March 30, 2005

Kyrgystan's Revolutionary Stirrings Got An Assist

More nefarious American trouble-making:

Shortly before Kyrgyzstan's recent parliamentary elections, an opposition newspaper ran photographs of a palatial home under construction for the country's deeply unpopular president, Askar Akayev, helping set off widespread outrage and a popular revolt in this poor Central Asian country. The newspaper was the recipient of United States government grants and was printed on an American government-financed printing press operated by Freedom House, an American organization that describes itself as "a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world."

In addition to the United States, several European countries - Britain, the Netherlands and Norway among them - have helped underwrite programs to develop democracy and civil society in this country. The effort played a crucial role in preparing the ground for the popular uprising that swept opposition politicians to power...

...After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan quickly became an aid magnet with the highest per-capita foreign assistance level of any Central Asian nation. Among the hundreds of millions of dollars that arrived came a large slice focused on building up civil society and democratic institutions.

Most of that money came from the United States, which maintains the largest bilateral pro-democracy program in Kyrgyzstan because of the Freedom Support Act, passed by Congress in 1992 to help the former Soviet republics in their economic and democratic transitions. The money earmarked for democracy programs in Kyrgyzstan totaled about $12 million last year...

..."It would have been absolutely impossible for this to have happened without that help," said Edil Baisolov, who leads a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, referring to the uprising last week. Mr. Baisolov's organization is financed by the United States government through the National Democratic Institute.

Craig Smith in the NYT.

Sheesh. More jingoistic, neo-imperialistic empire building, doubtless. When will it end?

P.S. The U.S. played, in similar fashion, a hand in the Georgian situation. At least some Lebanese were specifically emboldened by the Iraqi elections. Pressure on Egypt has led to nascent democratization there. Ditto Saudi, if in modest fashion. Positive moves afoot in Palestine. We could go on. Look, I don't know if this maketh some 'fourth wave of democratization' or such; but there's certainly something afoot no? All just fortunate happen-stance for lucky Chimpie? Nothing at all to do with his Administration's policies, right? I report, you decide.

Posted by Gregory at March 30, 2005 05:16 AM | TrackBack (8)
Comments

Sure Greg, its all due to Bush. And of course when Bush is warned that bin Laden is going to attack and spends August 2001 saving us from fetal stem cell researchers, that was the result of that policy.

Oh, no, wait, that's just paranoia. A warning about bin Laden ignored is just coincidence, but bombing the Iraqi sand clearly leads to revolt in Kyrgystan. YUM, kool aid.

Posted by: epistemology at March 30, 2005 06:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is progress actually being made in Egypt, or is it just window dressing? (And, where can we look to keep abreast of this?)

Posted by: sammler at March 30, 2005 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Eqyptians want Washington to understand that although Washington has been pouring money into that country for years and has replenished and modernized the Egyptian armed forces (to fight all of Egypt's myriad enemies), the Egyptians cannot and will not be bought, and will essentially continue to do what Egypt has been doing.

Lest the US think otherwise....

We're talking deep-seated principles, here.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 30, 2005 08:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All recent so-called "revolutions" have been underwritten by US contributions in some form or another for the past 10+ years. US activism - both public, private and religious in some cases - has in these cases been multi-faceted, and the results are positive in terms of change (tho...as a long-time resident of Russia, I will say that we swapped one group of theives for another in Ukraine and now likely Kyrgyzstan).

Blaming Bush or praising Iraq is short-sighted. In Lebanon, I hardly think that the Iraq situation resulted in the demonstrations; I seem to recall a certain bombing of a prominent moderate. Likewise, in Israel, Arafat died. Unless Bush accelerated his aging process, I see no complicity. In Ukraine, deep historical forces and power politics/economics are at work, while the Kyrgyz...I think they saw that you can depose a government on TV (for the region, a very liberal TV I might add) and and then steal a new TV while you are at it.

As a long-time Russia person, I can hardly discern any concerted foreign policy directed toward the region (or any other for that matter). Our moves are contradictory toward the region...from missle treaties to oil and investment policy to military disperals. One constant has been US and private aid for 'civil' society like newspaper funding and what not. But we have no policies, only issues. So long as we pursue our diplomacy in an ad-hoc fashion, the results will be ad hoc.

