The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Three Reasons

In a post last week, I discussed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi—an Islamist who also is a strong proponent of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, a past confidant of Osama Bin Laden, and oh BTW, a very occasional op-ed writer for WaPo who the media insists on calling a "journalist" and a "reformer." I suggested the the Saudi murder of Khashoggi is an example of one Middle Eastern bad actor killing another Middle Eastern bad actor, and that the Democrat and GOP faux outrage over the act seems a little extreme. I also noted that there is far more to all of this than a killing, and that the real truth, whatever it is, is unlikely to surface. It is wheels within wheels.

The Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd, along with the few remaining #NeverTrumpers in the GOP, are clutching their pearls and accusing Donald Trump of complicity in all of this. That's to be expected, but they go further and demand harsh sanctions against a bad guy ally who just happens to be geopolitically necessary.

Ben Weingarten asks a few pertinent questions:
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.

... 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.
So ... why all the hysteria?

Weingarten provides three reasons why the volume has been turned up to 11 on this incident:
First, Khashoggi is being used as a cudgel against President Trump’s foreign policy.
The Saudis are a primary ally in the war against Islamic terror and its primary sponsor, Iran. The political establishment was infuriated that Trump unwound Barack Obama's Iran "deal" and would like nothing better than to see Trump's Saudi gambit fail, particularly because it has hamstrung Iran and makes the actions of the Obama administration vis a vis Iran look ridiculous.

Here is a sample of Khashoggi's writing in WaPo:
There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it … the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives …

It is wrong to dwell on political Islam, conservatism and identity issues when the choice is between having a free society tolerant of all viewpoints and having an oppressive regime.
The "political Islam" Khashoggi refers to is The Muslim Brotherhood's brand of Islam—the one Barack Obama supported in their takeover of Egypt early in his first term and one that is absolutely, positively intolerant of any opposing political (or religious) views. The very same one that led to rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Christian sentiment in Egypt along with widespread repression in the Arab world's biggest country. But hey, Khashoggi is a "reformer," right?

Weingarten continues with his discussion of the reasons for all this hysteria:
Second, casting [Saudi Price Mohammad] 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.
The elites and their media hamsters are outraged over the lies of the Saudis, but were quite sanguine about the lies associated with a different set of Middle Eastern murders. The Obama administration blatantly lied about the cause of the attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four American citizens, including the U.S. ambassador, and the media yawned or looked the other way.

Finally, Weingarten notes:
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.
All three reasons sound reasonable to me, and that in no way suggests that the Saudi are innocent in all of this. As Weingarten notes, "... [intelligent and pragmatic] foreign policy requires partnering at times with unsavory regimes that reject our values in order to advance our greater interests, and Trump understands this."

With their non-stop posturing and continuous virtue signaling, the elites have much to learn and little to contribute as this episode unfolds.