On fake investigations: From Kavanaugh to MBS
With the help of the Trump administration, the Saudi regime is trying to sell us a brand new fake investigation.
By: Hamid Dabashi
In the age of "fake news" and "alternative facts" you, of course, have "fake investigations", too - the sort that FBI did on Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct allegations and now the sort Donald Trump tells us Mohammed bin Salman is doing into allegations of his own suspected involvement in the brutal murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Has anyone ever heard anything more absurd - for an accused to investigate himself? Yes, of course, we live in Trump time - any absurdity is the new normal.
The Saudis have now finally admitted that Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, supposedly after a fistfight, and that "18 Saudi nationals have been arrested" for further investigation.
The Saudis should have hired what in Hollywood they call a "script supervisor" before they opened their mouth telling the world what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. So far, they have gone from flat denial to having Khashoggi start a fistfight with 15 cutthroat butchers the Saudis had sent to cut him to pieces. Right now, they are shooting a martial art movie with Khashoggi cast as Bruce Lee.
The Saudis know the world is not stupid, but they also know for a fact Jared Kushner is in their pocket. According to Intercept's sources, Mohammed bin Salman bragged that the president's son-in-law and Middle East adviser is "in his pocket" months ago. It is payback time. Trump will try to sell this cover-up by the Saudis the same way he sold the FBI's cursory report on Kavanaugh.
Two years into his presidency, the whole world knows Donald Trump runs the US presidency the way he runs his real estate business: with no sense of decency, half a criminal brain, the meagre vocabulary of a failing middle schooler, covered by a cascade vulgarity of a gangster who thinks the whole world is his to cheat, to fool, and to rob. But, and here is the rub, we must never reduce this to Donald Trump himself; for, thanks to Trump and his associates, the world is, in fact, witness to the constitutional DNA of US politics, hitherto successfully hidden behind the thin and beguiling veneer of civility that perhaps Barack Obama best personified. With Trump, we see the real deal.
Unabashedly, Trump is rushing to defend and exonerate a suspected Saudi murderer the same way he rushed to exonerate a suspected attempted rapist who now sits on the Supreme Court of the United States.
After Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with exemplary courage and accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh with attempted rape when they were both in high school and other women, equally courageous, did the same with his misconduct much later into his adult life, Trump did what Trump does best: he faked it.
He produced a "fake" FBI investigation - one that simply going through the motions and did not even interview the primary suspect or accuser, and issued a secret report the public could not see, as his Republican accomplices rushed the nomination through a hasty vote cast almost entirely on partisan lines just a few weeks before crucial midterm elections. And Trump and his Republican cohorts won. Professor Ford and countless sexually abused women like her lost.
Kavanaugh was confirmed and, in a White House swearing-in ceremony, Trump added insult to injury by publicly apologizing to Kavanaugh for his inconveniences. Trump and his Republican senators chalked that victory, leaving at least half of a stunned nation in bewilderment and moral atrophy. He then took one final victory lap around the arena by leading his morally decrepit base in publicly laughing at a courageous woman, while gloating that his Supreme Court victory had added to his popularity with his supporters and would guarantee Republican victory during the midterm elections.
From Brett Kavanaugh to Mohammed bin Salman
Trump is now engaging in precisely the same act of moral degeneracy in the case of the disappearance and evident murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He is advocating for a Saudi investigation into their own presumed crime, with the prime suspect in charge of investing himself.
"I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump said in a recent interview, "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way, as far as I'm concerned."
"As far as he is concerned", of course, is light years distant from the truth. In this comment, he is publicly informing us he plans to do the same with the charges the Saudi royal family faces that they might be involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
What he is doing here, in his typically clumsy and charlatan ways, is gaming the legal verbiage - in a proverbial American legalese parlance. You ought to be considered innocent unless proven guilty, which is a fine legal motto, except when it is abused to buy time to wiggle out of a thorny situation - like collect enough votes to ratify Kavanaugh or else find a cockamamie "rogue elements" theory for what seems to be a deliberately vicious murder pointing to Mohammed bin Salman.
Protecting the Saudi royal family is not anything new in the US White House nor indeed limited to Donald Trump. But goaded by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, he is carrying it to ever lower depths.
In a crucial Washington Post editorial, Who needs Saudi Arabia?, the paper for which Khashoggi wrote has, chapter and verse, demonstrated that Trump is lying when he says the US needs Saudi Arabia for its purchasing powers or security reasons.
