stop playing the sheep with these people. We are America, we are in charge- not them!
Plato (CT)
And the Saudis should condemn the US for : 1. Police brutality against the African American population 2. Judicial antipathy and misogyny toward women and their fertility rights 3. Continued existence of conspiracy groups that promote white nationalism, misogyny and bigotry 4. Locking up the children of refugees in internment camps You see there is more to life than the just the ability to stand up in the street and speak your mind.
Mark Hall (Kraków Poland)
Biden had a Saudi problem because many Americans drive cars bigger than many houses in some parts of the world.. with the predicable mileage these boats get.. so give it a rest..look in the mirror and point your fingers there..
Tom (Canada)
The US has a Saudi Problem. The US has a Biden Problem. Ergo - Biden has a Saudi Problem. Got it!
Joan In California (California)
Joe Biden has a Saudi problem? Who doesn’t?!
Newton Guy (Newton, MA)
This year, Russia bad, Saudi good. MBS the murderer? Well, that’s in the past. What corrodes the soul is hypocrisy. Our “idealism” over Ukraine is belied by our current approach to Saudi and MBS. Biden isn’t shaking hands because he doesn’t want the world to see that photo of him and MBS, not because of Covid. You really can’t make this stuff up!
Gary V (Oakland, CA)
Very sad to see Biden has to go crawl and beg the Bonesaw Prince for some oil to lower the price for 'mericans who can't see beyond their noses while driving humongous Expeditions, Suburbans, Tahoes etc, and massive pickup trucks like Dodge 350, Ford F-450 in their suburban roads that need to tow their own gas supply... He really should have pushed to fix things with that other despot, Maduro. At least he does his killings in the dark.
Ted (Chicago)
US support of the Saudi crime family is an embarrassment. They spread war and dissent internationally, and then benefit from the carnage that erupts when oil prices spike. Our best defense from these thugs is a massive effort to abandon oil within ten years. Then the Saudis can go back to their sordid and ignorant past with less money so they can only cause small wars amongst themselves.
jazz one (wi)
Just over 20 years. Still no accountability from SA gov't, the murderous 'royal family,' etc. Guilty as sin, btw. We neither forgive nor forget. Ever. ~ 9/11 family member
Frank Reyer (USA)
It's only natural for normal people to "have a problem" with murderers....
dixiebrick (texas)
Biden does not have a Saudi problem it’s the other way around you just haven’t figured it out!
Leon Edwards (Silver City, NM)
Not defending Saudi's human rights record, but I am very puzzled how we as a country seem so concerned about Saudi while we do so much business with China which probaly has by far the worst human rights record in the world. Even critical medicines and medical equipment comes from there, which by the way the government said it was going to take action to change when Covid brought this to light
Stan (Barrie, Ontario)
Kowtowing to an Arabian sociopath after cancelling the XL pipeline. Way above my pay grade.
Hlk (Long Island)
The whole world has energy problem alas a few nit pickers are making a big foss about Biden’s trip or hand shake!as though there were not worse hand shakes ever before!.Remeber Trump and Putin handshake? Bush and Saudi Kings I can go on and on
Aaron (Orange County, CA)
I thought Saudi Arabia and Israel were theological enemies..? Just goes to show- Money prevails over religious ideology in the end. The elitists let their poor people carry the weight of religious extremism while they negotiate lucrative business deals- and live far above the fray of violence and bloodshed. "Allahu Akbar and L'chaim" have never been so close.
V N Rajan (Ridgefield, CT)
Well, the best way for Biden to repair the deteriorating US-Saudi relationship and ingratiate himself into the good books of Crown Prince MBS might be for Biden to gift a U S made chainsaw to be used if the Saudis choose in the future to dismember someone whom they don't like!
Frank Beal (Göteborg/Pittsburgh)
We all have a Saudi problem. The World needs to stop buying oil from murderers and dictators.
BAR (Michigan)
Biden’s Saudi problem is indicative of his whole inability to govern. He’s a flip flopper of highest degree. “Listen Jack, here’s the deal. Where are those principles you’re alway crowing about.” Must be Russian disinformation.
Adib (Boston)
The author forgets the US is no longer the sole purveyor of technology, intellectual property, military depth and arms. Saudi will find an able friend in China whose authoritarian technology comes without strings and is more suited to their uses than of the United States. Further - with the USA abandoning Saudi on Yemen - the NATO-like security guarantee has also collapsed - along with the credibility of the United States. With inflation skyrocketing and the U.S. political system teetering Saudi will find more stable and long-term partners to work with. If the US won't train its intelligence officers - China, Russia and Israel would be happy to do so on terms and values that are more acceptable to the country.
Nav Pradeepan (Ontario, Canada)
Saudi Arabia should set the bar higher for Israel to secure its most coveted diplomatic prize - the normalization of ties with Riyadh. The establishment of a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the rest of the occupied West Bank and Gaza should be the condition for normalization. The normalization of relations with Persian Gulf states was supposed to have been conditional on a Palestinian state being created. Instead, the U.S. tactfully cajoled the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to establish ties with Israel - while Palestinians continued to languish. I don't expect Israel and its closest ally, the U.S., to be fair to Palestinians. It is for this reason that I hope Saudi Arabia will insist that a Palestinian state be the precursor for diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. If it does not, then there will no incentive for Israel and the U.S. to seek a fair, peaceful and permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
@Nav Pradeepan There is no dock for that boat to tie up to.
Jeffrey Gillespie (Santa Fe, NM)
It’s surprising to me just how many Americans seem unaware that we are an absolute bastion of jingoistic thuggery and that our hegemony relies heavily on oil and weapons. Morality is not a part of the equation.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@Jeffrey Gillespie I agree. Thought, increasingly, amorality is becoming an important part of the problem. The countries that are the world's leading oil producers have become, or are becoming, more politically autocratic. Rachel Maddow's book, "Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth" should convince most everyone who reads it the verity of this fact.
David H (Northern Va)
"It is easy for Saudi leaders to dismiss Mr. Biden’s human rights rhetoric if the killing of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, which the State Department said was likely caused by gunfire from Israel Defense Forces positions, generates nothing like the official outrage over the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. " The United States COULD NOT CARE LESS about human rights issues vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia. The same sentiment applies to Israel and human rights. Both countries are vital strategic allies. They will NEVER be punished seriously for anything that they do which violates American sensibilities. Such punishment is simply not in the US national interest. End of story.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@David H Dear. David H, You are correct. Politics and morality have barely a passing acquaintance. Nevertheless, many comments in this paper begin with a moral judgment of the issue at hand, which is vital for any civilization, but governments are not comparable to individuals when morality is considered. They should be, but they never have been.
Seamus (Sedona)
I had thought at the outset the author was headed down the usual path of a single-cause complaint. Fortunately, such was not the case. We are playing chess here, not checkers. If we lose the Middle East to Russia, there goes the nation and the war in Ukraine. This trip becomes the lesser of two (or many) evils. We have to realize there are many variables at play here; hence we must think in broad terms. We can't afford to play checkers.
dbl06 (Blanchard, OK)
Who hasn't had a Saudi problem? Unless it was Jared Kushner who the Saudis bailed out of a $1B bad investment.
RM (Worcester)
Actually. Yasmine you are dead wrong. Biden is doing what any pragmatic President would do in a crisis. We had one disaster after another. First Covid, then came attack on Ukraine by Putin, the world’s worst thug. Europe’s future is bleak because of their energy dependency on the thug’s regime. Inflation is killing everyone throughout the world. Millions are starving because of grain export blockade by Russia. Inflation is at the highest level in the US. People are choosing between food on the table vs. medications they need for survival. The survival of future democracy in the world depend on what happens in Ukraine. Biden’s job is ensure welfare of our citizens and economic stability. We need economic stability. Saudi cooperation is critical. Kudos to Biden for taking the right step!
Rhporter (Virginia)
Actually I think this is a good piece. Clear headed. Security for oil is the deal as it has been for 80 years, until we are greener and/or more oil self sufficient.
Kirk C. (Delmar, NY)
The man from Guantanamo is here to teach you about human rights.
Jeff (California)
@Kirk C. Of course, all those alleged terrorists are housed in Guantanamo because it is on Cuban soil so the Constitution of the Unites States' requirement for fair trials doesn't apply. The Government cannot torture prisoners to get admissions of guilt if they are in the USA.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
@Kirk C. Good one!
Scot (NC)
The headline of this piece is parody worthy of Twitter's "New York Times Pitchbot." Times editors should get out more to see how they are perceived -- as spectators making snarky commentary about those doing the real work in the arena. A better headline would reflect the fact that this opinion describes a list of opportunities, challenging but worthy goals, with constructive advice on how to achieve them.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
Saudi Arabia helped us crush Russia once with a US$ 10/bbl. oil price in the mid 1980"s. Maybe we can do that again? The oil price is headed down. The major producers are ramping up. For example: Saudi Arabia had 52 jack-up drilling rigs contracted for the Persian Gulf in 2021. To date they have 72 jack-ups contracted for offshore Persian Gulf. Their goal is 90 rigs. That is a 74% increase in less than two years! Venezuela is starting to talk to the US. The US has always been their primary partner for refining. If their production is pulled back out of the ashes of their recent troubles, that would be another huge producer back in the market. Russia's seeming stranglehold on the oil market is a "momentary light affliction". In the long run the world will easily supply what we need without Russia.
Frank Reyer (USA)
President Biden has more than ONE problem.
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
Prince Mohammad is poison for his own country. Khashoggi was murdered in a way I would have attacked Saudi Arabia for. the country is using our weapons to kill Yemeni's. He is in cahoots with Russia obviously trying to destroy our nation by bankrupting it. He's poison for his own country. Glad I'm not President and would never want to be after what I learned in my long life. I'm surprised the world is still here. So we don't need to watch out for Saudi hijacked airliners now. Don't you so called Intelligence people realize they found a bigger way to destroy us? Why don't you know this stuff?
Mitchell myrin (Bridgehampton)
The naïveté of progressives never ceases to amaze me. In the 1930s, Stalin killed tens of millions of his citizens in purges and deliberate starvation and dislocated tens of millions more based on ethnicities. He then made a dastardly deal with Hitler to grab his chunk of Poland. But after operation Barbarossa, Stalin became uncle Joe. Our leaders must always do what is in the best interests of the United States. Period
RM (Worcester)
@Mitchell myrin Ditto….the so-called “progressives” live in air bubble. Millions of democrats and independents have left democratic party because of the clueless utopian propaganda. Many of them won’t vote or some will cross the aisle. It is a travesty how a minority fringe group hijacked the party where most people are moderates.
Joe (New Orleans)
@Mitchell myrin Wasnt it the progressives who wanted American entry into the war earlier? And it was conservatives who didnt want us involved at all? Who turned out to be right here?
Minnesotan (USA)
If that’s your policy, that’s fine, but stop lecturing the world about morality, democracy and freedoms only when it suits your interests.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
Biden’s moral posturing and inevitable climbdown is a case of what I call “your mouth writing checks that your butt can’t cash” – and was as foreseeable as hot weather in July.
kirk (kentucky)
Now that the US -Russian Space Station is no longer viable perhaps We could have a joint venture with the Saudi prince as we did with Putin. Unlike Putin, the Prince kills his detractors singly and tries to conceal distasteful dealings from public view. Putin ,on the other hand , short person that he is , attempts to kill in gobs and glorify his villiany. No Peter the great but a genuine dunder head.
Moso (Seattle)
Knowing a little bit about Saudi Arabia based on some previous work, I knew it was exceedingly foolish to label all of Saudi Arabia a pariah state. I have now heard that comment repeated several times on the news, as Biden goes to Saudi Arabia to try to mend fences. This is becoming an old story. Previous presidents have tried to denounce Saudi Arabia for human rights violations only to have to have to eat it later. Saudi Arabia, for energy and political reasons, is critical in the world order, and they know it. The U.S. resents Saudi Arabia because of the political hold it has. Of course, the human rights charges are valid. But, as sophisticated as the Saudis are about the world, they also have a very different world view based on a culture that is very conservative. Beheadings are the way they deal with criminals. The prince was genuinely taken aback by the world reaction to the Khashoggi slaying. He is an authoritarian leader who is not used to criticism or condemnation. So, now, once again, an American president has to go to Saudi Arabia and ask forgiveness for ill-considered remarks. We cannot do without them and they know it.
AnneW (Seattle)
@Moso We “cannot do without them”, because we have refused to accelerate the transition to renewables. By not doing the right thing, every Congress brings us closer to war.
The editorial may be better entitled "JOE BIDEN HAS A MIDDLE EAST PROBLEM." He will walk into the midst of an ISRAELI PALESTINIAN CONFLICT, The Israeli will give little to the Palestinians. There is the fear of a revival of Isis. There is also the fear of Iranian intentions. He can only negotiate with Saudi indirectly indirectly through the Persian Gulf states. Thus, the trip will be an exercise in futility and will underscore Biden's lack of effectiveness as a world leader. The only positive outcome coud be cheaper prices at the gas pump.
James Holt (Richmond, VA)
Newsflash: Outside of the Washington Beltway and Press elites, no one cares a whit about the death of Khassogi. Certainly not enough to endanger our energy policy like Biden has. An utter disaster.
AnneW (Seattle)
1971 Exxon Internal Report: Over 50 Years Ago In the Oct 26 2015 issue, Scientific American noted “A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation”. The magazine is referring to Exxon’s 1971 internal report, not a “new” investigation. Over 50 years of political battles, media fights and real wars, corporate America and Congress have steadfastly refused to move this nation away from disaster and to renewables. Biden’s mission is one necessitated by America’s denial of reality and obsession with profits for the oil industry. The oil industry knows and knew. They fight hard to keep us captive to oil.
Tamzaa (NoCal)
The US has a Biden problem. He is still a collegial senator and just not willing-able to make tough decisions. About the only meaningful/ good decision was the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ukraine blindly supported! Approach to Iran nuclear deal. Infrastructure spending. Response to SCOTUS. Taking on McConnell. All WEAK or just WRONG. Come on man. Do something.
Frank Beal (Göteborg/Pittsburgh)
@Tamzaa Biden has a Congress problem. Without a working majority there his hands are tied.
B D Duncan (Boston)
What is he supposed to do with SCOTUS and the senate minority leader, tweet mean things at them? And I’m sorry you’re so upset that we offered the bare minimum of support to the European country currently being invaded by Russia. Lastly, are you saying infrastructure spending is a bad thing?
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@Tamzaa " Do something." Such as?
