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Foreign Affairs

Is a journalist’s life worth ending decades of good relations with Saudi Arabia? Yes.



Is a journalists life worth ending decades of good relations with Saudi Arabia Yes

If the evidence Turkey claims to have against Saudi Arabia in the disappearance or murder of Jamal Khashoggi pans out, it is time to close the book on American-Saudi relations. We can still talk and work towards common goals, but no more selling weapons, no more defending their economic choices, no more favorable treatment. They should be classified the same way we classify other nations that are neither our allies or enemies.

To keep them as an ally betrays everything it means to be the United States of America.

For full disclosure, I’ve been an opponent to the standard U.S. policy of looking the other way when Saudi Arabia does something heinous since well before Khashoggi was allegedly murdered by them. From their treatment of women to their treatment of Jews and Christians to the fact that they’ve helped spread radical Islam to all corners of the earth, the Saudis have always been and will always be against the freedoms that Americans hold dear. We should not be selling them weapons any more than we should sell Iran weapons. Saudi Arabia is the opposite side of the same Islamic extremist coin as Iran. They’re just more adept at sweeping things under the rug until now.

Khashoggi held permanent residency in the United States and worked for a U.S. company. He may have been a Saudi citizen, but he was not charged, tried, and convicted of a crime. He was assassinated, likely because of his amplified voice through the Washington Post speaking out against a totalitarian regime that does not take kindly to dissidents.

Turkey claims they have irrefutable recordings, audio for certain and possibly video, from within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Let’s briefly put aside the alarming revelation that Turkey apparently bugs foreign consulates, which is worrisome to say the least. In this case, we’ll accept that they gained access to recordings through some means that may or may not have broken international law.

They have all the details, including the identities of the 15-man assassination team that allegedly captured, tortured, and killed Khashoggi. They know how it went down, have video evidence from outside the consulate, and now have recordings from inside the consulate that they claim prove the Saudis brutally murdered him.

If it’s true, the administration is caught between a rock and a hard place.

The rock is the fact that Saudi Arabia is second only to Israel as our most reliable and strategic partner in the Middle East. They’re the hedge that helps keep Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Hamas from overrunning the region. Without Saudi Arabia, our other allies in the Middle East would be further in harm’s way.

The hard place is the backlash that will come from these revelations. This is going to be a difficult debacle for the State Department to clean up, especially with bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to get to the truth and dish out justice in some form or fashion. Some of the most conservative and most liberal in DC are unified in their desire to condemn Saudi Arabia for these actions.

The White House had hoped there was enough doubt that could be cast on the whole thing to prevent them from going after Saudi Arabia or explaining why they won’t. Every day, new evidence is emerging that’s shredding any hope for doubt. I put it at a 90% certainty that Saudi Arabia did it two days ago. Since then, the evidence that has come out puts me at a 99% certainty. They did it and they’re trying to cover it up.

Who is lying about Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey or Saudi Arabia? I were to put percentages to the likelihood of guilt, it would be 90/10 that Turkey is telling the truth and Saudi Arabia is covering up an abduction and/or murder. Unfortunately, it’s not quite certain enough to dismiss Turkey altogether.

Today, I think we have enough certainty to act.

It’s time to rethink our relationship with Saudi Arabia. They won’t like it and there will be major repercussions, but it’s the right thing to do. If we don’t, what does that say about our desire for law and order?

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Foreign Affairs

Would the White House pressure Benjamin Netanyahu to form government with left-leaning parties?



Would the White House pressure Benjamin Netanyahu to form government with left-leaning parties

On the surface, it may be difficult to imagine President Trump, a Republican, quietly pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next Israeli government in a coalition with left-leaning parties should he win the April elections. But dig a little deeper and the thought becomes plausible. Why? Because it’s very likely his much-touted Middle East peace plan includes provisions for the Palestinians that conservatives in Israel may not allow.

A pair of articles out of Israel hint at this possibility:

My Take

It isn’t just those supporting such a move who are talking about it. New Right candidate Caroline Glick told the Jerusalem Post in an interview: “It’s mystifying that [Trump administration officials] think there’s a deal to be made when there so obviously isn’t one from the Palestinian perspective.”

Just as President Obama wanted to make his mark with the Iranian nuclear deal, so too would President Trump want to do what no world leader has been able to truly accomplish in history: a negotiated and firm peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be a crowning achievement if that was the only thing in his legacy. It would be truly historic.

Of course, most experts on Middle East affairs agree that there’s no chance for such a deal or a lasting peace without a two-state solution on the table, which is almost certainly what the Trump administration is going to push on Israel. The left in the Jewish state seem amicable to the idea, but conservatives are generally opposed. Doing so would weaken them militarily, forcing them to cover areas they currently control and bringing the potential for attacks against Israel nearly impossible to repel.

