Inconvenient questions about Color Revolutions

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.

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36 thoughts on “Inconvenient questions about Color Revolutions

  1. Asehpe

    Nit-picking: “serious of ongoing protests” => “series of ongoing protests”.

    Otherwise, an excellent post! I’m going to copy it to my own “answers to troll questions” file. (If only I could be a paid anti-troll troll myself…)

    Reply
  2. Shalcker

    Actually, yes, Lukashenko have been much harder then Yanukovich. He keeps opposition on short leash, constantly uses his security forces, persecutes NGOs/”independent” journalists, and does a lot of other things Yanukovich couldn’t really do.

    And i just happened to read article recently that explains most of ideas and theoretical underpinning behind “color revolutions” and protest takeovers as well as possible strategic reasons why US doesn’t squash them even with supposedly friendly governments. If you want to see theory behind it check this:
    http://syncreticstudies.com/2015/06/28/electric-yerevan-and-lessons-on-the-color-spring-tactic/
    At least it looks like better target then your Kremlin strawman.

    Reply
    1. gbd_crwx

      Yes, the US/CIA is so powerful and omnipotent that when something goes against its interests it they must be behind that one too.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well they’ll excuse this by saying “The US wants chaos!” Presumably that’s to justify wars abroad. Just one problem, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were incredibly costly. The US hasn’t used the rise of ISIS or its claims about Syrian use of chemical weapons to justify an invasion of the region, and it is mostly leaving Afghanistan. Even Obama declared that the era of large-scale military operations is over. American forces were also on their way out of Europe before Putin brought them back in because he needs an excuse for cracking down on his own populace to maintain the opulent lifestyle he and his friends enjoy.

        If the script were true, then there should have been a major military campaign in Libya and Syria, if not Iraq by now. But lo’! The US continues to downsize its military and close bases abroad!

      2. Shalcker

        Where does it say powerful and omnipotent there? Techniques described don’t need that much power, they just exploit natural grievances and escalate by disabling usual resolution paths.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Usually the reason why grievances spiral into something larger is because of the government’s poor response. It starts out being about one thing, then the police brutally crack down and that makes everyone come out and air all their grievances that they’ve had for a long time.

        Look at the Tea Party or Occupy- both had long lists of various grievances from the start. The main difference is that these occurred in a country with a functional electoral system, which allowed various politicians to court the movements.

        One thing about the Tea Party and the American far right that is interesting to note is the explosion of far-right anti-government groups after Obama got elected. This movement, sometimes called the militia movement, was actually extremely big and visible under the Clinton administration(to be fair, that was partially due to the OKC bombing, which was associated with those types).

        If you read the rhetoric of the far right in those days- and I certainly did, you would immediately see condemnation of “mainstream” conservatives and Republicans. It was the usual, radical “both parties” are corrupt rhetoric.

        Then in 2001 an interesting thing happened. Bush, a Republican, got “elected.” Very quickly after that, the militia movement’s popularity plummeted. If so many of these people sincerely believed both parties were corrupt pawns of the UN, why did so many of them leave?

        What happened is that under Clinton, it was non-stop conspiracy and attack rhetoric from the right-wing media. When Clinton was elected, in fact, one of the most popular radio hosts in America called it “America Held Hostage,” something he did for some time after Clinton took office.

        All of this agitation got conservatives extremely angry and radicalized. But once Bush got in power and there was a Republican congress, the mainstream right-wing media went into defensive mode, and then people were supposed to support the president.

        Maybe many of those former radicals weren’t entirely satisfied with Bush, but they felt they could compromise and that he was good enough. At least he wasn’t Commie Clinton who was about to let the Russian and Chinese troops into the country.

        So there you have just one example of how a functioning democracy, even a very poor one like the US with its two party system, has a built-in relief valve which makes color revolution tactics very unlikely.

        In countries like Syria, Libya, or Russia, there is no relief valve. Pressure builds up until it explodes.

