Corporate Democracy or Mass Representation?

American promise of genuine self-government for Iraq has yet to materialize and the issue is fading as the media gradually diminishes focus on all the pre war promises and hypes. Now that Rumsfeld’s deputy Paul Wolfowitz, a neo-con extremist, one of the architects of Project New American Century (PNAC), has openly admitted (“bureaucratic excuse”) that the allegation of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was nothing more then a pretext. Since WMD was the fundamental issue, it should naturally follow that all the other related claims and promises were also part of the same pretext. Constant attempts have been made by the politicians in collusion with the mass media to obscure the issue of Iraq’s alleged WMD. Claims of finding chemicals which eventually turns out to be pesticides, old empty shells projected on the media! as “significant”, and now they are focusing on mobile laboratories discovered by the US inspectors, none of which actually amount to stock pile weapons of Mass destruction, which can be launched within forty-five minutes, as was originally claimed. In addition there is the usual on-going assertion of frequent discoveries of “evidence” by FOX-TV, followed by CNN and SKY. After a period the issue becomes dead, but its purpose has been served. Such subtle forms of propaganda does work, after 9/11 only 3% of the American public actually believed that Saddam was the culprit, which increased to 60% just before the war on Iraq, by this time they also believed that Saddam was an imminent threat to the security of USA. The minds of most ordinary Americans are being filled with the allegation that is constantly being insinuated. Whilst some Americans think Saddam and Osama Bin Laden are actually the same person in different disguise, perhaps we can attribute this to the Hollywood and Jerry Springer generation! Whatever the case, it demonstrates that the mass media is a lethal form of “weapon of Mass fabrication”!


Such obscurity has also been extended to other areas. Much talked about “Democracy” for Iraq, has been equated with holding free elections to select a legitimate Political authority. Whilst elections are a feature of Democracy, and perhaps one of the few elements that is truly universal but it is by no means exclusive to it. US claims of upholding genuine democracy based on mass representation does not match its track record, as it has actively prevented democratic societies from emerging, as well fostering many brutal dictatorships around the world. Whilst some have attempted to argue in favour of US track record by highlighting the “restoration” of democracy in Germany and Japan. Germany was briefly under Hitler’s rule, who acquired power through the democratic process after winning a number of seats to form a coalition government. Japan was a secular society with its emperor, hence had very little trouble to alter its existing political system to democracy, as everything else was fairly compatible if not in accordance, to the capitalist system. It would be a gross distortion of history and laughable to suggest that the late entry into the war by USA was driven by her zeal to establish democracy in Germany or Japan. Even if the two examples are taken on board as genuine, but the rule has to be established by the majority of the cases, rather then the two weak examples (or exceptions). The USA is happy to deal with Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, or the likes of Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, as long as her interests are satisfied. Looking inward to the USA’s implementation of democracy gives us some idea as to what it really means for her, as highlighted briefly by the following points.


a)      Lets ignore the obvious fraudulent “election” of Bush in Florida. The unrepresentative grip on the “Democratic” system by powerful corporations is perhaps the most prominent factor in distorting a system that is supposed to be governed by the masses. Overt bribes are conveniently termed as Party “donations” by the mass media, who receives a good deal of advertising revenue from the same multinationals. Noreena Hertz (The Silent Takeover) elaborated the point in great length with a lot of detailed information. It is the Capitalists that formulate the foreign policies, and drive the political authority, for one purpose, profit. Recent war was no doubt part financed by the “contribution” made by these US Multinationals (Bechtel, Halliburton etc) in return for the promises of being “awarded” the contracts. At present it is not the “liberated” Iraqi’s that are monitoring the actual quantity of oil that is being “shipped” or even its “price”, but the occupying powers. So when the US talks about bringing “democracy” it means how it can facilitate its sponsors i.e. Republican party donors to exploit freely, and it has very little do with providing the needs of the masses in society. So it is more appropriate to label this as “corporate democracy”, rather then the democracy of the masses.


b)      Undemocratic influence by the lobby groups (e.g. Jewish Lobby, Hudson, AIPAC etc), who ensure that their interests are represented through the back door rather then through their voting powers. As an example, the power of Jewish lobby is so strong that every single potential presidential candidate has to take an open pledge to protect the security of the State of Israel. Lobby groups yield greater influence than the ordinary citizens in the country. Recent huge anti-war demonstrations (domestic and world wide) coupled with the opinion polls was simply ignored by the Political authorities that often shamelessly speak in the name of its people. This was even starker in the UK, Spain and Italy. Is it any surprise that most of its own population are becoming more apathetic to the entire political process? Hence “elected” representatives in Parliament or in Congress of all the major “democracies” are based on the consent of the minority of voters, whilst the majority are disillusioned.


c)      The advocates will argue, democracy allows the masses to select candidates of their “choice”. In reality only the candidates or the established parties that have the financial muscle by the backing of the businesses can practically (high cost of campaigning and advertising) run for election, resulting in the exclusion of most of the ordinary citizens and thus prevent their interests being represented. Bearing in mind the above restriction, and considering that an average voter has a voting life span of about 40 years. That only gives you about eight opportunities to “participate” in this charade. What a waste of a life! Only for those moments you are able to have a say, without any guarantees in return. Yet, it is this rotten model of “Corporate Democracy” that is being proposed for Iraq.


