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DeSantis' Underwhelming Global Tour
If he manages to become the next Republican nominee, his foreign policy arguments are going to be boringly familiar.
The Biden Administration worked overtime to alienate Saudi Arabia making it more difficult for Israel to forge a normalization deal with Saud Arabia. I think, with a proper policy and proper relations, you could see Saudi Arabia recognize the existence of Israel.
DeSantis is a “pro-Israel” hardliner, so he probably can’t grasp that the composition and conduct of the current Israeli coalition government is a much greater obstacle to Saudi normalization right now than anything Biden did or didn’t do. His idea of “proper policy and proper relations” would seem to be total abasement before Mohammed bin Salman, and he thinks Biden has fallen short of this mark. It is bizarre to look at the Biden administration’s record of catering and deferring to Saudi Arabia and conclude that they were working overtime to alienate the kingdom. This is what you get from a politician who doesn’t know how to attack Biden without first distorting the administration’s policies.
Despite some early empty talk about “recalibrating” the relationship with the Saudis, the Biden administration has actually been going out of its way to suck up to Riyadh. Even before the infamous fist bump with the crown prince last year, the administration was eagerly trying to satisfy both Saudi Arabia and the UAE by selling them more weapons and rushing more troops to help defend them. DeSantis can’t acknowledge that because they would deprive him of his attack line, but this just underscores how DeSantis usually panders to hardliners and echoes their views.
If the Biden administration hasn’t given the Saudis quite as much as they want, that is a good thing for the U.S. Saudi Arabia has reportedly been asking for security guarantees and support for their own civilian nuclear program as the price of normalization with Israel, and the U.S. shouldn’t agree to any of what they are demanding. Does DeSantis think that the U.S. should give the Saudis a security guarantee so that they’ll normalize with Israel? Why exactly should the U.S. be the one providing favors to one country to benefit another at our expense?
Almost everywhere that DeSantis went on his tour, he took the most predictable hawkish positions. He cheered increased Japanese military spending while in Japan, and he backed Netanyahu to the hilt while in Israel. His main criticisms of Biden were standard fare: he thinks Biden is interfering too much in Israel and isn’t doing enough to please U.S. clients in the region. All of this illustrates what I was saying yesterday about DeSantis’ foreign policy views. He is a very conventional hawk with no ideas that would take him outside the foreign policy consensus in Washington. If he manages to become the next Republican nominee, his foreign policy arguments are going to be boringly familiar.
Then again, it may not matter, since the more that people see of DeSantis the less interested they are in seeing more. During the British leg of his trip, DeSantis was apparently so unimpressive that he might have outdone Mitt Romney’s “omnishambles” stopover from 2012. If the purpose of the “trade mission” was to give DeSantis’ presidential ambitions a boost, it seems to have failed.