Posts Tagged ‘open society institute’
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 The Wars in the Middle East, Things That Aren't What They Seem
by Ahmed Bensaada
(Michel Brule May 2011)
In tracking down sources for an upcoming presentation on the antiglobalization movement, I have come across a little gem called Arabesque Americaine by French Canadian author Ahmed Bensaada. The full title is Arabesque Americaine: Le role des Etats-Unis dans les revoltes de la rue arabe — translated American Arabesque: the Role of the US in the Revolts in the Arab Streets.
I have been increasingly skeptical of the authenticity of the “Arab Spring” revolutions — especially in Egypt (where the outcome is a military junta) and Libya (which, like Iraq , has been bombed back to the Middle Ages). Last February, a few blogs mentioned a 2009 meeting between Hillary Clinton and one of Egypt ‘s (presumably) US funded pro-democracy groups. Then the English alternative media and blogosphere went all quiet on the issue.
Arabesque Americaine leaves absolutely no doubt that the “Arab Spring” — like the earlier “color revolutions” in eastern Europe — were almost certainly destabilization/regime change operations, funded and orchestrated by the CIA, State Department, historic CIA-funded foundations — and last, but not least, Google.
Bensaada’s 120-page book provides a carefully researched and referenced account of each of the foundations that are “exporting democracy” to MENA (the Middle East and North Africa ), along with an exact accounting of the millions of dollars given to each country in 2009 and the specific groups the funds went to.
My favorite chapter was the one describing the role these foundations, the State Department, and Google have played in training young MENA activists in the use of social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). I was particularly interested in the free access and training they provide international youth activists on TOR, a special software designed to evade government surveillance (which, under the Patriot Act, is illegal in the US ).
Bensaada, who was born and received his early education in Algeria, devotes special attention to the Egypt revolution, emphasizing the role Google played via their star employee Wael Ghonem.
The following is a brief outline of the topics covered:
Chapter 1 — concerns the secret American funding and orchestration of the so-called “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe , with particular focus on Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004) and Kirghizistan(2005). In each case, pro-Soviet governments were overthrown by mobilizing disaffected, pro-Western young people — financed by the CIA, State Department, and Pentagon linked “democracy manipulating” foundations. The latter include National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Freedom House (FH), the Albert Einstein Institute, the Center for Non Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — and George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI).
Chapter 2 — contains a detailed discussion of the above think tanks and foundations, which includes a description of the their government funding, as well as the subversive activities (espionage, election rigging, an popular destablization activities) they promote in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Iran that oppose America’s pro-corporate agenda.
Chapter 3 — discusses the promotion, by the State Department and these think tanks and foundations, of new technologies in these destabilization campaigns. I was fascinated by Bensaada’s description of Guide Star’s TOR Project, which permits anonymous navigation of the Internet. According to their own website, TOR is funded by Google, the US Naval Research Lab, and Human Rights Watch (HRW). In 2004 Paul Treanor documented that HRW is a joint project of Soros’ Open Society Institute and the State Department (http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/HRW.htm). US Wikileaks spokesperson Jacob Appelbaum, the main TOR spokesperson, travels all over the world training activists in the use of TOR (Wikileaks uses TOR on their servers).
Chapter 3 also discusses the role of Movements.org and the Alliance of Youth Movements in promoting the use of social media to international youth activists (once again, Bensaada points out that promoting protests via social media is illegal in the US — he cites the example of an activist arrested at the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh). Movements.org is run by Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas and a former adviser to both Condolizza Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jason Libman, another Google employee formerly employed by both the State Department and the Pentagon. AYM executive director David Nassar was formerly employed by NDI, USAID and IRI. The list of luminaries who participated in a 2008 Summit focused on teaching international activists how to use Facebook and Twitter is also extremely enlightening: Sherif Mansour from Freedom House, James Glassman from the State Department, Larry Diamond from NED, and national security advisor Shaarik Zafar.
Chapter 4 — focuses on the specific case of Egypt, with particular attention to the role played by Google employee Gael Ghonem, who was given paid leave from his job (Google’s chief of marketing for MENA) to participated in the Tahrir Square uprising. Ghonem was responsible for creating the Facebook page “We are all Mohamed Bouazizi” after the Tunisian fruit seller trigger the Tunisian revolution by setting himself on fire. Ghonem also created the “We are all Tal Al-Mallou” to pressure Syria to release the Syrian blogger after she was arrested for espionage activities in the Syrian Embassy in Cairo . Back in 2009, he also set up a Facebook page for Egyptian exile Mohammed El-Baradei, in advance of his February 2010 visit to Cairo to explore a bid for the Egyptian presidency. The visit, according to Wikileaks cables, was organized through the US embassy. Please note this was a full year before the Tahrir Square protests.
In this chapter, Bensaada also focuses on two lead organizers in the April 6th movement (Bassam Samir and Adel Mohamed) with strong links to Washington and the “color revolutions.”
Chapter 5 — focuses on the pro-democracy organizations in other Arab countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebannon, Lybia, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, and Syria) financed by the State Department and the “democracy manipulating” foundations. In his appendix, Bensaada identifies the specific pro-democracy groups by name and the exact amount of US funding each received in 2009.
Chapter 6 — a summation and analysis, which explores the ethical dilemma faced by many Egyptian activists on learning the non-violent materials they were using to organize demonstrations were the creation of CIA and State Department Funded think tanks and Foundations.
Arabesque Americaine is available in print for $16.95 from Amazon Canada (with links to discount distributors selling it for $11.08). It’s also available in Epub from two sites. According to one ebook distributor, Archambault, the Epub version is only available in Canada to “protect the rights” of the author. A second site, Livresquebecois.com allowed me to pay for and download the Epub version. However the file they provided is corrupted and had to be converted to PDF (via free downloadable software) in order to read it.
Bensaada’s writing is unusually clear and concise. Thus I highly recommend the book, even where readers have only limited knowledge of French. More than half the reference links are to English sites. That alone, in my opinion, is more than worth $11.08 for a print copy .