FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?

The Saudi “investigation” into the Khashoggi murder, conducted on the demand of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is not yet complete. But preliminary conclusions have been announced in the Saudi media. Turns out (surprise, surprise!) Khashoggi died while in a choke-hold following a fist-fight in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in a botched effort to detain him.

Asked Saturday in Arizona if he found the Saudi account credible, Donald Trump said that he did, praising the investigation as “a very important first step and it happened sooner that people thought it would happen”—as though its timing had not been determined by Pompeo’s pressure.

“I think it’s a good first step, it’s a big step,” the president repeated (as the world sighed). “Saudi Arabia has been a great ally,” he added, like that was relevant. Then in an interview with the Washington Post he indicated that he felt Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman may have learned of the murder only after the fact. He went out of his way to praise the prince—his son-in-law Jared’s good buddy. He actually said he’d “love it” if the prince was not responsible.

This raises the real prospect of the administration—which according to the Post demands a “mutually agreeable explanation” from Riyadh—signing on to a narrative radically different from that provided by Turkish police. According to the latter,  the Saudi court ordered the gruesome murder in the consulate on Oct. 2.  It dispatched 15 assassins including members of MbS’s personal security detail and the kingdom’s top forensic doctor equipped with a bone-saw to execute the deed. Turkish sources provide a detailed account of a seven-minute process of apprehending Kashoggi, cutting off his fingers (to punish him for his writing), followed by more torture, murder, dismemberment, and the transport of the body-parts to the nearby Saudi consul’s home where they were dissolved in acid.

Turkish sources say the bone-saw was used before Khashoggi died and that the supervisor of the effort urged the team to listen to music on their earphones during their work (because that’s how he always does it). They report how the Saudi ambassador to Washington stated implausibly that there was no video of his exit from the consulate because the consulate’s CCTV is only live feed and not recorded.

A “mutually agreeable explanation” with a credulous U.S. president on board—a president determined to maintain the existing U.S.-Saudi relationship (especially the arms traffic) at all costs—might not satisfy Congress, to say nothing of Turkey and the world. Indeed, U.S. acceptance of a plainly bogus explanation for obviously pragmatic reasons might be viewed like the U.S. departure from the Kyoto Accord, U.S. efforts to sabotage the Iran Deal, the decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the decision to pull out of the UN Commission on Human Rights, etc. The U.S. is provoking the world, inviting its contempt.

The U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis is already isolated in the world. World leaders generally understand that the U.S. is led by a cruel, ignorant, amoral buffoon. Israel, as repeated UN votes indicate, is almost universally deplored for its occupation of Palestinian land and repeated assaults on Gaza, saved from condemnation time and time again by the reliable U.S. veto. Saudi Arabia is widely known to be a land where judicial beheadings—for such offenses as atheism, blasphemy, homosexuality, sorcery, adultery, “waging war on God,” sometimes followed by the crucifixion of the headless body for public display—-are common, and the condition of women is about the most abject on the planet. There is much criticism in the world of all three countries, and their common determination to attack Iran.

Now let us say that the axis led by Trump embraces a Saudi narrative that makes no logical sense. The UN General Secretary Antonio Guterrez has already pronounced it “not credible” and German chancellor Angela Merkel calls it “insufficient.” The Washington Post calls it a “coverup.” CNN says frankly: “Trump’s Saudi Arabia response is riddled with lies.”

But let’s say Trump, influenced in particular by his son-in-law, accepts the Saudi explanation. It will be clear to the world that the U.S. values lucrative arms sales over a principled defense of the most basic human rights.

It will be a clear statement that Trump has no interest in truth as such but in the use of Big Lies to justify policy. In this he is no different than his immediate predecessors. They blamed 9/11 on the Taliban, conflating it with al-Qaeda in order to justify regime change in Afghanistan. They concocted a brew of lies to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They lied about the real situation in Syria, representing al-Qaeda linked forces as Syrian patriots fighting for democracy. They lied about Libya, claiming an imminent risk of genocide when none existed.

Given this history it would be totally fitting for Trump, in league with his national security advisor, arch-neocon and career liar John Bolton, to embrace a mendacious explanation about Khashoggi’s execution. The willing gullibility might draw into high relief the whole history of U.S. propagation of lies from September 11, 2001, deployed to facilitate the torture of the Middle East from Afghanistan to Libya. Maybe even imperialist alliances will fray.  That could only be good, and a fine legacy of the Saudi journalist.

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 19, 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
Kenneth Surin
In China Again
Stephen Cooper
Abolishing the Death Penalty Requires Morality
George Ochenski
The DNC Can’t Be Allowed to Ignore the Climate Crisis
John W. Whitehead
The Omnipresent Surveillance State
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
Guaidó’s Star Fades as His Envoys to Colombia Allegedly Commit Fraud With Humanitarian Funds for Venezuela
Dave Lindorff
What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?
Howard Lisnoff
Try Not to Look Away
Binoy Kampmark
Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine
Karl Grossman
The Battle to Stop the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, Revisited
Kani Xulam
Farting in a Turkish Mosque
Dean Baker
New Manufacturing Jobs are Not Union Jobs
Elizabeth Keyes
“I Can’t Believe Alcohol Is Stronger Than Love”
June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail