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Khasho who? One year after gruesome murder, investors embrace Saudi Arabia again (fastcompany.com)
295 points by AndrewBissell 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 136 comments





> Larry Fink, who boycotted last year’s event. Fink explained his decision in a post on LinkedIn: “I believe greater economic integration and diversification will help Saudi Arabia build a more modern and sustainable economy for all of its citizens,” he wrote, adding that “corporate engagement and public dialogue can help with that evolution.”

That's the same reasoning used to justify continuing trade with China and other repressive regimes. I think of it as high-minded rationalization to justify continuing profitable business. Excuse me if I don't believe the people saying things like this really give a shit about anything but getting more money.


I can't speak for Larry's motives, but consider the counterpoint: It's very easy to list countries where sanctions did not change anything, and possibly worsened the situation.

Successful sanctions are the exception. They're a lot like punishment. People do it not because they'll get positive outcomes, but because it feels good morally.


Another thing to consider:

Do sanctions help other countries stay nice?

I'm afraid that if it came out that you could do what you wanted and it wouldn't have consequences then we'd see a lot more bad behavior.

So, while it hasn't worked on NK who knows what other countries would have tried if they could get away with it (and, I'd say, just look at history to get an idea).


Well the US didn't stay nice when there were sanctions all around them.

I anticipated this coming up but you kind of see why I guess.

If there was an even bigger superpower ready to punish them they might have behaved a whole lot better.


Reuters ran an interesting debate last month on the motion "Sanctions are fair and effective", each side had a senior lawyer and a politician speaking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtfSheVScFc

South Africa would like you to hold their beer.

It's kind of futile to give an example of sanctions working to someone who clearly stated that they some times work.

That's quite accurate - instead of trying to state any reasoning that would be refutable your statement above doesn't guarantee anything while implying a lot - thus it's pretty unassailable by logic. The implication is rested on a very relaxed statement and will continue to imply even while counter examples are raised.

Actually, I made a very refutable statement:

> Successful sanctions are the exception.

To refute, you just need to look at all sanctions, and enumerate the successful ones, and show the proportion is at least half.[0]

If "all" sanctions is onerous, a decent sample (e.g. "sanctions in the last 30 years") would still have weight.

But simply giving an example of something that the claimant clearly agrees with - that's not even close to a refutation.

[0] Clearly one can disagree on what success means, but then nothing in society can yield to logic


Reduction of foreign military expenditure by Gorbachev, political settlement in South-West Africa/Namibia, and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union arguably did more to remove any remaining rationale of the segregated government.

In any case, sanctions/disinvestment caused many foreign companies to sell their South African divisions at a great discount to white industrialists. These industrialists in turn greatly benefited by opening up in the 90ies.


I told my mom this (among other things) and we’re going on year two of not speaking.

It’s like when parents say they hit you because they love you. But they “love” you regardless. They’re just hitting you because they’re mad.


Are you saying that you told your mother this because you were explaining why you are imposing 'sanctions' on her, or are you saying the two of you had an argument about politics and are therefore not speaking? (Or something else?)

"Mom I'm imposing sanctions on you." That's a thing, but saying so is generally not a good idea ;-)

That's like saying "war did not change anything" . Sure , but the possibility that it might change something is why they re done. What's the alternative, assuming diplomacy has been exhausted?

>Sure , but the possibility that it might change something is why they re done.

Don't consider possibilities in one direction only. Consider the possibility that the change may exacerbate the situation. And then compare with the "no action" alternative.


in almost all cases, the "no action" option has already been deemed unpalatable

One person's decision is not "sanctions," it's deciding not to work with a bad client.

Reminds me of this: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

I'm starting to really dislike that quote, because these people absolutely understand, they just don't care because it doesn't affect them directly.

“It’s difficult to get a person to care about something when their salary depends on not caring about it”

Updated it for you ;)


Disagree. People rationalize. Change the motivations and you get a different sincerely held rationalization.

Look at TFA. Decades of a top US ally being a human rights disaster, noone in the media cared. Until one journalist is killed..


