As pressure grows for the U.S. to censure Saudi Arabia for what is basically a state sanctioned assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on foreign soil no less, US President Donald Trump has released a statement defending his relationship with the Middle Eastern Kingdom.
In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said, “The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body…”
However, the most telling part of Trump’s statement that says he will not act against the Saudi monarch and his presumptive heir is the admission that the US intelligence agencies have information that Mohammed bin Salman could have ordered the hit on Khashoggi but the US president was choosing to allow the possibility that maybe the Crown Prince was in fact unaware of this crime. “…King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
But Trump’s statement was him casting the U.S.’s relationship with Riyadh in economic terms. Simply put, one man’s life is not worth jeopardizing trade and arms deals worth billions of dollars. Here is the value of the U.S.-Saudi Arabia bilateral in Trump’s own words, “After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.”
He also brought forth the bogeyman of Russia and China as he defended his support for Riyadh, saying: “If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!”
But, what makes this statement so immoral is the justification given of Saudi Arabia’s offensive in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. Even as 14 million Yemenis are starving, babies are being born with severe deformities, children are dying of malnutrition and the bodies of their mothers is too weak to spend tears on their dead children, Trump says, “Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance.” The defeat of Iran is worth the famine being suffered by millions innocent Yemenis.
As Trump signed off with, “Very simply it is called America First!” he has issued this statement as a resignation from the post of the ‘leader of the free world’ for no leader with even a grain of conscience would put his name behind this unprincipled justification -- of a murder and the starvation of an entire country.