Ear­li­er tonight, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma laid out his case jus­ti­fy­ing the need for U.S. mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion in Libya, where coali­tion forces under the  aus­pices of a Unit­ed Nations res­o­lu­tion have been knock­ing out the air defens­es of its bru­tal dic­ta­tor. The Unit­ed States and its allies are work­ing to pre­vent Muam­mar al-Gaddafi from con­tin­u­ing to kill the cit­i­zens of his coun­try who protest his regime.

These actions have had the effect of bol­ster­ing the oppo­si­tion forces in their efforts to over­throw the government.

In Bahrain, it’s a some­what dif­fer­ent sto­ry. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khal­i­fa has found him­self the sub­ject of protests by his peo­ple, and he too has resort­ed to vio­lence. But unlike the Libyan strong­man, the Bahrai­ni king  has received a lit­tle help from his friends: the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly.

Local res­i­dents say they saw Sau­di troops dri­ving across the cause­way that links the two coun­tries ear­ly on Monday.

There was no offi­cial com­ment on the pres­ence of the troops, but a Sau­di offi­cial said “the force will work under the direc­tions of the Bahrai­ni gov­ern­ment and pro­tect vital facil­i­ties like oil and power.”

The Sau­di troops are in addi­tion to the bru­tal crack­down that began a cou­ple of weeks ago in Bahrain’s Man­a­ma Square.

So what’s the dif­fer­ence between the sit­u­a­tion in Libya and the sit­u­a­tion in Bahrain? The hypocrisy of the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment with regard to a gov­ern­men­t’s vio­lence against its citizens.

On the one hand, there is Muam­mar al-Gaddafi, a bru­tal dictator/terrorist who has been a thorn in the side of  civ­i­lized soci­ety for the bet­ter part of the past thir­ty years. He’s been con­sid­ered a pari­ah by West­ern nations since the 1970’s for the bru­tal repres­sion of his cit­i­zens and involve­ment in state-spon­sored ter­ror­ism. The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has now decid­ed to pro­tect Libya’s cit­i­zens, a deci­sion that seems very rea­son­able giv­en the cir­cum­stances. Cer­tain­ly, there is very lit­tle pub­lic sym­pa­thy for Libya’s tyrant.

But let’s not for­get that in 2009, Sen­a­tor John McCain led a del­e­ga­tion to Libya where, among oth­er things, Amer­i­can mil­i­tary equip­ment was deliv­ered to the regime. The vis­it was after the now-famous meet­ing between Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleeza Rice with Gaddafi, fol­low­ing Libya’s removal from the list of states spon­sor­ing terrorists.

In August 2009 he led a del­e­ga­tion of sen­a­tors, includ­ing fel­low hawks Lind­sey Gra­ham and Joe Lieber­man, on a trip to vis­it the Libyan leader in Tripoli. Dis­cussed dur­ing the vis­it was deliv­ery of — get this — Amer­i­can mil­i­tary equip­ment to Gad­hafi (a man with Amer­i­can blood on his hands no less).

On the oth­er hand, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khal­i­fa has employed sim­i­lar vio­lent tac­tics against his cit­i­zens and invit­ed the Sau­di army to back him up.

It should come as no sur­prise that the king has received train­ing and instruc­tion by the Unit­ed States Army. From his offi­cial gov­ern­ment biography:

On June 21, 1972, H.M. the king joined the US Army Com­mand and Staff Col­lege at Fort Leav­en­worth, Kansas, the Unit­ed States of America.


He was award­ed the mil­i­tary hon­or cer­tifi­cate from the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca for his achieve­ments in mil­i­tary affairs since 1968 and his name was enlist­ed in the col­lege’s lieu­tenant hon­ors list.

Seems we may have heard the sto­ry of an Amer­i­can trained/educated/backed for­eign leader before (Sad­dam Hus­sein, any­one?) So why would the Unit­ed States look the oth­er way in one case but employ air strikes in the other?

Per­haps the rea­son the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion looks the oth­er way is because Libya only exports two per­cent of the world’s oil while Sau­di Ara­bia is an ally (we have a major air bade in Riyadh) who is the world’s largest exporter of oil. And as late as 2009, the Unit­ed States was still the world’s largest con­sumer of oil, accord­ing to the U.S. Ener­gy Infor­ma­tion Admin­is­tra­tion.

It’s no won­der many Bahrai­ni pro­test­ers are angry with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and his team.

“I know there are clash­es between your inter­ests and your val­ues. Where is your democ­ra­cy val­ues? Where is it? We want to see these val­ues,” he said.

Where are our val­ues, indeed? Either we sup­port free speech and the rights of peo­ple to redress their griev­ances, or we don’t. Con­sid­er­ing those val­ues are includ­ed in our Con­sti­tu­tion, which politi­cians of all stripes like to rev­er­en­tial­ly quote,  it’s fair to say that Amer­i­cans sup­port these fun­da­men­tal rights.

So why not engage in Dar­fur, where the Sudanese gov­ern­ment has sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly killed count­less civil­ians for years? What about Myan­mar (Bur­ma)? It’s not like there aren’t oth­er repres­sive regimes in the world.

Rea­son­able peo­ple will argue whether or not the Unit­ed States should get involved in the inter­nal pol­i­tics of anoth­er nation, even when a repres­sive regime kills its own cit­i­zens who exer­cise such rights. Cer­tain­ly our nation can­not and should not police every human rights vio­la­tion in the world. How­ev­er, before mak­ing deci­sions to com­mit mil­i­tary per­son­nel and equip­ment to such a cause, the Pres­i­dent has an oblig­a­tion to deter­mine whether that action is con­sis­tent with Amer­i­can for­eign pol­i­cy actions, not just rhetoric.

Adjacent posts

2 replies on “Meet the Hypocrites: U.S. foreign policy”

  1. 100% agree.… where are the Cus­to­di­ans of HUMAN-RIGHTS?
    The US, UN, NATO and EU are selec­tive about their con­cept of free­dom and democracy.
    The entire Bahrain and Yemen has been tak­en hostage by the dic­ta­tors… unfor­tu­nate­ly those bru­tal dic­ta­tors have full sup­port of the US.
    Please help the peo­ple, they are dying while you read this.

  2. I think the world lead­ers are much more inter­est­ed in Libya because forc­ing Kad­hafi to resign will increase their pop­u­lar­i­ty among the vot­ers and improve their rep­u­ta­tion. I remem­ber the sud­den increase in pop­u­lar­i­ty of Mar­garet Thatch­er after the Falk­lands war was won by Great Britain. David Cameron may hope for a sim­i­lar result if the oper­a­tion in Libya is final­ly successful.

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