Bad company

The famous, world-renowned tradition of American political hypocrisy was on display in the Hinckley Institute of Politics last Friday. Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States, spoke and reminded us all of the loving relationship the United States and Saudi Arabia enjoy. At the beginning of his talk, Prince Al-Faisal said, “The peoples of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. share goals, and principles and beliefs which outweigh differences and dissimilarities.”

It is hard for me to understand where Prince Al-Faisal gets the idea that he can speak for the millions of Saudis his family has dictated to for more than 100 years. Not one citizen of Saudi Arabia has ever cast a vote in support of King Abdullah or anyone else in the Saudi royal family. However, Prince Al-Faisal is not the only one who is proud of the relationship between the royal family and the U.S. In 2002, President Bush remarked on the friendship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia: “Our partnership is important to both our nations. And it is important to the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East and the world.”

As we all know, President Bush drastically changed U.S. foreign policy by pre-emptively invading Iraq in 2003. The reason behind the start of the war–Iraq posing an imminent threat to the United States–was debunked by terrorism officials and by our own intelligence agencies. Subsequently, the administration had to come up with a reason for invading Iraq other than our own defense. That reason they came up with was that the Iraqi people needed democratic institutions to ensure peace in the region and to have a better way of life.

Condoleezza Rice argued, “When the citizens of this region cannot advance their interests and redress their grievances through an open political process, they retreat hopelessly into the shadows to be preyed upon by evil men with violent designs.”

Secretary Rice penned these idealistic words in The Washington Post, in defense of the Iraq War policy. However, she outlined in her op-ed that the U.S. should support democratic movements everywhere–not just in Iraq.

Perhaps no other nation is more autocratic and insulting to the democratic ideal then the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The fundamental law that governs Saudi Arabia is the Shari’a, or Islamic Law. The Shari’a does not allow other religions to practice in public. It does not allow popular elections. It says that men, but mostly women, who commit adultery should be stoned to death. The punishment for homosexuality is the amputation of limbs. These punishments are often carried out in public. Despite daily beheadings, the limb-cutting of gay people and the subversion of democratic rights, the U.S. continues to call Saudi Arabia a friend.

While the Bush administration is constantly defending the Iraq War with democratic rhetoric, it is supporting governments around the world who terrorize its citizens and subvert democratic rights.

You cannot have it both ways. Is an Iraqi life more important than a Saudi life? A Syrian life? Or an Egyptian life?

The fact is, Bush invaded Iraq on false pretenses and is now trying to cover up his mistakes with a hypocritical democratic peace message. Hopefully, as the Iraqi body count continues to climb by hundreds of thousands, the American people will see that double standard and show the Republicans the door in 2008.