HENRY GALLAGHER FIELDS — Was that democracy speaking?


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Was that democracy speaking?



The War Party continues to yammer that it seeks to spread "democracy" by bomb, bullet, and bayonet, first in Iraq and then throughout the world. Now let me make this perfectly clear: as a dyed-in-the-wool, 200-proof anti-statist, I no more want to be ruled by a state that represents the views of the majority than I do by one that simply represents the whims of El Supremo. Furthermore, I really hate war (unlike Franklin Roosevelt who only professed to hate "waaaaugh"). But with that personal disclaimer aside, let us compare the words and deeds of the War Party's self-proclaimed democratists.

On Saturday, February 15, about a zillion people (estimates range from 11 million to 30 million) demonstrated against the Iraq war in almost every major country in the world where such demonstrations are allowed. And polls in every country, excepting those taken in the United States and Israel, show overwhelming majorities against a war on Iraq. Has any of that prompted War Party democratists to accede to the will of the majority — under their cherished old formula of vox populi, vox Dei? Has the War Party stopped badgering those governments whose people are demonstrably opposed to war?

Absolutely not. Instead, the War Party persists in vehemently denouncing and insulting the opponents of the war — "Old Europe," "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," "chorus of cowards" — and persists in trying to coerce governments to act against the will of their people. While the chancelleries of "old Europe" appear to be resisting Washington's efforts, in line with the preferences of their people, the military-dominated government of Turkey appears open to a multibillion-dollar bribe, despite polls indicating that 96 percent of the population opposes a U.S.-led war on Iraq. Turkey exemplifies the War Party's new model of "democracy" much better than "old Europe" does: when the wrong party wins an election, the military, at the behest of the United States, simply removes it from power — as it did to the Islamicist Welfare Party in 1997. Unfortunately for the War Party, however, Turkey's rulers are currently showing some backbone, or at least extraordinary cupidity, demanding more than the $26 billion bribe that Washington has offered to purchase Turkey's support for the war. ($20 billion of the swag is in the form of a guaranteed loan, for which chances of repayment are about zero.)

Let's recall, too, that back here in the insecure homeland of duct tape and plastic sheeting, the War Party has declined to seek a declaration of war from the U.S. Congress, a body that from time to time has been alleged, officially at least, to represent the people.


What are we to make of it all?

The War Party professes to want to create democracy where it doesn't exist but ignores any semblance of democracy where it does exist. In the very unlikely event that the people of Iraq, or any other people "liberated" by the Myrmidons of American imperialism, should dare to express views contrary to the War Party agenda, the imperialists would ignore them just as they ignore the dissident inhabitants of today's democracies.

Actually, the Iraqis and other "liberated" peoples would be more apt to be punished than simply ignored. In 1953, after popular anti-government demonstrations in the Communist East German "people's democracy" irritated the reigning commissars, playwright Bertolt Brecht satirically suggested that the government dissolve the people and elect a new one. America's projected planetary imperial wars should go a long way toward dissolving people, but I am not so sure about electing replacements, at least not until the time effective human cloning becomes commonplace. Can you imagine what degree of global control the War Party could achieve with 6 billion replicas of George W. Bush?

February 18, 2003

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