Monday, June 25, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS {masterlist}

This was originally conceived as a book, or series of books, and some sections still flow into each other naturally, so I just realized I should put together a Table of Contents masterlist that can make the site as readable as a partially-assembled book. It'll fill in as we go, and the gaps will shrink. Some sections I never finished. Some I never will. Most are too verbose. Some have been altered a bit for this website, and some posts have been written or assembled outside the book format. I'll figure it all out.

I – Nonviolence and the New World Order: Between Cold Wars
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival [and deter] potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
– Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Planning Guidance, 1992
“A plan to achieve that objective will usually consist of a phased series of campaigns […] designed to strengthen the oppressed population […] and to weaken the dictatorship.”
- Gene Sharp, From Democracy to Dictatorship

- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
-> East-West 1989: The Twin Pillars of Nonviolence
-> Iraq and the New World Order at the End of History
-> Euro-NATO: How the West was Run
-> Gene Sharp: Master of Noviloent Warfare
-> Weaponizing Nonviolence: Col. Helvey - a former soldier and officer turned man of peace helps translate Sharp for battlefield use.
-> The American End: Overt Ops/A Bi-Partisan Effort: National Endowment for Democracy, NDI, IRI, Arlington, Ackerman, etc...
-> Soros Money and the Open Society
-> Some Notes on Timing and Consent

II – Gotov Je: Yugoslavia and the Otpor Precedent
"Removing the authority of the ruler is the most important element in nonviolent struggle."
– Col. Robert Helvey, to Serbian activists in Budapest Hungary, mid-2000
“It should be clear to all, after the past ten years, that NATO isn't attacking Serbia because of Milosevic; it is attacking Milosevic because of Serbia.”
- Slobodan Milosevic, October 2 2000
“Regarded by many as Eastern Europe's last great democratic upheaval, Milosevic's overthrow may also go down in history as the first poll-driven, focus group-tested revolution.”
– Michael Dobbs, Washington Post, December 2000

- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
-> The Heart of Serbia / Point of No Return
-> Divide and Conquer / State Sponsors of Terror
-> The Limits of Air Power / The Pariah’s Club: Post-war Serbia: Milosevic still in charge, and making new friends. the time to move draws close...
->Milosevic's Pipeline Plans Prevented (brief - moved from another section)
-> Biting the System: Otpor's Origins
-> The Bulldozer Revolution: October 2000 - Milosevic has left the building
- Behind the Fist: Helping Hands at Hungarian Hotels
- Fallout: Radioactive, Political and Otherwise
->Otpor Fallout: Just Another Weapon
->- Radioactive Fallout
- Territorial Fallout
- Political Fallout: A prolonged, tragic sorting of loose ends

- A New Direction for Otpor: Eastward

III – No to Saddam, No to Peace: Why there was no Iraqi Otpor
“To achieve the third choice, we need help. Not with armies or with money. We need help in the form of nonviolent training to protect ourselves from Saddam and his agents. We can do it, but we need help now.” – Ismael Zayer, exiled Iraqi opposition leader, early 2003

- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
-> Zimbabwe / Iraq 2003: The Limits of Nonviolence
-> Zayer and Helvey: No to Saddam, No to War
- Washington: No to Zayer, Yes to Force Presence
- Transforming the Middle East

IV – Reviving Great Russia: Low Tide, Russia’s 9/11, and the Rise of Putin
- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
- Pipelines From the Black Hole - The Caspian Great Game as backdrop for the New Cold War
- Bleeding Russia: Oligarchs, Collapse, Bail-out... Then Revival
- The Terror of 9/99 / Putin Ascendant (see below)
-> The Terror of 9/99 {masterlist} - new masterlist with links to posts on another CL blogsite
- America's War on Terror, Meet Russia's (coming soonish - previously neglected in the shuffle)

- State Control and Oligarch Retrieval : Putin moves to Reverse the 90s.
- Reviving Great Russia / The Switch is Flipped

V – Roses and the Power of Conviction: A Bold First Move in the Caucasus
- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
- Georgia’s Place on the Chessboard / The Old Order
- The Story of Three Idealists: The Saakashvilis and Zhvania
- Kmara, Liberty Institute, and the Mark of Soros
- The Rose Revolution: Misha Takes Tbilisi
- The New Order in Tbilisi
- Mr. GasPutin, South Ossetia, and the Wine Wars

VI – The Bridgehead is Extended: Ukraine and the Orange Sunrise
- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
- Ukraine's Fate and the Brzezinski's Flanking It
- Ukraine: The State of Play in 2004: President Kuchma, PM Yanukovych, Russian influence, estern ambitions, Tymosheno and the emerging opposition. "Oligarch wars."
- Pora and the Yushchenkos: High Time for a Revolution
-> Pora! High Time for a Revolution
->The Yushchenkos: On the Right Path For Ukraine
- Like a John Le Carré Novel: Yush Poisoned!
- Blue Twilight / Orange Dawn
- Western Winds That Fed the Fire: Orange Revolution assistance from Europe and the US. Trying to keep an appearance of distance...
- A Preventive Operation: Help from Inside
- Away From Russia
- The Poisoning Investigation
- Splits and Reversals / An Uncertain Future
- The Geopolitics One More Time… Closing the Bridgehead

VII – The Bridgehead Meets the Bulkhead: Power Plays in Central Asia
- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
- The New Great Game History repeating itself: Russia's interests in Central Asia clash with the Anglo-American aliance
- From Shanghai with Love: Origins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
- After the First Snows in Afghanistan: The US Incursion, basing, and response
- Russia’s Grip on Kyrgyzstan: The scrable for Central Asian basing - Washington's post-9/11 interests vs. Russia's enduring interests.
- Bulb of Opposition / The Tulip Revolution
- An Uglier Turn / Akayev Flees
- Hopes of Reform Shot Dead / The SCO’s Controlled Burn
- The SCO Holdouts: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan

VIII – Showing America the Door: The Tide Turns in Uzbekistan
- Original Sub-Sections, -> Posted Sections, -> Addenda/New Divisions
- America’s New Ally: Terror vs. Terror
-> Andijan and the Truth Massacre
- Rakhimov’s Paradise: The Missing Link?
- After Andijan: A Victory for the Eurasian Bloc
-> International Order, 7/7, the First Eviction
- Peace Mission 2005: An Assault on the Unipolar World

The rest of the book - the revolutions that failed and on Oborona in Russia, on ethical and tactical issues, etc., was never even properly organized.

IX - Where the Fist Failed: The Regimes that Didn’t Crack or Weren’t Attacked
- Original Sub-Sections -> Addenda/New Divisions
- Turkmenistan: Turkmenbashi's Dreamland
- Azerbaijan:
- Armenia and Moldova: Not Ripe for Revolution
-> Armenia: Not Ripe for Revolution
-> Update: Election 2007 - Coming in May
- >Moldova: Grape Revolution Squashed - coming soon

- Zubr in Belarus: Outpost of Tyranny/Jeans on the 16th

X - untitled and unfinished chapter on Democracy Promotion etc. inside Russia and counter-trends

XI - untitled and unfinished chapter on further observations and criticisms of weaponized nonviolence in its current uses

- See from Ch I, "Some Notes on Timing and Consent" for a basic outline of my own gripes

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without Guns / Chapter 2
Posted June 24 2007

As Milosevic’s tottering regime came up against the “NATO foot soldiers” of Otpor in 2000, the group and its allies also looked ahead and worked to co-opt as much of the security forces as possible. For example, the young members of Otpor sent bouquets of flowers to the military on Army Day. An article in Peace explained that “such tactics recruited sympathizers in numbers that would not be apparent until the final days of the regime, when soldiers and police stood by while massive crowds stormed the Serbian parliament.” [1]

As the September 2000 election neared, the Serbian president banned international observers from monitoring elections, which were carried out on Sunday the 24th. The opposition claimed victory, with DOS leader Vojislav Kostunica winning over 50 percent support and declaring himself the “people's president.” But others were not so sure, and the Federal Election Commission called for a second ballot set for October 8, saying neither candidate won an outright majority. [2] Another top DOS leader, Zoran Djindjic announced “we will call people onto the streets and tell them not to leave until [Milosevic] gives up power.” [3] Djindjic said the opposition would call for continued protests, including a strike campaign and boycotts of schools, offices, theaters and cinemas. [4]

By this time, Milosevic’s Red Berets had evolved into an independent, self-perpetuating power, and when the regime began to crumble in mid-2000, they switched sides and negotiated a nonaggression pact with Djindjic, assuring him that they would refuse any orders to crack down on demonstrators. [5] With this floodgate opened, a coal miners' strike set the ball rolling; when Milosevic sent Interior Ministry soldiers to break the strike, thousands more citizens turned out in solidarity, blocking streets with barricades and their bodies. [6]
Mass protests in front of the Parliament building, Belgrade, Oct. 5 2000.

