The Ties That Blind

How the U.S.-Saudi Alliance Damages Liberty and Security

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The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has cast a deep shadow over Washington’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. The ever-changing story about how Khashoggi died undermines the Saudi government’s already weak credibility and is illustrative of its extensive record of humans-rights abuses and outright war crimes.

Washington’s solicitous, even enabling, posture toward Saudi Arabia cannot disguise the fact that the Kingdom has never been a reliable U.S. ally. Unfortunately, U.S. leaders are far too willing to make moral compromises when security threats are modest. Abandoning essential moral standards and values for the defense of lesser interests is never justified. Yet that is precisely what the U.S. has done with Saudi Arabia for decades.

The chapters contained in The Ties That Blind were first published in Perilous Partners (2015). Combined with a new introduction, this book documents the many instances in which U.S. and Saudi interests diverged, and shows that the case for terminating the toxic U.S.–Saudi alliance—indefensible on both strategic and moral grounds—is more clear and urgent than ever before.

About the Author

Ted Galen Carpenter is senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. Carpenter served as Cato’s director of foreign policy studies from 1986 to 1995 and as vice president for defense and foreign policy studies from 1995 to 2011. He is the author of 11 books and and more than 700 articles and studies on international affairs. His previous books include Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes, The Fire Next Door: Mexico’s Drug Violence and the Danger to America, and Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America.


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Publication Date: 
November 16, 2018