RjW (Chicago)
Winning in Ukraine asap trumps everything right now. If telling the Saudis we will stand against Iran will incentivize them to maximum oil production, it will be worth it. A tragic irony that oil needs to flow , but life is like this. Simply too complex for easy answers.
kirillov (seattle)
We're going to get cheap gas and all the oil we want. We don't care who we have to deal with as long as we can keep driving everywhere just like usual. We're going toget that cheap energy even if it kills us. And it will.
RjW (Chicago)
@kirillov Losing to Putin would cook our goose faster than climate change will. Besides, the latter is already baked in, pretty likely.
AnneW (Seattle)
The longer Congress blocks renewables, the longer we will be mired in oil wars. Every single day, every week, every month every year, every decade the Congress of the United States stalls, equivocates and moves backwards on alternative fuels and renewables, the United States and all its citizens are put it risk of yet another regional or world war about oil oil, access and oil prices.
Ted (Chicago)
@AnneW , to be clear the foot dragging and outright sabotage of renewables in Congress is almost entirely done by Republicans. Joe Manchin is a pariah in his own party.
B D Duncan (Boston)
We can’t put all the blame on Congress. There’s significant challenges at the community level to solar farms, offshore wind, and other renewables because people only like those things when they aren’t built nearby.
AnneW (Seattle)
@B D Duncan True. But renewables have these advantages: No energy dependency on other countries No captive consumers who must pay any price No shortage of wind No shortage of sunshine
No Water pollution (fracking)
No Well degradation (fracking)
No Artesian & spring desegregation (fracking)
 No Oil spills from train/ship/transportation (oil/gas)
 No Oil spills from pipelines (plus environmental destruction associated with pipeline construction)
No Ground, water, air pollution at refineries 
 No Oil spills/cost from gas/oil distribution (from well head to refineries)
 No oil spills/cost from refineries to gas stations (gas guzzlers) 
No Pollution from gas guzzlers (air, water, ground) No wars to control wind and sunshine.
wayne (Bx)
It's not personal, it's geopolitical. You do what is in your best interest and whatever supports your aims and goals. The world is a big place and has many bad actors. You simply cannot make or remake the world in your image and in your likeness. It's not Biden's burden to do so or our burden to do so. How many places in the world is like ours?
Ted (Chicago)
@wayne, your comment presupposes that the people living in those countries have the will and means to resist against autocratic leaders that profit from almost limitless riches from oil. Our purpose should be to help enable people everywhere to have a functioning representative government. Anything less insures a continuation of the cruelty and lopsided economic well being in many countries.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@Ted Your comment presupposes that the people living in countries who use or import the most oil have a government, even though putatively democratic, don't have strings that make their power base dance to King Oil's tune. Once we have a functioning Congress and outlaw what is now legalized bribery, we can't very well lecture other countries.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@wayne Sorry to say, but we have our own "bad actors". Some still sit in Congress. Have you been watching the 1/6 Select Committee hearings?
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
Is there an economic enrichment and population control strategy by starting wars in the world? It's a trick question.
Grant (Boston)
President Biden is the pariah not the Saudi Kingdom. No amount of sand removed from the eyelids will clear the vision of this American misanthrope, nor right the U.S economic ship now listing heavily to the left in every mistaken policy declaration by a President who is an international laughingstock. Hoping to turn on oil spigots in the Middle East and Venezuela that are turned off at home is an act of desperation set to boomerang. This latest Biden foreign policy fiasco will cause more world unease than bring harmony and stability. Unable to function on any level without a teleprompter, this media masquerade has run its course and only more calamities will follow until a light is shone on this corrupt, incompetent, and infirm President and Administration.
Blanche White (South Carolina)
@Grant So grateful for President Biden.
Joe (New Orleans)
@Grant Thank God for President Biden. The Ukrainian people all rejoice that he is the leader of the free world.
Abby (RNCC)
He's Neville Chamberlain. An old man with hat in hand to beg a despot for oil. It's a perfect look for the democrats.
Ted (Chicago)
@Abby, so you must have missed Trump's embarrassing bootlicking of the Saudis and their weird glowing orb. It was Trump and his corrupt son in law that helped the Saudis cover up their murder of US journalist Koshoghi and continuation of their genocide in Yemen. Jared received a billion dollars for that white washing. Trump may have received even more.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
"Prince Abdulaziz says that the kingdom will invest $101 billion into renewable energy production by 2030. This comes as Saudi Arabia aims for renewable energy to provide 50% of electricity generation by 2030." At least one country is listening to President Biden's renewable energy policies. I dearly wish it were two. If we don't find a way to wean ourselves of King Oil, we're doomed to be a second-tier country.
Joe (New Orleans)
Biden will get on his knees for nothing. MBS is not going to change the global price of oil nor suddenly make friends with Israel. This is a terrible idea. Biden shouldve stuck to his guns.
Blanche White (South Carolina)
@Joe There are many factors at play in the region that have changed dynamics such as Israeli partnerships in the region to counter Iranian spy and attack drones that have become a significant threat to those Sunni Arab Countries that do not have "eyes in the sky" defense systems that can deal with the type of slow moving drones Iran has become sophisticated in making, having been at it for over ten years. It is the same kind of drone that did significant damage to Saudi's oil infrastructure in '19 and therefore there is a greater possibility that SA will join in this security arrangement, presently existing, that relies on Israeli technology. So, There are a lot of aspects involved that may contain more of an opening for the President to find shared interests without regard for personal statements made in the heat of a campaign. This article mentioning Palestinian Israeli relations doesn't seem to reveal the changing attitude of Arab Countries that are more interested in security threats from Iran and her proxies and how that means acknowledgement, acceptance and cooperation with Israel for shared benefit. I hope the President can find an opening and I somehow don't believe that SA will want to make any direct comparison of the killing and "dismemberment" of Khashoggi ? with the Palestinian journalist. I know I wouldn't. Good luck, Mr. President.
Ted (Chicago)
@Joe, I agree. Tit for Tat is the only way to deal with bullies like the Saudis. Let them know that the oil under the ground will soon be worthless as we transition to clean renewable power. End the trillions in tax benefits to dirty oil. Save billions in defense costs. And thousands of our sons and daughters that have died or been maimed guarding Saudi oil wealth.
William (Minnesota)
Biden has to the courage to deal with Saudi Arabia according to the present circumstances between the two countries, within the context of global tensions. He and his team are proceeding judiciously and deserve credit for their leadership of the free world in helping Ukraine, for dealing with China, and for their ongoing initiatives to further American interests in the Middle East.
AnneW (Seattle)
Saudi Arabia is not the source of Joe Biden’s or of America’s problem, nor is it the solution. Congress and this administration (and previous administrations) have failed to enact a comprehensive program for an accelerated transition to renewable fuels . That means we are captives of the oil & gas industry (both foreign and domestic). That means our security is reduced to a decision whether to either pay more and pollute more or capitulate. The trip Joe Biden is on is the result of this nation’s failure- the failure of leadership, political, media, corporate- to pursue alternative fuels which are readily available: Solar and Wind. The cost of this failure has been needless wars in the Middle East, huge federal deficits, loss of global prestige, unsavory alliances and dependencies such as we’re seeing now with oil producing states and big oil domestically. Alternative and renewable fuels are essential for our national security; we’ve known that. Congress and leadership’s failure to act is now hurting our family budgets directly, but the cause has been long recognized and the solutions] is evident.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@AnneW Thank you. You're correct. Though, there are more than two sources of renewable energy. An Interactive US Map to guide America to 100 percent renewable energy
Ben C. (Westchester NY)
Our government's hypocrisy and double-standard towards other countries on the issue of human rights are shocking and shameful. We should either use the same standard, or declare that our relationship with other countries are based on our geopolitical interests. No more hypocrisy. All other countries in the world are not dumb: they can see what we are doing.
Sutter (Sacramento)
Most oil buyers have a Saudi problem.
Tristan T (Fleeing Florida)
As Mr. Farouk asserts, “no justification for his visit to the kingdom this week can erase the truth: It is a defeat for Mr. Biden and a personal and political triumph for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.” Indeed, all attention is to be focused not on the policy details of Mr. Biden’s visit but on the inevitable image of Biden and MBS shaking hands, thus cementing the latter’s welcome back to the world stage. Saudis may now smile with satisfaction at how neatly their crown prince has wound the United States around its finger, how he held U.S. policy hostage until this cringe-worthy public abdication was arranged and an image composed for broadcast to the world. It is to be lamented that with this travesty Biden will look even weaker than he already does. It is difficult to imagine the extent to which Biden and Blinken, with each new Saudi snub, have been outmaneuvered. How easily our foreign policy has been weighted with the idea that the U.S. “needs” Saudi Arabia, with no recognition of the fact that Saudi Arabia also needs the U.S! A continued strong response to SA should have been built upon Biden’s initial (and highly justified) condemnation. That response would have included the awareness that the US was capable of meeting each new snub its own. It is not that SA/US relations should never undergo rapprochement. But as things stand, the current “nadir” in those relations should be celebrated.
Larry from Lahaina (808)
The dinosaurs did the world's great disservice by decomposing in that region. The bigger problem is trying to negotiate with a sixth century institution.
Jo (US)
Enough with the purity contests, Democrats. The republicans will be far worse on climate, human rights, and everything else. And unfortunately your fellow countrymen will vote based on gas prices, inflation, and the economy - even if the govt has little short-term control over these things. Republican voters do not engage in purity contests. They also know that change does not always come quickly or easily. Their priority is always to maintain power first. It’s time we learned the same. The democrats need to do what is needed to win elections and stay in power so that they can fix the problems the republicans caused and can gradually move us in the right direction.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@Jo "Republican voters do not engage in purity contests." They managed to eviscerate the number of moderate Republicans voted to Congress. That was one bigly series of purity contests. "The democrats need to do what is needed to win." The obvious question remains, "How do we do that?"
Sparky (NYC)
It is fundamentally dishonest to compare the planned government assassination of Khashoggi in a Saudi embassy to the accidental shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh during a military action. It is difficult to believe Ms. Farouk doesn't understand the essential differences.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
@Sparky Any excuse to dump on Israel.
Scott E. (Oakland, CA)
@Sparky The nature of Ms. Akleh's death was contested in this newspaper: The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh: Tracing a Bullet to an Israeli Convoy A New York Times investigation found that the bullet that killed a Palestinian-American journalist was fired from the approximate position of an Israeli military vehicle. Published June 20, 2022 - Updated June 28, 2022
Sandy (State of Despair)
I believe the only reason Biden is visiting Saudi Arabia is to get them to grant Trump citizenship in order to get him off our hands. I can see it now, DJT in a golden bathroom and (fake) fur robe.
Ohio Mom (Cincinnati)
Is there a daily quota at The Times for pieces complaining about Biden? Yesterday he was too old, today it’s the Saudis. Who doesn’t have a problem with the Saudis?
Jim C (Richmond, VA)
Take care, NYT commenters. If MBS doesn't like what you write about him he might send a team of assassins to dismember you, since the US has made it clear that he's allowed to do that with impunity.
Paul Zagieboylo (Austin, TX)
Biden was right the first time. Saudi Arabia should be a pariah nation, and we should stop surrendering to their monopolistic manipulation of global oil prices. Every four years, for as long as I can remember, the price of oil has encountered a big spike in the spring and summer: big spikes when a Democrat is in office (especially if they're trying to win reelection), and small spikes (but still spikes) if the president is Republican. Is there some natural, global cycle that increases oil consumption or decreases oil production every four years? No, of course not. It's just the Saudi government, messing with US politics in every presidential election year, just because they can. We need to stop falling for it.
joelibacsi (New York NY)
Really?? We need Saudi Arabia because they buy so many of our arms. God help us.
Alberto Abrizzi (Bay Area)
Finally, a healthy, balanced perspective on US relations with Saudi Arabia. Those who seek to punish Biden for making the trip should, themselves, be sidelined from diplomacy and serving America’s strategic interests. As it is, Biden’s “pariah” comment forced him to take a weaker—not stronger—stance in reengaging the kingdom. So did his assault on domestic oil production. It’s a complex world, and we can’t disengage with allies, even when they misbehaved. We must master the ability to support reforms and punish bad actions even as we advance our mutual interests. We’re very judgmental over here, but we can’t snap our fingers and change these countries overnight. Nor can we push them all toward China and Russia. This is our reality and, fortunately, Biden eventually woke up to it. This is no place for the Squad.
Forrest Chisman (Stevensvile, MD)
The US policy toward Saudi and the rest of the Middle East is "benign neglect." After expenditure of rivers of US blood and treasure, it remains a quagmire. Biden is a damned fool to venture into it -- especially when he is in political peril at home. There is nothing we can accomplish there. Leave it alone.
Paul R. Gurian (Pacific Palisades, CA)
Marx update: "Gasoline is the opiate of the masses." And, the ever growing tragedy that is decline of the American Civilization, is that the fuel is the lifeline for the Born Again, right-wing, anti-Democracy, mass to get to church. That's right, Jesus, Dad help us!
JBB (San Francisco)
It appears many readers are so angry that President Biden is engaging with Saudi Arabia to bring gas prices down, they are not going to take it anymore. So I guess they’ll be voting for Republicans who deny climate change is real, want to “drill baby drill”, and kiss the rings of murderous despots Putin and MBS. Such moral clarity!
allentown (Allentown, PA)
We couldn't have won WWII without Stalin and Russia. No secret he was a murderous tyrant, possibly outdoing Hitler in civilian deaths, a lot of them his own subjects. We needed to defeat Hitler, so we needed to aid Stalin. We gave Stalin his weapons for free. Today, we need to contain Iran and continue to increase the peaceful cooperation between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. We need Saudi Arabia for both objectives. MBS is actually probably a little better than earlier Saudi regimes, at least when it comes to women's rights. The Saudi's have killed opponents for years. There aren't many friendly states which are willing to help us. Among them, Egypt, the next most significant is run by former General Sisi, who is a bigger tyrant. One has to work with what's available. We lost in Afghanistan through an impossible crusade to provide education and equal rights for women. It would be great if Afghan society weren't so patriarchal and misogynistic, but that has been their society for centuries and they weren't going to change it for us. We're gone, the Taliban is back, we never stood a chance and all those women we 'helped' now have bullseyes on their backs. We cannot change other nations to make them like us. Looking at the Capitol insurrection, income inequality, deaths from Covid -- the Us have our own problems. Iraq fell, because we could not convince the Shiite-led government to pay Sunni soldiers and police who were responsible for security in half of Iraq.
