Now that the former Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein has been publicly humiliated and
incarcerated, the question of the day is: will the Bush
administration fulfill its promise of bringing democracy
to the Iraqi people? After all, wasn't Saddam supposed
to have been leading the insurgents? Naturally one
wonders how this was managed from the point of view of
logistics, since not only did he not have a mobile phone
or a short-wave radio in his possession, but also there
were no carrier pigeon or two in sight. With Saddam and
his sons out of the scene, there should be a clear road
Since we ordinary mortals are not privy to the
machinations of George W Bush and his "New American
Century" cabal, when it comes to Iraq's future status
your guess is as good as mine. However, we do know that
if a true democratic system was introduced into Iraq,
with one person, one vote, then the resultant government
may not be to the Bush administration's liking.
It would prefer the new rulers of Iraq to be on the same
page with it, sharing a similar capitalist ideology and
even putting America's interests before its country's
own. From its point of view Ahmed Chalabi, who would
like nothing better than to privatise Iraq's oil and
other state industries, would be an ideal leader - an
Iraqi version of Afghanistan's Hamid Kharzai.
Let's suppose for the sake of argument that all runs
smoothly and a duly elected Iraqi leadership is in
place, one which is prepared to put Iraq's wellbeing
first at all costs. What kind of a democracy would Iraq
be as long as there are foreign troops based on its
soil? Wouldn't this be one with the name but not the
Would, for example, the newly elected Iraqi government
be "allowed" to switch from Petrodollars to Euros, or
some other currency? Would it be able to cancel the
reconstruction contracts picked up by U.S. corporations,
some of which have been discovered grossly overcharging,
and award them to, say, French or German companies
instead? A date for elections may have been set for next
year, but the word is that U.S. bases will remain in
Iraq for many years, if not decades, to come.
Democratising the Middle East
The Bush team has also taken on the challenge of
democratising the Middle East. What does this mean?
One individual calling himself "Colonel, Military
Intelligence US Army, Retired", believes he has the
answer and was "kind" enough to write to me, saying:
"Our next target is Syria and then Iran. We are going to
democratise the entire region. Then we are going after
Claiming that he aided in the pre-planning of
"operations in Iraq," the writer, went on to say: "You
Brits had your chance at hegemony for over 200 years.
Now it shall be our turn, but with a different twist.
"We won't control the oil. We will control the people
who control the oil. People who get behind us will reap
the benefits of Pax Americana. Those who stand in our
way will reap the wrath of our armed forces. It's gonna
be a great future."
Given the anonymity of email, my correspondent could, of
course, be someone called Elvis who flips burgers at his
local diner but that's beside the point. In his own
crude fashion he has encapsulated in a few short
paragraphs the ideology behind America's serial wars.
Those of us who were naive enough to believe that the
Iraqi was about disarming Saddam Hussein or that George
Bush wanted to avenge an assassination attempt on his
father have got it all wrong.
On the other hand, Elvis - I shall call him that since I
have no way of knowing his real identity - has summed it
up neatly: "We will control the people who control the
The Bush administration is, of course, well on the way
to doing this. Not only those who control the oil but
those who control the pipelines too. The September 2001
attack on its symbols of power afforded the U.S. the
perfect opportunity to capitalize on the sympathy of the
world's leaders. It wasted little time in putting
forward the policy of "you are either with the United
States or.... "
Firstly, the one Islamic nuclear power - as far as we
know - had to be tamed. Pakistan was given a clear
choice: respectability, the lifting of sanctions, the
waiving of debts and new trade agreements or
pariah-ship? It chose the former, which meant
acquiescing to having American bases on its soil as part
of its contribution to the "war on terrorism."
Russia was won over too and had little hesitation in
rubber-stamping a U.S. military presence in Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, traditionally under the
sphere of Russian influence. When the US unilaterally
pulled out of the ABM Treaty, only half-hearted
objections were heard out of Moscow, as, after all,
America had been attacked and rightly needed to protect
itself (Russia has since wizened-up to the game but too
The Arab world was made to feel guilty that it had
seemingly spawned the 19 terrorists mentored by Osama
bin Laden and it naturally rushed to show its support in
eradicating the scourge of terrorism. One is left to
wonder if the terrorists had happened to be Christian,
would the Christian world have indulged in such
self-flagellation? Ok. Silly question.
Then came the war with Afghanistan. But before that
could kick off the public had to be brought on board.
What better way than portraying Osama bin Laden as the
face of evil incarnate. Still, killing thousands just to
get one man doesn't sound quite the thing, so we
suddenly heard lurid tales about the Taliban and its
repressive regime. They were told to hand over Bin Laden
or else, a strategy later replicated when Iraq was
ordered to hand over its WMD or face invasion.
The fact that today's Afghanistan is a hotbed of tribal
warfare, attacks on American troops have increased,
opium production is up and poverty just as widespread
has escaped most Bush supporters now that the media has
packed up and gone home, or rather is camping out in
Iraq. If the U.S. administration is so keen on exporting
democracy, why didn't it begin with Afghanistan?
Finding a pretext to invade Iraq took a little more
ingenuity on behalf of the Pentagon hawks. The Iraqi
leader had kept a fairly low profile since the Gulf War.
