Thursday, February 10, 2011

US Foreign Policy and Democracy

Ed Brayton noticed how some Americans seem unenthusiastic in their support of the democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt. Then he wrote something that most Filipinos and probably most non-Americans, would instantly agree with.
"The government of the United States has always talked out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to foreign policy. We talk in the most grandiose of terms about our commitment to supporting freedom and democracy around the world while at the same time supporting one brutal dictator after another. The list is long and disgusting: Pinochet; Somoza; Baptiste; Montt; Suharto; Noriega; Marcos; Duarte; Shah Pahlevi; Hussein; and many more.

What those men all shared is a willingness to go along with American corporate and political interests, at least for a time. Some of them eventually became a liability, like Marcos, Noriega and Hussein. And so we suddenly "discovered" that they were brutal thugs who had oppressed their people and we removed them from power, trumpeting our love of liberty and self-determination for all people.

That sordid history proves that we don't really give a damn about freedom and democracy. We gladly support dictators, no matter how vile their crimes against their own people, when they do our bidding. We spend billions of dollars, and often many lives, to place them and keep them in power. And then we are always astonished when the people of the nations they oppress don't like us when they overthrow their satraps."
I like that Mr. Brayton recognizes that US foreign policy is the same whether the incumbent party is Republican or Democrat. I was surprised when Filipinos were justifying their support for then candidate Obama because they taught that with him as US President, there will be a difference in their policy towards the Philippines. I thought it won't, and it hasn't, because US foreign policy is based on what the US perceive as their best interest, not on the interest of their client countries.

Also as a Filipino, I would dispute his characterization that it was the US that removed Marcos from office. I will concede that it helped that they removed their active support of him when it was obvious that most of the Philippines was determined to remove him from office, but it was the Filipinos themselves who made it happen.

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