By Mohammed Adamu
What is happening in the Arab world today reminds me of a piece I did on this column, entitled, ‘This Stinking Democracy.’ I was wondering whether ‘democracy,’ like they say of ‘virtue’, is strictly ‘its own reward.’ Or whether a system of government must be truly provident for it to be worth the name ‘democracy.’
And, which raised the question I had asked: ”what’s in a name?” Would not that which we call a ‘rose’, for example, “smell as good (even) if we call it by another name? In the botanical world of ‘flowers’ maybe yes.
But, certainly not in the world of ‘systems of government’: like democracy, autocracy, and such other `cracies’. In these, I said, there is a lot in a name. `Democracy’, as a ‘rule of the people’ should smell like sweet lavender. `Autocracy’, for example, which opposes it, should stink like compost!
Raising the question, again: what is the difference between the value of one ‘cracy’ and the intrinsic quality of yet another? Should a system of government be more important than its promised destination –namely attaining the public good? And, about this I can tell you, from Montesquieu (who virtually started it all) to Mubarak who faked it good, the answer to this question remains shrouded in mystery.
Is Israel, for example, a democracy whose Knesset can make laws superior to the Resolutions of the United Nations? Is America a democracy that is ruled by covert non-democratic security institutions? Why is China not a full democracy simply because it does not implement the American model? If the sanctity of ‘rights’ of citizens and the ‘rights’ of humans the world over is key to determining democratic culture, why must Turkey, for example, curb the harmless religious rights of its citizens to be recognized worthy of participation in the democratic sororities of Europe where, geographically she already belongs? Why are the votes of the people of Gaza in the occupied territories a nullity simply because they were cast for a political party that does not meet America’s and Israel’s self-serving definition? Why was Mubarak’s Egypt democratic enough when it was neither rights-respecting, good-governing nor respectful of the collective will of the Egyptians not to have their country wagged by the dog of the American-Israeli enterprise?
And, talking about providence or dividential democracy, some Nigerian immigrants –including illegal ones- recently evacuated from Libya, said that in spite of the orchestrated rumbling of ‘revolutionary dissent’ in Libya, life in that North African Arab Jamahiriya Republic, was dripping with milk and honey.
As it does in, say, the monarchy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and indeed, in other provident but non-democratic nations of the Arab world.
But the grandsires of the ‘democratic’ culture and particularly the bastion of it all, America, say that it is not about ‘ends’ or ‘providence’; nor is it necessarily about ‘good governance’. They insist it is simply about systemic compliance –or reverence if you will- to the democratic process; -even if non-providently so! The dictum is: ‘be democratic and – maybe- starve, rather than well-off under an autocracy.’ Isn’t that brilliant?
To these so-called purveyors of the democratic culture, it does not matter that life can be good under an ‘undemocratic’ arrangement. Or maybe simply under a non-Western variant of ‘democracy’; like Libya’s Jamahiriya, which has Gaddafi as some kind of constitutional patriarch of sort; only a little more active – but less visibly deified – than the infallible Queen in Britain who legally and constitutionally does no wrong.
But no! Gaddafi must go! He should submit to the will of Libyans.
Not listen to the voices of as many other Libyans -or even more other Libyans- who want him to stay. Gaddafi must go! Not because some Libyans want so but because America, Britain and co do! He should go. As did Ben Bella of Tunisia. And as should any Middle-Eastern leader who has not invested properly in the ‘friendship’ of ‘permanence of interest’ with U.S. Gaddafi was not crying wolf when he said America and Britain are angling for the Libyan crude. Did they not enter Iraq under false pretence and ended up stealing her crude?
And worse even is Iran’s Ahmedinijad who has paid too much premium qualifying his country into America’s contrived ‘axis of evil’. Such leaders no matter how democratic the system that produced them; no matter how selflessly provident their administrations, must be subverted,-in the usually hackneyed libertarian guise of giving their ‘enslaved’ people ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’! But the autocratic applecart in non-provident Jordan and other surrogate Arab monarchies of the Middle-East must not be upset.
In fact, ingenious Hillary Clinton had the virtual diplomatic want of shame to wish the Iranians the ‘good omens’ of the Egyptians. As if that revolutionary ‘good omen’ was not secured in spite of America; or against the interest of U.S. Hillary was virtually saying to the Iranians: ‘in case you too want to go digging for shrimps, America prays that you find giant lobsters at the end of your toil’.
And you wonder how the Egyptian ‘lobster’ dug in spite of America’s Coast Guard resistance, suddenly become a ‘good omen’, and ironically wished, only for America’s foes (Iran and Libya) or her elusive economic and industrial rival (China).