      4. gbd_crwx

        Well the spirit of the piece certainly seems to be that nothing ever happens unless the US instigates it.

      5. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well you have to understand the perspective, where they are coming from. Russians don’t protest. They tolerate humiliation after humiliation for many years because of this phantom fear that if they do, Americans will say, “HA! I KNEW IT! WE WERE RIGHT!” Or something like that.

      1. Shalcker

        Hmm, attack the source rather then argument from get-go? Is your argumentation that weak really?

        Why does it have to be reputable? What do you want, scientific monograph on color revolutions with references and citations?

        Obviously “color revolutions as (purely) US plot” is fringe theory in Western media bordering on conspiracy theories, and it only readily gets published on sites that allow conspiracy theories.

        Still, the techniques explained there are real, follow some Western trends (“lead without leading” and all that) and do seem to be used in protests like Electric Yerevan.

      2. Asehpe

        No, Shalcker, but if you don’t consider the source then you’re leaving out important information for judging the assessment. You should know — I’m sure you’d immediately dismiss anything coming from, say, RFERL or the Legatum Institute without bothering to check the arguments… But if you want a good treatment of it, basically: why it is that color revolutions aren’t really being financed by anyone, see Jim’s post up above.

        Someday people will be writing dissertations about how it came to pass that Russians were so gullible and naive that they’d fall for such a conspiracy theory. So people have no agency and decision power — it’s all manipulations by higher powers? 🙂 What kind of political experience did you have in Russia so as to come to this conclusion?…

      3. Shalcker

        >No, Shalcker, but if you don’t consider the source then you’re leaving out important information for judging the assessment. You should know — I’m sure you’d immediately dismiss anything coming from, say, RFERL or the Legatum Institute without bothering to check the arguments…
        No, actually i do not dismiss any sources – and do occasionally read Legatum Institute and RFERL if articles are good, and especially if they quote relevant data that can be cross-checked. If argument is present in coherent manner and provides way to support or dismiss conclusions based on facts, or has predictions of assumed underlying facts and/or chain of events can be later checked to be true or not (that’s where most “Russia analysts” fail btw – predictive power) why should i dismiss it based on source only? :/

        It just comes into “another theory” folder. If for example there will be shown later connections to US from protest organizers their version will become more likely to be true (but still not necessarily true). If protesters refuse to disperse even after all their initial demands are met (as it seems to happen) this version also becomes more likely.

        Either way it’s useful information on how protest can be theoretically hijacked from initial (possibly quite reasonable) demands to “regime change”; their suggestions on how to subvert it using same methods seem unnecessarily complex though and unlikely to happen in practice.

        They do touch many of Jim’s points in different manner to his “Kremlin supporter” strawman.

        >why it is that color revolutions aren’t really being financed by anyone, see Jim’s post up above.
        Generally “color revolutions” are financed by locals having grievances against current government; they do not have to be paid by US directly, though at some stage US can become directly involved as it happened with Maidan. Sometimes big money are involved (especially once protest is big enough to require supporting infrastructure and continued media coverage), sometimes it can grow over time naturally.

        >Someday people will be writing dissertations about how it came to pass that Russians were so gullible and naive that they’d fall for such a conspiracy theory. So people have no agency and decision power — it’s all manipulations by higher powers? 🙂
        “All”? Hardly. Still, they can be used by “higher powers”, and sometimes are. And in crowds personal agency sadly means little. Got to be aware of limitations of human nature.

        Perhaps it’s just the natural feature of current disjointed and atomized society where legitimate demands are easily subverted.

    2. Makhno

      The “Centre for Syncretic Studies” is a neo-fascist “third positionist” website, evidenced by the fact that one of the sites it’s evidently partnered with is the successor organisation to the virulently neo-Nazi, white supremacist, American Front. So yes, in this case it’s perfectly reasonable to attack the source, and also perfectly reasonable to discount the article without having read it.

      Tip: If you want to be taken seriously, don’t post links to neo-Fascist organisations.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        If I have time, I can go back through and read it to pick on some of the more lulzier parts I guess.