They tried their best to link him with Al Queda and
while they met with success at home, failed in an
international context. And so they were left with the
pretext of disarming Saddam Hussein from his weapons of
mass destruction. We are sure that he has them, they
said, and he just may give them to terrorist groups in
the future. The policy of pre-emption was born.
The world didn't immediately fall for this, with the
exception of a few of America's lackeys, and so, once
again, the American public had to be convinced of the
righteousness of its leadership. Saddam Hussein became
the new face of evil, the personification of repression
and cruelty. He had to go so that the Iraqi people could
be freed from his tyranny.
The sad part is the majority of Americans have succumbed
to this psychological onslaught. More than 50 per cent
still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do
with September 11 thanks to Bush's constant linkage,
never mind that Bin Laden considered Saddam an
"apostate". Another poll shows that even if no chemical
or biological weapons are ever found - as they probably
won't be since all Iraqi scientists insist they were
destroyed in 1991 - most Americans believe that the war
with Iraq was just. They have bought the lies hook, line
If it is proved that the former Iraqi leadership was not
hiding WMD and had, therefore, complied with UN
Resolution 1442, then the invasion was not only unjust
but also illegal. The ousting of a cruel dictator has
been a positive spin-off from an illegal, and
continuing, invasion but this does not vindicate the
coalition, or shouldn't. If we pat them on the back now,
they'll feel free to do it again.
By the people, for the people?
Those members of the Coalition's publics who are
feigning amnesia concerning Iraq's missing WMD and,
instead, celebrating a future democratic Iraq may like
to ponder on this. How can anything be exported,
including "democracy" when the would-be exporters lack
the goods themselves?
The days when "democracy" really meant "for the people,
by the people" are long gone in countries, which expound
this ancient method of governance. In its place comes a
system which spies on, categorises, labels and restricts
the people for the benefit of governments.
The changeover didn't happen overnight. Far from it!
Since September 11 2001, the U.S. and Britain have
witnessed an erosion of civil liberties here; an attack
on human rights there, with the individual being reduced
to the contents of a know-all, tell-all computer chip
just about everywhere.
The American and British publics believe they can choose
their leaders but as we saw when Bush gained office, the
man who received most of the votes, Al Gore, lost the
race. The British voted for a Labour Party leader, who
has turned out to be a right-winger in Labour's
Those same publics had little say in whether their
countries went to war with Iraq either. Before the
invasion more than 80 per cent of Britons were anti-war
with over a million protestors clogging Britain's
streets last February 15. The government went ahead
anyway on the basis that Saddam posed an imminent threat
to his neighbours - a charge later found to be a gross
exaggeration, if not a fabrication.
The "War on Terror", which many now believe is a recipe
for terrorists of mass production - since there are far
more murderers of innocents around nowadays than ever
before - triggered the Patriot Act in the U.S. This
rushed-through piece of legislation was responsible for
the detention of hundreds - mostly Moslems - and the
denial of their access to both legal representation and
At the same time, the FBI has received new powers of
search and surveillance, and, according to an article in
the New York Times dated November 23 is now collecting
"extensive information on the tactics, training and
organisation of anti-war demonstrators."
Further, the report states local law enforcement
officials have been advised by the FBI to report any
suspicious activity at protests to its counter-terrorism
squads. So much for free speech and the right to
peaceful protest, enshrined in any democratic
Britain is also poised to introduce new anti-terrorist
measures, which, according to Andy McSmith, the
Independent's political editor, will give the government
"power to over-ride civil liberties in times of crises,
and evacuate threatened areas, restrict people's
movement and confiscate property."
Under these draconian measures, once a state of
emergency "due to war, flood, breakdown of power
supplies, outbreaks of disease or any situation that
causes or may cause disruption of the activities of Her
Majesty's Government" has been declared, 'the people"
can be banned from travelling and prohibited from
assembling. It's the "may cause disruption of the
activities of her Majesty's Government", which is
troubling. This broad definition could cover just about
everything and anything.
The way things are going, the Bush-Blair "enemies of
freedom" must be having a field day. The concept of
freedom for the individual, in both the U.S. and
Britain, is being trashed.
Those who live in those bastions of Western values can
still watch their favourite soaps, take out a 25-year
mortgage, visit Disneyland and even leap semi-clothed
into fountains if such is their wont, but isn't real
democracy about being able to take part in the decision
process, one which shapes not only the voters' futures
but also their descendants?
With the dollar at a precarious low, the U.S. economy in
a sorry shape while defence budgets grow at an
unprecedented rate, the American people are slowly
beginning to question why their government is putting so
much cash, effort, not to mention blood, into forcibly
"democratizing" countries half-way around the world
while their own problems are left unattended.
True democracy is an excellent system but it should
first be reintroduced into the U.S. and Britain before
those nations seek to impose it anywhere else. In any
event, democracy cannot be forced. It must evolve on its
own over time. The leaders of the U.S. and Britain know
this only too well and they are aware that democracy and
tribal societies are like oil and water. They don't mix.
Members of tribal societies with family ties will not
vote as individuals. For them blood is thicker than
water and they will simply back their own.
It's clear that the Bush-Blair coalition is wrapping
themselves with democracy's flag to cover its real
agenda - global power and control. "Democracy" is a
noble word. Let's all of us endeavour to keep it that