Friday, December 30, 2005

Secular Democracy

Since its founding in 1776 America has defined in practice the meaning of Democracy, it equates with Secularism. Anti-Theist (though a Quaker and Deist himself) Thomas Paine espoused the belief that the revolutionary nature of Democracy was two fold a recognition of the Rights of Man, and the seperation of Church and State. Paine was there urging on the American Revolution, then a hop skip jump to France to promote his Rights of Man during the French Revolution, and then back home to Britain to promote his ideals of democracy.

Now after much ballyhoo and cheering from the Bush Administration, election results in Iraq show that while the machinery of democracy, or at least representative democracy was successful the result was not a democracy. As the saying goes the operation was a success unfortunately the patient died. Such is the case in Iraq. The election has created a government, as did the earlier negotiations around a constitution etc, but not a democracy. For to be a democracy the government and its constitution must be secular. And the secularists, those whom the US ironically supported were defeated.

But there was a disappointingly poor showing for the secular, nationalist Shia list of the former interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, seen by the US and Britain (with a dash of the wishful thinking that has long characterised their policies) as a possible compromise contender for the prime ministership - despite his unpopularity with fundamentalist Iranian-backed groups such as Sciri and Dawa. Mr Allawi, who supported the US assault on Falluja, has complained of serious irregularities at the hustings and has demanded a rerun. Two Sunni parties, stunned by defeats in the Baghdad area, have also cried foul, with one of their leaders, Saleh al-Mutlak, warning openly of "civil war." The Electoral Commission will examine complaints but does not think irregularities had a major impact. Experts believe a rerun is unlikely but suggest - wishful thinking again? - the demand may be intended to pressurise the Shia and Kurdish winners to take a more altruistic and inclusive approach to government.
Divided they stand
Thursday December 22, 2005
The Guardian

While conservatives have used the prejorative Godless in relation to Communism, to denote the old Soviet Union, one should more properly use it as a
prelude to the term Democracy. For if democracy has a religion, it is Deism, the belief that there may be many names of God. If not then democracy must be atheist, that is secular, for the State which arises from it must be free from religion or it is a Theocracy.

In Iraq today the people have used electoral democracy to elect not a democratic government nor even a democracy, but rather a government which is Theocratic and will take them further down the road of Theocracy and further away from democracy.

Sunnis shun government talks in protest at election results

Although final results are still to be declared, Sunni Arab and secular parties have been disappointed by their electoral performance, demanding a re-run of the polls held on December 15 and threatening to boycott the new parliament. Tens of thousands of their supporters have taken to the streets in protest.

Partial results show that the Shia alliance has done better than expected, particularly in Baghdad, where it took 59% of the vote compared with just 19% for its nearest Sunni rivals and 14% for former prime minister Ayad Allawi's broad secular coalition.

"There will be no negotiations about forming the new government," Hussein al-Falluji, a Sunni candidate on the Accordance list, said. "We will not have any dialogue about it, not with the Kurds and not with the Shia. Results should be reviewed and announced first."

For all King George II's admonishions that his Empire has freed the Iraqi people from tyranny, and given the Middle East a model of democracy, such is not the truth nor the fact of the matter. The people have spoken in Iraq but due to the nature of the fragmentation of that nation by the occupying powers, real democracy did not occur, merely the mechanics of electoral representation; voting, occurred.

Monitors to study Iraq elections

A serious crisis involving the elections could set back hopes for a broad-based government that would include minority Sunni Arabs as well as secular Shia. Such a government could have the legitimacy necessary to diminish the insurgency - a key part of any US military exit strategy from Iraq.

The UN's election observer, Craig Jenness, said on Wednesday that his team, which helped the Iraqi election commission organise and oversee the poll, found the elections to be credible and transparent.

But Sunni Arabs and secular Shia rejected his findings, saying their concerns - some of which were centred on political assassinations before the elections - were not addressed.

There have been about 1,500 complaints lodged against the elections, including around 50 about events serious enough to alter the results in some districts. The overall result, however, was not expected to change.

In order to achieve the civil peace required the U.S. has accepted the participation in the elections of religious blocs, not civil parties perse but religious parties. Thus this election was not fair or balanced, it was between the forces of those who yearn for a Theocratic state and those who wish for a secular state, and the latter lost the election.

