April 21, 2014
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
April 22, 2009
/ 28 Nisan 5769
The Twitter Revolution That Wasn't
We've been waiting a long time for political upheaval to follow in the wake of technological change, and on April 7, it seemed to have arrived. From Moldova, of all places, came news of the Twitter revolution: In one of the poorest backwaters in Europea place that frequently features in global surveys as the world's unhappiest countrya group of fresh-faced young people reportedly used Twitter tweets, text messages, and Facebook postings to organize a demonstration in favor of democracy and against rigged elections.
New technology confronted old autocracy in an almost ideal, made-for-the-front-pages story line: On one side stood Moldovan Communist President Vladimir Voronin, a man who is not only a former Soviet secret police boss butamazing coincidence!also the father of the country's richest man. On the other side stood the forces of modernity, youth, and social networking. The young democrats expected 1,000 demonstrators, and, thanks to technology, more than 10,000 showed up.
It sounded too good to be trueand it was. Alas, it is now becoming clear that there was no Twitter revolution in Moldova, and not merely because there are only a handful of registered Twitter users in the whole country. The more important point, according to observers on the ground, is that the unexpectedly large demonstration (10,000-15,000 is a lot for apathetic Moldova) was not a spontaneous product of technical advance. Nor was it an accident that the demonstrators turned violent, burned government buildings, or placed a Romanian flag on top of the parliament.
I don't want to exaggerate here, nor do I want to join the flash mob of conspiracy theorists who instantly gather whenever a crisis takes place somewhere in the post-Soviet world: This event wasn't well-organized enough to qualify as a conspiracy, and it definitely unnerved the authorities, who surely feared the violence would get out of hand. But nor did it look, to those who were there, like a spontaneous crowd of young people harnessing technology in order to build a better future. The Moldovan opposition isn't well-organized or popular enough to inspire a movement like that, with or without Twitter. More to the point, some of the most violent demonstrators were immediately identifiedby Western observers and by local politiciansas members of the Moldovan security services. One observer told me that it would have been difficult even to get onto the roof of the parliament building without tools and preparation, let alone to put up a flag.
For those who have forgotten, or perhaps never knew, it's worth remembering why the Romanian flag matters: Moldova, after all, was created in 1940, when Stalin, under the terms of his pact with Hitler, occupied the Romanian province of Bessarabia, reorganized it into a Soviet republic, and, with a perverse flourish of imperial high-handedness, replaced the Latin alphabet with Cyrillic. To this day, Moldovan paranoia about Romania's ambitions in the region has some basis in fact. Some Moldovan opposition politicians do support reunification with Romania. So do some Romanians.
As for the Romanian government, it advocates nothing more radical than closer ties between Moldova and Europe. But Moldova's Communist leaders do not want closer ties to Romania or Europe, largely because their Russian friends do not want them to have closer ties with Romania or Europe. Hence the events of April 7: Just as EU negotiations with Moldova were moving along nicely, this terrible yet perfectly believable outburst of Romanian nationalism! Naturally, the Moldovan government last week accused the Romanians of revanchism, expelled the Romanian ambassador, and arrested the alleged ringleaders of the alleged Romanian coup d'etat, in some cases beating them brutally. Naturally, the president of Russia chimed in to condemn "the mass disorder unfolding on the pretext of disagreement with the election results." Europe's stoic envoy to Moldova has tried to calm everyone down, with some success. But his influence has limits. At one point, Voronin told some diplomats that he didn't care about Europe, muttering darkly that "we have friends elsewhere."
What we witnessed on YouTube, in other words, was not a new kind of Twitter revolution, but rather a new kind of manipulated revolution; not an Orange or a Rose revolution, but a revolution led deliberately astray. There were special circumstances, of course: It's relatively easy to make people angry and get them to burn down government buildings in the world's unhappiest country. Still, I predict this is a sign of more such "revolutions" to come. A scenario like this is too good to waste on Moldova alone.
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Gulag: A History
Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.
Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.
04/14/09: Do we really need interactive exhibits to bring Jefferson to life?
04/07/09: No Nukes? No Thanks: Obama's odd obsession with universal nuclear disarmament
03/31/09: What's Loud, Unnecessary, and Costs $75 Million?
03/03/09: European Disunion
02/24/09: Who cares what Hillary Clinton says to China's leaders about human rights?
02/17/09: Witless protection
02/10/09: Our Ticket Out of Afghanistan
01/27/09:Why some foreigners can't believe Obama won the presidency fair and square
01/20/09: A Flight Test for All of Us
01/14/09: Europe's New Cold War
01/07/09: Pointless Peace Proposals
12/30/08: The magnificent rhetorical legacy of the Founding Fathers
12/23/08: Do riots in Athens portend demonstrations in Paris and Cincinnati?
12/16/08: Breach of Trust: Bernard Madoff's massive fraud will cripple American capitalism
12/09/08: In praise of charismatic politicians
12/03/08: Moscow's Empire of Dust
11/20/08: Getting Past Mythmaking In Georgia
11/12/08: In Praise of Political Rock Stars
10/03/08: Election Day myths you must resist
09/30/08: Not just a metaphor: Lehman Brothers was economic's 9/11
09/04/08: Class of '64
08/28/08: Did Hillary really help the Barack cause?
08/27/08: Show of Power, Indeed
08/19/08: What Is Russia Afraid Of?
08/13/08: When China Starved
08/11/08: Two of the world's rising powers are strutting their stuff
08/05/08: How Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago changed the world
07/29/08:The Hour of Europe Tolls Again … But are European politicians up to the task?
07/15/08: Why Does Obama Want To Campaign in Berlin?
07/01/08: Citizen Athletes: How did a guy who can't speak Polish end up scoring Poland's only goal of Euro 2008?
06/24/08: Why do we expect presidential candidates to be kind?
06/17/08: Pity the Poor Eurocrats
06/12/08: Is the World Ready for a Black American President?
05/28/08: The Busiest Generation: America seems to value its children's status and achievements over their happiness
05/20/08: Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end
05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness
© 2008, Anne Applebaum