US leaders reject democracy, once again
Caleb Maupin is a radical journalist and political analyst who lives in New York City. Originally from Ohio, he studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College. In addition to his journalism, analysis, and commentary, he has engaged in political activism. He is a member of the Workers World Party and Fight Imperialism – Stand Together (FIST). He is a youth organizer for the International Action Center and was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement from its planning stages in August 2011. He has worked against police brutality, mass incarceration, and imperialist war. He works to promote revolutionary ideology, and to support all who fight against the global system of monopoly capitalist imperialism.
Back in 2003, George W. Bush justified his invasion of Iraq by saying he was “bringing freedom” to Iraq and “removing a dictator.” In 2011, Barack Obama justified sending cruise missiles to Libya by calling Gaddafi a “tyrant.” The US currently gives material support to insurgent groups in Syria, allegedly because Assad is a "dictator."
Children in the United States, from a very young age, are indoctrinated to believe that the US fights for “freedom” around the world, and enemies of the US are simply those who reject it. The nauseating rhetoric of the US being “the greatest country in the world” is accompanied by a historical mythology that in each military conflict, from the conquest of the Philippines in 1899 to the Cold War, the US government was motivated merely by a desire to “defend” and “spread freedom” and to fight against “dictators" and "oppressors."
This narrative is simply false. An examination of the world situation shows that the rejection of the popular will of Crimea is nothing new. In numerous instances, the US government has considered popular leaders chosen by democratic elections to be illegitimate and worked to undermine them, and in many other instances, the US backed unpopular and oppressive autocrats.
The 2009 coup in Honduras
In 2009, the Honduran military removed President Manuel Zelaya, who had won in a democratic election. After overthrowing the elected government, Roberto Michilletti, the general who led this violent coup was declared “Congressman for Life.” Since the coup, there has been a campaign of fascist violence in Honduras. Over 30 journalists have been assassinated. Human Rights Watch reports that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activists are also being exterminated, with 70 of them already targeted and killed.
The coup has resulted in economic horror. The World Bank reports that 59 percent of the country now lives in poverty, with the level of extreme poverty growing each day. Fifty-one percent of the population is unemployed. Honduras now also has the highest murder rate in the entire world.
The US did not send in cruise missiles to “defend democracy” when Zelaya was overthrown. The response was the opposite.
Zeleya, the democratically-elected president, had dared to align with Bolivia and Venezuela. He had rejected the rule of Wall Street and led Honduras into the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America (ALBA). When he was violently overthrown, the US embraced the military leaders who did so and has continued to align with them.
What happened in Honduras in 2009 was similar to what the US did in 1973 in Chile. Salvador Allende, a democratically-elected socialist, was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. The fascist regime of Augusto Pinochet was installed, and at least 20,000 left-wing activists were rounded up and summarily executed. All across Latin America, the CIA has carried out coups, overturned governments and installed pro-Wall Street autocrats.
The destabilization of Belarus
Aleksandr Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, is highly popular. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lukashenko refused to sell off Belarus mines, forests, and factories. Eighty percent of Belarus' economy remains under public ownership. The CIA World Factbook confirms that while unemployment around the world has skyrocketed in recent decades, in Belarus less than 2 percent of the population is unemployed. Lukashenko's popularity is based on economic populism, standing up for the people, and refusing to allow the plunder of the country.
When Lukashenko was first elected in 1995, he received only a plurality of 45.1 percent of the vote. After his first term in office, when he ran for reelection in 2001, he was voted back into office with 77 percent. Running for his third term in 2006, he received 82 percent of the vote. In the most recent election in 2010, Lukashenko won 79 percent of the vote. Each presidential election in Belarus is surrounded by violence and rioting staged by the anti-government minority in Belarus that is funded by the Western economic powers, and cheered by Western media. The National Endowment for Democracy has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into anti-government groups in Belarus. NGOs have been established. Following the 2010 presidential election, government buildings had their windows smashed. Belarus faces economic sanctions from the European Union.
While Lukashenko is highly popular with the people of Belarus, and has been reelected with large majorities, the US has worked very hard to destabilize Belarus and overthrow him. The fact that Lukashenko is supported by an overwhelming majority of the population has not halted the "defenders of democracy" in Washington from trying to remove him, and calling Belarus "an outpost of tyranny."
Labeling Chavez and Maduro ‘dictators’
Another example of complete US disregard for democracy has been the treatment given to the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Chavez was elected multiple times. Each of these elections was observed by the United Nations, the Carter Center, and the Organization of American States, who all certified their results as legitimate. Maduro, Chavez’s successor, has also been elected democratically, with over 170 different foreign observers welcomed to Venezuela to oversee the voting process.
In Venezuela, opposition parties not only openly operate, but control most of the TV networks and media. Anti-Chavez and Anti-Maduro rhetoric is constantly spewed from Venezuela's television and radio stations. Rallies against the government by right-wing groups are everyday occurrences. Venezuela does not have the death penalty, let alone torture, rendition or secret prisons.
Yet somehow, US officials and Western media insist that Chavez was a brutal dictator. John Kerry now speaks of sanctions against Venezuela. No matter how much the Bolivarian forces in Venezuela accommodate the right-wing, US-funded opposition, the Western media and officials in Washington insist on calling them "dictators."
