by John Freeman for The Saker Blog
International politics and hypocrisy have always gone together like sewers and stink, but the contrast between the recent media and government reactions to the Skripal poisoning, on the one hand, and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, on the other, reflects a new high water mark for duplicity and deceit by the New World Order and its satraps. The blizzard of newsfeed and groupthink from the usual talking heads in the immediate aftermath of the “Skripal affair”, as it came to be known, called for serious sanctions against Russia even before any official investigation had been concluded. Some went so far as to call the curious incident an “act of war”. Yet even now, when it is fairly clear that Mohammad bin Salman himself ordered the hit on Khashoggi, no significant action has been taken to jeopardize our relationship with our “great ally” Saudi Arabia for its involvement in the journalist’s murder.
I do not intend to argue the merits of the actual facts in both cases. Plenty of excellent journalists have pointed out the obvious flaws in the official narrative surrounding the Skripal affair. For those so interested, I would point them to this article. Or this one. Or this one. As far as the Khashoggi killing, I don’t think anyone seriously disputes that authorities at the highest levels, and probably the crown prince himself, ordered a death squad to carry out the grisly orders.
No, what I want to do instead is to point out the gross imbalance between the way Russia has been penalized for its supposed role in the bungled poisoning of the obscure double-agent Skripal and the way the USA and the world have tiptoed around doing anything substantive against the kingdom of SA for ordering the gruesome murder of a US resident and internationally published news journalist on the soil of a NATO ally. To help sharpen the focus of this analysis, I’ll use a timeline of events, focusing on a summary of New York Times accounts and opinions as well as the statements of various politicians presumably representing an official point of view. Those who are not interested in that level of detail should just skip the timeline and go straight to the concluding “Summary”.
As a side note, the reason I chose the Times (a paper that any right-thinking person should abhor) is because they represent the groupthink of the Neocon Deep State and the intelligentsia as well as anyone and are therefore fairly representative of the lapdog media as a whole. All that said, here are the most important daily summaries for the respective articles from the NYT for both the Skripal and the Khashoggi affairs (those who want a full account of every article for a full 30+ day period should visit my blog).:
Skripal (Mar 6): A comparison is already made to the death of Litvinenko despite there being no police evidence of foul play.
Khashoggi (Oct 4): “What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?” No attempt is made to link his disappearance to Saudi Arabia.
Skripal (Mar 9): Police don’t know what kind of agent had been used, but lawmakers still call it “a brazen act of war” by Russia.
Khashoggi (Oct 7): “Turkish investigators believe a well-known Saudi dissident was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul”, but that doesn’t elicit any international condemnation.
Skripal (Mar 13): The Prime Minister says “…Russia was responsible for the act against…the Skripals” in spite of the fact that the police reported no such thing.
Khashoggi (Oct 11): The NYT reports that if MBS murdered Khashoggi, “…it will…embarrass American executives…and put Mr. Kushner…in an extremely awkward position.”
Skripal (Mar 15): Teresa May expels 23 Russian diplomats. Trump is condemned for not censuring Russia enough. Russia is castigated as a “rogue nation”.
Khashoggi (Oct 13): No Saudi diplomatic expulsions even though Turkey says they have audio and video of the killing.
Skripal (Mar 16): The USA, UK, and Germany issue a “rare” joint statement condemning Russia. The UK considers “stripping assets” from Russian billionaires living in London.
Khashoggi (Oct 14): At “Davos in the Desert”, an ambitious SA business conference, there is no talk of “stripping assets” from Saudi nationals, but lots of lucrative deals are made.
Skripal (Mar 17): An Op-ed bellows that “…the attack wasn’t simply an act of revenge. It was a statement of dominance”, as if Putin just wanted to deliver a macho face slap.
Khashoggi (Oct 15): The Front page headline says it all: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, The Bottom Line Proudly Wins Out”.
Trump’s most vocal defense of Saudi Arabia: NYT steps up condemnation of Trump
Skripal (Mar 20): The Brits must “Hit Putin where it hurts” for his role in the bungled assassination attempt.
Khashoggi (Oct 18): The NSA and CIA are “convinced” of MBS’ personal role in Kashoggi’s murder, but Trump says that SA is an “important ally” who buys a lot of military hardware.
Skripal (Mar 22): Op-ed accuses Trump of being Putin’s “lackey” and suggests he won’t openly criticize Russia because Putin “ has the goods” on him. Isn’t that a “conspiracy theory”?
Khashoggi (Oct 20): Saudis say that Khashoggi was killed after he started a brawl in the embassy. Trump calls the idea “credible”. Does MBS “have the goods” on him as well?
Khashoggi (Oct 24): Trump revokes the passports of 21 Saudis.
Skripal (Mar 27): US expels 60 Russian diplomats and closes the Seattle Consulate. 22 nations, including most of the EU, agree to expel another 57 diplomats.
