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America's democracy is run by an oligarchy, former United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order Alfred-Maurice de Zayas said recently.
"In the United States, we really do not have a functioning democracy," de Zayas told Xinhua during an interview outside the Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Functioning democracy means that there's a correlation between the will of the people and the policies that affect them," the American-Swiss historian pointed out, saying that whereas "you let the politicians do whatever they want to do" in the United States.
The system, he explained, "may call itself democratic, but in essence, it's an oligarchy," in which political power effectively rests with a small, elite segment of society.
The opinion echoed what former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said in 2015 that the United States is "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery." A study from Princeton University and Northwestern University in 2014 also concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful.
"There's a very, very small group of people who run the country, the business, and the education," de Zayas noted.
One of the influential vested interests is America's military-industrial complex, a network of the country's military establishment together with the industries involved in the production of arms.
Author of multiple books, de Zayas said he agrees with what Dwight Eisenhower said about the military-industrial complex in his final speech as U.S. president from the White House in 1961, in which the retired five-star Army general warned it could endanger democratic processes.
"He (Eisenhower) was absolutely right," the historian said. "The only problem is the situation is much much worse today than it was in 1961."
Major U.S. defense contractors, the biggest beneficiary of America's monstrous military spending, have spent massively on lobbying and elections, fuelling the country's never-ending military campaigns overseas, despite polls showing that most Americans would like to see an end to war.
De Zayas added that the United States has been using such topics as democracy and human rights to manipulate public opinion and pave the way for interventionism with the help of its media.
"Whenever you want to influence public opinion, you call demonstrators pro-democracy activists," he continued. "If you want to, shall we say, skew the narrative, you will put labels on individuals and on movements so that essentially if you rely only on the mainstream media you're swimming in an ocean of lies."