Puppet Revolutions

Article excerpt

Lead stories in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal dealt with what both viewed as a national affront and outrage. Egyptian soldiers, said the Post, "stormed the offices" of three U.S. "democracy-building organizations ... in a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-led government that could imperil its relations with the United States."

The organizations: Freedom House, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. Cairo contends that $65 million in "pro-democracy" funding that IRI, NDI and Freedom House received for use in Egypt constitutes "illegal foreign funding" to influence their elections.

"A Provocation in Egypt" raged the Post. An incensed Freedom House President David Kramer said the raids reveal that Egypt's military "has no intention of allowing the establishment of genuine democracy."

Leon Panetta phoned the head of the military regime. With $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid on the line, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi backed down. The raids will stop. Yet this is not the first time U.S. "pro-democracy" groups have been charged with subverting regimes that fail to toe the Washington line.

In December, Vladimir Putin claimed that hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly from U.S. sources, were funneled into his country to influence the recent election and that Hillary Clinton's denunciation of the results was a signal for anti-Putin demonstrators to take to Moscow's streets.

In December also, a top Chinese official charged U.S. Consul General Stephen Young in Hong Kong with trying to spread disorder. "Wherever [Young] goes, there is trouble and so-called color revolutions," said the pro-Communist Party Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po.

Beijing, added the Post, has been "jittery following [the] Arab Spring and calls on the Internet for the Chinese to follow suit with a 'jasmine revolution."' The Jasmine Revolution was the uprising that forced Tunisia's dictator to flee at the outset of the Arab Spring.

Yet one need not be an acolyte of the Egyptian, Chinese, or Russian regimes to wonder if, perhaps, based on history, they do not have a point. Does the United States use NGOs to funnel cash to the opposition to foment uprisings or affect elections? …