Imagine Ronald Reagan, during his first days as president in 1981, had started to dismantle the Camp David Accords—the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Imagine, too, that Reagan’s only discernible motive for such an astonishing diplomatic about-face was an obsession with humiliating the man who had brokered the peace deal, his defeated rival Jimmy Carter.
It follows that Reagan would have faced universal denunciation at home and abroad. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives would have considered impeachment. Demoralized White House and State Department staff might have quit in protest. I was one of Reagan’s presidential speechwriters. If I was ordered to write a speech repudiating Camp David, my conscience would have prompted me to decline the assignment, or even resign.
Of course, President Reagan never considered such an outrage. He embraced and strengthened President Carter’s Camp David achievement.
Joe Biden has taken the opposite approach from Reagan. During his first two weeks in office, he has moved to undermine the Abraham Accords, the most significant advance in Arab-Israeli peace since the Camp David agreement was signed more than four decades ago.
Trump Defied Conventional Wisdom
The Abraham Accords are a series of Arab-Israeli peace agreements brokered by President Trump and other Mideast leaders, notably Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Since August, this bold diplomacy has resulted in the normalization of relations between Israel and four Arab nations: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Before Biden’s inauguration, additional Arab countries had been expected to formalize peace agreements with Israel.
President Trump achieved these foreign policy breakthroughs by defying the conventional wisdom of both the Republican and Democrat establishments. He reimposed tough sanctions against Iran’s brutal regime which has terrorized its own citizens while destabilizing the Middle East. He rejected Barack Obama’s fatally flawed nuclear arms agreement with Iran’s Mullah dictatorship.
Trump signaled unwavering solidarity with both Israel and the most powerful Arab state, Saudi Arabia. Most important, Trump’s overtures to both sides were working without any pledge to increase America’s military presence in the Middle East.
During my 30 years in Congress, 26 of them as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve witnessed and taken part in dramatic developments—both positive and negative—involving Saudi Arabia. Even before my time in Congress, when I was on President Reagan’s White House staff, I came to know and appreciate the Saudis’ unwritten alliance with the United States against the Soviet Union. It made possible one of the greatest diplomatic and economic accomplishments in history, the peaceful ending of the Cold War. It wouldn’t have happened without them.
As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I was heavily involved with policy concerning the rollback of Saddam Hussein’s takeover of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic team was led by the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and his counselor Adel Al-Jubeir, who later succeeded to the ambassadorship and to the foreign minister’s post. During that time, I was not just a working acquaintance, but instead a real friend.
Of course, my assessment of the impact of Saudi Arabia was not always so laudatory. When al-Qaeda terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I no longer felt comfortable with such amicable relations with Saudi nationals or their government. The role that Saudi citizens and money played in the monstrous 9/11 attacks, and the financing of al-Qaeda and other radical Islamists, mandated a change of policy and a tougher approach to the Saudi kingdom.
Biden Emperils Mideast Progress
Just as the Saudi Arabia of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War era is no more, however, neither is Saudi Arabia dangerously compromised by anti-American radical Islamists and terrorism. Things are beginning to shape up—if Biden’s leftist foreign policy champs don’t screw it up.
Today’s positive potential affirms the validity of the major economic and social reforms carried out over the past six years by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and even more so by the prince’s dramatic diplomacy aimed at comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.
Indispensable to Prince Mohammed’s success with Israel is that he has crushed his country’s acquiescence to anti-Western Islamist extremism. And yes, MBS has been tough, perhaps too tough at times, but he has managed a dramatic change of course of the Saudi ship of state while in dangerous waters.
Joe Biden’s impulsive actions against anything and everything that Donald Trump accomplished now threaten to destroy the fledgling peace arrangements between Israel and major Arab states.
Biden suspended arms sales that President Trump had arranged with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The sale of American fighter jets to the UAE was part of the deal under which the UAE agreed to normalize relations with Israel.
If Biden goes through with his threat to cancel the military sales, he will cause billions of dollars in hard currency to go from our Arab allies to buy defense systems from China rather than the United States.
Last week, Biden abruptly reversed U.S. policy that had supported Saudi Arabia in defending itself against missile attacks and border incursions from terrorist Iranian proxies in Yemen. Without the slightest justification, Biden dropped the U.S. designation of the pro-Iranian Houthi forces in Yemen as terrorists. To cap it off, Biden also is expected to renew Barack Obama’s disastrous Iranian nuclear deal.
Joe Biden should be reinforcing the Abraham Accords. He should be extending Trump’s successful security policies and diplomacy instead of sabotaging them.
I knew Ronald Reagan, and Joe Biden is no Ronald Reagan.
Biden’s petulant effort to reverse all of Trump’s Middle East accomplishments is worse than disgraceful. It’s dangerous.