I think Upton Sinclair assumed roughly that but was being a little sarcastic. In practice the people often do care and will go to great efforts to avoid the truth to further their own interests.

In my opinion, only countries respecting basic human rights should be permitted in the WTO.

Who would be the judge? Some would say the US should be excluded based on that criteria.

As someone that lives in the US I wholeheartedly agree that we should be excluded

I wouldn't want to be in a WTO where the strongest member is China.

The good news is while the US should be excluded - so should China - it might just be Norway and Sweden sitting at a table eating some lutefisk[1].

1. Joke. In reality there are plenty of moral countries, but a lot of the economic powerhouses have clear exclusion reasons - Canada might get a seat at the table, along with Mexico perhaps.


and there exists the problem, and that will be the case unless an organization like the UN is actually given teeth

Well there seem to be some indices available.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_freedom_indices

I don't think this is a reason not to use them but... right now no one cares about those indices - but as soon as they're between corporations and their profits then there will be a whole lot of lobbying and you'll likely see an index review committee headed up by Reginald Thomas III (son of Reginald Thomas II - CEO of Megacorp X) suddenly insert themselves into the official publication of those indices - then the quality and neutrality of them will drop.

Everyone is fine with you saying "Don't cut down the rain forest" until you actually stop people from cutting down the rain forest.


Making the US the absolute base level would still eliminate a good chunk of offenders

Historically, it might only eliminate 2-3 of them...

And the US absolutely is not respecting basic human rights. In fact, relative to the fact that the US has previously made significant effort to respect human rights, the current situation with respect to immigrant detainment and family separation (and intentional maltreatment of detainees) is worse than countries that have always oppressed or mistreated their people.

The US currently has no moral ground to preach from, and it should be ostracized until it collectively comes to its senses.


Not a single country here in Europe would be so tolerant on illegal economic immigration, America is extremely accepting. What other country lets people live so many undocumented immigrants in their country? The last refugee crisis literally tored EU apart.

I've lived most of my life in Texas. The Mexican immigrants here generally work as hard or harder than citizens, and they do hot dirty jobs that most Americans won't do. [edit] and the illegals work for less than legal pay because they have few options. They suck less from the government than the US citizens in the southern red states.

I guarantee that the immigrants are not tearing the US apart.


But there's context for all of those things, and I can rationalize them with my 6th grade civics understanding.

Those other people, who's history I don't understand? Oh, they're just bad.


I would also like to see the WTO to be completely empty.

Imho the biggest part if whether you're using economic investments to change something or just to make a quick buck.

Mutual investment is a significant part of Europe's relatively long, relatively peaceful recent history: a war between the great powers will only create losers.

Similarly, if you have no significant relationship (and internationally, the only relevant relationships are of the trading variety), you have no leverage for change. If I wanted to alter your behavior, isolating you won't do much. Trading with you and then, when you see the value of our trades, ask for small, incremental change is much more effective.

Granted, the West hasn't done that a lot with Saudi Arabia (though otoh, women are now allowed to drive etc - would that have happened if China was SA's primary trade partner?), it has been mostly about "sell us oil, buy our weapons, and we'll look the other way when you commit some atrocity", but that doesn't mean that the idea is always wrong.

A diversified economy would also most certainly make Saudi Arabia a better place. Right now, natural resources are pretty much the only relevant industry, and typically, that industry is controlled by a small minority. A modern economy that consists of more than one sector would change the power balance and a change in the power balance would likely curb the Wahabi fundamentalism that the royal family uses to keep their population in check.

It can be a good idea, but that's not to say that it will be successful, or that it will even be intended to be.


> Mutual investment is a significant part of Europe's relatively long, relatively peaceful recent history: a war between the great powers will only create losers.

There was a ton of mutual investment prior to WWI. The real reason for the relatively peaceful recent history is the knowledge that war in Europe would have brought in the US and/or the Soviet Union with really bad consequences for all involved (Europe would become the "shooting gallery of the super powers")


Unfortunately, I'm pretty jaded on our outrage culture when it comes to tragedies. It seems like people are great at virtue signaling through a tweet, an article, a public statement or a sign, but what change are we really willing to affect in the world? How many people who were outraged about this story did anything to change the world beyond saying how bad it was? What was someone willing to risk in order to stand their ground on this issue?

