Revolution in an Unpronounceable Land

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Yet another regime in the formerly Soviet sphere has fallen to a popular revolt. This time it's in Kyrgyzstan—and this time the revolution's a little rowdier:

The police appeared disorganized and unwilling to take action as the protesters invaded [the presidential compound]. Dozens of mostly young opposition supporters rampaged inside, some smashing furniture and looting supplies, ignoring protest organizers urging them to stop. Broken glass littered the floors and a drugstore in the building was ransacked.

"It's the victory of the people. But now we don't know how to stop these young guys," said Noman Akabayev, who ran unsuccessfully in the parliamentary elections.

The Village Voice's Ward Harkavy has a roundup of stories here, including the inevitable comparisons between ousted autocrat Askar Akayev and Voice favorite George W. Bush. And here's an intriguing report on the war in Kyrgyz cyberspace.

NEXT: Schiavo—"Erring on the side of liberty"

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  1. I’d say that the election in Afghanistan (a neighbor of Kyrg…um, that country) and the revolution in Ukraine (another former Soviet Republic) are bearing fruit. Democratic Domino Theory works!

  2. When I lived in Prague 15 years ago, a friend sent me a postcard saying “So how are things in Turkshittystan, or wherever you live?”

    I’da never thought at the time that we see a democracy revolt in the Turkshittystans….

  3. Like thoreau, I’m sure this thirst for Democracy is a direct result of the American invasion of Iraq; I guess I’m just not clear on the method of delivery. How did the occupation of Iraq make Democracy travel so?

    …But then again, I don’t know much about music tastes in Kyrgyzstan. Do they broadcast Lebanese music videos in Kyrgyzstan? …’Cause other than that, I don’t see why the people there would want Democracy.

  4. Cause other than that, I don’t see why the people there would want Democracy.

    Because they are sick of getting kicked around by unaccountable governments?

    How hard is that?

  5. “Because they are sick of getting kicked around by unaccountable governments?”

    Okay, but then how do you explain positive developments in Lebanon? Huh?

    …Couldn’t be the occupation, could it? Naw…it’s gotta be the invasion of Iraq. …and music videos.

  6. Actually, Ken, I was more trying to point out that if there is such a thing as a Democratic Domino Effect, who’s to say that Iraq was the relevant domino here? Ukraine and Afghanistan are just as plausible candidates. (And yes, I recognize that Democratic Domino Effects from Afghanistan would be the result of US action.)

  7. Maybe democracy will spread from Turkshittystan to Blackmanistan?

  8. Revolution in an Unpronounceable Land

    I think it’s pronounced “sha-shef-ski”.

  9. “It’s the victory of the people. But now we don’t know how to stop these young guys,” said Noman Akabayev, who ran unsuccessfully in the parliamentary elections.

    one of these days, people are going to remember that all these “revolutions” are prone to radicalism, spiralling out of control and the murders of millions.

    Because they are sick of getting kicked around by unaccountable governments?

    phhhhhht. people have been getting kicked around by unaccountable governments since the beginning of time. people rarely give a fuck enough to revolt, as long as peace and a modicum of prosperity is kept.

    i’m afraid that pig doesn’t fly. something is agitating. maybe its american pro-democracy ngos working with the government for global democratic revolution. maybe its simply idea contagion. probably its both.

  10. “It’s the victory of the people. But now we don’t know how to stop these young guys,” said Noman Akabayev, who ran unsuccessfully in the parliamentary elections.

    one of these days, people are going to remember that all these “revolutions” are prone to radicalism, spiralling out of control and the murders of millions.

    Because they are sick of getting kicked around by unaccountable governments?

    phhhhhht. people have been getting kicked around by unaccountable governments since the beginning of time. people rarely give a fuck enough to revolt, as long as peace and a modicum of prosperity is kept.

    i’m afraid that pig doesn’t fly. something is agitating. maybe its american pro-democracy ngos working with the government for global democratic revolution. maybe its simply idea contagion. probably its both.

