Michael McFaul called out on trying to whitewash Obama's support for Saudi Arabia
While the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, and the lack of a definitive US response to it, have consumed national headlines, Obama-era ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was among those who used it to accuse Trump of cozying up to dictators.
It wasn't long until McFaul was reminded of Obama's own history of abetting the Saudis.
The ex-envoy claimed Obama's relations with Riyadh were "very tense.""He did not play business as usual with the Saudis," McFaul wrote.
Journalist and progressive activist Aaron Maté responded, referencing accounts by former CIA officer Bruce Riedel saying that "no president since Franklin Roosevelt courted Saudi Arabia as zealously as did Obama."
The sales of US weapons to Riyadh shot through the roof as Obama authorized more arms exports to Saudi Arabia than any of his predecessors in what was perceived as an attempt to reimburse Iran's arch-enemy for the 2015 nuclear deal.
McFaul argued that the "Saudis hated Obama's stance on the Arab Spring" and "despised" the Iran nuclear deal. Maté dismissed the appeal to emotions and pointed to the facts.
Interesting pattern in exchanges tonite w/ @McFaul & @brhodes on Obama's record w/ Saudi: both cite feelings -- Saudis "hated," "despised" (-MM) / relationship "chilly" (-BR) -- but avoid engaging w/ the facts: Obama OK'ed most US weapons to KSA ever & greenlit its war on Yemen: https://t.co/cBtVKGPSbx— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) October 22, 2018
McFaul downplayed arms exports to the Saudis as a "decades-long practice" that Obama merely maintained, and asked for source material to back Maté's claim that Obama "greenlighted" the Saudis' brutal war in Yemen.
Obama continued decades-long practice of selling arms to KSA. Maybe a mistake,agreed.(please send me links to your pieces denouncing st the time). What is evidence that Obama "greenlighted" Yemen war? Saudis more independent than you suggest— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) October 22, 2018
But, when given a link to a 2016 NYT report of an internal debate in the White House that resulted in exactly that, McFaul changed gears. The whole conversation suddenly became about attempts to smear Obama ahead of the crucial US mid-term elections.
And so delighted that we on the left are arguing about Obama's evil ways 2 weeks before the most important Election Day in my lifetime. Typical and tragic. Goodnight.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) October 22, 2018
That evasion was immediately savaged by journalist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who reminded McFaul what started the whole conversation to begin with.
As a reminder: the discussion began when you and other ex-Obama officials tried to whitewash your own administration's history of constantly serving, protecting, arming and aiding the Saudis. You don't get to pronounce the topic irrelevant when others point out how false that is.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 22, 2018
You moved from “show me evidence you Denounced it then” to “we shouldn’t be talking about this at all” VERY fast! Well done.— 🎃topher lundHELL🎃 (@topherlundell) October 22, 2018
While the former ambassador never replied to Greenwald, when confronted by another commenter, he claimed he had "conceded the points on evidence."
I conceded the points on evidence last night. (You should try it sometime -- fells good to admit you were wrong form tiem to time) No one refuted the points I made though.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) October 22, 2018
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