        On one hand yes, this kind of stuff can be dismissed offhand, but on the other sometimes you can refute certain points to teach people things.

        Love the handle, by the way.

      2. Joaquin Flores

        Greetings nobsrussia Readers

        I’m Joaquin Flores, and I wrote the article that Shalcker linked.

        1.) Reading Kovpak’s piece, it is evident his essay of sorts reflects actually that he has read my article.
        .
        2.) The article has also been mirrored on a number of major sites, including the Ron Paul Institute.
        .
        3.) The article I wrote is is academic in nature, but not in peer review format – still it is of a higher technical standard than the Kovpak ‘blog’ piece. I actually explore the dimensions based on my years of formal education studying this subject in the California State University system, and almost a decade of work in left-wing activism as well as as professional Labor Union strategist, organizer, and negotiator.
        .
        4.) The Center for Syncretic Studies that I work for is in no way ‘Neo-Fascist’ – it is non-partisan – and such slander is what I am really responding to. Its shameful that such thought-terminating one-liners and tags can be used so effectively in prohibiting the free exchange and exploration of ideas. The right-wing lunatic fringe also slanders us as being ‘Neo-Communist’.
        CSS consults labor and advocacy organizations, including those against police brutality and racial profiling, such as Todo Poder al Pueblo.
        We are connected to New Resistance which is a youth oriented movement in the US and Latin America, and are opposed to Fascism, racial supremacy, predatory capitalism, and the politics of reaction. NR did emerge out of American Front which was a neo-nazi organization in the past, but people and their ideas change, as well as membership turn-over. Many reputable American progressive organizations and publications have a history of coming out of the CP and Stalinism, ‘red fascism’, and similar, and yet it would not be accurate or responsible journalistically or morally to continue to slander them by some aspect of their origins.

        Today New Resistance enjoys good relations with reputable activist and political organizations and think-tanks across the political spectrum.

        I myself am a ‘person of color’, a Chicano/Latino from Los Angeles, and am not a ‘racial supremacist’, if that helps.
        .
        5.) The Kovpak piece does not in any way address the established academic discourse and body of scholarly works on the subject, as if the years of Gene Sharp at Darmouth and Harvard were for nothing, as if his consultations and work with Open Democracy and NED sponsored organizations like CANVAS and its mirrors do not exist. This is a major defect which removes this article from consideration as a contribution to the existing body of knowledge. His opinions and editorialized musings would be more interesting and useful if they addressed these.
        .
        6.) The Color-Spring tactic is a well established tactic with demonstrated efficacy. Any debate can surround its efficacy in a given situation, whether the tactic was used at all in a given situation, and/or which geopolitical actor used the tactic. But any writing that such a tactic does not exist (just because a given writer doesn’t understand how it works, or points to instances of it not working well) does not pass muster, and is sub-par in terms of the body of scholarly work on the subject.

        Email me at FindmeFlores@yahoo.com if you have further questions.

        Regards
        Joaquin Flores

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I already said that I did not read the article through thoroughly at all. But the association with the Ron Paul institute and American Front makes the organization very suspicious to say the least. There are many supposedly “left-wing” organizations connected to the Kremlin in some way. Pro-Russian propaganda organs are well-known for courting populist movements, trying to unite left and right.

        As for the efficacy of color revolution tactics or the involvement of NGOs, I’ve already stated several times that I acknowledge their existence.

        The key thing I’m after is WHY they succeed or don’t succeed. Also, I’m sick of people pretending that people in these countries have no agency and thus their movements should always be seen as nothing but a machination of the US.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “But any writing that such a tactic does not exist (just because a given writer doesn’t understand how it works, or points to instances of it not working well) does not pass muster, and is sub-par in terms of the body of scholarly work on the subject.”

        Good thing I never made that assertion, huh?

