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The Color of Foreign Influence
Is Regime Change Inc. on the Midnight Train to Tbilisi?
“When a problem arises either inside or outside a republic, and has become so serious that it has begun to terrify everyone, the safest policy to put off dealing with it rather than trying to eliminate it, because almost always those who eliminate it only increase its strength and hasten the harm that is expected from it…when you put off dealing with them, they either fade away by themselves or at least the evil is postponed for a longer time.”
- Machiavelli [Discourses, I.33]
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There is a distressing and familiar sight in the nation-state of Georgia. Young protestors have taken over a central area and are chanting anti-Russia slogans, often obscene and in English, as they wave Ukraine and EU flags and clash with the police.
At issue, a now-withdrawn draft law on foreign influence which would require that entities receiving more than 20% of funding from abroad register and explain their funding source. This received overwhelming support in the legislature, though the largely symbolic pro-Western President said she would veto the legislation, however the legislature had a veto-proof majority. The legislature of Georgia, which has a large border with Russia and has so far remained relatively neutral, is under attack from angry anti-Russia mobs. While we are supposed to believe nefarious Russian influence reaches into everything, the sheer fact that this legislation which would treat all foreign interference equally is seen as being a Russian influence ploy shows that there is massively more US and EU influence in Georgia. As ever, “democracy” simply means doing whatever the Western oligarchs want. It seems we are looking at what is known as a “Color Revolution,” where US soft-power funds pro-Western protestors to overthrow the government of a former Soviet state. The legislature was wise to withdraw the legislation in an attempt to calm the situation, though it did not cause the protestors to leave the streets. This is a rare time my piece will be about how a government’s decision is correct. Escalating is the worst decision the Georgian legislature could make now that this conflict has arisen, and they will find that if they can simply deal with the internal pressure and let time pass, they should be able to wait out the Russia-Ukraine War and then carefully look at their options for reducing outside influence on the country. If not, they may find their democratically elected government overthrown, and their country put on a collision course for a devastating conflict with Russia.
For brief background, Georgia is a small country in the Caucasus Mountains which borders Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkiye. It is most known in the United States for sharing a name with a state and being the birthplace of Stalin. The country is very ancient and the western part was originally known as Colchis; it was the source of the Golden Fleece in the epic poem The Argonautica. However, for understanding the current situation, it is the post-Soviet history that is relevant. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian-speaking areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke off from Georgia, and it has never controlled them as an independent state. The situation is similar to that of Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, where a Soviet leader, in this case Stalin, arbitrarily and unilaterally transferred them into a different Soviet Republic. In 2003 Georgia had what was known as the “Rose Revolution” which placed the corrupt pro-US thug Mikhail Saakashvili in power. Saakashvili received advanced degrees from elite US universities including a Columbia where he studied on a State Department funded scholarship.1 All of this is to say, Saakasvhili is a museum-quality specimen of a US-created petty tyrant. In 2008, after increasing tensions, the rabidly anti-Russia Saakashvili launched an invasion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which was repelled by Russian forces. At the time and since, people claimed that this constituted a Russian invasion of Georgia, despite that mainstream sources such as The Christian Science Monitor directly state that the war began when Saakashvili invaded those regions. Both sides bear a degree of blame for the tensions increasing and it resulting in an armed conflict, however, you know you are dealing with an anti-Russia hack who lacks credibility if he lists Georgia as a country that Putin invaded [and this happens all the time, including regularly in the comments on this publication.] The current President of Georgia even admitted Georgia started the conflict, though she said Russia provoked them and also had to walk it back following public outrage. Saakashvili left power in 2013 after losing an election he tried to rig, he then fled to post-Maidan Ukraine to avoid abuse of power charges, where he was appointed a regional governor and given citizenship. Saakashvili ultimately left Ukraine due to rampant corruption, drifted around for a while then returned, taking a post under Zelensky, and then inexplicably returning home despite knowing he would be arrested for abuse of power charges. Saakashvili is currently dying in prison.
