Why is the U.S. treating this Arab state so differently than the others?
President Barack Obama, in his speech today to the United Nations, championed the growing U.S. foreign policy emphasis on supporting pro-democracy movements, name-checking the U.S. support for popular uprisings in Libya, Syria, Côte d'Ivoire, and even Yemen. He offered (somewhat retroactive) support for the successful democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. And he made the usual, if unusually brief, call for Iran to improve its human rights. But Obama's tone changed when he brought up the tiny, oil-rich Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, where the U.S.-aligned monarchy has been cracking down violently on peaceful demonstrators, to little public protest from the U.S.
The change in Obama's language and tone when his speech moved from Iran, Syria, and Yemen to Bahrain was difficult to miss. He did not mention the thousands of Bahrainis "protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for," as he did with Syria. Nor he call for "a peaceful transition of power ... and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible" as he did with Yemen. He did not scold the Bahraini regime for "refus[ing] to recognize the rights of its own people" as did with Iran. Obama declined to declare that "the balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled" as he did of Tunisia. He absolutely did not demand "a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible."