I Feel Sick This article

by Nathan Hamm on 12/8/2003

I Feel Sick
This article from Counterpunch (via Political Theory Daily,
a site I respect, but which takes this drivel too seriously) disgusts
me. It’s not the gaping analytical holes, the reliance on
conspiratorial arguments, the assumption that anyone but the US is a
better partner for Georgians, or any of that which annoys me–it’s that
the author treats democracy as something dirty because it was midwifed
by foreign actors.
Just look at this crap…

Nongovernmental organizations–the notionally independent,
reputedly humanitarian groups known as NGOs–are now being openly
integrated into Washington’s overall strategy for consolidating global

What’s the problem? I know the Counterpunch crowd holds
certain truths to be self-evident (the US can do no good), but I don’t
see the problem here. Sharing the burden and having independent groups
do the work sounds good to me. In my experience, Washingtong has too little control over these gropus once they receive their grant money.

Events surrounding last month’s coup in post-Soviet
Georgia, read in light of recent State Department documents, suggest
that seemingly innocuous NGOs now play a central role in the policy of
US-engineered “regime change” set forth in the notorious National
Security Strategy of the United States.

I’m not so sure regime change in Georgia was a high
priority. Democratization is a priority, and seizing an opportunity to
advance democracy so quickly is great.

Astute commentators have correctly noted connections
between these provocateur NGOs and mega-philanthropist George Soros,
but the billionaire speculator did not act independently. Georgia’s
so-called “Velvet Revolution” appears to have been a textbook case of
regime change by stealth, carefully planned and centrally coordinated
by the US government.

Anyone else notice that “so-called” is the favorite term
of the far left? In my opinion, the events in Georgia were a seized
opportunity; first by the opposition, then by the US once it was clear
they would succeed. I think that a planned out revolution would have
happened right after the election.

the Georgian coup can be understood as a virtual
scene-for-scene rerun of the overthrow of Yugoslavia’s Slobodan
Milosevic–right down to the role of US Ambassador, played in both
cases by spooky career diplomat Richard Miles.

Spooky or not, if Richard Miles was involved in both places, he deserves accolades.

This bold, all but overt, deployment of NGOs in service of
US imperialism represents a new wrinkle in regime change, reflecting
adjusted post-9/11 priorities at State and in the US Agency for
International Development (USAID).

Imperialism or not, it’s a good move.

In the report, USAID vows that development programs will no
longer be directed primarily toward alleviating human misery, but will
be committed to “encouraging democratic [i.e., US-friendly] reforms.”

The programs to alleviate human misery don’t work too
well and treat symptoms, not the disease. For example, a children’s
health organization I worked with in UZland received enough money from
USAID that it might as well have been part of USAID. I got to go pick
up some of our supplies with their driver and a manager one day. Of
course, a ton of our stuff had “disappeared” between customs and our
city (the nurse seemed evasive when we asked if they took it). That’s
to be expected. The real problem is the doctors that worked for this
organization started taking the medicine themselves for friends and
family and occasionally sold some of it. Each was paid $500 per month
to read Vogue and smoke cigarettes. So, what’s the better approach,
help reform the system so that health needs are met, or keep throwing
money on a fire?

This policy shift is explicitly linked to the National
Security Strategy of the United States, the 2002 White House blueprint
for a new, openly aggressive phase of US imperialism.

Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t think empire is a dirty
word. In fact, I think imperialism can be a great thing, so… I don’t
see what the problem here is.

Henceforward, the report promises, only friendly regimes
will be rewarded with development money, while hostile (or merely
independent) states will be punished by NGO-driven “reform” programs
that sound suspiciously like old-fashioned destabilization ops.

Bullshit. I linked to aid for FY2002 for Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan in this post, and you can easily find the entire FY2002 report here.
Anyway, the point here is that Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan boith have
oppressive leaders and both receive democratization money.

As summarized by Hoover Institute fellow Larry Diamond, a
self-described “specialist on democratic development and regime change”
who contributed to the report: “Where governments are truly rotten, the
report suggests channeling assistance primarily through nongovernmental
sources, working with other bilateral aid donors and multilateral aid
agencies to . . . coordinat[e] pressure on bad, recalcitrant

What Diamond identifies is a good and efficient move on
our part. But, I mostly take issue at the swipe against Diamond, who is
much more than a “self-described” specialist in democratization and
regime change, the dude is very respected and recognized in the field.
Check out his website.

An interlocking network of development-oriented
foundations, think tanks, and NGOs was mobilized to disseminate
propaganda, recruit opposition leaders, and fund an ex nihilo “student
resistance movement” modeled on Yugoslavia’s CIA-connected Otpor.
Meanwhile, NGOs like the Liberty Institute–a USAID subcontractor
managed by Mikhail Saakashvili, the US-approved candidate for Georgian
leadership–worked hand-in-glove with the US Embassy (and presumably
the CIA) to destabilize civil society.

That’s where Levich shows he has no idea what civil
society is. Saakashvili is a much better representative of Georgian
civil society than Shevardnadze. Also, Levich gives the US more credit
for pulling something like this off than we deserve really. And, if it
was all a US plot, it was extremely well-done and should be applauded
for its lack of violence. The chances for Georgians achieving their
aspirations got a real shot in the arm from our vast conspiracy aid.

Even the coup’s immediate pretext–allegations of electoral
fraud — conveniently emerged from an “election support” operation run
by USAID in consort with a Soros-connected NGO, Open Society Georgia

Levich has now achieved orbit. Anyone who followed these events even a little bit knows that the votes in Ajaria were obviously fixed (95% turnout and 95% margin of victory for Abashidze’s party).

Within two weeks, Donald Rumsfeld was in Tbilsi as guest of
the coup leaders, discussing a timetable for Russian troop withdrawals.

Why the hell shouldn’t they leave? Russia is a threat to Georgia.

In the near future, the smashing success of the Georgia
operation may be expected to lead to similarly coordinated attempts on
independent-minded governments worldwide–Cuba, now doing its best to
cope with an invasion of foreign-sponsored “reform” organizations, is
an especially likely candidate.

Poor Cuba… Evil organizations like Freedom House give it the lowest rating possible for freedom. That’s what Levich wants us to stand up for.

This is the kind of thing that gets me more and more depressed about politics and the human condition every day.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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