It’s the hope of any American leader to bring peace to the Middle East because it’s never been done before. Unfortunately, the path to peace is one that would eventually be covered with Israeli blood. That’s the nature of the hatred towards the Jews.


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Losers all around: Untangling the border bill that benefits literally zero Americans



Losers all around Untangling the border bill that benefits literally zero Americans

The Senate and House just put a bill on the President’s desk that he intends to sign. This bill will keep the government funded for most of the year and has many components worth discussing within its 1200 pages. For this discussion, let’s look specifically at the border security components because there seems to be losers across the board without a single winner in sight… at least not from this country.

First, let’s look at the two parties.

Democrats lose the political clout that would have come from a bipartisan agreement to fund the border wall. While most on the left see it as a win that they were able to put together a bill that snuck in so many atrocious immigration loopholes (which we’ll cover below), those loopholes will be used to demonstrate how bad their border policy really is.

But it would all be worth it to them if the wall never got built, at least politically speaking for 2020. The wall is President Trump’s post-midterm achievement if he can get a good chunk of it built, so stopping him from doing so would have been a win. There’s still a chance it can be a win for the Democrats if the White House doesn’t play their cards right. The national emergency declaration may or may not get the wall started before the election, so they’ll need to invoke 10 U.S.C. 284 to get it going sooner rather than later.

Of course, the biggest loss for Democrats is their own policies. It may not have the immediate negative impact necessary to affect them in 2020, but it will have a negative impact nonetheless. As drug cartels and criminal illegal immigrants benefit from the insane policies they put in the bill, the only defense the Democrats will have is that a majority of Republicans backed it as well.

Republicans lose because this deal demonstrates their weakness. They were too weak to fight the border wall battle when they had control of the House, Senate, and White House simultaneously. There’s no reason to expect them to have grown a backbone since the midterms, and this bill proves they did not.

They folded on the border wall dollars. They folded on the restrictions placed on the border wall itself. They folded on the number of beds set aside for detained illegal immigrants. They folded on the allowance of what can only be construed as amnesty for future illegal border crossing unaccompanied minor sponsors (it’s a mouthful, but we’ll get into those protections a bit later).

In short, they folded on nearly everything and put the President in a position where his only viable option was to declare the national emergency. Sadly, it means the GOP not only accomplished nothing since the shutdown began, but also demonstrated the shutdown could have easily been avoided by simply caving then instead of waiting two months to cave.

Now, let’s look at everyone other than the parties themselves.

President Trump loses because this deal makes the shutdown look meaningless. It also exposes him to the wrath of conservatives who are both unhappy with the deal itself and infuriated by the massive overreach the national emergency declaration represents.

The only possible way for him to make it out of this mess with chances still intact for a reelection win are if three very specific things happen:

  1. He has to get a good chunk of the wall built before the election.
  2. Crime and illegal immigration numbers must go down before the election.
  3. Somehow, the negative components of this deal cannot come back to haunt him, though that seems unlikely at this point because the negatives are so numerous and utterly horrendous.

But the worst loss of all for the President is that it will be very hard for him to spin the use of a national emergency and creative appropriations to build a wall when he said literally hundreds of times that Mexico was going to pay for it. Yes, this catchy line helped him win the primaries and possibly even the general election, but it’s turning into such an inaccurate campaign promise that it can’t even be called a broken promise anymore. At this point, it appears to be a bald-faced campaign lie.

Most of all, the American people lose, This will be demonstrated on so many levels over the next couple of years that it will be hard to keep track of every instance that this bill makes us less safe, wastes our money, steals from our prosperity potential, and undercuts our sovereignty.

I’ll let Twitter explain this even further:

And the winner is…

Drug cartels, criminal illegal immigrants, and anyone willing and able to take advantage of Washington DC’s stupidity are the only winners from the border omnibus deal. National emergency declarations cannot take away from how bad this is. In fact, it may make it worse.


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Foreign Affairs

As Benjamin Netanyahu meets with world leaders, focus centers on Iran in Syria



As Benjamin Netanyahu meets with world leaders, focus centers on Iran in Syria

The threat represented by Iran in the war-torn nation of Syria manifests in multiple ways. Other Middle Eastern nations are concerned that if Iran’s military is allowed to get entrenched in Syria, they will have too much direct access to the region in ways that threaten the peace. The United States and western allies are concerned that exerting control over the Syrian regime will turn them into a puppet state that will not solve the problems faced by the Syrian people.

Meanwhile, Israel faces the greatest threat as the nation that wants to wipe them off the map would be next door neighbors if they continue to fortify themselves in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows this all too well and has not been shy about expressing these views to the world. In fact, he did it today in meetings with 60 world leaders and followed up by sharing his perspectives on Twitter.

Iran is not Israel’s problem alone. They are a problem for all freedom-loving countries in the region as well as powers throughout Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. Israel needs our support as well as the support of others who realize the threat Iran poses to us all.


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