  11. What tends to be neglected here is that Kyrgyzstan for many years was hailed as by far the most democratic country in ex-Soviet Central Asia. It is only in the past few years it began to regress. So if one can praise Bush for helping to start a democratization domino effect, one can also argue he was partly responsible for the regression in Kyrgyzstan in the first place, becuse his tolerance of the dictators in the rest of ex-Soviet Central Asia (“after all, they’re our allies in the War on Terror; if they’re overthrown, the Islamists might take over” etc.) led Akayev to feel that it was safe for him to follow their example…

  12. I think it’s pronounced “sha-shef-ski”.

    Ha! Thanks for that.

  13. David: Is anyone seriously trying to give Bush credit for this? The obvious antecedents here are Georgia and Ukraine, not Iraq.

  14. Democratic Domino Theory

    That’s the one that goes “but a man a pizza and he will vote for you?” right?

  15. Jesse, I’ve seen people give Bush credit for Ukraine.

  16. Kyrgyzstan is similar to Lebanon in that the driving force behind a lot of the protests is ethnic self-determination not necessarily democracy. Like the other Central Asian states Kyrgyzstan inherited from the USSR arbitrary borders that deliberately threw together different ethnic groups. Most of the protesters are Uzbeks, who are the majority population of southern Kyrgyzstan and the city of Osh. The country is ruled by a Kyrgyz clique, the Kyrgyz being the dominant ethnic group in the north of the country. The languages are similar but the cultural traditions are very different. Uzbeks are farmers and heirs to the ancient traditions of the Fergana valley. They also tend to be “real” muslims. Kyrgyz are traditionally nomads. They are nominally muslims but until very recently preserved a lot of animist folklore and customs. Historically the farmers and the nomads have been enemies for 1000s of years.

    It’s hard to see how the US can take much credit for change in Kyrgyzstan when Askar Akayev was our golden boy in Central Asia for all of the 1990s, and has been a staunch US ally in the war against Bin Laden. This is probably the last country in CA where the US would like to see turmoil. Uzbekistan is ruled by a very nasty dictator and Turkmenistan has reached North-Korean like insanity.

    As far as Central Asian despots go, Akayev is by a long stretch the most democratic of the bunch. So, while Akayev long ago wore out his welcome with the people of Kyrgyzstan and clearly deserves the boot, this development is not 100% encouraging.

  17. KUR-giz-stan.

    It’s not hard, son.

  18. I thought the Kyrgyz were Buddhists. Who am I thinking of?

  19. Joe,
    You are probably thinking of the Mongols. Kyrgyz also claim Genghis Khan as an ancestor.

  20. Vanya,

    No, a minority group in the former Soviet ‘stans. They allied themselves with the Germans, ended up getting shipped to Siberia, and the survivors returned a decade later.

  21. Joe: You’re probbly thinking of the Kalmucks (a Buddhist Mongol people who were exiled by Stalin but subsequently allowed to return to their autonomous republic on the Astrakhan plains west of themouth of the Volga. Incidentally, Lenin was part-Kalmuck.

  22. Kalmuks! Thank you. I knew it was a K.

  23. “Actually, Ken, I was more trying to point out that if there is such a thing as a Democratic Domino Effect, who’s to say that Iraq was the relevant domino here?”

    Gotcha thoreau–didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. …and, as you probably remember, I’ve always been skeptical of Reverse Domino Theory.

    …but that was before I found out about the overwhelming power of Lebanese music videos.

  24. “The police appeared disorganized and unwilling to take action as the protesters invaded..”

    Sorry, that was LAPD at Florence & Normandy

  25. This one is being referred to as the Tulip or Lemon Revolution, after the Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. (Source: Wikipedia).

    That tells you pretty much where the inspiration comes from: flowers and citrus fruits.

  26. Well…

    I will play the Devil’s advocate, and say that I believe the world is in the grips of a Democratic Revolution, and the the commitment President Bush made on behalf of the US has turned SOME movement into an avalanche. His rhetoric in the Innagural and the SOTUS really does matter, backed by two conspicuous successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the nearly daily reminders by the new Sec. of State.

    It really does matter, to people around the world, what the US is about…and I don’t believe they doubt, at this point, what Bush is about.

