The Crackdown in Bahrain and American Opposition to “War on Terror”

Updated – March 17, 2011 - U.S. Support for Bahrain Crackdown

Bahraini protesters man makeshift roadblocks in Manama. Bahraini and foreign troops used lethal force on March 16 to remove protestors from Manama’s financial district, killing at least 6.  (AFP-James Lawler Duggan)

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is escorted by Bahrain’s Minister of State for Defense Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, upon arrival in Manama, Bahrain on 11 March 2011.  Three days later the crackdown on the pro-democracy protestors began in earnest.

The brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in Bahrain’s Pearl Square left some 300 injured.  Government troops besieged the hospital where the injured were being treated and reportedly beat several doctors.  

Key U.S. allies in the “War on Terror”, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, and Libya are all dictatorships, like Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, that continue to use lethal force against pro-democracy protestors with nary a word of protest coming from the Obama administration.  Is this how the United States supports pro-democracy movements in the Middle East? 

It is quite clear, judging by the actions of the Obama administration, that the U.S. does not really support democratic change or governments in the Middle East; quite the contrary.

When, for example, the Palestinians held free and fair elections in January 2006 – the winner was Hamas, who won 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The second place winner was Fatah with only 45 seats. This gave Hamas the majority and the ability to form a majority government on their own.  The results did not suit the Israelis, who ordered the United States to ignore the election results, ban Hamas, and support the unelected Palestinian Authority.  This is what the U.S. has done for the past five years.

It should be abundantly clear that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have nothing to do with creating democracies in the region.  This is simply the lie that is fed to the American people who are forced to fight and support these costly and illegal wars of conquest and occupation.

What is the real reason for Obama’s war in Afghanistan?  Why does he continue to wage a costly and unpopular war against the wishes of the American and Afghan people — and the government of Afghanistan?  What kind of democracy wages war against the will of its people?   

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say President Obama should withdraw a “substantial number” of combat troops from Afghanistan this summer, the deadline he set to begin pulling out forces. Only 39 percent of respondents, however, say they expect him to withdraw large numbers.

Why is there such a huge gap between what Americans want their government to do and what they expect it will do?  How is it that a representative democratic government can wage costly foreign wars of conquest and occupation against the will of the people?  With such a disconnect between the will of the people and the government can it still be said that the United States of America is truly a functioning democratic republic?   

The U.S.-led military presence in Afghanistan has also come under sharp criticism from the Afghan government. Over the weekend, after a NATO bombing killed nine children, Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded that international troops “stop their operations in our land.”  

The overwhelming majority of Americans are now opposed to the 10-year-old war and the president of Afghanistan demands that U.S. forces “stop their operations in our land.”  In the face of such strong opposition, why does this war go on?  Who is President Obama serving? 

Nearly three-quarters of the public thinks a substantial number of U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan this summer. But fewer than four in 10 think it will happen.  How can there be such a disconnect in a representative democracy?

Sources and Recommended Reading: 

“Poll: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say Afghan war isn’t worth fighting”
Washington Post, 15 March 2011

Bollyn, Christopher, “Dying in Vain – Why Afghanistan?”, 8 February 2010

Bollyn, “TAPI Pipeline – The Real Reason for 4 More Years of War”, 20 December 2010

Bollyn, “Obama’s Deception – 9-11 and Afghanistan”, 5 June 2009

Bollyn, “The Spoils of War: The Minerals of Afghanistan”, 7 January 2002

Bollyn, “Afghanistan – Obama’s War for Israel”, 6 July 2010


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