"Mr. Bush’s visit here was, in many respects, a reprise of a trip he made to the king’s ranch in January, when he asked for an increase in production and was rebuffed publicly by the oil minister and privately by the king. This time, the Saudis again resisted Mr. Bush, while offering at least the appearance of a concession.
The Saudi oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, told reporters that the kingdom had decided on May 10 to increase production, not in response to Mr. Bush but because customers, mostly in the United States, had asked for it. He said that over the last few months, as supplies from other countries had declined, the Saudis had filled in the gap." NY Times
It is most unusual for the Saudis, always the most polite of men, to act like this. It is the measure of their unhappiness with Bush and his policies that they can bring themselves to act in so boorish a way. It must make them uncomfortable to do so.
It used to be prattled in the media that the Saudis loved the Bushies (and the Bushes) and would always do what could be done to help them in the matter of oil production. It should have been clear then, and it is very clear now that this was never so. The Saudis are, like all people, concerned with their own wants and desires.
A continuing war in Iraq in which American policy has placed the despised Shia in control of the country is not among the things the Saudis would have hoped for. An unremitting hostility towards Iran which demands Saudi acquiescence in a policy likely to involve Saudi Arabia in war with Iran is not among the things the Saudis would have hoped for. The Saudis believe in dealing with problems like Iranian expansiveness with; some subtlety of negotiation, minimal but effective violence, and strategically useful bribery.
A presidential visit to the region which begins with an ecstatic presidential speech to the Knesset swearing undying and unconditional loyalty to Israel is not one of the things the Saudis would have wanted.
So then, he went to Riyadh to demand/beg for the Saudis to increase crude production (at some inconvenience to themselves). They did not agree? How can that be? Is he not God’s pro-consul on earth? How can that be?
Akiva Eldar wrote in Ha’aretz that he should stay home to avoid the increased mischief that the mere presence of his transcendent foolishness and that of his army of compromised and one-sided handlers would do. He was right, as usual.
We Americans should add our own plea that he stay home home until January to avoid embarrassing us further. pl