Same goes for other tragedies as well. A lot of talk and no action.


Turning down millions of dollars in Saudi investment is a pretty big action. Basically the opposite of virtue signalling. It has a real cost for the people doing it. Seems like Google, Amazon and Uber are actually doing something in this situation, not just signalling that they care.

Uber's greatest contribution has been losing so much money/having their share price performing so badly that SoftBank, and by extension the Saudis who poured money in the SoftBank Vision Fund, is hundreds of millions of dollars underwater.

I find it telling and amusing that the justification never goes the other way. Businesses never force countries to implement democratic or human rights reforms, even though the belief they are linked implies that the most efficient way to improve business conditions might sometimes be to demand political reform rather than form new business relationships.

I wouldn't say this is the case. Business almost always does consider property rights and rule of law when making overseas investments. Both of those factors are strongly linked to human rights and democracy.

In general, the countries with the worst human rights abuses (North Korea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Eritrea) tend to be the ones with the most anti-business policies. The correlation between the country-level ranking of political freedom and civil liberties[0], and their World Bank ease of doing business rating is over 50%[1].

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_in_the_World [1]https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/An...


Do you know of any examples of a particular business insisting an authoritarian regime implement pro-democratic changes before opening a business venture?

Even just drawing from American history, big business interests lobbied extremely hard for desegregation and civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. Even today in America, big business is one of the most powerful interests in favor of LGBT-rights[1].

Another example was big business' demands for reform in the apartheid regime of South Africa[2].

[1]https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-19/the-u-s-c... [2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sullivan_principles


More economic trading means more interaction with the rest of the world. People learn and grow from being exposed to new experiences and thoughts.

Sure, the leadership may not change their stance but overtime everyone else might.


Great, so why not the same reasoning with Iran too?

What else should we do? Did economic isolation help with the case of North Korea? To the extent I see, the rise of tourism has helped / is helping Cuba to become more and more integrated, as it's increasingly hard for the government to keep modern technology etc. from the hands of locals.

> What else should we do?

stand up for something?

Why is it acceptable to sell your soul for money, but not your body?


>the rise of tourism has helped / is helping Cuba to become more and more integrated, as it's increasingly hard for the government to keep modern technology etc. from the hands of locals.

I can't speak to the situation of these other nations, but I've been going to Cuba for a long, long time. (Was at the University of Havana for a bit in the 90's, been visiting since.) Even during the Special Period there were tourists. Lots of them. I can tell you that there is no real "rise" in tourism.

There have been small changes in Cuban government economic policy over time, as well as changes in American policy towards Cuba. But if you ask the average Cuban on the island, I'm sure they'd tell you both of these changes in policy are precipitated more by the North Cuba Basin than they are by tourism. I generally agree with that assessment. Being that most of the movement towards these changes happened post-2004, despite the fact that there was no rise in tourism over the same period.


Cuba had 1.8 million tourists in 99, 2.4 million in 04, and 4.7 in 2017. Meanwhile, their population has risen from 11.1 million in 99 to 11.2 million in 2017. And though oil reserves were found, production has stayed roughly the same since 2004.

Those are registered numbers. Tourism from the nineties until Obama, especially from the US, was completely unregistered. Not only that, but Cuba facilitated tourism scofflaws by making it policy not to stamp certain Western passports. (I was there legally, and I can tell you that even the legal visitors, did not get stamped. At least as an American they didn't. They went the extra mile to cover your tracks.)

Point being, reported tourist numbers from Cuba are completely unreliable. (Really any reported numbers from Cuba are unreliable but that's a whole other story.) They report whatever serves the government's story in Cuba. Full stop.


So what government story prompted the gradual growth of reported tourists?

I looked at the data a bit more in an attempt to find sources skeptical of the reported tourists, and I couldn't find anything. I did find the reported tourism revenue though, and though it still seems like far more tourists are visiting, the expenses per person has dropped a fair amount leading to the % of GNP from tourism dropping since 98.