      5. Makhno

        New Resistance, which the CSS is so “connected” to that Mr Flores has their symbol on his profile picture, is just white nationalism wrapped up in some sops to libertarian left theory. It’s nothing new, really, the British fascist Troy Southgate (Who? Exactly) has been attempting to syncretise anarchism and fascism for the last couple of decades, and hoary old third positionism has been around since the war.

        Given enough time they’ll probably start going on about the Strasser Brothers and Julius Evola before losing their shit and descending into an extended rant about ZOG and the existence or otherwise of gas chambers.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yup. Reading their “about” section immediately reminded me of Southgate and his National Anarchism bullshit.

        Non-partisan my ass.

  3. Makhno

    Ta. Old Nestor’s certainly a better historical standard bearer for the independence of the people of Ukraine than the OUN. Although the lack of opportunity for nationalistic silly-arsing obviously militates against him.

    Love the blog, by the way. Long time reader, first time commenter etc. Couldn’t let the attempt to pass off neo-fascist bullshittery as an “alternative voice to the Lamestream Media” slide.

    Reply
    1. Shalcker

      Well, can you show what you would consider actual alternative analysis that would hit most of Jim’s points?

      Reply
      1. Makhno

        “Well, can you show what you would consider actual alternative analysis that would hit most of Jim’s points?”

        Maybe you could rephrase the question, because it makes very little sense. Are you asking me to provide a link to an alternative analysis that agrees with Jim’s points? In which case, why bother? The analysis is already there in the blogpost. Or are you for some reason asking me to provide a link to an aternative analysis which agrees with the article on the neo-fascist website you linked to? To which I reply, surely that’s your job?

      2. Shalcker

        Why? Because it can give actual (rather then what you do not consider to be) alternative views that either expands on or undermines Jim’s points.
        Otherwise it’s just echo chamber (yes, it’s all true! definitely, without question, on all points and fully!) and that’s no fun 😛

        For example point 3 can be easily disproven because Lukashenko has done extensive measures to prevent anything resembling colour revolutions long before Russian “obsession” with them, and always dispersed various gathering long before they could become problematic while firmly defending any brutality done by police. Looking at wiki “Human Rights in Belarus” he even held two US citizens hostage for more then year after abducting them from London while not formally charging them with anything. He also always looked at Western NGOs with suspicion and often persecuted those trying to get contacts with Belarussian opposition, and easily jailed any activists that became problematic.

        Basically Lukashenko is epitome of “Tiananmen” treatment of protests and always got away with it despite loud US protestations and sanctions against him. His protests never got to stage where they could be US-driven due to tight grip of his security forces on his country.

        For point 4 there were actually immediate countermeasures taken after Color revolutions around Russia to also prevent anything similar; that’s where Nashi movement comes from, for example, it was openly stated as reason for their existence, and Russian opposition to this day often accuses various detractors of being “nashists”.

        For point 5 Putin’s ratings before Crimea were around 60%, which is actually his average support level when nothing extraordinary is happening.

        For point 6 “Since the US and other Western governments certainly aren’t fans of Nazism and openly decry racism” is actually thing that needs to be proven and cannot be taken seriously otherwise. For US routinely “openly decries” a lot of things that happen in Saudi Arabia and that doesn’t stop them from using them for their purposes; and right-wing radicals have shown at various points to listen to US direct orders closely, best example was when they left occupied government building on US ambassador call.

        And “unknown snipers” are time-honoured tactics (they happened in Baltics before fall of Soviet Union for example) that always resulted in escalation; you would be hard-pressed to show any instance where snipers fired into crowds while not supported by general police action and situation did not escalate.

        And so on.

  4. Jim Kovpak Post author

    “Either way it’s useful information on how protest can be theoretically hijacked from initial (possibly quite reasonable) demands to “regime change”; their suggestions on how to subvert it using same methods seem unnecessarily complex though and unlikely to happen in practice.”

    In general, it is not possible hijack a protest from simple, reasonable demands to overthrowing a government unless that government has a long history of serious problems, and particularly if it’s a government that runs a traditional dictatorship.

