by David Mednicoff*
The international crisis over whether top Saudi Arabian leadership murdered U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a striking example of the consequences of Donald Trump’s blanket disregard for democratic politics and human rights in other countries. This departure from decades of American foreign policy rhetoric remains comparatively undiscussed.
However, in the Middle East, my area of expertise, I believe this Trump policy shift opens the door to exactly the sort of flagrant attacks on individual freedom and safety that likely recently claimed Khashoggi.
Most criticism of Trump’s foreign policy has focused on two other major departures from decades of past American practice.
First, Trump has rejected the cornerstones of the post-WWII international order largely built by the U.S.: deep alliances among Western democracies and global free trade. Second, Trump has shown an affinity for authoritarian rulers, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, which has undermined American interests.
Yet, the Trump administration’s abandonment of support for democracy and civil rights hurts the interests of both Middle Easterners and Americans.
Did the US walk the walk?
In the past, U.S. leaders and officials within the government have shown interest in political rights and government accountability in other countries. Such talk has nonetheless often taken a back seat to considerations of geopolitical power or resources. Continue reading