Since 2013, Georgia’s parliament has been led by the Georgian Dream Party. The party has attempted to take a realistic approach to Russia, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the country’s “perspective” EU membership. Though Georgia has broadly gone along with Russia sanctions and voted against Russia at the UN, because the party’s foreign policy is not deranged, suicidal Russia-hatred like the Baltic States, it is smeared as a “pro-Russia” government by Ukraine supporters. The reality of the situation appears to be that they genuinely value Georgia’s independence and further understand that their small nation of 3.7 million people has lost a war against Russia in the recent past and stands no chance of winning one in the immediate future. To the modern Western ruling class and their sycophants, this sort of clear-eyed realism has no place in international relations. They are all George W. Bush now, and neutrality is support for Russia.
Since 2018, Georgia’s President has been a woman named Salome Zourabachvili. She was an independent politician who received the endorsement of Georgian Dream, though her relationship with the party has since deteriorated. Like Saakashvili before her, this woman is a Western hack to a truly incredible degree. An erstwhile Frenchwoman, Zourabachvili had a 30 year diplomatic career for France, culminating in her appointment as ambassador to Georgia in 2004. Despite that her family had lived in France since 1921, with the approval of both governments she switched citizenship and went directly from being the French Ambassador to Georgia to being the Georgian Foreign Minister under Saakashvili. She is a native French speaker with imperfect Georgian language skills, who said on the campaign trail that the beauty of Georgia allows you to, “shove things in anywhere you want.” Allegedly it was meant to reference the possibilities for archeological digs, though perhaps she is just French. Zourabachvili also has an advanced degree from Columbia University, in International and Public Affairs. Her daughter, Kethevane Gorjestani, who also holds an advanced degree from Columbia, works for France 24 and is currently in the White House Press Corps, where she is President of the White House Foreign Press Group.
Zourabachvili was in the United States when these protests broke out, where she was supposed to give a speech at Harvard for International Women’s Day until the protests changed her schedule. As with Saakashvili, it would essentially be impossible to invent a person with closer ties to the Western elite. I cannot find a list of 1973 Alumni from Columbia’s SIPA school, but their alumni website says this, “Joining a Powerful Global Network: As a graduate of SIPA, you belong to a powerful and global network of more than 24,000 alumni in over 160 countries.” That is to say, she’s a member of a an elite Western cabal driving global policy. Biden Administration Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, one of the dumbest, least impressive people to have reached such a level, is currently featured on their website as an alumni, which makes you question the actual quality of education and if it serves any purpose but inducting you into the Western policy elite [I’m joking, of course it doesn’t.]
Such was the political situation in Georgia when the foreign agent law had its first reading on Tuesday, March 7th. Supporters say it is based on the United States’ 1938 Foreign Agent Registration Act [FARA,] while detractors say it is based on Russia’s 2012 law limiting the activities of non-governmental organizations [NGOs.] It is being called the “Russian Law” by opponents, despite the fact that as said previously any Russian organizations would be held to the same standards. There is dispute about if it is a harsher or milder version of US’s FARA, though it needs to be noted that FARA is almost exclusively used to discredit unfavored people, who generally register retroactively after their foreign lobbying is noticed [including, notably, Ron DeSantis’ communications director Christina Pushaw, who had previously worked for Saakashvili.] Perhaps FARA is a bad law, but the faux-outrage over Georgia’s draft law still looks ridiculous due to FARA existing. I don’t know why Georgia’s ruling party thought this was the right time to introduce this bill, though it doesn’t appear they expected this degree of domestic and international opposition.
Everything about the response to this bill demonstrates the need to limit such foreign influence. US State Department spokesman Ned Price was asked in an interview, “So what do you think this leaves the 30-plus years of building democracy in Georgia by the U.S.?” He did not disagree with this characterization, and part of his response included the following,
“A law like this is not consistent with the aspirations that the Georgian people have expressed over the course of decades now, the future they have set out for themselves, and the future that we, as the United States, are determined to continue to be a partner to help them achieve.”
