Bahrain and the Gullible Washington Post

John Glaser, August 08, 2012

In an editorial this week, the Washington Post displays incredible ignorance of US foreign policy. “When the Obama administration resumed military sales to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain in 2012,” the editors naively write, “it explained the decision as an effort to bolster moderate elements in the monarchy, whose Sunni ruling family has resisted demands for greater democracy from the mostly Shiite population.” Since the brutal Bahraini monarchy has continued abusing its citizens and rejecting democratic reforms, the Post wonders “whether the concession to a regime that has been a close U.S. ally paid off.”

It really doesn’t take a Master’s degree in international relations to know that the Obama administration had no intention of “bolstering moderate elements” in Bahrain. The Nobel Peace Prize winner continued giving money and arms to the Bahraini regime precisely so the movement for democratic reforms could be crushed. Common sense leads to this realization – since when does giving riot gear, tanks, helicopter gunships, and a million pounds of ammunition to dictators encourage moderation?

US support for Bahrain doesn’t bolster anything except US control of the Persian Gulf. The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet directs military operations in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea and secures the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s seaborne oil passes. It is one of the largest military forces in the region, with 40 vessels and close to 30,000 personnel. It also sticks in the craw of Iran, the primary bogeyman in the region – i.e., the one who doesn’t follow US orders.

But the Post, along with most in the media, can’t manage to utter the obvious, which is that Washington is interested in propping up dictatorships, not opening up societies with democracy and moderates. But at least the Post is complaining about some of the right things:

As Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner reported in testimony to Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission last week, the Bahraini government has continued to prosecute 20 leading political activists; “despite assurances to the contrary,” it obtained the conviction of nine medical professionals who treated opposition activists during demonstrations last year. The country’s best-known human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, is serving prison time for a tweet that called for the resignation of the hard-line prime minister.

Security forces continue to employ harsh tactics to put down demonstrations in Shiite villages, including what a new report by Physicians for Human Rights calls the “indiscriminate use of tear gas as a weapon.” It said police regularly fire tear gas canisters “directly at civilians or into their cars, houses or other closed spaces” in an effort “not just to disperse crowds but to harm, harass, and intimidate the largely Shia neighborhoods that are home to many protesters.”




17 Responses to “Bahrain and the Gullible Washington Post”

  1. [...] In an editorial this week, the Washington Post displays incredible ignorance of US foreign policy. “When the Obama administration resumed military sales to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain in 2012,” the editors naively write, “it explained the decision as an effort to bolster moderate elements in the monarchy, whose Sunni ruling family has resisted demands for greater democracy from the mostly Shiite population.” Since the brutal Bahraini monarchy has continued abusing its citizens and rejecting democratic reforms, the Post wonders “whether the concession to a regime that has been a close U.S. ally paid off”: here. [...]

  2. "Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission" kind of says it all.

  3. "since when does giving riot gear, tanks, helicopter gunships, and a million pounds of ammunition to dictators encourage moderation?" What nonsense is this. The administration has been clear that none of those items have been sold post 2011.

    This is utter uninformed dribble that doesn't acknowledge everything except what the author clearly read on a couple of blog posts and articles they researched a few hours before writing the article just to trash the administration.

    If one looks at the record clearly the government of Bahrain is reeling back from a period between April-March of 2011 where great levels of police abuse occurred. Since then the government in Manama initiated a one of a kind commission of inquiry, the likes of which are unprecedented around the world. It then proceeded to issue a great series of reforms, constitutionally, legislatively and administratively, and a series of high level and low-level dialogues which have resulted in significant changes (the most recent of which seems to be culminating in the establishment of a series of pre-qualified protest sites in public areas across the country. When have you ever seen a government respond as such, let alone a Middle Eastern government?

    Sure the process isn't perfect, and there are elements of police abuse and mob violence initiated by religious/sectarian extremists that is cyclical. But to write this all off is nonsensical, uninformed partisan drivel. I'm embarrassed for the author having read this. But I suppose its easy to trash a small country you know little about without reading into the details.

  4. Gullible? Come on man wake up! That's not gullibility it's straightforward deceipt.

  5. high principle? Or does she really think its a good idea for us to be subsidizing a regime so brutal that even the US State Department characterizes it as repressive?

  6. It also sticks in the craw of Iran, the primary bogeyman in the region – i.e., the one who doesn’t follow US orders.

  7. Gee, I wonder where this poster draws paychecks?

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  9. propping up dictatorships, not opening up societies with democracy and moderates. But at least the Post is complaining about some of the right things:

  10. The problem is clearly much bigger than one police chief, but the US continues to justify promoting state-terrorism in the name of fighting drugs.

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  15. Physicians for Human Rights is a non-profit human rights organization. It was founded in 1986 by a small group of doctors who believed the unique scientific expertise and authority of health professionals could bring human rights violations to light and provide justice for victims.
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  17. When will this administration get on the right track?