Arab Spring Joy Recalls Tulip Revolution Fiasco

Author: usruss
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Arab Spring Joy Recalls Tulip Revolution Fiasco
Published 25-07-2012, 07:48
President Barack Obama was elected by a landslide in 2008, in significant part to clean up the mess that George W. Bush had made of American foreign policy. But as the mindless U.S. support for so-called "democratic revolutions” across the Arab world, and the lecturing of Russia by the United States on how it should conduct its elections shows, nothing has really changed at all. Like the Bourbon kings of France in the 18th and 19th century, President Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton, have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
The mindless, irresponsible enthusiasm about the upheavals that have toppled or threatened one Arab government after another is an eerie echo of the joy President George W. Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice gave to the so-called democratic revolutions in Ukraine Georgia and Kyrgyzstan seven years ago. In those far-off days of 2005 democratic revolutions named after fruits and flowers seemed to be sweeping all before them in the former Soviet republics.

First, there was the Orange Revolution in Ukraine that brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power. That was followed by the Rose Revolution which propelled Mikheil Saakashvili into office in Georgia and the Tulip Revolution that toppled Kyrgyzstan’s founding President Askar Akayev and replaced him with Kurmanbek Bakiev.

zagolovokEvery one of these events was warmly welcomed by the George W. Bush administration in Washington and by its fawning cheering section in the op-ed pages of the American press. Who could doubt that a new Golden Age of Perfect Democracy had just dawned across Eurasia? Certainly not all those genius pundits who had never been closer to any of those countries than doing a Google search on their laptop while sitting in a Starbucks.

Today, only seven years after that Golden Dawn of tulips, roses and oranges — the people of Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan all have good reason to repent of their earlier enthusiasm. Today, Ukraine’s government led by President Viktor Yanukovych is still struggling to clean up the hideous mess of chaos, criminality, corruption and sheer incompetence it inherited from President Viktor Yushchenko.

Since the Rose Revolution in Georgia, President Saakashvili remains in power, despite charges of the intimidation of opposition figures and worse. President Obama, for all his soothing talk about a new era of more cautious and genuinely conciliatory U.S. policymaking with other major nations around the world, has passively allowed U.S. support to remain committed to Saakashvili, despite the Georgian leader’s well-documented, demagogic ways, shoot-from-the-hip style, intolerance of opponents and the dangerous anger he provokes from Russia.

The romantic democratic glow from the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan never lasted long in the first place. President Bakiyev put in place a far more repressive and even more corrupt and greedy regime than Akayev’s ever was.

Strangely, the U.S. media did not trumpet the toppling of Bakiyev by nationwide protests on April 7, 2010 as another triumph of democratic principle. Yet popular support for the protests was well documented and the new coalition of opposition parties that took power the next day was far more representative and open than anything Bakiyev had permitted. It was Russia that rushed to recognize the new interim government led by Moscow-educated philosopher and veteran diplomat Roza Otunbayeva.

Otunbayeva and her colleagues at least were more committed to genuine democratic principles than Bakiyev or Akayev ever were, let alone Saakashvili in Georgia. But they too quickly discovered that coming to power through popular protests or revolution did not augur well for establishing a successful and stable democracy afterwards. Within three months of the Rose Revolution, the southern Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Jalalabad were torn apart by ferocious ethnic clashes between minority Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz majority. It was the worst violence of its kind in Kyrgyzstan’s modern history.
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The most serious case remains Georgia, where the dangers of the United States being drawn into a serious confrontation with a Russia that remains deeply involved in the region is far greater than anyone in the Obama administration in Washington dreams. And the Republican foreign policy establishment is equally oblivious.

Successful democracies take root in societies that have matured sufficiently to manage them responsibly. Childish, romantic shortcuts to democracy (riot in the streets — add hot water — and bring to boiling point) always backfire disastrously. That’s why the fruits and flowers revolutions of 2005 no longer smell as sweet.
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