    The War on Terror, and Islamic Fundamentalism, is as good as over…and we won. The more vexing problem facing the world is China. The best chance for humanity to avoid tragedy around China, is to fill the world with democracies. Even a civilization as arrogant and insular as China will not retain authoritarian government against the precedent of the rest of mankind.

    Did the preconditions for this Democratic Revolution exist before 9/11? Yes

    Would this Democratic Revolution have fared as well despite the indifference or hostility of the US? Perhaps, but probably not.

    Will this Democratic Revolution fare better with the support of the US? Certainly

    Was the Chimp a visionary, who deserves all credit for promptly placing the US on the right side of history? Yes

    Were the Chimp’s decisions concerning both Afghanistan and Iraq correct, in context? Definitely

    Was the Chimp right, where essentially his critis have been wrong? This will certainly be the judgment of posterity (and soon)

    Will joe and Ken cop to all this? Nah – not any time soon…it goes against human nature – even guys like joe and Ken, obviously rather decent and outstandingly informed and intellegent, are as apt to be small-minded and petty as the next guy, when they flat-footedly get it wrong.

  27. Andrew, there’s a pretty clear chain that leads from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine to Kyrgyzstan. The Serbian revolution took place before the Iraq war (and before the Bush presidency), and Georgia’s uprising happened at a time when the Iraqi occupation had essentially no democratic component.

    Also, I’m not sure the people of Uzbekistan are as certain as you are as to what Bush is “about.” This administration’s commitment to democracy abroad is conditional, not absolute.

    Finally — do you really believe that “The War on Terror, and Islamic Fundamentalism, is as good as over…and we won”?

  28. “It really does matter, to people around the world, what the US is about…and I don’t believe they doubt, at this point, what Bush is about.”

    I don’t either. I think most of them think that Bush went to Iraq to help himself to its oil. I don’t have any poll to cite to substantiate that, do you have some evidence to show that people around the world think that Bush’s intentions are pure?

    “Will joe and Ken cop to all this? Nah – not any time soon…it goes against human nature – even guys like joe and Ken, obviously rather decent and outstandingly informed and intellegent, are as apt to be small-minded and petty as the next guy, when they flat-footedly get it wrong.”

    Wow, you must not have been around when I went from Bush supporter to the other side all in one giant leap. You can persuade me of just about anything, but I need to see a lot more evidence before I buy the line that the War on Terror is a mission accomplished.

  29. In keeping with my tradition while adapting it to regional politics, I will just observe the following:

    The important thing to remember is that Karamov would be much worse.

  30. You know, I’ve been tryin’ to keep it cool as of late, but for cryin’ out loud!

    “The War on Terror, and Islamic Fundamentalism, is as good as over…and we won.”

    It’s one thing to say the War on Terror is over, but to claim that Islamic Fundamentalism is over? What a silly statement! …On what, pray tell, do you base that ridiculous claim?

    Have people stopped throwing acid on the streets of Tehran? Are women now driving with impunity in Riyadh? Can the women of Yemen claim an equal opportunity for an education? Have all the turbaned set in Pakistan shaven their beards? May Zoroastrians practice freely in Medina? …and what, may I ask, can a successful democracy in Iraq do to change any of this?

    Devil’s advocate phooey! You believe it still, don’t you?

  31. Andrew-

    In order for people around the world to be emboldened by Bush’s talk they have to believe that he is truly committed to democracy around the globe. Anybody living in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, or Jordan (to name a few places) might doubt that.

    I know what your reply will be: Absolute consistency is neither possible nor desirable. Fair enough. But I didn’t just select dictatorships at random. I selected dictatorships that receive money from the US.

    And I know what your reply to that will be: We need support from Uzbekistan and Pakistan. And I agree on that. But money always comes with strings, and it wouldn’t hurt to tack on one or two additional strings to that money as long as we’re sending it.

    And while the support of Uzbekistan and Pakistan may indeed be necessary in our efforts against the people who attacked us on 9/11, I have no clue why we continue to send checks to Egypt and Jordan.

    Finally, our outsourcing of torture (um, I mean, frat initiation pranks) to foreign governments might lead citizens of those countries to wonder just how committed Bush is to democracy.

