Posts Tagged ‘national endowment for democracy’
by stuartbramhall in The Wars in the Middle East, Things That Aren't What They Seem
In my opinion, a brilliant analysis by Tony Cartalucci at Land Destroyer Report is a must-read: chiefly because it identifies the corporate interests behind creating, funding and arming the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian National Council and other rebel groups that have taken up arms against the Assad government. We already know their primary agenda in the Middle East – to isolate Iran, China and Russia with the goal of consolidating US dominance over dwindling oil resources.
In Cartalucci’s words: “[T]he West has become an expert at creating false paradigms, creating debates and conflicts that obfuscate the true nature of any given problem – obfuscating that they themselves are generally at he root of it.”
He makes his point by citing the example of the CIA-funded National Endowment for Democracy (one of several CIA-funded “non-profit” foundations), one which Ahmed Bensaada and others have identified as playing a pivotal role in training the activists who helped launch the “Arab Spring” revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Cartalucci illustrates the role corporations play in the NED with a collage of the corporate logos represented on the NED board of directors:
His article includes a link to a fascinating timeline he created in an earlier blog Save Syria, which starts with a 1991 pronouncement by Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz about the need to “clean up” old Soviet client regimes (Syria, Iran and Iraq). It outlines plans for Syrian regime change dating back to 2002, as well as the training program the State Department began in 2008 to train 5,000 activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
Cartlucci asserts that by identifying the true root of the Syrian conflict – namely multinational corporations – we can avoid falling for the phony solutions western governments offer us. He believes the only solution, ultimately, lies in disempowering corporations and replacing them with revitalized local institutions.
Read more here: Land Destroyer Report
by stuartbramhall in China Watch
(This is the second of two blogs contrasting US and Chinese foreign policy in Angola and other oil-rich African countries.)
The Angolan civil war ended in 2002 with one million dead, four million permanently exiled and a country rich in natural resources littered with landmines and crumbling infrastructure. The MPLA government was left with the daunting task of clearing landmines, rebuilding the decimated infrastructure, retrieving weapons from a heavily-armed civilian population and resettling tens of thousands of refugees who had fled the fighting. Eduardo dos Santos, who has been president for more than 30 years, remains immensely popular, with the MPLA winning an 82% majority in the 2008 election, the second in Angolan history.
In addition to underwriting Angola’s oil industry, low interest Chinese loans and investment have helped fund mineral prospecting in the country’s copper, iron and gold mines, as well as financing landmine clearance necessary to re-establish coffee and cotton plantations. Now that oil revenues are no longer needed to purchase armaments and pay government troops, they are used for national reconstruction projects – roads, airports, bridges, hospitals and schools. Angolan refugees in their millions once clamored for admission to Portugal. Now the reverse is happening. With Portugal in severe recession, more than 10,000 Portuguese natives emigrated to Angola last year, in search of business and employment opportunities.
Extreme Income Inequality
The Angolan middle class is doing great. The Porsche dealer in Luanda, the capitol city, can’t keep up with orders. Ironically Angola was also in the unique position of having 4G mobile access ahead of most of Europe and much of the US. The government partnered in this venture with the Chinese phone giant ZTE. The latter provided all the equipment, including the handsets, and most of the installation engineers.
Unfortunately the majority of the Angolan people has yet to benefit from the economic boom. Seventy percent of the population still lives below the poverty line. Half the country lives on less than $2 and one-fifth of all children die before their fifth birthday (though this number has improved significantly with the end of the civil war).
The Angolan “Arab Spring”
Unita, the official opposition in Parliament, complains bitterly that the ruling party silences any and all criticism. In 2011 a group of young Angolans, influenced by the “Arab Spring” movement, protested in the capital demanding Santos’ resignation. Their protests were quickly and forcefully put down by the Angolan police. Dos Santos also receives unfavorable publicity about human rights abuses in Cabinda province, home to a separatist movement that predates the civil war. Much of the country’s oil wealth comes from Cabinda. Human rights groups allege that Angolan troops deployed there have committed civilian atrocities.
Given the CIA’s historic links with Unita, their historic opposition to the MPLA and the role of CIA-funded foundations, such as National Endowment for Democracy (NED), United States Agency for International Development, and Center for Applied Nonviolent Strategies (CANVAS) in funding and training other “Arab Spring” activists (see Smoking Gun: US Role in Arab Spring, it’s hard to believe the CIA doesn’t have their sticky fingers in Angola’s “Arab Spring,” as well. The Agency also finds separatist movements hard to resist, especially those in regions suitable for cocaine or heroin trafficking (as in Kosovo and Balochistan – see Our CIA Freedom Fighters in Pakistan).
