Democracy is the world's greatest political system ... so long as you don't elect Communists or Islamists.
Tucked away in Europe's eastern corner, the tiny former Soviet state of Moldova - destined to reunify with Romania according to many Moldovans - has become a heated strategic battleground between Russia and the US.
Moldova is the only ex-Soviet state to have democratically re-elected a Communist leadership. Indeed, parliamentary elections last week gave a larger than expected victory to the Communist Party, in a state that has been marred by internal strife and poverty since the Soviet breakup.
Russia has thrown its support behind Moldova's Communist leader, Vladimir Voronin, by publicly condemning anti-government protests at the result.
"Spontaneous" protests of 15,000 - organised by local youth political groups such as ThinkMoldova - have accused the Communists of election fraud. Yet EU observers declared the election to be fair, so why all the noise?
Apparently, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as SMS, have been lauded as the reasons why snap protests have erupted. Reuters, for example, has jumped on the youth protesters bandwagon by claiming Russia fears "people power".
But I'm not overly convinced.
Asad Abu Khalil at the Angry Arab blog believes the US is stirring popular protests to destabilise and/or prevent the Communist Party from retaining power, albeit legitimately.
I would brush this off as another conspiracy, but recent history concerning US tactics in regards to leaderships (democratic or otherwise) not to its liking begs me to take a closer look at the Angry Arab's remarks.
Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon, Hamas ... four examples in recent history where the US has orchestrated, or attempted to in Hamas' case, either popular anti-government 'revolutions' or a down right coup.
In Lebanon's case, it has been reported that the Bush administration via USAID established locally based 'NGOs' in Lebanon, where it was able to channel funds to local groups and politically-oriented NGOs (although we're not meant to know of their political nature) in order to instigate popular resentment against Syrian domination and its proxy Lebanese Government. Rafik al-Hariri's assassination was enough to rile the Lebanese people against Syria, but fact be known the Cedar Revolution of 2005 was no spontaneous response to a prevailing situation, as it was alleged then and is currently alleged in the case of Moldova's snap mass protests.
US-funded groups, operating in clandestine under the convenient banner of 'humanitarianism' and 'NGO' assisted to manifest and organise popular resentment to the status quo. Of course, bitterness towards Syrian domination in Lebanon had lingered in corners of Lebanese society for years, but with US funding and clandestine engagement that underlying bitterness became mobilised into popular action.
But the debate could continue on if we were to question the definition of 'popular'. Is the term popular only credible when it is clear the majority of a nation is shouting in a single voice? If so, can the 'Cedar Revolution' be deemed as popular when its effect was only a polarisation of the country? 1 million protesters indeed came out against Syria and the Karami Government, but just over a year later, 2 million protesters returned to Beirut's streets to protest against the political bloc that led the protests against Syria and subsequently took to the helm after its departure.
The same can be said of Ukraine, where the so-called 'Orange Revolution' has had a similar impact of polarising the public. The Bush administration deployed the same tactics via USAID in Ukraine and Georgia. Hamas is particular, as the US thought it could rely on Fatah (and then Israel) to militarily defeat Hamas. Although the tactics were different with Hamas, the interest remained the same ... the US will work to prevent democratically elected leaderships that fall outside the bracket of the US' global sphere of influence if the strategic value is worthy of interference.
Lebanon was of value to Bush as it was part of his grand new Middle East project. Obama appears to have backed off, and seems willing to accept a likely Hezballah victory in June's elections.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova on the other hand are of another concern. Russia is another concern. Obama has signalled an intent to co-operate and improve relations with Moscow, but whether he is prepared to retreat from Bush's efforts to pull Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova out of Russia's sphere of influence remains to be seen.
Further instigation of internal tensions could tear Ukraine and Moldova apart. Georgia has already been torn apart, and Russia's manipulation of divisions within the country as a pretext for war last year sets a dangerous precedent for Ukraine and Moldova, as well as the Americans.
If the Angry Arab's suspicions are true, and it wouldn't surprise me if they were, then it suggests that certain questionable US practices under previous administrations are set to continue (not that I expected US intrusion into the internal affairs of other states to be done away with). The US will continue to pursue its interests regardless of morality, if it can get away with it.
However, those that need to learn that states only act in their national interest are the many Lebanese (and Moldovans it seems) who were and continue to be deceived that the US is going to rescue us from our misery. It's not gonna happen!
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