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Belgrade Breathes Easier As Trump’s Win Marks End to Clinton-Era Interventionism

Sputnik – 22.01.2017

Donald Trump’s election victory has brought an end to the Clinton era of intervention in Serbia’s internal affairs, including the murky web of connections between NGO’s in the US and abroad, experts told Sputnik Srbija.

When the US election results were announced in November 8, representatives of Serbia’s NGO elite were in attendance at Belgrade’s Crown Plaza Hotel, where the US Embassy had organized a get-together.

In a straw poll conducted of those present, Hillary Clinton was the clear winner, and her defeat was greeted with disbelief and disappointment by those who have grown used to getting support from American government and non-government organizations.

Political analyst Branko Radun told Sputnik Srbija that supporters of Clinton among Serbia’s pressure groups can be divided into two groups – those who were thinking with their heads, and those who were thinking with their wallets.

“I would divide the pro-Clinton elite in two. The first group is parties, NGO’s, the media and individuals which are ideologically close to American liberals and Democrats and are connected with them in various ways, including ideologically. The second group is parties, organizations and individuals which following the overthrow of Milosevic got used to a situation whereby we have a pro-Clinton elite. In order to survive on the political scene, they made compromises and deals with domestic ‘Clintonistas’ and with the global elite, comprised above all of American Democrats, that liberal, pro-Soros global elite,” Radun said.

Radun said that changes to Serbia’s political situation will take some time to become clear.

“These changes will come in phases. Firstly, of course, there will be a change in the structure of the State Department, so those who have links there will immediately feel the change. Others, who may have ties to other structures, will feel the changes later. I think those changes don’t seem dramatic and visible at the moment.”

Analyst Dejan Vuk Stankovic said that Serbian NGO’s have had good reason to promote liberal American values in Serbia, thanks to funds from organizations such as US AID, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI and the IRI are affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.

“This is an interesting network of individuals, the non-governmental sector, some opposition parties, I would not rule out that there are also some people within the current governing structures. But in general, (they are) the post-Milosevic political elite and the remnants of their media and NGO, their open or hidden allies in the robes of civil society or independent societies of journalists, lawyers and so on,” Stankovic said.

“I think the choice of Trump is not good news for NGO beneficiaries of American grants. This does not mean that there won’t be any, there will be, but on a much smaller scale. I doubt that Trump will have any particular engagement with what Democrats were engaged in when in power. That political work which had various forms of subversion: the preparation for and the destruction of political regimes via the non-government sector with the help of opposition parties. I think Trump will put politics in some kind of official context, as a politician he will be without ideological vices. He will hold negotiations in the way in which business deals are made.”

Radun said that despite the disappointment in some quarters, a Clinton victory would not have benefited Serbia. In fact, a Clinton administration was likely to raise tensions in the Balkans by inflaming the situation in Kosovo and neighboring Bosnia.

“First of all, pressure on Republika Srpska would have increased and in the direction of its suppression. There would also have been an attempt to complete the constitution of Kosovo as an independent state. On the other hand, with Trump somehow we start from scratch. The situation is uncertain, but compared to the other side (Clinton), which would certainly have been negative, uncertainty is better because with uncertainty you have a chance,” said Radun.

January 22, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

US spent $585mn on ‘promoting democracy’ worldwide in past year

RT | November 18, 2016

Washington invested $585 million in promoting democracy across the globe in the past year, the US Department of State’s financial report for fiscal year 2016 revealed.

According to the paper, the State Department’s total assets equaled $93.8 billion in the last fiscal year, which concluded on September 30, increasing by $3.2 billion compared to 2015.

Of this amount, $585 million was spent by the State Department under the article ‘Democracy, human rights and governance’ – $70 million down on the 2015 figure.

The report didn’t specify the projects funded by the agency abroad, but Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in the preface that “we have supported important democratic gains in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Burma.”

Kerry also stressed that “in an era of diffuse and networked power, we (the US) are focusing on strengthening partnerships with civil society, citizen movements, faith leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and others to promote democracy and good governance and address gender-based violence.”

In later pages, the authors of the report explained that the State Department promotes democratic values because “stable democracies are less likely to pose a threat to their neighbors or to the US.”

Washington achieves its goals through leveraging trade agreements, pursuing meaningful sanctions, fostering people-to-people ties and encouraging responsible business conduct, which respects human and labor rights, the paper said.

According to the report, the State Department always back those who strive for justice and accountability in “post-conflict states.”

“Activists and organizations in authoritarian countries rely on our support as they work toward peaceful democratic reforms, democratic institutions, respect for minority rights, and dignity for all,” it stressed.

Prior to the Russian parliamentary election in September, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which works closely with the State Department, allocated $3 million to non-governmental organizations in Russia.

The investment was listed under the heading “For activity in Russia”, according to government website US Spending.

Since June, Russia has banned over a dozen NGOs from operating in the country as “undesirable” foreign groups.

The Soros Foundation, the US National Endowment for Democracy and Senator John McCain’s International Republican Institute were among the outlawed organizations.

“Today Russia faces its strongest attack in the past 25 years, targeting its national interests, values and institutes,” the Russian Senate said in its ruling.

“[The attack’s] main goal is to influence the internal political situation in the country, undermine the patriotic unity of our people, undermine the integration processes within the CIS space and force our country into geopolitical isolation,” the ruling added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also criticized Washington for its attempts to democratize foreign states via military or other means.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that you can’t change things from the outside, regarding political regimes, power change,” Putin said in September.

“I’m sure – and the events of the past decade add to this certainty – in particular the attempts of democratization in Iraq, Libya, we see what they led to: the destruction of the state system and the rise of terrorism,” the president said.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | 2 Comments

John McCain NGO banned as ‘undesirable group’ in Russia

RT | August 18, 2016

Russian prosecutors have recognized the International Republican Institute NGO headed by US Senator John McCain as an undesirable organization, banning the group’s operations in the country and forbidding Russian organizations and citizens from cooperating with it.

“After studying the received files [describing the activities of the International Republican Institute], the Prosecutor General’s Office has made the decision to recognize it as an undesirable group on the territory of the Russian Federation,” reads an official statement from prosecutors, released on Thursday.

Another US organization, the Media Development Investment Fund, was also recognized as undesirable.

Prosecutors added that they had established that the work of the two groups posed a threat to the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order and state security, but gave no further details.

The International Republican Institute was founded in 1983 with the declared goal of the promotion of democracy worldwide through helping political parties in foreign countries.

Since 1993 the institute has been headed by John McCain – a Republican senator for Arizona known for his numerous anti-Russian initiatives and statements.

In early 2015 Russia reportedly included McCain in the list of people subject to personal sanctions, including an entry ban and assets freeze, introduced in response to a similar measures imposed by the United States against Russian officials in 2014.

The Russian Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in late May 2015. The act requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to make an official list of undesirable foreign groups and outlaw their activities. Once a group is recognized as undesirable, all its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and the distribution of its information materials banned. If the ban is violated, both the personnel of the outlawed group and any Russian citizens who cooperate with it face heavy fines or even prison terms in the event of repeated or aggravated offenses.

About a month after the law came into force, Russia’s upper house released a list of foreign organizations it believed should come under the new restrictions. The list consisted of 12 entries, including such groups as the National Democratic Institute, the US National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Society Institute also known as the Soros Foundation.

