Monday, February 26, 2007


Posted 2/27/07

American support like that offered in Serbia was not universally supported – there were exceptions. In Africa, for example, Zimbabwe was in its own turmoil at the same time; strongman Robert Mugabe had spawned his own opposition, the leaders of which were inspired by other revolutionary struggles around the world. They immediately acted after seeing the dramatic success of Otpor in Belgrade. Laura Rozen wrtote for Salon in February 2001:

“Hours after Milosevic fell in October, anti-government protests swept through Zimbabwe as parliamentary elections approached. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai vowed to stop ‘Africa's Milosevic.’ “Mugabe has committed genocide against a minority, rigged elections, ignored the rule of law, and created a state which is internationally isolated," Tsvangirai said Oct. 6, just as Milosevic was conceding defeat in Belgrade. “We have given Mugabe a warning. A similar situation to Yugoslavia cannot be avoided.” [1]

But of course such a thing could be avoided and was. Nothing like the Bulldozer Revolution happened in Zimbabwe at that time. There are opposition leaders on the scene, Tsvangirai foremost among them, and by early 2005 he was finally receiving help from Colonel Helvey and others, according to the Christian Science Monitor. [2] But the public has not rallied behind the opposition to a large enough degree and as of mid-2006 Mugabe is still in power.

This citizen “apathy” has been blamed on many factors, but two that Helvey pointed out as key obstacles were hunger and AIDS. “When people are starving, it's awfully hard to promote democracy,” he explained. Roughly 40% of the nation’s 12 million people are near starvation, according to a recent report. In such circumstances, “you can't have 1 million people sitting in the streets of the capital for 17 days,” Helvey elaborated. “There's not going to be food for them.” Then there's AIDS. In 2002, the official HIV infection rate was 27 percent, one of the world's highest and thought to have gone up since then. Helvey wondered in such a climate, “who's got the energy to protest?” [3] Thus it seems Helvey’s tactic falls flat in places like Zimbabwe, where reforms are most urgently needed.

But perhaps the apathy regarding reform there lies elsewhere. It could be that Zimbabwe simply offered too few riches to be seen as worthwhile in Washington. This possibility indicates one key moral weakness of the strategy – while promising to remove a reviled dictator without resort to violent war, like war it tends to work only where the US is looking to invest; no type of conflict is waged if a target nation hasn’t enough to offer.

However, and for other reasons, Sharp’s nonviolent conflict also got no real support against Saddam Hussein in Iraq which clearly does have massive resources – primarily one of the world’s largest supplies of petroleum in an age of shrinking supplies. The U.S. was already in a state of war against a reviled dictator there; after the fierce bombardment of its infrastructure in 1991, Iraq continued to marinade in economic sanctions through the Clinton years, punctuated with occasional air strikes whenever Saddam was perceived as trying to sneak out of his “box.” No fly zones enforced by the U.S. ostensibly to protect Kurds in the North and Shiites in the South left most of Iraq beyond Baghdad’s effective control. Iraq was thus progressively weakened; even as Saddam himself retained his elaborate network of grandiose palaces, the nation’s people were wracked with malnutrition, water-borne disease, and epidemic deformities possibly caused by US-deposited Depleted Uranium munitions. On top of this the sanctions and inadequate oil-for-food program held fast. Madeleine Albright even told 60 Minutes in 1996 (she was UN Ambassador at the time, soon-to-be Secretary of State) that the reported 500,000 children who had died from the sanctions were “worth it,” although it was a “hard” calculation. (She later explained that she regretted making this admission and should instead have deflected the question by blaming the peoples’ suffering on Saddam, as was standard.) [4]

The sanctions regime thus dragged on into the twilight of the Clinton years as the Serbian situation unfolded. But one way or another it was set to change. It was the re-emerging superpower rival Russia that started leading the charge to end sanctions and bring Iraq, even with Saddam Hussein in charge, back into the mainstream oil economy. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov explained to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in mid-2000 that the Russian government was “in favor of mitigating the limitations imposed on Russia by the sanctions.” This position was supported by French president Jaques Chirac, who further called the sanctions “dangerous, inhumane, and inappropriate.” [5] The London Financial Times reported on September 12 2000 “the Russian and French positions are giving Iraq hope that the sanctions, if not lifted, will soon become meaningless.” Deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz explained in an interview with the magazine “Iraq's practically becoming more like Cuba vis a vis the US. […] Everyone else is trading with Cuba, this is going to be the future of the matter.” [6]

A different course to ending sanctions was coalescing in the US, crafted by neoconservative Republican power hopefuls as part of a plan to preserve “the global Pax Americana.” The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the by-now infamous think tank featuring names like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle and Woolsey, had formed in 1997 to promote a strong, bold, well-funded military and unapologetic globe-molding neo-imperialism informed by “American values” and “American interests.” The PNAC’s guiding document for making the 21st century a New American one was its September 2000 report Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The report took a belligerent tone towards Iraq, outlined along with Iran and North Korea (soon Bush’s “axis of evil”) as the three biggest troublemakers in the global system. Russia and China were listed as competitors to contain. Tensions with Russia, China and France would lead to deadlock in the UN Security Council, specifically over Iraq, so the report focused on willingness to take unilateral action or rely on ad-hoc coalitions.

The described high-tech high-cost military “process of transformation,” and its geopolitical aims including in Iraq, would be difficult to achieve, the report noted, without the realization of “a catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl harbor.” This report was released and utterly ignored in September 2000, a year before that precise event was delivered and just months before a large PNAC contingent took the reins of power along with George W Bush in the deeply troubling 2000 Election. Among the signatories of that report were Paul Wolfowitz, who would be Deputy Defense Secretary, no. 2 to fellow PNACer Rumsfeld, and Scooter Libby, who would be Chief of Staff to fellow PNACer Cheney; that is, the top aides the top PNACER’s at both the Pentagon and White House.

The dust had just settled in Serbia after the bulldozer revolution when Bush was sworn-in. For the next eight months, as widely noted, Bush’s foreign policy just sort of drifted about amid growing domestic problems – to much of the world this seemed a lull, as if they were waiting for something to show them the way. After the September 11 attacks and the announcement of a worldwide “War on Terror,” Rebuilding America’s Defenses was for all intents and purposes adopted by the administration as the master strategy for the new generational struggle. Defense secretary Rumsfeld and his team got their direction, coordinating with Cheney at the White House, and began pushing events towards Iraq. Bush delivered a speech at the wounded Pentagon on October 11, 2001, announcing his firm dedication to the PNAC vision, and that 9/11 was indeed the fulfillment of their “new Pearl Harbor” prophecy. In response to the report’s call for increased Pentagon budgets, Bush assured them “in the missions ahead for the military, you will have everything you need, every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States and the cause of freedom.” [7]

But when it came to Iraq, this did not include the Sharp-Helvey nonviolent “post-military weapons system” so recently proven in Serbia. The PNAC had in 1999 targeted Milosevic for downfall and urged Clinton and Congress to take the actions they finally did. [8] One would think they’d be aware of and pleased with Colonel Helvey’s work with Otpor, which had finished the job. Likewise, the PNAC had their sights set on Saddam Hussein, but of course, there was no such utopian revolution in Baghdad, only war and occupation.

The PNAC’s 2000 report said the US had long wanted a “more permanent role in Gulf regional security,” backed up by a “substantial American force presence” in the region, a need which they emphasized “transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” [9] Such a military presence was then extant but threatened in Saudi Arabia; in August 2001 Crown Prince Abdullah in fact quietly and informally requested US forces to leave so he could avoid “the fate of the Shah of Iran.” [10] To get a new force presence, an internal revolution was not what was needed. It was not Otpor and their revolution that left NATO troops in Yugoslavia after all, but the earlier military conflict. And after more than a decade of brutal sanctions and bombs, it was unlikely that any internally produced new regime in Iraq would invite American basing there if given the choice. So the force presence would have to be hammered in, which seems to have been the plan from step one.

Next: Zayer and Helvey: No to Saddam, No to War

[1] Rozen, Laura. “Dictator downturn: It just isn't as easy being a tyrant as it used to be.” Salon. February 3 2001
[2], [3] McLaughlin, Abraham. “In Zimbabwe, people power fails to ignite.” Christian Science Monitor
from the March 22, 2005 edition Accessed June 12, 2006.
[4] Richman, Sheldon. “Albright Aplogizes.” The Future of Freedom Foundation. November 7 2003.
[5], [6] Hoyos, Carola. “Russia in New Push to Lift Iraq Sanctions.” Finanacial Times. September 12 2000.
[7] President George W. Bush's Pentagon Memorial Speech. October 11, 2001 Copied October 19, 2004 from:
[8] “Mr. President, Milosevic is the Problem.” Project for a New American Century, International Crisis Group, Balkan Action Council, and Coalition for International Justice. Open letter to the President of the United States. September 20, 1998.
[9] Project for a New American Century Rebuilding America’s Defenses September 2000 Page 14.
[10] Pipes, Daniel “The Scandal of U.S.-Saudi Relations.” The National Interest. Winter 2002/03


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns

On the day before the election, November 18, small rallies of a few hundred Saakashvili supporters each were reported in cities across Georgia. The crowd at Zugdidi swelled to thousands on Election Day as they prepared to mobilize, led by Misha himself under the plan to march halfway across the country and into his capital to claim the election victory. [1] The march was delayed to allow more time to prepare, but the procession finally snaked its way along the rough route of the BTC line and arrived in Tbilisi like an invading army on the 20th.