    I’m not demanding that Bush invade every dictatorship on earth or refuse to ever engage in realpolitik with shady but regretably useful people. I’m just wondering if we could send fewer checks to bad guys, and attach a few domestic strings to the checks that we have to send.

  32. Oh, and I agree with Jesse: There’s a very clear chain of inspiration that starts in Serbia and continues to Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. And there’s reason to believe that this same chain of inspiration has played at least some part in the events in Lebanon.

  33. Regardless of where the Kyrgyz found their political muse, right now the situation is resembling the fall of Baghdad two years ago, only without the US Army around.

  34. thoreau and Ken

    I SAID that conditions were ripe for this push on democracy, and I don’t think the same push in the 50’s or 60’s would have made a big impression on the world of N’Krumahs and Nassers. Part of being a visionary in the real world, is knowing what the times will support. THESE times will support the most sanguine of expectations, I believe.

    I think the WAR on Islamic fundamentalism has passed the tipping point. The mullahs are doomed. I probably would have said better “militant” Islam. I believe the idea has been discredited throughout the Islamic world. The head-hunters and car-bombers don’t have a constituency any more.

    Egyptians certainly know we aren’t kidding, thoreau. Thanks to Condi, they are getting multi-party elections this year. You can just about hold your breath on Uzbekistan – they’re due. I forsee a game where, with every despotism that falls, you will have to drag out the atlas to find another to cry about!

    If I were a dissident, anywhere in the world, I would wish Bush “good hunting”…even if I got passed over on this round – every victory ANYWHERE improves MY chances, right? Talking up the dictatorships the US is entangled with, is a talking point for those who DON’T wish to see progress around this – it makes NO sense to those who actually suffer.
    In Pakistan or Uzbekstan, who would want to see democracy FAIL in Iraq, or Lebanon? Who wouldn’t rather see us push it SOMEWHERE, as opposed to NOWHERE? Anyone on the list of remaining despotisms has a better hand to play, when a dictator falls somewhere – and that is how you would feel about it thoreau, if it was your life, and your children’s.

  35. “there’s a pretty clear chain that leads from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine to Kyrgyzstan”

    Yeah, and there’s a direct line of descent between democracy in Geece, and the uprising in K-stan…with a three-thousand year interval! It would have surprised no one, if the “stans had remained under strong-men for another generation or more. And what do you suppose the impact on China and Russia would be?

    The Democratic Domino Theory does NOT posit that we create a democratic trend DE NOVO, but help along a trend that ALREADY exists; to ensure it; to enjoy the benefit in a timely fashion; to off-set trends like Islamic culture-shock, Chinese brinsmanship, etc. that could bring the world tragedy if ignored, or met in a less enlightened way.

    You can reject the hypothesis, but it needs to be re-butted on its own terms.

  36. …and Eric II

    It is precisely because a NEW democracy, anywhere – and I can all too easily picture things falling through in K-stan – is SO fragile, that there is no such thing as too much redundancy: we want to swarm the despots. That’s why I was delighted to note that the military in Togo appears to be backing down, after a swift word fron the NEW US State Department.
    Is Togo an important country? No – but a failure there won’t work well for Africa. Who doesn’t want to see a dozen functioning democracies in Africa?
    You can just hear the Caucasian strong-man – “My people are not ready to rule themselves – like the niggers in Africa”
    How will a middle-class Chinese feel, in 2015, when a guy selling peanuts on the streets of Lagoomba can spout off about the PM, and the parliament all day long…saying things out loud, no member of the Politburo dares to THINK?

  37. Andrew-

    First, I still wonder just how meaningful the current string of democratic successes around the world will turn out to be (especially the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan). I honestly hope you’re right and that these apparent success stand the test of time. I really do. But history shows that the success of any democratic experiment can only be determined when the winner of the first free and fair election (or somebody else from that same party) loses in a subsequent free and fair election and steps down peacefully.

