During the Cold War, which lasted between 1945 and 1991, a showdown unfolded between the Soviet Union and the U.S.-dominated “Western world.” Furthermore, the West took to labeling itself as the “Free World” and the Soviet Union as the “Iron Curtain.”
The Iron Curtain represented “autocracy” and the Free World stood for “democracy.” However, the truth of the matter couldn’t have been more different.
In many parts of the world, especially in Latin America, the U.S. backed military regimes that upended democracy. It is not like the United States has brought democracy to any country it has meddled in, whether it be directly or indirectly. The latest such example is Afghanistan. In 2001, the Taliban regime was overthrown with an American intervention. After 20 years of occupation, the Taliban rose to power as the U.S. withdrew with its tail between its legs.
During the Cold War era, Americans were not very interested in thwarting democracies and then establishing military dictatorships in their stead with CIA support. All that was happening “abroad.” As long as that “threat” did not come knocking on their door, it was perfectly all right. In my previous column, I referred to a U.S. study that revealed that the United States supported nearly three-quarters of the world’s non-democratic regimes.
In the 1960s, the so-called “Free World” police were busy abroad when the Civil Rights movement emerged at home in the U.S.
The movement aimed to secure civil rights for disenfranchised Black Americans who were subjected to systematic discrimination.
As a result of the mass movements that spread all over the country, then-U.S. President Lyndon Johnson had to sign the “Voters’ Rights Act” in 1965. Thanks to this legislation, the voting rights of Black Americans were guaranteed by the Federal Government.
As the “Black Lives Matter” movement has shown today, discrimination against Black people is still far from being eradicated.
More people than ever seem to be convinced that democracy in the United States is in peril. The occupation of the American Congress by radical pro-Trump groups on January 6, 2021, was a dramatic demonstration that showed that the “threat,” which was always something that befell other countries, had finally come home to roost. Insurrectionists that day claimed that the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Joe Biden stole the November elections by fraud. According to the Democrats, the “insurrection” was a coup attempt.
According to famed political scientist Professor Adolf Reed, the January 6 Congress invasion was the American version of Hitler’s failed “Beer Hall Putsch” in Munich in November 1923. In his article titled “The Whole Country is the Reichstag” dated August 23, 2021, Prof. Reed emphasized that the threat to American democracy is grave indeed. Drawing attention to the attempts to restrict the voting rights of the states controlled by the Republicans, Reed stated that Trumpist Republicans are preparing to seize power in the 2022 and 2024 elections. There is “danger on the horizon.”
According to Reed, who referred to businessmen who supported Hitler’s rise to power, a part of the American capital was also behind these developments. In an interview, Reed also drew attention to a Trumpist group that constitutes about one-third of the U.S. military, primarily the Air Force.
In an article published in The Bulwark on Dec. 9 by Prof. Jeffrey C. Isaac, Bill Kristol and Prof. Todd Gitlin, U.S. President Biden was asked to make an urgent effort to save American democracy.
According to the authors, the danger was now domestic, and democracy must thrive at home first, referring to the virtual “Democracy Summit” hosted by Biden.
On Oct. 27, the authors penned an open letter titled “The future of democracy in the United States is in danger.” Among the 50 distinguished signatories were famous academics such as Francis Fukuyama, Adolf Reed, Noam Chomsky, Michael Kazin, Max Boot, and Eliot A. Cohen.
In November, two more letters were penned, addressing the American Congress and the public. Hundreds of former CIA heads, diplomats, academics, national security and foreign policy experts signed the letters, which point to the same danger. This is what the U.S. is grappling with at home, the same America which supposedly wants to protect democracy abroad.