In the meantime, the election had been called in the President’s favor, as expected, so the opposition swarms took up positions around the parliament building and dug in for a fight. Others joined from Tbilisi itself and other cities; over 100,000 people were bused in from the countryside in an operation organized by Kmara, who also set up loudspeakers and a giant television screen amid the crowds. [2] For three days the downtown area was a thriving hub of human energy, protesting, networking, and listening to speeches by opposition leaders. The Rose Revolution that thus formed took its name from the roses Saakashvili and his supporters handed out to symbolize their nonviolent intent and the beauty of the transformation at hand. The opposition prima donna reportedly waved a long-stemmed rose in Shevy's face at one point, shouting “Resign!” [3]

The opposition to the opposition also mobilized. On the day before the election an estimated 10,000 supporters of the Revival party boarded chartered buses in Batumi, capital of the contested autonomous region of Ajaria. Ajaria’s de facto president Aslan Abashidze was normally a Russian-leaning opponent of Shevardnadze’s but was willing to form an alliance to keep Saakashvili out of power; he had just toured Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on the President's behalf to bolster support from those countries' leaders. [4] The Revival activists were soon marching on Tbilisi’s streets to counter Kmara and its allies, with 600 of them keeping a night vigil in front of parliament. [5] The head of Revival's Tbilisi branch told reporters “we demand that the whole of Georgia stand united under a single motto: ‘No to fascism, No to extremism, No to civil confrontation.’ Let us all defend Georgia's constitutional order and respect the legitimacy of the state.” [6]

Otpor-trained Mikhail Saakashvili exhorts his followers in Tbilisi.
Kaha Lomaia, director of Georgia's branch of the Soros Foundation explained that Kmara’s message “was very close to the hearts and minds of people. People listened to them.” [7] It’s less clear who exactly Kmara themselves were listening to, but on the third and final day of the Revolution the demonstrators and Mr. Saakashvili acted so in unison they nearly resembled an army and its general. The final battle was won in less than twenty-four hours, as dramatically detailed in a BBC News timeline. Despite the Rose occupation of the capital, the new parliament was set to convene on the morning of November 22. Before the session even started, at 10:21 am, Misha proclaimed that Shevardnadze had 45 minutes to admit defeat in the elections and disband his sham parliament. An hour later protesters advanced on the presidential palace towards a line of police who turned them back by firing smoke bombs. At 1 pm Shevardnadze, ignoring Saakashvili’s threats and the crowds, opened the parliament session. Fifteen minutes later protesters stormed the parliament building itself and took it - Shevardnadze left by a side door. [8]

Inside the chamber, the usurper Saakashvili declared dramatically “the velvet revolution has taken place in Georgia!” Meanwhile the President gathered with supporters in the cold outside the building telling them “I will only resign by constitutional means.” He declared a state of emergency amid what he called an attempted coup d'etat, and withdrew to the presidential palace where security had been beefed up. Opposition leader and Saakashvili ally Nino Burjanadze announced assumption of the presidency until things sorted themselves out.

Later in the afternoon, Misha called Shevy and told him he could stay in office for a transitional period if he only agreed to early presidential elections. Twenty minutes later, a crowd stormed the palace, apparently a reminder that he had little choice. [10] The whole thing had begun as a wrangle over parliamentary elections, but now a referendum on the presidency itself was forced onto the agenda. At the end of the day, what happened looked suspiciously like a CIA-sponsored coup of days past, this time simply masked by the popular uprising of the Rose Revolution and the coronation was to be by popular demand.

2004: Miles awarded the State Department's Robert C. Frasure Award for “peaceful conflict resolution.” 2005: ends his tenure as US ambassador in Tbilisi. March 2006: nominated Executive Director of the Open World Leadership Center, a Congressional body founded in 1999 to bring emerging economic, political, and cultural leaders from Russia, Ukraine, etc. to study in the US.
The next day Shevardnadze bowed to the inevitable and turned the reins over to Burjanadze until Saakashvili could be confirmed by election. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was present, having flown in the previous night to manage the Russian aspect of the crisis. [11] After talking with the ousted president and sizing up the situation, Ivanov announced in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper “there are enough facts proving that what happened in those days wasn’t spontaneous, it didn't arise suddenly. Of course there were preparations and the U.S. ambassador was involved, as Shevardnadze himself admitted.” [12] Shevy was now more open about the forces behind his overthrow, pointing out to the media that Richard Miles, the U.S. ambassador in Yugoslavia and allegedly involved in organizing the overthrow of Milosevic, had been posted as ambassador to Georgia shortly before the roses were distributed.

Some remained faithful to Shevardnadze even after all this. Aslan Abashidze’s “fiefdom” of Ajaria refused to recognize Saakashvili, and Tbilisi responded by imposing sanctions and closing off the border. Fearing an invasion, Abashidze blew up the bridges into the region in May, but was finally forced – by mass protest, of course - to step down and flee to Russia. [13] Batumi was at the time host to a dozen Russian Military bases, but after the mini-revolution there, Tbilisi has pushed for their removal, reaching an agreement with Moscow in 2005 that all Russian forces will be withdrawn by 2008. [14]

Abashidze’s self-imploding show of diehard support was too little too late to save Shevardnadze’s power. The ousted President was reportedly “stunned” by what he perceived as Washington's betrayal. “I was one of the staunchest supporters of the U.S. policy. When they needed help on Iraq, I gave it,” he lamented. “I don't have an explanation to what has happened here.” [15] Almost certainly the answer lies in his relationship with Russia. He’d been sent to Tbilisi in 1992 by Moscow, after all, and if he’d been allowed to observe the scale of the American offensive in the former Soviet space that soon unfurled, Moscow-Tblisi relations could well have thawed even to the melting point. But for whatever reason, he was taken out of the game first. He did not go into exile, though he was invited by the Germans, and remains free though in forced retirement in his homeland.

Saakashvili’s desired early election came a little over a month after he demanded it, on January 4, 2004. It must be noted that with five-year terms and Shevardnadze’s last election in April 2000, the next election wasn’t set until some time in 2005. Thus with elections called at least a year in advance, the Rose Revolution’s leader took in a whopping 96 percent of the vote, a stunning result even with a narrowed playing field in which the parties had no time to field strong candidates. Such results, if pulled by any other post-Soviet despot, would be taken as a sure sign of fraud in what nearly everyone calls a divided and fractious country that had after all hosted large anti-Saakashvili protests even before he took the capital and pushed his speedy coronation. Yet Western observers batted nary an eyelash as he claimed only 4% of the country voted against him, and simply took the results as a simple display of the man’s overwhelming popularity

Friday, February 23, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns

As Ukraine hovered with the two Viktors (opposition leader Yushchenko and PM Yanukovych) running neck and neck for the presidency in the Halloween 2004 election, things got spooky. On the night of September 5, the opposition front-runner attended a small private dinner meeting with senior Ukrainian officials, including Ihor Smeshko, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU, successor to the Ukrainian KGB). The meeting was held at the cottage of Volodymyr Satsyuk, recently resigned from the SBU to focus on his other job in Parliament. Yushchenko brought along none of his security detail, and in the end he brought along only his campaign manager David Zhvania, who had arranged the meeting. Yushchenko later explained that, for whatever reasons, this dinner was the only time he did not take security measures to test his food.

But Viktor's wife Kateryina, keen as she is, said that she tasted ‘a metallic-smelling medicine’ on her husband's lips after he returned home. Yushchenko went straight to bed and fell seriously ill by the next morning. He toughed it out for a few painful days before checking in at a private clinic on the 10th by which time the mysterious illness had reportedly caused severe internal problems and nerve paralysis on the left side of his face. As September wore on, his doctors were powerless to stop his face from erupting in a dense gray mask of Chloracne cysts. The results weren’t clear right away, but his doctors concluded he would live and should continue campaigning while they ran more tests.

The Rudolfinerhaus clinic Yushchenko checked into was in Vienna, Austria, and presided over by a Dr. Michael Zimpfer, who explained in December, nearly three months after the fact, “at the present stage, we are still investigating the hypothesis of poisoning. However, we have not found any indication that a chemical or biological substance has been employed.” Further complicating diagnosis was the four-day delay between the outbreak of the ailments and his arrival at the hospital, and Yushchenko’s early refusal to allow biopsies of his face (he didn’t want it wrapped in gauze while campaigning). RFE/RL confirmed that “Yushchenko, upon his release from the clinic, said the doctors' statements proved he had been intentionally poisoned. In fact, the Viennese doctors left this open as a possibility, but reached no definitive conclusions.” (emphasis mine)
Yush Poisoned!
Yushchenko soon after his alleged poisoning.
But even with this lack of evidence, the medical team finally decided on a “descriptive diagnosis,” not to be taken as conclusive, that Yushchenko had suffered from severe, intentional dioxin poisoning, reportedly the second-highest dose on record. Dioxins are a class of pervasive industrial pollutants, and everybody has some dioxin in their systems. But Dr. Zimpfer said tests showed Yushchenko’s blood samples contained more than 1,000 times the normal amount of TCDD, a particularly toxic form.

These chemicals are not efficient killers; they cause cancer and predispose one to other ailments like diabetes – if they kill at all, it’s indirectly and after years. Only a few cases of acute poisoning are on record. One unsolved case from 1997 had five textile workers poisoned with a particularly strong isomer of dioxin; two fell gravely ill but neither died. This worst-case scenario happened, of all places, in Vienna - the very City Yushchenko would travel to for his diagnosis seven years later.

