By Ivan Eland
The American Conservative
n Bob Woodward’s book Rage, the author quotes President Trump as claiming that he “saved” de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after the assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi. Trump reportedly said, “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.” Not only was this shocking, but the general U.S. cultivation of despotic Saudi Arabia for the sake of oil purchases and weapons sales is unnecessary in today’s world.
This U.S.-Saudi bargain goes back to World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt noticed that the trends were pointing toward the U.S. increasing its dependence on foreign petroleum, as its own world-leading oil production attenuated. Before the world oil price increases of the 1970s, the U.S. government believed in buying other nations’ oil and conserving its own supplies. (After the 1973 Arab oil embargo and price increases, the rage became “oil and energy independence”—in other words, lessening oil imports and using petroleum produced within U.S. borders.) The deal FDR reached with the Saudis was that they would sell the United States oil from their substantial reserves in exchange for American protection of their country and oil fields.