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The Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

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Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

The United States is at a foreign affairs crossroads. One of our most important allies in the most important region in the world is being led by a man that U.S. intelligence (and pretty much everybody else) believes ordered the murder of a journalist living in our nation and writing for one of its biggest news outlets. How can we reconcile between what’s right and what’s smart?

Further evidence was leaked today that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. The CIA concluded this based on multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence, including phone calls intercepted between Khashoggi and Mohammed’s brother assuring Khashoggi’s safety if he went to the Saudi consulate where was murdered.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-concludes-saudi-crown-prince-ordered-jamal-khashoggis-assassination/2018/11/16/98c89fe6-e9b2-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html?utm_term=.718b2d26599cThe CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

This is much more complicated than deciding whether or not to punish Mohammed. The stakes are unfathomably high, including balance of power in the Middle East, a potential oil crisis that could cripple the world economy, and the future of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, what’s right and what’s smart are diametrically opposed in this situation.

What’s right?

Every ounce of evidence points to the near-certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He was a permanent residence of the United States who lived in Virginia and worked at the Washington Post. While not a citizen, he lawfully earned the right to fall under our nation’s protections.

The right thing to do is to condemn the Crown Prince, even if that will irreversibly damage our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

What’s smart?

Based on the current geopolitical status quo, Saudi Arabia is our best proxy to keep Iran in check in the Middle East. They are also the reason the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency despite efforts by Russia, China, and other nations to change that. This status allows the dollar to maintain artificial stability. There are many factors in play that could cripple the dollar if Saudi Arabia and OPEC started dealing in other currencies, bur national debt alone would be enough to catastrophically collapse our entire economy if the world had the means to turn its collective back on us.

Saudi Arabia and the so-called “petrodollar” is the force that maintains the illusion of stability.

The arms we sell Saudi Arabia account for a substantial chunk of revenue and jobs in the United States, but more importantly it gives them the technological edge they need over Iran. If the Saudis turn to Russia or China, our influence over the region would diminish greatly.

The smart thing to do is to sweep this under the rug. Throw symbolic punishment at some sacrificial Saudi lambs and move on.

Time for change

There is no way to do what’s right and still do what’s smart, so it would seem the White House has to pick between the two.

Perhaps they don’t. Perhaps there’s a third option.

Even if we do the “right” thing by condemning Saudi Arabia Mohammed, ties will not deteriorate immediately. There will be a wind down during which time the Saudis will be looking for other partners and the Americans will be trying to salvage the relationship.

What if we didn’t? What if we acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia is more than just the country that murdered Khashoggi. Their human rights record is atrocious. They have directly or indirectly harmed the United States for years, including a significant role in terrorist attacks. They spread Wahhabism across the world. If you haven’t heard much about Wahhabism, it’s because the radical Islamic sect that drives the House of Saud is protected from media scrutiny. See Network, which only partially satirizes the influence the Saudis have on U.S. media.

Saudi Arabia is a horrible ally. They’re necessary because we’ve made them necessary, but if we drastically cut budgets and spending, the economic ramifications of a break with them would be mitigated. It’s time to make deals with nations that do not smile at us in public and subvert us in private. Nations that do not like us, including Brazil and Venezuela, could be brought under our wing to replace Saudi Arabia on the oil front. It’s unimaginable now, but we live in fast-moving times.

Also, build the Keystone XL pipeline.

As for stability in the Middle East, it’s time we go all-in with Israel. They are the only true democracy and the one nation in the Middle East we can count on to not stab us in the back. They are capable of being the check against Iran. Abandon all talks of a two-state solution, work with Israel as our primary proxy in the Middle East, and make Saudi Arabia turn to others for support.

All of this sounds dangerous because, well, it is. The dominoes that will fall when we take drastic measures against Saudi Arabia will be painful. But there’s one thing to consider before balking at this. We may be heading in this direction already. The difference is it wouldn’t be us initiating (and therefore prepared for) these changes. Saudi Arabia has been quietly seeking a better deal for decades. They haven’t found it yet, but someday they will. When that happens, they’ll pull the rug out from under us.

We should be the ones pulling the rug. If we’re not, the permanent repercussions will be devastating.

Radical change in our foreign affairs stance is long overdue. Saudi Arabia is the worst kind of ally to rely upon, not just because of Khashoggi but because of everything else they’ve done. None of this seems feasible now, but it may be the only path forward.

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Foreign Affairs

Thanks to Trump, Americans still have free speech

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Thanks to Trump Americans still have free speech

In spite of what mainstream media says, Trump’s rejection of the “Christchurch Call” may spare Americans from the Orwellian censorship other Western countries have pledged their allegiance to

Using tragedies to push political agendas is nothing new.

While people are still reeling from some disaster, before they are thinking rationally again is the best time for the shrewd-minded to take advantage of the situation. These cunning individuals cite prevention of another catastrophe in order to pressure those soft hearts – yet to come down from the shock of recent horrific events – into taking rash, impulsive, immediate action.

