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World & Current Events > Why does the US "support" undemocratic regimes?

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message 1: by Alex (last edited Jun 24, 2017 11:31AM) (new)

Alex (asato) | 2964 comments I'm aware that the basic reason is that it's a pragmatic tack ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and then turn a mostly blind eye to their human rights abuses) to take. I also understand that it's individual citizens within a country--not the govermnent itself, but the government needs to take reasonable action against those citizens--that supply funds to terrorist groups, but even at that, the money and arms that we supply to such governments are, sadly and predictibly, not necessarily used "responsibly". And so, it just seems to fly in the face of the idea of democracy. (Historical note: It's not like the US hasn't supported undemocratic regimes in the past in the name of fighting communism.)

It's something that I've been thinking about for a while, but I don't have any solutions.

Thougts? Book referrals?

(Side note: US Independence Day is coming up on 4 July and France's Bastille Day in 14 July! ^_^)

(Side side note: The US administration appears to be sending mixed signals. They're not doing such a great job, unless they're playing good cop, bad cop. Or maybe I'm missing something.)

The $110 Billion Arms Deal Trump Just Signed With Saudi Arabia May Be Illegal
The U.S. “cannot continue to rely on Saudi assurances that it will comply with international law and agreements concerning the use of U.S.-origin equipment,” Michael Newton, a prominent Vanderbilt University law professor and former military judge advocate general, said in an opinion sent to the full Senate by the human rights arm of the American Bar Association. He cited “multiple credible reports of recurring and highly questionable [air]strikes’’ by the Saudi military that have killed civilians.

In a 23-page assessment, Newton said the strikes have continued “even after Saudi units received training and equipment to reduce civilian casualties.”

“Continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia ― and specifically of arms used in airstrikes ― should not be presumed to be permissible” under the two statutes covering most sales of military equipment by the U.S government to foreign nations, he said.

The State Department said Saturday in a statement that the sales would occur under the foreign military sales process. Newton told senators that should not be available to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi and U.S. governments offer new certifications to prove that the Saudis are following the law on using U.S. weaponry. The arms package includes tanks, artillery, ships, helicopters, missile defense systems and cybersecurity technology worth “almost $110 billion,” according to the statement.

The Obama administration committed to many elements of the package, but the Trump administration is presenting it as a major accomplishment. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House aide, has built a rapport with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and personally intervened with weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin to get the Saudis a better deal, The New York Times reported.


Qatar row: Arab states send list of steep demands
Where is the US in this?
The list of demands was announced after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Qatar's neighbours to make their demands "reasonable and actionable".

A US air force B-52 Stratofortress bomber arrives at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, 9 April 2016

The US uses Qatar's Al Udeid Air Base

Correspondents say there has been frustration in Washington, which is seeking to resolve the dispute, over the time taken by the Saudis and others to formalise their demands.

US President Donald Trump has taken a hard line towards Qatar, accusing it of being a "high level" sponsor of terrorism.

However, the Arab states involved in the crisis are all close allies of the US.

America's largest base in the Middle East is in Qatar.


message 2: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 7993 comments The world is a cynical place and high politics is its apogee. Money, influence, alliances against others are more important than so-called 'Western values'. Ideology, democracy is a good veil and broad enough to either praise or criticize any foreign country for anything concerning this notion. Can't quantify, but more than half of the world isn't democratic and for the US (or any superpower for that matter) it's still important to have levers of influence, trade, markets there, so when a regime is friendly, ideology retreats, while with an unfriendly regime the democracy comes to the fore.
Moreover, I believe democracy (if what we actually have can be viewed as such) is compatible with civil society, individual rights and freedoms - relatively young in many places. Even in US itself from what I read - a racial segregation was abolished only in 1964, meaning many people still remember it from their own experience.
Democracy can be an alien, incompatible form of governance for many cultures at least at their current state, therefore exporting and enforcing it is quite a questionable and destabilizing policy. Something maybe like forced religious conversion in the past.

message 3: by Matthew (last edited Jun 24, 2017 12:31PM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) | 1458 comments Alex wrote: "I'm aware that the basic reason is that it's a pragmatic tack ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and then turn a mostly blind eye to their human rights abuses) to take. I also understand that it..."

GOOD question! I hope no one mind's if I offer my two cents, since its something I've learned about as part of my history background. Not my specialty, per se, but I do know that this is something that has been studied and debated furiously for decades, and several schools of thought have been produced.

But I think its fair to say that US foreign policy has been ad hoc and historical in nature, guided by self-interest and not principle. For example, in the late 19th/early 20th century, US policy seemed concerned with cementing its sphere of influence in the Pacific and South America (the Monroe Doctrine) while remaining apart from events in Europe.

When it came to the vast empires the European nations maintained in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the US was largely in favor of decolonization and self-determination. These principles became a driving force behind Wilson's 14 Points and the agenda his government brought to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 (much to the chagrin of the European powers and despite their own history of intervention in the Latin America and the Pacific).

After 1945, however, that changed drastically. The US was now locked in a competition with the Soviet Bloc and found itself in a position of leadership. This leadership existed in the form of multiple alliances - NATO, NORAD, SEATO, etc. From this point onwards, the US became extremely conservative when it came to colonial policy and empires. Fearing the expansion of Soviet influence, they began making treaties with dictatorships and actively undermined democratic governments they believed were too "socialist" in nature.

Since 1991, things have become a bit more muddled and confused. Since then, US policy has been guided by a combination of ensuring its economic and strategic interests, forming alliances against designated terrorist groups, and the ostensible purpose of democratization. These policies often overlap and conflict, creating something of a mess and many accusations of hypocrisy and inconsistency.

message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4351 comments I think the problems with US foreign policy started with Theodore Roosevelt. He wanted to demonstrate that the US was militarily strong, and he picked on Spanish colonies because Spain was weak. This was coupled later with a Ferengi-like attitude - profits and business were primary. As Matthew pointed out, WW 2 made a difference - the US was the only power that had really not been damaged by the war, and it really disliked Communism, so an obsessive anti-communist policy took place.

Once the USSR fell, I think the US sort of lost its way. Viet Nam hurt its pride; it won every battle and lost the war, the military-industrial complex had been boosted to restore pride, and the wretched beast had lay down and died. Now what? Instead of toning back, it behaved as if there were still a beast, and Saddam provided too great an opportunity not to deploy its toys. The rest, from there, was total muddle, and Syria is the prime example. If the Saudis get bolshy with Qatar, Trump will find himself on both sides - again. One point though. The Saudis are blocking air space to Qatar. I bet they won't try to shoot down one of the USAF planes that will continue to fly where it likes.

message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 7993 comments Matthew wrote: "GOOD question! I hope no one mind's if I offer my two cents, since its something I've learned about as part of my history background..."

An interesting insight into evolution of the US foreign policy..

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