Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bahrain? Bahrain?

Bahrain? Bahrain? There’s no Bahrain in American Politics?
by Charlie Leck

I must admit, during the first days of news from Bahrain, I had to scratch my head and wonder where the hell Bahrain is. As an experiment in intellectualism, I asked several of my brightest friends where the tiny nation was (is)? All but one of them (and I think he’d had time to consult an atlas) looked at me with a combination of blanched and blushing faces and admitted they didn’t know.

Now the tiny, island nation is on the front page of our nation’s most serious and most read newspapers.

The first thought I had on this one was curiosity. Why is our President pussy-footing around on this issue? The people of Bahrain are demonstrating their dislike of the monarchy under which they live. The King (Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, if you want a mouth-full) reacted poorly and sicced a bunch of ruffians on the citizens of his country. Just condemn the frickin’ guy!

Then this know-it-all friend of mine, who’d obviously had time to get out in front of me with some fast reading, informed me that Bahrain is the home port of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which postures itself there as a handy place to watch over the naughty leaders of Iran, just immediately, and within striking distance, to the North.

“Ahso!” I said to my friend, quickly understanding the geopolitical importance of our ally in the Gulf of Oman.

“To Bahrain’s west,” my show-off friend said, “is Saudi Arabia and to the northwest is Iraq. To the northeast is Afghanistan and Pakistan. All these nearby nations are within easy reach of shipboard missiles.”


“Ahso! Ahso!”

So the NY Times, with a short, impoverished memory, editorialized on Friday morning that what was happening in the Royal City of Manama (that is, the King having his citizens bopped in the head and driven out of Pearl Square) was highly un-American and our President and Secretary of State should be condemning these actions in more forceful language.

"Bahrain’s brutality is not only at odds with American values, it is a threat to the country’s long-term stability. Washington will need to push harder."

Now, let me go in a different direction and express my astonishment at how short-term are our own memories of history. Reacting brutally to citizen demonstrations? Is that the question at hand?

Does anyone remember Theophilus Eugene Connor? Come on! Try harder! What if I give you a hint? His nickname was “Bull.” Alabama? Birmingham?

How about the time that over 10,000 city cops, 7,000 regular U.S. Army troops and 7,000 state National Guardsman and nearly 1,000 federal agents were unleashed against a crowd of anti-war demonstrators? Need help again? Okay, here are some hints: Chicago, 1968, Democratic National Convention!

I’m not even vaguely hinting that the King’s reaction in Bahrain is excusable. What I’m sayin’ is to the NY Times: Don’t be so high and holy, will you? “Bahrain’s brutality is at odds with American Values!”

I’m not sayin’ you know – I’m just sayin’…

How does the old sayin’ go? “It depends on whose ox is being gored!”

In the meantime, here are three cheers for the common people of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Chase that old King right out of there and let him go live out his life in luxury in Switzerland.


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1 comment:

  1. Bahrain is one of the many countries in the mid-east my cousin's husband did business with. He was in shipping. It was one of many regular customers with his company. He is fluent in many languages and knows the sheiks and princes of these countries. He retired a couple years ago and I'm sure he is happy not to be dodging bullets as he did at times in the past. It is amazing how much everyone depends on these places for movement of goods.