November 26, 2003

"Pro-democracy brow-beating" What a concept!

I hear so often that clumsy and incompetent Americans can't "do" diplomacy, and that various distant lands will soon implode because of our neglectful policies, that articles like this one come as a distinct relief: Georgia's partner in democracy: US

....Senior US officials pushed diplomatic buttons before and throughout the crisis - in concert with Russia and others - making clear to all sides the dangers of a forceful crackdown or street violence. But untidy as the opposition's seizure of power has been, analysts say that billions in Western aid - and steady prodemocracy brow-beating - proved a key to regime change, one achieved without a shot being fired.

"The US government has gone to great lengths to back a [democratic] process and institutions, and to be very careful - amid big pressure from both sides - not to back certain individuals," says Mark Mullen, head of the Georgia office of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), funded by the US government, which has engaged in democracy training here since the mid-1990s.

"In the end, this was done by Georgians - it was not done by Americans - and that is vital to everything," says Mr. Mullen, who has spent more than six years in Georgia. "We worked closely with all parties, and did enormous training with the president's party. But the reality is, most of them were not as enthusiastic."

Washington committed $2.4 million to help conduct Georgia's Nov. 2 election. But widespread fraud sparked the street protests that led to the storming of parliament on Saturday. It was part of a 10-year investment of $1.3 billion aimed at helping Georgia create a civil society....

* [Democracy in Georgia? Sounds unlikely to work -- I.C.] I should hasten to insulate myself from the sneers of sophisticates by adding that I'm perfectly aware that the experiment may fail. OK? ALL our experiments may fail.

BUT, my sympathies are with the guys who are trying to climb the highest mountain, not with those who warm their bleak little hearts with thoughts of avalanches and frostbite...

Posted by John Weidner at November 26, 2003 10:34 AM
Weblog by John Weidner