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Oct 4, 2023

"Realities have forced us to remain on diplomatic terms with several dictators," the Pampa Daily News stated in 1958. "U.S. ambassador to the U.N Samantha Power has been forced to look the other way as Saudi Arabia does as it pleases in Yemen," Politico told us in 2016. Biden is being forced to accept the flaws of America's friends," claimed The New York Times earlier this year, 2023.

For decades, we've heard the same excuse regarding US foreign policy: 'Our leaders might not agree with the world’s dictatorial, reactionary governments, but they’re forced –– by some unknown geopolitical dark matter of realpolitik –– to support them for some broader, more noble goal.'

Strengthening ties with the governments of Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Israel, The Philippines, and other countries under right-wing, human-rights-abusing governance might be a bit unpleasant, but it’s the pragmatic thing to do and, therefore, the morally acceptable thing to do.

But countries that are not the United States or its allies are never said to be "forced" into carrying out human rights abuses or supporting those that do. They back bombings, ethnic cleansings, the oppression of women for the sport, because they are existentially evil. No outside mysterious entity ever "forces" them to have to make compromises on the altar of "reality."

But there is nothing, of course, "forcing" these decisions on our own Western leaders, and in nearly every case, they're simply extensions of preexisting geopolitical relationships, imperialist policies, and arbitrary might-makes-right governance.

On this episode, we discuss the media narrative that the U.S. is "forced" to maintain long-beneficial alliances with right-wing regimes, looking at how this suggestion falsely presents the U.S. as an unwilling, but ultimately helpless, participant in repression of human rights around the world.

Our guest is author and NYU professor James Peck.