The West’s favourite Belarusian opposition figurehead, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has been in Washington, asking lawmakers to impose sanctions on her nation, in a bid to overthrow its embattled veteran chief, Alexander Lukashenko.
“I think it’s high time for democratic countries to unite and show their teeth,” she instructed politicians, articulating her desires for her personal nation in pro-American phrases. That has undoubtedly gained her supporters within the West, and suits with Washington’s basic regime-change template – hijacking fashionable protests to redraw the geopolitical frontlines of the world.
Tikhanovskaya seems to be the most recent in a line of marginal opposition figures who’re anointed as saviors by the West, like Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó or Russia’s Alexey Navalny. Once the narrative of a pro-democratic determine in search of to align with Western states has been planted and media follows the lead, it’s then deemed professional for Washington to prepare their “civil society” towards that state. Much like in Ukraine, NATO international locations undermine the sovereignty of Belarus below the auspices of supporting the individuals.
A story indifferent from actuality
A current ballot by Britain’s Chatham House demonstrates how far that narrative falls wanting actuality. In response to the query of who would make the most effective president of Belarus, solely 4% backed Tikhanovskaya, whereas 23% answered in favor of Lukashenko. A colossal 25% named Viktor Babariko – the previous chief of a Russian-owned financial institution now serving time on controversial fraud expenses.
And but, based mostly on her supposed reputation, Lithuania has housed and acknowledged Tikhanovskaya because the professional president of Belarus, and denounced any agreements between Lukashenko and Russia as crimes towards the Belarusian individuals. Babariko doesn’t get a glance in.
The ballot by Chatham House reveals that Belarusians view Russia much more favorably than the EU, US or another nation. A transparent majority of respondents help continued membership within the Russian-led CSTO army alliance, whereas a meager 7% of respondents need to be part of NATO. This, nonetheless, might not be an insurmountable impediment, as solely 17% of Ukrainians desired NATO membership when NATO promised in 2008 that Ukraine would finally grow to be a member.
In phrases of membership in political unions, 32% of the respondents choose a Union with Russia, 9% favor a Union with the EU, whereas 46% choose to be in a Union with each Russia and the EU. Even although Russia is clearly the popular accomplice for the Belarusian individuals, who confirmed a choice to not dwell in a divided Europe the place they need to select between Russia and the EU.
Herein lies the supply of all main battle in Europe. By excluding the biggest European state – Russia – from the principle establishments of Europe, “European integration” means tearing aside international locations within the shared neighborhood between the West and Moscow. Severing peoples with centuries of a historical past, a tradition, of traditions and a language shared with Russia is crudely portrayed as liberating a freedom-loving individuals from the authoritarian clutches of Russia.
The narrative of Belarus is in keeping with US efforts to recast the brand new Cold War as a rivalry between liberal democracies and authoritarian states. While good propaganda ideally depicts all conflicts as a contest between good and evil, the ideological framing makes little sense, as Russia and China will not be combating democracies as champions of authoritarianism.
Furthermore, Russia is completely able to getting together with international locations like South Korea, Japan, India and different democracies within the East. Yet, the narrative of liberal democracies versus authoritarian states serves the aim of legitimizing Western interference and delegitimizing the Russian response.
The geopolitics of fashionable revolts
Western efforts to topple the Belarusian authorities display how democratic growth is impeded by the geopolitics of a divided Europe. The Belarusians are prepared for an influence switch, whereas Moscow is equally not proud of Lukashenko and wouldn’t be against a successor taking workplace, supplied they have been professional and chosen from inside Belarus. However, in a divided Europe any home turmoil is weak to exploitation by “democracy promoters” in search of to redraw the borders of Europe.
The lesson from the colour revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine was that democratization is handled simply as a pretext for interference by the NATO powers, it’s not the first goal. Anti-corruption and pro-democracy protests have been instantly hijacked and linked to NATO and EU membership, whereas democracy and human rights turned obstacles for cementing pro-West/anti-Russian governments.
In Georgia, the NATO powers made steady excuses for [former president of Georgia Mikheil] Saakashvili’s authoritarianism. In Ukraine, the US even hailed the clampdown on media and arrest of the opposition chief there as consolidating democracy. In Belarus, Tikhanovskaya along with her 4% help can’t depend on democratic help to implement Washington’s agenda.
US regime-change operations in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus have positioned Russia in a dilemma. On one hand, if Russia stands down, the governments could falter and the US can set up a pro-West/anti-Russian authorities to take its place. On the opposite hand, if Russia intervenes by supporting the professional authorities, then Moscow may be chastised because the defender of an unpopular and authoritarian chief.
This liberal democracy versus authoritarian narrative additionally conceals an important irony. As Western powers try and topple the Belarusian authorities with sanctions, Minsk turns into extra reliant on Moscow. Washington is spinning the narrative that the independence of the nation is threatened by Russia, whereas comprising its sovereignty from afar.
A dysfunctional Europe
After the Cold War, it was anticipated that international locations striving in direction of democracy would naturally align themselves with the liberal democratic West, which, knowledgeable by its values, would act as a “force for good.” Instead, the conflating of democratization with Western alignment is now on the heart of an ideological challenge that fuels the brand new Cold War.
As polls display, the democratization of Belarus wouldn’t imply becoming a member of the Western bloc towards Russia – there merely isn’t public help for that. And so, natural actions for democratization and peaceable switch of energy must be hijacked, corrupted and finally destroyed by the bloc politics in a divided Europe.
The affordable demand for political reforms by Belarusians has now been besmirched into parading Tikhanovskaya round Washington because the professional chief of Belarus, as she advocates for sanctions and regime change.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the creator and don’t essentially characterize these of RT.