Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Khashoggi Case

While it may not concern voters going to the polls in November because of meat-and-potatoes issues, the apparent murder of Saudi reporter Jamal Khashoggi may be a further thorn in the side of Donald Trump. Trump has had a transactional relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is apparently designed to further American economic interests at the expense of moral standards.  Trump has leaned heavily on the Saudis to help the U.S. maintain a presence in the Middle East and as part of a plan to isolate Iran, a strategy that none of our transitional allies have supported.  Trump hopes to help the Saudis  keep the oil flowing to keep oil prices relatively low so Americans can keep enjoying cheap gasoline should the Iranians be provoked into destabilizing the Persian Gulf region or be forced to sell less oil. 
Trump is willing to overlook the Saudis' disregard for human rights and their lack of tolerance for anyone who calls them in it, and that's what Khashoggi, whose sixtieth birthday was a week ago, did from his position at the Washington Post.  His fateful visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and the likelihood of having been murdered by Saudi government officials there, in a violent manner that could make Martin Scorsese blush, has led the Turkish government to start an investigation.
Trump has denied that his implication that the Saudis had nothing to do with the killing is a way of giving Saudi Arabia cover, despite the circumstantial evidence linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (considered a "reformer" because he let Saudi women drive) to it directly.  This speculation is based on Trump's possible financial interests in the country, which he, of course, denies having.  But he also wants to preserve a heinous arms deal with the Saudis.  He's only changing his tune on the Khashoggi case, saying Khashoggi "may" have been murdered, because even congressional Republicans find the Saudi royal family's posture incredulous. Trump's venal approach to foreign policy and his disregard for American democratic values have never been more pronounced than in this case, and that is giving his opponents yet another reason to turn out and vote in the 2018 midterms.  

No comments: