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Weekly Discussion:Prospects for US Involvment

How involved should the United States be during these revolutions and protest movements throughout the Middle East? Do we try to do good, or try to do what best serves American interests?  Can we do good if the assumption will be that we are only serving American interests?

Here is my response:

While the US may be tempted to get involved in the situations happening in the Middle East, it should resist temptation to do so, unilaterally at least.  If we recall when Mubarak was still in power, President Obama issued several statements that were perceived by the people of Egypt to straddle a fine line between supporting the popular movement and supporting our former ally.  This was damaging to the US reputation in Egypt.  We must now recover by urging our allies in the Egyptian military to carry out the reforms and elections promised to the people.  This is a time when the US can not be looking out for its own interests, but instead must support the movements for democracy and freedom.

However, this is difficult especially in places such as Bahrain and Yemen which are integral to the national security policy of the US.  Bahrain serves as the home of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, while Yemen’s government is a strong ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  But when these allies turn to violent repression against their people, the US must not stand back and watch, instead it should condemn these acts and support the right to protest and free speech.  Post 9/11, the US is no longer seen as the human rights champion of the world, but the US can regain some of this status by publicly supporting the protesters basic human rights.  This does not mean that the US is no longer an ally of a countries regime, but instead signals that we will not stand by idly and watch our ally oppress its people.  Human rights and movements for democracy should always be respected and supported by the US.  If a change of government does occur in a country, they are more likely to have a warmer view of the US if we legitimized their movement.

The current situation in Libya does seem to require some form of US response.  A humanitarian crisis is occurring and the US must participate with other world powers in creating a united consensus of action by the United Nations.  Unilateral action by the United States will not be viewed kindly in the region and will provide Ahmadinejad and Bin Laden with more fuel in which to deride the US.  A united response must be composed to deal with this issue.  If it can’t be done through the UN, then perhaps through NATO or a coalition of countries that are willing to help the people of Libya.  But once Gaddafi and his band of goons are gone, power must be returned to the Libyan people to form a new government just as the people of Egypt and Tunisia have created new governments…without the influence of the United States.



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