Syrian sauce for the Chinese gander....
By Peter Lee
The increasingly anachronistic and unwelcome single-party dictatorial rule in Syria and China....
Israel and USA through the Kissinger doctrine have been working on the utter disintegration of Eurasia since the 1970s and are directly involved in fomenting troubles for the establishment of hundreds of Tribes with Flags and the re-shaping of borders, from Kosovo to Africa to China in time....and Israel would significantly benefit from the disintegration of its neighboring states, chiefly among them...Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, UAE, Libya and Saudi Arabia.... and possibly Egypt....
Turkey sees Kurdish threat in Syria unrest
Demonstrations in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad's rule threaten to destabilize Turkey's security arrangements with its neighbor to contain Kurdish rebels, while a collapse of Assad's state could prompt a regional push for Kurdish autonomy. Ankara has responded by gently nudging Damascus to accept some democratic reform, but its converging economic and geopolitical interests with Syria make this an uncomfortable task.
- Jacques N Couvas (Mar 30, '11)
For the Chinese leadership, the ominous tottering of Middle East dominoes - and the foundations of authoritarian doctrine - continues. The Chinese media have become fixated on Libya as an object lesson of the dangers of revolutionary and humanitarian enthusiasm run amok.
Certainly, the Libyan adventure presents a less than edifying spectacle: Western military powers, led by France, exploited a United Nations resolution allowing humanitarian intervention to engage in a freewheeling attack against military assets of the Libyan government with the apparent motive of assuring the survival of rebel forces in the eastern part of the country.
The Barack Obama administration is trying to bolster the case for humanitarian intervention with the kind of loose, hypothetical talk that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to prevent potential mushroom clouds over Cleveland....
Politico's senior White House reporter Glenn Thrush revealed during a radio program that the administration was briefing congressional leaders with the dubious claim that "there could have been 50 to 100,000 deaths associated with allowing Muammar Gaddafi's forces to over-run Benghazi". 
It took Hafez al-Assad three weeks of shelling, bombing and ground operations against the virtually defenseless city of Hama, Syria to kill perhaps 35,000 people in 1982. That is currently the gold standard for massacres by Arab despots perpetrated on their own people. It is questionable whether Colonel Muammar Gaddafi would be in a position to exceed this figure in Benghazi, especially when reports indicate that the actual stock of trained rebel fighters opposing him there might only be on the order of 1,000. 
Gaddafi should be grateful that the State Department didn't declare he was planning to annihilate Benghazi's entire population of 700,000.
There is no good number for how many people have died to date in what the ex-Libyan ambassador to the United Nations characterized as the "genocide" of Libya, but the most detailed estimate is 2,000 - 500 of whom were Gaddafi loyalists. 
Once the humanitarian needs of the Libyan rebels are met, short of regime change in Tripoli a friendly regime in eastern Libya would presumably be the absolute minimum outcome acceptable to France and Italy, which lean on Libya for energy supplies.
There is already an available precedent for partition of Libya, which would leave a pro-Western regime in Benghazi in control of most of Libya's petroleum resources and Gaddafi presiding over an impotent and defunded rump state; that would be the US-brokered peace agreement in Sudan, which led to the establishment of a pro-Western regime in Juba in control of most of Sudan's petroleum resources and left Omar Bashir presiding over an impotent and defunded rump state.
Funny coincidence if the West ends up on the positive side of the oil equation in both instances.
The Chinese government abstained from the UN no-fly resolution; since then media has been full of criticisms and dire warnings over the consequences of the Western military intervention.
On March 21, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson declared:
China has noted the latest developments in the Libyan situation and expresses regret over the military strike against Libya... China always disapproves the use of force in international relations and maintains that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and relevant norms of international law be adhered to, and Libya's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity be respected. We hope to see Libya restore stability as soon as possible and avoid the escalation of military conflicts and more civilian casualties. 
In what is unlikely to be a propaganda windfall for the United States, the Bataan gained a certain notoriety when it was identified as a prison ship used to detain terrorism suspects incommunicado in the Indian Ocean in late 2001 and 2002. 
In an ironic aside - and an indication of how murky things are over there - Time Magazine dug up a US Army report that Libya provided the highest number of anti-US foreign fighters in Iraq per capita based on their home country.... They virtually all came from the impoverished and neglected environs of Benghazi, Darnah, Ajdabiyah, and Misrata - the heartland of the current rebellion. 
Certainly, there is plenty to criticize, and China is not alone...
