Lebanon's Red and White Non-Violent Revolution
Belgrade 2000. Tbilisi 2003. Kiev 2004. --Beirut 2005?
As some of us who watched the popular standoff against Leonid Kutchma’s government in the squares of Kiev might have observed, someone’s deep pockets must have paid for those thousands of color-themed caps and scarves! Surely people didn’t buy them from surplus orange inventory at Benetton or Oxfam! Well, there is money. January’s Le Monde Diplomatique reports that the color-coordinated popular manifestations seen in Eastern European capitals may appear spontaneous, but they are less than what they seem. Behind the scenes, every detail is carefully planned.
The origins of the color-themed revolutions go back to 1999. Following the failure of the US bombing campaign against Serbia, the US and the EU cast about and latched on to new revolutionary strategy : carefully orchestrated, massive street demonstrations inspired by pacifist's Gene Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation.
In advance of the 2000 Serbian elections, the US and the EU put together a large-scale monitoring apparatus comprised of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and well-funded NGO’s, including Madeleine Albright’s National Democratic Institute, Senator John McCain’s International Republican Institute, George Soros’ Open Society and James Woolsey’s Freedom House not only to guarantee transparency but to launch a popular movement with the appropriate levels of stagecraft, press and public relations.
The avowed goal of forcing the government to acknowledge election results masks, according to LMD, a theme hammered by Washington--régime change. The neutral monitoring effort is a vehicle for the intervention of foreign powers in a non-violent revolution.
Behind the slogans in Belgrade(Otpor::Resistance), Tbilisi (Kmara::Enough) and Kiev (Pora::Now) is a massive Western undertaking in funding and encouragement, including internships in organizational training and in getting the message out to the public. But the subterfuge leaves some participants bitter. Gia Jorjoliani of the Center for Political Studies in Tbilisi is quoted in LMD as saying: I stopped participating in Georgian monitoring when I realized that it was an initiative that is less interested in free elections than in toppling régimes.
LMD reveals that there are certain prerequisites for spontaneous revolution.
- A semi-dictatorship or a country too reliant on the good graces of the West to shoot the demonstrators.
- An election in which the government is forced to commit fraud to stay in power.
- Cooperation with local media to ensure that the fraud is substantiated and reported.
- An opposition figurehead who steps out of the targeted government as a reformer.
- A sincere desire for change on the part of a portion of the population which cannot be challenged.
If all five conditions are not met, it’s a no-go as evidenced by the recent challenge to Hugo Chavez which crumbled to nothing.
The upcoming Lebanese legislative elections may offer the right terrain for non-violent régime change and the end to the Syrian troop presence. The assassination of Rafik Hariri has conveniently provided a unifying sentiment across the Christian and Muslim communities by pointing the finger at Syria. Walid Jumblatt has come out as the voice of the opposition. All that’s needed is for Lebanese President Emil Lahud and the Syrian-backed government to be tempted into election fraud.
Today’s BBC story, Beirut protesters denounce Syria, provides evidence of the rhetoric now being fed to the press which will set the stage for the Red and White Revolution:
In yesterday’s Corriere della Sera, the good-looking youthful pair captured on camera above imparts its icons.
Many protesters out on the streets wore red and white scarves, symbolising the opposition's "independence uprising", which it describes as a peaceful campaign to dislodge the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and force out the 15,000 troops Syria keeps in Lebanon. "It is my civic duty as a Lebanese to take part in this uprising," said one protester Youssef Mukhtar, quoted by the Associated Press news agency. "Enough bloodshed and disasters. It is the 21st Century, and people should be able to govern themselves. The situation has become unbearable and we have to regain our country," he added.
If successful, the next step is Egypt, where Madeleine Albright has been testing the waters. But things will not be so simple there, given the widespread distrust of the Americans. Although Egypt is very beholden to the Americans, it has recently preemptively jailed some attractive potential opposition leaders. But voter fraud is almost guaranteed as Hosni Mubarek’s son attempts to keep power in the family.
LMD suggests that more spontaneous revolution offensives are planned for Cuba, Byeloruss and Moldava. Even the President's desperate, last-ditch Greater Middle East Initiative is a willingness to try, if not an actual capitulation to, non-violent options. Sure, it's hype and spin and psychology capitalizing on popular discontent, funded abroad and even serving Washington's foreign policy aims, but seen in the right light and over the long run, it may subvert itself and lead to a positive future and genuine self-determination. Or is it dangerous, self-serving politics-through-other-means cold warfare?
[Update 24 February: President Bush was quoted in Bratislava, while bathing in the accolades of the cheering crowds, as saying, The peaceful revolutions in Georgia and in the Ukraine augur that Moldava and Belarus will soon join the camp of democratic nations. ].