American-Style Democracy Wins in Iran

Clifton Ross

The End of History: Part Two
Or, The Victory of American-Style Democracy in Mexico, Nicaragua and Iran

The poor, benighted left and Latin American Solidarity movement in the U.S. throughout the 1980s found it impossible to decipher the highly-sophisticated language of empire in its “B-Movie” phase under the senile actor from Hollywood, Ronald Reagan. Those who were alive and conscious in those years as History approached its End were told that the mercenary wars and official repression of the day in Central America, Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere were simply aimed at “stopping the spread of Communism” and bringing about “American-Style democracy” (ASD)

he small country of Nicaragua, which most North Americans couldn’t locate on a map, suddenly became the great threat because, for the Empire and its minions, it embodied “Communism” and utterly lacked ASD. In 1984 the Frente Sandinista Liberación Nacional (Sandinista Front for National Liberation, FSLN), which had wrested the country from the iron grip of a forty-five year long U.S-backed dictatorship, held elections in the country. It was considered to be the most free and fair election in Nicaraguan history, and held under conditions of war with the U.S. proxy army known as the “Contras.” The “Contras” were armed and trained by the CIA and mercenaries from the genocidal Argentine dictatorship. They were funded by a combination of money from the U.S. government and proceeds from the sale of crack cocaine in the U.S. (See “Whiteout,” by Cockburn and St. Clair). After the elections, when the FSLN took 67% of the vote, the Reagan administration continued to condemn the Sandinistas because they had been elected through a democracy that was not “American-Style.” The siege of the country by the US tightened and Nicaragua, a little smaller than Alabama with only a million or so more people than that state, and certainly less developed economically, was destroyed. Reagan insisted that Sandinista Nicaragua would have to call “uncle” and his Secretary of State, the ever-bland George Shultz, insisted that “we may not be able to destroy the Sandinistas, but at least we can maim them” -- surely the very definition of terrorism.

Needless to say, “Communism” had long since ceased to “spread” and was in a contraction mode that would, like a dying (red) star, eventually cause it to implode. By 1989, in the final moment of the rule of the feeble-minded friend of Bonzo, the chimp, the “Communism that never was” [communist], disappeared, to be replaced by the “Free Market that never was” [free]. Reagan’s cohort in England, Margaret Thatcher, declared the global hegemony of neoliberal economics under the acronym of TINA: “There Is No Alternative.” “Free markets” (code for an economic system under the totalitarian control of multinational corporations) would now appropriately bring about “American-Style Democracy,” even though the exact nature of that latter mythic concept had yet to be defined. It was only in 1990 with the victory over the FSLN of Violeta Chamorro and her US-backed National Opposition Union (Unión Nacional Opositora, UNO) that we began to get an inkling of the exact nature of “American-Style Democracy.” Tens of millions of dollars were funneled into that campaign through the National Endowment for Democracy and the Central Intelligence Agency, providing evidence of the primary trait that distinguished ASD: when you can’t make your opponent “cry uncle” through a process of gradual “maiming,” you buy an electoral opponent to finish him off. Lesson number one? The prize president under ASD goes to the highest bidder.

Ten years later, when the world thought electoral fraud was a thing of the past in the developed world, the U.S. offered a second lesson to the world on the nature of ASD: electoral fraud. The “election” of George W. Bush to the presidency of the U.S. by means of fraud first in Florida (2000) and then in Ohio (2004) seemed to have shocked the rest of the world more than it did the people of the United States. Now those recalcitrant, uncivilized and unenlightened governments of the world began to grasp a further development of ASD: When you can’t win an election through terror, nor buy the election, then steal it.

he first country to follow suit was, unsurprisingly, Mexico. Having recently “reformed” itself in the election of 2000, and allowed the right wing PAN (National Action Party) candidate, Vicente Fox to win, in 2006, the Mexican electoral system returned to its old ways, now officially affirmed as ASD, and gave the Mexican Presidency to non-winnner Felipe Calderón, also known as “FeCal.”

Nevertheless, the real victory of ASD would only come when former enemies, with tears of repentance, flocked into the fold, and united under the banner of the Stars and Stripes and ASD.