The African Union, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Brazil, and India have all repudiated the ad hoc intervention which, in addition to its myriad contradictions and dangers, has the additional disadvantage of being led by the hypocritical and impotent French....
With implicit eye-rolling, Russia's RIA Novosti reported a news item that neatly encapsulated the opportunistic pandering of the rebels and the invincible self-regard of the French government:
France says it feels a sense of responsibility for Libyan rebels after its flag was raised over the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, France's prime minister said on Tuesday.
"There is hope in Benghazi now, the French flag is being waved there, and also the flag of a different Libya which dreams of democracy and modernization," Francois Fillon told the French parliament. 
Bernard-Henri Levy held a private meeting in Benghazi with Moustapha Abdeljalil, a former justice minister who has turned coats to become leader of the rebel "National Transition Council". That very evening, BHL [Bernard-Henri Levy] called Sarkozy on his cellphone and got his agreement to receive the NTC leaders. The meeting took place on March 10 in the Elysee palace in Paris.
As reported in Le Figaro by veteran international reporter Renaud Girard, Sarkozy thereupon announced to the delighted Libyans the plan that he had concocted with BHL: recognition of the NTC as sole legitimate representative of Libya, the naming of a French ambassador to Benghazi, precision strikes on Libyan military airports, with the blessings of the Arab League (which he had already obtained). The French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, was startled to learn of this dramatic turn in French diplomacy after the media. 
For China, the temerity of France's philosophers in usurping the US role as the verbal and military scourge of inconvenient dictators is beside the point.
The issue in Libya is the astounding ease with which a regime that found itself at cross-purposes with the United States was unilaterally stripped of its legitimacy and exposed to military intervention through aggressive and creative interpretation of an ambiguous UN resolution - in a mere three days.
This issue is important enough that People's Daily has been carrying the propaganda burden itself, instead of relying on its stridently nationalistic but less official international mouthpiece, Global Times. A selection of People's Daily headlines provides a taste of the official Chinese mood:
- China reaffirms its reservation to part of "no-fly zone" resolution on Libya. 
- How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya? 
- Libya intervention: Driven by oil or humanitarianism? 
China's liberal bloggers, on the other hand, appear to be brimming with enthusiasm for military intervention by Western democracies.
On February 26, China's "Great River" - the nom du Web of journalist Zhang Wen - had already written a piece entitled "Support America Taking Military Action Against Libya".
Indeed, he supported US unilateral action even if UN sanction was blocked by "the resistance of some countries" aka China. This put him several steps in front of the Obama administration, which had serious reservations about intervention, was stampeded in abandoning its cautious stance by domestic and international pressures, and found it politic to proceed only after the Arab League and the UNSC were on board. 
(Zhang, with blog posts like "Why Is It That My Predictions So Accurate?" - "Answer: It's simple. One has to understand human nature and grasp the overall situation", seems a worthy Zionist contender for the crown of China's Bernard-Henri Levy.) 
China's most popular blogger, Han Han, also picked up the theme that human rights trumps national sovereignty - and that the need to protect people from slaughter is more important that what happens to the oil-with a post titled, "Dictators Don't Have Internal Affairs". 
Within the Chinese tradition of remonstrance by analogy, the implication is that sauce for the Libyan goose might also suit the Chinese gander....
Regardless of its duration or outcome, the West's oily, self-righteous, violent and disorganized adventure in Libya will probably provide ample grist for the China's government's propaganda mill. Whether it will shake the convictions of China's interventionist liberal hawks is another matter.
However, the matter of closest interest to Beijing may be the fate of another Middle East authoritarian government that has explicitly modeled its doctrine of economic development and political control on China's example...
That country is Syria, and the outlook for Bashar Assad's regime has darkened with a local manifestation of the regional unrest, in the southern town of Daraa. Syria is one of three Chinese strategic partners in the region, together with the Infamous White House Murder INC,...Iran and Turkey.
With its secular, single-party Ba'athist rule, its liberalized but state-dominated economy, its lack of an oil cushion, and hostility to any reforms....and its regional allies (last year Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that Syria had replaced Iraq in the "axis of evil", apparently to uphold the principle that the axis must always have three members - the other two are ZIOCONS and the assassins on the Potomac of the most infamous White House Murder INC,), Syria occupies a political and social space analogous to, if much smaller than, China's.
It also incorporates the characteristic Chinese problems of princeling rule and utter corruption. The president of Syria, Bashar Assad, is the son of the previous Dictator/president, Hafez Assad. His relatives pervade the government and economy and have aroused considerable resentment....
