By John Spritzler (October 10, 2002)

As the Bush administration kicks its media campaign into high gear for war, one of the emerging themes is that the war will be "for democracy in Iraq." The "democracy pitch" will be especially important in the absence of any hard evidence that Saddam Hussein actually has and intends to use weapons of mass destruction. On July 17 U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke to reporters about "a democratic Iraq, and that is our goal." On August 11 the BBC headlined, "U.S. 'wants democracy in Iraq.'" On September 27 the Inter Press Service reported: "Just last week, Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told the Financial Times that the U.S. military should be seen as 'liberators' when it moves on Iraq, and that the administration was devoted to 'democratization, or the march of freedom in the Muslim world.' Vice President Dick Cheney has said much the same thing in recent weeks."

The rhetoric about waging a war to make Iraq a democracy is a smokescreen to hide the fact that we don't have a democracy here in our own country. A real war for democracy in Iraq is the last thing the War Party wants.


Excuse me for bringing the subject down to earth so graphically, but wouldn't we all agree that in a real democracy people not only have the right to vote, but even more importantly they have the right to go to the bathroom? But by that very modest standard, the U.S. is a collection of corporate feudal tyrannies.

Corey Robin writes in the Boston Globe [9/29/02] "In 1995... female employees at a Nabisco plant in Oxnard, California, maker of A-1 steak sauce and the world's supplier of Grey Poupon mustard, complained in a lawsuit that line supervisors had consistently prevented them from going to the bathroom. Instructed to urinate into their clothes or face three days' suspension for unauthorized expeditions to the toilet, the workers opted for adult diapers. But incontinence pads were expensive, so many employees downgraded to Kotex and toilet paper, which pose sever health risks when soaked in urine. Indeed, several workers eventually contracted bladder and urinary tract infections. Hearing of their plight, conservative commentator R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. advised the workers to wear special diapers used by horses in New York’s Central Park carriage trade....According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1979, 25 percent of employees in medium- to large-sized companies did not have paid rest breaks during which they could go to the bathroom. By 1993, the last year for which there are statistics, that number had jumped to 32 percent."

Of course our right to go to the bathroom isn’t the only democratic right that corporate CEO dictators trample on routinely. Freedom of speech and assembly do not prevail inside America's corporate fiefdoms. Robin notes that, "Exxon Mobil and Delta have installed software programs on their company computers to ferret out any sign of employee opposition to management authority. The program forwards to managers all employee documents and e-mails –– saved or unsaved, sent or unsent –– containing "alert" words like "boss" or "union." As a supervisor explained to the Wall Street Journal, "'The workplace is never free of fear –– and it shouldn’t be. Indeed, fear can be a powerful management tool'...In the last decade alone, according to federal government statistics, almost 200,000 employees [were] punished for exercising their right to form and participate in a union."


To suggest that the U.S. government is waging a war for democracy in Iraq is absurd, because our U.S. rulers are the enemies of democracy. George Bush and Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and all the others who control the U.S. government say they are for democracy, but in fact they are for absolutely undemocratic corporate control of workers, which is what capitalism is all about.

President Bush's war on Iraq has nothing to do with democracy except to prevent it, here and in Iraq. The U.S. government supported Saddam Hussein and gave him biological weapons of mass destruction in the 1980's when he was just as much a dictator as now: democracy had nothing to do with it. Just as "fear can be a powerful management tool" at the workplace, fear is also a powerful way to control whole populations, especially the fear- mongering that President Bush is using to beat the drums of war on Iraq.

War is the great pretext that corporate leaders like Cheney (former CEO of Haliburton Oil) and Rumsfeld (former CEO of GD Searle) use to demand greater sacrifice and obedience from working people in the name of "patriotism." Our leaders are no more trying to protect us from harm than Nabisco, Exxon and Delta CEOs are trying to protect democratic freedoms for us on the job.

Bush and company want wars to kill innocent people abroad in the name of the American people because they hope this will destroy international solidarity between American and foreign working people and make us all easier to control.

The most effective way we can help bring democracy to Iraq is to fight for it here in the U.S.

Other articles by this author