Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia is an affront to American values

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A real American response to the energy crisis requires unleashing domestic oil production, not getting close to murderous dictators.

During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to make Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah’ state in light of the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and promised to make the regime ‘pay the price’ for its rights abuses humans. Many saw it as a welcome change from the longstanding friendly but morally questionable relationship between the United States and the Saudis.

But that promise disappeared with Biden’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and his friendly punch with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Biden now says his intention was always to “reorient”, not sever, the relationship with Saudi Arabia. He now sees the regime as an ally in solving the US energy crisis, among other issues. I have previously criticized Biden’s overtures to Venezuela in pursuit of oil on the grounds that courting tyrannies is against America’s interests. This applies equally to Saudi Arabia.

In an editorial for the Washington Post, the president says the purpose of his visit was “to strengthen a strategic partnership based on mutual interests and responsibilities, while remaining true to core American values.” But that’s a fantasy: Everything about the Saudi regime is hostile to core American values.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute Islamic monarchy. The ultimate authority, even in judicial matters, is the king. Citizens have no rights or due process – the legal system is based on Sharia, which empowers the state to control all aspects of people’s lives, including what they may think and say. In practice, this means that dissidents, like Khashoggi, can be brutally killed and dismembered for the “crime” of speaking out against the regime. According to US intelligence, Khashoggi’s assassination was ordered directly by bin Salman.

Just as there is no freedom of expression, there is no freedom of thought: those who renounce Islam are subject to public beheading. Dissent is punished by whipping, torture, wrongful imprisonment, kidnapping (see the case of Loujain al-Hathloul) and murder.

Women particularly suffer from this authoritarianism: under the Saudi ‘guardianship system’, men exercise complete control over women’s lives. Rahaf Mohammed, a Saudi refugee who risked her life to escape, documents in her book Rebel the abuse she suffered. Beaten numerous times by her own family, she was raped and tortured simply for attempting to live some semblance of the kind of life we ​​take for granted in the West.

This is the regime with which Biden wants to strengthen his relationship while “staying true to core American values.” How does he imagine that’s even remotely possible? America was founded on the principle of the inalienable right of every individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How to “remain faithful” to this principle while meeting on good terms the leaders of a country which systematically violates each of these rights?

At a press briefing after the visit, Biden said that when bin Salman told him he “was not personally responsible” for killing Khashoggi, he replied that “I indicated that I thought that ‘he was’ – and that he considered the methods of the Saudis. to treat opposition and criticism as “a violation of human rights”. But that view hasn’t stopped Biden from chatting with the crown prince. Is the question of whether or not your negotiating partner is a thug who suppresses dissent with brutal murder something you can just agree to disagree on?

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Later in the press conference, Biden said he’s “not going to stay silent” when it comes to a “clear violation of human rights.” But what does this lack of silence mean if it has no implications for how he acts towards authors? Is wiggling empty fingers what Biden means by “staying true to core American values”?

By simply sitting down to table with the Saudis, President Biden has whitewashed the despotic nature and crimes of the regime. He strengthened the regime by giving it a moral sanction.

The significance of Biden’s action is captured by a remark by philosopher Ayn Rand. Rand was commenting on collaboration at the UN between Western nations and communist countries, but his argument applies just as much to Biden’s visit with the Saudis: “The communist world has acquired a moral sanction, a seal of civilized respectability from the part of the western world – he got help from the west to deceive his victims – he gained the status and prestige of an equal partner, thus establishing the idea that the difference between human rights and mass murder is just a difference of political opinion.

If Biden is serious about upholding American values, he needs to stop treating authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia as civilized nations.

Our current energy crisis has been caused, in part, by our whitewashing of a dictatorial regime, Putin’s Russia. It is not a solution to endorse and encourage another dictatorial regime and become dependent on its oil supplies. Instead, a real American response would be to free up domestic oil producers so we can expand our own production capacity.

True commitment to American values ​​requires defending freedom not just in words but in action. What that means in this case is to condemn the Saudi regime for its horrific crimes and stop courting them, and to free up American oil producers to supply America’s energy needs.

This article was originally published by the Southern California News Group.

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