“I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.”
We were all children once that read the Dr. Seuss classic, “Yertle the Turtle,” but have we ever considered those words on a more global focus? Do we as a society currently sit on top, over-watching such great sights while others suffer? You better believe we do, and one instance of this is in Bahrain, a country comprised of 33 small islands off of the Persian Gulf coast.
At the moment in Bahrain, the Shi’ite minority is being oppressed. The abuses here are worse than Libya at the moment, but the United States, Western powers and other organizations are silent on the crimes under way because of their own interests in the region rather than of true democracy.
We as a nation will not act, unless it is in our own interest, because that is how foreign policy works. The U.S. has intervened with Libya and Bosnia, which were committed similar human rights violation, but why not Bahrain? The answer is plain and simple: The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain, and government officials would hate to break a few ties in the name of morality.
Syed Ali Wasif, Ph.D., a professor from Trinity University located in San Antonio, Texas declares, “Basically, I am very much disappointed with the role of the international human rights organizations; be that the Human Rights Watch, or the Genocides Watch, or Amnesty International or whatever; they are not playing their due role and due share in removing those regimes or in bringing to light those atrocities being committed by that brutal regime in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.”
Does Dr. Syed Sli Wasif realize that the non-governmental organizations that he stated are legally constituted organizations created by natural or legal persons that operate independently from any government? Sure they pursue some wider social aims that have political components, but they are not overtly political organizations such as political parties. Essentially what that means is that while the previously listed organizations can help to aid the people of Bahrain, they technically do not hold the power to make real changes.
I feel like it all comes back down to the issue of morality vs. convenience when it comes to the federal government. We have a history of only intervening when it seems convenient, but are we not a nation that was founded by those fleeing their oppressive rulers? Was the Constitution of the United States of America not created to prevent tyranny? Are we not a generally successful democracy?
What bothers me the most is that the United States has substantial leverage in Bahrain, through the Fifth Fleet of the Navy, military aid programs and a free-trade agreement. However, both political parties have been timid here. Earlier this year President Obama made a strong statement about Bahrain during a speech on the Middle East in which he promised to support the cause of democratic change across the region.
Where is the follow-up and true support of this claim? There are plenty of missing pieces in this situation; no senior U.S. officials have visited Bahrain in months, and the administration has had nothing to say about the deteriorating situation. The point is, if Bahrain blows up, vital U.S. interests will be at risk. The administration should use its influence now before the crisis resumes and leaves everyone scrambling to put the pieces back together.