Several of these groups have already been put on the list of undesirables, including the US National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation, the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF), and the US National Democratic Institute – chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

August 18, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magical Thinking in US Foreign Policy

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By James W Carden | Consortium News | August 11, 2106

Despite America’s myriad problems domestically and internationally, its geo-strategic position remains the envy of the world. Protected in the east by the Atlantic, in the west by the Pacific, to the north by Canada and to the south by Mexico, the United States is, for all intents and purposes, impervious to a foreign invasion.

Its advanced and mobile nuclear arsenal and conventional force projection capabilities further serve as a deterrent against attacks from rival nation-states. The country’s strategic position is enhanced, too, by what Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has referred to as the “exorbitant privilege” – that of possessing the world’s reserve currency. As such, the U.S. does not face the same restraints on spending that other nations do.

Because the dollar accounts for so high a proportion of the balance sheets of other countries, the rest of the world is tacitly committed to propping up its value. Taken together, America’s isolated and protected geo-strategic position combined with the “exorbitant privilege” of the dollar means, in effect, that the U.S. has an unrivaled geo-strategic position.

Yet since the end of the Cold War, the foreign policy establishment and three successive administrations have committed the U.S. to a dangerous and ill-conceived pursuit of global military and economic hegemony which has only served to undercut the country’s economy and security. It is a pursuit that is frequently cloaked in the rhetoric of humanitarianism and “democracy promotion.”

United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power recently declared in the pages of the New York Review of Books that it is “our self-interest that requires us to get better at improving human security in the service of national security.”

Power – like nearly all members of the foreign policy establishment today – believes (or says she believes) that the way foreign governments treat their own citizens “matters because it can have a direct impact on international peace and security – and on our respective national interests.”

To bolster her argument she takes the example of the Russian government which, she claims, habitually lies to its own people about what it is really up to in Ukraine. “The elimination of critical voices inside Russia,” writes Power, “helps enable acts that are profoundly destabilizing outside of Russia.”

Power’s claims are part of the widely shared, bipartisan consensus among the post-Cold War foreign policy elites who believe that the problem is not that the United States has intervened around the world too much and too often but rather that it has intervened too little. In Power’s view, “we must never be ashamed to ask whether we have been too reticent in pressing certain governments to reform and to respond to the demands of their citizens.”

This last point is a curious claim that, I suspect, quite intentionally skirts the question of whether the U.S., by actively pushing its “pro-democracy” agenda abroad, is itself the instigator of many of those “demands” (by financing and organizing many of the groups clamoring for U.S. intervention).

Financing Destabilization

Efforts – almost too numerous to count – by USAID, the International Republican Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy, often in conjunction with various think tanks, TOR developers (software that enables anonymous communications), and George Soros-funded Open Society Institutes – have sought to materially aid a plethora of  opposition groups across the globe. (They, in turn, seek more U.S. intervention to enhance their political positions within their societies.)

Contrary to what the scholar, diplomat George Kennan urged – that diplomacy, properly executed, was necessarily a government-to-government interaction – Power believes that “we need to broaden the spectrum of whom we engage with our diplomacy.”

She writes that diplomats must court “civil society organizations” and other groups such as “teachers association, workers’ unions and leaders in the business community” – never mind the very plain fact that State Department diplomats and Commerce Department officials, among others, have been doing outreach of that sort for some time.

The results of all this U.S. meddling have been little short of disastrous. Take, for instance, the failed state of Ukraine, where USAID and other U.S. institutions spent $5 billion in the quarter century since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland (and that was before the U.S.-backed overthrow of the elected government in February 2014 and the current civil war which has claimed the lives of some 10,000 Ukrainians).

This generation of American “humanitarian” crusaders, as exemplified by the career of Ambassador Power, continually seeks to sacrifice stability on the altar of “democratic” idealism (even when that involves reversing democratic results and contributing to humanitarian suffering). Further, the problem that these efforts engender for U.S. national security interests are legion: war continues to rage in eastern Ukraine, Libya is completely destabilized, likewise Syria and Iraq.

Contrary to what Power would have us believe, the “democratization” crusade undermines, rather than strengthens U.S. national security. As the Greek statesman Pericles famously observed: “I am more afraid of our own mistakes than of our enemies’ designs.”


James W Carden is editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s eastwestaccord.com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Is US-Funded Destabilization in Latin America Now Paying Off?

By Francisco Dominguez – teleSUR – April 14, 2016

Most progressive governments in Latin America find themselves under intense attack in what is evidently a well synchronized and well financed continental plan of destabilization.

Riots, street demonstrations, anti-corruption campaigns, protests about the domestic negative impact of the world economic crisis, general strikes, impeachment efforts, economic sabotage, and the like, have become the battle horses on which oligarchic forces in cahoots with Washington are riding to carry out “regime change.”

So far, conservative forces in Latin America have been successful in overthrowing President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras in 2009 and President Fernando Lugo in 2012 in Paraguay. Both presidents were ousted by oligarchic parliamentary majorities with mass support from middle class “civic associations”, in complicity with the judiciary, with the latter providing a veneer of legality.

The preconditions for “regime change” take, in some cases, years of careful preparation. This normally involves intoxicating media campaigns of demonization aimed to exacerbate political polarization to the maximum, through the instilling of fear, the staging of aggressive and sometimes violent, middle class mobilizations, the activating of many associations of civil society, and the setting up of, sometimes hundreds, of externally funded NGOs.

The aim is to question the legitimacy of the “target government” which usually involves the systematic discrediting of existing political institutions so as to foster chaos as the most conducive context for “regime change”. This strategy has been “theorized” in manuals that are mass-produced and get heavily promoted free of charge by establishment outfits.(1)

Despite the fastidiousness with which Washington and domestic perpetrators seek to enshrine their efforts at “regime change” in any one nation with the veil of legality, constitutionality, democracy promotion, regional autonomy, and virtuous legitimacy, always a powerful media apparatus is activated the world over, unleashing a barrage of negative reporting and demonization of the “target government” with one overriding message: the solution to created crisis is the ousting of the government.

The favorite demonization is to label the “target government” as a totalitarian dictatorship or in the process of becoming so, unless stopped. This is coupled with regular official condemnatory statements of the “target government” from the U.S. State Dept. and a barrage of U.S. official bodies.

In this “regime change” narrative, the ousting of the target government, being the cause of “civil society’s rebellion”, is fully justified. Thus for example the highly illustrative New York Times editorial of April13, 2002, on occasion of the brief ousting of Hugo Chavez: “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.”

The NYT explained that Chavez had been ousted “after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader.” The key, therefore, is to portray the “ruler” of the target government as a threat to democratic civilization, thus the NYT editorial justifies the 2002 coup in Venezuela because Chavez “battled the media and alienated virtually every constituency from middle-class professionals, academics and business leaders to union members and the Roman Catholic Church.(2)

So, 21st century “regime change”, different from the more traditional 20th century U.S.-orchestrated coup d’état, involves an intense “battle for hearts and minds”, an essential component of the strategy.(3) Thus, huge financial, political and cultural resources are mobilized to bring about hegemony for “regime change” in society and in all state and civil society institutions, going as far, in some cases, as even co-opting sections of the downtrodden. Most of this is “facilitated” with generous NED and USAID grants awarded over many years.

Faced with its own steady decline and the rise of radical governments in the post-Soviet era, the U.S. seeks to destabilize and oust governments through “color revolutions” as in Georgia, 2003 and the Ukraine, 2004 and 2014. Consequently the U.S. has substantially reorganized its architecture for intervention with the CIA becoming a mere appendix but with USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy and their many associated bodies taking center stage and receiving the lion’s share of the resources. The modality may have changed but U.S. foreign policy remains pretty much what it was: to remove governments it does not like. U.S. State Dept. and USAID budget is bigger than the GPD of many states, in 2016 it was US$50.3 billion.