AnneW (Seattle)
@allentown Comparing today with World War II and then likening a postulated Saudi Arabia-USA alliance with a WWII Russian-USA . We provided weapons to all nations at war with the Axis. Russia provided manpower, long before our troops entered the war: 419,000 Deaths USA WWII 25,000,000 Deaths Russian WWII How many troops did Saudi Arabia lose in Afghanistan helping us? In Iraq?
JH (Ohio)
I'm starting to realize that the Democrats are worse on foreign policy than the Republicans. At least, there's very little difference.
SGS (Red State)
In the short term Saudi Arabia is useful to US for oil supply and as a regional power broker. In both roles they are a self concerned theocratic tribal fiefdom rich with resource power. A future beyond the tribe, it’s religion or it’s rules is a mirage. I see no grounds to pretend that SA’s Prince Evil is anything other than exactly what our varied data sets portray; a jealous ruthless tribal leader. He gleans the future from the screen between his ears based on 6th century culture and theology. Russia is our existential threat so holding his nose Biden does what he must to forge the global tsunami needed to erase Russian Imperialism. Dealings with the brutal Prince must be measured until a global balance stabilizes the current blood orgy. Without Putin’s imperial invasion of Ukraine Biden would likely have used an entirely different approach to the Tribal Brute. Our violent reality insists on pushing existential priorities before moral judgements; in front of, not forgotten. Nothing happens in the global sphere without global ripples.
Tom Callaghan (Connecticut)
About all Joe Biden has left is his reputation for being a decent guy. He's seems intent on squandering that asset by executing Jared Kushner's foreign policy and play grip and grin with MBS.
Mike (Republic Of Texas)
The Saudis have a different approach to human rights, much different than America's. Unrelated to that, the Saudis are being threatened by the Iranians, who are being helped by the US to become a nuclear power. The Iranians have threatened, in no uncertain terms, to wipe Israel of the map. The Iranians desire to lord over the Middle East means, they do not see the benefits of co-existing with the Saudis. Iran has been funding Yemeni rebels for several years and other terror groups throughout the region and the world. Yet, someone thinks it is a great idea to send the most gaffe prone politician in the solar system, to try and sort things out. No one wants to do business with an American president, that has no, ZERO, political strength at home. A second term is not going to happen and there are sufficient reason to believe Biden won't finish this term. Oh and by the by, could you sell us some oil? What ever President Trump had worked out between Israel and it's Arab neighbors, is about to be eliminated. All that will remain of that effort may be some radioactive fallout.
Paul (New Jersey)
If the Saudi’s government does not have enough foreign investment to meet its vision 39 goal, perhaps it can stop buying bombs to drop on Yemeni civilians, stop buying extravagant yachts cards jets and none saws for its
cbarber (San Pedro)
Well the US govt is not above having other people kill people in order to maintain the Status Quo. El Salvador , Honduras, and Guatemala come to mind during the 1980's. Or also doing business with the Mexican Cartels ( those noted human rights organizations) to ship cocaine into US to help arm the Contras in the 80's. Biden and Saudi Arabia. It's just business as usual.
PATRICK (Pennsylvania)
I read this essay. It was very good at reflecting how our government conducts foreign policy; with guns and swords. I won't be voting any longer.
Stephen Merritt (Gainesville, Florida)
Biden's visit to MBS should be seen as a very rough equivalent to foreign allied leaders visiting Donald Trump when it had become clear that Trump was a would-be dictator who despised democratic norms, lied constantly and promoted separating immigrant families, and keeping immigrants in dangerous conditions. The problem is that just because an allied leader is a criminal doesn't mean that it isn't necessary to deal with the allied state, including through at least attempts at personal diplomacy. Yes, it gives a bad person a certain credibility, but there are so many horrible regimes in the world that it's simply not feasible to try to isolate them all at the same time. Yes, this is the seamy side of realpolitik, but not to do it would simply guarantee that the government that tried to do otherwise would be replaced by a government that would do it anyway.
Aristeo Pelayo (Saudi Arabia)
After reading this opinion, I thought in this piece, “Saudi Arabia” and “China” are interchangeable. Then it’s clearer how one-sided U.S. policy is. It has always been that way, except countries have caught on. Saudi Arabia though remains U.S.-friendly. An American citizen landing at a Saudi Arabian airport can request a visa and be issued one on the same day. No U.S. reciprocity though. Biden can fix that.
jeff cahill (3 Princeton terrace, Brampton)
"The United States needs Saudi Arabia: The kingdom remains the oil market’s major swing producer and is the main buyer of U.S. arms globally." Please read that over and over until it fully sinks in.
AnneW (Seattle)
Joe Biden‘s problem is not a “Saudia problem“. Joe Biden‘s problem, and America’s problem, is that Congress and the administration will not accelerate the transition to renewable fuels, leaving us captive to the petroleum industry in all its forms, whether Saudi Arabia, Exxon Mobil, Koch brothers, or Senator Manchin and his coal mines. The conservatives Include loss of American prestige, American pendency on a foreign nations for energy and living as hostages to Legacy industries that pollute.
allentown (Allentown, PA)
@AnneW And what renewable fuels would those be? Are we going to run our transportation on wood? It's terribly polluting. Hydrogen, other than that produced from fossil fuels, is a pipe dream. There isn't much of a domestic solar and wind turbine industry -- almost all imports, and Mitch McConnell is blocking Biden's plan to boost manufacturing in the U.S. in order to prevent efforts to lower drug prices.
Alberto Abrizzi (Bay Area)
“Industries that pollute!” Exxon-Mobil has invested over $16B in R&D, millions annually on new energy. Where do you expect advances to come from, China? The Squad?
AnneW (Seattle)
@allentown 21,250 square miles of solar panels to meet the total electricity requirements of the United States for a year. That’s solar alone. How many square miles is that ? 40,223 square miles – this is the size of the land leased by the oil and gas industry (according to the US Bureau of Land Management). 18,500 square miles – the amount of federal land offered for lease to the oil and gas industry in 2017 alone. 13,000 square miles  – the US land that has been impacted by coal surface mining [1] 49,300 square miles – the land used to grow corn for ethanol (USDA reports 91 million acres of farmland produced 14.99 billion bushels of corn in 2021, of which 5.2 billion bushels were used to for fuel alcohol) 17,120 square miles – the estimated surface area of US roads (8.8 million lane-miles at an average 10 feet wide). 49,400 square miles – the total amount of US land used for lawns (NASA reports there are 128,000 square kilometers of lawns in the US). 22,000 square miles – the size of the Mojave desert, located in southeast California. 2,200 square miles – the amount of Appalachian forests that have been cleared for mountaintop removal coal mining by 2012. 3,590 square miles – a best guess at how much land is used for parking lots. Add wind & trim back solar- we need even less solar. These are much cheaper then continued blackmail by the patrol human history, whether domestic or foreign. Oh, to the question “were do you get it?” It comes from the sun.
JusticeForAll (Wisconsin)
Biden may have a Saudi problem but he has a bigger problem called inflation. Biden and the Fed did nothing until it was too late. Utter incompetence. Biden spent recklessly in the first three months of his Presidency. Fortunately, Biden’s Presidency is over in November. He doesn’t even have the guts to increase US oil and gas production and instead goes begging like a weasel to Saudi Arabia. Biden has been a disaster for America. His bad judgment is now harming millions of Americans.
So I guess you are in support of the US nationalizing oil production, then? Right now the people who decide how much oil to produce from U.S. sources are oil companies. The decisions on things like refining capacity are also made by private companies. They have chosen to pay dividends and buy back stick rather than spend money on exploration or development. They are sitting on 3000 unused leases that are not being used. We are exporting U.S. oil onto world markets. We made that decision in 2015, the GOP insisted on it. Not a peep from them about going back to the old policy.
vishmael (madison, wi)
@JusticeForAll - See J here also. And please document any significant GOP opposition to current administration's "oil" policy, any alternate programs promoted by Republicans. Or is this just another GOP opportunity to kvetch as kvetch can?
Tim (Nebraska)
@JusticeForAll Yes He cut our oil and gas production thus eliminating the energy independence he inherited Of course when you reduce supply without reducing demands the price of oil and gas went up substantially and since our economy is so petroleum dependent gas and oil inflation leads to a high level of general inflation Biden is incompetent and like too many members of his party he is an economic illiterate
DrS (NY)
Joe Biden has many problems. To the extent that dictator Putin continues his “special operation”, support of the West from Ukraine will depend on providing help at home to the many who are one paycheck from bankruptcy. It maybe that Biden only path to the Presidency is that the other guy is so much worse.
Edward Brennan (Centennial Colorado)
Biden is genuflecting to our drug dealer. If we want OPEC to do more, the Saudi's have to take the lead. They know they have Biden over the literal barrel. This trip is meant to humiliate Biden and the US. Meant to remind any US politician that MBS holds the power not them.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Wow! What a tough relationship with the Saudis, having to shake hands with assassin prince Mohammed, all to gain his support in mutual needs for oil and spite of the Saudi tramplings on Human Rights. Too bad Saudi Arabia seems years behind a healthier government, i.e. Britain, with a separation of a cruel and capricious royalty with a more decent civil government, more secure ethically in safeguarding peoples rights and dignity. Biden must kneel to M.B.S.' dictatorial whims? We shall see. For now, it seems Biden will have to withdraw his statements about the horrors committed by Saudi's prince. It ought to remind us of previous statements by State Department leaders: "The United States does not have friends, just interests".
JusticeForAll (Wisconsin)
Biden may have a Saudi problem but he has a bigger problem called inflation. Biden and the Fed did nothing until it was too late. He spent recklessly in the first three months of his Presidency. Biden’s Presidency is over in November. He doesn’t even have the guts to increase oil and gas production and instead goes begging to Saudi Arabia. Biden has been a disaster for America.
vishmael (madison, wi)
@JusticeForAll – Please document any significant GOP opposition to current administration's "oil" policy, any alternate programs promoted by Republicans. Or is this just another GOP opportunity to kvetch as kvetch can?
JBB (San Francisco)
President Biden is looking for ways to bring energy prices down without opening up new oil extraction on earth or rewarding the ruthless war crimes of Putin, a much more significant long term enemy than Saudi Arabia. Cheap gas is what Americans say they want. If commenters want to snipe at President Biden’s engagement with Saudi Arabia, blame your fellow citizens for not caring about the moral costs of getting what they want.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@JBB The moral costs of getting what our citizens want has never really bothered us, and we tend to justify our actions in the end anyway. I suppose one might look at our "west" and felt the native Americans and Mexicans needed it less than we did. Maybe we should give Texas back if they would even want it. I suppose that our invading Russia to restore the "Whites" in the middle/end of the Russian Revolution didn't bother us much until we did not do well there- even with the help of Japan and the UK. Then we pretended it did not happen. Not sure what we ever really wanted in Viet Nam or Iraq except oil. Are we still looking for the WMD's? What was that so-called Washington Times part-time reporter looking for at the Saudi embassy. My mother would have said he was looking for trouble...and found it. But that's another story.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@Mark Shyres Mia culpa. Meant the Washington Post, not Times. Not that it matters. Probably got it mixed up with the NY Times. Hard to tell the difference most days.
Erin (Los Angeles, CA)
AMERICA has a Saudi problem. this toxic relationship far precedes any sitting president...
Martin Alexander (Oakland, CA)
Saudi Arabia still has slavery. Real slavery where people are brought from around the world (Indonesia and Pakistan being a common locations) and enslaved through contracts they can never fulfill for their freedom. Not to mention the other terror based crimes mentioned by other commentators. America should remove all members of House of Saud and have them tried in court for terrorism. How can America let a slave state as brutal and barbaric as Saudi Arabia continue to operate?
vishmael (madison, wi)
@Martin Alexander - An addict never critiques his dealer.
rds (Florida)
Let's get something straight. Biden does not have a Saudi problem. Saudi has a US problem and, thanks to sanity and human decency, Saudi has a Biden problem.
Winewithachef (Prescott, AZ)
Sad to see an American president kowtowing to a medieval type tyrant. The US really does not need Saudi oil. Do why consort with a dictatorial regime that is based on 1,000 year old rules of civil conduct?
Amazia (Tel Aviv)
" Realpolitik policymakers like to wave away human rights as having any place in pragmatic policymaking, but there is an opportunity for Mr. Biden to make human rights part of a revamped strategy with Saudi Arabia that the kingdom could accept, even if not enthusiastically." True Same with Israel "Israel begins mass evictions from West Bank villages in Masafer Yatta" Ahead of Biden visit, Israel launches biggest eviction of Palestinians in decades Washington Post May 22 2022 "U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank" Washington Post, June 24, 2022 there is an opportunity for Mr. Biden to make human rights part of a revamped strategy with Israel that the it could accept, even if not enthusiastically."
Jim C (Richmond, VA)
NYT: "Individuals acting on behalf of the Saudi government who are involved in the repression of Saudi nationals at home and abroad must pay a price." But not MBS, who ordered it?! As long as the Khashoggi ban only targets MBS's assassins, and not him, it shows the world that we are too afraid of him to dare hold him accountable.
AnneW (Seattle)
@Jim C Alternative fuels are plenteous - wind and solar . There isis no need for us to be oil dependent. If there is work to be done by Joe Biden and Congress it is the work necessary to accelerate the transition to alternative fuels. The world does not need another war about oil. Our dependency on oil is completely unnecessary.
John Jabo (Georgia)
I voted for Biden and I regret it. Shouldn't he be working with American oil producers instead of this repressive regime? We were exporting oil just a few years back. Good grief this is dumb.
allentown (Allentown, PA)
@John Jabo We are still exporting oil. We are just as energy independent as we were a few years ago. You can Google this. There actually are readily available statistics.
Brez (Spring Hill, TN)
The first thing Biden needs to do is declare a National Emergency and nationalize the oil companies. Permanently. Put an end to their anti-American worship of Mammon.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
Mammon is the god referred to on our money. The one we trust in.
Louis Anthes (Long Beach, CA)
Talk of "values" covers up for naked material interests.
77ads77 (Dana Point)
This trip is purely for Israel. The Israel lobby does not care about our interests.
Let's be frank. Biden went to Saudi to beg their murderous leader, the illegitimate, unelected crown prince MBS, for oil.
