MBS is a more ambivalent figure than the cartoon villain that he is so often made out to be in media coverage. It’s true that he is cruel and repressive. But, while illiberal politically, he is liberalizing Saudi society. His reforms are revolutionary. https://t.co/CkD7LGxwgi
— Max Boot 🇺🇦 (@MaxBoot) July 17, 2022
It was the fist bump that sent shock waves around the world.
On Friday, Biden was photographed — by the Saudis, naturally — engaging in that greeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known as MBS. This was more than a little awkward, given that U.S. intelligence has concluded that MBS ordered the operation that led to the killing and dismemberment of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden once vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” for carrying out this murder, so the fact that he is now fist-bumping with MBS understandably provokes outrage.
I, too, recoiled at first from that distasteful image. But then I recalled that MBS is hardly the first, or even the worst, despot that U.S. presidents have greeted in similar ways. Harry Truman shook hands with Joseph Stalin, Richard Nixon with Mao Zedong — and both of those dictators had far more blood on their hands than MBS. Columnists can hurl thunderbolts of outrage from on high, but moral purity is a luxury that no leader of a great nation can afford. Every president has to pursue both America’s ideals and its interests — and often they are at odds.
And as you might expect with Max Boot, he had the exact opposite opinion when the bad orange man was president:
— Defiant L’s (@DefiantLs) July 17, 2022
But it’s even worse for Boot this time around as, you know, MBS — according to U.S. intelligence — ordered the murder of his WaPo colleague:
This is so wrong.
MBS reforms are window dressing in order to normalize KSA image.
Saudi monarchs have always been repressive but MBS cant even maintain basic norms.
He is trying to kill two men (MBN and Aljabri) who have saved many American lives!
He killed your colleague! https://t.co/t6DvmXOXxN
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 17, 2022