How we denied democracy to the
By Robert Fisk
2003: (The Independent) We created this place, weaned the grotesque dictators.
And we expect the Arabs to trust Bush's promise?
It gets weirder and
weirder. As his helicopters are falling out of the sky over Iraq, President Bush
tells us things are getting even better. The more we succeed, he says, the
deadlier the attacks will become. Thank God the Americans now have a few - a
very few - brave journalists, like Maureen Dowd, to explain what is
The worse things are, the better they get. Iraq's wartime
information minister, "Comical Ali", had nothing on this; he claimed the
Americans weren't in Baghdad when we could see their tanks. Bush claims he's
going to introduce democracy in the Middle East when his soldiers are facing
more than resistance in Iraq. They are facing an insurrection. So let's take a
look at the latest lies. "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and
accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us
safe," he told us on Thursday. "Because in the long run, stability cannot be
purchased at the expense of liberty." Well said, Sir. George Bush Jr sounds
almost as convincing as, well, Tony Blair. It's all a lie. "We" - the West,
Europe, America - never "excused and accommodated" lack of freedom. We endorsed
lack of freedom. We created it in the Middle East and supported it.
Colonel Ghaddafi took over Libya, the Foreign Office thought him a much
sprightlier figure than King Idriss. We supported the Egyptian generals (aka
Gamal Abdul Nasser) when they originally kicked out King Farouk. We - the Brits
- created the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan. We - the Brits - put a Hashemite King
on the throne of Iraq. And when the Baath party took over from the monarchy in
Baghdad, the CIA obligingly handed Saddam's mates the names of all senior
communist party members so they could be liquidated.
The Brits created
all those worthy sheikhdoms in the Gulf. Kuwait was our doing; Saudi Arabia was
ultimately a joint Anglo-US project, the United Arab Emirates (formerly the
Trucial State) etc. But when Iran decided in the 1950s that it preferred
Mohammed Mossadeq's democratic rule to the Shah's, the CIA's Kim Roosevelt, with
Colonel "Monty" Woodhouse of MI6, overthrew democracy in Iran. Now President
Bush demands the same "democracy" in present-day Iran and says we merely
"excused and accommodated" the loathsome US-supported Shah's regime.
let's have another linguistic analysis of Mr Bush's words. "The failure of Iraqi
democracy," he told us two days ago, "would embolden terrorists around the
world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of
millions in the region." Here's another take: the failure of the Bush
administration to control Israel's settlement-building on Arab land would
embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people
and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Now that would be more like
it. But no. President Bush thinks Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is "a man
And then there's that intriguing Bush demand for a revolution
in undemocratic Iran. Sure, Iran is a theocratic state (a necrocracy, I
suspect), but the morally impressive President Mohamed Khatami, repeatedly
thwarted by the dictatorial old divines, was democratically elected - and by a
far more convincing majority than President George Bush Jr in the last US
Yes, "democracy can be the future of every
nation", Bush tells us. So why did his country support Saddam's viciousness and
war crimes for so many years? Why did Washington give its blessing, at various
stages, to Colonel Ghaddafi, Hafez Assad of Syria, the Turkish generals, Hassan
of Morocco, the Shah, the sleek Ben Ali of Tunisia, the creepy generals of
Algeria, the plucky little King of Jordan and even - breathe in because the
UNOCAL boys wanted a gas pipeline through Afghanistan - the Taliban?
break here. Fouad Siniora is the finance minister of Lebanon. He is a believer
in the American way of life, a graduate of the American University of Beirut and
a former lecturer there, an ex-executive of Citibank. He has a valid American
visa in his passport. Yet he has been telephoned by the American embassy in
Beirut to be told he will not be permitted entry to the US.
last year he gave $ 660 at a Ramadan fast-breaking iftah to a charity that runs
educational projects and orphanages in Lebanon. The organisation is run by Sayed
Mohamed Fadlallah - once described by the Western press as the "spiritual
adviser" to Hizbollah. CIA sources long ago revealed that they tried to kill
Fadlallah - they failed, but their Saudi-prepared car bomb killed 75 civilians -
so Siniora, an Americanophile to his fingertips, is persona non grata in the US.
Fadlallah is not Hizbollah's "spiritual adviser" - so he could hardly withdraw
his support for its victory over the Israeli army in Lebanon three years ago -
but the loony- tune "security" legislation in the US has deprived Siniora of any
further contact with a country he admires.
Yes, roll on democracy. Bring
'em on. The new "Rummyworld" war on terror is in Iraq. Ban the press from
filming the return of dead American soldiers to the US. Liberty is what it's
about, democracy. "Accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East",
indeed. We created this place, drew its borders, weaned their grotesque
dictators. And we expect the Arabs to trust Mr Bush's
Copyright: The Independent.