I wrote once before about these weird deep state hearing aids that I got. As I noted then, if truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, then fiction can be truer than truth. With that in mind:
Yesterday my hearing aids suddenly started buzzing. I couldn’t make out what was going on. Then, from the cacophony of noise, a voice emerged and I’ll be damned if it didn’t sound exactly like President Biden.
Biden: “Your Majesty, how are you? It’s a great pleasure to speak with you, and I hope you and your family are all doing well.”
(I then heard a gravely voice speak in a language I did not understand. Could have been Arabic, but it was followed by what must have been an English translation. It subsequently turned out this was the voice of Saudi Arabia’s king.)
King Salman bin Abdulazis al-Saud: “Mr. President, thank you for your concern. We are all doing very well here. I hope you and yours are likewise. And congratulations on your election success. As you know, the Crown Prince here was very close to your predecessor. However, unlike in our country, your heads of state can change. However, I trust that the relationship between our two important countries will remain on solid ground.”
Biden: “Absolutely, Your Majesty. In fact, more than ever since I see that your great nation is moving closer to our other principle ally in the region, the State of Israel.
“Your Majesty, there are a few issues that we need to discuss….”
King al-Saud: (as translated): Yes of course, Mr. President.”
Biden: “Your Majesty, as you know, our government here has decided to end the sale of offensive weapons going to prosecute the war in Yemen. We feel that that war is not conducive to stability in the region. Now, of course, your government – for which I have nothing but the greatest respect and whose right to set your own policies I would never question – your government feels that it is necessary to ensure that the regime of Iran does not further advance its influence in the region. I want to assure you that we are completely united in that determination. In fact, in the next 24 hours, you will see certain… shall we say military operations that are intended to leave not the slightest doubt concerning our position in that regard. However, it is the belief of our government that the continued war in Yemen is causing great suffering which…
King al-Saud: (cutting in): Mr. President, Mr. President, our two great nations know that war causes suffering. Collateral damage, as you say.
Biden: Yes, of course, Your Majesty. Collateral damage always occurs. That is just one of those things. However, there can be unintended consequences. As we both are aware, certain terrorist groups have been militarily defeated for the moment, but they will not go away. And it is precisely arising from situations such as we see in Yemen that they can make a comeback. As I say, that would not redound to the benefit of either your great nation nor ours. So, I just raise this issue to reassure you that nothing regarding the sale of arms indicates any lessening of commitment on the part of my administration to maintain the very best of relations with your kingdom, just as we are committed to absolute and unshakeable defense of the State of Israel.
Now, with that in mind, I must raise with you a certain report from our Central Intelligence Agency that will be made public in the coming days…
King al-Saud: (breaking in again): Yes, yes, yes. I am aware of that report. I simply don’t understand why your great nation handles such affairs the way it does. It is completely unnecessary for any government to permit revelation of every action or intelligence report that it has. What is going on there?
Biden (a bit more firmly): Your Majesty, I say this with the greatest respect, but I must say it nevertheless, and I hope that this time you will allow me to complete my thoughts… Your great nation arose under somewhat different circumstances than ours. As a result, your means of ensuring stability are somewhat different. Now, I know that you and others in your kingdom had a very warm relationship with my predecessor, and it would be inappropriate for me to discuss our internal affairs with another head of state, no matter how much I respect that head of state, but I will say this: Our experience over the previous four years demonstrates that what may be appropriate, what may benefit your kingdom simply will not work here in the United States. It is absolutely imperative that we maintain a degree of flexibility and an awareness of future consequences of our actions.
(At this point rustling of clothes and clearing of throats, indicating impatience, could be heard from bin Salman’s end of the phone. But Biden continues.)
Now, hear me out, Your Majesty… And I am going to be quite direct with you: As I say, we here find that the best way to maintain a stable society is through having certain… one could say “rules of the game”, or laws, that are accepted. We here prefer to call it the rule of law, and we find this very useful in taking whatever steps are required to maintain order. It is for this reason that this intelligence report will have to be released, much as I regret it. I hope I am making myself clear here.
King al-Saud: (with some agitation in his voice): Rule of law? Mr. President, please… Is that what you saw on January 6? And further, Mr. President, we here follow the events in the United States quite closely, and we have seen what has happened with those several instances of people of African origin who died at the hands of your forces of law and order. Is that what you call the rule of law?
Biden: Well, of course, Your Majesty, you raise valid concerns as always. However, just as I explained that collateral damage always occurs regarding human lives in war, so it occurs in maintaining order domestically. In fact, one might say that there can be collateral damage to the very rule of law itself at times. But it is all for the greater good. So, to repeat: There will be this intelligence report released concerning the very unfortunate death of a resident of the United States who also served as a reporter for one of our major newspapers here. And yes, I am referring to the death of Jamal Kashoggi, who lost his life in an embassy of yours. Our intelligence report concludes that it was Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who was directly responsible for this highly unfortunate event. Now, the release of this report will inevitably cause a certain formal distancing of our relations for a time. But I want to emphasize, this will only be temporary and even during that period we will certainly find alternative means of communicating and collaborating. Also, I understand that younger people can be a bit impetuous, but I hope you will consider restraining the Crown Prince in the future.
King al-Saud: Yes, the Kashoggi affair was highly unfortunate, but on the other hand, what do you expect? As you say, the means of ensuring order and stability are somewhat different in your nation from ours. And we simply cannot allow such a prominent individual as that man to continue to go around saying what he was saying. There were also dangers of his making revelations regarding our kingdom that… Well, it just had to be stopped, rule of law or no rule of law, especially in this time of transition within our kingdom here. This is a very delicate moment. Why we may even have to grant women the right to drive cars! Of course, it will only be those who can afford a car, but still, for us here that is a huge step. At a moment of such momentous change here, the greatest care must be taken.
I would also point out to you that our government has released Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul. I hope this will make clear our intent to resolve any concerns that may exist in the United States.
Biden: Yes, the the release of Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul helps. More to the point: please do not misunderstand me, Your Majesty. We do not have a rigid understanding of the rule of law. At times, certain steps are necessary. Those of us here who understand the affairs of state completely understand this. However, when those measures are taken, they must be taken with a certain care, with a certain discretion. Otherwise, great public embarrassment can result.
King al-Saud: Hmmm… I understand.
With that, my line went dead. The following day, the Biden administration released the following “readout” :
Readout of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia
February 25, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to address the longstanding partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Together they discussed regional security, including the renewed diplomatic efforts led by the United Nations and the United States to end the war in Yemen, and the U.S. commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups. The President noted positively the recent release of several Saudi-American activists and Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul from custody, and affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law. The President told King Salman he would work to make the bilateral relationship as strong and transparent as possible. The two leaders affirmed the historic nature of the relationship and agreed to work together on mutual issues of concern and interest.