July 2, 2011
Arab Spring Exposes Hypocrisy of July 4th
The White House is in full campaign mode.
Not for 2012’s presidential election. The “peaceful and orderly transition” campaign against the Arab Spring and for expanding U.S. counter-terror (CT) operations has a new buzzword: “values.” President Barack Obama confidently told the Muslim world that America’s “singular role” is based on “the principles upon which our union was founded.” Freedom and prosperity at home, he says, is protected by “extending it to others.” A week later his counter-terror chief, John Brennan, justified expanding U.S. drones to Yemen and Somalia by “upholding the core values that define us as Americans.”
“This year, we have been reminded again that these are not just American values, they are truly universal values,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked on Saturday to commemorate America's Independence. “And as people across North Africa, the Middle East and around the world risk their lives to claim these universal human rights and freedoms, Americans are proud to stand with them. We are united by our common hopes and aspirations for a better world.”
The Obama administration will celebrate July 4th abroad by suppressing Muslim revolutions - the spirit of democracy - and replacing fireworks with teargas canisters, bullets and Hellfires.
Today the White House hailed America’s values as Bahraini security forces continued their five-month crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. In a speech televised late on Friday, King Hamad Ibn Isa al-Khalifa assured protesters that the looming National Dialogue would include all parties of the opposition. When Al Wifaq, Bahrain’s largest party, decided at the final moment to participate in order to reaffirm its own demands, the White House and State Department pounced on the meeting as a definite sign of progress. That the government’s impending attack on resistant protesters would have altered their script is doubtful.
“President Obama welcomes the launch of the National Dialogue in Bahrain, which represents an important moment of promise for the people of Bahrain,” read Saturday's statement. “The United States commends King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa for his leadership in initiating the dialogue. We also commend the decision by Al Wifaq, Bahrain's largest opposition group, to join the dialogue. We urge all Bahrainis to seize this opportunity to forge a more just future together. It is important that government and political leaders create a positive atmosphere to help promote a successful dialogue process.”
His administration (and many governments, for that matter) is fond of making absolute claims without a basis in reality. “The National Dialogue is an important moment of promise,” and “the Government of Bahrain is taking concrete steps which could contribute to national unity and stability.” As if these were established facts.
The National Dialogue proceeded to unfold in the farce that many protesters expected. None of the ruling al-Khalifa family materialized to meet with “300 oppositional members,” which ultimately turned out to be 35, and a regal ceremony attempted to delegitimize their movement. These figures also appear to have met only as a show of propaganda - to prove the government isn’t serious and only bowed to U.S. and Saudi pressure. Sheikh Ali Salman, al-Wifaq's leader, told a Friday rally in Diraz, “No one cares for us, no one is listening to us. We will go to the dialogue, but if the dialogue does not deliver what the people need, we will withdraw.”
The next day Al Wefaq’s delegates blasted the “dialogue.”
"It started as a monologue," said Bushra al-Hindi, one of the delegates. "The agenda has been previously set by the government in order to exclude talks about critical issues, such as moving along with a process that will reshape the country into a constitutional monarchy."
On the outside looking in, protesters took to the streets to denounce the government’s dialogue as insincere. Western press has labeled them hard-liners, however they are no different than the millions of revolutionaries now immune to “negotiations.” Many protesters said that al-Wafiq didn’t represent their cause, a sentiment shared between Yemen’s revolutionaries and the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). The dialogue of death is fully alive in Bahrain as its youth chant “dialogue is suicide.”
Meanwhile riot police continue to disperse protesters calling for self-determination. Political prisoners have yet to be released and fear permeates the air. Hailed as a turning point in Bahrain’s “crisis,” Saturday’s National Dialogue is more likely to escalate the uprising and reinforce its demands. U.S. statements have been rendered completely delusional. Even the administration's wires are mixed up; Bahrain’s statements cannot be found on its own Embassy site but instead on Yemen’s, where another revolution is struggling to overcome U.S.-Saudi hegemony.
The White House claims that, “as a long-standing partner of Bahrain, the United States continues to believe that Bahrain's stability will be enhanced by respecting the universal rights of the people of Bahrain.” Unfortunately U.S. policy in Bahrain makes little sense beyond Riyadh, Tehran and the 5th Fleet. The same goes for Yemen, Syria and Egypt, where “dialogue” and “values” are codewords for Israel, Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda.
America isn’t living by its civil values during the Arab Spring, but dying from single-minded militarism.