January 19, 2020

Did Trump Let Saudi Arabia Off the Hook?

“PRESIDENT TRUMP’S reaction to the murderous rampage in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday by an officer of the Royal Air Force of Saudi Arabia was insensitive and grossly insufficient. Three American servicemen lost their lives and eight were wounded by a Saudi wielding a 9mm Glock 45 pistol in a killing rampage that the FBI says is being investigated as terrorism. What does the president say? He finds it “shocking” and conveys the condolences of “very, very devastated” King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and adds that the kingdom will “help out the families very greatly.”

Not a word from Mr. Trump about the threat of terrorism, or a shred of curiosity about motives and whether the Saudi officer was radicalized and by whom, or a thought about what Saudi Arabia could do to help investigate the shooter, or perhaps a lament that a pilot, a guest of the United States, would carry out such a horrific assault on his hosts, or even a worry about where the 21-year-old officer got the weapon. Mr. Trump quickly pivoted to say there were a lot of countries participating in the aviator training program. He often performs this pivot, a telltale dodge. “There are a lot of killers,” he said once when asked about a leader who dispatches assassins abroad. “I think there is blame on both sides,” he said after Charlottesville.

Mr. Trump has an inexplicable blind spot for Saudi Arabia. He has no trouble insulting in the vilest way people from other Muslim countries. He is hostile generally to people from “shithole” countries. After a terrorist attack in London, he said on Twitter, “These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!” But when a Saudi carries out an attack on a U.S. military base, Mr. Trump becomes a spokesman and apologist for the king.”

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