Posted by: Josh Tulgan at March 30, 2005 10:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I think you should mention that the plan by which the newspaper received the funding was initiated in 1992 on Clinton's watch. Thus, in many ways, the roots of the civil society fostered for over a decade are bearing fruit. Bush deserves credit for continuing to fund these groups, but it wasn't his or his administration's brain child.

This sort of historical myopia reminds me of the "Reagan brought down Communism" crowd. As if you could ignore the prior 40 years of political maneuvering, hundreds of thousands of dead American soldiers and intelligence officers, and countless confrontations to declare that Reagan alone straddles the trash heap of Communism. And that leaves aside the fact that Communism itself was inherently flawed and destined for failure.

That being said, I think that Reagan's military spending, and the USSR's perceived need for parity, accelerated the process, but was not the cause.

So too here. Bush's rhetoric and actions in Iraq might have provided a spark in some quarters of the globe (though the claim is dubious in others), the changes taking place are the result of many policies, small and large, taken by US governments over the past quarter century and longer, not to mention the indiginous movements in the evolving nation's themselves. And the fact that repressive dictatorships are inherently flawed and destined for failure.

Not happen stance for the fortunate son Greg, but the result of a multifaceted approach.

Posted by: Eric Martin at March 30, 2005 03:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Freedom Support Act was passed in 1992, during the administration of the first President Bush, with support from both Republicans and Democrats. It was perfectly sensible legislation building on American efforts to support freedom and undermine Communism that stretched back decades.

Notwithstanding the imperatives of the permanent campaign to ascribe all success in foreign policy to the most recent administration of one's own party and all the failures to administration's of the other party, history does not start or stop when the White House changes hands. Continuity in American foreign policy, acheived through a consensus on our values and goals, will be the source of our most enduring successes.

Posted by: Zathras at March 30, 2005 04:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And, to be fair, the NDI is primarily supported by/associated with the Democratic Party and its members, whereas the IRI is the Republican equivalent. Both parties do good work in the area, and there's been a reasonable bipartisan consensus on these sorts of things.

Posted by: John Thacker at March 30, 2005 04:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Surely something worth noting is that such events around the globe put pay to the highly persistant belief by some, primarily on the left, that people such as those in the Middle East have no desire for democracy and the freedoms that we in the West enjoy. Just as there were those deluded but influential (and loud) intellectuals in the West who advocated the Soviet system, there were/are many who truly believed that the average Iraqi or Iranian was happy with his lot and wanted nothing to do with what Bush 'offered'. 'Inalienable rights' don't fly with some.

Posted by: Andrew Paterson at March 30, 2005 05:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't know Andrew, I would say that those voices can be found in equal distribution on the right and the left. Do you have a citation to support that the claim that the "persistent belief" that people in the Middle East do not desire freedom has its advocates primarily on the left, or is that a case of seeing what one wants to see in ones own ideological brethren?

Posted by: Eric Martin at March 30, 2005 05:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here in the UK Eric I'm referring to those figures, politicians and intellectuals who were, shall we say, affectionate towards the USSR such as Tony Benn, Harold Pinter and George Galloway who are now also highly vehement opponents of the 'war on terror' and the ideology behind it i.e. the spread of capitalist democracy will help solve the problems of the Middle East such as terrorism. When one is dedicated against capitalist democracy at home it's easy to ally with others that oppose it, no matter their status:

"I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability!"- Galloway to Saddam Hussein, 1994.

Posted by: Andrew Paterson at March 30, 2005 06:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

so much simple-minded analysis around here, esp. from the proprietor. yes, i would argue that none of the events you allude to happened specifically because of our misadvenure in iraq. some of them were in the cards no matter what our behavior might be (could it be possible that not everything in the world is at our behest?)--saudi's have been faking democratic moves for 15 years, and egypt is, after all, a democracy (just a fake one, as it remains today with no effective change).

wishing things worked out the way you want doesn't make it so. while greg seems capable of not giving bush credit for arafat's death ( the shark jumping point for the whole bush-did-it argument as far as i can tell).

meanwhile, the actual democracy that we actually do deserve full credti for--namely, a place called iraq--is either a disaster waiting to happen (civil war) or a semi-theocracy beholden to iran, our sworn enemy. did i mention our sworn enemy is also a functioning democracy? this stuff is sooooo complicated, unlike the post here from greg.

and last boring point, worth making over and over though--was the algerian army right to step in and stop fundamentalists from taking their rightful ELECTED place as the government in 93? because those guys were promising to be pro-libyan, to institute sharia, to behave illiberally. which wins out--our war on terror or our seemingly random and newfound respect for worldwide democratic principles (if by "our" i mean neo-conservatives--if i ever become one please by all means pull my feeding tube)? tough call that, and requires a deeper level of thinking than that evinced by the proprietor of this blog. is he always this whiny?

