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Hal Brands

Trump’s Foreign-Affairs Hypocrisy Is an American Tradition

From FDR through the Cold War, Washington mixed high rhetoric with low behavior. Is Trump taking it too far?

Deal or no deal?

Deal or no deal?

Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Bloomberg

In people, hypocrisy is usually a character flaw. For American foreign policy, hypocrisy can be a virtue. To see why, consider the debate surrounding the statement that President Donald Trump issued on the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Rarely do such short presidential pronouncements generate such voluminous and passionate response. Trump’s statement clocks in at a mere 631 words and essentially reiterates his longstanding position on the issue, specifically his refusal to acknowledge that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is probably responsible for ordering the killing and his contention that the U.S.-Saudi partnership is just too important to strain over the assassination of a journalist.