The strikes spread and by the 5th the country had come to a virtual standstill, except in the capital, where crowds swelling into perhaps hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters marched and swarmed around, over, and into all the official buildings. The central square was hazed with smoke from fires started by the protesters, lending to the air of chaos as police simply refused to crack down and the insurgents took the whole area, notably the State-run broadcasting apparatus. [7] Kostunica told supporters at a Belgrade rally that Serbia had been “liberated,” a message broadcast to the world. European and world leaders called for Milosevic to admit the obvious and step down as he finally did the following day. [8]

Otpor’s Ivan Marovich proudly boasted that Otpor and the people of Serbia had thus “organized the control of the elections by the civil society.” [9] When that alone proved insufficient, with Milosevic declaring victory anyway, they also helped organize the control of Belgrade, which finally did the trick. The actions of Otpor could not be credited entirely with the results, but they were by all accounts a huge, probably decisive factor in this bloodless revolution that achieved what NATO’s bombs had not. And their spirit of fun was infectious, leaving its mark on the October 5 uprising, dubbed “the Bulldozer Revolution.” It got this unofficial title when a man inspired by Otpor’s lead drove his bulldozer into the building of RTS, Serbian state television, which had been a symbol of Milosevic's rule. (this was a new building, the original having been recently destroyed by NATO bombs).

In the months following, Otpor members were the cause celebré of Serbia and the world at large and their clenched fist logo started popping up everywhere. Especially in Europe, politicians, rock stars, soccer teams and more brandished it proudly. Representatives of the group were even handed a special “Free Your Mind” award at the November 2000 MTV Europe Music Video Awards in Stockholm. MTV Europe’s CEO praised the youngsters’ “constant struggle against injustice and oppression.” [10] Americans in general were faintly pleased but basically unaware of the entire episode. Serbs were by and large elated. It had all seemed so easy once they figured it out – “break the fear,” follow the lead of the superbly-trained and confident young activists, take a clever, flawlessly printed sign and join the thousands of others doing the same. Like a powerful drug secretly administered in their sleep, the whole episode was liberating and exhilarating, almost too good to be true.

[1] From Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2003, p.10. Author=John Bacher; Title=Robert Helvey's Expert Political Defiance; URL=
Robert Helvey's Expert Political Defiance
John Bacher
[2], [3], [4] Fletcher, Philippa. “Opposition Pressures Milosevic To Resign.” Reuters. St. Petersburg Times (Russia). Issue #607 (0), Friday, September 29, 2000.
[5] Aaron, Paul. “The Anguish of Nation Building: A Report from Serbia.” World Policy Journal. Volume XXII, No 3, Fall 2005.
[6], [7], [8] A Force more Powerful: Films: Bringing Down a Dictator: Chronology of Events.
[9] Htet, U Min. “Serbia: Demise of a Dictator.” BBC News. September 16 2005.
[10] BBC News. “Madonna's MTV triumph.” November 17, 2000.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 4/7/07

Absent the binding force of Soviet-era political and military control, a power vacuum that Zbigniew Brzezinski called in 1997 “the black hole” hovered over the void, once Soviet, “middle space” in the “Grand Chessboard” of Eurasia. Russia was eventually bound to regain its regional power and at least some of its global reach, so Western efforts were stepped-up to politically and economically integrate more former SSRs along the path to Europe taken by the Baltic states. The window of opportunity could be only so long before Russia got its shoelaces untangled and started closing the West’s lead, but until then it was largely land-locked and ice-bound; the USSR had enjoyed direct access to ice-free ports in the Baltic and near-total domination of the Black Sea, its window onto the Mediterranean and world markets. Now it had lost most of its south Baltic ports (retaining the Kaliningrad exclave and of course St. Petersburg in the north) while access to the Black Sea relied on close relations with independent Ukraine, which took a joint role in managing the Black Sea Fleet and maintained a fluctuating relationship with Moscow.

Unlike the Baltic and Black Seas, the Caspian’s value for shipping is only local; its prime value lay in that its littoral basin held the remains of a vast inland sea that left behind widespread oil and natural gas deposits, known since the 1970s at the latest and used by the Soviet Union to add to its vast Siberian gas reserves. The Caspian’s oil supplies are moderate, but its supplies of natural gas are huge, believed to be about 250 trillion cubic feet or 5% of world total, and well-placed to help feed the growing energy demands of Europe, Russia, China, or India. Like the Black Sea, the Caspian basin was once nearly totally dominated by the USSR, but after 1991 was dominated by Iran and the independent nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia, with Russia only maintaining a decent toehold on the north shore, from which pipelines carry Russia’s share of oil and gas north, near the war-torn Muslim autonomous region of Chechnya. (Brzezinski, it must be noted, is the chaorman of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC), which calls itself “the only private, non-governmental organization in North America exclusively dedicated to promoting the peaceful resolution of the Russo-Chechen war.")

While the “black hole” and the Caspian’s promise beckoned Western interest in the 1990s, the Eurasian powers still had the clear advantage in Caspian export routes; Russia’s Soviet-era pipeline system provided the most established route to the vast markets of Europe. China had the possibility of eastbound landlines, if dauntingly long, mountainous, and set to feed in through its own Kosovo, Muslim-dominated Xinjiang. Southbound routes could feed markets in India, China, and all of East Asia by sea, most easily making their way to port and tanker via Iran. Indeed as the only nation with access to both Caspian and Persian Gulf supplies, Iran has among the world’s most developed pipeline systems, but so long as it was ruled by the Ayattolahs, Iran was not to be rewarded with Western investment.

Caspian export routes, existing and proposed. General contours of Russian-Iranian-Chinese-dominated systems vs. the American-led model.

So American and Western planners sought to get as much as possible of the fuels out right by China, Russia and Iran, and so looked in two directions for pipelines in open areas where they could muscle in on the action (see map). One direction is east and as south as possible, away from Russia and around Iran, with the ultimate target of markets in South and East Asia. The main problem with this route was that they would all of necessity cross Afghanistan, which was in the 1990s embroiled in civil war with no end in sight, and in 2007 much the same, although now with a solid US military boot in the door a favorble outcome seems possible - eventually.

The other main window of opportunity was due west across the Caucasus states of Azerbaijan and Georgia, the rocky alley between Russian and Iranian turf. These Caucasian pipelines could then connect via Turkey to the Mediterranean, to pipelines - running through the Balkans - into Europe and its vast energy markets. Other planned lines could snake beneath the Black Sea to enter Europe at Bulgaria, and flow west through Macedonia (split from Yugoslavia in 1991) and end on the Albanian coast.

(all this is covered in slightly greater depth here).

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted May 2 2007

The first time there was a general consensus in Washington on using Soros and NED money, IRI, NDI and OSI skills, and the principles laid out in From Dictatorship to Democracy in a battlefield setting would be in the year 2000. The “force more powerful” would rattle Serbia, the heart of a disintegrating Yugoslavia, to sever the supply of Slobodan Milosevic’s power, as we’ll see in detail in the following chapter. The key to the success of the tactic is in the timing, knowing when it will be effective. The timing considerations, as they were taken into account before the Serbian campaign, must be made on a number of levels, including historical, technological, biographical, and immediate political timing.

For an insight on historical timing, it must be noted that mass nonviolence as a way of achieving power is a relatively new phenomenon. Historically, most rebellions have been either violently victorious or violently suppressed. But with the evolution of global interconnectedness, greater media coverage, and political liberalism, wider avenues were opened in the 20th century, which saw the movements of Gandhi, King, Walesa, Mandela, Suu Kyi and on and on. Shifting public perception of war and peace also played a role. The horrors of total war as seen in the first World War had made pacifism incredibly popular, but the even greater horrors of the sequel conflict highlighted the dangers of pure pacifism – sometimes war was preferable to an unjust peace as agreed to disastrously at Munich. The advent of nuclear weaponry in the course of that monstrous war again made non-violence seem an attractive alternative by making violence so exceptionally dangerous to life on Earth itself. But this came just as the menace of Stalin’s Soviet Union made clear the need for continued struggle if not outright war. As we’ve seen, it is precisely this series of historical developments that drove the evolution of Gene Sharp’s thinking towards the peculiar notion of weaponizing mass non-violence.

The advent of nuclear weaponry is thus an important underpinning, but the other end of technological timing that could help aid these nonviolent actions came decades later. As Jonathan Mowat pointed out, the internet, cell phones, instant and text messaging, and the other communications breakthroughs have been used “to rapidly steer angry and suggestible ‘Generation X’ youth into and out of mass demonstrations and the like.” [1] This capability only developed in the mid-1990s, just in time to play a role in Serbia in 2000.

By 2005 American programmers were working with a Serbian activist in developing a computer game called A Force More Powerful, clearly a franchise of Ackerman’s book and TV series. Ian Traynor explained for the Guardian that the game is won “by outwitting and toppling regimes through techniques of non-violent guerrilla activism.” [2] Ackerman’s mark is also to be seen on his co-project with Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, the top US weapons designer. They hope to produce new communications technologies that could be used to facilitate “youth movement insurgencies.” “There is no question that these technologies are democratizing,” Ackerman stressed. “They enable decentralized activity. They create, if you will, a digital concept of the right of assembly.” [3]

By biographical timing I mean that activists of a certain age and class are called on to flesh out these insurgencies. The West’s planners looked to the American left as evidenced in the protest movements of the 1960s and after, and most recently at the “Battle of Seattle” in 1999. Middle class youth with a liberal education, internet access, a little energy and time to spare and a certain mixture of insulation and teen angst create the right mindset to throw a fist in the air at public rallies. Young people bring to the table energy, free time, rebelliousness and an optimism not yet ravaged by years in the adult world, and bring less of that desire for stability that often comes with age. The young are always ready to rebel against the forces of the old and the corrupt, and they are “cleaner,” more innocent, and more lovable than the old. All these are important elements in their primarily psychological campaign, but most importantly, the young represent the future, and so by manifesting Washington’s vision, they give it the mark of the inevitable course of events.

