13 October 2018   Leave a comment

Ben Rhodes is a former deputy national-security adviser to Barack Obama and he has written an excellent backgrounder on the US-Saudi Arabian relationship for The Atlantic.  The Trump Administration has elevated Saudi Arabia as perhaps its second-most important ally in the Middle East–second only to Israel.  Saudi Arabia has emerged as an important supporter of the still-yet-to-be-released Middle East peace program which will undoubtedly ask the Palestinians to make incredible concessions to Israel.  The Trump Administration hopes that Saudi Arabia can help to dampen the Arab rage that would follow from such a deal.  The US is also depending upon Saudi Arabia to serve as a bulwark against the expansion of Iranian influence in the region, even though Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are significantly weaker than Iran.  The price of the US support, however, has been high.  It has been forced to accept Saudi war crimes in the Yemeni civil war, to say nothing about the persecution of dissidents in Saudi Arabia, to back Saudi Arabia in its dispute with a far closer US ally, Canada, and to back a massively ineffective embargo against Qatar, which hosts one of the largest US naval bases in the world.  The most recent outrage over the possible murder of a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, suggests that Saudi Arabia believes that the US will do nothing to oppose whatever actions it conducts in the region.  In short, the US appears to be the junior partner in this alliance. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power 4 years ago in India, and it has been consolidating its power very systemically.  Its appeal is largely based on its emphasis on India as a Hindu nation, largely displacing the formerly dominant Indian Congress Party whose platform emphasized secular nationalism.  Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi the party has engineered a number of electoral victories, although it has also suffered some setbacks.   Interestingly, however, it is beginning to appear as if Hindu nationalism has also set off other nationalisms within India, mitigating the power of a single idea of Hinduism.  What has happened in India since 2014 mirrors much of what has been going on in the rest of the world.  But the real question now is how nuanced the idea of nation can become–it can be a truly fragmenting ideology. 

Posted October 13, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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