of American troops already occupy Afghanistan, and perhaps hundreds
of thousands more are poised to attack Iraq. The justification given
for these military invasions is that both nations support terrorism,
and thus pose a risk to the United States. Yet when we step back and
examine the region as a whole, it’s obvious that these two impoverished
countries, neither of which has any real military, pose very little
threat to American national security when compared to other Middle Eastern
nations. The decision to attack them, while treating some of region’s
worst regimes as "allies," is just the latest example of the
deadly hypocrisy of our foreign policy in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, which more than any other nation was responsible for the
September 11th attacks. Even with the proven connection between
the Saudis and al-Qaeda, even with new reports of Saudi charities funneling
money to terrorist groups, the administration still insists on calling
them "a good partner" in the war on terror. Yet the nation
that gave us most of the 9/11 murderers, whose citizens often support
virulent Islamic terrorists, should hardly be called a friend.
is true of Pakistan, where General Musharraf seized power by force in
a 1999 coup. The Clinton administration quickly accepted his new leadership
as legitimate, to the dismay of India and many Muslim Pakistanis. Since
9/11, we have showered Pakistan with millions in foreign aid, ostensibly
in exchange for Musharraf’s allegiance against al-Qaeda. Yet has our
new ally rewarded our support? Hardly, as the Pakistanis almost certainly
harbored bin Laden in the months following 9/11. In fact, more members
of al-Qaeda probably live within Pakistan than any other country today.
Furthermore, North Korea recently announced its new nuclear capability,
developed with technology sold to them by the Pakistanis. Yet somehow
we remain friends with Pakistan, while Hussein, who has no connection
to bin Laden and no friends in the Islamic fundamentalist world, is
made a scapegoat.
assertion that America "supports democracy" in the Middle
East is increasingly transparent. It was false 50 years ago, when we
supported and funded the hated Shah of Iran to prevent nationalization
of Iranian oil, and it’s false today when we back an unelected military
dictator in Pakistan- just to name two examples. If honest popular elections
were held throughout the Middle East tomorrow, the people in most countries
would elect religious fundamentalist leaders hostile to the United States.
Cliché or not, the Arab Street really doesn’t like America, so
we should stop the charade about democracy and start pursuing a coherent
foreign policy that serves America’s long-term interests.
foreign policy is based on the understanding that America is best served
by not interfering in the deadly conflicts that define the Middle East.
Yes, we need Middle Eastern oil, but we can reduce our need by exploring
domestic sources. We should rid ourselves of the notion that we are
at the mercy of the oil-producing countries- as the world’s largest
oil consumer, their wealth depends on our business. We can and should
remove our troops from the region quickly, before any more American
lives are lost. We should stop the endless game of playing faction against
faction, and recognize that buying allies doesn’t work. We should curtail
the heavy militarization of the area by ending our disastrous foreign
aid payments. We should stop propping up dictators and putting band-aids
on festering problems. We should understand that our political and military
involvement in the region creates far more problems than it solves.
All Americans will benefit, both in terms of their safety and their
pocketbooks, if we pursue a coherent, neutral foreign policy of non-interventionism,
free trade, and self-determination in the Middle East.