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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Big shock, media! Voters don’t care a lick about Saudi corruption

Does the key to the 2018 elections lie embedded in the sands of the Middle East? If you’ve listened to the establishment media lately you’d almost think so.

As if there wasn’t enough to prattle on about in late October in a midterm election year, media talkers seem Trump and Saudisalmost gleeful in reveling over the gory details of a murder half a world away, how it’s affecting the international balance of power and President Donald Trump’s job favorability ratings as the result of it.

Critics abound…but how does this stack up alongside the very real national and local concerns as Americans consider who to vote for?

Niall Stanage wrote at The Hill, “Trump said he viewed the latest Saudi statement as credible and called the arrest of 18 Saudi nationals in connection with the case ‘a great first step.’ But the kingdom's statement — its first acknowledgement after more than two weeks that Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul — drew derision in Washington, including from Republican lawmakers such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). Graham has, of late, been a strong Trump ally.

“Nine other GOP senators, as well as Graham and Corker, have signed a letter to Trump calling for an investigation into whether sanctions should be levied against individual Saudis over Khashoggi’s death. Those sanctions could target the crown prince himself or his allies.

“The Republican critiques point to a larger problem for Trump. The Saudis are not viewed sympathetically even by conservative foreign policy voices or by Trump’s broader base, which tend to regard U.S. support for Riyadh as a necessary evil aimed at countering Iranian influence in the Middle East.”

Somewhat hilariously many media sources report on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi as though it was a big deal within the scheme of things (electorally speaking) as we sprint towards the finish line that is November 6th.

Of course media figures attach themselves to any story that reeks of potential trouble for President Trump like barnacles to a whale -- but this particular one is utterly absurd. It’s not that Americans are insensitive to a man’s seemingly unjustified killing on the other side of the planet, but United States’ relations with the government of Saudi Arabia probably ranks somewhere between 99 and 100 on the list of 100 most urgent concerns of the typical voter this year.

This is true for several reasons.

First, everyone with a grasp of history understands the only reason every American president pays any attention to the corrupt and self-interested House of Saud monarchy at all is due to the kingdom’s location, which happens to be right smack dab on top of a comparatively high percentage of the earth’s petroleum reserves and astride several troubling foreign enemies of the Land of the Free, most notably Iran.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure were Saudi Arabia practically situated anywhere else on the planet – and didn’t have a ton of oil buried deep beneath its sands – nobody would give a hoot about what the royal family (as now led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, MBS for short) did. To the average guy on the street MBS's just another guy who dresses in Arab garb and is occasionally seen in photos with presidents and other regional leaders.

Through a cruel trick of fate (I’ve always surmised God has a heck of a sense of humor) a gaggle of awful and ethically-challenged people manipulate much of the world’s oil supply – and price – which basically requires American leaders to deal with them as though they’re legitimate and critical to the peace process. Because they are.

The Saudis’ great wealth makes them good customers for American military manufacturers too. They have to spend all those oil dollars somewhere, right? Lord knows the rulers don’t dump their booty back into their country’s living conditions.

Second, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s religious and geographic antithesis to Iran makes the country a de facto ally of Israel. Containing the unstable Iranian Shia Muslim regime is what it’s all about in the Middle East, which basically puts our most important regional friends (the Israelis) on the same strategic side as the Sunni Muslim Wahhabist Saudis.

Perhaps never before was there a purer example of the old axiom “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” While we wouldn’t expect the leaders of the two countries to sit down for peace and cooperation talks anytime soon they both appear to want the same thing – Iran restrained and ultimately defeated. And as a great supporter of Israel, Trump understands this – and must make allowance for the excesses of the Saudi regime at times.

Not to mention Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda (including 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers) had deep roots in Saudi Arabia (which contains numerous Muslim Holy sites, including Mecca). Nebulous terrorist groups revile the Saudi royals almost as much as they do the west, which makes the Saud family a U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS and other fringe groups.

Third, United States oil and energy production’s greatly expanded under Trump’s policies to the point where our country is rapidly moving towards complete energy independence. In fact, there’s evidence North America (which includes Canada and Mexico, of course) will soon supplant the Middle East as the world’s number one oil exporter (if it hasn’t already).

Americans are rightly more concerned with energy policy here at home than with the Saudis, Iranians and OPEC. Saudi Arabia’s 1973 oil embargo resulted in rationing and lengthy gas station lines which greatly inconvenienced Americans. If Arabs pulled the same stunt today, however, the western hemisphere would hardly bat an eyelash.

Saudi Arabia’s political power has diminished accordingly in the past couple decades and with Trump’s stepped-up emphasis on domestic energy production it will continue to dwindle on that front. But the Saudis will always be needed – somewhat – as a check on Iran.

The fourth and final reason Americans won’t give much credence to the “crisis” in Saudi Arabia (and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi) is, plainly stated, they have better things to worry about. The establishment media is far too preoccupied with its mission to persuade Americans that Republicans and conservatives are anti-Semitic, racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant “deplorables” to focus on this story for long. Two weeks from now no one will be talking about Khashoggi regardless of what tortured justification the Saudis settle on for his grisly killing.

