Tuesday, October 16, 2018


The case of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is giving rise to shifting story lines which contradict each other by the minute. The gruesome speculations resembled a Stephen Sondheim "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" scenario. Now they start to look more like the perfect vehicle for an Eric Ambler "Dimitrios/Colonel Haki" crime story.

Of course, given the overlapping interests of Trump & Co. with Mohammed bin Salman, the White House tries to salvage this connection by every means conceivable, the last being the "rogue killers" fable. The attempt for cover-up is the more ludicrous after the Saudis repeatedly said that Kashoggi had left the Consulate safely.

Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State is in Riyadh, probably more concerned about billions of dollars of weapon sales to the Saudis, than to embarrass them. Turkey, which pretends to have graphic evidence, has not come clear regarding the sharing thereof.

The American president is always reluctant to criticize his "soul mates": Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, al Sisi, Mohammed bin Salman, and the new flirts in North Korea or Brazil.  His inclinations follow a temperament which is transactional and non-normative as well as an insecure nouveau riche psyche, with a Midas touch. These United States are all about short-term gains devoid of any philosophical consideration. Former larger alliances based on shared principles are experienced as cumbersome and costly. Trump chose likewise a cabinet of mostly saboteurs who are supposed to hasten the end of rules and policies which might stand in the way of the quick gain and buck. Climate, health care, environment, education, energy, culture, justice, housing, have been given over to professional political euthanasia proponents who slash, disinvest and kill.

It is doubtful that this latest episode will resonate with the electorate at large. Republicans have no appetite for the exotic or the far abroad. They will look at the Saudi's "Embarrassment of Riches" like some episode of Aladdin and forget all about it.  Congress might show some discontent but Republicans, being what they are will, as in the Kavanaugh episode, turn the page. Under Trump, nothing lasts but the decibels.

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