Among the key U.S. institutions involved in “regime change” is the U.S. State Department, the body with the biggest authority, but there is also the United States Southern Command, the Congress and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees, and the CIA. Then further down the food chain, there are USAID, NED, Office for Transition Initiatives, American Center for International Labor Solidarity and American Institute for Free Labor Development, among the most important ones.

They work closely together and in the pursuance of the same aims, with the International Republican Institute, chaired by John McCain of CHECK; the National Democratic Institute, chaired by Madeline Albright; Transparency International; and Centre for International Private Enterprise. They all channel huge sums to support civil (and when possible) military subversion to create the conditions for “regime change”. They also channel huge sums to fund “civil society” associations, political parties, media outfits, NGOs, professional bodies, trades unions, think tanks, business, student groups and so forth.(4)

These institutions are the field commanders that coordinate the national detachments in every target country around a regional perspective so as to maximize the results of every push for “regime change” in any individual Latin American nation. We are increasingly seeing former right-wing Latin American presidents acting jointly to contribute to the destabilization of Bolivarian Venezuela, for instance.

Additionally there is a raft of “private” or “independent” bodies concerned chiefly with Latin America, the most important of which are Inter-American Press Association; Fundacion para el Analisis y los Estudios Sociales – led by Jose Maria Aznar; the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad; hundreds of Think Tanks; and possibly thousands of NGOs that share the “regime change” aim but that do it from a specialist angle. To all of this architecture of U.S. intervention, the overwhelming majority of the world corporate media play a decisive role, making any U.S. led intervention, a lethal political threat to the survival of any “target government”.

Most progressive governments in Latin America have been or are subjected to systematic levels of traumatic and deliberately created social, economic and political chaos, politics and culture, which in many cases it can go on for years. In Cuba for five decades, in Nicaragua (on and off) nearly four decades and in Venezuela for 17 years thus far, with no end in sight.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian government is currently in the crosshairs of U.S. destabilization plans and “regime change” efforts through an economic war that has the Bolivarian process on the ropes. In Argentina, three years of an intense dirty war against Cristina Fernandez’s government, aspects of which had sinister overtones, paid off when at the November 2015 presidential election, the Right’s candidate, Mauricio Macri, won the election by a small margin of 1 percent. In Ecuador, a police mutiny in September 2010, obviously instigated from abroad and with huge U.S. support, nearly succeeded in ousting the government with with President Rafael Correa miraculously escaping with life.

The destabilization against Ecuador continues with the “revolt” of civil society and very violent street protests. And in Brazil, through a very intense and thoroughly intoxicating media campaign, a “regime change” push seeking to oust the democratically elected and legitimate president Dilma Rousseff is underway, as we write it is not clear whether the effort to oust Dilma will be successful or not.

By substantially reducing export revenues that fund progressive social programs, the persistent world economic crisis significantly helps the “regime change” efforts by the U.S. and its allies. It may be just coincidence but the U.S. ambassador in Paraguay when elected president Fernando Lugo was ousted by a right-wing parliamentary coup, was Liliana Ayalde. The current U.S. ambassador in Brazil, where a right-wing parliamentary coup against elected president Dilma Rousseff is in progress, is Liliana Ayalde.

Bolivar once said that the United States appears to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty. Exactly, through the NED, USAID and others, the United States must stop destabilizing elected governments in the name of “democracy,” “good governance” and “national security.”

Francisco Dominguez is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, where he is head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies.

(1) See Gene Sharp, “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” Serpent’s Tail, 2011, first published in 2002.
(2) “Hugo Chavez Departs,” New York Times, April 13th, 2002
(3) The overthrow of Honduras President Manuel Zelaya, in June 2009, has led to the book with the very suggestive title “The Good Coup” (Mario Caceres di Iorio, CCB, Canada, 2010).
(4) See “Evolution of USAID and NED in Dominguez,” Lievesley and Ludlam, Right-Wing Politics in the New Latin America, Zed, 2011.

April 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Elizabeth May’s distorted understanding of crisis in Syria

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By Eva Bartlett | American Herald Tribune | March 11, 2016

Canadian Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, puts forth such a distorted understanding of Syria that she has either fallen prey to the corporate media’s false rendition of Syria, or she is towing the line for political gain. In either case, the rhetoric she has employed over the past five years has gone from dismaying to appalling, considering that we are not in the early “confusing” months of the war on Syria, we are five years in, and the anti-Syria lexicon she repeats has long been discredited.

In June 2011, May’s Green Party described the situation in Syria as a “pro-democracy uprising,” and called for “more robust sanctions to include an international trade and energy embargo and not just sanctions against specific individuals and Syrian security organizations.”

Apparently the Iraq lesson—wherein 1.7 million Iraqis died as a “direct result of the genocidal sanctions” (source)—is not relevant to May. She would do well to read the Lancet’s report, “Syria: end sanctions and find a political solution to peace,” as of May 2015:

“The cost of basic food items has risen six-fold since 2010, although it varies regionally. With the exception of drugs for cancer and diabetes, Syria was 95 percent self-sufficient in terms of drug production before the war. This has virtually collapsed as have many hospitals and primary health-care centres.

Economic sanctions have not removed the President: … only civilians are in the line of fire, attested to by the dire state of household and macro-economies. Sanctions are among the biggest causes of suffering for the people of Syria.”

Perhaps May doesn’t care about the effects of sanctions on the Syrian people, but instead supports the US plan to destabilize Syria through various means, including sanctions, as noted even in 2005:

“As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.”

As for the “pro-democracy uprising,” it has thoroughly been revealed to have been an armed insurrection from the very earliest protests, with sectarian chants and killings occurring by the so-called “democracy-loving” “unarmed” protesters from the very first months. The CIA has a long history of supporting such violence in Syria.  For more on this, and the mythology on Syria in general, see my extensively-linked earlier article, “Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria.”

Vilifying Assad and Russia; Silence on Turkey, Sauds

In October 2015, after Russia had been invited by the Syrian government to fight terrorists in Syria, May issued a statement condemning Russian airstrikes, stating bizarrely: “The bombing by Russian forces within Syria of rebel groups trained by the CIA under cover of a claim their target is ISIS brings into sharp relief the perils of air strikes against one rebel group in a civil war.”

She is upset that Russian strikes also target al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, who she admits were CIA-trained? She continues with the “civil war” refrain?

Fellow Canadian and journalist Mark Taliano, in a January 2016 article noted:

“There are no “moderate” terrorists.  The mercenaries are all being paid and enabled by the West and its allies, including Turkey (a NATO member),Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.”

Later in the article, Taliano pointed out:

“Assad – … is defending his country from foreign terrorists, not “killing his own people” – the Western invaders are killing Assad’s people.”

In a February 23, 2016 post, May again referred to Russia’s role in Syria, stating it is “legitimized by US and its allies own bombing campaigns”. Apparently May, a lawyer, misunderstood the legalities of both parties roles in Syria. The US-led coalition’s violations of Syrian airspace are in contradiction to international law. Russia’s presence, on the other hand, is not in violation of international law: Russia was invited by the Syrian government.

In the post, May on the one hand acknowledged that Western intervention in Iraq and Libya have been the cause of the subsequent chaos that continues to this day in those countries, while on the other hand still voiced lexicon and arguments which endorse intervention in Syria.