Another key feature of the 18-24 age bracket, the prime recruiting pool, is their lack of wisdom and general malleability. As with military recruiters, these are apparently also positive traits for the recruiters of nonviolent insurgents. And they’re more prone to peer pressure and illogical mass psychosis; Jonathan Mowat noted a 1967 report from the UK’s Tavistock Institute (the psychological warfare arm of the British military) that noted the then-new phenomenon of “swarming adolescents” found at rock concerts. Author Dr. Fred Emery reported the swarming was associated with “rebellious hysteria,” and predicted that with more study the phenomenon could be controlled effectively. By the end of the 1990s, he predicted, these hormonal mobs could be used at will to bring down a national government. [4] Jonathan Mowat, in his brilliant synthesis, noted “the tactic of swarming” at work as a “a new philosophy of war, which is supposed to replicate the strategy of Genghis Khan as enhanced by modern technologies […] intended to aid both military and non-military assaults against targeted states through what are, in effect, ‘high tech’ hordes.”

And what brought this approach to warfare to the streets of Belgrade, Serbia in 2000 is the final consideration, immediate political timing. Once the technology and the right activist demographic has been identified, mass political resistance is a powerful force that can indeed “restrict or sever the supply” of a dictator’s power, as Sharp noted, but not always “when needed,” as if on cue. First, the behind-the-scenes plotters must be in agreement with the wishes of the mobilized citizenry, or the citizens must be brought around to supporting the plotter’s decisions. In order for support from Washington to flow to a viable movement willing to support its agenda, the political goals of both parties must be synchronized and manifested in the opposition leader(s). This is one of the trickier parts, but deals can be and would be made time after time.

Non-violent resistance can drive a corrupt regime from power, but more often such attempts at a widespread uprising end in mass arrests or even mass killings - think Rangoon 1988, Tiananmen Square 1989, and a thousand smaller, less bloody examples spanning human history. Far more potential rebellions are simply not even attempted due to citizen apathy or fear, as in the 21st century USA; so a mass movement could do better if it had a good “marketing department” to excite involvement, or was helped by a powerful and sympathetic outside force to neutralize the terror of state power. Such help could be either indirect (diplomatic support, etc) or direct (financial or tactical support). There would be no troublesome weapons shipments to learn of as with the debacle of illegal US support to the Contras in Nicaragua, but the idea is still much the same – support the opposition to destabilize and hopefully sever the targeted regime. There’s no law against that yet.

This can lead to charges of engineering other country’s affairs, an action that carries unpleasant aftertastes of Imperialism. However, as supporters would argue, only part of the equation can be engineered from without – a revolution also must have, first and foremost, a fertile soil of political discontent in order to take root, and to appear legitimate, the new leadership must be voted on by the subjected people.

Thus a good metaphor for this type of intervention is a consensual sexual tryst – both partners may well agree to the act (the revolution) after a period of intense courtship, mutual flattery, and heavy petting (financial and diplomatic support, promises of obedience to the West’s aims). Appropriately, the teeming hordes of turned-on activist teenagers would play the part of the hormones, coursing through the body politic of the targeted partner and driving to the inevitable end. Even two consenting adults may not enter into sex with the same set of facts or the same motives. One may be drunk or otherwise impaired, or there may be a serious power imbalance in which one partner is clearly, creepily compelling the other, pushing himself on her in the motel hallway. And no matter the mood right before and during the act, the two may be left with very different feelings about the whole thing in the morning. But still, it’s not rape – that would be war.

Next: The Heart of Serbia/Point of No Return

[1], [3], [4], [5] Mowat, Jonathan. “Coup d'État in Disguise: Washington's New World Order "Democratization" Template.” Global Research. Center for Research on Globalization. February 9 2005.
[2] Traynor, Ian. “Young Democracy Guerillas Join Forces: From Belgrade to Baku, activists gather to swap notes on how to topple dictators.” The Guardian. June 6 2005.,,1499871,00.html

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Adam Larson/Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without Guns/Chapter 7
Posted 5/9/07

Russia’s response to the assault on its European periphery states in 2003-2004 demonstrates two unique and related historical patterns. The first is Russia’s split personality, straddling the arguably imaginary line that separates Europe from Asia. Russian thinkers have tackled the issue of Asian vs. European identity for centuries. Peter the great tried to settle this in 1703 by founding St. Petersburg and tying Russia into Europe’s affairs, but during the Great Game with England over Central Asia in the 1800s again European vs. Eastern/Asian/other became the paradigm. Since the Bolsheviks moved the capitol back to Moscow, and more so since the collapse of the USSR, Russia's European aspirations have been lessened in favor of a centralizing view that looks south and east as well as west.

The other key factor is Russia’s tactic of withdrawal when threatened, as they did when Napoleon invaded. Moscow was abandoned and burnt to the ground, leaving nothing for the French army, most of whom died in the attempt to get back home ahead of winter. When things get rough on the European front, Russians pull back to the east, relying on the continental vastness of their Eurasian territory to wait out the crisis.

2004-05 was such a time, and indeed Russia’s power focus has to a remarkable degree shifted east as ambitions in Europe slid into political obscurity. It’s not so much that the Kremlin has abandoned its plans for Europe as that it is diversifying its holdings and making contingency plans for an uncertain future there. So Putin’s Moscow started taking greater interest in increasing control over its former Central Asian holdings; the independent but cooperative nations of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and to a much lesser extent ‘neutral” Turkmenistan.

The Central Asian Republics seemed relatively safe from the Orange Revolution type of tactic. In Europe there is the EU, NATO, and a long history of Democratic institutions and mindsets. But these landlocked Muslim-dominated nations, resource-rich but impoverished and still run largely on Soviet habits and older memories, lie in an area still jointly dominated by “great power rivals” Russia and China. Central Asia is a long way from Brussels – and so as the democratic bridgehead struggled to cross the last spans of Europe, this was the Bulkhead of Russia’s Eurasian power outside its own borders.

The area also represents the heart of “the Grand Chessboard” of Eurasia as portrayed by Zbigniew Brzezinski. He describes this region as the “Eurasian Balkans,” encompassing the Caucasian and Central Asian flanks of the former USSR plus Iran and Afghanistan. Compared to the European Balkans, “the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize,” at twenty times the size and presenting an enormous zone of instability “astride the inevitably emerging transportation network meant to link [Eurasia’s] western and eastern extremities.” [1] Thus as in times ancient, the region was to be the crossroads of Eurasia, host to a 21st Century Silk Road as Unocal called it – pipelines, fiber optic cable, superhighways, all facilitating further globalization of a previously under-tapped region.

There was more than transport at stake though; Central Asia straddles the Himalayan foothills, producing a tectonic cornucopia of mineral wealth, including tin, gold, and platinum in large quantities. And to a world increasingly thirsty for oil and natural gas, Central Asia has stood out for one key reason – the energy reserves of the Caspian Sea; Fortunes and political careers were made and broken in what Ahmed Rashid in 1997 dubbed “the New Great Game.” After 9/11 we found that the prize was not as big as originally thought, (and hence the war was not about that). But by mid-2006, world oil prices climbed from a pre-9/11 baseline of about $25 a barrel to well over $70 a barrel, US News and World Report noted in their September 11 2006 issue “the stakes have suddenly shot up,” and interest is now as intense as ever. [2]
Next: From Shanghai with Love: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

[1] Brzezinski. "The Grand Chessboard." 1997. Page 124.
[2] Fang, Bay. “The Great Energy Game.” US News and World Report. Vol 141, no. 9. September 11 2006. p 60-62.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
November 2006
Re-posted 4/23/07

Turkmenistan is an interesting case, nearly 5 million inhabitants, 98% Muslim, in the former Soviet space, on the Caspian, and ruled by perhaps the most bizarre and repressive dictator in the region. And yet it is a nation remarkably undisturbed by the democracy guerillas that had struck further west in Georgia and Ukraine, an ambiguous “revolution” as per Kyrgyzstan’s “tulip Revolution,” or Andijan-style unrest as happened further east. It is the calm at the eye of the Central Asian storm.

