Monday, May 19, 2008

Foreign Hypocrisy

I just can't believe that Bush and his administration do not see the glaring hypocrisies in their foreign policies.

First he's in Israel, pouring buckets of happy birthday praise on the state. (Fine, I will let this slide, typical, predictable, happy bday BS) But then directly after, and I cannot imagine a more inappropriate juxtaposition, Bush flies on over to Egypt with equally full buckets of criticism for Arab leaders, not even realizing that #1, absolute, blind US support for Israel supports the policies for which he criticizes Arab leaders, (see a great op-ed "Israel's America Problem" by Jeffrey Goldberg in the NYTimes Week in Review section Sunday 18 May in which he states: "But what Israel needs is an American president who not only helps defend it against the existential threat posed by Iran and Islamic fundamentalism, but helps it to come to grips with the existential threat from within. A pro-Israel president today would be one who prods the Jewish state — publicly, continuously and vociferously — to create conditions on the West Bank that would allow for the birth of a moderate Palestinian state. Most American Jewish leaders are opposed, not without reason, to negotiations with Hamas, but if the moderates aren’t strengthened, Hamas will be the only party left...The leadership of the organized American Jewish community has allowed the partisans of settlement to conflate support for the colonization of the West Bank with support for Israel itself. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, in their polemical work “The Israel Lobby,” have it wrong: They argue, unpersuasively, that American support for Israel hurts America. It doesn’t. But unthinking American support does hurt Israel..." Brill, as my friend Andrea would say. The other claim the article makes is the most vociferous voices pushin for settlements are American Jews, not dealing with the daily realities of life in the West Bank and in Israel.)
OK back to what I was saying....and #2 that US foreign policy directly supports the dictators he criticizes.

On point #1, the creation of the state of Israel and the subsequent defeats Arab states suffered at the hands of this state, are factors which contributed to the rise of militarism and dictatorships in the Middle East. They currently use the persistence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an excuse not to reform their own governments. By the way, I am not blaming Israel or Israelis for the problems of Arab governments, I am simply stating that we must realize that the creation of the state of Israel without a Palestinian state and the subsequent Arab losses in two wars to Israel made Arab states feel weak, demoralized, and embarrassed and led to an focus on military build up as well as consolidation of power at the top to prevent such losses in the future. I am not an Arab apologist - blame Arab states for this militaristic reaction. I understand that it is really up to Arabs to make up for their own decline but the U.S. government must realize that the Israeli issue is the thorn in the side of many Arabs and it must be resolved alongside indigenous Arab reform.

On the point #2, the US government supports - with millions and millions of dollars - the same dictators which Bush criticized in his speech. Unbelievable. He criticizes Arabs governments for having dictators and jailing opposition, and still fails to realize that his policies prop up these dictators, directly and indirectly.

In terms of direct support, Mubarak's government in Egypt is a great example. Before each election opposition party members and supporters are rounded up and sent to jail where they are tortured. (The best tool for radicalization, by the way, as the Egyptian government knows all too well (look for my background story on torture Egyptian prisons in the 1960s and 70s...coming soon). See HRW's (Human Rights Watch) reports. The largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Middle East's best chance for democracy in my opinion, was banned by the state and its members are routinely imprisoned, beaten, and tortured by Egyptian police and military officials. The US government has given Egyptian military $1.3 billion a year in aid since 1979. (Why 1979? What's you guess? The year Egypt say became a democracy? Nope. The year Egypt had elections? No again. The year Egypt allowed civil and political liberties to its population? Wrong again. This was the year Egypt singed a peace treaty with Israel.)

Another example, Pakistan. We give Pakistan millions of dollars ($150 million a month in military aid) and when the Supreme Court judges informed Musharraf that we could not run again for President and maintain his post as the military chief he fired all of them and threw them and their supporters - Pakistani lawyers (Pakistan's best chance for a democracy) in jail.

In terms of indirect support, which at times (like the following example) is even more severe, the largest and most obvious policy decision that contradicts Bush's speech is the decision to invade Iraq. Can someone please give this man a history lesson? Another reason dictators arose in the Middle East in the 70s is that leaders wanted to maintain a tight grip on their countries due to past Western colonization (cloaked as the mandate system) and 50s, 60s and 70s Cold War meddling. They remember being governed by the British and French after WWI and remember the coups the CIA orchestrated during the Cold War in Iraq, Iran, and Syria to name a few. What the heck do you think the war in Iraq is going to do to Middle Eastern governments?
I honestly believe that this war has set back the Middle East decades if not more in terms of open, civil societies and democratic governance. When regions, countries, governments (and even people - this is basic psychology folks) feel threatened they tend to tighten the reigns out of insecurity. (Example: The fear mongering that went on post 9/11 and is going on right now in this country - wiretapping, opposition to government labeled 'unpatriotic,' etc.) Since the invasion of Iraq we have seen many governments tighten the reigns of power - Pakistan, Iran, Egypt.

Bush also mentioned that women must be allowed equal rights, failing to understand that oppressive and demeaning Western foreign policies entrench many women in the Middle East in the position of second class citizens. Throughout history and in today's world, when a country is threatened by outside powers we see women more oppressed. Men, unable to assert their 'manliness' in terms of maintaining control over their countries look to instead exert more control over women.

Here we see not only a total misunderstanding of the region but also of male female dynamics. New misunderstandings going on everyday in the Bush administration. Really keeping' me on my toes.

1 comment:

k said...

great article
one wonders why people like you don't get electd...