Oil, blood and the west’s double standards – Philip Stephens
As U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan have entered their third consecutive day, with rockets killing 27 people in northwest Pakistan to date, Pakistani protesters take to the streets, shouting anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in the city of Multan. They burnt U.S. and Nato flags and held up signs stating ‘America and Nato are war terrorists.’
In NewsX TV’s videoed Pathways to Peace conference last year, there was common agreement, ‘Don’t bring in the US’. The video can be seen by cutting and pasting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXdExlSxQ5A
A little further afield, Philip Stephens (Financial Times) describes the Middle East as a graveyard for ethical foreign policies. People there habitually talk of the west’s double standards and – setting aside colonisation – examples include the 1953 overthrow toppling by of Mohammed Mossadegh by the US incited by the British. That Iranian prime minister made the mistake of thinking that Iran rather than Britain should own its oil industry.
Mr Stephens records:
“The archives of western foreign ministries bulge with evidence of the contradictions and hypocrisies. Diplomats stationed in the region – American and European – have for decades crafted eloquent dispatches questioning whether support for Arab autocrats sat easily with the espousal of universal values; or if one-sided support for Israel did not ignore the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The telegrams went unread. The tyrants had the oil and the Palestinians were powerless.
The reaction to the Arab spring
“After some hesitation, western leaders have decided that popular demand for representative government is by and large a good thing. Listening to some of these politicians one could almost imagine that they had always carried a torch for Arab democracy.”
He points out that support for the uprisings has been selective and conditional:
“Nato lent its military to the overthrow of Libya’s Muammer Gaddafi. But mention repression of the Shia majority in Bahrain and silence descends.” Why? Much of the world’s oil passes through Bahraini waters.
“Saudi Arabia is a no-go area. Much of the Islamist extremism within and without the Middle East has its roots in the Wahhabi fundamentalism that flourishes under the House of Saud. But Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. The Saudis also buy hugely expensive military kit . . . “
Stephens: “ . . . the deeply corrosive effect of the accumulated hypocrisies on the west’s standing and influence”
“Confronted with charges of double standards, western policy makers tend to shrug their shoulders and reply this is the world as it is. What the realpolitik misses, I think, is the deeply corrosive effect of the accumulated hypocrisies on the west’s standing and influence.”
More on this and allied subjects in due course from Vijay Mehta’s new book “The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels Wars and Poverty in the Developing World”, Pluto Press/Palgrave Macmillan in February 2012. Book website www.theeconomicsofkilling.org