Khashoggi (Oct 25): No diplomatic expulsions. Gina Haspel, Director of the CIA, visits Turkey. SA acknowledges that Khashoggi’s murder was planned.
Bibi goes to Oman to discuss Iran-Dramatic decline in Khashoggi reportage starts here.
Nov 6…The suspicious murder of a Ukrainian journalist (just one of many) merits only one story, in spite of the fact that she was highly critical of the Poroshenko regime.
Nov 16…US levies sanctions on some Saudis.
Nov 17…CIA confirms MBS personally ordered the killing
Nov 29…The Senate brings to the floor a measure to limit Presidential war powers in Yemen, but even the NYT calls it a “symbolic step”.
Dec 5…Senators say they’re certain MBS personally ordered the assassination. “Somebody should be punished, but…‘How do you separate the Saudi crown prince from the nation itself?” There was lots of tough talk, “But privately, some…have said that they support the administration’s decision not to impose significant consequences on Saudi Arabia…(because)…the kingdom’s support is needed to confront threats from Iran.”
Strange Coincidences in the Times Reporting
I want to get to a direct comparison of Khashoggi to Skripal, but first, if you will be patient with me, I want to address something else that bothered me about the news coverage specifically on Khashoggi…something quite odd. If you take a look at the attached graph, you’ll notice a curious coincidence. In the days immediately after the Khashoggi disappearance (and subsequent allegations of murder), the NYT published very few stories about the incident. The few articles that did appear covered only the bare-bones facts, and there were no op-eds written at all. That is, until Trump began to publicly defend Khashoggi. At that point, the articles came in waves of around 3 to 5, and even up to 7 at the peak, many of them highly critical of Trump’s friendly relations with MBS. A skeptical observer might be led to conclude from such data that the paper didn’t take any serious stand on the case until an opportunity emerged to score political points to embarrass Trump. I will admit that this is speculation, but it does explain the timing of the “outrage” expressed by the NYT.
True, it is possible that they had scant coverage of the story, at least in the beginning, because the facts trickled in so slowly that there was little to report. That doesn’t exactly fit the time line, but still, if I were to be charitable, I’d give the Times the benefit of the doubt. However, given the proclivity of this rag to lie and politicize about nearly every important news story they publish, it would be completely in character for them to use the news as an opportunity to destroy an ideological opponent in the Khashoggi case as well.
But there is yet another fluke in the data which centers around Israel. If you once again take a look at the chart, you’ll note that coverage of the Khashoggi killing dropped off dramatically around October 25-26. After that date, and as of the moment of this writing (Dec 15), the Times radically reduced coverage of the story, even after the Senate voted to condemn MBS for his personal role in the slaying. Why would that be, when up until then nearly every issue of the paper contained an op-ed that was highly critical of MBS and called for serious sanctions against SA? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the first visit by Bibi Netanyahu to Oman in 22 years occurred on October 26, and that the visit was to open a “back channel” to Iran? A cynic might suggest that Bibi’s trip was a desperate measure to construct a new strategy vis-a-vis their arch-foe Iran in recognition of the reality that Saudi Arabia, who had been an important ally to Israel in their marginalization of the Persian nation, was suddenly struggling. It would not be surprising if they had concurrently asked the Jewish-owned (and openly Zionist) NYT to lay off of negative reportage of the Kingdom until such time as they had in fact found the work-around Israel needed. Conspiracy theory? Yes, but so is the official version of 9/11, and what other paper would have the temerity to publish such an idiotic puff piece as this, unless they were more concerned about imaginary phobias than real news?
Could it be simply that other, more compelling stories were hitting the news at that time, pushing the Khashoggi incident out of the limelight? Perhaps; there certainly were some big stories/false flags breaking about that then, and as I said before, if it weren’t the NYT, I might give them the benefit of the doubt. But it is the NYT.
That said, I must admit that the Times did write far more articles about Khashoggi than Skripal. Whether this is because of the fact that Khashoggi was a US resident, or because he was a journalist at the Washington Post, or because, as mentioned before, it represented a chance to gratuitously take a swipe at Trump, I cannot say for sure. Perhaps, in tabloid journalism fashion, they were simply drawn to the grisly nature of the crime. I am mostly inclined to believe that the murder of a journalist cuts a little to close to home for the editorial staff at the Times. They enjoy writing about death and misery…so long as it isn’t one of their own. The death of a journalist at the hands of the Saudis is a tragedy for the ages, in their eyes. The cruel slaughter and starvation of innocent Yemenis by the same people, not so much. Some holocausts, you see, like some animals and some countries, are more equal than others.
The hysteric reaction against Russia in the Skripal affair was immediate, universal, and carried with it real diplomatic and trade repercussions. The relatively subdued reaction to the Khashoggi murder was muted, confined to fewer countries, long delayed, and carried no impactful penalties or sanctions for Saudi Arabia.
Here are the major differences in the actual facts of the “crimes”:
- Khashoggi was cut to pieces while he was still alive. Both of the Skripals survived.
