UK Democracy in Terminal Decline

Stephen Lendman

A man passing by a reflection of "Big Ben", the clock tower to the Houses of Parliament. This famous landmark is a part of the well-known buildings in Westminster, London, where the "Mother of Parliaments" is located. (Photo:

Like America, UK democracy long ago passed the point of no return. Arguably it never existed.

Britain's "Democratic Audit" (DA) says it's in terminal decline. DA is a University of Liverpool-based independent research organization. It studies the quality and effectiveness of UK democracy. It published three previous audits in 1996, 1999 and 2002. Its new one is damning.

It evaluated UK democracy based on 75 criteria. They're "derived from established international standards...."

"While we note dozens of examples of specific democratic improvements," it said, "our overall assessment suggests that genuine democratic renewal can only arise from a new constitutional settlement for the UK."

It calls a democratic audit "a comprehensive and systematic assessment of a country’s political life against some key democratic principles." What is democracy, it asked?

Clinton stirs tensions with China ahead of ASEAN summit

Peter Symonds

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holding her umbrella
receives a bouquet of flowers upon arrival in Manila Tuesday.

An Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial summit that begins today in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh will be dominated by tensions deliberately stirred up by the Obama administration as part of its concerted drive to undermine China’s political and strategic influence throughout the region.

On the eve of the meeting, the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers held emergency talks in Phnom Penh yesterday after a dispute over a group of islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, erupted again this week. Tokyo summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a formal protest yesterday after three Chinese fishery patrol vessels cruised near the Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

“It is clear that the Senkaku islands are inherently Japanese territory from a historical point of view and in terms of international law,” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura told the media. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin responded in kind, declaring that Japan had no grounds for complaint. The Chinese vessels, he said, were “performing patrolling operations in waters administered by China.”

A major diplomatic row between the two countries blew up in 2010 when the Japanese coast guard detained the captain of a Chinese fishing vessel after an alleged collision. At the time, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fuelled tensions by declaring that the US would be obliged to come to the aid of its ally, Japan, in the event of any conflict. The five small uninhabited rocky outcrops are strategically located between the Japanese island of Okinawa and Taiwan, and the surrounding waters are thought to contain significant energy reserves.

The latest dispute did not emerge accidentally. On Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda provocatively suggested that his government was considering purchasing the Senkaku islands from their private Japanese owner. Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, a right-wing nationalist, launched a fund in April to buy the islands. Not surprisingly, Beijing reacted angrily to Noda’s remarks, with the foreign ministry issuing a statement declaring that China would not allow the islands to be purchased by anyone.

Drones Overseas Lead to Drones at Home

Philip Giraldi

A RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft (Photo: Reuters)

The principal function of government since 9/11, even if unintentional, has been to develop strategies to reduce individual liberties and transfer power to the government while not appearing to do so. Of course, neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama actually explains it in those terms. They say instead that they are making Americans safer, but their actions belie their words, as today’s United States is if anything less safe, more authoritarian, and far poorer. Every expansion of the imperial mission overseas, which of course is being sold as a war against terrorists, has been accompanied by new legislation in the United States that has made all Americans less free. The most recent anti-terror legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act, enables the government to detain indefinitely any American citizen suspected of involvement in terrorism, without any due process and without any right to trial.

Drones are the new tool of American hegemony. They are described by administration spokesmen, when they are mentioned at all, as having a constabulary function. That means that the American lawman in the form of a mechanical drone is delivering justice in a part of the world where the local government is either too weak or unwilling to do its own policing. It is easy to see the flaw in the argument. Sending a U.S. marshal to arrest someone after due process has been observed and a warrant has been issued is quite different from sending a machine into some other nation’s airspace and killing from several thousand feet up a suspect who might well be an American citizen traveling with family members (who will also die). So drone policing is essentially both immoral and illegal, a conclusion that has finally been reached by the United Nations, among others.

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