FOREIGN Secretary Miliband declared to his audience, right at the start of his Oxford College speech last Tuesday evening, that ‘we’ must not let ‘the doubts’ and ‘the concerns’ over the Iraq and Afghan wars ‘obscure our national interest, never mind our moral impulse, in supporting movements for democracy’.
That he puts the national interest of the British bourgeoisie in overthrowing governments that stand in the way of British interests ahead of any moral impulses, reveals in fact the real world of British imperialist politics.
It is one where supporting a reactionary dictatorship like the one in Saudi Arabia, which is deemed to be serving British bourgeois interests, is preferable to supporting its opponents who have democratic pretensions.
This is a position which led the British government to terminate a police inquiry into bribes for Saudi princes in return for contracts, so as not to embarrass the Saudi dictatorship.
British interests are put way ahead of any kind of democratic scruples.
British interests dictated that there had to be an invasion of Iraq to open up the way to grab Iraq’s oil and gas resources.
The fact that it has thrown back the cause of women’s equality by at least a century, seen the country’s intellectuals scattered in millions throughout the Middle East, established a reign of terror in the universities by feudal religious movements and their militias, and put them into power, is secondary, as is the complete destruction of the country.
The war to export democracy to Iraq was just a crude cloak for carrying out the country’s destruction.
After the Iraq experience, Miliband remarks: ‘We cannot impose democratic norms. But we can be clear about the desirability of government by the people and clear that without hubris or sanctimony we can play a role in backing demands for democratic governance and all that goes with it. That is my focus today.’
His focus is that ‘we’ cannot impose democratic norms, but nevertheless ‘we’ can invade a country, using democratic slogans in order to further British interests.
Keeping oil and gas firmly in his sights, Miliband declared, after giving a potted ‘history’ of the spread of democracy, that: ‘Today, there is only one region – the Middle-East – where democratic regimes remain the exception.’
He also focuses on another enemy for the imperialist powers – China.
He states: ‘At the same time as this dramatic growth in democratic governance, the belief that there is an inevitable tide of history has been discredited. After the end of the cold war it was tempting to believe in “the end of history” – the inevitable progress of liberal democracy and capitalist economics.
Now with the economic success of China, we can no longer take the forward march of democracy for granted.’
Note that our imperialist foreign secretary has been forced to give up his view that there will be inevitable progress to liberal democracy and capitalist economics throughout the world.
He continues: ‘I will argue that we should back demands among citizens for more freedom and power over their lives – whether that is reforming established democracies, or supporting transitions to democracy. We should be on the side of the civilian surge.’
With Britain deep into a ‘surveillance society’ police state, where its people are tracked and eavesdropped on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, these sentiments are obviously for export only, as far as our imperialist foreign secretary is concerned. In fact, he cynically remarks that ‘some countries are more democratic than others’.
He continues openly to laud Bush and Blair, saying that ‘In fact, the goal of spreading democracy should be a great progressive project; the means need to combine soft and hard power. We should not let the genuine debate about the “how’’ of foreign policy obscure the clarity about the “what’’.’
He believes that ‘soft’ democratic talk must be combined with shock and awe military means.
British policy remains imperialist through and through. Freedom throughout the world will only be won through the destruction of British imperialism by a socialist revolution.