The family owned and run corporation called Saudi Arabia has been useful to the United States since the 1950s, but the kingdom's relationship to the US has always been transactional in nature rather than an alliance that committed Saudi Arabia to do anything for the US that it did not wish to do. To this day there are no documents of alliance, only arrangements for meetings, sales, training, etc.
The relationship has always been an odd thing. Saudi Arabia has no civil law other than some elements of the Swiss commercial code. There is no civil constitution. "The Qur'an is our constitution." Sharia law of the most severe sort is the official law code. Amputations for theft are routine. No religions other than Islam are allowed. There are no civil rights other than those found in Qur'an and Hadith. Such appurtenances of civilized life as tourist visas do not exist. It was always an awkward "partnership" for the United States except for the money made by US exporters re-cycling petro dollars to the US. Saudi armed forces are largely a static display of military equipment useful only for internal security.
On the other hand, Saudi petroleum was for a long time necessary to the Western World, Japan, and parts unknown. Saudi fear of godless communism made the country a useful tool in resisting Soviet penetration of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia also contributed a lot of money to US covert actions that the US Congress would have refused to fund.
All that is gone now. The US is rapidly emerging as what is likely to be the largest producer of petroleum products in the world. Saudi oil and LNG is still useful but not vital. There is no Soviet Union.
What Saudi Arabia wants from the US now is obedience and assistance in its long term project for Sunni triumphalism under Saudi domination throughout the Islamic World. In Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, etc., the program is the same everywhere.
Is Obama dumb enough to accept such a role for the US. I doubt it. The level of his resistance to Saudi, Israeli and R2P/neocon excess is sometimes impressive.
Reprinted with permission from Sic Semper Tyrannis blog.