Democracy in the U.S.

We have two political parties….

the winners and the losers

—Kurt Vonnegut

or
Twiddle-dee and twiddle-dumber,

a choice of Pepsi or Coke

There is collusion between the
Democratic and Republican parties
and business, with the mainstream
media looking the other way.

The U.S. Court system is rigged.

The courts decide who has “standing”,
in other words, who is allowed to bring
an action for justice.

And lawyers are considered “officers of
the court”.

If they act in any way independently of
the wishes of the judges, they can be
dismissed or disbarred.

September 1, 2006

President George W. Bush perpetually invokes the goal of spreading
democracy
to sanctify his foreign policy. Unfortunately, he is only the latest in a
string of presidents who cloaked aggression in idealistic rhetoric. Killing
in the
name of democracy has a long and sordid history.

The U.S. government’s first experience with forcibly spreading
democracy came
in the wake of the Spanish-American War. When the U.S. government
declared
war on Spain in 1898, it pledged it would not annex foreign territory. But
after
a swift victory, the United States annexed all of the Philippines. As Tony
Smith, author of America’s Mission, noted,

Ultimately, the democratization of the Philippines came to be the principal
reason the Americans were there; now the United States had a moral
purpose to
its imperialism and could rest more easily.
William McKinley proclaimed that in the Philippines the U.S. occupation
would
“assure the residents in every possible way [of the] full measure of
individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of a free people,
substituting
the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule.” He also promised to
“Christianize” the Filipinos, as if he did not consider the large number of
Filipino Catholics to be Christians. McKinley was devoted to forcibly
spreading
American values abroad at the same time that he championed high tariffs
to stop
Americans from buying foreign products.

The “mild sway of justice” worked out very well for Filipino undertakers.
The United States Christianized and civilized the Filipinos by authorizing
American troops to kill any Filipino male 10 years old and older and by
burning
down and massacring entire villages. (Filipino resistance fighters also
committed
atrocities against American soldiers.) Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos
died as the United States struggled to crush resistance to its rule in a
conflict
that dragged on for a decade and cost the lives of 4,000 American troops.

Despite the brutal U.S. suppression of the Filipino independence
movement,
President Bush, in a 2003 speech in Manila, claimed credit for the United
States’s having brought democracy to the Philippines:

America is proud of its part in the great story of the Filipino people.
Together our soldiers liberated the Philippines from colonial rule.

Perhaps Bush believes that subservience to the U.S. government is the
highest
freedom that any foreign people can attain. His comments illustrated the
continual “1984”-style rewriting of American history.
Latin American interventions

Woodrow Wilson raised tub-thumping for democracy to new levels. As
soon as he
took office, he began saber-rattling against the Mexican government,
outraged
that the Mexican president, Victoriano Huerta, had come to power by
military
force (during the Mexican civil war that broke out in 1910). Wilson
announced
in May 1914,

They say the Mexicans are not fitted for self-government; and to this I
reply
that, when properly directed, there is no people not fitted for
self-government.

This is almost verbatim what Bush has said about Iraqis and other Arabs.
And
as long as a president praises self-government, many Americans seem
oblivious
when he oppresses foreigners.

Wilson summarized his Mexican policy: “I am going to teach the South
American
republics to elect good men!” U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter
Hines
Page explained the U.S. government’s attitude toward Latin America:

The United States will be here 200 years and it can continue to shoot men
for
that little space until they learn to vote and rule themselves.

In order to cut off the Mexican government’s tariff revenue, Wilson sent
U.S.
forces to seize the city of Veracruz, one of the most important Mexican
ports. U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of Mexicans (while suffering 19 dead)
and
briefly rallied the Mexican opposition around the Mexican leader.

In 1916, U.S. Marines seized Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican
Republic. After the United States could not find any Dominican politicians
who
would accept orders from Washington, it installed its own military
government to
run the country for eight years. The previous year, the U.S. military had
seized control of Haiti and dictated terms to that nation’s president. When
local
residents rebelled against U.S. rule in 1918, thousands of Haitians were
killed. Tony Smith observes,

What makes Wilson’s [Latin American] policy even more annoying is that
its
primary motive seems to have been to reinforce the self-righteous vanity
of the
president.
World War I and II

After Wilson took the nation into World War I “to make the world safe for
democracy,” he acted as if fanning intolerance was the key to spreading
democracy. He increasingly demonized all those who did not support the
war and his
crusade to shape the postwar world. He denounced Irish-Americans,
German-Americans, and others, declaring, “Any man who carries a hyphen
about him carries a
dagger which he is ready to plunge into the vitals of the Republic.”
Wilson urged
Americans to see military might as a supreme force for goodness,
appealing in
May 1918 for “force, force to the utmost, force without stint or limit, the
righteous and triumphant force which shall make Right the law of the
world.” As
Harvard professor Irving Babbitt commented,

Wilson, in the pursuit of his scheme for world service, was led to make
light
of the constitutional checks on his authority and to reach out almost
automatically for unlimited power.