    Of course Ukraine was not such a dictatorship, and in fact Ukrainians had life a lot better than Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, etc. But that’s just it- you don’t risk life and limb trying to overthrow your state(and all that entails after the fact) unless you’ve really been pushed to the brink.

    You’re not going to do it because some woman brings you cookies or a lame old man like John McCain gets up on a stage. Speaking of which, I’m wondering if McCain ever got his paycheck from Putin. He certainly earned it.

    Reply
  5. gbd_crwx

    Speaking on that, Kyrgyzstan who seems to have had two revolutions and balancing between RF and USA, seems to be fairly democratic (at least compared to its neighbours) and they are supposed to have parliamentary elections this October. Can you offer any insight on this and/or will you try to cover this here or somewhere else?

    Reply
  6. Jim Kovpak Post author

    “Why? Because it can give actual (rather then what you do not consider to be) alternative views that either expands on or undermines Jim’s points.
    Otherwise it’s just echo chamber (yes, it’s all true! definitely, without question, on all points and fully!) and that’s no fun”

    Well it’s funny you mention echo chamber, because that’s exactly what “alternative” sources like that are. They are already convinced that there’s this conspiracy and the US is behind it. Then they casually observe the news and apply their untested theories. They never do any actual investigation, for example by getting into contact with these NGO’s or protesters and seeing what they want, believe, or promote. They’ve already decided that all that is just window dressing and it’s really about America controlling the world. And as for the protesters? They’re just unwitting dupes.

    “For example point 3 can be easily disproven because Lukashenko has done extensive measures to prevent anything resembling colour revolutions long before Russian “obsession” with them, and always dispersed various gathering long before they could become problematic while firmly defending any brutality done by police.”

    And that’s a good thing? Police brutality?

    “Looking at wiki “Human Rights in Belarus” he even held two US citizens hostage for more then year after abducting them from London while not formally charging them with anything. ”

    And you think this is a good thing for a government to do?

    “He also always looked at Western NGOs with suspicion and often persecuted those trying to get contacts with Belarussian opposition, and easily jailed any activists that became problematic.”

    So it’s good for governments to jail activists who haven’t actually broken any laws?

    “Basically Lukashenko is epitome of “Tiananmen” treatment of protests and always got away with it despite loud US protestations and sanctions against him. His protests never got to stage where they could be US-driven due to tight grip of his security forces on his country.”

    But why couldn’t the US, after so many years, get around this? If they can’t figure this out in Belarus, how is it they’re going to make a color revolution in Russia? If Russia was more lax, why didn’t they just focus all their energy on regime change in Russia.

    Come on, you know all the conspirators’ plans- enlighten us!

    “For point 4 there were actually immediate countermeasures taken after Color revolutions around Russia to also prevent anything similar; that’s where Nashi movement comes from, for example, it was openly stated as reason for their existence, and Russian opposition to this day often accuses various detractors of being “nashists”.”

    Right, and these people harassed activists who weren’t even planning any sort of color revolution. What the government does is declare any opposition a potential color revolution, and then this justifies creating government-backed organizations to harass it and engage in tactics that have plausible deniability.

    How is this a positive thing? Why do Russians need to live under this system? Is it because they’re stupider than the people in Europe, America, Canada, etc.?

    “For point 5 Putin’s ratings before Crimea were around 60%, which is actually his average support level when nothing extraordinary is happening.”

    That was still a record low for him at the time. In any case, why is he so afraid of color revolutions if he’s so popular?

    “For point 6 “Since the US and other Western governments certainly aren’t fans of Nazism and openly decry racism” is actually thing that needs to be proven and cannot be taken seriously otherwise.”

    This is clearly proven. Go ahead and try wearing a Swastika shirt in the US and see what happens to you. In Moscow, by stark contrast, it’s normal to see stickers in the metro with racist and even Nazi insignia. I guarantee you if someone plastered those stickers around a town in the US, it would make the local news and be reported by various anti-hate agencies.