Everyone would welcome genuine free elections in Iraq and lets not conveniently forget the rest of the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain etc). Since the US does not have genuine “democracy” based on mass representative at home, she is unlikely and unable to export such a model to Iraq. In addition there are other reasons as elaborated by the points below that any political system based on mass representation would causes a direct conflict with her real interests in the region.


1)      The Muslim/Arabs will never accept the right of Israel to exist, and in their eyes it’s an illegitimate entity created by the former colonialist nations to serve their interests. This feeling has become more acute with its control over Al-Qudds (Jerusalem, which includes Masjid of Al-Aqsa and the Dome of Rock). Perhaps in the short term a two-state solution can be enforced and will be accepted out of pragmatism, but that is unlikely to result in a long-term permanent solution. Arabs/Muslims do not understand why they should pay for the crimes committed by Europe during the Nazi era in Germany? Why is it that they should accept the verdict of a Jewish god granting Palestine to them? Most certainly Islam does not consider God to be a landlord! What is even more hypocritical is that such notion of “promise land” based on biblical sources is being advocated by secular nations of USA and Europe. The Arabs gave full support to the European colonizers to oust the Ottomans in return for genuine independence but they were betrayed, as they drew up a secret treaty of Sykes-Picot to carve up the entire region amongst themselves. Treachery continues, as visions after vision for an independent Palestine conveniently emerges to placate Arab anger after a military invasion or to drum up support prior to an invasion. Since one of the corner stone of US foreign policy is the security and protection of Israel, this will put it at odds in granting the Arab/Muslims genuine self rule and independence, who are diametrically opposed to the co-existence with the State of Israel.


2)      The second problem is more acute; a desire to elect rulers does not amount to desiring democracy, and especially the US version “corporate-democracy”. Democracy itself dictates the rule of the masses, and hence the rulers must emerge from within rather then imported from the USA and enforced by its military machinery. Iraqis are trying to exercise their “freedom” by rallying behind their own choice of candidates rather then the handpicked Iraqi national Congress, designed to represent US hegemony and corporate interests. The USA is not clearly interested in what the ordinary Iraqis want, which h! as exposed its well-known hypocrisy and the false pretext of “liberation”. For many this was already a forgone conclusion, firstly the historical track record of Imperialist nations like Britain in the Middle East, when they made similar promises of independence to the Arabs at the turn of the 20th centaury, but they openly betrayed on all their promises (Sykes-Picot agreement).  Secondly, Capitalist nations do not behave for benevolent reasons, else we would had have witnessed similar level of determination and mobilization for Rwanda and Palestine. True liberation emanates from within, and not from a foreign invading force with foreign culture and values. Similarly, the “Al-Lies” also claimed the war was about the noble cause of “liberation” not to covet Iraq’s oil, yet conduct and behaviour of the forces after the invasion demonstrates exactly the opposite. Paul Wolfowitz has recently admitted that oil was major f! actor for slaughtering the Iraqis.


As for what type of system of government should prevail in Iraq, once again the voices of Iraqi masses demanding Islam is being opposed by the “one dimensional” Donald Rumsfeld, as described by the former British Cabinet Minister Robin Cook. Hence Iraqis are free as long as they operate according to the interests of the Corporate-USA, of course you won’t witness the “Journalists” in CNN or FOX interrogating Rumsfeld as to why he is betraying on his promise by not allowing the Iraqis to determine their own Political destiny. Algeria was another classic example of this hypocrisy, and even secular Turkey voted for the Islamic party in recent times, very little pressure is applied on her to conform to the Democratic standards of Europe. So is it any surprise that the notion of “Democracy is Hypocrisy” is fast becoming ! a cliché in the Arab/Islamic world?


3)      Final problem with genuine self-rule in the Arab world will be the control of oil, not the flow of oil but rather its price. OPEC has been virtually crippled by the fact that Saudi and Kuwait has been responding constantly and forcefully to the US demands to maintain lower prices. One of the contributing factors towards the first Gulf war. Venezuelan minister as a member of OPEC once bitterly remarked that a barrel of oil is cheaper then a barrel of wine. Iran and Iraq also complained several times about the role played by Saudi and Kuwait in promoting US interests in the region as oppose to OPEC. Like OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries), it has become like a dog that can only bark but never bite. Eliminating Iraq has increased that grip and is it any surprise the recent saber-rattling against the other influential member of OPEC, i.e. Iran? The American dream must be maintained, even though it is a nightmare for the rest of the world.


Hence it will be a choice for the USA for promoting “Corporate Democracy” or genuine rule based on mass representation. It is the latter that is most likely to send shock waves through out the rest of the Arab world and the one that the US really apprehensive about.

The writer is a Graduate in Chemistry from London University and Technical Director. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from the United Kingdom.