This would explain why the economy doesn't seem to be benefitting despite the high rise in tourism.


Why should Iran be sanctioned while Saudi Arabia isn't?

This double-standard is precisely why people don't trust the USA any more.


From a high-level: the Iranian state hasn’t apologised for the 1970s US/Iran hostage crisis, nor its stated anti-Israeli position (see also: AIPAC lobbying), but most ostensibly because the IRGC continues to fund terrorism around the world - especially against US, European, Israeli, and Saudi interests.

SA escapes criticism because ostensibly they’re an ally(TM) of Israel and the US - and SA hasn’t committed state-sponsored acts of terrorism against western interests (9/11 wasn’t backed by the Saudi state - just by non-executive members of the extended royal family) and the economic and geopolitical leverage they get by being hosts of large numbers of US bases and getting OPEC to agree to use the Petrodollar which cemented the US at the centre of the world’s economy.


Well, has U.S. ever apologized for operation Ajax? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27état

"the Iranian state hasn’t apologised for the 1970s US/Iran hostage crisis"

This. The USA takes a looong time to forgive countries that humiliate it (or that it perceives to have humiliated it). I can't see any other reason for the USA to so strongly favour the headchoppers of SA over the headchoppers of Iran; they both have lots of ahl.

[Edit: the SA headchoppers are friends of Israel, the Iran headchoppers are friends of Hezbollah. So maybe it's to do with the evangelical obsession with the Rapture, and the return of all Jews to biblical Israel; I don't know if that was a thing back in Carter's day.]


But Iran should had forgiven the toppling of its legitimate president?

Their country their business. They don't need to apologize to anyone for ousting a dictator no matter who they chose to replace him with.


The sanctions on North Korea were constantly violated by China though. That's a bad example. Cuba was sanctioned by the US but not the rest of the world so that's a bad example as well. I am of mixed feelings on the efficacy of sanctions but North Korea and Cuba are not examples of countries that were effectively sanctioned.

yes, economic isolation helps - compare the amount of influence N. Korea (isolated) has in the world to the one of China (not isolated).

Sorry but I don’t agree this mentality

Unless you are an extreme nationalist, you have got to be happy that China lifted a billion people out of grinding poverty in 20-30 years? Now they need to work to maintain that standard of living. I hope soon they will transition to UBI and robots but in the meantime they need to earn a wage.

So you’re not happy because the people lifted out of poverty were Chinese?

If North Korea didnt have sanctions they would probably have never gotten nukes and the Kim regime would be far more benign to its own people.

Making people and families independently wealthy gives a counterweight to the government.

What we should have actually done is get off Saudi oil and stop subsidizing fossil fuels decades ago, to protect our citizens from OPEC. Then we could have actually had electric cars by now. Instead we buy oil and sell weapons. Creating jobs in this economy — oil and weapons are often closely linked.

We should care about MILLIONS OF REGULAR PEOPLE in Libya, Yemen, North Korea etc. but instead we care about Kashoggi and Libyan embassy only!


I am not happy about dictatorship having a sizable influence on the world - long term, I believe, it is a dead end (I have lived in USSR).

I am even less happy about Saudi Arabia. IMHO, it is the worst regime in the world (worse than NK) and I am appalled that my home country (USA) considers them “allies”


Yes, I agree with your humanitarian concern for people. That’s my point. Sanctions have hardly ever worked, but often led to far worse outcomes. The Versailles treaty is probably one of the biggest examples.

The tool should NOT be sanctions and economic isolation. It should be empowering the people on the ground, so they can build humanitarian institutions that can put a check on the government. The problem in China right now is all those institutions are being systematically dismantled. Human rights are the issue, for sure.