Rich in natural resources but with per-capita incomes at sub-Saharan African levels, the country is held under the effectively permanent rule of dictator Saparmyrat Niyazov, or “Turkmenbashi” (father of the Turkmen people) as he calls himself. Niyazov first assumed leadership of the Turkmen Communist party in 1985, and thus headed the government of the Soviet Republic during its last years. The republic of Turkmenistan declared independence in 1991 just before the collapse of the USSR and soon joined the CIS, signing the divorce papers as it were along with the other republics. Afterwards though Niyazov and the government at Ashkabad refused to join any other such organization, in pursuit of a “status of permanent neutrality,” which was accepted by the UN General Assembly in December 1995. The country retained its membership in Russia’s CIS, though never agreeing to the mutual defense clause that later morphed into the CSTO, and in August 2005, Turkmenbashi downgraded the country officially to CIS “Associate Member,” an exclusive sort of friendly non-membership. [1]

One of the many tributes erected to and by the great “Turkmenbashi”
Like Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, Turkmenbashi has instead focused on apolitical pipeline diplomacy, since independence encouraging foreign investment in its oil and gas reserves. Niyazov works with everybody, West and East, boasting huge deals with Russia’s Gazprom, planning pipeline to China, and hoping for Western sponsored paths south through Afghanistan. The city of Krasnovodsk on the Caspian coast was named in 1993 “Turkmenbashi” after the President and served as the oil hub, commercial capital, and center of ego for the country. While cooperative with western economies, Niyazov is not the model of a democratic leader by a long shot, with arguably the worst record on democracy is in the region. The city naming is a telling sign of what most observers agree is Niyazov’s cult of personality; in the manner of Stalin or Hussein he has monuments and portraits of himself erected everywhere to remind citizens of their beneficent ruler.

In 1992 Turkmenistan’s first post-independence constitution enshrined Niyazov as head of government as well as head of state – President and Prime Minister. He promised on taking the post that within a decade all Turkmen families would own a house and a car. He was later re-elected to the post in a direct popular ballot in which he stood unopposed, and his rule was extended indefinitely in 1999, with parliament giving Niyazov the legal right to rule for life with no need for elections. [2] He modified this the following year, announcing that he would step down by no later than 2010, after reaching the age of 70. In early 2003 Niyazov started making good on his cars promise, handing out free Mercedes-Benzs to top officials whose loyalty he needed, just as he announced a new commission, as the BBC described, “to monitor foreign trips by politicians, and to track the movements of foreigners within Turkmenistan.” [3]

The BBC’s official timeline of Turkmenistan notes the idiosyncratic nature of his rule, marked by ironic choices of a ruler undisturbed in his delusions. In August 2002 Niyazov ordered the months of the year renamed after himself, his mother and his spiritual guide, the Ruhnama. In August 2004 he ordered construction of a grandiose ice palace in the middle of the Turkmen desert, and in November had to explain this project at a Turkmen-Uzbek summit on water resources. And in February 2005 the president went under the knife for eye surgery, just after suggesting all Turkmen hospitals other than those in capital should be closed to save money. [4]

Niyazov’s total suppression of opposition is unparalleled: In November 2002 the president easily survived an armed attack on his presidential motorcade as it drove through Ashkabad. Authorities blamed “mercenaries” acting for exiled opposition leaders who in turn accuse Niyazov of arranging the incident as excuse to crack down. Within the month opposition activist and former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov was arrested, accused of masterminding the attack and sentenced to life imprisonment. More than 40 others were convicted and jailed along with him. Another crackdown in mid-2005 saw Deputy Prime Minister Elly Kurbanmuradov, a senior figure in the energy sector, sacked and jailed for 25 years on corruption charges, and Rejep Saparov sacked as head of presidential administration and sentenced to 20 years in jail for corruption. [5]

Thus Turkmenistan has avoided the destabilizing aspects of divisive politics and continues to provide a perfect totalitarian state with its enforced stability, everything the West claims to be against. Indeed, the US State Department and the rest admit the truth of Niyazov’s regime – Freedom House, banned from the country, listed it in 2005 as "not free," noting "Turkmenistan remained one of the most repressive societies in the world” in 2005. [6] Yet we see no reports of real US aid to opposition parties, training of youth movements or the like – no Kostunica or Saakashvili reported here, no Otpor-Kmara-Pora-Zubr equivalent reported.

Some would argue that state repression is to blame for the lack of democratic activism, and certainly the evidence is there. But there are other factors at work – Belarus is remarkably oppressive and hard-line as well, but Zubr and Malady Front have thrived with Western support and coordinated diplomatic offensives, launching campaigns every other year for the six years now (2001, 2003, 2005-06). But Turkmenistan, with even less democracy and a more unreasonable ruler, has remained remarkably quiet. And as far as diplomatic pressure, sanctions and trade restrictions, pressure has not been applied on these levels either to any meaningful degree as has happened in Belarus. Turkmenistan was not listed as an “outpost of tyranny.”

It’s perhaps no coincidence that Niyazov is also an enthusiastic, long-term partner in US drive to tap the Caspian – had been party to Unocal’s Turkmen-Afghan-Pakistan pipeline. Back in 1995 Niyazov and Pakistan’s PM Benazir Bhutto commissioned a feasibility study of Afghan pipeline. [7] Both leaders had initially backed a rival pipeline offered by Argentine company Bridas, and Niyazov signed an exclusive contract with them. But while it took something like a coup to get Pakistan's mind to change, Niyazov was then the first to see the potential in Unocal’s version and broke his contract with Bridas, who later sued Unocal for $15 billion, finally awarded $47 million in 1998. They tried suing Unocal in Texas also, but the international court threw the case out, saying they had no jurisdiction; the case was based on Turkmen law; which it turns out is basically Niyazov’s whim. [8] Unocal spokesman John Maresca later noted with no apparent irony that the region was “dynamic and changing. Business contracts can be rescinded without warning.” [9]

Niyazov’s switch shows both his ambition and his impatience. Ahmed Rashid, in his book Taliban, revealed the hopes that Niyazov had nurtured that Turkmenistan’s oil and gas exports would make his country “the new Kuwait,” as he described it back in 1991 (interestingly, just as Kuwait was recovering from an invasion with U.S. help.) Niyazov is self-interested enough to be a constant ally of whoever supports the project and offers him the highest return on his nation’s investment. And the backing of the U.S. government is certainly a plus for any pipeline plan in the post-Cold-War world. It could also help him deliver on that Mercedes promise. Rashid noted “Niyazov saw that Unocal could become the means to engage a major U.S. company and the Clinton administration in Turkmenistan’s development.” [10] And he was putting his own country’s neck on the line; the government of Turkmenistan was listed as a financial partner in the CENTGAS consortium, holding a 7% stake scraped together from the nation’s scant funds. [11]

After the worst of the afghan campaign passed in early 2002, it was reported that “with the demise of the Taliban, talk of a new pipeline has begun to resurface.” [12] But even as Niyazov rules undisturbed in dreamland, the TAP pipeline has still not come to fruition by late 2006, with a new insurgency in Afghanistan rivaling anything since the fall of the Taliban just as world oil prices surged and made the pipeline yet more desirable.

Postscript: Turkmenbashi is dead. He expired from heart attack on December 20 2006. Under the constitution, the Parliament chairman Ovezgeldy Atayev should have become the interim leader, but deputy prime minister Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was named instead on the 22nd. He explained that Mr Atayev had been sacked after a criminal probe was opened into his activities on the 21st. [13]

[1] REF/RL "CIS: Turkmenistan Reduces Ties To ‘Associate Member.'" August 29, 2005. Acc. June 21 2006 at:
[2]"Turkmen leader to rename calendar." BBC News. August 8 2002.
[3] "Top Turkmens to get free Mercs." BBC News. February 5 2003.
[4] "Turkmenistan: Profile." BBC News.
[5] various - google the names
[6] Turkmenistan – 2005 Overview. Freedom House.
[7] "Timeline of Competition between Unocal and Bridas for the Afghanistan Pipeline." World Press Review. December 2001. Accessed via:
[8], [10] Rashid, Ahmed. "Taliban." 2001.
[9] Maresca, John J. Testimony to Hose Subcommittee on International Relations. February 1998. Accessed January 9, 2005 at:
[11], [12] Blagov, Sergei. "Bold Turkmen project in the pipeline again." Asia Times. February 9 2002.
[13] "Turkmen leader pledges stability." BBC News. December 22 2006.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Adam Larson/Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without Guns/Chater 1
Poated 5/11/2007

One of the prime avenues for containing and steering the power of the EU into conformity with the Anglo-American Alliance was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Also called “the Western Alliance:” the US, UK, Belgium, France, et al, NATO was the grand World War II Alliance minus the USSR. After forming in 1949, NATO took in Greece and Turkey (1952), and then West Germany (1955), but afterwards sat steady for decades as it stared Moscow down, never used its mutual defense clause, and remained a potential military force only.

Yet despite the final crumbling of the Warsaw Pact and even the USSR itself, the objects of its vigilance, NATO remained and looked for a new mission. In a 1992 Pentagon report leaked before scrubbing, then Undersecretary of Defense for policy Paul Wolfowitz offered a role for NATO if not a mission. The report admitted “we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliance’s integrated command structure.” This command structure keeps the United States in the loop so that the Europeans could not make military or security decision the US was unwilling to sign off on. Indeed, Wolfowitz noted how this arrangement would allow NATO to remain “the primary instrument of Western defense and security as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs.” [1]

CFR heavyweight and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski saw the same role for NATO. In his 1997 strategic tome The Grand Chessboard, he took a placating line that the organization’s leadership should eventually give Europe a greater role, coequal with Washington in a 1+1 (US + EU) formulation. While he noted the existing “American primacy within the alliance,” European membership was set to grow, and thus “NATO will have to adjust.” [2] But in an accompanying article for Foreign Affairs, the official publication of the CFR, he wrote more frankly:

“With the allied European nations still highly dependent on US protection, any expansion of Europe's political scope is automatically an expansion of US influence. […] A wider Europe and an enlarged NATO will serve the short-term and longer-term interests of US policy. A larger Europe will expand the range of American influence without simultaneously creating a Europe so politically integrated that it could challenge the United States...” [3]

To date, NATO remains Europe’s only credible security force, is now in fact waging wars over its member’s interests while expanding its member list (and therefore possible conflict trigger-points), and the US has consistently promoted European expansion, especially the CFR people.

