L. Neil Smith's
Number 217, March 31, 2003


The War on Iraq: Hegemony or Freedom?
by Caleb Paul

Special to TLE

I don't believe in democracy. To me, it appears as tyranny of the masses, three wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. However, those who do believe in democracy in the west should be taking a long hard look at its future and true objectives.

It seems ironic at best, hypocritical at worst, that various western leaders keep talking about bringing democracy to Iraq specifically, and the middle east in general. Talk about removing dictators in that part of the world rings hollow to me. Aside from the fact that the west chooses which dictators it supports and which it doesn't, I think it's about time the leaders of Great Britain and Australia (amongst others) cleaned up their own acts first.

The fact that there have been major anti-war protests all over Great Britain, Australia, and several other countries, and that the majority in such countries are opposed to war, should send a clear mandate to people such as Tony Blair and John Howard. That's not a mandate for supporting George Bush. Although I am not in favour of this war for a number of reasons, I am prepared to accept (at least at some level, since I believe there's a lot of manipulation via the media, etc.) that the majority of Americans are pro-war, and in that respect, George Bush can claim he has public support.

Every day in the media, I hear Tony Blair and his cronies going on about how there is a moral obligation to the Iraqi people, and so on. The morality of this war is a whole can of worms I won't open now. However, he is missing the point.

If he truly believed in democracy, and if he believed in his job, then he would accept one thing—he is there to accept the decisions of the British people (be they good or bad, in their best or worst interest, foolish or well thought out). The people tell him how it is, not the other way around. The same is true for any democratic leader.

Whilst Blair and friends may not quite be in the same league as Hussein (although indirectly through political and economic moves, they've probably caused just as much trouble, if not more), I don't believe they're any different in kind. How are they any less dictatorial if they don't listen to their people and go off on their own personal crusades?

All the talk that we can at least dissent within western countries is something of a pyrrhic victory for us in the west. If somewhere between 750,000 and 2,000,000 people can march on the streets of London and be ignored, then what does it take? Sure, we might not be arrested for doing it, but it's hardly the people's voice, is it?

In a worst case scenario, Hussein's regime will be replaced by a puppet regime like that in Saudi Arabia where political dissent can't be seen or heard. The best case scenario is that like the British, the Iraqi people will be allowed to be seen, but still not heard.

Here's where I do get moral: is it worth creating a major humanitarian crisis and possibly destabilising the entire region for that? Is that much of an improvement? Is freedom even an objective, here or abroad, or is democracy just a ruse for hegemony?


The State vs. The People
by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman

Is America becoming a police state? Friends of liberty need to know.

Some say the U.S. is already a police state. Others watch the news for signs that their country is about to cross an indefinable line. Since September 11, 2001, the question has become more urgent. When do roving wiretaps, random checkpoints, mysterious "detentions," and military tribunals cross over from being emergency measures to being the tools of a government permanently and irrevocably out of control?

The State vs. the People examines these crucial issues. But first, it answers this fundamental question: "What is a police state?"

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