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Lessons from Khashoggi’s Disappearance


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is being accused of ordering the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and his supporters are undoubtedly hoping that the controversy quickly dies and goes away.

That would be a big mistake. Instead, a full investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance is warranted.

Yes, I know that bin Salman is presumed innocent. And yes, I know that there is no corroborating evidence as of yet that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder. And yes, I know that bin Salman has angrily and indignantly denied any wrongdoing.

Nonetheless, I hold that a full investigation is needed to determine whether bin Salman is lying about the matter. After all, who is to say that a full investigation won’t turn up evidence that corroborates suspicions that bin Salman did in fact order Kashoggi’s murder?

And how would a full investigation hurt? Theoretically, it might even exonerate bin Salman. We really won’t know whether bin Salman ordered Saudi deep-state agents to commit a crime until there is a full investigation into the matter.

That’s not to say, of course, that the U.S. government is responsible for such an investigation. That would be Turkish officials, where the alleged murder took place.

At least one person is now alleging that Khashoggi was “a ‘journalist’ who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services” and “an early recruit of the Muslim brotherhood.”

But even if that particular conspiracy theory is valid, does that obviate the need for a full investigation into whether bin Salman ordered a hit on Khashoggi? Of course not. A full investigation is warranted even if Khashoggi was an agent of the CIA or some other U.S. intelligence service.

Even President Trump favors a full investigation into this particular matter, notwithstanding the close friendship that he and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have with bin Salmon and the Saudi regime. Trump is saying that if an investigation reveals that bin Salman did in fact order Saudi intelligence agents to murder Khashoggi, Trump will take some sort of action against bin Salman and the Saudi regime.

Trump, however, has made it clear that any action he takes will not include a cancellation of the huge arms deal that U.S. officials negotiated with Saudi Arabia. Trump says that if he were to cancel that arms deal, it would mean a loss of jobs for U.S. weapons manufacturers. He says that Saudi Arabia could easily turn to the Russians or Chinese for their weaponry.

Trump’s position shows the moral bankruptcy into which the U.S. national-security state has plunged our nation. For the U.S. government to continue doing business with a regime that an official investigation has revealed intentionally murdered an innocent man in order to preserve jobs for Americans pretty much says it all.

But while many commentators are saying that Trump should “punish” the Saudis by denying them U.S. weaponry (which they have been using for years to kill a lot of innocent people in Yemen), the American people should actually use the controversy to begin thinking at a much higher level: Why should the U.S. government be providing foreign aid, including weaponry, to any foreign regime whatsoever?

Americans work hard all year long, with the government taking a large portion of their income through the force of the Internal Revenue Service. Many young people are having a hard time starting out in life due to a lack of funds. Many middle-aged people have trouble saving money because the federal government takes so much of their money from them. Both federal spending and the federal debt are out of control.

So, here is one area of federal spending — foreign aid — that could be — and should be — entirely eliminated. Foreign aid is nothing but welfare for foreign regimes. And, no, contrary to popular opinion, it is not used to help the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. It is nothing more than a government-to-government bribe to ensure loyalty on the part of the foreign regime. The message that U.S. officials send to foreign regime with their foreign aid is clear: Do what we say or lose your dole.

Thus, the disappearance of Jamal Kashhoggi  provides two valuable lessons for Americans: (1) It shows why a full investigation into suspected wrongdoing is oftentimes necessary notwithstanding the principle of the presumption of innocence and heated, angry denials by the accused; and (2) It shows why the American people should stop the U.S. government from taking their hard-earned money and sending it, in the form of cash and weaponry, to foreign regimes, including both democratic ones and authoritarian ones like Saudi Arabia.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.