Saudis always a problem, so why the outrage now?

Saudis always a problem, so why the outrage now?
© Getty Images

Let me see if I have this right.

The American media and the political ruling class are up in arms over the Saudis, a nation and royal family with their DNA all over the 9/11 attacks, having apparently sanctioned or caused the violent death of a man, Jamal Khashoggi, who was a critic of the current Saudi regime but also a past supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, essentially a radical Islamist organization.

Is that about it?

ADVERTISEMENT

Why exactly is this getting the attention it is from the American press and political community? Is it because people are shocked to learn that a Middle Eastern country would ruthlessly murder a critic? Is it because the “religion of peace” has again been co-opted by rulers who misunderstand it? Perhaps it is because Khashoggi was an opinion contributor to The Washington Post?

Maybe it is because the Trump administration has been working more closely with the Saudis on various regional efforts, so this becomes a chance undermine the president yet again?

That’s the one!

I want to come at this from a couple of different angles. The first is the moral outrage being expressed through American media outlets. The level of disingenuousness in this regard is overwhelming.

There is a real level of sociopathy inside many American journalists. They can completely disregard abhorrent acts, whether domestic or international, when the narrative behind them does not fit within their ideological framework; the absence of mainstream media coverage of Christian persecutions in the Middle East is a classic example. But give them a likely dead Washington Post contributor and a tie to Trump foreign policy initiatives, and they all begin to sound like Pope Francis.

It would be easy to indulge the idea that they are worked up over this because Khashoggi was a fellow member of the “Fourth Estate.” Not so fast. I’d like you to consider whether there would be this level of concern if the journalist in question were a contributor to, say, Breitbart? Call me a cynic, but I think not.

The other angle from which people are approaching this is to make sure to remind Americans that the Saudis are not “friends” and, if they want to be, they cannot act this way; the Saudis were largely responsible for the 9/11 attacks and this needs to be the last straw in terms of the United States cozying up with them. The United States must finally act harshly and deal with the Saudi menace.

I am no fan of Saudi Arabia. The idea that, during the Bush administration, we effectively turned a blind eye to its role in the death of 2,977 innocent Americans has always been repugnant to me. The real problem is that the time to act for that event has passed. We are 17 years beyond the 9/11 attacks, for which the Saudis’ punishment in that moment was business as usual. Now, in 2018, people want us to take action because one foreign national was likely killed by a foreign power?

We should not use the term “friend” when describing our relationship with other nations. Nations cannot be friends; the entire concept is one that can exist only between humans. Now, two leaders of two nations might be friends; some citizens of one country might be friends with some citizens of another country. There cannot, however, be friendship between nations. Nations can have individuals make agreements — treaties, for example — that bind them together to act in a certain manner that is in the common interest of their citizens. That is not friendship. Those are alliances.

Saudi Arabia, under the transitioning leadership of millennial Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman from his father, King Salman, has been slowly introducing reforms and redirection into the Saudi culture. None of it is fast or significant enough for my taste but, then again, my taste for liberty was refined as a citizen of the United States, the greatest nation on earth and the one founded on the principles of individual freedom. This is Saudi Arabia, ground zero for Wahhabism, the most fundamental branch of the Islamic tree.

Nobody in the Saudi royal family lineage shares the ideas of liberty founded in the Enlightenment and articulated by Messrs. Franklin, Madison, Paine, et.al.

So no, Saudi Arabia isn’t our “friend.” No nation is our “friend.” It is a significant strategic and allied player in the Islamic Middle East and the only one of substance. (Sorry, Egypt.) If we turn away from our tenuous ally, it will have no choice but to turn to either China — which I repeatedly contend is the No. 1 threat to the United States — or to Russia for geopolitical support.

Is that really what we want to have happen, simply because a freelance foreign opinion writer likely was murdered on foreign soil?

An older colleague of mine shared a story about hearing G. Gordon Liddy, of Watergate fame, speak at a university in 1981. In that talk, Liddy was discussing the recent fall of the shah of Iran and his replacement with the fundamentalist caliphate and its leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. The shah had been a man of dubious character but also was a man who made Iran an ally of the United States. Because of his humanitarian imperfections, the Carter administration allowed him to be overthrown and then replaced by Khomeini and the hostile anti-U.S. regime that lives today.

In addressing the matter, Liddy asked the following question so relevant in today’s moment of expressed outrage against Saudi assassins: The Persians have been acting like Persians for thousands of years. The question is, whose Persians are they going to be, ours or the Soviet?

The Saudis will be Saudis. Whose Saudis are they going to be?

Charlie Kirk is the founder and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that aims to educate students on free-market values. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieKirk11.