Carlo's Corner: Dear Wall Street Journal
Anyone who knows me will tell you straight up: I wholeheartedly believe in the United States' mission to spread democracy throughout the world.
So when the Arab Spring broke out last year, how the hearts of the rulers of the land of the free must have soared at the sight of long-oppressed peoples demanding freedom!
Except it soon became hard to ignore that, in case after case, the people were standing up to tyrants who were actually propped up by the United States.
It was not a great look for the world's greatest democracy. It was almost as if the US government was propping up any brutal regime willing to protect US corporate interests.
Surely, these had been a series of unfortunate mistakes. The rulers of the free world had been cruelly tricked by a few devious dictators — and never again would those who stand so firmly for freedom be sucked in.
But then there was Bahrain.
The Gulf nation is home to a huge US Navy Base in this strategic region. Its regime has been spent the past year torturing and killing pro-democracy activists.
And on May 11, Reuters said the US government was resuming arms sales to this bloodstained tyranny.
And it is not just the Arab world. There is the brutal dictatorship in Honduras, which came to power in a military coup in 2009. It overthrew an elected president who had raised the minimum wage US corporations had to pay workforce in sweatshops.
The US, which was the only nation in the Americas not to condemn the coup, is escalating its military ties to a regime that is killing democracy activists, trade unionists, LGBTI activists and indigenous peoples.
This was shaking my faith. So I turned to the one source I could rely on for a fair and balanced account of what the true situation was: the Murdoch press.
I was relieved indeed when I came across an editorial in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal from February 16 last year that explained it clearly.
It said, yes, the US had been backing dictatorships, but other dictatorships not backed by the US, such as Iran, were far worse. “Pro-American dictatorships,” the WSJ opined, “have more moral scruples”.
To be honest, there were still a couple of small questions left in my mind by this editorial. So, in search of answers, I wrote the letter below.
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Dear Wall Street Journal,
I was hoping you would be able to answer some questions I have on the practical application of moral scruples as they apply to pro-American dictatorships.
I was wonder, for instance, how do you torture someone using moral scruples? What is the precise moral procedure?
I wondering about the torture of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib in Egypt, said to be personally carried out by Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman.
Obviously, there must have been some moral scruples applied, because in the dying days of the Mubarak regime, your government pushed for Suleiman to take over.
We know as a potential US-backed dictator, Suleiman must have some moral scruples, so perhaps you could publish a list of them, just to put our minds at rest.
I was also wondering, how many people can a dictatorship kill and still enjoy moral scruples?
When the Suharto regime came to power in Indonesia in a 1965 military coup with US and Australian support, it carried out a mass slaughter of opponents of somewhere between 500,000 and 3 million people.
How many more people would have had to have been slaughtered, a ballpark figure will be fine, before you might say that dictatorship, despite being pro-American and kind enough to open its economy up to Western corporations, had lost its moral scruples?
And there was that incident in Honduras on May 11. A group of indigenous people travelling by canoe came under helicopter fire. Four people were killed, including two pregnant women by some accounts.
The US State Department, you see, admits it owns the helicopters. Nor does anyone deny the helicopters contained both Honduran police and US Drug Enforcement Agency agents.
So when the Honduran police, in a US-owned helicopter next to US agents, pump bullets into the bodies of unarmed indigenous peoples, how do moral scruples affect the technique used in such extra-judicial killings?
I look forward to your answers. Yours in the struggle for freedom,