Posted by: robert green at March 30, 2005 10:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric et al,

Much of what I read here makes sense, but Greg never said it was all about Bush, that is a straw man. He said "All just fortunate happen-stance for lucky Chimpie? Nothing at all to do with his Administration's policies, right?" Hardly a claim that the world spins around Bush's every thought and deed, but a question implying that something has happened at the margin around the region to put things in motion now and that Bush's policies on balance have pushed this along.

This is of course the real legacy of Reagan (at least for his more nuanced defenders) not that no other administration had any effect or that internal issues were not a key, but that absent the policies of Reagan the tipping point may not have been reached for an awfully long time. Maybe all Reagan did was supply the necessary shove to an unmoored structure, but the point is he did shove. It is not a given that anyone else would have or the fall would have come under other policies.

I think Greg is saying that without the change in words and deeds from this administration, the good work of the democracy and civil society organizations, the internal opposition and discontent inside these regimes, and the stupid errors of our, and the people of the regions enemies, may not have mattered. Someone had to get the ball rolling. In fact that there was a vast potential for change is at the heart of the beliefs of people like Wolfowitz and Michael Ledeen for all their supposed faults, and they were much ridiculed for it. Though I expect many here to deny it is true, most (I said most Eric!) of the criticism from both left and right has been rooted in the idea that we were destabilizing the region and/or imposing democracy. That implies to me that the instability (and so far I am glad for it, whoever gets credit) and agitation for democracy we see now must be responding to something because it wasn't large enough before now for Wolfowitz and Ledeen to be right even if we pushed for it, so how can it have already been there if we hadn't? How many times did I hear that the change should have come from the Iraqi's themselves, not imposed? So did the people of Iraq and the rest of these restive countries want it or not? If they wanted it, obviously before they were scared. So the neo-cons were at least right about them wanting it and also about why nothing had happened yet, fear. So what has changed? I think for many (not necessarily you Eric) it just gets their goat that the instability seems to be going in a positive direction and Chimpy is getting credit. They thought the instability would be bad because of course Wolfowitz and Ledeen and the evil neo-cons were wrong about what Middle Easterners (and others) want. I know if it had turned (or still does turn) out that way Bush would have gotten (or still will) the blame as governments crack down, the insurgency in Iraq grows even stronger, Afghanistan falls apart and Hamas and the other terrorist groups infiltrate Israel, etc.

At this point it looks like Wolfowitz and friends were right enough, even if it was harder than many claim they thought (by the way, a large part of Iraq did greet us as liberators and still do, Wolfowitz and friends weren't as wrong as many think, nor as right as they hoped). It also looks like some kind of shove helped get the ball rolling, even if many other factors are the real reason the people of the Middle East and the former Soviet Union are rising up (which not only Greg and I, but the neo-cons themselves believe. That is in fact why they thought their policies had a chance at success, because conditions were such that a push could make a difference.) What changed at the margin are the words and deeds of this administration.

Certainly US aid under Clinton had a role. When has Greg ever implied that Clinton never did anything right, or for that matter that Bush has done no wrong? To my mind Clinton did much that laid the groundwork for what has happened. What he didn't do, whether in the Balkans or anywhere else was show the kind of forthright resolve and willingness to expend blood and treasure to dissuade our enemies or embolden our friends or at least those who wish to enter the democratic world. I understand why, and I am not that critical given the politics at home and abroad. I also see no reason to believe that Bush would have been any more aggressive before 9/11 though I believe both he and Clinton genuinely desired democratic change in the Middle East. What changed for Bush was the risk calculus of not doing something about what every person who loves freedom should want, the end of these tyrannical regimes. Say he did it poorly if you want, but doing something poorly but still accomplishing some of the goal is better than nothing. Therefore if this all turns out with the Middle East and Central Asia a better place, if not nirvana, then he should get a lot of credit for doing the dangerous work of supplying that shove, even if in the end the shove was to something just waiting for someone willing to do it.

