3.26.2005 ||> Somewhere inside something there is a rush of greatness
Today I forgot to write a thank-you note to an interviewer because I was so wrapped up with the Tulip Revolution that I forgot about my own issues. When I expressed this sentiment out loud, someone asked me why I was so interested. What is so important about a small Central Asian country with no real natural resources? Why should we focus on this topic rather than, say, a woman and her feeding tube? Or even better, why don't we simply watch Jackie Chan movies and forget that there's even a world out there?
I'll put aside the fact that I lived in the region for a moment.
It's important that we pay attention. One could make the argument that we're on the other side of the world, so what does it matter what we think? But while we may live in a sort of bubble here in the US, what we think and do really can affect other countries. What would have happened if, in 1994, we had been more interested in Rwanda than in Whitewater? We could play with "what ifs", but public opinion might have pressed the UN to act to save hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Though I suppose whether or not Clinton had a shady real estate deal was more important than 800,000 Rwandans.
Before I get too up on my high horse, I would like to say that my purpose isn't to lecture. I simply want to point out that we have a rare opportunity here to make sure the US government fosters democracy in this region. It's a tricky time and we could really help the Kyrgyz to live better, freer lives. We just have to pay attention first.
What is Kyrgyzstan?
Kyrgyzstan is a former soviet republic situated in Central Asia which neighbors China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It came to be in September 1991, right before the fall of the USSR. At first considered a model democratic country in a sea of neighboring dictatorships, it has since declined into corruption and nepotism.
Kyrgyzstan has a wildly differing population including Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Russians, Tatars, etc. It is known for not having as many resources as its neighbors and so economic reforms were necessary in the beginning to shift away from a crushing communist system. Unfortunately, it began to stagnate until now.
How do you pronounce 'Kyrgyzstan'?
There are a couple of different ways. "Keer-ge-stan" is how I do it while others will say "Keer-geez-stan". Both are correct.
What is going on in Kyrgyzstan?
After the parliamentary elections, which were roundly criticized as being corrupt, people started to protest. These protests started in the southern regions and made their way to the capital city of Bishkek where they resulted in forcing the president to flee.
What is the 'Tulip Revolution'?
The protests in Kyrgyzstan were quickly dubbed the 'Tulip Revolution' to draw comparison with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. The tulip is the national flower of Kyrgyzstan, so it fits in with the idea of a nationalized movement.
Does this mean that there will be democracy in Kyrgyzstan?
That remains to be seen. The hope is that the protests will follow others in being peaceful, democratic movements that end up making the country a better place. The movement has not only already shown itself to be a bit more violent, but also seems more factionalized than the other revolutions in former soviet republics.
The president, although no longer in the country, has maintained that he is still in power, while opposition groups have also claimed sovereignty. This could lead to more conflict down the line. One hopes that it's all bluster.
What are some links I can go to for more information?
There are many blogs that have more information than you will find here. For news on the street, some Kyrgyz Peace Corps volunteers are writing about the events when they get a chance. Check out Larry Tweed .
For rapidly developing news, go to registan.net, news.google.com or the associated press.
What if I disagree with your assessment?
That's cool. This is just a first glance at what is going on and was made to answer some simple questions. For a more detailed analysis, go to the links above and find out more!
Have you been adding more information to this post?
Throughout today if there are added questions or new information, I will add it.
With the president fleeing and the protesters in the 'White House,' I guess my instinct was wrong and it's going to be a junta.
Also, I've been getting some hits from people who want to know how to pronounce Kyrgyzstan (I guess my aunt was right!). There's a couple of different ways I guess. "Keer-ge-stan" is how I do it (although I'm as often likely to use the Russian "Kyrgyzia") while others will say "Keer-geez-stan". People there are typically referred to by their own nationality, but maybe by generalists as "Kyrgyz." Happy to oblige.
I have been totally addicted to events unfolding in Kyrgyzstan much as I was when Ukraine has its Orange Revolution. I think the "Tulip Revolution" will be completely unlike what happened in Georgia and Ukraine in that it already seems more violent and very disorganized.
Just look at the factors. Ukraine is already very close to former communist countries that have already reaped the benefits of democracy. All they have to do is go next door to Hungary or the Czech Republic to see how it's done. Who do the Kyrgyz have to compare? The Tajiks? As for violence, Uzbekistan has already seen two waves of bombings in the last year, why would the Kyrgyz be any different? Hell, Kyrgyzstan is where the IMU fled to when they failed in Uzbekistan.
