That is something I absolutely reject. The shoot-to-kill order [in Kazakhstan], to the extent it exists, is wrong and should be rescinded.President Joseph Biden
People have all kinds of odd ideas about the unrest in Kazakhstan. They seem to regard Kazakhstan as an independent country. But it is not. Kazakhstan is a Soviet republic masquerading as an independent country. As such, it is beholden to the Kremlin. In fact, its leaders are Soviet persons. And now that people in Kazakhstan have rebelled against their local government, the country’s leaders have turned to Moscow for security troops. If, by some strange turn of events, Kazakhstan succeeded in asserting its independence, Putin would tell us – as he said about Ukraine – that Kazakhstan “is not a real country.” No. It is part of Moscow’s “near abroad.” In other words, it is a colony of Russia.
I once spoke to an American contractor who worked in Kazakhstan many years ago. He accidentally stumbled upon a gulag there; that is, a labor camp of the old Soviet type. One part of it was hidden in a large unmarked building. He was escorted off the property and given a warning. Kazakhstan is not a free country. It is not independent of Moscow. And unlike Ukraine, Kazakhstan is too far away from Europe and America to get any real help. So, the unrest is unlikely to last. The Russians troops will ruthlessly put it down so that Kazakh troops won’t have to fire on their own people (which would be a dangerous expedient).
Is Kazakhstan now a problem for Russia? Of course. Does it delay Putin’s plans against Ukraine? Well, we do not really know if Moscow seriously intends to attack Ukraine. The whole thing could be posturing. It could be a way of testing the weakness of NATO. So it’s hard to evaluate the full effect of the unrest in Kazakhstan. Right now we are told that over 160 people have been killed and almost 6,000 people have been arrested. But there is nothing here that troops and killing, and mass arrests, cannot solve. Probably there will be more arrests and more killings. After all, Government buildings were stormed and burned. The head of the secret police was dismissed from his job. Someone more competent will take over.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was educated in Moscow. At one time he worked at the Soviet Embassy in Beijing. In essence, he was and remains a Soviet apparatchik. It is only natural that he has turned to Moscow for support and that he warmly thanks Putin for sending Russian security forces. We are told that Tokayev “ousted” his mentor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81 – a man who governed Kazakhstan when it was a Soviet Republic. Indeed, that is how little Kazakhstan has changed in thirty years. In essence, the leadership cadre of Kazakhstan has not changed since Soviet times. The idea that China or the United States exert influence on the Kazakh government is not to be taken seriously. This is Moscow’s territory. The United States has no more influence in Kazakhstan than it does in Afghanistan. Landlocked central Asian countries might as well be on the dark side of the moon as far as the United States is concerned.
I have received emails from many readers asking if the CIA is behind the unrest in Kazakhstan. Such foolishness, if the CIA engaged in it, should not surprise anyone. Yet, if you were living in Kazakhstan, you would have plenty of reasons to hate the government without needing a CIA agent provocateur to incite you. Can the United States trigger a revolution in Kazakhstan? No. The local apparatchiks may offer new policies and a fresh look – for the sake of appearances – yet they need not offer real freedom to the people. Kazakhstan is a police state where the press is controlled and the economy is “managed” by bureaucrats. Nothing substantial is going to change. If any foreigners are found to be involved in the unrest, you can be sure the CIA will be blamed whether or not the CIA did anything. At the same time, President Biden may object to the Tokayev’s shoot-to-kill order, but such orders are very effective at stopping unrest.
As noted earlier, the troubles in Kazakhstan are certainly a distraction for Moscow. Perhaps the whole thing will prove to be a political “complication” for Russia itself. Russians are not happy with their government either. How to estimate the danger? Yet armed troops, properly led and prepared to fire on civilians, will usually prevail. People power is not the ultimate power in politics. Political power belongs to organized minorities who dominate a country’s institutions. When these are entrenched, it is difficult to displace them. Last year we saw unrest in Cuba; but the communist government in Cuba was not overthrown. People were killed and people were arrested. Totalitarian regimes are very efficient at this game. That is why we never want to see that kind of regime here, in America (and why some of us are very frightened by the government’s arbitrary use of power during he pandemic). Once a government assumes absolute power, the government is not going to give that power up without a fight.
The situation in Kazakhstan is a tragedy. It has happened because Kazakhstan is still a socialist country despite whatever changes occurred in 1991. We had better realize this, because a greater game is afoot. And we are losing.
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