The French love to praise themselves for the contributions of their intellectuals to democracy, yet it is their often self-serving, patronizing elites who present the greatest threat to the French People’s democracy. Ironically, the French government is using a terrorist attack targeting the highly controversial “Charlie Hebdo” publication to crackdown on what it deems to be “hate speech” while taking a giant step toward “martial law” with its largest peacetime deployment of soldiers on French soil in history.
Not only do efforts to restrict what is arbitrarily deemed “hate speech” threaten publications like Charlie Hebdo, the current focus on speech that could incite Islamic violence reinforces sentiments that the West is against the Muslim world, thus giving Islamic extremists a win in their efforts to divide the world and undermining the open, pluralist ideals of French democracy.
From an American perspective, the European Union is a threat to democracy, despite European views that support opening borders in order to create free and open societies. The reason Americans hold this view is that distance creates a lack of access to representation. That is, the more layers of government that exist, the less responsive governments become to the needs of individuals and individual communities. In providing for the common defense and economic welfare of EU members, diplomatic institutions of the EU are rapidly superseding the authority of the democratically elected national governments of European countries.
When considering Britain shares similar views on sovereignty as the US, plans of British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby Washington against the efforts of technology companies to protect user data from abuse by governments, businesses, criminals, and terrorists through encryption instead of finding new ways to combat terrorism, while protecting civil liberties, demonstrates the broader political direction of Europe.
At the same time, America’s national security apparatus is attempting to bounce back from backlash over the Edward Snowden NSA leaks. In truth, there have been few punitive consequences for NSA and CIA officials who showed a thorough disregard for civil liberties, the US Constitution, and human rights.
Instead, the CIA is currently waging a legal war against whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling who revealed how the CIA inadvertently helped Iran’s nuclear weapons program, i.e. CIA officials are protecting themselves from their far worse version of the DOJ’s “Fast and Furious.” Meanwhile, the NSA is waging a PR war against Edward Snowden himself as they skirt taking responsibility for what wrongs they willingly embraced when they decided national security trumped civil liberties and the US Constitution.
In many respects, it is has become increasingly difficult to differentiate between the actions of Western officials and those the West stands against. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, is a KGB operative and his campaign to dominate Ukraine demonstrates his true character. The difference between the KGB and the CIA/NSA is supposed to be that the CIA/NSA exists to protect American democracy, not act like a KGB Fifth Column.
People like Vladimir Putin belief the actions of Western leaders are no different than his, expect that Western leaders lie to themselves and their Peoples.
It is how he legitimizes his outright invasion of Ukraine and stokes up anti-Western sentiments. As such, the inappropriate actions of the CIA and NSA have actually helped recreate the security threat of the Cold War. The same is true of those leaders in the Middle East seeking to use terrorism as an excuse to ignore the democratization of the region and the civil liberties of their Peoples.
Meanwhile, US political leaders are certainly no better. Where the Hong Kong Protests of the Umbrella Revolution were right to stand up against the Communist Chinese government in the Fall of 2014 when they decided to limit the number of candidates allowed to run for the highest office in Hong Kong to three individuals vetted by the Communist Party, the Chinese likely felt justified in their actions. After all, only two Americans are essentially able to run for the highest office in the United States while the political elite vet almost every candidate who are able to run for state and national office. In turn, elected officials serve the interests of the political establishment.
Looking at the 114th Congress, the Republicans majority has already chosen to target programs that might cost the wealthy, yet strengthen the majority of Americans, while the House Speaker is currently seeking to punish those who dare undermine his influence and the power of the establishment as he seeds dysfunction between the White House and Congress by pursuing an agenda designed to fail.
Although the American Revolution involved a multitude of issues and conflicting views, American colonists rejected the rule of a monarch British rule, because it was unresponsive to the needs of colonists and failed to serve as a quality model for governance. Given the Arab Spring Revolutions and ever-intensifying dissatisfaction for government all over the world, Western democracies should be serving as role models for an International Community filled with people looking for greater representation and improved responsiveness from government.
Unfortunately, Western governments may have a long history of better serving their Peoples, but they are currently failing to serve as quality role models for the rest of the world. Democracy exists to help ensure the interests of all the People(s) of a nation are represented and properly balanced, thus a real democratic government is able to remain stable in the long-term. As growing instability and conflict threaten our modern world, democracy appears to be failing, yet it is those in power who have failed to honor the promise of democracy and that is why our modern peaceful, prosperous way of life is under threat.
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