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Jake Sullivan can handle the unpredictable MBS

Aug 07, 2023


United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, recently met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to discuss stabilizing the Middle East. MBS remains a controversial figure in the U.S., due to his connection with the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and allegations of other human rights abuses.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan explains how, despite the crown prince’s questionable reputation, the U.S. needs to improve its relations with the Kingdom, and Jake Sullivan is the guy for the job.

An excerpt from Peter’s Aug. 2 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan went to Saudi Arabia to lay down the framework for a new set of relations. As of late, relations have been less than ideal.

The National Security Advisor is really the manager of American foreign policy – even though the State Department gets all the credit. So seeing the hyper-competent Jake Sullivan leading the charge here is indicative of just how critical this is.

Biden’s push to Greentech has caused riffs in the relationship, but the other side has played a role too. MBS, the crown prince, is – for lack of a better term – an ass. And as anyone who’s dealt with someone like that knows, you have to put up with a lot of crap.

However, with Russia and China making moves against the US, Biden is starting to realize that Saudi Arabia is a very useful partner to have.

Everybody, Peter design here coming to you from Deer Creek Canyon Park in Colorado on a sweltering morning. And today we’re gonna talk about us Saudi relations. Let’s talk about the people and then talk about the policies.


So first, people. Jake Sullivan, who is the US National Security Adviser, went to Saudi Arabia last week, in order to put together the framework of a new set of relations, because relations under Biden have been pretty poor. The national security adviser is the real manager of American foreign policy, the State Department gets all the glory. And it’s not that it’s unimportant — diplomacy, obviously is critical, but the national security adviser is in charge of diplomacy and coercion and military policy, the whole shebang. And Sullivan is clearly the most competent, National Security Adviser we’ve had since Condoleezza Rice under W. Bush, who was easily the best one we had since James Baker under Reagan, which is easily the best one we’ve had since Henry Kissinger himself under Nixon. He may look like he’s 12. He’s a millennial. But he’s hyper competent, and so having him had up to this policy development tells us that it’s serious.


Now, if you remember back, the Biden administration, general shift towards a green technology, and green ideology is part of the reason why relations with the Saudis have not been so great. But there’s also some stuff on the other side. On the other side of the personnel is MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince; his father is technically still king, but the guy is like 180,000 years old. And so it’s MBS, who really runs the shop and will be for probably the next 40 or 50 years unless he gets, you know, assassinated.


He is, what’s the best way to put this? Well, he’s a bit of an ass under Donald Trump. He kidnapped and tortured some journalists and had his people hack the guy to death in a consulate in Istanbul and then burned to the body in a barbecue pit that was being used at the time to serve a feast for a couple 100 people. And even Donald Trump was like, whoa. Needless to say, Biden, who’s a little bit more concerned with hacking to pieces of journalists, who was like, hey, this guy’s a thug. We don’t want to deal with them at all.


I don’t want to say that that’s all bygones, but Biden has had now a half of his term in the Big Chair knee realizes from his long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long time on this earth, that sometimes you have to deal with people that you don’t want to get things done. And in the presence of a China that is being evermore persnickety and a Russia that is evermore genocidal, Saudi Arabia is a very useful part. Cover that next.

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