The imperialist media has played the principal role in the ballooning moral drama following the murder and apparent dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a contributing journalist for the Washington Post, by the Saudi state. The seemingly endless propaganda drive for “justice” has once again exposed contradictions within imperialist state, putting Trump’s party and regime in a serious moral quandary. Some in the republican party are now claiming that this could be the “most consequential” moment of his presidency. Ostensibly the already tenuous unity of the party, and therefore his legislative majority, hangs in the balance. But beyond all the rhetoric of the “consequences for human rights” and the future of amerikan “legitimacy”, we are clearly witnessing another hastily constructed media circus. One that communists ought to have nothing but contempt for.
The propagandists of the bourgeois media, allied with various establishment fractions, are attempting to construct a moral axis between the “amerikan value” of justice, and the allure of Saudi money. All the while they have forgotten, twisted, or simply lied about the amerikan human rights record, especially as regards Saudi Arabia. Marco Rubio, in an interview with CNN, says it is imperative to act against the Saudi monarchy in order to preserve amerikan “moral standing” in criticizing human rights violations throughout the world. What “moral standing” does the united $tates have? We might also ask, why is this the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
Rubio conveniently leaves out the long history of the Saudi monarchy’s crimes against humanity, far surpassing the murder of a liberal journalist, or, more damning, the definitive role amerikan imperialism has played in them; the brutal repression of Shi’a clerics, the disturbing public executions of women accused of adultery, the brutal reaction to the people’s movement in Bahrain, and the genocidal conflict ongoing in Yemen, to name only a few. This is to speak only of those crimes related to the Saudi state, and nothing of the independent venture of amerikan imperialism throughout the world, which far surpasses whatever the petty oil barons of Saudi Arabia can muster.
On this note, liberal funny-man John Oliver was at least a bit more honest—but only a bit. Oliver ran a segment on Khashoggi’s murder in his show Last Week Tonight, which, despite its supposed sobriety in discussing the amerikan role in Saudi crimes, totally undercuts reality. His discussion of the Yemen war makes it appear that amerika has played a completely passive role, simply selling weapons and ammunition in coincidence with the genocide of Yemeni children by those same weapons. In reality the amerikan military has played a much more active role. U.$. special forces have been routinely utilized in raids against “extremist militants” in the country, conducting offensive operations in spite of Pentagon denial. The short-lived headline about a u.$. navy seal killed in the raid on Yakla in Yemen, for instance, troubles Oliver’s liberal narrative.
This is to say nothing of the more than decade-long drone campaign in the country, targeting militants, activists, and even their children (some of whom were amerikan citizens, for what it’s worth). Yemen has been a not-so-secret battlefield for the amerikan terror-corps for years, and yet Oliver, and the “conscientious” liberals in general, reduce their role to simply selling weapons. Though it is damning enough, this kind of reporting demonstrates a clear dishonesty regarding the situation in Saudi Arabia.
Further, this kind of refusal to consider amerika’s crimes as being “real crimes” deserving of the same punishment as Saudi Arabia apparently does, is hypocritical big-power chauvinism in its fullest sense. When the united $tates deliberately targeted the teenage son of a so-called terrorist in Yemen, where was talk of sanctions? Or when they bankrolled the illegal attempted overthrow of a democratically elected leader in Latin America? (I hear you ask: “which time?”) Or when they deliberately fired upon the hotel housing international journalists during their second invasion of Iraq? Apparently, crimes are much more sinister when they don’t achieve a foreign policy objective.
So what gives? What are we supposed to make of this obvious spectacle? Firstly, we should not allow our perspective to be defined by bourgeois propagandists, attempting to confine our critique to a certain moral axis. This is not an issue of “amerikan values” but of amerikan control. They have no problem with a little murder, or even a lot of it for that matter, so let’s not confuse this for a question of morality. The problem is who that serves, and in this case the murder of a liberal journalist from the Washington Post has come across as a direct and intolerable act against the reputation of the united $tates not as a moral power, but as a big power. The Saudis are pursuing their interests regardless of amerikan interests, hoping their friends in Washington will help them get away with it.
This is not to absolve the ruling Saudi crime-family of their crimes, but it is to defy the politically narrow perspective put forward by the imperialist media. The Saudi monarchy is no doubt guilty of the heinous murder of a far-from-radical critic of their regime, but this has little bearing on the purpose of the amerikan response. It is also not to give credence to Trump’s counter-position of maintaining the 110 billion-dollar trade deal in spite of the journalist’s murder. Rather we recognize that these are simply two routes to the same end: the re-asserting of amerikan control in the region. It serves neither communists nor the oppressed masses of the world to get caught up in the minutiae of how amerika might control its vassals, but rather to criticize that control in its entirety.
Ultimately, revolution will do away with petty kings and dictators like MBS et al, and we can rest assured that the Saudi state is nowhere near as stable as it would have its shareholders believe. Spectacles like these are less a concrete discussion of human rights, as they are the talk across the table between factions of the imperialists trying to decide how to rule the world they believe they still own. And on that note we should meet their propaganda with our own, focusing on the real purpose of their obscurantist diatribes, cleverly smoke-screening their own barbarism and annexation. Even liberals like John Oliver and his ilk, delivering “sobering” revelations of amerikan friendship with criminal dictatorships, serves ultimately to support amerikan imperialism and screen its most disturbing qualities.
We must stand above the confines of the bourgeois narrative in our propaganda, and confront it with our own. Indeed, we should not permit the Saudi state to murder its critics with impunity, as it has our comrades for decades. We stand in solidarity with those who resist the corrupt and despotic monarchy and fight for a better world. This does not include allowing amerika to insist upon its eternal “leadership status” in the world, arbitrarily dealing out punishment and reward purely on the basis of its own imperial interest. Rather than act as unwitting bourgeois agents as do the “red” liberals who so quickly relent in the fight against imperialism, confusing internationalism with screening amerikan imperialism, we must identify and fight the primary enemy, and suppress amerikan power.
As with all problems, the answer is found outside the false paradigms fronted by imperialism and its apologists. Whether the permissive line of Trump toward the Saudis, or the sanctions-mongering of the virtuous imperialists wins out, the masses of Saudi Arabia, and the Third World in general will not have come one iota closer to liberation. Where outrage against the crimes of the Saudi regime is genuine, let us demand consistency, to dissolve the liberal-imperialist narrative and reveal the principle enemy of humanity—capitalism-imperialism—an enemy whose head still rests in Washington, and without whom the teetering House of Saud (or any other violent enclosure posing as a government) could not rule.