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Friday, April 21, 2006

Weeding in the Garden of Democracy

(Keywords: politics, Iraq, China, diplomacy, people who deserve better )

This is how democracies are born - or, in this case, reborn. People stand up for their rights, they demand their freedom, and they don't wait for someone to come free them.

Nepal has been fighting for its freedom. ABC reports that 'More than 100,000 pro-democracy protesters defied a government shoot-on-sight curfew to fill the streets on the outskirts of Katmandu Friday, as a top foreign envoy warned that the king's regime could be nearing the brink of collapse. With tension building, state radio announced that King Gyanendra would address the nation later in the day.'

People reach for democracy when they're ready for it. They aren't pushed. So Iraq struggles to find some sort of democratic solution among groups fighting for complete power. The impulse in Iraq is not democratic, but totalitarian.

We're learning the irony of democracy - that a democracy can destroy itself by the will of the people. It is a civilizing force in the world - the neocons have that much right - but it's not a force that can be imposed. It's a force that must be accepted. And it's a sad fact that, despite Bush's assertion, not everyone wants to be free. For some, freedom doesn't mean equality, it means political power.

If Nepal shows us anything, it shows that democratic movements start with the people, not foreign governments. And democratic movements aren't always successful. Bush could've had a discussion about this fact with chinese president Hu - Tiananmen Square comes to mind as a failed democratic movement. The chinese government's terrible record on human rights also comes to mind.

But of course, Bush was far more concerned with money than democracy. Sure, he let through a protester and China was announced as Taiwan, but these were typical don't-sweat-the-details Bush mistakes, not a deliberate message to Hu.

Bush makes a lot of noise about freedom and democracy, but the nepalese people could be excused for asking him, "Where the hell are you?" He'll try to jam it down people's throats, but when he finds it growing naturally, democracy's just a weed.