Money talks?

The Central Voice - - Editorial -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump seems to be mov­ing for­ward con­cerns about the dis­ap­pear­ance of Wash­ing­ton Post jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi is be­lieved to have been tor­tured, mur­dered and dis­mem­bered in the Saudi Ara­bian con­sulate in Turkey af­ter he went into the build­ing to ob­tain doc­u­ments to al­low his up­com­ing mar­riage to pro­ceed. He did not come out, and leaks from Turk­ish sources sug­gest the govern­ment of Turkey has wire­tapped au­dio tapes of the tor­ture and mur­der.

Trump said dur­ing an in­ter­view on 60 Min­utes that, “There’s some­thing re­ally ter­ri­ble and dis­gust­ing about that if that were the case, so we’re go­ing to have to see. We’re go­ing to get to the bot­tom of it, and there will be se­vere pun­ish­ment.”

At least Trump seems to have wo­ken up to the fact that there’s ac­tu­ally an is­sue here — but he’s lit­tle late to the dance. U.S. law­mak­ers, both Repub­li­cans and Democrats, are far more up­set about the mur­der, which is be­lieved to have been un­der­taken by a 15-mem­ber Saudi hit squad. The law­mak­ers are talk­ing about sanc­tions against Saudi Ara­bia. For­eign na­tions have moved quickly to seek an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and busi­nesses and fi­nance ex­perts have pulled out of a ma­jor Saudi in­vest­ment con­fer­ence in protest.

More telling than his new con­cerns, though, were Trump’s ear­lier com­ments about the case — and keep in mind, this is an ap­par­ent at­tack on a le­gal res­i­dent of the United States by for­eign power reach­ing beyond its borders with im­punity.

“We don’t like it even a lit­tle bit. But whether or not we should stop US$110 bil­lion from be­ing spent in this coun­try — know­ing they have … two very good al­ter­na­tives. That would not be ac­cept­able to me,” Trump said orig­i­nally. “I don’t like stop­ping mas­sive amounts of money that’s be­ing poured into our coun­try — they are spend­ing US$110 bil­lion on mil­i­tary equip­ment and on things that cre­ate jobs for this coun­try.”

The two al­ter­na­tives Trump was talk­ing about are Rus­sia and China, two other po­ten­tial sources of weapons sales to Saudi Ara­bia. Those weapons that will no doubt be used in the on­go­ing war that is killing so many in Ye­men — an­other thing the U.S. won’t con­demn, be­cause it’s bad for the arms busi­ness. Per­haps Trump is only say­ing some­thing about the re­alpoli­tik of busi­ness and money where politi­cians be­fore him have been afraid to tread — that cash will make the world close its eyes to tor­ture and re­pres­sion,

But should that be the first and fore­most pub­lic con­cern about the ac­tions of na­tions re­ally be whether or not a re­pres­sive regime is spend­ing money in your na­tion?

Surely there is more to the role of na­tions than the size of pay­off you ex­pect to re­ceive.

Is this what the United States’ role is now in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity?

Money talks, and ethics walk?

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