Buying Loyalty

SUN the loophole1

Donald Trump’s wholesale support of Mohammed Bin Salman and his involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is disturbing and wrong, and for more reasons than him taking the word of a potential hostile foreign power over his own intelligence which has categorically concluded that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved with the order.  I mean don’t get me wrong, that is bad.  But considering his dismissal of his intelligence officials in the past, especially regarding the Kremlin’s interference into the 2016 election.  So that part, while awful and discouraging, is less than surprising.  It’s only when you take a closer look into Trump’s logic of sticking by the Saudis does this whole thing start feeling more gross.  So, Trump says that he doesn’t want to ruin potentially lucrative deals between the US and Saudi Arabia.  He cites a “$110 billion arms deal” and falling gas prices as important factors in his decision to side with them.  But even if it were acceptable to worry about business dealings over human rights violations (it isn’t), the logic doesn’t hold up on closer inspection.  Seriously, think about it.  His $110 billion arms deal is mostly a fiction.  While I suppose there is a potential for that kind of purchase, deals like these have been made many times over the years, often leading to only a fraction of the sales negotiated.  At this point, Saudi Arabia has only purchased about 10% of the $110 billion they might buy.  Also, the “falling gas prices”?  Still worse than they were even 2 years ago.  Trump is lying to prop up business deals which are by his own measure of success, bad.  So why would Trump go to bat for the Royal Family?  Well, I can’t say for sure.  It could be he is just genuinely friendly with them, likes them and wants to protect them, but I would wager it might have something to do with all the things they buy from Trump.  He’s sold them apartments, and even an whole floor of the Trump Tower in New York.  They stay at his hotels, they bought a yacht from him in the 90s.  Make no mistake, they have invested in Trump’s own personal wealth to a substantial degree.  And if that’s what it takes to avoid rebuke on a political level, then I hope no one starts suggesting to Kim Jong Un that he goes apartment hunting with Trump any time soon.

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