by Tom Buglio
People of good conscience are horrified by the recent attack, killing and dismemberment of journalist for the Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Mr. Khashoggi was forced to flee Saudi Arabia because of his criticism of his home country, and particularly the repressiveness of the new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). He is now one of 71 journalist who have been killed in the world this year. With the rise of autocrats around the world, the job of reporting and commenting on public affairs has gotten more dangerous. And our President Trump, who criticizes our allies and embraces strong men, like Dutarte of the Philippines who has condoned killing of thousands in his war on drugs, President Erdogan of Turkey as he consolidates power and controls the media, the leaders of Poland and Hungary who are drifting away from democracy and towards autocracy, praising Xi Jin Ping of China as he takes power for a lifetime, and Kim Jong Un of North Korea who has killed many and locks up dissidents. And, of course, we can’t forget Vladimir Putin of Russia, who has spent much time and energy wreaking havoc with our electoral system, to ensure that America remains a divided country, and the disrupter in chief stays in office. Trump has never said a bad word about him, calling him a strong leader. Our president, who cannot stomach any form of criticism, dreams of a presidency where he could have total control of the press, as these autocrats strive to do.
In addition, Trump’s message to the world with ‘America First’, reiterated at the UN meeting just recently, is, we respect your sovereignty as you should respect ours. Translation: don’t tell the US what to do, and we won’t bother you concerning your internal affairs. Human Rights? – off the table. Trump’s policy gives free rein to dictators and strong men everywhere that there will be no real repercussions from cracking down on the media, imprisoning dissidents and worse… killing critics of their regime, because there will be no blow back from the US with an amoral president like Trump in office.
Will there be consequences to Saudi Arabia for this brazen murder? It is up to the UN and the US Congress to step into the position of standing for human rights and justice that our president so blatantly abdicates. There are many attacks on our democratic norms that Donald Trump has trampled on… yet his attacks on the media and the free press as ‘the enemy of the people’ may be the most egregious. And the consequences are proving to be deadly.