The Khashoggi slaying, the anti-Trump media, and American foreign policy

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has replaced Brett Kavanaugh’s high school days as the mainstream media’s obsession. The media attributes the murder to the Saudi Arabian government. I don’t know whether the evidence conclusively supports this view, but for purposes of this post let’s assume that responsibility lies with the Saudis.

The American media calls Khashoggi a journalist, and it’s true that he contributed articles to the Washington Post. However, I think it’s more accurate and informative to call Khashoggi an operative or perhaps, as David Goldman does, “a top level spook who played a high-stakes game in Saudi spookdom.”

In addition, according to Goldman, Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist outfit. He “was bitterly opposed to the new Saudi government’s rapprochement with the state of Israel.”

None of this provides justification for butchering him. But assuming the Saudis did butcher him, should this action cause the U.S. radically to rethink its relations with the Saudi government?

The Washington Post thinks so. However, its position lacks consistency.

The Russian government kills journalists, among others. I do not recall the Washington Post protesting on this basis the Obama administration’s “reset” of relations with Putin’s government or Obama’s promise to be more “flexible” with Russia after his reelection. Nor, as far as I remember, did the Post cite Russia’s murderous ways as a reason not to farm out to Putin enforcement of the “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Cuba’s treatment of journalists and others has been atrocious. Yet, the mainstream media supported the Obama administration when it radically reset U.S. relations with Cuba without insisting on any change in the regime’s treatment of dissidents.

What are the differences between Russia/Cuba and Saudi Arabia? I see two. First, Russia and Cuba are adversaries of America. Saudi Arabia is an ally.

For the sane, this difference would, if anything, cut in favor of the Saudis. For the left, it cuts against them.

Second, the Trump administration has very visibly allied itself with Saudi Arabia as a means of countering Iran and achieving other American objectives in the Middle East. Thus, the Khashoggi slaying provides the mainstream media with the opportunity to do what it does best — hammer President Trump.

In my view, the Khashoggi slaying should not cause America substantially to alter its foreign policy. Our relatively close relationship with Saudi Arabia is predicated, as it should be, on mutual interests and mutual adversaries. Either the geo-political predicate justifies the relationship or it doesn’t.

If it does, we would be foolish to alter the relationship in a major way. Nor would the mainstream media be advocating that we do so if the president were a Democrat and the offending regime hostile to America.