There is nothing more hilarious when people give wondrous powers to the United States. It’s no surprise that Russia Today would feast on a the idea that the “Green Revolution” is a US orchestrated plot. Russia already convinced itself that every colored revolution was cooked up in Langley.
And this makes Craig Roberts a perfect guest (I know nothing about Wayne Madsen, but his wiki entry suggests that he’s a crank). He argued that the Iranian protests are “classic CIA destabilization” in an article on Counterpunch. What a sad convergence of opinion between some in the American Left, Russia’s conservatives, and the theocrats in Iran.
The idea among some Leftists that every uprising they don’t like is the work of the CIA (or Mossad) always strikes me as orientalist.
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By Sean — 1 year ago
By Sean — 12 years ago
Revolution are often written backwards. An event may be declared a revolution from the outset but whether that event actually becomes the social phenomenon we call “revolution” can only be assessed after the fact. The result of narrativizing revolutions backwards has left us with very few revolutions in human history. For example, the French Revolution of 1789 was a major revolution, if not the model for the world. But the French Revolution of 1852 appears to us now as a blip on the historical screen. It is interesting for sure. After all it inspired Marx to write one of his most beautifully written and analytically difficult texts, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. However, 1852 is so forgettable because it was a restoration rather than a revolution. Because of, rather than despite of mass peasant revolt, Louis Napoleon became Emperor of France. In the end what appeared as a revolution was shown to be nothing of the sort. It was because of this, that Marx called 1852 a “farce.”
With this in mind we may begin thinking about the so-called “Colored Revolutions” in the Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. Were they indeed revolutions as many quickly declared? Or did they appear as revolutionary when in reality it was one political clan toppling another via populist means?
Many are beginning to answer the latter question with in the affirmative. Or, that is how Haaretz reporter Avinoam Idan did in his article, “The Colors Have Faded” which was part of the Israeli paper’s Yom Kippur Supplement, which features fifteen articles about the CIS. Idan wrote:
In retrospect, it seems that economic interests, local political alliances and the desire of the United States and Russia for influence in the region were the primary factors that precipitated those events. The Colored Revolutions did change regimes, but they did not produce real change in the nature of the regimes.
Promoting democracy was not necessarily the organizers’ central goal. The confrontations were more a backdrop for domestic struggles among the politically and financially powerful than they were spontaneous events tinged with the romance of revolution – less a desire for fundamental change in the system, more a matter of political rivalries, with each side supported by local and foreign oligarchs (especially in the Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan).
The news site Eurasia.net has also begun to evaluate these and many other questions. The site already did an extensive evaluation of Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 by examining it from the perspective of its regions. Now they’ve complied a special feature on Kirgizia’s Tulip Revolution of 2005.
Perhaps their insight will give us some answers to these difficult and often polemicized questions.
By Sean — 11 years ago
There is a specter haunting Russia–the specter of colored revolution. Or so says Vladimir Putin. Clearly having no qualms about beating a dead horse, Putin told a Moscow campaign rally that shadowy Westerners are supporting oppositionists with hopes of returning Russia to the dark days of the 1990s. Here some quotes the Guardian has supplied:
“Unfortunately there are those people in our country who still slink through foreign embassies … who count on the support of foreign funds and governments but not the support of their own people.”
“There are those confronting us, who do not want us to carry out our plans because they have … a different view of Russia. They need a weak and feeble state. They need a disorganized and disorientated society … so that they can carry out their dirty tricks behind its back.”
“They are going to take to the streets. They have learned from western experts and have received some training in neighboring [former Soviet] republics. Now they are going to start provocations here.”
On the one hand, I get the hyperbolic pontificating. Much of electoral politics is about conjuring a bogeyman in hopes to scare the public into voting for you. And inciting public panic over orange clad revolutionaries, “islamo-fascists,” immigrants, homosexuals etc works well to mobilize voters. Demonizing the Other and then linking your opposition to it is a proven political tactic.
On the other hand, I can’t help chuckle at the Putin and United Russia’s excesses. First they ensured that the OSCE pull out of monitoring the elections. Limiting the number of observers, stalling visas, and placing restrictions on observers made the OSCE cancel their plans. Now Russian Electoral Commission chief Vladimir Churov claims that OSCE’s decision was their own, or more specifically the decision of the United States, which he says controls its Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or ODIHR. Again more bogeymen.
Plus Churov was quick to note that while the OSCE bowed out, other election monitoring organizations didn’t. Russia’s Duma elections will be “observed” by 300 monitors from Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States. That’s about 25 observers per Russian time zone.
All of this points to the Russian propensity to overstate their efforts. The truth of the matter is that Russia can be flooded with election monitors and United Russia would still win. Even if the United Russia parliamentary margin will be less that desired, “Plan Putin” still maintains hegemony over Russian politics. No opposition party in real contention seeks to radically change course. Even the Communists are acclimated themselves to Putin’s Russia.
Sure, there may be something to Kremlin’s claim that they don’t need their elections verified by anyone and that sovereignty means not succumbing to outside meddling. But what all of this rhetorical and bureaucratic maneuvering really says to me is that Russia still hasn’t learned the democratic game. First, the game requires using money and advertising not so much to pummel your opponent, but control the boundaries of political discourse. The former is well done, the latter not so much. Here they might want to sneak a peak at the American Republican Party’s play book. They are masters at it. Second, the game requires the adept use of the law to mask corruption with good legal arguments. Lawyers have a knack for making something clearly illegal appear perfectly within the boundaries of the law. Postmodern politics have made armies of lawyers much more effective than detachments of police. Lastly, the game requires challenging anyone who criticizes you to do something about it. Yes, one aspect of sovereignty is about preventing meddling. But real sovereignty is when you have the confidence and fortitude to just ignore whatever critical salvos tossed at you.
So in the end, Russia should have let the OSCE come and monitor. And when the OSCE would make the inevitable cries of foul, Russia should just shrug its shoulders and promise to better next time. That’s what any other real democracy would do.