Devon Archer Biden (New Orleans)
We have a Joe Biden problem.
vishmael (madison, wi)
Would warm the heart to watch President Biden show up to distribute MRE food bars to those starving children in the Yemeni refugee camps. Between Saudi bombing runs of course.
s.khan (Providence, RI)
There is no logic, consistency and values underpinning US foreign policy. Policy gets oriented depending on the need of the hour. Long range thinking is completely missing. Sometime US is for democracy, other times it coddles authoritarian leaders. Anything goes is the philosophy politely labeled as Realpolitik or pragmatism. In reality it is all flip flop. a is for democracy
Scott (Ohio)
Time for the U.S. to be pragmatic and de-emphasize human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. They need us for their own security, and we need them to counter Iran and stabilize the oil market. The U.S. should try to stabilize its relationship with Saudi Arabia and put the human rights issues on the back burner for now.
sedanchair (Tacoma WA)
@Scott That back burner seems to be the cause of a lot of blowback. From Saudi Arabia specifically.
AJ (Saint Paul)
@Scott Yes, we get it, money > human rights. The American way.
Dan (vancouver)
Folks seem to have forgotten that one of Biden's first moves when elected was to shut down the XL pipeline expansion which would have increased capacity from Canada. Seemingly a friendly and reliable neighbor is not considered to be essential.
Mehran (Chicago)
@Dan Folks haven't necessarily forgotten that. Some folk continue to applaud a decision that has potentially averted more environmental disasters.
Doug Lowenthal (Nevada)
@Dan You seem to believe that without the extension of Keystone, Canada is sitting on a glut of oil. It’s not. The extension will simply make it easier to export this oil from the Gulf.
Emily (Fresno)
@Dan "As the final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement makes clear, gas prices throughout the United States are primarily driven by global market factors. The amount of Western Canada Sedimentary Basin crude oil that makes its way to the Gulf Region does not change this dynamic. Any impact on prices for refined petroleum products resulting from the approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would be minimal." --the US State Department
Mark Gardner (USA)
I'm no expert, but the same logic can be applied to Putin. Should the US be pragmatic and have our President travel to Moscow as well so that there is a pragmatic way of influencing monarchs and dictators to do the right thing despite decades of policy failures and trillions of American treasure spent?
@Mark Gardner IIRC Putin made it illegal for Biden to enter Russia, as well as other members of his administration. Maybe we can send Trump, and they can keep him.
Andrew (Philadelphia)
Since Saudi Arabia is the "main buyer of U.S. arms globally", Biden should use that leverage to pressure M.B.S. to greatly increase oil production, to do whatever he can to ensure that the EU gets the oil it needs, and to decrease global oil prices. Time and time again America is too soft and does not use it's leverage, and since the Saudi's need our arms, which are vastly superior to Russia's, Biden should be respectful with M.B.S., but should also be clear about potential consequences.
Doug Lowenthal (Nevada)
@Andrew One wonders why? What are we getting out of this lopsided relationship.
Man (In Mexico)
The world has a Saudi problem. A start toward a solution might be to buy them some calendars. The eighth century has passed. They just don’t know it.
David H (Northern Va)
@Man Saudi Arabia has diplomatic relations with every country in the world except for North Korea, Iran, and one or two others. Please stop projecting.
Hayward Maberley (Canberra ACT Australia)
It is a Faustian Pact with US and KSA concerning oil. For as long as KSA trades oil in USD it keeps USD. strong as if oil were to be traded in €, as Saddam so started , the bottom would fall out of the USD. KSA spends those billions on US weapons, technology, drilling supplies, high end real estates and luxury goods as well as US Government Bonds. This "generosity" on the part of KSA not only keeps the US economy afloat it keeps politicians of all stripes, Big Oil, Defence contractors, Banks et al. on the gravy train. US Administrations of all hues have mouthed about KSA concerning elections, women's rights et al. ad nauseam but while so cosied up to KSA nothing will really be done to upset it. The US was careful about relations following the 9/11 incidents, despite there were 15 Saudi Sunni Wahhabi-Salafi involved. That the terrorists in Florida received a $70,000 payment from a Saudi source, such paperwork was presented at the 9/11 Commission. That $50,000+ payments went to the terrorists in Denver from the wife of KSA ambassador to the US. That the terrorists were provided with accommodation, drivers licenses and money by an al Qaeda supporter, a regular visitor to KSA embassy. Sen. Bob Graham head of the 9/11 Joint Congressional Inquiry confirmed that KSA was the foreign government actively assisting the terrorists, But KSA was protected in the days following 9/11 and when airspace reopened at least 3 planeloads of KSA nationals were amongst the first out.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
"Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the United States is consequential when it comes to Washington’s efforts to counter Iran,"....You might just as well argue that the U.S. needs Iran's cooperation when it comes to efforts to counter Saudi Arabia ( read Al Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban).
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@W.A. Spitzer Dear W.A. Spitzer, You are quite right, but you are going to have to pick your poison. Iran or Saudi. My preference would be Iran, but my opinion has little to do with Realpolitik
Megan (Toronto)
I had a good laugh reading this article. Let's face facts: KSA's most notable contribution to the US has been 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. If Biden wants to change the relationship, he should start by cutting of their weapons supply.
ElleJ (CT)
@ megan That will only put the Saudis in bed deeper with Xi. Sadly, there are no easy answers here as long as people don’t curb their reliance on oil. Biden is damned no matter what he does.
David H (Northern Va)
The death of one man -- no matter how grisly -- is hardly sufficient reason for a tectonic change in the United States' geopolitical calculus.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
What about ten? Ten thousand? Where is the limit? I hate all empires, including ours.
Peter (Albany. NY)
Joe Biden is done. The earliest lame duck in Presidential history.
General Chaos (Heading east from Albuquerque)
@Peter You can take the fork out at any time. You've been done for a long time.
David H (Northern Va)
I suspect that just like the White House stole NASA's thunder Monday afternoon by previewing the new images from the James Webb Space Telescope -- a pathetic move aimed at compensating for what has generally been a disastrous first 20 months in office -- President Biden's aides will somehow manage to take credit for emerging relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia and whatever efforts the two are making to ensure that Iran stays in its box. The Khashoggi affair in my opinion is a sideshow -- one more dreadful human rights case among thousands that the State Department reviews every year but about which little can be done because at the end of the day, Saudi Arabia is, like Israel, a vital ally through which the US projects immense power regionally. The death of one man does not fundamentally change geopolitical reality. In any event, Khashoggi was no shrinking violet -- his anti-Saudi shenanigans have been amply documented and are available for review on the internet.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@David H Over 300,000 civilians have been killed in a Syrian civil war and we are still talking about Khashoggi - who walked into the Saudi embassy knowing full well he had a target on his back?
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@David H " The death of one man does not fundamentally change geopolitical reality." Well, maybe not in the case of Khashoggi (who seemed to be looking for trouble and found it), but there was that Archduke of Austria visiting Bosnia n 1914. Maybe Franz Ferdinand's death was just the match that started a fire that would have happened anyway sooner than later.
Tristan T (Fleeing Florida)
Specify what shenanigans you speak of or accept that no one will pay attention to you.
Doctor Woo (Orange, NJ)
It is interesting. At the same time Biden is going over to Israel & Saudi Arabia, Putin is going to Iran. We have a world that is going in the wrong direction. And this country needs to create enemies where there really are none. Putin is going over to talk about Iran selling oil to China because Russia needs to sell oil to China. He is also going to seal the deal on bunch of Iranian drones. By the way, Iran got the technology for the drones from us when one of ours crashed in Iran some years back. .. Biden is going to talk to the Saudis about oil & to make sure we can still sell them weapons & communication tech ahead of the Chinese. His main agenda is to go to Israel so they can talk about Iran. He wouldn't have to talk about Iran if we had stayed in the nuclear deal or made a point to get back in it. Plus we would have all that Iranian oil on the market for everyone to buy. ..I noticed the totally biased article in the Times right at the top about how Iran has "attacked" Israel with drones. Iran has never attacked Israel. It is the other way around. .. I have to say the world was safer & saner under Pres Obama. We were doing business with Russia. There was the agreement with Iran that was better for all no matter how you slice it. We were normalizing relations with Cuba. Now we have hostile alliances forming, the U.S., Israel, the Saudis, UAE ...... Russia, Iran, Syria. ... & China trying to stay neutral, but we keep antagonizing them. The world can't work like this
KathyS (NY)
Biden going to Saudi Arabia and meeting with MBS is just another Biden blunder. For months, Saudi has given Biden the cold shoulder and now Biden thinks he's going to get them to produce more oil? Didn't Macron just whisper in Biden's ear that the Saudi's already are pumping oil at capacity? The Saudi's have got Biden over a barrell, an oil barrell, and they know it, we know it, the world knows it, but Biden doesn't seem to know it. The Saudis will send Biden on his way with nothing and just make him look more foolish.
Danogenes (Montpelier, VT)
Talk about selling your soul to the devil. Our greed/need for oil, as ever, overrules everything else. MBS imprisoned and tortured a friend of mine, a Saudi businessman. Jared Kushner gave MBS a list of Saudi elites who lacked enthusiasm for MBS, and my friend's name was on it. Amr spend a year and a half in prison, first in the Ritz and then in a real one. Another lowering notch for Biden in my estimation.
Half Sour (Jersey)
Per the author, to ensure that Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia is a success, he needs to … apply pressure on Israel. Man, when the only tool one has is a hammer, every problem is a nail.
Paul (Brooklyn)
He is a hypocrite ie choosing which rogue country he wants to support. If he condemns Russia and goes all out short of WW3, he can't get friendly with a country Saudia Arabia that engaged in a brutal war with Yemen, killed an American with a sanction by their leader and lives in the Middle Ages re its citizens.
jeff cahill (3 Princeton terrace, Brampton)
@Paul. But the war in Yemen is profitable to American weapons companies. They can't bomb fast enough!
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
We’re the bigger rogue country.
Jim K (Upstate NY)
This trip seems to be doomed to failure. The Saudis have already said that they will not increase oil production in order to mitigate the price increases caused by Russia's war with Ukraine. And there seems to be no remorse about the butchering of Jamal Khashoggi. Biden will undoubtedly face criticism for appearing to forgive the crown prince for that grisly murder. The images of a US President begging the Saudis to pump more oil will only add to Biden's unpopularity. So, why even go to Saudi Arabia? As for the Israel/Palestine conflict, Israel has no plans to offer Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation... or to agree to a 2-state solution. So why even go to Israel and the occupied territories?
Christine (Long Beach)
I wonder how many readers who are appalled by the senseless killings of Americans by Americans are also appalled that we are the world's number one exporter of arms. Russia holds a distant second. O, woe is me, that the US arms market might be hurt by diminished relations with a government that is a pariah. Make solar panels, instead. I want the blood off my hands!
C. Shridhar (Las Vegas)
And we champion “Human rights”!!!
Chandar (Canada)
Another excuse to sell more arms in the Middle East. Keeps the US economy thriving.
@Chandar Well, at least the military-industrial complex. Which just got another multi-billion dollar boost in the budget.
Dazed and Confused (Earth)
Prostrating yourself before someone who orders people to be dismembered can just be so awkward.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@Dazed and Confused Under Obama and Biden a good many in Afghanistan got dismembered. And what about the so-called closing of our torture chamber in Cuba?
Ulysses (Lost in Seattle)
Well, one good thing about the Ukraine war is that it has forced Joe to embrace the neocons and emulate their policies. So it is hardly surprising that we're back to begging the Saudis for oil and giving them lots of weapons. Of course, Joe will fail at getting the oil, just as he fails at everything he tries to do, except raising US gas prices. And don't get me wrong: it's wise to arm the Saudis, so they can defend against the Iranians, and maybe even help Isreal take them down. Just another example of Joe's new normal. It'll be great to see it buried in 2024.
Ski bum (Colorado)
The House of Saud has proven to be as despicable as Putin and deserves to be undermined. The sooner we can get off the teat of fossil fuels and send Saudi’s back to being bedouins again the better. Rather than visiting the Saudis, Joe would serve America better by working day and night to replace fossil fuels with alternative forms of energy.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
Like hot air from Saint Greta? You could indeed run at least one DC administration building off of that.
memchip (pa)
Just because you want Joe Biden to Have a Saudi Problem doesn't mean he does.
Pogo (South Central)
@ memchip I would agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.
Samsara (The West)
Nothing new here. The United States has almost always sided with cruel and murderous dictators and supported and armed them against popular movements that hoped to make life better for ordinary people in various countries. That is our true history since World War II. Most Americans have no idea of what has been done in our name around the world. The history books tell the horrible truth about how our government (usually spearheaded by the CA) overthrew democratically-elected governments, installed murderous regimes or supported those already in place. Even a partial list of this shameful history is long: Iran. Guatemala. The Dominican Republic. Albania. Argentina. Brazil. Chile. Colombia. Cuba. El Salvador. Ghana. Haiti. Greece. Honduras. Indonesia.Iraq. Korea. Afghanistan. Laos. Nicaragua. Myanmar. Zaire. Panama. The United States of America presents itself as a "shining city on a hill," a light to the nations. Instead, because a small group of wealthy oligarchs has long exercised power in the shadows, our government (not We the People) has been a catalyst for murder, terror and extreme poverty in countless countries. It didn't have to be this way. but money leads to power leads to atrocities and oppression.
Adam (LA)
The media has been awfully quiet about Biden going hat in hand to bend the knee to a murderer. Can you imagine if Trump did this???
Bob (Spring Hill, Tn.)
@Adam ---He did do that on his first foreign trip...saluting Saudi Generals et al.
Splat (Rockville, WV)
@Adam It's been prominently discussed in the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News… What does "awfully quiet " mean to you?
The Democrats have a radical left wing problem, actually..
General Chaos (Heading east from Albuquerque)
@SB America has a denial problem, that being that it is the right which is radically regressive.
AJ (Saint Paul)
@SB Our problem is that in any other civilized country we'd be considered moderates, but not here, where the American rightwing Taliban has taken hold. It's a perspective thing, you know. From where you sit, everyone remotely left wing looks extreme. That's by design, and you didn't come up with it yourself.
Michael (Boston, MA)
Comparing the hideous, organized, premeditated killing of Kashoggi to the clearly accidental killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is outrageous. Israel did not hack up her body and dispose of the pieces and pretend that she just "disappeared". Israel admitted from the beginning that it might have been one of their soldiers and conducted a transparent investigation, in the presence of US observers, and the US reasonably concluded that it was likely unintentional. Farouk lectures that the US "needs to demonstrate consistency in support of its values". Perhaps she should demonstrate consistency with common sense. False moral equivalencies are the mark of political bias.
Doc (PA)
A very whiny Arab essay of which I hold little value. President Biden should not highlight a Bone Saw tour. He and we are better than that. Let’s continue to phase out fossil fuels and leave the Saudis with sand to sell the world.
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
“Continue to phase out fossil fuels”? When did we start?