The government has attempted to compensate for its vulnerability to sectarian challenge by a commitment to secularism, nationalism, utter corruption, demagoguery, brutal suppression, an utter security diktat and fake economic growth.
The government's insecurity was exemplified by its ferocious response to an armed challenge to its power by an alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni elites in the 1980s. Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez, inflicted the Hama outrage in order to break the back of the Brotherhood in its stronghold.
Under Bashar, the regime has liberalized and done a relatively skillful job of surviving in a remarkably dangerous neighborhood while maintaining its foreign policy dependence on the odious White House Murder INC's machinations in the Levant, ever since January 24th 2002, its close cooperation with CIA/MOSSAD and renditions after the inside Job of 9/11....
It was able to make a sufficiently convincing demonstration of its utility to the United States in the "war on terror" (while absorbing 1.5 million Iraqi refugees) to sidetrack plans by US hawks to turn left at Baghdad and march on Lebanon with Saatchi&Saatchi machinations in Beirut.... While reaching out to the West, Syria was also able to maintain its ties with Iran, improve its relations with Turkey, and avoid an attack by Israel....because the Assads are partners in crime with Israel since 1963....and have sold the Golan Heights to Israel for peanuts....
Assad's persistence paid off as the Obama administration nominated Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria in December 2010, continuing a constant relationship run by CIA for decades in Syria....where foggy bottom is sidelined completely....
[Assad's] regime was chiefly stable, he said, because it was the true embodiment of the Arabs and Syrians' "ideology, belief and cause" - essentially the struggle against Israel and western powers standing behind it. It thereby boasted a "patriotic legitimacy" that all other regimes lacked....LOL
But this argument, advanced by a despot in favor of his own survival, appears almost as delusional as those advanced by others - such as the al-CIAda of Colonel MOSSAD Qaddafi's bizarre imagining. The patriotic card clearly counts for little with the Syrian public. 
Professor Josh CIA Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a crony of Syria's butchers and assassins..., told Asia Times Online:
The Syrian leadership has often invoked the China model and something it would like to emulate - a one party state guiding the country toward capitalism and economic renewal... Syria, unfortunately, is not China. It has been unable to produce economic growth over 5% a year and unwilling to control rapid population increases that wipe out economic growth. Syria doesn't have the clout or competitiveness to open Western markets.
That said, the Syrian state may not weather the present storm sweeping the Arab world, but it will be badly hobbled by the growing consciousness of its youth that they can question authority and push back against the authorities that run rough shod over their interests and can provide only a bleak future for most of them.
The demonstrations have a certain sectarian aspect, despite the efforts of liberal sympathizers to spin the slogans as generic expressions of virtuous religiosity. The calls of "No Iran No Hezbollah" by orthodox Sunni townspeople imply an open challenge to their at best Shi'ite-esque and at worst heretic Alawite Zionist rulers....
The Syrian regime's guiding slogan over the past three decades has been the very Chinese "Stability and Security", as embodied in a perpetual state of emergency, single-party rule and a pervasive security apparatus.
However, on March 24 the government responded to the burgeoning crisis in Daraa by turning away from the tried-and-true practice of repression and announcing plans that, if carried out, would signal fake reforms, as al-Jazeera reported:
"I am happy to announce to you the decisions made today by the Arab Ba'ath party under the auspices of President Bashar CIA Assad ... which include ... studying the possibility of lifting the emergency law and licensing political parties," the president's media adviser Buthaina Shaaban said at a news conference on Thursday. 
Instead, Syria's government may have decided to take a page from the book of its ally, Israel....
Iran, in addition to its assigned role as nuclear bogeyman and threat to all that is good and right in the Middle East, is also a democracy, if profoundly flawed, one of the few functioning in that part of the world....
It is home to a welter of political parties that, in addition to expressing the desires of their constituents, also allow the regime to play divide-and-conquer with its rivals - and let pro-government parties take some of the heat and infamy for beating back the challenge from reformists.
Iran's government has also shown considerable success in resisting the 2011 revolutionary wave - at least for now.
In light of what is happening in Syria - and the experience of Iran - China may be forced to take another look at its most cherished, and self-serving, concept: the central importance and attractiveness of stability.
Stability is a product that authoritarian regimes want to sell but the people on the street aren't buying right now. Appeals to consider the virtues of stability has not put the brakes on any of the popular movements in the Arab countries.
