War on democracy


Jenny Haines

War on Democracy, a film by John Pilger

As a country whose own revolution was inspired by the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, the US might be expected have more insight and understanding of the demands and needs of the peoples of Latin America and the Carribean.

But there seems to be little memory of the US revolution two centuries ago, and what inspired it, and what the US constitution to this day embodies as principles that led much of the world out of autocracy.  US statements of loyalty to the principles of democracy in the New World Order, have become loud and shrill, but meaningless and empty. It is all no longer about democracy, its about the “American Way” and “either you are with us or against us, and if you are against us you are a terrorist”, to paraphrase George Bush.

John Pilger, in his latest film War on Democracy, runs over the record of US-backed dictatorships in Latin America and Cuba. It is not a pretty history, drenched in blood, all in the name of the national interests of the US. Pilger spends a good portion of the film interviewing the American Empire’s most hated person in South America, Hugo Chavez, and reviewing the history of the failed US-inspired and US-funded coup in 2002 led by a rebel group of army officers. The coup failed because the masses came out from the barrios to defend the elected Chavez government and the constituition. That should ring bells for the US about its own revolution nearly two centuries ago, but it doesn’t. The rulers of the US are like the Bourbon Kings: they are deaf, and they have forgotten

Pilger notes the achievements of the Chavez government and it is easy to see why there is such loyalty to a government that takes the time to educate 95-year-old womens who had never had the chance to learn at school before. But he also interviews the rich of Caracas who live in luxury and make money as they always have, but whinge that the country is going to the dogs, and say their great aspiration is to leave and live in the US. Pilger points out to them that they are still rich and still doing business, so what is the problem? The problem is that they are not in charge, and like ruling classes everywhere, they believe they have the right to rule

Pilger then goes on to briefly review the history in the 20th century of Cuba, Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Considering their history for the past 30 years, it is no wonder that these countries now have leftist governments. The masses have woken up, and remember their history all too well.

Pilger uses these countries as a warning of the assault on democracy in other places: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, the Middle East, even inside the US.  He interviews past CIA agents, many belligerently unrepentant for their actions. For the ex-CIA agents, the aim was not democracy anyway, it was defending the perceived national security interests of the US. If they were threatenened, anything was justified

This film is timely in a world in which the major news outlets are dumbing down the populations of the first world, and imbuing them with a dangerously naive view that they are safe if they are a US ally, and in peril if they question or dissent from anything the US empire decides is justified in its interests.

Pilger presents us with a raw, gritty but reasoned view of the consequences of US imperialism, an empire that sucks the world into its vortex, and cares little for the poor and dispossessed of the countries it robs and plunders.Pilger helps to give those in these countries who are trying to give all of their people a decent, dignified standard of living a voice on the world stage. It is touching. It is moving. It is very worth seeing.

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