Sunday, February 28, 2010

Can and Should Democracy be Advanced in Iran?

"Iran is a Religious Republic. Which means that a Religious board determines whether a candidate is acceptable to [Allah] and Scripture.

Those candidates who have passed the Religious test are allowed to run as president.

The people then are allowed to vote for the candidate of their choice.

It is not a true democracy.

Though the United States is not a true democracy either.

The Electoral College (an unelected entity) actually makes the choice for the American people. The Electoral College choice usually mirrors the popular vote results. Except in the 2000 Election, where Gore won the popular vote but the Electoral College chose Bush." Yahoo message board

"No they are not democracy, they are a theocracy.

They have a president yes, but the president doesn't control anything, the "majesty" does or who ever he is." Yahoo message board

There is a semblance of democracy in Iran, in the sense that the Iranian people are allowed to vote for the Presidential candidates who pass the Iranian religious test.

There is no proof that the Iranian elections are rigged. There are only accusations from the US and other governments, but the US is not in an unbiased position. Moreover, the US government has a track record of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, such as Venezuela, and blatantly in the unsuccessful coup attempt of the Venezuelan government in 2002.

If the Iranians want a Theocracy or Religious Republic, then that is their choice.

Are the US and Israeli governments interfering in Iran, by supporting the Iranian Pro-Democracy Movement? Can and should democracy be advanced in Iran by externally influencing the Iranian people? Is foreign democracy promotion in Iran a means to an end, or an end-in-itself?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Karzai takes Control of Election Body

Last week, Karzai ammended the Afghan election law, to allow the President to appoint the five-member panel of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). Previously, the law had allowed three of the five ECC members to be appointed by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Karzai justified this ammendment on grounds that he wants to Afghanize Afghan institutions.
The FDA is not surprised by this move, as the FDA had already concluded that there is no pulse of democracy in Afghanistan. Rather, there is a skeleton (or structure) of democracy artificially planted by western governments.
Karzai's ammendment now threatens the skeleton of democracy in Afghanistan. So the criticism of Karzai by western diplomats should not be surprising. "A strong and independent ECC is vital for the future of a democratic Afghanistan, and any efforts to weaken this body are disturbing," Cannon, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, said in a statement released after his interview with CBC.

Where does the arrogance of these western diplomats come from? Who are they to think that they have the right to impose political systems on other countries?
Democracy will not advance, and nor should it, unless the people of Afghanistan themselves will it.
Karzai's ammendment may be a sign that the structure of democracy in Afghanistan will erode overtime as the will of western governments to fund it, weakens.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

US Democracy Heading in Undemocratic Direction

The recent US Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate political donations, made the troubled US democratic system even more troubled. The Supreme Court ruling on January 21st, 2010, was justified by five out of the nine Supreme Court judges on grounds that the US Constitutional First Amendment, does not allow government regulation of political speech whether from individuals or corporations.

The decision in the FDA's view is a win for individual rights over collective rights, and thereby over democracy which is founded on Rousseau's collective will of the people or Lincoln's government of, by, and for the people.

As it stands, the American political system is a hierarchical, monopolistic system dominated by two parties, the Republicans and Democrats. Moreover, the main feature of the political system is political influence and manipulation, whereby US voters are influenced and manipulated to vote a certain way. Not surprisingly, as of November 2009, there are 237 millionaires in the US Congress, which is 55.5% of US congressmen, and in the US Senate as of 2003, there are 40 millionaires, which is 40% of US Senators. Moreover, political donations for the upcoming 2010 US mid-term elections are estimated at 3.7 billion, without factoring in the recent US Supreme Court ruling on corporate political donations. (Source: Center for Responsive Politics)

In essence to be successful for the most part in the US political system, you need access to millions, and be either Republican or Democrat.

The US Supreme Court ruling on unlimited corporate political donations will only make money more central to the US political system, and intensify the role of the political influence and manipulation. Viz., the increase in political money means an increase in political influence and manipulation.

The US political system generally produces the better influencers and manipulators, and not necessarily the better representatives. A case in point is the 2008 US Presidential election in which President Obama was clearly the better influencer and manipulator, and not necessarily the better leader. His troubled term as President and the FDA 2008 US Presidential evaluation, which ranked Obama 3rd behind McCain and Nader, and graded him 55.6%, are testament to his weak leadership. It was clear to the FDA long before Obama was elected that he lacked leadership, but as mentioned his better ability to influence and manipulate, as compared to his rivals, allowed him to win the 2008 election.

The US political system faces significant challenges, short of a revolution to create a new political system. The way forward is to counteract the significant role of political influence and manipulation. Unlimited corporate political donations are a movement in the other direction.

The FDA is planning a non-partisan project to evaluate, rank, and grade the main candidates in the 2012 US Presidential election. The purpose of the project is to counteract political influence and manipulation, objectively and impartially inform the US voting public, and hold political candidates and representatives more accountable. For more information, please contact the FDA.

FDA 2008 US Presidential Evaluation

FDA 2012 US Presidential Evaluation project

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Turks and Caicos Islands Democracy Crisis

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is an area of the world that requires a large measure of review. The United Kingdom (UK) government took governance of this formerly autonomous country in August 2009. The UK is currently working to prove corruption by the former local government, as well as many of the people who live there.

Prior to the UK's take over of the government in TCI, the country was a democracy. Voting privileges were extended to Belongers who are citizens of the TCI. However, since the UKs installation of a UK governor in TCI, the UK has failed to involve the local population. The UK overturned the local constitution, abolished the local judiciary, elections and trials by jury, citing that the local population is also corrupted by political party loyalties.