This is May’s (2016) nutshell interpretation of the war on Syria:

“Syria is a giant mess of competing nasty forces. The government (if one can still call it that) is run by a brutal dictator Bashar Al-Assad. Assad is supported by Iran and Hezbollah, while Al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIS want to over-turn Assad. Saudi Arabia is reported to be supporting ISIS. Russia supports Assad and is using its access to bombing, legitimized by US and its allies own bombing campaigns, to hit hard at Assad’s enemies – whether they are ISIS or not.”

Overlooking the childish terminology she employed, in the entire post, the only mention of the nefarious Saudi role in Syria is this one passing reference, of the Wahhabi kingdom being “reported to be supporting ISIS”. Why is May wilfully overlooking the deeply-entrenched role of the Saudis in funding, training, and brainwashing Wahhabi mercenaries to kill in Syria?

Regarding her, “Assad’s enemies—whether they are ISIS or not”— May seems to be attempting to convey that long-dead myth that there are “moderate” terrorist-rebels. The reality is that Russia and Syria are fighting Da’esh (ISIS), al-Nusra, FSA and any other terrorist factions warring against the Syrian state and people.

Further on in the post May disingenuously suggested, “We could do more to stop the flow of weapons and money to ISIS through its black market activities,” but again failed to mention Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, ‘Israel’ or the CIA ties to, and support of, ISIS and like terrorists.

By continuing (five years on) to claim the war on Syria is a “civil war” and its president a “brutal dictator”, May is feeding the line-of-logic that the only way to bring peace to Syria is the removal of its elected president and the supporting of Wahhabi-backed “opposition”—who themselves could not even come to an agreement to attend the last (Feb 2016) Geneva talks, which Syrian government representatives did, in contrast.

Following the collapse of those talks, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari, clearly explained that fault lay with the Saudis and their “opposition” puppets, and with the UN itself.

In a February 16 briefing, he explained that de Mistura had told the Ambassador he had “decided to suspend the talks because he knew earlier that the Riyadh group decided to withdraw from Geneva before even engaging in the indirect talks.”

In contrast, according to al-Ja’afari, “the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic was the only delegation to engage twice with the special envoy. … We didn’t know how many delegations there should be there. We didn’t know the names. In the last couple hours before we left Geneva, the deputy of Mr. de Mistura came to me at the hotel and gave me a partial list of names, not the full list of names….” Yet the media blamed Syria, unsurprisingly, and not the Wahhabi “opposition”.

Secular Syria; Women-Strong

Bizarrely, May’s February 2016 post acknowledged that that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was secular, its “cabinet included women and had no Islamist doctrine,” but failed to recognize that of secular Syria, whose leadership includes:

-Numerous women (including, but not all of): Vice President, Dr. Najah al-Attar, also Minister of Culture, a Sunni with a Western education and a PhD. Political and Media Advisor to the Syrian President, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, also Sunni and holding a PhD, Western-educated; former Minister of Tourism, Lamia Assi (also former Minister of Economy and Trade); Minister of Social Affairs, Rima al-Qadiri;former Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Kinda al-Shammat.

-Sunnis (including, but not all of): Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi; Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem; Minister of Defense Fahd Jassem al-Freij, Parliament Member Mohammad Jihad al-Laham.

Further, as Professor Tim Anderson noted:

“President Bashar al Assad himself is married to a Sunni woman. The Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, is a strong Sunni supporter of the secular state. Sheikh Mohamad Al Bouti, murdered along with 42 others by an FSA suicide bomber in March 2013, was a senior Sunni Koranic scholar who backed the secular state.

Syria’s secular tradition is nowhere stronger than in the Syrian Arab Army. Making up about 80% of Syria’s armed forces and with half a million members, half regulars and half conscripts, the army is drawn from all the country’s communities (Sunni, Alawi, Shiia, Christian, Druze, Kurd, Armenian, etc). However they identify as ‘Syrian’ and ‘Arab’ and confront a sectarian enemy that brands itself ‘real Sunnis’.”

On the issue of women in Syria, Anderson explained:

“The Syrian Arab Republic was the first country in the Middle East and North African region (MENA) to give women the vote (1949, 1953) and the second after Lebanon to allow women to stand for election (1953). Syria was the first to have a woman elected to parliament (1973). Syria has by far the highest level of paid maternity leave in the MENA region – a minimum of 17 weeks paid leave, 100% paid by employers. Although one of the poorer MENA countries, the Syrian Arab Republic has a maternal mortality rate (per 1000,000 live births) of 46 in 2008, well below the MENA average (91); that is linked to skilled assistance at birth much higher than average (93% Syria / 79% MENA). In Syria, …‘women’s health adjusted life expectancy’ is the best in the MENA region (Sources: UNDP 2014; UN Women 2011).”

Journalist Julie Lévesque wrote on the US history of meddling and destroying women’s rights in Afghanistan, and their attempts to do so now in Syria. She cited a (2013) US State Department conference in Qatar (of all places) promoting “women’s rights,” hosted by the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN), which Lévesque points out “is an initiative of the International Republican Institute, well-known for supporting dissidents in various countries defying US imperialism.”

On the US meddling in Syria, she wrote:

“…the US along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia is supporting Islamist extremist groups fighting against the secular Syrian government. Some so-called “liberated areas” in Syria are now run by religious extremists.

…Were a US proxy regime to be installed in Damascus, the rights and liberties of Syrian women might well be following the same “freedom-threatening path” as that of Afghan women under the US-backed Taliban regime and continuing under the US-NATO occupation.”

Doh, Canada! Supporting Terrorism in Syria

In March 2016, May at least issued a statement against Canada’s “military contributions against Daesh (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.” She also said, “We need to work with our international partners to cut off Daesh’s funding.”

Yet no mention was made of the gigantic elephants in the room: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, ‘Israel’ and the CIA, among other US departments. Further, Da’esh are but one of numerous foreign terrorist factions warring on Syria.

Nor was any mention made of the fact that since the beginning of the war on Syria, Canada has been funding and abetting terrorists in Syria.

Ken Stone’s detailed November 2015 article explains the manifold ways Canada has aided terrorists in Syria, as well as the attempt at “regime change”, including:

  1. “organizing the covert mercenary war against Syria through the Group of Friends of the Syrian People (“Friends of Syria Group”);
  2. establishing a regime of economic sanctions against Syria and hosting, in Ottawa, the Friends of Syria Group’s International Working Group on Sanctions;
  3. funding and supporting the so-called “rebel” side;
  4. planning for an overt western military action against Syria;
  5. working with Syrian-Canadians antagonistic to the Assad government;
  6. contributing to the demonization of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to the de-legitimation and isolation of his government.”

With regard to Canada-Saudi relations (which May never seems to address), journalist Stephen Gowans wrote:

“To claim that Canada’s intervention against the violent Sunni Muslim fundamentalists is motivated by opposition to the organization’s barbarity is a demagogic sham. ISIS is virtually indistinguishable in the cruelty of its methods and harshness of its ideology from Saudi Arabia, which Canada strongly supports. If Ottawa truly abhorred ISIS’s vicious anti-Shia sectarianism, cruel misogyny, benighted religious practices, and penchant for beheadings, CF-18s would be bombing Riyadh, in addition to ISIS positions. Instead, Saudi Arabia, a theocratic absolutist monarchy, one of the last on earth, continues to receive Canada’s undiminished support.”

