Posts Tagged ‘michael barker’
by stuartbramhall in Things That Aren't What They Seem
(This is the third 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.)
In my last blog I discussed Stephen Zunes’ strongly worded article and petition defending so-called progressive nonviolent guru Gene Sharp and the rebuttal, Sharp Reflection Warranted, by Australian researcher Michael Barker. The response by Canadian activist Stephen Gowans, Defending the Indefensible: Sham Democracy Promoter Defends Imperialist Ties, is even more critical. He begins by questioning why Zunes, a paid adviser to the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), an organization founded by former junk bond king Michael Milken’s right-hand man Peter Ackerman, continues to defend “non-violent pro-democracy” activists who promote “overthrow” movements abroad. Gowans is most troubled by Zunes’ dismissal of Eva Golinger’s Monthly Review expose, Bush vs. Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, which discusses assistance Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) provided the Venezuelan opposition to help them find “new and inventive ways to overthrow Chavez.”
A Classic Straw Man Argument
Gowans also points out that Zunes’ defense of Sharp rests almost entirely on a straw man argument concerning so-called “fabricated allegations,” that Sharp is part of a Bush administration conspiracy to overthrow foreign governments. It’s a straw man argument mainly because none of Sharp’s critics have specifically linked him to the Bush presidency. Sharp has been criticized mainly for accepting funding from and acting (whether intentionally or not) on behalf of US corporate and government interests. As Gowans rightly points out, these forces are much broader than the Bush administration.
Zunes’ Links with Peter Ackerman and the CFR
He goes on to argue that Zunes is hardly a neutral or objective party in this debate, given his involvement with Peter Ackerman and the ICNC. Ackerman, hardly the progressive peace activist, is a Wall Street investment banker, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and head of Freedom House which, according to Noam Chomsky (in Manufacturing Consent), is interlocked with the CIA and a “virtual propaganda arm of the (US) government and international right wing.” According to Louis Proyect, Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the ultraconservative Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security Choice. Not surprisingly, this group strongly advocates privatizing Social Security.
Rationalizing Government Funding for the Peace Movement
Zunes, according to Sharp, devotes two pages to rubbishing the charges against Sharp, only to reinforce the case his critics have been making. He does so by revealing that the AEI
• is funded by corporate foundations.
• is open to accepting funding from organizations that have received funding from government sources (i.e., accepts government funding passed through intermediary organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, Rand Corporation, US Institute for Peace, etc.).
• has received grants from the US Congress’s National Endowment for Democracy (an organization that does overtly what the CIA used to do covertly.).
• has advised members of the Venezuelan opposition.
As Gowans stresses, Zunes clearly would like us to believe that nonviolent pro-democracy groups are not influenced by the corporations and wealthy individuals who fund them. Gowans’ article concludes by referring readers to Frances Stonor Saunders’ 2000 Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. Her book reveals that “non-communist left” groups receive generous funding from corporate foundations and the CIA. According to Saunders, the underlying strategy is to marginalize more militant leftists by amplifying the voice of the “pro-imperialist non-communist left.”
To be continued.
by stuartbramhall in Things That Aren't What They Seem
(This is the second 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)
The current brouhaha over Gene Sharp was initially triggered by an article, The Albert Einstein Institution: Nonviolence According to the CIA, Thierry Meyssan published on Voltaire Net in October 2005. Meyssan, a French intellectual and political activist, first gained international prominence in 2002 by publishing a French best seller entitled L’effroyable imposteur (English title: The Big Lie). The book claimed that the 9-11 attacks were directed by right-wingers in the U.S. government and the military industrial complex seeking justification for military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meyssan’s 2005 article on the Albert Einstein Institutes enumerates a long list of instances in which the US government and CIA-funded foundations arranged for Sharp to meet with opposition groups receiving covert US support in their efforts to bring down Asian and Eastern European governments unfriendly to US interests.
Iran and Venezuela’s Denunciation of Sharp
The article was widely reposted on leftist and libertarian websites. In 2008, it resulted in a formal denunciation of Sharp by the Iranian government and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, both targets of AEI destabilization activities. In June 2008, Stephen Zunes, chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (founded and run by Wall Street financier Peter Ackerman) issued a rebuttal, Sharp Attack Unwarranted, in Foreign Policy in Focus. The latter is an on-line magazine of the Institute for Policy Studies, where Zunes serves as Middle East Editor. The article was simultaneously reprinted in the Huffington Post.
