Remember the neocons? Those promoters of democracy and human rights in foreign policy, adherents of Andrei Sakharov's mantra that "a country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respect the rights of its neighbors"? The neocons can criticize Trump today. Everyone else is posturing, and their hypocrisy is too annoying to go unnoticed.
Trump's critics on Khashoggi—mainly Obama alums and the media class (but I repeat myself)—profess to be scandalized the administration is letting Saudi Arabia off with a wrist slap for the gruesome murder of a regime critic in Turkey. Saudi Arabia is both a longstanding U.S. partner and a longstanding human rights violator, but for some reason this particular Saudi atrocity is being judged as far more egregious than, say, dozens of public beheadings this year of regime critics and illegal drug users, or the killing by stoning of women accused of adultery.
These same people just finished eight years promoting the following policies regarding the world’s leading dictatorships and sponsors of terrorism: the Russia Reset; giving Iran a green light to slaughter democracy protesters; refusing to intervene in Syria while half a million people were killed by Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia; throwing Georgia and Ukraine under the bus as Russian troops rolled across their borders; egging on the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt; coddling a Palestinian Authority that pays salaries to terrorists; and promoting the Iran nuclear deal.
These appalling policies were defended with a misguided liberal version of realpolitik. Why do we have to cut a deal with the Iranian regime? Well, because Iran isn’t going anywhere. The regime has legitimate grievances. You make peace with your enemies not your friends. Dialogue will create its own new possibilities. And so on. In other words, liberals were just fine with bad regimes killing people, even large numbers of people, so long as the repression, terrorism, and aggression were priced in to liberal policy goals.
The hypocrisy on display today from those who had a hundred reasons why sending billions to terrorists was a great idea, but an authoritarian regime rubbing out a regime critic should be treated as a vast geopolitical scandal, is a sight to behold. Are they so swept up in the pleasures of condemning Trump they don’t realize they themselves excused far worse than a single murder? Are they clinging so bitterly to Obama's admiration of Iran and contempt for the Arabs that they can't see their utter lack of consistency or principle?