Will Democracy For Ever Remain an Illusion? By Siv O’Neall

By Siv O’Neall
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
May 14, 2009

The country that was

The United States is sinking deeper and deeper into the poisoned slough of their own making. Moral turpitude goes hand-in-hand with naiveté and arrogance. And nothing seems to have changed if it’s not that there is now a president with acute intellectual abilities rather than an insensitive and illiterate clown who couldn’t hold a book right side up.

Both men are devoted to the belief that the United States is the self-evident leader of the world and anything goes in the interest of keeping their country number one, including invasions of countries harboring supposed or invented enemies and, as always has been the case, cold-blooded support of dictatorships that are willing to do the bidding of Washington.

Rather than doing something productive to get out of the impasse that we are presently in, the new President has been a big disappointment. He is digging the nation – and thus the world – deeper and deeper into an increasingly insoluble situation where the United States is never willingly going to give up on its presumed status as a lone superpower. As the U.S. is sinking, it is most likely going to drag the rest of the world along, or at least those countries that are not clever enough to take steps to assure their independence.

As far as the environment goes, there is no escaping the ecological disaster that was created by the Big Corporations, the pharmaceutical and chemical giants in the first place. Industrialized farming is wreaking havoc on small farmers and on the environment. So far the government agencies that are supposed to deal with anti-trust laws, financial regulation and environmental safety are turning their attention to Big Instant Money rather than to lasting benefits for the people and for the nation. And for the world.

Looking at the situation from my side of the Ocean, I see Europe getting increasingly anxious to do Washington’s bidding, from Gordon Brown, to Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, even though Angela Merkel often wants to have her own way. The Western world is going more and more neoliberal and anti-democratic. But there are countries and even continents where attention is being paid to the oncoming downfall of the presumed superpower, the giant that is both the richest and the most breathtakingly mean and narcissistic country in the world with a people and an administration who go on firmly believing that they are the saviors, the one truly civilized nation, the moral strength of the planet.

The previous administration managed, as nobody ever before, to make enemies out of a huge portion of the rest of the world, and not just the Muslim countries. Some things have changed with the new administration’s taking the reins. Europe now seems desperately eager to think well of the new President, but they are nevertheless putting stops to many attempts by U.S. and multinational corporations to heavy-foot it through the world, poisoning the environment in the process. European countries are all more than willing to play the game when it comes to the free market and neoliberalism, since it’s the politicians who make the rules and they and their corporate buddies are the ones who make fortunes out of the neoliberal system, which only looks up at the top and never down to the huddling masses. But enough is enough and the people take to the streets to show their opposition to cold-blooded profiteering and cutting back on job security and social spending – the welfare safety net that is more badly needed than ever in times of economic crisis such as we are seeing today. In Europe people at least make their voices heard, which, not amazingly, in view of the non-stop propaganda that molds people’s minds, is not the case in the United States. News is entertainment and the people never really get to see the truth of what is going on in the world from the corporate-owned mass media.

The approval figures of the European leaders are falling into the sewers. The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, can well go on hopping around the globe believing that he’s the savior of the rich world. People don’t even laugh any more. He is not just a clown, he is an ill omen, a foreboding of what is to come if the world leaders are left alone in their destruction of a civilized world.

The drugging of ‘America’

U.S. citizens have been drugged to oblivion about what is implied in a good life. And yet; they are the ones who should be the most concerned. It’s the United States that is so sorely in need of real improvement of healthcare, an improved educational system, good-quality public transportation systems as well as support for a great number of social programs on the state level. Those programs are badly needed for the educational and cultural as well as aesthetic and artistic stimulus of all strata of the U.S. citizenry. They are also essential for the good functioning of society on the family level, daycare centers, after-school activities for young people, free school lunches and much more. These essential entitlements have been steadily cut back ever since the beginning of the Bush/Cheney grotesquely regressive era.

