Saturday, 7 May 2011

Why does America seem to be on the wrong side of international freedom?

A country in the throes of revolution. An oppressive state known for jailing dissidents is going to fall soon. However, America happens to find itself in the awkward position of being a patron of this dictatorial regime. America soon defines an ambiguous position---the rebels might be a terrorist organization after all, so it is best to tread carefully.

You can apply this scenario to so many countries it isn't even funny. In this case, I think the sobering story of South Africa is a vivid illustration of hypocrisy in action.

Congress only declared that the ANC and Nelson Mandela were not terrorists in 2008.

America also tacitly supported the apartheid regime and gave military support to South Africa in the South African Border War---though this should also be framed in the context of a Soviet-American proxy battle, it also once again shows how millions of people must suffer in the pursuit of some military goal that does not make sense (let's make a war on words and ideas!).

Once again, with Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, we are forced to wonder whether or not America is on the right side. I think this is particularly important, since America is the one world power that tries to claim its' legitimacy by offering itself as a luminary of human rights---which it should be said, it does follow up on sometimes.

However, certain policies it pursues seems to undermine these long-term strategic goals. How on Earth can we be so short-sided to see that depriving people of their freedom might stop a terrorist attack or two, but will generate enough anger to create an infinitely larger amount of terrorists? I also question America's ability to delineate between freedom fighter and terrorist, which seems to be firmly based on whether or not you are trying to achieve strategic American military goals, whatever they may be.

It should be pointed out that while South Africa has its' problems, you cannot argue that it is more unstable than the carcasses left behind by American military intervention (North Korea situation, Khmer Rouge, the current Iraq/Afghanistan situation). I am all for Realpolitik---but is it not realistic to say that change does not happen overnight, cannot be forced by killing and looting a country, that we must truly support the long-term aspirations of people around the world over our short-term security needs, and that America's stated willingness to help people around the world be free is what truly makes it great?

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