A shield against Foreign Interest

A shield against Foreign Interest

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play a crucial role in governance, democratization, development, diffusion of new ideas, social justice, transparency, ensuring equity, etc. A source indicates that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) fall into the category of civil society because they are not operated by the government, are very often reliant on donations, and tend to be comprised of volunteers.

Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, however, numerous states around the world have started to doubt some CSOs. Although institutions like churches and professional associations might be less political, NGOs and other forms of civil society have been found to promote hidden political agenda in different parts of the world.

Helsinki Watch, nowadays called Human Rights Watch, raises its role in the fall of the Soviet Union with pride. The involvements of American based international NGOs and George Soros’ Open Society Institute in the color revolutions of the former Soviet states have also been well documented.

The subsequent coming to power of regimes that are in favour of western efforts of internationalization also rationalizes supposed US interference. These unconstitutional changes of government are characterized by the control of power by groups claiming to promote western inspired moves towards democratization and market rule.

The replacement of Eduard Shevardnadze with Mikhail Saakashvili, the latter being educated in America, following the Rose Revolution of Georgia can be cited as evidence of such results.

 Another such case is that of the Ukranian Orange Revolution that declared Viktor Yushchenko, west favouring opposition leader, President defeating the Russia favouring runner Viktor Yanukovych in the disputed presidential election of 2004.

The one thing that all states (including those of the Arab Spring) that went through these color revolutions have in common, however, is overwhelming western political and economic interference that is unprecedented in the short term political history of some of the countries.

After staying off the reach of western financial oligarchs that flood nations with their banking and energy multinationals, Libyan resources have finally been opened up to the former through the “Libyan revolution.”

Considering the huge benefits the unconstitutional change has awarded the western financial oligarchs and the chaos it has brought the Libyan people, I see hardly any reason, apart from the fact that it was held in Libya through the use of Libyans as instruments, why it should be called a Libyan Revolution. The political pressure on those that have ascended the helm of political power in their respective countries through such changes to form liberal conformist regimes is also widely evident.

Sreeram Chaulia in his essay, “Democratization, NGOs and Color Revolutions”, establishes that International Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are at the heart of such efforts of penetration. In explaining the role of INGOs to “penetrate target states”, the writer states the presence of two ways through which the organizations serve their purpose.

He states that the first is constructive theory which harps on norm institutionalization in issue areas like human rights that enable coalitions with powerful state actors who favour such norms.


 Another pathway for penetration is presented by the “boomerang pattern”, wherein international contacts “amplify the demands of domestic groups, pry open space for new issues and then echo back these demands into the domestic arena.”

However, claims Sreeram Chaulia, for the most apposite theoretical framework that fits the story of INGOs and color revolutions, we must leave constructivism and turn to the revolving applications of realism in world politics.

Realism asserts that transnational actors can punch above their weight and have disproportionate impact on world affairs only if they lobby and change the preferences, practices and policies of powerful states.

“Norm-driven theorists fail to concede that superpowers have minds and agency of their own and only give into transnational “pressures” when the issue area serves larger geo-strategic purposes. Rarely has the US promoted human rights and democracy in a region when they did not suit its grander foreign-policy objectives.”

He further states that the principal argument is that the main and direct causes of the color revolutions were United States foreign-policy interests (strategic expansion, energy security and the war on terrorism) as they were serviced by INGOs. “Without the intervention of these US-sponsored INGOs, the political landscapes in countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan would not have been repainted in new colors.”

The most notable of such INGOs involve the Soros foundation, USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute and Freedom House. Numerous countries then took action against the INGOs that orchestrated these color revolutions in their countries.

It is noteworthy that after the Orange Revolution several Central Asian nations took action against the Open Society Institute of George Soros with various means – Uzbekistan, for example, forced the shutting down of the OSI regional offices, while Tajik state-controlled media have accused OSI-Tajikistan of corruption and nepotism.

Evidence suggesting US. government involvement includes the USAID (and UNDP) supported Internet structures called Freenet, which are known to comprise a major part of the Internet structure in at least one of the countries – Kyrgyzstan – in which one of the color revolutions occurred.

The Guardian reported that USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and Freedom House are directly involved; the Washington Post and the New York Times also reported substantial Western involvement in some of these events. Activists from Serbia and Ukraine have said that publications and training they received from the US based Albert Einstein Institution staff have been instrumental in the formation of their strategies.

Following the use of INGOs to advance the interests of powerful states and the international financial oligarchs in its neighbouring countries, Russia also came up with laws that restricted the funding of civil society organizations from abroad. After all, it is through organizations like NED, Open Society Institute and the USAID that local NGOs are delegated the task of organizing local people against their own government and derail a country’s peace and development.

Therefore, it has become all too clear for countries that CSOs need to be financed locally as foreign funds do not come free. They are tied with interests of the source of fund.

As there are no permanent friends in international relations, outright denouncement of policies recommended by the powerful could leave developing countries at the receiving end of local unrest orchestrated through local CSOs funded by the powerful states. It is, thus, important to alienate the function of CSOs from foreign interest.

credit to AllAfrica