And this is the irony and contradiction of the Shock and Awe attack on Iraq. First it was declared that it was to end WMD, which would have meant that the U.S. was acting on behalf of the UN which meant it would have had to put Iraq under UN control after its invasion and war. But that was never the plan. So after the WMD feint failed, the U.S. went in on its own, declaring it was removing a Dictator, fighting for human rights, extending democracy in the region, but it was NOT repeat NOT abour nation building. No siree in and out, just like the macho men in the Administration. In and Out, it was to be the twenty minute war. But three years later they are still there and are nation building. This administration was never prepared to build a nation in Iraqw anymore than they were in Afghanistan, still there too, just appoint a local chieftan and leave. But Iraq was and is a quagmire, not like Viet Nam where like Korea the United States and the UN had divided the nations into North and South, but a quagmire around nation building. Something the this Empire is much poorer at then any of it's Imperial predecesors.

Nope this was to be an example to the world of the Shock and Awe of Amerika's military might. Screw with us and we will pound you into the ground was the administrations thinking. But who cleans up the mess after, that was the fatal after thought, which of course was not thought of. And the result will not be democracy in Iraq but the road towards a Theocracy. But the United States was not there to promote Democracy in the first place, or nation building, or ending the rule of a Tyrant, or sigh WMD. Nope the U.S. was there to prove a point, that they were the biggest baddest kid on the block, or as Georgie boy said; "They wanted to kill my daddy". Vengeance and power.

Shock, awe and Hobbes have backfired on America's neocons

Iraq has shown the hubris of a geostrategy that welds the philosophy of the Leviathan to military and technological power

Richard Drayton
Wednesday December 28, 2005
The Guardian

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance - a key strategic document published in 1996 - aimed to understand how to destroy the "will to resist before, during and after battle". For Harlan Ullman of the National Defence University, its main author, the perfect example was the atom bomb at Hiroshima. But with or without such a weapon, one could create an illusion of unending strength and ruthlessness. Or one could deprive an enemy of the ability to communicate, observe and interact - a macro version of the sensory deprivation used on individuals - so as to create a "feeling of impotence". And one must always inflict brutal reprisals against those who resist. An alternative was the "decay and default" model, whereby a nation's will to resist collapsed through the "imposition of social breakdown".

All of this came to be applied in Iraq in 2003, and not merely in the March bombardment called "shock and awe". It has been usual to explain the chaos and looting in Baghdad, the destruction of infrastructure, ministries, museums and the national library and archives, as caused by a failure of Rumsfeld's planning. But the evidence is this was at least in part a mask for the destruction of the collective memory and modern state of a key Arab nation, and the manufacture of disorder to create a hunger for the occupier's supervision. As the S├╝ddeutsche Zeitung reported in May 2003, US troops broke the locks of museums, ministries and universities and told looters: "Go in Ali Baba, it's all yours!"

For the American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. Neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the recently indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby, learned from Leo Strauss that a strong and wise minority of humans had to rule over the weak majority through deception and fear, rather than persuasion or compromise. They read Le Bon and Freud on the relationship of crowds to authority. But most of all they loved Hobbes's Leviathan. While Hobbes saw authority as free men's chosen solution to the imperfections of anarchy, his 21st century heirs seek to create the fear that led to submission. And technology would make it possible and beautiful.

So the elections have come and gone, or sorta of they are up in the air. When will the United States leave Iraq, mission accomplished. Expect them to go by the end of 2006. That was their strategic aim anyways, their timeline for their mission. They had planned to leave earlier but nation building is such a slow business not at all like Shock and Awe military invasions. Or invasions that have no popular support from the residents, "They will welcome us as Liberators", or the international community. So expect that by the end of this coming year serious troop reductions from the so called Coalition of the Willing, especially the U.K. and U.S. troops as well. Regardless of the impending civil war that has been made inevitable by the Theocratic government they leave in their wake.

Blair: troops could begin Iraq pullout within six months

Tania Branigan in Basra and Ewen MacAskill
Friday December 23, 2005
The Guardian

Tony Blair shakes hands with Royal Airforce personnel as he arrives in Basra
Tony Blair shakes hands with Royal Airforce personnel as he arrives in Basra.

Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty


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