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This summer I had the opportunity to spend a week at the Army War College for its National Security Seminar. There I learned alongside the officer and diplomatic corps students, mainly colonels preparing for major commands, about the threats facing our country and the tools we have to fight those threats. Early on the instructors explained that while most soldiers are trained, these soldiers were there to be educated, and he went on to explain the difference.
One trains to a standard, so that when faced with a situation they can recognize it and react in a prescribed way. The other is educated so that one may face a situation with no prescribed reaction, one that may never have even occurred before, and decide how to proceed, often choosing between only bad and less bad options. President Trump finds himself in just such a situation in regard to the apparent killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, allegedly by the Saudi’s in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Everyone - Kashoggi - Way - Turks - Media
What everyone agrees on is that if Kashoggi was murdered in the way described by the Turks and much of the media, it is an atrocity. Setting aside even the allegations of torture and dismemberment, the use of a consulate to commit murder is a severe violation of the norms that enable diplomacy. If the Saudi’s did this, there have to be consequences, and the United States must in some way punish the behavior.
That said, Trump’s patience with Saudi Arabia makes sense. While there are calls for him to more forcefully condemn the act, we don’t know exactly what the act was, yet. And there is no reason not to wait for more information before establishing an American position. If we do find that the Saudi’s and most importantly crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about or...
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