Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Strauss Distinguished Scholar Weighs in on Khashoggi Disappearance

Oct 22, 2018 |

In a recent article for Foreign Policy, Strauss Distinguished Scholar and Clements Center for National Security Director, Dr. Will Inboden, commented on the effect of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on U.S.-Saudi relations.

Inboden’s analysis walks the increasingly strained “tightrope” of U.S.-Saudi relations. At one end of the rope is the strategic importance of the alliance; at the other end of the rope is the weight of a tyrannical monarchy that fuels radical extremism and consistently oppresses its own people. Inboden contends that the newest quiver in the tightrope, Khashoggi’s disappearance, threatens the delicate balance of the relationship.

Inboden states plainly, “the disappearance of Khashoggi is at once an atrocity, a tragedy, and a humiliating slap in the face to the United States.” Inboden acknowledges the seemingly impossible, if not blatantly contradictory task America faces in standing for human dignity abroad while also maintaining its strategic alliances with autocratic nations. He notes that this incident is indicative of the Mohammed bin Salman’s true priorities, overshadowing the crown prince’s claimed reformist agenda. At the same time, the incident may serve to improve relations between the U.S. and Turkey if the two countries can work together on the issue.

Inboden concludes by urging the U.S. to consider various retaliatory measures against Riyadh such as expelling the Saudi ambassador for a time, imposing visa bans on other senior Saudi officials complicit in targeting Khashoggi, or decreasing or suspending U.S. weapons sales and other security cooperation with the Saudis. Ultimately Inboden asserts, “Khashoggi, after all, is more than just one man—he represents the best hopes for further reform in Saudi Arabia and for responsible checks on the power and hubris of the kingdom’s reckless crown prince.”