While the experts concur that dioxin usually takes weeks or months to show symptoms, Yushchenko fell ill the very morning after his September 5 dinner with Satsyuk and Smeshko. Campaign manager David Zhvania believed in the poisoning theory, and pointed the finger at President Kuchma or Russian elements working through organized crime figures. But he denied the “stupid theory” of a poisoning at the dinner he had arranged, citing a more probable poisoning while Yushchenko was in the Crimea (loaded with Russian mafia types) in late August. But Yush himself continued to favor the more dramatic and less logical story that implicated top leaders directly; in a 2005 interview with CNN, he was asked if he’s been poisoned at the Sept. 5 meeting. He replied “most likely.”

Dr. Zimpfer at the Rudolfinerhaus supported the theory as well; “we suspect involvement of an external party, but we cannot answer as to who cooked what or who was with him while he ate.” An excellent article by paleo-conservative writer Justin Raimondo sorts out the doctors at the center of this high-pressure situation; the widely-quoted Dr Zimpfer was the President of the clinic's Board of Supervisors, an administrative figurehead and not hands-on in the case. The chief medical doctor was named Lothar Wicke, and it as he who initially oversaw Yushchenko's treatment and held a press conference just after his patient's first visit. Before the international media, he accused unnamed individuals of spreading “medically falsified diagnoses concerning the condition of Mr. Yushchenko.”

Wicke never outright revealed who was telling what lies, but Zimpfer reportedly told him at one point “Yushchenko's people will not be happy and will take other measures.” An article from the UK Telegraph, one of the rare mentions in the Western media, claims that Wicke’s “life was threatened after he cast doubt on the diagnosis” and that “the clinic came under intense pressure from Mr Yushchenko's entourage to diagnose poisoning,” with or without evidence. As the pressure mounted, Wicke finally resigned his position on December 9, removing himself from the picture. The case was taken over by Dr. Nikolai Korpan, who was certain of a poisoning scenario; asked if the aim of the poisoning had been to kill the opposition candidate, Dr. Korpan snapped “yes, of course.” Raimondo clarifies that Korpan is “a surgeon, not a specialist, brought in by Yushchenko on the occasion of his first visit to Vienna.”

The Ukrainian authorities of course denied the charge that they had been involved in any poisoning. There is “no logic in such an accusation,” said Taras Chornovyl, Yanukovych's campaign manager. Other supporters voiced their own concerns. Stepan Havrysh, a political ally of Yanukovych said that while he pitied Yushchenko in his plight, “I'm afraid, two weeks before the vote, it's all political technologies.” This is a term usually reserved for public relations and election strategies. Others simply used the episode to taunt Yushchenko, speculating that his sudden disfigurement was from Herpes or some other disease a moral degenerate might pick up. Others have cited his long history with alcohol and food-triggered illness, and wondered if he didn’t drink too heavily and gorge himself on foods he knew would make him sick.

No matter the truth, Orange revolution supporters and Pora-types were sure the corrupt regime had tried to silence their leader. “Everybody knew he was poisoned so we didn't really need official tests,” said Anatoly Klotchyk, with all his nineteen years of wisdom to draw on. Likewise, the western media primarily took the word from the Vienna clinic that implicated Yanukovych or his Russian backers. The UK paper The Observer in December uncritically quoted an official in the Yushchenko camp that the poisoning was “clearly planned by professionals, perhaps former employees of the KGB.” Yushchenko “has confronted the disease in a fighting spirit,” the Observer article noted, “appearing during the mass protests without cosmetics to tell them that his scarred face was that of the dirty politics of Ukraine.” He went further than simple metaphor on Sept. 21; standing before the assembled Ukrainian Rada, he told the nation’s lawmakers through his cyst-covered face “do not ask who is next. Every one of us will be the next.”

Yet at the same time he wanted no immediate investigation into who poisoned him - and had hit-listed the entire parliament - until after the December election. “I don't want this factor to influence the election in some way – either as a plus or a minus,” he told the press. “This question will require a great deal of time and serious investigation. Let us do it after the election – today is not the moment.” The government’s investigation went ahead anyway, but a New York Times piece by C.J. Chivers from late 2004 noted “a chief obstacle has been Mr. Yushchenko himself, who has used the poisoning almost as a theme in his campaign, but has not fully cooperated with the authorities, even as the trail of his would-be assassin grows cold.” He was “busy with his campaign,” and besides, as campaign manager Zhvaniya explained, they had no faith that the official investigation would be anything other than a whitewash that would conceal the involvement of the authorities and their Russian backers.

Jane’s Intelligence Digest summarized the downside of the episode for Moscow-Washington relations. When coupled with other, known, Russian involvement in Uraine’s politics, news of the poisoning was “likely to lead to a reassessment of Western foreign policy towards Putin's increasingly authoritarian Russia.” The Observer compared this bizarre cloak-and-dagger episode to the “Cold War world of a John le CarrĂ© novel.” For those unfamiliar, a John le CarrĂ© novel is a fiction, penned in the west, crafted to glamorize a great Anglo-American struggle against Russia. It should be taken as no small irony that Kuchma’s or Moscow’s alleged choice to try to poison the opposition leader into submission should have caused such a reverse effect, giving him a projected ten-point boost to 60% projected vote, according to one Ukrainian analyst, who summed up “if we suppose this was organized by the authorities, who wished to disfigure [Yushchenko], then they lost.” He survived the attempt, unembarrassed and just as ambitious as ever. “Everything is going well,” he told supporters, wrapped in an orange scarf as he returned to campaigning. “I plan to live for a long time and I plan to live happily. I am getting better health every day.” And soon, of course, he would be President of Ukraine.

- “Probing the Plot to Poison Ukraine's Yushchenko.” St. Petersburg Times. Issue #1044(10), Tuesday, February 15, 2005.
- Chivers, C.J.
“A Dinner in Ukraine Made for Agatha Christie.” New York Times. December 20 2004.
- Yushchenko's Poisoning: The Background” Jane's Intelligence Digest. January 21, 2005. Added January 27 2005 to
- Associated Press. “Doctors seek cause of Yushchenko illness.” USA Today. December 8 2004.
- Bransten, Jeremy. Ukraine: Doctors Debate Whether Opposition Leader Was Poisoned. RFE/RL. September 24, 2004.
- Schechner, Sam. "What Is Dioxin, Anyway?" Slate. December 13, 2004.
- Loof, Susanna. “Ukrainian Presidential Candidate Viktor Yushchenko Poisoned With Dioxin.” Associated press. December 11 2004.
- Raimondo, Justin. "The Yushchenko 'Poison Plot' Fraud: He's poisoning Ukrainian politics with lies." December 15, 2004.
- Pancevski, Bojan. "I received death threats, says doctor who denied that Ukrainian leader was poisoned." Telegraph. March 27 2005.
- Stoyanova-Yerburgh, Zornitsa. “Who Poisoned Yushchenko?” December 13 2004.
- Nagle, Chad. “Booze, Salo and Mare's Milk... Did Yushchenko Poison Himself?” Counterpunch. December 20 2004.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns

Western access to the "Eurasian Balkans" of Central Asia relied on the post-Cold War dissolution of Soviet power that opened the area to outside influence – and such a situation was not necessarily permanent. Brzezinski noted in 1997 early fears of a new convergence of native Eurasian power: “if the middle space [Russia and former USSR] rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South [Central Asia] or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor [China], then America's primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically.” Indeed, the seeds for all these possibilities were already sown as he wrote the words.

Perhaps the most interesting of these started as the quaint-sounding “Shanghai Five” organizations that was formed in 1996 with signatory nations China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. With official languages of Russian and Chinese, they worked to resolve border and disarmament disputes between themselves, apparently a regional house-cleaning in preparation for a more muscular campaign.

In their sixth annual meeting, June 2001 in Shanghai, sixth member Uzbekistan was admitted and the group re-named itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with stated aims of fighting ethnic and religious militancy and promoting trade and foreign investment. Gradually in the years since then, the SCO also came to be seen as an alternative to US power in Central Asia; by the middle of 2005 its platform was broad enough to entice Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan, and India to sign on as observer states and consider joining (see map). Obviously the possibility of membership for any of these states is loaded with deep implications for the existing world system, a hope for many and a fear for others that has underpinned events in Eurasia in the years since.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization: member states and observer states. Note the total domination of Eurasia this could lead to.
From the beginning, the member governments of the SCO had been focused on collective security, counter-terrorism work, and anti-narcotics operations. They thus shared a concern over the lawless state in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, rife with civil war and oozing out a steady stream of Islamic fundamentalism, trained terrorists, and opium. The training camps attributed widely to bin Laden’s al Qaeda were primarily meant to usher in Islamist governments in regional states and areas like Xinjiang, Chechnya, and Uzbekistan, so this was clearly a paramount regional concern. The Taliban’s prime sponsor, Pakistan, was nowhere near the SCO at the time, but India, Iran, and Russia had all teamed up to support the Northern Alliance against the Taliban however they could. The Alliance was offered safe haven in Tajikistan to bolster its position on Afghanistan’s northern fringe. After 9/11 and the commencement of Washington’s “War on Terror,” the SCO issued a sort of ‘told-you-so’ statement on January 7 2002:

“As close neighbors of Afghanistan we had for an extended time been directly subjected to the terrorist and narco threats emanating from its territory long before the events of September 11 and had repeatedly warned the international community of the danger posed by those threats. That was why the SCO member states became actively involved in the anti-terrorist coalition and took measures to further intensify the SCO's work on the anti-terrorist front.” [3]

[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.
[3] Joint Statement by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Beijing, January 7, 2002) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns

The seeds of an Orange-style revolution in landlocked Belarus had been planted earlier, less than a year after Otpor’s success in Belgrade when, in August 2001, US ambassador Michael Kozak helped organize a near identical campaign in Minsk. [1] Robert Helvey has also left his footprint there, according to his AEI bio, probably for this early venture but possibly at some later time. But with a weak opposition ticket and Luka maintaining moderate public loyalty, the 2001 movement failed to catch on and the election that year rolled on to an inevitable Lukashenko victory. “There will be no Kostunica in Belarus,” the president declared in reference to the recent events in Serbia. [2] For the time being that was true and Lukashenko remained in power, but over the next years as Georgia and Ukraine fell with their own new leaders installed, the danger became real again as the 2006 presidential elections began to draw near.

