Volume 97, Issue 2
Thursday, May 29, 2003

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Democracy? What democracy?

Thrust and Perry
Dan Perry
News Editor

American President George W. Bush addressed a group of Iraqi-Americans in Detroit on May 1 and he had the following to say: "The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort."

With Saddam Hussein deposed, a country ravaged by a tyrant over the last twenty years can become "democratic," but what exactly does that mean?

Democratic societies are characterized by freely contested elections and Iraq's "interim" authorities claim elections are on the way. These new elections won't be rigged like last October's, in which Saddam captured 100 per cent of the votes. No, this time, Saddam's party will essentially be driven out of the country and furthermore made illegal.

Freedom of association...hmm, sounds nice. In democratic societies, citizens can join any party they want – except the Baathists of course. David Baran, an Ottawa-based journalist, writes in Le Monde Diplomatique that the Baathist party spouts "worn-out ideology" which consists of "bland and predictable verbosity."

The Baathist party maintained its power with an intimidating reputation, seldom using force. Its reputation is only horrendous because of its former head – the party has next to no identity of its own without Saddam Hussein.

That said, the Baathist party will be illegal in the new Iraq, despite the unlikelihood of any attraction of the Iraqi people to a government with absolutely no substance.

The drums of war continue to beat for Dubya and his cronies though and this past week United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed that Iran was sending radical clerics to the largely Shiite in Southern Iraq and (naturally) was harbouring terrorists.

All of a sudden, democracy doesn't look so good; the Iraqi people have been liberated from the grip of a tyrant and are now free to vote for any party they want (except the Baathists and the Shiite party from the south, which is being "contained" like the feared communists of yore).

Of course, it should come as no surprise this particularly American brand of democracy has landed in Iraq. The Communist party has been illegal in the U.S. for most of the twentieth (and into the twenty-first) century.

A democratic Iraq? Why not rename the country to remind the world what its new and improved electoral ethics resemble? Florida II.

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