Jamal Khashoggi and the Decline of ‘America’s Moral Voice’

Politics

The touching memorial at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday for murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was marred only by the undercurrent of inaction it implied. With each speech, more than a dozen members of Congress heaped deservedly kind words upon Khashoggi, praised the enduring tenets of press freedom, condemned efforts to stymie voices like Khashoggi’s, and demanded that Congress act. In what way? For the most part, they did not say.

Tom Malinowski, the freshman congressman from New Jersey, was the exception.

Malinowski met Khashoggi just a few months before his murder in October at a small gathering in Northern Virginia, he said. Khashoggi told the congressional candidate and former assistant secretary of state that he worried about the decline of “America’s moral voice” in the world, particularly in the Arab world.

[Read: Saudi Arabia’s Shifting Narrative on Jamal Khashoggi’s Killing]

“We talked about what that might mean for the courageous democracy activists from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Bahrain who could once count on America at least to try to restrain their regimes from persecuting them,” Malinowski said. “In my own mind I was worried about the safety of some of the brave people I had met in those countries when I was an American diplomat. I was not worried about Jamal. He was here. He was supposed to be safe.”

Malinowski, who was the State Department’s top human rights official during the Obama Administration’s second term, was previously the Washington director of the advocacy group Human Rights Watch—a crusader from the outside who exerted pressure on the U.S. government over domestic torture practices and U.S. diplomatic ties to foreign governments with questionable human rights records. In a recent interview with Foreign Policy, Malinowski outlined a legislative agenda that, among other things, included “scrutinizing the U.S.-Saudi relationship amid Saudi Arabia’s devastating war in Yemen and following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.”

[Read: For Trump, the Truth About Jamal Khashoggi Is Beside the Point]

Only one week into his congressional tenure, Malinowski looked like a veteran at the podium. He called on the Trump administration to use the Magnitsky Act to sanction Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for ordering the killing of Khashoggi, saying “we have given the administration all of the tools that it needs to do what is right, to say to Saudi Arabia that while you may choose …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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