October 18, 2018

Death of Saudi Journalist Khashoggi

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

The U.S. has asked Turkey for a recording that could reveal gruesome details of what happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump said Wednesday... [Trump] has repeatedly noted Saudi leaders’ denials since [Khashoggi’s disappearance] and insisted the U.S. must know the facts before taking action."

AP News

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From the Left

The left is condemning Trump’s tepid response.

“For decades, successive US administrations pursued a similar path in the Middle East: security, military and diplomatic cooperation with repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, at the expense of promoting human rights and democracy. But several former presidents, including George W Bush and Barack Obama, obscured that reality with lofty rhetoric about respecting human rights. Trump dropped that pretense...

“By abandoning the veneer of US concern about political reforms and protecting dissidents, Trump... emboldened the region’s autocrats to become even more reckless and brutal.”

The Guardian

“This is the president who said it’s ‘great’ that Xi is declaring himself ruler for life, praised Duterte for the ‘unbelievable job’ he was doing ‘on the drug problem,’ congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning a rigged referendum that spelled the death of Turkish democracy and declared his ‘love’ for Kim Jong Un of North Korea... This is a good time to be a dictator — and a dangerous time to be a dissident. Trump has given every despot on the planet a license to kill without worrying about the U.S. reaction. Because, in all likelihood, there will be none."

Washington Post

“If the Trump administration is eager to give the Saudis the benefit of the doubt, there is some reassurance to be had from the continuing pressure being applied from other quarters – an unlikely, but welcome, assortment of politicians, diplomats, human-rights organizations, free-speech activists, journalists, and bloggers... If more details emerge, Trump and the Saudis may find that controversies can no longer be so easily parked in the age of social media."

Bloomberg

Regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bombers, many note that the US “has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats… The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later… The sense of foreboding is tangible.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right condemns Khashoggi’s alleged murder, but worries about the geopolitical consequences of punishing Saudi Arabia.

From the Right

The right condemns Khashoggi’s alleged murder, but worries about the geopolitical consequences of punishing Saudi Arabia.

“Punishing [Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman] and his underlings is absolutely necessary. America must deter such behavior and show its revulsion. But Saudi Arabia hasn’t been a paragon of human rights at any time during our century-old alliance. Meanwhile, the Iranian regime chants ‘death to America’ and behaves as badly as the Saudis, or worse. Tehran mustn’t emerge as a winner from our justified outrage against Riyadh."

New York Post

“President Trump must exact a meaningful and public price for the Khashoggi affair but tread a fine line that maintains a commitment to the bilateral relationship [with Saudi Arabia]... the Saudis will squawk publicly over this, but privately will understand — and so will the rest of the Arab/Muslim world, which will be watching closely."

Daily Caller

Some argue that “militarily the Saudis have been a major customer for U.S. arms and aircraft but have done little with them to support allied interests... A realistic policy needs to be based on honest intelligence estimates, telling the truth to the American people about the Saudi role in funding terrorism and a serious assessment about what role the Saudis can play in the Middle East."

Washington Times

Finally, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) states, “We should not send one more dime, one more soldier, one more adviser, or one more arms deal to the kingdom... It isn’t enough to talk tough and then give the Saudis what they want. We have to force their hand into real reforms, internally and abroad. With the outrage caused by their recent actions, now is the time for bipartisan corrective action.”

Fox News

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

“The Democrats want to talk to Don McGahn, and maybe they will ultimately prevail in court to get his testimony, but what’s the point? McGahn talked extensively to Mueller, and surely everything remotely damaging is already in the report

“Congress has the report, and now it is up to it to decide. But it doesn’t want to. It’s too painful to admit that the Mueller report was a bust on Russia and that the obstruction material, while damaging to Trump, is hardly a slam dunk; that the public doesn’t support impeachment; that if the House goes through with it anyway, it will end with a whimper in the Senate; and that it’s better for Democrats to focus on beating Trump in 2020 than a forlorn impeachment.”
Rich Lowry, National Review

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

New Zealand votes tipsy pigeon bird of the year.

BBC

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