"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, December 02, 2005

How Presidents Use the Term "Democracy" as a Marketing Tool

George W. Bush?s recent claim that the U.S. war in Iraq is part of an attempt to spread ?democracy? to the Middle East should not surprise anyone familiar with the use of that word to camouflage sordid realities.

When, in the aftermath of World War II, Stalin had the Soviet Union gobble up the nations of Eastern Europe, he christened them People?s Democracies ? although they were neither democratic nor meant to be. This debasement of ?democracy? and other noble terms such as ?freedom? and ?peace? to crude propaganda was undoubtedly what George Orwell had in mind when he wrote his powerful novel, 1984, which portrayed a nightmarish society in which words were turned inside out to justify the policies of cynical and unscrupulous rulers.

Unfortunately, however, ?democracy? has also been abused throughout American history. In the nineteenth century, land-hungry politicians, slaveholders, and businessmen defended the U.S. conquest of new territory by claiming that it would extend the area of democracy and freedom. In the twentieth century, President Woodrow Wilson grandly proclaimed that U.S. participation in World War I would ?make the world safe for democracy.? A few decades later, Washington officials again sanctified U.S. policy by invoking democracy, for they declared repeatedly that the U.S. role in the Cold War was designed to defend the ?Free World.? Indeed, it would be hard to find a U.S. war or expansionist enterprise that was not accompanied by enthusiastic rhetoric about supporting democracy.

In fairness, it should be noted that the U.S. government has economically and militarily supported many democratic nations. After World War II, it forged alliances with a good number of them.

But it has also provided military and economic assistance to numerous nations ruled by bloody dictatorships, including Franco?s Spain, Chiang Kai-Shek?s China, the Shah?s Iran, Somoza?s Nicaragua, Batista?s Cuba, Sukarno?s Indonesia, the Saud family?s Saudi Arabia, Diem?s South Vietnam, Duvalier?s Haiti, Marcos?s Philippines, the Colonels? Greece, and many other tyrannies. Indeed, the term ?Free World? originally included Stalin?s Russia. And, not so long ago, the U.S. government had no scruples about providing military assistance to Saddam Hussein?s Iraq. Furthermore, on occasion the U.S. government has sought to overthrow democratic governments. Three of its success stories along these lines occurred in Mossadeq?s Iran, Arbenz?s Guatemala, and Allende?s Chile, where democratic governments were succeeded by vicious dictatorships. Based upon this record, observers might well conclude that, for U.S. officials, the defense of democracy has been less important as a motive than as a marketing device.

A good example of ?democracy? as a marketing device is its employment in selling the U.S. program of military and economic aid to Greece in 1947. This program had arisen out of the U.S. government?s fear that the Soviet Union, then at loggerheads with the United States, stood on the verge of breaking through the Western defense line to the oil-rich Middle East. To plan President Truman?s address to the nation on the new policy, Francis Russell, the director of the State Department?s Office of Public Affairs, met on February 27 with the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee. The meeting records indicate that, when Russell asked if the speech should emphasize the conflict with the Soviet Union, he was told that it should avoid ?specifically mentioning Russia.? Then perhaps, said Russell, the administration ?should couch it in terms of [a] new policy of this government to go to the assistance of free governments everywhere.? This proposal was greeted enthusiastically, for it would be useful to ?relate military aid to [the] principle of supporting democracy.? Or, as one participant put it, the ?only thing that can sell [the] public? would be to emphasize the threat to democracy. Ultimately, then, the president?s March 12, 1947 address, which became known as the Truman Doctrine, did not mention the conflict between two rival nations, the United States and the Soviet Union, but instead emphasized ?alternative ways of life,? in which the United States was defending the ?free? one.

This approach not only misrepresented the motives of U.S. government officials, but the realities in the two nations targeted for the military and economic aid. Joseph Jones, who drafted the president?s address, recalled: ?That the Greek government was corrupt, reactionary, inefficient, and indulged in extremist practices was well known and incontestable; that Turkey . . . had not achieved full democratic self-government was also patent.? According to the minutes of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee meeting, participants agreed that the Greek government was a rotten one, though ?not basically fascist.?

Thus, President Bush?s recent contention that his war in Iraq is designed to further the cause of ?democracy? is not out of line with the statements of past U.S. government officials, who have not been very scrupulous about how they have packaged their policies. Nor is it out of line with the behavior of other governments, always eager to put the most attractive face on their ventures.

Even so, given the long-term abuse of the word ?democracy? as a public relations device ? as well as the collapse of the president?s earlier justifications for the Iraq War ? we might be pardoned for viewing his sudden enthusiasm for democracy with a good deal of skepticism.

Dr. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York, Albany. His latest book is Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971 to the Present (Stanford University Press).

