Despite U.S. boot heel on Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine
Bush pontificates on 'democracy' in Middle East
By Richard Becker
On Nov. 6, in a highly ideological and
condescending speech whose actual authorship is unknown,
President George W. Bush outlined his administration's "vision"
for a "democratic" Middle East. The speech was greeted by
near-universal condemnation in the region.
"He wants democracy and the U.S. is occupying Iraq and its
ally Israel is killing Palestinians? Arabs just don't buy it,"
said Moghazy al Badrawy, a political analyst based in the
"Mr. Bush has not read history," another Gulf-based writer
noted, pointing out the unparalleled role of U.S. foreign
policy in undermining progressive development and popular
democracy in the region for more than a half-century.
Speaking appropriately enough to the 20th anniversary
meeting of the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush called
for reshaping the Middle East to suit the interests of
Corporate America. The region, said the president, "must be a
focus of American policy for decades to come."
The NED was established in 1983 as an instrument of the
Reagan administration's crusade to overthrow the Soviet Union,
Eastern Europe, Cuba and the rest of the socialist camp.
Bush's address to the same group two decades later
reaffirmed his administration's intention to overturn any and
all governments in the developing world, socialist or
otherwise, that fail to follow Washington's dictates.
Bush's speech focused on the Middle East in general and Iran
and Syria in particular. But he also targeted the governments
of Cuba, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea for "regime change."
Colonialist, fundamentalist & anti-communist
The Nov. 6 speech's colonialist, Christian fundamentalist
and anti-communist character is illustrated by a few choice
"Liberty is the plan of heaven for humanity."
"A religion that demands individual moral accountability and
encourages the encounter of the individual with God is fully
compatible with the rights and responsibilities of
"The success of freedom is not determined by some dialectic
"Successful societies privatize their eco nomies and secure
the rights of property."
"The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle
East will be a watershed event in the global democratic
The uninformed would hardly know that Iraq had just been
invaded and recolonized by the very leader uttering such
glowing tributes to "freedom"!
Heightening the sense of absurdity, Bush praised U.S. client
states and puppet regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Afghanistan and Iraq, while at the same time he condemned Syria
Saudi Arabia is a U.S.-created theocra tic family
dictatorship. Even the mild est dissent is punishable by
torture and execution. There has never been an election in
Saudi Arabia. Women are deprived of even the right to drive a
car. It is also the number-one oil producer in the world.
Bush's praise for the Saudi government's "first steps toward
reform" refer red to a recent announcement that the regime is
considering holding restricted municipal elections.
President Hosni Mubarak presides over a police state in
Egypt, the most populous of the Arab countries. His regime is
dependent on billions of dollars annually in U.S. support. When
the Egyptian people attempted to demonstrate against the war on
Iraq, they were viciously attacked by thousands of U.S.-armed
In Afghanistan, the U.S.-installed puppet president, Hamid
Karzai, must have a personal protection unit made up of U.S.
special forces to survive. His government's rule does not
extend outside of the capital, Kabul.
With only unintended irony, President Bush stated that in
Iraq, "the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Gov
erning Council are also working together to build a democracy."
The CPA is headed by L. Paul Bremer, appointed by U.S.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The CPA and the U.S.
military are the real rulers in occupied Iraq.
The appointed Bremer in turn appointed a 25-member "Iraqi
Governing Council," a group of mostly wealthy exiles. Together,
according to Bush, the appoint ees and the U.S. generals are
now "securing democracy in Iraq."
"Iraq democracy will succeed, and that success will send
forth the news from [Syrian capital] Damascus to [Iranian
capital] Tehran that freedom can be the future of every
nation," said the president.
Whatever their shortcomings, both Iran and Syria have
functioning parliamentary systems in which women participate as
both voters and representatives.
