Tuesday, May 26, 2015
New Yorker - "Saudi Shakeup"
"The U.S.-Saudi alliance is a self-enriching bargain between the two countries’ élites, sustained without mutual understanding or sympathy between their publics. Wall Street bankers fly to Riyadh regularly, seeking cash for private equity and hedge funds. U.S. arms manufacturers profit from Saudi anxiety about Iran by selling the kingdom planes, missiles, radar systems, and spy gear. Last October, the Administration announced another big deal: a $1.75 billion missile contract. Meanwhile, Obama’s envoys negotiated in secret with Tehran, without looping in the Saudis. It’s not very surprising that princes who are regularly lobbied by Lockheed Martin Corporation salesmen about the Iranian threat would be displeased.
The Saudis buy American F-18s for the same reason that bank owners hire Brinks guards: to protect their loot—in this case, huge pools of oil sitting in a region that is descending into what looks to be a long, intimately violent war. Obama has introduced novel honesty into U.S.-Saudi discourse, though the younger royals present the same dilemma as their elders. They show no sign that they are willing to embrace democratic values, act compliantly, or become less sectarian, but, to secure promises of protection from the world’s most powerful military, they likely will accommodate American bases and arms sales, up to a point. For now, the alliance remains a strange pact of mutually complicit, resentful hypocrisies. "