Stability is not, to put it mildly, a hallmark of Iranian society.
That presents a challenge to China, since the justification for the Communist Party's unpopular political monopoly (as opposed to its successful economic franchise) pretty much boils down to one word: stability. A March 10 People's Daily editorial laid out the defense of "stability" in an editorial entitled, China is definitely not the Middle East. It stated:
The Chinese people, like the people of other countries, yearn for the lasting peace and stability. People in China, now better fed and better clothed, are striving to pursue their still better living standards; they are fully aware that the premise for the auspicious days is precisely the national stability and a harmonious society ...
Chinese people fear turbulence and worry about being led into troubles and so they ardently hope for stability, harmony and peace. They exert themselves to seek development wholeheartedly and still better livelihoods, and most of them long for a better quality of life. Hence, the only very few trouble makers cannot randomly make a crack up in the country even if they vainly attempt to make trouble.
The leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is laid on a very solid foundation in recent years. China held the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, all performed with flying colors. And the relief work in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake and the ensuing Yushu Quake rescue work, as well as the efforts to cope with the impact of the global financial crisis, and the latest Libya evacuation of more than Chinese 30,000 nationals - All these difficult matters were done so well. 
If this attitude prevails in China despite its economic success - or if that success falters - the Chinese leadership may find itself in a losing battle to preserve its increasingly anachronistic and unwelcome single-party rule.
Instead, it may find it necessary to turn toward the messy, multi-party system that underpins the authoritarian rule in Russia and Iran - and may also become the standard in Syria - much earlier than it hoped and expected....
1. Click here for the broadcast.
2. Rebel Insider Concedes Weaknesses in Libya, New York Times, March 23, 2011.
3. Casualties of the 2011 Libyan uprising, Wikipedia.
4. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu's Remarks on Multinational Military Strike against Libya, Chinese Foreign Ministry, March 21, 2011.
5. Libya: What is the role of the USS Bataan?, BBC, March 23, 2011.
6. Prison ships, torture claims, and missing detainees, Guardian, June 2, 2008.
7. Just Who Are These Libyan Rebels?, Time, March 24, 2011.
8. Fillon says French flag raised over rebel-held Benghazi, Ria Novosti, March 25, 2011.
9. Why are They Making War on Libya?, Counter Punch, March 24, 2011.
10. Has the U.S. forgotten how to pass the buck?, Foreign Policy, March 23, 2011.
11. China reaffirms its reservation to part of "no-fly zone" resolution on Libya, People's Daily, March 18, 2011.
12. How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya?, People's Daily, March 22, 2011.
13. Libya intervention: Driven by oil or humanitarianism?, People's Daily, March 23, 2011.
14. Click here for the Chinese text.
15. Click here for the Chinese text.
16. Click here for the Chinese text.
17. 'Alawites in the Muslim World, Muslim Hope, May 2007.
18. Even anti-western Syria is not immune to revolution, Guardian, March 22, 2011.
19. Protests prompt Syria to pledge reforms, Al-jazeera, March 24, 2011.
20. China is definitely not Middle East, People's Daily, Mar10, 2011.
Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy.
Popular uprisings and internecine hostilities will lead to the redrawing of regional maps, which will be a far cry from those underlying the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement and other accords....
The struggles for survival of Libyan Col. Muammar Gadhafi, Syrian President Bashar Assad and their counterparts elsewhere herald the last days of the Sykes-Picot agreement from World War I, which in effect divided the region of the Middle East into separate states. Now it is apparent that maps drawn in the coming years will show new or renewed independent states such as South Sudan; Kurdistan; Palestine; maybe also Cyrenaica in eastern Libya; the Western Sahara, which will no longer be in Moroccan hands; reconstructed Southern Yemen; and Gulf states that will separate from the United Arab Emirates. It's even possible that there will be a split in Saudi Arabia between "the state of the holy sites" in the Hejaz and the petroleum powers in the east, and of Syria into Sunni, Alaouite and Druze states. The basis for these divisions will be implementation of the principle of self-definition of nations and tribes, which until now unwillingly and without any alternative have been wrapped up together in the same national package with their foes.
The foreign policy of Israel, even before statehood, has always been built upon the rivalries of Arab and Muslim neighbors. Furthermore, pan-Arab and pan-Islamic unity has relied to a great extent on hostility toward Israel, which for its part has preferred the separatism and nationalism of its neighbors. The more states there are in the region in the future, the easier it will be for Israel to maneuver among them.
