The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Reason Wafavarova - Reverence for Hatred of Democracy

THE truism that characterises US meddling in the political affairs of weaker nations can be the Reaganite "democracy enhancement", the Bush II "democratisation," or the Blairite "democracy promotion," but the dramatic demonstration of the West's general hatred and contempt for democracy cannot be treated as controversial, at least from the view point of Aristotle's idea of democracy.

Refutations in relation to the declared nobility of the West's intentions whenever Western elites make interventions in world affairs are quite numerous and dramatic, but the reverence for such rhetoric as Bush's "messianic mission" to "democratise" is undoubtedly significant, even among the victims. Equally revered is Barack Obama's "responsibility to protect," a doctrine that has reduced prosperous and debt free Libya to a rabble - rendering its population desperate and its territory desolate.

The reverence continues no matter how dramatic the refutations. To select just one of many cases, in January 2006, the population of Palestine voted in an election that was recognised to be free and fair - apart from the Bush administration's intervention in an effort to gain victory for its favoured candidate, Mahmoud Abbas.

When the wrong side won, the US and Israel instantly turned to severe punishment of the population for their democratic errors, with Europe toddling along quite politely.

Israel even decided to brazenly intimidate the Palestinian population by cutting off water supplies to Gaza, where water shortages were already severe. When this did not prove to be effective enough, Israel increased its terror and started bombing and destroying power plants that provide electricity for pumping and sewage removal.

Of course this brutality was widely reported in the mainstream Western media, albeit within the confines of Bush's "messianic mission" to "democratise" the lesser nations, especially in the Middle East.

As usual there were pretexts, like saying Hamas was shelling Israel with unidentified missiles, pretexts that collapse even under superficial examination.

It is like the NATO brutality on Libya today. While the goal of the triumvirate US, UK and France to brazenly assassinate the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been openly declared, there are pretexts thrown around to explain the insane NATO aerial attacks on Tripoli; like heroically claiming to be protecting the civilian population of Libya - a reference shamelessly used in describing the Western-backed armed rebels from Benghazi.

This pretext would be laughable if what was happening in Libya was not so tragic. The Libya that NATO is freely destroying by spraying high precision aerial bombs endlessly is a country that under the same "dictatorial" Gaddafi gives its citizens loans at zero interest, albeit because of a religious value based on the Islamic faith.

It is a country where students are entitled the entry salary for the profession for which they are studying. After studying, if one is unable to get employment the state pays the full salary as if one were employed, until employment is secured for the person in question.

When Libyan citizens get married, the couple is entitled to an apartment or a house for free, or to a start up sum payment of US$60 000 - all provided by the State.

For those Libyans who choose to study abroad, the state pays US$2 500 plus accommodation and a car allowance.

Cars sold to Libyan citizens are sold at factory price, with the state subsidising the rest. In terms of university education, 25 percent of Libyans have a university degree. There are no beggars on Libyan streets, no one is homeless, and bread is sold at US$0,15 per loaf.

The country is debt free, with no loan whatsoever from the IMF, WB or any other source.

This is what NATO is bombing to pieces in the name of protecting Libyan civilians. The real crime committed by Libyans is to have a leader who called on oil producing countries not to sell their oil using the US dollar or the Euro, but to demand the gold equivalent.

The last person to make this deadly suggestion was Saddam Hussein, and of course the US hanged him for it - again on the basis of pretexts that are absolutely laughable, the blatant lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was about to destroy the whole planet.

Like they did to Saddam Hussein, the Western powers are going to kill Gaddafi, and there is no sign they will fail.

When Israel started bombing Palestine in 2007, the US-Israeli goals were not at all concealed. The main goal was to impose suffering on the population to induce them to shift their support to Washington's favourite.

It is not different to what the US did to the Nicaraguan population when they wanted it to disengage from the Sandinistas. It is not different to what the US continues to do in its bid to destroy the relationship between the Castro power and the people of Cuba.

It is not different to the West collective effort in disenchanting the population of Zimbabwe, and setting it against the revolutionary Zanu-PF and its principled and incorruptible leader, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The script never changes. It is the players that change.

The hostility against Hamas' victory was a dramatic demonstration of hatred and contempt for democracy by the US and her Western allies.

