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Bush's Perversion of Democracy in the Middle East

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"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy." --Lincoln

Bush lectured the world from his privileged perch in the United Arab Emirates Sunday, in the middle of his self-orchestrated victory lap around a transformed Middle East which has been disrupted, and its alliances distorted, by the lame-duck imperialist's own meddling militarism. Schooling the Arab leaders who gathered at the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel about democracy, Bush cast himself as a crusader for liberty and freedom in his invasion, overthrow, and occupation of Iraq; and in his installation of the propped-up Iraqi regime behind the intimidation and force our military.

"A great new era is unfolding before us," Bush told the crowd. "This new era is founded on the equality of all people before God. This new era is being built with the understanding that power is a trust that must be exercised with the consent of the governed," he declared.

The "great new era" Bush spoke of, was, undoubtedly, a pat on his own back for successfully erecting a Potemkin government behind his military aggression in Iraq, which he's been able to point to as a fledgling democracy. Yet, the great crusader was seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was speaking from a country, an emirate, which is ruled by a royal family which has no use or desire for democratic reforms which would allow its subjects to directly challenge the autocracy's ultimate authority to enact those reforms.

In the Emirates, foreigners are allowed in the country to work, but are not allowed citizenship or any of the rights and protections which would go with the denied privilege. The tiny group of 'voters' who were chosen by the regime to decide the makeup of a new government advisory panel in 2006 hardly indicate a leap forward for democracy in the UAE, but Bush, nonetheless, praised their tepid moves as an "advance of freedom."

It really made little difference to the royalty and the autocrats gathered that the nation Bush is attempting to 'build' in Iraq is the product of a bloody, military takeover. Indeed, their own power was assumed after their own violent upheavals and maintained by their iron-handed dictatorships which crush any dissent that could be the impetus for democratic change. It is this very U.S. administration which has followed a long line of presidencies who have tolerated, encouraged, and sponsored these anti-democratic elements into assumed authority as the lesser-of-(decidedly more)evil influences they oppose.

The new Iraq has all of the requisites for the type of autocratic rule these Arab autocrats have grown accustomed to dealing with as they work to maintain their own heavy-handed regimes. There are the sectarian divides which keep the ruling power in a constant campaign for alliances which Iraq's neighbors will advantage themselves of. And, there are many opportunities to undermine the central authority in Iraq by supporting insurgent elements bent on armed, destabilizing resistance.

Bush, though, is satisfied that all of the constructions of his nation-building in Iraq are incorruptible and enduring. In his mind, Iraq is to be emulated as an example of a "free and just society" which has been liberated, in his mind, from the 'dangers' of the Saddam years. With hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed since the initial invasion -- despite the fighting and deaths of almost 4000 of our nation's defenders -- it's a curious boast that Bush's invasion has liberated anyone.

And, with the refusal of the Shiite-dominated regime to enact those levers of real democracy, which the country's new constitution promised Iraq's Sunni minority communities would bring balance to the lopsided rule, there is no functioning democratic government which would offer any example or blueprint for others in the region.

"We know from experience that democracy is the only system of government that yields lasting peace and stability,'' Bush told his Arab hosts.

It's a wonder though, in the face of all of the rhetoric about democracy from Bush, why his administration is set to, once again, feather the military arsenal of one of the most firm dictatorships in the region. The lame-duck militarist is heading to Saudi Arabia, Monday, with a $20 billion gift basket of advanced weaponry for the anti-democratic, royal regime. That's how much this administration cares about democracy. It makes no difference at all to Bush whether nations adhere to his fine words about 'freedom' and 'liberty', so long as they're "with us" and not "against us" in his contrived terror war.

In the new "axis of evil" Bush identified Iran, al-Qaeda, and Hamas as "threats" he intends for countries to mobilize against. More to the point, these elements he's identified are to be scapegoats for the inevitable and (many times) understandable, violent consequences of his military expansionism. They're also intended to serve as justification for each and every autocratic military maneuver and meddling Bush can manage in the year he has left in office.

Bush has signaled he's not quite ready to give up his Iraq prize. He said last week that, the "U.S. could 'easily' be in Iraq for 10 years." But, he's also declared that he'll bring "peace" to the region in the 12 months he has left. He can't have both, no matter how he casts his imperialism. It shouldn't have escaped the notice of Arab leaders that it's Bush, himself, with his tortured constructions, who is best positioned to protect and preserve their dictatorships, and help them sell their facades of democracy to the gullible among us. All tyrants, hail the master of faux-democracy. What a perfectly apt place to celebrate his fraud.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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