Yes, the US Can Stop Supporting Arab Tyrannies

John Glaser, January 25, 2013

Marc Lynch’s new column at Foreign Policy explores the contradiction in Washington’s rhetoric of democracy and reform with its active support for tyranny and repression in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Gulf states.

This is an old narrative. Yes, there is a contradiction of sorts. But Lynch and many other academics continue to lend credence to the completely empty and dishonest rhetoric of American support for human rights. Actions matter, not words. And so if we look at what matters we see that there is no contradiction; nothing but straight-forward, consistent, enthusiastic support for the worst kind of state repression and despotism.

Lynch advocates more American support for the Arab uprisings that Washington’s client states have so brutally suppressed. But he concedes the US can’t and shouldn’t “abandon its strategic posture in the Gulf — certainly not overnight.”

“What should the United States do about this changing Saudi Arabia?” Lynch asks. “Its real dependence on Saudi oil, Riyadh’s key role in the current security architecture, and the transition costs of a new strategy can’t be wished away.”

Transition costs? Please. The benefits of US geo-strategy in the Gulf go directly to Washington, and any costs of transitioning out of that posture would go directly to the state and its cohorts. When people talk about “support for the status quo” – Washington-speak for propping up authoritarian governments and actively suppressing democratic uprisings – being necessary for American interests, they aren’t really talking about your interests or my interests.

“National security interests” are just that: interests of the national security state, not of the people.“Under democracy, the rulers constantly urge the subjects to identify themselves with the state, to forget that ‘they’ (the rulers) are not ‘we’ (the ruled) and even to believe that the two groups are one and the same,” economist Robert Higgs writes in the introduction to his latest book, Delusions of power.

“In this country, the powers that be have unfortunately achieved considerable success in indoctrinating the public with this myth,” Higgs writes, “which helps explain why so many people have handed over themselves and their children to serve as cannon fodder in the rulers’ endless, unnecessary wars.” Yes, or yielded to the priorities of Washington’s “strategic interests.”

More than that, an argument could easily be made that propping up the Saudi and Gulf dictatorships is not in Washington’s interests. Geo-political and sectarian rivalries between the Arab states and Iran has been one factor pushing US policy towards an aggressive approach with the Islamic Republic. But the aggressive approach has generated a backlash in Iran and has all but ruined the chances for a diplomatic settlement on the nuclear program. This simply puts the US on the road to (needless) war with Iran, a conflict that high level US military and intelligence officials broadly agree would be a terrible blow to US interests.

Additionally, the hatred bred in the Arab world by our morally repugnant foreign policy is clearly not worth the trouble. And let’s not forget how integral Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahabism has been to the development of groups like al-Qaeda. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is now openly calling for al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria to be armed.

No amount of strategic and economic benefit to America’s rulers is worth the daily repression and abuse of human rights experienced in places like Saudi Arabia every day. Academics like Lynch need to stop buying into the empty rhetoric of US politicians and balancing Washington’s selfish interests with the interest of millions of innocent people living under tyranny.




41 Responses to “Yes, the US Can Stop Supporting Arab Tyrannies”

  1. This article's viewpoint is commendable, but naive.

    It is US policy to support Islamist governments and overthrow secular ones in the Arab world. This should be obvious by now, given the actions of the US in Iraq, Libya and Syria. The pro-Islamist policy is murkier in Lebanon, unless viewed within the Syrian context, slightly clearer in Egypt, and difficult to see in Palestine, though the US and Israel are delighted to see the Palestinians divided and to see the Christian population shrinking.

    However, the Kingdom is the most Islamist Arab country of them all. That fact, combined with shared economic, strategic and intelligence relations between the US and the KSA that are now so close, convoluted and dangerous that the two countries resemble a pair of vipers mating, make it highly unlikely that the US will influence the Saudis to change.

