There are a lot of heroin dealers who wish they were in another line of work.
But, hey, it’s a living and its pays better than selling hot dogs or shirts.
So, every day they go out and sell death and destruction, and pocket their share of the proceeds.
But, many of them hate the heroin trade, hate seeing their customers, strung out and desperate, or — just as bad — high and briefly mighty-ugly.
For many of the junk dealers, their coolest comfort comes from the justification of competition: if I don’t sell my peeps smack, somebody else surely will. So why shouldn’t I get rich off their need, before dereliction, disease or a “hot shot” of their favorite drug takes them permanently off the scene?
The murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi may turn out to be Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s “hot shot.” The wantonness, the shamelessness of Kashoggi’s disappearance (and now acknowledged death) put on public display MBS overdosing on his intoxicants of choice: wealth, power, cruelty and assumed impunity.
All the political Narcan in the world, administered by the Saudis’ chief nurse and enabler Donald Trump, may not revive this royal wretch’s reputation. The global disgrace of Kashoggi’s murder and reported dismemberment may be the fatal stain on MBS’ shirtfront, the left-over vomit on which the late addict choked himself into another world.
Apparently, there are lot of relatives from the Royal Family, some of them personally humiliated — imprisoned and extorted — by the young Prince, who would be glad to see him gone. And his superannuated Daddy, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
may lack the power, much less the standing, to save him.
I hope so, but really, I consider this their problem – as Prince Mohamed bin Salman piles lies and betrayals beside his throne in a pathetic attempt to wash the journalist’s blood off his hands, Kashoggi’s sawed-off fingers from the hem of his robe.
Our problem is our President, his blindness to sin, his deaf ear to the sound of his and America’s stature crashing into widespread contempt, like Saddam Houssein’s statue tumbling into the Baghdad dirt.
MBS’ bald-faced (OK, in his case – alas – beard-faced) lie that Kashoggi had left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul alive and well drew no reproach from Trump, no matter the contradictory facts he was presented by his own and Turkey’s intelligence agencies.
Even the Saudis’ ass-baring, blame-shedding fable, that a group of the Crown Prince’s favorite muscle-men, dispatched from Riyadh to Istanbul in a malevolent mob, “went rogue” and unintentionally killed Kashoggi in the midst of a fair (15 to 1?) “fight” was deemed “credible” by President Trump.
Why? Because, our weapons-cartel kingpin asserts, America, the richest country in the world, can’t afford to stop selling weapons to the Saudis.
We need their money so badly, the President says, that we can overlook how American arms, intelligence and logistical assistance have killed – to virtually no gain or purpose – an estimated 16,000 Yemeni civilians, inflicted cholera on up to a million innocents and pushed, the United Nations says, between 8 and 12 million people into extreme malnutrition or starvation. Sure, it’s Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ war, but the US is their criminal accessory before, during and after the fact.
Of course, even Donald J. Trump can’t ignore the murder of a well-known, well-respected, deeply-connected journalist like Jamal Kashoggi. He will, he says, impose “some form of sanction” on the Saudis. But not, he begs Congress, any interruption in the US to Saudi Arabia $110 billion arms pipeline.
If we don’t sell to them, he and his dissemblers rush to tell us, the Russians and the Chinese will.
“So what?” some might ask. Egypt is already making that that geo-strategic shift, and Trump finds it ignorable. There are no threats to cut American aid to Gen. El-Sisi’s dictatorship in Cairo for soliciting Putin’s arms or Xi Jinping’s money. That kind of sanction is brandished at Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico for failing to stop the flow of migrants heading for the United States.
The fates of these faceless thousands willing literally “to walk a thousand miles” to get their kids away from criminal gangs, or to replant their futures somewhere not ruled by corrupt police-state dictators (Honduras, Guatemala) or better-intentioned but under-resourced democratic governments (El Salvador, Mexico) can be kept as safely anonymous as the eradication of hugely larger numbers of Yemenis.
But Jamal Kashoggi? He was “somebody.” His absence matters because he is missed, not just other ordinary people, but by “people who matter.”
His death could overturn all those complicit, Mohamed bin Salman and Donald J. Trump prominent among them. The ironic elevation of one death over tens of thousands could be redeemed.
A good place to start will be in the voting booth on November 6.
Next could come some new declarations of American independence: we don’t need Saudi blood money, we no longer need Saudi oil, and we never needed to carry Saudi water against the many less-worse regimes in the Middle East.