Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Communism on the march?

Freedom, Communism - same thing.

I guess I'm not overly surprised, but it is - together with being entirely tragic - slightly amusing. The International Republican Insitute - one of many U.S.-sponsored 'democracy aid' organizations is keeping busy in Iraq. So, too, is the International Foundation for Election Systems (wiki page mine, suckas!). The IRI has been linked to the recent Haiti Coup, and I have my suspicions about IFES.

In any case, they're both meddling in Iraq with our tax money. Let's see what they're up to:

Funded by U.S. taxpayers, the Baghdad office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs stands at the ambitious heart of the American effort to make Iraq a model democracy in the Arab world.
. . .
The work is in many ways entirely routine for the institute -- as it is for the two other Washington-based organizations that are here advising on the architecture of democracy: the International Republican Institute (IRI), which declined requests for an interview, and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), which along with the United Nations is providing crucial technical assistance to Iraq's electoral commission.
. . .
"They're very good," said Jassim Hilfi, a leader of the Iraqi Communist Party who said he had read every word of the institute's Political Campaign Planning Manual and every other publication handed out. "They benefited us a great deal."

The Communist Party, which predates the Baath Party that persecuted its members for decades, has mounted a vibrant campaign that political observers in Iraq say may outperform expectations in Sunday's balloting.

"They were quite fair," Hilfi said. "We did not feel there was any segregation or playing favorites. Frankly, I'm very grateful. This was the only support we got from outside the country."

Hey, I'm glad the Communists are getting some good use of my tax money. At least it's not going to waste. I'm not one to knock Communism (I think it's pretty cool, what I know of it), but most Americans stil view Communism as a relic of the 'Evil Empire', and as such, would probably not be overjoyed at the thought of their money being used to rebuild that particular entity. But you never know - Fox News, it seems, is capable of convincing people of almost anything, so maybe we should give the U.S. multimedia version of Pravda a chance?

Now, why did the IRI decline requests for an interview? Does that make sense? I mean, are Americans not supposed to know that our tax dollars are going to support Communism abroad? Or, maybe we're just not supposed to know that U.S. elites really don't want a democracy at all - just another client state to serve the interests of U.S. elites? Got me. It's like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman said in Full Metal Jacket (paraphrasing) - the IRI didn't even have the common courtesy to give us taxpayers a reach-around.

My view on U.S. foreign assistance in promoting democracy is realistic. Instead of running around the world attempting to influence elections by 'training the locals in democracy', I'd prefer we fixed-up our little democracy / oligarchy / whatever. I would, for instance, like to see every voting machine have a paper trail. I would, for instance, like to know that black people could vote with relative ease and success - free from intimidation. And I want their votes to count - not just allow them the ability to go in and cast a ballot - I want the votes to actually count. Things like that.

So, like Chomsky, I'd prefer the U.S. just stay out of everyone's business. Words are great, but actions occassionally count, too. With IRI linked to the Haiti coup, and IFES operating in just about every country in the world, including at one time or another, all of the countries that the U.S. government was attempting to foment a coup, I'd just rather we just stayed home. We've got enough issues right here in the good 'ol US of A, thank you.

Proof of IFES-CIA links, or straight-up IFES participation in terrorist actions in other countries is far from conclusive, but I have my suspicions. The current head of IFES, who has been its head since the Reagan years - and, of course, active in central America where Reagan was, to say the least, 'active' - is Richard W. Soudriette - one-time Staff Director for James Mountain (actual name) "outraged at the outrage" Inhofe. Let me see, staff director for extremist right wing loser congressman/senator, appointed head of a quasi-governmental 'democracy' organization under the Reagan administration, active in just about every country before, during, and after coups and other assorted disruptions in power. Yeah - I've got my suspicions. How bout we bring Mr. Soudriette and his cadre of 'election officials' and all their money (our money) back home where it belongs?

The article also lets slip a couple of other realities on the ground:

"If you walk into a coffee shop and say, 'Hi, I'm from an American organization and I'm here to help you,' that's not going to help," said one instructor, who was born in Iraq and is well versed in the region's widely held perception of U.S. hegemony. "If you say you're here to encourage democracy, they say you're here to control the Middle East."

Iraqis know that Bush's pronouncements of democracy in the U.S. are just to maintain the U.S. public's support for his imperial policies.

And, I thought this was kind of funny, in a tragic Republicans-supposedly-attempting-to-impose-democracy kind of way:

"People were calling to apologize about being late," the country director said. "The troops were blocking the hotel, but they were waiting outside in the smoke and the wreckage and the body parts."

Body parts.

<cue Bush apologists ranting about me not telling the positive stories coming out of Iraqistan>

Ok - here's one: Approximately 25 million people did not die today in Iraq.


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