Here’s another interesting article about the Kremlin’s obsession with “color revolutions,” which some people have taken to calling “Maidans.”
I’ve written plenty on this topic before, but once again there are some questions that people should really start asking about color revolutions, especially if they take the Kremlin’s side on this topic.
1. Pro-Kremlin sources accuse the West and particularly the US of orchestrating the Arab Spring uprisings. They seem to forget that numerous Arab Spring uprisings occurred in regimes which were either US allies, or allies with US allies. Some of these included the Mubarak regime of Egypt, which was a long-time recipient of massive amounts of US aid, and then you have those uprisings against the Iraqi government, Bahrain, Jordan, just to name a few. See for yourself.
Now if you followed those protests closely, you could definitely notice a wide difference between the way the US acted towards regimes it favored versus those it was either unfriendly to, or which it considered expendable. It is naive to think that the US had no strategic interests in favoring some protest movements while favoring its allied governments against others. That being said, however, why did those other protest movements happen at all then, especially in light of the US winding down its military presence in the region? If it’s all about knocking over Libya, which had been extremely cooperative with the US up to at least 2010, and Syria, due to its connection with Iran, why not just foment uprisings there?
“But wait,” a Putin fan says. “Maybe some other Kremlin fans and the state media are saying all the protests were orchestrated by the US, but I’m not. Those protests in Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, etc. were genuine!” Ah alright then- so why didn’t the US just suppress those uprisings? I don’t mean via the government either. Remember, the US supposedly has the ability to conjure government-toppling protest movements out of thin air. How is it possible that they cannot also sabotage and deflate actual, grass roots protest movements? Can they not use their NGO’s, politicians, and biased journalists to discredit, divide, and confuse such movements? If not, why not? Seems to me it’s harder to organize such a revolution than it is to squash one before it gets off the ground.
2. Speaking of orchestrated protests, we’re constantly hearing about the “BRICS alternative.” What’s that “B” stand for? Brazil! And what country has had a series of ongoing protests against their government, some of which with a noticeable right-wing presence? Brazil! Somehow the government hasn’t been overthrown, in spite of the alleged incentive for the US to knock the “B” off of BRICS, which would actually reduce it to ICS, seeing as how Russia no longer meets the original criteria. Perhaps the government’s response has more to do with this than just a lazy CIA agent not monitoring the protests closely enough.
3. Why haven’t they managed to overthrow the government of Belarus? It’s not like Lukashenko has been much harder than Yanukovych. And given all the economic horrors Belarus has been going through in the past few years you’d think they could have pulled a Minsk Maidan off a long time ago. In fact, why didn’t they orchestrate concurrent color revolutions in Ukraine and Belarus at the same time to throw off any Russian response? I mean we’re talking about the omnipotent CIA, the NED! Why can they always accomplish some things so easily, and yet totally screw up other things?
4. Why didn’t the US pull off a color revolution in Russia years ago, even more than a decade ago, during America’s drunken regime change bender? Yeah, sure, the truth that no Kremlin fan wants to admit is that the US and Russia were actually buddy-buddy during that time, but still, that should have been an opportune time as Russia was in some ways weaker then (especially militarily), and there was a lot more personal freedom, the bane of the regime’s existence.
5. Speaking of which, if the US orchestrated protests in 2011 and 2012, which contrary to The Moscow Times article I linked in the beginning, weren’t actually suppressed that brutally, why didn’t the US then orchestrate more protests in late 2013, concurrent with Euromaidan? Think about it- In 2012 the government started cracking down on protests and dissent, but it was still nothing like in 2014. So the Ukrainians rise up, and that’s used as a spark to trigger the new round of protests in Russia. After all, Putin’s approval ratings prior to the Crimean annexation were still in the toilet. What’s that you say? The Russian protest movement wouldn’t have got off the ground because of the supposedly anti-Russian nature of Maidan in Ukraine? Well about that…
6. Kremlin supporters called Euromaidan a neo-Nazi coup. Here’s a question- Since the US and other Western governments certainly aren’t fans of Nazism and openly decry racism, why did the revolution they orchestrated have any significant presence of far right extremists at all? I mean all these things are orchestrated by NGO’s, the NED, the CIA, and the US State Department, right? At the very least, they should have been concerned with how their own populations might react to knowing their government was endorsing radical far-rightists, if not neo-Nazis. They’d have to have been fully aware of how the Russian media would report it, and they would have been aware of the Russian media’s foreign language reach.
So when organizing Maidan, i.e. paying people, giving them cookies, and putting drugs in their tea (all real Russian claims), why didn’t they talk to the violent thugs and tell them not to carry or display any of their nationalist insignia? If you can orchestrate protests of this scale, why would you ever leave such a gaping hole in your narrative like this? I mean I didn’t even get my news on Euromaidan from Russian press, and yet in the beginning I still saw it as a largely right-wing dominated movement just based on the Western coverage alone. What was stopping the CIA or Nuland or whomever from immediately scratching the nationalist Tyahnybok from the opposition coalition and ordering all the nationalists who were allegedly the main force behind the “putsch” to conceal their politics? Is it just me or are these conspirators both super-geniuses and super-morons at the same time?
