How dare Bush talk about "democracy"?
June 11, 2004 | Page 1
HOW DOES George W. Bush have the gall to lecture anyone about "democracy?" Last week, Bush visited Europe to introduce his "sweeping plan to remake the Middle East in the West's democratic image," as a Reuters report put it.
Bush's Middle East "initiative" looks doomed from the start because Arab countries say they won't sign onto the plan. Maybe they find it a little arrogant and insulting for the U.S. government--after deliberately flouting international law, carrying out an illegal war and occupation and then torturing Iraqi prisoners--to lecture the world about "democracy."
No wonder hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against Bush as he visited Rome and Paris in early June--demanding an end to the occupation. "We don't want Bush to come to Rome," protester Francesco Raparelli told the New York Times. "He is a war criminal, a torturer of innocent people, and [Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi is in this unjust war with him."
One year ago, the Bush administration was riding high after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government. Today, every one of its justifications for war--from Saddam's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, to Iraq's supposed ties to al-Qaeda, to the claim that the U.S. would bring democracy to a grateful Iraqi people--stand exposed as a fraud.
Millions upon millions of people across the globe--from Europe to the Middle East to the U.S. itself--now despise the Bush administration as war-hungry fanatics, bent on stealing Iraq's oil and promoting U.S. power.
That's why the death of Ronald Reagan couldn't have come at a better time for Bush. If the White House gets its way, all we'll hear for days to come is how Bush is following in the footsteps of the man who made America "proud again" and brought down the "evil empire."
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Washington will be twisting arms to win international backing, including new occupation troops, for its plan to grant "sovereignty" in Iraq--to a government of stooges handpicked by U.S. and United Nations (UN) officials according to their willingness to let Washington continue calling the shots. The administration will probably get the help it wants--if France, Germany and Russia are given enough of a share in the loot from Iraq in exchange for accepting the terms of the U.S. occupation-by-another-name.
Meanwhile, Bush will continue spouting the same recycled lies. "Freedom must succeed in Iraq," he told reporters last week. "A free Iraq rising in the heart of the Middle East will show the people of that region a clear alternative to the bitterness that feeds terror."
Freedom? Try telling that to ordinary Iraqis who live with U.S. soldiers on their streets and Washington's chosen puppets as their "interim government." An alternative to terror? Tell it to the victims of the U.S. military's torture chambers.
Though the media seem too busy paying tribute to Reagan to notice, every few days bring new revelations. Last month, for example, two U.S. Marines pled guilty to torturing an Iraqi prisoner detained in Mahmudiyah, Iraq. According to the Washington Post, in order to "discipline" the man for talking loudly, the Marines attached wires to a power converter and pressed them against the detainee's body as he returned to his cell from a bathroom.
The U.S. can try to make cosmetic changes in Iraq--by swapping a few green U.S. helmets for blue UN ones. But it won't change the reality of a colonial occupation. It won't stop the resistance in Iraq, either. As Socialist Worker went to press, car bombings killed 21 people at a military base north of Baghdad and a police station south of the city.
Washington's continued presence in Iraq is the cause of the violence, not the cure. We have to send a message to all the Washington politicians--Republican and Democrat alike: Get out of Iraq now!