I Know I Shouldn’t…

by Nathan Hamm on 3/29/2005 · 11 comments

I should just drop this, but I don’t like being told what I think.

The idea that the U.S. would ever engage in covert activities to bring down a government is so inconceivable to Nathan Hamm, of “registan.net,” that he’s shocked — shocked! — that anybody would take the memo purportedly by U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Stephen Young seriously.

Nope, I don’t find it inconceivable at all. In fact, in some cases I support them. Laboriously spelling one’s plans out on paper and putting them out where they can be purloined is not a hallmark of covert activity.

I repeat, I’m surprised that anyone would take the memo seriously because it’s so poorly written (read it here – PDF) that one would have to be arrogant and stupid to keep insisting it’s real against all evidence and reason. You have to simultaneously believe the US government is brilliantly plotting the downfall of a poor little government and that the US government is so stupid as to get the one person on staff who writes like he or she is translating from Russian to put on paper our detailed plans to topple the Kyrgyz government.

The stupidity and arrogance of U.S. foreign policy is doubly underscored in the example of Kyrgyzstan, where the wide distribution of the Young memo is creating ill will and resentment against the U.S. as fast (or faster) than the distribution of dollars is creating compliant yes-men — and fueling the growing Islamist elements.

Because, you know, Justin has people on the ground and stuff to tell him this. It’s fitting that he then goes on to quote John Laughland, sometimes of the BHHRG, the group that practically invented “expert analysis without anyone on the ground” in the former Soviet Union.

And, by the way, Justin, there’s only one parliament. There was only one when you wrote your latest post. If you want to pretend to know what’s going on, at least make a partial effort to keep up with events.

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– 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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One Eyed Cat March 29, 2005 at 2:16 pm

I still havent fully recovered from the projectile vomiting known as the “Yushchenko Mythos”. I have yet to even see him retract or apologize for suggesting Yuschenko was not poisoned. Just remember that many of us who were weary of US actions in 1999 now staunchly support the efforts being reported on by yourself and Publius Pundit. May we proceed from the facts and disregard the lies spewed by the “antiwar” crowd.


Sepra March 29, 2005 at 6:04 pm

I have to disagree with OEC and say that while Justin Raimondo is anti-war, not all people that are anti-war are that silly. I’m anti-war too. Kills a lot of people, so I don’t like it. However, no one rational would keep on insisting that it’s Nathan’s neurosis when clearly he has no experience in Central Asia. He quotes from another person who also has no experience in the stans to get his point across.

As far as I’m concerned, the american NGOs are doing a lot of good by making people’s lives better. I find little malevolence in programs that promote “water and ‘a gender specific strategic action plan’.” Does Justin have something against women living better or people having better access to water? Perhaps he should try hauling his water 1/2 mile everyday then.

Nathan March 29, 2005 at 6:15 pm

I’m not sure if OEC is referring to antiwar in general or Antiwar.com. If it’s the latter, I’ll agree with him 100%.

My bottom line with NGOs is pretty much the same as yours though, Sepra. Some of them piss me off real bad, but lots of them are doing great work, and even if some, by their efforts, weaken authoritarians, why should anyone shed a tear?

Tom G. Palmer March 29, 2005 at 8:16 pm

You may find it amusing that, for what is probably the first time in his life, Mr. Raimondo has offered an “apology”….sort of:
What’s amazing about the “apology” is that he admits that he thought that the document might be phony from the get go (something I rather doubt, given his MO, but whatever), but went ahead with a breathless essay on how the truth had ben revealed:
Now, as soon as I read this piece I realized fully that a great deal of it was probably the product of someone’s imaginative literary gifts: oh, I thought, too bad I can’t use it! With the clock ticking on my deadline, and a little voice inside my head telling me “Let them deny it!”, I decided that at least part of it was probably true, and I made sure to cover my ass with an exculpatory paragraph at the very end, as well as a weasel-worded introduction to the material that gave several reasons why it could be at least partially authentic.

Part of the memo may well be real: but that isn’t good enough.
He goes on to say he’s not giving himself any excuses, but …. he’s “recovering from a very mean bout with pneumonia.” Sounds like an excuse to me.

This from the same person who slandered and vilified Viktor Yushchenko in the most hateful terms, mocking his disfiguring due to poisoning by likening him to “a toad.” I wonder from what “very mean” illness Mr. Raimondo was recovering then.

Nathan March 29, 2005 at 8:38 pm

Holy freakin’ crap!

One Eyed Cat March 29, 2005 at 9:31 pm

I was thinking mostly in terms of the antiwar.com crowd. I certainly respect pacifism as a legitimate response (though I’d disagree in a number of instances) I really don’t know how to categorize such people. I was, myself, an opponent of the war in Serbia.


Sepra March 29, 2005 at 11:44 pm

Ah, ok then. Sorry I misunderstood, didn’t mean to go off :).

That retraction was funny though. Shame on Justin Raimondo. Even my 5 year old niece can make an apology without so many excuses.