But remember, calling someone a dictator is very one sided. You live in the USA so you don’t get to see what USA does around the world. Mainstream media keeps quiet about it. No country is such a great “leader” which is why if we could I would argue for MORE globalism and LESS nationalism. I would want an international police force to replace all national armies, and its only job would be to de-escalate all world conflicts and force everyone to resolve conflicts through diplomacy or courts. There would need to be tons of safeguards in place to make sure we don’t concentrate power even further in the administrators of this international police force. That last part is the architectural problem. But if we don’t solve it, we will always have pockets of terrible human rights violations in sovereign countries. To nationalists — you have to care more about the sovereignty of a country’s government than human rights, every time. Caste rapes in India? Bride killings? Uyghurs in China? Bolsonaro wants to decimate the native population and chop down the rainforest for soy? Duterte killing people? Gotta stay out.

Hey I know let’s put some sanctions on it! That oughtta fix things. Eventually.

So... when will someone put sanctions on the US for Iraq or any other regime change war? Oh now we get the real rules on this level... might makes right. Well, instead of sanctions and trusting ONE country to be world police, I’d rather have more globalism, not less. But a benign kind — promoting conflict resolution and coordinating collective action solutions to global crises by design. Like making every country implement a carbon tax and dividend, to their own people, and then have corporations buy carbon credits from this fund, which would pay out to developing nations and others for reforestation and healing ecosystems (as verified from space).

What good is nationalism if we consume all the resources and make the planet hardly inhabitable? That’s the biggest question of all. What good are your national sovereignty principles when Mexico City runs out of water or Honduras and many African countries are emptied of its inhabitants due to drought?


[flagged]


This comment breaks more than one of the site guidelines. Please review them and stick to the rules when posting here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


What were the means? Centrally planning the cities and pouring a lot of investment into infrastructure projects like paved roads?

I guess FDR’s government should have never built that interstate highway system, eh Comrade? Not like it led to an explosion of wealth in logistics, transportation, malls, franchises, and delivery to every city.


What were the means?

The 10s of millions killed in the “great leap forward”. The millions of non-Han in the present day in “re-education camps”. The massive environmental damage.


>The 10s of millions killed in the “great leap forward”

At least partially caused by the China trade embargo, another form of the sanctions being being recommended here to limit their influence.


US is doing far more environmental damage per capita, and its current democratic government and large portions of the electorate are doubling down on doing more damage. Bolsonaro was elected democratically in free elections and Brazil probably does more environmental damage than anyone on the planet at the moment, and looking to evict “non-Brazilian” natives from the rainforest and seize land by force, to chop down the rainforest so they can sell soy to the Chinese and beef to the rest of the world. An area the size of Hong Kong was cleared in august alone. And all this is for encouraging profit Are you suggesting the forces of free market capitalism has less environmental damage?

Aa far as the humanitarian issues I am with you! I am not arguing for national sovereignty over human rights. In fact the opposite — I am saying sanctions don’t hurt the government (realistically, the Chinese govt isnt gonna peace out due to a trade war) and are actually a bandaid on a system of sovereign nation states who can do anything they want inside their own borders. Please see your sister comment and answer there.

I am certainly not advocating extreme measures like Holodomor or Great Leap Forward. Other countries offered aid but Russia/China refused to accept it. Similarly now with Venezuela. “National sovereignty” over “human rights” and “humanitarian concern”.

But guess what under the Irish Potato Famine it was also exacerbated due to national sovereignty of England. And guess what — there the interests were purely capitalist, to safeguard profits of landlords. Same in famines in India under the British Raj.

There is no easy solution along the lines of a capitalism - socialism dichotomy. Nor is central planning less efficient — look for example at you posting on Facebook or HN, verses some kind of decentralized site. No, we need to decentralize power to safeguard human rights, and that means lower respect for national sovereignty. At the same time we need inter-national institutions to solve collective action problems that otherwise will if not solved ultimately leave the planet ravaged by the collective human organism. And here we are talking about left vs right, capitalism vs socialism.


US is doing far more environmental damage

List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_di...

Look at both the numbers and the trends.

I agree about decentralised powers FWIW.


Let’s be fair here and not take words out of their context. The two words following your quote (and part of the sentence) were per capita. Your link supports what I said. The trend is tapering off but Chinese people still have a smaller carbon footprint than Americans.

