While it is true that every country has its laws and ways of being which should be respected by the international community, it cannot be denied that the USA laid itself open to criticism now at this moment in its history. Although no decent human being likes to see another lying down and humiliated, one notes a certain derision and pleasure in the international community as, stupefied, the world looks at the “greatest democracy”, the “father of democracy and human rights”, the “world policeman”, the “observer of world order” or whatever pretty elogy one cares to give the USA, now in a state of utter chaos. Putting it bluntly, the USA could not even organize a drunken party for alcoholics in a distillery. As this tiring farce continues, more news comes to the surface which unfortunately forces journalists who are already sick of these elections, and feeling genuine pity for the people of the USA, to offer for print more incredible facts about this Tinseltown, Soap Opera, Mickey Mouse of an election. If this were some obscure republic in a tropical ocean, or a recently-formed, fragile democracy in a country with a history of military coups d’йtat, the world’s attention would not be awakened. However, we are speaking about the United States of America, that bastion of righteousness, the owner and controller of the word and the truth, opinion maker and the great banker who decides whether or not a foreign country sinks or swims…and inspects elections, declaring them fair or void. There is a phrase from the countryside which says “chickens always come home to roost”. How true this is. What right has this country, if indeed this collection of states deserves the denomination of “country”, to pronounce itself, ever again, on whatsoever policy or ideal or plan outside its own frontiers, when we are faced with the following situation? Threatening phone calls, the counting of votes by hand, then by machine, then by hand again but with time periods so reduced as to be ludicrous (at best), then judicial processes, then threats to take the count to the supreme court…stories of students boasting that they had voted three or four times, accusations of the Democrats buying the votes of the homeless with free cigarettes (Milwaukee)…this is just to give the reader an idea of the dimension of this charade. This hallucinogenic vision seems more and more like a re-make of the film “Kramer against Kramer” than the Presidential Election of the US of A…Gore vs. Bush. Substantiating the accusations with hard facts, here it is: Palm Beach country in Florida starts its vote-count by hand today, after it had been declared, and then denied, that the vote had to be completed by 15th November. Broward County in Florida still does not know if it will recount the vote or not. All the Florida counties have until midnight on Friday 17th November to declare their results. The final result should therefore be known on Saturday morning, 08.00 MSK time….if the postal votes are counted by then. By the way, can anyone tell us what these “postal votes” are or what are the laws governing them? The facts seem to change daily… If this seems a complicated way to arrive at a final conclusion two weeks after Super Tuesday, the procession has not yet left the church : In Milwaukee, Wisconsin State, 150 students declared that they had voted many times because they thought it would be easy to beat the system. One even stated openly on television : “ I suspected it would not be impossible to vote again, so I did. I voted four times on the same day!” Because Gore won the election in this state with 6,000 votes more than Bush, the Republican Party is now investigating. Stand by for another court case. If this does not result, there is another plan to launch a process against the Democratic Party in the same state for visiting three dormitories full of homeless vagabonds, offering packets of cigarettes in exchange for votes. If this is becoming tiresome, there is also the state of New Mexico, where the Republican Party won, but the state could pass its electors to Al Gore because of a mistake in the voting system. Originally, the victory was declared for Gore but a recount gave Bush a majority of….4 votes.. However, a mistake was found in the vote counting in Las Cruces county, in which the number 6 was printed like the number 1 on a bulletin…the cumulative result deprived Gore of 500 votes. As this article goes to press, the Supreme Court in Florida votes for more hand-recounts, involving more than a million votes, and the hot news coming out of Florida now is that this sickening joke could last for many weeks yet to come. If the USA did not show such a paternalistic and superior, condescending attitude towards other sovereign states, this article would never have been published. A final thought to close the article : what if Slobodan Milosevic had used such tactics after the vote counting in Yugoslavia (which he did not) ? What if President Saddam Hussein was discovered to have forced recount after recount after recount in his country (which, incidentally, is being bombed weekly by NATO aeroplanes without the world’s press taking up the story)? Enough of hypocrisy, enough of false superiority complexes. The USA is not the Devil incarnate and neither is any other country. We all love our children and we all hate conflict and war. Enough, then, of interference in other countries’ affairs. Let the New Era start with those who proclaim it…at home.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Lisbon

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