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MacKinnon, Mark 1974-

MacKinnon, Mark 1974-

PERSONAL:

Born 1974.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist and writer. Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, reporter, 1998—, Middle East correspondent, 2005—, previously Moscow bureau chief. Previously worked at the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and the Eastern Province Herald, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

AWARDS, HONORS:

National Newspaper Award (twice), Canada.

WRITINGS:

The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union, Random House Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

Also author of Mark MacKinnon's blog.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mark MacKinnon is a journalist who served as the Moscow bureau chief for Toronto's Globe and Mail before becoming the paper's Middle East correspondent in 2005. In his first book, The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union, the author draws on his experiences as a foreign correspondent in Russia and the former Soviet Union—which included covering Vladimir Putin and "managed democracy" in Russia, along with the bloody war in Chechnya—to examine the forces that have been and are reshaping the post-Soviet world. Writing in Maclean's, Paul Wells called The New Cold War "an ambitious … work, connecting the dots between a string of democratic revolutions in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan to demonstrate the Western money and organizational muscle that helped each of them happen."

In his book, the author explores the "promise" of democracy versus the reality of what freedoms the peoples of the former Soviet Union have actually experienced. According to the author, the democratic progress turned into little more than variations on the same old systems with Soviet despots replaced by new despots under different political guises. MacKinnon reports on how private organizations from the United States have played key roles in organizing various movements for democracy, including the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in 2004. Among the organizations he discusses are the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by the U.S. Congress, the National Democratic Institute of the Democratic party, and the International Republican Institute of the Republican party. He also writes of various organizations funded by George Soros, an American billionaire and philanthropist. Overall, MacKinnon examines these organizations' efforts as part of an ongoing struggle between the United States and Russia for influence in the area. MacKinnon also discusses what he perceives to be the most important struggle between the two nations, namely control over the oil and gas pipelines throughout the Caucasus and Central Asia.

In his book, MacKinnon writes of how a second wave of reforms, such as the rebellions in Georgia and the Ukraine and the Serbian rebellion of 2000, represent efforts and changes as monumental as those represented by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union's overall demise. The author notes that the people of Eastern bloc countries have been aided by Western money and advice to rise up and demand an end to autocracy. However, as the author points out, these efforts have been met with strong opposition from Moscow.

The author begins his book with a brief overview of the overall situation in the area and the key players involved in the politics of the region. He goes on to analyze the U.S. efforts to foster democracy in the region and examines the fall of Serbia's Milan Milosevic. Other chapters include a discussion of the Rose and Orange Revolutions and how the Kremlin has sought to strike back against American influence in the area.

Throughout, the author criticizes both Russian and American interests and operatives for many of their actions. For example, he describes how Vladimir Putin established a very authoritarian-like rule over the country by using the country's many national resources to exert dominance over the ex-Soviet republics and how Putin has been brutal in dealing with Chechen terrorists and Russian entrepreneurs. MacKinnon credits Putin's ability to exert this control and be accepted as a strongman president who has curbed liberties, to the instability the country faced following the quick privatization of the state-run economy. This privatization quickly left large portions of the Russian people living in a state of fearful poverty.

As for the American interests in the area, the author writes of how one foundation receiving U.S. taxpayer support, albeit indirectly, has as its leader the wife of the Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko. He also notes that the supposedly altruistic efforts of Western interests in reality are more associated with gaining some kind of control or access to huge reserves of national resources. "MacKinnon seems to harbour few illusions about the US exercise of power," wrote Dru Oja Jay on the ZNet Web site. "His overall thesis is that, in the former Soviet Union, the US has used ‘democratic revolutions’ to further its geopolitical interests; control of oil supply and pipelines, and the isolation of Russia, its main competitor in the region. He notes that in many cases—Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, for example—repressive regimes receive the hearty support of the US, while only Russian-allied governments are singled out for the democracy promotion treatment."

Several reviewers gave high praise to MacKinnon's examination of the ongoing geopolitical battle between Russia and the United States. "MacKinnon's provocative book will interest anyone concerned about the possibilities and shortcomings of democratic change and popular revolution," wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to The New Cold War as "a vivid, fact-crammed report on how the Kremlin's efforts to rein in the fourteen former Soviet republics has led to Cold War-like conflict with the United States."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union.

Maclean's, April 30, 2007, Paul Wells, "A New Cold War—where One Side Is a Lot Colder," p. 8.

Publishers Weekly, July 16, 2007, review of The New Cold War, p. 158.

Ukranian Weekly, September 4, 2005, Olga Andriewsky, "An Introduction of Award Winner Mark MacKinnon of Globe and Mail."

ONLINE

Mark MacKinnon Home Page,http://www.markmackinnon.ca (May 27, 2008).

Russia Journal,http://www.therussiajournal.com/ (May 27, 2008), Michael Averko, review of The New Cold War.

ZNet,http://www.zmag.org/ (June 1, 2007), Dru Oja Jay, "Mark MacKinnon's New Cold War."

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