December 19, 2018

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Opinion | Should the U.S. Cut Ties to Saudi Arabia?

Opinion | Should the U.S. Cut Ties to Saudi Arabia?
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To the Editor:

I echo Roger Cohen’s sentiment (“Body Parts on the Bosporus,” column, nytimes.com, Oct. 12) that Saudi Arabia’s extensive record of autocratic repression and human rights violations renders our ongoing alliance with it unjustifiable. One of our foremost Middle Eastern allies has supported extremist Sunni groups such as Al Qaeda and has its fingerprints all over the Yemeni humanitarian crisis.

Nevertheless, because of its petroleum resources and an infatuation with the Saudi crown prince, President Trump has fortified American relations with Saudi Arabia during his presidency and has refrained from criticizing the Saudis for the apparent assassination of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Blame for our decades-long alliance with Saudi Arabia obviously cannot be placed on Mr. Trump, but this recent atrocity should at least alert our government that morality cannot remain on the back burner. American interests in 2018 should no longer be connected to an absolutist regime with no regard for human rights.

Shruti Sridhar
Sunnyvale, Calif.

To the Editor:

I disagree with those who call for President Trump to take punitive action against the government of Saudi Arabia if it is proved that the Saudi government ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. If that murder is a fact, it is certainly a heinous act, but what about the ongoing actions, including the jailing, torture and killing of dissidents, of the Egyptian government? And let’s not forget China’s government taking violent and repressive actions against Chinese Muslims.

And from a historical perspective, let’s not forget our support for other repressive and murderous regimes, including the shah of Iran and Central American governments like Guatemala that sponsored assassination of thousands of internal dissidents.

Our moral outrage is and always has been selective. Saudi Arabia is a critical ally for the United States. We, the United States, cannot and will not achieve any level of stability in the Middle East without Saudi support. So let’s get off our moral high horse. It is unbecoming, unrealistic and counterproductive to protecting and advancing our national interests.

Bob Straight
Fredericksburg, Va.

To the Editor:

Since he ascended to power in June 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been a darling of the American media and political establishment. And who can forget President Trump participating in the sword dance in Saudi Arabia on the first overseas trip of his new administration?

In that context, it is hopeful to read Nicholas Kristof’s column regarding the case of Jamal Khashoggi (“If a Prince Kills a Writer, That’s Not a Hiccup,” Oct. 14). Millions of starving civilians in Yemen, millions of Saudi women who still cannot leave home without a male escort, support for Islamic extremism around the globe — none of these have been enough to cause Americans concern. Perhaps the disappearance and apparent murder of a journalist will be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A thorough analysis of Prince Mohammed’s actions and policies is long overdue. Outside the Beltway, many Americans have been skeptical that the changes in Saudi Arabia are more than nice optics. And the Americans are playing — or in Donald Trump’s case, dancing — right along.

Steve Laudeman
Denver

To the Editor:

Nicholas Kristof’s excellent column is a reminder of America’s bad marriage with Saudi Arabia. It is a marriage that should end in divorce court. Saudi Arabia and the United States have absolutely nothing in common. We do not share the same values, principles or cultural norms.

I speak out as a retired American professor who worked in the Middle East, including top universities in Saudi Arabia, for 12 years. I left Saudi Arabia out of moral disgust with the regime’s barbaric war in Yemen, championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The tragic case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi only convinces me that I made the right decision.

Joseph Richard Preville
Detroit

To the Editor:

President Trump hesitates to confront Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi because of the $110 billion arms deal that Mr. Trump worked so hard to secure from Saudi Arabia. I conclude that Mr. Trump’s hard work and the $110 billion to be paid to American arms manufacturers are more than enough to lay aside our nation’s moral integrity and sense of justice.

I would hope that if the arms deal were for a dime instead of $110 billion, our president would act honorably.

My question is, for what amount of cash, between a dime and $110 billion, does our nation’s honor and value become negotiable?

James C. Herrinton
Walnut Creek, Calif.



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