Sunday, January 28, 2007

A democracy health check

Let me first open with an apology to my readers for the irregularity of my postings. A few months ago, my literary agent requested that I make some changes to the first part of the volume I have been working on for more than a year. As a consequence, I have been dividing my time between my regular job at the Taipei Times and, on most mornings, sitting in a coffee shop with coffee and portable computer, making said changes to my document. One casualty of this heavy intellectual schedule has been this site. Work on my book has progressed well, and if everything goes as planned, I should be done making the edits by the end of this month, after which point one can expect to see an upsurge in postings herein.

It is no small irony that the country that, without the approval of the UN Security Council and with world opposition, invaded Iraq to ex post facto rid it of a murderous dictator who didn’t care for the wellbeing of his people, is now being led by a president who has become so unaccountable to not only the people he represents but the very democratic institutions that give his power legitimacy as to claim that he will continue the course, add soldiers in Iraq and all the while backhand the advice given him by, among others, the members of the Iraq Study Group.

The Executive Branch of the US has become so powerful that even a vote in the Senate against the President Bush’s decision to augment the US military presence in Iraq by some 21,500 soldiers is incapable of preventing him from doing so. Even worse, a few weeks ago, Bush made the headlines when he said that he would stay the course even if he only had the support of his wife and his dog. Heck, even Saddam, at the height of his power, needed the approval of more people than that, as do the powers in Beijing, however undemocratic they are.

In many ways, the US has become a dictatorship where the militarized few can hide budgets, spend at will, and decide upon war and peace as they see fit.

The so-called exporter of democracy is slowly but surely turning into an anti-democratic force that promises to sow much discord the world over, with tremendous peril for all. Bush has become an emperor, confident in the infallibility of his vision, accountable to no one but to himself and, perhaps, to the god who purportedly gives him guidance and to the handful of advisers who surround him. His deluded mission is one to civilize and to liberate. It is, in many respects, akin to Japanese emperor Hirohito’s in the lead-up to World War II.

The state of US democracy, supposedly the very model for the world to adopt, has become so decayed as to perhaps necessitate, ironically, the very antithesis of democracy — a coup — to stop the decision-makers before they further enflame the Middle East or exacerbate its alienation of Beijing.

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