    For instance, I would say that the US experiment with democracy didn’t really mark its first meaningful success until 1800. Washington stepping down in 1796 was good, but he was replaced by his VP. It wasn’t until Adams lost a sharply contested race in 1800 that our experiment chalked up its first significant and indisputable success. (And I know that somebody will undoubtedly remind me that our system is a republic, not a democracy, but I’m only using the word “democracy” because Andrew prefers it and I try to use the same terminology of the people that I’m conversing with.)

    If this attitude makes me unreasonable and behind the times, well, so be it. You goshdarn neocon kids better get off my lawn! I won’t stand for this new-fangled euphoria! I remember when we had to walk uphill to the polling place through 10 feet of snow–both ways! 😉

    Second, even if Iraq and Afghanistan continue to make progress, does it really follow that, in your words:
    Egyptians certainly know we aren’t kidding, thoreau. Thanks to Condi, they are getting multi-party elections this year.

    I will be very interested to see whether these elections are free, fair, and competitive. And how exactly did Condi bring this about? Did she actually leverage the aid money? Or did she give a speech around the same time that Mubarak decided to hold mock elections?

    I’m really not convinced that we have as much power as you’d like to think. Yes, I know, I lambasted our policies in an earlier post, but I was only asking that we scale back our support for dictators.

    Don’t get me wrong, inspirational examples of democracy are always good. But it’s arguable that the most influential models in recent years have been Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Events in Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon seem to be inspired by these “people power” events more than Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Maybe it’s impractical to ask whether Bush just joined the bandwagon or whether he actually got it moving a lot faster. Trends are trends, and it’s never easy to dissect cause and effect. But that caveat cuts both ways. I’m trying to treat your claims of vindication with skepticism but not dismissal. I’ll grant that Bush probably didn’t slow the bandwagon down (“first do no harm”), but I remain skeptical about how much credit he deserves.

    How about this: It takes a while to truly evaluate the health of a democracy. If in 10 years Iraq and Afghanistan are surrounded by a sea of democracies, and if Iraq and Afghanistan are freer and more democratic than their neighbors (as one would expect under your hypothesis, since those countries have benefited from more direct US influence rather than indirect domino effects) then I’ll be happy to endorse the invasion of Cuba, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia in 2015.

  38. thoreau

    I don’t know how much “power” we have, in the sense that a pseudo-cynical (actually, quite naive) college student – who thinks he knows the world, becuse he plays a lot of Risk with his dorm-mates – would assess such things…

    …but I think we have a lot MORE latitude thanks to some crucial decisions made by the unilateralist Chimp.

    You aren’t old enough to remember how decisions got made in the Cold War. The most viscious dictator in the non-communist world may have been Mobotu in the Congo…and he was a master at playing off the US, the Soviet Union, AND China, AND the Europeans. Another good example is Nasser, who tyrannised one of the largest and most important non-communist societies (you know, Mubarak’s daddy).
    These guys thrived in a world of “nuanced” diplomacies. The Chomskyite revision pictures some anti-communist jefe in a banana-Republic…sorta like Franco eg. But the reality was more like Nasser or Mobutu…if not express anti-Americans like Peron (like the Burmese, Chavez and the Mullahs, now).

    And things didn’t get better right away with 9/11. Because we HAD to get 60 countries to “help” us (to the tune of maybe a 100 troops each) topple the Taliban…and what dictator didn’t get a tip from both sides during that grotesque bidding war the French provoked over a pointless UN resolution?

    Fuck multilateralism! The policy of having terrorists tortured by 3rd World thugs began under Clinton. The Chimp sends them to Gitmo…remember? The “law enforcement” approach is ALL ABOUT useful tools doing the dirty-work. Anyone who doesn’t think it would involve a lot more of that sort of thing, doesn’t mean to do ANYTHING about militant Islam. Otherwise, they want to hunker down to another generational Cold War, and turn a blind eye on the Mubaraks, Musharifs and Assads.

    I know you’re tired of me saying “Kerry would have been worse”…let me make it clear: ANYONE besides a NEO-CON would have been “worse”…that is to say, anyone besides a neo-con would have fucked this up before now – in any number of ways, most of which have been advocated at some time in these threads.
    You, and joe and the others have punted just about every dumb idea imaginable, as an alternative to the policies that are working.

