Our Man In Tbilisi

It has been so obvious this week that it seemed a bit like piling on to observe that Saakashvili’s declaration of a state of emergency (like a certain other allied dictatorial ruler we know) and violent repression of civilian protesters are just the latest expression of the one-man despotism that Saakashvili created in Georgia in the wake of the so-called “Rose Revolution.” Like its successors in Ukraine, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan, the Rose Revolution narrative has come to its predictable, unhappy conclusion where the revolution is supposedly “betrayed” (The New York Times took up this line Saturday) or fails to “fulfill its promise” or is “thwarted” by malevolent forces, when the entire thing was a sham from the beginning. The Guardian offers a typical lament (though, to their credit, they do not engage in the easy Russia-bashing that commentary on Georgia often becomes). Even now, Ralph Peters is offering up one version of this disappointment with how the “revolution” turned out:

The Saakashvili regime shone from afar – but grew rotten within.

But there was never anything that “shone” about the “Rose Revolution,” except perhaps the glaring hypocrisy of the “revolutionaries.”

Movements that rally around the statue of Stalin are not the bringers of liberal reform. But at least Peters recognises Washington’s role in enabling Saakashvili (John McCain, this means you), while you can expect to hear plenty of wailing about how our high hopes were dashed by another disappointing foreign nation.

Richard Carlson said as much about the “revolution” three years ago:

This has left Georgia–and George Soros–with a one-leader, one-party government, a far cry from a noble experiment in democracy.

Note that the Saakashvili regime has described the protest marches as part of an attempted “coup,” which should remind us how easily language can be manipulated by those in power. When Saakashvili leads the protests, they are a peaceful expression of “people power” and their calls for the President’s resignation are the legitimate expressions of the will of the people, but when the exact same thing happens and is led by Saakashvili’s opponents it is part of a “coup.” Yet what Saakashvili did in 2003 was nothing less than a coup, albeit one that he could cloak in the rhetoric of defending the integrity of the electoral process. The point is that neither 2003 nor today is there any real “people power” movement in Georgia, or rather every faction can lay claim to the mantle of “people power” when it suits it and then abandon it upon acquiring actual power. None of this has anything to do with functioning representative democracy, but with the exploitation and domination of a country by one set of elites or another (to which a cynic might reply: there’s a difference?). The current leader of the anti-Saakashvili bloc is an associate of Berezovsky, so it really is a case of being forced to choose between jumping into the fire or the frying pan.

The only reason why any Americans pretended to believe Saakashvili’s propaganda was because of Georgia’s importance in offering a route for oil pipelines that circumvent Russia and as a possible future Caucasus base for NATO or U.S. forces. Otherwise, the spectacle of one Caucasian strongman overthrowing another would not merit anyone’s sympathy.

I heartily wish that the Georgians could have something like decent and representative government. But no such government will ever come from the Saakashvilis of the world and their Soros-backed exercises in mass deception. Maybe something better will come out of all of this, assuming that Saakashvili can be persuaded to relinquish power peacefully. If not, I fear that Georgia’s ruler may plunge the country into some unmanageable conflict that will bring terrible harm to Georgia. May our Orthodox brethren in Georgia be granted peace and an end to civil strife, for their sake and the sake of the entire region.

Cross-posted at Eunomia