Another contribution by Jonathan Skinner:

Warm colors appear to be dyeing the banners of opposition protestors for democratic reform in Central Asia. But amidst the daily reports of extremist insurgency in the Middle East, opposition forces in Central Asia have managed to avoid bloody anarchy. It seems democracy in the former Soviet republics is growing from its citizens rather than imposed by US force or influence. I would not hastily call fair democracy a trend, but in Georgia, the Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan the public has found international support in actively voicing their objection, stepping forward and demanding the end of corrupt representation, and as mentioned in The Economist, this may ripple over undemocratic countries of Central Asia. It seems if anything, this is a testimony to ‘the march of freedom’ that President Bush declared is advancing around the world.

However, Bush has not declared direct cause in the reforms sweeping Central Asia; rather, he humbly smiles and probably thinks to himself “you will thank me in the future.” This appears to be the American ideology, at least of the present administration, regarding foreign relations: let the ends justify the means. Among criticisms regarding the war in Iraq, democratic reform is, however, independently being brought to discussion in Egypt, Lebanon, and to some extent Iraq. However, unlike Central Asia, dissent in the Middle East is heated with violent extremes and a fear of radical developments.

For these reasons, US involvement in the Middle East has been intensified on the ground. Although not a popular view (critics maintain that the US seeks private acquisition of oil fields—which is true) and overzealous in some areas (Can we afford to spread our forces so thinly and meddle in everyone’s affairs? Do we even have that right?—hence my belief for the US’s reasoning for a stronger UN), the US wants to prevent an extremist religious backlash from gaining strength in the Middle East.

Although US involvement in Central Asia is not without aspirations of private gain, specifically the oil pipeline planned to run through lower Georgia, the US is not actively influencing or pressing for democratic reform. What is apparent is that democracy is actively speaking out against authoritarianism and as the Aleksandr Rondeli, President of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, stated in the NY Times on Friday March 25, “the uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine showed what was possible…[the people] saw how easy it looked on TV.’” The revolutions in Central Asia are a significant testament to freedom, a call for democracy and equality and will be a historic tribute to peaceful demonstrations during anxious times.

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