It was reported quite frankly even in the Western mainstream media, albeit alongside praises for Bush and Blair's dedication to promoting democracy. Criticism from the right was more against the idealistic democracy, (emerging in Palestine) that could be harmful to the West's "civilisation".

To be in power in the West, one has to have this exceptional talent of being able to command a tolerance of contradiction, the talent for George Orwell's "doublethink": the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, while accepting both of them.

Demagoguery is all about this exceptional talent, and most oppressors and dictators are quite gifted in this art.

So the Western elites can on one hand utterly destroy prevailing democracies in Palestine, Chile or in Nicaragua, while on the other hand claiming to be fighting for it in Cuba, Libya or Zimbabwe.

It is hardly controversial that these elites get praised by some for both activities, baffling as it may sound.

It needs to be observed that Gazans and Libyans are protected people under the Geneva Conventions, and that any harm done to individuals except in response to their personal criminal acts is severe crime.

All signatories to the conventions are indeed obligated not only to adhere to the provisions of the conventions, but also to apprehend and punish those who are responsible for any breaches, including the leaders from the United States, or any other leaders from elsewhere.

When a victim of an open assassination attempt by Western powers seeks the protection of the Geneva Conventions, what we get is a politically charged ICC prosecutor coming to the victim's rescue wielding an arrest warrant, not for the leaders of the NATO assassins, but for the victim himself. This is exactly what has happened to Col Gaddafi. The African Union was absolutely disgusted, but could hardly do anything to stop the terrible joke.

The Geneva Conventions and all of international law would be helpfully relevant in a world of law-abiding states. But with states such as the US, France and Britain, international law is scarcely even intelligible.

Scholarship dealing with democracy promotion has come up with similar conclusions. Thomas Carothers is one prominent scholar-advocate for this cause. He calls himself a neo-Reaganite, and he agrees with mainstream scholarship that Wilsonian idealism took on particular "salience" under Ronald Reagan's leadership.

When George W. Bush suddenly discovered the quintessential mission to democratise the world, Carothers published a book reviewing the record of democracy promotion by the US since the end of the Cold War. He concluded that there was "a strong continuity" running through Bush Senior, Clinton all the way to Bush II himself.

Carothers also noted that democracy is promoted by the US government if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic interests.

He, however, claimed that all governments are "schizophrenic" in this regard. How explicable this malady is would be a matter of debate.

As an insider Thomas Carothers wrote extensively on the standard scholarly work on democracy promotion in Latin America in the 1980s. He was serving in the Reagan State Department, tasked with programmes in the "democracy enhancement" section.

Although Carothers describes these programmes as a huge failure, he still regards them as sincere, meaning he holds that Reagan was indeed motivated by the need to "enhance" democracy across the world, more like George W. Bush's highly visionary "messianic mission" to "democratise" the Middle East, or Obama's unquestionable resolve to join Sarkozy and Cameron in giving Libyans democracy through the power of high precision lethal bombs.

Carothers concluded that where the US had little influence, progress towards democracy was greatest, despite Reagan's attempts to impede it by installing right wing dictators all over the place. He also noted that where US influence was strongest, especially in the neighbouring region, progress towards democracy was least.

Carothers did give reasons. He said Washington would only tolerate "limited, top down forms of democratic change that did not risk upsetting the traditional structures of power with which the US has long been allied (in) quite undemocratic societies".

So Bush Junior did not discover the need for "democracy promotion". He inherited the pious doctrine. It is the view held in the mainstream intellectual community in the West that the dedication of Western leaders to the principle of democracy promotion is beyond question, throughout history and today, even considered laudable under Reagan and George W Bush; and under Obama too.

In fact democracy promotion dates back to 1945, a time from which the US has always proclaimed this doctrine as a guiding vision, and it is not even controversial that the US has a pregnant history of overthrowing parliamentary democracies, invading flourishing democracies, and propping up tyrannical characters. One can easily remember Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Congo and an endless list of other countries.

There used to be Cold War pretexts behind most of this aggression, but these regularly collapsed upon the slightest of investigation. It is like trying to remember how Reagan brought democracy to Central America by terrorist wars that left hundreds of thousands of corpses and three countries totally ruined. One has to be worse than insane to even think of the word logic when recalling these atrocities.

Policy makers from the school of realism are always fixated with the paradoxical character of policy formulation, where some policies elicit regret but are felt to be unavoidable.

