Democracy spreads: It’s Bush’s fault…
By: Slater Bakhtavar
“When the people realize they have the power to expose the deceit underlying a government prone to repression, it is the beginning of that regime’s end.”
- Peter Ackerman, The Boston Globe
A resilient, yet experimental venture by the Bush Administration into uncharted waters has proven largely beneficial, as democracy sweeps several countries once held captive by tyrants. The winds of change are blowing across the world as jubilant demonstrators take back their God-given right to freedom, once denied by fascist dictators. An unshakeable vision of international democracy in coordination with the deep desire of people around the world to be free has led to elections throughout the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.
In Georgia, a fraud-plagued election led to peaceful protests by thousands against President Eduard Shevardnadze. President Shevardnadze, forced to succumb to the rightful demands of the people, stepped down, thus paving the way for elections in the former Soviet state. The revolution in Georgia (the Rose Revolution) opened the floodgates to several subsequent democratic revolts within the region. President Bush’s visit to Georgia this month was welcomed by hundreds of thousands who’d labeled him the “Great Liberator”.
In Ukraine, fraudulent election results in November led to a mass popular movement around opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. Peter Ackerman of the Boston Globe wrote, “in the wake of what was widely perceived as a corrupt election on Nov. 21, Ukrainians took to the streets – wearing orange clothing as a symbol of solidarity with Yushchenko’s campaign – and demanded a new vote. Public figures ranging from policemen to news broadcasters defected from the government’s party line and openly expressed agreement with Yushchenko’s movement.” Largely welcomed by the Bush Administration, Yushchenko was elected President of Ukraine in a free and fair democratic election in December.
In Kyrgyzstan, pro-democracy demonstrations were touched off due to popular outrage over unfair election results. President Askar Akayev, after fifteen years of autocratic rule, was confronted by tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding his resignation and the implementation of free elections. President Askar Akayev would later flee to Russia where he has taken refugee as a lamed dictator. Democratic presidential elections under the control of designated Prime Minister, Kurmanbek Bakiyev are set to take place in June.
In Kuwait, women received the right to vote for the first time after four decades of parliamentary government. Granting women the right to vote was one of the most significant events in the history of the Kuwaiti nation and a proud push towards a free society. The first lady Laura Bush praised the initiative as a “proud step towards democracy.”
In Saudi Arabia, that gulf nation agreed to hold the first historical municipal election. The election was part of a larger plan to bring democracy to the Gulf kingdom. According to AFP over seventy percent of registered voters turned out, putting the tally far ahead of most western nations, insidiously opening the once iron gate to society.
In Azerbaijan, pro-democracy forces previously emboldened by the revolutionary trend in the former Soviet Union region took the streets by the thousands to take on President Ilham Aliyev. This month, thousands gathered to call for free-and fair elections in November before being beaten with batons. Many of these demonstrators were seen carrying portraits of US President George W. Bush. During a May 10 speech in Georgia, President Bush guaranteed that the United States would back democratic change in all former Soviet states.
In Iran, pro-democracy students have taken to the streets several times during the past couple of years. A poll conducted this month by student activists at Amir Kabir University, the country’s second largest University, sent a discomfiting message for the reigning Ayatollahs; the University poll chronicled a mere five to ten percent support for the mullahs and eighty-five percent support for a secular democratic government. President Bush has consistently reached out to Iran, a nation that Michael Rubin of the Washington Enterprise Institute dubbed the “most pro-American in the entire region, if not the world”, and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times called “the ultimate red state.”
Dictatorial tyrants are enthusiastically trying to slam shut the window of opportunity for democratic freedom fighters. The specifics of this confrontation are often difficult to follow, especially for those who lack a knack for regional politics. The conflict, however, is best characterized as a battle between good and evil. In this battle of good versus evil, the good wields a powerful weapon, their natural born right to live in a free, democratic society where the basic tenants of human rights are not only accepted, but widely embraced.
The unconditional support of an administration determined to spread the foundations of democracy will in the end lead to the victory of the brave freedom fighters. Unfortunately, several vindictive and irrational groups will not succumb to their failure in predicting the beneficial consequences of the Bush Doctrine. As an extra monkey tactic, they have backtracked to their usual innate conspiracy of blaming President Bush for everything. Several countries are free and democratic with many more to come, but let us not forget – it is Bush’s fault.