A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post says that Donald Trump’s statement earlier this week in response to the murder of United States-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian agents has only made foreign leaders — especially those leaders of authoritarian regimes — see Trump as a laughingstock, easily manipulated by flattery.
In the statement issued Tuesday, as CNN reported, Trump said that the U.S. will do nothing beyond already-imposed sanctions against 17 individual Saudis in response to the October 2 slaying of Khashoggi. The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded with “high confidence” that Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the murder of the journalist, per a separate CNN report. Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of bin Salman’s rule and often expressed his views in columns for the Washington Post.
But Trump has shrugged off the CIA findings, saying in a statement that, “it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
But Trump’s response, according to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson — who won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2009 — shows only that bin Salman, and other foreign rulers, know that they can have their way with Trump by appealing to his vanity.
“Trump’s reaction — or non-reaction — to the Saudi regime’s brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a holiday-season gift to autocrats around the globe,” Robinson wrote in a Thanksgiving Day column. “It shows them that if you just shower Trump with over-the-top flattery, feed him some geopolitical mumbo jumbo and make vague promises to perhaps buy some American-made goods in the future, he will literally let you get away with murder.”
Khashoggi’s killing — during which he was reportedly suffocated with a plastic bag over his head and then dismembered — was allegedly audio-recorded inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But as the Inquisitr reported, Trump has refused to listen to that tape, even though it is in possession of the CIA.
Why is Trump willing to ignore the brutal murder of a U.S.-based journalist by a foreign government?
“The Saudi royals got on Trump’s good side by hosting his first foreign visit and fawning over him as if he, too, were an absolute monarch. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was gracious and deferential to Trump at their summit — and now continues his nuclear and ballistic missile programs unmolested. Russia’s Vladimir Putin complimented Trump’s political skill — and escaped any meaningful punishment for meddling in the 2016 election,” Robinson recounted. “There cannot be a strongman ruler in the world who fails to see the pattern — and the opportunity.”
Despite Trump’s message on Thanksgiving in which he claimed, as the Independent transcribed, that “this country is so much stronger now than when I took office you wouldn’t believe it,” foreign rulers perceive Trump as laughably weak, according to Robinson.
“In Riyadh, they must be laughing at President Trump. In Pyongyang, too, and in Tehran. In Beijing and, of course, in Moscow, they must be laughing until it hurts,” Robinson wrote. “They look at Washington and they don’t see a champion of freedom and human rights. They see a preening, clueless clown.”