It wasn’t usually the NGOs that pissed me off, it was some of the people working at them that got on my nerves. But then again, I had some NGO friends too.

Justin Raimondo March 30, 2005 at 12:55 am

Palmer, quit yer mean-mouthed yammering. Yushchenko’s “poisoning” is still a matter of dispute, as this March 27 article in the Telegraph put it:

“A senior doctor ousted from the Vienna clinic where Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian president, was treated for dioxin poisoning, claims that his life was threatened after he cast doubt on the diagnosis.

“Dr Lothar Wicke, the former clinical director at the Rudolfinerhaus, said that the clinic came under intense pressure from Mr Yushchenko’s entourage to diagnose poisoning, even when there was no apparent evidence.”

As the Insta-fool would put it: Read the whole thing.


At least I have the balls to acknowledge an error in judgement and own up to it. You’re still lying your head off, and the sheer nastiness of your tone betrays that something else than the fate of Kyrgystan is involved.

Tom G. Palmer March 30, 2005 at 2:14 pm

It’s actually rather sad to see someone who’s reasonably intelligent self-destruct like that. His response to being caught in an open lie (not an error, but a deliberate attempt to mislead) is to assert that everyone else is lying, too. Evidence? Nah, why bother? And since everything is personal (after all, Yushchenko’s medical condition was an occasion for truly evil and hateful gloating by Raimondo:

The prince becomes a toad – and, no, I seriously doubt that Yushie’s physical deterioration has anything to do with a nefarious plot by Putin’s KGB against his good looks. Instead, let me suggest an alternative theory, one not contradicted by expert medical testimony – and the account of a parliamentary inquiry, – and it is this: perhaps the Faustian deal that Yushchenko made with the U.S. government has taken its toll, and, as in the dramatic climax of Oscar Wilde’s famous tale, “The Portrait of Dorian Grey,” his sins are being visited on his once-handsome visage, ravaging it – and revealing his inner soul.

It’s important in a free society that free and open debate drive crazy views to the little corners of crazydom where they belong. Justin Raimondo, Lyndon LaRouche, and their ilk can all converse among themselves about Jewish conspiracies (like Raimondo’s theory about what was “really” behind 9/11), all powerful international societies, that sort of thing. But serious people don’t take such rubbish seriously.

Justin Raimondo March 30, 2005 at 3:09 pm

If anyone deserves to be “driven to the little corners of crazydom,” it’s neocons like you, Palmer, who really beieve “democracy” is embodied by U.S. foreign policy.

The evidence that Yushchenko’s illness was a result of a nefarious “plot” by the KGB is nonexistent. But, as you say — evidence? Who needs it? Not you, certainly.

Nor have I ever written anything about “Jewish conspiracies.” But I have written about this:


And this:


Lyndon March 31, 2005 at 4:54 pm

Looks like I’m a bit late to the comment party here – the caravan moves fast here at Registan, but I’ll still bark at it – and I know Raimondo has apologized, sort of, in a later post, but all I can say about this is, wow.

Reflexively anti-American dupes like this guy were invaluable to the Soviets back in the cold war days of dezinformatsiia, and “one can only note, with dismay,” (to use Raimondo’s words) that there are people who continue to fall for forgeries like this.

Thank you, Nathan, for bringing this to the attention of your readers. Now if one of my Russian friends mentions an incriminating memo (I haven’t noticed, but I would bet this has been reported in the Russian press), I’ll know to dismiss it faster than you can say “Rathergate.”

I know that State Dept. cables may not always be shining examples of perfect English prose, but you will never be able to convince me that this passage (just for example) was written by a native English-speaker:

>We know, Akaev’s adherents suspect the opposition to
>prepare the same scenario of elections like that one
>in Georgia and Ukraine. That was indirectly asserted
>by Akaev at December meeting of the Council of.
>Defense of the KR. In case of prolongation of
>presidential powers Akaev is mast likely to take
>advantage of the assistance rendered by the Russian-
>speaking part of the population and other ethnic
>minorities, as well as of several thousand residents
>who are on earnings in Russia now.

Nathan, as you mention, to someone who knows Russian and how it often looks when translated into English, this is an obvious example of such a text. “Prolongation”? “On earnings”?! How could anyone possibly think this memo was the real deal?

Furthermore, iirc, the “memo” suggested collaboration between George Soros and the current US administration; interesting, because as far as I know, Soros is about as opposed to George W. Bush’s presidency as anyone in the United States today. However, the eliding of US-government- and Soros-funded activities is a bit of disinformation frequently resorted to by America’s more strident critics within Russia.

Looks like Kabar has taken down this bit of “news” – the link which initially got you the “memo” is now a broken link – so I guess this story has run its full course, but I am still stunned at how easy it is to use the prejudices of underinformed American activists to deceive them.

And I don’t think Akaev was really deceived by this “memo” – it just served his purposes so well that of course it would be in his interest to pretend it was an authentic document.

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