Beyond Double-Standards: US Mideast Policy, In Fact, Quite Standard

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Beyond Double-Standards: US Mideast Policy, In Fact, Quite Standard

Some are saying that the U.S. is engaging in double standards by intervening in Libya and not in Bahrain or Yemen or Saudi Arabia.

I don't agree. For several reasons:

First off, we're way beyond "double standards" when it comes to US policy in the Mideast. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 and the US government geared up its military machine against Iraq, some cried "double standard" at that time. After all, the U.S. continued to back Israel's gaining territory by war, as well as Turkey's having done so. 

Despite attempts by Iraqis and Palestinians and others to prevent that war by suggesting negotiated solutions, the U.S. attacked Iraq and then imposed an unprecedented set of sanctions, no-fly zone restrictions and disarmament regimes on Iraq. When questions were raised about why other states, most obviously Israel, were not having their weapons of mass destruction similarly scrutinized, the fact that Iraq had lost a war was sometimes cited as the reason why Iraq should have more scrutiny put upon it while Israel should be let off Scott free. So double standards breed triple standards.

Eventually, the phony WMD charges against Iraq -- and that state's inability to prove a negative -- led to the phony pretexts for the invasion of Iraq altogether. Many blame George Bush for this, but it was in fact the logical conclusion of long-standing U.S. policy and was backed by many of the same liberals who are backing the current Libya bombing. 

Secondly, as Jeremy Scahill noted on his twitter feed recently, in a very real sense, there are no double standards. The U.S. government backs whatever it wants to when it wants to as determined by the perceived self interest of its elite. That's just standard operating procedure. Activists can't pick and chose when the U.S. government uses violence, it's not optional. It's standard. But also automatic. 

Third off, the argument that the U.S. is somehow wrong by not intervening in Bahrain now is wrong. For one, the U.S. is already in Bahrain. That's where the Fifth Fleet is based. Which is likely part of the reason the U.S. is defacto backing the oppressive regime. Saudi troops moved into Bahrain on March 14 -- while many of us were grieving the horrific loss of life just after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan just a few days before. The oppressive monarch in Bahrain could no longer oppress his people enough with mercenaries it hired from Pakistan, so the Saudis moved in. The U.S. arms both the Saudi and Bahraini military with billions of dollars of arms sales, an extremely profitable endeavor for those who treasure money. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and others of these hyper oppressive Gulf sheikdoms are bombing Libya, in the name of democracy. 

Toby Jones, author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia, notes that the U.S. has been in Saudi Arabia since the 1930s, when Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) got a concession there. 


We're way beyond double standards, we're at triple, quadruple, quintuple, sextuple, septuple, octuple standards. It's standard.

Sam Husseini

Sam Husseini is a writer and political activist. He is the communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a D.C.-based nonprofit group that promotes progressive experts as alternative sources for mainstream media reporters. He's also set up -- which helps break out of the two party bind. His latest personal writings are at and tweets at

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