Will the real America please stand up?

Here's why everyone hates America: their foreign policy is fundamentally flawed!

Ali Ahmad January 25, 2011
Here’s an amusing little nugget:
“Now a final note: The left blogosphere seems to have wigged out over the suggestion that George W Bush and the successful emergence of a secular, democratic Iraq has anything to do with all this. For starters, it is amusing to see that those voices, fresh from the smear on conservatives regarding the Arizona shooting, are now all about "causation." But more seriously, had democracy failed in Iraq, had the country descended into chaos, and had Iraqis labouring for a secular, democratic Muslim country been killed and exiled, do we imagine this would have been good for the prospects of democracy elsewhere? Recall that it was the left that said that democracy was alien to the Middle East. Bush was right; they were wrong. And the notion that democratisation and rebellion against despotic regimes do not spread regionally after a successful experiment is belied by history (eg Central America, Eastern Europe).’’

Dear, oh dear! It just goes to show that delusional theories are not the sole monopoly of the Pakistani right but is also religiously practiced by the American right on a frequent basis.

First, can someone with a map point out where a successful democratic Iraq is?

All I see is an Iraq riveted be sectarian violence, with an epic power vacuum that is likely to be filled by different factions of the shia clergy vying for power. To somehow pretend that present day Iraq is a model of inspiration for the current Tunisian protestors is amusing at the least but deeply disturbing when we realise that the person making this claim is actually being serious.

Dangerous delusions

The American right is a corrosive force not only in their own domestic politics but their peculiar fantasy blockbuster notions of “freedom” (ironically the “American way”, as if freedom is somehow restricted to one geographical region in the world) have made the already complex working of international affairs that just little bit harder.

The American right refuses healthcare for its own people but is prepared to spend millions if not billions on arms and export them to all the nice, cuddly “pro-Western’’, autocrats of the Middle East. After all, it is Egypt after Israel along with Saudi Arabia that receive the most aid and funding for arms from the US.

The Tunisian revolution is an expression of social justice. That vision of social justice will inevitably include a Middle East free from an autocratic and bullying American presence. Tunisians are not naive, they know that Ben Ali was accepted and feted by Western leaders.

It’s best for the American right to realise their notions of peddling democracy via cluster bombs and tanks is likely to fall flat. We should instead look to the brave internal reformers in the Muslim world who would prefer if the Americans would just sit at home rather than go play “goodies versus baddies”.

This paragraph is extremely illuminating (moving now to the Iranian context):
“The best the US government can do for democracy in Iran is to leave us alone,” Akbar Gangi, an Iranian investigative journalist who spent six years in prison for reporting on the murder of dissidents by Iran’s intelligence agents, said on a recent trip to the United States.

Iran has a wide spectrum of reformist and democratic groups that are all against US intervention in Iran’s internal affairs and its goal of regime change. They favour political evolution and have made it clear that, for many reasons, they will not work with the United States. Many wonder aloud why the US did nothing when the reformist Khatami was elected in 1997. Washington could have lifted its economic sanctions against Iran that hurt only ordinary Iranians, but it did not. After Khatami’s government helped the US defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, President Bush responded by listing Iran as a charter member of the “axis of evil."

It is becoming increasingly clear, that American foreign policy is fundamentally flawed and is conceived in such a dated and condescending manner that it makes one wonder how a nation with some of the best Middle East and Islamic Studies university departments in the world, (which is now producing quality works of Muslim scholarship) can conceive of such a ludicrously ridiculous foreign policy.

The American right is why the US has such a terrible image in the wider international community, it is the reason why many resent the US even though its ideals are awe-inspiring and it has produced some of the finest civic leaders and icons in contemporary history such as Martin Luther King.

When America backs the Mubarak regime in Egypt which has one of the worst human rights records in the Middle East and then simultaneously punishes other countries for perpetrating human rights abuses does it not see the hypocrisy and double standards in its actions? The US speaks of democracy but why does it not allow it to take root in the Middle East? Why back generals, kings, sultans and sheikhs at the expense of freedom-loving people?

Learning from the US

There is much we can learn from the great tradition of progressive politics in American society. The American experiment of democracy is one that has tales of bravery and justice for all. In the Muslim World we have been guilty of tarring Americans with the same brush, and refusing to accept that just like there is no one single type of “Muslim”, there is no one single type of “American”. There is much to learn and take from American democracy, such as the Civil Rights movement.

I speak as a person deeply impressed by this great experiment of American democracy and liberty. The US is arguably the genesis of the democratic process, so it is for this reason I am concerned and perplexed. One can always read the Declaration of Independence with hope and optimism:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

To sustain this great project of liberty, freedom and independence, America has to reconsider its role in the world, and remember that its success only demands that the US follow its ideals faithfully with the utmost diligence. It is this dichotomy between how America behaves at home with its sacred reverence for rights and liberty and its atrocious almost imperial foreign policy, that frustrates many not only in the Islamic world but generally across the globe.

So will the real America please stand up?
Ali Ahmad A medical student and freelance writer who tweets @AhmadAliKhalid
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Ahmad Ali | 13 years ago | Reply @ Mastiskhhk You perhaps suffer from only having half a computer screen to read from, since you clearly have not read the latter part of my article titled, '' Learning from the US''. There is this ''liberal'' fetish we have in Pakistan, which seeks to maintain the angelic nature of American power. Get real, American power too has been the cause of great suffering, aswell as the rise of internal fundamentalism. Defending American foreign policy is not the sign of a ''liberal'' mind, but the sign of a confused mind. How can you support democracy in Muslim societies but support the actions of American foreign policy? The two are contradictory, just read Robert Fisk's insightful work. Perhaps you would like to read the rest of my articles, including this one: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/3218/be-anti-west-be-islamic/ It's time to realise that the situation we see today is the result of many factors, and each factor must be unashamedly tackled.
Mastishhk | 13 years ago | Reply Heres another attempt to shift the blame to Islamic world's favorite punching bag..The United states of America...If we have so many issues with US , we should first refuse American Aid. We want to be paid for our assistance to USA in war-on-terror that affects Pakistan more than anyone else. If we have sold our soul to the Devil, then the Devil is our God now. Our political leaders run to USA for discussing every petty issue (WIKILEAKS).Our public doesnt show any faith in its elected leaders, though it choses to relect the same set of proven corrupt, inept and incompetent leaders again and again. Elections in Pakistan are a rare phenomenon, but still the public misses the point every time an opportunity presents itself. We hate our dictators but start pining for them every time theres a democratically elected government in place. We are also fully aware that the govt is at the mercy of the Army. Its time that we indulge in some serious introspection. If theres fundamentalism in society, blame America. If we are victims of sectarian violence, lets blame America. If suicide bombers are running amok in Pakistan, America is to be blamed. If there is corruption, America is the cause. We are pure, infallible, great etc etc. We have to tackle our own shortcomings instead of blaming others. Hope is low but its still there and reason for low hope is not USA.
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