By Dr. A.S. Nakadar
Elections are not far off, and contesting law makers are trying to reach their constituents with their usual preaching of education for all, health care for all, Medicare coverage, prescription coverage and (depending upon whether a Democrat or a Republican is speaking), you will hear about whether taxes should be permanently reduced or not.
In coming days, until election day, we will also hear loud and clear proclamations of how the US is able to bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq.
In fact it might seem our only concern is the peopleâ€™s right to vote and bringing democracy to that region. It doesnâ€™t matter if the people are hungry, impoverished, have no shelter and live in perpetual fear from within and without. It doesnâ€™t matter whether their elections are rigged or not. We are only concerned with â€œDemocracy.â€ Our lawmakers and leaders somehow feel democracy once established will be regionâ€™s panacea.
In two meetings, one with a local congressman and another with a Michigan senator, I asked the following question, â€œWe are in Afghanistan and Iraq to establish democracy, hoping that it would encourage democracy in the region. What I fail to understand is,â€ I continued, â€œWhat are we doing to establish democracy for our staunch allies Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and others in the region that are non-democratic?â€ I paused for a minute and then asked, â€œWhat about China, a communist country that is our biggest trading partner?â€ Instead of a straight answer I heard typical political rhetoric on communism and our trading partner. I didnâ€™t hear anything about the countries I mentioned because the audiences were predominantly Muslims.
And how are we promoting democracy in the region? Isnâ€™t Hamas a democratically elected government? Agreed, that our government has declared Hamas a terrorist organization. But we must know the difference between an organization and an elected government. With organizations one deals in law and order issues, but with democratically elected governments one deals with political diplomacy, not with heavy handedness and machismo flouting justice, freedom and all human rights issues.
The U.S. and Israelâ€™s action in Palestine amounts to a collective punishment of the Palestinian peopleâ€”the price Palestine pays for not electing a democratic government of our choice. Doesnâ€™t it defeat the purpose of democracy? What kind of message are we sending? Do we honestly believe that by imposing monetary and other sanctions, cutting off food for the old, the young, the infants, the pregnant and the sick (even the animals!)â€”literally starving any living beingâ€”we will bring them into submission, or bring about a change to a government of our liking? This is a short-sighted policy, a policy of arrogance, intoxicated with a military and economic might and without diplomacyâ€”which might come to haunt us in the region in the foreseeable future. Chavez, president of Venezuela, is an example.
Moshe Dayan and his political partners once headed an outlawed organization, â€œHaganahâ€ a Jewish militant group that was once outlawed by the British. Moshe Dayan later became Chief of Staff, Minister of Agriculture and then Defense Minister. Did the British and Americans treat him or his party men as outlawed man when he and his other members occupied political office? There was a marked contrast in dealing with him by the British and Americans when he headed a terrorist group and when he became part of the government.
People all over the world respect us for our cherished values of Democracy, Justice, Freedom and Human Rights. Instead of upholding these values, we use might and arrogance to intimidate the democratically-elected governments that we donâ€™t approve of. Isnâ€™t this hypocritical? And yet we wonder: â€œWhy do they hate us?â€
Dr AS Nakadar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.