What’s surprising about the Khashoggi murder isn’t that the Saudis would kill a critic, but that they would be so brazen about it. They really thought he could enter their consulate and not come out and no one would notice? The story that he was accidentally killed and the operation was carried out without the knowledge of Mohammad Bin Salman looks like transparent nonsense. All signs point to a hideous state-sanctioned murder straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie.
What to do about it? The answer is simple, if not necessarily easy. Don’t sound eager to cover for the Saudis as the president has in recent days. Say we want to get all the facts, condemn the Saudis after an interval for any appropriate investigation, and then find sanctions that send a strong message of disapproval without fundamentally disrupting the relationship. Jim has some thoughts on this today. The Saudi regime is horrid, but there isn’t a plausible alternative.