The western media has really got everyone riled up over this newest member of Bush's "Axis of Evil" but how far off the mark are they and what is the real reason for all the fuss?
Belarus is the only country in Europe that, nearly 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, still maintains a command economy, e.g. the economy is still run by socialist principles. You will find that if you do a search on Belarus, the CIA Factbook entry comes up as the first result. I can guarantee you that is no coincidence. Belarus has been on Bush's hit list for some time, but in a recent strategy document released on March 16, 2006, the leader of Our Fair Land specifically added Belarus to the new "Axis of Evil" along with Cuba and Zimbabwe, two other countries which happen to have central economies.
The statistics in the CIA Factbook are very interesting, one of which stands out from the rest, being the GINI coefficient of Belarus, which the CIA itself describes as "among the lowest in the world." The data currently published by the CIA pegs their GINI at 30.4, compared with 36.6 in the United Kingdom and 45 in the United States. However it should be noted that academic sources have measured the Belarus GINI as being in the 23-27 range.
GINI is simply "This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country." Simply put, less inequality exists in countries with a low GINI. Of course GINI is not the only measure that tells us whether a country is in good or bad shape, but it is certainly a testament to the power of socialism to transform a society by creating an equal economic playing field. Belarus was one of the most important industrial centers of Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, this being accomplished even though it took Belarus from 1944 until 1971 to recover to their pre-WWII population after the Nazi massacres.
Since 1994, the country has been led by Alexander Lukashenko, who has been criticized by Western governments, Human Rights Watch, and other Western NGO for his Soviet-style domestic policies.1
Luis M. Garcia Cunarro recently wrote the following in Periodico 26 Cuba:
According to the strategy changes implemented during Bush’s second term, the “fight against tyrannies” is added to the War on Terrorism and the administration defines a tyranny as: “The combination of brutality, poverty, instability, corruption and suffering under the rule of despots or despotic systems.” While the concept, which could be applied to the US government, merits reflection, what is certain is that we are seeing a new version of the “axis of evil.” Seven countries are on the empire’s list: North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe.Here we see again the zealots in charge of the US identifying a group of countries to be "threats to America" and taking aggressive action to undermine and eliminate these so-called threats. Whereas these countries pose no threat at all to the American people, the fact that they, in the case of Belarus, Cuba and perhaps China and Zimbabwe, demonstrate the ability for a workers' state, deformed or not, to function even in the face of capitalist imperial aggression poses a clear and present danger to the ruling classes.
What’s most important about this problem is not the definition, but instead the “package” of actions that the US proposes. These include sanctions against those countries, an international discrediting of their governments and peoples, and political and economic subversion, not just by the United States and its close allies, but also from regional organizations like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the African Union and the Organization of American States.
US National Security is Global Insecurity
This is why the Western media, including independent sources, has been doing its very best to find any stories that discredit Belarus or link it in the public mind with other broader propaganda. It cannot be seen as coincidence that at the same time there is a media blitz against Iran regarding their alleged nuclear WMD program, somehow Belarus becomes linked with nuclear terror through a series of Chernobyl stories. Although Belarus was greatly affected by the Chernobyl accident, so were many other countries like Poland, Austria and Hungary, and in fact the whole of Europe. Chernobyl was, is and shall remain in the Ukraine.
Finally, I cannot claim to have any special insight into the mind of Alexander Lukashenko nor any detailed analysis of his domestic policies or record on human rights. Nevertheless we do well to remember how the media crucified Howard Dean during the 2004 US presidential elections and understand that these exact same techniques have been employed in the Ukraine and other countries and are being employed against Belarus.
With the US military recently releasing a document outlining their plans to "engage the enemy" through the media, the internet and via public opinion, that indeed these "terrains" are the location of the new battlefield2, we can see the ominous signs of these techniques today being deployed against Belarus.
Essentially, the Western capitalist elite continues their assault on the working classes and through foriegn policy have continued to implement this program against state socialism. Through the newly articulated model of warfare being adopted by the Western military machine, we see a sort of reverse Orwellian model manifesting itself, we now have to reverse Orwell's ominous "War is Peace" and restate it as "Peace is War."
This is a new Chernobyl for Belarus, a "media Chernobyl" that is spreading radioactive misinformation across the airwaves in order to discredit and undermine a state who's only crime seems to be that it has a socialist economy.