Hypocrisy in the Middle
February 26, 2007
Hundreds of thousands of American troops already occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, a number that is rising as the military surge moves forward. The justification, given endlessly since September 11th, is that both support terrorism and thus pose a risk to the United States. Yet when we step back and examine the region as a whole, it’s obvious that these two impoverished countries, neither of which has any real military, pose very little threat to American national security when compared to other Middle Eastern nations. The decision to attack them, while treating some of region’s worst regimes as allies, shows the deadly hypocrisy of our foreign policy in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, the native home of most of the September 11th
Saudis, unlike the Iraqis, have proven connections to al Qaeda.
Saudi charities have funneled money to Islamic terrorist groups.
Yet the administration insists on calling Saudi Arabia a “good partner
in the war on terror.”
Why? Because the U.S. has a longstanding relationship with the Saudi
royal family, and a long history of commercial interests relating to Saudi oil.
So successive administrations continue to treat the Saudis as something
they are not: a reliable and honest friend in the Middle East.
same is true of Pakistan, where General Musharaf seized power by force in a 1999
coup. The Clinton administration quickly accepted his new leadership as
legitimate, to the dismay of India and many Muslim Pakistanis. Since 9/11, we
have showered Pakistan with millions in foreign aid, ostensibly in exchange for
Musharaf’s allegiance against al Qaeda. Yet has our new ally rewarded our
The Pakistanis almost certainly have harbored bin Laden in their remote
mountains, and show little interest in pursuing him or allowing anyone else to
pursue him. Pakistan
has signed peace agreements with Taliban leaders, and by some accounts bin Laden
is a folk hero to many Pakistanis.
more members of al Qaeda probably live within Pakistan than any other country
today. North Korea developed its nuclear capability with technology sold to them
by the Pakistanis. Yet somehow we remain friends with Pakistan, while Saddam
Hussein, who had no connection to bin Laden and no friends in the Islamic
fundamentalist world, was made a scapegoat.
tired assertion that America "supports democracy" in the Middle East
is increasingly transparent. It was false 50 years ago, when we supported and
funded the hated Shah of Iran to prevent nationalization of Iranian oil, and
it’s false today when we back an unelected military dictator in Pakistan- just
to name two examples. If honest democratic elections were held throughout the
Middle East tomorrow, many countries would elect religious fundamentalist
leaders hostile to the United States. Cliché or not, the Arab Street really
doesn’t like America, so we should stop the charade about democracy and start
pursuing a coherent foreign policy that serves America’s long-term interests.
coherent foreign policy is based on the understanding that America is best
served by not interfering in the deadly conflicts that define the Middle East.
Yes, we need Middle Eastern oil, but we can reduce our need by exploring
domestic sources. We should rid ourselves of the notion that we are at the mercy
of the oil-producing countries- as the world’s largest oil consumer, their
wealth depends on our business.
We should stop the endless game of playing faction against faction, and
recognize that buying allies doesn’t work. We should curtail the heavy
militarization of the area by ending our disastrous foreign aid payments. We
should stop propping up dictators and putting band-aids on festering problems.
We should understand that our political and military involvement in the region
creates far more problems that it solves. All Americans will benefit, both in
terms of their safety and their pocketbooks, if we pursue a coherent, neutral
foreign policy of non-interventionism, free trade, and self-determination in the