Copyright History News Network


War Based On A Lie

Weapons of mass destruction? I?m still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we?ll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of ?democracy? and ?freedom? touted by our leadership at home and overseas.

This deception is furthered by our armed forces? belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and ?laissez-faire? society. Don?t get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonald?s, but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again.

I?m not being negative, I?m being realistic. The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn?t exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans ?feel good? about the ?War on Terrorism.? The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq.

Weapons of mass destruction? Call me when you find them. In the meantime, ?bring ?em on? so we can get our ?mission accomplished? and get out of this mess.

Capt. Jeff Pirozzi
Camp Taqaddum, Iraq

Stars and Stripes


If You Lie Down with Dogs, You Wake Up with Fleas

"I believe anybody who works with the CIA and allows the American intelligence agency to secretly bring planes in the country is trying to hide something."

HRW Has Strong Evidence Romania Was Involved In CIA Secret Prisons Case

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has indirect, but strong evidence that Romania and Poland were involved "some time ago" in the case of the CIA alleged secret prisons, together with several Middle East countries, according to the organization's military analyst, Mark Garlasco, in an interview with Delta RFI radio station.

Reporter: You published a list of 26 terrorism suspects who were allegedly detained and subjected to torture in several countries. What countries are you referring to?

Marco Garlasco: We certainly know there are several countries from the Middle East involved. Considering the articles published by the Washington Post and other sources, we believe that at least two countries in Eastern Europe either hold or have held prisoners, which we believe were tortured. Of course, our information shows that Romania and Poland are definitely suspects.

How did you find these terrorism suspects? Where did you get the information from?

The information on the alleged locations of the prisons is based on the flight routes of CIA planes, which flew from Afghanistan directly to these locations in Europe, including to Timisoara.

Do you have any news as regards Romania's involvement?

We are still investigating to establish where these secret centers could have been located in Romania, but we work very close with the European Union and the Council of Europe, to try to locate these areas. We will have a meeting with European experts next week.

But do you have any concrete evidence against Romania?

We have circumstantial, but very strong evidence that Romania and Poland were involved some time ago. We don't know whether they still are, but, anyhow, any previous involvement and any violation of human rights will question the future status of the country inside the EU and this is why it is so important to us to make this investigation.

What other countries are on the list?

Countries from the Middle East, Egypt, Jordan and several others in the area. We were very surprised to find out that European countries were also involved, but it seems that in the fight against terror, both the U.S. and the allies are determined to take certain steps that are against international regulations.

Why weren't the prisoners taken to the U.S.?

If they had been taken to the U.S., they should have been treated according to American laws and would have stood trial. So they were taken to the Middle East because they can go around the law there.
Why Eastern Europe? This got us confused too. But I think it is more important for the Romanians and the Polish to wonder why CIA planes landed in their countries. Even if there were no prisoners subjected to torture in these two countries, I think Romanians and Poles should receive clarification.

Do you think Romanian authorities have something to hide?

I believe anybody who works with the CIA and allows the American intelligence agency to secretly bring planes in the country is trying to hide something. Judging by the statements made by Romanian and Polish officials, I believe these things must be clarified and I hope the investigation conducted by the Council of Europe will be able to do this.


Deplorable Richard Burr

"It is frightening that senators would believe that secrecy in matters of health will make us safe, and very disheartening that they would be so willing so quickly to dismiss the importance of open government laws."

Reporters Committee Deplores Secret Health Agency Proposal

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press deplores the effort of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to create a federal agency immune from public oversight and the unfathomable failure of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider Freedom of Information principles in endorsing this bill.

Senator Burr introduced the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act in late October, stating as its intention "to prepare and strengthen the biodefenses of the United States against deliberate, accidental and natural outbreaks of illness, and for other purposes."

It would create a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency that would not be subject to the Freedom of Information Act, to the Federal Advisory Committee Act and its openness provisions or to large portions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

No federal agency has been given a blanket exclusion from Freedom of Information requirements in the 40-year history of the act. Even routine administrative details such as official travel expenses and costs of office furniture would be withheld under this measure.

The bill would only allow public disclosures from BARDA when a "need to know" is demonstrated, and then only when both the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director or the new agency determine that disclosure will "not threaten national security."

Through Freedom of Information Act disclosures, the public has in the past learned that the government has conducted questionable medical experiments on its citizens, such as injecting them with plutonium; that it has not always identified a full range of side effects from drugs such as recent smallpox vaccinations; and that its scientists have not been any more omniscient than researchers elsewhere in determining what is safe and unsafe for the public.

Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish said, "It is frightening that senators would believe that secrecy in matters of health will make us safe, and very disheartening that they would be so willing so quickly to dismiss the importance of open government laws."

Other sponsors include Senators Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), William Frist (R-Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).