Mattis: US Must Balance Human Rights With Need to Work With Saudis

Defense Secretary calls for 'accountability,' but Saudis are necessary

On top of President Trump’s daily defenses of Saudi Arabia, Defense Secretary James Mattis offered his own comments on the Khashoggi murder on Wednesday, saying that the US needs to balance the Saudi human rights record with the value of working with Saudi Arabia.

Mattis went on to say that the US will continue to demand “accountability for anyone involved in the murder,” but that the US will never apologize for working with Saudi Arabia, even though they were the ones behind the murder.

This a common theme in talk of finding a “balance” between human rights and US military interests abroad. In recent history, the balance boils down to giving lip service to human rights and going out of their way to admit to statements of fact about the violations.

This was the same tactic done in post-coup Egypt, as US law forbids military aid to military juntas. The “balance” found in that case was to never formally recognize that the coup happened, and the “balance” in the Khashoggi case is to pretend that there is still massive uncertainty surrounding a Saudi kill team murdering a journalist inside a Saudi consulate.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of