One of the more insistent promises we heard from the Obama campaign during the 2008 Presidential race was that an Obama Administration would strengthen our alliances with other countries, cause America to become popular once more, and thus cause other countries to like us once again. The whole premise of that pledge ought to have been laughed at; foreign affairs and foreign policy is not a popularity contest, and if countries “like” the United States, it is and will be because they feel they have common interests with the United States.
But whatever. Let’s take the Obama campaign’s pledge as it was offered. Query: How has the Administration done in terms of maintaining and strengthening our relationship with Saudi Arabia?
Answer: Quite poorly.
No, not everything about the deterioration of Saudi-American relations can be traced to the actions of the Obama Administration, and the Saudis certainly don’t come to any discussion regarding the deterioration of that relationship with clean hands. Still, if the Bush Administration were in charge, and Saudi-American relations were as bad as they are now, we would hear no end to the complaints that the Bush Administration was too unilateral, that it didn’t care about its friends, that it paid no mind to the opinions of other countries in the world . . . you know the drill. There is no reason whatsoever why the Obama Administration should be immune from those criticisms, especially given the fact that it bears a great deal of responsibility for the fact that Saudi-American relations are poorer now than they have been in the past.