Does Bush Only Support Democratic Elections When It's a Candidate He Likes?Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Does Bush Only Support Democratic Elections When It's a Candidate He Likes?
 


27 June 2005 at 5:26:22 PM
salon

We've spoken before about the vitriol the US sends towards Venezuala, which is a democracy, because it doesn't like Chavez. The US also deposed the President of Haiti instead of allowing that country to resolve its issues through voting. The latest tirade of the Bush administration about the Iranian election Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has led others to consider whether Bush's support of democracy is only there when it's a democracy he happens to like.

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The Bush administration's democracy policy is rife with contradictions and double standards and that undercuts its credibility in the Middle East and the world," said Thomas Carothers, head of the democracy and rule of law projection for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Clearly one could legitimately criticize some of the democratic procedures in Iran. But the administration has just sounded snarly and dismissive," Carothers said.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Bush said, "It's never free and fair when a group of people, unelected people, get to decide who's on the ballot."

But critics note the administration has praised halting steps toward elections in Egypt and Saudi Arabia that promise to be even more limited than the elections in Iran, which it criticized so bitterly.

"The Bush administration only supports democracy when its outcomes are what it wants," said Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank frequently critical of Bush foreign policy.

"Democracy is a very partisan issue for the administration. Bush has seized on words like 'democracy, freedom and liberty' to justify his interventionist foreign policy," Bennis said.

OLD DILEMMA

It is not a new dilemma for the United States. Past U.S. administrations, professing to support democracy all over the world, have often clashed with democratically elected leaders seen as anti-American.

In the 1970s, the United States covertly plotted to destabilize the elected government of Chile's Marxist President Salvador Allende who was overthrown and killed in 1973.

More recently, the Bush administration has shown implacable hostility to Venezuela's democratically elected President Hugo Chavez, who has emerged as a potent symbol of anti-American sentiment in Latin America.

At the same time, in his speeches Bush has elevated the pursuit of democracy and freedom around the world, and especially in the Middle East, to become the cornerstone and guiding principle of his foreign policy.

For example, in November 2003, Bush called the pursuit of democracy, "the calling of our time, the calling of our country."

In Central Asia, the administration has been accused of muting its criticism of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, partly because it is anxious to maintain an air base in Uzbekistan, which played an important role in the war against the Taliban in  Afghanistan.

"There haven't been free elections in Uzbekistan since the fall of the Soviet Union and the United States is not pushing for them very vigorously," said Evelyn Davidheiser, a professor of global studies at the University of Minnesota.


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