    ” For US routinely “openly decries” a lot of things that happen in Saudi Arabia and that doesn’t stop them from using them for their purposes;”

    This proves America doesn’t decry open racism and Nazism? I didn’t know Saudi Arabia is a Nazi country( from what I hear it can be pretty racist though). Still, you totally missed the point as usual. For domestic propaganda purposes, it’s not good to be associated with neo-Nazis.

    ” and right-wing radicals have shown at various points to listen to US direct orders closely, best example was when they left occupied government building on US ambassador call.”

    This is your unsubstantiated claim, but even if it were true it doesn’t mean the US was controlling the right-wingers. It makes sense that these people, who didn’t take other opposition groups seriously, would sober up if they got a call from an outside power.

    “And “unknown snipers” are time-honoured tactics (they happened in Baltics before fall of Soviet Union for example) that always resulted in escalation; you would be hard-pressed to show any instance where snipers fired into crowds while not supported by general police action and situation did not escalate.”

    Yeah, things tend to escalate when you shoot people. How does this prove the US engineers all these color revolutions again? What about the 1 May sniper massacre in Taksim Meydani in 1977? Was that engineered by the US to escalate the protests and thus cause a Communist coup in Turkey? Oh…Wait.

    So basically you haven’t really disputed anything, you’ve just kind of explained why some people would get so angry with their government that they’d be willing to protest until it’s gone.

    I also wonder where America’s phantom snipers were in the Belorussian protests and the 2011-2012 Russian protests. Were they asleep or something?

    Reply
    1. Shalcker

      They are fringe groups, it’s in their interests to look for ways how small groups can influence large protests. And they filter information that fits their agenda. That is useful if you want to find supporting facts that can be cross-checked and run counter to common narrative; obviously you will have to do your own work to find contradicting facts elsewhere.

      You’re the one arguing that “you don’t risk life and limb trying to overthrow your state(and all that entails after the fact) unless you’ve really been pushed to the brink” as the only reason for protest escalation to regime change. I just want to show that in Lukashenko case of police brutality protesters failed at regime change/escalation and by same reasoning majority clearly were not pushed enough! Isn’t that obviously good? Clearly life in Belarus was better then in Kiev! 😛
      Or in case if we look at “fringe” opinion then the reason of Lukashenko still staying in power despite various protests and him being out of favor with West is his long-term crackdown on any and all Western NGOs that could undermine him with their “grassroots” movements and organizations promoting civil activism (which authorities read as “civil disobedience”).
      Just reading NED list of activities in for example Ukraine would obviously fill any dictator with rage. Are you arguing those efforts are ultimately fruitless, money is wasted, and any fears associated with them are exaggerated? And it’s just citizens who decide what is best for them while any outside influence can be easily dismissed?

      >Right, and these people harassed activists who weren’t even planning any sort of color revolution.
      Yes, that’s how counter-action works. Btw, opposition is also capable of harassing anyone disagreeing with them when given a chance.

      >How is this a positive thing? Why do Russians need to live under this system? Is it because they’re stupider than the people in Europe, America, Canada, etc.?
      That’s the system those in government understand. And it’s actually same “civil activism” given semi-official backing and approval. Later they found that too close integration undermined their goals and moved to “People’s Front” (ONF) initiative as counter-balance to United Russia domination rather then sub-system within it as was Nashi.

      >This is clearly proven. Go ahead and try wearing a Swastika shirt in the US and see what happens to you. In Moscow, by stark contrast, it’s normal to see stickers in the metro with racist and even Nazi insignia. I guarantee you if someone plastered those stickers around a town in the US, it would make the local news and be reported by various anti-hate agencies.
      Yeah, focus on symbols and try to forget the actions, history and ideology behind them (because they were wrong and that’s enough to know!), that is The American Way (as we see with Confederate Flag lately too).

      >This proves America doesn’t decry open racism and Nazism? I didn’t know Saudi Arabia is a Nazi country( from what I hear it can be pretty racist though). Still, you totally missed the point as usual. For domestic propaganda purposes, it’s not good to be associated with neo-Nazis.
      Which is why State Department routinely tried to dodge questions about far-right elements in Ukraine, sure… questions that kept popping up anyway.