Prior to UK's take over in August, the islands were enjoying a robust tourism economy, and state run health care was being instituted. The TCI had a government revenue surplus in the tens of millions prior to UK's interference in the local government. Many of the people in the TCI were quite content with the local government until quite suddenly a local political opposition party made serious allegations against the former Premier Michael Misick for wrongfully spending government revenue on a lease for private jet and other lavish perks. The UK made no warnings or offers of remediation to the former local government, though an UK diplomat had already been installed in the TCI.

The UK has now made clear that elections will not commence without its ultimate approval of the leader. This has raised fears that the UK has plans to have the new leader act as a proxy for the UK agenda. Furthermore, the UK promises a permanent presence in TCI and will allow non-citizen residents to vote by amending the constitution. The UK's plan to include non-citizen votes could be the UK's means to bolster voters favourable to the UK agenda, and it is unconstitutional.

The government structure is a dictatorship, as one man, a diplomat from the UK, is making all decisions solely without weighing any input from the people.

The TCI is suffering from a disconnection between the people and the government. The people feel defeated from losing their basic rights. It is important in a democracy to have the people's will weighed. We have received voluminous reports that people are frightened to speak out or come forward as there is intimidation by the local opposition group and the UK. UK has devised a divide and conquer strategy by instituting a policy of intimidation to dissenters. A special prosecutor from the UK has asserted an unfettered mandate to go after anyone she deems to be "corrupt". Opposition leaders favoured by the UK, have worked with the prosecutor to exploit their "special relationship" to intimidate and suppress dissent. This has created a police state in the TCI.

In an upcoming project, the FDA will try to improve the TCI through helping to unite the people's voice and weigh it against their diminished rights. The means for the people to have a say about its government is a fundamental tenet of democracy, through the principle of government of, by and for the people. Without that means, democracy is undermined. Many Belongers in the TCI need to be informed of their loss of democracy or need to have a nascent voice against the UK taking their rights.

Chris Burke,
FDA Project Manager of
the Turks and Caicos
Restoration of Democracy project

TCI Restoration of Democracy project

Article on British control of the TCI

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hamid Gul Interview Provides Insight into the Afghanistan Conflict

Hamid Gul, former head of the Pakistan ISI, states in his opinion, that the Americans and its allies will eventually leave Afghanistan (with America 12,000 km away), and that the Taliban, a part of the fabric of Afghanistan, will necessarily remain.

Mr. Gul described recent US aggression in Afghanistan as a "front loaded withdraw." Apparently, the US is trying to create a pretext for victory in Afghanistan, as a means to exit the country.
When the Americans leave, the foreign implanted democracy will likely crumble, as it is not a natural part of Afghanistan (its tribal systems), not to mention the Taliban will likely re-emerge as the political representative for Afghanistan.

Has democracy failed in Afghanistan? The failure lies with Western bureaucrats, stemming from the 2001 Bonn Conference, of trying to impose the western democratic system on Afghanistan. So the failure is not with democracy, but with those western individuals who try to impose it.

The health, pulse of democracy in Afghanistan is non-existent, because it has never existed in Afghanistan. An artificial, foreign implant of democracy, contrary to the will of Afghans, is contrary to the spirit of democracy: government of, by, and for the people.

Interview of Hamid Gul

Does the Karzai regime have a democratic pulse?

Hamid Karzai came to political power in Afghanistan in December of 2001, in which he was selected interim president of Afghanistan at the Bonn Conference. In 2004, Karzai won the Afghan Presidential election with 55.4% of the vote and in the backdrop of election fraud. In 2009, Karzai won the Afghan Presidential election with less than 50% of the vote, in which he won a runoff election because his main rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, withdraw from the runoff due to rampant electoral fraud up to that point. Since only 20% of Afghans turned out for the 2009 Presidential election, Karzai had the support of less than 10% of the Afghan voting public.

Prior to the Presidential election and without consideration of the 2009 electoral fraud, the FDA did a study of the three main candidates, and ranked them as follows:

1. Hamid Karzai (23.9% grade—F grade)
2. Dr. Ghana (22.2% grade—F grade)
3. Dr. Abdullah (20% grade—F grade)

The failing grades reflected the FDA assessment that the Karai, Ghana, and Abdullah did not represent the better interests of the Afghan people as a whole.

Since, the beginning of Karzai's reneign in Afghanistan, the US and its allies have been at war with the Taliban.

Is Karzai regime a democratic government? Does the Karzai regime represent the will of the Afghan people? Is there a pulse of democracy in Karzai regime?

Since the Karzai regime represents less than 10% of the Afghan voting public, and it is complicit in rampant electoral and governmental fraud (none of which has been prosecuted), and the US and its allies implanted democracy in Afghanistan through the 2001 Bonn Conference, the FDA concludes that there is no democratic pulse in the Karzai regime. However, there is a skeleton (or structure) of democracy due to the efforts by the US and its allies to implant western democracy in Afghanistan.

It is unclear to the FDA how a skeleton of implanted democracy can be brought to life?

Democracy centers on the people. So the fact that democracy was artificially implanted in Afghanistan, is a move that is contrary to the spirit of democracy. Therefore, the FDA concludes that the skeleton of democracy in Afghanistan will always be no more than a skeleton, unless the people of Afghanistan themselves will democracy.

FDA 2009 Afghanistan Presidential Evaluation