It looks like the U.S.’s special relationship with Saudi Arabia is not ending anytime soon.
On May 24, 2019, the Trump administration used emergency powers to fast track an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Congressional leaders were informed about this move by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who defended the administration’s actions based on the threat that Iran poses to American interests in the Middle East.
This deal sent $8 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in light of escalating tensions with Iran. In the midst of all this, there has been considerable pushback in Congress for the American government’s involvement in certain Middle Eastern projects.
The Trump administration recently had to veto a resolution passed by both chambers of Congress that aimed to end U.S. involvement in the Yemeni Civil War. Because of these obstacles, the Trump administration had to exploit a loophole in the current arms control law to execute the weapons sale
Senator Bob Menendez expressed his dismay with this situation:
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia.”
Pompeo reiterated his support for the Trump administration’s decision asserting that “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad.”
Trump should be commended for not getting America involved in any direct military conflicts. However, his maintenance of the entangling alliance with Saudi Arabia and his decision to not cut aid in the Yemeni Civil War shows that there is still not much of an appetite to scale back from foreign conflicts. Defense industries still maintain the iron grip over American policymaking and will find ways to make sure the U.S. does not fully retract from foreign conflicts.
Trump campaigned on an America First platform, which means no more nation-building and meddling abroad. It also means re-assessing alliances, phasing out foreign aid, and reducing the use of sanctions when conducting foreign policy.
Former Congressman Ron Paul is correct in noting that foreign aid “is taking money from the poor people of a rich country and giving it to the rich.” This kind of aid serves to prop up corrupt regimes and represents another immoral redistribution program.
This time, these programs benefit foreign oligarchs, like the Saudi royal family, at the expense of the everyday taxpayer. If we’re going to have a State, it should at least nominally serve the interests of its people.
Not getting into new conflicts is a good start. Trump can continue the pushing envelope by phasing out foreign aid and allying with countries that actually value freedom. This is what foreign policy of genuine non-interventionism looks like.