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18 Nov, 2014 17:11

I’m confused, can anyone help me? Part Three

I’m confused, can anyone help me? Part Three

I’m confused. The first thing I’m confused about is democratic legitimacy after elections are held in war-torn countries.

Western leaders have hailed the recent parliamentary elections in Ukraine, as a great triumph of “democracy.”

Barack Obama said it was “an important milestone in Ukraine’s democratic development.” Top EU officials said it represented “a victory of the people of Ukraine and of democracy.”

Yet large parts of war-torn Ukraine took no part in the vote. Turnout, according to the Ukraine Central Election Commission was just 52.42 percent.

In May’s presidential elections, turnout, according to official figures, was 60.3 percent. They were won by Petro Poroshenko with 54.7 percent of the vote. Again, western leaders hailed the results as a great victory for “democracy.”

Now let’s consider the case of Syria, another war-torn country where there were also important elections this year.

Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada.(Reuters / Nigel Marple)

Unlike Ukraine’s elections, leading western politicians did not say the result of Syria’s first multi-candidate presidential election in over forty years represented an “important milestone in Syria’s democratic development”- even though, according to official figures, the turnout was much higher than in Ukraine, at 73.42 percent.

Far from it, the same people who hailed the elections in Ukraine haughtily dismissed the election in Syria as a “farce.”

This election bore no relation to genuine democracy. It was held in the midst of civil war,said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Today’s presidential election in Syria is a disgrace,” said US State Department spokesperson Maria Harf.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Syria’s election a “fake.” Fabius did not telephone Bashar al-Assad, the winner, to offer his “warmest congratulations” as he did with Poroshenko.

How come one election held in a country divided by war is hailed as a “victory of the people and of democracy” but another election- where the turnout is higher -denounced? Why are Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk deemed to be the legitimate representatives of the Ukrainian people but Bashar al-Assad, despite his higher level of popular support, denied any kind of democratic legitimacy? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

At the recent G20 summit in Brisbane, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Vladimir Putin to “get out of Ukraine.” Leaving aside the fact that there’s no hard evidence that Russia is in Ukraine - and that Harper didn’t produce any- the statement seems to imply that the Canadian Prime Minister doesn’t like other countries interfering in the affairs of others and believes in state sovereignty and the inviolability of state borders.

But in 2003, Harper was a strong supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq (and wanted Canada to join in), a clear example of one county “getting” into another. He actually thought it was a “mistake” of the then Canadian government not to take part in the invasion of Iraq. Why is Stephen Harper so concerned about a non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine, but happy to support a real, actual, and blatantly illegal invasion of Iraq?Does the Canadian Prime Minister support state sovereignty and the inviolability of state borders, or doesn’t he? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

David Cameron tells us that ISIS poses a “clear and present threat to the United Kingdom.” Yet only last year he was trying desperately to persuade Parliament to vote for air strikes against a secular Syrian government that was fighting ISIS and other radical extremists associated to al Al-Qaeda. Cameron describes ISIS as “an evil against which the whole world must unite,” but even now the British government, in common with other western governments is still working for the violent overthrow of the government in Damascus whose forces are the only ones on the ground in Syria capable of defeating ISIS. If defeating ISIS really was so important, why is the west trying to topple the anti-ISIS Syrian government? Why, if “the whole world must unite” against ISIS, won’t the British and western governments work with the Syrian government? I‘m confused. Can anyone help me?

Trenton Oldfield.(AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

To coincide with the launch of RT UK, we’ve seen a wave of attacks on RT by self-proclaimed “democrats” and “liberals” in the British media.Some of these attacks have urged Ofcom - the broadcasting regulator - to take action against RT. I always thought that being a “democrat” and “liberal” meant support for alternative voices being heard, not trying to stop people from hearing them. John Stuart Mill, the author of On Liberty, a classic text on liberalism, wrote of the “peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion” and that “all silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.”

So how come western “liberals” want to silence the opinions expressed on RT? Why are those who claim to be anti-censorship, so censorious when it comes to RT? I would have thought people calling themselves “democrats” and “liberals” would welcome a wide variety of news channels for people to watch, yet instead of that supporters of “free speech” are attacking a channel which broadcasts opinions which they don’t agree with it. I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

Western politicians say that they are appalled by the “barbarism” shown by ISIS in the various beheading videos they have released.But if beheading people is so bad (as most people would agree that it is), why is there no similar condemnation of the beheadings which take place in Saudi Arabia? In August, Amnesty International reported a “surge” in beheadings in Saudi Arabia, amounting to at least 23 in three weeks. Why are beheadings by ISIS “savage” but the ones carried out in Saudi Arabia acceptable? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

Pussy Riot, the Russian punk protest group who were jailed after a demonstration in an Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow are feted as heroes in the West, with a whole range of public figures including the pop star Madonna coming forward to express their support. But there was no such celebrity support for Trenton Oldfield, a protestor who was jailed for six months in Britain after trying to disrupt the Oxford- Cambridge University boat race in 2012. Oldfield said he was protesting against elitism, inequality and government cuts. If Pussy Riot’s cause is deserving of “progressive” support, then why isn’t Oldfield’s? Why are some anti-government protestors who go to jail hailed as heroes, but others totally ignored? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

You can read I'm confused, can anyone help me Parts One and Two.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.