U.S. Fails to Support American Values in Reaction to Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder

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Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish journalist, was assassinated on October 2, 2018 on orders given by the Saudi prince, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, because Khashoggi openly critiqued the Saudi government and the prince.

Long a friend to the Saudi royal family and a member in government, Khashoggi, increasingly critical of the prince and the government, went into exile and came to the U.S. last year, where he worked as a columnist for the Washington Post.

On a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in late September, Khashoggi was turned away and told to return on October 2. Upon his return he was abducted and killed. Since intelligence of his death has circulated, the Saudi prince has changed his story many times. It went from Khashoggi left after obtaining his papers, to he was choked after resisting officials trying to return him to Saudi Arabia, to he was given a lethal injection after conflict arose. Since then intelligence has revealed that Khashoggi was taken from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and killed and dismembered by Saudi appointed officials on orders given by the Saudi prince in an effort to avenge the criticism from Khashoggi. Following the emergence of this news, the Saudi prince stated that their intelligence agencies will now be controlled by him.

President Trump has since stated that he will not take a stand nor reprimand the Saudi prince for his part in Khashoggi’s death. This is huge because the U.S. does a lot of business with Saudi Arabia every year, particularly selling them weapons. There is currently a civil war going on in Yemen, in which Saudi Arabia has been aiding conflict by attacking innocent bystanders using weapons of mass destruction given to them by the U.S. These attacks are an attempt to suppress protests from Yemen citizens criticizing the Yemen president.

By the U.S. supporting Saudi Arabia through continued distribution of weapons and ignoring these events, the U.S. is supporting a terrorist organization attempting to stomp out people’s freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to protest. This contradicts the American tradition of American exceptionalism, the idea that America is superior on grounds that because we are a free, self-governing country, we should aid all those who are denied freedom, and to help get rid of any persons or party who would act to deny those of what Americans believe to be inalienable rights. This has been seen throughout American history: the American Civil War; the war in Iraq; the American Revolution; the everlasting battle between the free world and terrorism (ISIS, al Qaeda). However, the Trump administration abandoned this tradition when President Trump ordered airstrikes on Yemen, which hit several school buses and killed dozens of children in early August 2018.

By veering from this idea of American exceptionalism through supporting those who would threaten people’s inalienable rights, some think the U.S. and the Trump administration are saying that business and money are more important than human rights, most importantly, the right to life. The president pretty much confirmed this when he said that it would be “foolish” to end America’s arms dealings with Saudi Arabia as it would cost the U.S. billions of dollars, confirming that he thinks that money is more important than human rights.

The Republican party is divided as to an opinion on the topic. Many reject the Trump administration’s actions in response to Khashoggi’s killing. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) took to Twitter to give his opinion. He rejected the Trump administration’s stance saying, “when we lose our moral voice, we lose our strongest asset.” However, other Republicans, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, say that we are doing enough. Pompeo said, “We’ve sanctioned 17 people, some of them very senior in the Saudi government. We are going to make sure that America always stands for human rights.” Democratic leaders, including New Jersey senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker condemn President Trump’s stance on Khashoggi’s assassination and his action to continue arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

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