The Atlantic

The End of American Lip Service to Human Rights

The administration’s reticence about the disappearance of a Saudi journalist is offensive, but it’s also clarifying.
Source: Mohammed Huwais / AFP / Getty

As the consensus grows that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, there’s been a growing backlash to the regime in Riyadh.

High-profile luminaries and media and business sponsors are bailing on Saudi initiatives and on a major upcoming investment conference in Riyadh. Thomas Friedman, who wrote a gushing endorsement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year, walked it back, a bit. Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, no friend of press freedom or civil society, is pressing the kingdom.

[Read: The growing crisis over a Saudi journalist’s disappearance]

Yet the U.S. government remains markedly reticent. First, President Donald Trump pleaded ignorance. “I know nothing right now,” he said Tuesday. “I know what everybody else knows—nothing.” He added, “I don’t like hearing about it, and

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