The latest move from Joe Biden isn’t entirely his fault, but it goes to the nonsensical, knee-jerk reaction from Democrats that anything Donald Trump did must be repudiated in the strongest of terms. At the time, many were somewhat irritated by Donald Trump’s lack of scolding for the Saudi Royal Family over the death of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated at their consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. Trump has long been accused of being too cozy with authoritarian leaders, which is laughable. Suppose only liberal journalists knew how agreeable the United States has been to a host of autocratic, anti-communist governments and movements for most of the 20th century. In that case, it’s not a profoundly new phenomenon. These people don’t like Trump.
In 2020, the Democratic Party was running on holding Riyadh’s feet to the fire over the Khashoggi killing, which the Saudi Royal Family ordered— everyone and their mother knew that as a fact. There was foolish talk about curbing arms shipments and other aspects of support which Biden can no longer do, thanks to our growing energy crisis. He did visit the kingdom earlier this year but did not make the strong demands about Khashoggi that would satisfy the members of his party who were pushing for a human rights statement during the trip. Instead, the Biden administration is now pushing for immunity for the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (via NYT):
The Biden administration has declared that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia should be granted immunity in a U.S. legal case over his role in the murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, effectively blocking yet another effort to hold the kingdom’s leader accountable for the grisly crime.
Mr. Khashoggi was a well-known Saudi journalist who fled Saudi Arabia for the United States and published columns in The Washington Post criticizing Prince Mohammed’s policies. In October 2018, he was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to obtain papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée. U.S. intelligence concluded that Prince Mohammed had ordered the operation.
Prince Mohammed, 37, became prime minister in September, formalizing the power he had wielded for years as the country’s de facto ruler, although his elderly father, King Salman, remains the official head of state. In a letter to the Justice Department on Thursday, the State Department said Prince Mohammed should be “immune while in office” as the head of the Saudi government, referring to his role as prime minister.
Prince Mohammed has said repeatedly that he had no prior knowledge of the plot against Mr. Khashoggi, but that he accepted symbolic responsibility for it as the nation’s de facto ruler.
The action by the Biden administration angered human rights activists, who say that failing to punish Prince Mohammed, widely known as M.B.S., for the killing of a high-profile journalist could encourage other autocrats to do the same.
Okay, first, autocrats can and do kill journalists, so let’s stop with the feeling that any of this is unprecedented, which is sprinkled into the coverage here. Second, this is the nature of things—the national interest always comes first. No one was ever serious about us blowing up a decades-long relationship, however imperfect, because some writer got chopped up by Saudi intelligence agents. It’s nasty but get over it. Everyone else has.