Dean (Stuttgart, Germany)
U.S. media is responsible for pressuring Biden to foolishly renounce Saudi Arabia as a pariah state for the murder of Khashoggi. And, now the media is making a big deal about a handshake? Ridiculous.
The Wolf (Fort Myers, Florida)
Jimmy Biden is a hypocrite. So much for making Saudi Arabia a "pariah." Dishonors the victims of 9/11.
Carol B. Russell (Shelter Island, NY)
The New York Times recent criticism of President Biden is light of the challenges he faces at this time. light of the struggle our nation is up against keeping our democracy alive and well... So stop bashing Joe OK ? Pandemic resurgence ...January 6 Committee hearings. War in Ukraine...Climate Change.. This is NOT the fault of Joe quit insinuating it is. and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi was murder and so it still apology required if Joe called it so. Support for democratic ideals ....and those who follow rules of our laws should be applauded...I applaud Joe Biden !!!
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
The Times is not a house organ of the DNC, in case you didn’t know.
Surprising this is a long article not about oil, what is important now.
joe Hall (estes park, co)
Blah blah blah I've been hearing this since the 70's. Whenever we go to Arabia we lose. That's what we do best: lose.
Sarah (Ann Arbor)
Joe Biden has a Joe Biden problem. Meeting with a Murderer is the way Republicans like Trump, not Dems, behave.
JB (Chicago)
Saudi Arabia still crucifies teenage protestors. We need a program of Manhattan Project scale and intensity to harvest the unlimited solar potential of our vast western deserts. That would allow us to treat SA as the medieval backwater that they are. I wish them good luck drinking oil when the water runs out.
Val (NM)
I work in utility-scale solar and I assure you that your “electrify the desert” plan is not realistic. Energy needs to be generated locally.
Boston baby (MA)
Why is Russia's authoritarian supposedly worse than Saudi Arabia's?
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia is a humiliation of the Biden-Harris (B-H) admin and an admission that once energy independent USA before J20, 2021 is now dependent on Saudi Arabia again to bring down gas prices. It is shame that the B-H duo ran as running away from fossil fuel cannot stand up with a firm back bone to the domestic political pressure of bringing down the prices of fossil fuels, gas and diesel. Why did Biden deplete the US national treasure of crude oil? It did not significantly bring down the gas prices. Why did Biden with Kamala standing by his side, sign off on excessive eccentric executive orders including a frontal attack on the domestic energy industry by shutting down the Keystone pipeline killing US jobs in the energy industry and blowing up exploration on US land? The hasty executive orders on the very first day of Biden presidency without congressional approval and without considering the disastrous consequences which would follow after J20 are the real straw that is now breaking Biden and Kamala's back with pathetically low approval rating of the job performance of the B-H admin. Not Biden's old age but the worst autocracy in US history. Stop the ageism, it is not Biden's age that is the root cause that majority of Americans are fed up with the Biden-Harris admin it is the string of crises that their executive orders have created. With regard to the unstable polarized equilibrium in middle east, Biden's trip will further escalate tensions with Iran
Dan (vancouver)
@Girish Kotwal The post failed to mention that the Keystone pipeline project that was shut down was from Canada, a friendly, reliable, and environmentally committed neighbor.
JAG (Upstate NY)
@Girish Kotwal What a wonderful summary of the predicament Biden-Harris have gotten us into.
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
@JAG Thank you especially coming from NY, even though upstate NY where sensible thinking people live. I attribute the predicament to the Biden-Harris admin. because if one looks at the root cause of the current predicament, it goes back to J20, 2021 NOT J6, 2021 when there was a drastic change in the thought process of white house took place.
gardener in the (dale)
We have a Saudi/Russia problem.
Tom Marks (USA)
“if the killing of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh…generates nothing like the official outrage over the killing of Mr. Khashoggi” How can these two come even close to being compared. This and other parts of her piece make me wonder if Ms. Farouk is an expert on Saudi Arabia or works FOR them. Biden’s grovel trip to the kingdom for oil is shameful on many levels, trying to put lipstick on it with Israel, Yemen and Iran only compounds that, and thinking that he can go over there to talk human rights with MBS is farcical.
Shapoor Tehrani (Michigan)
So the outrage over a death of a journalist in the middle of the war should be equal to the outrage of a citizen be dismembered and killed brutally in the Embassy of a country. Wow.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
The author mentions human rights violations of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but somehow ignores human rights violations of the Palestinians. One might think there is a bit of bias here?
mrfreeze6 (Italy's Green Heart)
Kurt Pickard (Murfreesboro, TN)
A political pariah visiting a pariah nation; seems about right.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
Selling more weapons to the brutal Saudi dictatorship and continuing to support Israeli apartheid and aggression are a problem for all of us -- as is the scheduled squandering of another $839 billion in military spending even as we "can't afford" universal healthcare or spending on citizen needs. These demonstrate a continuation of bad policy and poor leadership that do our country and world more harm than good and underscore the need for fundamental change.
Jim K (Upstate NY)
Biden's trip to Israel. the occupied territories and Saudi Arabia should be code-named: Operation Grovel.
Emily (Fresno)
@Jim K If this is "groveling", Biden is doing it for the wellbeing of Americans and for energy stability in general at a time when that is under threat.
Padman. (Boston)
" Yet no justification for his visit to the kingdom this week can erase the truth" I totally agree. Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a murderer and President Biden said the right thing when he called Saudi Arabia " a pariah state", those are facts. You cannot abandon your principles for convenience that is exactly what Biden is doing now. If you are willing to abandon your principles for convenience and social acceptability they are not your principles they are your costume. Just for Suadi oil, you cannot give up your principles.
Rebecca (Dorset)
Laughing too hard to comment.
Me (Miami)
Poor Joe has a lot more problems in the Saudies, more like a laundry list but ignorance is bliss so he skips to the daisies unaware of most of it….. The midterms will be a nice wake up call for him.
Sean (Washington State)
The U.S. doesn’t need Saudi Arabia. They need us. Anybody trying to tell you different is lying to you or does not know what they are talking about.
“Bashing Saudi Arabia during a presidential election season is almost a tradition in the United States, and President Biden was no exception” A tradition in the United States? Hardly a transition until Biden correctly called out MBS about the murder of a Washington Post reporter. Going back as far as Eisenhower, the U.S. was extremely close to Saudi Arabia even after 9/11 when 15/19 hijackers and Osama bin Laden came from the Kingdom. The Bush family was so close to the Saudis that GW allowed the Saudi nationals to depart our country in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Obama got the country on a better path to gain greater energy independence and became more critical of Saudi foreign policy and human rights violations. Then came Trump and his liking for all people with an authoritarian style became his friends and their useful idiot in the White House where flattery will get him everything. While it’s curious that Biden will be in Saudi Arabia for a regional conference with no formal meeting with MBS, we’ll have to wait to evaluate if the trip was worth the political cost.
Independent American (USA)
Stop! It's not just Biden. America has a Saudi problem! Trumplicans act like Saudi Arabia is an Ally, but they're not! The majority of terrorists on 9/11 came from there. And they're still being taught anyone who isn't a Muslim must be killed. Yet what did 45 do? Went over there to party it up with them (it's on video!) and then sold them thousands of weapons! America has a Saudi problem because API (American Petroleum Institute) refuses to use the OVER 9000 EXISTING LEASES to drill in. Also because folks didn't learn from the 1970's embargo, as we have MORE large gas guzzling vehicles on the road today!
Val (NM)
Are you kidding me? Comparing the tragic but accidental death of Abu Aqleh to Khashoggi’s murder is very poor journalism. The NYT’s has the lost the plot when it comes to Israel. For months, Palestinian terrorists had been killing Israeli citizens. Rightfully, the Israelis went in to arrest the terrorists. In response, Palestinians began shooting at the Israelis. Abu Aqleh got caught in the crossfire. It’s tragic, but not murder.
Mehran (Chicago)
@Val The Zionists have been stealing Palestinian lands and have been imprisoning Palestinians in ghettos such as Gaza since 1948. Start a historical discourse from where history begins.
Mixilplix (Delray Beach, Fla)
It it weren't for our oil addiction, you wouldn't have even written this piece.
Robert Gelb, DDS (Bellevue, WA)
@Mixilplix If Biden had made us energy independent again, as we were before he took office, this article would not have had to be written. Then we could have transitioned thoughtfully and safely into renewable sources of energy as that technology would become available to do so meaningfully in the decades to come.
Bob (Spring Hill, Tn.)
@Robert Gelb, DDS--- "energy independence" is a nuanced term, we've never produced more crude than we've consumed on a daily basis.
Keith (New Orleans)
Narrator: America has a Saudi Problem
JPD (Boston, MA)
We mainly need oil in our transport sector and industrial. The fact is that both sectors are both highly energy-inefficient, and polluting, causing many deaths and disease. Hybtid and plug-in vehicles could halve our oil consumption in 5 years, if we adopted them, in light and medium dutu nehicle, and short haul heavy duty. they cost less to run and maintain and are highly efficient Long haul trucking and aviation will need oil-type (high-enetgy density)longer but can convert to sustainable sources. indiustry can convett to natural gas and better to electric power. Solar and batteries get cheaper at an incredible 10% per year, thanks to R&D and also scale. Thats half in price every 7 years. California is starting mass install of batteries to support solar and wind. Check out MIT Jessika Trancik lab, or Oxford INET, or Rocky Mountain Institute. We can do this. Time to stop paying tyrants like Putin and MBS for what we can do and keep for ourselves.
JH (Ohio)
We are operating under the old assumption that the US is a force for good in the world. That is no longer true, if it ever was. Just the opposite.
Wayne Logsdon (Portland Oregon)
A spot-on evaluation. The last sentence is an excellent summation.
sedanchair (Tacoma WA)
Biden is literally traveling to abase and humiliate himself, with deliberate intention. He knows what's coming, and he even knows what little will be accomplished by his efforts. But lacking the strength to assert himself over his aides, and lacking any ideas beyond what corporations and the wealthy give him (no different than his Senate days), he will trudge towards his fate. This president is a cipher. Beating Trump is of no use if you then give him a popular victory in the next election.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@sedanchair Dear Sedanchair, Mr. Biden may or may not be successful, we will see. If the Saudis bump production as they have been planning to do for the last two years and oil prices continue their downward trend, any encouragement Biden can provide to the Saudis is a good thing. He is going to Saudi at the right moment. So many pundits are frantic that without Russian oil and gas Europe will freeze this winter. Rubbish! The alternative sources are being put in place already. Europeans will pay more for petroleum in the short term, but in the long term, no will need Russian oil. China and India and others will get a boost to their economies short to mid term purchasing deeply discounted Russian oil, but in 3 years, Russia's oil industry will be in the toilet and China and India's fuel prices will rise. The embargo on oil field equipment and technology is already damaging Russia's ability to produce, refine and transport their products.
Aaron (San Francisco)
“The United States needs Saudi Arabia: The kingdom remains the oil market’s major swing producer and is the main buyer of U.S. arms globally. By virtue of geopolitics and economics, Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the United States is consequential when it comes to Washington’s efforts to counter Iran, end the war in Yemen” Can you possibly jam more evil into less syllables than this? And these two sentences don’t even include the fact that Saudi Arabia has not only been proven by the families of the victims to have been behind 9/11, but the American government has actually shielded that country from liability for murdering 3000 of our own citizens. From the point of view of an American citizen, what could be a more hideous nation that Saudi Arabia?
Emily (Fresno)
@Aaron 9/11 was horrific, but there is a crucial difference between 15 citizens from a country committing atrocities, aided by certain private contributions of other citizens of that country as well as other states--and the government of that same country committing the same atrocities. It is the difference between a state-sanctioned action by Saudi Arabia and, on the other hand, the actions and complicity of some parts of Saudi Arabia's citizenry in an action by a non-governmental terrorist organization. I agree with Biden's moral assessment of Saudi Arabia as a "Pariah" state-- an "outcast" from the more civilized societies who would not allow such a barbaric retribution simply for unflattering press-- in response to the stabbing to death and dismemberment of the Saudi-American journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia is an unfortunate necessity now, but that doesn't change the civilized world's view of Saudi Arabia's rogue actions.
Jack (Denver)
Could this sentence contain any more cognitive dissonance? We need Saudi Arabia because they are the largest buyer of US weapons. We also need them to end “the war in Yemen” with no acknowledgement of whose war it is. So we need their help to stop their genocidal war and we also need to keep selling them the weapons they use to perpetuate that brutal war.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@Aaron Dear Aaron, Ascribing morality to this nation or that is absurd. Nations have interests they pursue. Sometimes as revolting as a government may seem to us personally, they are strategic for the good of your nation. Honestly, how many times in these very pages do I hear the endless diatribes about US sins as if some other nation is morally superior. Nations ruled by human beings should be moral, but they never have been and they never will be.
R (Evanston)
Hope the article helps educate some of us and a few in the media too. According to so-called ''liberal'' press President Biden's meeting with the Saudi's has already failed. The corollary is if President Biden wasn't meeting with the Saudi's the press would be saying he wasn't doing enough about oil prices or whatever.
I was born in the 1970s. As far as I can tell, the portion of the world in which Saudi Arabia resides has been a total mess since approximately the beginning of recorded history. The only reason it's any different from the other countries in the world that are a total mess is that they sit on a giant pool of oil. As they say, he who has the (black) gold makes the rules. Too many American lives have been lost fighting for oil. I bought my first plug in hybrid in 2015. We bought another one in 2021. When my 2015 car needs replacement in a few years, I'm going all electric. Electricity is generated here in the US of A or Canada. While our human rights record is certainly not perfect, it's worlds away from the reality in the Middle East. My goal is to stop supporting any of these regimes, they all exist on oil money and as you go around the various Middle Eastern nations it's a grab bag of horrible. I'm also trying to seek out more goods that aren't from China, too. I don't know if it's "cancel culture" but we used to use the word "boycott" a lot.
Mo (Ca)
Maybe US can stop selling billions of dollars worth of arms to these countries and treating them as allies.
@Mo I completely agree. There are plenty of other countries with oil production we don't send Presidential tush-kissing missions to. I don't think Air Force One is going to be calling on Nigeria or Venezuela anytime soon. Also, the GOP pushed hard to lift the 40 year old ban on exporting US oil in 2015 to allow US to export oil on the world market. Funny, it's evidently all Biden's fault, and I haven't heard a peep from the GOP about re-instating the ban. Sources: google "gop oil exports 2015" and you will find reports from wire services and reputable news sources.
