The United States is going round the globe trying to make the world "free". Even US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi got into the act recently.
On a visit to Taiwan on Wednesday, she declared it to be "one of the freest societies in the world". Asked about the purpose of her visit to Taiwan, she said, without hesitation, to promote democracy.
As if the US is the International Standard Organisation for the Promotion of Democracy. Understandably, this didn't go down well in Beijing, which decided to rain missiles around the island. A reckless US left Taipei to face the peril all by itself. What else is new?
Washington needs to be told this: nations or societies do not become "free" on its say so. Besides, the US isn't free in the received meaning of the word. If truth be told, the US doesn't nurture free nations, but puts them in manacles wherever it goes. Afghanistan and Iraq are recent exhibits.
But let's begin with the US. Is it really a free society? We say no without any hesitation. Evidence is both in history and the here and now. Granted, such history is in the past, which the US can't do anything about except to learn not to repeat it. No, we aren't talking of slavery. True, slavery is part of American history, but if then it was all literal, it is now metaphorical.
If we take slavery to mean making the other invisible, it is a developing story being scripted in Washington. The infamous former US president George W. Bush perhaps summed up what it means to be "free" in the US best: you are with us or against us.
A nation that is governed by colour, creed and culture can't be free. South Africa was once such an apartheid nation. Nelson Mandela selflessly freed it. Many may think Barack Obama, himself with some African blood cruising in his vein, was an American Mandela. No, don't get carried away. He was at best a false Mandela. He could have chosen to do so much good for America and the world, but chose not to. His anthem of "the change we can" was all promise and no delivery. He was like all the presidents before him.
Just look at the America he left behind for others to make worse. If you run a bad race, a swift change of baton doesn't matter at all. America never had a Usain Bolt political equivalent nor a Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce equal. By the looks of its current bad habits, it never will.
The US must stop going around declaring this or that state as a "free" nation as if the United Nations has authorised it. One more thing. We have a hypothesis on why America can't change for the better. It has some really bad friends. Like humans, nations build character by being around states that are well-regarded. With friends like these, Washington doesn't need enemies. Freedom isn't nurtured from the outside.
Democracy is about choice. So let the people choose. What the US considers as a free society needn't necessarily be a free society for others. We recognise that the US, like the rest of the West, has its own values. Likewise, the US must recognise that the East, too, has its values. Let's live and let live. Unless international law demands an intervention. Promotion of democracy isn't a part of international law.