  39. “Thanks to Condi, they are getting multi-party elections this year.”

    I hope they’re sufficiently grateful.

    Andrew is starting to sound like Jack Van Impe reading the headlines: “Earthquake in Turkey, Revelations 20:45 says there will be earthquakes during the End Times…Folks, this is all part of The Plan.”

    Now, the fact that there were earthquakes for millions of years before this, and the fact that there were popular uprisings in former Soviet republics before Bush’s presidency, or the fact that the most prominent popular uprising in the Muslim world – that in Iran – has been pretty much squashed for years since Bush took office, just don’t enter into the fanatic’s mind. Nor does the fact that Bush singled out Pakistan’s Pervez Musharrif as an example of how democracy should proceed seem to register. Or the military support for the tyrants in Turkmenistan and Usbekistan.

    But hey, how much insight can you expect from someone who lumps Hugo Chavez in with the regime in Burma?

    While the inspiration for Kyrgyzstan was clearly the other revolutions in former Soviet republics, the most useful model for examining its relationship to US politics is the popular uprising that replaced American client Ferdinand Marcos with Corazon Aquino. Yes, Reagan spent a lot of time talking about democracy, but in practice, he pursued a policy of propping up friendly dicators, and the overthrow of one of his puppets was a rejection of American policies, not an outgrowth of them.

  40. It is precisely because a NEW democracy, anywhere – and I can all too easily picture things falling through in K-stan – is SO fragile

    What makes you so sure that a new democracy is emerging? I’d like to see it happen, but the country could just as easily descend into tribalized chaos.

    Who doesn’t want to see a dozen functioning democracies in Africa?…How will a middle-class Chinese feel, in 2015, when a guy selling peanuts on the streets of Lagoomba can spout off about the PM, and the parliament all day long.

    There are plenty of democracies in Africa, and some of them are decades old. But with a few exceptions, they just haven’t accomplished much of anything.

    Do you actually bother to study the subjects that you post on, or do you just spout off whatever facts you hope will be true, on the grounds that they would prop up your worldview? Your entire posting style seems to be a faith-based initiative.

  41. I don’t know how much “power” we have, in the sense that a pseudo-cynical (actually, quite naive) college student – who thinks he knows the world, becuse he plays a lot of Risk with his dorm-mates – would assess such things…

    …but I think we have a lot MORE latitude thanks to some crucial decisions made by the unilateralist Chimp.

    I can buy the notion that we no longer give as much support to as many dictators as we used to. Seems plausible enough now that the Cold War is over. (Anybody have numbers to support or refute that?)

    But how exactly does that give us more clout to speed up democratization by giving speeches?

    And that still doesn’t change the fact that not all of the dictators on our payroll can be considered crucial in the way that Musharaff might arguably be. I might buy the notion, at least for the sake of argument, that we have no choice but to support Musharaff unconditionally but I still don’t see exactly why we support Egypt and Jordan.

    Also, you haven’t addressed my skepticism about whether the upcoming elections in Egypt will be free, fair, and competitive.

    Fuck multilateralism!

    No arguments here. My views on foreign policy can be summed up by “MYOB as much as is practical.” An unnecessary war is an unnecessary war, no matter how many countries join the coalition.

    The policy of having terrorists tortured by 3rd World thugs began under Clinton. The Chimp sends them to Gitmo…remember?

    The chimp? Oh, you mean George Bush. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything from DU. You’re more up on that lingo than I am, I guess. (And even what I read a long time ago was only forwarded to me by a friend, and I only read it for the articles, honest! 😉

    Anyway, the first thing to note is that “Clinton did it!” is not a valid excuse. The second thing to note is that the policy is still going on.

    You, and joe and the others have punted just about every dumb idea imaginable, as an alternative to the policies that are working.

    I said in an earlier post that I’ll believe the policies are working after I’ve seen them play out over a longer time horizon.