It could almost be said what happens in Turkey stays in Turkey. People in flyover country are much more intent on living their lives and realizing their dreams to fuss over a foreign policy matter that’s utterly attenuated to their situations in their cities and towns. Likewise, the leftist New York and Hollywood elites despise the Saudis… and therefore are likely silently cheering the turmoil generated by Khashoggi’s unfortunate demise.

In other words, this whole episode is basically much ado about nothing.

Besides, who’s to say Trump hasn’t handled the matter competently? To begin with, what can really be done about it? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Roger L. Simon wrote at PJ Media, “[T]he USA has for years practiced targeted assassinations, via drones and other methods. The Israelis are thought to have taken out several Iranian nuclear scientists via drive-by killings and other strategies. Complaints were muted, as well they should have been.

“If MBS is responsible for the death of Khashoggi, one wonders why he chose such an obvious and barbaric method, less subtle and deniable even than the way North Korea's Kim poisoned his step-brother. (Perhaps MBS was even inspired by us, thinking we would disregard such an action since we do it ourselves.) On the other hand, if the actions were performed by some of the crown prince's adversaries, it seems to have been a good way to embarrass him seriously and remove him from leadership.  In the Middle East, the game is played for keeps. Trump's nastiest insults must seem to them like child's play...

“As for Trump, I think once again he is being smart not following the herd.  If MBS turns out to be a total swine, there's plenty of time to react accordingly. If not, the president has properly hedged his bets. In any case, in a world (the Middle East) where practically all leaders, other than Israelis, are various degrees of thugs, it may come down to the regrettable choice of the traditional the ‘enemy of my enemy,’ etc. Thanks to Obama's giveaway of billions, we know who that mainly is -- Iran and its client Hezbollah.”

Put another way, keep your eyes on the prize. Despite thousands of scholars and thorough studies on the Middle East there’s no consensus on an easy solution to the dilemma of how to treat regional rulers and their actions. Everyone’s dirty in that part of the world – even the Israelis (though often justified) do things we wouldn’t necessarily want our children to emulate.

For Trump’s enemies to accuse him of being out-of-line for comparing the Saudi rulers to Brett Kavanaugh (and harshly judged before they’ve had a chance to respond) is, as usual, over-the-top holier-than-thou value shaming without taking into account the totality of the circumstances. The media thinks it’s got Trump over a barrel so they’re searching for anything suggesting he’s compromised to the Saudi point-of-view no matter how awful they are.

Is anything in international relations ever that simple?

By now everyone should realize Trump often says nice things about rogue actors (see, Jong-un, Kim, and Putin, Vladimir) to the media yet behind the scenes twists the sanctions knife a little tighter to drive home a policy. Trump clearly believes being friendly with foreign powers is superior in conducting negotiations rather than feigning toughness and patting the guys on the back when the cameras aren’t rolling (like Obama, Barack).

The Trump administration actually severely sanctioned Russia for recent derelictions but the media still reports on the president as though he’s in Putin’s back pocket.

In reality, whatever the Saudis decide to do (literally and figuratively) to clean up their own Khashoggi mess should be sufficient. Again, it’s no huge secret the Saudi rulers aren’t exactly boy scouts in terms of morals and integrity. Were Americans too excessive in their Saudi condemnations it would make us appear hypocritical and dare I say it, weak.

And we all recognize how much Trump’s neoconservative foes hate the idea of the United States appearing feeble and inadequate. To them, Uncle Sam works out every day with heavy weights to better flex his muscles around the globe. But does it make him any manlier?

Isn’t there already enough to do to combat the Democrats’ insane notions of real problems? Socialist darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tossed out another whopper last week. Shouldn’t conservatives instead be concentrating on her – and the Democrats’ – mindset? Ocasio-Cortez says there’s a big global national security fish to fry, but not quite what you’d envision.

Tyler O’Neil wrote at PJ Media, “In remarks captured on video Friday night, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared the threat of man-made climate change to the threat from Nazi Germany in World War II. She suggested that the U.S. efforts in that war should be seen as a ‘blueprint’ for remaking America's economy in the environmentalists' image.

“’So when we talk about existential threats, the last time we had a really major existential threat to this country was around World War II, so we’ve been here before, and we have a blueprint of doing this before,’ Ocasio-Cortez began.

“’What we had was an existential threat in the context of war,’ the candidate added. ‘And what we did was that we chose to mobilize our entire economy, and industrialize our entire economy, and we put hundreds of thousands if not millions of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country.’ Then came the kicker: ‘We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy.’”

Let me get this straight -- while the media picks Trump apart for his tepid reaction to a murder perpetrated by a wayward “ally,” Democrats busy themselves proposing to nationalize entire industries in order to combat perceived slight variations in global temperature which -- if the fluctuations are actually occurring -- foster disagreements among scientists as to their causes. Do you think we can get a little proportionality here?

Ocasio-Cortez’s views aren’t all that atypical in Democrat-land, either. Her mentor, Bernie Sanders, called climate change the number one national security threat to the United States today. All Bernie would need is to throw in Hitler and the Gestapo and he’d essentially be alleging the same thing as the would-be congresswoman from New York.

It all goes to show the media’s and leftist political class’s disconnect with Americans over the seriousness of threats and situations abroad is hard to reconcile. Elites may think President Trump is in trouble over Saudi Arabia’s complicity in a murder but voters prefer things that really matter.

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