The Color Revolutions

The Color Revolutions

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 256
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    The Color Revolutions
    Book Description:

    From late 2003 through mid-2005, a series of peaceful street protests toppled corrupt and undemocratic regimes in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan and ushered in the election of new presidents in all three nations. These movements-collectively known as the Color Revolutions-were greeted in the West as democratic breakthroughs that might thoroughly reshape the political terrain of the former Soviet Union. But as Lincoln A. Mitchell explains in The Color Revolutions, it has since become clear that these protests were as much reflections of continuity as they were moments of radical change. Not only did these movements do little to spur democratic change in other post-Soviet states, but their impact on Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan themselves was quite different from what was initially expected. In fact, Mitchell suggests, the Color Revolutions are best understood as phases in each nation's long post-Communist transition: significant events, to be sure, but far short of true revolutions. The Color Revolutions explores the causes and consequences of all three Color Revolutions-the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan-identifying both common themes and national variations. Mitchell's analysis also addresses the role of American democracy promotion programs, the responses of nondemocratic regimes to the Color Revolutions, the impact of these events on U.S.-Russian relations, and the failed "revolutions" in Azerbaijan and Belarus in 2005 and 2006. At a time when the Arab Spring has raised hopes for democratic development in the Middle East, Mitchell's account of the Color Revolutions serves as a valuable reminder of the dangers of confusing dramatic moments with lasting democratic breakthroughs.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0709-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Roughly fifteen years after crowds of peaceful demonstrators from Prague to Tbilisi brought down Communist regimes that had denied hundreds of millions of people their freedom for more than half a century, the excitement of the late 1980s and early 1990s had given way, at least in much of the former Soviet Union, to a grim reality: building free and prosperous countries was not easy. This was true even after toppling a Communist system that had become economically, spiritually, and politically bankrupt. From Kiev to Astana, former Soviet republics were defined by kleptocracy, fraudulent elections, widespread corruption, and, for many...

  4. CHAPTER 2 Pre-Color Revolution Regimes
    (pp. 17-43)

    The Rose, Orange, and Tulip Revolutions occurred in three countries that have distinct histories, locations, and economies. Other than having once been part of the Soviet Union, they do not have a great deal in common. Although all have historical connections with Russia, thousands of miles separate Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia. Equally important, they have had links and ties with different countries and parts of the world as well. Ukraine and Georgia both view themselves as having historically been part of Europe, while Kyrgyzstan is part of Asia. However, due to its southern and eastern location, Georgia has also historically...

  5. CHAPTER 3 Electoral Breakthroughs
    (pp. 44-72)

    The images of the Color Revolutions, of young, peaceful demonstrators solemnly standing in the cold, rain, and snow, demanding their voices be heard and that stolen elections not be allowed to stand, of old Communist era rulers being, shuffled in the case of Shevardnadze, literally, off the political stage, and of new energetic regimes replacing moribund kleptocracies, are very powerful, but only tell part of the Color Revolution story.

    The 2003 parliamentary election in Georgia, the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine, and the 2005 parliamentary election in Kyrgyzstan all occurred in the context of regimes that had been growing weaker...

  6. CHAPTER 4 The U.S. Role
    (pp. 73-91)

    The Color Revolutions are almost a political Rorschach test for observers of international politics. How one views these events—as triumphs of the “freedom agenda,” as twentieth-century U.S. imperialism in twenty-first-century nongovernmental bottles, as Americansupported plots or events that were orchestrated by the citizens of Georgia, Ukraine, or Kyrgyzstan—reveals more about the observer than about the events themselves. This is especially true if that observer is Russia, which has sought to portray these events as part of an American conspiracy to ensure that friendly, pro-America leaders are in place in the countries surrounding Russia. The antiwar left in the...

  7. CHAPTER 5 Russia
    (pp. 92-114)

    The Color Revolutions also had a substantial impact on U.S.-Russia relations. Moscow viewed these events as U.S. meddling in the region and in some cases, notably with regard to Georgia, supporting governments that were considerably more confrontational with Russia than their predecessors had been. However, to fully understand the impact of the Color Revolutions on U.S.-Russia relations, it is necessary to take a closer look at political developments throughout the region during this period.

    The roughly 20-month span during which the three post-Soviet Color Revolutions occurred was part of a decade long trend at the beginning of the twenty-first century...

  8. CHAPTER 6 Democracy After the Color Revolutions
    (pp. 115-140)

    In November 2007, the Georgian government violently cracked down on peaceful demonstrators, using water cannons and sonic devices to send demonstrators fleeing. Less than two years later, in Kyrgyzstan President Bakiev was reelected by a landslide in an election that would not have looked out of place in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, or Russia. In January 2010, the man whose efforts to steal the 2004 election precipitated the Orange Revolution was sworn in as president of Ukraine. These are very strange legacies for a movement that seemed so deeply tied to the advance of democracy.

    Assessing the extent of democratic development since...

  9. CHAPTER 7 Exporting Color Revolutions
    (pp. 141-166)

    After the success of the Rose Revolution in Georgia, democracy activists in the former Soviet Union and in the West—especially the United States—believed the Georgian model could be replicated in other countries in the region. The Orange Revolution, only a year later, and the Tulip Revolution a few months after that, only increased this belief. However, the Color Revolutions proved to be an extremely short-lived phenomenon.

    To some extent, the failure of Color Revolutions to occur anywhere after the Tulip Revolution in spring 2005 can be attributed partly to backlash from authoritarian and semi-authoritarian governments in the remaining...

  10. CHAPTER 8 Misreading Democratic Breakthroughs: U.S. Policy After the Color Revolutions
    (pp. 167-186)

    The Western powers—and especially the United States—played an important role in the stalled or even reversed development of democracy in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan after the Rose, Orange, and Tulip Revolutions.¹ For the first several years following the revolutions, U.S. policy contributed to the failure of democracy to consolidate in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia for a similar set of reasons. However, U.S. policy regarding Ukraine was more complex, and the overall impact less clear.

    U.S. policy was different in each country, but began with an initial set of flawed assumptions across all three countries, leading to unrealistically high expectations....

  11. CHAPTER 9 The End of an Era
    (pp. 187-199)

    The Color Revolutions have receded into the past. They are no longer an important political factor in the former Soviet Union, nor have they precipitated, or are likely to precipitate, meaningful democratic advances. However, for a few brief years, they were important not only throughout the former Soviet Union, but beyond. Democratic activists throughout the region, as well as in countries like Lebanon or Iran, were inspired by the events of 2003–2005 in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. Every time an election was stolen somewhere leading to public demonstrations, talk of Color Revolution heated up. None ever happened after 2005,...

  12. Appendix: Studying Color Revolutions
    (pp. 200-210)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 211-222)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-236)
  15. Index
    (pp. 237-244)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 245-245)