America’s Foreign Policy Moral Deficit and Losing the Middle East

Politicians the world over claim to support human rights in the conduct of foreign policy. They do so to project ‘humanitarianism and rightfulness,’ but in practice they pay little or no attention to anything but narrow national and personal interests. While this may be the accepted modus operandi, it is an approach that invariably has dire consequences that may carry over for generations. The human mind cannot foresee the widespread fallout of an initiative, even if that initiative appears to be limited at the time; but initiatives that are supportive of basic human rights always propagate less resentment and lead to less vengeance and future conflict. If for this reason alone, human rights and morality should be inseparable from foreign policy formulation and practice. A good case in point is the U.S. support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980s—a support, laced with human rights violations and disastrous repercussions that are likely to continue for many more generations. Unfortunately, not only has the U.S. learned little from this episode, but is today making a similar mistake in support of the Al-Sauds of Saudi Arabia that could have even more dire consequences.

Let’s go back to 1980. Iraq invaded Iran on September 22. Iraq easily occupied a great deal of Iranian territory, because Iran was a country in disarray in the aftermath of a revolution. The United Nations did little to stop the conflict. The world supported Saddam Hussein and Iran was isolated with no ally except Syria. Within a short amount of time, the Iranians pushed the Iraqis out and were threatening Iraq’s southern city of Basra. Fearing the consequences of an Iranian victory, the United States and its European allies (the UK, France and Germany) facilitated the transfer of internationally banned WMD and their means of production to Iraq. Using these chemical weapons on Iranians, Saddam Hussein was successful in holding Iran at bay, resulting in tens of thousands of Iranian fatalities…

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