Monday, June 06, 2005

Bush attacks democracy in the Americas

Bush is making a big deal about his support for democracy in the Americas. Democracy in the Americas prospered greatly during the Clinton administration, but Bush has actively undermined it. Specifically, he helped depose the democratically elected President of Haiti and tried, unsuccessfully, to do the same in Venezuela.

The democractically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was deposed during Bush, Sr.'s administration. Aristide was restored to power by U.S. forces under President Clinton's command in October 1994. Aristide disbanded the Haitian military, but former soldiers staged a rebellion in early 2004. As rebels closed in on the capitol, a U.S. Marine unit surrounded Aristide. Were they there to protect this democratically elected leader? Not exactly. They told him that he must leave to avoid bloodshed, which he did. Did we take him to the U.S. to help him return to the office he was elected to? No. We flew him to Africa. Aristide told CNN that "... he was forced to leave Haiti in a 'coup d'etat' by the United States" (reference). Haiti today is a mess.

On 12 April 2002 the democratically elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was overthrown by their military (reference). Did the U.S. condemn to coup? No. Bush immediately recognized the coup leaders as the legitimate government. The decision to recognize was made so quickly it's hard to believe the U.S. didn't have prior knowledge of the coup. In any case, imagine our embarassment when a few days later democracy triumphed and Chavez returned to power.

I don't like Chavez much, and I don't know a whole lot about Aristide. However, it seems to me that democracy means that the people of Haiti and Venezuela should choose their leaders, not the U.S. The U.S. admits overthowing the democratically elected leaders of Iran during another Republican administration, Eisenhower's. Iran today is one of America's most bitter enemies (1). Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself.

Bush's actions completely contradict his talk of support for democracy in the Americas. I was taught that the measure of man is his actions, not his words.

(1) In addition to Eisenhower overthowing Iranian democracy, the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in the 1980s with weapons and satellite photos. Donald Rumsfeld helped arrange this. The Iraq-Iran war killed about one million people. During that war, the U.S. navy shot down an Iranian 747 with almost 300 civilians on board, killing all of them. Remember that when Iranian demonstrators chant "Death to America," which they do every week after Friday prayers. Iran did hold our embassy people hostage, but that act doesn't really seem to be in the same league with what we've done to them.

They don't hate our freedom, they hate that we kill them, blow up their stuff, and overthow their governments. America is a great country with a lot to offer the world. When we stop pushing people around and stick to defending ourselves and our allies, we'll really be what we like to think we are -- the greatest nation of all time.

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