April 26, 2018

MICHAEL BARONE: Trump’s Saudi policy gamble.

Seventy-three years ago President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on his trip back from his Yalta conference with U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, held his last meeting with foreign leaders aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal’s Great Bitter Lake. One was with the desert warrior king, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, who sailed in with seven live sheep and a tent to sleep in on deck.

The United States had provided almost all of its allies with all the oil they used during World War II. But there were (unfounded) fears that American wells were tapped out, while American geologists produced (well-founded) estimates of giant untapped pools in the Saudi desert. Roosevelt wanted American, not British, firms controlling it

The meeting marked the beginning of a long U.S.-Saudi relationship — or perhaps entanglement is a better word. It lasted beyond Roosevelt’s death two months later and ibn Saud’s in 1953, through the 13 presidents who succeeded FDR and the six sons of ibn Saud, who was born in 1875, who succeeded him as king.

As I’ve remarked in the past, our policy for decades was to keep the strait of Hormuz open. Now that we’re a major oil exporter, we only have to be able to close them.

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