Half Sour (Jersey)
You avoid Chinese goods but own two electric cars? You’re doing it wrong.
Maj. Upset (CA)
Joe Biden, decent man that he is, is no match for our times. My hope now is that he simply avoids any irreparable blunders during the second half of his term. Heaven help us.
R (Evanston)
@Maj. Upset And who is a match for our times, the Republican insurgency, intransigence, not believing even the obvious fact President Biden won ?
Tristram Shandy (AZ)
Heaven is a myth.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@Tristram Shandy Dear Tristram, I don't know. The great blues guitarist sang that, "Everbody wanna go to heaven But ain't nobody wanna die"
Mehran (Chicago)
Ms. Farouk writes: 'The United States needs Saudi Arabia: The kingdom remains the oil market’s major swing producer and is the main buyer of U.S. arms globally.' We do not 'need' the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We choose to patronize this brutal regime, among others, for geopolitical policies that aim to maintain our global hegemony for the benefit of corporations and the rich. There is a common thread between what we are doing for Ukraine (i.e., against Russia) and the Kingdom (i.e., against the rights of the Middle eastern people). It is to pump in money into the corporate-military complex in the US and preserve our global military supremacy. What we need is not a Kingdom of brutal actors. What we need is a new horizon for an egalitarian and democratic America with principles not for sale to corporate interests paid by blood money and the American working and middle class.
alan (MA)
Love em or Hate em, Saudi Arabia is an important player in World Politics. They essentially control the price of oil and are a Major power within the Islamic Faith. President Biden must interact with the Saudis just as he does with the Chinese and Russians.
rom (Virginia)
Biden has a history of name calling and threatening. When Putin was preparing to invade, Biden contacted Putin. Nothing has been reporters that he did anything to find out hot to stop the invasion. Instead he threatened him. Once the. invasion started, Biden began his name Calling
thebigmancat (New York, NY)
The United States buys oil from and sells weapons to Saudi Arabia thereby funding and supporting their brutal regime. India and China buy oil from Russia thereby funding their genocide in Ukraine. We continue to move backwards in all key areas except climate change, which is advancing quite rapidly.
ElleJ (CT)
To the people who believed in Biden’s pandering to liberals and progressives—I am a progressive—running up to the election, this rapprochement with KSA for more oil and in spite of their disgraceful human rights issues, is the height of hypocrisy and betrayal. Biden has couched it in the strategic realpolitik nuances that Mr. Blinken has quite skillfully fashioned. To us cynics, though, it’s just business as usual. Cheap oil has always been king and soon MBS will be, too.
SirHenry (OverThere)
This visit will be a defining chapter in "How the West lost." Now you have MBS, -who is naturally a good friend of Putin-, drag Biden on the nose ring through the circus arena in the full knowledge that he is exposing the hypocrisy of the western "values"...values that seem to count only if they happen to be in US's interests, otherwise, as stated, there are always exceptions... It must be hard for Biden in his heart to have to go to these lengths, just knowing that he has to deal with a Saudi leadership which will be laughing all the way to bank (where they will transfer the money right back to Jared or Ivanka to undermine his chances of re-election). The key is Iran now. Why not take a bold approach and reach out to Iran. President Reagan had no problem cutting a deal with Iran, as long as it helped him getting elected by witholding the hostages back then. And seriously, Saudi Arabia's citizen's, caused the US and the world definetly more pain on 9/11 that Iran ever did. If it is possible to "forgive" the slaughtering of US resident after a mere 3 years, a hostage taking without casualties more than 40 years ago should easly qualify for forgiveness as well. Put Saudi Arabia back on the spot by cutting Iran some slack, once their massive oil production is off the embargo list and back on the world market, oil prices will falter, the Saudis will have competion, Russia's oil sales as well will tumble. It's time to start a new order.
Practical Thoughts (East Coast)
The USA people have a Saudi problem. Americans don’t care about the civil and human rights of others along as the oil and cheap products keep flowing in. One would think that energy independence and renewable energy would be a national security objective. Alas, Americans would rather beg and bribe dictators to keep the energy flowing. Disgraceful.
With Respect (Iowa)
The moment Kennedy Biden started attacking Saudi Arabia, it was clear that his so-called 40 years of experience amounted to nothing. To think Saudi Arabia somehow no longer mattered was juvenile and ridiculous. President Biden always tries to keep a foot in both boats with regard to doing what needs to be done and doing what he thinks he needs to do to keep his base happy. I’m afraid that tendency will result in this trip to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East being a disaster. It will be difficult to mend fences with Saudi Arabia and still maintain credibility with his base. If he tries to do each one on a halfway basis, things will only get worse. The murder of Khashoggi was horrific and stupid. But I have to admit I didn’t find it shocking that I saw he was killing another SAUDIA. Sounds like it was just another Tuesday.. The reality is leaders around the world make decisions like that all the time. That includes our presidents when they order drone strikes that result in collateral damage, to be clear, the killing of innocent people, in order to destroy an enemy of the United States. And those orders have been given by both Republican and Democratic presidents. It may be distasteful and morally reprehensible, but the real world is a very tough neighborhood. For the foreseeable future we need the Saudis for the oil and further influence in the Middle East.  candidate Biden should’ve known that and accepted it. I am not confident he will correct that mistake
andrew (new york)
Biden has lost any moral or political legitimacy by traveling to Saudi Arabia to kow tow before one the most corrupt and repressive regimes in the world. He gains nothing but loses much. He refuses to allow the leaders of Venezuela and Cuba to attend a meeting of American states due to their human rights record but he has no problem with groveling at the feet of the Saudi King and its sociopath Crown Prince? Pathetic. I voted for Biden but I am disgusted by this trip. Whoever advised Biden on this one, should be summarily fired.
kirk (kentucky)
This trip is not about personalities, it is about horrendous world conditions which neither country caused or benefit .Biden is hamstrung by the divisive, blind, take no prisoners politics of our country..but unlike some he is not a victim of a crippling vanity. He is the President he has the job he knows it and he knows it's not about him.
History Guy (Connecticut)
Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, China, Somalia, Venezuela, and on and on and on. Forget Biden's trip, it is temporary and ephemeral. The larger question is why so much of the world is subject to kings, and dictators, and vicious, warring gangs. And western democracies have to deal with these horrible places.
Y (Z)
Western democracies sell billions of dollars worth of arms to oppressive dictatorial regimes and sometimes overthrow legitimately elected leaders and even support ruthless military dictators. If it benefits the economy of the democracy, human rights will be ignored.
oz. (New York City)
The United States keeps selling weapons to the Saudis because it generates huge profits. So President Biden travels to see the Saudis. His promise that if elected president "nothing would fundamentally change" stands strong. With American weapons the Saudis continue to butcher countless poor and forgotten civilians in Yemen in what for years has been arguably the world's biggest humanitarian disaster. No matter. Business must go on. America puts profits before people, profits before human rights, human life, children, women, the old, the environment. Fifteen of the nineteen terrorists in 911 were Saudis. No matter. After the 911 attacks when all flights were banned in the US, the government flew Osama bin Laden's relatives back to Saudi Arabia on two chartered flights. For their safety, of course, and for good relations going forward. The Saudis ordered the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post's reporter Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. No matter. Trump as president decided business with the Saudis was too important for us to get bogged down over such details and besides, he said, no one knew for sure anything abut that anyway. That's the cost of doing the business of empire. "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests", said Henry Kissinger. He meant the interests of the ruling class, which never represent the actual interests of the American people who work hard for a bare living. oz
Dan M (Florida)
Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen, killed by the Saudi government, inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey. The "outrage" to the extent that it exists, is because Khashoggi was a progressive journalist. Innocent people are killed by brutal regimes every day, if Khashoggi was an architect would there be "outrage"? My point is that, as tragic as his death was, why are we letting it dictate foreign policy?
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Dan M ...Because it should. You either stand for something or you don't.
Joe (New Orleans)
@Dan M He was an American resident working for an American publication. He was killed inside a consulate. We are no more letting his death direct foreign policy than Saudi Arabia is directing foreign policy towards silencing and killing its detractors.
Clearly Biden has moved past 9/11. Not sure the country and victims families have. We have all of the energy we need in our own country but Biden refuses to use it.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@BC ....Oh please. This kind of comment completely ignores the fact that U.S. refineries are operating at full capacity. The U.S. has access to all the oil it needs. The U.S. does not have an oil shortage. The problem is the price of a barrel of oil is determined by the international oil market which is driven by international supply and demand and it is the international oil supply which is being squeezed. No amount of an increase in the U.S production capacity would have a significant impact on the international supply and therefore the price of oil.
Al M (Norfolk Va)
Biden's Saudi and mid-east visits underscore the hypocrisy of our foreign policy. On one hand we continue to demonize and push for war with Russia for human rights abuses and aggression and with the other we continue to arm the Saudi dictatorship and to support aggression ad human rights abuses in the Mideast. Meanwhile our own country becomes more dangerous by the day.
USA is not a paper tiger or toothless tiger but an old tiger . Saudi monster is created by us and now it is not a loyal pet anymore . PetroDollar made it strong and under the leadership of MBS, it is leaning towards China who do not care for human rights. America has to compete with China which is s baby tiger for leverage in Asia and Africa which is not easy. Very soon America may loose Pakistan , Bangladesh , Malaysia , Afghanistan and many more countries to China . In changed world, America has reconfigure the foreign policies.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@ASHRAF CHOWDHURY ....They did. It was called TPP. Trump trashed it along with a bunch of other stupid things he did like ending the Iran Nuclear deal.
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
Wishing godspeed to president Biden on his trip to the Middle East today. Will the price of gas pivot south after his meeting with the oil-rich Saudi royal family? Human rights violations are endemic in Saudi Arabia (and in the Palestinian parts of Israel) and in America. In the midst of the Russian war against Ukraine, Joe Biden is the lonely emissary trying to mend fences among our allies.
Bruce (Ms)
"Saudi Arabia will not become a democracy soon." When will we again become a democracy, if ever? Crude Oil and arms are at the crux of world power everywhere. While humanity hangs from this cross of iron Is there any way to cage these beasts? No, not from the cages in which we now find ourselves.
Joe (Turnersville, NJ)
Why does our president who is considered diplomatic, continue to use negative epithets for leaders and regimes who supply us vital natural resources. To call Saudia Arabia a pariah and Putin a man with no soul does nothing but aggravate. But our country's actions should not be judged. Our invasion of Iraq and the installation of puppet leadership continue without question or comment. The installation of Hunter Biden and Devon Archer on the board of Burisma, the largest natural gas producer of Ukraine should not raise any eye brows as these were some how legitimate appointments. He keeps repeating ad nauseam how this was an unprovoked war, but nobody discusses how a man like Zelensky a former actor with no political experience become president of Ukraine which is notorious for the corruption. Now we are backing Ukraine, another losing proposition for this country just like Afghanistan was. The Ukraine people are already starting to turn on Zelensky as they blame the Ukrainian army for bombing their own cities. Russia is granting citizenship to Ukrainian refugees who are in desperate need of food and shelter. If any thing Biden has made enemies of those who supply us oil and natural gas and the world food and because of this the people of this country are going to feel the pain of his misguided ideals.
W.A. Spitzer (Faywood, NM)
@Joe ..."Why does our president who is considered diplomatic, continue to use negative epithets for leaders and regimes who supply us vital natural resources. To call Saudia Arabia a pariah and Putin a man with no soul does nothing but aggravate."....Would you rather have him lie like the previous administration?
Tom R. (Florida)
In politics, you have to choose which hill you want to die on, and it's unlikely Biden will choose Saudi Arabia as that hill, to the chagrin of many ideologues. That is especially true after his media disaster with Afghanistan. Right now Saudi Arabia holds a lot of leverage in America's biggest political battle scene: gas prices. Especially since the GOP took no punishment for their sycophantic "dance with the sheiks" in 2017, I'm sure Biden will make inroads with the Saudis.
Emil (Pittsburgh, PA)
Money has changed the equation between America and the Arab world, and oil is at the center of it. For over a century we have wallowed in the Petroleum-drenched Anthropocene, but also of denial, that was until the World Trade Center attack. Unfortunately, there is too much money to be made in oil extraction, refining, distribution and retailing. And Saudi Arabia is at the crucible of our oil addiction. The Saudi Monarchy with its oil reserves have succeeded in warping our sense of values, no less than a drug-dealer and an addict. But that might be prejudicial, albeit unconsciously against Arabs, Muslims and people culturally different than mine. I admit it, but it's hard to shake. The core of the problem lies not with the Arabs, but Americans. It upsets me that President Biden is so quick to act to stabilize oil and gasoline prices. Perhaps he doesn't see the toxic connection between our destructive lifestyle and oil, or lacks the political power to confront the American people. A Presidential visit to Saudi Arabia. Is an insult to American prowess. It is time to confront the devil, the oil-soaked addict, in the morning mirror. We have the technology and the motivation to move to an oil-free economy and lifestyle, but not the discipline to venture forward, audaciously. Perhaps we need a younger President, a technocrat, not a lawyer.
Steve (Frisco, TX)
I’m not worried. Joe said, during his campaign, that no one is better at foreign relations than he is. I have 100% confidence in him. Don’t you?
Trulyours (New York)
Aside from the absolute insanity of calling Saudi Arabia a "pariah" state. Watching a frail American president crawl back with a weak new definition of his intention, is pathetic. Biden is there for one reason, he has bent so far to radicalized progressives and his hands are tied to solve the gasoline price surge. It will cost him the presidency. Democrats will be out of the Whitehouse for a decade He was elected by centrists white men from both parties. He has overlooked this major political asset. The noisy progressives along with Warren, Schumer and Pelosi, have convinced him the future is progressive socialists and the lie that they are a big majority. It's false. Thereby, no drilling oil in the Unite States. We have the oil and the technology to become the high bench mark of balancing environment with economics. Mentioning drilling to radical progressives is like mentioning abortion to far right christians. He's boxed his entire presidency with a sliver of noisy women in congress, none of whom have ever sponsored a bill that made it to the floor. The vindictive anti American pro criminal supporters simply love disruptors, not achievers. Democrats will learn in November just how many of us have had enough.
JBB (San Francisco)
Yes, choose radical authoritarian Republicans and their allies on the Supreme Court who are rigging elections to ensure minority rule, love guns more than life, and think post-pubescent female rape victims as young as 10 have no inalienable right under the Constitution not to be forced by the State to give birth. And you think Republicans will draw moral lines with Saudi Arabia? Lol!!! Republicans are the Party of Fossil Fuels Forever, planet be damned. They can’t draw moral lines with their own deranged aspiring Hitler who incites and loves mobs on a mission to kill his enemies.
