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<nettime> The Death of Democracy
Ivo Skoric on Sat, 24 May 2003 22:39:20 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> The Death of Democracy


In New York subways one may sense the war, walking among the solemn 
faces of young soldiers dressed in camouflage, their machine guns 
pointed to the ground . The war that’s far from over. The stubborn siege 
by the invisible enemy. There are no guns in the hills surrounding the 
city, like there were around Sarajevo in 1994. And there is no force that 
we can appeal to bomb their positions. Because *they* exist only in our 
heads. Carefully planted there by our own elected government. 

We are even forced to pay for that: the fare for New York subway was 
raised from $1.50 to $2 per ride, to cover extra security. The only refuge 
being the ad for Skin Cola, a New American answer to the Old European 
boycott of Coca Cola, with the punch line: “New Cola for New New York”

As body language replaced substance as the chief quality in our leaders, 
Television replaced Democracy as our form of government. “Democracy” 
means nothing more but that, whatever electoral manipulation actually 
takes place, every political agent will unconditionally respect the results. 
Ideally, ordinary people would willingly participate in that, blissfully 
ignoring the manipulation. Why bother, though? Television may provide 
the finished product without people having to lose time of work. Unlike 
Democracy, Television requires only the unconditional acceptance of its 
programing, not actual involvement in producing it: that being left to the 
“professionals.”

Preferably, conservatives. Writer Kurt Vonnegut gives a good definition 
of a conservative: “They are people who will move heaven and earth, if 
they have to, who will ruin a company or a country or a planet, to prove 
to us and to themselves that they are superior to everybody else, except 
for their pals. They take good care of their pals, keep them out of jail...” 
Even when they “misplace” more than $3 trillions of taxpayer money, as 
the Department of Defense admittedly did. But who can call them to 
order?!

Right now they are pursuing the invention of even more dangerous 
portable weapons - including “usable” mini-nukes. And why not? They 
created and paid for Osama Bin Laden. They created and armed Saddam 
Hussein. So, it would be only appropriate for them to do the research and 
development for that ultimate terror weapon: ‘usable’ mini-nuke. And 
when one explodes in Washington DC, there should be no question 
where did it come from.

Already in its second colonial administration in Iraq in less than a month, 
with Saddam still on the lam, and the “frustrated” U.S. Arms Team out of 
Iraq empty-handed, the U.S. government believes that such an ideal, 
while unquestionable,  form of government should be imposed on others. 
The ownership of the largest stockpile of weapons is used as leverage in 
their audacity to judge which society is ready to govern itself, and which 
is not. 

By the time the U.S. might be ready to allow Iraqis to govern themselves, 
it may be already too late for them to escape the fate of Afghanistan. 
Degradation of their nation seem to be rather smooth. In the Statement 
by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security to the UN 
Security Council, it is noted that the 2002 Arab Human Development 
Report ranked Iraq highest according to the Gender Empowerment 
Measure. This rank was attained by higher participation of Iraqi women 
in public life.

In the U.S. “liberated” Iraq, that participation disappeared: at the first US-
sponsored meeting in Nassiriya on April 15, only 4 of 123 participants 
were women, and those 4 were from diaspora. In other words not a single 
woman currently living in Iraq was present. Fantastically, thus, and 
contrary to logical reasoning, but not at all surprising, given the current 
disposition among the U.S. bureaucrats, Kenneth Anderson, in his 
recent New York Times Magazine essay, “Who Owns the Rules of 
War?”, approves of imperialist views, suggesting that those rules should 
be owned by big military powers themselves - not by “activist and 
publicly aggressive NGOs”!

“...fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, 
that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood - that serpent’s 
eye, that charms to destroy, he plunged into war.” - said Congressman 
Abe Lincoln in 1848 of then president James Polk, the one that washed 
himself in Mexican blood, building Greater America in the West. Was 
Lincoln any better? During the civil war, he declared medicines a 
contraband of war, refusing to sell them to Southerners even to treat 
Northern prisoners. Why? Because, it was war.

“War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” is a book written by Chris 
Hedges about, well, about war. Incredibly, he was literally booed off the 
stage while delivering the commencement address at Rockford College, 
the alma mater of activist Jane Addams, in Rocford, Illinois. Usually, a 
probable scenario calls for a denizen of corporate media getting booed at 
a college for delivering a pro-war speech. Students, if nobody else, are 
the most progressive element in any society, right?

Wrong. Students at Rockford College literally breath meaning into 
Hedges’s address. His microphone got twice unplugged. Some shouted 
for him to “go home,” some chanted patriotic slogans, some started 
singing “God bless America...”  A few rushed to the podium, and at least 
one graduate tossed his cap and gown to the stage before leaving. Was 
there any better proof that he was right saying: “The seduction of war is 
insidious because so much of what we are told about it is true - it does 
create a feeling of comradeship which obliterates our alienation and 
makes us, for the perhaps only time of our life, feel belong.”?