The Venezuelan public has voted again and again in favor of the popular reforms that began with Chavez, and continue now with Maduro. The Venezuelan public supports the economic empowerment of working people, the changing of capitalist property relations, and the expansion of popular democracy, and has voted to allow the process to continue.
The US government and its allies are unconcerned about the popularity of the Bolivarian movement, or even its continued tolerance of the increasingly violent minority who oppose it. The US openly works to destabilize and overthrow the popular Venezuelan government, and yet somehow declares these efforts to be "democratic."
Wall Street’s favorite autocrats
While many democratically-elected governments are subverted and threatened by the United States, there are many open unapologetic dictatorships that receive US support. All the tyrants, mass murderers and oppressive dictators who have received US funding and support have received it because they are obedient servants for Wall Street. With their slaughter, they have kept profits flowing to the New York Stock Exchange, and they have murdered those who would direct them otherwise by forming labor unions, establishing measures of economic protection, or demanding basic democratic rights.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. It conducts public beheading and floggings and has absolutely no notion of “civil rights” or “freedom.” Saudi people have no ability to vote against this regime, and there are no elections of any kind taking place in Saudi Arabia. Yet the US sends billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia each year. The blatantly autocratic kingdom is the primary ally of the United States in the Middle East, after Israel.
In South Korea, it is a crime to make certain political statements. Park Jeong-Geun was detained and jailed for tweeting. His tweets were not even meant as political statements but as sarcastic jokes, but he was still locked up. The Unified Progressive Party, the primary opposition party in South Korea, has been shut down, with its leaders sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Yet 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea to protect this regime, and it also receives millions of dollars in US aid and support.
The Gulf emirate of Qatar is so autocratic and repressive that it does not just ban opposition parties, but all political parties. People there have none of the "human rights" or "freedom of speech" the US claims to champion. In one example of the autocratic nature of Qatar, a poet named Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami was sentenced to life in prison for “insulting” a leader of the country. In October, his sentence was reduced from life to 15 years. Despite no notion of democracy existing, and life sentences being handed down for political expression, the US still supplies Qatar with millions of dollars each year.
The list of dictators and oppressors who have been funded, armed and supported by the United States is very long. It includes figures like the Shah of Iran, Rios Montt of Guatemala and other monsters who have tortured, murdered and killed.
Francisco Franco, the military dictator of Spain from 1939 to 1975, rode into power with the aid of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and publicly executed numerous people by means of public strangulation. After World War II, he was embraced by the US, who signed the "Pact of Madrid," promising absolute support to the fascist regime. US military facilities were set up in Spain and US President Richard Nixon toasted Franco, describing him as a “loyal friend and ally of the United States."
Though anti-Communist rhetoric from US leaders often includes references to "killing fields," the US even briefly supported Pol Pot in Cambodia, thinking him to be a helpful ally against the Soviet Union and Vietnam.
These historical facts are ignored by the average foreign policy analyst on CNN, Fox or MSNBC, but many people around the world have not forgotten them. Each time Obama, Clinton or Kerry begin to lecture us about the "human rights violations" of some leader around the world, millions of eyes roll in disgust. The US has worked with countless tyrants, oppressors and violators of human rights, and often has made no effort to conceal it.
A global struggle for economic independence
All across the world, countries are throwing off the rule of Wall Street, the London Stock Exchange, the IMF and other institutions of Western imperialist economic power. These countries are not political clones. Some are religious, some are secular, some are capitalist, some are socialist, some are led by Marxist-Leninist parties, others by committed anti-Communists; but all are united in a desire for economic independence.
At this moment, the countries that the US seeks to overthrow and destabilize are all part of an emerging global alliance. They have all declared some measure of economic independence. They have sought to reconstruct the economy to serve themselves, not billionaires in the US and Europe. US leaders, despite their rhetoric, do not care if there is massive public support for such regimes. Any country that refuses to bow before the economic hegemony of the West, whether it is China, Russia, People's Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe or Belarus, is targeted with subversion and attack.
In the New World Order declared by George H.W. Bush in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, no country is allowed to develop independently. The world economy is to be controlled by the billionaires on Wall Street and the London Stock Exchange, and all who demand independence are to be threatened, sanctioned, bombed and destroyed. The bombing of Libya, the invasion of Iraq, the attack on Serbia, all served to beat down leaders and regimes that refused to accept economic domination by the United States.
It is clear, however, that the will of the people, in every corner of the globe, is for independence and freedom. The global setup of economic domination by Western powers is highly unpopular. No matter how many Cruise missiles are fired, sanctions are imposed, or terrorist groups are armed, the people continue to demand economic independence and national liberation. Leaders like Patrice Lamumba, Mao Zedong, Hugo Chavez, Alexander Lukashenko, Hassan Nasrallah, and Evo Morales continue to emerge, and people continue to rally around them. The prosperity, freedom and happiness offered by those promoting western economic "development" has simply not materialized, and globally, the human race is rejecting the path offered by Wall Street and London.
When Obama talked of a direct military attack on Syria, world public opinion pushed him back. Now a new poll from Pew Research shows that the overwhelming majority of people, even within the United States itself, say "we should not get involved” in Ukraine.
The Wall Street-run government of the United States is hostile to the sentiments expressed in popular democratic elections. It’s happy to embrace autocrats and tyrants, because humanity has rejected what they have put forward. Only as the bankers are driven back, and the oppressed countries of the world break free, we will begin to see a greater level of democracy unfold.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.