In December of 2001, several militant
suicide bombers stormed the Indian parliament in New Delhi. The
Indian government, elected to represent the most populous democracy
in the world, recognized the terrorists as members of
Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group that worked out of Pakistan while
attacking areas of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Following the
precedent set by the mighty Americans after the Sept. 11 attacks,
India wanted to retaliate against Pakistan much as America had
attacked Afghanistan. While the two countries’ million or so
soldiers began forming across the fragile border, America stepped
in and made it clear that when it decides to make up excuses for
striking a country, it sets the precedent for America only.

Sravya Chirumamilla

Similarly, when Premier Mohammad Mossadegh was chosen to rule
Iran in 1951, he decided to nationalize the oil industry. This, of
course, did not please America’s bed partner, Britain, which
was the major share-holder in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which
was being deprived of the oil it had so conveniently taken for
itself.

Faced with a lawsuit by the British, Mossadegh successfully
defended his decision to let his country control its oil before the
International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands.
This is when the CIA and Kermit Roosevelt were commissioned to
overthrow the democratically chosen leaders. After the U.S.
government overthrew the government by pumping millions of dollars
into the opposition, it decided to re-instate an authoritarian
regime. Embarrassed, Iranians began to resent the Americans, who
felt the Iranians’ wrath in 1979.

There are many such examples of the American government
interfering with a democracy’s decision to lead its people.
This stance in foreign policy is not limited to Republican
administrations as the fear propagated during the Cold War has
manifested itself in the jingoistic war on terrorism.

Very few Americans oppose this war on terrorism, which allowed
President Bush to enter Afghanistan. Even those who oppose the war
in Iraq were mostly in favor of the invasion in Afghanistan. They
justified this overthrow of an oppressive regime, which they
believed was in cahoots with al-Qaida. However, it is well
recognized that Taliban leaders, such as Mullah Mohammed Omar, did
not get along with al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. If people were in
support of the war in Afghanistan because of an ideological belief,
they should be similarly supportive of the war in Iraq, which
removed a much harsher dictator from power.

Americans like to forget that they provided the Taliban with the
funds and guns to fight the Russians. They also ignore the fact
that the Taliban was an elected party, which brought much needed
order to a country ruled by sparring warlords. Some like to point
out the Taliban leadership’s lack of support of women’s
suffrage as a lack of democratic values; it is similarly telling
that this country was not officially a democracy 144 years after it
declared independence.

I realize that after such a pivotal election, a column should
extol the virtues of a candidate or criticize the failings of
another. However, I see no difference in the two candidates in
their foreign policy approach. Both would continue the U.S.
tradition of hypocrisy and arrogance.

It is this hypocrisy that allows America to set double
standards. America can hold certain suspects indefinitely, torture
its prisoners and will not join the International Criminal Court
because Americans might actually be held responsible for their
actions. While America would rather not hear from France and others
in the United Nations about the war in Iraq, it had no qualms about
pressuring the European Union to accept Turkey in order to add the
Turks’ support of the Iraqi occupation.

Americans hardly hear about their government’s actions and
are more than content in their ignorance, which in turn adds to
their arrogance. Americans have rarely been attacked; however, it
should not surprise America when it is attacked: America has
meddled in every country and has created a distinct hatred for this
country. It is this nationalistic belief that all who
“aren’t with us” are uneducated brutes, that
supports Joseph Conrad’s proposal to “Exterminate all
the brutes!”

 

Chirumamilla can be reached at
“mailto:schiruma@umich.edu”>schiruma@umich.edu.

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