A Saudi Treaty Is a Dangerous Trap

The Biden administration won’t give up on one of the worst ideas in the world:

The Biden administration is close to finalizing a treaty with Saudi Arabia that would commit the U.S. to help defend the Gulf nation as part of a long-shot deal to encourage diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Israel, U.S. and Saudi officials said.

But the success of the diplomatic effort hinges on Israel’s commitment to a separate Palestinian state, and more immediately an end to the war in Gaza, an unlikely proposition amid months of fruitless cease-fire talks and an Israeli weekend raid to retrieve hostages from the heart of the territory.

The U.S. should never commit itself to defend Saudi Arabia, especially when the U.S. stands to gain nothing significant in return. The administration’s obsession with giving the Saudis a formal security guarantee is as bizarre as it is unwise. The last thing that the U.S. needs is another treaty commitment, and there are few other governments less deserving of protection than the Saudi monarchy. The current level of U.S.-Saudi cooperation is bad enough, but to formalize it in a treaty and put the U.S. on the hook for their security for decades to come would be insane.

Saudi Arabia is a liability, not some prize to be won. Even if the U.S. were able to keep the Saudis from doing lots of business with China as a result, it wouldn’t be worth the price that we would be paying. We have every reason to expect that the Saudi government will continue expanding their ties with China no matter what the U.S. gives them, so it is sure to be a bad bargain for our country. Locking the U.S. into a new Middle Eastern security commitment isn’t some brilliant masterstroke in a contest with Beijing. It would be the foreign policy equivalent of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

A clear sign that a treaty with the Saudis would be terrible for U.S. interests is that it is supported by the likes of Lindsey Graham. Graham is one of the most reliable warmongers in the Senate, and he has been obsessed with getting the U.S. into a conflict with Iran for decades. He wants a treaty with the Saudis to pave the way for a war with Iran. A Saudi treaty will create a trap for the U.S. that Graham and his allies would love to rush into.

The Saudi government under Mohammed bin Salman has already proven to be reckless and destructive. The murderous intervention in Yemen is a foretaste of what we can expect in the future when the crown prince becomes king. He is not going to become any less dangerous if he has a formal defense treaty with the United States. If anything, he will conclude that there are truly no limits to what he can do after he has been rewarded with a treaty.

Read the rest of the article at Eunomia

Daniel Larison is a contributing editor for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.