Who exactly is pulling whose strings in this arrangement is a matter of contention. Some, like John Laughland, would argue that Europe has thus been made the “51st state of America,” [4] while some Americans claim their country has been “Europeanized” as the economic powerhouse to bolster the European order. More likely neither side holds the reins exclusively, and a carefully managed confluence of interests is the wellspring of this trans-Atlantic union we call the West. Either way, regarding Russia and its sphere, it can be treated as a unified and hungry whole. Upon the USSR's collapse, if not before, the West set to wooing the former Warsaw Pact states; Internal political and economic reforms, once verified, could lead to inclusion in the solidifying EU and even NATO, then taking new applications as it considered its new agenda.

It was known Russia could not react favorably to NATO expansion, as noted in a 1995 analysis by Alexei K. Pushkov, onetime adviser and speech-writer for Premier Gorbachev, an eminent Russian mind. The report was published in Strategic Forums, an offshoot of National Defense University in Washington, and warned that NATO expansion into Eastern Europe or beyond would lead to seven key problems. Pushkov listed among these: “deepening of the gap between Russian and Western civilizations,” “an unwelcome influence on internal Russian politics,” and “a rebirth of the Russian sphere of influence among the former states of the Soviet Union.” On this point, he explained “if Russia considers itself geopolitically cut off from Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community, it would have no choice but to strengthen its historical sphere of influence.” [5]

Most ironically, Pushkov predicted, the expansion of this tool of Western security could well lead to “a weakening of overall European security” by expanding the number of NATO’s mutual defense trigger points while simultaneously increasing the tensions with Russia over those, and by encouraging “a new militarism in Russia.” Expansion would surely be seen in Moscow as an unfriendly act of distrust, no matter the spin put on it, and could cause Russia “to become a more independent player, less constrained by a real or illusionary partnership with the West.” Pushkov warned “Russia might well become a loose cannon in world politics” with “very serious” effects on world stability.

Yet in March 1999 the NATO blithely accepted applications from former Warsaw Pact states Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, expanding its geographic scope greatly at the expense of Russia’s recent sway. Others got in the queue; Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, the last Republics fused into the USSR and first to leave, ran away and joined this circus. A later round of NATO additions in March 2004 scored all three, its first former SSRs, along with Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and the alliance’s first former Yugoslav republic, Slovenia.

left: NATO states vs. Warsaw Pact in 1988, Iron Curtain highlighted.
right: NATO vs. Russia’s sphere (CIS) in mid-2004

During the Cold War the West always maintained they propped up the Iron curtain to keep the Soviet wolf at bay – in its time that may have been true, but once the fence fell, every bit of devouring has been in an easterly direction as the Euro-Atlantic community expands deeper into Eurasia and what was being called the post-Soviet Space, with Russia’s influence receding like a melting glacier.

Next: Gene Sharp: Master of Noviloent Warfare

[1] Tyler, Patrick E. "US Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop A One-Superpower World: Pentagon’s Document Outlines Ways to Thwart Challenges to Primacy of America." The New York Times. March 8, 1992.
[2] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives." New York. Basic Books. 1997. First Printing. Page 76
[3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, "A Geostrategy for Eurasia," Foreign Affairs, 76:5, September/October 1997.
[4] Laughland, John. “Becoming the 51st State.” May 20, 2003
[5] Pushkov, Alexei. "NATO Enlargement: A Russian Perspective." Strategic Forums. July 1995.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Adam Larson/Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without guns/Chapter VII
Posted 5/9/07

Following the ambiguous “Tulip Revolution” of March 2005, Kurmanbek Bakiev was confirmed the second President since independence with an election on July 10. He received an astounding 89% return of the vote (turnout 53%), partly based on his new political alliance with opposition leader Felix Kulov, released from prison with all charges dropped and soon appointed Prime Minister as agreed to before the election. Bakiyev was inaugurated on August 14, and the old parliament agreed to dissolve, and all seemed in order: another successful Color Revolution.
President-elect Bakiyev meets with Rumsfeld, Bishkek, July 2005
On April 14 Defense Secretary Rumsfeld met the acting President Bakiev, who assured the Americans that they could keep using the Ganci Air Base. [1] For Washington the status quo was thus largely maintained, though the new government was not strongly embraced. Something went wrong with the Tulip revolution - The violence in Osh and Jalal-abad should have been a clue. The government was thereafter locked in widespread power struggles and accusations of corruption and even murder. Parliament went on to reject some of the more reform-minded and Western-oriented among the opposition, including Roza Otunbayeva, one of the driving forces behind the early, more “legitimate” phase of the Tulip Revolution. [2]

One “legitimate” opposition leader that did make it into the new government, though he didn’t stay long, was Azimbek Beknazarov, whose 2002 jailing had led to the bloody protests that caused Bakiyev to resign as PM and join the opposition. President Bakiyev rewarded Beknazarov with the post of Prosecutor General, and IWPR explained that the new PG aggressively launched a series of investigations into corruption and criminal activity by Akayev era officials, including a former Central Electoral Commission chief, the head of the Kyrgyz National Bank, and former-PM Nikolai Tanaev. On September 19th, Beknazarov finally got parliament to strip the immunity normally accorded to one of its members - Aydar Akayev, recently-elected son of the ex-president – to allow corruption charges against him to proceed. Later on the same day, President Bakiev dismissed Beknazarov, officially for improper procedures in another investigation. [3]

Other powers behind Akayev’s ouster, like Bamayan Erkinbayev, a ‘controversial businessman’ [ie - mafia-connected] also took power. Once accused of being behind deadly gun battles over control of a local marketplace, Erkinbayev was also a popular politician who entertained presidential ambitions. But he stepped aside for the Bakiev-Kulov coalition, and reportedly helped to organize the southern ‘protests’ which eventually brought them to power. Afterwards he was rewarded with a seat in parliament and the chairmanship of the national Olympic Committee The BBC noted the wide concern that the new influence of “shady businessmen like Mr. Erkinbayev is one of the most worrying trends of the past year.” [4]

Erkinbayev was only in government a few months before he was killed by gunmen on September 22, in an incident widely attributed to his business dealings. [5] Worse, this was only one of at least seven leading and controversial politicians shot dead in various incidents between June 2005 and May 2006. Among them was new MP Tynychbek Akmatbayev, head of parliament’s Committee on Law Enforcement, but reportedly connected to organized crime and embroiled in a long-running feud with new PM Felix Kulov. During an October visit to a prison near Bishkek to calm an uprising there, Akmatbayev and his entourage were somehow engulfed by the rebellion and he was shot dead in the chaos. [6] There were rumors that Kulov had been involved in engineering Akmatbayev’s killing, as Byzantine as such a plot would have been.

After his bother’s death, Ryspek Akmatbayev’s, himself widely thought of as a major mafia kingpin, was asked if his family feud with Kulov could lead to bloodshed. Ryspek responded “nobody [else] needs to suffer […] I suggest that we meet man to man. I will kick his ass, and that will be that.” [7] And he was working his way up, in April 2006 winning a special election to represent his home district in parliament, [8] though he was unable to take up his seat immediately because of pending murder charges against him. [9] His election prompted international condemnation from the West and even Russia expressed concern about the possible “criminalization” of Kyrgyz politics. [10] That noise didn’t last long though - Ryspek himself was reportedly shot dead as he left a Bishkek Mosque on Wednesday May 10. Akmatbayev’s aides carried his body away before police could investigate. The city police chief told the media “I can see spent gun cartridges and blood, but no bodies.” [11]

On the political front, there was some improvement in the political and civil sphere, as noted in the west: Freedom House upgraded the country from “Not Free” to “Partly Free” in 2006 based on “the continuing permissive environment for the promotion of civil liberties and political rights.” They noted a “mixed” record, including increased media freedom and local elections in December 2005 went off “with only ‘rough irregularities.” [12] But despite these “positive steps forward,” the good news was far outweighed by the bad; continued financial hardships across the country fed a deepening sense of dispirited frustration, by BBC reports. [13] Of course the government remained upbeat and established a new national holiday marking the anniversary of the Tulip Revolution, which president Bakiyev described as “the triumph of justice.” To mark the first anniversary, the new government threw a nationwide party on March 24, but BBC News released an article explaining that the “so called” tulip revolution was in fact “no revolution:”

“Many residents of this poor Central Asia republic are still not in the mood for a party. ‘There was never a time in the history of Kyrgyzstan when the confidence of the people in their government was so low,’ said Edil Baisalov of the Bishkek-based NGO, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society. An international think tank, the International Crisis Group, has gone further, labeling the nation a ‘faltering state.’” [14]

