Life is full of trade-offs, some of which involve fatally flawed moral compromises and hefty doses of personal and institutional soul-selling. -MAA
I wrote these words about the Institute of International Education (IIE), a well-known US international education organization and its longstanding affiliation with Henry Kissinger, first as a member of its board of trustees and later as a “life trustee,” among other matters that involve the sale of personal and institutional souls. (Full disclosure: I served as country director of IIE-Vietnam from 2005-09.)
As you may recall, Kissinger was involved in the death and suffering of millions of fellow human beings in Southeast Asia during the US war in Viet Nam, including the bombing of Cambodia and Laos. He is probably responsible for more human misery, there and elsewhere, than any other living former US government official, and has certainly lived far longer than his legions of victims.
In a recent review of my LinkedIn feed, I came across an announcement by Karen Bauer, the Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for the Middle East and Central Asia, about a new Saudi Arabian initiative called the Strategy of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program: Empowering Students for a Successful Future.
After catching my breath, I immediately saw red, not just anger, but the blood of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist, former insider then outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, as he was being butchered the afternoon of 2 October 2018 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul while his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, waited outside for what should have been a short time before going for coffee or heading home.
Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself (I’m a Man of Wealth and Taste)
Here’s the post in its entirety:
The Crown Prince launched the Strategy of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program on Monday. The strategy is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to develop human capabilities and realize objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 project.
Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh commented ‘With the support of the wise leadership, the Crown Prince launched the Scholarship Strategy, which aims to develop human capabilities, support research and development centers, and contribute to achieving His Highness’ vision in building citizens’ capabilities to compete globally.’ The Chairman of General Entertainment Authority Turki Al Al-Sheikh tweeted: ‘His Highness’ launch of the Scholarship Strategy will enable our youth to compete globally in all fields,…and the entertainment sector is one of the promising and targeted sectors in the program tracks’.
Here’s the image that was included with the text, smirk of privilege and all:
I left a comment that was promptly removed, no doubt, at the behest of her superiors at IIE, the REAC’s direct employer, EducationUSA (US State Department), her indirect boss, or on her own as an expression of internal censorship knowing full well that a call or email was imminent: Dishonor and disgrace by association? ‘Six weeks after the (Jamal Khashoggi’s) assassination, the CIA leaked its conclusion that crown prince bin Salman had ordered the assassination’.
Just to avoid any further unpleasantness, Ms. Bauer closed the comments section. God forbid, someone from the Saudi government see the offending comment. This was red, white, and blue censorship at its most blatant and hypocrisy of the highest order in the spirit of Do as we say, not as we do. (The exact same thing happened after I posted a comment about Bob Kerrey on Fulbright University Vietnam’s Facebook page in 2017.)
“His Highness”, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the de factor ruler of Saudi Arabia, was quoted in September 2017 saying he would go after Khashoggi “with a bullet”. He must have decided that a mere bullet would not suffice because a year later he pulled out all the stops, chose the overkill option, and dispatched a 15-man Tiger Squad to murder and dismember the journalist with a bone saw.
After a stopover in Cairo to purchase drugs that would assist them in their dirty deed, they resumed their private jet journey to Istanbul to complete their dastardly mission. Jamal Khashoggi went to the consulate to pick up some documents he needed in order to marry his fiancée, not knowing his assassins were waiting for their “sacrificial animal” to arrive and that he would not leave – literally – in one piece.
According to an 17 October 2018 New York Times article:
Saudi agents were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into their country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Mr. Khashoggi was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed, and within two hours the killers were gone, according to details from audio recordings described by a senior Turkish official on Wednesday.
Dishonor and Disgrace by Association
These are the people that the Institute of International Education (IIE) via EducationUSA in the US State Department have chosen to work with, people who literally get away with torture and murder. Yes, even posting an announcement on social media about a new scholarship program launched by a murderous crown prince is a clearcut illustration of dishonor and disgrace by association. (On a personal note, I would not have posted this announcement under any circumstances or at any cost.)
To the Dreamers Across the Globe
In memory of Jamal Kashoggi and everyone who has ever been persecuted and murdered by an oppressive government, why not refuse to even mention a scholarship program launched by the Crown Prince with the bloodstained hands? Why do they forget so quickly and return to business as usual, I ask myself rhetorically?
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
From the Buddha’s Five Remembrances
Postscript: The Dissident, a documentary from the Academy Award-winning director of Icarus, Bryan Fogel released in 2020 is about the murder and cover-up. “Chillingly powerful and heartbreakingly candid, The Dissident is an intimate portrait of a man who sacrificed everything for freedom of speech. With this cogent film, Fogel joins a cadre of dreamers across the globe who refuse to squelch the life’s work of an intrepid rebel, who, even after death, is defying those who sought to silence him forever.” Karen and others – I strongly recommend that you watch this documentary. Warning: If you do, make sure it’s not before you go to sleep.
Shalom (שלום), MAA