In a rare display of backbone, Senate Republicans are actually protesting President Trump’s decision to give Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a pass on the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
But this is likely to pass with no permanent impact on America’s foreign policy. If a Republican administration was unwilling to punish Saudi Arabia when 15 of its citizens participated in the 9/11 attack, why would you expect them to care about a journalist most of them never heard of until he was dead?
While the U.S. may now be the largest producer of oil in the world, Saudi Arabia is still a major producer that dominates the OPEC oil-producing countries, and who Trump depends on to help keep oil prices relatively low. The Saudis are also seen as a counter to Iran in the Middle East, even though they have shown little skill as a fighting force.
Little happens in Saudi Arabia without the knowledge or approval of MBS (as he’s known to Washington insiders) and the CIA has concluded with a high degree of confidence that he ordered Khoshoggi’s killing.
The carrying out of the killing was truly inept, and Saudi security in apparently so bad that Turkish intelligence and the CIA were able to record practically every aspect of the hit. The only thing yet to be discovered in the location of Khoshoggi’s body parts.
But none of this concerned Trump. All he focused on was the $110 billion the Saudis are supposedly spending on military equipment and other things in the U.S. (As is usually the case with Trump, that’s not accurate. They have committed to spending slightly more than 10 percent of the total; they may spend the rest in the future.)
All of this was unfolding while Vice President Mike Pence was wrapping up a trip to Asia, where he lectured Myanmar officials on their campaign of genocide against the Rohingya minority in their country, and criticized China for persecuting its Uighur muslims. I’ll bet their leaders just snickered when they heard about Trump’s position on the Khoshoggi killing.
There used to be a time when the U.S. tried to provide some semblance of moral leadership for the world. But Trump has made it clear those days are gone. Now, it’s all about the Benjamins.
ONE MORE THING: As if to illustrate their importance, Trump publicly thanked the Saudis for keeping oil prices low. Uncharacteristically for him, Trump failed to take credit for his contribution to lower prices. That would the waivers the Trump administration gave eight countries that buy a lot of oil from Iran when the latest round of “sanctions” were imposed. Nobody’s saying how much oil the countries, which include China, are being allowed to buy, and for how long.