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"Democratic Imperialism"

by Werner Pirker Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004 at 9:42 AM

"Violent democracy expeditions are in diametrical opposition. The action of the US in Iraq cannot be legitimate and does not further democratization.."


BY Werner Pirker

[This article originally published in: junge Welt, August 7, 2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

“The action of the US in Iraq is legitimate because it helps democratization”, so tageszeitung (August 5, 2004) introduced a debate in which Michael Young appeared as a war advocate. He spoke “for those in the Middle East who consider themselves liberals and spend most of their lives moving thorough dictatorships and the stifling of democratic freedoms”. For them, Iraq represents “the first real opportunity to bring a powerful Arab state into a pluralist order”. Those who call themselves liberal in the Middle East were opposed in their democratic and social emancipatory efforts.

The pluralist order that they desire refers to the US democracy-creation program that presupposes the abolition of national sovereignty rights. The replacement of nation-state orders by a foreign regime is then called “nation-building”. Nations cloned in US laboratories are based on the fiction of a civil society whose bearers are completely separated from real society and imagine themselves “liberals” committed to a foreign political culture. The freedom they envision aims at the destruction of their minimalist condition: the right of people not to be ruled by foreign powers.

International law as a positive law with universal-democratic themes rests on this principle. Violent “democracy”-expeditions are in diametrical opposition. Therefore the action of the US in Iraq cannot be legitimate and does not further democratization. What is involved is not the production of democracy but the installation of a regime whose democratic character is defined by unconditional loyalty to American power.

It has become fashion to describe the adversities constantly encountering the US in the Middle East as a democracy problem. Therefore the US according to Young must “advance regional democratization since the diverse and often violent manifestations of Arab discontent can only be overcome this way.” Democratization as a means for overcoming the spontaneous democratism of the masses is the theme of the democracy-cosmetic change or deceptive packaging for the Middle East.

The ideologists of the Bush war have coined the term “democratic imperialism” to represent their illegitimate action against the foundations of international law. This is an awkward affair since imperialist power relations represent the negation of all democracy. “Peaceful democratic reform in the Arab world”, as Michael Young complains, will remain “an illusion as long as Arab regimes control armed forces.”

According to the model of Iraq, the countries of the region must submit to a disarmament program to make them incapable of defense against an offensive war forcing “democratic peaceful reforms”. The author recommends a “combination of force from the outside that includes (carefully limited) exercise of military power and intensified pressure from the interior of Arab societies opening up these societies.” The pressure from the interior of society seeks to produce independent conditions making it impossible for foreign powers to force “peaceful democratic reforms” by means of military exercise of power.

The Arab masses may not be very familiar with the customs of Western-democratic rule of law. However they understand the principle of national sovereignty better than the consumers of degenerate western democracy. To prevent this from happening, the power cartel of autocratic regimes is kept alive who have blocked democratization for decades. Conscious of their inner weaknesses and the stagnant character of their governments, the US orients itself in a modernization of these countries to adjust better to the demands of globalization and to achieve a dynamicizng of colonial dependency. That is the pluralist order intended for Iraq. What a pity for the inventors of democracy in the Middle East that hardly anyone is interested in this project, except for a few liberals.

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