Monday, September 18, 2006

Why is democracy more important to Iraqis than to Americans?

From the UN to the campaign trail, the President never misses a chance to talk about supporting democracy in the Middle East. We are bankrupting our Treasury and sacrificing our young soldiers, ostensibly in the name of this idea. Unfortunately, we are not protecting this idea here at home. Our government and its partisans do not seem to believe that the opposition have the right to a voice. We have been threatened, suppressed, and told we are unpatriotic. We have been told we are siding with the enemy.

It does seem ironic that this president, so convinced of the value of democracy that he will shove it down middle-eastern throats at the point of a gun, sees no reason to protect democratic principles at home. His operatives have orchestrated the removal of the very term "democratic" from our political lexicon, substituting the word "democrat", as in "the Democrat party". The major media networks have gone along, just the first step in erasing our consciousness of the concept for which the word "democracy" stands. You don't have to be a member of the party to care about the devaluation of the word "democratic".

It is clear that what the Bush Administration wants for the Middle East is not democracy at all, but merely pliability. That is a critical distinction, because it means no one should assume we will act on principle. Saddam was a good friend, deserving of billions of dollars in military aid, until he became inconvenient for us. He wasn't the first dictator to find that out, and probably won't be the last. But before we dump the likes of Musharraf, should the day arrive when he, too, becomes inconvenient, we should not forget that the people waiting to take over from him hate us even more than the Iraqis do. Unlike the Iraqis, however, the Pakistanis do in fact have WMD.

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