Viewpoint: This ‘democracy’ spawns wars

Exporting “democracy”—it’s an old story with the federal government. We’ve heard it over and over again, never more so than with this administration. We are creating “democracy” in Afghanistan, in Iraq and trying to bring it off in Venezuela.

Some strange “democracy” it is, too. All three of these nations are in turmoil and anything but democratic. Afghanistan is slipping back into the control of the Taliban and the warlords, Iraq teeters on the verge of civil war and Venezuela is being destabilized by U.S. covert action plans.

And all of it revolves around oil. Earlier this month, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was quoted as saying: “This administration is extremely concerned” about near-record gasoline prices. He added that: “spikes in gasoline prices are always of concern.”

Guy Caruso, head of the Energy Information Administration, told a Senate committee that “many signs are pointing to a tight gasoline market this driving season,” and he warned about possible shortages this summer.

USA Today reported gasoline demand is expected to rise from the present consumption of 8.8 million barrels a day to 9.5 million barrels per day by late summer. That’s more gas than U.S. refineries can produce. We will have to import gasoline to make up the shortfall.

Adding stress to these concerns is OPEC’s announcement that it will cut production April 1, and Venezuela is experiencing work stoppages as a result of U.S. efforts to oust Hugo Chavez from power.

Not to worry. We are exporting “democracy” to these areas. Who says so? Why Tony Blair and George Bush, that’s who. They wouldn’t lie to us, would they?

Blair told our Congress: “We promised Iraq democratic government—we will deliver it.” Mr. Bush then stepped up to the plate and spoke repeatedly about “free Iraq.”

Investigative reporter Greg Palast commented: “We know Iraq is free because Mr. Bush explained, he has just appointed Iraq’s ‘governing council.’ The puppet show, our president told us gleefully, “is now meeting regularly.” What about–dare I mention the word—ELECTIONS?”

Palast continued: “To ask during a presidential press conference about the possibility that Iraqis be allowed to vote is considered as appropriate as passing wind at a debutante ball. “Democracy,” Mr. Bush wagged his finger, “will take time to create.” Indeed, it’s only right that free and fair elections in Iraq should wait until after free and fair elections in Florida. And that is not scheduled until after 2004.”

You can’t rush into these things, though, so Paul Bremer, Bush’s man in Baghdad, quietly canceled the elections until next year or later. As Palast said, mentioning free elections in Iraq is a sure-fire exit pass for anyone mentioning them.

That’s what happened to Gen. Jay Garner, the first occupation administrator in Iraq. In a recent interview on the BBC, Gen. Garner said: “My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can, and do it with some form of elections. I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny.”

What did that kind of thinking get the good general? “The night I got to Baghdad,” he said, “[Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld called me and told me he was appointing Paul Bremer as the presidential envoy. The announcement was somewhat abrupt.” Just like Garner’s tenure. Garner indicated he did not favor the US plan, drafted in 2001, to hand over Iraqi resources and reconstruction to cronies of the Bush administration.

In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has grown more and more hostile toward the Bush regime, accusing it of meddling in Venezuelan affairs and backing opposition forces trying to force him from office.

He warned that if the Bush administration continues to carry out what he termed “American aggressions,” that “the people of the United States should know that they will not get another drop of oil from Venezuela.” The US relies heavily on Venezuela, ranked as the fourth largest oil producer in the world.

The US is pushing again for a recall election, causing Chavez to accuse our government of trying to destabilize his country and get control of its huge oil reserves. He vows to stay in power longer than Bush. “Let’s bet on who will last longer, George W. Bush; you in the White House or me in Miraflores Palace,” he said.

Further turmoil developed in the country after the National Electoral Council announced that up to 1.4 million signatures collected by opposition forces to mandate a recall election were flawed. Since 2001 Venezuela has witnessed a failed coup, four national strikes and several violent protests. Two people have been killed and dozens wounded as protestors clashed with National Guard troops in Caracas.

Anti-Chavez elements accuse the president of governing like a dictator and mismanaging the economy. Chavez said his opponents are the wealthy elites who are angry because they no longer run the country.

The Chavez government was irate when it learned that Sumate, an opposition group which helped plan the recall campaign, got $53,000 from the US government The New York Times said the money came from the National Endowment for Democracy, which has funneled many thousands of dollars to Chavez’ opponents.

An opposition leader, Juan Fernandez, said: “It was quite legitimate for them to receive funds from the NED, which gives money to hundreds of civil organizations around the world in order to promote democracy.”

Considering our manipulating and illegal adventures in the Dominican Republic, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama with Iran-Contra-like intrigues, its no wonder that most people in Latin America distrust our American government—particularly because of the blatant Bush doctrine of pre-emptiveness, which violates volumes of international law.

Wonderful, isn’t it, how we trot around the world sowing our seeds of political crabgrass and, when they sprout into a good crop of anarchy or civil war, declaring that we are trying to promote “democracy/our corporations’ interests and a better way of life for the unfortunate residents of the nation involved. Why, we might have to send in troops to restore order. Considering the history of U.S. foreign policy backing the corrupt oligarchies of Latin America, Chavez has many good reasons to be leery of the Bush Administration.

Mr. Bush declared: “Freedom and self-government are hated and opposed by a radical and ruthless few.” It should be easy to name two of them right off the top.

Source: The New York Times, Greg, The Guardian, USA Today

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