“United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 percent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.” *
One day, the Oxford English Dictionary should include the following definition under “Democracy”:
–¢ “System of government by which an imperial power feigns respect for electoral politics in order to coerce a subject people into justifying the rule of an illegitimate puppet regime. (See also: Bush, George W.; Project for the New American Century; States of America, Fascist.”
The preceding applies to both Afghanistan and Iraq, each of which was destroyed so that a compliant regime could be installed. In the former case, President Hamid Karzai is the elected president of “democratic” Afghanistan, but in truth he’s little more than a glorified mayor of Kabul. Outside of the capital, the roads are under the control of various warlords, many of whom are in Karzai’s unity government. Even then, Karzai doesn’t venture out of his office without a phalanx of U.S.-supplied bodyguards.
During the last 16 or so years since the Soviet Union was beaten back, the U.S. has alternated between played footsie with drug dealers and religious zealots in hopes of acquiring pipeline transit rights. The cost in human and material loss of this meddling is incalculable.
However, little or none of this history matters to media typists and talking heads. Missing from coverage of Afghanistan is the fact that the U.S. turned to Karzai only after the Taliban proved to be incapable of fulfilling its promise to defeat the warlords, who were scaring off pipeline companies.
In fact, the U.S. has a history of deliberately overthrowing countries because they had democratic elections. In resource rich countries like Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq and Iran, the U.S. prefers to do business with a tyrant because a popularly elected democratic ruler will put the wages and welfare of his people ahead of oil industry profits. In short, the better a resource-rich country treats its people the less hospitable it is to multinational plunder.
So far as the U.S. and the world is concerned, Afghanistan has elections and is led by “a president,” if only in name. Therefore, it belong to the community of civilized nations.
In Iraq, the fraud of democracy is even more palpable given the U.S.’s Guernica-like destruction of Falluja; the abu-Ghraib torture scandal; profiteering by Dick Cheney Inc. and other oil industry leeches; and the balkanization of the country into de facto Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish regions. The best indictment comes from British MP George Galloway who spoke with the BBC’s Amy Goodman:
“An election held under foreign military occupation is always, by definition, utterly flawed. But one which is held in the kind of conditions in which this one is being held is flawed beyond redemption…. The Sunni Arab population has boycotted the election almost in their entirety. The Iraqis living outside for whom security was not an issue, three quarters of them have voted with their feet and boycotted the election. Less than a quarter of the eligible voters have registered to vote and fewer still have cast their votes.
“So, this is a festival, a farce that’s been held to validate the American-British invasion and occupation of Iraq. But it will not validate it, neither in the eyes of the world opinion, nor, more importantly, in the eyes of those Iraqis who are resisting the foreign occupation and the war will go on, I’m sorry to say.”
As it was in Vietnam, the media casts the issue as one between the “good” forces of democracy and those who want to thwart the will of the people, The past is barely mentioned, as if to say the election made everything all better:
“See, we got rid of Saddam and gave you freedom. You can thank us later, but in the meantime enjoy the fruits of democracy. Sorry that several thousand of you no longer have homes or even cities to go back to. Sometimes you have to destroy a country to force it to be free, and now that you’ve actually voted aren’t you happier?”
The election was front-page news replete with the same Vietnam-era moral dichotomy and barely concealed boosterism. No mention about the corruption of Iyad Allawi, Washington’s man in Baghdad who told British Tony Blair the lie that Hussein had missiles ready to launch on 45 minutes’ notice
As far as North America was concerned Iraq was embarking upon a path to freedom. In fact, the Globe and Mail ran the appalling headline “The Freedom Doctrine” in connection with Bush’s own fraudulent inauguration. The Globe didn’t even have the decency to put “freedom” in quotes to show that the word was being used ironically.
I suppose many Iraqis are free, if you consider death to be the ultimate expression of freedom, but that is what democracy has meant for many Iraqis. As bad as Hussein was, the Iraqi people were better of under his tyranny than they are under the U.S.’s “democracy.”
The consistent parroting of democracy in connection with Iraq, and to a lesser extent Afghanistan, reinforces the shallowness and non-contextual prattle that passes for informed commentary in pro-U.S., pro-Zionist North America.
It’s fair to say that the purpose of reporting is not to inform the public but to propagate illusions. Perhaps it was ever thus, but the chasm between the lack of emphasis on the U.S.-made misery in Iraq compared with the over-reporting of the U.S.-made “solution” is too conspicuous to be attributable to anything other than laziness or pressure.
Next issue: a special report on media intimidation.
Peter Grose, “U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote,” New York Times, Sept. 4, 1967