December 10, 2003

Our Democracies Are Being Usurped

Japan's decision to send armed troops to Iraq breaches the nation's post-war pacifist constitution, a constitution which was ironically enforced by the USA. Although the Japanese troops will be called a "Self Defence Force" they will be very heavily armed and deployed with the intention of engaging hostile enemies. For all intents and purposes, they will be regular soldiers.

The decision also makes a mockery of another so-called "democratic Western government". Japanese PM Koizumi was only narrowly re-elected last fall and he certainly does not have a mandate for such a decision. Indeed, a majority of Japanese do not even support US bases on their soil, let alone sending troops abroad.

How can we preach Western democracy to countries like Iran, North Korea and Mozambique when our own governments regularly ignore the overwhelming will of the people they supposedly serve?

As Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe says:

"The prime minister is free to do whatever he wants. He never criticizes President Bush, who can therefore behave as if he is acting with Japan's agreement."

It's the same story in Britain and Australia, Spain and Italy, even Poland. This is the "coalition of the willing" - a coalition of corrupted leaders who are willing to betray the wishes of their people.

Similarly, there has been harsh criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent election win. Election observers say that while the vote was fair on the day, a barrage of anti-opposition media through state-controlled outlets gave Putin's opponents little or no chance of success. Hmmn... governments manipulating the media so they can win elections and then do what they like... Sounds familiar?

The White House expressed "concern" at Putin's win. But it's hard to criticize when your own leader manipulated his election win and your country has just helped overthrow a neighbouring country.


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