It may be pure coincidence that Angola is a growing transshipment hub for Nigerian traffickers transporting Brazilian cocaine to Nigeria or Europe.
by stuartbramhall in Things That Aren't What They Seem
(This is the last 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 the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011, Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) seem to have handed the baton to his disciple Peter Ackerman. According to Louis Proyect, the latter is a former AEI board member and founder (in 2002) of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). It was the ICNC that offered nonviolence training sessions in Cairo for Egyptian and Tunisian activists.
As Proyect makes clear Ackerman, like Sharp and Zunes, is no progressive. A Wall Street financier and hedge fund manager (formerly number two in Michael Milken’s junk bond empire), Ackerman is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), as well as a former director of Freedom House, previously run by former CIA director James Woolsey. Ackerman also sits on the board of Spirit of America, a group that is “dedicated to spreading US influence worldwide, with a particular emphasis on covert cyber-intelligence measures.” Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the ultraconservative Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security Choice, which proposes to privatize Social Security and allow younger workers to invest their Social Security taxes in private retirement accounts.
“Arab Spring” Neither Spontaneous Nor Indigenous
As others have documented elsewhere, the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa were neither spontaneous nor indigenous. Many of the individuals and groups who helped organize them had received training (at times in the US) sponsored by the State Department and CIA-linked foundations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The New York Times makes this clear in a April 2011 article U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings. It states specifically that “a number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.”
Likewise, as Canadian writers and analysts Ahmed Bensaada, Michael Chossudovsky and Tony Cartalucci have documented, leaders of the NED-funded Serbian resistance group OTPOR (now renamed CANVAS – Center for Applied Nonviolent Strategies) assisted in many of these trainings, often using Gene Sharp’s materials (see http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/soros-celebrates-fall-of-tunisia.html).
Follow the Money
French Canadian author Ahmed Bensaada also discusses these relationships at length in his 2011 book L’Abarabesque Americaine, emphasizing the strong links between the two lead organizers in Egypt’s April 6th movement (Bassam Samir and Adel Mohamed), the US State Department, the NED and other CIA-funded foundations that financed the “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe. Bensaada also enumerates the pro-democracy organizations in other Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebannon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, and Syria) that received similar funding. In his appendix, he identifies specific pro-democracy groups by name and the exact amount each received (in 2009) from CIA-linked foundations.
Iran‘s Failed Color Revolution
According to Cartalucci, the destabilization campaign that culminated in the failed 2009 Green Revolution in Iran was drawn up by the corporate-funded Brookings Institution, as articulated in their 2009 report Which Path to Persia?. As Cartalucci notes elsewhere, the mechanics of organizing the Iranian opposition was subcontracted to organizations like the US-funded CANVAS. See also The Color Revolution Fails in Iran and the 2007 BBC report Iran Shows New Scholars’ Footage, linking George Soros to US efforts to destabilize Iran.
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 first 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)
One important aspect of the debate over “diversity of tactics” (i.e. the decision whether to be exclusively nonviolent) in the Occupy movement relates to mounting evidence of the role CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks play in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance training. The two major US foundations promoting nonviolence, both overseas and domestically, are the Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) and the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). Both receive major corporate and/or government funding, mostly via CIA “pass through” foundations. While the ICNC is funded mainly by the private fortune of hedge fund billionaire (junk bond king Michael Milken’s second in command) Peter Ackerman, the AEI has received funding from the Rand Corporation and the Department of Defense, as well as various “pass-through” foundations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the US Institute of Peace and the Ford Foundation (see The Ford Foundation and the CIA),which all have a long history of collaborating with the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA in destabilizing governments unfriendly to US interests.
This is a strategy Frances Stonor Saunders outlines in her pivotal Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. According to Sanders, right wing corporate-backed foundations and the CIA have been funding the non-communist left since the late sixties, in the hope of drowning out and marginalizing the voice of more militant leftists. It’s also noteworthy that the governing and advisory board of both AEI and ICNC have been consistently dominated by individuals with either a military/intelligence background or a history of prior involvement with CIA “pass-through” foundations, such as NED and USAID.