  2. US needs to stop supporting not only these tryants but also the apartheid regime of Israel.., Saudis have been helping US in Afghanistan, so in Balkan war, so in Syria, so in Libya and etc. US and EU therefore are obligated to support these tyrants and they done so for decades, at the same time if EU and US lose these tyrants then they will lose their economical so as their military influence in entire region.., the bad part and due to US and EU idea wanting to conquer the entire Middle East is that US and EU need these regime and these regime have one or two demands of their own to be performed by EU and US, Libya and Syria are just one, Iran is another, most of the "Islamic" uprising are orchestrated by the wahabbis and sunny Saudis, most of these uprising are not about democracy nor is going to be.., and that's where US and EU have use for these regime to implant their kind of regimes, a regime that could and be the puppet of US and EU.., the negative side of this Neo foreign policy is that sooner or later these Islamic regime will turn on US and EU which afghan war have shown that.

    All that is simply because there is no functioning democracy exists nor performed by the Westren governments.., they are too busy in making the last year mistake again and agin so they have forgotten democracy or its functionality and don't remember how it works anymore.

  3. If the author of this article has ever taken an airplane or ridden in an automobile, he should come off the sanctimonious nonsense. I never experienced the oil embargo in the 1970s; but I did experience the fuel shortages in NYC after Sandy. Does the author want to pay $20 per gallon of gas so Mrs Mohammed can vote? Ignoring the numerous surveys showing that most Saudi females are happy with the status quo? The West’s most legitimate grievance with the Saudis is that they aren’t taking the hundreds of thousands of their co-religionist refugees from North Africa, Syria, etc.. and are instead sending them to Europe, Canada, OZ, etc.. for Whitey to finance as they laugh behind our backs at their chateaus in Switzerland or villas in the south of France. Nor does the author mention the elephant in the room: Israel. God, this site must REALLY be having financial problems if this is the quality of the writers they can afford now.

  4. “What should the United States do about this changing Saudi Arabia?” Lynch asks. “Its real dependence on Saudi oil, Riyadh’s key role in the current security architecture, and the transition costs of a new strategy can’t be wished away.”

  5. The best commentary I have read in the longest time. Respects!

  6. war? war ? what war?

  7. obama doesn't call the shots, nor WE THE PEOPLE, nor congress, or the senate…who does really run the show???? Go find the $

  8. US policy is about controlling resources, maintaining petrodollar dominance, and feeding the global military machine. The only US religion is a one of “capitalism”.

    Divide and conquer is a longstanding tactic for empires. Manipulating Sunni-Shia sectarianism was clearly done by the US in Iraq. Using religion as an oppressive tool is the same whether in Saudi Arabia, Italy, Guatemala, Haiti, Israel, or the US.

    The secular Mideast governments were the most independent. That’s why they were targeted for “regime change”.

    The Iranian government has too many resources, threatens the petrodollar, and is also too independent to easily exploit.

    The key is NOT whether a government is sectarian , “Islamist”, or anything else except whether US domination and penetration by global business interests will be allowed.

  9. Iran says attack on Syria is an attack on Iran
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/26/285606/at

  10. [...] John Glaser: Yes, the U.S. Government Can Stop Supporting Arab Tyrannies [...]

  11. usa should support nation Amazigh in North Africa that reborn from the ashes because of help from Arab countries such as France want to stifle the people by all means do as the country of freedom

  12. The aim of US ME policy is to maintain a situation where a policy and the highly paid, highly respected and highly influential staff needed to design and implement it is needed. A non-interventionist policy would not need the troops, hence would not need the generals, supply contractors, the tactical "geniuses" who make up new combat doctrine etc. Neither would it need a huge diplomatic staff to make thousands of intricate, far reaching decisions. There is little prestige and probably little money in running a government section whose most important job is taking your call when you get drunk in Riyadh. You don't get a great job at an influence mill with that on your résumé. You do if Ambassador to Saudi Arabia means what doing the "important work" needed under current policies. "We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen!" And for that sacrifices have to be made, human ones to be precise.

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  35. the bad part and due to US and EU idea wanting to conquer the entire Middle East is that US and EU need these regime and these regime have one or two demands of their own to be performed by EU and US, Libya and Syria are just one, Iran is another, most of the "Islamic" uprising are orchestrated by the wahabbis and sunny Saudis, most of these uprising are not about democracy nor is going to be..

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