The borders in the Middle East were determined between 1916 and 1922 in negotiations involving the European powers, conducted in majestic palaces by officials wearing suits and ties. Those borders are being redrawn in the 21st century by force, by wars and by popular uprisings. This began with America's invasion of Iraq eight years ago, which crushed the central regime and created de facto ethnic enclaves. It continued with the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which led to the establishment of a de facto state controlled by Hamas, and later with the referendum on the partitioning of Sudan at the end of a long and cruel internecine war there. The process has been accelerated with the recent revolutions in the Arab countries, which are still in their early stages and have already led to a war in Libya.
In his new book "How to Run the World" (Random House ), which was published just before the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Parag Khanna, a researcher at the New America Foundation, predicts a world comprising 300 independent, sovereign nations in the next few decades, as compared to about 200 today. At the basis of this fission is what Khanna has called "post-colonial entropy": Many states have developed from former colonies, he observes, and since their independence have "experienced unmanageable population growth, predatory and corrupt dictatorship, crumbling infrastructure and institutions, and ethnic or sectarian polarization." Exactly the same reasons can be used to explain the current vicissitudes in the Arab countries.
In many cases, writes Khanna, current borders are the cause of internal strife - for example, in failed states like Yemen, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In his view, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not "America's wars," but rather "unexploded ordinance left over from old European wars, with their fuses lit on slow release."
America is not to blame for the Congress of Berlin in 1884, which divided up Africa without taking its inhabitants into account, or for the British partition of Pakistan and Afghanistan. But America - together with the other powers - can and must help today with solving the resultant problems. Nor only by drawing up new borders or in votes at the United Nations, but also by building infrastructures that will provide sound economic foundations to the new countries, and will free them from dependence on powerful neighbors like Turkey and Israel.
In the early 20th century, the Western powers controlled Asia and Africa and identified a wealth of assets in the Middle East. In 1916, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot - a British official and a French diplomat, respectively - drew up an agreement on behalf of their governments describing a tentative division of the Ottoman Empire, which was fighting alongside Germany against the Allies. The document and map they came up with were theoretical and the chances they would be implemented seemed slight: The Turks were still far from defeat and the Western armies were bleeding along Europe's western front. In essence, Sykes' and Picot's governments coveted Syria and most of Palestine for France, and what was later to become Iraq for Britain.
In his fascinating book "A Peace to End All Peace" (1989 ), American historian David Fromkin describes how the great powers shaped the map of the Middle East in World War I and thereafter. According to Fromkin, the anti-Semitic view that the Jews had the ability to influence those powers and foment conspiracies underlay the diplomacy of the Western countries, which hoped to harness Jewish might on their behalf.
After reaching the agreement with Picot, Sykes was about to set out for Saint Petersburg, the capital of the czarist empire, to present the details to the Russians - who had always wanted to gain control of Istanbul and have access to the Mediterranean Sea. En route, Sykes met Capt. William Reginald Hall, head of Royal Naval Intelligence, in London and showed him his map. Hall told him Britain should send its forces to Palestine and only then would the Arabs switch to its side in the war. "Force is the best Arab propaganda" to use when dealing with the Arabs, the intelligence officer explained to the diplomat. (Or translated into our present-day Israeli lingo: "The only thing the Arabs understand is force." )
Sykes was convinced the agreement he had concocted with the French would satisfy Sharif Hussein of the Hejaz, the progenitor of the Hashemite dynasty, who sought independence for his people from the Ottoman Empire in exchange for support of the British. And then Hall surprised his British interlocutor by introducing a new factor into the power equation: The Jews, he said, had "a strong material, and a very strong political, interest in the future of the country." Sykes was dumbstruck. He had never heard of Zionism before then. He rushed to a meeting with the Jewish minister in the British war cabinet, Herbert Samuel, for an explanation.
This was the start of the process that would lead later to the Balfour Declaration, the conquest of Palestine, the establishment of the British Mandate, and the appointment of Samuel as its first high commissioner. At this point were sown the seeds of Arab anger at the Western powers, which had dismantled and then reassembled nations and states in the Middle East and promised Palestine to the Zionists.
The final borders in the Middle East were set by then-Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill at the Cairo Conference in 1922, which separated Transjordan from the boundaries of the Palestine Mandate. The Israeli right mourns that "tearing apart" to this very day.