In the end Eric I think this is a view which a liberal against terrorism can embrace (assuming everything doesn’t just go into the crapper.) Give some well thought criticism’s, acknowledge that the aim of standing up has its benefits at least in this regard (though as you noted at TIA the invasion of Iraq still may not have been worth it on economic grounds alone) and let us elect someone in 2008 who will save SS and other pressing domestic issues from Bush’s grasping claws. Oh, and make sure that we have a more nuanced foreign policy that doesn’t carry all the baggage of Bush. If the freedom of the people in the Middle East requires a messy war it is just not important enough to strain our economy and is a distraction from the War on terrorism. That is a respectable “realist” perspective. It seems the gist of a recent post on the question of was the war worth it on your blog (and while I disagreed with some of it I found it very well done, well thought out and worth every reader of this blogs time to go and read, in fact I suggest TIA as a regular stop.) I just suggest that the idea that what Bush has done has not pushed forward the idea amongst many in the world (once again, not necessarily you Eric) that they are entitled to ask for reform and democracy now, that it can happen now, is sour grapes. In addition I think a connected aspect to their willingness is a feeling of both the regimes and the people protesting them that a severe crackdown might be unwise because of who our president is and what he has done so far. I think they feel emboldened, and I think at the margin that has made a difference even to people in Georgia, the Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and the rest of the old Soviet Union.

Posted by: Lance at March 30, 2005 10:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Robert Green,

You want to know what is simpleminded. Visiting a blog and thinking you know much about the persons views on one glance. It also is dispiriting that you obviously have trouble with reading comprehension. Where in Gregs piece did you ever see Greg imply he would disagree with this statement

" i would argue that none of the events you allude to happened specifically because of our misadvenure in iraq."

I think Greg would definitely agree with you. Where did Greg say any of these events were specifically because of Iraq? Nowhere. In fact the only direct mention of Iraq is as a factor to some in Lebanon, though I suspect Greg figures it was a factor elsewhere and possibly a major one. This particular post is about democracy promotion through supporting civil society. Argue against Greg, heck misunderstand him, everybody jumps to conclusions or sloppily misrepresents people at times, but before we have to listen to some broad brushed broadside (which is startlingly simpleminded in its certitude, even if unfortunately what you claim comes to pass in Iraq) with ad hominem gripes about Greg's simplemindedness I suggest you actually understand what he is saying or you come off as a self righteous, arrogant, twit.

Posted by: Lance at March 30, 2005 10:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

Aren't I the one who is always suggesting we be civil and give other people credit for their views, even when we disagree. I guess I let a troll get to me. My apologies. Especially given how self righteous and arrogant I can be at times. However, I hope I at least avoid being a twit.

Posted by: Lance at March 30, 2005 10:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, through Kuwait in on the mix. DId you see the sotries of the rather large women's protest?

Going on a Reynolds meme, it seems these revolutions have all the attractive women.

Posted by: David at March 30, 2005 10:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well done; very well done.

Posted by: reliapundit at March 31, 2005 01:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

success has 100 fathers....

so nathc: now everyone wants credit for the sprad of democracy.

but the spread of democracy through a very forward leaning foreign policy by the free world is EXACTLY - as in SPECIFICALLY AND LITERALLY - what Bush called for in his 2002 speech to the UN General Assembly. (he referred to Iraq and the Middle East.)

and the entire Left poo-poed it/him.

they called him a bellicose cultural hegemonist.
"you can't force people to become democratic."

now they claim to have had a hand in it.

yeah sure.

Posted by: reliapundit at March 31, 2005 01:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What I find funny is Lance apologizing. Buddy, my man - you got nothing to be ashamed of there.

Posted by: Jeff B. at March 31, 2005 02:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

lance, thanks for backing me up! by the by, i promise more on this topic soon. More nuanced even, so as to please my critics. cheers,gd

Posted by: greg at March 31, 2005 02:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually, I'm not sure Kuwait belongs in the mix at all. There's been a long and storied Kuwaiti feminist movement, one which got a boost in the 90s in response to the post-liberation US military presence and so-forth. This story has been in the works for a while; the only difference being the snazzy blue posters and a slightly-improved chance of success.

