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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One American Man

Why is the U.S. so quick to cut billions of dollars in funding to rescue one American man, while it did not cut funding to an Egyptian government that harmed its civilians for 30 years? Similar to Egypt, the U.S. has considered Pakistan to be an important ally in its “war on terror.” But now, the U.S. is threatening to cut off a multi-billion-dollar aid package from Pakistan if the government doesn’t release American diplomat Raymond Allen Davis, who is being held on murder charges. The situation is summarized in the following news report:

Thirty-six-year-old Davis, an ex-U.S. army soldier who also served in the Special Forces, is said to have been employed in a “technical assistance” role for the American consulate in Lahore. On January 27th, Davis, who said he was afraid he was going to be robbed, shot two Pakistani men on motorcycles dead. While rushing to Davis’ assistance, a bystander was killed by the driver (who is yet to be found) of a U.S. consular vehicle.

Some eyewitnesses, however, dispute Davis’ story of self-defense, claiming that it was Davis who pursued the motorcyclists. Pakistani police investigators say that Davis used an “excessive and disproportionate” amount of force against the two men he killed, firing nine bullets, mostly at their backs. Davis is currently being held, as the U.S. fights to get him released.

Since the incident, anti-American sentiments have brewed among many angry Pakistani citizens. Davis’ release could trigger a revolt in Pakistan, as citizens are already outraged about the U.S. military drone attacks at the Afghan border, which have killed hundreds of innocent civilians.

The arrest of one American man got the U.S. government’s attention. The arrest of one American man froze the U.S. government’s military support in Pakistan. After all the civilian sufferings and deaths that have occurred under U.S.-supported institutions, is this really what it takes to get the U.S. government’s attention?


  1. Wow. US foreign policy is not only terrible, but incredibly hypocritical. It feels like, just because it is a global superpower, the US thinks that it has some sort of god-given right to meddle in the affairs of less developed countries. This actually reminds me of your article on companies and the need for more social responsibility, but worse. Countries like the US do painstaking research and know EXACTLY where their funds are going. This isn't a case of a blissfully ignorant investment. There is no way that they can claim ignorance when funding a dictator- the US government has an extremely cold, calculated and unethical way of using money and power to acquire more money and power, completely at the expense of anyone who happens to have something they want.

    Perfect example is the US' choice to hold back aid money to a country that desperately needs it. It completely misses the point of aid money (I mean, it's not like they're witholding funding for a system they don't agree with, they're witholding funding that is meant to help the people, who have no say in this matter). Probably the worst thing about this situation is that the US is showing the world that one American life is worth infinitely more than millions of lives in any developping country. Yes, a country has to protect its own, but it completely undermines Pakistan's justice system. Granted, it may actually not be a great system at all, BUT with the many documented human rights abuses at Guantanamo, who is the US gov't to judge another country's penal system.

    It's really unfortunate that through it all, they have a way of coming off as "the good guy" in any kind of global organization, vs. say, Pakistan or other developing countries. It's as if global organizations completely fail to acknowledge that it's in a large part because of the US and their selective funding that these countries continue to face so much turmoil. It's a case of "yes you can be an oppressive dictator, as long as you serve US interests while doing so".

    One of my absolute favorite books is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It really shows just how much of a disaster it is for local populations when a relative superpower comes in and starts changing their way of life. This is exactly what the US is doing with their irresponsible and fickle funding in the middle East.

    Honestly, I think that in the long run, the world as a whole would be a better place if the US just took a step back from global politics for awhile. Yes, their funding greatly helps sometimes, but I don't think it's worth it. The growing pains would be huge, a lot of people would suffer while things were sorted out (although, could it really be worse than now?)but I do believe that in the long run, a developping world without US money being thrown in every which direction would ultimately be a better place.

  2. This seems to be a recurring story that disgusts me. You will always see the death of 1 soldier (from US/UK etc) glorified in Western media outlets when many are being killed or tortured in third world countries.

    Your youtube link seriously made me wonder how British people listen to an hour of news every night... from that voice lol