November 21, 2018

Trump Announces Continued Support for Saudi Government

Editor's note: Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! We're taking a brief hiatus to enjoy some turkey and football. We'll be back in full swing Monday!

“President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to remain a ‘steadfast partner’ of Saudi Arabia despite saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to murder dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.”

Reuters

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump’s support for Saudi Arabia... [telling] a news conference that the United States was obligated to adopt policies that furthered U.S. national security interests.”

Reuters

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From the Left

The left condemns the President’s defense of Saudi Arabia.

“President Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place. His surrender to this state-ordered murder will only make it more so. An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights."

Washington Post

“Mr. Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia though not an American citizen, was a columnist for an American newspaper, The Washington Post. It did not serve the safety of journalists or Americans abroad that President Trump could not summon even a modicum of lip service to condemn the abomination of dispatching a hit team equipped with a bone saw to throttle and dismember Mr. Khashoggi for daring to criticize the crown prince."

New York Times

“Foreign policy experts typically give three main reasons why we continue to boost Saudi Arabia: oil, Iran, and terrorism. None of these holds water...

  • “Thanks to advances in fracking, the U.S. has overtaken Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top petroleum producer... Canada now sells us four times more petroleum than Saudi Arabia does.”
  • “The defense spending of Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates is, in aggregate, ‘at least five times greater than Iran’s’... the argument that Iran ‘is on the brink of regional hegemony defies reason.’”
  • “15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudi citizens, and the lead attorney for the 9/11 plaintiffs claimed there is evidence demonstrating... ‘longstanding and close relationships between al Qaeda and the religious components of the Saudi government.’”

NBC News

“As some hawkish Republicans tried to make the case to Trump, the risk here is that the United States looks weak. And Trump is tacitly confirming that it’s not strong enough to punish Saudi Arabia. He’s saying Saudi Arabia is just too powerful and potent for him to want to jeopardize anything. So much for the idea that Trump would exert his will on the world stage and make other countries respect us again.”

Washington Post

Many note that “previous presidents may have paid lip service to human rights concerns, but since the modern U.S.-Saudi relationship began with a meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and Ibn Saud about the Suez Canal in 1945, every U.S. administration has prioritized the energy and security partnership with the kingdom over human rights concerns...

"[Yet] there are degrees of action between completely blowing up the U.S.-Saudi relationship and complete acquiescence to whatever Saudi Arabia wants to do in its region.”

Slate

“Tuesday’s message could become something of a blueprint for foreign leaders — a guide to how they might increase their standing in the eyes of the American president as well as how far they can go in crushing domestic critics without raising American ire.”

New York Times

“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 is generally critical of the fact that the President’s statement prioritized economic gain over human rights, but nevertheless agrees with the decision to remain allied with Saudi Arabia.

From the Right

The right is generally critical of the fact that the President’s statement prioritized economic gain over human rights, but nevertheless agrees with the decision to remain allied with Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Lindsey Graham stated, “I fully realize we have to deal with bad actors and imperfect situations on the international stage. However, when we lose our moral voice, we lose our strongest asset."

Twitter

Marco Rubio added, “Our foreign policy must be about promoting our national interests. It is in our natl interest to defend human rights. HR violations lead to mass migration, help extremism flourish & often result in new governments hostile towards the U.S. because we supported their oppressors."

Twitter

Many posit that “we are aware of no President, not even such ruthless pragmatists as Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson, who would have written a public statement like this without so much as a grace note about America’s abiding values and principles. Ronald Reagan especially pursued a hard-line, often controversial, foreign policy against Soviet Communism, but he did so with a balance of unblinkered realism and American idealism. Mr. Trump seems incapable of such balance...

“The risk is that Mr. Trump’s public reduction of the relationship to crass interests is that the Crown Prince will feel he can do anything and suffer no diminution of U.S. support. We hope Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton are delivering a much tougher message in private.”

Wall Street Journal

The United States is the strong partner here, not the Saudis — they need us far more than we need them. We could certainly have slapped them on the wrist, at the very least — and it is not in the interest of the United States to stand idly while our allies commit open murders against dissidents.

Daily Wire

Others, however, argue that “were Trump to directly blame bin Salman, it would cause a major rupture in U.S.-Saudi relations and the likely realignment of Saudi foreign policy away from America and towards Russia... Trump's choice here was between risking American security and directly recognizing the brutal murder of a decent man. And in the cause of realism... Trump has made the right choice."

Washington Examiner

Many also point out that “authoritarian regimes all over the world kill dissidents and/or activists with rival factions. Russia has killed some. That didn’t stop Obama-Clinton from ‘resetting’ relations with Putin... Under these circumstances, it would not be wise to blow up a valuable geopolitical relationship over the murder of one member of an out-of-power Saudi faction. Not in a world as dangerous as ours."

Power Line Blog

“The American Revolution and its ideals cannot be exported and planted everywhere... During the entire Cold War era, we accommodated, supplied, and [helped] train armed government units that worked for anti-Communist authoritarian regimes, especially in Latin America... At times, you deal with very bad people--and this case is no exception. The consequences of blowing up our ties to the Kingdom over this are not worth it."

Townhall

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...

Cops respond to cries of 'please don't kill me', find couple playing 'Call of Duty - Black Ops IV'.

Times Now News

Parrot Jazz triggers emergency response with fire alarm impersonation. ​

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue

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