The Iran Dilemma, the Saudi Dilemma, and the Iran–Saudi Dilemma

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via Reuters)
The United States has enough firepower at its command that it can afford to wear its idealism on its sleeve.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I s the United States going to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia? Probably not.

Should it?

Probably not.

The Saudi regime is, to be plain about it, detestable. It is wildly corrupt and horrifyingly repressive, it tangles together sundry absolutisms and fanaticisms (religious, nationalist, monarchist) into a mess of diplomatic and military trouble, it is duplicitous, and — perhaps most dangerous of all — in spite of its aspirational absolutism, it cannot even control its own contradictory internal constituencies, which is why the Saudi elite cultivates Islamic terrorism with one hand while fighting it with the other. Americans invested

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