It appears that Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and legal resident of the United States, has been murdered in a plan likely developed and carried out by the Saudi Arabia government inside their Istanbul consulate. He had gone there to secure marriage documents as his future wife waited outside. Reports indicate that up to 15 men waited for Khashoggi, tortured and then killed him. According to Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, the “intel points directly” to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said that he, too, had seen evidence pointing to Saudi Arabia, but that he was worried that taking action against the Saudi government would hurt our economic relationship with them.
Interestingly, Canada is our largest trade partner in the world and Trump has had no problem insulting them or taking action against them by imposing tariffs on Canadian products. The same is the case for our other primary trading partners, like Germany and France. Why is Trump afraid to criticize Saudi Arabia? Is it because he has financial interests there? Is it because his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has financial interests there? It appears that Saudi Arabia has tortured and murdered an American resident and journalist, yet Trump seems afraid to act decisively.
Saudi Arabia was the first country Trump visited after he won the presidency. Trump and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement allowing the Saudi government to purchase up to $110 billion in American weapons and military equipment. Trump says that he doesn’t want to jeopardize the deal by placing sanctions on them. “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s being poured into our country. They are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country.”
In fact, said Jonathan Caverley, an associate professor at the United States Naval War College, “This figure is vastly inflated.” Signing an agreement giving the Saudi government permission to purchase up to $110 billion in American weapons does not mean they plan to purchase or can even afford to purchase that much. In reality, according to Caverley, “The amount of new deals approved under President Trump is closer to $20 billion.” As usual, Trump is exaggerating or simply not telling the truth. But regardless of how much the Saudi government is willing to spend on American weapons, is Trump saying that for financial reasons the United States will look away and ignore the kidnapping and murder of one of our journalists? Is he telling the world that American values are for sale?
Trump also warned during a news conference last week that the Saudi government might switch and purchase military equipment from Russia and China. Again, according to military experts, that is unlikely because military equipment from Russia or China would not be compatible with billions of dollars of previously purchased Americans weapons and military equipment, including spare parts for American jets and tanks, as well as ammunition for their American weapons.
Trump, for some reason, appears uncomfortable with challenging the Saudi government. It reminds everyone of how uncomfortable he is with challenging the Russian government, also charged with murdering people in other countries who dare to challenge their policies and power. The big question, of course, is why. Why is Trump afraid of Saudi Arabia and Russia, while so critical of our most historic and loyal allies?
As stated by Nicholas Kristof, “it’s a disgrace that Trump administrative officials and American business tycoons enable and applauded M.B.S. (the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) as he imprisoned business executives, kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister, created a crisis with Qatar, and went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there. Some 8 million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don’t share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer.”
Of course, we don’t know what kind of personal deals Trump or Kushner have with Saudi Arabia or, for that matter, Russia. The Trump family is not noted for financial disclosure and transparency. In addition, Republicans in Congress are not interested in looking into these possible conflicts.
Perhaps that will change in three weeks with the November midterm elections. Americans have the right to know if their president and his family is financially conflicted with the tyrants of the world and why Trump seems more concerned with not offending the autocratic leaders of Saudi Arabia than with the kidnapping, torture and murder of people fighting for freedom there.