The Daily Illini

Time for the US to make new friends

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Back to Article

Time for the US to make new friends

Max Piasecki

Max Piasecki

Max Piasecki

By Ajay Dugar, Columnist

Saudi Arabia continues to deflect and deny any wrongdoing after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Despite the fact that the murder of a well-known critic of the autocratic Muslim regime was premeditated and unimaginably cruel, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and head of state, Mohammed bin Salman had the audacity to say, Why the outrage?

Here’s why.

Saudi Arabia’s track record regarding human rights is appalling. The Middle Eastern state is possibly the most restrictive country in the world. According to the Cato Institute’s annual Human Freedom Index, Saudi Arabia ranked within the bottom 10 countries. In June 2018, women were granted the ability to drive. Meanwhile, they continue to attack Yemen citizens in a military offensive, killing over 5,000 civilians, with the United Nations Human Rights Council describing these events as war crimes. Persecution of the Shia Muslim minority continues while political dissidents and critics are imprisoned and tortured. Offenses can include “breaking allegiance with the ruler” and “trying to distort the reputation of the kingdom.” Public worship of any religion other than Islam is illegal.

With such backward policies and actions, we would think the United States would never support — or even ally — themselves with such a country. And yet, we are one of Saudi Arabia’s staunchest allies because of the hundreds of billions of dollars in defense contracts and tech investments. However, this is just a symptom of our unwillingness to change our broken foreign policy.

The U.S. pays for nearly a quarter of the U.N.’s operating budget. An organization supposedly committed to democracy, peacekeeping efforts and preservation of human rights should be exactly the type of organization needed to deal with Saudi Arabia.  Yet, they stand silent. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the U.N.’s failures for the past 70 years.

The U.N. has shown to be a feckless, ineffective organization when dealing with human rights abuses. They stood and watched during the Rwandan and Bangladeshi genocides, Yugoslav Wars and the Sri Lankan Civil War, all while promoting Palestinian terrorism and anti-Semitism. These few incidents are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the failures of the U.N.

Going through the list of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council is a complete farce. It includes Venezuela, the Philippines, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt, a veritable who’s-who of autocratic and human rights-abusing regimes. This is a complete and utter joke, spitting in the faces of people who need active involvement from the international community to protect their human rights.

Since the end of the Cold War, from Presidents George H. W. Bush through Barack Obama, all of our heads of state have kowtowed to this failure of an organization.  President Trump has sought to distance the U.S. from the U.N., but it isn’t enough. It is clear that the U.N. has gone the way of the League of Nations. Hopefully, it doesn’t take another World War for us to realize that.

Ajay is a junior in Engineering.

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