Saturday, 5 July 2008


The foreign policy of the USA is to install Democracy in every country throughout the World.

What constitutes a Democracy?

"Government of the people, for the people."
---Abraham Lincoln

Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
---Sir Winston

How many people live in a Democracy?
How many do not?

by L. Berney

President George W.Bush and his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Condoleezza Rice, frequently reiterate that, “…in the National Interests of the United States of America…”, all the countries in the World which are not Democratic should be converted to Democracy. Regime change -- converting non-Democratic governments to Democratic governments -- is one of the stated principle objectives of the American government’s foreign policy.
The reasons they give are, primarily, to “prevent the destabilization of international order” which, they presume, will inevitably threaten the security of the USA; Democratic states are likely to be more stable than non-Democratic ones. Another reason is “the fight against terrorism” -- to protect US interests at home and overseas from acts of terrorism. It is thought that terrorists are supported by non-Democratic countries and that Democratic governments would help the USA to fight terrorism.
A third reason (not usually emphasized) for the USA’s need to install Democracy in non-Democratic countries (at least, in certain ones) is concerned with the supply of oil and gas. For the survival of the Americans’ way of life, the uninterrupted availability of oil and gas is not a luxury, it is a basic necessity – just as vital as the other necessities: water, food, clothing, and shelter. The USA’s own oil and gas fields cannot supply all the country’s needs and it is essential, therefore, for the USA to import oil and gas from overseas. It is thought that the security and continuity of this foreign supply is more certain if the supplying country is Democratic than if it is not.
(It is interesting to note that neither the United Nations, nor the European Union, nor any sovereign country other than the USA has a policy of imposing Democracy on any other country – the USA is alone in this.)
So, the USA wants to install Democracy throughout the World. But what is a Democracy? I was interested to find out what constitutes a Democratic Government.
From the beginnings of human civilization, some 10,000 years ago, mankind has formed communities, then states, then nations. For a civilization to exist, there has to be some form of government. From the beginning, the form of government has been “Autocracy”, a one-person all-powerful Ruler, a King or Queen, a Pharaoh, Caesar, Mogul, Kaiser, Tsar etc. In Islamic lands the religious leaders, the Ayatollahs and Imams, were the autocratic Rulers. The Ruler laid down the rules (laws) that the people over whom he ruled must obey. The Ruler gathered around him a group of barons (or Ministers as they are now called) to enforce his rules. The barons appointed their own enforcers.
All Rulers have the same personal objective: the attainment of personal POWER and WEALTH. Power to enforce other people to obey his laws and to punish them if they don’t -- Wealth to enjoy a high standard of living for himself and his family, and to accumulate personal enrichment. The objective of the barons (Ministers) and enforcers is, likewise, attaining their own personal Power and Wealth.
Throughout history, the people being governed have wanted to have some say in the rules they have to obey, and especially in the taxes they have to pay, and on how that money is spent. To appease this pressure, Rulers have allowed the existence of advisers, councils, parliaments etc., but the Rulers always maintained their ultimate and overall power.
From the beginnings of civilization, this ‘one person ruler’ form of government (Autocracy) was universal. It was virtually the only known form of government until the latter part of the 19th Century when a new form of government, named “Democracy”, started to take root. (The word ‘”Democracy” is derived from the Greek, demos, ‘the people’ and ‘kratia, ‘power, rule’.)
In 1775, 13 of the British Colonies in North America rebelled and declared themselves independent of the rule of the British King (then King George III) and formed the ‘United States of America’. A Congress (a National Government) was formed consisting of 65 Representatives of the people of those ex-colonies. This was the World’s first Government by Representative Democracy. Representative Democracy is a system of government in which power is vested in the people who rule through freely elected representatives. All rules/laws were to be enacted by these representatives by majority vote “for the general good”. All men were to be equal under the law. There was a written Constitution to protect minorities and there was to be a system of “checks and balances”
