Posted by Curt on 20 October, 2018 at 9:33 am. 19 comments already!


Why has the media and much of the political establishment made the presumed murder of an Islamist Saudi dissident on Turkish soil a defining issue in American foreign policy?

Jamal Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen, despite his past residence in Virginia, nor is he a lover of liberty, despite his criticism of Saudi Arabia’s despotic regime. He previously served that regime as a mouthpiece for, and adviser to, the alleged al-Qaeda-tied Saudi intelligence leader Turki bin Faisal. Khashoggi mourned the death of Osama bin Laden, whom Khashoggi had been granted unusual levels of access for numerous interviews. Khashoggi was also an ardent proponent of political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Needless to say, one wonders why Khashoggi was permitted to enter the United States and handed a column at The Washington Post given this background, particularly at a time our media claims acute sensitivity to foreign influence. One also wonders why so many in the media are quick to fawn over such a figure given his regressive views.

This is not to dismiss Khashoggi’s alleged gory assassination at the hands of his supposed Saudi captors by characteristically sketchy unnamed Turkish sources. If Mohammad bin Salman’s regime did execute this grisly murder, risking all the capital it had accrued in the West to send a signal to its political opposition, it should have to deal with the consequences.

But surely our media and political establishment are not blind to the brutality and censorship that characterizes the regimes of the Islamic world, whether in Riyadh, Ankara, or Tehran. Nor are they deaf to the proxy war taking place in any of a number of theaters with Iran, intense jockeying for relations with the Trump administration and much else that divides Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab nations like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on the one hand, and Turkey and Qatar on the other.

3 Reasons Khashoggi Is Suddenly a BFD

Given the realities of an Islamic world marked by tyranny and perpetually roiled in internecine warfare, it is striking that this single alleged episode would lead to calls for America to effectively dismantle its entire regional policy. Yet is Saudi Arabia significantly different today than it was yesterday? It is even more curious, again, that the press would rush to such a judgment without evidence from a single trustworthy source, or any piece of compelling evidence.

Occam’s Razor suggests the media and political establishment is interested in Khashoggi for three main reasons.

First, Khashoggi is being used as a cudgel against President Trump’s foreign policy. The Trump administration has cultivated deep ties with Saudi strongman Mohammad bin Salman in a symbiotic relationship. The Saudis serve as the focal point in the Trump administration’s Gulf counter-jihadist alliance, as well as its Sunni Arab anti-Iran coalition. The United States provides bin Salman both military and political support, and credibility that he hopes will enable him to open Saudi Arabia to foreign capital to underwrite his modernization efforts and cement his rule on a more stable foundation.

Much of the establishment is seeking to force the Trump administration to ditch the Saudis — enemies of progressive Wilsonian foreign policy establishment darling Iranand its beloved fallen Iran Deal — thereby scuttling the Trump administration’s overall counter-jihadist, anti-Khomeinist Middle East policy. This policy is the polar opposite of the Obama administration’s, which the establishment of course largely supported.

Second, casting bin Salman as a murderous dictator feeds into one of the establishment’s favorite narratives, that  Trump embraces authoritarians and harbors authoritarian tendencies himself. The counter of course is that foreign policy requires partnering at times with unsavory regimes that reject our values in order to advance our greater interests, and Trump understands this.

Such concerns were evidently subordinated when the Obama administration was consummating the Iran Deal, supporting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and all manner of jihadists in Libya, and engaging in the Russian reset. Certainly the hundreds of thousands dead in Iran-backed Syria, where America’s chief contributions included arming ISIS and ceding control to Russia, are a testament to the establishment’s comfort with setting aside values when pursuing its interests. Most absurd of all among a press frequently blinded by its Trump hatred is the suggestion that Trump actually inspired the Saudis’ alleged actions.

Third, the media believes in protecting its own, and virtue-signaling. Threatening a journalist — if that journalist isn’t a conservative, and the person threatening him isn’t a leftist — is the surest way to draw the media’s ire. The pile-on in this case for not just the media, but also for major U.S. corporations, to cut ties with the Saudis indicates the social pressure is strong among the progressive elite to reject the Saudis on supposed moral grounds, given the alleged murder of a romanticized supposed “reformer” in exile, notwithstanding the West’s commerce with other similarly violent regimes abroad. The media also loves stoking the flames of the narrative that Trump wishes to shut down dissent. If he tolerates the Saudis doing so, in the media’s eyes, all the more reason to attack.

There’s More Going On Here, Of Course

Another element to this story was raised in one of Khashoggi’s last columns for The Washington Post. It has gone ignored, and might explain in part the rush to make Khashoggi a cause célèbre given the lack of facts and evidence, and Khashoggi’s checkered background.

On Aug. 28, 2018, Khashoggi published an article for The Washington Post titled “The U.S. is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood — and the Arab world is suffering for it.” In it, he blames the United States’ aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood for the “loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.”

Get that? It is the Sharia supremacist Muslim Brotherhood that in Khashoggi’s view would have “liberated” the Arab world. Khashoggi continues:

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