The hypocrisy of an 'imperial democracy'

July 24, 2002


"Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch!" — US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.

There is something surreal about George W. Bush crowing to the world on May 20 about "democracy", "freedom" and building a system "where every vote counts" in socialist Cuba.

There is a place, 145 kilometres closer to the US than Cuba, where the heralded "freedom" to meaningfully participate in a "democracy .. where every vote counts" is an illusion. We call that place — Florida. For that deep southern state smothered "democracy" on election day in 2000, as it used its armed state troopers, an intentionally defective computerised list and obstructive election registrars to suppress, void and scare off African-American, Haitian and liberal Jewish voters from exercising their "freedom" to vote.

In light of the extraordinary lengths Governor Jeb Bush's Florida went to, to ensure the state's electoral college votes went to big brother George W, there is every reason to believe that the election was stolen. The present head of the US empire is there because of the unwritten rules of dynastic blood succession, not because of a system "where every vote counts".

Nor has the Bush administration (or any other US presidential administration, come to think of it) ever given a tinker's damn about "democracy", at home or abroad.

Consider, if you will, some of the prominent "allies" in the US-declared "War on Terrorism": Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Jordan ... any democracies among them? Can we expect the president to demand "free and open elections", "freedom for political prisoners", or creation of a system "where every vote counts" in any of these countries?

I don't think so.

For these countries, run by princes or by military rule, keep oil flowing to US tanks, and where there is a choice between human rights and oil, oil always triumphs.

Any serious student of US history must recognise that Roosevelt's observation about Nicaragua's dictator, Somoza, could be echoed by every US president, up to the present president. There has not been a brutal dictator in the world who did not enjoy US support, for they served US interests when they suppressed national democratic movements to bow to US big business: Cuba's Batista, Chile's Pinochet, Peru's Fujimori (and his US-trained torture/intelligence chief, Vladimiros Montesinos, who doubled as drug lord), Zaire's Mobutu, the Shah of Iran, Angola's Savimbi, Indonesia's Suharto, Marcos of the Philippines, Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Pretoria's Botha ... you name 'em, the US once claimed 'em. They were all, at one time, "our sons of bitches".

"Freedom", "democracy", "free and fair elections" are just words that have little meaning to an empire built on bombs, bullets, and CIA terrorism. It is but an imperial democracy.

[Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner in the United States. Visit <>.]

From Green Left Weekly, July 24, 2002.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.