Stop The NATO-Speak, Stop The War Propaganda

Although Elizabeth May purports an anti-war stance, her puerile NATO-esque rhetoric serves the war agenda. This rhetoric includes:

-Demonizing a government that the vast majority of the Syrian people support, with infantile and tired, incredibly loaded, rhetoric;

-Endorsing criminal sanctions which only hurt the Syrian people;

-Continued lack of any condemnation of the Gulf, Turkish and ‘Israeli’ roles in creating, supporting, funnelling, and treating terrorists and sending them back into Syria;

-Her refusal to acknowledge the will of the Syrian people—which is overwhelmingly that they want President al-Assad to remain, they want the NATO alliance to stop sending terrorists into Syria, they want their sovereignty and an end to the foreign war on Syria which May to this day insists on wrongly calling a ‘civil war’.

In employing the lexicon of the NATO axis’ propagandists, May is potentially more dangerous to Canadians than easily detestable politicians like Harper, Trudeau or Kinney, who are overtly supportive of the war on Syria. She is slyly misleading those Canadians less-versed on Syria into believing the same stereotypes and myths that confused many in the early months of 2011 but which have now been laid to rest. It’s time May lays her rhetoric to rest, and grows a political spine.

Eva Bartlett is a justice activist and independent journalist, with years of on the ground experience in the Middle East.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prosecutors ban Soros Foundation as ‘threat to Russian national security’

RT | November 30, 2015

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects.

In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors said the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security. They added that the Justice Ministry would be duly informed about these conclusions and would add the two groups to Russia’s list of undesirable foreign organizations.

Prosecutors launched a probe into the activities of the two organizations – both sponsored by the well-known US financier George Soros – in July this year, after Russian senators approved the so-called “patriotic stop-list” of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Other groups on the list included the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House.

In late July, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized the US National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group after prosecutors discovered the US NGO had spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of national military service.

The Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in early June this year. It requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to draw up an official list of undesirable foreign organizations and outlaw their activities. Once a group is recognized as undesirable, its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and the distribution of any of its materials must be banned.

If the ban is violated, the personnel of the outlawed group and any Russian citizens who cooperate with them could face heavy fines, or even prison terms in the case of repeated or aggravated offences.

The Soros Foundation started working in Russia in the mid-1990s, but wrapped up its active operations in 2003.

READ MORE:

US National Endowment for Democracy labeled ‘undesirable’ group under new law

Foreign Ministry praises law banning undesirable foreign groups in Russia

November 30, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

USAID Subversion in Latin America Not Limited to Cuba

By Dan Beeton | CEPR Americas Blog | April 4, 2014

A new investigation by the Associated Press into a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project to create a Twitter-style social media network in Cuba has received a lot of attention this week, with the news trending on the actual Twitter for much of the day yesterday when the story broke, and eliciting comment from various members of Congress and other policy makers. The “ZunZuneo” project, which AP reports was “aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government,” was overseen by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). AP describes OTI as “a division that was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote U.S. interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape.” Its efforts to undermine the Cuban government are not unusual, however, considering the organization’s track record in other countries in the region.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot described in an interview with radio station KPFA’s “Letters and Politics” yesterday, USAID and OTI in particular have engaged in various efforts to undermine the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Haiti, among others, and such “open societies” could be more likely to be impacted by such activities than Cuba. Declassified U.S. government documents show that USAID’s OTI in Venezuela played a central role in funding and working with groups and individuals following the short-lived 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chávez. A key contractor for USAID/OTI in that effort has been Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).

More recent State Department cables made public by Wikileaks reveal that USAID/OTI subversion in Venezuela extended into the Obama administration era (until 2010, when funded for OTI in Venezuela appears to have ended), and DAI continued to play an important role. A State Department cable from November 2006 explains the U.S. embassy’s strategy in Venezuela and how USAID/OTI “activities support [the] strategy”:

(S) In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period 2004) 2006 (specifically, from the referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.

Among the ways in which USAID/OTI have supported the strategy is through the funding and training of protest groups. This August 2009 cable cites the head of USAID/OTI contractor DAI’s Venezuela office Eduardo Fernandez as saying, during 2009 protests, that all the protest organizers are DAI grantees:

¶5. (S) Fernandez told DCM Caulfield that he believed the [the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Corps’] dual objective is to obtain information regarding DAI’s grantees and to cut off their funding. Fernandez said that “the streets are hot,” referring to growing protests against Chavez’s efforts to consolidate power, and “all these people (organizing the protests) are our grantees.” Fernandez has been leading non-partisan training and grant programs since 2004 for DAI in Venezuela.”

The November 2006 cable describes an example of USAID/OTI partners in Venezuela “shut[ting] down [a] city”:

11. (S) CECAVID: This project supported an NGO working with women in the informal sectors of Barquisimeto, the 5th largest city in Venezuela. The training helped them negotiate with city government to provide better working conditions. After initially agreeing to the women’s conditions, the city government reneged and the women shut down the city for 2 days forcing the mayor to return to the bargaining table. This project is now being replicated in another area of Venezuela.

The implications for the current situation in Venezuela are obvious, unless we are to assume that such activities have ended despite the tens of millions of dollars in USAID funds designated for Venezuela, some of it going through organizations such as Freedom House, and the International Republican Institute, some of which also funded groups involved in the 2002 coup (which prominent IRI staff publicly applauded at the time).

The same November 2006 cable notes that one OTI program goal is to bolster international support for the opposition:

…DAI has brought dozens of international leaders to Venezuela, university professors, NGO members, and political leaders to participate in workshops and seminars, who then return to their countries with a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.

Many of the thousands of cables originating from the U.S. embassy in Caracas that have been made available by Wikileaks describe regular communication and coordination with prominent opposition leaders and groups. One particular favorite has been the NGO Súmate and its leader Maria Corina Machado, who has made headlines over the past two months for her role in the protest movement. The cables show that Machado historically has taken more extreme positions than some other opposition leaders, and the embassy has at least privately questioned Súmate’s strategy of discrediting Venezuela’s electoral system which in turn has contributed to opposition defeats at the polls (most notably in 2005 when an opposition boycott led to complete Chavista domination of the National Assembly). The current protests are no different; Machado and Leopoldo López launched “La Salida” campaign at the end of January with its stated goal of forcing president Nicolás Maduro from office, and vowing to “create chaos in the streets.”

USAID support for destabilization is no secret to the targeted governments. In September 2008, in the midst of a violent, racist and pro-secessionist campaign against the democratically-elected government of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Morales expelled the U.S. Ambassador, and Venezuela followed suit “in solidarity.” Bolivia would later end all USAID involvement in Bolivia after the agency refused to disclose whom it was funding in the country (Freedom of Information Act requests had been independently filed but were not answered).  The U.S. embassy in Bolivia had previously been caught asking Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright scholars in the country to engage in espionage.

Commenting on the failed USAID/OTI ZunZuneo program in Cuba, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) commented that, “That is not what USAID should be doing[.] USAID is flying the American flag and should be recognized around the globe as an honest broker of doing good. If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished.”

But USAID’s track record of engaging in subversive activities is a long one, and U.S. credibility as an “honest broker” was lost many years ago.

April 5, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ukrainian Democracy: A Barrier to Washington’s Goals

What Do Ukrainians Really Want?

By Nick Alexandrov | CounterPunch | February 28, 2014

When Ukraine is the topic, the major U.S. media outlets agree: “Europe and the United States have made a priority of fostering democracy in the former Soviet republics,” David M. Herszenhorn wrote in the New York Times.  The Washington Post asserted that Ukraine is “a country that has been struggling to become a genuine democracy” with help from Western powers, who keep it “from becoming an autocratic Kremlin colony, like neighboring Belarus.”  “Ukraine is the crossroads between a free and an authoritarian Europe,” the Wall Street Journal concurred, while Yale professor Timothy Snyder urged, in a CNN piece, Europe and America to back the Ukrainian protesters—“a chance to support democracy,” he emphasized.  Marvelous.  But in the real world, Ukrainian democracy is not merely something Washington has failed to support, but is actually incompatible with U.S. governmental aims.

