Kyrgyz Girls Really Knock Me Out

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The Christian Science Monitor's Fred Weir hears echoes of Kyrgyzstan's revolution:

Recent days have seen a spate of copycat protests launched by opposition groups that were perhaps hoping their own local authorities might fold and flee under pressure, as did Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev when demonstrators stormed his Bishkek complex last week.

About 1,000 people rallied last Friday in the capital of Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko runs the last Soviet-style dictatorship in Europe, to demand his resignation. Police quickly dispersed the crowd and dispatched the ringleaders to prison.

Two Russian ethnic republics, Ingushetia and Bashkortostan, have seen mass street demonstrations this week directed against Kremlin-installed leaders. Even in remote Mongolia, the former USSR's Asian satellite, hundreds of protesters gathered last week to "congratulate our Kyrgyz brothers" and demand a rerun of last June's disputed parliamentary polls.

Didn't Mongolia already have a people-power revolution back in 1990? Well, if at first you don't succeed…

Ironically, the post-Soviet countries that have so far been rocked by revolution have been among the most liberal and relatively democratic in an admittedly tough region. "Akayev, to his credit, allowed a fairly permissive environment for NGO's to work," says Stuart Kahn, Kyrgyzstan project director for Freedom House, which is partly financed by the US government. The danger, he says, is that other Central Asian leaders may see Akayev's concessions to democracy as the Achilles' heel of his regime. "The lesson they may draw is that the permissive, or semi-repressive environment Akayev created is antithetical to maintaining the status quo."

There have been protests in Uzbekistan as well, which if they spread could become a headache for the White House. One of the most repressive regimes in the area, the Uzbek government is also an American ally.

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  1. Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Ngushetia, Bashkortostan and Mongolia too! …And did y’all see the size of that demonstration in Taiwan?

    …I don’t see the connection myself, but, boy, the invasion of Iraq is changing the whole world–I can just tell! Why, right here in California, the Governor wants to hold a special election!

  2. “Akayev, to his credit, allowed a fairly permissive environment for NGO’s to work,” says Stuart Kahn, Kyrgyzstan project director for Freedom House, which is partly financed by the US government. The danger, he says, is that other Central Asian leaders may see Akayev’s concessions to democracy as the Achilles’ heel of his regime. “The lesson they may draw is that the permissive, or semi-repressive environment Akayev created is antithetical to maintaining the status quo.”

    well, duh. allowed foreign-government-financed ngos to come in and spend liberally to agitate among the aggrieved (which exist in any society) for revolution — and you get a revolt and killing? shock!

    what would america do if chinese-government-funded ngos started spending millions in california to agitate for secession among the urban poor and disillusioned? declare war, i wager. and yet, for us to do so in the third world, it’s angelic.

    and we wonder why so many hate us so passionately as to fly planes into our buildings to get us to leave them alone. it’s simply laughable!

  3. gm,

    I don’t see how mass murder is supposed to make us less inclined to intervene directly.

    Besides, isn’t “[C]hinese-government-funded ngo” an oxymoron? (If that was intentional, please forgive my density.)

  4. I thought it was more because we support/supported those Middle Eastern governments that repressed their citizens?

    As Rick Barton is very quick to point out, how much money do we provide to repressive regimes in the region…?

    Somehow I doubt the reason “they hate us” is because of pro-democracy NGOs spending money in order to liberalize government and end repression of the citizenry.

  5. Like it or not, and all arguments for and against cast aside (history is a simplistic bitch), I suspect two decades from now this is all going in Bush Jr.’s purse. With the exception of the forthcoming “People’s History of the World” by Howard Zinn II and it’s “reality based” ilk, it seems likely that current reform movements will be traced back loosely or directly to the Iraq invasion. Just a hunch.

    Let the NEVERs and AMENs commence.

  6. and we wonder why so many hate us so passionately as to fly planes into our buildings to get us to leave them alone.

    So do you have any reports of Kyrgyz mobs railing at the influence of those evil NGOs? How about Ukranian mobs, for that matter? Or even Lebanese? If you honestly think that an NGO or three can get a half-million or more people to demonstrate in public for a change of government, you’re a poorer judge of human nature than I thought.

    The ultimate irony of rhetoric like this from you is that it’s emblematic of a brand of self-loathing that could easily be described as decadent.

    Btw, in Kyrgyzstan at least, it was European NGOs, rather than American ones, that were pounding the drums the hardest over voting irregularities in the recent elections. Not that I think they’re capable of instigating a revolution any more than American NGOs are.

