Promoting Democracy, Arming Autocracy: A Deep Conflict In US Foreign Policy – OpEd


Duplicity is perhaps the best word that can describe the conduct of American politicians and leaders throughout history. Indeed, the discrepancy between words and action can be regarded as the main principle and basis of US foreign policy. This contradiction is particularly conspicuous in the relations of this country as a progressive democracy with the most violent dictatorships and autocratic regimes. The peak of this hypocritical foreign policy can be observed during the Cold War, during which the United States supported several authoritarian regimes, such as Batista in Cuba, Marcos in the Philippines, and Pinochet in Chile, solely under the pretext of confronting the Soviet Union and violated their democratic values.

This practice has endured under the Biden administration. The US attempts to reconstruct its image by hosting gatherings such as the “Democracy Summit” and leading democracies against autocracies.  However, its extensive military relations and arms transactions with authoritarian regimes have unveiled the reality.

The United States has always proclaimed itself as an advocate of values such as democracy, human rights, world peace, and the ethical superiority of democratic regimes, particularly after the First World War. It has also endeavored to influence, assist, or compel its allies to adhere to these values with various instruments. Nevertheless, what we observe in reality is conduct that is more appropriate for a gangster or a mafia group than a world leader. Gangsters only regard their own interests and nothing else.

To put it differently, they have no regard for moral, humane, and such considerations. They are indifferent to who consumes the drugs they manufacture and distribute. These criminal gangs have no concern whatsoever about what groups acquire the weapons they trade. It is a reflection of the entire perspective of US foreign and security policy.

Washington disregards the possibility that its weapons may be employed to suppress the freedom fighters of a nation or to launch an assault on another nation. It supplies arms to any government or terrorist group, ISIS or the Taliban, that is in alignment with US interests, irrespective of their strategies, objectives, or political systems. A clear illustration of this is the enormous arms deal with Saudi Arabia. These weapons have been utilized against the populations of Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.

The United States is unconcerned about the likelihood that the Taliban can easily acquire the large quantity of advanced weapons it deserted in Afghanistan. It only sought to minimize its costs, without transferring or annihilating those weapons. The US withdrew from Afghanistan and allowed the Taliban to capture all of the country with highly sophisticated American weapons and once again subjugate the desperate people of this land.

The Biden administration has adhered to the same course as the preceding administrations, and despite the White House’s assertion of supporting democracies, the United States provided arms to 57% of the world’s autocratic regimes in 2022 alone. The US State Department’s annual statistics indicate that US arms deliveries to other countries amounted to about 206 billion dollars in the first fiscal year of the Biden administration, which exceeded the highest figure of 192 billion dollars of arms deliveries in the Trump administration.

The main driver of this behavior in foreign policy is nothing but the attainment of bloody interests, and although the leaders of the United States have always tried to present themselves as the advocates of the common good and the collective interests of democratic countries, in reality, they have not and do not consider anything other than the interests of US.

In general, the United States has a purely pragmatic view of everything, regardless of the government in charge. In other words, American values are only a colorful exhibition that attracts attention from afar, but in truth, they are just a sign of self-interested politics. A politics whose executor is willing to do anything for his benefit. Whether to embrace Bin Salman or to desert the naive and desperate president of Ukraine.

Timothy Hopper

Timothy Hopper is an international relations graduate of American University.

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