by David E. Long
Dr. David E. Long is a retired US Foreign Service Officer, a teacher, author, and a specialist on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and on international terrorism.
U.S.-Saudi relations have been marked by ambivalence since their inception over 50 years ago. The Arab-Israeli conflict, the division between buyer and seller of oil, the superpower-small state dichotomy, and the divergence of cultures, traditions, and perceptions have all contributed to the anomalies that have marked the relationship between the two countries, although mutual interest has, over time, outweighed mutual antagonism. Dr. Long examines the major factors affecting their association—economic, commercial, military, and political as well as oil-related factors—and develops the thesis that each has evolved a unique internal dynamic and an existence independent of the others. It is primarily in times of crisis that the factors have overlapped in the minds of decision makers, Saudi and American alike. The author argues that a knowledge of the development of each individual element is crucial for understanding the intricacies of current U.S.-Saudi relations.