The Saudi mystique
Photo by Yasmine Arfaoui / Unsplash

The Saudi mystique

Ivonne Rovira
Ivonne Rovira

An odd thing occurred with regard to the foreign officer who gunned down his classmates at the Pensacola Naval Airbase in Florida. Everyone has seen the doleful Donald Trump issuing the condolences of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even before his own. How odd at first glance! Yes, imagine if an undocumented Mexican or Central American immigrant or — God forbid! — a Muslim had committed this crime! Trump would be tweeting and libeling entire nationalities left and right! But it doesn’t take much looking to see how it makes perfect sense. As “Deep Throat” Mark Felt advised Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, Follow the money.

The New York Times consulted Brookings Institution scholar Bruce Riedel, an ex-CIA  officer “who has dealt with generations of Saudi leaders,” according to the Times’ article. Riedel was appalled at Trump’s “parroting of the Saudi line.” And he can’t have been too cheered up by the Saudis’ plan to buy off the victims. (You don’t think that the payments to the victims won’t come with nondisclosure agreements, do you?) Riedel thought President Trump should have waited for the results of the investigation into the massacre.

But, of course, Trump can’t. Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, pointed out the obvious to The New York Times: “Had an attack been carried out by any country on his Muslim ban, his reaction would have been very different, but when it comes to Saudi, the default position is to defend. Driven by oil, money, weapons sales, a good deal of Saudi feting and flattery, Trump has created a virtually impenetrable zone of immunity for Saudi Arabia.”

Ah, poor naïve Mr. Miller! Yes, the president acts as a human shield for Saudi Arabia, but it’s not for oil, to counterbalance Iran, to stabilize the Arabian Peninsula, to milk them for millions on behalf of the military-industrial complex. That’s what a normal president might have done. When has the benefit of the United States come into Trump’s calculations? Have you not noticed the dismal effects of Trump’s tariffs, even on the sectors he was trying to protect? Even the vanguard of the capitalists, Forbes magazine, has gotten on Trump for it! The conservative Tax Foundation reckons that Trump’s tariffs constitute the equivalent of an $88 billion tax hike! But he doesn’t back down because he doesn’t care.

And don’t say, Well, that’s just because #PresidentDunce is too stupid to know when to back down and too stubborn to admit that he was wrong. He managed to backpedal just fine when it came to China after it granted a slew of patents to daughter Ivanka.

No, Trump’s defense of Saudi Arabia is personal. And that means monetary. Trump has personally made millions from Saudi Arabian princes and businessmen for decades now. Trump won’t always be president, but he will always be greedy. So he needs to keep in the Saudis’ good graces so that he can continue to launder money sell them apartments and maybe even build a nice hotel in Jeddah in his presidential afterlife. (In 2016 Trump registered at least two businesses with Jeddah in the title plus six more in Saudi Arabia.)

But don’t take it from me. Take it from the president himself when he was a candidate in 2015: “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

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Commentary

Ivonne Rovira

Ivonne is the research director for Save Our Schools Kentucky. She previously worked for The Miami Herald, the Miami News, and The Associated Press. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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