The Post categorically denounces the "rogue killers" gibberish that Trump floated first after talking with the Saudi king. The Post editorial also dismisses the Saudi threat of shutting down the oil supply: "Start with the oil. Saudi Arabia, according to the US Energy Information Administration, supplied nine percent of US petroleum imports in 2017, or about 960,000 barrels a day. But thanks to the shale revolution, the United States is essentially energy independent: It, not Saudi Arabia, is now the world's largest crude-oil producer."
The same is true with the claim of arms purchases: "As for arms sales, someone needs to brief Mr Trump on the actual results of the promises made to him when he visited Riyadh last year. As Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution sums it up, "The Saudis have not concluded a single major arms deal with Washington on Trump's watch."
The same is true about the Saudis providing intelligence to the US regarding terrorism: "Saudi Arabia does supply the United States with counterterrorism intelligence. But as Andrew Miller of the Project on Middle East Democracy points out, stopping it "would be a colossal error ... when there's already a strong perception in Congress and with Americans that Saudi Arabia has fuelled extremism."
The conclusion is clear: "The reality is that Saudi Arabia, which, as Mr Trump himself has crudely pointed out, would not survive without US security support, has everything to lose from a break in relations, while the United States no longer needs the kingdom as much as it once did."
Will Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance affect US-Saudi relations?
In a subsequent editorial, Washington Post boldly exposed the White House for trying to cover up for the Saudi prince. "Mr Pompeo," the editorial reads, "who smiled broadly as he greeted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, appeared less intent on determining the truth than in helping the de facto Saudi ruler escape from the crisis he triggered. The Saudis are said to be preparing a cover story that will attribute Mr Khashoggi's murder to the excesses of a team that was dispatched to interrogate him. That would deflect blame from the crown prince, who, in fact, is believed to have ordered and overseen the operation."
Jared Kushner, meanwhile, we know from a report by the New York Times, is standing solidly by his buddy MBS, for the rabid Zionist has heavily banked on him pacifying the Palestinians and delivering Mahmoud Abbas, part of a delusional hope that the Palestinian national liberation movement will just disappear.
The principal culprit behind saving Mohammed bin Salman is Jared Kushner. According to the Times, "Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law and Middle East adviser, has been urging the president to stand by the prince, according to a person close to the White House and a former official with knowledge of the discussions. Mr Kushner has argued that the crown prince can survive the outrage just as he has weathered past criticism."
If not the Saudis then who else?
That latter point brings us to the crust of this game of cat and mouse. If, as Washington Post rightly says, it is neither the arms sales nor security intelligence nor anything else then what is this particular administration's interest in Mohammad bin Salman? Yes, Trump stands to gain personally from his business dealings with the Saudis. Yes, his bogus claim of creating jobs may help Republicans through the midterm elections. But he also told the Saudis bluntly that without his help they will fall in two weeks. So, what particular interest does this White House have in Mohammad bin Salman?
Whispering in Trump's ear is the father of his grandchildren, husband to his beloved Ivanka and top adviser Jared Kushner - who also happens to be a fanatical Zionist.
Like a real estate crook (he is) who refuses to see he has made a bad investment in a building he bought, Kushner is singularly determined to sustain the Saudi-Zionist alliance in a manner that, in his estimations, neutralises and eliminates the Palestinian national aspirations. Kushner sees the key to his ambitious desire to destroy and eliminate the last bastion of Palestinian resistance in this particular Saudi prince.
Aiding and abetting Kushner is an entire industry of neo-Orientalists who like Thomas Friedman rattle their "Islamic reform" gibberish, by which they mean a kind of Islam that produces Muslim zombies who would not mind seeing Jerusalem, their second-most sacrosanct space, being turned to a Zionist capital. This is what these Zionist neo-Orientalists mean when they say "Islamic reform" led by Saudi Arabia.
Kushner and his ilk, however, are just riding on this Trump wave. The principal calamity is what Trump has unearthed and enabled in American politics. When placed next to the idea of "fake news" and "alternative facts," the feigning of such investigations into Brett Kavanaugh's misconduct or Mohammed bin Salman's alleged involvement in Khashoggi's death is an exercise in a wholly different platform of deception and subterfuge, where the external shells of truth are completely emptied of any meaning or substance, stuffed with deceit and falsehood, boldly flaunted against facts, and before they are caught lying they have scored their political gains.
The mastermind of this deception is the dim-witted Trump. But right now, he and his favourite Saudis are being outsmarted by the clever power game Erdogan is playing by spoon-feeding the media the total truth he knows of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. None of the players - Trump, Erdogan, or least of all Mohammed bin Salman - is interested in truth. We are witness to a poker game among three mafia bosses, with the survival of their respective regimes at stake. The Saudis have a lot of money, the Turkish lira is in shambles, Trump has a crucial midterm election on his hand. Jamal Khashoggi's mutilated body is still nowhere to be seen.