A House of Sand and Fog

Last summer, as the Sandstorm mistakenly dubbed the “Arab Spring” swept across North Africa, a cadre of professional revolutionaries the Empire created in Serbia bragged about their role in the revolts to some European videographers. Sure, the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt may have begun spontaneously, but Empire-trained activists soon took control and channeled the rage into “regime change.” It’s what they get paid for.

Staging revolts and coups to replace foreign governments with more pliable ones is nothing new; only the techniques have changed, with “democracy activists” replacing Agency assets as the executors. But with the acceleration of information dispersal in the digital age came the shortening of the blowback window as well. It took twenty-six years for Persian resentment at the 1953 ousting of Mossadegh to manifest itself as Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution. Now mere months are enough.

“The Cairo 19”

Last week, the military government in Cairo – caretakers of the country until the Muslim Brotherhood takes over – arrested some forty-odd “democracy activists,” including 19 Americans. Reactions in Washington ranged from shock to outrage: how dare these foreigners touch the sacred missionaries of Democracy? Sure, these young people get paid big money by the unwitting American taxpayers, to foment unrest and subvert governments the world over, but isn’t that the prerogative of Empire? Isn’t it, like, oppressive and stuff, to prevent Serbian sellouts and sons of American government officials to earn their own private islands?

Even though foreign activism in the electoral process is strictly illegal in America itself, the rest of the world objecting to America interfering in their elections is just, well, “illiberal”! That’s what passes for logic in the Empire these days.

Furthermore, the revolution business is booming, quickly becoming the Empire’s major export. Granted, successful businesses are supposed to bring in profit, and the coups around the world are only sowing anti-American resentment – but what’s logic got to do with the thrill of fame and power?

Julija Belej Bakovic, described by the Washington Post as a “former student activist in Serbia”, now heads a regional office of the International Republican Institute (IRI) for Asia. She still believes what happened in Serbia is a “light at the end of the tunnel” for people everywhere. It certainly worked out well for her: she parlayed her “activism” into a well-paid international career. Most of her colleagues are lucky if they have jobs at all, in the “democratic” Serbia turned into a corrupt hellhole by Julija’s revolution that wasn’t.

It brings to mind a saying from Serbia, “What a wise man is ashamed of, the fool parades with pride.”

By The Numbers

Bolstered by the alleged success of the “Arab Spring,” the Empire set its crosshairs on Moscow. In December last year, “activists” began organizing protest marches and claiming that elections for the Russian federal legislature were stolen. This is a trope right out of the handbook, by the way – and easily disproved by doing actual math and statistics.

While shaken initially, the government of Vladimir Putin has rallied and charged the demonstrators with being foreign mercenaries. Trite but true, the charge resonated in a country stripped to the bone in the 1990s by a quisling regime beholden to the Empire. Nor does it help the Empire’s cause that Russians remember all too well the 2004 “Orange Revolution” in nearby Ukraine.

On February 4, as Empire’s activists rallied in freezing weather at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, a much larger crowd gathered to support the government at Poklonnaya Hill. The Western media promptly lied about the size of the demonstrations, but in Russia the difference was clear to anyone with eyes to see: the pro-government demonstrators vastly outnumbered the astroturfers. According to some observers, this may have taken the wind out of the revolutionaries’ sails, at least for now.

The Road to Damascus

Last weekend, Russia and China vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council that would have backed “regime change” in Syria. Imperial officials predictably denounced this as a “travesty.” But was it?

Back in March 2011, both countries agreed to a resolution (UNSCR 1973) authorizing the no-fly zone over Libya, allegedly to protect innocent civilians. Supposedly, these civilians – or rather, the armed rebellion in Cyrenaica – were threatened by the Libyan air force. Within hours, the resolution became a fig leaf for a massive air campaign and special forces intervention on behalf of an Empire-backed rebellion. The Emperor argued it wasn’t a war but a “kinetic military action.” Is there another kind?

In Libya, the Bosnia scenario played out in fast-forward. Something similar began taking shape in Syria. However, a designated propaganda star of the Syrian revolt was exposed as a hoax early on, while the Libyan expedition took much longer than expected. For a while it seemed the Empire’s next target might be Iran, but currently the war drumline is beating a march to Damascus.

Empire’s moral outrage at Russia and China is hypocrisy at its finest. The warmongers in Washington and London are already bringing up Bosnia and Kosovo – two celebrated “successful” interventions that were nothing of the sort. There is definitely a pattern of aggression at work, but its source is not Assad.

Faced with a belligerent American Empire prone to attacking other countries with flimsy justification (or none at all), conducting drone wars worldwide, and organizing Astroturf revolutions in countries it finds too difficult to invade, it is honestly a miracle that Moscow and Beijing have waited this long.

Trouble in Paradise

Odds are the Chinese and Russian governments hardly think that a UN veto would keep the Empire in check; after all, lack of UN authorization didn’t stop the 1999 Kosovo War, or the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A Russian Navy task force anchored in Syria, however, just might.

Simply put, it is no longer 1999. Actions have consequences, and the Empire has lied, stolen, killed and cheated enough over the past two decades for the rest of the world to take notice and take action. Worst of all, the Imperial officials are actually convinced their actions have created a favorable reality on the ground – where in actuality, they’ve build a house of sand and fog that’s already falling apart.

Last April, the Maldives government – which came to power thanks to the efforts of professional revolutionaries – rewarded the activists with their very own tropical island. But that government is collapsing now, while angry mobs of militant Muslims destroy priceless statues in the museums. An AFP report from the islands includes this aside: “Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution.”

Some “democracy,” indeed.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.