President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, Robert Pastor explained why the Carter administration had to support the murderous and corrupt Somoza regime in Nicaragua, and when that proved impossible, tried to maintain the US-trained National Guard even as it was massacring the population "with a brutality a nation usually reserves for its enemy," killing no less than 40 000 thousand people.

Pastor gave the reasons: "The United States did not want to control Nicaragua or the other nations of the region," he wrote, "but it also did not want developments to get out of control. It wanted Nicaraguans to act independently, except when doing so would affect US interests adversely."

The Cold War was hardly relevant here, but the dominant operative principle was being copiously illustrated, as always done throughout history. Indeed policy conforms to expressed ideas only if it also conforms to vested interests.

When we hear the phrase "US interests" we must not be deluded into thinking that these are interests to do with the domestic population of the US, and this applies to any other "interests" as defined by state power.

These are interests of the concentrations of power that are often determined to dominate the masses.

The maxim that speaks against concentrations of power is often derided by respectable opinion as a "conspiracy theory," as "Marxist," or "Communist," or some other such epithet. However, this is easily verifiable when put to objective inquiry.

Even right wingers Lawrence Jacobs and Benjamin Page rarely but unsurprisingly concluded that the major influence on policy is "internationally oriented business corporations," though there is a secondary effect of "experts," who, as the two pointed out "may themselves be influenced by business".

Public opinion is of very little import in policy formulation. In fact Jacobs and Page cited Walter Lippmann confidently noting that public opinion is "ill-informed and capricious (and) warned that following public opinion would create a 'morbid derangement of the true functions of power' and produce policies 'deadly to the very survival of the state as a free society,'" to borrow some of Lippmann's own words.

Public opinion has very little or no significant effect on public policy, more so on the foreign policy of those who seek to meddle in the affairs of weaker nations. The American public did not have much to do with their country's invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, or that of Iran in 2003.

Equally, it is not part of public opinion in the West that Zimbabweans should be intimidated into submission through a ruinous and murderous sanctions regime, so that they can be separated from their leadership and be shifted to vote for the West's favourite, Morgan Tsvangirai. This is a position merely taken by elites that are highly influenced by business.

There is no evidence that those responsible for planning policy have superior understanding and abilities than other mortals. What they have is a monopoly of opportunity, just like the five permanent members to the United Nations Security Council. There is simply no evidence to suggest that France, the US, the UK, China and Russia have a superior understanding of world affairs than all others.

All they have is an undemocratic monopoly of privilege and self-allocated power. We have a UN that is almost dysfunctional with Ban Ki Moon at its helm, helpfully toddling along the aggressive tendencies of Washington and her allies, endorsing the blatant barbarism we see happening in Libya today.

Perhaps this is "the white man's burden, the duty of the big brother," as Woodrow Wilson's military governor once explained.

We hear the West have a duty to see to it that Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement, whatever that means; is adhered to and implemented in full, by which they mean it is implemented to the satisfaction of one party, its lapdog Movement for Democratic Change led by Tsvangirai.

Even the nefarious attitude shown by Minister Tendai Biti towards the welfare of civil servants is a laudable feat to some for who holds it, and not for what it is. There is no doubt that the issue of increasing salaries for civil servants is now caught up between a genuine resolve to alleviate the poverty of the long-suffering civil servants and Minister Biti's salient arrogance - an obsession to be seen to be fighting even where humanity simply calls for no more than a sense of respect.

But Minister Biti has policy makers to obey; themselves influenced by "internationally oriented business corporations". We are talking here of the highly influential IMF, Biti's admired mentors, whose last mentoring sessions in Zimbabwe some two decades ago ended with an unprecedented devastation of the economy, wreaking absolute havoc through the notorious Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, another civil servant hating programme that fooled Zimbabweans into untold suffering in the mid-nineties.

The IMF does not really want a stable Zimbabwe before elections, not really because the IMF is inherently evil, but because it is manipulated and controlled by Western policy planners who favour the idea of intimidating the population of Zimbabwe into shifting their vote to Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party. Only that kind of voting would constitute democracy for Zimbabwe - otherwise the election would be deemed a sham.

We can prop ourselves up the ladder of democracies if we do the West's bidding on who should lead Zimbabwe's government. The message is very clear and the conditions for lifting the harmful illegal sanctions are also quite clear.

The slight problem is that Zimbabweans are not the easiest people to put into submission, let alone intimidate.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on

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