Magazine article Foreign Policy in Focus

Problems with Current U.S. Policy

Magazine article Foreign Policy in Focus

Problems with Current U.S. Policy

Article excerpt

Key Problems

* The U.S. continues to support a very conservative and intensely misogynist version of Islam through its staunch support of the Saudi Arabian government.

* U.S. financial aid supports the oppressive regimes in the region, rather than the civil and feminist organizations.

* American policy during the cold war promoted conservative Islamic fundamentalism, which now terrorizes the region and its women.

The U.S. government (especially since the days of Jimmy Carter, who hailed the Iranian shah's regime a few months before its overthrow) has for years exploited human rights rhetoric by highlighting its enemies' human rights violations and ignoring its friends' violations. The people of the Middle East have not forgotten that Washington ignored the shah of Iran's abysmal record of human rights violations while strictly scrutinizing the human rights records of Libya and Syria, for example. Of course Libya and Syria do violate human rights, but Washington's double standard is blatant and cruel.

The antipathy to U.S. economic and political interests in the Middle East stems largely from the inability or unwillingness of the U.S. to judge human rights on a universal and neutral basis. Not that the U.S. should view itself, or that it should be viewed by others, as the ultimate arbiter of the human rights situation around world. Many human rights organizations have documented human rights violations within the United States. But the U.S. presents itself to the Middle East, and to other regions of the world, as the authority on and the judge of human rights standards, and does not admit that its actions both within and outside the U.S. often worsen human rights situations.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia stands as a clear example of American hypocrisy. No serious and credible policy on human rights can ignore the abysmal record of the Saudi royal family, which has imposed on the Saudi Arabian people one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Saudi Arabia's government is based on institutional sexism, misogyny, and intolerant religious exclusiveness. The brand of Wahhabi Islam imposed in Saudi Arabia is seen in no other country. (Qatar, which follows Wahhabi doctrine, has been launching a series of social and political reforms affecting women in the past few years.)

American support for the Saudi royal family has permitted that government to violate human rights and to ignore the pleas of Saudi men and women for reforms. Crown Prince Abdullah, who has assumed more powers in the past two years in the wake of the near incapacitation of King Fahd, has publicly alluded to popular demands for social, political, and legal reforms affecting Saudi women. Yet Washington, which routinely interferes in the minute affairs in the region and in the internal domestic situation of many Arab countries, has not made one public statement in support of Saudi women in the face of state oppression and discrimination. How can the U.S. government make speeches and statements in support of 13 Iranian Jews who are accused of treason and yet remain silent about the plight of millions of Arab women who are oppressed daily by a pro-American government? How can the U.S. scrutinize the human rights records of Libya and Iran but not of Saudi Arabia? Iran's political system, with all its shortcomings, is certainly superior to the archaic political system in Saudi Arabia.

U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.