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The Saudis Can Count on America

Freedom of the press, Jamal Khashoggi murder, Jamal Khashoggi, Murder of Jamal Khashoggi, MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, Donald Trump, Trump news, Mike Pompeo, Saudi Arabia news

Mike Pompeo in New York, USA, 07/20/2018 © lev radin / Shutterstock

October 18, 2018 14:34 EDT

Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner focus on defending the innocence of MBS. The Daily Devil’s Dictionary explains.

To “get to the bottom” of what increasingly appears to be the bottomless pit of Saudi mischief, Donald Trump dispatched US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh. Given Trump’s persistent acceptance of Saudi denials and his insistence that, like Brett Kavanaugh, they must be deemed innocent until proven guilty (dare we suggest by the International Criminal Court), Pompeo’s mission appeared to be more about helping the Saudis with damage control due to growing pressure from all quarters.

The video of the meeting shows both Pompeo and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) with broad smiles pasted across their faces during the entire exchange, meant to signify undying friendship. In the course of the filmed conversation, MBS made this resounding statement as a way of affirming his well-known taste for frank, open collaboration: “We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together.”

In perfect rhythm, Pompeo expressed his unambiguous agreement: “Absolutely!” This of course translates as: Count on us to back up anything you end up saying to explain away this nasty incident.

That brief snippet of conversation contains two pregnant words worth redefining. So, today we present a pair of 3D definitions:


Euphemism for an an accusation of consequential wrongdoing deserving some form of serious punishment but which, with a little ingenuity and political pressure, can be skirted and eventually forgotten and so can be qualified as a challenge


A committed and unwavering accomplice ready to cover for any crimes of which the other party may be guilty and who expects the same treatment in return

Contextual note

The Economic Times adds this follow-up quote from US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert: “The secretary and the foreign minister [Adel al-Jubeir] agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation.” In this feast of words that don’t quite mean what standard dictionaries tell us they mean, we propose the following definitions. 


completely revised for a devious purpose


containing details that make the lie seem true


Geared so that by the time the incriminating evidence dribbles out, the public’s interest in the story will feel uncertain about what the true story might be

Then there is the notion of commitment, which we find in this quote: “U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Saudi Arabia has made a ‘serious commitment’ to hold senior leaders and officials accountable in the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”


Solemn promise to do something the public wants to see done instead of doing it

What this really means is that “senior leaders and officials” will be charged with eventually identifying the subordinates who will be accused of the identified crimes or mistakes.

Historical note

Yahoo News quotes an unnamed former White House National Security Council official, who uses his or her knowledge of recent history to offer this moral advice: “[N]o one should act surprised about the Saudis killing Khashoggi. They’ve been an autocratic regime for sixty years that has beheaded people in the streets. They’re perpetrating terrible human rights abuses in Yemen.”

This calls for yet another Daily Devil’s Dictionary definition:

Act surprised: 

1. Demonstrate a behavior associated with “snowflakes” by taking offense at ordinary political violence

2. Hypocritically complain about a moral violation when other moral violations have existed in the past

3. Pretend to refuse the primacy of the law of the jungle

The same source took the trouble to explain how deeply involved Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in everything that happens between the US and Saudi Arabia, highlighting the “noble” cause of designing a vaunted “peace plan” for Palestine. The fruit of a creative collaboration between Trump/Kushner, Benjamin Netanyahu and MBS, the plan remains a total mystery, even for the senators recently briefed on it. Though we are told it is about to enter its “pre-launch phase” (which only proves that marketing has swallowed, digested and shat the cadaver of diplomacy).

This source’s summary of Saudi’s historical reality served as a prelude to a pragmatic conclusion intended to explain the Trump administration’s cagey position on this egregious crime: “Anybody that says that we should blow up the peace plan or that we should basically blow up finally having some Middle Eastern unity over Iran — if they think we should do that over the death of one person, it’s a little ridiculous.” It actually sounds like John Bolton speaking (let’s hope one day we get to the bottom of this).

Hunter Walker, Yahoo’s White House correspondent and author of the article, leaves us with the distinct impression that wanton, premeditated torture and murder — not just of “one person” but also of freedom of the press — should be seen as just an isolated incident that is regrettable but shouldn’t interfere with business as usual.

On that reassuring note Hunter closes the article. His peer at The New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman would undoubtedly agree, despite his shamefaced backpedaling on his endorsement of Mohammed bin Salman and his current wish to see some limited justice applied to the crown prince (while maintaining MBS’ grand plan).

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.] 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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