It made me feel strong deja vu, remembering events that preceded 
collapse of former Yugoslavia. In 1988, Milosevic was consolidating 
power in Serbia. Students at colleges in Belgrade and Novi Sad were 
repeating the mantra about the Serbs being endangered by Kosovo 
Albanians, almost as if they were hypnotized by the media that he 
controlled. They booed independent minded journalists off stages, just 
like Rockford College students booed Chris Hedges. Often, there were 
loud-mouths among them paid by Milosevic’s henchmen to stir trouble.

With evidence of fog horns among Rockford students one has to 
wonder whether young Republicans would use exactly the same 
methods as a Balkan war criminal regime to prove their point. The next 
step is yogurt, then. In 1988 “people” booed the entire provincial 
leadership out of office in Vojvodina, in the event remembered as ‘Yogurt 
Revolution’ - because “people” threw cans of yogurt at exiting leaders.

There is also another parallel - Bush team, not unlike Milosevic team, 
thinks that TRUTH is a dirty four-letter word. Perhaps, the president, 
known as bad speller, doesn’t even know it is a five-letter word. 
Anyway, truth is treated as an obstacle, and edited out of the story. The 
military invasion of Iraq was necessary to prevent Saddam from using his 
weapons of mass destruction. Now Americans are in Iraq for more than 2 
months, yet neither Saddam nor his weapons were found. Nor is anyone 
seriously after them any more. It is more about convincing Russians and 
French in the UN to let US administer the Iraqi oil-wells. The precious oil, 
that, of course, they would never admit they ‘liberated’ Iraq for.

The technology available to the Television=Government of today makes 
1998 film “Wag the Dog” looks amateurish. “A stunning piece of news 
management” is how the BBC called the Pentagon produced and directed 
docu-drama of Saving Private Lynch.

The April 3 Washington Post story said that Lynch “continued firing at 
the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds,” while in 
fact she was never shot, but rather suffered injuries when her vehicle 
overturned (trust me: Americans are notoriously sloppy drivers).

Newswires reported that Lynch was slapped by an Iraqi security guard, 
and the US military insisted that an Iraqi lawyer witnessed the incident. 
Said lawyer is unavailable for comment, now that he was granted political 
asylum in the US and given a job with a Republican lobbying firm.

Eight days after her capture, American media trumpeted the military’s 
story that Lynch was saved by Special Forces that stormed the hospital 
and, in the face of heavy hostile fire, managed to scoop her up and 
helicopter her out.

In fact, not only did Iraqi forces abandon the area before the arrival of 
Americans, but the hospital staff had informed the U.S. of this and made 
arrangements to turn Lynch over to Americans. The only shots fired on 
the scene were fired by Americans, since there were no armed Iraqis 
around.

Americans, knowing that they were unopposed, fired blanks, providing 
good TV footage. As the ambulance, with Pvt. Lynch inside, approached 
the checkpoint, G.I. Joes opened fire. Thinking the fire is real, the 
ambulance fled back to the hospital. I always wondered whether G.I. 
stands for ‘great & incompetent’ or for ‘greatly incompetent’!?

So, the government and its military lie to their people. And the people 
believe that they have been told the truth. Because it is war. And then it 
is my country, right or wrong. And those who are not with us, are 
certainly against us. And if they don’t love us, they should leave. And 
we, on the other hand, have all the rights, because we have all the 
weapons. 

And we are not to be blamed because others were not as fortunate to be 
given an unspoiled large country rich with resources, and a scarce native 
population that was easy to tame by our superior weapons. What did we 
learn then? That possession of superior weapons is what really counts 
for in the world. In what sense are we then morally different than 
terrorists?

There is an editorial along these lines published recently in a Tampa 
newspaper, commenting on the State of Florida letting a Muslim woman 
have her picture on her driver’s license with her head covered. 
IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT. Sure, why did not 
Apaches think of that brilliant slogan, when they had the time?

To those that fail to accept that, the author offers one great American 
freedom: the right to leave. And leave they will. I just learned of another 
incredulous story: in the aftermath of September 11 due to the nation-
wide Muslim-scare, a group of Bosnian Muslim refugees was fired from 
their jobs in their safe haven in Florida - there they were settled by the 
US government in 1994. Now they are planning on returning to Bosnia. 
Pakistanis, and many other Arab Muslims are queuing at Canadian 
border. The US is not any more the desired destination of world’s 
oppressed. On the contrary: a lot of friends that I have are considering 
leaving. The US is increasingly left isolated in its post-911 hateful 
outlook to the rest of the world.

And I am not talking about economic migrants who came here to make 
money and return back to their villages, big build houses to show off in 
front of their local Joneses. I am talking about artists, people who came 
here because they believed in what America used to stand for. They 
*liked* the idea of having their lives lived here. Now, they are positively 
disgusted. And they are picking up their toys and leaving. Furthermore, 
not all of them are immigrants: some are, indeed, Americans. They do not 
want to have to adapt to THIS.

Ivo  

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