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Guaido Set to Enact Uprising Rooted in US Regime-Change Operations Manual

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 30, 2019

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed “interim president of Venezuela” who is supported by the United States government, recently announced coming “tactical actions” that will be taken by his supporters starting April 6 as part of “Operation Freedom,” an alleged grassroots effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

That operation, according to Guaidó, will be led by “Freedom and Aid Committees” that in turn create “freedom cells” throughout the country — “cells” that will spring to action when Guaidó gives the signal on April 6 and launch large-scale community protests. Guaidó’s stated plan involves the Venezuelan military then taking his side, but his insistence that “all options are still on the table” (i.e., foreign military intervention) reveals his impatience with the military, which has continued to stay loyal to Maduro throughout Guaidó’s “interim presidency.”

However, a document released by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in February, and highlighted last month in a report by Devex, details the creation of networks of small teams, or cells, that would operate in a way very similar to what Guaidó describes in his plan for “Operation Freedom.”

Given that Guaidó was trained by a group funded by USAID’s sister organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — and is known to take his marching orders from Washington, including his self-proclamation as “interim president” and his return to Venezuela following the “humanitarian aid” showdown — it is worth considering that this USAID document may well serve as a roadmap to the upcoming and Guaidó-led “tactical actions” that will comprise “Operation Freedom.”

RED Teams

Titled “Rapid Expeditionary Development (RED) Teams: Demand and Feasibility Assessment,” the 75-page document was produced for the U.S. Global Development Lab, a branch of USAID. It was written as part of an effort to the “widespread sentiment” among the many military, intelligence, and development officials the report’s authors interviewed “that the USG [U.S. government] is woefully underperforming in non-permissive and denied environments,” including Venezuela. Notably, some of the military, intelligence and development officials interviewed by the report’s authors had experience working in a covert capacity in Venezuela.

The approach put forth in this report involves the creation of rapid expeditionary development (RED) teams, who would “be deployed as two-person teams and placed with ‘non-traditional’ USAID partners executing a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations in extremis conditions.” The report notes later on that these “non-traditional” partners are U.S. Special Forces (SF) and the CIA.

The report goes on to state that “RED Team members would be catalytic actors, performing development activities alongside local communities while coordinating with interagency partners.” It further states that “[i]t is envisioned that the priority competency of proposed RED Team development officers would be social movement theory (SMT)” and that “RED Team members would be ‘super enablers,’ observing situations on the ground and responding immediately by designing, funding, and implementing small-scale activities.”

In other words, these teams of combined intelligence, military and/or “democracy promoting” personnel would work as “super enablers” of “small-scale activities” focused on “social movement theory” and community mobilizations, such as the mobilizations of protests.

The decentralized nature of RED teams and their focus on engineering “social movements” and “mobilizations” is very similar to Guaidó’s plan for “Operation Freedom.” Operation Freedom is set to begin through “Freedom and Aid committees” that cultivate decentralized “freedom cells” throughout the country and that create mass mobilizations when Guaidó gives the go ahead on April 6. The ultimate goal of Operation Freedom is to have those “freedom cell”-generated protests converge on Venezuela’s presidential palace, where Nicolás Maduro resides. Given Guaidó’s lack of momentum and popularity within Venezuela, it seems highly likely that U.S. government “catalytic actors” may be a key part of his upcoming plan to topple Maduro in little over a week.

Furthermore, an appendix included in the report states that RED Team members, in addition to being trained in social movement theory and community mobilization techniques, would also be trained in “weapons handling and use,” suggesting that their role as “catalytic actors” could also involve Maidan-esque behavior. This is a distinct possibility raised by the report’s claim that RED Team members be trained in the use of both “offensive” and “defensive” weaponry.

In addition, another appendix states that RED Team members would help “identify allies and mobilize small amounts of cash to establish community buy-in/relationship” —  i.e., bribes — and would particularly benefit the CIA by offering a way to “transition covert action into community engagement activities.”

Feeling Bolsonaro’s breath on its neck

Also raising the specter of a Venezuela link is the fact that the document suggests Brazil as a potential location for a RED Team pilot study. Several of those interviewed for the report asserted that “South American countries were ripe for pilots” of the RED Team program, adding that “These [countries were] under-reported, low-profile, idiot-proof locations, where USG civilian access is fairly unrestrained by DS [Diplomatic Security] and where there is a positive American relationship with the host government.”

This January, Brazil inaugurated Jair Bolsonaro as president, a fascist who has made his intention to align the country close to Washington’s interests no secret. During Bolsonaro’s recent visit to Washington, he became the first president of that country to visit CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. President Donald Trump said during his meeting with Bolsonaro that “We have a great alliance with Brazil — better than we’ve ever had before” and spoke in favor of Brazil joining NATO.

Though Bolsonaro’s government has claimed late in February that it would not allow the U.S. to launch a military intervention from its territory, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro — an adviser to his father and a Brazilian congressman — said last week that “use of force will be necessary” in Venezuela “at some point” and, echoing the Trump administration, added that “all options are on the table.” If Bolsonaro’s government does allow the “use of force,” but not a full-blown foreign military intervention per se, its closeness to the Trump administration and the CIA suggests that covert actions, such as those carried out by the proposed RED Teams, are a distinct possibility.

