Song - Artist - Album
Milk It - Nirvana - In Utero
If one simply went by statements made by government officials and their mainstream media echo chamber, the conclusion might be drawn that a bleeding-heart desire to see all people free was the prime motivator behind foreign policy formulations. Of course the Libyan and Egyptian governments engaged in violent repression of political speech; those crimes are unforgivable. However, many nations in the region had a highly similar reaction to their internal unrest over the past year.
One of these is the small, island kingdom of Bahrain. On this island the U.S. and NATO allies support a royal family which has ruled since the 1780s. They are part of a Sunni minority which rules this 70% Shia island as absolute monarchs. In the United States and Britain (who installed the Al Khalifa family in the first place), there has been nothing approaching the hostility cultivated toward the Egyptian government, who had in fact violated international law to aid us in the "war on terrorism" by gaining confessions via torture (when the CIA couldn't get someone to talk, the Egyptian security forces could; they're notorious for their brutality). Of course when their brutality was no longer as useful to us it was turned into a reason to support regime change.
Bahrain experienced significant social unrest like much of the Middle East/North Africa; the tension between the Sunni elite and Shia majority made it a prime location for such pro-democracy demonstrations to take place. Bahraini state forces have cracked down on dissent and protestors have been killed, with many more wounded and imprisoned. Here's the snag: the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is stationed on the coast of Bahrain. We've been able to secure a deal with the Al Khalifa government, and so, the area being of such strategic importance, a regime change in this case is counter to our interests regarding global dominance.
Since 1971 (when the island gained formal independence from Britain), they have been a key ally, aiding Anglo-American forces in maintaining a strong regional presence. The map below shows Bahrain's location, right in the Persian Gulf, north of the Strait of Hormuz. It does not take an expert to see how this is a strategic location. America's relationship with the current Bahraini government ensures our military presence there. And thus their deposition is not an option, no matter how undemocratic and repressive they seem. The relationship represents a clear case of ignoring egregious violations of the rights we claim to hold so dear in favor of maintaining advantage on the “grand chessboard” (to steal a phrase from American foreign policy architect Zbigniew Brzezinski).