Mission 'democracy' is mission hypocrisy
Updated: 2011-08-06 07:52
By OP Rana (China Daily)
The world economy heaved a sigh of relief. White House welcomed it as a step forward. US President Barack Obama could claim that he saved Americans from imminent disaster, even if it was at the last minute. Democrats (in majority in the Senate), despite their grumbling and frustration, could claim to have got their way. And Republicans ("ruling" the House of Representatives) could jolly well pat each other on the back. We are talking about US Congress passing the historic deal on debt and spending cuts, which ended the threat of a grave financial crisis in America and beyond.
But, to put it plainly, it was nothing less than "abject surrender" by President Obama to the Republicans, for he agreed to cut $2.1 trillion in expenditure on programs for the poor without succeeding in imposing higher taxes on the rich.
Those who said Obama would not agree to the "harsh" terms of the Republicans - cutting expenditure on social security without imposing higher taxes on the rich - had to eat crow. It was hardly surprising, though, what happened in Congress. That is the way of American politics. The US, on a mission to spread "democracy" to the farthest corners of the world, long ceased to be governed by democracy itself. The "land of plenty" is now for those who already have plentiful.
In presidential democracy, which the US is, the president is elected by the people, and he is the face of the people and works for the people. But today this axiom is confined to textbooks. Reality is otherwise: corporate influence has weakened American values, presidents have become prisoners of their donors and corporations rule the roost. Corporations are teachers, guides, friends, philosophers, farmers, inventors, manufacturers, doctors, pharmacists, financiers, insurers and more all rolled into one. And their only mantra is to keep the cash registers rolling - even if that means pushing the people to live beyond their means.
Americans fell into the trap laid by corporations long ago, and many of them are paying the price of living beyond their means. Perhaps that is what prompted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to say that Americans live "like parasites off the global economy". The ordinary American, however, should not be blamed, for he or she is playing strictly by the rules of the game. The blame should be on those who have set the rules. And who dare blame the rule setters?
Ordinary Americans could fume that spending cuts would subject them to the same austerity measures that the European Union member states have imposed. They could feel that their president has let them down after promising "change" and after insisting for months that he would agree to the cuts only in return for hundreds of billions of dollars in extra tax revenue from the rich. Despite that, they would still have to follow the same rules and believe in the same promises that other political leaders will make. At the most, they could vote Obama out in the next presidential election, only to be confronted by a different set of leaders but the same set of rules.
Perhaps George W. Bush wrote the "signpost of the American empire's decline" when he decided to invade Afghanistan in 2001 - or more precisely when he decided to attack Iraq in 2003. The two wars have drained the US coffers to the tune of $1 trillion a year. On a rough estimate, the US has lost $10 trillion in the wars. The only winners have been weapons' manufacturers and their cohorts, who goaded Bush to take the decisions in the first place. The wars have left the US poorer, and Iraq and Afghanistan shattered.
Bush sold mission "democracy" to US allies, who swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The result: almost every country that joined the US in the two wars is battling with one financial crisis or the other today.
The truth is that the "democracy" practiced by the US and other Western countries today is more about corporations than about people. For all intents and purposes, the politician-corporate nexus has turned democracy into "corporocracy". No wonder, Obama and the Democrats agreed to condemn the poor Americans to greater misery. Maybe the corporations didn't leave them with a choice.
And if that is the case, Western leaders should stop accusing countries like China of violating this right or that and attacking countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to spread "democracy" before giving full play to the rule of the people in their own backyards.
The author is a senior editor with China Daily.
(China Daily 08/06/2011 page5)