That is to say, he openly acknowledges that the US has spent thirty years trying to turn Georgia, a tiny country on the other side of the world, into what the United States wants it to be. Regime change specialist Samantha Power, who has remained deeply involved in Ukraine for almost a decade, and was recently at a rally with Ukrainian Nazis in Washington D.C. is very concerned about how this impacts her ability to ply her trade in Georgia:
It should be pointed out that Georgia is not in Europe, even if they consider themselves culturally tied, and is also like 2000 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. Power’s tweet is a tacit admission that Georgia will not achieve “European Integration” without a huge body of foreign influencers acting in the country without declaring their funding. I’m not one to see George Soros around every corner, but he is real and his organizations exist, and the Open Societies Foundation is also quite upset about the premise of having to register as a foreign agent, despite that everyone knows exactly what it is. The Open Society Georgia Foundation released this ridiculous statement in February,
“We, the people of Georgia, strongly oppose the bill…attempts to adopt this Russian bill attack not only the independent civil society organizations and the critical media, but the people of Georgia themselves.
This bill aims to leave defenseless the abused children and women; people with disabilities, minorities, scientists, workers, and the youth; to not provide assistance to socially vulnerable families, farmers, miners, internally displaced, homeless, illegally laid off, detained, and other people fighting for their rights; to mute the voice of the people living in the peripheries of the country that can only communicate their troubles through the independent media.
When Putin adopted a similar law in Russia, many organizations chose to disband rather than comply with its requirements.”
Right, so they would rather stop doing all of that important work than acknowledge where their funding comes from? Non-profits generally have to do a good deal of financial disclosures anyway, though I don’t know the Georgian tax code. No aspect of this actually restricts their activity, it simply requires them acknowledging the fact that they get international funding. It’s incredible they would abandon the homeless and the disabled instead of having funding transparency, unless there is more to their activities. It is hard for any reasonable person to come to a different conclusion than that they are using shady foreign funding to influence Georgia’s internal politics. And once again, this law would have applied equally, so they clearly see that this would hurt the US and EU’s power in Georgia far more than Russia’s.
Following the vote on the bill where it easily passed a first reading, the Russian hating Ameri-cuck segment of Georgia’s population hit the streets to great acclaim from Western scribblers as well as the West’s foreign pawns. We even got an “iconic” protest photo of a woman waving an EU flag being sprayed with water:
This guy works for the US government. Voice of America is a propaganda organization. It is state-owned, it is not even pretending to be anything else. That said, he operates out of DC so wouldn’t be impacted by Georgia’s law, but he works for them broadcasting at Ukraine.
This woman works for the Atlantic Council. For some surely not sketchy reason their most recent donor list I can find is from 2019, but it lists them getting major donations from Western governments, tech corporations, and financial interests. Donors include the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Facebook, Goldman Sachs & Co, Palantir, Raytheon Technologies, the United States Department of State, NATO, and the Open Society Foundations. They voluntarily highlight this funding.
This one worked for Transparency International Georgia, the parent of which gets almost 60% of its funding from governments, including most major NATO-aligned countries.
And of course, they do represent the will of Georgia, not the Western governments who fund them. International NGOs are the real people of Georgia.
OC Media gets almost 40% of it’s funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, “a second CIA,” as well as several other Western governments, and they have the gall to call themselves politically independent! The claim is that the foreign agent law would allow the government to attack opponents as foreign agents, except they already publicly admit to being funded by foreign governments. They further claim the reporting would be onerous, but they obviously know where their own funding comes from and everything registers with the government in one form or another.
Again the Atlantic Council, as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is a United States funded broadcaster.
I haven’t been that selective collecting these, they are among top pro-protest results one finds typing “Georgia Protests” into Twitter’s search bar. These are the people so upset about this law.
And so, facing such pressure, the Georgian Dream party pledged to drop the bill. However, protests continued, despite that all of the previously arrested rioters were released. Now this mob is demanding that the government resign and hold early elections. Of course just as in Ukraine this is all being held up as “democratic” despite that it seeks to overthrow their constitutional government. One worries that sniping will start like happened in Ukraine back in 2014 and this thing will blow up.