Christopher (Chicago)
The Saudi's have more American blood on their hands than almost any other corporate entity in today's world. The purpose of Biden's bow to the bloody killers is to bring down the price of oil. He wants to defeat Russia's strategy of subjugation. He hopes to reestablish our leadership in the free world. Ms. Farouk idealizes the historical relationship the US has had with the Saudis. It was never good. The Saudis haven't learned anything good from us. Give them an opening (Trump) and they bring out the knives and saws. They have been constrained by us in the past. They must be constrained by us again - but do not speak of making progress against Saudi inclinations. They haven't got a moral compass, and nothing but their self-interest will move them.
Guest (Brooklyn)
I wish the kleptocracy of the Democratic Party hadn’t picked Biden. The man has no principles. All the Inter beans interactions of the USA in the region have had disastrous consequences. Israel and SA seemed to have too much corrosive influence of our government. Promoting democracy and human rights will always be the solution. Killing of journalists which bring a candle in the darkness is a way to deny human rights and should be a big no no with heavy consequences. This has been a big disappointment of a presidency.
beaupeyton (Upper Delta)
So, we have a "scholar" at at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stating we must sell arms to a murderous nation state. Oh the irony.
Joshua Schwartz (Ramat Gan)
When Dr. Farouk can publish this piece in Arabic and/or English/French in Saudi Arabia, that will reflect progress. Note her education: PhD, Sciences Po Paris, France MA, Sciences Po Paris, France BA, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, Egypt Her post-doc was at Yale. Her academic expertise is, inter alia, Saudi Arabia, but I doubt that Mr. Biden's trip will do much for her re Saudi Arabia and it is unlikely that in this very short trip Mr. Biden could even begin to contemplate what she wants.. Her frame of reference should be in convincing the Saudis of her views. Alas, very little chance of that.
Jeff (NY)
"Murderous Governments for Human Rights" While the Bone-Saw Mayhem in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey often gets top-billing, the large scale killings of innocents in Yemen is even worse. The Saudi government is very red in tooth and claw. Yasmine Farouk's column sprinkled with seven uses of 'human rights' doesn't hide the fact that Biden's visiting with MBS is little more than 'red-washing.'
DGA (N Calif)
Sorry, but before I really listen I need a much better explanation from you all about what the difference is between Israel taking over Palestine and Russia taking over Ukraine. Both being ‘justified’ by historical and religious explanations. Meanwhile USA treasure is being lost, for decades, in making Iran be the current bogeyman. Hey, ya, defense industry opening more and more bank accounts.
Gary (Halifax)
What's remarkable is that the Saudi-bashing has all been about Khashoggi's murder, with no notice at all of the roughly 250,000 Yemenis killed in a Saudi/US blockade and artificial famine.
cossak (us)
'They hate our way of life' was one of Bush's most famous utterances...and his family had warm ties to the Bin Ladens and many other Saudi oil families. And yet it is the Wahabbi fundamentalists who indeed hate and want to see open societies fail. Iran actually was the natural ally of the US in the region, a country that was so innately friendly to all things American in the years following WWII. (the ketsup and mustard found on the table in any fast food place in Tehran is a reminder). Sadly, the inept people handling foreign policy 'lost' Iran as an ally. The new mantra now is 'realpolitik', and no time or 'altruism' Now the US seeks to align with a government that chopped up an opposition journalist into little one of their own consulates! Let's not hear any more about 'spreading democracy' seems this new realpolitik is the new face of Amerika that its citizens are choosing.
raymond jolicoeur (mexico)
"The united states needs Saudi Arabia". Yes, this is the ugly world we live in. We need war and pollution for the capitalist system to survive. How sad...
John (Pittsburgh)
Let’s keep it simple. When it comes to Saudi Arabia… Trump was right.
DJ (Tulsa)
I so wish Mr. Biden’s only problem was Saudi Arabia….. But reality aside, I really do not understand what Mr. Biden is doing in Saudi Arabia. After calling them names (which by the way they deserved) for the past years, what does he hope to accomplish? Looking foolishly incompetent by asking them to increase production when he knows full well that they and the Russians already have a deal to keep prices high or Insulting them face to face (which might be a more consistent policy). I don’t see any other reasons for this trip. Surprising us with good news is not Biden’s forte.
Alex K (Elmont, NY)
This articles states that "Mr. Biden is traveling thousands of miles to attempt to repair a relationship that has reached a nadir in its 80-year history". This is only one instance. If Biden had paid enough attention to Russia's concerns, there would not have been an invasion of Ukraine by Putin. Biden destroyed so many other relations and understandings that need to be reversed to create a safe and stable world. But it may be too late as the war in Ukraine shows. It would be better for America and the world, and for Biden himself, if he resign and leave claiming his old age.
V (MA)
US energy indolence (which we had as recently as two years ago) is the great equalizer in this situation. Pity the Democrats willfully and deliberately squandered it. So now we have a weakened Saudi relationship, record inflation and lower exports. Perhaps this might be explored a bit on these pages.
David Ricardo (Massachusetts)
The Saudis are very astute in monitoring the actions of the U.S., and they carefully watch how the U.S. treats China with respect to human rights abuses. The U.S. turns a blind eye to China's treatment of dissidents in Hong Kong, the treatment of Muslim Uighurs, the Tibetans, and the ominous threat to Taiwan. The business interests for U.S. companies, like Nike, the NBA, and countless others, dictate a U.S. strategy of ignoring Chinese abuses. The Saudis will rightly or wrongly ask why does Saudi get singled out?
HOUDINI (New York City)
Can a monarchy ever adapt and change? Can a world supplier of oil, and as this article states, "the largest buyer of US arms" ever adapt to a more peaceful co-existence? If past is prologue, the answer to all is "no." But, consider the following: (US) Trump—out. (UK) Boris Johnson—out. Japan's former prime minister—assassinated. Sri Lanka–president deposed. These mere four examples show how the digitalization of Earth is "teaching" the masses that change is not only a philosophical stance, but a boots-on-the-ground reality. Naysayers may point to the "change" offered by those who perpetrated January 6th. Yet—democracy prevailed. The world is in chaos, perhaps more profound chaos than reported here. The only solution I find to the enlightenment to peaceful co-existence is to realize Earth's galactic place from the sun, the responsibility of our species to evolve, and the will to do it, peacefully. The road to this is through consciousness expansion. Pick your favorite philosopher; I'm sure they had something to say about this. I won't see this in my lifetime, but the goal is worth pursuing if humans intend to keep inhabiting this planet. When I was a boy set on traveling the world to find my fortune the only relative I had offered this, "You can't win, so just try to enjoy the ride." It was not fatalistic; rather, common sense. Let's all work toward the solution we seek; not complain about what has not and is not working.
betty durso (philly area)
@HOUDINI Consciousness expansion, philosophy, peaceful co-existence are what we need; not more and ever more efficient weapons to use against each other. We are One species on this lonely planet, and we are just beginning to emerge from being tribal barbarians (today that means world domination, no matter the cost to our brothers and sisters around the world.) In seeking to destroy our enemies, we are destroying Ourselves.
HOUDINI (New York City)
@betty durso BRAVO.
Rick Spanier (Tucson)
Consideration of human rights offenses as somehow relevant to US diplomatic policy should now be categorically dismissed. With the Supreme Court's issuance of the Dodd decision, this country is in no position to criticize others' treatment of their citizens when half its population has been denied the most basic human rights. This is the new realpolitik.
Tamzaa (NoCal)
@Rick Spanier the Dodd decision is just the latest example! More than that, the USA [via the CIA, as just admitted by Bolton] has long been into overthrowing democratically elected governments. All over the world - perhaps lesser so in Europe.
Gary (Halifax)
What America could do best is leave the rest of the world alone. Is this the dreaded isolationism? Then make the most of it, as Patrick Henry said. Or, at the very least, demonstrate that the US elite knows what it's doing. The evidence doesn't support that conclusion.
Sara (NYC)
The United States - not just the public sector, but increasingly, the private sector - have a Saudi problem.
Lillas Pastia (Washington, DC)
Farouk's piece seems oddly detached from even the faintest familiarity with recent history of U.S. support for overthrowing authoritarian, but friendly, regimes in the Middle East. Has she forgetten what happened in Egypt when the U.S. stood by (even nudged forward) as the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak brought Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood into power. The U.S. must finally learn humility and walk away from the notion that the Arab world, contrary to Farouk's argument here, craves Western-style democracy. The Saudis are our best friends when we keep them at arm's length -- sell them weapons, support their opposition to Iran, try to encourage friendship (or at least clandestine strategic cooperation) with Israel, minimize the outrageous violation of human rights, and when necessary condemn the Wahhabist elements and the crimes like the brutal murder of Jamal Khasshoghi.
Charlie (SpAin)
After more than 80 years of unconditional support to the Arabs states of the Gulf peninsula, with all the human rights casualties (policy and people alike), to state the USA pursue in the region a policy of democracy is a joke destined for the (mostly) uninformed public. There are no principles or values in American policy in this region, only geostrategic interest travestied as freedom and used according to American interests. A policy not different of any other country pursuing its own interests, I would conced the USA packaging may be better than previous ones.
Curious (Marfa, Texas)
America would gain more, long term, by sticking to its principles and values. More than following the road of ‘real politic’, as tempting as that may be. We should not deal with corrupt leaders, or proven bad actors. Period. We can find alternative sources of energy. We can innovate. We can have better mass transit. Etc. In this way, we can lead with integrity. A very powerful thing.
B. Rothman (NYC)
@Curious Too bad our energy sector is tied to yesterday’s world of extraction, unmindful of global warming. Eve; the Saudis will run out of oil, but since we have less, we will run out sooner. Our energy and “power” position will then be truly untenable. This is simply a make nice visit to soothe everyone’s wounded egos. The Saudis have no interest in anything democratic and their “natural ally” is most often going to be Russia. Follow the money.
Gary (Halifax)
@Curious This is very, very true--and impossible for many centrists to grasp. Imagine we had said, "No, let's not subvert all these countries' leaders and earn their countries' undying hatred. Let's not delude ourselves that every manifestation of local dissatisfaction is 'Communism.' Let's not fund the very worst gangsters in every country because they're good at fighting those 'communists.' The history of the later 20th c. would have been far less bloody and anti-American.
Buster Dee (Jamal, California)
@Curious An excellent 30 year plan. Today, we need to deal with them.
MK (Madrid)
President Biden's diplomatic skills are only rudimentarily noticeable. Calling Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state is surely a senseless offence that does not help anybody. The democrats need to find better skilled personnel who are focussed on results and have a long-term well thought through perspective that justifies leadership and trust.
Tamzaa (NoCal)
@MK also, his lack of interest, and decency, in acknowledging the support in evacuating from Afghanistan is a case of ‘come in man’. Lacking courtesy.
camper (Virginia Beach, VA)
@MK Well said. Your second paragraph describes the antithesis of what passes for US leadership today.
Mike (NY)
Realpolitik is a marketing strategy dreamed up by the Military industrial complex right? The cold war habit of arming dictators to the teeth worldwide shall continue. Even when the supposed "influence" of diplomacy and weapons training is flouted by rule breaking assassination. I have family that lived under a US supported dictatorship during the cold war. During that time dissent was smashed by an emboldened regime.
Buster Dee (Jamal, California)
@Mike Realpolitik is the acknowledgment that we must make distasteful compromises when our moral aspirations clash with other necessary goals. We need their oil. It’s not possible and will not be possible for another 20 years to run society without oil. After that, all bets are off.
James K. Lowden (Camden, Maine)
We don’t "need” their oil. We choose to need their oil. We choose to need oil generally, with low fuel taxes and subsidized car infrastructure. And we choose to import all good, oil included, irrespective of human rights or democracy. The United States could and should have a policy of import tariffs linked explicitly to democratic governance. We would pay more for goods produced by authoritarian regimes with unfree labor. Without such a policy we leave the almighty dollar — not humanity — as our top priority.
Anthony Celso (Chadds Ford PA)
US policy has always walked a fine line between realpolitik and liberal values. The adjustment has never been perfect or smooth. That said the growth of Iranian power across the region cap stoned by the spread of its regional proxies empowered by Shia revolutionary doctrine and the alarming growth of its nuclear program that has grown appreciably sine 2019 presents along with oil prices a major problem that needs to be countered. "Realist" delusions of disengaging from the Mideast prominent in the last two Administrations have come across a cold reality that America needs to be a vital presence in the region. Thus, the need to create an accelerated missile and anti-drone defense system in the region that pools US, Saudi and Israeli resources to deter Iran as hopes a revived JCPOA fade. Any weakening of US resolve or abandonment of the region in a misguided pivot to Asia will create a destabilizing power vacuum leading to a regional war whose impact cannot be constrained. Sadly, Khashoggi murder pales in significance to these vital issues and I would expect the Administration will sideline any discussion of it.
Tamzaa (NoCal)
@Anthony Celso Iran could be the BEST friend for the US the region, but for the independence Iran seeks from US domination. The US silence re Israel’s nuclear arsenal and issue with Iran’s nuclear energy goals, that MAY lead to a weapon to balance Israel, is confusing for them. The US has no moral standing. There or anywhere else
Guest (Brooklyn)
You just making us subservient to Israeli and SA while promoting Cold War style politics. No outside the box thinking. Human rights and support of suppression are done away easily in your realpolitik views. Long term they don’t work.
Anthony Celso (Chadds Ford PA)
@Tamzaa Iran is unwilling to allow Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese and Yemeni's to be free preferring to exacerbate their failed states and prolong their respective civil wars. It is amusing the left's unwillingness to hold Iran, Syria, the Iraqi PMF, Hezbollah and the Houthis accountable for their manifold brutality and perpetuation of sectarian violence. Not to mention the invidious Judeophobia and annihilationist desire for Israel's destruction.
Pragmatist in CT (Westport)
Take a step back and look at Saudi Arabia today versus 10 years ago and, based on what MBS is promoting, how it will be in 10 years from now. His vision is to become the most progressive Arab country in the Middle East. Already rights for women and minorities have greatly improved. The normalization agreements with other countries and Israel could not have taken place without their blessing, and the growing ties between the Saudis and Israel suggest that full normalization is all but inevitable. For Biden to have treated MBS like a teacher scolding a school boy has been incredibly shortsighted and clearly a nod toward his progressive base. Not the forward looking vision of a diplomat. Furthermore, by trying to isolate the Saudi‘s, all we have done is push them toward stronger ties with China and Russia. With Biden approval ratings at 30% and all but a lame duck, I wonder how seriously he will be taking on this trip. At the very least, let’s hope that he sets the stage fir normalization agreements between Israel, the Saudis, and other countries in the region.
