U.S. Support of Dictatorship Leads to Anti-American Anger in Bahrain
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The people of Bahrain are figuring out what libertarians have long been saying about U.S. foreign policy — that the U.S. government is sometimes partly responsible for the tyranny under which people are suffering and have suffered for a very long time, which then produces anger and hatred toward the United States, which then sometimes manifests itself in acts of anti-American terrorism. The title of this article from the Sunday edition of the New York Times sums it up: “As Hopes for Reform Fade in Bahrain, Protestors Turn Anger on United States.”
Why are they angry with the United States? Because they have figured out that the U.S. government has been furnishing the armaments, money, and military training that has served to maintain and fortify the brutal dictatorship in their country, a dictatorship that is still, to this day, torturing, killing, and incarcerating people for objecting to the tyranny under which they suffer.
According to the article, “For months, the protests have aimed at the ruling monarchy, but recently they have focused on a new target…. the young protestors added a new demand, written on a placard in English, so the Americans might see: ‘U.S.A. Stop arming the killers.’”
A little more than a year ago, thousands of Bahrainis rose up in protest against their dictatorship, only to have troops from Saudi Arabia brutally suppress the uprising. Saudi Arabia, of course, is another dictatorial regime that is another longtime partner of the U.S. government.
The situation is ironic, of course, because the U.S. government is currently exclaiming against the dictatorial regime in Syria for treating Syrian protestors the same way that the Bahraini dictatorship is treating Bahraini protestors.
Why has the U.S. Empire supported and partnered with the Bahraini dictatorship? For the same reason that it has supported and partnered with the dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and elsewhere: “national security” and the maintenance of “order and stability.”
Of course, “order and stability” inevitably means the brutal suppression of dissent and resistance to tyranny from protestors who are inevitably viewed as terrorists or communists.
The article points out that the Bahrain regime is “seen by the United States and Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally and as a bulwark against Iran…. The United States, a sometimes critical but ultimately unshakable friend, has called for political reform but strengthened its support for the government. Last month, the Obama administration resumed armed sales here.” As one U.S. official put it, “Maintaining our and our partners’ ability to respond to those challenges is an important component of our commitment to gulf security.”
That’s U.S. foreign policy in a nutshell. To protect “national security” and to maintain “order and stability” in the world, the U.S. government supports and partners with brutal dictatorships — regimes that kill, torture, and incarcerate government critics. In Syria, for example, the fact that the Syrian regime is a tyrannical government is not what U.S. officials find objectionable. Their objection is that the Syrian regime isn’t a pro-U.S. tyrannical regime, like the regimes in Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. (It should be noted, however, that the U.S. government did partner at one time with the Syrian dictatorship to have it torture a Canadian citizen who the CIA was convinced was a terrorist but who turned out to be innocent.)
Meanwhile, Bahraini forces, fortified with their renewal of the U.S. government’s arms shipments to the troops, continue to brutally impose their dictatorial rule over the Bahraini people:
Backed by powerful allies, the government has pursued reform on its own terms…. Twenty-one of the most prominent dissidents still languish in prison, and no senior officials have been convicted of crimes, including dozens of killings, that occurred during the crackdown last year. Opposition activists are still regularly detained or interrogated for their words. On Friday … riot police officers forcefully dispersed a rally by Bahrain’s largest opposition party, injuring its leader. Every night, protestors march and clashes erupt, in a violent standoff that often seems a breath away from an explosion.
I should also mention that the Bahrain dictatorship just recently convicted and sentenced several doctors who had the audacity to treat some of the injured protestors. Take a wild guess what types of courts convicted and sentenced them. Yes, military tribunals, the same types of tribunals that the U.S. military employs at Guantanamo Bay.
Did I mention that the U.S. government’s vast overseas military empire maintains a major U.S. Naval base in Bahrain? Why wouldn’t we expect the U.S. Empire to play nice with the Bahrain dictatorship, especially given that the regime could order the Empire to leave the country?
During the uprising last year, a U.S. Navy spokesman declared that the protests “were not against United States or the United States military or anything of that nature.”
It was denial or wishful thinking. As the Times article points out, “That has changed. In a Shiite village, protestors burned American flags, and in another, a young man held up a sign reading, ‘The American administration supports the dictatorship in Bahrain.’”
And so it does. The problem, however, is that the U.S. Empire views its support of the Bahrain dictatorship as essential to “national security” and to the maintenance of “order and stability” in the Middle East.
Later, when some Bahrainis end up attacking the U.S. Naval base in the country or perhaps come to the United States to commit an act of terrorism, we can expect U.S. officials to immediately issue the same announcement that they issued after the 9/11 attacks: That the terrorists just hate us for our freedom and values, not because of the U.S. government’s foreign policy.
Financial and military support of brutal dictatorships is a core feature of U.S. foreign policy, and it is the height of immorality. Not surprisingly, it is a major cause of much of the anger and hatred for the United States among foreigners. In a time when federal spending and debt continue to soar out of control, foreign aid is one area of spending that should be eliminated immediately, not reformed or reduced. Our freedom, security, well-being, and sense of morality depend on it.