Democracy, Hypocrisy, and U.S. Foreign Policy

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After singing the praises of democracy all over the world, not to mention bombing, killing, and maiming people in the name of spreading it, the overwhelming win in Palestinian elections by Hamas, which U.S. officials have labeled a terrorist organization, is reminding U.S. officials that democracy sometimes produces results that are not very satisfactory from their own perspective.

There’s also, of course, Iraq, where voters rejected the CIA and Pentagon puppets, Iyad Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi, that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney had hoped they could install to replace Saddam Hussein, who had declined the U.S. puppet position despite having received significant amounts of U.S. aid. Instead, “democracy in Iraq” has produced a radical, brutal, torturous, Iran-aligned, Islamic Shi’ite regime that is now using U.S. forces to kill its enemies.

In my January 23 blog, I pointed out that U.S. officials were pumping a couple of million dollars of U.S. taxpayer-funded handouts into the campaign of Hamas’s opponent, the Fatah Party, headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Talk about foreign-aid blowback! I wonder how many Palestinians voted for Hamas simply because they found out that the U.S. government was helping the other side. After all, don’t forget how reluctant Abbas himself was to claim credit for the U.S.-provided trees, schoolroom additions, street cleaning, computers, and other U.S. federal freebies.

It is truly fascinating that U.S. officials are simply oblivious to how much they are disliked around the world. They seem to have this quaint notion that they are loved everywhere or that the problem is simply a PR one, which they think they can cure if they can just “get their message out.” They don’t realize that the more they get their message out, they more they are disliked by people everywhere.

Of course, the Iraqi and Palestinian elections are not the only recent example of what appears to be democratic blowback against the U.S. government. Chilean voters recently elected a socialist, which ought to be of some concern to the new Chilean president, given that the last time Chilean voters elected a socialist (and communist) — Salvador Allende, the U.S. government encouraged a coup and, in the process, even played a role in the murder of a young American journalist. The coup ended up getting Allende killed and replaced by an unelected military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, whose military and intelligence agency (DINA) engaged in many of the same tactics against prisoners that President Bush’s military and intelligence agency (CIA) are engaging in — kidnapping, torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder.

And there’s also Bolivia, where voters recently elected a man who has threatened to legalize the coca industry, much to the chagrin of U.S. officials, for whom the drug war is a tremendous boon in terms of money and power, notwithstanding the fact that it has produced so much death and destruction in Latin America.

And there’s also Venezuela, whose president, Hugh Chavez, continues to thumb his nose at U.S. officials, which many believe has caused Chavez to be added to the list of potential U.S. assassination targets and Venezuela to be added to the list of potential invasion targets by the U.S. government.

In fact, any country in which the voters fail to use democracy in a “correct and responsible” way should be concerned. Don’t forget what U.S. officials did to Iran and Guatemala after voters voted the “wrong” way in those countries.

In fact, it is truly amazing that U.S. officials are still unable to figure out why the Iranian people still dislike and distrust the U.S. government so much. After all, the way U.S. officials figure it is, What’s the big deal of using the CIA to oust people’s popular and democratically elected prime minister and replacing him with a brutal CIA-approved puppet, the Shah of Iran, for the next several decades?

And then U.S. officials scratch their heads in bewilderment over why people dislike the U.S. government so much. They even hire PR people to “get their message out,” teaching foreigners that U.S. officials really do mean well and that foreigners would simply be better off accepting their U.S-imposed fate and submitting to the inevitable.

President Bush might now be hoping that his fantasy that his invasion of Iraq will engender genuine democracy in the Middle East never comes to fruition. After all, who can doubt that voters in such countries as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan would sweep out of office the brutal and corrupt pro-U.S. regimes that rule over them and replace them with radical anti-U.S. Islamic regimes? (Of course, this would benefit U.S. taxpayers because U.S. officials would undoubtedly cut off U.S. foreign aid to the new regimes, as they are now threatening to do to the Palestinians in the wake of the Hamas victory.)

The problem, which all too many Americans fail to recognize, is that people all over the world, especially in Latin America and the Middle East, don’t like the U.S. government and its foreign policy. Equally important, what all too many Americans fail or refuse to recognize is that such dislike is well-founded and justified.

Unlike Americans, foreigners have had first-hand experience with the arrogance, obnoxiousness, and hypocrisy that characterize U.S. foreign policy.

Unlike Americans, foreigners know that U.S. officials show no reluctance to support brutal regimes that do their bidding, no matter how tyrannical they are to their own people (Iraq under Saddam, Iran under the shah, and Pakistan come to mind).

Unlike Americans, foreigners know that U.S. officials show no reluctance to squeeze foreign citizenries as a way to punish their ruler (i.e., sanctions in Iraq and Cuba) and no reluctance or remorse about invading a country that has never attacked the United States (Iraq, Grenada, Panama, and Haiti) for the purpose of regime change, even when the action kills and maims tens of thousands of innocent people.

Unlike Americans, foreigners clearly understand the hypocrisy reflected by the following two U.S. proclamations: “We love you and, therefore, are willing to liberate you with bombs and missiles” and “Don’t even think of emigrating to the United States because we will jail you or repatriate you if we catch you.”

Does foreign dislike for our government and its policies mean that foreigners hate America? On the contrary! This is where U.S. officials just don’t get it. Foreigners love Americans and they love the principles and values for which our nation stands. They just don’t like our government and its policies. It’s that simple.

Therefore, U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, have it all wrong. The solution is not to continue unleashing U.S. government power overseas, even while increasingly isolating the American people from the rest of the world with trade barriers, immigration and visa controls, and walls along our borders. The solution is instead to (1) rein in the federal government by dismantling its overseas diplomatic and military empire, ending all foreign aid and bringing all U.S. overseas troops home, discharging them into the private sector, and (2) unleash our nation’s greatest diplomats — businessmen, tourists, cultural groups, and everyone else in the private sector — to freely interact once again with the people of the world. There is no other solution to the foreign-policy/terrorism woes that continue to bedevil our country.

February 2, 2006

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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