And not to dwell on Maidan too much, but what about those snipers? The “alternative” explanation provided by Russia’s media always insists that the conspirators were in on this somehow. They supposedly fired into the crowds, ostensibly to provoke them and escalate the violence. But how did they know that would be the result? What if the sniper fire and escalation caused people to disperse and go home? What if Yanukovych panicked and called out the army? What if he got really upset and started making peace offerings right there?
You see where this is starting to look like a poorly-written screenplay?
7. Why is it these color revolutions seem to work best in developing countries or those suffering from a lot of corruption and which have rotten political situations? In countries with functioning democratic systems, large protest movements are eventually courted by political parties. Even when those parties fail to deliver, their entrance into the fray typically leads to electoral victories which take the wind out of the movement’s sails. The anti-war movement in the US post Bush is a perfect example of this.
Turns out when you don’t give people this pressure release valve, you make “color revolutions” the only possibility for change.
8. Why doesn’t Russia fund color revolutions to defend itself, instead of threatening everyone with nukes and invasion? How about this: Instead of annexing the Crimea and starting a war in the Donbas, Russia should have been able to wage a successful counter-protest movement/presidential election in May of 2014. They’d have had plenty of people to do it with. As it turns out, annexing Crimea and trying to annex the Donbas is what shaped the post-Yanukovych government. We’re constantly being told what a rising superpower Russia is, yet not only can it not openly admit to using its military to support an insurgency, it can’t even manage to pay people to protest and topple their governments as the US apparently can.
9. Why doesn’t the US ever sponsor color revolutions in developed liberal democracies when they pose a problem for US interests? For examples you could have Germany and France when they opposed the invasion of Iraq. Speaking of which, Canada refused to back the invasion as well. The US couldn’t do anything about that? Or why not Norway? It’d be nice to back a new government that would privatize Norway’s lucrative assets and get rid of that pesky ethical investment policy that governs their sovereign pension fund and excludes investment in so many major US companies.
You know, it’s almost like people in those countries have their own ideas and political movements, as well as reasonably functioning democratic systems. Thus the US State Department conspirators know that such efforts would inevitably fail.
10. This one’s addressed to you, anti-color revolution warrior. Why do you assume that people who protest have no agency, and that they are just puppets of the US? Do you have beliefs and values? Have you ever been involved in activism on behalf of those ideas? Would you like to be dismissed as an agent of a foreign state? Why should you be allowed to dissent while others have to tolerate corruption and incompetence indefinitely just because their nation is supposedly a disputed square on your grand chessboard view of the world?
The truth is that often times protests are influenced by slick PR and government-funded NGOs, and many of those NGOs are going to be peddling ideas which, while they may be packaged with genuinely positive ideas, may also contain core ideas that are designed to advance the interests of American or European businessmen first and foremost. That being said, grass roots movements still exist and when foreign observers don’t listen to those activists and write them off as dupes, it means those not-so-altruistic NGOs or politicians will maintain control over those movements. In the case of Maidan, so much of the international left, including myself I’m sad to say, bought into the “neo-Nazi dominated” narrative that we didn’t investigate and communicate with the movement to see what it was really about. Worse still, most international leftists have no familiarity with Ukraine or Russia, and as a result they became mouthpieces for Russian propaganda. This in turn strengthened the right’s hold in Ukraine, where a lot of people who weren’t necessarily hostile to left-wing ideas became so after seeing much of the world left repeating Russian propaganda talking points.
If color revolutions are a dastardly plot of the West to expand to new markets and dominate the world, maybe we ought to start asking why they always seem to show up and succeed in certain countries but not others. What is more important, maybe instead of just taking whatever we see to be the opposite side of any given color revolution, we should examine the real causes of each specific case. If more people did that, they might have more respect for foreign protesters and their motives, and maybe that would motivate them to activism in their own countries.
In reality, the Kremlin’s fears about color revolution have nothing to do with valuing national sovereignty or defending the Russian people from foreign domination. It has everything to do with the desire of Russia’s masters to stay in power and not be held accountable to their people. Since this means they can’t have free and fair elections, they need to maintain an increasingly authoritarian system- the kind that can only hypothetically be overthrown by a popular revolution if not a military coup. The fact is that its governments like these that make color revolutions.
Now will Russia’s regime change with such a popular revolution? No. I think we’re past that point. In fact, I think we’re at a point where that would have been a desirable outcome, and now the transition will actually be worse. The system has so destroyed civil society, interest in politics, and trust between people that not only is it impossible for a popular revolutionary movement to form, but it will be impossible to form a coherent political system after the regime falls.
Why will it fall? My money is on Putin somehow becoming incapacitated or suddenly dying. He’s the lynch pin of the system so when he’s not there, the scramble for Russia’s resources and control will begin, and the infighting will be nasty, especially with people like Kadyrov being involved.
Till then, however, the Kremlin keeps obsessing over color revolutions, which is really funny considering how they’re always touting Putin’s high approval ratings, now supposedly at 89%. Better safe than sorry must be their motto.