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Whose government is it, anyway?

Posted by Helen Wednesday, October 27, 2004

There was a time, not that long ago, historically speaking when Britain was the most powerful country in the world, infinitely more powerful than the United States is now. Who became the country’s Prime Minister affected large chunks of what might be termed the developed and underdeveloped world in the nineteenth century. Yet, I have never read the slightest reference to other countries or prominent individuals claiming the right to interfere or make decisions about the way the British people or, at least, those of them who had the franchise, voted.

For some bizarre reason, however, America’s strength and influence seems to encourage all sorts of people to think that they have the right to interfere in what is a purely domestic matter: the election of the President. We have had calls from various international worthies that others, apart from Americans should participate in the elections. Presumably, the hope there is that those “others” would vote for Kerry, though, as the old song said: It ain’t necessarily so.

Besides, which countries would vote? Zimbabwe? China? Libya? Cuba? Or any one of the thousands of others that do not precisely vote for their own government? Curiously, the supporters of this idea of a “global election” in the columns of our own Guardian and Independent do not call for the British people to have some sort of a control of the legislation that pours into this country. We are not talking about the great influence the American President may or may not have on the world’s affairs but on the fact that about eighty per cent of our legislation appears as part of the unrolling managerial governance of the European Union, with no democratic control or accountability and no clear understanding, even, how it happens. That, it seems, does not matter. But then, it is not the people that would be taking part in this “global election”, one assumes, but the right-minded transnational organizations and individuals, the self-appointed would-be rulers of the world, who hate anything that smacks of liberal democracy.

The Guardian has surpassed itself. Its columnist, Charlie Brooker has not only described Bush’s presidency as being full of “idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed” (didn’t hear much from C. Brooker on the subject of unwarranted bloodshed in Saddam’s Iraq or in many other countries, and as for arrogance, there is nothing to beat a Guardian columnist) and prayed to God to provide the world with another assassin. After a couple of days the Guardian had to apologize or half-apologize, explaining with a knowing smirk that it was all post-modenist irony, implying that it was those humourless Yanks who complained. My own suspicion is that calling for the assassination of a world leader and a democratically elected one at that, was too much even for that newspaper’s readers. The few Americans who noticed the column all seemed to say the same thing: “Well, why don’t you come and do it, you great sissy?”

Then there was the website. I imagine most of our readers know about the Guardian website, on which it provided names and addresses of electors in Clark County, Ohio and urged its readers to write to said electors, urging to vote for Kerry. Needless to say, the Republicans of Ohio did very well out of this. Their support increased manifold and Bush may well take that state. The website had to be discontinued within 24 hours.

It is the sheer arrogance of the whole enterprise that leaves one speechless. What would have been the reaction of those journalists if, say, during the Hartlepool by-election, readers of the New York Times or the Boston Globe or, for that matter, Le Monde or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had started writing to the electors, urging to vote for one or t’other of the candidates?

It is not only our own believers in the transnational government of the great and the good, otherwise known as bowing to international opinion, who seem to have a slightly odd idea of what elections are about. Yesterday’s International Herald Tribune asked twenty international worthies what they thought the priority of the incoming administration should be. The Trib being an American paper, though published in Europe, at least did not ask those worthies to choose the next President.

Not that these opinions matter much. I doubt whether either Bush or Kerry have heard of Alain de Botton, a minor British writer, or of Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian MEP, whose undoubted achievement is the chronicling of his colleagues’ creative expense claiming habits.

Herr Martin, incidentally thought that the new administration should spend more time enhancing the development of the European political union, not push for Turkey’s membership and generally accept that what the EU does is right in all circumstances. He said:

“You need a stronger partner to combat world poverty, to combat terrorism, to solve the Middle East problems.”
Those Americans, regrettably few in number, who have looked at the EU’s track record would have noticed that the EU is not precisely strong for various internal reasons, is often the tangental cause of those problems and is certainly not America’s partner.

Other comments were even odder. Yekaterina Genieva, the Director of the State Foreign Literature Library and head of the Soros Institute in Russia, refused to comment on the rightness of the Iraqi war, adding, however,

“What was wrong? That it was the decision of one person in the country. If it’s the decision of one person or a group of people who are under him, for me a personf from the former Soviet Union, it’s a real threat.”
Either Ms Genieva has no clear idea of the role of Congress in American legislation or the Russians have retreated to the Aesopian language that had stood them in good stead under the Soviet regime. That is they make comments supposedly about other countries when they really mean their own.

Wangari Maathai, the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and an environmentalist, droned on about Kyoto and greenhouse gases. She is clearly not of the more scientific school of environmentalism. One would think that a Kenyan political and social activist would be more concerned with the need to raise the living standards in African countries and deal with devastating diseases but one must assume that Ms Maathai would not have been given the prize had she not already been switched into the global network of the international elite and had learnt tranzi-babble.

Others talked much about the need for the USA to submit to the UN (a somewhat tarnished organization one would have thought but still very necessary to these tranzies, to use the word coined by David Carr, a libertarian lawyer and co-editor of Samizdata) and the importance of multilateralism. And what would that be? Well the use of American money and American troops on purposes designated by the UN, the various NGOs, the EU and others of the self-appointed international elite. If these people think that John Kerry, should he become President, will go along with that, they are in for a very rude shock.

The fact is that the President of the United States is accountable to the people of the United States and is elected by them. Should they decide that Bush has not been up to the job, they will throw him out on November 2. If, on the other hand, they think that, with all his faults and all the problems, he is a better person for the job than John Kerry, they will vote him back in. It is called representative democracy, not rule by a self-appointed global oligarchy, of which the EU is a political expression.