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by Jay Shaft
Saturday, May. 31, 2003 at 5:05 PM
It seems that the U.S. government has become the expert on regime change. The problem is that they have ignored some of the worst examples of bad regimes because of valued trade status, being allied in the war on terror, and economic importance.
Selecting Regimes for Change: The U.S. is Unfair in Choosing
By: Jay Shaft, Coalition For Free Thought In Media
The U.S has adopted a policy of publicly naming nations they feel need a regime change. The reasons usually quoted are oppression of the people, lack of religious and political freedoms, the death of civilians at the hands of the regime, support for or direct involvement in terrorism, and lack of democratic rule or ideas.
The claim is that they want to bring democracy and freedom to these nations. The nations and regimes that have been named are for the most part dictatorships or military styled ruling parties. The countries named for regime change are good examples of regimes that violate human rights, freedom of the press, and have records of killing their own people.
It sounds good until you realize that some countries with the worst records of human rights violation and oppression are not even on the list. Even more outrageous is that some of the excluded countries are allied with the U.S. in the efforts to bring regime change or stop terrorism.
Some of the countries named recently as being ripe for regime change or as an enemy of freedom include the following. Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, Lebanon, Liberia, Venezuela, and even Mexico were named by some U.S. officials.
This list looks pretty good if you consider the records of the countries named. It looks good before you think about the countries that are notably lacking form the list. There should be some other countries on the list if the criterias for getting on the list were really followed and acted upon.
Some of the U.S. allies or trade partners that have not made the list are most notably: China, Indonesia (they just killed hundreds in Aceh), Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Columbia. This is just a short list that is not complete by any means.
The just named countries never seem to come up in open discussion by the U.S. when the talk turns to human rights violations, torture, killing or imprisoning political dissidents, supporting or engaging in terrorist acts, or being run by oppressive regimes themselves.
Indonesia just started a shock and awe campaign against the province of Aceh, source of ¾ of Indonesia’s monetary capital from exports. Since the recent start of the Indonesian Army crackdown against the GAM, the Free Aceh Movement, there have been over 20 civilians confirmed killed and over 100 more reported to have been killed.
UNICEF reported that the Aceh Provincial Education Department has said from 5/19/03-5/29/03 a total of 437 schools have been burned in Aceh. A teacher was reported to have been dragged out of one school and beaten to death and then shot after he was already dead. The teacher was trying to stop soldiers from burning a suspected GAM supported school.
The Indonesian military has used the Hawk military jet obtained from Great Britain to bomb civilian areas and drop napalm according to human rights observers on the ground. Several human rights groups have had their offices raided by the Indonesian military and police. These groups include Kontras (the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence) and PBHI, the Indonesia Institute for Legal Aid and Human Rights.
On 5/20/03 the State Minister for Communications and Information Syamsul Muarif declared that the Aceh martial law administrator had the right to ban and restrict the activities of journalists in the troubled province. The administrator also has the authority to ban and restrict news publications, as well as radio and television broadcasts on the security situation in Aceh. So much for freedom of the press.
10,000 Aceh citizens have been reported killed since 1974 when the initial uprising to free Aceh started. Over 200,000 are known to have been killed by Indonesia in the province of East Timor under the U.S. supported regime of the dictator General Suhharto. The U.S. still lists Indonesia as a most favored nation for trade and as an ally in the war on terror. It should be noted that Shell/Mobil and Exxon Petroleum have major investments in Indonesia. Over billion was made by U.S companies last year in Aceh
Turkey has been on a campaign against the Kurds for over 80 years. The U.S. has remained notably silent about Kurds being massacred in Turkey, while condemning Saddam Hussein for gassing the Kurds in Iraq during the same time period. The Treaty of Lausanne granted Kurds in Turkey freedom of language and culture but it has never been followed by Turkey. An estimated 300,000 Kurds have been killed by Turkey since 1900. Recently many have been killed in uprisings against the oppression by the Turkish government when the leader of rebel group PKK Abdullah Ocalan was hunted and then captured.
The U.S. never spoke out against any of the attacks against Kurds, even when Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch put out definitive press releases against the attacks. The fact of Saddam gassing the Kurds at Halabja and murdering many in thousands in the 1991 uprising was plastered all over the press as one of the reasons for regime change in Iraq.
China is notorious for the levels of human rights abuses and number of political dissidents that have been imprisoned. Millions disappear every year in China never to be seen again. Most political dissidents are accused of trying to promote democratic ideals or express free thoughts or ideas. Ironic when you consider the U.S. is supposed to be promoting democracy and freedom worldwide.
China has most favored nation status and is one of the biggest trade partners with the U.S. A large number of U.S. companies have set up factories and offices in the free trade areas of China including Guangdong, Fujian, and Hong Kong. The trade between the U.S. and China tops 0 billion in export products and goods manufactured in the free trade zones. All incidences of human rights violations are stoically ignored by the U.S. in every case. The U.S has even lauded China on numerous occasions as an example of a developing nation!
It seems that to be considered for regime change the country has to either not be a trade partner with the U.S. or refuse to let U.S. companies make profits in that country. Countries that have gross records of human rights abuses and links to terrorism are given free right to commit many atrocities as long as the trade with the U.S. is protected.
In every instance of a country being named by the U.S. as being a rogue state or in need of regime change, the country has blocked U.S. trade. In most instances the country refuses to trade with U.S. companies or is under economic sanctions that would be lifted if a regime change occurs.
Foreign regime change policy seems to be influenced by money and greed, not real human interest. The facts speak for themselves. If there is a U.S. interest involved many atrocities are overlooked or ignored. Only when a country is not a trade partner or becomes an outright enemy of the U.S. is regime change suggested.
Jay Shaft, Editor, Coalition For Free Thought In Media
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