President Donald Trump went to Saudi Arabia where there wasn’t a single protest to trouble him. While it’s possible that every Saudi citizen believes the new US president is a friend and good for the region, the lack of protests concerning Trump’s visit could be more reasonably attributed to the fact that Saudi Arabia banned public protests after the so-called “Arab Spring” saw popular uprisings in other Arab nations turn out entrenched leadership. The Saudi royals don’t tolerate any kind of protest, punishing it with jail time. Trump further ingratiated himself with his hosts by refusing to admonish the Saudis on human rights issues, saying it wasn’t the US’s job to “tell other people how to live.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, who Trump beat in the GOP presidential primary, said he fundamentally disagrees with Trump’s reluctance to use the US bully pulpit to preach tolerance and push for global human rights. “I think it’s in our national-security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights,” Rubio said on CNN after Trump’s speech. In case anyone was wondering what Rubio would have said in a speech to the Saudis, Rubio clarified that pulling back on human rights demands “would not have been a part of a speech that I would have delivered.” That puts Rubio closer to the position of George W. Bush, who spent his presidency pushing for democratic regime change in the Middle East.