Sunday, May 22, 2005

Muslim Analysis: America Spreads Democracy Thin

This is the claim Bush and his supporters have put forth as evident of the political events over the past months. What are their claims?1)Iraqi elections are sign of developing democracy in Iraq2)Election in Palestine and the call for peace from Abbas is sign of democracy3)Mass protests for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon are signs of democracy4)Saudi govt announcement that there will be municipal elections in varoius cities are a sign democracy spreading5)Egyptian president Mubarak's claim that Egyptian elections will allow for more than one candidate are signs of democracy. First, elections are not solely the process of democracy. Communism has elections within the Communist party. Islam allows for elections within the Ahlil Hall wal Aqd as well as general elections for Majlis ash Shura members if not for the caliph himself. Basically, electing a representative or executive- a few or one to represent or carry out the duties of another or many- is as old as human society. In Islam its called wakila- representation. So elections are not reserved for democracy alone. Second, mass marches are not solely representative of democracy. Every major political cause in the 20th century included marches, whether it was democracy, communism, fascism, Islam. So marches are not specifically signs of democracy. Third, the actual events referred to all have particular factors which call into question the veracity of sovereign people or genuine ideological movements directly tied to America's leadership.

1)The Iraqi elections: the Iraqi people are under occupation by a military and imperial force that undermines the political sovereignty and authority of the Iraqi people. That force set up the elections, shaped the political circumstance preceding and during the elections, and is a measureable force in shaping politics in Iraq. Hence, if democracy is independent representative government by a certain people, then the Iraqi elections certainly were not a development of democracy. Rather, they were a development of imperial occupation shaping politics in an occupied nation. 2)Again, while there was definitely an election in Palestinian territory that resulted in a new government, the territory of Palestine is in effect occupied by Israel and the political sovereignty of the Palestinian people is determined by Israel which chooses to allow the Palestinian people to elect their own government. In effect, the Palestinian people are not independent of any foreign occupying power, just as the Iraqi people, and therefore their election is measurably shaped by Israel (through Israel's assasinations of various Palestinians, diplomatic mandates, direct occupation: check points, embargoes, control of all ports, relations with the rest of the world). So the Palestinian election may have placed into office a representative minister, but the Palestinian people were occupied by Israel and denied truly independent self determination, political sovereignty and authority to shape their political affairs. 3)The mass marches and protests for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon were not a result of an idea, they were the reaction to the assasination of Rafiq Hariri. The assasination itself, an enormous bombing which affected buildings a mile away, were the modus operandi of American operatives during the civil war in Lebanon. while most likelyAmericans did not carry out the bombing themselves, they very likely had operatives do so for their interests. The death of Harriri has served to galvanize the same forces that America supported during the Lebanese civil war- Christians, Druze, Sunni nationalists- which suggests American intervention directly or indirectly. Thus, assasinating a national figure to galvanize supporters for an imperial interest- withdrawl of Syria- could be deemed a development of democracy in Lebanon, but speaks to the morality an ideological deficiency of democracy. More likely, galvanizing long time allies in a nation is not representative of democracy. However, if the withdraw of occupation and the allowance for independent governance IS a development of democracy, then cases 1 and 2 are as stated, not representative of democracy and 3 may be. However, Shia factions in Lebanon have recently held marches in favor of Syrian occupation, which suggests that the views of the American allies in Lebanon are not representative of all the people nor even of the majority of the people. 4)The Saudi elections were officially planned back in the mid 1990s and therefore not reflective of America's spread of democracy today. 5)The Mubarak claim for greater representation in the elections is merely a procedural development based on his personal whim and not a shift in authority from him to the Egyptian people. Moreover, Egyptians see his plan is to use a wider electorate to appear to be legitimate while pushing the election of his son as the new PM. Thus, his claim appears to be a ploy for his political legacy. Ultimately, the claim that these 5 events are representative of America's spread of democracy in the Muslim world are more representative of American pursuit of regional interests while compromising the political sovereignty and authority of the Muslim people there.

No comments: