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Dictatorship and Double Standards: Bahrain Is More Repressive Than Russia

Dictatorship and Double Standards: Bahrain Is More Repressive Than Russia, But Reading the Washington Post You’d Never Know That
1 May, 2013 – Mark Adomanisv – Forbes

One of the things that I find endlessly grating about the “morality in foreign policy” crowd is their myopia. While a consistent stand in defense of human rights is entirely laudable, if a bit unrealistic in the fallen world we live in, the people who want to inject “values” into American diplomacy are usually incredibly selective in their outrage. By and large they choose countries, such as Venezuela or Russia, with which America is already on lousy terms and then argue that “values” demand heightening tensions in already tense situations. It’s an instrumental view of “rights” which holds that they are useful only to the extent they support American foreign policy priorities.

Thus you have someone like the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl who is repulsed by the idea of limited anti-terror cooperation with the Russians but who just can’t seem to find the time to bemoan the (far more grievous) human rights violations of close US anti-terror allies such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It’s particularly fascinating to compare Diehl’s almost palpable outrage over limited intelligence sharing with the Russians (something about which supposedly “pro-Russia” people like myself and Daniel Larison have been decidedly skeptical) with the bored and indifferent tone he takes with the Bahrainis who, according to Freedom House, are even more repressive and undemocratic than the Russians.

Here’s how he sets the stage in Bahrain which, remember, is a more repressive country than Russia whose regime has shot to death dozens of peaceful demonstrators over the past few years (emphasis added):

For the past 18 months, the two sides have been locked in an impasse that has spawned near-nightly demonstrations in Shiite villages, the deaths of at least 55 people, the jailing of many opposition leaders and fraying relations between Bahrain and its chief military ally, the United States.

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that there is almost no evidence that relations between Bahrain and the United States are actually “fraying.” The Obama administration easily brushed aside Congressional concerns about a continued security relationship with the country. The United States fifth fleet is still based in Bahrain and there are no plans to have it relocate anytime soon. The United States was so “concerned” about Bahrain’s violent suppression of its pro-democracy movement, aided by our close allies the Saudis, that it continued to sell the country a broad range of weapons systems (weapons systems, of course, that it would never in a million years countenance selling to the Russians). Diehl seems to be inventing tensions between the United States and Bahrain where they don’t actually exist. …more

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