Stephen Zunes Defends Sharp’s Progressive Credentials
Like Sharp Zunes, who also teaches Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, is frequently lauded as a progressive thinker and writer without close examination of some of his affiliations or his open pro-Zionism. Zunes is a self-declared Zionist: “I will be Zionist as long as there is anti-Semitism.” He has frequently and publicly asserted that he supports Israel as a Jewish state (i.e. a religious state with a single official religion) and cites the establishment of Israel as “an example of global affirmative action.” (see Stephen Zunes biographical details). Moreover, as several analysts point out, Zunes routinely minimizes or dismisses as “conspiracy theory” the role CIA-funded democracy manipulating foundations have played in “regime change” in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (see Capital Driven Civil Society and Critique of Antiwar.com)
Zunes subsequently persuaded Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Code Pink and other high profile progressives to help launch an on-line petition defending Sharp’s progressive credentials. However, as numerous critics point out, he never addressed Meyssan’s most important concerns: the military/intelligence backgrounds of many of the Albert Einstein Institution’s (AEI’s) directors and advisory board members; their documented collaboration, together with Sharp, with opposition groups responsible for the “color” revolutions in Eastern Europe; and their work with Venezuelan opposition groups in an effort to topple president Hugo Chavez.
Sharp himself responded to Meyssan’s article in June 2007. Meyssan has posted Sharp’s letter with the original article. In it, Sharp denies ever receiving US government, CIA or NATO support or funding, except for a Department of Defense grant to support the 1972 publication of The Politics of Nonviolent Action. He acknowledges meeting with numerous opposition groups in Asia and Eastern Europe but insists that the AEI “never told them what to do.” (This contradicts reports on the AEI website that Sharp and other AEI staff trained them in nonviolent resistance techniques). Like Zunes, he fails to address the involvement of military/intelligence officials on AEI’s board of directors or AEI’s meetings with Venezuelan opposition groups.
AEI Links with the State Department and the Military-Intelligence Complex
Both Australian researcher of CIA-funded foundations, Michael Barker and Canadian activist Stephen Gowans wrote responses to Zunes’ Foreign Policy in Focus article. Barker’s rebuttal is entitled Sharp Reflection Warranted. In it, Barker points out that the problem of elite manipulation of ostensibly progressive groups isn’t a new problem and points readers to excellent links regarding collaboration between the CIA and the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and others. Barker goes on to elaborate on the right wing corporate and/or military-intelligence background of many of AEI’s board members. He also looks at the twenty or so countries where (according to the AEI website) Sharp worked with opposition groups simultaneously receiving major funding and support from the US State Department, NED and/or both.
To be continued, with a discussion of Gowans’ more lengthy and extensive rebuttal.
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on Civil Liberties, Inspiring Moments in Resistance
This is the fourth in a series of posts about the antiglobalization movement.
After Seattle, the antiglobalization movement continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Over the next 20 months, large contingents of North American activists followed international economic summits around the world to protest the anti-democratic agenda of the global economic elite. There were massive demonstrations at the April 2000 meeting of the IMF/World Bank in Washington DC, the May 2000 meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Chiang May Thailand, the July 2010 Republican Convention in Philadelphia, the August 2010 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, the World Economic Forum in Melborne in Sept 2000, the IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague in Sept 2000, at George W Bush’s inauguration (to protest his theft of the 2000 election) in January 2001, at the third Summit of Americas Fair Trade of the America’s Agreement (FTAA) meeting in Quebec City in April 2001, and at the G8 Summit in Genoa in July 2001.
Antiglobalization activists also organized the first World Social Forum in Puerte Allegre Brazil January 25-30, 2001 – as an alternative to World Economic Forum held in Davos Switzerland January 27 2001. In retrospect, this was the first split in antiglobalization movement, with 50,000 antiglobalization activists choosing to go to Puerte Allegro Brazil instead of protesting in Davos.
Then 9-11 happened and everything changed. The Patriot Act, which clearly was written in advance of the Twin Tower attacks, was passed virtually overnight, along with similar legislation in Canada. Many believe the antiglobalization movement, rather than potential Muslim terrorists, was the real target of the Patriot Act, which essentially criminalized dissent.
One for Our Side
The US launched the Doha round of negotiations in 2002, hoping to capitalize on the worldwide sympathy and support they enjoyed following the 9-11 attacks. It didn’t work. Third world countries continued to hold their ground – mainly over the US refusal to end agricultural subsidies. Negotiations on the Doha round broke down in Cancun in 2003 (in part, due to Korean farmer Lee Kyang Hae’s public suicide), in Geneva in 2004, and in Hong Kong in 2005. The Doha round was officially suspended in 2006 following the breakdown of G-4 (Brazil, India, EU and the US) talks in Pottsdam. In 2007, more than 90 international non-profit organizations wrote their governments demanding an end to the Doha round and a two year moratorium on WTO Ministerial meetings. The moratorium was granted after the last WTO Ministerial, in Geneva in November 2009, also ended in stalemate.
