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WikiLeaks and the US-Supported Dictatorship in Tunisia

tunisia-clashesby Jacob G. Hornberger

What has happened in Tunisia provides a perfect encapsulation of U.S. foreign policy and why U.S. officials are so angry over the WikiLeaks leaks.

According to the New York Times, some of the WikiLeaks cables “make it clear just how much United States officials, preoccupied with the threat of terrorism in many other Muslim countries, valued Mr. Ben Ali’s cooperation and ability to maintain order.”

And who was Mr. Ben Ali? He was the dictator who the people of Tunisia have just ousted from power in a revolution. Yes, a dictator, one who had been in power for 23 years.

“Impossible!” American statists say. “It’s just not possible that the U.S. government would ever be supporting a dictator! In my public schools, we were taught — it was ingrained in us — that the U.S. government is exceptional. It only favors democracy. In fact, didn’t the U.S. government invade Iraq to spread democracy, well, at least after those infamous WMDs failed to materialize?”

That’s the myth, one that we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been piercing for 21 years. It’s one of the myths that is inculcated in American schoolchildren from the time they’re six years and continuing regularly thereafter.

The truth is that the U.S. government loves dictatorships, especially military ones, at least when the dictator is considered a loyal member of the U.S. Empire. Whenever a dictator goes independent, he immediately becomes a target for regime change, one in which the recalcitrant dictator is replaced with a compliant dictator, one that maintains “order and stability” within his country, even if that means employing terror and torture to accomplish it.

Look at Saddam Hussein. He was a dictator. The U.S. government loved him and partnered with him to kill Iranians. But when Saddam went independent, he became the target of regime change.

Look at the Iranian prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. He was democratically elected and was independent of U.S. control. The CIA targeted him for regime change, and the operation was successful. He was replaced with the unelected dictator the Shah of Iran, who maintained “order and stability” with terror and torture against his own people. He was loved by the U.S. government because he was a loyal member of the U.S. Empire. That was when Iran was considered “our friend.”

Look at Jacobo Arbenz. He was the democratically elected president of Guatemala. Even though he was adopting the socialist policies of Franklin Roosevelt, he was independent of U.S. government control. The CIA targeted him for regime change. He was ousted and replaced by a string of military generals whom the U.S. Empire loved because they provided “order and stability.” Never mind that Guatemala was thrown into a civil war that ended up killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Look at Chilean military strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The U.S. Empire loved him and embraced his military coup against the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and supported Pinochet’s campaign of terror and torture against his own people. In fact, the CIA even participated in the murder of a young American journalist during the coup.

Look at Pervez Musharraf, the unelected military dictator of Pakistan. The U.S. Empire loved him because, again, he provided “order and stability.” Never mind that he also terrorized and tyrannized his own people, until they ousted him from power.

So, what does WikiLeaks have to do with what’s happening in Tunisia? Well, it turns out that the WikiLeaks leaks disclosed secret cables by U.S. officials detailing the massive corruption of the Tunisian regime that the U.S. Empire was partnering with as part of its grandiose war on terrorism. According to the cables, the corruption included a “‘lavish’ dinner of the American ambassador, Robert F. Godec, with Mr. Ben Ali’s son-in-law, Mohamed Sakher el-Materi, in his beachfront home in Hamamet. There was ‘staff everywhere’ and ‘ancient artifacts everywhere: Roman columns, frescoes and even a lion’s head from which water pours into the pool.’”

Apparently the information provided in the WikiLeaks leaks was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Upon reading the Wikileaks cables, the people of Tunisia revolted against the U.S.-supported dictatorship, and Mr. Ben Ali fled the country.

What does the U.S. government say about the ouster of its war-on-terrorism friend and ally, the 23-year dictator Mr. Ben Ali? Oh, it’s playing the game. Empire officials are celebrating his ouster, changing their chameleon colors to “pro-democracy,” thereby maintaining the myth that is inculcated in the American people from the time they’re six years old. Ostensibly supporting the pro-democracy crowd that succeeded in ousting his buddy from power, President Obama said, “I applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people.”

One thing’s for sure though: Obama isn’t praising the courage and dignity of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks, whose leaks triggered the ouster of the U.S.-supported Tunisian dictator Mr. Ben Ali. Obama is still going after them with the same vengeance that his friend and ally Mr. Ben Ali employed against the Tunisian people during 23 years of brutal dictatorship.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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