From early on Bakiyev was supported by government-sponsored youth groups; RFE/RL reported in July 2005 on a youth team headquartered in Gorky Square, Central Bishkek. They operated from a yurt (a traditional nomadic tent) stocked with music equipment, national costumes, and T-shirts and baseball caps printed with slogans like “We are for Bakiev!” [15] Their support proved needed as the president’s popularity took a nose-dive in the wake of Beknazarov's dismissal and Erkinbayev's assassination. Bakiev’s approval rates reached their lowest point on September 24, when thousands of protesters took to the streets of Jalalabad to again demand a president’s resignation. [16] Hinting at the methods of the “Tulip Revolution,” another RFE/RL piece from November warned of “the frightening prospect of a rent-a-mob free-for-all” which could lead to many ends, “including an authoritarian drive to reestablish order.” [17]

The Tulip revolution was first lumped in with the Orange and Rose Revolutions, and taken as another victory for the West. But it didn’t work quite right – the protests weren’t properly done, all the bloodshed was discouraging, and the reforms have not come. It seems the West’s Tulip Revolution was hijacked from within via Erkinbayev et al, paid off by the new government first with the ballot then the bullet to wash its hands of once useful but now embarrassing criminal benefactors. There may well have been behind-the-scenes Akayev/Bakiyev deals to stage the president’s flight to Russia to complete the drama. I sense Russia’s or China’s complicity in this episode, and it certainly would serve their interest. It would allow the SCO leaders to publicly take yet another “hit” and exaggerate the perceived extent of the color revolution campaign. This would justify their own counter-measures – which would come within weeks - while causing no real lasting change. A SCO-planned upheaval would preempt any real pro-West color revolution, as it were preventing a forest fire with a controlled burn.
Next: The SCO Holdouts: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan


Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 5/8/07

In the last yeas of the Cold War and afterwards, efforts in Washington mushroomed to help further the USSR’s decline and usher the suddenly-nations shaken loose away from Moscow and into the Western system. Over time, many of the individuals, governmental, non-governmental and semi-governmental groups and think tanks would take up and champion Sharp’s and Helvey’s strategies in their quest for spreading “democracy,” “human rights,” and “open markets” around the world.

Neither the revolutions of 1989 nor the “color revolutions” of the early 21st Century would not have gotten far without the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), founded in 1983 to assist fledgling democracy movements in the Third World. One of the arcitects of the legislation establishing the NED, Allen Weinstein, pointed out in 1991 “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” As the NED was created, the CIA had been wounded and sidelined by the revelation of its clandestine operations, its powers and reach limited. So ironically, attempts to gain influence abroad were shifted over to a more overt approach by the Reagan Administration. William Blum wrote in Rogue State [2000], the hope was that this would “eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. It was a masterpiece. Of politics, of public relations, and of cynicism.” [1] While it describes itself as a private non-profit organization, the NED is in essence a government agency, staffed by high-profile politicians and receiving the majority of its funding from Congress, allocated by the State Department as their policies see fit. The NED’s government funding was $40 million in 2004, roughly doubled in 2005 at the request of the once non-interventionist president Bush. [2]

NED co-founder and prominent CFR member Mark Palmer is a key figure in this story; he boasts a long bi-partisan record as a presidential speechwriter and as a diplomat, from Nixon’s administration to the 1990s promoting “freedom” and “people power” abroad. Starting with work for the SNCC during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Palmer “has witnessed and practiced the power of organized nonviolent force in achieving freedom and justice,” as his State Department bio reads. He put this training to work as ambassador to Hungary in 1989, “helping persuade its last dictator to leave power” by stepping out of his office and “demonstrating in the streets of Budapest” along with the masses. [3] After leaving government proper Palmer became a venture capitalist, investing in liberalized media in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, arguing for the democratizing force of a free media floated with US dollars. He’s written a book called Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025 [2003], and continued to advise the Clinton and Bush regimes, helping persuade them to initiate new democracy policies, including for the first time promoting Western-style Democracy in the Arab world. [4]

The NED Palmer helped launch spends a large portion of its budget on grants to two organizations: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and the International Republican Institute (IRI). They are the global wings of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, and NED support, critics point out, has allowed the two parties to pursue their own foreign policy agendas under the radar of government oversight. Yet despite their respective parties’ heated shows of disagreement for the home audience, the two agencies usually work side-by-side in their overseas freedom-building exercises, though often focusing on different aspects.

Many of the Republican Party’s top internationalists do some work with the International Republican Institute; chaired by John McCain, the IRI’s ranks also include Lawrence Eagleburger, Chuck Hagel, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Brent Scowcroft. The majority of its funding comes from the federal government via the NED to “support the growth of political and economic freedom, good governance and human rights around the world” and to “strengthen free markets and the rule of law.” The IRI claims credit for helping organize and maintain a unified political bloc that won elections and held the reins of power in Poland from 1997 - 2001 and was thus able to help steer Poland into joining NATO during that window. [5]

The IRI has had its hands in some decidedly anti-democratic operations, like the 2002 Venezuelan coup that removed the elected Socialist president Hugo Chavez, replacing him with American-friendly free-market supporters. The Venezuelan population in fact used something like Sharp’s tactics – mass strikes and demonstrations - to demand the re-instatement of Chavez, thus dramatically re-affirming his popularity and strengthening his grip on power. It was a debacle for the American plotters and president Bush, whom Chavez called “an asshole” for allowing the plot, and the IRI was strongly criticized by its NED benefactors for the episode. The IRI is also accused of funding activities connected to the successful and only slightly violent 2004 Coup d’etat that had Haiti’s elected president Aristide deposed and allegedly kidnapped away to Africa by US soldiers “to prevent bloodshed.” [6] Perhaps due to the success of this campaign, putting the US effectively in control of the interim government, the NED issued no vocal criticism of the IRI’s role.

On the other side of the aisle, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) is headed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and also includes Tom Daschle and a roster of former Democrat White House hopefuls – Bill Bradley, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, and Geraldine Ferraro. Boosted by their constituency’s greater acceptance of foreign interventionism, the NDI maintains a global network of “volunteer experts” who help them provide “assistance” on every continent “to build political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.” As far as supporting coups and the like, the NDI seems to have a cleaner record than the IRI, and by my research seems relatively true to its name. Or perhaps they just can’t handle getting their fingernails dirty like the Republicans do?

In 2004, the NDI and its Republican counterparts joined forces in Iraq, jointly helping to form political parties and monitor the January 2005 elections for the National Assembly. The Washington Post explained how the NDI “focused on organization while IRI, in a division of labor, focused on message.” [7] The effort was orchestrated from NDI office in Baghdad where a multinational staff delivered training to selected activists and political leaders to get out the vote. [8] American politicians have the skill sets necessary to read and manipulate public opinion, essential as they are to American political survival. Their support and advice would be highly useful in a country like Iraq, unaccustomed to the ways of electoral politics. But only approved parties could benefit from this useful training; the NDI-IRI program had no competition, remaining “the only game in town” as the Post put it. [9]

The spread of democracy via direct people’s action has been supported by various foundations and think tanks outside the government proper but staffed with influential elites, a nexus that journalist Trish Schuh calls “the regime change industry.” [10] The most enthusiastic support for Sharp’s post-military weapons system came from specific think tanks like the Albert Einstein Institution itself and from dedicated individuals like CFR Director Dr. Peter Ackerman. Ackerman is the founding chairman of the Washington-based International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (CNC), another key supporter of the Sharp approach. Ackerman helped define the subject with his 1994 book Strategic Nonviolent Conflict, his Emmy-nominated 2000 documentary series A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, and his companion book of the same name co-authored with former US Air Force officer Jack DuVall. At the time, Duvall was president of CNC, and along with Ackerman has worked side-by-side with Colonel Helvey in spreading the word.

Freedom House is a widely cited monitor of the various levels of freedom worldwide, serving as a guide to where the Sharp approach would be desirable to use. Chaired by former CIA Director and key Rumsfeld policy Adviser R. James Woolsey, and vice-chaired by the illustrious Mark Palmer, Freedom House has also been involved in hosting seminars and training opposition leaders (see [link-chapter III]) and has reportedly been approved for “covert action” inside Iran. [11] Together with CNC’s DuVall, Woolsey is also a director at the Arlington Institute, a “futurist” organization created in 1989 by former Chief of Naval Operations advisor John L. Peterson “to help redefine the concept of national security in much larger, comprehensive terms,” it boasts, through introducing “social value shifts into the traditional national defense equation.” [12] In other words, AI wants to put the peace movement to work in the war industry.

