The Color of Failure

D&FA 07,8-08 ed The Color of Failure.doc (16KB)
Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, July-August, 2008

Early Warning, By Gregory R. Copley


Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy is published by the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), Alexandria VA.

THE END OF WORLD WAR II saw the triumphal Western powers – particularly the United States – embark with hubris to further shape the globe according to their vision of a stable world. Their victory in the second great war of the century was incomplete and unstable; there remained work to be done, and threats to be countered. The Soviet Union embarked on a similar quest, from its own standpoint.

It took only a few years, however, for the Cold Warriors – the intelligence and “active measures” covert services – to recognize the reality that there were usually unforeseen and often undesirable outcomes from their external attempts to change the course of governance of lesser states. The use of a variety of covert and diplomatic efforts by the US to change governments in the Middle East and elsewhere after World War II consistently resulted in “unintended outcomes” which were more damaging for US interests than the status quo ante which only a short time previously had seemed so undesirable.

The 1975 United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities – the “Church Committee” chaired by Sen. Frank Church (Democrat, Idaho) – eventually forced an end to the use of assassination of foreign officials as a tool of US intelligence activities. The motives of Sen. Church in promoting this line may have been questioned, but it was dear that second guessing the populations of foreign states in the selection of their leaders was not helping either the US or the countries targeted.

Despite the brief hiatus caused by the Church Committee in covert sponsorship of “regime change,” the tendency by US officials toward activist approaches in shaping foreign governments revived in the aftermath of the Cold War when Soviet countermeasures were no longer feared, and by the time of the US Clinton Administration (1993-2001) the tendency was again in full bloom. The result was the conscious attempt to break up Yugoslavia along lines designed to support the ideological predilections of some US officials.

It was during this period that the concept of “color revolutions” was devised and promoted as a means of achieving “regime change” without armed revolution or military intervention. Whether this concept was created by activist US financier George Soros, who emerged as a strenuous opponent of the elected US Government of Pres. George W. Bush, or whether it was created within the US Department of State is immaterial. Certainly, both the State Dept. and the various Soros front groups worked hand-in-glove to organize, fund, and shape a range of “color revolutions” to overthrow elected governments in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

That key State Dept. officials, including a number of US ambassadors, forced a number of foreign leaders, many strongly supportive of the US, to accept the presence and activities of the Soros organizations at a time when Soros was actively campaigning against the elected US Government begs the question as to whether the State Dept. was itself defying the writ of US law. But that is a minor point when compared with an examination of the results of the “color revolutions,” and particularly the failed ones. The consequences of the “color revolutions” live on, given that they continue to be used as a model for political leaders and movements which feel that they no longer need to accept the legitimate results of national elections.

The basic theme of “color revolutions” is that street activism can be used to overturn any elections, provided that it can be coupled with external political support for the protesting group. A perfect alliance, then, was formed between the Soros groups – supporting a political alliance with organizational skills, funding, and often violence, and often in company with criminal groups (as in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, in particular), in exchange for post-election political/commercial concessions for Soros companies – and the US State Dept. speaking, ostensibly, on behalf of the US Government.

Regardless of whether the “international community” found the removal of elected leaders in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, or the Kyrgyz Republic to be desirable, it certainly contradicts US support for the spread of democracy and freedom. The result, however, was that the US effectively lost the influence and friendship it had been given in Central Asia, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. The blunt removal of an incredibly pro-US leader, Pres. Askar Akaev of Kyrgyzstan, with direct, forcible assistance from the US Embassy in Bishkek and from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), because he would not bow to the immediate and unreasonable demands of a US official shook other Central Asian leaders.

A subsequent attempt to stage a “color revolution” in neighboring Uzbekistan was pre-emptively defeated by the Uzbek Government, and that ended US influence in the region, which now works closely, once again, with Moscow, and with Beijing. Even the expensive purchase of the new Kyrgyz leader did not result in Bishkek remaining a close ally of Washington.

Georgian Pres. Mikhail Saakashvili owed his position to the “rose revolution” of 2003-04. This led to a government so out of touch with reality and its electorate, and with the expectation of strenuous US support, that it jeopardized – with the attempted, and failed, military seizure by the Georgian Government of the ethnically Ossetian enclave of South Ossetia in August 2008 – the regional security situation and the control of the Caucasus-Black Sea energy distribution network, so vital to European economies. [In the 1994 ceasefire agreement which ended the bitter civil war, the vast majority of the population of the key enclaves, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Adzharia, elected to receive Russian passports/citizenship rather than Georgian.]

The problem extends beyond this, however. The massive street protests in Bangkok against an elected prime minister of Thailand, leading to his removal on fairly laughable grounds in September 2008, were based on the premise that street power trumps electoral power. Now, everywhere from Caracas and La Paz to Nairobi, the belief is that raw power can disregard electoral power. Moreover, if we see the refusal of the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, to accept electoral wishes as a symptom of similar sentiment, we must also consider why Pres. Mugabe cannot entertain departing from office.

The US State Department, having caused the Nigerian Government to offer Liberian Pres. Charles Taylor asylum as a means to ensure his safety if he quit office, then demanded that Nigeria extradite Taylor to face an International Criminal Court, something to which the US itself does not subscribe. The forced breaking of a solemn asylum guarantee meant that Mugabe himself can trust no promises of safe haven which may be offered to him. And so Zimbabwe continues to burn, and continues to protect the former unelected leader of Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam, who lives in luxurious asylum near Harare.

The US and British attempt to force the direction of a settlement of the Cyprus question in 2004 was yet another demonstration of the failure of brute political force and the attempted “central planning” of the shape of the own allies. Which brings up the point that such coercive measures are only attempted on either adversaries of a small scale or on the friends of Washington, not on the larger powers. Even so, when the end of the Cold War – and clear Western ascendancy which resulted – afforded the opportunity of bringing Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into a new “modern world” – a “new West” – the Cold Warriors could not bring themselves to see Russia and China as major powers whose opinions and interests must be taken into consideration. They insisted that Russia and the PRC remain marginalized and adversaries of the “new West.”

Thus the new Cold War began.

The global landscape shows that the US has lost great strategic ground in Central Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. Does Washington look upon ruin and call it triumph? If the West is to continue its economic and civilizational success, then the time has come for it to review the world through honest and contrite eyes.

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