Pat Robertson, a prominent evangelical leader and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, urged viewers to “cool down the tempers of those who are screaming blood for the Saudis” and not risk blowing up a $100 billion arms deal over the apparent death of Saudi-born journalist Jamal Khashoggi, reports Right Wing Watch.
“These people are key allies,” Robertson said Monday on the Christian television show The 700 Club. “I don’t think on this issue we need pull sanctions and get tough. I just think it’s a mistake.”
“We’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of,” he said while advocating for behind-the-scenes diplomacy instead of publicly calling for harsh sanctions against Saudi Arabia. “It’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”
The pro-Trump preacher also said that the biggest threat in the Middle East was Iran — not Saudi Arabia — and should be treated as such, reports The Hill.
When his co-host Wendy Griffith argued that the U.S. cannot allow governments to kill critical journalists with impunity, Robertson dismissed her concerns.
“We’ve had so many people killed,” he responded. “We’ve had CIA people killed in Lebanon. People have been taken hostage over the years. I know it’s bad, but we’ve had all kinds of stuff, but you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I’m sorry.”
Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and permanent resident of the United States who worked for the past year as a columnist for the Washington Post, disappeared two weeks ago while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to receive documents for his marriage.
Right Wing Watch notes that Robertson had a different take on things when American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson was imprisoned for allegedly helping to plot the overthrow of the Turkish government.
Robertson repeatedly called on the U.S. to “get tough” with Turkey by imposing severe sanctions that would “bring it to its knees.”
“A lot of the time you say, ‘Well, it’s terrible. Isn’t that awful? We deplore his actions’ and you go through all that rhetoric and it doesn’t move the needle one iota,” Robertson said back in April. “But then you start laying sanctions on them and you start taking away trade benefits and you start putting some of their rich people in jail and the next thing you know, they say, ‘Okay, we’ll behave.’”