Fox host on Trump defending Saudis after Khashoggi assassination: “The president doesn't have any choice”

Christian Whiton: The US “can't ... turn our back on allies just because we don't like some of what they do, you know, we did that with the shah of Iran in late 1970's.”

From the November 19 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co.:

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STUART VARNEY (HOST): The Saudis are our allies and seems like President Trump will not abandon them because of the Khashoggi incident, he's refusing to even listen to the audio -- supposed audio recording of his killing. He's sticking with the Saudis. 

CHRIATIAN WHITON (CENTER FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST): Yeah, he didn't dispute that the tape may be accurate, we don't know if it's authentic or not, but it's not disputed that Khashoggi was killed and it probably wasn't a pleasant or good sounding experience. You know, the administration has been very tough on Saudi Arabia already. It's been, frankly, harder than we were on our autocratic allies during the Cold War. We've sanctioned a number of Saudi allies and been very condemnatory in public, so he's not turning the other way at this. But he realizes Saudi's a very important ally in, in particular, the fight against Iran for global -- for dominance in the Middle East. 

VARNEY: Well, the president doesn't have any choice, does he? I mean, you can't sort of say, “Right, he's got to go, and then we'll keep going with you.” You can't say that. 

WHITON: Right, first of all, it would be calling for something that just isn't going to happen, the Saudis are going to decide who their own ruler is -- their system will decide who their ruler is. And, frankly, and it's important to keep this in perspective, you know which country locks up the most journalists? It's not Saudi Arabia, it's Turkey. It's [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, the strongman who's making the most of this for his own regional advantage in his struggle with the Saudis. If you look at other allies of the United States, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines has sanctioned extrajudicial killings, and, of course, again, the people we are resisting in the Middle East, the Iranian regime, if you say the wrong thing in that country, if you're lucky, you go to Evin Prison, otherwise, they may just lynch you using a construction crane.


WHITON: I think our response has been strong, we can't -- if we take a Jimmy Carter approach and turn our back on allies just because we don't like some of what they do, you know, we did that with the shah of Iran in late 1970's, and we're still dealing with the consequences now.


VARNEY: Well, we're certainly not turning our backs on Saudi Arabia, and that's a fact.


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