Trump, Saudi Arabia and à la carte Human Rights

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  • Saudi Arabian Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Turkey

Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and then killed. It has been widely reported that Khashoggi was cut to pieces in the embassy whilst still alive. Turkish secret recordings of the murder are said to confirm this.

  • Vasilis Giavris *

Khashoggi was a dissident who was critical of the Saudi Royal family. He relocated to the United States in June 2017, where he obtained permanent residency and began writing for the Washington Post. On the day of his murder Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in order to obtain documents related to his planned marriage.

Xapa 3cThe Saudi government initially denied any involvement in the murder.

They have since admitted their involvement albeit claiming that the perpetrators were rogue operators who acted without the consent of the Saudi Royal family.

US President Trump initially criticized the Saudi government for the murder but has since softened his stance. Indeed, Trump has made it clear that there was $450 billion in investments at stake and he will not risk losing such money irrespective of the Saudi actions. Amongst other he stated that: “I know they’re [Senators] talking about different kinds of sanctions, but they’re [Saudi Arabia] spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs, like jobs and others for this country. I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States”…

Therein lays Trumps vision of human rights. He will look away if there was a substantial financial gain to be made. But can the world, including the United States, really afford to look away and permit diplomatic posts to be used as torture chambers? What message is this really sending? Must we not truly stand up for human values and champion human dignity?

Human rights are not a “menu à la carte” where we choose what we want when we want and only when it suits us. We cannot merely enjoy the benefits and the protection offered by these rights whilst ignoring our obligations to uphold and enforce them. It imperative that we honor and respect these irrespective of financial ramifications.

The decision by Trump to openly and unashamedly value monetary investments above human rights is terrifying. It signifies his world view, namely: moral chaos. But history has dealt with moral chaos in the past. In the Peloponnesian War Thucydides laments at the subversion of Athenian democracy by unscrupulous orators. He maintains that the moral decline of Athens culminated in their decision to invade Sicily and ultimately to the Athenian destruction.

Moral chaos brought by the abuse of political language and the collapse of due legal process can only bring demise and destruction. Surely this is a much higher price to pay compared to the loss of Saudi petrol dollars.

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