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Monday, July 12, 2004

CRUSADE FOR DEMOCRACY 

“We think the Americans are not looking out for the interests of the Iraqis. The elections they most care about are the ones in America.” -- Abu Hasan al-Ameri.

Of all the lies and deceptions the administration has asked the electorate to accept, perhaps the most insidious is the Crusade for Democracy in the Middle East.

In the Middle Ages, one might have expected the Crusaders for Christianity to faithfully represent the morality of Christ. History records that they were in fact antithetical to Christian values. They not only failed to establish a Christian Kingdom in the Middle East, they left an indelible mark of shame that forever stained western relations to the Arab-Islamic world.

Now, as the most non-secular president in history lays claim to champion the cause of democracy, we are compelled to demand evidence that he is faithful to the cause.

Where was the president’s support for democracy in Haiti when his agents orchestrated a coup to depose a lawfully elected leader? Where was his love for democracy when his clandestine representatives failed to depose Hugo Chavez of Venezuela? Where is the president’s allegiance to democracy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the will of the people is ignored in favor of heavy-handed and unqualified support for Ariel Sharon’s oppressive and faltering regime? What evidence of true democracy has emerged in Afghanistan, where a handpicked president is wholly dependent on international security forces and cannot stray from his palace in safety? Where is the president’s support for democracy in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, where governance is by the iron hand of despotism, aristocracy and hereditary succession? Indeed, where was the president’s love of democracy in the election of 2000? In Iran, they vetted the candidates for a general election. In Florida, they vetted the electorate.

The Grand Old Party is the party of the most egregious gerrymandering to deny equal representation in the history of the republic, yet its leader expects us to believe that he is chosen to defend and promulgate the principles of democracy. He must pardon his subjects if we remain skeptical.

We do not believe that the president is democracy’s champion. We do not believe that his crusade is in behalf of the American people. We believe that his constituents are the new aristocracy: the economic elite. We believe that he has led this nation to war, spilling the blood of Americans and Iraqis alike, in order to fatten the pockets of those who already possess more than they could ever need.

“Again and again and again: The more you say it is not about oil, the more certain we are that it is.” (Jazzman Chronicles, Volume II: The War Chronicles.)

In early June, the president gave a promise to the world that, if delivered, would mark the end of the American occupation and the beginning of democracy in Iraq: the transference of “full sovereignty.”

Though it has scarcely been two weeks since the secretive transference ceremony, it is time enough for an initial assessment. Has the president made good on his word? Has he delivered the sovereignty of Iraq to the Iraqi people?

In a previous Chronicle (The Sovereignty of Iraq 6/6/04), this writer proposed four fundamental conditions of sovereignty: 1) No undo American influence on the selection of Iraqi governing officials, 2) Iraqi control of Iraqi oil, 3) Iraqi authority over government contracts, and 4) Iraqi control of military forces.

Even before the impromptu ceremony, it became clear the president was less than a man of his word. The new government would not be granted control of the military. They would be allowed to request withdrawal of occupying forces but those forces would be under no obligation to do so. Further, the Iraqi government would not have authority to alter existing contracts. Sovereignty denied the new government would be retained by Halliburton, contracted mercenaries and American generals. As for the oil, while the new oil minister makes a great show of proclaiming control, when the contracts are signed, sealed and delivered, how is Iraqi control anything but nominal?

The failure of the administration to deliver on these essential conditions of sovereignty is sufficient to dismiss the American effort as disingenuous and deceptive. When one considers the nature of the new government, however, that dismissal rises to a level of condemnation for blatant hypocrisy.

The first thing to understand about the new Iraqi Interim Government is that its power is concentrated in the office of the Prime Minister. Even when a National Assembly is selected, its role will be advisory. The president and vice presidents have a right of approval in some cases but their roles are essentially symbolic.

So, who is the new Prime Minister of Iraq and how was he selected?

Curiously, thought the United Nations was initially granted control of the selection process, Dr. Iyad Allawi (who is not a real doctor), was not the choice of UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. He was certainly not the choice of the Iraqi people (polls indicate less than 5% support). A powerful Iraqi exile, Prime Minister Allawi’s primary qualifications for head of state appear to be his extensive connections with British and American intelligence (MI-6 and CIA). He figured prominently in a failed 1996 CIA-backed coup and likely contributed to the misleading intelligence used to justify the invasion.

There are more questions than answers regarding the background of this man (replete with rumors of assassinations, sabotage and terrorism). What is certain is that he is very well connected, well financed and protected by powerful organizations. He has invested a small fortune in lobbying and public relations within the United States of America.

Our president speaks fervently about freedom of choice. We must now demand of the president: Given freedom of choice, would the Iraqi people choose a man who is at best an asset of the Central Intelligence Agency to lead their country to democracy?

The president has failed utterly to deliver his promise. Now that Prime Minister Allawi has proclaimed the right to impose martial law and the intent to bring back the same security forces that terrorized dissidents under Saddam, it is clear that he is less interested in building electoral support and more interested in imposing order with an iron fist. Allawi’s colleagues in the new government have strange notions concerning the democratic process:

Oil Minister, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum: “We must keep out of the conference (to select a national assembly) … anyone who does not believe in the new democracy, who has anti-progress ideas. That will not be allowed.” -- SF Chronicle 7/7/04.

It seems the oil minister has learned from the Republican operatives in Florida.

Vice President, Ibrahim Jafari: “Martial law is the only way to protect the democratic process.”

It seems our president could learn from Jafari.

There will be no sovereignty in Iraq as long as oil is in the equation. Where there is no sovereignty, there can be no democracy. The war within Iraq will go on, the occupation will continue, and democracy will remain a desert mirage.

Jazz.

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