Syria election: Vote the right way – or else
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
It seems that despite having a choice of several candidates, the Syrian people having an election to decide for themselves who should be their country's president is a very bad thing. In the name of 'democracy', elections in Syria should only happen after the current government has been forcibly removed from power. 'Assad must go', even if it could well be the case that the majority of Syrians don't want him to go.
The Western elite's dismissive response to these elections tells us everything we need to know about their commitment to “democracy”.
The truth is that the emergence of a multi-party democracy in Syria enabled by the country's 2012 constitution, which ended the decades’ long monopoly on power by the Ba'ath Party, is the very last thing the US and its allies want; they know that the Baathists and President Assad have too much popular support in the country. By continually repeating “Assad must go” before any new presidential elections are held, these “democrats” are effectively disenfranchising a large chunk of Syrian society – the people who do support their government. We should not be surprised at this as these Western “democrats” routinely seek to disenfranchise those who have the “wrong” views.
Pro-government Syrians in 2014 are in the same position as pro-government Belarusians and pro-government Venezuelans. They support the “wrong” side so their views are discounted. In these countries, and indeed in any countries where there is a government of which the Western political and financial elites disapprove, only the views of the opposition counts. They should take power and rule even though, as in the case of the current Western-backed junta in Kiev, it is clear to any objective observer that they do not have majority support. Yet despite their lack of majority support, pro-Western groupings are automatically referred to as “democratic forces,” to contrast them with the “undemocratic forces” that most people do support. It really is beyond Orwellian.
Any election which doesn't go the way the Western elites want, or is unlikely to go the way they want is automatically labeled a “sham” or a “mockery of democracy,” even before it is held. This is in order to de-legitimize the victor. We saw a classic example of that with the Iranian presidential elections in 2009. No credible evidence was ever put forward to show that the poll was fixed, or that there was widespread fraud that made a difference to the result. Yet because a candidate the Western elites disapproved of won, the result was held to be a “sham”, with establishment commentators routinely referring to Ahmadinejad's “stolen election.”
We can say as a general rule that no-one who the West deplors is ever allowed to win an election fairly. If they win it has to be by cheating. There are always slurs against the leader in question. Hugo Chavez' rule in Venezuela was endorsed by a succession of popular votes, yet he was still labeled a “dictator” by Western neocons and the fake-left, with his death from cancer in 2013 openly cheered by some Western “democrats”.
In Yugoslavia, in the 1990s, Slobodan Milosevic and the Socialist Party won regular election victories in a country where many opposition parties freely existed and operated, yet Milosevic too was routinely referred to as a “dictator”. A similar fate befell Viktor Yanukovich, the recently ousted president of Ukraine who had come to power in free elections in 2010 in a country where new presidential elections were due in 2015. No truthful, objective observer could conclude that Chavez, Milosevic or Yanukovich were “dictators”, yet the men were labeled as such simply because they did not do what Western elites wanted.
Desires and methods of anti-democratic democrats
Of course, the first aim of the anti-democratic democrats is to try and make sure that the “wrong” leader does not get into power in the first place. The US' multi-billion dollar “democracy promotion” industry is designed so that the “wrong” candidates do not win, or not very often.
The first post WWII election in Europe “fixed” by the newly-formed CIA was in Italy in 1948, where the US feared a communist victory. Up to $3 million was secretly channeled to anti-communist parties. “On April 18, the Christian Democrats won a landslide victory. As the Christian Democrats congratulated themselves and the Communists wept bitter tears of defeat, the CIA reflected on the success of its campaign of covert intervention in Italian affairs. This was a lesson not lost on the future developments of CIA activities elsewhere,” wrote Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing in their book, ‘Cold War’.
Since Italy in 1948, the US has, in the name of “democracy”, intervened in scores of elections around the world, to try to get the result they desire.
If they do not manage to fix the result, through bankrolling their preferred parties, Otpor style “youth movements” and other measures, they still have recourse to yet more options to ditch unwelcome governments. They can organize a coup, as they did, for instance in Guatemala in 1954, where CIA-trained “rebels” toppled the democratically elected leader, Jacobo Abrenz, whose government had committed the “crime” of nationalizing uncultivated land owned by America's powerful United Fruit Company, which had friends in high places in Washington.
The US and its allies can “punish” the country and its people and try to weaken its economy through the imposition of sanctions, as they did with Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Palestine in 2006 (after the election victory of Hamas), and are doing to Iran, Belarus and Russia today, citing a variety of bogus reasons for their imposition. And they can fall back on trying to destabilize the country in question and its government through the funding of violent street protests, as we have seen in 2014 in Ukraine and Venezuela. That presents the “targeted” government with a dilemma: do they use force to deal with the protests and risk being labeled “genocidal” with sanctions being imposed and the leader called a “war criminal” by Western politicians and their media marionettes, or do they sit back and allow Western-financed “protestors” take over, even though it is the government and not the protestors who have the democratic mandate?
All this is done in the name of democracy, but it is important to realize that it is really about destroying democracy. It is about ensuring that only governments which serve the interests of Western elites and their Middle East allies can come to power, or are allowed to stay in power. The people's will to elect the governments of their choice is respected, but only if they choose a government Western elites approve of.
Their haughty dismissal of elections in Syria, their support for a violent coup against a democratically elected government in Ukraine, their ongoing destabilization of the democratically elected government in Venezuela, and their attempts to fix elections around the globe, together with their strong support for some of the most undemocratic regimes on earth, like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, proves that the Western elites are actually working against democracy, not for it.
It's also revealing to compare the West's reaction to Syria's elections and recent democratic reforms there, with the support for Egypt's planned presidential elections despite the undemocratic crackdown there on the now banned main opposition grouping, The Muslim Brotherhood, and the handing out of mass death sentences earlier this week. While the democratizing 2012 Syrian constitution is beyond the pale for Western leaders, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry, Egypt's new constitution, is a “positive step forward.”
The double standards should not surprise us because the country that is pushing most aggressively for “democracy” around the world, i.e. the US, is itself not a democracy, but an oligarchy, as a new study has concluded. American governments as evidenced by the illegal invasion of Iraq, their backing of violent “rebels” in Syria and the current attempt to provoke a new cold war with Russia over Ukraine, act not in the interest of ordinary Americans, but in the interests of Wall Street, the military industrial complex and powerful foreign lobbies. In the end the American people, who pay for the wars and a serial regime-changing foreign policy that only benefits the 1 percent, are as much a victim of anti-democratic democrats as citizens of other countries.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.