US Struggles to Explain Difference Between Bahrain, Libya

Mullen's Surprisingly Honest Answer: Bahrain a Long-Standing Ally

The Obama Administration’s rush to escalate Libya into a full-scale war, nominally as a reaction to the Gadhafi government’s violence against protesters, has put it in an awkward position. The violence was far from exclusive to Libya, and similar crackdowns are growing all the time in Yemen and particularly Bahrain.

Which leads to the inevitable question: how can the Obama Administration use Gadhafi’s crackdown on Libyan protesters as an excuse for war, while insisting Bahrain not only has the right to do the same, but has the “sovereign right” to invite Saudi Arabia et al. to join in on the fun?

It is a question that was raised on a number of stages over the weekend and tackled by a number of top officials, particularly Sen. John Kerry (D – MA), who insisted that Iran and Hezbollah were secretly to blame for the protests.

The most honest answer, however, came from Admiral Michael Mullen, who insisted that Bahrain “has been a critical ally for decades” but Libya hasn’t, and that in and of itself justified treating it as a totally different matter.

Bahrain’s opposition, for its part, has been urging the UN and the Obama Administration to put a stop to the crackdown. No one seriously expects this to actually happen, but other than Admiral Mullen’s unusual candor, no one seems willing to explain why.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.