Yesterday I was watching Marwan Bishara's latest "episode" of Empire on Al Jazeera, where he and his guests discussed the "War on Terror" from the Muslim perspective.
Certainly, almost all of the Muslim countries are far from being genuine democracies, no matter how they are portrayed. But thanks to their energy reserves, geostrategic location, and proximity to what seems to be never-ending instability (be it Iran or Afghanistan), most of them are heavily funded and supported by the United States and some other major Western powers. Much has been written and said on the matter, but as I was watching the program, I couldn't help but think of the public diplomacy implications of this support for the largely authoritarian regimes. Since the signature characteristic of PD is its public component, what is the message the US is sending to the Muslim people in the "Greater Near Eastern" region by supporting those that oppress and censor them, and hinder their actual development? Isn't it a blunt contradiction of the very values espoused by the West?
There was also another item in the news today: the deployment of more US missile defenses around the Gulf, as an extra measure against any possible attack from Tehran. So, Obama hopes to counter Iran, the "totalitarian regime", by supporting the authoritarian states such as Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. Double standards? Or is it just that the latter are "friendly" and don't do their dirty laundry in the open?
Or... perhaps, it's all a part of a grand regional democratization plan, since the hope is that repressive regimes won't last long, anyway?
Watching the following video it seems like they've got it all worked out. Just maybe...! The problem is, the Muslim public might take a while to see the "Western reasoning" behind it...
[Although this is from almost 5 years ago, I think Bird and Fortune still make a good point. And Obama is not that different from Bush, after all... Or so it seems.]