Southeast Asia and others likely to feel impact of Biden's Middle East tour

James M. Dorsey

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US president Joe Biden travels this week to the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. Some have described the visit to the kingdom as the most consequential trip of his presidency so far because it’s a reversal of Biden’s rhetorical emphasis on human rights and democratic principles.


Mr. Biden has until now refused to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman whom US intelligence has described as probably responsible for the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Biden vowed during his election campaign to force the Saudis to “pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”


At the core of a US policy debate over the merits of Biden's pilgrimage to Riyadh lies the question of how the United States can best ensure regional stability and protect its interests.


Lost in the debate is whether the cost of maintaining stability by supporting autocratic rule is lower in the long term than the upfront expense of adhering to human rights principles, pluralism, and transparent and accountable governance that would initially alienate Middle Eastern partners.


That is what I’ll be discussing today with my friend and colleague David Michael San Juan, a professor, writer and trade union activist.


Dr. James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and scholar, a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and Adjunct Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the author of the syndicated column and blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.


The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.


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