"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Boo Hoo

The hand wringing and tear jerking over the outcome of the presidential election in Iran continues unabated in the west. Is anyone really surprised? If it seems as though there was but a fraction of this distress among the western punditry over the suspicious outcome of the contest in Mexico where the neoliberal standard bearer Felipe Calderon "won" you aren't imagining things. The following is a handy guide for easy referral the next time a foreign election turns out the "wrong way" and elicits the kind of media hysterics we're suffering through at the moment. This courtesy of the "Angry Arab", As'ad AbuKhalil:

Western Primer on Elections in Developing Countries

Some Western principles in assessing elections in developing countries:

1) When the favored candidates win, the elections are free and fair. And when they lose, elections are certainly unfree and stolen.

2) Violent protests against elections that produce winners favored by the West, are to be strictly condemned and protesters are to be called terrorists, hooligans and mobs (can you imagine if Lebanese opposition supporters were to engage in violent protests against the election results in Lebanon), while violent protests against enemies of the US when they win elections (like in Moldova) are to be admired (and the protesters in those cases are called "democracy activists".

3) It is not against free elections to have Western governments interfere in elections and in funding candidates through Western groups for the promotion of democracy.

4) Candidates (or even dictators) who serve Western interests are automatically labeled as "reform candidates" (even the Saudi tyrant is referred to as "reform-minded"), while candidates who oppose Western economic and political interests are to be labeled enemies of reform....

6) Western observers of elections are always on hand to declare an election unfair and rigged if the favored candidates lose.

7) The corruption of pro-US candidates (like the March 14 bunch in Lebanon) is preferred to the corruption of, say, Mugabe.

8) The democratic credentials of dictators immediately improve if they change their policies toward the US and if they express willingness to serve US economic and political interests.

9) Countries where dictators do a good job in serving US economic and political interests need not hold elections.

10) If favored candidates can't guarantee electoral victory (like the Palestinian Authority's Abu Mazen, whose term has expired months ago), they don't need to hold elections and will be treated as if they won an election anyway.

11) It is just not logical to assume that people in developing countries can freely ever decide to make choices that are not consistent with political and economic interests of the US....
-As'ad AbuKhalil

Bear in mind as you read the following analysis from Paul Craig Roberts over the events in Iran that outside of the opposition's assertions there is no evidence whatsoever of election fraud on the scale alleged. This from Middle East specialists Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett provides an important overview as well.

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