During his campaign in 2020 Biden said MBS was a pariah. But Biden sure didn’t treat him like a pariah during the president’s trip to Riyadh. Obviously Biden’s political speeches mean very little when it comes to actual policy. It is the permanent Deep State, not elected officials, who make US foreign policy, as explained by Glennon’s book National Security and the Double Government.
Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia showed that the US president’s campaign rhetoric about taming the Saudis was just hat: rhetoric. Rather than holding MBS accountable for his crimes, Biden (who is of course a war criminal himself) begged the Saudi prince to pump more oil, while ignoring human rights issues including Saudi executions of dissidents and the Saudi massacre of the civilian population of Yemen.
Trump and Biden (and their Deep State advisors) know that the US petrodollar, the world’s de facto reserve currency, faces an uncertain future. Historically, the petrodollar has depended on the Saudi promise to sell oil in dollars and to let the US set the price, or at least influence it. But the Saudis have signaled that that era may come to an end, as China, the world’s biggest economy, becomes the Saudis’ biggest oil customer.
Riyadh’s strategic importance has grown as its obedience to the US has come into question. US presidents want to make sure the Saudis are still responsive to American influence. But as we have seen, the US is no longer able to assert that influence unilaterally and aggressively. Biden was not in a position to dominate the conversation, but had to come to Riyadh as a supplicant.
There is no reason to think that Biden’s trip significantly impacted Saudi policy. It is likely that the Saudis will continue to slowly exit the US imperial orbit by gradually building ties with Russia and China. But Biden may have won a few temporary concessions, such as a slight increase in Saudi oil production aimed at lowering global oil prices.
The Persian Gulf Arab states are frightened of Iran not because of any military threat, but because of the example it sets. Iran’s democratic Islamic Republic, created by the overthrow of a monarchy, provides a model that remains an option for the people living in the corrupt and decadent Arab monarchies. So the despotic monarchs demonize Iran in hopes of brainwashing their population against the Iranian model. They also hope to make their people forget Iran’s principled anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian stance, which stands in sharp contrast to the Arab monarchs’ obsequious kowtowing to Israel.
All in all, the trip showed that the Americans no longer call the shots. They are supplicants who come to the Persian Gulf monarchies with a petro-begging-bowl in hand. Israel sees this and is trying to fill the void left by the decline of US power in the region. But it is unlikely to succeed, because it is a US/Western settler colony rather than an authentic nation, and as the US declines, the Zionist settler colony will decline as well.
The US has been defeated in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Its days as the dominant power lording it over the Middle East are coming to an end. Trump faced that reality squarely, while Biden and his Deep State advisors are in denial. The simple fact is that US influence will fade due to changes in global economics and demographics, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
China, Russia, and Iran will have more influence in the region in the future, and the US and its Israeli dog-wagging tail will have less. So Biden and his advisors need to face up to reality, and then adjust American policy accordingly.