President Donald Trump said he’s immediately sending Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and suggested that “rogue killers” might be behind the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
Trump commented on Monday after he said the king, in a 20-minute phone call, offered him a “flat denial” that the Saudi government was behind Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible murder. A Saudi official said the kingdom has begun an investigation ordered by the king and could hold people accountable if evidence warrants it. The probe is separate from a joint investigation being undertaken with Turkish officials.
Saudi Arabia are preparing a report that will acknowledge that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, CNN reports, citing two sources.
According to two sources, the interrogation was one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey.
One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.
As Trump said yesterday, weapons sales come first:
This is entirely consistent with the Jacksonian doctrine, as I’ve written before:
Through his work at The National Interest, it was Australia’s Owen Harries who did much to define the dominant and competing traditions of American foreign policy that offer better insights into the Trump phenomenon. Harries and his contributors identified two predominant schools of thought. The first was Wilsonianism, an idealistic ideology derived from President Woodrow Wilson that saw American ideals of democracy and capitalism as the best hope and future for the world. It is internationalist, interventionist and alliance-driven. The second school was Jacksonianism. Derived from President Andrew Jackson, it is a “realist” ideology that saw merit in domestic focus and the celebration of the common man. It is martial, honor-bound and rights-driven but is only dragged kicking and screaming into foreign wars (for more read Walter Russell Mead).
For the past century, Wilsonianism has dominated American foreign policy with only fits and starts of Jacksonian rebellion. Through two world wars and many regional skirmishes, America has remained largely committed to the creation of a global liberal order, (some might say empire), oscillating between bouts of fantastic idealism and realpolitik but by and large shaping the world in its image.
However, today that continuum has been disrupted. America has elected a thoroughly Jacksonian President in Donald Trump with his “America First” doctrine, and the cracks that that creates for the global order are widening fast.
…This is the key to the period ahead. Trump’s Jacksonian impulse is a paradox. It is not going to result in a smooth world of American first prosperity and power. On the contrary, it is going to egg-on every tin pot dictator and rising power to ever greater transgressions against the Wilsonian liberal order when in their interests to do so.
America First has no military way to counter this on a day-to-day basis. By definition, it aims to retreat from global responsibility even as its unintended consequences grow. This is a stunning and ongoing humiliation for the withdrawing Superpower. In effect, America now leads with its chin wherever it goes.
We can thus expect its rhetoric to mount ever higher to conceal crumbling imperial foundations. This will be amplified by the megaphone diplomacy of a clearly narcissistic president.
I might have added that liberal normatives such as ‘don’t assassinate your enemies in public’ are ancient history. Whether Trump can snow the issue time will tell. Congress will still make big deal of it. It’s clear he is going to try.