Freedom nowadays is exported at the barrel of a gun.
By Catherine Shakdam
April 19, 2015 “ICH” – “RT” – No longer a beacon of freedom and democracy, the United States has fallen from its pedestal. As America has devolved into a violent and oppressive police state, new powers are rising to challenge this toxic world order: Iran and Russia.
In 2001, as the United States woke up to the reality of Islamic radicalism, then-President George W. Bush argued that Al-Qaeda and all those in collusion with extremists sought to destroy America for the ideas it represents: freedom, liberty and democracy.
“Why do they hate us?” he called. “They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other,” he continued on in his address to the nation.
And while the world continues to live under the premise that the US and its Western allies are indeed democratic beacons, the shining examples of a democratic free world, it would appear that freedom nowadays is being exported at the barrel of a gun.
America’s raging imperialism has but destroyed the very principles which made this once proud nation stand out from the rest of the world, and compelled all to admire the grand idea which was America. At a time when imperialism and absolute monarchies ruled unchallenged over the people, America withstood the onslaught of imperial Britain, its people determined to forge a destiny which would be theirs and manifest a nation which would be of the people and for the people.
And though America’s flame burnt bright and strong for a while, its embers are barely giving enough light nowadays, smothered under rabid capitalism and neo-imperialism.
We live in a brave new world indeed!
As events are currently unfolding it could well be the Middle East will turn out to be America’s grand undoing – the straw which broke the camel’s back one might even venture to say.
But if US imperialism continues to erode the fabric of the Constitution, emptying its founding principles from their meaning for every gunshot the American military fire in foreign lands, for every abuse US officials commit against the rule of law in the name of national security, lady freedom has not sung her last song yet – it is now living on new shores, east this time, where it found a more gentle echo to its calls.
And as experts are busy anticipating the Western powers’ next move, looking to decipher the complicated maze they have drawn around us – the overlapping-double-crossing-allianceswhich have become the new norm, it appears a tectonic political shift is taking shape before our very eyes. No longer democracy’s champion, America is losing ground to Russia and Iran.
This axis we were sold: East versus West, autocracy versus democracy, communism versus capitalism, just got twisted on its head to the point where it is now America which has become the epicenter of oppression. The land of the free rings liberty bell no longer.
The baton has now been passed east, where new powers have risen in defiance to America’s morbid capitalism and militaristic ambitions. The historical symmetry is undeniably elegant.
If up until WWII the US was very much this force for good, this anti-colonialist, anti-feudal, modern power which only ambition was to empower nations and bring the world the gospel of freedom; US officials and the capitalist oligarchy did a great job at crumbling such ideals to the ground.
In a few decades the US went from participating in the liberation of Europe from Nazism to exporting war and backing brutal autocracies. Void of all principles, Washington’s tank runs on petrodollars and weapons sales these days.
Howard Baskerville’s American dream is but a distant memory.
An American hero, Baskerville died in Tabriz, Iran, in 1909 standing alongside Iran’s constitutionalists against the royalists. He gave his life to a fight which wasn’t his, safe from the fact that he stood for the same principles his Iranian friends wanted to see triumph.
Hailed by Iran for his sacrifice, Baskerville’s Iranian eulogy read, “Young America, in the person of young Baskerville, gave this sacrifice to the young Constitution of Iran. He has written his name in our hearts and in our history” – Sayyed Hassan Taqizabeh.
More than just an American figure, Baskerville came to embody the shared values that once bind Iranians to Americans, long before Washington set on a crash course to demonize the Islamic Republic and its people as they dared rose against the Shah and it Western patrons in 1979.
If it took an American to light Iran’s democratic path, a century after Baskerville it is Iran this time which is rising the anti-alignment, anti-colonial superpower against its now designated nemesis – the United States of America.
Hot on its heels another superpower is reclaiming its place in history: Russia.
Like Iran, Russia’s power lies in the strength of its ideas. Like Iran, Russia wants to establish its nation a regional powerhouse, both a political giant and an economic generator. And like America centuries ago, those two nations draw strength from the construct of their respective ideologies. Unlike the US there is real substance to their message; there is a rationale behind their policies and logic to their alliances.
And though money attracts, and that America has ample reserves of, ideas inspire; where Washington can buy or bully alliances, Russia and Iran can manifest loyalties – there lies true power.
Like them or hate them, those two nations have become the new axis of resistance against neo-imperialism at such a time when America and the EU have become reactionary police states – there lie the attraction.
Before the suffocating hands of Washington countries in the MENA region – Middle East and North Africa – for example would much rather partner up with Russia and Iran then entertain an alliance with the US; especially now that Washington rhymes political partnership with feudalism.
Only this April Pakistan denied Saudi Arabia’s request for military support in Yemen, preferring to follow Tehran’s calls for diplomacy to Riyadh-Washington’s Mad Max race. Tunisia also broke away from under Washington’s thumb this April when its Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche announced Tunis would resume all diplomatic ties with Damascus.
Tunisia, like Iran, Russia and China before it, chose diplomacy over war, stressing that political isolation and intransigence only serve to promote unrest. “We do not believe that our interests are served by cutting off relations with Syria,” said Baccouche, pointing out that Tunisians living in Syria, including those currently in prison, had been “greatly harmed” by the previous government’s decision to end relations.
Even Greece is looking east toward Moscow, tired of the EU’s economic diktat.
As the Middle East convulses in war, plagued by rising extremism and political instability, Washington and its regional allies, organized now under a NATO-like military coalition, are playing the Great Game with fierce determination, blind to the gathering storm which is coming their way. If conclusions are to be drawn from history, where there is oppression resistance will grow and where a people stand in shackles, chains will be broken.
A century after Baskerville laid down his life to see a free Iran; the United States is sitting on the wrong side of history, its legacy in tatters.
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst and commentator for the Middle East with a special emphasis on Yemen and radical movements.
A consultant with Anderson Consulting and leading analyst for the Beirut Center for Middle East Studies, her writings have appeared in MintPress, Foreign Policy Journal, Open-Democracy, the Guardian, the Middle East Monitor, Middle East Eye and many others.
In 2015 her research and analysis on Yemen was used by the UN Security Council in a situation report.