Trump: I will be calling Saudi Arabia's King

President Trump spoke to reporters about missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just over a week ago. CNN's JIm Acosta has more.

Posted: Oct 14, 2018 9:07 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2018 9:07 AM

America is turning inward, and that's making the whole world a more dangerous place.

This isn't a neoconservative talking point, but, in our case writing as one conservative and one liberal, a shared concern from the left and the right. The United States, under President Trump, is abdicating an important moral obligation to all democracies by seeming to shrug off the most egregious of human rights violations from both our allies and our enemies.

In a new interview with CBS, when pressed about the disappearance of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident with children living in this country, from the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Trump insisted there will be a "severe punishment" for the Saudis if they were responsible.

At least for now, that punishment does not include withdrawing our official presence at Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative later this month. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin has stated he still plans on attending.

But Trump's latest statement is a welcome - if vague - shift in tone from earlier in the week when Trump seemed to dismiss his possible murder as not our problem. "It's in Turkey, and it's not a citizen, as I understand it. But a thing like that shouldn't happen."

The "thing" that shouldn't happen, of course, is that a journalist was possibly the victim of an extrajudicial killing on foreign soil, at the behest of one of our allied partners, Saudi Arabia, according to US officials. The President's words imply that somehow Khashoggi's fate should be less horrifying because he wasn't an American.

It's admittedly naive not to acknowledge Saudi Arabia's important role in fighting terrorism in the Middle East and providing stopgap protection against Iranian threats. But that this President seems to believe Khashoggi's citizenship somehow diminishes our responsibility to strongly rebuke the kingdom is deeply disturbing.

Worse, the President's cold calculation of the cost of action -- "I don't like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States," he said of our arms trade with Saudi Arabia (which thus far has only earned $14.5 billion) -- effectively puts a bounty on dissidents' heads. For $110 billion in weapons, or far less, you can allegedly kill a dissident journalist without so much as a whiff of indignation from the US President. The quantifying of Khashoggi's life is despicable.

It's also signaling to the rest of the world that the United States will no longer lead when it comes to denouncing human rights violations, or holding the violators accountable, so long as the political or economic calculus favors silence or inaction. But being a shining beacon of democracy for the rest of the world should not only be the privilege but the obligation of our lifetimes.

From a genocide in Syria that's claimed the lives of half a million people, to a staggering refugee crisis in Myanmar and protests and violence in Venezuela, there is a contagion of humanitarian crises sweeping the globe while the United States has receded into the background.

The ripple effect is that other countries feel emboldened to act out. Whether that's in the case of Russia, which is widely believed to have extrajudicially murdered ex-spies; or in China, which abducts its own citizens -- most recently an actress and an Interpol chief -- before charging them with crimes after the fact; or in Egypt, where officials were accused of torturing, mutilating and murdering an Italian postgraduate student and dumping his body outside Cairo, to few if any repercussions.

How can we credibly profess our outrage at Russia, China, Egypt or anyone else when, just one year after the death of American college student Otto Warmbier after being imprisoned by the North Korean government, President Trump welcomed Kim Jong Un with open arms -- and a commemorative coin -- to a show summit in Singapore, where he heaped upon Kim the kind of lavish praise usually denied dictators who starve their own people?

Instead, brutal dictators, despots and war criminals are granted an open ear and open mind from President Trump. He extolls despots and dismisses our democratic allies as weak or unimportant.

This perverse affinity for strongmen limits America's potential as well as democracy's potential around the world. A strongman rules by fear -- inherently viewing citizens as weak and governments as powerful. Democracy should be the opposite.

When America pays lip service but little more to horrors like the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, instead proclaiming convenient but arbitrary loopholes in our moral obligations, we just give the world's worst bullies more ammunition and power.

There are no loopholes when it comes to basic human rights.

Every American, no matter his or her politics or point of view, knows our unique existential gift -- we are our aspirations. So, with the world watching, the question is, to what do we aspire?

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115763

Reported Deaths: 3263
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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