A billion-dollar ransom would buy a lot of explosives.
The spat has split the Gulf Co-operation Council, hitherto a force for stability in an unstable region.
It may drive Qatar, as well as Kuwait and Oman, the other two members of the GCC, who pointedly declined to support the Saudi move, further into the arms of Iran.
Tempers may eventually cool, but some observers worry that the price of Saudi Arabia backing down will be the muzzling of those pesky Al Jazeera journalists.
Mr Trump's support for Saudi actions also damages America's credibility.
It suggests that, under him, the superpower can abandon its allies after a brief chat with their enemies.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar—look!” tweeted Mr Trump on June 6th.
The sober foreign-policy types who cling on in his administration are scrambling to downplay such undiplomatic words and calm tempers.
Perhaps recognising his error, Mr Trump offered his services as a mediator the following day.
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's autocratic president, has also decided that Mr Trump is an American leader who will let him persecute his enemies without hindrance.
On May 23rd, two days after the two men met and praised each other in Riyadh, Mr Sisi had a potential opponent arrested for allegedly making an indecent hand gesture at a rally five months earlier.
5月23日，也就是特朗普和Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi在利雅得见面，并相互称赞的两天后，Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi就将一位反对者以在五个月前的集会中做不雅手势为由逮捕。
On May 25th the government blocked access to the websites of Mada Masr, Egypt's leading liberal newspaper, and those of 20 other media outlets, including Al Jazeera and Huffpost Arabic.
In Bahrain the authorities killed five people and arrested 286 more in a raid on the home of a Shia cleric; shortly after that, they dissolved the main secular opposition party.
America would once have objected to all this.
No longer—and that is a recipe for a less stable Middle East.