'Democracy' US-style

By N. Gunasekaran

Bush's quixotic ways of establishing democracy in Iraq resulted in worse disaster and civil war. And there is no sign of any democracy in Afghanistan where over 40,000 American and NATO troops are battling against the resurgent Talibans while killing and dying goes on.

Meaningful democracies have not yet rooted in many Asian countries. A recent coup in Thailand and unstable governments in many countries show how fragile are the democratic structures in the region. But a glance over the past history could illustrate the fact that the US is the stumbling block in many cases for the emergence of real democracy.

Nepal is entering a new era of democracy, replacing its centuries-old monarchy. Aligning with the monarchy, the US is trying to disrupt the democratic transformation in Nepal.

In Bangladesh, after the confrontation between the outgoing government and the 14-party opposition alliance, a caretaker government was formed and preparations for holding national elections are going on. To go fishing in the troubled waters, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, Richard Boucher, visited Bangladesh, along with other US officials. The US ambassador in Dhaka called for the appearance of a "third force" in the country's politics, which was widely interpreted as meaning army intervention in some form or other.

When elections were held in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia and Belarus, many American consultants, Foreign Service personnel, the National Endowment for Democracy(NED)and its member organizations were involved. They are fostering "weak, subservient governments in formerly communist states" with NED's concept of "Color revolutions," The policy debates among the US ruling elites on the ''promotion of democracy'' center around to a host of countries, including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

NED is sponsoring programs in over 80 countries. It is congressionally funded, giving money, equipment, political consultants and other assistance. It makes hundreds of grants each year to support pro-democracy groups in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Although its declared policy is "to strengthen democratic electoral processes ... in cooperation with indigenous democratic forces," its actual work is to destabilize progressive movements inside the country.

Washington would tolerate democracy only if it serves its political, strategic and corporate interests. They would have no objection to dictatorship if it suits its aims. A case in point is its longstanding ally, Pakistan, where military dictatorship is firmly entrenched.

In his UN address, Hugo Chávez spoke about Washington's promotion of "elite democracy." The US has a long history of installing and supporting dictatorships in many countries. When dictatorships become discredited, Washington would hatch a form of democracy of the elites. Both dictatorship and elite democracy play the same role of serving the interests of the Empire. The elites in the country would benefit from collaboration with corporate America, while the local poor get further impoverished.

The international finance organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and trade agreements like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization would come to their help for the transition to "democracy." The transnational corporate agenda, which is popularly called "free market," is promoted using jargons about democracy. They are actually concerned about the promotion of capital and its brutal looting. As Chávez said, neo-liberalism is being imposed as ''a worldwide dictatorship'' with all government interventions and protections in the economy removed, surrendering all control of state-owned resources to multinational capital.

Michael B. Oren, author of the book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, America in the Middle East 1776 to Present, revealed that that ''America has been involved substantively and extensively in the Middle East for the past 230 years." On the basis of his study, he concluded that ''there is a limit to what America can do in this region.'' He categorically said that ''it's up to the people of the Middle East, not to us."

The people have to choose their own path. An external power promoting or exporting democracy to another country is an unnatural act and that act itself is undemocratic. The US, which cannot uplift its 37 million people from the dire poverty, can not preach sermons on democracy to other countries. People need food, education, health, shelter, decent work with decent pay, and several other things to lead a contented life. And, they need a democracy which can guarantee such life.

Instead of promoting democracy in a particular country, the big powers must promote multipolarity in the international relations. It will develop the sense of independence in the developing world. The unipolar world led by the hegemonic American power must be replaced by the multi-polar world. This new world order will open up the road for real and total democracy.

N. Gunasekaran is a political activist and writer based in Chennai, India.

From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2007

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