Soros, WikiLeaks and Tunisia’s “color revolution”

The neocon conspiracies can’t be far behind now. Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (proudly billing itself “A Global Think-Tank”) notes the suddenness with which the moniker “Jasmine Revolution” has been adopted (and mostly by intellectuals abroad, not protesters in Tunis). But he notes the differences between Tunisia and Georgia (“Rose”), Ukraine (“Orange”) and Kyrgyzstan (“Tulip”). Requisite Sorosphobobia is already in evidence. Dr. KR Bolton asks in Foreign Policy Journal: “Tunisian Revolt: Another Soros/NED Jack-Up?” But his screed makes no mention of George Soros or National Endowment for Democracy programs in Tunisia—only in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

If Soros isn’t behind the Tunisian revolution, it must be Julian Assange. WikiLeaks apparently released a mess of typically unflattering US diplomatic cables on the Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali regime. The New Yorker provides a sample, from a July 17, 2009, cable:

Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems…. They tolerate no advice or criticism, whether domestic or international. Increasingly, they rely on the police for control and focus on preserving power. And, corruption in the inner circle is growing. Even average Tunisians are now keenly aware of it, and the chorus of complaints is rising. Tunisians intensely dislike, even hate, First Lady Leila Trabelsi and her family. In private, regime opponents mock her; even those close to the government express dismay at her reported behavior.

Moammar Qaddafi, who we may imagine has every reason to fear a spread of revolutionary contagion in North Africa, has been quick to scapegoat WikiLeaks. The New York Times’ The Lede blog notes that Col. Qaddafi warned of the dark designs of “WikiLeaks which publishes information written by lying ambassadors in order to create chaos.”

Since a Wiki-cable disclosure that his favorite Ukrainian “nurse” accompanies him everywhere, Qaddafi has had a special grudge against WikiLeaks, which he has dubbed “Kleenex.” The Guardian quotes some more of his anti-WikiLeak rant:

Even you, my Tunisian brothers, you may be reading this Kleenex and empty talk on the Internet. Any useless person, any liar, any drunkard, anyone under the influence, anyone high on drugs can talk on the Internet, and you read what he writes and you believe it. This is talk which is for free. Shall we become the victims of Facebook and Kleenex and YouTube?

Of course there has to be a white guy behind the Tunisian revolution, right? Well, no. The notion that the Tunisians needed WikiLeaks to know they were oppressed, or needed George Soros to be able to organize a revolution, is deeply condescending.

See our last posts on Tunisia and the WikiLeaks scandals

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  1. We forgot “Cedar”…
    Adam Serwer in the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog takes issue (thankfully!) with right-wing loudmouths (e.g. Jennifer Rubin of the Post’s Right Turn blog) who have the chutzpah to portray the Tunisian revolution as a victory for George Bush and the neocon drive for “democratic change” in the Middle East. Serwer states: “This is deeply paternalistic—in Rubin’s version of history, the Tunisians who faced down the security forces of an autocratic regime are practically bit players in their own political upheaval.” Hear, hear. A commenter on the post adds: “You can make a credible argument about Iraq influencing the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon…but Tunisia is a big stretch.” Indeed, the “Jasmine Revolution” seems much more like a genuine revolution than the Lebanese regime change did, and certainly has more working class content and leadership…