There was a list of possible Belarusian Kostunicas – more than one could simply make disappear. There was Mikhail Marinich, an opposition politician jailed in December 2004 for allegedly stealing office equipment, charges he insisted were politically motivated, and was denied early release in September 2005. [3] There was Alexander Kazulin, leader of Social Democratic Party, who tried to crash a conference being addressed by Lukashenko in early 2006, arrested and allegedly beaten by police. [4] Most prominent among them was Alexander Milinkievic, the candidate put forth by the United Democratic Forces of Belarus (UDFB) coalition; Milinkevich would prove a key leader of the turmoil to come but has somehow escaped much jail time.

The distinctive and bold Zubr logo
Belarusian youth opposition leaders had been meeting with Otpor veterans since 2001, when Ian Traynor reported that ambassador Kozak “organised the dispatch of young opposition leaders to the Baltic, where they met up with Serbs traveling from Belgrade.” [5] After these meetings, presumably in neighboring Lithuania, a youth group had emerged for that year’s failed revolution. This time their simple, catchy name was “Zubr,” Belarusian for Bison. As in America, the bison is a national treasure and a symbol of resolute strength, of which a Belarusian nature preserve hosts the last big herds. Metta Spencer noted in Peace “it is clear that Zubr was developed, or at least conceptualized, using Otpor as a model.” [6] The group also offers Sharp’s FDTD (in English) from their website, which it stresses is dedicated to “Honor! Motherland! Freedom!”

Zubr activists strike a telling pose at their 2003 hockey action
The early-rising movement was well established and active for a second time even before their Georgian counterparts in Kmara really got going. In a move reminiscent of an Otpor anti-Milosevic campaign, thousands of posters with slogan “He must go!” were glued in the center of Minsk in late January 2003. Two members were arrested for their part in this campaign. [7] To break the fear they used innovative street theater like the February 2003 hockey match that pitted a team of local Zubr kids against “Luka’s” team, headed by a captain in a mustachioed goalkeeper’s mask. The Zubr website reported the “team of young patriots was very rallied. In dictator’s team just the opposite - every player played his own game. [The captain] was shouting at his teammates, and beating them with his stick. He was trying to show the way they must play but he was falling every time.” [8]

Their protest activities seem to have sloughed off after this; Lukashenko imposed government control over all foreign funding meant for local NGOs and banned foreign funding of any political activities in the country. [9] Ambassador Kozak was rotated out to calm tensions, and replaced in September 2003 with new hand George A. Krol. Things remained fairly quiet for Zubr until the flames were fanned by Washington; Following passage of the Belarus Democracy Act in 2004 and as the 2006 election drew near, the rhetoric heightened and the noose tightened. Lukashenko’s regime was listed by Secretary of State Rice, in her confirmation hearing, as one of six “outposts of tyranny,” alongside North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Burma, and Zimbabwe. [10] The phrase took. “I am ashamed America has labeled us an outpost of tyranny,” a Belarusian citizen told a BBC reporter during an opposition rally. “I'm here to try and change that.” [11]

April 2005 saw Secretary Rice visiting first Moscow and then Vilnius, capital of rebellious former SSR Lithuania and just a few miles from the Belarus border. On the 20th, at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Rice said it was “time for a change” in that “outpost of Tyranny” next door. The comment prompted a reply from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in town to represent Russia and discuss its links with NATO. Lavrov said Russia “would not advocate what some people call regime change anywhere. You cannot impose democracy from the outside.” [12]

Nonetheless, a group of seven Zubr affiliates tried to cross the border into Lithuania to meet that “outside” the night of Rice’s speech. They claim they were harassed, but ultimately released, by Belarusian authorities. This delayed their arrival by more than two hours, a Bush official complained. Rice greeted the dissidents at a hotel the next day, April 21, reassuring them “while it may be difficult and long and at times even far away, there will be a road to democracy in Belarus. We admire your courage, and we admire your dedication and we want you all to know you are in our thoughts.” After the meeting, the youths told the media that they planned to organize a re-run of Ukraine, beginning that very autumn. Rice, at her own news conference, said the US is not calling the shots or interfering in any way other than moral. Referring to the kids she’d just met, she said “these are the people who know what's best to do.” [13]

Indeed they did and were on the case within days. Early May witnessed about 100 Zubr kids demonstrating for half an hour on a main street in Minsk, holding pictures of Viktor Gonchar and then dispersing quickly before police could arrest them. [14] During the election campaign Zubr officially linked up with and leant support to opposition leader Milinkievic of the UDFB, and over the next months the politicians and their street ambassadors gradually picked up steam.

And they picked up cash contributions, down payments on and investments in the possible revolution. Jauhen Afnagel, the nominal leader of Zubr, says their funds come “from our friends, in Belarus and outside Belarus.” The “inside” of Belarus, with its state-controlled economy, has none of the disgruntled, super-rich, private-sector businessmen like those that funded Ukraine’s revolution, so much more aid should be expected to come from abroad. Zubr and other like-minded groups have drawn funds from, at least, the Swedish Social Democrat party, Poland-based East European Democratic Centre (IDEE), and Washington’s NED. [15] A U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Minsk admitted vaguely “the U.S. government supports a broad range of youth groups and believes that the development of democratic values among youth is a priority of U.S. government assistance.” A leader of Malady Front, an opposition youth movement in support of Zubr and its goals, said “through Ukraine, we have big plans for cooperation with the Soros Foundation, which […] has helped bring together many youth organizations, covering the whole of Belarus.” [16]

By September - six months before Luka’s 2006 presidential referendum – they had something like a revolutionary critical mass as the economy soured and new corruption scandals were broadcast by the US-funded opposition media. September 7 saw a protest at the Polish Embassy in Minsk where Pro-Russian Slavic unity protests (‘neighbors should be friends’) stood against the Polish-supported opposition kids of Zubr and Malady Front, declaring “Poland + Belarus = Solidarity.” [17] Like Solidarity or any such transformative movement, it needed a unifying symbol or theme, the color in the revolution. Lukashenko proclaimed “in our country, there will be no pink or orange, nor even a banana revolution.” Zubr's Afnagel saw defensiveness in this statement: “he keeps saying that there will be no revolution in Belarus – why would he say that if revolution is not an option?” Rumors circulated that the mutiny would be called the Cornflower Revolution, named for a ubiquitous blue flower in Belarus. “It is too early to say what color the revolution will have,” Afnagel said in early September. “The color is not important. It is not even important whether it will be a revolution or some kind of a change.” [18]

The final inspiration this time came from a September 16 public demonstration marking the 6-year anniversary of the disappearance of Viktor Gonchar. After Belarusian police seized the banned red and white old Belarusian flags flown by the opposition, Zubr activist Mikita Sasim reportedly raised his denim shirt, declaring it their new flag. Conveniently, there is also the well-known association of denim with Western culture, immediately recognized by the opposition as a symbol of protest against Lukashenko's Soviet-style policies and identification with USA, Elvis, and NATO. After this an unofficial custom emerged for Zubrs to wear jeans or jean jackets on the 16th of each month to memorialize Gonchar and the missing others, and thus the “Jeans Revolution,” or “Denim Revolution” was named.

In December, the parliament approved tough new penalties for those who would try to change the government or even pass out information regarded as “harmful to national interests.” In the early months of 2006, dozens of Zubrs were arrested at their many demonstrations and actions. There were reports of harassment of “Zubrs” going about their other activities; some were jailed for minor offenses, or imprisoned for drugs planted on them by security officers. More replaced them, and while it was no Kiev, they were determined to claim victory either by the ballot or, failing that, by the Jeans Revolution.



Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns

“Without warning, the soldiers opened fire into the crowd. Bodies fell like mown hay, row upon row.” - Galima Bukharbaeva, eyewitness to the massacre at Andijan, May 13 2005

Uprisings near Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in late 2004 and mid-2005. 1=Kokand, 2=Andijan, 3=Korasuv, 4=Osh, 5=Jalal-a-Bad

In the early months of 2005, a peaceful protest began outside a city courthouse in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan, not far from Tashkent but nearer to restive Kokand and the Kyrgyz city of Osh just across the border, where the “Tulip” mutiny would soon go down. This was the heart of the rebellious Ferghana Valley, where development has lacked in a densely populated and heavily Muslim area - Uzbekistan’s Kosovo. The gathered protesters were demanding the release of 23 local businessmen who had been arrested and charged, wrongly their supporters said, with supporting the local Akramiya movement, a designated terrorist group. This was problem number one in the episode’s reporting in the West – Karimov calls everyone he dislikes a terrorist, so few believed the charges. The protest thus seemed to have a strong basis as day after day it assumed the scale of an extended, mostly peaceful, vigil.