As long as there is a so-called war going on, it will always be possible, or so it seems, to silence any possible opposition from Mainstream America. As long as there is an administration that sets as its major goal the continuation of the United States as a unilateral superpower, they will always depend on inventing one or several wars, as they did with the fiendishly cleverly named ‘war on terror’. And as long as there are wars to spend money on – for the profit of the military-industrial complex – there will obviously not be enough funds left over for the urgent peaceful needs in the U.S. of today. Add to this the fact that, during the neocon regime, the quite visible policy was the starving of the beast, the dumbing-down of the people so that they would be easy to fool into a state of religious-patriotic fervor that would squeeze out all traces of possible tolerance and broadmindedness. Knowledge and the development of a critical mind are essential to create a powerful opposition to a ruling run-away clique, blinded by hubris and greed. Deprive the people of good education and authentic news and they will never know what is going on in the real world, what is being done to fool them. Drug them with propaganda and infotainment and they will become sleepwalkers who work, eat, have sex and watch Fox news.

Is there any such thing as democracy?

Democracy was a beautiful thought, but did it ever get to be more than a utopia, a chimera, such stuff as dreams are made on? Greed will always get in the way of compassion and rational thinking, which ought to make us fight for a livable and a durable world for everyone. What we have now is a short-lived amassment of goods and spectacular high living for the obscenely wealthy, who must be thinking ‘Après nous le déluge’ [1] if they are thinking at all, which is doubtful. Instant profit, instant pleasure and the world be damned! To even whisper the word democracy in the context of the destruction and remaking of Central Asia in the U.S. image is obscene. Democracy is a lost dream in the world of today and we can ask ourselves if it ever did exist. But that is the subject of another essay.

The fire in Central Asia

Washington is still today doing its best to pour fuel on the fire in Central Asia. In spite of assertions to the contrary, Iraq is still a powder keg with regularly occurring mass killings taking place between different factions of the splintered Iraqi society. And even if, by some magic, Washington decided to let the Iraqis work out a solution to their own conflicts, the way most countries do, we still see the flaring up of violence and mass killings in Afghanistan, with Pakistan having been dragged into the conflict to an ever increasing extent since the new U.S. President began his clone bombing campaigns in the border areas where the Pashtun Taliban are holing up. The Zardari government is at a loss for a working solution, walking a tightrope between their natural solidarity with the Pashtun anti-American fighters (the Pashtuns are the largest of the many ethnic minorities in Pakistan, the Punjabis being the majority ethnic group) and the demand from Washington that they strike down on the rebel areas along the Afghani-Pakistani border.

Afghanistan is sinking deeper and deeper into a morass for every day that goes by with more and more mass killings and violence. It is doubtful whether President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. puppet, has any power whatsoever outside of the capital. He seems to be more the mayor of Kabul than the President of the country.

Pakistan was given a chance to get a civilian government under Asif Ali Zardari, the current president and the husband of Benazir Bhutto, a former president who was assassinated in December, 2007. He is totally corrupt, like most other political leaders in that part of the world, and maybe everywhere, but it still looks like an improvement after the military rule of General Pervez Musharraf who came to power in a military coup in 1999 and ruled the troubled country in an increasingly dictatorial way. The Pakistani people themselves actually very recently protested so strongly against this form of rule that Zardari saw himself forced to reinstate the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who had been ousted by Musharraf, to his former post on March 16, 2009.

Since the Mongol invasion in 1219.after which Kabul became the capital of the Mughal Empire, nobody has ever managed to invade and conquer Afghanistan. England failed spectacularly in the 19th century and Russia of course had to give up their fight against the Taliban and withdraw in 1989, after ten years of debilitating war. The Taliban were of course strongly supported by the United States in their hysterical fight against communism. [2]

According to Graham Fuller, the planned strategy of President Obama for subduing what is now called the AfPak region is also bound to fail. [3]

“For all the talk of “smart power,” President Obama is pressing down the same path of failure in Pakistan marked out by George Bush. The realities suggest need for drastic revision of U.S. strategic thinking.

— Military force will not win the day in either Afghanistan or Pakistan; crises have only grown worse under the U.S. military footprint.

