Gitmo-ClarkChuck Hagel was introduced today by President Obama as his choice to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense. In his remarks Mr. Panetta said that “A strong democracy depends on a strong defense, but you can also not have a strong and stable defense without a strong and stable democracy.”

Since 9/11 Americans have seen their government go rogue, under the guise of keeping everyone ‘safe and secure’. At home that has come to mean total surveillance, forfeiture of assets and indefinite detention and interrogation for anyone labeled a terrorist. In foreign policy it means fomenting revolutions, wars-of-choice, assassinations, plundering of assets, and the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (American values?).

It’s hard to see where democracy still exists in the U.S. today — given the disregard for the rule-of-law (by the ruling class), the disregard of the will of the people (especially in matters of foreign policy), the elimination of checks and balances, a calamitous fiscal situation and presidents that are appointed.

When Mr. Hagel mentioned “advancing the global goals of freedom, decency, and humanity” one couldn’t help but think that he is being used as a human shield by much darker forces.

While the democracy movement may have failed in the United States, future generations can learn from America’s mistakes in the hope of establishing more stable and just democracies. Democracy can’t be built on the sands of egoism.

Photograph: Edmund Clark, Guantanamo