Next: Soros Money and the Open Society

[1] Blum, William – Rogue State. Page number lost...
[2] Duncan, Benjamin. “Venezuela: What is the National Endowment for Democracy up to?” Al Jazeera, via Venezuelanalysis. May 04, 2004
[3], [4] “Mark Palmer.” Wikipedia. Last modified August 17 2006.
[5] “Solidarity Electoral Action.” Wikipedia. Last modified June 21 2006.
[6] Kurlantzick, Joshua. “The Coup Connection.” Mother Jones. November/December 2004.
[7], [9] Vick, Karl and Robin Wright. “Coaching Iraq's New Candidates, Discreetly: U.S.-Funded Programs Nurture Voting Process.” Washington Post. January 26, 2005; Page A01
[8] Ashkenaz Croke, Lisa and Brian Dominick. "Controversial U.S. Groups Operate Behind Scenes on Iraq Vote." New standard. Dec 13, 2004.
[10] Schuh, Trish. “Mehlis's Murky Past; US and Isreali Proxies Pushing the Next Neo-Con War
Faking the Case Against Syria.” Counterpunch. November 18, 2005.
[11] Dinmore, Guy. "Bush enters Iran 'freedom' debate." Washington Post. March 31 2006. Accessed from:
[12] The Arlington Institute.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Adam Larson / Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without Guns/Chapter 5
Posted February 2007

While useful to Washington, Shevardnadze was ever more unpopular with his own people, whose patience was wearing thin on territorial integrity and those economic issues as well as widespread official corruption, which the president seemed incapable of stopping. Presented in 1999 by his old friend James Baker with the esteemed “Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service,” by 2003 Shevardnadze’s government was increasingly seen as plagued with corruption, mismanagement, and secrecy. [1] These problems steadily drained Shevardnadze’s power like a hole in his gas tank and strategically vital Georgia began to look rather vulnerable to another round of instability and violence, sure to put the brakes on any pipeline with a “T” in the middle. Major protests had been staged off-and-on since 2001; criticism from the media was squashed with raids on the opposition stations, while political protest was met with dismissal of the government. US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced at one point “an unstable Georgia automatically results in an unstable Caucasus,” a statement some took to mean that rather than expend more political capital propping Shevy up, the Americans should “ditch him to ensure stability.” [2]

There are certainly other reasons as well for the US to support Shevardnadze’s ouster, like the attractiveness of the well-formed, popular, and more firmly pro-West opposition leader - 36-year-old Mikhail Saakashvili. His role in this episode is the U.S.-supported front-runner who had spent years cultivating an image as a youthful, optimistic crusader against corruption and the forces of the old. Saakashvili is a skillful demagogue, promising a brighter, more liberal future aligned less with Moscow than with London and Washington – pure gold for frustrated voters, especially the young and naïve.

Saakashvili was born in Tbilisi, but came to power as an international man, reportedly fluent in seven languages. He is married to a Dutch woman, Sandra Saakashvili-Roelofs, a human rights crusader, founder of the humanitarian foundation SOCO, and author of the autobiography The Story of an Idealist (2005). Not only is she Saakashvili’s Western wife, illustrating his desire to marry Georgia into Europe, the two also met and solidified their partnership in the system and cities of the Euro-Atlantic community.

"Misha" in the early '90s
A 25-year-old Mikhail graduated college in Georgia with a degree in international law in 1992 and briefly worked in the new government under Shevardnadze. This early on, someone in Washington saw promise in the budding leader and extended him a fellowship from the newly-created and Soros-funded Edmund S. Muskie/Freedom Support Act (FSA) Graduate fellowship Program. Under this program Saakashvili received law degrees from Columbia University in 1994 and the George Washington University law school in 1995.

He also studied at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, where in 1993 he met fellow student Sandra. The two of them wed quickly and moved to New York where she worked at Columbia while he studied there, and later she worked at a Dutch law firm while he worked with an American one in Manhattan during 1995. They were busy people. Not a lot of time for romance I would guess.

Later that year, Mikhail was approached in New York by his old Georgian friend Zurab Zhvania, then working on behalf of President Shevardnadze to recruit promising young Georgians to join his party, the Georgian Citizens Union. By the end of the year, Saakashvili and Zhvania had both returned home and won elections for seats in parliament, serving together under the party’s banner. Sandra relocated with Mikhail and worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and at the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tbilisi. [3] (keep the red cross in mind when looking at the new flag adopted after the Sakkashvilis came to power - coincidence?)

Next: A Warm Relationship: Kmara, Soros, Saakashvili

[1] Cohen, Ariel. “Shevardnadze’s Journey.” Policy Review Online. April/May 2004.
[2] Feinberg, Leslie. “Washington and the coup in former Soviet Georgia.” Worker’s World. January 22, 2004. Accessed at:
[3] Sandra Roelofs Biography and Activity. Communications Office of the President of Georgia. 2005.
[4] Georgian Justice Minister resigns. RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 179. September 20 2001.
[5] Areshidze, Irakly “Georgia’s Mounting Opposition.” Eurasianet. January 21 2003.
[6] Areshidze, Irakly “Tbilisi City Council Controversy Deals Blow to Political Opposition in Georgia.” Eurasianet. November 12 2002.
[7] Traynor, Ian. “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev.” The Guardian. November 26 2004.,15569,1360236,00.html

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


When asked on December 2 about possible Russian intervention in Ukraine’s election President Bush stressed “I think any election, if there is one, ought to be free from any foreign influence.” The official government position remained that neither Russia nor the US nor any other country should interfere in the free elections of a sovereign nation. Both Pora And US officials insist this policy was adhered to, and there was no U.S. funding or direct support to the youth movement at the heart of this transformation nor to any particular candidate. Both the yellow and black wings of Pora claimed they relied almost solely on domestic and overseas Ukrainian financial support. [1]

This is not true of course - Yellow Leader Vladyslav Kaskiv noted “the campaign’s initial funding was supplied by PORA founders” but grew with time to include American support for activist training via “small grants provided by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Freedom House and the Canadian International Development Agency.” Totaling only $130,000 US by Kaskiv’s account, “unlike its counterparts in Serbia and Georgia, [Pora!] received only minimal financial support from the international community.” [2] Taras Kuzio also pointed to the Yellow Pora’s having tapped into Western funds sent to the Freedom of Choice Coalition, of which they were part. For their pivotal election monitoring in Crimea, the coalition also received training from Freedom House in August 2004. [3]

Such help was more limited and indirect than in Georgia, at least in relation to the size of the Ukrainian playing field. But in fact it seems reasonable to deduce that less was needed. By 2004 the system was set up and rolling; the fear had been broken in Serbia, and the bloodless victory in Georgia had shown that the pattern was to continue. Thus when someone told the Ukrainian people “it’s time,” they jumped on board quicker and followed the lead of the other revolutions they remember. Officially, the US government spent $41m funding the original trial run against Milosevic in 1999-2000. In Ukraine, the figure is said to be around $14m, one third the original cost, and for a much larger prize. [4]

As supporters point out, the eighteen Pora members who traveled to Serbia to train with the US-trained Otpor veterans paid their own way, as presumably did those who traveled to Tbilisi to learn from the Serbian-trained Kmara vets. But the bright future they planned held promised rewards of its own, and with the precedents of recent years to learn from, they had good reason to expect success. It would seem the Orange Revolution would be well worth the price of a few bus tickets. The question that remains is what the activists drew from these pilgrimages to the sites of previous civil insurgencies. Such travels would risk making the revolution appear part of the then well-known pattern of U.S. backed/engineered revolutions, but the risk was seen as worth it to learn the secrets of the trade in an unbroken chain of enlightened masters, all on NATO, NATO-occupied, or NATO-allied soil.

American political support of these campaigns in general is bipartisan and also highly popular and few would bother to complain over such a utopian brand of political engineering. But Ukraine was especially touchy, and those who were worried voiced their concerns. US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) delivered testimony on December 7 2004 citing the large amounts of American taxpayer’s money that was funneled into the Ukraine election despite the non-interference rules. “There are so many cut-out organizations and sub-grantees that we have no idea how much U.S. government money was really spent on Ukraine, and most importantly how it was spent,” Paul said. What was known, he explained, was that “much of that money was targeted to assist one particular candidate, and that […] millions of dollars ended up in support of the presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.” [5] Paul elaborated:

“The US government, through [USAID], granted millions of dollars to the Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative (PAUCI), which is administered by the US-based Freedom House. […] PAUCI then sent US Government funds to numerous Ukrainian NGOs. […] Consider the Ukrainian NGO International Center for Policy Studies […] funded by the U.S. government through PAUCI. On its Web site, we discover that this NGO was founded by George Soros' Open Society Institute. And further on we can see that Viktor Yushchenko himself sits on the advisory board!” [6]
Paul concluded that “Congress and the American taxpayers have a right to know […] how much U.S. government money was spent in Ukraine and exactly how it was spent,” and called for an investigation by the Government Accounting Office. [7] So far there has been no such investigation.