That said... sustainability is not just about CO2. It’s about ecosystems like the Baikal lake being ravaged. If the Chinese get to move into Siberia we may start to lose some of the largest natural ecosystems on the planet. But Bosonaro is doing that already.

Anyway, besides this point, I am sure there is a lot we agree on.


The damage to the environment caused by Chinese industry is less than the damage to the environment caused by (e.g.) burning of forests for fuel and profit in industrially undeveloped parts of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, if you consider it on a per-head-of-population basis.

The interstate highway system was begun by Eisenhower after he saw first-hand how effective Hitler's Autobahn was. The first sections opened in 1956.

Thanks for the correction! I learned something.
coldtea 12 days ago [flagged]

Of course not! Only when it serves America!

China has kept NK afloat all these years; it's a special case.

Sorry to nitpick but North Korea has historically chosen to be economically isolated (read about their government philosophy called “juche”), so it’s a weak example imo even in the presence of sanctions.

I mean, for at least a few years, my sense of NK has been that the world hates them because they want to be left alone.

Imagine the American response if this recorded state sanctioned murder had happened in an Iranian embassy

If Iran murdered an Iranian citizen in their own embassy in third country? No response at all except a shake of the head?

Iran regularly kidnaps dual citizens when they come to Iran and hold them without formal charges, and many disappear/die. The only reason this is a story is because we theoretically hold Saudi Arabia to a higher standard than Iran in the first place.


>When they come to Iran.

This is different imo, an American resident was murdered in a third country. I can assure you if this happened nobody would be talking about how important it is to keep selling arms to Iran, the way we did with Saudi Arabia. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/opinions...


He had a work visa for the US. What I'm saying isn't defending Saudi Arabia, rather, that Iran is the last example to use to make the point, since they are regularly getting away with the same/worse in a variety of consequences with minimal blowback from the west (excepting occasionally the US), since we expect no more of them.

In fact having our OWN embassy ransacked and our diplomats kidnapped has to this day resulted in no effective consequences for the Iranian regime except economic ones.


An American resident? He wasn't a US "person" under US law. He didn't have a green card--H1 visa, perhaps?- and wasn't eligible for consular protection under the Vienna Convention. Trying to turn him into an American is silly.

He was a legal US resident. He had what's commonly called an Einstein Visa. He received his education in the US. He has children who are US citizens. He had a job in the US. He even paid taxes to the US.

How about you stop denigrating his personhood.


All people on US soil are protected by the US Constitution and bill of rights. It doesn’t matter if you’re citizen or immigrant; permanent or temporary resident; illegal or legal. Simply being on US soil means the US must acknowledge the rights that were granted to you by your creator (this is the way it’s phrased in our constitution)

Mississippi is arguing otherwise, after an undocumented immigrant was mistakenly killed in a raid: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/09/27/ismael-lope...

Howdy cow, if that belief is upheld, the repercussions are chilling. As the article mentions, if illegal immigrants are not protected by the constitution then they can be enslaved or killed without repercussions.

Arresting and imprisoning people within their own borders without formal charges is also a Saudi Arabian practice. And it's a far cry from murdering someone in one of their embassies in a foreign country.

Now, maybe Iran actually does do that? The difference is that they have to at least do a competent job covering it up because unlike KSA they don't act with complete immunity to any consequences or repercussions for their actions.


Saudi Arabia has money and oil. America likes oil and money. It's been as simple as that since the bitter Lake conference. Why else would a country that claims to have gone to war to create a representative democracy and destroy an unrepresentative monarchy be the best of friends with one of the most unrepresentative monarchies in the modern world? Can you think of another country named after a dude? Or, excuse me, a dude's family? (All respect to Abdulaziz, lord knows the Saudis could strike me down in the banana republic I live in).

> Can you think of another country named after a dude?

I mean, I get what you're saying... But isn't America named after Amerigo Vespucci?


> Can you think of another country named after a dude.

Liechtenstein is named after the princely family there. Bolivia was named for Simon Bolivar.


my first thought was Colombia but then went searching https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_named_after_...

