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Saturday, 19 February 2011

Ich Bin Ein Bahrainer

The West - in case we didn't know already and had never read Pilger, Chomsky or Said - has been playing a grand game in the Middle East for more than a century - one of divide and conquer and ultimately control.  At stake, as every kid can tell you, is oil and gas, the lifeblood of the capitalist energy-system.  Democracy has never been uppermost in terms of the realpolitik emanating from London and Washington.  Hence the Shah, Mubarak, Saddam, etc.  Real democracy is messy, and may even elect anti-Western (or yes, pro-Arabic, pro-Islam) parties to power.

You can't quite control democracies as well as dictatorships.  Hence, Bahrain, now.  This tiny kingdom is a key US ally in an Iranian zone - but is oppressive and brutal.  Its actions over the last few days of protest are equivalent to what happened in Tianenman Square.  This time, the outrage has been muted.  The problem with such state department cold-eyed pragmatism is that it is not invisible.  The world sees that the West is two-faced.  There seems one rule for some nations (allies) and one for the rest.  For both ethical, and also practical reasons such a Janus, jaundiced policy is unsustainable in the Facebook Age.  The West must either stand for "Freedom" or not.  If it supports freedom, then, it must help to stop the violence in Bahrain, and oppose it in no uncertain terms.
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