  7. Kyrgyz Girls Really Knock Me Out

    I feel the urge to spoof that song by Louis XIV:

    Hey Kyrgyz girl, well, you’re looking like something I want,
    (finding out freedom is blind)
    And your little Asian friend, well, she can come if she wants,
    (finding out freedom is blind)
    I want all the Afghan girls who try to hide who they are with burqas,
    You know it’s the girl in Nepal with the Maoists I really wanna shake up
    (finding out freedom is blind)

    Hey Karamov, I wanna squeeze you away until you DIE!
    (finding out freedom is blind)
    And your CIA funds, well they look like something that’s mine
    (finding out freedom is blind)
    I want miss little Ukraine with your protests and all your signs
    (finding out freedom is blind)
    And I want the Serbian girl who gave them all those ideas
    (finding out freedom is blind)

    Wind you up and make you vote for me,
    Tie you up and make you donate to me,
    (x2)

    OK, I feel silly. I just woke up after a very late night of grading, now I have to do some more writing, go teach, do another late night of writing until 5am, meet my thesis advisor at 9am tomorrow to discuss the latest writing, and then crash for most of Thursday. And then spend Thursday night writing some more, and spend most of Friday in meetings.

  8. To be serious, however:

    1) I do actually have some qualms about the US gov’t aiding People Power revolutions. I’m not firmly against it (I haven’t decided for certain where I stand), but I do worry that if we get too cocky about this sort of thing we might become too visible of a player and provoke a nationalist backlash. I’m not categorically against it, but we do need to be careful not to overplay our hands if we’re going to do this sort of thing.

    (I think I might have just succeeded in annoying both the neocons and the paleocons on this forum. The neocons because I’m skeptical of the Grand Project, the paleocons because I’m not skeptical enough.)

    2) It’s no surprise to me that the uprisings are occuring in the most (comparatively) liberal former Soviet Republics. It’s easier to hold a protest if you’re confident that you won’t be summarily executed for it.

    And now, to get silly again, some slightly revised lyrics:

    Hey Kyrgyz girl, well, you’re looking like something I want,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And your Central Asian friend, well, she can come if she wants,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    I want all the Afghan girls who try to hide who they are with burqas,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    You know it’s the girls in Nepal with the Maoists I really wanna shake up,
    (finding out freedom is mine)

    Hey Karamov, I wanna squeeze you away and make you bleed
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And your CIA funds, well they look like something I need,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    I want miss little Ukraine with your protests and all your signs,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And I want the Persian girls making all those dirty nukes,
    (finding out freedom is mine)

    Wind you up, make you buy oil from me,
    Tie you up until you vote for me,
    (x2)

    Ah Beirut girl with your protests shaking things up in the streets,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And the Iraqi girls with the way they vote knocks me off my feet,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And all the chador girls who never want me to see their eyes,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And the North Korean girls who can’t eat dogs until Kim Jong Il dies,

    Ah, Kyrgyz girl, well, you’re looking like something I want,
    And your Central Asian friend, well, she can come if she wants,
    I want all the Afghan girls who try to hide who they are with burqas,
    You know it’s the girls in Nepal with the Maoists I really wanna shake up.

    Hey Karamov, I wanna squeeze you away and make you bleed
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And your CIA funds, well they look like something I need,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    I want miss little Ukraine with your protests and all your signs,
    (finding out freedom is mine)
    And I want the Persian girls making all those dirty nukes,
    (finding out freedom is mine)

    Wind me up make me sell oil to you,
    Tie me up, until I vote for you.

    Wind you up, make you buy oil from me,
    Tie you up until you vote for me.

  9. you’re a poorer judge of human nature than I thought.

    i think if you examine the gene sharp approach to subversion — and that does seem to be the blueprint that all these “telerevolutions” follow — you’ll see that some level of dissatisfaction in situ is required. that level is more than met in kyrgyzstan, as it is in america. if you spend years and millions organizing a sedition — as freedom house and the osce did in these cases, cutting some unsavory deals in the process — you are going to be able to make a revolting mob out of them.

    my point is that these things are not spontaneous. the osce is pretty clearly putting them on — like a vaudeville act, paying for the color-coded costumes and the portapotties, arranging the chicks in front of the cameras — except that many of the actors are that ubiquitous unhappy slice of society that isn’t acting. one could do the same thing with 18 months and osce financial backing in chicago, new york and los angeles.

    i think we should be appropriately skeptical, then, of these people’s will to “democratize”.

  10. “I think I might have just succeeded in annoying both the neocons and the paleocons on this forum. The neocons because I’m skeptical of the Grand Project, the paleocons because I’m not skeptical enough.”

    You can draw lines like no one else, thoreau. And I enjoy reading your posts–you’re funny as hell.

    …Having said that, there are a lot of people–I know of at least one–who are highly skeptical of “The Grand Project” and yet wouldn’t use the term “paleocon” to describe themselves. Think the abortion debate–the Pro-Life people are suggesting that everyone on the other side is Anti-Life, and, of course, the Pro-Choice label suggests that everyone on the other side is against freedom of choice. “Paleocon” suggests that its promulgators are, what, dinosaurs, no?

