Whom do you like better, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or King Salman. They’re both world leaders for whom our “world leader” has shown great admiration. It’s just a question of which one you like better.
It’s a tough call.
A year and a half ago Trump called Erdogan to congratulate him personally on his election victory, this despite overwhelming proof of voting irregularities. The “victory” enhanced Erdogan’s virtually autocratic chokehold on Turkish citizenry. Autocratic chokeholds are one of Trump’s leadership goals, so there’s a feather in Recep’s fez.
In March of this year Salman’s son bragged that he had Jared Kushner in his pocket. He later denied having said it, but it was reported by numerous corroborating witnesses. This week Trump lamented the possibility of losing the Saudi leaders’ friendship, one destined to pad the U.S. coffers with billions of dollars in arms purchases. (To see these purchases in action, check out Yemen—while it’s still there. When you see what that country looks like, it’s hard to eliminate Salman from contention.)
Complicating the issue is the Trump-Kushner-Erdogan-Salman love-fest having fallen on hard times, and all because of some rogue killers—about fifteen of them—who snuck into the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 and then silently, and without anyone noticing anything untoward, killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who had been living in the United States. Khashoggi, a self-exiled Saudi journalist and prominent critic of the Saudi crown prince, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate that day to obtain documents he needed to get married. If rogue means invisible and fabricated, these fifteen were the roguest ever.
I’ll be the first to admit (all right, maybe not the first) we can’t blame Trump for everything that goes wrong in the world, but a president who has excoriated journalists and portrayed them as enemies of the people cannot now pretend to care about one of them having been murdered by another autocrat who feels the same way—and winked at by a third. Trump worries about the money—the exploding deficit which has come about through tax breaks for the wealthy and an obsession with military spending. If billions from the Saudis were suddenly to dry up, our deficit would reach the approaching $1 trillion even sooner.
For most of us Jamal Khashoggi is a human being endowed with certain inalienable rights, but for Trump he’s a political annoyance—a financial impediment. Nobody can say with a straight face that Donald Trump cares one iota about the well being of any American with a name like Jamal Khashoggi, especially when Mr. Khashoggi has become, by dint of his occupation, an enemy of the people. “World leaders” have little time to waste on one human life.
As for my original question, I guess there are really three choices…and Duterte won’t like being left out.