Thursday, October 06, 2005

On Foreign Policy and Doing The Right Thing

The problem, I think is not that America, or the American establishment, is evil or something. The problem is the false assumption--or big lie, if you will--that is often used to underpin propaganda; the assumption that any nation's foreign policy can be based purely on the human rights or best interests of other people.

Granted that one can operate in the foreign sphere with moral principles and try to do the right thing, and one can wage war and conduct one's diplomacy in ways that are not morally repugnant; and nations have done these things on occasion, including the USA. But to say that one is running one's foreign pollicy for the benefit of others is just not logical. And I am not picking on the US--Pakistan's (the country I am a citizen of) policies in Afghanistan; India's in Sri Lanka, the list goes on, fall under the same category. And often, as was arguably the case in Afghanistan under the Soviets, the cause was just. But the means chosen, the agents and friends the US and Pakistan picked, were not the ones that, especially in hindsight, were the best people to work with in the long run. In fact, one of the most prominent ones is now on the State Department's terrrorist list. And I am not talking about Usama bin Laden, but someone that was much more central to the activities of those governments at that time.

Personally, I hold critics of this or that foreign policy whose critique is that the policy is "selfish" in nature more at fault than the people actually running them. The critique, in my humble opinion, should be that the policy is not being implemented in with the dignity and rights of human beings in mind; thus not "Why is America looking out for its oil interests?" but one of a multitude of others. For example, "Why is American making deals with the House of Saud not some nicer Arab?" or "Why did American subvert Iranian democracy and put a monster like the Shah in place?" or "Why did American support Saddam in the first place?"
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