The government has historically also been friendly to the US and backed them in their various military positions. If the government was replaced with one that was say pro Iran, anti Israel that wouldn't be very good for the US.

Well frankly the Saudis should have been held accountable do ISIS and the 9/11 operations... and yet they got away with it. If that didn’t earn them US retribution, nothing else ever will.

What was wrong with US's response to 9/11 attacks?

Tunnel vision, moral and patriotic grandstanding, group think, not thinking about the long term consequences of actions.

Yes, Saddam Hussein was evil, but the consequences of removing him were much more dire and opened up pandora's box.

Yes, what Saudi Arabia did was gruesome, but if you respond by cutting them off totally, they will ally with China. You lose the entire region, your leverage on oil production in the middle east. You make your rivals stronger. Is that reaction proportional with the action?

Is this one incident, which is not like Saudi Arabia didnt get massive blowback for, worth the long term consequences?

Where is the media commentary which is more pragmatic and willing to look at things two steps down, a decade from now?

Which media outlets actually present the question in that format. Nobody has learnt anything from the previous problems. People are still easy to manipulate, and the media still lacks any kind of long term thinking.


> but if you respond by cutting them off totally, they will ally with China.

This is not easy. None of the ME players can change alliances without inflaming the region


>Is this one incident, which is not like Saudi Arabia didnt get massive blowback for, worth the long term consequences?

Not punishing them for this one incident can have the long term consequence of there being more such incidents. Maintaining alliances and amassing power is valuable, but only because they allow us to achieve goals. Many people, myself included, think human rights should be one of those goals.


What I find really strange is that the murder of one US/Saudi journalist is apparently worse than the mass murder being carried out by Saudi Arabia and US in Yemen. Why is that? Is it because Saudi Arabia did not get explicit approval from US to murder Khashoggi? Or is it only because it could be used as a political point against Trump?

The US is not dependent on middle eastern oil any more.

Let them ally, tell them “have fun with that”

Same goes to any other middle eastern allies with troubling policies who we have unwavering support for. “We disagree with how you treat some human beings, have fun with Russia!” “Why havent you just been issuing debt on the international markets to fund your defense programs like the rest of us? Have fun destabilizing your whole economy, thats life!”


I think the US control over global oil supply in theory has a few big consequences greater than just importing cheap oil:

First, there’s the whole petrodollar thing, which in theory is a net positive in global trade (since all this external money is sloshing around in USD, there is more demand and liquidity for USD globally, and at the end of the day that means we get traded things in exchange for printing money).

It also gives us a lot of leverage over other countries the world over. If Russia is acting up, the US can pressure countries to dump oil to lower the price and hurt Russia.

A lot of these countries like SA buy a lot of US weapons which we like for economic and political reasons.

Also, the US wants the region to be stable, since Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are all at varying degrees of being nuclear powers and don’t have great relations between each other. If there were a big war over there, it would be bad for business globally and could destabilize countries outside of the region.

Now, I’m not saying I like this state of affairs, but it’s complicated and there aren’t a lot of good guys over there, so it’s hard. At least the current state of affairs is somewhat stable.


It is, there is a global market for oil and if the ME imploded you can be sure Americans will be paying more for their fuel.

So this may be interpreted poorly, but why was this murder such a big story in the news? This is a drop in the bucket of Saudi misdeeds.

Is this not in line with the average person’s perception of the Saudi government?


Khashoggi [resided in the US and has two US citizen children] (edit - was not a permanent resident).

He had developed standing in the US, including journalistic circles (he was a journalist, after all).

His murder and subsequent coverup attempts were ludicrously brazen.

It [almost certainly] involved the Saudi crown prince who has been courted by the president's children/advisors.


Mohammed bin Salman was also feted by numerous tech industry leaders on his U.S. tour: Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Sergey Brin & Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey, the list goes on and on.

He lived part of the time in the US, but he wasn't a US resident or a US "person" eligible for US consular assistance under the Vienna Convention.

My mistake, he wasn't a US permanent resident.

He was merely a person residing in the US.


>This is a drop in the bucket of Saudi misdeeds.

You would have to clarify further on this.

