David A. Andelman, visiting scholar at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, wrote an op-ed for CNN about how President Trump’s positioning regarding the recent disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi may impact U.S. foreign relations.
If there is one foreign policy objective to which Donald Trump is unalterably committed, it is bringing the Iranian theocracy to its knees — or at least thwarting its nuclear ambitions.
This is the reason the President, against the advice of all of America’s leading allies, has clamped new and potentially existential sanctions on Iran for violating a treaty that the world believes it has respected to the letter if not the spirit.
But if he is to achieve this demolition of the Iranian system, it is becoming quite clear that Trump will have to accept Mohammed bin Salman, widely accused as the mastermind behind the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia with all that entails for a generation to come. And that entails quite a lot. MBS denies he ordered the killing.
What the world really needs is for someone to become the adult in the room. Ideally, that person should be Donald Trump.
Yet somehow, when the President gets on the phone to talk with the aging, but still supremely powerful King Salman, Trump seems to lose all sense of reason.
The conversations are invariably wonderful and productive. “Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen,'” Trump tweeted last month at the height of the Khashoggi crisis.
Of course, it’s possible that someone else is sitting on the other end of these calls along with the King — perhaps his son, who is utterly out of control. A White House official said they do not discuss arrangements for top-level phone calls.
It’s now past the time when we need to know with certainty who’s minding the store. It’s too late and the stakes are too high for us to plunge blindly into the abyss.