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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2492

Whither democracy in America?

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Part 2: Is Democracy for sale in America?

The rise of Constantinian Christian power in American democracy has progressed in stages. As Professor Cornel West of Princeton has demonstrated in his must-read book – Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism - first, the ecumenical groups who spoke in defense of the rights of "others" were targeted by the Christian fundamentalists. They were lashed out with vicious attacks and branded as "liberals." The Christian fundamentalists and evangelists cast liberal seminaries as "sinful" havens. For legitimacy of imperial rule, they recruited and financed minority (e.g., Blacks, Chinese and Korean) churches who parroted their views. The last stage was their consolidation of power by throwing their weight around with well organized political action groups and aligning themselves with Jewish neoconservatives.

The ride to grab power from Reagan's election in 1980 to Bush II's election in 2000 has been nothing but a thunderous success for the Constantinian Christians. Never before in American history has a group of organized militant fundamentalist Christians risen to such a prominence in power.

But an empire cannot grow solely from her High Priests. She needs other players – notably, Haman, Lord Clive, multinationals – the East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. Today, that role is played by the multinationals that have an overarching influence on American democracy.

The civil war was the first modern war when modern technology and resources of a modern state for mass mobilization were put to use. During the war industrialism ran amuck, and the dogma of, what Professor West calls, free market fundamentalism ruled supreme. The country gave birth to a new breed of plutocrats who ran unregulated monopolies and accumulated enormous financial fortunes. Thus began the nihilistic rule in America where the empire and the corporate elite power came to empower and enrich each other resulting in corruption, greed and graft.

Just as the Civil war brought in free market fundamentalism, the Cold War in the post-World War II era created a military industrial complex in the USA. It produced a vast concentration of military might that is simply unparalleled in the human history. Her military budget matched the combined budget of the rest of the world. She has over 650 military facilities with some 1.5 million soldiers stationed in some 132 countries. Such unmatched power tended to intoxicate all those who smelled power. Thus, followed streams of blood from Indo-China to Central America with invasions of Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, and lately Afghanistan and Iraq; and add to this list the hijacking of state apparatus in countries like Iran for quarter of a century.

During his Presidential tenure, Eisenhower was alarmed about the greater threat from within, which he discovered in the rapidly increasing relationship between the military industry, the Pentagon, and the Congress. Much of the civilian population was financially dependent on defense industry, and most universities thrived on the increased research opportunities. Contrary to many politicians of the time, he understood the dangerous consequences of increasing the military's impact on the national economy. He feared that the military industrial complex could result in policy decisions which were not in keeping with the best interests of the American people.

In his farewell speech (Jan. 17, 1961), Eisenhower cautioned: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

If one scrutinizes the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq, one cannot escape from asking: was Bush coaxed into war because it served the best interests of military industrial complex? How about the Carlyle Group? How about the dozens of other defense contractor companies that benefited from war? How about the multi-national oil and gas companies? How about Halliburton Energy Services where Cheney was CEO before becoming Vice President? How about the influence of multi-nationals on the Congress? Was not Eisenhower right?

Since 9/11, global arms market has grown. In 2006, the USA wrapped up the biggest share of new arms deals ($16.9 billion), approx. 40 percent of the worldwide total. Just in January of this year, there were 223 publicly-reported defense contracts, totaling $19.6 billion. As Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com has correctly pointed out, "While the civilian economy is shrinking, the military sector is expanding – and, if either of the eventual major party candidates have their way, the military expenditures will balloon. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are pledged to an even bigger U.S. military. It's good for business, if your business is war or war-related, and…the growing group of Americans whose livelihoods…depend on the continuation of our foreign policy of perpetual war."

These are justifiably ominous signs for America. If America hands off the presidency to John McCain, there is little doubt that as an old guard of the current establishment, he will escalate militarism with a policy of confrontation and conquest. He will further the dogma of the "military industrial complex" that Eisenhower was worried about. With his favorite punch line "the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radical Islamic extremists,"we are not surprised that he is the favorite candidate of the War party, the Jewish neoconservatives and the Constantinian Christians who favor perpetual war over negotiated settlements of disputes.

This resurgent imperial identity not only arrogates America to overlook her own hypocritical, bullying behavior in regard to so many of the regions of the world but also about the contempt she inspires amongst others.

This imperial arrogance has made America to behave like a plaintiff, jury, judge and executioner – all at the same time. It has also reduced the UN to act like a mouthpiece for the UNSC members with the Veto power (esp. the USA). Truly, the UN has lost its purpose. Rather than being a forum where dissenting views are heard and debated it has become a boardroom where punitive sanctions are often unjustly passed against rival nations that are deemed Socratic, challenging the powerful. The General Assembly has by now become a spineless Harijan center for the wretched of the earth and can only bemuse itself with Resolutions that don't have the biting power to resolve any crisis. The actual power of the world body is now confined to those states having the Veto power in the UNSC, esp. the USA. In essence, the UN has morphed into the most undemocratic organization in our world. So, while Bush has been preaching democracy overseas, esp. in the Muslim world, all his rhetoric sounds so hollow and hypocritical!

The imperial American democracy is also failing miserably to fight recession at home and stop devaluation of a falling dollar. Already signs are too ominous to ignore the fact that while America has built up uncontested military might, undeniable cultural power and trans-national corporate and financial hegemony (note like the UN, the IMF and World Bank are also headquartered in the USA), she has a huge trade deficit, budget deficit, and class, racial, religious and ideological warfare at home.

And worst of all, in imperial America today, there is truly nothing called a "free" press that is willing to probe for the greater good of "free" American citizens. Yes, there is the Internet and there is some honest journalism in some unknown newspapers, but they don't make headlines that common Americans either read or listen to. Most media are controlled by multi-nationals or powerful interest groups, who dictate what needs to be fed and at what frequency. If one is willing to keep one's job, one better don't antagonize those "bosses" who put up the bill, and they include advertisers, sponsors, etc.

It is not by chance that in spite of all the proofs (and these were plenty) of absence of any connection of Saddam Hussein's regime with 9/11 and the absence of WMDs in Iraq, American media propagated the lies of Washington, and the U.S. Congress, acting more like an 'Amen Corner' for a rogue nation and the merchants of war, authorized invasion of Iraq in which nearly a million people has perished in the last five years. The war has also displaced millions of civilians, and sent the country back to the days of Jahiliya, lacking basic necessities of life and safety. Not a day goes by when some civilians are not killed violently there. The war has also killed some 4000 U.S. soldiers, mostly minority Blacks and Hispanics, much like how the Scottish and Nepalese Gurkha soldiers used to die for the British Empire. Are not media responsible for this crime of the 21st century? Is not Washington accountable? American economy is now in shambles!

Is there any solution to get out of this imperial quagmire? How about listening to Eisenhower? He said in his farewell speech:

"Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

"Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."

Will America listen to this wise man who knew the evils of war firsthand and cautioned about the power of multinationals, and advocated negotiation to resolve international problems? Or, will she follow the orders from chicken-hawks, draft dodgers and AWOLs, who protect themselves and their own children from fighting in the battlefield and yet are so emotionally charged up about settling disputes violently?

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