Contradictions in US foreign policy

saddam hussain samo
The writer is a columnist and researcher. He can be reached at

There is no shortage of examples that elucidate the diversion of the US from its own fixed foreign policy objectives. The US has a record of violating its anchored principles whenever they clash with its national interests. These fixed tenets of the US are promoting democracy and globalization, preventing countries from acquiring nuclear weapons and achieving international peace among others. At several occasions, the US breached these firmed notions. The existing trade war of the US with China is also deviation from its stable foreign policy goal of ensuring free trade.

The contradictions in US foreign policy are described with certain examples as follows:

Toppling of the first democratic government of Iran:

The immediate principle of the US is to promote democracy among the countries and block all the routes of un-democratic elements. The US engaged in cold war with the Soviet Union over the un-democratic system. It believes that the democracy is the best form of government because it empowers the common citizens to run their country.

However, in the case of Iran, the US neglected this principle and ousted the first democratic government of Iran.

Following the World War 2, Iran was facing extreme poverty and feminine. But, it was also a rich country having ample oil resources. However, its oil was exploited by the British Empire.  By 1950s, Iranian people protested against their unjust exploitation of the oil by the Western power. Their movement succeeded in ending the decades long authoritarian rule of Shah of Iran and brought Muhammad Mussadiq as the first elected democratic Prime Minister of Iran. As soon as he assumed the power, he prevented the British Empire from exploiting the oil.

The British Empire wanted to replace Muhammad Mussadiq with authoritarian rule of Shah of Iran and won the cooperation of the US for this purpose as well. It is alarming to know that the US that was fighting cold war with Soviet Union over the non-democratic system and eagerly working to spread democracy, decided to topple the first elected government of Iran in the favor of authoritarian rule of Shah of Iran.

Thus, the US in collaboration with the British launched a secretive operation called Ajax in 1953. They gave money to journalists to write fake news about Muhammad Mussadiq that he was power hungry and corrupt. The supporters of the US also held a demonstration against the prime minister. The protest turned violent and resulted in paving the way for the restoration of Shah of Iran and resupplying of oil to the British Empire. Hence, the US sidelined its principle to promote democracy in Iran and restored un-democratic government.

Restoring democracy and supporting dictatorship simultaneously:

It is unusual for the staunch promoter to democracy to invade one country to revive its civilian rule and simultaneously support a dictator. But, the US did this peculiar act with a great impunity. It supported the dictatorship of Musharraf in Pakistan and considered him as its key ally in the war against terrorism. Simultaneously, it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to promote democracy.

Noah Feldman wrote in The New York Times Magazines, “A republic that supports democratization selectively is another matter. President Bush’s recent speech to the United Nations, in which he assailed seven repressive regimes, was worthy of applause__ but it also opened the door to the fair criticism that he was silent about the dozens of places where the United States colludes with dictators of varying degree of nastiness.”

Besides, the US removed Gadhafi by invading Libya and is continuously berating Iran and Burma for their undemocratic brutality, but has never turned against Saudi kingdom because of its wider national interest with Al-Saud. The petrodollar agreement of the US with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia also restrains the former to chastise the latter.

Trump’s different policy towards Kashmir and Kurds issue:

Very recently, Trump berated Erdogan over its incursion into Northern Syria against Kurds. He sent a letter to him and asked to stop its inhuman campaign against them. It seems that Trump is very conscious about humanitarian violation of Kurds by Turkey. However, the same rhetoric of Trump is absent for Kashmir, which is graver issue as compared to Kurds. For instances, unlike Kurds, Kashmiris are not posing direct threat to sovereignty of Indian state and are facing more human rights abuses at the hand of Indian military.

The contradictory attitude of the US for the almost similar issue of humanitarian violation is because of its national interest. India is the largest economic market for American products and the US cannot afford to annoy it. In the contrast, Turkey has drifted itself to the Russian bloc and is also purchasing military weapons like S-400 missiles from Moscow. If Turkey starts to purchase weapons from the US, Trump will avoid the issue of Kurds in the same way it has neglected Kashmir’s crisis.

Turning against globalization:

The US, being a promoter of globalization, has turned against it. Now, it believes that globalization yields lopsided benefits. The reaction of the US against globalization is not acceptable because it favored it as long as it benefitted American people. Now, when the other countries have started to achieve fruitful results from the system, the US has shown irritation and threatened to replace it with something better.

The system has already become a victim of the West. For instance, the European countries have closed their borders for foreign immigrations and the US has waged a trade war with China. In many Western countries, the populist regimes are in full swing that are further jeopardizing the system. Thus, the policy of the US against the globalization is directly in contradiction with its fixed principle of promoting free trade.

Pressler Amendment and Pakistan’s nuclear program:

The United States Congress passed the Pressler Amendment in August 1985. The amendment had stated that Pakistan was not to be provided any military or technology equipment unless the US president certified that it was not in possession of a nuclear explosive device and that the economic or military assistance provided to the country would aim at significantly reducing such an eventuality.

However, the US got ample evidences during this period that Pakistan was actively engaged in making nuclear bomb. It chose to ignore the issue because Pakistan was an important ally of the US during Soviet-Afghan war and Washington knew the fact that it could not win the war without its active support. Hence, successive US presidents gave certificates of Pakistan’s non-possession of nuclear explosive devices. The US acted in its self-interest. But, As soon as the war was over, the US imposed sanctions on Islamabad. Thus, the aid was stopped when there was no longer American interest in Pakistan; otherwise, it even ignored the Pressler Amendment.


Thus, the US always acts in its self-interest and violates even its fixed principles when necessary. The roles of the US in toppling the first democratic government of Iran, supporting dictators, adopting dual policies towards Kashmir and Kurds, turning against globalization and ignoring the Pressler Amendments are the manifestations of its deviation from fixed foreign policy objectives.



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