Murphy Does Arabia

October 15, 2022
Biden ben Salman bump —

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The Blumenthal/Murphy resolution – deny military equipment to Saudi Arabia until the Saudis jump through the latest hoop held out to them by the Biden administration – some  Middle East watchers have argued, will simply drive Saudi Arabia into the clutches of Russian terrorist President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, we all know, is Connecticut’s Junior Senator, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the heir to the Saudi throne, and Putin is the terrorist President of Russia, seeking for eight months to add Ukraine to his dominions.

Side note: Russian soldiers, pilfering museums in Ukraine, managed to carry back to mother Russia a tiara once worn by Attila the Hun. It is said by some humorists that Putin plans to wear the Hunnish tiara on state occasions.

Further side note: Having failed to hold positions in in the southeast of Ukraine, Putin is now indiscriminately bombing targets, many of them civilian targets in unoccupied Ukraine,  with drones he has purchased from Iran, one of his client states. At the same time, Biden, who surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban years ago, is revving up former President Barack Obama’s failed diplomatic entente with Iranian mullahs. 

Like Murphy, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal has moved Saudi Arabia from a “friend” to an “enemy” column.  During his election campaign in 2020, Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia and bumped fists with bin Salman, considered a friendly gesture. At the same time, Biden famously called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state, not the surest way to win friends and influence shakers and movers in the kingdom.

The tiff between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia has been exacerbated recently by the refusal of crown prince bin Salman and OPEC to cut the price of oil, incurring the collective wrath of Murphy, Blumenthal and Biden.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski has been drawn into the political shootout at the OK Corral. Stefanowski “worked for” the Saudi regime as a consultant.

Hearst media now asks, “Was Stefanowski wise to work for a repressive Saudi Arabia?

That is, to put it politely, the wrong question. The right set of questions are: 1) Was the Biden administration right to beg the “repressive” Saudi regime to drop the price of oil it is now selling – and has been since Stefanowski was a wee babe, to the United States? 2) When was the Saudi regime – or, indeed, any other Muslim state in the Middle East, say, Iran or Syria, both client states of Putin The Terrible --  not repressive? 3) Can the repressive bin Salman, drop the price of oil among OPEC states without suffering the same difficulties now plaguing the United States after its President decided that fossil fuel production in his country could be ended, without serious consequences, in a few decades?

The Biden administration cut its own fossil fuel throat when presidential candidate Biden promised during his election campaign to end fossil fuel production in the United States. If Blumenthal and Murphy were worrying at the time what precisely a future President Biden would replace fossil fuel with, they swallowed their curiosity.

We now know that Biden intended to replace a plentiful production of U.S. oil and relatively cleaner natural gas with Saudi oil, and Venezuelan oil, much dirtier than the U.S product, and whatever other oil pots foreign producers were willing to provide at reduced prices.

“OPEC and its allies,” CNN informs us, “have defended their decision to slash oil production by arguing they are trying to prepare for a potential economic downturn that would hurt energy demand.

“Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal isn’t buying that argument from Saudi Arabia-led OPEC and is leading the push to punish [emphasis mine] the kingdom.

“’Give me a break. You’re causing the recession,’ Blumenthal told CNN on Tuesday in a phone interview. ‘Saudi Arabia has not only thumbed its nose, it has given us a gut punch.’”

It is always helpful to know that Blumenthal believes we are now in a recession. Conflicting Biden administration statements on the U.S. inflation/recession crisis have been a bit fuzzy these past few months. Need it be said that a business decision on the part of OPEC to resist U.S. demands to set the price of oil below the market price, given a U.S. fossil fuel shortage produced Biden’s inept political decisions, is not a declaration of economic war. It may be little more than a prudent business decision.

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The Saudi government, Fortune magazine now informs us, “acknowledged that the kingdom had been talking to the U.S. about postponing OPEC+’s 2 million barrel cut announced last week… The government of the kingdom clarified, through its continuous consultation with the U.S. administration, that all economic analyses indicate that postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month [emphasis mine], according to what has been suggested, would have had negative economic consequences.”

It would appear, from the Saudi response to Biden/Murphy/Blumenthal, that the Biden administration had asked the Saudis to postpone a rise in oil prices for one month only – until the 2022 election had concluded and the prospect of Democrat losses had been averted.

To put it as plainly as possible: The Biden administration, which had caused a reduction in fossil fuel production in the U.S. and a consequent rise in energy prices, had asked a formerly friendly Saudi administration to lower the price of oil for one month only – until the 2022 election had passed, and the Saudi’s refused the request, likely because other nations that had done political business with the Biden administration in recent months and years – Afghanistan is a notable example -- were left holding the short end of a fatal political stick.

Perhaps the Biden administration might have had better luck with the Saudis had it sent Stefanowski to negotiate with ben Salman.

Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entrees in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.


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