Gene Sharp, the Fervent Anticommunist
Much of this debate focuses around America’s godfather of nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, the founder and director of the Albert Einstein Institution. Sharp’s handbooks on nonviolent protest were widely disseminated in the Eastern Europe color revolutions, in the Arab spring revolutions and in the Occupy movement in the US (see http://mailstar.net/Sharp-Soros-NED-CIA.html). Unfortunately Sharp has become a decoy in this debate, deflecting attention from the larger question of whether the US government is actively financing and promoting the work of the AEI, the ICIC and other high profile organizations that promote nonviolent civil disobedience. The question is extremely important, in my view, because it possibly explains the rigid and dogmatic attitude in the US progressive movement regarding nonviolent civil disobedience. In other words, I think it explains the knee-jerk rejection of more militant tactics, such as smashing windows and other property damage that don’t involve physical violence towards human beings.
Is Military-Intelligence Funding Compatible with Progressive Politics?
The institutional nonviolence clique has cleverly refocused the debate on whether Sharp, who is 83, is a CIA agent and whether he actively participated in US-funded destabilization efforts in Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iran and elsewhere that resulted in so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions. The obvious answer to both questions is no. For me the more important question is why the alternative media and “official” progressive movement embrace Sharp unconditionally as a fellow progressive without a careful look at his past or his ideological beliefs. Sharp has never made any secret of his fervent anticommunist (and antisocialist – he shares the US State Department’s animosity towards Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez) views.
Sharp makes no secret of the funding he has received from the Defense Department; the Rand Corporation; CIA-linked foundations, such as NED, the IRI and the US Institute of Peace; and George Soros’s Open Society Institute. All this information is readily available from the AEI website. Sharp himself states, “I have been arguing for years that governments and defense departments – as well as other groups – should finance and conduct research into alternatives to violence in politics and especially as a possible basis for a defense policy by prepared nonviolent resistance as a substitute for war.” (See The living library: some theoretical approaches to a strategy for activating human rights and peace, George Garbutt, 2008, Southern Cross University, Australia).
Less well known is the role military and intelligence figures have played in helping Sharp set up and run the AEI. I think most progressives would be extremely disturbed by the major role played by the military-intelligence establishment in funding and running the AEI. I think they would find it even more troubling that progressives who refer to any of this on so called “independent” or “alternative” media websites and blogs have their posts removed.
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 Things That Aren't What They Seem
The two most prolific contemporary writers regarding foundation funded Cointelpro-style counterinsurgency tactics are historian and journalist Webster Tarpley (in Barack H Obama: the Unauthorized Autobiography) and Australian-born academic researcher Michael Barker. A list and link to all Barker’s publications (which include fascinating articles on Noam Chomsky’s anti-conspiracy views and the aggressive promotion of “non-violent protest” by CIA-funded foundations) can be found on his website and blog at http://michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com/ My sense, related to direct personal experience with foundation-funded “astroturf” (see * below) and “counterinsurgency” activity in the single payer movement, is that the domestic variant of left gatekeeping tends to rely less on CIA or other government funding than on direct right wing corporate funding.
Barker’s articles devote particular attention to the role played by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), 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 individual philanthropists (for example, Bill Gates and George Soros) in “democracy manipulating” activities overseas. (http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/38214).
However he also writes about the role three foundations (the Ford Foundation, the Benton Foundation and the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict) have played in “counterinsurgency” activities in the progressive movement within the US. His 2006 article “Corporate Fronts, Astroturf Groups and Co-opted Social Movements” (http://www.zcommunications.org/corporate-fronts-astroturf-groups-and-co-opted-social-movements-by-michael-barker) raises concerns about funding the World Social Forum, among other progressive groups, derives from CIA-linked foundations.
The Role of “Democracy Manipulating” Foundations Overseas
According to Barker the “democracy manipulating role” played by CIA-linked foundations 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.
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 assassinations) 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 the other “democracy manipulating” foundations listed above. Robinson specifically outlines how these US-based “democracy manipulating” foundations worked to bring about “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 (where they orchestrated the ouster of the Sandinista government) and Haiti (where they instigated a coup against the populist priest Jean Bastion Aristide).
Since then numerous studies (which Barker references on his website) have furnished further evidence where these foundations have infiltrated and “channeled” (i.e. co-opted) the genuine mass movements that form naturally in countries dominated by repressive dictators. The goal is too make sure they don’t go too far in demanding economic rights (for example, protections for organized labor 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 to citizens that supported them, owing to their failure to bring about genuine change (see http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2006/09/29/the-color-revolutions-fade-to-black/).
* Senator Lloyd Bentson, himself a long-time Washington and Wall Street insider, is credited with coining the term “astroturf lobbying” to describe the synthetic grassroots movements that now can be manufactured, for a fee, by a dozen or so public relations companies. The Tea Party movement, largely created and funded by the infamous Koch brothers, is probably the most high profile example of astroturfing (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/oct/25/tea-party-koch-brothers)
To be continued.