As Egyptian analyst Gamal A.G. Soltan wrote: "Praising Saudi
Arabia and criticizing Iran. It's not fair at all. The spectrum
of freedom available in Iran is much wider than Saudi
Qatar's Al-Sharq newspaper editorialized, "As the crisis in
Iraq deepens, the United States is trying to open a new front
in the region, especially with Syria."
'Democracy': cover for U.S. goal of
The reality is that the Bush administration could not care
less about democracy and freedom--other than the freedom of
capital to go anywhere, exploit anywhere. Believing that Bush
and his ghoulish team have the slightest interest in the rights
or welfare of any of the peoples of the Middle East can only
lead to confusion.
Iran is a dramatic case in point. This year is the 50th
anniversary of the CIA coup that overthrew the first democratic
government in that country's history. It was a nationalist
bourgeois govern -ment led by a man named Mohammed
Iran had been a virtual British colony for about 40 years
when Mossadegh took office in 1951. The country's rich oil
resources were owned and controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil
Co., today known as British Petroleum. Iranian oil workers
lived in indescribable poverty in Abadan, the Iranian oil
center, while many Anglo-Iranian shareholders lived in luxury
in London. Anglo-Iranian paid more in taxes to the British
government than it did in royalties to Iran.
After coming to power, Mossadegh nationalized the
Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. In retaliation, Britain and the United
States slapped a worldwide oil embargo on Iran. After 18 months
of destabilization, the CIA--under the direction of Kermit Roos
evelt, a grandson of President Theo dore Roosevelt--carried out
a successful coup.
The ousted shah (king) was returned to power. The United
States trained a brutal secret police force, the SAVAK. For the
next 25 years the Iranian people were subjected to horrific
repression and the whole sale looting of their natural
resources. The primary beneficiary was now U.S. rather than
British capital. Iran became the pivot of U.S. military power
in the Gulf region, home to two-thirds of the world's oil
The SAVAK to a very large degree destroyed the secular, left
and progressive organizations in Iran. It is estimated that
more than 100,000 people, mostly young people, were arrested,
subjected to torture and executed over a quarter of a century.
The destruction of the secular and left movements opened the
way for the triumph of the Islamic forces when the Iranian
people rose up against the shah and his U.S. sponsors in the
U.S.: main obstacle to development and
The Pentagon and the CIA also intervened seeking to destroy
the nationalist and socialist movements and governments in
Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Oman,
Dhofar, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region
over the past 50 years. U.S. leaders have used not only overt
and covert military means, but also economic sanctions, often
with devastating effect.
The United States, of course, played the key role in
creating the Israeli state, which has since its formation
served as a beachhead for Western imperialist interests in the
Middle East. The super-militarized Israeli state not only
dispossessed the Palestinian people of their homeland, it has
severely distorted and limited development in the area.
The Israeli leaders have always made clear their eagerness
to carry out the agenda of the Western powers, especially the
United States. No neighboring government could decide to embark
on a new course--especially one running counter to imperialist
interests--without having to contemplate the consequences it
might suffer at the hands of Israel.
A dramatic example was Egyptian President Gamal Abdul
Nasser's decision to nationalize the Suez Canal in
1956--followed shortly thereafter by a combined
When the United States wanted to crush the Lebanese left and
the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1970s and 1980s,
the Israeli military invaded Leb anon, occupying most of the
country in 1982, carpet bombing the capital, Beirut, for
months, and killing more than 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian
In the case of "the Israeli-American protectorate of
Jordan," as the writer Tariq Ali has called it, the Israeli
Army stood ready to invade in 1970-71, when it looked as if the
Palestinian majority in that country might overthrow the
CIA-sponsored King Hussein.
Reflecting on this history and responding to the colonialist
tone of Bush's speech, the Syrian daily al-Thawra newspaper
wrote: "The people of the region are not in need of lessons in
democracy and freedom. ... Can there be democratic revolution
by occupying sovereign countries' land? Can it be by jets and
cannons and destructive weapons?"
Reprinted from the Nov. 20, 2003, issue of
Workers World newspaper
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