    …I’ve used “paleocon” myself to describe a certain form of Republican perhaps epitomized by Pat Buchanan. I haven’t kept up with Pat’s politics lately, but I’ve always thought of a “paleocon” as being basically anti-immigration, anti-free trade, pro-balanced budget, isolationist and anti-UN. The isolationist part of that description often lands paleocons on the same side as other people who think that we should use the military primarily for self defense, but there are many–I know of at least one–who think that an alliance is among the most effective means of defense and that when America contributes to such alliances, it’s a good thing. Some of the latter are also pro-immigration and pro-free trade in a big way.

    Anyway, old-school, free trade, tax cutting, pragmatists need to come up with a new term for themselves. Until then, I think it only fair that old-school pragmatists use the term “dominocons” when they refer to neocons.

    P.S. I have some other suggestions too. To refer to neocons, they could try “sheepcons” or even “excons”, the last one being my tentative favorite.

  11. Ken-

    Fair enough. I should have said that I probably offended “some people” by being skeptical of the Grand Project, and offended “other people” by not being skeptical enough. My schedule is crazy lately and that does weird things to my mind.

  12. There’s a term for the neo-con democratization project, carried out with rhetoric and NGO support rather than armored divisions and carrier-based air support. That term is “foreign policy liberalism.”

    If the administration is actually working to promote democracy by empowering ordinary citizens of dictatorships to organize, and indoctrinating them into liberalism and the virtues of republican governance, then good for the administration. And to the extent that some liberals have reacted to the Iraq War by becoming alienated from democratization itself, and adopted a so-called-realist view of foreign policy, boo hiss.

    It’s a damn shame Bush had to have his idiotic war. We could have spent the last three years pursuing a peaceful form of democratization – one that stands the best chance of working.

    chthus, I wonder what the history books will say if Lebanon, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan are functioning liberal democracies in 20 years, and Iraq and Afghanistan are, respectively, a totalitarian mess and an anarchic mess?

  13. According to that savant Justin Ramono all of these rebelling people across the globe are just fronts for US and Zionist imperial interests. Of course the US is conerned about big power rivalry with Russia and China, but it doesn’t mean people like the Kurds or the Sunni Hariri are contras.

    Plus the CIA just doesn’t seem competent enough to be pulling all of this off unless they’ve been doing reverse psychology on us these past years.

    Israel pulled out of Lebanon in 2000 and will be pulling out of Gaza soon. Yeah, they’re kicking ass! Damn Jewish cabal taking over the world!

    I’m for a libertarian world. Ramono and his ilk defend anti-libertarians like Saddam, North Korea, China, Russia, Castro, etc., etc. They defend assassins like those who poisoned Ukraine’s new president and those who killed Lebanon’s Sunni Hariri.

    I’m for the oppressed, like those looters in Kyrgyzstan and the thousand of peaceful, Shia protesters in Bahrain.

  14. “…And to the extent that some liberals have reacted to the Iraq War by becoming alienated from democratization itself, and adopted a so-called-realist view of foreign policy, boo hiss.”

    Having a “realist” view of foreign policy doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re alienated from democratization itself though some have apparently overreacted this way.

    “If the administration is actually working to promote democracy by empowering ordinary citizens of dictatorships to organize, and indoctrinating them into liberalism and the virtues of republican governance, then good for the administration.”

    Considering the alternate administration policy of choice, I don’t see why any red-blooded American realist (I refer to myself as a “pragmatist”) wouldn’t embrace such programs.

  15. “i think if you examine the gene sharp approach to subversion — and that does seem to be the blueprint that all these “telerevolutions” follow — you’ll see that some level of dissatisfaction in situ is required.”

    …And that level of dissatisfaction in all cases is the ultimate cause of the events we’re seeing. If Iraq has had any influence on these events, that influence ranks way behind whatever local factors are contributing to that level of dissatisfaction.

    …I’m talking about local factors like the assassination of Harari, the continued occupation by Syria, events in Israel, etc.

    …I’m talking about fraudulent elections in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

    …I’m talking about China passing a law authorizing an invasion of Taiwan if it declares independence.

    …I’m talking about the budget crisis in California.

    “…that level [of dissatisfaction] is more than met in kyrgyzstan, as it is in america.”

    In America, when a “revolting mob” (nice double-entendre) overthrows the people in power, it’s called an election.

  16. “Ironically, the post-Soviet countries that have so far been rocked by revolution have been among the most liberal and relatively democratic in an admittedly tough region.”

    What the heck is ironic about that? It’s exactly what’s to be expected. Obviously it’s hard to make a revolution in a genuinely totalitarian state. And arguing that election results have been rigged does assume some competitive or at least pseudo-competitive elections in the first place.

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