The headcount before the courthouse grew as spring brought better weather. But late on the evening of Thursday, May 12, some of the protesters were arrested and taken to the town's jail, and the stage was set for a bizarre and tragic chain of events. I’ve drawn primarily on BBC News reports, which have their shortcomings on specifics of the incident (a point to which we’ll return). A mysterious band of armed men stormed the jail just hours later, in the pre-dawn hours of Friday the 13th, and freed the 23 accused men, their supporters and “scores” of other inmates. The militants also raided an armory or two and seized a larger cache of guns. BBC’s reports make little note of the curious fact that the police station, military unit and jail that were attacked that morning are clustered into a 1-2 km radius of each other. Worse, Pravda later noted, “for unknown reasons” this obviously dangerous complex is located just on Andijan’s outskirts, not far from downtown. Pravda noted “in 13 years of Uzbekistan's independence the town administration has not hit upon the idea of transferring the jail to a new adequate place.”

An uncertain number of these mysterious men, now heavily armed, then marched north from the prison with the rising sun about 4 km to the site of the protests in downtown Andijan. The raiding party appeared on the streets as the day’s rally began, and some of the militants reportedly took a role in organizing the protests. But most of the thousands of demonstrators in the main Square “are ordinary people,” the BBC stressed, “and the atmosphere is calm.” The crowd swelled to about 10,000 by early afternoon, with the ordinary things - speakers vented anger at repression, economic problems, and trade restrictions. Protesters joined in chanting slogans against Karimov and the Uzbek government, as in any normal rally.

But this was not normal in Uzbekistan; these peaceful petitioners had been provided a special environment on that day. Someone, between the militants and the protesters, had blocked all the roads to the city center with buses and debris, and somehow by this time were in control the area, “including government offices.” No countervailing security forces seemed to be anywhere, aside from the ten police officers the gunmen were holding hostage. The rest had apparently fled or been killed, and so the “protesters” were thus given temporary de facto right of assembly; score one for freedom. But as the warm day wore on, rumors circulated about government troops and tanks amassed out at the airport.

When such events had happened in Kyrgyzstan just weeks earlier, President Akayev had said the mutiny was designed to provoke a violent crackdown, a bait he would not take. In the end, he lost control and fled to Russia. Now that cities were being taken over just across the border on Uzbek soil, it would become apparent that Karimov had a different philosophy on the issue. Security forces reportedly were given orders to “eliminate” the single group they said was behind both the storming of the prison and seizure of government buildings.

Uzbek soldiers gather as if expecting enemy fire.
Troops finally attacked the occupied administration building, along with the crowd blocking their way to it. The exact timing is hazy, with BBC citing a 6:00 pm attack, while dissident journalist Galima Bukharbaeva took note of the bullet hole through her press pass and notebook that was punched at about 5:20. The initial assault reportedly opened with a convoy of armored vehicles opening fire on the crowd without warning, killing several and pushing a wave of panicked people away from the square. Hovering military helicopters also opened fire on the crowds, eyewitnesses said. The BBC’s accounts feature no word of return fire from the militants who had seized the town, although they noted that the crowd that surged north on Cholpon Prospect included numerous gunmen and their hostages. They wound up on the town’s outskirts at School no. 15, where a waiting armored car reportedly fired straight into the crowd which stopped surging anywhere about then.

Andijan locals pass by the dead the day after the massacre
What came to be known as the Andijan massacre ended in hundreds of dead people, estimated as high as 1,100, but most hover closer to 6-700. A doctor in the town told the BBC she saw “at least 500” dead bodies at the school, which had been turned into a temporary morgue. After everyone able to get away had fled, eyewitnesses say the security forces went around finishing off the injured as they lay on the ground. Another observant eyewitnesses told the BBC she saw soldiers receive a shipment of government-supplied Vodka, drink it, and then shoot women, children, and wounded in an indiscriminate drunken stupor. The bodies of women and children were not evident among the official counts, these eyewitnesses and humanitarian groups say, because the authorities had hidden them to bolster the illusion that this was a purely male military encounter.

An evident logical disconnect here is why children, and women if they’re thought of as off-limits innocents, were brought along to this militant event. Bukharbaeva explained this simply: “parents brought their children to see the unprecedented spectacle,” and failed to take the kids back home because while “the rebels expected that the army would move against them,” the peaceful crowd “had no inkling of its fate.” Sure they were being led by convicted terrorists, the West seems to be saying, but they were probably wrongly convicted, after all. And sure, they had just been broken out of prison and heavily armed, chased the cops away and took some hostage, took over the city’s seat of government, and blocked the roads into downtown. But otherwise it was a peaceful protest by non-terrorist people who were simply fed up and wanted change. This is the perfect thing to bring your children to – not just as human shields but as spectators of a brave new future opening up – at least until the authorities stepped in with their unprovoked and unexpected slaughter.

In the official version, president Karimov placed blame for the unrest solely on Islamic extremist groups whose aims of “hatred and denial of the secular way of development […] are unacceptable for us.” Government estimates of the casualties were 187 people killed, including 94 terrorists. He explained that Uzbekistan’s territorial integrity was at stake; “they are brainwashing young people with ideas of creating a unified Islamic state.” He said his troops were forced to shoot the terrorist “demonstrators” as they tried to break through police lines (which by the BBC account didn’t exist – an advancing column is not a police line). Karimov insisted any deaths of innocents were at the hands of the “terrorists.” After all, as Karimov asked his accusers, “how could I give the order to shoot at my beloved people?”

29 men were declared wanted, but 12 of those had already fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan and, the government says, offered refuge by the new government there. RFE/RL noted the “strained relations” following Bakiyev’s July decision to allow over 400 Uzbek refugees to be airlifted from Kyrgyzstan to Romania. But 15 of the remaining 17 were caught and put on trial in October, charged with terrorism, shooting hostages and belonging to banned Islamic groups. All pled “fully guilty” at first opportunity. The instant confessions naturally raised concerns of coercion and possibly torture. The UN commission on human rights protested that there were “serious inadequacies” in the conduct of the trial: the ill-defined nature of “terrorism,” no independent cross-examination of the defendants, a lack of physical evidence, and the fact that “all but one eyewitness account at the trial mimicked the government’s version.” All were convicted and sentenced to terms from 14 to 20 years.

The government’s case continued well beyond the initial wanted list and into multiple trials; by the end of the year 151 people had been convicted in connection with the events at Andijan, including 19 soldiers and five policemen found guilty on December 23 for “negligence and dereliction of duty.” All but one of the series of trials were held behind closed doors, to protect state secrets that may arise in the testimony and to protect the defendants and witnesses, the Supreme Court said. [25] The West took this secrecy as a sign of official guilt and dismissed the trials as a farce of justice.

Karimov’s government has gone past exculpating itself for Andijan to blaming Washington. The government brought attention to the testimony of one defendant at the Andijan trials that the U.S. embassy in Tashkent had a role in organizing the violence. Daniel Fried at the State Department strenuously denied this charge. “These allegations are ludicrous. The assertions that the U.S. supports an attack by Islamic extremists after fighting four years against exactly such people is not credible,” he said. Finally we see a western admission that Karimov had been fighting terrorism – not just his citizens - at Andijan. The Islamist-terrorist-separatist charge against the Andijan suspects, while politically motivated and almost certainly a distortion of the truth, is still a more solid a label for what happened than any proposed in the West. Karimov’s charges of Islamist separatism have routinely been met with the non-answer that innocents were killed at Andijan because, it seems, the Western media has no actual answer to the charge.

An early BBC report from the 13th – after the seizure of the town but before the government attack - explained that “at this stage the identity of the gunmen who stormed the prison is not known, and it is not clear what, if any, connection they have to the people organising the demonstration.” A search of over a dozen BBC News stories on the subject from the following months reveals no further clues, and one year on, Ian McWilliams wrote for them “who organised the prison breakout and whether they had outside help is still unclear.” The reason for the lack of clarity is not poor journalism or official censorship but rather the fact that “the Uzbek government has repeatedly refused to allow an independent investigation.” And in the absence of absolute “independent” clarity, they haven’t bothered to even clue us in on any leads or possibilities.

But to imply a total media blackout is disingenuous. Back on July 13, the two-month anniversary of the tragedy, a group of twenty foreign diplomats and journalists from eight countries including Russia, India, and China were invited by the Government of Uzbekistan to wander freely around Andijan for a single, pre-selected afternoon and investigate for the truth themselves. The BBC chose to sit out this Tashkent-managed petting zoo, but Russia’s Pravda paper sent a correspondent, Aloke Shekhar, who offered the following day “a truthful report of this trip without any hint at politics.” Unlike the BBC, which bemoaned the lack of an “independent” inquiry, Pravda’s reporter assured his readers “the truth cannot be hidden under cover. Sooner or later we will learn the truth about these tragic events.”

By this article’s account, which squares perfectly with the Karimov-Putin line, the militants are still described as “unidentified persons” but believed to be organized by “Islamic movement of Turkestan, Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Akramists,” some of them identified as foreigners. In the pre-dawn hours a group of 50-60 attacked an Interior Ministry post and military unit No. 45605, seizing a total of 334 weapons to add to their own arsenal. Then they attacked the local jail, rushing in with guns blazing, and freed 737 prisoners, ordering them to “run away otherwise you will be killed.” One freed prisoner – presumably back behind bars - told Shekhar that the militants “wanted to once again stage the Kyrgyz scenario. It was obvious that they were acting in line with a well prepared plan.”

Most convincing to Shekhar was the video shown by the Uzbek authorities that “froze the hearts of everyone.” It was allegedly shot by the terrorists themselves in real-time as they carried out their “protest” activities. We are told the video shows the beating of policemen by the mob, the burning of buildings, the manufacture of explosives, and scenes of men firing the seized weapons and shouting “Allahu Akbar!” Shekhar summed up “without any hint at politics:” “Only authorities know when the film will be presented to the public. But one thing is clear: this film is a heavy slap to the West. […] It is high time the West descended from the heavens and faces the truth.”

