Friday, August 18, 2006


I once had a debate with a foreign cabbie driver in Sydney (don't we all?) about democracy.

Cabbie: "
Who did you vote for in the last election?"
Me: "I didn't vote. I didn't want to vote for either of the parties."
Cabbie: "
Where I'm from, anyone who wanted to stand for election could. We had 100 people in the last election. In this country, you can only vote for 2 people. Tell me, which country has democracy?"

More recently, I've been watching presentations from last year's TED conference. This conference charges US$4,400 for a ticket! Every year, TED presents a prize of $100,000 to three people to make their wish come true. One of last year's winners, is the film director Jehane Noujaim. She made a documentary called "Control Room" on how the war on Iraq was reported by the Arabs on the Al Jazeera channel, and by the usual Western news channels. I never heard Dubbya's address to the Americans until I watched this documentary. Here it is:

"My fellow citizens, the United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities so we will rise to ours. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals including journalists and inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately. Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated broadcast, and I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country, and not against you. Your fate will depend on your actions, and it will be no defense to say, "I was just following orders". It is too late for Saddam Hussein to remain in power. We will tear down the apparatus of terror, and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free."

That was the American President's vision of bringing democracy to Iraq. Iraqis watched the broadcast in disbelief and anger, "The problem is not Saddam, the problem is what the people will go through". Democracy through bombs. Terrorize a population into subjugation, and it suddenly becomes democracy. It's disheartening to see a supernation being ruled by such a dumbass.

It's interesting. When captured American soldiers were questioned, "Why did you come to Iraq?", the soldiers answered, "I was just following orders".

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