In Donald Trump’s statement in support of Saudi Arabia, he began with his nationalist-inspired slogan of “America First!” Then he launched into a tangentially related rant about Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Israel. All of this to support his childish contention that “The world is a very dangerous place!” But in the process he fails to recognize that his actions are making it considerably more dangerous.
What Trump’s statement has done is to grant approval to the most brutal regimes in the world to assassinate their political opponents free from worry about accountability or repercussions from the Trump White House. All they have to do is promise to buy some military gear and invest in Trump’s businesses and they can commit vile acts with impunity.
Trump said so in so many words by alluding to a $450 billion arms deal that most analysts determined doesn’t exist when he claimed it was for $110 billion. He said that it will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth.” But there is no evidence that any of that is true. Trump, nevertheless, makes the case that the United States is somehow dependent on Saudi Arabia rather than the other way around. It’s a case for American weakness.
However, perhaps the most nauseating paragraph that Trump has ever published is this one wherein he actually insults the murdered journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and excuses the Saudis for killing him. Trump implies that it is justifiable to assassinate a government critic if he is a journalist, because he is, therefore, an “enemy of the state.” Is Trump projecting what he wishes he could do? He said that:
“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible 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!”
By using the phrase that Trump made familiar in his attacks on America’s free press –“enemy of the state.” – he is expanding his view that the media are not only dangerous, but expendable, to an international audience who will use it to justify more political slayings. Trump is also taking the word of Prince Salman that he didn’t have anything to do with the murder, even though the CIA has definitively concluded that he personally ordered it.
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Finally, Trump went on to say that “we may never know all of the facts.” Which is an insult to our intelligence agencies and their ability to conduct an investigation. Trump praises the Saudis as “a great ally” with whom he “intends to remain a steadfast partner,” and he concludes the statement the same way he began by chanting “America First!” By which he apparently means that whatever Trump thinks is in his own best interest takes priority over America’s values – or human decency.