With Khashoggi decision, Trump places strategic interests above human rights
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DONALD TRUMP ON TUESDAY issued a statement proclaiming that, notwithstanding the anger toward the Saudi Crown Prince over the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, "the United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region." To justify his decision, Trump cited the fact that "Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world" and claimed that "of the $450 billion [the Saudis plan to spend with U.S. companies], $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors."
This statement instantly and predictably produced pompous denunciations pretending that Trump's posture was a deviation from, a grievous violation of, long-standing U.S. values and foreign policy rather than what it actually and obviously is: a perfect example -- perhaps stated a little more bluntly and candidly than usual -- of how the U.S. has conducted itself in the world since at least the end of World War II.
The reaction was so intense because the fairy tale about the U.S. standing up for freedom and human rights in the world is one of the most pervasive and powerful prongs of western propaganda, the one relied upon by U.S. political and media elites to convince not just the U.S. population but also themselves of their own righteousness, even as they spend decades lavishing the world's worst tyrants and despots with weapons, money, intelligence and diplomatic protection to carry out atrocities of historic proportions.
After all, if you have worked in high-level foreign policy positions in Washington, or at the think thanks and academic institutions that support those policies, or in the corporate media outlets that venerate those who rise to the top of those precincts (and which increasingly hire those security state officials as news analysts), how do you justify to yourself that you're still a good person even though you arm, prop up, empower and enable the world's worst monsters, genocides, and tyrannies?
Simple: by pretending that you don't do any of that, that such acts are contrary to your system of values, that you actually work to oppose rather than protect such atrocities, that you're a warrior and crusader for democracy, freedom and human rights around the world.
That's the lie that you have to tell yourself: so that you can look in the mirror without instantly feeling revulsion, so that you can show your face in decent society without suffering the scorn and ostracization that your actions merit, so that you can convince the population over which you have ruled that the bombs you drop and the weapons with which you flood the world are actually designed to help and protect people rather than slaughter and oppress them.
That's why it was so necessary -- to the point of being more like a physical reflex than a conscious choice -- to react to Trump's Saudi statement with contrived anger and shock rather than admitting the truth that he was just candidly acknowledging the core tenets of U.S. foreign policy for decades. The people who lied to the public and to themselves by pretending that Trump did something aberrational rather than completely normal were engaged in an act of self-preservation as much as propagandistic deceit, though both motives were heavily at play.
The New York Times Editorial Page, as it so often does, topped the charts with pretentious, scripted moral outrage. "President Trump confirmed the harshest caricatures drawn by America's most cynical critics on Tuesday when he portrayed its central objectives in the world as panting after money and narrow self-interest," bellowed the paper, as though this view of U.S. motives is some sort of jaded fiction invented by America-haters rather than the only honest, rational description of the country's despot-embracing posture in the world during the lifespan of any human being alive today.
The paper's editorial writers were particularly shocked that "the statement reflected Mr. Trump's view that all relationships are transactional, and that moral or human rights considerations must be sacrificed to a primitive understanding of American national interests." To believe -- or pretend to believe -- that it is Mr. Trump who pioneered the view that the U.S. is willing and eager to sanction murder and savagery by the regimes with which it is most closely aligned as long as such barbarism serves U.S interests signifies a historical ignorance and/or a willingness to lie to one's own readers so profound that no human language is capable of expressing the depths of those delusions. Has the New York Times Editorial Page ever heard of Henry Kissinger?
Go to The Intercept to read the entire article.