Instead, on October 26 BBC News reported it was pulling out of Uzbekistan entirely “due to security concerns.” The Tashkent office was to close for at least six months “pending a decision on its long term future.” The regional director said “over the past four months since the unrest in Andijan, BBC staff in Uzbekistan have been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation which has made it very difficult for them to report on events in the country.” So they allowed themselves to be “intimidated,” and official statements notwithstanding, the exact cause–and-effect relationship between this harassment and the BBC’s incomplete reporting is just as unclear as the public’s picture of what actually happened at Andijan.

- Weinstein, Dr. Michael A. ''Intelligence Brief: Uzbekistan'' Power and Interest News Report. June 23, 2005.
- How the Andijan killings unfolded. BBC News. May 17 2005.
- “Andijan - two months later: A truthful report from Uzbekistan's Andijan” Pravda. Front page / World. July 14 2005.
- Norton, Jenny. “What lies behind Uzbek protests?” BBC News. May 13 2005.
- Bukharbaeva, Galima. “Witness to a Massacre. An Uzbek reporter risked her life to tell the world of Andijan assault.” Dangerous Assignments/ Committee to Protect Journalists. Posted October 25, 2005 at:
- Gandelman, Joe. “Uzbekistan Political Turmoil Worsens As Putin Backs Government.” The Moderate Voice. May 15 2005
- Kimmage, Daniel. “Central Asia: Holding On To Power .“ Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. November 14 2005
- “Jail demand for Andijan suspects.” BBC News. October 26 2005.
- Saidazimove, Gulnoza. "Uzbekistan: Authorities Reject UN Accusations Over Andijon Trials." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. December 27 2005.
- "U.S. Promises to Leave Airbase in Uzbekistan." Mosnews. September 28 2005.
- MacWilliam, Ian. "Outlook bleak in wake of Andijan." BBC News.May 11 2006.
- "'Harassed' BBC shuts Uzbek office." BBC News. October 26 2005.


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns

The Eurasian powers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, faced with the runaway stream of pro-West revolutions, made their most serious counter-moves in July 2005. The offensive was heralded by a joint Russo-Chinese statement on “the international order of the 21st Century” signed by Presidents Hu and Putin, on June 1 in Moscow. [1] Putin summed up “the declaration reflects our understanding of the diversity of civilization, and makes a call not to impose models and standards through force or the threat to use force.” [2] The declaration announced a new vision of a multi-polar world order as seen in the emergence of the SCO, which was set to hold a major summit four days later.

On July 5, three weeks after the Andijan massacre, the Defense Ministers of the signatory countries met in the Kazakh capital of Astana to plot their next moves towards that international order. Australian news reporter Emma Griffiths, who attended, explained how the leaders of “the Shanghai six […] condemn the west for supporting political changes in former soviet republics,” and stated their general objection to what they called “monopolizing or dominating international affairs,” a statement she described as “a thinly-veiled attack on the US.” [3] Even more thinly veiled was their firm request for a timetable for U.S. bases to leave Central Asia; it was time for Washington to precisely define “temporary,” and let the regional powers know when they should expect to start running security there themselves. [4] Russian political analyst Georgy Arbatov stated of this decision:

“For the first time some common political positions beside cooperation against terrorism were expressed, primarily by addressing the question to the United States about how long American military bases are planned to remain in central Asia. That means that China, Central Asian states and Russia are not willing to contemplate American military presence in central Asia as a permanent factor for the indefinite future. This presence was associated with the operation in Afghanistan, with the operation in Iraq. Those two operations are not yet finalized, but some timeframe is an interesting issue for the countries of the region and certainly they do not want Americans to stay forever.” [5]

July 5 was also the first summit to host the four newly-agreed observer states Iran, India and Pakistan (Mongolia had already been involved), and thus represented what PINR called “a one-two punch to Washington's ambitions in Central Asia” and “the most forceful challenge to U.S. interests in Central Asia since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.” [6]

But the SCO summit was of course eclipsed in Western minds by the higher profile G8 summit of the world’s top eight leaders in Scotland, and by the higher-yet profile of the terrorist attack that came in its midst. Presidents Hu and Putin had probably planned a follow-up lecture on “international order” and overstaying welcomes for their G8 partners, with that gathering in Tony Blair’s UK commencing only one day after their people had reached their verdict in Astana. But the 7-7 London rail bombing on the second day of that summit cast a long shadow over the proceedings with three near-simultaneous explosions on the underground rail lines at 8:50 am followed by a bus blast in Tavistock Square at 9:47. Hundreds were injured, many gravely, 52 people plus the four suicide bombers were killed and the Capital city of the country hosting the world’s eight most powerful leaders was shut down for much of the day.

No matter the full truth behind the incident, a perceived, successful al Qaeda attack with over fifty killed in the European capital of the Anglo-American Alliance would do nothing but strengthen their resolve to stay in Iraq and in Central Asia (especially considering the alleged Pakistani Madrassah link to the attack), and make Russia’s and China’s geopolitical nitpicking un-cool by again demonstrating why the bases are there. The 7/7 attack gave all the G8 World Leaders a chance to reiterate their commitment to the cause; Putin himself expressed his condolences over the attacks and called on all countries to remain united in the “fight against international terrorism,” to which America’s Central Asian bases were of course also dedicated. [7]

So Putin and Hu just skipped out on the diplomacy and went ahead with what many see as their plans for the development of the SCO into the “NATO of the East.” It has a long way to go, but member states seem to be cooperating on the grand strategy issues. Uzbekistan had preceded the July ultimatum with an announcement on June 16 that night flights into and out of Karshi-Khanabad were to be banned. [8] Tashkent also placed limits on daytime landings of C-17s and other heavy transport aircraft, allegedly because the planes were damaging the runway. [9] It also served as a reminder that the Uzbek authorities still called the shots at K2, but the Americans simply worked around the issue, re-routing heavy cargo flights through Ganci in Kyrgyzstan and shifting its search-and-rescue flights to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.[10]

After the SCO summit Uzbek officials went further, entirely renouncing the agreement allowing US forces to use the base. On July 29, just days after Rumsfeld’s tour around Uzbekistan, Tashkent delivered a diplomatic note to the US Embassy, giving US military authorities six months to shut down Camp Stronghold Freedom and vacate K2. [11] Ariel Cohen, the Heritage Foundation’s Russia expert, fumed in an article published August 18: “In the post- 9/11 era, this is the first time that a U.S. ally has not only abandoned the battlefield—as Spain did in Iraq—but also shown American servicemen the door. After years of complaining that the United States has not done enough to counter terrorist threats, Karimov did what his Islamist foes have demanded all along: He demanded an end to the American “infidel” presence in Uzbekistan.” [12]

On August 26, Uzbekistan's Senate voted to back Karimov, affirming it was time for the Yankees to leave. [13] In late September State’s Daniel Fried came to Tashkent and coldly confirmed that Washington would comply. “We intend to leave it without further discussion,” Fried said. “We respect this request by the government of Uzbekistan.” On November 21 the US military closed the base for good, and the Russian news agency Interfax reported that the last US military plane left the base after a short ceremony. [14]

In testimony before Congress in late October, Fried had said he recently met with Karimov and reiterated Washington's call for an independent inquiry into the Andijan matter. “We will continue to urge the government of Uzbekistan to reverse its current path and to embrace reform as the only way to achieve long-term stability,” he testified. [15] Karimov did not change course, and in November signed an agreement on closer military cooperation with Russia. [16]

Monday, February 19, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns
November 2006
re-posted 2/17/07

As the second NATO bombing campaign against Serbia came and went in early-mid 1999, it was the young who led the way out of NATO’s fire and into the West’s frying pan. “Otpor!” is a Serbian word for “Resist” or “Resistance.” It was chosen as a name for a presumably sincere group of dissident students at the University of Belgrade in October 1998. [1] They were reportedly incensed at Milosevic’s repressive media laws, and immediately launched a graffiti campaign across downtown Belgrade, leaving images of their name and their clenched-fist symbol. An early Otpor early website reportedly explained “the fist itself is conceived as the symbol of individual initiative, that the time and energy of every single person should be invested to bring about change. This symbol of personal courage was born with the first public manifestation of RESISTANCE, a leaflet called "Bite the System." [2]

As NATO air strikes poured over their territory and people rallied around the government in early-mid 1999, Otpor’s public activities paused; people refused to rise up in apparent solidarity with the people bombing their country. But in the disastrous aftermath of the bombings, late 1999 and into 2000, the students resumed, taking bigger bites further beyond the campus. Otpor took root in the south and the rural areas; there were eventually more than eighty branches of the movement, with each branch representing a Serbian city. [3]

In Belgrade, an Otpor-led street campaign against Milosevic targeted the minds of the capital’s electorate. They drew on existing American mental technologies, seeking to brand their name and message into the brains of Serbia. Ivan Marovic, a leader of the Otpor movement explained “our idea was to use corporate branding in politics. The movement has to have a marketing department. We took Coca-Cola as our model.” [4] Marovic also described to a BBC Malaysia reporter the techniques used in their campaign, involving creativity, humor, and an uncommon application of strategic psychology:

“In the first phase, we used symbolic street actions. Small number of people would organize the action, which would symbolize the problems they were facing in their own towns. These actions were not something that were too dangerous, so people could easily join and by doing that they could show that they were not satisfied with the situation in the country. With these actions that had a dosage of humour and laugher we managed to break away fear which was the main problem facing [them] under Milosevic’s dictatorship.[5]

In early May the political front shaped up with the emergence of a unified Opposition coalition; eighteen political parties merged into the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS). By this time, Otpor itself was ready to challenge the President directly; in the two years since the group’s inception, it had grown to at least 70,000 members, a force to be reckoned with. The police fought back, but no matter what the authorities did, the movement just got bigger. Thousands of young protesters were arrested. Perhaps hundreds were beaten and interrogated, but the movement’s leadership proved tough to ferret out; Otpor prided itself on the fact that the group had no single leader or hierarchical structure, which rendered ordinary suppression nearly impossible.

