Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as an example of complex interdependence

Simply put, America is reliant on continued Saudi output of oil and Saudi Arabia is reliant on American dollars. For America, Saudi Arabia is a key regional ally; the Saudis rely on American security and weapons. Decisions made against this interdependence would affect the two countries in ‘costly ways’.

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Paul L McCord Jr)

Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state, but is bound in its support of an independent Palestinian state. It retains no diplomatic relations with Israel – America’s other principal ally in the region. It can do little more than make proposals on the matter – even being forced to drop its boycott of Israeli goods.
America is an important supporter of human rights and democracy, but criticisms of Saudi Arabia are rare. This is despite it not only being one of the most repressive and authoritarian regimes in the world, but also intervening in other countries such as Bahrain to control protesters against a similarly authoritarian government.
Multiple channels connect the two countries but mostly through economic and security concerns. Saudi Arabia has, since 2000, spent over $100 million on lobbying groups in the US according to the FARA database. There are also numerous non-state actors such as the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council.
Issues have had varied importance, and though oil has been a dominant force in the relations, security concerns have often been briefly prioritised for both countries. Such examples include the current Syria crisis (where Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni population), the on-going ‘War on Terror’, and Saudi need for American arms and weapons. Worth mentioning too, is the historical presence of US troops within Saudi Arabia.

Marxism focuses specifically on economic structure. Class and economic tension defines how agents act, and can thus explain events. From the example of the Rwandan genocide through Marxist analysis, we can see which aspects are important and how they would prevent further instances.

(French researcher) warned of class exploitation by the Hutu when hired to evaluate a World Bank project in the region. They were doing this systematically through favouritism and theft to encourage economic dependency.

The ‘commodity crash’ of the 1990s hit hard poor countries such as Rwanda dependent on their exports. The Hutu government relied upon these exports, as well as foreign aid to maintain their class structure . Amid famine and hardship the Rwandan government accepted a restructuring programme that devalued their currency, cut social welfare, and inflated prices. Other consequences of austerity were disease and malnutrition.

Instability and uncertainty due to economic woes caused actual conflict in the form of both war and genocide. Whilst it is debatable still whether the Hutu or the Tutsi first struck, both died in huge numbers due to a severely weakened government and economy.

One of the less graphic images of the genocide.

Other theories, such as Liberalism stress cooperation and community within the international sphere. Marxism refutes this. For instance, the economic dependency of Rwanda on international aid (especially that of the French who have fought previously in the name of freedom and human rights) meant that substantial influence was not used to stop the genocide or war and instead to maintain economic domination.

Countries such as China (which sold over 500,000 machetes) and Egypt (which financed interest-free loans in order to sell weapons to Rwanda) could too have used their economic position to promote peace. Marxist theorists would be worried that there is a real danger of re-igniting conflict today. Despite austerity being implemented, Rwanda has higher debt levels now than in the 1990s and there are a whole myriad of social problems that are yet to have been solved.