The first convert surprised even the U.S. left by the alacrity and zeal that characterized its entry: in 2008, the FSLN, under Daniel Ortega, cried uncle and adopted ASD. After cutting a deal with the right wing involving amnesties, asking the blessings of the Catholic Church, in exchange for supporting a ban on abortion, as well as dirty moves to disqualify the Movement for Sandinista Renovation which was his only real competition, Ortega squeaked (or squealed) into the presidency of Nicaragua and also oversaw the theft of the mayoralties of a number of cities in the country, including Managua. But the clincher was yet to come.

At the time of this writing, it appears that a member of the “Axis of Evil,” Iran, has entered the fold of the redeemed by the purifying process of democratic fraud. But too late. Now, it seems, the style of American democracy has no need of fraud since the most recent U.S. president was able, as many prior to his predecessor, to buy his way into office, obviating the need for fraud.

Nevertheless, there is a key difference between these younger acolytes of American-Style Democracy and the holder of the flame: Unlike what occurred in the heartland of the faith where the people were either so indifferent to the fraud in Florida in 2000, or Ohio in 2004 that there weren’t even demonstrations the day after, the people of Mexico, Nicaragua and Iran haven’t taken the results of electoral fraud like a flock of sheep. They’ve gone out into the streets to battle for real democracy.

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ASD, ADD and related syndromes

I like your new acronym. It may be related to the phenomena known as attention deficity disorder (ADD) or AHD (AHistorical Disorder) and I hope the Journal of Theoretical Theoretics will be nominating it for addition in DSM6. Nonetheless I think you may have failed to ackowledge the role of Demonstrative Disorder and Destabilization (DDD) which is also frequently evidenced in the emergence of full blown ASD. (Haiti is a notable example of such a progression.)

The strange shift in U.S. media/government coverage of Iranian elections (always heretofor dismissed as Islamic Democracy (ID) or Terrorist Democracy (TD) such as the election victory of Hamas *see footnote), during which the U.S. & Brittish media suddenly discovered there were "democratic elections" in Iran, was a set-up for NED (National Endowment for Democracy) World Bank promoted demonstrations (similar in form to DDD) which serve to "discredit" the Terrorist Democracies. Mir Hussein Moussavi was behind in pre-election polls and there was never any real evidence that Ahmadinejad would lose.

Capitalist-backed moderation (a.k.a. in Islamic Democracies as "Westernization") and its candidates (such as Ortega) present a facade of reform, a tinge of democratic hope and often attract disaffected elements in an electorate (see also Obama's victory in the U.S.) and are actually very central to ASDs successful penetration of a population's immune system. DDD following elections in TD or ID countries is likewise conducive to the development of ASD. In Venezuela the repeated failure of DDD to derail the ISD (Incipient Socialist Democracy) of Hugo Chavez has apparently slowed the progression of ASD in that country. For that reason I am compelled to inquire as to why Mr. Ross' otherwise excellent historical review of ASD instances accounts the Iranian phenomenon as something distinctly different than the other cases presented.


The Jester

* IMHO the protracted split between the formerly TD PLO and the now elected DDD Hamas is a interesting new variant on Bantustan style implementation of ASD which was once a common infection in South Africa which has now progressed to a more normalized variant of ASD).


About Clifton Ross

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Clifton Ross is a free lance writer and videographer who has been reporting on Latin America for over 25 years.He has edited many anthologies including: A Dream Made of Stars: A Bilingual Anthology of Nicaraguan Poetry and Voice of Fire: Communiques and Interviews of the Zapatista National Liberation Army. He is the translator of Quetzalcoatl by Ernesto Cardenal and author of When Good Dogs Have Bad Dreams: Four American Poets.

Fables for an Open Field has just been released in Spanish by La Casa Tomada of Venezuela. His forthcoming book of poems in translation, Traduciendo el Silencio, will be published later this year by Venezuela's Ministry of Culture editorial, Perro y Rana.

In 2005 Clifton represented the U.S. along with Genny Lim in Venezuela's World Poetry Festival.

Ross currently teaches English at Berkeley City College, Berkeley, California. He can be reached at .