Radio Free Europe reported that “Otpor is a state of mind rather than an organization,” a contention backed up by Nis Deputy Mayor Toplica Djordjevic, a Milosevic foe, who told RFE/RL “how many people are in Otpor in Nis I cannot say. But how strong are they as an idea, as a movement -- that is easy to say. Otpor is everywhere. Otpor is an idea that young people embrace and struggle for with full force and full legitimacy.” [7]

The Otpor logo and its advertisement by activists in Belgrade, 2000. Ivan Marovic: “We took Coca-Cola as our model.”

On May 13 a Socialist Party ally of Milosevic, Bosko Perosevic, was gunned down in Novi Sad. The assassin was quickly arrested and accused of membership in Otpor and the SPO opposition party, based on literature found in his apartment. Otpor claimed the evidence was planted, and responded shrewdly that same day with a “surrender action,” handing their membership lists over to the authorities – and to the media. They were apparently banking on the PR move as a sign of innocence, but the government accelerated its repression and arrested many of the activists on the lists anyway, calling them “fascists” and “terrorists.” [8]

Once the youth movement went public, it was no longer a matter of ferreting them out – everybody knew who Otpor were and they were all so cute and brave. Opposition activist Slobodan Vuksanovic touted the movement’s appeal is Serbia as “young people who certainly are not trusted for their experience. They cannot be experienced. Rather, they are trusted because they are clean.” [9] Srdja Popovic, the 27 year-old self-described “ideological commissar” of Otpor, explained that their nonviolent methods had been designed “to show how superior, how advanced, how civilized” they were, and the approach worked quite well. [10] Ordinary citizens, realizing their own children were members, gradually came to accept the movement as the inevitable face of the future. Andrew Mueller interviewed “Otpor’s nominal figurehead,” 20-year-old Branko Ilic. Ilic described the group’s role in the success, describing himself and his comrades as “guerrillas without guns.” [11]

On July 17 Milosevic, having pushed through Parliament a constitutional amendment that would allow him two more terms as president, announced early elections scheduled for September 24, perhaps afraid his popularity would fall after that. [13] As the political opposition moved towards greater unity, Otpor focused on securing the upcoming elections for the opposition. Their prime achievement to this end was their 2000 Gotov Je (“He’s Finished”) pre-election campaign. Over two million stickers announcing this belief were placed around Belgrade and elsewhere to mobilize as many disaffected voters to the polls as possible to vote their conscience – this time they weren’t going to let it be stolen.

So the fight moved to a different level; the government issued a statement blaming all unrest on the cross-pressure from NATO-controlled information warfare and the activities of “an internal fifth column.” [14] Milosevic ran a series of ads targeting Otpor as “NATO foot soldiers” and tools of foreign powers; the spots cleverly had the trademark Otpor fist clenched around a wad of American dollars. [15] The public at the time dismissed the campaign as a cynical lie from a desperate ruler, solidifying in their minds that indeed “Gotov Je.”

[1],[6] Pozun, Brian. "Planning for an Uncertain Future." Central EuropeReview. February 26 2001.
[2] "Bulgarian paper says CIA is tutoring Serbian group Otpor." From the Bulgarian newspaper The Monitor. Translated by Blagovesta Doncheva. (Posted 9-8-00)
[3] Sell, Louis. Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. Page 339.
[4] Traynor, Ian. “Young democracy guerrillas join forces: From Belgrade to Baku, activists gather to swap notes on how to topple dictators.” The Guardian. June 6 2005.,,1499871,00.html
[5] Htet, U Min. "Serbia: Demise of a Dictator." BBC News. September 16 2005.
[7] Naegele, Jolyon. “Yugoslavia: Otpor Launches Get Out the Vote Campaign.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. July 18 2000.
[8] Human Rights Watch.


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without Guns
Re-posted 2/17/07

For Washington and London, the ability to start making these pipeline power plays was both an effect and hopefully a further cause of Russia’s diminished regional power. Behind this seems to be a campaign to drag the Eurasian giant into the Euro-Atlantic Community kicking and foaming at the mouth if need be, an aim laid out well by Brzezinski in 1997: “Russia’s only real geostrategic option – the option that could give Russia a realistic international role and also maximize the opportunity of transforming and socially modernizing itself - is […] the transatlantic Europe of the enlarging EU and NATO.” Russia should follow this lead, Brzezinski warned, if it wanted to avoid “a dangerous geopolitical isolation.” [1]

But the exact terms of integration remained unclear; Russians somehow took Washington’s talk around 1992-93 of a “mature strategic partnership” as a revival of Gorbachev’s “new world order” scenario, a more-or-less co-equal global alliance of mutually existing great powers. Fawning praise, false promises, and the opening of economies ensued in a long and nearly snuggly phase that allowed what Brzezinski summed up as the Russian street’s expectation of “a global condominium.” Zbig noted in retrospect:

“The problem with this approach was that it was devoid of either international or domestic realism. While the concept of a “mature strategic partnership” was flattering, it was also deceptive. America was neither inclined to share global power with Russia nor could it, even if it had wanted to. […] once differences inevitably started to surface, the disproportion in political power, financial clout, technological innovation and cultural appeal made the “mature strategic partnership” seem hollow – and it struck an increasing number of Russians as deliberately designed to deceive Russia.” [2]

So it was not America’s fault, but the fact that Russia was simply not up to the role. But the 1990s did see economic liberalization in Yeltsin’s Russia, with the widespread privatization of the previously state-run enterprises and moves towards a full market economy, openness to foreign investment, and general integration with the Western system. The major enterprises were taken over by a new generation of Russian capitalist pioneers and black-marketeers known as “the Oligarchs.” First introduced to the scene by Gorbachev in the late 1980s under his perestroika campaign, President Yeltsin supported this process and provided the Oligarchs with rich pickings, and the very small group soon acquired vast interests in all sectors of the economy. But in the end analysis, everyone agrees that the oligarchs did not rescue the Russian economy but rather bled it dry. Journalist Ann Williamson, author of How America Built the New Russian Oligarchy, explained to the House Committee on Banking in her September 1999 testimony:

“Directors stashed profits abroad, withheld employees’ wages, and after cash famine set in, used those wages, confiscated profits and state subsidies to ‘buy’ the workers’ shares from them. The really good stuff – oil companies, metal plants, telecoms – was distributed to essentially seven individuals, ‘the oligarchs,’ on insider auctions whose results were guaranteed beforehand. Once effective control was established, directors - uncertain themselves of the durability of their claim to newly acquired property - chose to asset strip with impunity instead of developing their new holdings.” [3]

Profits thus gained were laundered and deposited safely in Western bank accounts outside of Russia’s reach, with the depositors sometimes following their money out the door. Passed off as the result of mismanagement and shortsighted greed, the draining of Russia’s treasury is usually termed as “capital flight,” a rather passive sounding process. But investigator Michael Ruppert sees geopolitics at work in this “scheme to loot Russia’s wealth and park it in the west.” Once they were granted positions of economic power, Ruppert maintained in his 2004 book Crossing the Rubicon that “the Empire loved the oligarchs because they were simple and could be easily controlled with money.” [4]

Ruppert also noted how the “assistance” program to usher Russia into capitalism took off under the Clinton administration in 1993. A team headed by vice president Al Gore worked in concert with Goldman Sachs, Harvard’s Institute for International Development, the IMF, and the World Bank. This team, as Ruppert summarized, “worked in partnership with the government of Boris Yeltsin to re-make the Russian economy. What happened was that Russia, in the words of Yeltsin himself, became a “mafiocracy” and was looted of more than 500 billion in assets, and its ability to support a world-class military establishment smashed.” [5] What a convenient turn of events against this recently identified potential rival.

Yeltsin had initially renounced all claim to former Soviet glory and empire: “Russia does not aspire to become the center of some sort of new empire […] history has taught us that a people that rules over others cannot be fortunate.” [6] But by 1997 as Brzezinski wrote his book, new ideas about Russia’s role were starting to gel in Moscow that showed signs of renewed ambition. Straddling the boundary between Europe and Asia, the idea of a special “Eurasianism” took hold; as Yeltsin’s former Vice President Aleksandr Rustkoi explained “Russia represents the only bridge between Asia and Europe. Whoever becomes the master of this space will become the master of the world.” [7] Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said at around this time Russia “must preserve its military presence in regions that have been in its sphere of interests for centuries.” [8]

But not much was possible with the economy still in a weak transitional state. The first slight economic recovery began in 1997, but this was cut short by the Asian financial crisis that hit its markets late in the year. The nation toughed out the financial burden through the first half of 1998, but things got edgy as the money dried up. In May a campaign of pensioner’s strikes was joined by miner’s strikes and others – the people took matters into their own hands, blocking railway lines to demand unpaid back wages. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov led the growing calls for Yeltsin and his newly-appointed PM Sergei Kiryenko to resign. [9]

Perhaps in desperation, Russia finally turned to the West and sought an IMF bailout, what Ruppert calls “the kiss of death for any country.” [10] The IMF reported it was strapped, and “entering a region in terms of our financing where we are in grave difficulties.” [11] Washington feared the alternative – a Russian devaluation of the ruble (their equivalent of the dollar), leading to an international financial chain reaction. [12] On July 20, the IMF Executive Board approved its portion ($11.2 billion) of a $22.6 billion international bailout. This emergency package was intended to help Russia maintain the value of the ruble while the government implemented reforms necessary to create long-term stability.