- Khashoggi was a US resident. Skripal was a dual UK-Russia citizen.
- Khashoggi was a journalist critical of an autocratic kingdom. Skripal was a double agent.
- The evidence that Khashoggi was murdered on the direct orders of MBS is overwhelming. The evidence that Putin personally ordered the poisoning of the Skripals has never been presented. Indeed, there is some possibility that they were not poisoned at all.
From those facts, one would normally conclude that in fairness, Russia should at most be the target of a diplomatic “slap on the wrist” compared to Saudi Arabia, yet that is not the case at all. Here is a quick rundown of the punishment meted out to each country in the aftermath of the two incidents:
- The USA closed a Russian Consulate and expelled 60 diplomats as repercussions for the Skripal matter. This was the most severe action that the USA had taken since the Cold War. The USA did not expel any Saudi diplomats for Khashoggi’s execution.
- The UK and EU expelled a combined 80 Russian diplomats, the most in history, vs. zero Saudi diplomats.
- The EU issued a joint statement strongly condemning Russia for international violations of law while there was no blanket condemnation of SA for the Khashoggi murder (however, individual countries did make stronger statements against the kingdom and many more called for an investigation).
- The USA placed a “first tranche” of sanctions on Russia for the Skripal poisoning in August, with a second tranche pending further Congressional action. No sanctions were applied by the USA to Saudi Arabia that were directly related to the case (there was some diminishment of military aid for the Yemen
atrocitywar, but that was more due to humanitarian crisis than Khashoggi). Yes, some individual Saudis were penalized over the imbroglio just as some Russian individuals were, but only Russia was subjected to national trade sanctions.
The level of invective hurled at Russia was also far more hostile than what SA was subjected to:
- British lawmakers immediately called the Skripal event an “act of war” by a “rogue nation” and that “…the attack wasn’t simply an act of revenge. It was a statement of dominance” by Putin personally. As if international affairs were a pissing contest between alpha dogs. But come to think of it, yes, that’s the level this farce has stooped to, thanks to the hubris and faux outrage of the Western political class and the shamelessly biased reporting of the media.
- Reaction to the Khashoggi murder was almost polite in comparison. Stories said that the whole affair was “embarrassing” and “awkward”, as if the dismemberment of a journalist inside of an embassy was the diplomatic equivalent of forgetting someone’s name. Relations between the USA and SA remained “cordial” long after it was well known that SA had killed Khashoggi.
- Any talk of sanctions was couched in conditional terms. “Somebody should be punished, but the question is: ‘How do you separate the Saudi crown prince from the nation itself?”, the Times cried in anguish, even while fully supporting extreme sanctions against Iran and Russia.
- “Requests” were made of SA for a quick investigation of the Khashoggi murder, while Russia was never allowed to examine any of the evidence from the Skripal poisoning despite repeated requests.
- The most absurd stories concocted by SA in an attempt to cover-up their responsibility for the Khashoggi killing were described as “credible” by the Trump administration, while any protests from Russia regarding their innocence in the Skripal affair were immediately dismissed.
It is obvious from these reactions that there was a hugely disproportionate response against Russia based on a weaker case and a lesser “crime”. The question, then, becomes “Why”?, and most of the answers seem obvious:
- Russia is not willing to bend to US unipolar rule.
- Russia is needed as a foil to support US MIC spending.
- Russia is the only country capable of destroying the USA in a nuclear war.
- Russia has thwarted USA plans in the ME and Ukraine, among other places.
- Russia remains defiantly Russian and is not eager to open up to Western influence.
- Saudi Arabia has powerful allies in the US Congress.
- Saudi Arabia is willing to manipulate oil prices at the bidding of Washington.
- Saudi Arabia has allied with Israel to destroy Iran.
- Saudi Arabia is rich enough to buy friends.
- Saudi Arabia buys our weapons. Lots of them.
So, in spite of the fact that Saudi Arabia is an autocratic regime that murders journalists, bombs civilians, jails dissidents, oppresses women, and shakes down its elites to pay the bills, the USA will play ball with them because they buy our weapons and they are on Israel’s side. Russia, on the other hand, doesn’t need our weapons and plays its own geopolitical game consistent with their vision of a multipolar world. Too bad the USA isn’t interested in anything except full spectrum dominance on a global scale. The overt hypocrisy of US foreign policy is evident not only in the Khashoggi murder but in every part of the globe… as an example, that poor journalist in Ukraine, dead from an acid-to-the-face attack? Just collateral damage, I guess, in our war to make Ukraine safe for satrap Porky and his Neo-Nazi pals. Some animals are more equal than others…and some are amoral pigs. What a world we live in.
Bio: John Freeman is a writer based out of Florida who has written for Chronicles magazine, the St Petersburg Times, and Country magazine. His blog is https://lesstraveledroad.com. He was formerly an army officer and automobile executive.