If Khashoggi were an American citizen, it would be an entirely different matter, but he wasn’t. At the end of the day, the Saudis killed a Saudi citizen, likely for saying things they didn’t like about the Saudi royal family. That’s not out of the ordinary for them because they’re bad guys. Of course, they have been bad guys for a long time. In fact, if before this had happened you had considered whether the Saudis would do something like this, the answer would have been “yes,” just as it would be for a lot of shady nations around the globe that we end up being forced to work with in an imperfect world.
As Americans, should we condemn this behavior and encourage the march toward democracy, freedom of the press, and liberty? Absolutely, but the world is what it is. If you’re shocked by this and think it should create major waves in our relationship with the Saudis, you’re incredibly naïve. The Trump administration should be exactly as upset about this as it takes to best represent our interests. If we can get some kind of concessions from the Saudis by pretending that we’re outraged, that’s what we should do. Say SOMETHING, if we feel like we need to, then give the Saudis a few public lashes with a wet noodle and continue on with whatever is in our best interests behind the scenes. If that’s too Machiavellian for you and you want to live in a world without these sort of moral complications, go read Tolkien or play a video game. That may be more your speed.