The USCIRF is a nonpartisan, independent federal agency created by the US Congress to track, research, and report on religious freedom overseas. In order to prevent religious persecution and advance the freedom of religion and belief, the government body advises the President, the Secretary of State and the US Congress on foreign policy. However the research overlooks the mark when it comes to capturing the global political climate, which exposes US hypocrisy.
The US interferes in the affairs of other nations, such as Cuba, Iraq, and Vietnam, using its hegemony in global trade and politics. This is also a product of American exceptionalism- the notion that the United States of America is a special nation and even a morally superior one due to its history, ideology, or religion, and the conviction that it has an inherent obligation to command and contribute to world politics.
The trajectory of America’s past
The idea that the United States occupies a special place in the international system as a result of its national identity, historical development, and political institutions is at the heart of the neo-imperialist effort. Aside from the British Empire’s imperial aspirations, there is a perception that the US has a special responsibility to protect civilizations against perceived barbarism. Following the 9/11 attacks, the US began a never-ending “war on terror” that would influence the nation for the following years. Some examples of this “war on terror” include George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, Barack Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya and Syria, Donald J. Trump’s agreement with the Taliban, and Joe Biden’s effort to remove the last US troops from Afghanistan. In conclusion, the US invasion of Afghanistan was a redundant attempt that had no operation. This is referred to as the Messiah States Conundrum.
A state (or set of states) that aspires to save other civilizations from an alleged threat is known as a messiah state. The paradox is that while being unable to do so, they end up putting in place the very systems they previously opposed. Every empire convinces itself and the world that it is different from all other empires and that its goal is to educate and free people, not to pillage and rule as Edward Said puts it. They all, however, are unable to understand the subtleties of various societies, which causes these nations to continuously regress from their dominant positions. These countries ultimately disintegrate into anarchy, inequality, bloodshed, and political instability.
Similar to how European colonialism began as a cultural endeavour and how it developed from mercantilism, this parallels the history of colonisation. In the words of pro-imperialist poet Rudyard Kipling, civilising the barbarians—that is, everyone else—was “the white man’s burden.” Its goal was to maintain the myth of the colonial people’s backwardness, barbarism, and savagery while establishing and reinforcing the racial superiority of ruling Europe. The colonised were subjected to the colonists’ economic, linguistic, and cultural practises as a result of colonisation. Therefore, a state frequently causes trouble when it tries to protect other communities, cultures, or states in the international system from an imagined threat.
The illusion of messianic state
For the majority of the centuries, a messianic drive has dominated American foreign policy. It is a grandiose fallacy to believe that the United States is a chosen nation, tasked with bringing about the Millennium, the era of peace, prosperity, and fraternity. A person who believed he had such a task would either be imprisoned in a rubber chamber or elected the dictator by a similarly insane nation. However, only few individuals understand the significance of this illusion when presidents and entire nations hold the same conviction.
The US in global politics
Since June 2020, USCIRF has urged President Joe Biden to deem India a “Country of Particular Concern” because of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom‘ being committed by the Modi administration. Despite the fact that this suggestion hasn’t been followed since 2020, USCIRF requested the US government to identify India as a “Country of Particular Concern” in May of this year, for the fourth year running.
Only certain countries with weak trade ties are criticised by the US. While it is apparent that the US is India’s top trading partner, the reverse is not true. Despite the fact that there are several human rights issues in industrialised countries, including the United States, America only discusses issues in underdeveloped and underprivileged countries, on whom trade dependency is relatively low.
A nation like the USA, which claims to promote religious freedom in other nations, does not grant similar protections to immigrants and minorities of various racial and ethnic backgrounds within its own borders. The American Dream is contradicted by the national ethos of the United States, which is a set of ideals that includes representative democracy, rights, liberty, and equality—in which freedom is understood as the chance for individual prosperity and success, as well as upward social mobility for oneself and their children—achieved through labour in a capitalist society with few barriers.
If somebody does not live out this capitalist ideal, they suffer the effects, such as a Cuban embargo. The U.S. administration seeks to influence Cuba’s behaviour in a favourable way by cutting off trade and other resources in pursuit of “democratisation and greater respect for human rights” which is ironic in and of itself. Given the USA’s dominance on the global stage, where only weak countries experience the horrors of America’s capitalist democratic experiments, the brutal, coercive actions of the US aimed at converting nations to capitalist democracy are alarming. America, therefore, cannot be viewed as ideal due to the system’s internal conflicts. In the guise of world peace and freedom, it is merely encouraging instability in nations and the expansion of combat zones devoid of human rights.
When the entire system is predicated on the American dream and the idea that everyone aspires to it, with a consistent messiah state mask concealing the face of a coloniser and a dictator, it cannot suggest sensible policy changes while simultaneously printing the mark of American exceptionalism through its interventions.