Donald Trump is faced with the same dilemma all U.S. presidents face in dealing with U.S. allies who don’t live up to American values. Do you stick by principle and reduce ties with an economic or security partner who violates our nation’s norms? Or do you gloss over the ally’s transgression and conduct business as usual?
In the case of the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the president’s inclination appears to be to give the perpetrator a pass.
The president has said, evidence to the contrary, he’s not convinced that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a frequent target of Khashoggi’s criticism, had anything to do with the journalist’s slaying inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. But even if the crown prince ordered the killing, Trump suggests that getting all hot and bothered about it is not worth alienating an ally that sells a lot of oil to the U.S. and buys a lot of weapons from it.
Maybe not, but the president sells American values short when he thinks it’s unreasonable to expect our allies to abide by them.
Democratic nations the world over respect press freedom and the right of citizens to express their opinion without fearing for their lives. It’s only the autocratic nations that don’t.