Democracy Shamocracy
Published on Monday, December 11, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
Democracy Shamocracy
by Sean Gonsalves
 

To promote democracy and freedom:” One of several shifting rationales given for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Democracy is supposed to be about ordinary people, common folk, having a say-so in the decisions that shape their lives; the idea that there’s an “inalienable right” to certain freedoms; that the only legitimate government is one that answers to “the people.” In democracies, people are not subjects, but citizens.

Democracy?

Raed Jarrar, the Iraq project director for Global Exchange, a human rights organization, who has spent a lot of time talking to members of Iraq’s parliament, points out how the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend the occupation force in Iraq. The security council voted with the quickness after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requested the extension.

U.S. and British “diplomats” rushed the vote through last month, even though it wasn’t on the council’s agenda for November.

“The Iraqi parliament was not informed about this (request) by al-Maliki. I talked to four Iraqi MPs: a Sunni, a Shia, and two seculars, and all of them were totally shocked that al-Maliki bypassed the Iraqi parliament.”

Dr. Hajim al-Hassani, a Sunni secular MP and the former speaker of parliament, told Jarrar: “We were supposed to have a meeting with al-Maliki and other top officials in the parliament during the next couple of weeks to decide what to do with the mandate’.”

“According to most of the MPs I talked to,” Jarrar continues, “it is unconstitutional to have the prime minister renewing the mandate without consulting the Iraqi parliament.”

Democracy?

A recent poll conducted by The Program on International Policy Attitudes (http://www.pipa.org/) found that three of four Americans believe that in order to stabilize Iraq, U.S. policymakers should engage Iran and Syria in talks and eight in 10 support an international conference on Iraq.

A majority of Americans oppose keeping U.S. forces in Iraq indefinitely and instead support a timetable for withdrawal within two years or less, which is in line with several key proposals of the Iraq Study Group.

That’s probably because most Americans understand the we-don’t-negotiate-with-terrorists line is nonsense, especially since Reagan negotiated with Iranian “terrorists” for the release of U.S. hostages and, as James Baker noted, “we talked to the Soviets for 40 years when they were trying to blow us up.” Baker emphasized that it’s not a sign of weakness to talk to your adversaries. After all, peace is made with enemies; not friends.

Interestingly, U.S. public opinion is similar to Iraqi public opinion. Sure, there are those true believers who cling to neocon myths about Iraq and avoid serious thinking by writing all this off as “liberal” propaganda.

OK, well check out what the very conservative Cato Institute has to say (http://www.cato.org/dailys/05-18-04.html).

“A new, extensive survey of Iraqi public opinion conducted by Gallup and other groups discredits numerous cherished beliefs that hawks have held about Iraq.”

“For months, the Bush administration and its supporters have argued that there is a silent majority of Iraqis who regard coalition forces as liberators, want those forces to stay for a prolonged period, oppose insurgent attacks on coalition troops, and are enthusiastic about creating a Western-style democracy for their country. The poll results contradict every one of those assumptions.”

The poll found that 57 percent of Iraqis want U.S. troops out “immediately.” Though only 3 percent of Kurds want the forces to depart immediately, 61 percent of Shiites and 65 percent of Sunnis – the ones who have the most to lose by U.S. withdrawal – want to see a quick U.S. exit strategy.

In Baghdad, where U.S. troop presence is more visible and concentrated, 75 percent of the city’s residents want the U.S. out ASAP. Where the violence is at its worst, three-quarters of the population don’t feel protected or liberated by U.S. forces.

Democracy and freedom? Yeah, right.

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2006 Sean Gonsalves

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