May 10th, 2006

Left off transfering Wiki: Oct 27 Friday

Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
by William Blum

p 168-169

It shall be unlawful for a foreign national directly or through any other person to make any contribution of money or other thing of value, or to promise expressly or impliedly to make any such contribution, in connection with an to any political office or in connection with any primary election...Title 2, United States Code Amended (USCA),Section 441e(a)

Thus the legal basis, if not the political, for the indignation expressed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress at revelations that the Chinese may have tried to use covert campaign donations to influence American policy. Washington policymakers, however, have long reserved the unrestrained right to pour large amounts of money into elections of other countries (including those which also prohibit foreign contributions) and taint the electoral system in numerous other ways, as we shall see below. Elections and this thing called democracy

During the Clinton administration, the sentiment has been proclaimed on so many occasions by the president and other political leaders, and dutifully reiterated by the media, that the thesis: "Cuba is the only non-democracy in the Western Hemisphere" is now nothing short of received wisdom in the United States. Let us examine this thesis carefully for it has a highly interesting implication.

Throughout the period of the Cuban revolution, 1959 to the present, Latin American has witness a terrible parade of human rights violation--systemativ, routine torture; legions of "disappeared" people; government-supported death squads picking off seleccted individuals; massacres en masse of peaseants, students and other groups, shot down in cold blodd. The worst perpetratos of these acts during all or part of this period have been the military assiciated paramilitary squads of El Salvador, Gutemala, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Urugay, Haiti and Honduras.

Not even Cuba's worst enemies have charged the Castro government with any of these violations, and if one further onsiders education and health care--each guaranteed by the United NAtions "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and the "European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms"---"both of which," siad President Clinton, "work better [in Cuba] than most other countries," then it would appear that during the more-than-40 years of its revolution, Cuba has enjoyed one of the best human-rights records in all of Latin America.

If, despite this record, the United States can insist that Cuba is the only "non-democracy" in the Western Hemisphere, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that this thing called "democracy", as seen from the White House, may have little or nothing to do with many of our most cherished human rights. Indeed, numerous pronouncements emanating from Washington officialdom over the years make plain that "democracy", at best, or at most, is equated solely with elections and civil liberties. Not even jobs, food and shelter are part of the equation. Thus, a nation with hordes of hungry, homeless, untended sick, barely literate, unemployed and/or tortured people, whose loved ones are being disappeared and/or murdered with state connivance,can be said to be living in a "democracy"-its literal Greek meaning of "rule of the people" implying that this is the kind of life the people actually want-provided that every two years or four years they have the right to go to a designated place and put an X next to the name of one or another individual who promise to relieve their miserble condition, but who will, typically, do virtually nothing of the kind; and provided further that in this soceity there is at least a certain minimum of freedom--how much being in large measure a function of one's wealth--for one to express one's view about the powers-that-be and the workings of the society, without undue fear of punishemt, regardless of whether expressing these views has any influence whatsoever over the way things are.

It is not by chance that the United States has defined democracy in this narrow manner. Throughout the Cold War, the absense of "free and fair" multiparty election and adequate civil liberties were whate marked the Soviet foe and its satellites. There nations, however, provided their citizens with a relatively decent standard of living insofar as employment, food, health care, eductiona, etc., without omnipresent Brazilian torutre or Guatemalan death squads. At the same time, many of Amercia's Third World allies in the Cold War--members of what Washington liked to refer to as "The Free Wrodl"--were human-rights disaster areas, who could boast of little other than the 60 second democracy of the polling booth and a tolerance for dissenting opinion so long as it didn't cut to close to the bone or threaten to turn into a movement.

Naturally, the only way to win Cold War propogranda points with team lineups like these, was to extol your team's brand of virute and damn the enemy's lack of it, designating the former "democracy" and the latter "totalitarianism."

Thus it is, that Americans are raised to fervently believe that no progress can be made in any society in the absense of elections. They are taguht to equate elections with democracy, and democracy with elections. And no matter how cynical they've grown abour electoral politics at home, few of them harbor any doubt that the promotion of free and fair elections has long been a basic and sincere tenant of American foreign policy.

In light of this, let us examine the actual historical record.

Phillipines, 1950's

Flagrant manipualtion by the CIA of the nation's polictical life, featuring stage-managed election with extensive disinformation campaigns, heavily financing of canidates, writing their speechses, drugging the drinks of one of the opponstes of the CIA candiate so he would appear incoherent, plotting the assisnation of another canidate. The Agency covertly set up an organization called National

(no subject)

Righting wrongs - Human rights The Economist August 18, 2001 U.S. Edition
The Economist
August 18, 2001 U.S. Edition
HEADLINE: Righting wrongs - Human rights

IN SHAW'S "Pygmalion", Colonel Pickering asks Alfred Doolittle whether he has no morals. "Can't afford them, governor," the philanderer replies; "Neither could you if you was as poor as me." Morals are costly to maintain. So are rights, especially the kind of "universal human rights" that become enshrined in United Nations' declarations.

International support for a core group of human rights, mainly civil and political, has been enshrined for more than half a century in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by the United Nations in the aftermath of the second world war and the Holocaust. The declaration proved compelling as a statement of principles, but too general and vague to be useful as a legal instrument. So, during the 1960s, two more covenants were thrashed out in an effort to give the declaration some substance: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

During the cold war, enthusiasm for these covenants split along the obvious divide: capitalists were keen on civil and political rights, Communists on social and economic rights. When Western lobbyists accused the Soviet Union of violating its citizens' civil rights, the Soviet government replied that the economic and social rights of its people were more important. The division survives: today the Chinese make much the same argument.
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