The oil-for-security alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, forged in 1945 when Franklin D. Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz aboard a US Navy destroyer, is now over. Just look at the American reaction to the attack by Iran on Saudi oil facilities. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo duly called it an ‘act of war’; the Wall Street Journal told us the attack was ‘the big one’. But then nothing: President Donald Trump merely shrugged and declared the US energy independent. ‘We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas,’ he said.
Industry experts warned that such an assessment was premature; but oil prices stabilized and the sound of war drums faded. We are witnessing the beginning of a new geopolitics in the Middle East.
Trump has embraced his America First instincts, and it’s not difficult to see why. He would have nothing to gain — and everything to lose — by jumping into another Gulf quagmire, not least when it comes to his chances of re-election. He is in tune with the overwhelming majority of Americans horrified at the prospect of war with Iran in defense of the House of Saud. Opinion polls show huge majorities — among both Democrat and Republican voters — opposed to any such action. Evangelical Christians support war, because they believe it would make Israel safer. But they would vote for Trump come what may.