Moscow 1998
Muscovites line up to get their money out of the bank before the economy crashes, 1998
On August 14, president Yeltsin assured the west that the loan had worked, stating clearly that the ruble would not be devalued. But a bare three days later, PM Kiriyenko announced that the government would devalue the ruble after all, by a stunning 34 percent, and declared a 90-day foreign debt moratorium. The bottom dropped from beneath the Russian economy that very day, leading to a total collapse comparable to the crash that hit America’s markets in 1929.

Mass unemployment and a sharp fall in living standards for most of the population ensued. Unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and related social problems wracked the region in late 1998. CNN billed “Russia’s year of agony” as one of the top ten stories of the year, and it also spread into neighboring countries like Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, that remained tangled with their neighbor’s economy. Many in Washington were furious; Ariel Cohen and Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation noted “it is now painfully clear […] that the massive bailout failed in both of its missions: The ruble was devalued, and reforms are not likely to be implemented.” Cohen and Schaefer blamed Russia for failing to reform its economy and the IMF for consistently loaning to them anyway, calling on Congress to cut off funding to the fund. [13]

The crisis did not last too long though on the Russian end; by whatever connection, it was only after the loan and the devaluation of the ruble and the debt default that Russia’s economy began improving on the back of strong gas exports in 1999. The weak ruble made imports expensive and boosted local production, creating greater self-reliance or “autarky,” the opposite of the economic “dependency model” behind the western system. Russia entered a phase of rapid economic expansion, the GDP growing by an average of 6.7% annually in 1999-2005 on the back of higher oil prices, a weaker ruble, and increasing industrial output. It has gone from bankruptcy to large foreign reserves, and by 2001 Russia was seen as a major rising player on the world scene for the first time in nearly a decade. In retrospect the IMF episode almost looks like a grand kiss-off to the West: “Thanks for the so-called assistance, comrades, but we’ll just recover what we can and manage it ourselves from there...”

Behind the official reasons for the 1998 bailout there had been deeper fears than the value of the ruble. The youngest and richest among the economy draining Russian Oligarchs is Roman Abramovich, in 2006 Russia’s richest man and the 11th richest person in the world, worth $18.2 billion. [14] Abramovich is a proud Jew and supporter of Israel, and he’s not alone; the top tier of Oligarchs were primarily Jews, a fact that contributed negatively to a trend all too familiar from the history books: a nation in crisis after losing a major struggle, feeling betrayed by the West and turning to renewed nationalist glory and – at least in certain cases - increased suspicion of the Jews among them. The specific anti-Semitism has of course become highly unpopular since the Holocaust, and precise charges have remained muted – but overall a repeat of Germany circa 1932 seemed a danger; the British free trade magazine The Economist ran a story on July 15 warning that an abrupt devaluation:

“could spell doom for the banking system, bring down the Kiriyenko government and, as one American diplomat put it, ‘signal the end of liberal Russia.’ […] Might the deadly mixture of economic chaos, public anger and sense of national humiliation that fuelled fascism in Weimar Germany flare up in Russia now? […] Such fears appear to have been taken seriously enough in Washington for the US administration to deem the situation in Russia to be a global strategic threat."[15]

Five days after this story ran the package was approved, but on this front as well the bailout seems to have had little effect. Prime Minister Kiriyenko was sacked in August. Yeltsin tried to bring back his predecessor Viktor Chernomyrdin, but in September compromised on Yevgeniy Primakov. In May 1999 Yeltsin sacked Primakov, replacing him with Sergey Stepashin, who served until August when Yeltsin replaced him with rising star Vladimir Putin. Putin was thus the fifth PM in eighteen particularly rough months, and as a relative unknown, seemed an expendable who likewise would be sacked in due time. But he found a lever that allowed him to stay on, and by the estimates of a growing body of opinion, the feared fascist regime came to power in Moscow despite the best efforts of the internationalists.

Next: Terror of 9/99, Putin Ascendant

[1] Brzezinski p. 118.
[2] Brz 100-101
[3] Williamson, Anne. “The Rape of Russia.” Testimony before Committee on Banking and financial Services, US House of Representatives. September 21 1999.
[4] Ruppert - Crossing the Rubicon - easily controlled with money
[5] Ruppert page 88
[6] Brzezinski p 99.
[7] BRZ 109.
[8] Brz 107
[9] “Russian Trains: New Kiriyenko government faces first major test.” CNN. May 20, 1998.
[10] Ruppert – kiss of death
[11], [12] IMF protected US banks in Russian bailout. By Nick Beams. 21 July 1998. World Socialist Web Site.
[13] "The IMF's $22.6 Billion Failure in Russia." Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., and Brett D. Schaefer. Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum #548.
[15] IMF protected US banks in Russian bailout. By Nick Beams. 21 July 1998. World Socialist Web Site.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Adam Larson
Caustic Logic / Guerillas Without guns
posted 2/17/07
last edited: 2/27/07

In the context of a great game with Russia, the emphasis on Ukraine is understandable - it had been the 2nd most powerful Republic in the USSR and its agricultural heartland. It is the birthplace of the Kievan Rus, the original Slavic culture that Russians trace their own culture back to. It is home to about 10 million ethnic Russians, roughly 20 percent of the entire population there, shares hundreds of miles of common border with Russia, and provides a historically useful buffer space from European invasions, which seem to occur every so often. It has absorbed Napoleonic and Nazi assaults, massive famine, and the Chernobyl disaster and continues to be one of Russia’s biggest trading partners and the place most Russian gas pipelines to Europe run through. Clearly, Ukraine as a geopolitical prize is epic; it’s the biggest thing one can take from Russia besides Russia itself. It seems a stretch to even attempt such a move, but apparently the successes of Belgrade and Tbilisi had left some people feeling very cocky.

American designs on securing Ukraine in the Western camp go back at least to 1997, when Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his book The Grand Chessboard, described Ukraine as one of five key “geopolitical pivots” for control of Eurasia (the others being Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, and South Korea). Furthermore, the CFR heavyweight pointed to Ukraine as the final target in extending the “democratic bridgehead” - the contiguous chain of pro-West Democracies like France and Poland - across Europe and right to Russia’s doorstep. An article in Foreign Relations (the official publication of the CFR) explained that this was targeted against Russia: “[T]he heart of the book is the ambitious strategy it prescribes for extending the Euro-Atlantic community eastward to Ukraine and lending vigorous support to the newly independent republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, part and parcel of what might be termed a strategy of “tough love” for the Russians” Even the magazine noted a bit too much tough in the love: “Brzezinski's test of what constitutes legitimate Russian interests is so stringent that even a democratic Russia is likely to fail it.”

And this tough love ran in the family, with Brzezinski’s son Ian having been an advisor to the newly-independent Ukrainian parliament (director of international security policy at the Council of Advisers) from 1993-94, while also serving as Executive Director of the CSIS American-Ukrainian Advisory Committee. Note that Brzezinski’s tenure ended in the same year Kuchma came to power and turned the country east. Ian has since then continued lobbying from the outside to bring Ukraine into the EU-NATO fold. “Ukraine should be a central component of the West's strategy for Europe.” the younger Brzezinski explained to congress in 1999. But before the adoption could be completed:

“Ukraine will have to make, on its own, the difficult internal decisions necessary to overcome its economic stagnation, its rampant corruption, and its polarized politics. […] After a decade of billions of dollars of Western assistance, the initiative must now come foremost from a Ukraine characterized by aggressive reform.”

Ian was appointed shortly after 9/11 to be the Pentagon’s representative to its European NATO partners and a pivotal part of the decision of who will join next. But his hopes of internal reform started to seem less likely as 2004 dawned with President Kuchma and the PM set to take his place disinterested in such changes and steadily gravitating to the East and Moscow’s sphere.

This is where Viktor Yushchenko, Pora!, dioxin, and the Orange Revolution come in.
After coming to power in Kiev, Yuschchenko played well to Western audiences from day one. When he made his first visit to Washington in early April 2005, he gave a rousing speech to the assembled Congress, receiving a standing ovation as the hero of the Orange Revolution, a white Nelson Mandela who had suffered poisoning, not prison. It is relatively rare, and usually considered a high honor, for a foreign leader to be invited to address a joint session of Congress. CNN ran live coverage, and was sure to have Mark Brzezinski - Ian’s brother – present for analysis. The onetime director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs for the National Security Council and foreign policy advisor to the John Kerry presidential campaign was hopeful that Yushchenko could “show the Ukrainian people that he can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk in terms of essential transformations within Ukraine.”

On a working visit to Poland at the end of August, a still faintly scarred Yushchenko had a photo taken with Ian and Mark’s father, the exalted Zbigniew Brzezinski in the land of his birth. They clasped hands and gazed smilingly at each other as NDI’s Madeleine Albright looked on with a grin. The “democratic bridgehead” had been extended as Zbig had prescribed eight years earlier, and he seemed very happy about the whole affair. The decade-running family project had yielded tangible gains, but the situtaion would soon complicate and the smiles would fade.
Yush, Brz, Albright, Poland, August 2005