A Close Look at Gene Sharp’s Past
(This is the fourth of five posts about the American godfather of nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, and the role of CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance.)
There is no question that Thierry Meyssan’s 2005 article on Gene Sharp’s extensive links to the US military-intelligence complex is one of the most important exposes of the 21st century. Its only weakness is Meyssan’s failure to cite many of his references. What follows is the best publicly verifiable chronology of Sharp’s life I could come up with (most comes from Meyssan’s 2005 article with sources added):
- 1953 – conscientious objector during Korean War, imprisoned for nine months for refusing to report for alternative duty. Imprisoned for refusing to fight in Korean War (People and The Progressive
- 1973 – publishes The Politics of Nonviolent Action (1973) with an introduction by Thomas C. Shelling. Shelling was a well known economist and professor of foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control. After working with US ambassador Averel Harriman in Paris in 1948 to implement the Marshall Plan, Shelling had a fifty year affiliation with the Rand Corporation (US military think tank) and is widely credited as the theoretician behind military escalation in Vietnam.
- 1985 – publishes a book entitled Making Europe Unconquerable: the Potential of Civilian-base Deterrence and Defense. The second edition includes a preface by George Kennan, historian and State Department senior diplomat whose writings influenced Truman in the creation of the Truman Doctrine. Kennan is viewed as the father of the US foreign policy of “containment” (by force) of Soviet expansion.
- 1983 – founds the Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) in Boston, with the assistance of Major General Edward B Atkeson, who was on the first AEI advisory board. The AEI website identifies Atkeson as Senior Fellow at the Institute of Land Warfare Association of the US Army. According to the CIA website, during the 1980s Atkeson was also a National Intelligence Officer for General Purpose Forces.
- 1986, 1988 and 1989 – travels to Israel/Palestine to bolster support for the Palestinian Center for the History of Non-Violence, founded in 1983 by one of Sharp’s disciple. It’s a matter of public record that Sharp met with Colonel Reuvan Gal, who directed the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Psychological Action Division. Meyssan claims the two conspired to create a split in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) by creating a dissident “nonviolent” group. Gal and Sharp claim the purpose of their meetings were to devise ways to dissuade IDF commanders from using tanks and excessive military force against Palestinian settlers (see The Jeruselem Fund, Mubarak Awad, and Nonviolence).
- 1987 – receives funding from the US Institute of Peace to host seminars instructing US allies on defense based on civil disobedience. By law, the US Institute of Peace is an extension of US intelligence.
- 1989 – assists Colonel Robert Helvey in training anticommunist Burmese opposition groups concerned about the growing strength of the Burmese Communist Party. The AEI website refers to Helvey as a retired US military officer and ex-military attaché in Burma. He was actually a thirty year veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency with extensive experience in overseeing clandestine and subversive operations in Southeast Asia (see Who is Col Bob Helvey and Peace Magazine Archive). Following his retirement from the DIA, he became chairman of the board of the Albert Einstein Institution.
- 1990 – with his AEI team (according to AEI website), assists Lithuanian opposition leaders in organizing popular resistance against the Red Army. According to the website, the AEI also did trainings with anticommunist opposition groups in Tibet, Estonia, and Belarus.
- 1998 – travels, with Helvey, to Eastern Europe to train Otpor, a group of Serbian youth opposed to Slobodan Milosevic and Europe’s last communist government. Milosevic was immensely popular with Serbian people for standing up to NATO and for his generous social policies. The trainings were funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). (See 2000 New York Times interview with NED officer Paul B. McCarthy).
- 2003 – assists, with AEI staff, in the launch of the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia (see The Secrets of the Georgian Coup).
- 2004 – Helvey and other AEI members meet with the Ukrainian resistance in Kiev (see Mowat’s The Coup Plotters).
- 2003-2004 – travels, with Helvey and other AEI team members to Venezuela to meet with wealthy Venezuelan opposition leaders, following the failed 2002 CIA-sponsored coup against Chavez. The AEI advises them in organizing a recall referendum against Chavez. They also train the leaders of Súmate during the August 2004 demonstrations and assist in the formulation of “Operation Guarimba,” a series of often-violent street blockades that result in several deaths. According to an analysis published by Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor), Venezuelan student leaders traveled to Belgrade in 2005 to meet with representatives of AEI-trained OTPOR/CANVAS, before traveling to Boston to consult directly with Sharp himself.
To be continued.