It is undemocratic the U.S or any other country to dictate what democracy is

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By Alan Collins Mpewo & Allawi Ssemanda

Since the United States of America emerged as a superpower, it has always presented itself as the beacon of democracy and tried to impose its values on other countries. Critics of the American model of democracy have accused it of forcing and coercing sovereign states into following its principles leaving behind devastating effects as we saw in Iraq, Libya to mention but a few.

In what seems normal to Washington, the U.S has on many occasions gone ahead to use military force to enforce its so-called democracy. While they hide under claims of promoting democracy, going by words of U.S’ founding father, president George Washington, “No nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it…unless both [nations’] interests happen to be assimilated.”

Put differently, U.S’ classification of countries, branding some democratic and others undemocratic has nothing to do with Washington’s good wishes to framed countries but rather America’s selfish interests and the need to spread its hegemony which the U.S feels is challenged whenever some countries oppose it. In other words, despite Washington’s claim of kindness, promoting the so-called liberty, civilisation, democracy, human rights or promoting and defending internationals laws and norms, the U.S has always sowed seeds of suffering in all countries it moves to enforce their model of democracy.

Outside Africa, there are many countries where citizens are suffering and sometimes dying due to curable diseases but can’t be treated due to sanctions the U.S impose on such countries Washington accuse of being “undemocratic” or for choosing the model of democracy that fits their countries. Cuba, Venezuela, Iran among others are a few examples. One can ask; of what importance is enforcing of U.S’ model of democracy if it is to bring endless suffering to humanity as noted above?

With the upcoming Biden democracy summit where several countries have been excluded, it is high time the U.S realized that their self-righteous policies don’t work in some cultural background and that these policies have more to do with power than people. We must agree that democracy is not an exclusive patent of Western countries and should not be defined and dictated according to Washington’s desires.

Broadly speaking, democracy is about the people in a given country deciding on how affairs of their countries should be governed. It is never about outsiders deciding how people of a certain sovereign country should be run its internal affairs.  If critically analysed, one can argue former U.S President Abraham Lincoln by defining democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people, this is arguably what he meant.

The much-praised electoral democracy some Western Capitals sing is not democracy for it squarely climates the ruled from making decisions as the rich or capitalists groups takeover the otherwise all people’s excise.

Put differently, what seems to be solutions promoted by the West as democracy are just models tested in western nations but not in different cultures which ignores other important aspect such as different cultures. This explains why most governments set up by the West have always failed to stand the test of the time. Even without going to “Cambridge”, one can tell this failure is due to imposing a different culture on people without their input. It means while it is good to help, the one you claim to help should have asked for your assistance in first place!

With that in mind, it is probably the right time the West particularly the U.S considered China’s proposed concept of the “whole-process people’s democracy.” If well analysed, “whole-process people’s democracy” is the ideal one for it takes into account societal differences other than assuming everything is the same as seen in West’s democracy model which citizens now disapprove as seen in recent polling with the latest being America’s ABC poll which indicated 57% of global respondents and 72% of American citizens don’t approve U.S’ example of democracy. Surprisingly China which Biden conveniently snubbed, a study by a sociology professor at York University (Canada) found that 98% of Chinese believe in their government. The question is where does one get moral audacity to disprove a sovereign country’s leadership when overwhelming majority of citizens are contented with it? I think it is speaking against such voices that should be branded undemocratic!

With such, Washington should rethink of their much-praised “democracy” and stop branding other countries’ government as autocratic or rogue simply because they don’t agree with their now failing liberal democracy.  The west can as well learn from such polling’s that trying to impose their beliefs onto others and claiming they alone know what is right is not being liberal but rather intolerant. It is not a surprise that intolerant white supremacists’ movements in the U.S are on rise including openly funding politicians. As Washington gears up for president Biden’s democracy submit, maybe his handlers should ask him if he is not bothered about growing influence of white supremacists in U.S’ “electoral democracy” which according Human Rights Watch, over 58 American organizations noted in a letter to Attorney General undermine principles of democracy.

Alan Collins Mpewo is a lawyer and Research Fellow at Development Watch Centre and Allawi Ssemanda, Executive Director Development Watch Centre, a Foreign Policy Think Tank.




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