It's unfair to demand perfection. That's understandable. But Joe Biden's fist bump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) captured the president's disastrous outing to Saudi Arabia. (And what did we accomplish on this trip? The Saudi Royal Family agreed to some clean energy initiatives. Who cares about that when we're in a recession, Joe?)
The topic that captured the press' attention was the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was not friendly to the Saudi regime. Saudi agents reportedly killed Khashoggi at the consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The real reason everyone blew a gasket over this killing was that it happened under Donald Trump's presidency. So, when asked if he addressed the killing with MBS, Biden claimed he said a bit about human rights and the like. MBS responded by saying he was not responsible for Khashoggi's death and that he dealt justice to those who were; the CIA says otherwise.
Biden's fist-bump with MBS had some folks aghast. On that end, maybe it was avoidable, but you'll have to go to 2019 to find out why.
Joe Biden came out guns blazing against Saudi Arabia in 2019. It was the Democratic primaries, and debate season had begun. Joe came out hard, saying Saudi Arabia would pay the price and arms sales would cease. Joe drew a line in the sand with the "pariah" remarks, which I'm sure was quite an uncomfortable moment for now-President Biden when he landed in the kingdom. Granted, I'm speaking as if Joe Biden knew where he was the past few days. This predictable car crash was a wholly avoidable moment.
You saw that in the presser. Joe looked old, tired, and slow. I'm sure MBS and the rest of the royal family just nodded and then moved on to other things because they knew this guy was incapable of doing the job. He's not a real president. Everyone is running with their pet projects amid American weakness—Russia in Ukraine and China on Taiwan. Russia invaded because they knew Joe wouldn't do much. China is demanding we halt our most recent arms sale to Taipei. I want transcripts of these calls because I'm sure Putin and President Xi slap Biden all over.
The "I'm not like Trump" attitude nipped Biden in the bud.
This also has to do with Joe being wrong on all foreign policy matters for the past four decades. Of course, you can't make the Saudis pariahs, especially now. We need them to pump oil for us because Joe has gone to war with our domestic energy industry. They're also the nation we need most regarding Iran, their local rival. You might not like the bunch we have in the region concerning making friendly relations. Still, despite past presidents' human rights fixation on foreign affairs, Saudi Arabia is our best option. I'm not saying anything new here. We deal with dictators, and that's fine with me. As long as that strongman is pro-America, let's do business.
If we were devoted to human rights, we'd declare all-out economic war on China over their alleged genocide against the Uighurs. We'd be building coalitions to help us in that effort. We're not because that's abjectly stupid in a time of economic weakness. There's more at stake with our relations with Beijing, and we can't afford a disruption fueled by the world's humanitarian interventionists. If you thought neo-conservatism is a recipe for forever wars, just listen to these folks. We'd be deploying troops everywhere where there's some human rights violation. It's madness.
A part of me wants to defend Biden because I think the press corps is overreacting a little bit. It's not the first person the Saudis have put to death, and Khashoggi won't be the last either. The Saudis, Turks, and Egyptians said they'd all start their nuclear programs if Iran obtained a nuclear weapons capability. Granted, with Egypt, that was when Mubarak was still alive. Regardless, it's good to have a finger on the pulse in the region despite some of the internal issues. It's just what it is, which may upset some bleeding hearts.
The fist bump is just visual. What happened after Biden left was the real slap to the face, where the Saudis told the press that Joe Biden didn't even bring up Khashoggi. I was joking that maybe Joe forgot, or he knows that the journalist's killing doesn't move the needle on anything. He's dead and gone. Who cares about his death concerning the security situation in the area? Does it grease the negotiating wheel on any issues we're facing now? What's the dividend in bringing his corpse up in a discussion? If we need oil from these people, best not bring up the dirty laundry.
I'm going to bet that Joe said something happened that didn't, and the Saudis just hurled that hand grenade into the tent to show just how bad he is at being president. Joe put his foot in his mouth with his absolutist moral position on Saudi Arabia post-Khashoggi. Someone who has it better together could have drafted something to smooth these glaring anti-Saudi remarks ahead of the visit. He didn't. It looks like he just lied.
Again, even the easy stuff is a tire fire for this White House.