Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kyrgyzstan, Past and--

I've never actually set foot in Kyrgyzstan but I have stood on the flatland in Kazakhstan and gazed awestruck up into to the Tian Shan mountains, ready to believe those who say they rival the most beautiful anywhere in the world, and disposed to lament that the Kyrgiz people haven't been able to exhibit the knack for effective collective action so necessary to turn a gaggle of warring tribes into a functioning state.

I suppose you could say there is really no reason to expect Kyrgyzstan to become the Switzerland of Central Asia, but then there is no reason to have expected Switzerland to become the Switzerland of Europe. A successful polity requires, not least, an extraordinary stroke of good luck.

As I follow the news of the current coup (if it is that) in Bishkek, I haven't heard anybody take of the fact that this is actually the second, ahem, disorderly change of government in Kyrgyzstan in recent years. The last guy,Askar Akayev, was thrown out in 2005. The point man in that upheaval was Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was himself sent scampering last week. Bakiyev's lot successfully billed it as "the Tulip Revolution" but there was never anything particularly floral about it, and it seems that Bakiyev was attempting to face down civil unrest almost from the beginning.

Akayev had sought to present himself as a westernizer; analogies to Switzerland were not absent from his rhetoric. But by all accounts, in time he came to settle in as one of those familial autocrats that dominate so much of political life in Central Asia. Per Wiki he is now math professor in Moscow. Maybe Bakiyev should pray for such luck.

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