U.S. officials are quite open about their opposition to Ukrainian self-determination and well-aware how unpopular Washington’s preferred policies are.  Nearly a decade ago, for example, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Europe met for a hearing on “Ukraine’s Future and U.S. Interests.”  Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE) opened the session, noting that “a recent survey conducted by a center for economic and political research suggests that up to 40 percent of Ukrainians believe that relations with Russia should be a priority.”  Meanwhile, “28 percent gave preference to the EU,” and “2 percent said that relations with the U.S. should be a foreign policy priority.  Another survey suggested that almost two-thirds of the population would consider supporting a political union with Russia,” Bereuter concluded.  “So,” he went on, “I think that United States policy must remain focused” on incorporating Ukraine “into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.”  Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) spoke next, reiterating that U.S. policy should “further Ukraine’s integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions;” Steven Pifer, the former Ambassador to Ukraine, drove the point home, outlining “the United States Government’s vision for Ukraine”: “increasingly close ties to Europe and Euro-Atlantic institutions.”  This vision persisted over the following decade.  The Atlantic Council’s Damon Wilson, speaking before the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on European Affairs—the topic was “Ukraine at a Crossroads”—in February 2012, explained that “Ukraine’s genuine European integration” remained a major objective.

And recent commentary and news coverage depicts European integration as something most Ukrainians desire.  In early February, Secretary of State Kerry, at the Munich Security Conference, remarked that Ukrainians should be permitted “to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations”—Europe and the U.S. obviously being the partners, integration to be deepened via what the Times’ Herszenhorn referred to as “sweeping political and trade agreements” that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “refused to sign” last November, resulting in “a broken promise between a leader and his citizens,” and then the uprisings.  Now Al Jazeera reports that the acting president, Oleksander Turchinov, has “made clear that Kiev’s European integration would be a priority,” thereby giving Ukrainians what we’re told they want.

But British and U.S. governmental studies reveal the Ukrainian public is ambivalent about European integration.  Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for example, funded a “scoping study” through the British Embassy in Kyiv a year ago, titled “A blueprint for enhancing understanding of and support for the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement [AA] including DCFTA [Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area] in Ukraine.”  The AA was one of the key “sweeping political and trade agreements” Yanukovych refused to sign.  British officials, in their report, stressed that “support for the AA is not overwhelming amongst the population at large,” observing that “opinion polls show that about 30% of respondents are in favour of European integration, 30% for the Customs Union [Moscow-led integration], and about 30% are undecided.”  This bleak situation called for a propaganda offensive, or “a national public awareness ‘Campaign of Arguments,’” as the British dubbed it, which was to “be aimed at the general public as its primary target audience.”  British advisers urged PR teams “to formulate advertising slogans, global and targeted messages,” and to play up “the European civilizational model” and other benefits the AA allegedly would bring.  This “civilizational model” today entails “massive attacks on public services, wages, pensions, trade unions, and social rights” under imposed “draconian austerity policies,” Asbjørn Wahl wrote in January’s Monthly Review—a reality the British indoctrination scheme’s outline studiously avoided, it’s hardly worth mentioning.

The propaganda barrage may have been successful to some extent.  But as the year progressed, the U.S. government had a hard time finding evidence of overwhelming Ukrainian support for European integration.  The International Republican Institute (IRI), for example, polled Ukrainians last September: “If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, with whom should it be?”  Forty-two percent of respondents chose the EU, while 37% preferred the Russian Customs Union.  IRI then asked, “How would you evaluate your attitude towards the following entities?”  Fifty percent of respondents felt “warm” towards Russia; 41% felt “warm” towards Europe—and just 26% were fond of the U.S.  IRI figures resembled those USAID published in a December 2013 report.  Its authors found it “interesting to note that Ukrainians are split on whether the country should join the European Union or the Customs Union.  Thirty-seven percent would like Ukraine to take steps to join the European Union, 33% prefer the Customs Union and 15% say Ukraine should join neither of these blocs.”  Furthermore, “34% say that Ukraine should have closer economic relations with Russia, 35% say it should have closer economic relations with Europe and 17% say it should have good relations with both.”  A Kyiv International Institute of Sociology poll reinforced these findings: “Ukraine is split practically 50/50 over the accession to the European Union or the Customs Union,” Interfax-Ukraine summarized the study’s conclusions.

Reviewing this data forces us to ask: Who is Washington’s chief enemy in Ukraine?  Is it Russia, bent on killing Ukraine’s budding democracy?  Is it the tyrant Yanukovych?  The U.S. policy record points to a different conclusion, one a Johns Hopkins Center for Transatlantic Relations study—included in the official transcription of the Senate’s 2012 “Ukraine at a Crossroads” hearing—discusses in the context of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership.  “The main obstacle” to Ukraine’s joining the organization “is not Russian opposition,” its authors emphasized, “but low public support for membership in Ukraine itself.”  Again: on this and other issues, the Ukrainian people are “the main obstacle” to U.S. foreign policy aims.  We should bear this fact in mind as the crisis deepens in Eastern Europe.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Lawmakers Lobby for Right-wing and US Intervention in Honduran, Salvadoran Elections

CISPES | November 8, 2013

On Saturday, October 16, US Congressmen Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) from the House’s Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere subcommittee wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry using vague, fear-mongering rhetoric to delegitimize a potential left-wing victory in the upcoming presidential elections in Honduras and El Salvador, where the left candidates are leading in the polls. Explicitly denigrating two of the three leading Salvadoran candidates, Salmon and Sires exposed themselves as mouthpieces for the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, which has mounted an escalating smear campaign against its opposition in both El Salvador and the US.

In the letter—which was then republished in El Salvador—the congressional duo question the “democratic credentials” of both Honduran presidential candidate Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, wife of former President Manuel Zelaya ousted in the 2009 US-backed coup d’état, and Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the leftist candidate for the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador, accusing them of being allies of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. The congressmen also call out Salvadoran right-wing UNITY coalition candidate Tony Saca as corrupt, clearly demonstrating their preference for ARENA—the only other leading party in the race. In a particularly troubling gesture, they call for “heightened security to ensure that all candidates abide by the democratic rules of the game,” and tacitly request greater participation of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI)— US institutions notorious for undermining democratic elections in the region.

This is not the duo’s first effort to intervene in the democratic process in El Salvador. In April, Salmon and Sires published a letter implying—falsely—that $300 million in US development aid from the Millennium Challenge Corporation was at risk because the US-backed Public-Private Partnership Law had not yet been approved by the Salvadoran legislature. Now, in questioning the democratic legitimacy of both Xiomara Castro and Sánchez Cerén, Sires and Salmon are setting the stage to delegitimize any leftist electoral victory from the US, and throwing their weight behind the ARENA party in El Salvador.

This is the same tactic recently employed by ultra-conservative lobbyist Otto Reich in his public comments against the FMLN, and was promptly followed by the November 4 publication of an article in the Spanish-language edition of the Miami Herald interviewing several ARENA party leaders claiming that Saca had made an agreement with the FMLN to divide the right-wing and bring socialism to El Salvador. The stakes are high in the upcoming presidential elections in Honduras and El Salvador, and ARENA and its allies are hard at work prevent any electoral outcome that conflicts with their vast economic interests in the region.

