When Jamal Khassoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2nd October 2018, he was attacked, suffocated and dismembered by a security team of handpicked assassins and medical staff sent from Saudi Arabia in two official aircraft dispatched from Riyadh. All the evidence suggests that this was done on the direction of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman. It was a meticulously planned, vile murder of a journalist whose only sin was to have become a dissident in the kleptocracy known as the Desert Kingdom. Almost two years later, we learn that the death sentences imposed on his assassins have now been overturned by another contradiction in terms, a Saudi court of justice. Khassoggi’s sons had apparently been prevailed upon to “pardon” their father’s murderers. Prince Mahommed Prince Salman (a.k.a “MBS”) had publicly humiliated the family by summoning them to a photo-opportunity to express his condolences. Should it surprise us that the death sentences were commuted? Perhaps MBS did not want to spawn a network of vengeful, would-be assassins among the families of those he has reprieved. Who knows? He had in any event secured the total acquittal of those closest to him involved in the butchery of an innocent man.
Donald Trump, as in the recent case of the attempted Russian killing of dissident democratic politician, Alexei Navalmy, has resolutely refused to condemn those behind the Khassoggi murder, the Saudis or MBS. All his intelligence reports pointed to the direct involvement of MBS. The White House was warned in 2018 that the Saudis were planning to kidnap Khassoggi from his home near Washington. They had full access to the Turkish audiotapes of the vicious murder in Istanbul. Trump vetoed a resulting Congressional ban on arms sales to the Saudis. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law, remains on the warmest and closest terms with MBS as they build a de facto alliance between the Arab potentates and Trump’s other buddy Binyamin Netanyahu the Israeli prime minister on trial for corruption.
Remember too that Trump at one time, when he was trying to extract money from the Saudis for weaponry, pointed out that their regime wouldn’t last three weeks without US support. This is the measure of the Trump regime. All ethics are either monetised or ignored. The only imperative is to lie and bully his way back into a further four year term when heaven knows what would be done once he was freed from the shackles of democratic accountability at the ballot box. His strategy for securing re-election is centred on propagating the foulest untruths about his domestic opponents.
Interesting news during the week was that Smith & Wesson, the small arms manufacturers, have reported a massive boom in domestic sales to American citizens. The company had enjoyed a mini-boom in 2016 when Trump used arms control fears as an electoral prop. Sales slumped towards the end of 2018. But they have more than doubled since the Black Lives Matter, rising by 128% in a single quarter.
Far from Making America Great Again (“MAGA”), we now have MAHA, (“Make America Hate Again”). The sight of rival militias – black and white – toting assault rifles is scary. And it is exactly what the Trump playbook needs.
The idea that Joe Biden is an existential threat to the American way of life is a grotesque lie. But 40% of Americans seem to lap up that hate-filled nonsense. The idea that giving every American some access to decent health care is a route to establishing “death committees” as part of big government is another grotesque distortion. But repeat such a lie sufficiently often and it will gain traction. The idea that Trump is a defender of Christianity is absurd but Evangelicals still believe it. Along with Roman Catholic bishops.
Trump’s niece’s book identified one thing – that Trump’s own sister, a retired Federal judge, believed that the President was “cruel”. While it was perhaps a little underhand for Mary Trump to secretly record Judge Mary Anne Trump passing that judgment on her brother, it was a telling and undeniable truth. Donald Trump is a cruel sociopath. He is erratic, egotistical, cynical and ruthless. He is devoid of a working moral core and conscience. Even if you discount by half Micky Cohen’s kiss-and-tell account of his doings with the Trump, you are still left with a clear picture of a moral monster, the man whose personal history was compellingly described ny his niece, Mary Trump.
The world has been warned about the nature of the man. We can only hope that there remains in the hearts of sufficiently many decent Americans the elementary Christian impulse towards kindness and aversion to cruelty, cynicism and hatred. In the Jesuit quarterly, Studies, in 1933, our former minister (or ambassador) to Berlin wrote an article telling the Irish what they might truly expect from Adolph Hitler. We need to heed the warnings about Trump. He is a danger to humanity precisely because of his cruel nature. Mohammed Bin Salman, Vladimir Putin, President Xi, (the cruel oppressor of Uighirs) and Donal Trump – and all their hangers-on world wide – are a frightening cohort leading the great states into a dark amoral valley. We may not deserve better but surely we can hope for better,