Saudi Arabia has been a key strategic ally for the United States for many years, and President Donald Trump has been careful not to jeopardize that relationship. He approved a massive weapons deal with the Saudis and is carefully considering making a diplomatic visit to the country in the near future. However, Trump recently made it clear that this relationship must be a two-way street.
“Frankly, Saudi Arabia has not treated us fairly, because we are losing a tremendous amount of money in defending Saudi Arabia,” Trump said in a Reuters interview last week.
Previously, Trump had criticized Saudi Arabia on the campaign trail while running for President by expressing similar sentiments. Trump claimed that the Saudis were benefiting greatly from their privileged relationship with the United States, but the arrangement was not being properly reciprocated.
“Nobody’s going to mess with Saudi Arabia because we’re watching them,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Wisconsin last year. “They’re not paying us a fair price. We’re losing our shirt.”
Trump’s strong words to the Saudis show that his “America First” streak has not waned completely. He has frequently postured to foreign leaders that they must pay more to the United States, even going as far to give a fake invoice to German Chancellor Andrea Merkel before a joint press conference between the two world leaders. Trump has stood strong on his anti-globalist trade stances as well, ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership and working diligently to either re-negotiate or terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Although Trump has flip-flopped on certain key issues, there are still many reasons to be optimistic that he will fulfill aspects of the anti-globalist program that energized millions of Americans and turned the country red again in 2016.