      It even had to be Congress to make amendments:
      “WASHINGTON— Late yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.R. 2685, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015.” During consideration of the legislation, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) offered bipartisan amendments to block the training of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia “Azov Battalion,” and to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles—otherwise known as Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS)—to Iraq or Ukraine.”

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        But wait- I thought you said that the US has no problem being openly associated with neo-Nazis. You just contradicted yourself yet again.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “You’re the one arguing that “you don’t risk life and limb trying to overthrow your state(and all that entails after the fact) unless you’ve really been pushed to the brink” as the only reason for protest escalation to regime change.”

        Actually I never said this was the only reason. I said people don’t do that because someone gave them 150 UAH or put drugs in their tea.

      3. Shalcker

        I never said that US has no problem being openly associated with Neo-Nazi; that does not in any way preclude them using Neo-nazi (or jihadi for that matter). Yeah, it might become scandal if it became known. Risk isn’t that high though.

        Actually I never said this was the only reason. I said people don’t do that because someone gave them 150 UAH or put drugs in their tea.
        Well, then why there cannot be drugs in the tea, people paid 150 UAH, subversive right-wing activists, and simple people going there because of their convictions all at once?

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        If these protests are all orchestrated by the US, why would this be the case? If the US controls the far-right extremists because a phone call can make them leave a building, why can’t they just make sure there are no nationalists in the movement, or at least make sure they aren’t so open.

        In any case, the right-wing presence in Maidan was woefully exaggerated, which was a major boon to the nationalist cause in any case.

        As for people being paid- I’ve heard more or less reliable reports of people being paid by their respective parties, not the State Department. This is a common, and regrettable practice all throughout Europe, but this doesn’t mean that the opposition parties are just puppets of the US. You and I both know how corrupt Ukraine’s system is and their internal political struggles are very real and go back for years. And let’s not forget Yanukovych’s party had gone to the extent of paying people to come out to rallies for Eurointegration. When he refused to sign the deal, how could one not expect the opposition parties to jump all over that?

        As for drugs in the tea, this is utter nonsense. Russians need to learn how drugs work, and then maybe people would smoke weed here instead of that awful Spice.

      5. Shalcker

        If these protests are all orchestrated by the US, why would this be the case? If the US controls the far-right extremists because a phone call can make them leave a building, why can’t they just make sure there are no nationalists in the movement, or at least make sure they aren’t so open.
        Where do i say “all”? Why does it need to be “all”? US can intervene and take over at any point as long as they already have needed connections in place (provided as theory goes by various NGOs); perhaps around well-known “fuck the EU”, or anywhere else.

        But then, why would they need to keep it “clean” and clash with them? They can just continue to officially underplay their influence (as they did with Al’Nusra and Syrian jihadi before ISIS, insisting on presence of magical moderates that just need some extra support) and power just like you do; and right-wingers can provide decent enforcers if physical violence is needed at some point to up the ante.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Did it ever occur to you that maybe the US isn’t omnipotent, and instead it tries to support certain groups in hopes that they will come out on top, but yet they don’t actually control the movement?

        In the case of Syria, groups like Al Nusra came out on top because of their better funding. The idea that the US actually wanted to support groups like that is nonsense- there were open congressional hearings where US military experts said that airstrikes against Assad would only benefit groups like Al Nusra. Why do you think they toned down their rhetoric after the chemical weapons attack in 2013?

        What you conspiracy theorists fail to understand is that while major players have their interests, there’s a limit to their control. As is often the case, they make tactical decisions without regard to long-term strategy. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are now classic examples of this. But according to folks like you, it’s all part of the plan.

        So then let me ask you this. If the US is able to use groups like this to do its bidding, how can you be so sure they don’t control Putin and his clique too?

