Flawed as they are, the elections in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are reasonably representative. Yet the West has form in ignoring elections it doesn’t find useful.
The oil wealth of Iran had done little to ease the grinding poverty of most of its citizens. Iran was a fulcrum of British, then American power in the Middle East, bordering the Soviet Union, Nato member Turkey, and a stones throw from the oil fields of Iraq, Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.
Discontent at foreign domination and an unequal share of its natural bounty took form in the shape of Mosaddegh, an Iranian nationalists with socialist leanings.
Still smarting front the ‘loss’ of Egypt to Nassar, the UK and US viewed Mosaddegh carefully, and weren’t going to let something as petty as democratic mandate get in the way of sound geopolitics. Artificial protests were started by the CIA and MI6 agents, officers in the security services were courted, and the Shar of Iran was told to stiffen his resolve and ditch Prime Minister Mosaddegh.
Undermined from within his own government by western agents, and besieged by rent-a-mob on the streets, Mosaddegh days were numbered. His dissolution of parliament was the engineered pretext the West needed to oust the nuisance leader.
Popular Left Winger Alende is swept to power on a platform of nationalisation, distribution of wealth, and a reorientation of Chile’s foreign policy away from the US.
In Washington it is quickly agreed that Chilean people don’t know what’s good for them, and that the CIA should help them ‘review’ their decision. Thought quickly turns to the established institutions of Chile, and the army seems to possessed of the means, motive and opportunity to effect change. It was fiercely anti Soviet, deeply conservative, and had strong ties to the middle class and business leaders whom had most to lose from the policies of the new government.
With CIA guidance, intelligence, funding and logistics, a military coup was launched and successfully toppled the Alende government. General Augusto Pinochet (my guilty pleasure) led a military junta for nearly two decades, whose anti Soviet leanings and pro business policies earned him implicit American backing, in spite of kidnappings, torture, executions, and a swath of suspensions of civil liberties.
Palestinian Territories 2006
The spread of democracy throughout the Middle East has long been a cornerstone of Western foreign policy. So it should have been with profound joy that the people of the West Bank and Gaza turned out in cast their ballots in the first internationally monitored elections in the Palestinian territories.
The West Bank elected Fatah, the established and (reasonably) moderate party previously dominated by the personality of Yassar Arafat. But Gaza clearly didn’t get the memo and instead elected Hamas, the fiery, balaclava wearin, martyr celebrating group that has in its charter a vow to destroy Israel.
This proved a bit of a sticky wicket for the West, being as it was a free and fair election, but hardly conducive to the peace process. Unable to refuse to acknowledge the result, the economic screws were turned instead. Whereas the West Bank was rewarded with a comparative easing of its economic isolation, Gaza found its isolation remained and in some cases deepen. Hamas continues to be listed as a terrorist organisation in many Western capitals, and even Egypt was encouraged to continue its end of the blockade of Gaza.
French & Dutch Referendums 2005
The EU loves a good treaty, especially when its set in a pretty city. After Rome and Milan we had Nice, which continued the inexorable drive towards ever closer union with a raft of new powers transferred from national parliaments to Brussels.
The Netherlands and France needed to ratify this treaty, but first sought an endorsement from the people via referendums. There was little protest from Brussels, French and Dutch voters being some of the most pro Europeans on the continent. Yet disaster struck, and in spite of near blanket coverage from the Yes camp, voters replied non and nein.
But the EU is both wise and powerful, and knew that there had obviously been some mistake, so instructed Paris and The Hague to crack on anyway.
Ireland Rejects Lisbon Treaty 2008
Next it was Ireland’s turn to be bad Europeans. The Lisbon Treaty again transferred powers away from member states and pooled sovereignty that little bit more. Surely Ireland, with its 4.5 million citizens wasn’t going to hold things up? Well, yes they did, like France and The Netherlands before it, also in the face of a lavishly funded Yes campaign.
But again, the wishes of the ruled are secondary to the timetable of the rulers, and Ireland was humiliatingly instructed to run the referendum again until it got the ‘correct’ result.