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new boss worse than the old boss...,
democracy! an exciting promotion from your friends in the land of AmeriCorp:
Colonel Lansdale's war in the Phillipines to counter the Huk rebellion was a success, if you consider the outcome of Magsaysay's insufficient reforms ten years later - two decades of rule by Ferdinand Marcos, hailed for his democratic sensibilities by Washington for the whole score - successful, or for that matter the current desperate state of much of the Filipino population. Their democratic institutions, at least, are not now complete shams, but here the dependenancy of the Phillipines is in the 21st century, fighting yet another insurrection with American support.
Then they sent Lansdale to Vietnam where successive local client regimes refused to follow policy advice on the same set of political and economic reforms as the Phillipines - at the time the sort of New Deal policies that actually have some record of success and which are utterly alien to the present agenda of Iraq's managers - and he failed miserably, leading to faked terrorist attacks and fake acts of war staged to fuel domestic support for the escalation of disproportionate violence against a popular rebellion, all deriving, as did the policy in the Phillipines, from the political imperative of managing the foreign policy and economy of somebody else's country, which required leaving in charge a ready and willing yes-man.
One of these incarnations of nearly identical policies the fine folks at OxBlog call "democracy promotion", the other they don't. To desribe as "democracy promotion" only those least-negative, easily-won outcomes is only slightly less arbitrary an application of the phrase as Washington's habit of calling everything it does "democracy promotion", regardless of whether or not something akin to democracy actually occurs. Without the foresight to know whether or not Iraq will end up a democracy they settle on describing the policy there, likewise, as "promotion of democracy", so at least they're using the same lowest common denominator: anything that hasn't failed yet.
Here's what I think of their "democracy promotion" in Iraq: it doesn't exist outside the programs through the NED promoting American-minded groups that have our interests in mind, which is America-promotion, not democracy promotion. Voter registration finally started this month using the food ration cards from the Oil For Food program. This was suggested in the early stages, called for since, but repeatedly resisted and turned down by the Bush administration and its cronies for a list of reasons: because of "the need for a census to compile voter rolls and other measures to ensure fair balloting" [NYT, 1/22/04] (they rejected plans for a census, and there hasn't been one yet), because the Kurds weren't on the ration card system (they already have elections - and are therefor already registered voters), because some people had more than one.
What they are doing now, a mere two and a half months prior to the scheduled election, is exactly what had been proposed earlier and rejected. Either the excuses to not start registration through the food ration card system were credible and we should not be doing it now or they were never credible to begin with and there was no reason to not start the program the summer the occupation began. It's an almighty flip flop. If the administration was serious about "democracy promotion" it would not have waited until elections were likely to be impossible to start registering voters, national elections could have happened a year ago, and local elections even sooner. A little planning would have gone a long way.