        There’s a ton of evidence for it, including American investment in Russia which continues to this day(much of it has nothing to do with the sanctions). Over the years they built Putin up. Why? Because they needed a conventional “threat” to justify the kind of defense spending they had during the Cold War.

        Then they engineered the “coup” in Ukraine, as you said, to provoke Putin. As a result, there’s suddenly a call for the US to not only stay in Europe, but even increase its presence there. In fact, some are now calling for a permanent presence, which means more spending/contract jobs.

        Putin’s clearly in on it! Not only is he providing the pretext to keep the US relevant in Europe and fulfill NATO’s goal of 2% GDP defense spending(guess who will sell a lot of the arms and equipment), but Putin is also destroying Russia in the process. Once Putin is gone, there will be no coherent political system to pose a threat to the US hegemony. Putin, with help from his American overlords, made Russia just strong enough to create a pretext for NATO expansion, but weak enough to knock over when he’s gone.

        Certainly explains all the money stored in Western banks and children of the elite living or studying in the West.

      7. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Oh yeah just remembered another thing. The promised police crackdown in Yerevan Sunday or Saturday night(forget which, sorry), didn’t take place. So when is the NED going to send in the “unknown snipers?”

        That’s how this thing goes, right?

  7. Jim Kovpak Post author

    This is getting a bit unwieldy so let me summarize: This is about inconvenient questions for those who obsess over “color revolutions.” It doesn’t say they don’t exist, or that the US hasn’t funded or helped organize them(bearing in mind that NGOs don’t necessarily equal the US government).

    My main point is that the US government is not nearly as in control as people think, and more importantly, even if we just conceded that the US is behind at least some of these revolutions, we ought to ask ourselves why they succeed or at least almost succeed in the first place.

    Most of my life I’ve been opposed to these color revolutions, sometimes without even knowing the specific issues involved. Now that I’m older, I’m trying to unpack and understand two key questions:

    1. Why do color revolutions succeed, or if they do not, still manage to maintain the image of having the moral high ground?

    2. Why do major revolutionary movements in Western or industrialized countries tend to fail, sometimes failing to make any significant political change at all.

    Of course the two questions are not always connected, but when it comes to the first, one thing I’ve noticed is that many of the governments actually toppled by the US or almost toppled by them, via this method, in the post-Soviet world at least, basically had it coming. They were dictatorships, incompetent, corrupt, they respond poorly to dissent, etc. You can say that the US is interfering in their internal affairs(of course this is something Russia has no problem doing), you can say that the new regimes are often just as bad and sometimes worse, but at the end of the day you don’t see them pulling off these regime changes in liberal democratic countries.

    The problem with color revolution paranoia is that the solution sufferers always come up with is more repression and propaganda, instead of trying to find a way to fix the problems people are upset about. Putin had a golden opportunity to start that process in 2012. In fact, it would have been doubly effective if he hadn’t switched places with Medvedev at that point. That would mean four more years during which nobody could easily accuse Putin of transforming into a conventional dictator because after all, Medvedev would just be serving his second term. In the meantime, they could have worked to liberalize the economy, the media, direct funds to infrastructure projects(many of which they are actually doing today). Most of all, they should not have engaged in propaganda, creating troll armies, and funding astroturf movements like Nashi. Everyone should have been allowed to vent steam.

    I guarantee you that Russia would be a lot different today. You probably wouldn’t have seen the capital flight, Maidan probably wouldn’t have happened or it would have happened very differently with much better results, and Russians would be able to spend all the time in the Crimea they want without losing their economy and future over it.

    At the end of the day the thing about color revolutions is this- Okay, let’s say the US is this big bad hegemonic bully and it topples governments with color revolutions. Well fine- but it seems to only topple weak ones with serious problems. Why am I supposed to shed tears for some out-of-shape guy who never trains, yet wants to go up against a heavyweight in the boxing ring? Same thing with Russia. Oh it’s an “alternative” to US global hegemony (bullshit because Russia is a capitalist state)? Well it offers a really shitty alternative and it’s going to lose. So why should I bet on the losing horse?

    Reply

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