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November 22, 2003

Comments

Considering the outcome of the Chavez coup, I'd think that any self-respecting revolutionary would just as soon not have our support. A little tip for the aspiring coup participant--if you want to succeed, shooting dead the S.O.B. you're trying to replace is a pretty sure-fire method to make sure he won't be back in his chair planning your executions next week (or--as Jack Ryan put it in "Debt of Honor"--the one thing that martyrs have in common is that they're dead). If you're not willing to go that extra mile, it might be wise to consider a different career path.

Umm... but we're still allowed to protest, right, Moe? We're not barred from it by not living under an oppressive regime? Just checking.

Yes, their situation is far worse than mine, than yours, than anyone in the UK or US. Probably. I don't know all the situations of all the people in the UK and US.

But there's never any point comparing one's own situation to that of someone else. One should only compare one's own situation to how one's own situation ought to be. If it could be better, do something about it.

But never compare it to someone else. There's always someone far better or far worse off, and it's all relative anyway; doesn't make your situation instrinsically good or bad.

/Bush isn't Hitler/

...in case anyone's still not sure.

"Umm... but we're still allowed to protest, right, Moe?"

Of course you are. I endorse the right of people to peacefully assemble and communicate their opinions or grievances. That applies even to people who treat the whole thing as some sort of self-indulgent performance art (I attempted to make clear that I was speaking of them specifically, not of protestors in general: I'm sorry if you thought that it applied to you). I merely wished to remind those particular people that, really, they ain't all that.

No, it was just that you mentioned the US, and so I wasn't sure if you were referring to specific elements on last week's protests in the UK, or European protests.

It's sad, really - with regard to the face-painters, and the statue-topplers. I agree with them on the majority of their points and I don't take them seriously myself.

Any side that will atrract enough people to attain power in democracy will have plenty of idiots. I'mm sure Moe grits his teeth every time Ann Coulter appears on TV or Pat Robertson supports the idea that terrorism is the hand of God.

"No, it was just that you mentioned the US, and so I wasn't sure if you were referring to specific elements on last week's protests in the UK, or European protests."

Ah. For the record, I expect that the vast majority of British protestors are as well-intentioned and decent as their American cousins; no slight was intended.

Moe

PS: carpeicthus: both sentences of your statement are true and I reserve the right to mock the idiots on your side as long as I distinguish them from the non-idiots, which I have so done here. Say as many nasty things about Coulter and Robertson as you like, as long as you distinguish them from people like me. :)

Moe, it might turn out that we supported the opposition in Georgia because Shevardnadze was tilting towards Russia. Nothing is really clear at this point, however.

One thing from this, no matter how confident Saakashvili was of success, for whatever reasons, it's great/a relief that this sort of democratic protest can achieve something so large.

I remember coming away from the anti-war rally in Hyde Park in Feb. thinking that this was real democracy at work, that a groundswell really could do something. Guess it either wasn't enough of a groundswell or it got lost along the way. Or both.

The scenes in Tbilisi reminded me of the overthrow of Milosevic. Different situation, but popular protest. Although the funny thing in that case was that the storming of the palace was started off by journalists merely pushing past guards to get a better view. Hilarious when the newsmakers make the news. Although there's something very bad about that as a concept.

Some points that haven't been (much) discussed.

1) Shevardnadze has been a darling of the Western media for a long time, for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad. To a surprising extent, he still is; go to nytimes.com and take a look at today's article, which spins him as a statesman who chose to step down rather than shed blood.

To a great extent, this reflects lazy reporting on the part of major media outlets, most of whom do not even have stringers -- never mind actual reporters -- in Georgia.

2) Shevardnadze wasn't a Ceausescu, or even a Milosevic. But he was an old-fashioned Commie at heart, and entirely willing to use massive corruption (salted with more than a bit of intimidation) to stay in power.

3) Having said that, let's not be in any hurry to lionize the opposition. Plucky democrats they are not either. Sorry, but that's the Caucasus for you.

4) I notice that the major news stories have not once mentioned the magic word "pipeline". But the pipeline issue is actually pretty crucial to understanding what's going on in Georgia. It's like talking about Iraq without mentioning oil _at all_ (as opposed to saying it was 'the real reason' for the war, which is another error of a different sort). It's just ignoring a huge part of the picture.

5) Ask me sometime about the complicated relationship between USAID and the State Department, in transition countries generally and Georgia in particular. Short version: they ended up working at almost 180 degrees to each other. Useful tonic for both conspiracy theorists and would-be imperialists.

cheers,


Doug M.

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