送交者: vegieTiger 于 2005-4-05, 22:56:32:
The real people behind people power
April 6, 2005
The US is turning on old friends in Europe, writes John Laughland.
Before he denounced the "prevailing influence" of the US in the "anti-constitutional coup" that overthrew him, President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan used an interesting phrase to attack those who were stirring up trouble in the drug-ridden Ferghana Valley. A criminal "third force", linked to the drug mafia, was struggling to gain power.
Originally a label for covert operatives shoring up apartheid in South Africa before it was adopted by the US-backed "pro-democracy" movement in Iran in November 2001, the third force is also the title of a book published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace which details how Western-backed non-governmental organisations can promote regime and policy change. The formulaic repetition of a third "people power" revolution in the former Soviet Union in just over a year - Georgia in November 2003 and Ukraine last Christmas - means the post-Soviet space now resembles Central America in the 1970s and '80s, when a series of US-backed coups consolidated Washington's control over the western hemisphere.
Many of the same US government operatives in Latin America have plied their trade in Eastern Europe under George Bush, most notably Michael Kozak, the former US ambassador to Belarus, who boasted he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua - "supporting democracy".
But for some reason, many seem not to have noticed this continuity. Perhaps this is because these events are being energetically presented as radical and left-wing even by commentators and political activists on the right, for whom revolutionary violence is now cool.
As protesters ransacked the presidential palace in Bishkek, one British correspondent said the scenes reminded him of Bolshevik propaganda films about the 1917 revolution, as others extolled "power to the people" while welcoming Kyrgyzstan's "long march" to freedom.
This myth of the masses spontaneously rising up against an authoritarian regime exerts such a grip over the collective imagination that it persists despite being false: try to imagine the American police allowing demonstrators to ransack the White House, and you will immediately understand that these "dictatorships" in the former Soviet Union are in reality among the most fragile, indulgent and weak regimes in the world.
The US ambassador in Bishkek, Stephen Young, spent months denying claims the US was interfering in Kyrgyzstan's internal affairs. But with anti-Akayev demonstrators telling Western journalists they want Kyrgyzstan to become "the 51st state", this official line is wearing a little thin.
Kyrgyzstan is the largest recipient of US aid in Central Asia: the US has spent $746 million ($975 million) since 1992 in a country with fewer than 5 million inhabitants. In 2004, $31 million alone was outlaid. As a result, the place is crawling with what Young calls "American-sponsored NGOs".
The case of Freedom House is particularly arresting. Chaired by the former CIA director James Woolsey, Freedom House was one of the main sponsors of the orange revolution in Ukraine. It set up a printing press in Bishkek in 2003 which prints 60 opposition journals. Although it is described as "independent" the body that owns it is chaired by John McCain, a Republican senator, while the former national security adviser Anthony Lake sits on the board. The US also supports opposition radio and TV.
Many recipients of this aid are open about their political aims: the head of the US-funded Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, Edil Baisalov, told The New York Times the overthrow of Akayev would have been "absolutely impossible" without American help. In Kyrgyzstan, as in Ukraine, a key element in regime change was played by elements in the local secret services, whose loyalty is easily bought.
Perhaps the most intriguing question is why? Bill Clinton's assistant secretary of state called Akayev "a Jeffersonian democrat", winning kudos for welcoming US-backed NGOs and the American military. But the ditching of old friends has become something of a habit: both Edward Shevardnadze of Georgia and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine were portrayed as great reformers for most of their time in office.
To be sure, the US has well-known strategic interests in Central Asia, especially in Kyrgyzstan. Freedom House's friendliness to the Islamic fundamentalist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir will certainly unsettle a Beijing concerned about Muslim unrest in its western provinces. But perhaps the clearest message sent by Akayev's overthrow is this: in the new world order the sudden replacement of party cadres hangs as a permanent threat - or incentive - over even the most compliant apparatchik.