Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Purple Finger of Democracy

These are strange times. I see people fall into line behind the Bush doctrine because, after all, the Iraq war brought us that moving purple finger of democracy that has inspired democratic-minded people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon. Is it actual democracy, or a democracy flavored product that will fill the people’s stomachs, without providing much nutrition, to keep them from asking for real food for as long as possible? (See: lame and limited local elections in Saudi Arabia recently.) Or it may just be the pitting of rival religious sects against each other and against the true indigenous democrats in order to keep the region in constant civil war. That seems a messy way to do business.

Embracing the Bush doctrine means embracing the idea that the ends justify the means -- the murder of innocents, torture, sexual humiliation, not to mention debt, lies and other more mundane evils most of us are guilty of -- are all justified as long as one provides something good, like a bit of democracy and freedom and control of another country’s oil supply. What kind of message is this to send the kids? Forget Janet Jackson’s nipple. Kids already know about nipples. They have nipples. What the poor tykes have learned in the last few years from the Bush administration is much scarier. (Ironically, while the Right Wing Christian Republicans oppose the teaching of Darwin in schools, the social and political lessons they are teaching are mighty Darwinian.)

That purple finger was a powerful symbol. Was there anyone who wasn’t moved in the days around the election? The Iraqi people were brave and determined. But if the Bush administration had its way, Iraqis would not have had the chance. The U.S. government initially opposed the idea of direct, democratic elections, preferring regional caucuses -- and those fears are understandable. It could have been a logistical nightmare given the violence and volatility in Iraq and of course, caucuses would be easier to control. It was that kooky, unpredictable Ayatollah Sistani who fought, through peaceful means and negotiation, for direct voting. What the elections will create in Iraq is anybody’s guess at the moment. Judging by the blogs and the news reports, Iraqi women are worried about a new government implementing Shariah law.

Could it have happened without the Iraqi invasion? Not under the Bush administration, since its members lack the diplomatic skills and imagination to develop new ideas and bring skeptical others aboard the bandwagon. But if the Iraq war was the only way to spark the flag-waving mobs, and if it does, by some miracle, bring about real and lasting democracy and peace, it certainly could have been handled differently, without rushing in and without fucking up so much, killing so many and angering so many others, making us look like thugs to much of the world.

Maybe I am suspicious of the true democratic intentions here because on every count, it seems like the Bush administration and its friends are the only ones who really benefit from these costly policies, and the regular people are the only ones who really pay for them, with the lives of their children as well as in other ways.

Think about it. How many sons and daughters of the war’s most hawkish supporters in government and media are off risking their young skins in Iraq? If sacrificing your child for Iraqi elections is a good thing, why haven’t the Bush twins enlisted? Are any members of that patriotic clan in the military? But nobody seems to expect them to go fight. Their class is needed to rule those of us in the cannon fodder classes below. The wealthiest people also benefit most from the Bush tax cuts but believe me, they are not the ones who are going to suffer when it comes time to pay up for that insane national debt.

Beware. They dazzle us with emotionally charged photo ops and coded language, frighten us with orange alerts, and while we’re distracted they pick our pockets, curb our liberties and suck our power away in order to enrich and further empower themselves.


Blogger john said...

Great post, and great summary of where things stand. I too am suspicious whenever this Administration argues for democratic reform. Unfortunately, despite current claims, democracy is not turned on with a switch. It's a long and grueling process, and declaring victory as early as we are now is a big mistake.

11:09 AM  

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