Consulate Murders and the American Standard

A journalist was kidnapped in his own consulate.

Emerging reports - which American officials have surely had for days - describe audio tapes provided by Turkish intelligence which record Saudi journalist, legal American resident, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being beaten and tortured to death in some back room of his consulate in Istanbul, likely just adjacent to hallways down which functionaries typed away at their desks, approving visas, making tea.

The question of the day is whether the elected architects of Trump's new world order still care even about flamboyant acts of barbarism, executed in sanctuaries, by the buyers of our weaponry.

President Trump has in the same breath lit rhetorical furnaces against journalists and fawned over the world's vilest regimes, which continue today to use starvation, covert rendition, and the assassination of journalists to keep their populations bent in an autocratic box. Kim, Putin, and the Saudi royal family man that helm.

The onus here is on us too, though, to insist on involving ourselves in the casting of our American Standard. This story about such clandestine hit-team work will be spun to us as a naive glance into the realpolitik world of necessary-if-evil inter- and intra-state violence, perpetrated to protect holy structures from the disruptors around the world who would dare demand transparency or enfranchisement.

Every U.S. President to mind has failed to impress upon the Saudis that their atrocious history on human rights and war-mongering - whose indirect consequences visited our people in September, seventeen yeas ago - is unacceptable as an ally and consumer of US provisions of war.

But we chisel the form of Our Standard constantly, whether we intend to or not, and somehow in this moment, unless we're waiting to hear word of an unseen coup in Saudi Arabia which leaves us unsure of the hand at motion in Saudi consulates, Our Standard appears undecided over the rightness of sovereign governments assassinating their journalist citizens at whim, in the very infrastructure of their rule. Are we to believe that this group within the Saudi consulate that smuggled Khashoggi to an improvised torture chamber, and later dismembered him, was unsanctioned by the Saudi state? Are we to pause - something we will not do even to better consider our own Supreme Court justices - in deference to the seat of Mohammed bin Salman when a voice of the fourth estate is disappeared?

This relatively small, but devastating, event is a probe of the faculty threads of President Trump, to measure his test in the face of international tectonic pressures. It sounds the depth of America's commitment to defend the rights to assembly and speech as critically human ones, particularly in places where the citizenry who do indeed assemble and speak - as Mr. Khashoggi did before his murder - are not afforded sanctuary even in official refuges of diplomatic protection.

This is a moment made for the rhetorical defense of basic liberty from the high American rostrum, and right now, the President is barely managing English.

“We’re looking at it very strongly,” Trump said. “We’ll be having a report out soon. We’re working with Turkey, we’re working with Saudi Arabia. What happened is a terrible thing, assuming that happened. I mean, maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I tend to doubt it.”

To President Trump's calculus, the suspension of arms sales to the Saudis would be impractical sentimentality - the hysteria of emotional plaintiffs.

“They’re spending $110 billion purchasing military equipment and other things,” he said of the Saudis.“If we don’t sell it to them, they’ll say, ‘Well, thank you very much. We’ll buy it from Russia.’ Or ‘Thank you very much. We’ll buy it from China.’ That doesn’t help us — not when it comes to jobs and not when it comes to our companies losing out on that work.”

For god's sake, Mr. President, let them scamper to the Russians. Show some steel in the American Standard.


1. Team of Saudis went to Istanbul to carry out killing, NY Times;

2. Quote and background, Washington Post;

1 comment:

  1. Great article.
    Not that this is helpful, but it makes me wonder what Clinton would be doing right now if she were in the oval office. Obviously, she'd be handling this impossible situation with tact and strategy. But, as you say, "Every U.S. President to mind has failed to impress upon the Saudis that their atrocious history on human rights and war-mongering... is unacceptable..." We exalt the Saudis and deplore North Korea when they belong in the same category of extreme human rights violators; deserving of sanctions.