Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Then Again, Democracies Don’t Believe In Democracy

Today’s must-read: A fascinating op-ed piece in al-Jazeera, written by Robert Grenier, a 27-year veteran of the CIA, called “The Triviality of US Mideast Policy”.

The key paragraph:
The failure of the US to uphold its stated commitment to democratic values therefore goes beyond a simple surface hypocrisy, beyond the exigencies of great-power interests, to suggest a fundamental lack of belief in democracy as a means of promoting enlightened, long-term US interests in peace and stability.


  1. Our entire national political philosophy was based on"...a fundamental lack of belief in democracy as a means of promoting enlightened, long-term US interests in peace and stability."

    The 'Defining Dads' were scared to death of democracy - and with good reason.

    A democracy simply means that the majority of those who manage to get to the polling place get their way. In today's USA that would mean that Bill Gates would be a pauper and each of us would have an additional 35 bucks in our pocket.

    That's why they created a Constitution, defined it as the supreme law of the land, and made it a right bugger to modify. (Unless you use the expedient of ignoring it completely.)

  2. That op-ed is fascinating the way a schizophrenic's delusions are often fascinating. The man is actually claiming that the problem with US foreign policy is that it promotes "democracy" too little!!

    Democracy worked reasonably well in the US and Britain when suffrage was narrow and the power of the legislature modest (features which, today, would lead us to characterize a democracy as false). Otherwise, it has pretty much sucked. Hitler was elected democratically. Ho Chi Minh would have been elected democratically had the US not wisely scotched the elections. Hamas was elected democratically. Murderous lunatics were elected democratically in Tunisia and will be elected in Egypt and Jordan if even borderline free and fair elections are held. The godawful mess that has been India's policy environment has always been popular and electorally ratified. Why oh why do US policymakers care about something as ridiculously abstruse as whether or not foreign countries have periodic votes on things and whether these votes are "free and fair," whatever that means?

  3. 'Course the US has a "fundamental disbelief in democracy," and has had probably since the election of that wild 'n' crazy guy Andy Jackson, the president who let the national bank expire, invited hordes of Jethro Bodines and Grannies to his nomination (and to the horror of the JQ Adamses of the world the invitation was accepted, and the White House overrun), and yeah, decided treaties with Indian Tribes were kinda sorta optional. And told the Supreme Court to stick it up their collective bungholes when they disagreed with him.

    But, oh, wait, suffrage was in fact "narrow" back in those days. So Jackson must have been an elitist. Somehow or other. 'Course we've not seen his like since, but he's still gotta be one, since he couldn't possibly have been democratically elected except under a system that "worked fairly well."

    And that "Hitler was elected democratically" claim is just so durn cute. Every little boy and girl on the internet who makes it should get a pat on the head and a kewpie doll of their own choice. And then get sent to bed early so the adults can have a serious discussion.

    And when the little boys and girls grow up and have a reading comprehension level equal to that of a seventh grader circa 1964, someone can hand them a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, where they can learn all about how Hitler arrested or at a minimum refused to seat Communists, Social Democrats and other assorted democratically elected riff-raff in the Reichstag when he went looking for those "emergency powers" in 1933, the ones that turned the 1934 election into a complete and utter farce. Ya know, the one with different colored ballots for a pro- or anti- Nazi vote. The one where those silly enough to actually pick the wrong color ballot were asked quite pointedly if they had somehow made a mistake in their choice of ballot. Very helpful for you to identify whether you were going to get a visit from some really nice helpful folks some night or other. FWIW, by Shirer's count Hitler would have lost that 1933 vote, had everyone who was supposed to have been seated actually been seated. And by extension, that any election in 1934 would've been quite a different affair, obviously.

    But, that's all a bit too advanced for the Bill L's of the world. So I'll simply ask him to record his preference for a blue or pink kewpie doll, and if his jammies have little feet in them or not. And let him dream his little dreams about what everyone just somehow "knows" to be true, even when it is not.

  4. You might try mixing some argument with your invective. Hitler won the 1932 elections. In fact, a majority of the vote went to totalitarian parties: the commies and the nazis. Germany voted for totalitarianism. You seem to be saying that Germany wasn't democratic any more after Hitler destroyed Germany's democracy in 1933. Not false, but it's sort of hard to see what your point could possibly be.

    On Jackson, again a swing and a miss. Indeed, "worked reasonably well" is entirely consistent with occasional bad outcomes. But, then, I'm not the one defending democracy: that's you. Even so, the franchise started broadening in the US before Jackson's election, as property qualifications were falling away. Naturally, he accelerated the process.

    Your hysterical emotional reaction is strong evidence that your pro-democracy views are the product of conditioning rather than rational thought.

    There are lots of examples of democracy leading rapidly to much worse governments. In addition to the ones I mentioned before, there is the history of de-colonization in Africa. One man, one vote, one time and resulting in dramatically worse government than the colonial powers provided, with few or no exceptions.

    Finally, you don't even try to defend the US's demented policy of encouraging democracy in the middle east. Would Saudi Arabia's government get better if its citizens were allowed to elect whomever they wanted? How's democracy working out in Iraq?

  5. I have sad news for all of y'all. The US isn't supposed to be a Democracy. That's written into the main body of that hallowed document. A core belief. It is Constitutionally guaranteed and directed to be a Republic.

    Majority tyranny scared the bejeezus out of many of the founding fathers. Who was it that said; "A pure democracy is the worst form of tyranny known to man."

    I really hate it when supposedly intelligent folks fire off half-cocked about something of which they know absolutely nothing.

    The US Constitution; read it!


Knock yourself out!

The cult of stability is a culture of death.