And if there are no serious consequences this time as well, even now that his moniker is said to stand for “Mr. Bone Saw,” what will M.B.S. do next?
The truth is that for decades, we have enabled Saudi Arabian misconduct, including the extremist education and terrorist financing that contributed to the 9/11 attacks. We stood by as Saudi Arabia seeded fanatical madrasas in places like West Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia, gravely destabilizing poor parts of the world.
Franklin Roosevelt supposedly once described a Nicaraguan dictator as “a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch,” and that may be how some Americans see M.B.S. But M.B.S. duped Americans. He talks a good game but didn’t deliver on his promise to buy $110 billion in weapons, didn’t back the Trump peace plan for the Middle East and hasn’t managed to take the Saudi oil company Aramco public.
His plans keep backfiring. His war in Yemen created new opportunities there for Al Qaeda, his confrontation with Qatar benefited Iran, his kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister left Hezbollah stronger than ever, and the alleged Khashoggi kidnap-murder is a gift to Saudi rivals in Turkey and Iran.
In short, the mad prince is not only barbaric, he’s also unreliable and incompetent. He doesn’t advance our interests; he damages them. Indeed, one of my fears is that he will try to drag us into a war with Iran.
Yet even as Saudi officials lie low, Trump has become the kingdom’s puppet and apologist, suggesting that “rogue killers” might have been responsible for the apparent murder. He dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for an unctuous mission to thank King Salman for his commitment to a “thorough” and “transparent” investigation.
Trump acts as if the Saudis have leverage over us. In fact, the Saudis desperately need us and our spare parts for their American-made aircraft. The Saudis haven’t even been able to defeat a rebel militia in Yemen, so they depend on us for their security — yet we squander our leverage.