Sunday, March 13, 2005

Catalyst

I am so over listening to US anti-peace rhetoricians trying to convince themselves that dropping bombs and tearing lives apart and detaining and torturing people left right and center has somehow made Bush a catalyst for Mid East democracy in the wake of Lebanese demonstrations and elections that would have happened anyway.

Lebanon is governed by a constitution written in 1926 and has been holding independent elections since 1948. Lebanese women triumphed with the right to vote in 1953 (some sources quote 1952).

Bush trying to claim responsibility for Lebanese autonomy isn't even gatecrashing the party - it's turning up 57 years late.

Or, you know, US rhetoricians trying to credit themselves with "democracy in Iraq". Yes, we have all heard about the many hundreds of people who made their way fearlessly to the polling booths, and good on them., but credit is due also to their counterparts who campaigned - independently - for legitimate elections. The boycotters.

The factions in Iraq who chose not to vote have been roundly vilified by almost everyone - left and right. And yet the factions in Iraq who chose not to vote demonstrated independence with an in-action that gained more media impact then settling for an unknown minority party list number ever would have.

The people in Iraq who didn't vote chose a clear unified way to state their case - that elections were unacceptable unless held legitimately.

These people campaigned openly before elections, clearly stating their cause - candidate and voter safety, access to information, the opportunity for all areas to vote (if so and so isn't given ballot papers then we're not voting either) and the presence of non-partisan election observers. Election boycotters vocally drew attention to many weak areas and as a result, other factions with an interest in elections proceeding in January made an effort towards more accountability. Perhaps most telling of all has been the involvement of not-voting parties after elections. What does this tell us? It tells us that people can work together democratically, that the election was as farcical as it sounded - and that Iraq is building its own democratic process independent of western preconceptions.

Bush's armory the catalyst for Mid East democracy? One might as easily claim Osama Bin Laden's pilots lit the fuse.

Changes in the Mid East have zilch to do with Bush, almost nil to do with toppling towers, and everything to do with ordinary people wanting to live peaceful lives free of war, occupation, torture and economic sanctions.

Meantime in the west. While the Mid East is creating its own freedom, somebody else is snatching away ours. Our elections are rigged, our constitutions crumbling and our women's rights slipping. Fortunately, our administration's rhetoric is slipping too - hardly anyone believes it anymore, so it shouldn't be too hard to out-speak it.

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