“Let’s get this done today.”
That was the opening from Jared Kushner, ushering a cadre of Saudi bigwigs into a room for an arms discussion. A born power-broker, Kushner probably married into just the right family for his particular talents. The agenda that day at the beginning of May? To finalize a $100 billion weapons sale with the Saudis so that Trump can wear it as a badge of honor. Trump’s visiting the kingdom on Friday, so maybe we can change the locks before he gets back.
The “deal,” as Trump and family fondly call negotiations with other countries, was set in motion by President Obama. The arms sale is not a departure from what American presidents have done for many years, especially during the tenures of Obama and Bush the younger. The difference is in the approach. Prior presidents have largely sent emissaries to negotiate with the royal family. Dealing with the President’s son-in-law is something the Saudis are far more used to.
An American Prince
Jared certainly doesn’t mind looking the part of key player, either. During the meeting, Kushner pointedly called the CEO of Lockheed Martin to tout his connections and bargain for lower prices. For American officials present, it reminded them of Trump’s call to the same CEO in February. That resulted in a price cut on F-35 jets from the arms dealer. Trump’s own sons could take a lesson from Jared in emulating their father.
Kushner has been positioning himself since the very beginning of Trump’s presidency as the same kind of behind-the-scenes mover as the Saudis are accustomed to. Now that Trump has put the deadliest weapons from the package — precision bombs Obama thought the Saudis might use in Yemen — back on the table, Kushner is eager to be the one to deliver them. And since Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has erased human rights considerations from middle eastern arms sales, it should be a cakewalk for the crown prince of Trump Tower.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
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