— The Taliban represent zealous and largely ignorant mountain Islamists. They are also all ethnic Pashtuns. Most Pashtuns see the Taliban — like them or not — as the primary vehicle for restoration of Pashtun power in Afghanistan, lost in 2001. Pashtuns are also among the most fiercely nationalist, tribalized and xenophobic peoples of the world, united only against the foreign invader. In the end, the Taliban are probably more Pashtun than they are Islamist.

— It is a fantasy to think of ever sealing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The “Durand Line” is an arbitrary imperial line drawn through Pashtun tribes on both sides of the border. And there are twice as many Pashtuns in Pakistan as there are in Afghanistan. The struggle of 13 million Afghan Pashtuns has already inflamed Pakistan’s 28 million Pashtuns.”

Asia is entering the stage

The formerly pretty much despised and ignored Asiatic countries, considered uncivilized and weak as compared to the rich Western nations, have for quite some time now showed their muscle in terms of economy and resistance to the U.S. playing of the Superpower game. After the International Monetary Fund, when asked for help by those countries, instead of saving them managed to thoroughly ruin their economies, Asian countries have now gone together to take matters in their own hands, forming a kind of Asian IMF. The 10-member ASEAN organization, [4] which already had substantial economic impact, has recently formed an agreement with China, Japan and South Korea to create a $120 billion currency pool from which smaller countries can borrow. In this way the less wealthy Asian countries will turn to a monetary fund of their own [5]

“Two years ago, the ADB [the Asian Development Bank] was searching for a role in an Asia that was growing fast with surplus savings, burgeoning foreign exchange reserves and easy access to capital. Now the bank finds itself in the position of being courted both as a focus of regional cooperation and as a source of funds to help Asian countries face the crisis. Middle income countries like Indonesia and the Philippines have come knocking on the bank’s door, looking for funds to boost government spending, particularly on infrastructure and for social safety nets as unemployment rises.”

The fall of a superpower

The United States has long ago outlived its presumed role as the lone superpower. The last administration just hammered the last nail into the coffin of this shadow of lost grandeur. Nobody needed the adoration of an illusion and very few people are going to miss the lies, the fake elections and the gaudy hoopla that leads up to the conventions of the two almost identical parties, both run and shaped by the big corporations that have been the true rulers of the United States for decades. Maybe after the economic recession is over, many years from now, maybe when Afghanistan and Pakistan are back on their own to fight out their own conflicts, maybe when Iran will no more have to fear reprisals from the West because it is intent on defending itself from Israel and the United States, and maybe even the regime of the ayatollahs will be gone and some kind of democratic rule installed, maybe then a kind of equilibrium will reign and we the people won’t have to be whiplashed into obedience by screams of national security, killer pandemics and a war on terror. U.S. citizens have been lulled to sleep by newspeak of freedom and democracy, of moral values, of leaving no children behind and of trickle-down economics that will make us all healthy, wealthy and wise.

A utopia?

Asia will have achieved equal power with the West and the current movements towards people-oriented politics, most visibly in Latin America, will have borne fruit and we will finally see democracy arising out of the ashes.

[1] After us, the deluge – a premonition of impending political and social collapse attributed to Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV. She is actually supposed to have said: ‘Après moi le deluge.’

[2] More about the history of Pakistan and Afghanistan in my wrongly titled essay – ‘Is it the Dawn We Are Seeing on the Horizon?’ Scroll down to ‘A look back on history’

[3] Global Viewpoint: Obama’s Policies Making Situation Worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan– by Graham E. Fuller.

Graham E. Fuller is a former CIA station chief in Kabul and a former vice-chair of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is author of numerous books on the Middle East, including The Future of Political Islam.

[4] The Association of Southeast Asian Nationsor ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.

[5] Asia Helps Itself– by Philip Bowring

© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com

Siv O’Neall is an Axis of Logic columnist, based in France. She can be reached at siv@axisoflogic.com

Read the Biography and Additional Articles by Axis Columnist, Siv O’Neall.