Posted by: praktike at March 31, 2005 03:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lance, good answer to Eric, but there's more. Yes, it's true that no reasonable supporter of Reagan thinks that he did it all by himself; we're quite aware of the many valuable contributions of other. But we're also aware that Jimmy Carter wanted to throw in the towel. Reagan is indispensible because he reversed the tide of accomodation and surrender that was threatening to bring the West down.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at March 31, 2005 05:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktike,

Very true. Still what you wrote about what has changed is exactly on point to me. At the margin things have changed and as one movement after another achieves some measure of success others become more emboldened. Before, the feeling of most within these movements, and more importantly those who they needed to join to give them critical mass, was the possibility for change was quite small. The risk reward calculus seemed quite poor. I suggest we have not seen the Lebanese version of Tiananmen
Square because of the larger more confident numbers and synergistically the increased risk the regime feels in cracking down. This by the way would have been true to some extent regardless of the outcome in Iraq. Obviously momentum is at the moment picking up (keep fingers crossed) there, but from the other regimes standpoint the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and Bush's rhetoric have been powerful. It doesn't matter to Assad that the US may fail in Iraq and might fail in Syria; he still doesn't want to end up like Saddam. His personal fate is of more concern than defeat of the US. Wouldn’t we make the same calculation?

Does that make it all worth it? Hard to say, and much of what we will need to know to assess it will not be known for decades. Were the massive expenditures of Reagan's buildup worth it to the US (certainly the people of Eastern Europe feel it was, but was it to us?) I believe it was but even there the aftermath has been a step forward, not some perfect end state. My hope is this comes out just as well, but manifestly it may not.

Of course to some extent I am not one who believes we are all that matters. Even if after it all shakes out it is a net negative for us and a net positive for the people of the region then I will call it a success. Our own self interest weighs heavily on my mind, but so does the fate of the rest of the world. We would have to pay a pretty steep price before I am willing to overlook the welfare of other peoples, which includes our trade policy as well. Luckily I think that what is best for the rest of the world’s people (as opposed to their governments) redounds to our benefit in the long run. I just hope the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end up being a net positive, and I am becoming more optimistic. History tells us however that these kinds of movements can come to a bad end. Europe’s history in the 19th century shows how often things went backward, we have seen the atavistic drift of much of the Soviet Union and the rise of Chavez after the liberalization of the 80's and 90's. There may be a lot of ruin in a nation, but there is also a lot of work to do as well.

Kirk,

I agree. I mean about me writing a good response to Eric I mean;)

No, really, your point about Carter is what I am talking about. Carter did a lot of work promoting civil society and other important things. He and other administrations did a lot (some of it quite bad and nasty by the way, Carter at the time was quite despised by the left) but in my estimation the work they did only laid the groundwork. It was not effective at actually causing or contributing to causing the crises which led to the Soviet Unions collapse. Of course most realistic assessments of the Soviet Union (including the CIA) said the Soviet Union was not in any difficulty, and as someone who was studying at the time most of my professors looked at the system as viable and at least as, if not more, effective at meeting the needs of its people as ours. The argument of the left and most liberals who were anti-communist (and my list of heroes from that group is quite long) was about human and civil rights, not about communism or socialism as an economic disaster. Of course liberals of that stripe eventually began to be called neo-cons and we know what we all think of them. Eventually many of those neo-cons lost their economic liberalism as well under the influence of Reagan, the demonstrable failure of the soviet system, the persistent unemployment and economic malaise in Europe, and the obvious increased prosperity of the countries in Europe which have liberalized their economies the most (England and Ireland.) They are now no longer men and women of the left and thus are the most hated of all.

Wow, boy can I digress. My point is that whatever the particular circumstances at the time, Carter and friends such as John Kerry viewed the Soviet Union as a moral error, but that our sins were less, but not greatly so, and from an economic sense merely another way to do things and even had much to recommend it. Hardly the view to provide the conviction to push back. It was a defensible view, I always hated the Soviet Union but I too at one point in my life didn’t see socialism as an economically unjust and unproductive system by definition (which I guess made me more like Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Sidney Hook or Patrick Moynihan than Reagan.) Stacks of books including economic textbooks by such noted minds as Paul Samuelson and Robert L. Heilbroner portrayed the system as viable and in many ways quite the superior or at least equal of ours. In many ways Carter only hoped to arrive at stability, victory was impossible. He was wrong, Reagan was right. It doesn’t make Carter an idiot or a bad man (though I have real problems with him from an ethics standpoint) but we now know Reagan may have been dumb (I don’t, but it doesn’t matter) but he was right. I’ll take a person who is dumb but correct over a brilliant man in service to serious intellectual error any day.

