By Prof. Colin S. Cavell

As the tumult and tribulations of this world continue to beat up and pound down working people with little solace from existing human agencies—either governmental, corporate, or individual, average folks will invariably turn towards alternative means of liberation either from strategies firmly planted in this world or from other worldly promises of relief from their distress, for as human beings we are hard-wired to seek freedom, and when this fundamental desire is suppressed and consolation from our worldly pains are denied, we die emotionally and become at best automatons easily manipulated and controlled by others.  As the U.S. Declaration of Independence states:  “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security” (July 4, 1776).


In the case of the United States foreign policy towards Bahrain and the Gulf Kingdoms, Jeffersonian democratic values enshrined in the nation’s Constitution consisting of majority rule; republican (i.e. representative) forms of governance; separation of powers between legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government; federalism (division of power between national and local rule); and checks and balances (to prevent any one branch from becoming supreme) have seemingly disappeared from the country’s foreign policy agenda, and this does not even begin to catalog the apparent abandonment of concern for fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and freedom to redress grievances—all of which are being ignored on a daily basis in Bahrain today with tacit U.S. government support. 

Vocal utterance of and bland support for such democratic values are made from time to time when the U.S. is castigating regimes it considers hostile, but in the case of allied or client regimes in the region—unless they are on the verge of internal collapse as in the recent case of Mubarak’s Egypt—such democratic ethical principles are almost completely dismissed.  And just as individuals are judged by the company they keep, so too are governments evaluated and assessed by their political dispositions, orientations, and allies. 

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