Thursday, January 1, 2009

US Ambassador Votes in Bangladesh Election

Why did the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, James Moriarty, want the nationalist (described fallaciously as 'secularist') Awami League to win the election of 2008 – which they did, with a two-thirds majority?

This is not the first time that an election has been rigged on the sly – the last election of 2001 was rigged in favour of the BNP and its cronies, according to a reliable bureaucratic source (as well as mathematical analysis, see .

After all, it was the United States (plus Europe) that wanted the two banshees – I mean, begums – out of power, permanently. This was the famous "minus-two formula", backed by the western donors and the army (itself backed by the donors). After all, these two women – Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia – were giving democracy a bad name and creating another failed, Muslim state: the last thing the west needed.

But the minus-two plan backfired: there can be no alternative leaders in Bangladesh because there can be no democracy in Bangladesh. The old dynasties were destined to remain, as in India and Pakistan.

So, Plan B, it seems, was to allow elections, but make sure the anti-mullah Awami League won a landslide (like the pro-mullah BNP did in 2001): the world can still be shown that Islam and democracy are not oil and water.

The 2001 experiment – allowing the pro-mullah party and indeed quite a few mullahs to win – had not worked. The idea then was to co-opt the mullahs into the democratic process: but the best-laid plans....

Now what?

Militants have sworn to assassinate Sheikh Hasina. Perhaps the west will allow that to happen, and then ask the army to take over (again). That would be a Machiavellian minus-one policy.

At any rate, westerners know that democracy will never work so long as these two women are there, with their blindly loyal followers. Not that George Bush is out, will Barack Obama continue to try and spread democracy? Or is he pragmatic enough to realise that some things just aren't possible? After all, it was under Bill Clinton that Pervez Musharraf took over power in Pakistan. His team is back in Washington, and they do not appear to have an evangelical passion for the worldwide expansion of democracy.

At any rate, it all depends on Washington – not the people of Bangladesh.

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