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

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Bad Guys-II

There appears to be nothing—absolutely nothing— that senators love more than sanctimonious criticism of something that won't result in political blowback. Consider the case of "journalist" Jamal Khashoggi. As I mentioned when the story broke, this is a case of Middle Eastern bad guys killing other middle eastern bad guys. The Saudis are certainly not angels, and Khashoggi is a Muslim Brotherhood Islamist who, had he been given the power, would have advocated the institution of Sharia law in the United States.

The Senate, however, decided that Khashoggi's murder was a last straw that somehow trumped U.S policy in the Middle East. They decided to demonstrate their strong moral compass by voting to abandon support of Saudi's proxy war against Iran in Yemen. After all, empowering Iran—a country that regularly murders its dissidents—in order to punish the Saudis makes sense — uh ... no it doesn't.

Conrad Black comments:
An oceanic volume of tears was shed over the cruel and barbarous fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor and recent American resident, Muslim Brotherhood member, and Saudi critic of the Saudi regime, apparently in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi officials allegedly directed by the prince regent, Mohammad bin Salman. It appears to have been a disgusting and thoroughly premeditated crime. There is plenty of precedent among America’s allies for such crimes. The Soviet Union, which suffered 95 percent of the human casualties and 99 per cent of the physical damage in subduing Nazi Germany, was led by the almost incomparably barbarous Josef Stalin, who murdered more people than our common enemy, Hitler, but was no less valuable an ally for that. The “Free World,” which the United States led to victory in the Cold War, included in its ranks Spain’s dictator, Francisco Franco, Portugal’s Salazar, the Shah of Iran, Chiang Kai-shek, South Korea’s Syngman Rhee, the feudal monarchic despotisms of Arabia, and many of the bemedaled but often blood-stained juntas and strongmen of Latin America, Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, and post-Sukarno Indonesia. The fact that Mao Tse-tung was responsible for the deaths of scores of millions of Chinese did not make him any less prestigious in the United States, nor a less desirable party with whom to triangulate the relationship with the USSR starting in 1972.

Khashoggi had recently become an American resident of convenience, but that did not make his fate at the hands of the government of his country any particular business of the United States. Life is cheap in the Middle East, the hypocrisy of the high-handed Erdogan regime in Turkey is especially grating, geopolitical realities make Saudi Arabia a valuable ally opposite the Iranians and Palestinians, and the remonstrations of the U.S. government have driven the Saudis to denounce and disown their own actions and purport to try individuals responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. The purists who imagine that if everything is hinged on holding others to ideal standards, the United States can conduct any foreign policy at all beyond tourism, a little trade, and a few cultural agreements are dreaming.
Making pragmatic decisions can sometimes be harsh, but in my view, I'd rather punish the bad guys (the mad Mullahs of Iran) who want us and most other Westerners dead or subjugated than the bad guys (the Saudis) who are helping us keep the first set of bad guys in line. Just sayin'.