Scorpio (Aldie, VA)
@Pragmatist in CT Do not worry, our President got long lasting knee pads conveniently discounted during Amazon early prime sales. He will be taking a long walk on knees begging for Oil. The result depends on how long he can walk and stay on knees.
cdisf (SF)
@Pragmatist in CT I guess all those women and minorities having their inherent civil rights violated daily by the Saudi theocracy should just shut up and waiting another 10 years for things to improve. By Biden visiting that regressive kingdom of male privilege, he casts legitimacy on it. For shame.
Joe (New Orleans)
> Already rights for women and minorities have greatly improved. Assuming you werent a womens rights or minorities rights activist he locked up and had tortured or killed. > The normalization agreements with other countries and Israel could not have taken place without their blessing Wrong. Egypt and Jordan didnt ask Saudi Arabia before making peace with Israel. Those came from American efforts alone. The best outcome for the Saudi people and everyone else of the region is for the royalty to go the way of the Bourbons or Romanovs.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
Saudi Arabia needs the USA. By itself, it is not a power without the presence of US forces in the region. US forces are there to protect the oil supply for Europe and Japan plus a few others. This piece is filled with advice for Biden, but if the US takes a hike from supporting the Gulf, Saudi's future is measured in .......
Rajashekhar Patre (Bangalore, India)
@Bruce Williams Yes Saudi Arabia needs U.S. because much of it's defence needs are met by America.This augurs well for the armament industry.On the contrary U.S. cannot ignore Saudi,s as it's oil is required for the country and they are one of the leading players in the world oil market. Although relations between the two countries were strained as a consequence of human rights violation in the killing of journalist Khashogi. In the final analysis money rules the world. As a consequence of Russian invasion of Ukraine, world oil prices have hit the roof and the American consumers are not happy about it. As the mid term elections are coming up in November, president Biden wants to pressurise the Saudi leader to increase the production oil so that world oil prices would come down. It is important that he succeed in his mission.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
@Rajashekhar Patre Without direct US force in the Gulf, Saudi is toast, with or without some armaments. Biden's mistake was in 2020 refusing to increase US production, and Canada could also, replacing some, at least of Russian and Saudi oil.
Hugh Massengill (Oregon)
Imagine for a moment if the US had not intruded on the Middle East, that Papa Bush hadn't tricked Saddam into attacking Kuwait, George W. hadn't finished the job, if... I don't think our manipulations in the Middle East were worth all the lives and violence. They certainly haven't made the world safer, or oil supplies more dependable. The Shia-Sunni Civil War would have raged on, just as it is today. But then, that would mean that our CIA and other agencies were in it for the power and money, and of course the stolen oil for the big boys of oil. Perhaps I am too cynical.
Brian Bleigh (Peoria Heights)
@Hugh Massengill The history of the CIA interfering in the Middle East goes back decades before Bush Sr. They overthrew the elected government of Iran in 1953. Iraq thought they were doing us a favor by fighting a war with Iran in the 1980’s, over 1 million died.
Frank (NYC)
@Hugh Massengill Bush Sr. tricked Saddam into invading Kuwait? Evidence, please.
Michael (North Carolina)
In the final analysis, it all comes down to money, doesn't it? Always and everywhere. That's the tragedy of mankind and, through climate, will usher in our collective demise.
raymond jolicoeur (mexico)
@Michael so sad.
617to416 (Ontario via Massachusetts)
In my opinion, the United States would do best to treat all three of the major powers in the region—Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel—more neutrally. We should not shy away from condemning any and all of their many human rights violations. But we should also be working to establish mutually beneficial relationships with all three. Demonization isn't helpful. Nor is putting any on a pedestal.
She (Miami,FL)
@617to416 Agree with much you state. Agree we should be working "... to establish mutually beneficial relationships with all three..." in that region. Yet Israel and SA fearful of Iranians establishing hegemony in region. At same time, cannot agree with gargantuan weapons sales to SA. We are the biggest arms dealer in the world. The MIC rules us. Ukraine gives us grounds to test the newest weaponry. This doesn't help cooperation and negotiation among neighbors; rather, it promotes competition, dissension, conflict. Also agree that "demonization isn't helpful". As Henry Kissinger noted, "The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for not having one".
gpickard (Luxembourg)
@617to416 Dear 617to416, Theoretically I agree with you. But in practice it is very difficult for one of the world's largest powers to remain neutral. Turkey is always testing the US with regard to our relationship with Iran, Syria and the Kurds. Some times you have to take a position even if it is very fraught. Mistakes are going to be made, whether from being too bellicose or from being too passive. It is one reason I become weary of commenters who want to regurgitate the sins of the US as though this is some kind of strategic advice. I am not in denial of the US missteps, but those discussions are moot.
SportsMedicine (Staten Island, NY)
Joe Biden at a 2020 Election primary debate - "Number one, no more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill. PERIOD." So, how on earth could he go to Saudi Arabia and ask them to produce more oil? Fun fact. The US surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia in Aug 2018 to become the worlds largest producer of oil. We have the largest influence on price. Upon that distinction, oil collapsed, from 75 per barrel to 35. It continued to stay in a 30-60 range, until of course, Election Day 2020. Oil skyrocketed starting the day after, and doubled in price within 5 months. As the worlds largest producer of oil, we can fix this. Just reverse Bidens reversal of Trump energy policy. Dont want to in order to usher in alternative energy? Ok, but then Biden and Democrats own the high price of oil. Once again, the all too predictable problem with liberal policy. The real world always seems to get in the way.
Jackie B (New York)
@SportsMedicine Go search “Trump, Russia, Saudi Arabia, OPEC oil agreement April 2020.” You are missing the agreement Trump brokered between Russia and Saudi Arabia in April 2020 to end their long price war and curtail production. That concrete and real agreement, not Biden campaign rhetoric or policies is the Bain reason for high gas prices today.
Taylor (USA)
@SportsMedicine You are correct that it is simply crazy to rely on the Saudis, Russians, Venezuelans, etc. for fossil fuel production when a country, like the US, has the ability to produce large amounts of fossil fuels. It was true in the 1970s and it is still true now. President Biden's policies has done nothing but to exacerbate the problem. Even the Germans have come to their senses with the support of their Green Party to make a STRONG push to increase fossil fuel production in the short to mid-term while accelerating Green Energy initiatives on an expedited basis. There is a solution to this mess but like most things, DC and both national parties get in the way of common sense solutions.
SportsMedicine (Staten Island, NY)
@Jackie B Go look at a chart of oil. Trump brokered that agreement because the price of oil fell to -40 because of the pandemic. Thats right. Minus 40. Oil producers were getting clobbered. But that agreement in no way shape or form prevented Russia and Saudi Arabia from ever bringing production back to whatever level they wanted. Currently, Russia's oil output is the highest in history. It was however, Biden rhetoric that caused a massive V bottom in oil with Election Day 2020 at the bottom apex. When the worlds largest producer of oil, the US, says they are going to end all new drilling, and reverse the policies that made them the number one producer in the 1st place, that placed a bid under the price the size of Texas. There's no way around it no matter how hard you try. Biden and Democrats are 100% to blame for the high price of oil. They campaigned on lowering fossil fuel drilling and production. Biden actually said, "I guarantee you, were gonna end the fossil fuel industry". They promised it. You voted for it. Own it.
John (Chicago, IL)
Biggest problem I see is selling them our weapons of mass destruction. Is our arms selling business that important to our economy? If so, we are destined to collapse. Joe lost me with this trip. And where in our Constitution does it give us the right to decide how the rest of the world lives? America is not the world’s police department. We have enough troubles here at home. Let’s stop supplying weapons of mass destruction to the world. And troubled people in America.
B. Rothman (NYC)
@John We have a better chance of altering the arms we sell to the world than the ones we sell to fellow citizens, which is to say, almost zero. Selling arms to other countries provides our companies with $$ and our nation with a little bit of leverage on international behavior. That’s it. Presidents are not miracle makers.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
@John We are not selling them nukes and chemical weapons--WMD.
Joe O'Malley (New York, NY)
@John I thought we are doing even better in Ukraine. Giving away weapons of mass destruction for free and billions of dollars to boot. Just to teach Russia a lesson. Insanity.
Victor (Rancho Santa Fe)
The idea that we can wean off OPEC oil has been around for 30 years or longer. We are today more dependent than ever on OPEC. This administration’s miscalculations are stunning on so many levels from Afghanistan to UKR. Now hat in hand Biden treks thousands of miles to literally beg MBS to sell us their oil. This is an embarrassing development for Biden and his team and makes us look weak in the face of a collapsing domestic economy and failure in UKR. This guy must go, sooner the better.
Frank (NYC)
@Victor You do realize that the US is a net oil exporter, right? If anything, we should be OPEC members. The conversation will more be about OPEC price targets, since lowering those would keep more US oil in the US.
Jackie B (New York)
@Victor You do realize that in April 2020 Trump brokered an agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia to end their long price war that ghad kept oil cheap globally? You do know that it resulted in Russia, Saudi Arabia and OPEC signing an agreement to join to curtail oil production, correct? Do you know that ever since the parties, along with US companies have purposely curtailed production and ramped up pricing?
She (Miami,FL)
@Jackie B Nothing nefarious. Sounds like capitalism to me. (See Emma Ashford's recently released book on oil and OPEC)
Mick F (Truth or Consequences, NM)
The US and the House of Saud have always had a transactional relationship. The US provides arms, Instagram models and safe navigation for all Saudi oil exports. The Saudis fund elite universities and NGOs plus are supposed to provide oil. It was macabre emotionalism to try to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state because we need them just as much as they need us.
Jackie B (New York)
In April 2020 President Trump brokered an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia to end their long oil price wars and curtail production. The agreement was widely announced in the global press, including the NYT on April 8-9, 2020. Since then the two parties with cooperation from OPEC and US oil companies have colluded to restrict production and raise prices. This agreement, I believe, is the main reason for high oil costs and a huge contributor to the rampant inflation across the globe. President Biden’s needs to address this cartel activity and convince the Saudis it is in their best interests to cooperate with the US and the West to end this agreement and ramp up production. To gain the cooperation of the Saudis, Biden will need to use a combination of sweet and sour tactics, more of the former than the latter. No matter what tactics he employs, Biden needs to place a wedge between the Saudis and Russia. Only then will Western nations have energy security and the ability to control inflation.
Kevin Brindle (Savannah)
We need to take off our USA is #1 glasses and look at these critical alliance issues through SA eyes. The Saudis really don’t need the USA as much as we need them. The Saudis can walk away from us on most issues and find alliance with other partners. All we offer is $ for oil, technology and weapons. Time for us to recognize that and behave accordingly.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
@Kevin Brindle The Iranians and Houthis would be in Riyadh really fast. There are no other partners.
Mitchell myrin (Bridgehampton)
In the real world of realpolitik, SA is a crucial partner for the US as a counterweight to Iran and their malevolent actions in the Middle East. Russia is aligned with Iran so we must be aligned with the Sunni block led by SA. This will include the top military power in that region, Israel. We do not have to like these people, and we do not have to approve of their domestic policies. This is not a time for altruism, it is time for realism.
Amanda (NJ)
@Mitchell myrin Mitchell Myrin offers a clearly-stated, clear-headed view of 'the-ends-justify-the-means' doctrine underpinning government. And yet, from our Ethical Point of View, after millennia of History, harming innocent people is still morally wrong.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@Mitchell myrin We never get to a good time to stand up for what’s right, do we? It’s always realpolitik.
Bruce Williams (Chicago)
@Mitchell myrin Turkey is the main Sunni counterweight to Iran, and that is the real rivalry. The Iranian puff and bluster over Israel and the USA is just a blind for the age-old sectarian conflict.
Thomas Renner (New York City)
Biden is doing the right thing going to Saudi Arabia. No matter what the American people say about climate change, human rights etc. they want cheap gas first and foremost and lots of it. Besides that, they can help us with the other issues Ms. Farouk spoke of so it's better to be on good terms with them than not.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@Thomas Renner Why should we have cheap gas? To bring about the burning end faster? When will a politician tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear? Drive less. Plan now to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle. Plan travel carefully and frugally. Companies should expect people to buy less unless they are prepared to pay more in wages. It is time we enfant terribles grew up.
Bob (Spring Hill, Tn.)
@Chip ---Sad to say but cheap gas wins elections over almost any other issue.
S weinberg. (Not Bizarro Land)
Why do you think Biden’s efforts with Saudi Arabia will be any more successful than any other policy of this utterly failed administration?
michael sullivan (Massachusetts)
This author, Ms. Farouk, is undoubtedly an expert on the Middle East and especially Saudi Arabia and its relationship with the United States. She seems to take a pragmatic yet selective approach to the Saudis and their impact on the region and the world while essentially ignoring their role in the 9-11 Trade Towers tragedy and their continued killing of civilians on a massive scale in Yemen. The American people should stand in solidarity with the families of the 9-11 victims who were killed by a group of terrorists dominated by Saudi men. Many people believe the Saudi Government was financing and assisting the terrorists and there is evidence to support that credible suspicion. In Yemen, Biden has simply reneged on his promise to end our involvement in a campaign of civilian annihilation by Saudi airstrikes and an economic blockade that has resulted in widespread civilian mortality including thousands of children. He has also essentially given MBS a pass on the heinous murder of Khashoggi. Ms. Farouk is offering optimism for a favorable Biden visit to Saudi Arabia. I say--Remember 9-11; Remember Jamal Khashoggi and Stop supporting the murder of civilians in Yemen. But I'm no expert.
She (Miami,FL)
@michael sullivan Our role in the starvation and decimation of civilians in Yemen, euphemistically referred to as "collateral damage", should also be raised---front and center. Perhaps then we will step back from the role we take in contributing to these civil wars--in Yemen, in Syria, in Ukraine. Bolton has come right out and bluntly stated that we are involved in countless coups. Humanitarian screens should not be(falsely) erected as cover for the intervention and escalation of destruction we fuel through our policy of liberal hegemony, enacted by the same talking heads in foreign affairs from one administration to the next.
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
@michael sullivan Massachusetts. Thanks for sharing your point of view. One does not need to be an expert to tell the truth and lay out the facts. What you have said is all true.
Roger Chambers (Utica, NY)
@michael sullivan An insightful article, and your comments are likely just a prelude to what could well be a dominating very controversial issue on foreign policy politics.
See also