Democratic thinking

Articles on democracy in the independent online media

September 20, 2006

Thai food for thought

The recent 'troubles' in Thailand have made an impression on the global political scene. The military coup has started peacefully without a single human hurt. How long is this going to last for?
Is Thailand another country that needs the Anglo-American democracy like a monkey needs his cellphone?

DNA from India reports:

In an age when democracy is spreading globally, military coups look old fashioned and archaic. Not that there are no attempts — in this century alone, there have been 18 coups, 10 of them successful — but inevitably there is pressure to democratise.

Thailand, which has a long history of coups — 17 coups or attempts in nearly 65 years — looked set for becoming a liberal democracy after the last coup 15 years ago. True, Thai political parties did not have a reputation for being clean, but ordinary Thais had let it be known, through the ballot box, that they would vote out corrupt politicians.

In 2001, they brought in self-made millionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who promised to clean up the system. When he started making money through shady deals and tax scams, they handed him a less than decisive verdict seven months ago.

The ensuing political turmoil, in which he claimed victory while half the population and the judiciary thought otherwise, led to chaos, which could be the genesis of the current military takeover. Ironically, the country was due for elections on October 15, which could have made the picture clearer and sorted out the political stasis.

With the cancellation of elections by the junta and the declaration of martial law, the country looks set for another spell of military rule, though the army chief Sonthi Boonyaratkalin has promised a return to civilian government at some indeterminate date.

The motivation behind the coup looks familiar. Like most uniformed men, the general has sought to rationalise the action in terms of cleaning up the mess created by a civilian authority which has indulged in nepotism, corruption and the devaluation of institutions.

September 09, 2006

Arab world's rejection of Americas democracy

Outspoken Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor of the Lebanon's Daily Star is discussing Western democracy and America's efforts to impose USA style "democracy" to the Middle East:

The US is behaving as though it has the patent on "democracy." In the same way it exports Uncle Ben's Rice, Starbucks and F16s to the Middle East, it is eager to impose its own stars-and-stripes brand of "rule by the people for the people." The US wants us to believe that democracy comes in one-size-fits all like a "made in America" T-shirt. It has attempted to cloak this system of governance, which has its roots in Ancient Greece, with an almost religious aura. Those who challenge it are unfairly dubbed communists, fascists, despots or dictators.

It's time to break this contrived taboo. We must analyze America's motives in trying to remake this region in its own image. We must question whether Western-style democracy is right for us. And we must ask ourselves whether there is a better solution; a home-grown solution based on who we truly are and what we need.

Washington arrogantly tells us democracy is the only way forward for this region in spite of the fact that the Arab world has functioned without it for thousands of years, producing remarkable thinkers and accomplishments in the fields of literature, mathematics, philosophy and science.

This is not to imply that any of our governments are perfect - far from it - but neither are Western so-called democracies where citizens are often indoctrinated into believing they are free when many are not.

Full article.