While I’m thinking about Georgia, readers will remember that Saakashvili, the demagogic despot who had civilian protesters beaten and power-hosed down in Tbilisi last week, was an occasional contributor to The Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed page, and the editors of the WSJ were ardent supporters of Saakashvili’s government. The editors of The Wall Street Journal have so far stayed unusually quiet about the embarrassing antics of their favourite Caucasian strongman over the past few days, and it’s no wonder. Just four weeks ago they named him on their list of deserving recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize:
Or to Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili who, despite the efforts of the Kremlin to undermine their young states, stayed true to the spirit of the peaceful “color” revolutions they led in Ukraine and Georgia and showed that democracy can put down deep roots in Russia’s backyard [bold mine-DL].
How are those deep roots looking now? It’s not as if the WSJ couldn’t have known that Saakashvili’s rule was increasingly brutal, authoritarian and corrupt, since this has been a mark of his government for years. Yet they published the cited editorial on October 14!
The point of the editorial was to complain about the awarding of the Noble Peace Prize to someone whom the editors believed undeserving. The standard complaint on the right against the Nobel Peace Prize is that it always goes to someone undeserving, but this editorial takes the whining to a new level by proposing nominees for next year, which in this case reveals a lot about what the WSJ thinks peace, democracy and human rights mean: they mean whatever the editors want them to mean if they advance the editors’ preferred geopolitical goals.
The company in which they lumped Saakashvili is notable for just how radically different they are from the megalomaniacal lawyer: Burmese monks, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has suffered torture and persecution for his resistance to a tyranny far more brutal than anything Saakashvili ever had to face, dissident Catholics in Vietnam, women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, Chinese bloggers, Ayman Nour and many others. They also list that other WSJ favourite Kasparov, who has more right to be on the list than these two. I don’t much care for Kasparov’s promotion of hostility towards his own country, nor do I find his political associations (both inside and outside Russia) of late terribly attractive, but even I would not class Kasparov and Saakashvili together in anything except their antipathy to Putin. Even Uribe, whatever you think of his government, doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with such characters. To include Saakashvili or the criminal oligarch Yushchenko with these others, most of whom really are genuine patriots and heroes, is an insult to all of the latter. That the editors could seriously include Saakashvili on this list a mere four weeks ago shows how cynical their use of the causes of genuine dissidents and democrats actually is.
P.S. Here was another exercise in Journal agitprop for their boy, dated August 25 2007. The Journal and its contributors were loyal Saakashvili-boosters until last month, despite the evidence growing over the past several years that he was not the democratic hero and Georgia not the “shining star” his apologists claimed. One assumes that they have remained his supporters until now. I expect that we can expect some two-faced editorial in the near future declaring their disappointment with Saakashvili, who supposedly had so much potential. Here was an earlier contribution from the same Melik Kaylan, who was enthusing about the “Prague Spring”-like atmosphere of Tbilisi in those halcyon days following Mr. Bush’s insane Second Inaugural. The folly of the democratists in this case is a matter of record.
Another reason the WSJ may be unusually reticent when they have an occasion to try to stir up anti-Russian hysteria as they like to do is the pending acquisition of DowJones by NewsCorp, which has just had one of its local networks shut down by the local
tinpot dictator champion of freedom. Murdoch and company may not be very happy with the situation right now. Also, Patarkatsishvili, the co-owner of Imedi, the network in question, has been accused of being behind the alleged attempted “coup” against Saakashvili, which probably also doesn’t endear NewsCorp to the current government. They probably don’t like having their business partners accused of treason.