Over the next decades, the concept of government by Representative Democracy slowly replaced government by one person Autocracy (Monarchy) throughout Europe. First was France – the French Revolution in the 1789 replaced King Louis XVI. In Britain, during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Monarchy gradually and finally handed over its powers to a democratically elected parliament. In all of the new European Democracies, it was the parliaments that made the laws and decided on the taxes; the Monarchs either became Constitutional Monarchs or the Monarchy was abolished.
In the 10,000-year history of civilization, government by Democracy, commencing only just over 200 years ago, is still very new. In the last two Centuries we have seen autocratic Monarchy and Colonialism replaced by several other forms of government: Communism, National Socialism, Fascism, Apartheid, Authoritarian Regime, and of course Democracy. Some failed – Communism, Authoritarian Regimes and Democracy still exist. As to the future of Democracy, some think, “the jury is still out”!
The USA wants every country to be Democratic. But what, exactly, is Democracy? How do you measure it? To answer that question, in January 2007 the Economist newspaper conducted a survey of the level of Democracy in 167 countries, the inhabitants of which comprise 95% of the total population of the World. They said about measuring Democracy:
There is no consensus on how to measure democracy, definitions of democracy are contested and there is an ongoing lively debate on the subject. The issue is not only of academic interest. For example, although democracy- promotion is high on the list of American foreign-policy priorities, there is no consensus within the American government on what constitutes a democracy. As one observer recently put it, “the world’s only superpower is rhetorically and militarily promoting a political system that remains undefined.
They graded each country in five basic areas of Democracy:
Electoral Process – Free, fair, and competitive elections.
Civil Liberties – Protection of basic human rights; freedom of speech, religion and assembly; the right to judicial process; decisions by majority rule.
Functioning of Government – the quality of government; the implementation of decisions.
Political Culture – acceptance by losing parties of the judgment of the majority; peaceful transfer of power.
Participation – citizens’ active and freely chosen participation in public life.
Out of a maximum score of 100 points, the results of the 167-country survey were
Fully Democratic, over 80 points 28 countries with 13.0% of World population
Partially Democratic, 60 to 80 points 54 countries with 38.3% of World population
Not Democratic, less than 60 points 85 countries with 48.7% of World population
The Economist scored the USA at 82 points out of 100; the UK 81 points. The highest score was Sweden with 99 points out of 100.
Clearly, with half the peoples and half the countries of the World not Democratic, to convert all countries to full or even partial Democracy, there is a lot of regime change to be done!
From an examination of how Democracy is applied in the 28 countries that the Economist rates as “Fully Democratic”, it is apparent that the form of Democracy is use today varies greatly from one country to another. For example:
  • Head of State – in some Democratic countries the Head of State has executive powers, in others none.
  • Legislative body – in some there is an Upper and a Lower chamber, in others one only.
  • Political Parties – In some there are only two parties, in others many parties.
  • Voting –Some are “first past the post”, some have proportional representation.
  • Written Constitution – some have a written constitution, others do not.
  • Prime Minister -- some are appointed by the President, others are the leader of the party in power.
  • Civil Service – Some heads of departments are appointed by the political party in power, others have permanent heads.
Which form of Democracy is it, one wonders, that the USA would impose on non-Democratic countries?
For the government of a country to be Democratic, certain pre-conditions must exist. All, or the great majority, of the citizens of the country must have a sense of loyalty, of belonging to, that country. They must be willing to be subject to “rule by majority” -- to comply with by laws so passed.
There are many countries in the World today whose boundaries were set by colonial powers in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The boundary lines between one colony and another were set arbitrarily for the convenience of those powers. They paid little or no heed to the ethnicity, religions or languages of the people living within those boundaries. As an unfortunate result, some countries are populated by two or more different peoples who are antagonistic to each other. Parliamentary representatives of such countries form groups of their own ethic origin and no Democratic consensus is possible.
In these countries, probably Autocracy, not Democracy, is the only form of government that can ensure reasonable security and normality for its citizens. It seems to me, therefore, that Democratic government is not practical in all countries.

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