The Technique of a Coup d’État
by John Laughland*
The technique of a coup d’état, more recently also referred to as "coloured revolution", finds its origins in an abundant bibliography dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. It was successfully applied by the U.S. neo-conservatives to set the stage for "regime change" in a number of former Soviet republics. However, the technique backfired when it was tried in a different cultural environment (Venezuela, Lebanon, Iran). John Laughland, who reported on some of these operations for the Guardian, sheds new light on this phenomenon.
Otpor logo - Serbian youth movement funded by the U.S. Government, which greatly contributed to the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević.
In recent years, a number of "revolutions" have broken out all over the world.
In November 2003, the president of Georgia Edward Shevardnadze was overthrown following demonstrations, marches and allegations that the parliamentary elections had been rigged.
In November 2004, the "Orange Revolution" of demonstrations started in Ukraine as the same allegations were made, that elections had been rigged.
The result was that country was ripped away from its previous geopolitical role as a bridge between East and West, and put it on the path to becoming a fully-fledged member of NATO and the EU. Considering that Kievan Rus is the first Russian state, and that Ukraine has now been turned against Russia, this is a historic achievement. But then, as George Bush said, "You are either with us or against us." Although Ukraine had sent troops to Iraq, it was evidently considered too friendly to Moscow.
Shortly after the US and the UN declared that Syrian troops had to be removed from Lebanon, and following the assassination of Rafik Hariri, demonstrations in Beirut were presented as "the Cedar Revolution." An enormous counter-demonstration by Hezbollah, which is the largest political party in Syria, was effectively ignored while the TV replayed endlessly the image of the anti-Syrian crowd. In one particularly egregious case of Orwellian double-think, the BBC explained to its viewers that "Hezbollah, the biggest political party in Lebanon, is so far the only dissenting voice which wants the Syrians to stay." How can the majority be "a dissenting voice"?
After the "revolutions" in Georgia and Ukraine, many predicted that the same wave of "revolutions" would extend to the former Soviet states of Central Asia. So it was to be. Commentators seemed divided on what colour to label the uprising in Bishkek – was it a "lemon" revolution or a "tulip" revolution? They could not make up their minds. But on one thing, everyone was in agreement: revolutions are cool, even when they are violent. The Kyrgyz president, Askar Akayev, was overthrown on 24th March 2005 and protesters stormed and ransacked the presidential palace.
When armed rebels seized government buildings, sprung prisoners from gaol and took hostages on the night of 12th–13th May in the Uzbek city of Andijan (located in the Ferghana Valley, where the unrest had also started in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan) the police and army surrounded the rebels and a long standoff ensued. Negotiations were undertaken with the rebels, who kept increasing their demands. When government forces started to move on the rebels, the resulting fighting killed some 160 people including over 30 members of the police and army. Yet the Western media immediately misrepresented this violent confrontation, claiming that government forces had opened fire on unarmed protesters – "the people."
This constantly repeated myth of popular rebellion against a dictatorial government is popular on both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum. Previously, the myth of revolution was obviously the preserve of the Left. But when the violent putsch occurred in Kygyrzstan, The Times enthused about how the scenes in Bishkek reminded him of Eisenstein films about the Bolshevik revolution, The Daily Telegraph extolled the "power to the people," and the Financial Times used a well-known Maoist metaphor when it praised Kyrgyzstan’s "long march to freedom."
One of the key elements behind this myth is obviously that "the people" are behind the events, and that they are spontaneous. In fact, of course, they are often very highly organised operations, often deliberately staged for the media, and usually funded and controlled by transnational networks of so-called non-governmental organisations which are in turn instruments of Western power.
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