Washington Post Publisher Fred Ryan said that President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia this week, including a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man tied to the death of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, shows the erosion of the United States’ “moral authority” by shaking the prince’s “blood-stained” hand.
“The president should know meeting with Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, as he is known, will give the Saudi leader exactly what three years of Saudi PR campaigns, lobbying expenses, and even a new golf league have not: a return to respectability,” Ryan said in an opinion piece in the Post. “This undeserved absolution will, in turn, only undermine the foreign-policy goals Biden hopes to achieve.”
In his own piece in the publication July 9, Biden said the trip comes “at a vital time for the region,” and will “advance important American interests.”
“A more secure and integrated Middle East benefits Americans in many ways. Its waterways are essential to global trade and the supply chains we rely on. Its energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine,” Biden wrote. “And a region that’s coming together through diplomacy and cooperation — rather than coming apart through conflict — is less likely to give rise to violent extremism that threatens our homeland or new wars that could place new burdens on U.S. military forces and their families.”
Ryan, however, said the goal of the trip is to get Saudi Arabia to increase oil exports to the U.S. to offset the energy supply disruptions, and higher gasoline prices, and to hopefully change the bleak political impact it’s having on Biden and Democrats in recent polling.
“Now, it is the U.S. president who is turning a blind eye to Jamal’s murder in an effort to lower gasoline prices in advance of this fall’s midterms,” Ryan said in his article. “Biden needs the Saudis to increase their oil production to help keep global energy prices in check. The trip sends the message that the United States is willing to look the other way when its commercial interests are at stake.”
Ryan is not alone in his criticism of Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
Former 2020 presidential candidate, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said during a recent television interview on CNN, that he would not make the trip because it reflects poorly on our nation’s character, and does not display “American exceptionalism” like gathering the nations of the world together to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I don’t like it, and I think American exceptionalism was on display when [Russian President] Vladimir Putin went into Ukraine, and we stitched together an alliance of not just Europe and NATO, but Japan, Australia, and others to push back on Russia,” Swalwell said. “So, I think relying on our good-faith alliance, people who are honorable and show moral integrity, is more important to take on this crisis than an unscrupulous actor like the crown prince.”
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