Clearly the antiglobalization movement can claim the collapse of the Doha round as a massive victory for the movement – in essence we won the Battle of Seattle. Yet we can only claim partial credit for dead-ending WTO negotiations before multinational corporations achieved the extremely undemocratic concessions they were demanding. The WTO treaty is largely about allowing the industrial north preemptive rights in the developing south – an agenda that has become meaningless with the increasing power and status of the “emerging” economies (the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Even more important, the prior obsessive preoccupation with expanding international trade has been totally overshadowed by the crisis of international capitalism – manifested in the global recession and debt crisis, resource depletion, catastrophic climate-related events, and the food crisis.
The Marginalization of the Antiglobalization Movement
In a parallel process, the antiglobalization movement also became largely irrelevant after 9-11, as antiglobalization activists shifted their focus to the antiwar movement opposing the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The antiwar movement was subsequently co-opted by the Democratic Party, which enticed activists back to electoral politics, with their very seductive campaign to Defeat George Bush at All Costs.
Simultaneously there were major splits over tactics in the antiglobalization movement, with activist energy being diverted from mass protests to the World Social Forum movement. The latter, as Australian political researcher Michael Barker has documented, seems to have major funding and support from CIA-linked left gatekeeping foundations (http://www.zcommunications.org/corporate-fronts-astroturf-groups-and-co-opted-social-movements-by-michael-barker).
The criminalization of dissent – via the Patriot Act and similar legislation in other countries – may have aggravated this split. Global capitalists have taken to meeting in remote locations (such as Davos, Switzerland), and employing a strong police and military presence to prevent protestors from influencing third world delegates. Demonstrators are deliberately caged off in “protest zones” remote from the actual conference site. This, along with arbitrary visa denials and preemptive arrests of activists based on their ideological beliefs, has substantially reduced the impact and effectiveness of these international protests.
To be continued.
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on the Working Class, Things That Aren't What They Seem
The Role of Left Gatekeeping Foundations
To fully understand the role of International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and its sister foundations in promoting a de facto taboo on violent protest in the North America, it’s helpful to understand the role they have played in galvanizing the “color” revolutions in the Philippines, Eastern Europe and elsewhere now the Middle East and North Africa. According to Australian journalist and research Michael Barker (http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/38214), this role (in the Philippines, Nicaragua, Chile and Haiti) was first identified in William I. Robinson’s groundbreaking 2006 book Promoting Polyarchy. “Polyarchy” is defined “low intensity democracy” – a form of government that replaces violent coercive control with the type of ideological control (i.e. brainwashing) that Noam Chomsky describes in Manufacturing Consent. As Ward Churchill (in Pacifism as Pathology) and Peter Gelderloos (in How Nonviolence Protects the State) clearly articulate, white middle class activists have very complex psychological reasons for their dogmatic attitude towards political violence. However I feel it’s also important to look at the role played by the US government and the corporate elite in covertly promoting these attitudes.
In Promoting Polyarchy, Robinson describes how the CIA, the FBI and other intelligence agencies were pressured to cut back on many of their more repressive covert activities (i.e. covert assassination) as a result of Church committee reforms enacted in the 1970s. This resulted, in 1984, in the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which works closely with the CIA and the US Agency for International Development (the USAID is a well-documented conduit for CIA funding), as well as other “democracy manipulating” foundations, such as US Institute for Peace, the Albert Einstein Institute, the Arlington Institute, Freedom House and the International Republican Institute. Robinson specifically outlines how these US-based “democracy manipulating organizations” orchestrated “non-violent” revolutions in the Philippines and Chile to prevent genuinely democratic governments from coming to power, as well as sabotaging democratically elected governments in Nicaragua and Haiti (where they caused the ouster of the Sandinista government and the populist priest Jean Bastion Aristide).
Since then numerous studies have furnished further examples where these organizations have infiltrated and “channeled” (i.e. co-opted) the genuine mass movements that form naturally in countries dominated by repressive dictators. The goal is to make sure they don’t go too far in demanding economic rights (for example, labor rights or restrictions on foreign investment) that might be detrimental to the interests of multinational corporations. All the “color” revolutions in Eastern Europe, which also received substantial funding from George Soros’ Open society Institute, have been a major disappointment owing to their failure to bring about genuine change (see http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2006/09/29/the-color-revolutions-fade-to-black/).
The ICNC’s PBS Documentary
Barker’s work goes even further than Robinson’s, examining the effect of the ICNC in particular, on progressive organizing within the US. He points to the phenomenal influence of the 2000 book and PBS documentary (and now computer game) A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Change.
