Much Ado About Khashoggi

The leader of this Muslim country is accused of having people kidnapped and having their organs cut out of their bodies: his political enemies are a rich source of highly profitable commodities, human parts which are sold on the black market. His role as head of state makes his real job as Mafia boss of bosses so much easier – and difficult to bring him to justice.

No, this isn’t about Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who had domestic critic Jamal Khashnoggi cut up after luring him to the Saudi embassy in Turkey. I’m talking about “President” Hashim Thaci of Kosovo, who was credibly accused of organ-selling by none other than the Council of Europe. Thaci is a literal demonstration of Murray Rothbard’s description of the State as a criminal gang: Thaci is known to control most of the heroin that runs through Europe like a river of death. Yet there he is swanning around just like he’s a normal person. Here he is being honored by the Atlantic Council (i.e. the folks who are censoring Facebook’s political content). Kosovo, which is a full member of NATO, is entirely dependent on what we shell out in “foreign aid” to this caricature of a “country,” The US has known all about Thaci since the Bill Clinton era, when we installed him and his fellow thugs in power. Our relationship with him is no different from our embrace of the Saudis. The only difference is that the spotlight is on one, while the other lives in the shadows. And so, turning to where the spotlight is shining….

A full-fledged resolution demanding US withdrawal of support for the Saudi war on the Houthis has a good chance of passing Congress, or at least coming close enough to be notable: it’s a race between this effort, led by Rep. Ro Khanna, and the administration,  which is pushing up peace talks and has already ended refueling operations for Saudi planes.

While administration officials are making it awfully easy for the Democrats to hang Khashoggi’s bloody shirt around their necks, one has to wonder: what does the anti-Saudi lobby, which is now feeling its power, actually want?

No arms sales to Riyadh? The Saudis have alternatives. Are we punishing the House of Saud or the households of American workers in Middle America? Aside from that, however, one has to wonder how far the anti-Saudi (pro-Iran?) lobby wants to take its campaign to decouple Washington from the Kingdom. And if regime change is on the agenda – and the tone of the discourse is going in that direction – what do these geniuses intend to replace the monarchy with?

The idea that we have to “do something” about the Saudis is on the same level as all the other interventionist propaganda we hear, twenty-four seven, and the rationale is always the same. These are Bad Guys. We’re the Good Guys. We can Fix Things. This fits nicely into the converging worldviews of both neoconservatives and liberals: the neocons see intervention as a high principle, while the “responsibility to protect” touted by the Samantha Power crowd is easily triggered. The Saudis have practically replaced the Russians as the bogeyman of the hour.

Both components of the NeverTrump coalition attack the President on the grounds that he’s not interventionist enough. Furthermore, they disdain the historic peace initiatives undertaken by this White House, even as the spirit of Singapore gathers strength – and is now almost unstoppable on the ground in Korea. As world leaders troop to  Buenos Aires, the pro-war media is aghast at the prospect of the President meeting with Vladimir Putin, just as they were horrified by Helsinki.

Unfortunately for them, the American people are not going to go to war with Russia over the alleged “right” of Ukraine to traverse the Kerch Strait. No normal American cares about this “crisis,” which is at the center of the latest Beltway brouhaha over Russian “aggression” in the region.

I tend to think that the Russians are wrong in this instance, insofar as the legal ins and outs of previous agreements between Kiev and Moscow are concerned, but that’s a mere side issue. The real question is: what interest does the US have in the Sea of Azov?

In a rational world, the only possible answer is: none. In the fantasy world of the new cold warriors, who seem to be living in a third-rate low budget remake of “Red Dawn,” failure to “stand up” to Putin signals a fatal weakness that can only end with the Russian flag fluttering over the White House.

President Trump didn’t hide his views on this subject: the American people voted for the candidate who openly asked “Why can’t we get along with the Russians?” Trump has a mandate for a comprehensive agreement with the Russians over a wide range of issues, from nuclear weapons to Crimea to the rationale for continued NATO expansion.

On another front, the beginning of phase two of the Singapore peace process has been virtually ignored by the media, even as the prospect of a second summit looms large. The barriers between North and South Korea are coming down so fast that the War Party is complaining of the “danger” of peace breaking out too soon. At this point, the failure of the US, China, and the two Koreas to sign a joint declaration signaling an end to the Korean war is irrelevant:

It’s beyond absurd that the so-called “peace movement” in this country has completely ignored and even on occasion attacked the Singapore initiative – solely on the grounds that Trump is an unworthy vessel of rapprochement! They would rather harp on whatever conflict they can lay at this administration’s feet, than recognize the world-historic significance of the fall of the DMZ.

These people are mental pygmies who can’t see beyond their own petty political perspectives. Well then, so be it. Let others make history – yes, even so unlikely a figure as a former real estate mogul and reality show star who somehow captured – and now embodies – the spirit of the age.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].