With the end of colonialism, maintenance of those borders constituted the basis of political order in the region, even though it left many peoples unsatisfied - for example, the Kurds, who were split up among Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The reaction to colonialism was Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser's pan-Arabism, which reached its peak in the union of Syria and Egypt (the United Arab Republic ) at the end of the 1950s, though it did not last long. Now, nearly 100 years after the talks between Sykes and Picot, the United States' withdrawal from Iraq will afford the Kurds a chance for independence, despite Turkey's opposition. For their part, the Palestinians are working on international recognition for their country by this coming summer, despite Israel's objections.
Other "artificial states" like Libya, which was made up of three former Italian colonies, as well as Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia, could all disintegrate. In all of them there is serious internal tension among tribes and groups or a minority government imposed on the majority. Yemen was divided in the past and could once again split into north and south. In Saudi Arabia, distances are vast. But how is it possible to partition Jordan, where the Bedouin and the Palestinians are mingled? The redrawing of borders is not a panacea.
Meanwhile, the war in Libya is splitting it de facto between Cyrenaica, the bastion of the rebels in the east, and Tripolitania, under Gadhafi's control. The Western powers' entry into the war on the side of the rebels shows they want to create a protectorate under their influence adjacent to the border with Egypt, which is at risk of becoming an Islamic republic hostile to the West. It is hard to find any other strategic rationale for the decision to become involved in Libya.
The battles between the British forces and Rommel's in World War II were fought exactly in those same places and had the same aim: protecting the eastern flank of Egypt and the Suez Canal. Rommel and Montgomery fought there well before oil was discovered in Libya.
The West, like Israel, prefers a fragmented and squabbling Middle East and is fighting on several fronts against pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism led by Osama bin Laden (and, in different ways, also by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ). Therefore, it is possible to assess that the West will not try to thwart the process of fission in the countries of the region, but rather will contribute to it.Israel and USA through the Kissinger doctrine have been working on the utter disintegration of Eurasia since the 1970s and are directly involved in fomenting troubles for the establishment of hundreds of Tribes with Flags and the re-shaping of borders, from Kosovo to Africa to China in time....and Israel would significantly benefit from the disintegration of its neighboring states, chiefly Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, UAE, Libya and Saudi Arabia.... and possibly Egypt....
“We stand for universal values, including the rights of the … people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and the freedom to access information.” –President Barack Obama, during the Egyptian mass uprising against a detested dictator.
That is the theory .... — U.S. foreign policy in defense of universal values. In practice, the United States has often been unable or unwilling to live up to the values it preaches. Like other big powers, it has placed its self-interest first, which meant dividing the world into acceptable and unacceptable authoritarians.... In an act of selective intervention, the U.S., France, and Britain launched air and missile strikes on Libya on March 19 to prevent the government of Muammar Gaddafi from using “illegitimate force” against Libyans demanding his ouster and clamoring for the same freedoms the Obama administration, after dithering and zig-zagging, eventually cheered in Egypt.......
So why Libya and not Yemen and Bahrain? Here is where lofty talk of universal values collides with self-interest and here is where policies the United States pursued for more than half a century live on. .... It still does, where Yemen and Bahrain are concerned. As a newly leaked cable (dating back to 2005) from the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital put it: “Saleh has provided Yemen with relative stability … but has done little to strengthen government institutions or modernize the country. As a result, any succession scenario is fraught with uncertainty.”...... there has been no public American push for him to step down, not even after the killing of 52 pro-democracy demonstrators in a Sana’a square on March 18. Washington shrugged off a call by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, for a suspension of military assistance to Yemen. Which brings to mind a remark attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, more than 60 years ago, about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: “He may be a son of a bitch but he is our son of a bitch.” Who says there is no consistency in U.S. foreign policy?
In the case of Bahrain, too, U.S. national interests trump universal values. ....... With martial law imposed, the freedoms of which Obama spoke so approvingly when the Egyptians ousted Hosni Mubarak have been suspended in Bahrain. ..... But critics of Washington’s dealings with the world should take note that hypocrisy and double standards are not an American monopoly. Take France and Britain, for example, the United States’ main partners in the attack on the Libyan government. Neither country has a record of unselfish promotion of human rights and freedom, not recently and even less in their colonial pasts. Is hypocrisy the inevitable byproduct of power politics? What makes the United States particularly vulnerable to charges of double standards is its proclivity to going around the world preaching values it cannot live up to — and to portray itself as more moral and righteous than other nations. In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama followed a long tradition of American leaders in describing his country in superlative terms. America, he said was “not just a place on the map but the light to the world.”