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The Khashoggi Affair: Business As Usual For Saudi Arabia

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on October 19, 2018 22:42

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Pundits have declared the gruesome death of Jamal Khashoggi an international crisis, but one authority on international politics disagrees. Dr. James Kurth of Swarthmore College remains sanguine about the future of Saudi-American relations. He believes assassinations are normal in the Arab world, advises the Trump administration to do nothing to stop them, and resist the siren call of "Democracy Building."

 

Pundits have declared the gruesome death of Jamal Khashoggi an international crisis, but one authority on international politics disagrees.


Dr. James Kurth, Samuel Huntington’s student and Claude C. Smith Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Swarthmore College, remains sanguine about the future of Saudi-American relations.  


He recently told me that assassinations are normal in the Arab world, so the current conflict is Saudi v Saudi or Sunni v Sunni, which allows America’s adversaries to do each other in, without expense of American blood or treasure. 


He advises the Trump administration to do nothing to stop them, and resist the siren call of “Democracy Building.”


His 2005 American Conservative article, Splitting Islam, recommended America “allow the internal and natural contradictions within the Muslim world to take their course…not to try to erect utterly new and bizarre constructions that have no foundation in the local realities…rather to try to turn to its own advantage those local realities and the inherent tensions within and between them.”


This theory, developed at the Naval War College during early years of the Iran-Iraq war, was ignored by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Now Jamal Khashoggi’s death presents an opportunity to try again, given Dr. Kurth’s experience with the family.

In 1977, Dr. Kurth killed (without bloodshed) Uncle Adnan Khashoggi’s proposed Middle East Studies program for Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges. 

Citing Uncle Adnan’s Lockheed bribery scandal, he mobilized faculty, students, the American Jewish Committee, college and Philadelphia newspapers, as well as Congressman James Scheuer to oppose it on the principle Quaker colleges ought not take money from arms dealers to fund programs-- and so persuaded all three colleges to withdraw in shame. (Saudi funders subsequently established similar centers at Harvard and Georgetown, which apparently had fewer scruples.)


Dr. Kurth believes nephew Jamal Khashoggi’s fate is part of a longstanding tradition of barbaric warfare in the Arab world, which includes dismemberment, since power among desert tribes is maintained only through extreme brutality. 

For example, Saudis specialize in dismemberment, amputation and decapitation in “Chop-Chop Square,” Saudi-funded Sunnis in Syria captured, cut up and ate prisoners—one was videotaped pulling out a heart and biting it on camera—ISIS crucified, burned, drowned and dismembered Christians and Yazidis, similar fates awaited Egyptian Copts captured in Libya, where the sea ran red with their blood. 

 
If the “Death of a Princess” controversy in the 1980’s didn’t wreck relations, neither will 2018’s “Death of a Journalist,” he believes.


Since Turkey has used the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamal Khashoggi to challenge Saudi Arabia for leadership of the Arab world (Neo-Ottomanism is not popular with Arabs), Dr. Kurth concludes that Arabs will side with the Saudis, and so will major powers: 

 
“I think they’ll get away with it,” he concluded. “The searchlight will shift from this Khashoggi affair to a different hot button topic-of-the-week…then Saudi Arabia and American elites can get back to business.”

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on October 19, 2018 22:42

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Source: WashPost
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Influential voice on Saudi affairs is silenced forever as Saudi Arabia admits writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its...

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