Joe Biden’s Meeting With Saudi Leaders Is ‘Self-Abasement’ That ‘Sabotages Our Diplomacy,’ Washington Post Publisher Says

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President Joe Biden is scheduled this week to make his first trip to the Middle East since his inauguration, starting in Israel and wrapping his travels with meetings in Saudi Arabia. The hope is for the latter nation to increase their oil production to help lower rising prices in the U.S. and other Western nations as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues.

Not everyone, however, is aligned with Biden’s foreign policy efforts. In response to a Biden-penned op-ed with The Washington Post last week, which defended his trip to the Middle East, the paper’s publisher and CEO Fred Ryan published his own op-ed Monday titled, “Biden’s Trip to Saudi Arabia Erodes Our Moral Authority.”

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Citing the president’s proposed visit with Saudi leaders, Ryan argued that Biden is giving the nation – and more precisely Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – a pass for the 2018 murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which was on Salman’s orders. Ryan emphasized Biden’s penchant for talking “a big game about human rights until there’s something else we need more.”

“Biden needs the Saudis to increase their oil production to help keep global energy prices in check,” he wrote. “The trip sends the message that the United States is willing to look the other way when its commercial interests are at stake. We have learned, through decades of hard lessons, that terrorists recruit by exploiting hatred of the United States among people brutalized by their own despotic leaders. That narrative succeeds best when Americans talk a good game about human rights until there’s something else we need more — such as cheap oil.”

Ryan went on to argue that “about-faces” like we’re seeing from Biden on this Saudi Arabia trip (he’s previously promised to make Salman an international “pariah” over Khashoggi’s murder) “erode our moral authority and breed anti-American resentment.”

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“They communicate to democracy activists and reform-minded governments worldwide that Washington is an unreliable partner,” he continued. “And that sows confusion and sabotages our diplomacy — the opposite of what Biden says his trip is trying to achieve.”

The publisher also expressed concern for the message Biden’s likely “grip-and-grin photograph” with Salman sends to autocrats the world over. Is cheap oil more precious to the U.S. than a free press? “You can quite literally get away with murdering a journalist as long as you possess a natural resource the United States wants badly enough,” Ryan posed.

Finally, pointing to former President Ronald Regan’s practice when visiting the Soviet Union, Ryan concluded that there is a way for Biden to continue with his visit to Saudi leaders unscathed. His administration should provide a list of political prisoners whose freedom is a condition of the meeting, and Biden should insist on meeting with Saudi dissidents while there, as well. “If he is going to bring global attention to burnish a murderer’s image, the least he can do is turn a spotlight on men and women risking everything for the freedom and dignity of their people,” Ryan wrote.

“In a country where total censorship, public floggings, beheadings, ‘disappearances’ and hundreds of political prisoners are the norm, releasing a few activists will make a small dent in addressing the kingdom’s barbarity,” Ryan declared. “But it’s a start. It is a way to show that Biden’s self-abasement is meant to secure greater human rights, not just cheaper gas at American pumps.”

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