What it all comes down to is that it would be just fabulous if democracy would flower in Kyrgyzstan. Maybe then the other stans would fall suit too and we could end all the oppression in the region. Although, what I'm afraid of is that either the President will pull a Pinochet on the opposition or that it will become less people power and more like a movement of radical leaders who would in turn oppress the people in a different way. Since it seems that a crackdown is imminent, I would guess the former as more likely.
When I was at the university, we could discuss the political ramifications of stuff like this for hours. I almost wish I was in a Master's program so I could write a paper on the various peaceful revolutions and how to encourage them throughout the world. Or maybe a comparative analysis of the effectiveness/longevity of the peaceful revolutions versus the more militant maneuvers.
But I'm also a geek. When I pointed out the irony of the full page Terri Shiavo article and the two inches of newspaper space on a revolution that could change Central Asia, my aunt brought me back down to reality. "Well, how many people here know how to pronounce 'Kyrgyzstan'? The real news rarely gets published."
I had been attending a series of interviews for this one company. The interviewer was this chick who felt that by talking too fast and laughing at my questions I would be really excited about joining her company. Yesterday, I had another interview over the phone and almost hung up on her just to keep my blood pressure from rising. She called me later to let me know I was out of the "competition."
It's a bit disconcerting that I am this pleased with being cut.
I know I'm not writing too much about my job search, but I have had interviews for jobs that just would not have been a good fit, and it was a bit of a dissapointment. No other job that I interviewed for would have been as antithetical to what I want than that job. No other rejection (mutual or no) made me at all happy. I did a little dance knowing that I would never hear her voice again.
There are so many things wrong with the Terri Schiavo case, it's not even funny. While I'm sympathetic to her parents (because who would want their daughter to starve to death? It's crazy), I also have to say that it's giving people an even larger excuse to be hypocritical than usual, and that's where my problem lies.
George Bush during his time as governor oversaw more executions than any other governor in US history. He helped send 152 people to their deaths. Then, as president, he was the first in 40 years to have a federal prisoner executed. And he goes on to say that women shouldn't have abortions because of the sanctity of life and tries to go around a court order about Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube.
I guess life only matters as long as it was someone who didn't break the law. This is where I could make a crack about flip-flopping, but I think the disease goes much deeper than that.
And what is with the Congress lately? We have a spiraling dollar, human rights abuses in Abu Graib, thousands of people being murdered in the streets each year and they're holding special sessions on baseball and the Schiavos? Who the hell cares if some jocks injected steroids? Lock them up for using controlled substances and be done with it. While they do that, they should also stop trying to interfere with the courts and let the judges do their job. The Supreme Court refused to review the Schiavo case... shouldn't that tell you something?
I agree that it's a complicated issue. But at the same time, shouldn't our elected officials do their job and solve the more important crises in our country?
As soon as she entered the Ball, Cinderella spotted her prince. He was tall, with laughing eyes and a wacky fashion sense. Across the hall, their eyes met. She took her chance, walking through the parting crowd, her dress rustling together and foaming over the floor. They met in the middle, and it was like they had known each other for a thousand years. They talked, laughed and danced the night away.
As the midnight bells clanged throughout the kingdom, Cinderella tried to make her escape. With the surprised prince giving chase, she ran as fast as she could to her limo before it could change back into a package of Ramen. Unnoticed lay one shoe that she left behind. The prince picked it up and vowed to find his new girlfriend no matter what.
Later in the week, Cinderella heard a knock on her apartment door. Knowing that she had been found out, she opened it and greeted the prince.
"You know, I never would have figured you for Tommy Hilfiger" he said.
She replied, "My fairy godmother got them on sale at DSW. I couldn't resist the silvery eurotrash feel."
Russian spring starts on March 1st. Last year (and the time before that), everyone would jubulantly announce "Happy Spring!" to me and I would look out the window at the snow falling and say, "How could you possibly say it's spring?"
I love the Spring Equinox.
Unlike the summer and winter solstices, which are clearly in the dead of the season, the equinox is always about the time that I start to notice that the grass is just a little greener, there are tiny flower buds and life's potential suddenly becomes palpable. Hope finally has a chance outside of Pandora's box.
Although it has been unseasonably cold this year, I still feel the earth beginning to stir.