Again, the parallels with Bush are almost uncanny. And many of the same
intellectuals who currently praise Wilson for his abuses in the name of
idealism
also heap accolades on Bush’s head.

The deaths of more than 100,000 Americans in World War I did nothing to
bring
Wilson’s lofty visions to Earth. The 1919 Paris peace talks became a
slaughter pen of Wilson’s pretensions. One of his top aides, Henry White,
later
commented, “We had such high hopes of this adventure; we believed
God called us and
now we are doing hell’s dirtiest work.” Thomas Fleming, the author of The
Illusion of Victory, noted, “The British and French exploited the war to
forcibly
expand their empires and place millions more people under their
thumbs.”
Fleming concluded that one lesson of World War I is that “idealism is not
synonymous with sainthood or virtue. It only sounds that way.” But it did
not take
long for idealism to recover its capacity to induce political delusions.

During the 1920s and 1930s, U.S. military interventions in Latin America
were
routinely portrayed as “missions to establish democracy.” The U.S. military
sometimes served as a collection agency for American corporations or
banks
that had made unwise investments or loans in politically unstable foreign
lands.
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler bitterly lamented of his 33 years of
active service,

I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business,
for
Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for
capitalism…. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American
republics
for the benefit of Wall Street.

Franklin Roosevelt painted World War II as a crusade for democracy —
hailing
Joseph Stalin as a partner in liberation. Roosevelt praised Stalin as “truly
representative of the heart and soul of Russia” — as if the lack of bona
fide
elections in Russia was a mere technicality, since Stalin was the nation’s
favorite. Roosevelt praised Soviet Russia as one of the “freedom-loving
Nations”
and stressed that Stalin was “thoroughly conversant with the provisions
of
our Constitution.” Harold Ickes, one of Roosevelt’s top aides, proclaimed
that
communism was “the antithesis of Nazism” because it was based on
“belief in
the control of the government, including the economic system, by the
people
themselves.” The fact that the Soviet regime had been the most
oppressive
government in the world in the 1930s was irrelevant, as far as Roosevelt
was
concerned. If Stalin’s regime was “close enough” to democracy, it is
difficult to
understand why Roosevelt is venerated as an idealist.

Cold War interventions

Dwight Eisenhower was no slacker in invoking democracy. In 1957, he
declared,

We as a nation … have a job to do, a mission as the champion of human
freedom. To conduct ourselves in all our international relations that we
never
compromise the fundamental principle that all peoples have a right to an
independent government of their own full, free choice.

He was perfectly in tune with the Republican Party platform of 1952, which
proclaimed,

We shall again make liberty into a beacon light of hope that will penetrate
the dark places…. The policies we espouse will revive the contagious,
liberating influences which are inherent in freedom.

But Eisenhower’s idealism did not deter the CIA, dreading communist
takeovers, from toppling at least two democratically elected regimes. In
1953, the CIA
engineered a coup that put the shah in charge of Iran. In 1954, it aided a
military coup in Guatemala that crushed that nation’s first constitutionally
based government.

The elected Guatemalan government and the United Fruit Company could
not
agree on the value of 400,000 acres that the Guatemalan government
wanted to
expropriate to distribute to small farmers. The Guatemalan government
offered $1.2
million as compensation based on the “taxed value of the land;
Washington
insisted on behalf of United Fruit that the value was $15.9 million, that the
company be reimbursed immediately and in full, and that [President
Jacobo]
Arbenz’s insistence on taking the land was clear proof of his communist
proclivities,” as America’s Mission noted.

Yet, at the same time, the federal government in the United States was
confiscating huge swaths of private land throughout American inner
cities for urban
renewal and highway projects, often paying owners pittances for their
homes.
There was no foreign government to intervene to protect poor Americans
from
federal redevelopment schemes. The fact that the U.S. government got
miffed over
a 1954 Guatemalan government buyout offer helped produce decades of
repressive
rule and the killing of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan civilians.

Since the Eisenhower era, U.S. government bogus efforts to spread
democracy
have sprouted like mushrooms. Especially with the creation of the
National
Endowment for Democracy in 1983, all limits were lifted on how many
democratic
cons that the U.S. government could bankroll abroad. The U.S.
government is
currently spending more than a billion dollars a year for democracy
efforts abroad.
But Thomas Carothers, the director of the Carnegie Endowment’s
Democracy and
Rule of Law Project, warns that Bush policies are creating a “democracy
backlash” around the globe.

The greatest gift the United States could give the world is an example that
serves as a shining city on a hill. As University of Pennsylvania professor
Walter McDougall observed, “The best way to promote our institutions
and values
abroad is to strengthen them at home.” But there is scant glory for
politicians
in restraining their urge to “save humanity.” The ignorance of the average
American has provided no check on “run amok” politicians and
bureaucrats.

James Bovard is the author of the just-released Attention Deficit
Democracy,
The Bush Betrayal, and Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice,
and
Peace to Rid the World of Evil. He serves as a policy advisor for The
Future of
Freedom Foundation.

U.S. democracy is coercive to its citizens. Protesters against war must pay
taxes to pay for these wars or be punished by prison or confiscation of
their assets.

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