Thursday 16 May 2024

What is really going on in Georgia

As you'll be aware, I haven't posted in a while. I've been busy managing my fund and attending to other priorities. I didn't/don't have any explicit plan to reboot the blog near term. I have, however, been doing some research on Georgia of late, and felt passionately enough about my ideas and the potential contribution I could make to the issue (and its importance), that I started to pen a twitter thread about it. That thread inadvertently grew into a long blog-worthy essay (brevity is not one of my attributes), so I thought I might as well post it on my blog as well, for what it's worth. Thanks to all my readers, and keep a look out as I may be back one day! LT3000


The following is a long post on what is really going on in Georgia. By way of preface, this is not really about Georgia. It’s about Russia. Otherwise, few fucks would be given about an innocuous law passed by a nation of 3.7m people that most can’t find on a map. The law is innocuous as all it requires is NGOs disclose the origins of their funding; the EU is currently working on a very similar law and the US already has such requirements enacted (FARA).

Over the past few years and behind closed doors, there has been consternation expressed to Georgia by the US/EU about their unwillingness to take a harder line against Russia – such as failure to implement sanctions (though it is complying with Western sanctions). These concerns are becoming more acute now that Ukraine is evidently losing the war, and the West is becoming increasingly desperate.

The ruling Georgian Dream party – though pro EU, and having presided over extremely rapid economic growth and impressive Western-style institutional development – is trying to avoid the “Ukrainization” of Georgia and does not want to needlessly invoke Russia’s ire. It does not believe – correctly – that taking a hostile approach to Russia is in the nation’s interests – only those of its EU/US partners who don’t care about Georgia and Georgians – only how Georgia can be used to further pressure Russia.

Given the Georgian Dream’s “uncooperative” approach to isolating Russia, the US (in this case in cooperation with the EU) has been doing what it always does when a regime frustrates its great power maneuverings – it tries to change the government. Occasionally it does this through military force (Iraq), but in the majority of cases it is via identifying organizations (e.g. NGOs) or other groups – political, ethnic, religious, etc – that are hostile to the current government and also want to overthrow it. It then proceeds to fund, arm, and train those groups, to give them maximum chance of success.

This is why the US government has been found to have often aligned with and funded many malign groups over the years, in places like Syria, and have often ended up funding and supporting leaders to power that have subsequently become tyrants. It’s not that they approve of these groups or individuals’ ideology or ethics – it is that there is a shared short-term alignment of interests in removing the incumbent from power.

In addition to providing funding, and in some cases training and arms, if and when events on the ground explode, they can also provide international political cover in the form of official rhetoric and narrative control that slants the reportage of events. This can take the form of, for instance, describing rebel groups as “democracy-loving freedom fighters”; condemning measured actions taken to restore order as “police brutality”; and claiming that the radical actions of political minorities represent the country as a whole. This is what is presently going on in Georgia.

In the case of Georgia, interference is being achieved through an army of NGOs, which number 25,000 in Georgia – an anomalously high number for such a small nation (3.7m). Selected NGOs are funded by Western governments, and they influence their activities both by choosing which groups they fund, and controlling who runs them by exercising their control over the purse strings. These puppet NGOs then proceed to carpet bomb the local media and civil society with anti-government media and rhetoric, while also feeding out slanted narratives to the global press, who often rely on local NGOs for their information due to a lack of their own boots on the ground.

Such groups work to cultivate a sense of grievance on the ground and will seize on any opportunity to condemn the government and protest its actions. When opportunity presents, as it has with the recent bill, they will then actively engage in the organization and funding of protests, and then energetically work to escalate those protests, including provoking reactions from security forces that can then be used as propagandized media around the excessive use of force, and paint the incumbent as an oppressive tyrant, rather than an elected body acting in accordance with the rule of law. It also provides raw material that can be used by official US channels to condemn the incumbent, advocate for sanctions, and in extreme cases even resort to military intervention.  If the situation is inflamed enough, it can sometimes escalate to a full-blown revolution and/or provoke a civil war.