This is exactly what happened on May 15, when several nations and big tech companies, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft, signed a pledge written up in response to the Christchurch mosque massacre which was live-streamed by the shooter on Facebook.

The “Christchurch Call To Action,” which can be read in its entirety here, outlined efforts to be taken in order “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online,” including “strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of our societies” and encouraging media to “apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online.”

Among the countries who signed the call were Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, the European Commission, Japan, Senegal, Jordan, India, and Indonesia.

But not America.

President Trump saw through the guise of humanitarianism that the Christchurch Call hid behind and refused to get on board.

In a statement regarding the president’s decision not to sign the Call, the White House claimed,

”We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Further, we maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”

Unsurprisingly, Trump has received a lot of backlash from mainstream media accusing him of being a “white supremacist bigot” contributing to “hate” for not signing the Call, but in reality, Trump was wise to stand against the crowd on this one.

The Christchurch Call is framed as a means for combating terrorism, but the vague terms sprinkled throughout the reactionary document like “inclusiveness” and “ethical standards” leave too much open to interpretation. Such loosely defined words make plenty of room for government censorship of any dissenting opinions on the Internet.

Other western countries are already sliding down the slippery slope towards an Orwellian future.

Just after the Christchurch shooting, New Zealand criminalized the video of the assailant’s livestream and his manifesto. Now, several citizens of New Zealand have been arrested and are facing up to 14 years of imprisonment just for sharing the video.

Some New Zealanders have also reported receiving visits from local police, who asked questions regarding their political views, such as if they liked Trump or not.

In Scotland, a man was fined £800 for making this video in the spirit of comedy:

Several U.K. citizens have been arrested, fined, or had the police visit them for criticizing Islam on social media.

While Americans like Alex Jones have questionably been banned from platforms like Facebook and Youtube, this is the worst it gets in the United States.

In America, government involvement in silencing online political dissidents through arrests and fines is unheard of. In declining to sign the Christchurch Call, Trump made a statement displaying his commitment to preserving his people’s right to voice their opinions, no matter how controversial.

While the Trump administration still stands, America will remain the land of freedom of speech.

Sources

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Democrats

Trump hits Biden on China connections

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Trump hits Biden on China connections

One thing has been made clear by recent events as they pertain to China: They are dying for someone to beat President Trump next November. In many ways, they’re banking on it.

This should make every American, including Democrats, concerned because even more than Russia, China has the capabilities to get in and change the hearts and minds of Americans, hack the 2020 election, and set in motion events that will benefit them. We’re talking about a country with nearly unlimited resources when it comes to cyberwarfare and social engineering. If Russia was ever a real concern to Washington DC, China is the true 800-lb gorilla in the political influence room.

The President called out former Vice President Joe Biden for his and his family’s involvement in China. Speaking to Steve Hilton on the Fox News show, The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton, the President pointed to alarming facts about the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

The threat from China is far greater than that from Russia, both economically as well as geopolitically. They have been a stirring giant for years. For the 2020 election, their stirring may turn into game-changing action if we’re not watchful.

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Foreign Affairs

Economic portion of Middle East peace plan to be unveiled June 25 in Bahrain

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Economic portion of Middle East peace plan to be unveiled June 25 in Bahrain

The long-anticipated “deal of the century” finally has an official date for a partial release. The economic portion, which will detail how Palestinians will be supported as well as how they can eventually support themselves, will be unveiled June 25, 2019, at the “Peace to Prosperity” economic forum in the Manama, Bahrain.

The plan, which has been brewing for over two years, is expected to trade land and economic considerations for peace and unity between Israel and a newly formed “New Palestine.” Earlier this month, an alleged leak of the highlights of the plan was leaked to Israeli press.

Opinion

We may be closer to actual peace in the Middle East than ever before. It may be a Pyrrhic victory for the administration and Israel if it’s successful; a two-state solution could mark the beginning of the end for the Jewish state as its enemies gain a nearer foothold where attacks can happen.

While the plan details are unknown, it must be assumed Israel wouldn’t risk it unless they were either coerced by the United States or if they were made to believe they could maintain security over the newly released lands on the West Bank.

But there’s a different specter that looms large over both Israel and a new Palestinian state. Iran and its proxies are bent on disrupting any peace plan that includes the continued existence of Israel, the dominance of Saudi Arabia in the region, or the influence of United States over the Middle East. They will do everything in their power to disrupt and subvert the peace plan efforts.

Quote

“We look forward to engaging with business and thought leaders from throughout the region and the world to build consensus around the best steps the international community can take to develop the foundation for a prosperous future.” – Jared Kushner

Final Thoughts

By releasing the economic portion first, the White House hopes to get support from the Arab world and Palestinians to pressure leadership into considering the plan. As of now, Palestinian leadership has preemptively rejected the plan.

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