It should be noted it was not just Reagan’s military and economic offensive that made the difference. The rhetoric was just as important, which the dissidents of the time as well as the leaders of the Soviet apparatus will tell you. Calling the Soviet Union out publicly as both a moral, social and economic horror was very unpopular in elite diplomatic and political circles the world over. Moreover many felt what he was saying was untrue. As a teacher I often would quote some of what Reagan said about the USSR to my students. Even the leftists found it unexceptional. They also found it unbelievable that the leading politicians of the day were shocked at his rhetoric. Now we all (or almost all of us) act as if everybody felt that way and would have said the same. Well John Kerry, Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson and a host of others did not and I try to keep that in mind whenever a politician is criticized for undiplomatically stating the truth about the UN or other nations. (By the way for the Liberals against Terrorism crowd, I am not suggesting there were not a great many Liberals against Communism in congress or running for President at the time. There were and we all owe them a great debt. However, they were on the wane in the party at the time. Scoop Jackson was soon to be no more.)

Even those who hate the US in the Middle East listen to what Bush is saying. They may not like him or us, but they pick what they do like about what he says and use it to justify their unrest. That is all to the good. This is risky business, but it will not occur without them taking risk. I wish them all good luck.

Posted by: Lance at March 31, 2005 03:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Very true. Still what you wrote about what has changed is exactly on point to me. At the margin things have changed and as one movement after another achieves some measure of success others become more emboldened. Before, the feeling of most within these movements, and more importantly those who they needed to join to give them critical mass, was the possibility for change was quite small. The risk reward calculus seemed quite poor."

Good point, Lance. One more point about Kuwait is that the country is actually more polarized than ever -- with both Islamists and feminists strengthened at the expense of the middle. Makes for high drama.

You may be interested to read Charles Kurzman's The Unpredictable Iranian Revolution, which goes into some detail about the events and moments that tipped an inchoate movement into a revolution.

Posted by: praktike at March 31, 2005 05:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lance,

The short answer is I can live with the way you laid it out. I might pick a nit here or there, but I think we are in agreement generally, with probably slightly varying degrees of importance placed on certain factors over others.

That being said, I find comments like "reliapundit's" to be exactly the type of short-sightedness I was seeking to address, even if as you say, I was too quick to attribute such attitudes to Greg.

From reliapundit we get this statement "the entire Left poo-pooed him." The word "entire" doesn't leave a lot of room for difference, and is just flat out wrong. Some on the Left didn't believe him, others suggested that he was more word than deed, and still others said that the goal is a good one, but questioned the strategy.

On that last point, it is very plausible and reasonable for people who have been promoting democracy in the region, and elsewhere, for decades before Bush was even elected to claim some of the credit for the fruit borne by the trees they have planted and watered through the years. Democratic change doesn't spring up out of a vacuum, and it doesn't happen simply because of forced regime change.

In that sense, I refer to my original comment about underlying and immediate causes, and the interplay of a historical and varied array of policies and initiatives. While these changes are encouraging, nothing solid enough like a fourth wave is yet upon us. But if so, this success will have many fathers, and many lives sacrificed to point to, not just the last two to three years of foreign policy.

Posted by: Eric Martin at March 31, 2005 05:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric,

Well said. Just as Bush deserves criticism for his errors and credit where it is due, prior efforts should similarly be credited and critiqued. Funny, the latest victim of leftwing hysteria (Wolfowitz) had no problem working on behalf of Clinton in the Balkans, and I would say he and his allies were critical in arranging the necessary support. We can all get along when it makes sense.

Posted by: Lance at March 31, 2005 07:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Funny thing is that Richard Perle actually played a minor but critical role in getting the Bosnians to agree to the Dayton Accords. He flew in to has out their position and help them sort out good from bad.

Posted by: praktike at March 31, 2005 07:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

See Praktike agrees with me. Goody, Goody!

Posted by: Lance at March 31, 2005 10:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

prak: perle didn't go to dayton to get the bosnians to agree to the dayton accords per se. his main role was to help them comb through the military annexes to the accords. reportedly, holbrooke called him and asked him to give a hand on said annexes. they were really complex, the bosniaks were in over their heads, and perle knew his stuff on that score.

Posted by: greg at April 1, 2005 04:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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