US Foreign Policy Values Democracy for the People in the Middle East
I will be arguing that US foreign policy does not value democratic forms of government for the people in the middle east. That freedom and democracy for those peoples is not our highest concern in the region and are only preferable when they work towards our main goals of regional stability and protecting strategic resources.
Looking forward to this debate, even though I may have to play devil's advocate...
Good luck to my opponent!
-In 1953 the CIA worked covertly to help overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran. The overthrow was in favor of a military authoritarian government led by the Shah. The cause was Iranian parliament's decision in 1951 to nationalize Iran"s oil industry, an industry controlled by the British Anglo-Iranian Oil company, now known as BP 1
-Saddam Hussein, the brutal Iraqi dictator was originally a CIA asset and was the recipient of US aid during the Iran-Iraq conflict. 2 Regime change only became desirable when he invaded the oil rich nation of Kuwait and threatened oil mecca (pardon the pun) Saudi Arabia. Kuwait at the time and today remains a monarchy as we, at no point in the first gulf war, insisted Kuwait become a Democracy.
-The US supported through foreign aid and weapons the taliban rule over Afghanistan. A democratically elected government wasn"t as important to the US as preventing expansion of Soviet Russia into Afghanistan. 3
-For 30 years the US supported the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship, so long as he played nice to Israel he received billion in foreign aid from the United States. The US only changed course and came in support of a Democratic Egypt when Mubarak looked to be losing his grip in the midst of a widespread Arab spring. 4
Currently we do not actively endorse Democratic governments in many middle eastern nations:
Most notably Saudi Arabia, with the largest oil reserves in the world Saudi Arabia is an important strategic interest to the United States and stability is of the most vital importance. Saudi Arabia is ruled by civil rights abusing, authoritarian Royal Family. 5 A royal family that lives a lavish lifestyle and squanders vast amounts of it"s countries oil money. 6
Other countries who lack Democracy yet do not warrant strong American support for democracy include Kuwait, Jordan, Yemen, and the UAE to name a few.
When we do support democratic governments in the middle east it"s only in service of the main US goal, that is stability and security of regional resources. Not any kind of altruism towards the peoples of said countries.
Iraq is the most prominent and recent example of the US spreading Democracy. While for over a decade regime change was the goal in Iraq, only after 911 was there an excuse to actually invade and install a democracy. Of course the vast natural resources of Iraq were also now available to outside companies, once restricted from doing business there. 7 Now while the Iraqi people were voting on their next leaders, the US was busy building the largest embassy ever. Laying to rest any ideas that the US wouldn"t remain extensively involved in the governing of Iraq, in as far as keeping natural resources open to companies.
First, I would argue that despite what some people say, democracy is very much an end in and of itself. Democracy “is the one national interest that helps to secure all others”. According to the U.S. Department of State, “Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health.” 1
Second, the US Foreign Policy’s ‘means’ do not always show their “end”. There are times when the 'present crisis' forces a county to make decisions that don’t always clearly show or perhaps even hide their “end” goals. I’m not saying that everything the US does that doesn’t clearly support democracy is necessary. Errare humanum est.
For example, one of my opponent’s arguments stated that, “The US supported through foreign aid and weapons the Taliban rule over Afghanistan. A democratically elected government wasn’t as important to the US as preventing expansion of Soviet Russia into Afghanistan.” While I would agree that the US probably didn’t make the best choice, Soviet Russia has been a threat; in some ways, much more than the Taliban.
While it is true that the US’s enthusiasm for in democracy has been dampened since events like 911 and enemies such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda, I would argue that it is still one of their goals.2 Supporting and endorsing democracy helps combat tyranny. Former President George W. Bush stated in his inaugural address that, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” 3
I don’t think it’s necessary to look at each example my opponent cited, since they were examples to support his main point, which I believe I have refuted.
In conclusion, the United States is a country known for its freedom and democracy. The US isn’t perfect, by any means, but it would seem illogical for the US not to value democracy in other nations, including the middle east.
To your points about official statements by both Bush and our state department, I don"t believe you can take their words at face value, as it"s been proven time and time again the US government and it"s politicians are willing to lie to advance an agenda. George Bushes claim about spreading Democracy in the middle east was a guise to open up oil rich Iraq to the allied nations.
I would just refer back to my cases in which there are clear cut examples of hypocrisy in US foreign policy in the middle east. That is cases where the US supports nations who play ball and who don"t cause problems while only going out of it"s way to support democracy when it becomes necessary or convenient. The US does not have a proven track record of supporting democracy purely for the sake of the citizens of said nations.
As I pointed out in the previous round, "Democracy is the one national interest that secures all others." Democracy and stability go hand in hand. You can't pursue and have one without the other.
It's also important to remember that sometimes a nation is forced to take actions that do not show it's support for democracy clearly. We can see that in the Soviet Union/Taliban example.
In conclusion, I would ask you to remember my first argument: that democracy is an end. Democracy is the end that all the other means are trying to achieve.
Thanks to my opponent for a great debate!
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