This is exactly what happened in 2014 with Ukraine’s Maidan coup, and in many of the other “colour revolutions” which have plagued the region (both successful and failed). In Ukraine, after successfully removing a democratically-elected but insufficiently anti-Russian administration from power, the newly installed administration – which the US actively participated in putting together in the wake of the revolution – see the leaked “Fuck the EU” Nuland-Pyatt audio files – immediately proceeded to try to kick Russia out of its Sevastopol navel military base by invalidating the lease. This is why Russia annexed Crimea, and led us directly down the path that has led to the current war.

While it is true that significant grass roots participation is necessary for the engineering of a revolution to be viable, it does not need to be a majority of the electorate – a small fired-up minority will suffice. In the case of Georgia, at peak there have been about 30k protestors present according to Western media sources, or less than 1% of Georgia’s population, and a not insignificant number of that 1% likely work for, or are affiliated with, anti-government NGOs. And many of the rests’ own organic views will have been meaningfully shaped by those NGO’s own promulgated media and rhetoric.

While organic discontent may exist, large scale rallies and protests don’t just spontaneously happen – particularly over an issue as innocuous as NGOs being required to disclose the origins of their funding, and amidst a booming economy no less. They require organization and funding to catalyze, and rhetoric to inflame and amplify, and the NGOs (and Western officials also desirous of regime change, as we have seen) participate in this. If you are confused about why this seemingly innocuous issue has been so explosive, it is because said NGOs and Western officials have actively participated in making it so.

Furthermore, the response has been particularly energetic as it hits close to home – the said NGOs are well aware they are up to no good and are therefore particularly opposed to improved transparency because it threatens their own interests (and paychecks). Meanwhile, Western officials are so obstinately opposed to it because it will frustrate their efforts to interfere in Georgian politics and force it to become more anti-Russian.

NGOs and Western officials have succeeded in branding the bill the “Russia law” and it representing Georgia “turning away from the EU” – a narrative which, as usual, has been blindly accepted and repeated without any critical thinking by the Western media – despite the fact that the bill is nothing like its Russian counterpart, and is in fact more innocuous than similar foreign influence laws already in force in the UK and US, and under contemplation in the EU.

Moreover, transparency is a fundamental EU value, and the current Georgian administration is pro EU. The NGO/Western rhetoric bears no relationship to the facts, but they are not interested in the facts, democracy, the rule of law, or moral principles. They are interested in protecting their funding sources from scrutiny, protecting their own salaries, and ousting the incumbent government so Georgian policy can become more actively hostile to Russia, to serve the interests of the EU and US (or at least bullying it into compliance with US/EU preferences).

The Georgian Dream is well aware of what is going on (as is Russia, having seen and objected to the same thing happen in Ukraine), which is why GD is taking its present bold and courageous action and standing up to a tremendous amount of, frankly odious, international and NGO pressure. The move to push this legislation now, six months out from elections (though GD claim the bill enjoys 60-80% support from the electorate), may have been catalyzed by another foiled attempt at a revolution in late 2023, as well as growing behind-closed-doors strong arming by the US/EU to “get with the program” of isolating Russia. They realize they need to act before it is too late.

Georgian Dream is pursing a policy course that is of critical importance to Georgia’s future. If they fail and are overthrown, or are browbeaten into compliance with West's hawkish anti-Russian agenda, it will open the door to a second front in the Russo-Ukraine war. This could very easily lead to the “Ukrainization” of Georgia, up to and including a full-blown Russian invasion, and when that happens, NATO will be nowhere to be seen. Georgia will be swallowed by Russia and cease to exist. And given Georgia’s remarkable economic progress and Western-style institutional development over recent decades, with 80% of its population being pro EU, it will be a damn shame.

Recent events have been described as critical to Georgia’s European future. They indeed are, just not in the way conventional Western media sources portray it.