Georgia’s government was wise to back down as they are facing forces far stronger than their small country, and Ukraine supporters are increasingly desperate to open any sort of second front. Sacrificing Georgia is nothing to such people. I cannot say if these protests are directed by outside forces, but it is clear they are protesting in favor of Western influence. Further, this very much follows the script. Georgia is in a treacherous situation, and their best move is to delay dealing with this and for the time being accept that there is a potentially lethal amount of Western influence in their country. In the West there is a horrible bias for action which leads to tragic results because everyone must be seen to “be doing something,” and only intentions are judged not results. It is frequently the case that not acting, or waiting for the right opportunity, is the bravest and most correct decision. I could give any number of examples, though the covid panic is the most prominent. This was explained perfectly in the children’s show Avatar: The Last Airbender where it was described as “neutral jing.”
Or, in the immortal words of the Canadian rock band Rush, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”
Further, Machiavelli writes in Discourses,
“In all such affairs, princes who plan on eliminating these difficulties or opposing them impetuously with force should keep their eyes open to avoid increasing them in a harmful way, thinking that they are pushing something away by dragging it behind them—as one might drown a plant by watering it. But the strength of the disease must be carefully considered, and if you are capable of curing it, put yourself to doing so without hesitation; otherwise leave it alone and make no attempt to do anything.” [I.33]
It was clearly already a mistake to attempt to pass this law, though I see why they misread the situation. One wouldn’t imagine it would be possible to get the public this riled up in opposition to reducing foreign interference in the country. The narrative that this is a “Russian law” is incredible, being as Ukraine supporters are all basically Democrats and thus live in a mind-space where Russian influence is a constant threat. They somehow sold the public that instead of reducing the Russian threat this is the Russian threat. I’m sort of in awe they pulled this off, but the people who believe them are completely broken and have no critical thinking skills, and the narrative control remains effective despite the outright silliness of something like this. Many Georgians as well as the Westerners remain mired in anti-enemy mania and would rather that we should all die than that Russia and Ukraine’s border change because for some reason Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the final breaking of their brains. However, if Georgia’s government can bide their time, an opportunity to counter this malign foreign influence and maintain genuine independence is bound to arise, this just came about at a time where the need to distract the public and create a narrative against Russia was even more intense than usual.
Taken as a whole, the Georgia situation is a farce. The most basic level of scrutiny demonstrates that there is far more Western influence in Georgia there is Russian influence and that there is what amounts to a multinational conspiracy to pull Georgia into Europe’s orbit. No one actually cares about the will of the Georgian people, and their fear and hatred towards Russia is simply being used as a political tool. As with the Baltics now, or Poland in 1939, Georgia is in a position where it needs to decide if it wants to maintain good terms with a much larger, and threatened, neighbor, or if it wants to accept a security guarantee from people who do not care about its well-being and cannot physically access the country to protect it from aggression [it does share a land border with NATO member Turkiye, however it is remote, narrow, and Turkiye has maintained a degree of neutrality.] Thucydides has the Corinthians, in the lead up to the Peloponnesian War, say to the Athenians,
“Abstinence from all injustice to other first-rate powers is a greater tower of strength than anything that can be gained by the sacrifice of permanent tranquillity for an apparent temporary advantage.” [I.42.3]
Good advice, except that people have grown so hostile to neutrality that they hate the Swiss for being the Swiss. The narrative that Russia wants to gobble up all of its neighbors is a fantasy of Western empire managers and talking heads. Only by remaining neutral can the Georgian government actually protect the nation’s people and its sovereignty. They have done well so far, besides the mistake of creating this foreign agent law confrontation, and hopefully they can remain calm, show caution, and follow a wise course. But the sharks smell blood, and some of them would consider sacrificing Georgia in an attempt to harm Russia to be no price at all. Meanwhile, much of the Georgian public is simply deranged with hatred. Only wise and steady leadership can save them from both outside powers and themselves.
I will leave you with two more Machiavelli quotes, both from Discourses,
“Very often the people, deceived by a false image of good, desire their own ruin, and unless someone they trust can make them capable of distinguishing the good from the bad, this will bring endless danger and damage to republics.” [I.53]
“Where the ultimate decision concerning the safety of one’s country is to be taken, no consideration of what is just or unjust, merciful or cruel, praiseworthy or shameful, should be permitted; on the contrary, putting aside every other reservation, one should follow in its entirety the policy that saves its life and preserves its liberty.” [III.41]
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I don’t know why that link says “Since 2015.” The prior link from Columbia University says he received that fellowship and graduated in ‘94.