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Foreign Policy

Iran's Belligerence Shows Need for Saudi Alliance

When it comes down to it, securing America is often about the hard choices.

Harold Hutchison · Jul. 16, 2019

Last month, after Iran downed a United States Navy MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle, President Donald Trump called off planned retaliatory military air and missile strikes. He did launch cyberattacks on Iran, though. The hope was that the close call would deter Iran.

Given recent events, that hope is apparently a false one. It also shows why the United States would be very foolish to turn its back on the Saudis.

As the Patriot Post team has discussed before, the Saudis are no angels. Their human-rights record, despite the modern outlook of crown prince Mohammed bin Sultan and a trend toward improvement by inches, is atrocious.

But let’s take a look at Iran. Its Houthi stooges fired missiles at one of our ships. Their leaders routinely call for the elimination of Israel — a 2019 reboot of the Holocaust. Their human-rights record stinks, too, especially toward women who refuse to wear the hijab.

That’s in addition to placing limpet mines on tankers in international waters, shooting down UAVs over international waters, sponsoring terrorist groups, and providing IED components to insurgents fighting American troops in Iraq. Letting this country go about its plans unimpeded ranks up there in the pantheon of classic blunders, on par with going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

In all seriousness, this is why a close relationship with Saudi Arabia matters. Israel is rightly America’s closest ally in the Middle East, but Israel cannot do things alone — it is rightly focused primarily on its own survival. If you think Turkey is a better answer… well, look at Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s record and think again. Buying the S-400/SA-21 is the least of the problematic things he has done, and it has its potential upsides as well. The real concern vis-à-vis Erdogan is that a friend of Hamas is not a reliable ally against the major state sponsor of terrorism.

The fact of the matter is that Iran is not likely to be a responsible country any time soon. Erdogan is not going to change his tune any time soon. So, as awful as the situation in Yemen is, as awful as the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi was, America needs to stick by Saudi Arabia, not just to counterbalance Iran, but to encourage its steps toward modernization.

When it comes to protecting America’s vital national and geopolitical interests — not to mention Americans — we often do not get to choose between paragons of virtue and statesmanship who value Liberty. When it comes down to it, securing America is often about the hard choices. Today’s hard choices reflect the hard ones made by John Adams to stand up to France during the XYZ Affair, those made by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and even those made in World War II.

The hard choices are often difficult ones that come down to determining which of the options is the least bad option. That can be very distasteful, whether it’s using enhanced interrogation or supporting an ally’s involvement in a civil war with lots of civilian casualties. But those necessary choices today, like those from our history, help keep us free and safe.

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