Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Utility of Client States

Seeing lists like this one (posted on NIAC’s blog) makes me wonder about the use of client states:

11:59 am: According to Ahmadinejad’s website, as of today the following 35 countries have recognized him as the winner of the election:
-India -Tunisia -Malaysia -Lebanon -North Korea -Kuwait -Nicaragua -Comoros -Cambodia -Senegal -Cuba -Belarus -Sudan -Syria -Libya -Algeria -Turkmenistan -Iraq -Kazakhstan -Indonesia -Bahrain -Yemen -Sri Lanka -Ecuador -Russia -Azerbaijan -Qatar -Tajikistan -Armenia -Oman -Turkey -Afghanistan -Pakistan -China -Venezuela
(emphasis mine). That question – why have client states? – I find particularly troubling when a state that receive a great deal of military assistance takes a position, substantive or not, that contravenes U.S. interests. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are obvious examples of states that currently receive huge quantities of American military assistance. But they’re not alone. Qatar and Bahrain likewise receive significant amounts of U.S. military aid. All five countries host American troops and their governments benefit from American support – one can argue about the benefit the countries themselves receive, but those regimes doubtlessly benefit from the United States.

Of course, the United States has not articulated a clear policy regarding Iran in the wake of the June 12 election. That said, given the United States’ posture towards Ahmadinejad and Pres. Obama’s statements since Iran’s likely fixed election, it would be difficult to mistake a lack of policy for a desire that Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election be endorsed.

What is frustrating about these endorsements is that they have almost no substantive impact or value internationally, but the Iranian regime will certainly play them up domestically as part of its ongoing effort to quell post-election dissent and demonstrate legitimacy. The fight in the streets is over legitimacy; every lever that can be exercised to delegitimize the regime – in both political and spiritual terms – will be of use and benefit to the Iranians in the street.

1 comment:

Colin said...

The leaders of those countries tend to read like a who's who of international thugs.