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Saturday, December 06, 2003

Marching through Georgia
The World Socialist Web Site has no doubt about the causes of the recent "revolution" in Georgia:
The US-backed coup in Georgia and Washington’s subsequent diplomatic saber-rattling have nothing to do with the spread of democracy or similar clichés. Georgia, strategically situated between the Black Sea and the oil-rich Caspian, has long been a focus of intrigue and conflict between the great powers. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the goal of weakening Russian influence and achieving US domination of Georgia and the rest of the Caucasus became a central preoccupation of US imperialist policy.

From the early days of the Clinton administration, Washington invested enormous political and diplomatic capital in the construction of a pipeline that would connect the oil fields of Baku, in Azerbaijan, to Western markets, while skirting the territory of both Russia and Iran. This made Georgia all the more critical, since such a pipeline would have to run through that volatile, backward and ethnically torn country.

The pipeline—running from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan—is slated to open in 2005. For Washington, the maintenance of relative stability in a Georgia run by an unambiguously pro-US regime is a matter of the greatest urgency. The interests of US energy giants and the global military and the strategic aims of American imperialism as a whole converge on this question. Herein lie the roots of the so-called “rose revolution” that toppled Shevardnadze last month.

Here's an interesting twist:
There seems little doubt that the [Shevardnadze] regime resorted to vote-rigging and ballot-stuffing, but the public perception of a stolen election was enhanced by exit polls showing a victory for the opposition parties. These polls were funded by US agencies and American-backed non-governmental organizations; they were broadcast on Rustavi 2 TV, a Western-backed oppositional media outlet.

So, in the former Soviet state of Georgia, exit polls were used to raise questions about the accuracy of an election. Last year, in the former Confederate state of Georgia, exit polls were supressed so that questions wouldn't be raised about the black-box no-paper-trail elections of a Republican governor and Republican senator, both of whom had trailed substantially in polls taken before the election:

In the meantime, exit-polling organizations have quietly gone out of business, and the news arms of the huge multinational corporations that own our networks are suggesting the days of exit polls are over. Virtually none were reported in 2002, creating an odd and unsettling silence that caused unease for the many American voters who had come to view exit polls as proof of the integrity of their election systems.