In general, even if you ignore that Jamal was a well known person, being killed in your own embassy is newsworthy anywhere. For a long time embassies were considered a place of refuge.



One deed is mostly speculation, whereas the other one is confirmed. Do you not see a difference?

>Some information has leaked from the redacted section, including a flurry of pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego and the Saudi Embassy, and the transfer of some $130,000 from then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego.

Quite some speculation if you tell me. And I am not from the USA.


Are you not speculating what the money was for?

And, you know, frankly - please consider the integrity of the source (NY Post). Tabloid journalism is not generally reliable, and they have a history of stating the wrong facts (i.e. lying), and it probably wouldn't be hard for me to find cases of "lying by omission".

I don't have a stake in this battle. If the Saudi government was fully complicit in the attacks, it would not shake my world view. What I don't like is lowering the threshold of evidence against an entity simply because there are good reasons not to like that entity.


You make a good point about staying objective. I shouldn't state it as fact, and it is different from the embassy murder. I tend to give credit to the falsifiable claims surrounding their involvement when no one with an interest in debunking them has debunked them, but that's a kind of heuristic approach to determining the truth which is flawed.

The ongoing Yemen blockade then.

> Is this not in line with the average person’s perception of the Saudi government?

No. The average person thinks we’re allies and therefore by definition Saudi Arabia is run by “good guys”.


That's not what the polls in the US shows; 2/3rds have a mostly or very unfavourable opinion of SA: https://news.gallup.com/poll/1624/perceptions-foreign-countr...

frankly, if people are so uninformed they think Saudi Arabia is run by the good guys the odds are more likely they're so uninformed that they don't know Saudi Arabia is an American ally.

Are you sure that you’re not an average person? I think most people understand that Saudi Arabia doesn’t operate to the standards of Western republics.

This was a big story in the Western media because the victim was one of their own (media person, Western educated, wrote for WaPo).

> So this may be interpreted poorly, but why was this murder such a big story in the news?

There are so many reasons. In no particular order, here are some:

* There was so much detail available about what happened. By the standards of state-sanctioned assassination, it was very sloppy.

* It happened in Turkey, so it's part of a trend of state actors believing they can assassinate with impunity in western countries. This makes people feel unsafe.

* In the US, our leaders are siding with, or at least explicitly defending, the actors responsible for these assassinations a lot more often than is comfortable.

* When you own a factory full of printing presses and one of your employees is murdered and dismembered by a government, you make a big story out of it.

> Is this not in line with the average person’s perception of the Saudi government?

The specifics of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi are genuinely new.



High profile cases disproportionately affect opinions. E.g. a single photo of an dead immigrant child was enough to cause a sea change

I think it is because it was so blatant.

If investors backed off every time a country's government did something murderous, then not just SA, but all major Western countries would be investment free...


Did anyone honestly think anything else would happen?


Great article and definitely has a point: Someone killed one co-citizen in their own country and on its own soil. At most, Saudi Arabia must open a local investigation to find the responsible person.

Other countries might not like their law, but it is the same as me not liking Death Sentences in the USA, but what can I do? I am not a citizen of that country.


Conflating extrajudicial killing with the death penalty? Is it really “the same”?

Khashoggi's murder was horrible, but it did not violate international law. https://medium.com/@al_mu7ami/in-defense-of-mbs-the-need-for...

I think the criticism is moral, rather than legal.

I suppose this is worth saying but "the regime" is different people. Complaining about attending the investment conference because of the terrible murder of JK is like complaining that foreigners should not attend US conferences during Obama's drone strikes.

I know -- you have a strong negative reaction to that statement -- because you don't think they are equivalent. Fine, let's talk about the difference.


This is not a conference organized by some SA citizen, it's organized by the sovereign wealth fund of the SA state, whose chairman is the Crown Prince.

But the beneficiaries are, in theory, the people of the state.

In the Obama/Trump drone equivalency case -- or pick another president and some other war -- one might argue that the people are more culpable because we have a democracy. Note that given our vantage point, we might be inclined to make fine distinctions: popular vote vs electoral college, or 52% of the support etc.




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