The Saudis blithely assume abhorrence

Maureen Dowd on the role of Saudi bribery:

Hollywood, Silicon Valley, presidential libraries and foundations, politically connected private equity groups, P.R. firms, think tanks, universities and Trump family enterprises are awash in Arab money. The Saudis satisfy American greed, deftly playing their role as dollar signs in robes.

I’ve long thought there should be a great deal more reporting on this.

Donald Trump, who may be the only person more fond of lavish displays of arriviste gilt than the Saudis, is bedazzled by a Saudi pledge to buy billions worth of American weapons, just as he was flattered by the Saudi sword dance and weird luminescent orb séance on his visit to the kingdom.

Bedazzled and flattered and utterly helpless to counter any of that with scruples or rational thought or information or anything else that might prompt him to resist. He’s too stupid, too greedy, too corrupt, too ignorant, too mindless, too impulsive, too narcissistic…with nothing at all to pull the other way.

The Saudis blithely assume abhorrence at their inhumane behavior — from beheadings to forcing teenage girls without head scarves back into a burning school to die, as the religious police did in Mecca in 2002, to the brazen murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist — can be lubricated away with oil and money.

And they’re right, too.

Our Faustian deal was this: As long as the Saudis kept our oil prices low, bought our fighter jets, housed our fleets and drones and gave us cover in the region, they could keep their country proudly medieval.

It was accepted wisdom that it was futile to press the Saudis on the feudal, the degradation of women and human rights atrocities, because it would just make them dig in their heels. Even Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, never made an impassioned Beijing-style speech about women in Saudi Arabia being obliterated under a black tarp.

And that hasn’t changed.

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