Biden’s Saudi U-Turn

President Joe Biden once vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah.” Two years later, the president is defending his decision to reverse course and visit the wealthy oil kingdom.


President Joe Biden once vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah.” Two years later, the president is defending his decision to reverse course and visit the wealthy oil kingdom.

  • In an op-ed for The Washington Post, the president took credit for everything going right in the Middle East during his presidency while blaming all problems on his predecessor.
  • President Biden claimed he “reversed the blank-check policy we inherited” and claimed his plan was “to reorient – but not rupture” – relations with Saudi Arabia.
  • Biden wrote, “My views on human rights are clear and long-standing,” but “As president, it is my job to keep our country strong and secure.”
  • However, as the Associated Press wrote, “Joe Biden took office looking to reshape U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East” but “in reality, he has struggled…to meaningfully separate his approach from former President Donald Trump’s.”
  • On the campaign trail, then-candidate Biden had harsh words for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who the U.S. blames for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi. In 2018, Saudi agents hacked the journalist to pieces in an embassy for criticizing the regime.
  • Now, the president must bow to political realities as “Biden needs oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s help at a time of high gasoline prices.” Reality bites.

reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • In a harsh piece from the New York Times on how Biden is “testing the boundaries of age and the presidency,” the Times reported Biden’s Middle East trip was initially scheduled to follow his June trip to Europe, but was rescheduled because a 10-day trip would be too “taxing” on the 79-year-old commander-in-chief.
  • CNN argued Biden’s Middle East visit can be summed up in one word: “oil.” “Without the roiled global oil market resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the President might not be traveling to the region at all.” 
  • Politico wrote “Israel is the real winner” of the upcoming Biden-MBS meeting. The Israeli government believes the meeting will help repair US-Saudi relations. A repair could help Israel achieve diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia for the first time, a historic breakthrough.



  • The Wall Street Journal called Biden’s Saudi flip-flip “a textbook example of the damage that good intentions can do when linked with weak analysis.”
  • Fox News noted press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed oil production “wouldn’t be the focus” of Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia and another White House official insisted human rights concerns would be on the agenda. Time will tell.
  • Breitbart argued Biden’s opinion piece was “riddled with misleading information and outright lies,” including taking credit for ending the May 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict (Egypt brokered the ceasefire) and defending restoring funding to the Palestinians, even though the Palestinians use U.S. aid in a “pay-for-slay” scheme to provide pensions for convicted terrorists and their families.

Author’s Take

Simply put, Biden’s mouth wrote checks his administration can’t cash. The president vowed to make Saudi Arabia a pariah, but then adopted a series of energy policies that made U.S. gas prices rise long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted global oil markets. Rather than help increase domestic production, the president decided it would be preferable to turn to autocracies like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela for more oil. The president is prioritizing ideology over American industry, and Americans are paying the price.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022