  42. Eric
    There have been African countries which have had elections…but the standards in many cases have been less than stringent. Hell – the Ukraine AND Kyrgistan hade elctions immediately preceding their democratic revolutions…remember? It was those flawed elections that provoked the uprisings. With the exception (notably) of South Africa, black Africa is in pretty tough shape right now, from a freedom point of view – ask Freedom House.

    joe The guys squashing the opposition in Iran are the Mullahs – and every oppositionist seems to blame the EU. Aside from your psychic abilities, and a wooden Chomskyite “analysis” do you have ONE piece of evidence – even anecdotal will do – to back up the talking point you cut-n-pasted of Atrios, or somesuch?
    I don’t “lump in” Chavez with the Burmese, except in the sense of being anti-American – and if that is as attentively as you have read the posts here, you had better slow down. I liken your pal, Chavez, more to a Peron…working on being Sukarno.

  43. thoreau

    Didn’t you know. We send a billion apiece per annum to Egypt and Jordan, because they signed a Peace Treaty with Israel? It really doesn’t seem like a big deal – I hardly think it is critical to the regimes in either country…I would guess Abdul and Mubarak could fend off the opposition without it – or not: I doubt it has the kind of significance you attribute to it. It is mostly fodder for the “moral equivalence” jerks, like joe amd GG.

  44. joe

    If we were propping up the regime in K-stan, we were doing a piss-poor job of it – sounds like the cops there couldn’t handle an unruly mob at a Friday night stadium. If our “support” for regimes in T-stan and U-stan is similarly potent, we will be having a similar discussion next week, when the irresistable tide of the Serbian Revolution reaches them.

  45. “MY pal, Chavez?” Huh? I oppose the overthrow of a democratically elected leader, state that I want him to be voted out of office, and that gets me counted as one of his supporters? Man, you’ve got a long way to go to get your head around this “democracy” thing.

    As for the evidence tieing the the squashing of Iran’s opposition movement to Bush’s foreign policy, I have only as much evidence as those who attribute the democracy movement in Lebanon to him – that is, none at all, other than the fact that one occured after the other. Funny, your shifting standards.

  46. Andrew-

    I know the history behind our aid to Egypt, but it makes no sense to me.

    The significance of that money is not the extent to which Mubarak relies on it. Rather, it’s that sending a big fat check to a dictator who serves no realpolitik purpose makes it much easier to call into question our government’s support for democracy and freedom in the Middle East. If liberalization movements in country X can be significantly emboldened by our actions in country Y (where Y is not the same as X), then symbolism matters. And the symbolism of sending a billion dollars a year to Mubarak is totally ass backwards.

  47. As for the evidence tieing the the squashing of Iran’s opposition movement to Bush’s foreign policy, I have only as much evidence as those who attribute the democracy movement in Lebanon to him – that is, none at all, other than the fact that one occured after the other. Funny, your shifting standards.

    Certainly, we have a number of people in Lebanon (not all of whom appear to be Bush dupes) who are saying that what has happened in Iraq is pushing the democracy movement there. It ain’t proof, but it counts for a lot more than the Iran arguments that you pulled out of your ass (I’m assuming, based upon the smell).

  48. thoreau

    I can almost agree with you. The whole Camp David initiative was stupid, and I would wish it undone. But I can’t see how, except in the way the Administration is trying to ease around it.

    Jordan is actually well-behaved, for an Arab “front-line” state. Wiped out the PLO, back in the real-politik days…and modest gains on democracy since – how picky you wanna be?

    The billion to Egypt might make a high-profile signal to Mubarak, if he flakes on elections.

    In all, I’m so sick of this “supporting dictators” crap.
    We supported Marcos, in the sense that we didn’t spend all our time scolding him. I guess he tried to hold the phoney election that proved to be his undoing, because he thought everything was cool in Washington, but he was worried about the Pope, or something? That make sense to you, joe?
    Subic Bay was there, and the Phillipines was a friendly nation under Marcos…and a bunch of liberal geeks in congress spent the 70’s flaying the CIA for trying to kill Duvalier…remember?

    Don’t be so touchy about Chavez. In the blur of events over the years, who knows where his popular support is now? He definitely stopped playing by the rules, as quick as the first “native leader” after the Union Jack gets hauled down…

    …and we don’t want to “support” him joe – or it all becomes OUR fault right, because we buy the oil that makes him a player.

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