October 26, 2018

Saudis Admit Murder Was Premeditated

Nearly three weeks after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabian officials announced that his death was premeditated, after initially claiming that Khasshogi had left the consulate, and then stating that he had been killed in a fist fight.

AP News

Both sides point out that Saudi Arabia had a dismal human rights record even before this incident:

  • “MBS rounded up his family members and imprisoned them at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton a year ago; apparently kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon in a bungled scheme to cast suspicion on Iran; and pursued (with U.S. support) a proxy war against Iran in Yemen that has yielded what the United Nations deems ‘the world’s largest humanitarian crisis’... the American business and political Establishments’ highly public revulsion to the Khashoggi murder rings hollow, given the widespread public knowledge of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s awful human-rights record.” New York Magazine
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From the Left

The left is critical of American businesses and politicians who continue their hand-wringing about the incident.

“Just as it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a network of enablers to empower a tyrant. While domestically the Saudi government’s capital is fear, abroad it is cash and the influence it brings."

The Guardian

“For all the hasty cancellations from the so-called ‘Davos in the Desert,’ Silicon Valley is unlikely to totally cut the cord... Saudi Arabia has invested more than $6.2 billion in American tech companies [in the last decade]... Silicon Valley is so dependent on Saudi funding at this point that ‘if you remove the Saudis from the worldwide global network, everything collapses.’"

New York Magazine

Worth noting: “The international oil price is down about $9, from $85 just after Khashoggi’s murder to $76 on Tuesday... While Saudi political leaders produced fumbling explanations for the murder, the oil minister stepped forward... [and] promised another 300,000 barrel-per-day increase ‘soon’ and said the kingdom still had another 1 million barrels of spare capacity it could call upon...

“Trump has a weak hand. He knows that the Saudis’ influence over U.S. gasoline prices gives them leverage in U.S. elections. Until the voting is done, bet on this: The president will find it hard to get tough on his Saudi friends.”


Many argue that “for years, Saudi Arabia has gotten away with funding terrorism and extremism, suppressing the rights of its people and silencing its critics, often by killing them. These are all activities for which the United States rightfully punishes Iran. But it allows the Saudis to do the same things without reproach. It is time for that double standard to end."

Washington Post

“The goal of U.S. policy should be not merely to punish transgressions but to induce better foreign policy behavior...

“[In addition to] applying sanctions... Congress and the Trump administration should condition weapons sales on concrete steps by Riyadh to end the disastrous war in Yemen. They should push hard for a repair of the Gulf rupture... Above all, Washington should telegraph that a continued strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia is possible and desirable—but only if Riyadh acts more responsibly and with far greater principle.”

The Atlantic

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right believes the Saudis must face consequences for the killing, but generally does not favor stopping arms sales or similar measures.

From the Right

The right believes the Saudis must face consequences for the killing, but generally does not favor stopping arms sales or similar measures.

“If America's relations with countries around the world were predicated on dealing only with those whose record of respecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness mirrored ours, the number of flags exhibited at the State Department's Hall of Nations would be small indeed...

“[However] Trump administration officials must make clear to their counterparts in Saudi Arabia that engaging in such actions as the murder of a well-known journalist with connections to the United States, will in fact undermine our relations with that country.”


“Since MBS shares America’s core interests, it makes sense for the administration to embrace him as an ally. But by presenting [his] reforms as the harbinger of a new, liberal Saudi Arabia, the administration set itself up to be attacked later. The Khashoggi’s murder has highlighted the obvious fact that MBS, like all of his Saudi counterparts — as well as Erdogan and the Iranians — is an autocrat who is comfortable brutally silencing critics and opponents."


Yet, “in this moment, caution and prudence are called for. In spite of their atrocious human rights record, Saudi Arabia remains a vital ally. America should be careful about what measures it takes in retaliation. In addition to Saudi’s obvious importance in international energy markets, Saudi is the linchpin of the growing anti-Iran coalition... It would be better to respond to Khashoggi’s murder by pressuring the Saudi regime to release political prisoners."

The Federalist

[Iran] is a critical issue in the region for both the US and Israel, as well as our other Sunni Arab allies, Jordan in particular. We can’t cut them loose any more than they can cut us loose. Our shared national interests won’t just disappear.”

Hot Air

Minority View:The time may be right for President Trump to cease leading from behind, to step out front, and to say that, while he withheld judgment to give the Saudis every benefit of the doubt, he now believes that the weight of the evidence points conclusively to a plot to kill Jamal Khashoggi. Hence, he is terminating U.S. military aid for the war in Yemen that Crown Prince Mohammed has been conducting for three years."


“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

Dog pretends to be a stray to get hamburgers from McDonald's.


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