… The electoral contest takes place in the context of a Salvadoran social movement to end the impunity of war criminals who have thus far escaped justice due to a 1993 amnesty law whose constitutionality is now under examination by the Supreme Court of El Salvador. The issue has become especially intense since October 1, 2013, when the Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador shut down the most important human rights archives in the country, Tutela Legal, and dismissed the employees, placing the very documents that would be used in war crimes tribunals at risk of being compromised. [3] These actions have provoked international solidarity with the thousands of Salvadorans, including those in the Salvadoran diaspora, who are at work recuperating the historical memory of the country and seeking justice for the more than 70,000 citizens killed during the war as well as the survivors of torture and other war crimes. …

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Analysis from National Endowment for Democracy Used in The Atlantic, with Significant Errors and Omissions

By Stephan Lefebvre | CEPR Americas Blog | July 30, 2013

This month, readers of The Atlantic were treated to a lengthy article documenting alarming threats to democracy in certain Latin American countries with progressive and leftist heads of government. The piece, written by Kurt Weyland and titled “Why Latin America is Becoming Less Democratic,” is riddled with significant errors and mischaracterizations. Perhaps even worse, editors at The Atlantic didn’t make clear that the article was first published in a “journal” that is funded by the U.S. government.

The original article was published in the Journal of Democracy, which has long focused on providing analysis to justify U.S. government intervention abroad. The Journal of Democracy is an official publication of the National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) International Forum for Democratic Studies. Although nominally a “nongovernmental” organization, the NED receives most of its funding from the U.S. Congress. In 1991, Allen Weinstein, who helped found and then became the NED’s acting president, told the Washington Post, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA” [1].

Some examples of the NED’s work include using U.S. government resources to fund groups and individuals involved in the short-lived 2002 coup d’état in Venezuela, and two years later funding organizers of the recall effort against then-president Hugo Chávez. One of the NED’s core grantees is the International Republican Institute, which played a major role in overthrowing the democratically-elected government of Haiti in 2004.

These are just a few examples that highlight the NED’s disreputable history in Latin America, which would take far more space than a blog post to tell.  While it clearly would have been worth noting the source of the article, the article itself is full of both factual errors and egregious mischaracterizations. To keep this post brief, I’ll only review a few of the most egregious errors here.

    1. Weyland writes: “Since the third wave reached Latin America in 1978, the region had seen only occasional threats and temporary interruptions of democracy in individual nations.”

This statement is only reasonable if one completely ignores the U.S. government’s role in the region, which constituted a threat to democracy that was neither “temporary” nor limited to “individual nations.” Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. conducted a massive and well-organized campaign, especially in Central America, using Cold War pretexts to install and support leaders who would foster favorable conditions for U.S. business interests.

In Nicaragua, the campaign involved massive illegal military aid to the contra paramilitary forces who used those weapons to kill health care workers, teachers and elected officials in their fight against the  democratically-elected Sandinista government, bringing condemnation from the World Court, as well as Amnesty International, Americas Watch and other human rights groups and international bodies.

At the same time, the U.S.-backed Guatemalan General José Efraín Ríos Montt, massacred and tortured the people of Guatemala — with U.N. estimates indicating over 200,000 were killed or disappeared in acts of genocide. The same Cold War premise of fighting “communists” was used to justify large-scale atrocities in El Salvador and Honduras. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the U.S. supported brutal dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Haiti, Brazil, and other countries, and militarily invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989). More recently, of course, the U.S. supported coups in Venezuela, Honduras and Haiti.

It could not be more clear that democracy in Latin America is threatened and actually has been compromised on many occasions by the U.S.’s foreign policy, especially in the post-1978 period that Weyland names. Rewriting history to minimize and erase these events serves the interests of the U.S. government, so it is perhaps no surprise that publications like the Journal of Democracy carry out this work diligently, but when government propaganda makes its way into independent publications like The Atlantic without comment, it is cause for alarm, especially when there are numerous factual errors.

    1. Weyland writes that “Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina (2007-), whose fervent supporters take inspiration from Chávez, is eyeing constitutional changes and renewed reelection.”

Fact check: President Cristina Fernández has not said anything to this effect.  She has  proposed constitutional amendments focused on reforms to the judiciary, and she has already addressed the Argentine congress specifically, saying that she is not planning to pursue reforms that would allow her to run for a third consecutive term. Weyland would be right in noting that some of her supporters floated the idea of a third term, but Weyland’s claim as written is simply not true.  If this seems like a minor point, consider that Honduran ex-president Manuel Zelaya’s support for a non-binding referendum on a constituent assembly was misreported in the media as a bid to extend his presidency and was used as a justification for his removal both within Honduras and internationally.  Weyland perpetuates this myth, saying that Zelaya “was stopped” before he could “boost[] the presidency’s powers and pave[] the way toward indefinite reelection to that office.”  By presenting the coup that removed Zelaya as an event that forestalled a nondemocratic turn, in particular saying nothing about events following the coup, much of Weyland’s argument supposedly in favor of democracy in Latin America is rendered moot.

    1. “That Venezuela had already fallen under nondemocratic rule was confirmed in October 2012 by Chávez’s unfair reelection, achieved with the help of intimidation tactics, tight restrictions on the opposition, and the massive misuse of the state apparatus.”

The 2012 elections in Venezuela were declared free and fair by election accompanying groups and by monitors such as the Carter Center, which noted that “the whole opposition leadership, including, most importantly, Capriles himself, unequivocally reject those claims [of election fraud favoring Chávez], stating that the results reflected the will of the electorate.”  Journalists and human rights watchers monitoring the electoral process praised the system while giving detailed reports about what they saw.

    1. “With its electoral façade and progressive rhetoric about helping the excluded, the soft authoritarianism that is taking hold in parts of Latin America has an attractive face.”

In sweeping statements such as this one, Weyland casts doubt on both the electoral victories and the policies of progressive and left governments in Latin America. He suggests that the people’s will is not represented in the official outcomes of national elections, and even if left-wing politicians seem popular that is because they trick and/or intimidate citizens and do not deliver on promises to the poor and other disenfranchised sectors of society.

Actually, these are not elections whose legitimacy is seriously questioned by any but those on the extreme right. And the implication that progressive and left governments are limiting their policies to “progressive rhetoric,” is absurd. The overall trend in the countries that have elected progressive and left leaders has been the enactment of policy alternatives to neoliberalism, and their effect has been large reductions in income inequality, a reduction in poverty, and provision of health care, education and important services to many people who previously could not access them. These policies have included reforming and regulating the financial sector in Ecuador, investing oil profits into social missions in Venezuela, and successfully managing a large financial crisis and debt default in Argentina — resulting in only one quarter of negative economic growth followed by nine years of some of the highest growth in the region.

Weyland’s reference to an “electoral façade” betrays the central goal of the NED: what sociologist William Robinson refers to as “promoting polyarchy.”  As opposed to experiments in direct democracy occurring on various levels in countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia, the NED ultimately promotes only representative forms of democracy, or polyarchy. In Robinson’s definition, this is “a system in which a small group actually rules, and mass participation in decision-making is confined to choosing leaders in elections that are carefully managed by competing elites.” In Venezuela, Chávez’s Bolivarian project did away with a polyarchic system, and across much of the continent NED-backed parties and candidates have failed in election after election. When Washington’s candidates don’t win, often the elections are depicted as illegitimate and sometimes the electoral process is attacked – as seen with the most recent Venezuelan election, or with the U.S.’ interference, via the OAS, in Haiti’s last presidential election.