Some Western aid came in outside government channels. In September 2005, former President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk accused London-based Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky (aka Platon Elenin) of financing Yushchenko's presidential campaign. Kravchuk showed documentation of money transfers from Berezovsky’s companies to companies controlled by Yushchenko’s official backers. The exiled tycoon has confirmed these transfers, which he said were arranged at meetings with Yushchenko's representatives in London, even though financing of election campaigns by foreign citizens is illegal in Ukraine. [8]

The Russian News and Information Agency explained “from his London villa, the ex-oligarch is focusing his armed-struggle activities not only on Moscow […] but also on Kiev […] to help propel compliant political forces to power.” [9] They cited recent publication of “what is said to be the transcript of a telephone conversation between Berezovsky and Yulia Tymoshenko” in late 2004:

Berezovsky: “What the hell are you waiting for in the square? You should lead people there, now! You must take the institutions of power into your own hands...” Tymoshenko: “Yes, my Boris... We will be seizing one site per day starting tomorrow. Railways, airports - business as usual...” [10]

This recording sounds suspiciously like the script of a Russian-produced radio drama, but some combination of evidence led Jack Straw, who headed the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office at the time, to be “struck by Berezovsky's putsch aspirations,” as RIAN put it. He threatened to cancel the Russian’s refugee status, stating that someone who had been granted protection should not “use the UK as a base from which to foment violent disorder” abroad. [11]

Nonetheless most of the help for the revolution was provided from native Ukrainians and the wealthy Diaspora communities banded together, donating money and needed items and volunteering time. As we’ve seen, municipal leaders like Kiev mayor Olmchenko were instrumental in allowing the protests to flourish. Others who sympathized with the movement pitched in by not doing things like cracking down. Petro Rondiak noted: “the riot cops were laughing at our jokes and I certainly doubt they would put up much resistance if...” [12] The authorities simply refused to clamp down on their fellow citizens and all remained peaceful.

As per Sharp’s strategy the protesters did what they could to co-opt the security forces, but in this case, for whatever reasons, the main effort behind this co-option came from within the security services themselves, the final stroke of which came just in time to prevent the Orange Revolution from turning red with blood.

next post: A Preventive Operation: Help From Within

Monday, April 23, 2007


Adam Larson/Caustic Logic
Guerillas Without Guns/Chapter 9
Posted 4/23/07

An ancient center of Christianity, Armenia was made an SSR around Christmas of 1920. Memories of Soviet-era repression of the Armenian Church did not keep the former SSR from signing on to Russia’s CIS at independence, and later the CSTO as Russia’s only remaining close partner in the Caucasus. But the government at Yerevan also has created a full market economy, allowing high economic freedom and low corruption by CIS standards, and has even gained membership to the WTO as of 2003. Robert Kocharian, second President since independence, has ruled from Yerevan since 1998. The Armenian election process is often criticized in the West, [1] but opposition parties are allowed, and have formed into the Justice Bloc coalition.

Again the transition to independence here was not smooth, with the early 90s witnessing a fierce Armenia-Azerbaijan war over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict claimed over 20,000 lives before it was ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire and OSCE-brokered peace talks in 1994. Nikolai Kovalyov, former head of Russia's FSB, insisted in early 2004 that Armenian activists had trained alongisde Pora and Kmara kids at the “U.S.-funded camps in Serbia” [2] Following Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Western and Russian media predicted that Armenia could be the next setting for a “color revolution.” Some Armenian media outlets went so far as to suggest names for that would-be revolution, including “The Apricot Revolution” and “The Peach Revolution.” [3]

It started with Armenia’s presidential election in March 2003 followed by parliamentary elections in May; big changes were possible just months before the Rose revolution would finally announce the opening of the color phase in neighboring Georgia. Widespread complaints about voting irregularities and general discontent helped opposition parties, but they failed to “fully capitalize” on this, and the protest campaign fizzled. Again in 2004 an upheaval as planed, but the authorities resorted to tough tactics like illegally blocking the bus system into Yerevan to prevent masses of opposition supporters from joining the rallies there. [4]

Opposition parties were predicting big changes again in April 2005 as parliamentary elections again drew near. But analysts pointed out their organizational weaknesses, lack of a charismatic leader comparable to Saakashvili, and the competition and bickering between the challengers for the slot - Artashes Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian. They jointly announced a boycott of parliament in early 2004, hoping the progressives absence from the government would gain them wider popular support. Instead, one year later EurasiaNet explained, “the boycott appears to have only denied the opposition an opportunity to express their opinions on the national stage.” Given the failures of the past, and the relative lack of urgency there, the population was not enthusiastic about revolution in 2005. “The peach has not matured yet,” the Yerevan-based daily Aravot concluded. The 2005 campaign fell apart and there are no new elections until 2007 – they missed their chance for the time being. [5]

[1] "Armenia." Wikipedia. As modified on September 3 2006.
[2] Feinberg, Leslie. “Washington and the coup in former Soviet Georgia.” Worker’s World. January 22, 2004. Accessed at:
[3], [4], [5] Khachatrian, Haroutiun. ARMENIA’S OPPOSITION: IN SEARCH OF A REVOLUTION Eurasia Insight. April 19 2005.


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic/Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 4/23/07

Despite the little-seen bull import of Western assistance, most of the help for the Orange Revolution was provided from native Ukrainians and the wealthy Diaspora communities who donated money, space, supplies, time, and energy. As we’ve seen, municipal leaders like Kiev mayor Olmchenko were instrumental in allowing the protests to flourish. Others who sympathized with the movement pitched in by not doing things like cracking down. Petro Rondiak noted: “the riot cops were laughing at our jokes and I certainly doubt they would put up much resistance if...” The authorities simply refused to clamp down on their fellow citizens and all remained peaceful. As per Sharp’s strategy the protesters did what they could to co-opt the security forces, but in this case, for whatever reasons, the main effort behind this co-option came from within the security services themselves. And some of the assistance came just in time to prevent the Orange Revolution from turning red with blood.

The behind-the-scenes intrigue was well-related in an unprecedented January 2005 piece in the New York Times by Ukraine expert C.J. Chivers, who interviewed dozens of people involved, including ex-president Kuchma, to assemble his account. Chivers explains how Smeshko’s SBU and other Ukrainian security Agencies (collectively called siloviki) played an unusually powerful role throughout the Revolution – on behalf not of the government they worked for but of the opposition. Oleg Ribachuk, Yushchenko's chief of staff, called this siloviki support “a very important element” that aided their cause “professionally and systemically.” [2]

Opinions on motives differ – Yulia Tymoshenko felt the intelligence agencies were “hedging their bets” in a “complicated game.” But Ribachuk felt they were real allies who “risked their lives and careers” to help keep Yanukovych out of office. [3] They were reportedly motivated by personal aversion to serving a president Yanukovych, who was in his youth convicted of robbery and assault, besides his connection with corrupt businessmen, his unpopularity, and willingness to use fraud. Smeshko in particular reportedly loathed Yanukovych intensely. “They were doing this like a preventive operation,” Ribachuk said of the siloviki intervention. [4]

SBU Director Ihor Smeshko, back-channel ally of the Revolution
Long before the election, the siloviki and the opposition opened quiet lines of communication, including General Smeshko's assignment of an SBU general as secret liaison to Mr. Ribachuk. [5] Ribachuk said that he ultimately had several SBU contacts, with whom he met regularly. The officers leaked him documents and information from the offices of the President and Prime Minister, he said, and were sources for much of the material used in the opposition's media campaign. Particularly useful was the November 24 publication of a recording in which Yanukovych officials discuss exactly how the vote would be fixed: “we have agreed to a 3 to 3.5 percent difference in our favor. We are preparing a table. You will have it by fax.” General Smeshko refused to discuss the tapes in detail with Chivers. “Officially, the S.B.U. had nothing to do with the surveillance of Yanukovich campaign officials. Such taping would be illegal in this country without permission from the court. I will say nothing more.” [6]

After the November run-off fraud, The SBU leadership met at Smeshko’s office, and “contemplated a public resignation,” but as Chivers explains “decided to try steering the gathering forces from a clash, and to fight from within.” “Today we can save our faces or our epaulettes, or we can try to save our country," the spy chief was recalled as saying. [7] Chivers reported that at this time, late November, “General Smeshko agreed to provide [Yushchenko] eight specialists from the elite Alpha counterterrorism unit - a highly unusual step - and to arrange former SBU members to guard the campaign.” [8] It turns out this was agreed to in a secret meeting not three months after their last meeting on September 5, after which Yushchenko had “fallen ill” and essentially blamed Smeshko or his cronies for poisoning him. All indications are that Smeshko’s Alpha troops continued to protect Yushchenko’s campaign nonetheless, though from exactly whom is unclear.

The protection extended beyond the candidate himself and over the whole Revolution. As protests escalated, on the evening of November 28 over 10,000 troops from the Kuchma-allied Interior Ministry – 3,000 armed with guns, the rest with riot gear - were mobilized to Independence Square to put down the protests, by the order of their commander Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov. [9] As the military convoy rolled into the night Kiev moved towards what Chivers called “a Soviet-style crackdown that could have brought civil war.” [10] But then the Siloviki stepped in. Oleksander Galaka, head of GRU (military intelligence) made calls to “prevent bloodshed.” Senior officials with the SBU learned of this mobilization and moved quickly to warn opposition leaders. SBU Director Ihor Smeshko claimed to have warned Popkov to pull back his troops, as has Maj. Gen. Vitaly Romachenko, the military counter-intelligence chief. [11] Popkov indeed pulled back and bloodshed – a Tiananmen Square in Europe - was narrowly averted.

Next: Away From Russia

[1] [1] Rondiak, Petro. “Kiev resident and supporter of the revolution: E-mail messages sent to friends abroad.” The Ukrainian Weekly, January 2, 2005, No. 1, Vol. LXXIII
[2] – [11] Chivers, C.J. “Back Channels: A Crackdown Averted: How Top Spies in Ukraine Changed the Nation's Path.” The New York Times. January 17, 2005. Accessed via: