The media recently reported that, in one day last month, 35 people were executed — most were beheaded — by the government of Saudi Arabia. The victims were mostly political prisoners whose only “crime” was to peacefully demonstrate for freedom and democracy.
There was a time when the United States government would condemn such violations of human rights. But the Donald Trump administration has nothing negative to say about the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who ordered the executions. He is the same guy who, according to US intelligence reports, ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi got on the wrong side of the Saudi government after writing about government corruption and advocating for democratic reforms.
Since taking office over two years ago, the Trump administration has been fairly silent in response to the behaviors and human rights violations occurring in Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, and other authoritarian states. Some believe that this is due to financial loans or favors they have provided to Trump and his family.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, this is especially the case for Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is reportedly friends with Saudi’s Crown Prince. In the case of Russia, they helped Trump secure the White House in 2016 and will likely help him again in 2020. Trump wants “the biggest deal ever made” with China more than he wants to confront the Chinese government about the recent detention of one to three million minority Muslims in internment camps.
A bipartisan group of 43 senators has urged the Trump administration to use our economic leverage in the trade talks to force China to close the camps. As they do little to address the behaviors of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, the Trump administration tries to distract us with tough talk aimed against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
National Security Advisor John Bolton recently referred to these three small nations as the “troika of tyranny” and the “three stooges of socialism.” Then again, some might consider Trump, Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the three stooges of democracy.
The Trump administration has leveled sanctions against these small countries and pushed for new leadership in Venezuela. Meanwhile, Trump continues to have friendly phone calls with the real tyrants of the world.
In the past several weeks, the Trump administration has promoted street demonstrations in Venezuela, pushing for regime change. Yet, peaceful demonstrators in Saudi Arabia are routinely tortured and killed, according to human rights groups. Nevertheless, Trump continues to reward the Saudi government with billions of dollars in weapon sales.
After an hour-long phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, Trump said that he did not ask Putin to stop interfering with our national elections. My guess is that Trump would like Putin’s help again in 2020. After all, it worked for him in 2016.
Seriously,why would Trump want Putin to stop interfering with our elections if their interference helps his campaign? And since he and his lawyer now openly question the illegality of accepting help from Russia, which depending on the tweet of the day he did or did not accept, I’m sure Russian assistance will become a standard campaign asset for Trump in 2020.
Attorney General Bill Barr will be happy to look the other way. He seems to be good at that.
As stated by Samantha Vinograd, writing for CNN, “Trump has had harsher words for socialist leaders in Latin America — who do not pose threats to US national security or our sovereignty — than he's had for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who's overseeing an ongoing attack on our democracy.”
Indeed, it is easier to criticize small, weak nations who can’t help your presidential campaign, loan you money, or offer you a deal to build the next Trump Tower. For whatever reasons, Russia and Saudi Arabia seem to have some sort of special status for Trump and his family.
Russia knew what they were doing when they promoted Trump for president. They understood how easy it would be to manipulate him and take advantage of his desire for personal business deals.Unfortunately for all the nations south of our border, they don’t have any of these favors to offer Trump and his family. Neither do they have much economic or military leverage.
Impoverished nations south of the border are easy targets for Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo. They provide an opportunity to sound tough and to pretend that they care about human rights, freedom, and democracy while letting the real dictators, literally, get away with murder.