Today, the Iranian Protests and the Trump Administration’s departure from traditional US policies dominate the news. The first part of the Twenty-First Century has, of course, been defined by numerous democratic uprisings in the Middle East, North Africa, and, to a lesser extent thus far, Asia. Most of these revolutionaries were not necessarily seeking democratic governance as their primary motivation was economic freedom and opportunity, but these protesters have embraced the democratization process by asserting their interests and demanding control over their governments. Although the populations of Europe and the Americas enjoy varying degree of democratic revolutions, they too have protested in pursuit of greater economic freedom and opportunity. Unfortunately, their efforts have had mixed results, at best, because their successes have been hijacked by those who seek power.
Democracy is as much a means to secure individual freedoms and protections as it is a means for the People of a nation to assert control over their government. Democracy is embraced by a population to empower individuals by affording them representation in government and compelling government to act in line with the interest of the governed. From voting to civil engagement to protests, acts of democratic participation are a way for a democratizing population to assert influence control over their government. In practice, no democratic government is a perfect democracy. The democratic nature of a government, and society, is measured in degrees, not absolutes. While democratic governments are supposed to pursue the common interests of the People, powerful groups and individuals capitalize on any opportunity to assert undue influence on government for their own gain.
The 2016 US Election resulted in the election of President Donald Trump, because Democratic voters had deep reservations about establishment-promoted Hillary Clinton while Donald Trump convinced Republican voters that he would return government to the People. Trump voters voted for Trump, because they believed his election would give US citizens greater control over government and/or they believed Clinton’s victory would mean less responsive governance. In other words, the 2016 US Election was a democratic act that sought to return control of the US government to the American People. The American People have long sought to reign in their own government, yet it continues to be dominated by special interests and political elites who act on their own interests. For most, however, Trump’s victory, like Obama’s Presidency, is failing to reform the US government. It is a situation all too familiar throughout the world.
As the world’s first modern and most powerful democracy, the US serves as an example for the Peoples, nations, and governments of the world. The failure of the US government to heed the collective, albeit often conflicting, will and interests of the American People says a great deal about the state of the world. Trump voters sought change through the election of Donald Trump. Similarly, Obama voters sought change through the election of Barack Obama. Constructive change cannot be achieved by simply transferring power from one individual or group to another. Government, any government, is a source of power. Like all sources of power, government attracts those who would corrupt and abuse power to pursue their interests at the expense of others. Consequently, the true threat to the Peoples of the world is those who seek to seize power for their own goals, not the institutions of power.
This threat can be better understood through foreign policy, specially US foreign policy toward the Middle East. Westerners tend to interpret actions of leaders like Russian Vladimir Putin as an effort to dominate in the face of chaos. The objective is for the powerful to use chaos to prevent opposition groups from uniting and undermining the interests of the powerful. The Russian seizure of Crimea and subsequent support of separatists in Eastern Ukraine is seen as an example of a chaos doctrine at work. Many see US foreign policy in the Middle East as the product of a chaos doctrine as well. The so-called Axis of Resistance, i.e. powers including Iran and Syria that reject what might be called US Imperialism, is often framed as the target of a US Chaos Doctrine. Anti-American groups go so far as to proclaim the likes of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad are victims of the US, because they resist US control and demands.
In the eyes of anti-American groups Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran are beacons of stability until US interference. While it is true ill-conceived US policies have helped fuel conflicts, most notably the Palestinian-Israel Conflict and the Iraq War, the alleged stability of these countries is convenient for the regional power and International Community, yet stagnating to horrific for the Peoples of these lands. Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad were all able to sustain their grip on power by utilizing foreign support while Gaddafi had rigged his society to collapse in his absence. Despite blame directed at the US, the US is not the architecture of Middle Eastern chaos when its people seek freedom and its regional powers seek to dominant. That said, the US has, and does, cater to special interests groups that abuse US power to achieve their own goals in the Middle East.
When the US under the leadership of President Bill Clinton intervened in Yugoslavia against Slobodan Milošević, which some do characterize Milošević as a victim of US Imperialism, it was largely framed as a humanitarian action, even though it defied the will of the International Community. Seeing Gaddfi’s tanks and Assad’s barrel bombs unleashed on peaceful protesters, many Americans wanted to use US military might to protect the protesters from their own governments. Not only have terrorist factions been able to benefit from material aid supplied to rebel factions by the US government, powers within the Middle East and beyond have steadily hijacked US action to pursue their own agendas. If the American People want to protect the Syrian or Libyan Peoples, they have the say to do so. Democracy is, after all, supposed to empower the People of a nation to use their national resources as they see fit.
The problem is that special interests have undue influence over the US government. Empowering Russia or China over the United States, for example, would do nothing, because it would simply mean power is being transferred from one institution to another. The abuse of US power and the power of other governments can only be stopped by securing the power for the Peoples of the United States and the Peoples of the world. The United States, nor Russia or China, are threats to the world. It is the individuals who wish to, or have, seized control of government power. It is these individuals, who use any form of power, which is not limited to the power government amasses, to pursue their interests and agendas without regard to the harm done to others who are the threat. The only way to fight these abusive power seekers is to empower the Peoples of the world. It is to return the power of government and all other forms of power to the consensus of the People.
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