    1. “As soon as [Chávez] was elected president of Venezuela, he set about revamping the country’s institutional framework. First, he called a constituent assembly.”

Weyland’s claims here come after stating that “graver and more sustained danger is coming from the leftist variant” of populism than the rightist version, but is the Venezuelan constituent assembly really evidence of anti-democratic tendencies? No again. Calling for a constituent assembly was exactly what Venezuelans elected Chávez to do. Ending the ossified political arrangement known as “Punto Fijo” – in which political parties routinely alternated in and out of power – and calling a constituent assembly were key campaign promises he made ahead of the 1998 elections. Chávez was fulfilling his campaign promises– a much more infrequent phenomenon in the U.S.

    1. “[Ecuadorean president Rafael] Correa also seized on a 2010 police rebellion—painted by him as a coup attempt—as a pretext for cracking down on independent social and political forces.”

Many observers both in and outside of Ecuador characterize the events of September 30, 2010 as an attempted coup d’état: after assaulting him with tear gas, rebelling police officers later held the president hostage in the hospital where he was being treated. The coup attempt was condemned as such by presidents and representatives of UNASUR, foreign dignitaries such as the president of Spain, and the OAS. Weyland and The Journal of Democracy may be taking the U.S. government’s line, one of the few countries that declined to recognize the events as a coup attempt, even though then-Secretary of State Clinton did issue a statement in expressing “our full support for President Rafael Correa.”

    1. “Bypassing or subjugating intermediate institutions such as firmly organized parties, the leader—often a charismatic figure—establishes face-to-face contact with large number of citizens. In earlier decades, mass rallies were crucial; now-a-days, television allows populists to reach their followers ‘in person.’ Chávez hosted a regular Sunday talk show.”

Calling for respect of “firmly organized parties” in Venezuela in the context of Chávez’s rise in politics obscures that one of the central political problems in Venezuela during the 90s was deep distrust in the main political parties and their “Punto Fijo” arrangement, which Robinson describes as a polyarchic system.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that President Obama has a weekly address on YouTube, and yet he is not derided as an illegitimate president because of his use of social media. Presidents and major politicians all over the world have Twitter and Facebook accounts that they use to communicate with constituents, and many even make appearances on talk shows. Is such “face-to-face contact” somehow nefarious?

    1. “In Bolivia, the Morales government shut the opposition out of decisive stages of the constitution drafting process.”

Weyland is again telling only half the story, which in this case is worse than none. The truth is that opposition legislators boycotted stages of the constitution drafting process because they disagreed with the direction in which things were going. Bolivia had elected its first indigenous president, with massive support from the country’s social movements, and he was facilitating a transformation of society to one in which a racial minority and tiny elite did not wield power over the majority of Bolivians. Evo Morales’s election drew comparisons to the symbolic end of apartheid in South Africa with the election of Nelson Mandela, and the new constitution was compared to the Freedom Charter.

It is not surprising that extreme elements in the opposition boycotted the process of installing a new constitution that cemented the rights of the indigenous majority, and it is misleading to describe these events as a “populist” power-grab.

This has been a brief review of some major claims that Weyland uses in arguing his point, namely that “democracy in the region is facing a sustained, coordinated authoritarian threat” from the progressive and left governments in Latin America. I have detailed not only mischaracterizations and significant omissions, but also argued for more independence in the practice of journalism. One of the responsibilities of a well-functioning press is to clearly indicate when articles are reused from sources funded mostly by the U.S. government.

[1] Ignatius, David. “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups.” The Washington Post. Sep 22, 1991: C1. Print.

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia must close NED, other US fronts for money laundering

Next to exit Russia should be the National Endowment for Democracy

By Veronika Krasheninnikova | RT | October 1, 2012

Russia’s decision to shut down the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Moscow, starting October 1st, was immediately followed by Washington’s “pledge to maneuver around the Kremlin,” according to a New York Times report.

Indeed, State Department Press Secretary Victoria Nuland assured: “We will continue to be vigilant in supporting democracy, human rights, civil society in Russia. We’ll just do it another way.” Other US officials named possible avenues for such maneuvering: The National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and others.

Let’s take a closer look at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an umbrella organization that includes the two aforementioned institutes. It came to existence in quite a peculiar a way: US Code Title 22, ‘Foreign Relations and Intercourse,’ section 4411, ‘Findings,’ states, “The Congress finds that there has been established in the District of Columbia a private, nonprofit corporation known as the National Endowment for Democracy which is not an agency or establishment of the United States Government.”

How exactly did this happen, that Congress found this agency suddenly established?

The Reagan administration, after coming to power in 1981, was looking for a civilian cover for conducting subversive operations in the USSR after a vast plot involving the CIA funding of public organizations was uncovered by investigative journalists. As President of NED Carl Gershman stated in 1986, “We should not have to do this kind of work covertly. It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.” (The New York Times, June 1, 1986.)

One of NED’s architects was Walter Raymond, Jr. According to the Washington Post, “From 1970 to 1982, he worked for the CIA, becoming an authority on overseas media operations.” In 1982, Raymond transferred to the National Security Council as Senior Director of International Communications and Information. In Gershman’s doublespeak, that reads as: “He was the democracy person at the White House, and his job, among other things, was to help the NED family take its first steps.” (Carl Gershman’s tribute to Walt Raymond, April 24, 2003, http://www.ned.org)

This new ‘private’ corporation was concocted in other ‘private’ circles as well. The establishment of NED was recommended by the Democracy Program, a project of the American Political Foundation that consisted of a “broad cross-section of participants in American politics and foreign policy making.” The seed funding for the Democracy Program came from, naturally, USAID.

NED has been funded by the US Congress ever since, initially through the US Information Agency. After 1999, NED got its funds through the Department of State’s Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act. In 2011, the NED budget totaled $118 million, and $104 million this year. Just like any other government agency, NED directs its annual reports to the president and Congress. And one of NED’s founding fathers, Allen Weinstein, even confessed to the Washington Post in 1991 that, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Who is running NED? Carl Gershman has held this position for almost thirty years, since 1984. What better shows to show Washington’s continuity, where “people is policy.”

NED is supervised at the State Department by an Assistant Secretary in charge of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Barry F. Lowenkron held this position and oversaw NED from 2005 to 2007. According to his official biography, prior to this appointment Mr. Lowenkron served in the intelligence community, including two tours as Director of European Security Affairs on the National Security Council (1988-89, 1991-93 – both critical times in Russia); Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence; Director of the National Intelligence Council’s Analytic Staff; Civilian Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and other similar positions,

Michael Posner currently supervises NED at the State Department. Previously, Mr. Posner was president of Human Rights First, whose stated mission is to “advance universal rights and freedoms.” Every year, Human Rights First presents their ‘Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders’ award. In 2008, Posner gave this award to a coordinator of Oborona, a leading Russian movement in the effort to foment a color revolution and oust Vladimir Putin.

NED is so clearly part of the US government that legislators had to pass a specific law stating that it was not. ‘Private’ organizations like NED are nothing but funding channels for activities that used to be run by the CIA under the title of ‘subversion.’ The fact that Washington is planning to redirect USAID funding through ‘private’ organizations reflects an outrageous level of disrespect for the decision of the Russian government.

Russia needs to enforce its decision and shut operations of NED and its all four mandated grantees, namely the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS). The process of concealing an institution’s income or funding is called money laundering, and is forbidden by international law.

October 1, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Russia must close NED, other US fronts for money laundering