Trump’s Response to Khashoggi Killing Undermines American Values

William Ramage | United States

The killing of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi ordered by the Saudi Arabian prince is a direct attack on the very values our country was founded upon. It poses a distinct threat to our basic freedoms by the Saudi crown, especially as Khashoggi was working in America and the natural rights of our society should be applied to him. It is a direct act of social terrorism, and given the Iraq war and various American reactions to threats, America doesn’t take terrorism lightly. So why is the Trump administration’s response minimally invasive?

Trump has had many personal financial ties to the Saudi crown, as the Trump organization has received tens of millions of dollars from investors and Saudi business deals. This has been going on for a while as Alwaleed bin-Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family, purchased a $20 million yacht from Trump; it occurred in  1991 and was part of Trump’s effort to avoid Bankruptcy. Similar patterns have continued, in 2001 the Saudi Arabian government purchased the entire 45th floor of Trump Tower in New York and up until 2016 paid a total of $5.7 million. Personal endeavors by our president are what is driving the American response to the murder.

The Trump administration is voicing the entire country’s view on behalf of the president’s personal financial values. A conflict of interest of this significance stretches beyond conservative and liberal views; this was quickly made evident in Congress. The Senate voted in an overwhelming majority to end American involvement in the Yemen war, thus punishing the Saudi Arabian government. In a nation as divided as present-day America, it is seemingly impossible to find issues the left and right can find common ground upon. This conflict is one of the few things the majority of America can agree upon, yet it is still in favor of the minority.

The conflict of interest is a violation of the emoluments clause and an abuse of federal power for direct personal financial gain. It is not in Trump’s best financial interest to punish the Saudi Crown.  The response is sacrificing the ideals and liberties engraved by our founding fathers for the economic prosperity of an elite organization. While a more aggressive reaction may stimulate a counter-reaction against America through the form of restricted oil trade, it is a price America should be willing to pay to defend its values.

The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince was directly involved in the killing, as he exchanged messages with the aide who oversaw the execution just days before it happened. Trump has repeatedly bashed the CIA over this matter, claiming them as incorrect. Trump is undermining the CIA and disrespecting their findings and placing more trust within the Saudi Government, essentially defending a foreign government with a history of corruption over his own nation’s intelligence agency.

The United States has involved itself in spreading democracy and its values and liberating those who are suppressed by tyrannical governments. The Vietnam war, though highly controversial, was an American effort to liberate foreign peoples who have had their basic rights suppressed. If the federal government went to such a great extent to aid the Vietnamese and implant our democratic values, why is the modern government refusing to take a stand against a much more direct threat to our democracy?  America needs to take this opportunity to rise up and defend our liberties, as the biggest threat to American culture appears to be our own leader.

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