The ICNC is understandably defensive about research by Barker and others linking them to the NED and other “democracy manipulating” foundations. In fact their website devotes an entire page “Setting the Record” straight http://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/index.php/about-icnc/setting-the-record-straight, in which they refute these studies. Their main argument is that they receive no NED or other foundation or government funding. This is totally factual, as they’re entirely funded by their co-founder Peter Ackerman, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and his wife Joanne Leedom-Ackerman. Ackerman earned his fortune as a specialist in leveraged buyouts, the second highest paid in Wall Street history (Michael Milken made more but wound up in jail.)
Why Is the ICNC Seeking to Oust Hugo Chavez?
Barker refers to the argument over the source of their funding as whitewashing, especially in view of the recent collaboration between the ICNC and the Albert Einstein Institute in training members of the Venezuelan resistance seeking to oust democratically elected Hugo Chavez.
As Barker points out, both Ackerman and his wife and ICNC co-founder Jack Duvall have a long history of working for and with the other “democracy promoting” foundations. In addition many of the vice presidents and other officers they hire to run the ICNC seem to connections to US or foreign military/intelligence operations or other “democracy promoting” foundations.
This is clear from the following three diagrams, which summarize the “democracy manipulating” and military intelligence links of the people who run the ICNC (see http://quotha.net/node/1606 and http://quotha.net/node/1609 for a detailed explanation of each of these links and an explanation of their role in “democracy manipulating”):
A detailed description of ICNC co-founder Jack Duvall’s “democracy manipulating” links can be found at http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jack_DuVall
by stuartbramhall in Attacks on the Working Class, Things That Aren't What They Seem
How Nonviolence Protects the State is the title of a 2007 book by Peter Gelderloos. It can be downloaded free at http://zinelibrary.info/files/How%20Nonviolence%20Protects%20The%20State.pdf
As a long time activist, I have always been troubled by the militant nonviolent perspective that dominates the progressive movement in the US. In some circles, the taboo is so absolute that activists are systematically demonized for raising the subject. I tend to get suspicious whenever I see the politically correct thought police swing into action – especially when they embrace views that are clearly counterproductive to successful organizing (the US left, in contrast to other countries, is a shambles). An arbitrary taboo against specific topics is often a sign that your movement has been infiltrated, either by Cointelpro or left gatekeeper agents.
The systematic misrepresentation of Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King’s views on violence also puzzles me. Neither were militant pacifists. Gandhi clearly articulated situations in which he would advocate violence as a strategy. Whereas as Mark Kurlansky describes in 1968, King employed violence strategically in some of his marches (in which female protestors slapped cops to provoke a violent overreaction) to maximize media attention.
Likewise I have never understood the failure to distinguish between property destruction and interpersonal violence. If anything progressive organizers come down harder on activists who break shop windows (because of its greater harm to corporate interests?) than those who get into scuffles with cops or counter protestors.
Alienating the Working Class
As an organizer, however, what bothers me most is that militant nonviolence is totally alien to working class culture and creates a major stumbling block in drawing blue collar workers into the movement for change. We try to recruit working class activists by appealing to their deep resentment over the unfairness of wage exploitation and privilege. Then we outlaw their natural reaction – to level that privilege by destroying property and looting (to reclaim what they believe is rightfully theirs) or bashing a cop or security guard who is manhandling them or standing between them and food for their kids. I have repeatedly seen blue collar activists marginalized and demonized in these debates. And yet people wonder why they are drawn to the Tea Party movement (which isn’t bound by politically correct niceties) rather than the left.
Reviving the Debate
Obviously I’m extremely pleased to see Gelderloos, American Indian Movement activist Ward Churchill, environmental activist Derrick Jensen and even the culture jamming group Adbusters revive the debate. In 2008 Churchill released the second edition of Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America. This can also be downloaded free at http://www.cambridgeaction.net/images/c/c7/Pacifism_As_Pathology.pdf
Moreover I am unsurprised to learn that the taboo against violent protest isn’t a spontaneous development in the American progressive movement. As in the case of alternate media outlets that refuse to report on 911 or the JFK assassination, there is increasing evidence that government-backed left gatekeeping foundations have carefully inserted themselves into roles where they dominate the dialogue around the issue of violence.
The Government Role in Promoting Nonviolence
Australian journalist and researcher Michael Barker is one of the most prolific writers about the role of CIA, Pentagon and State Department linked foundations in the nonviolent movement. The ones he has followed most closely are the National Endowment for Democracy, the US Institute for Peace, the Albert Einstein Institute, the Arlington Institute, Freedom House, the NED-funded Human Rights Watch, the International Republican Institute, and the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/38214).
Most of the research into these foundations focuses on their work overseas, particularly their active role in creating “color” revolutions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. However as Barker points out, the ICNC also has major influence, via its workshops, literature and documentaries, on progressive organizing in the US.
To be continued