Frontier Design Group

The RED Team report was authored by members of Frontier Design Group (FDG) for USAID’s Global Development Lab. FDG is a national security contractor and its mission statement on its website is quite revealing:

Since our founding, Frontier has focused on the challenges and opportunities that concern the “3Ds” of Defense, Development and Diplomacy and critical intersections with the intelligence community. Our work has focused on the wicked and sometimes overlapping problem sets of fragility, violent extremism, terrorism, civil war, and insurgency. Our work on these complex issues has included projects with the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, USAID, the National Counterterrorism Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace.”

FDG also states on is website that it also regularly does work for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Omidyar Group — which is controlled by Pierre Omidyar, a billionaire with deep ties to the U.S. national security establishment that were the subject of a recent MintPress series. According to journalist Tim Shorrock, who mentions the document in a recent investigation focusing on Pierre Omidyar for Washington Babylon, FDG was the “sole contractor” hired by USAID to create a “new counterinsurgency doctrine for the Trump administration” and the fruit of that effort is the “RED Team” document described above.

One of the co-authors of the document is Alexa Courtney, FDG founder and former USAID liaison officer with the Department of Defense; former manager of civilian counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan for USAID; and former counterinsurgency specialist for U.S. intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

In addition, according to Shorrock, Courtney’s name has also been found “on several Caerus [Associates] contracts with USAID and US intelligence that were leaked to me on a thumb drive, including a $77 million USAID project to track ‘licit and illicit networks’ in Honduras.” Courtney, according to her LinkedIn account, was also recently honored by Chevron Corporation for her “demonstrated leadership and impact on development results.” MintPress recently reported on the role of Chevron in the current U.S.-led effort to topple Maduro and replace him with Guaidó.

Send in the USAID

Though Devex was told last month that USAID was “still working on the details in formulating the Rapid Expeditionary Development (RED) Teams initiative,” Courtney stated that the report’s contents had been “received really favorably” by “very senior” and “influential” former and current government officials she had interviewed during the creation of the document.

For instance, one respondent asserted that the RED Team system would “restore the long-lost doing capacity of USAID.” Another USAID official with 15 years of experience, including in “extremely denied environments,” stated that:

We have to be involved in national security or USAID will not be relevant. Anybody who doesn’t think we need to be working in combat elements or working with SF [special forces] groups is just naïve. We are either going to be up front or irrelevant … USAID is going through a lot right now, but this is an area where we can be of utility. It must happen.”

Given that the document represents the efforts of the sole contractor tasked with developing the current administration’s new counterterrorism strategy, there is plenty of reason to believe that its contents — published for over a year — have been or are set to be put to use in Venezuela, potentially as part of the upcoming “Operation Freedom,” set to begin on April 6.

This is supported by the troubling correlation between a document produced by the NED-funded group CANVAS and the recent power outages that have taken place throughout Venezuela, which were described as U.S.-led “sabotage” by the country’s government. A recent report by The Grayzone detailed how a September 2010 memo by CANVAS — which trained Juan Guaidó — described in detail how the potential collapse of the country’s electrical infrastructure, like that recently seen in Venezuela, would be “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

The document specifically named the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri Dam, which failed earlier this month as a result of what the Venezuelan government asserted was “sabotage” conducted by the U.S. government. That claim was bolstered by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s apparent foreknowledge of the power outage. Thus, there is a precedent of correlation between these types of documents and actions that occur in relation to the current U.S. regime-change effort in Venezuela.

Furthermore, it would make sense for the Trump administration to attempt to enact such an initiative as that described in the document, given its apparent inability to launch a military intervention in Venezuela, despite its frequent claims that “all options are on the table.” Indeed, U.S. allies — including those close to Venezuela, like Colombia — have rejected military intervention, given the U.S.’ past role in bloody coups and civil wars throughout the region.

Thus, with its hands tied when it comes to military intervention, only covert actions — such as those described in the RED Team document — are likely to be enacted by the U.S. government, at least at this stage of its ongoing “regime change” effort in Venezuela.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meet Pierre Omidyar, billionaire patron of US regime change operations, neocons & activist media

Pierre Omidyar speaks at a ‘Technology For Citizen Empowerment and Human Rights’ panel at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, September 23, 2010 © AFP / Brian Harkin
RT | February 22, 2019

Amid the US push for regime change in Venezuela, RT speaks with investigative journalists who looked into the eBay founder and self-described “progressive” billionaire Pierre Omidyar, a major patron of regime-change operations.

An ongoing series in MintPress News, written by Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal, is a rare look into the projects undertaken by the “progressive philanthropreneur,” who has been praised by the liberal interventionist establishment for following in the footsteps of George Soros but attracts far less media attention.

“Part of the reason for doing this investigation was to inspire more scrutiny of Pierre Omidyar,” Rubinstein told RT. “There are mountains of newsworthy bits of information about many of the organizations he funds, but the sad reality is that it would require a team of at least half a dozen journalists working overtime to fully make sense of it all.”

Detail of a chart showing the connections between Pierre Omidyar and various media outlets, foundations, activists and outfits. ©  MintPress News

The second part in Blumenthal and Rubinstein’s series, published Wednesday, took a particular interest in Omidyar’s ties to organizations promoting “regime change.” In Ukraine, it was a TV station (Hromadske) that backed what turned into a violent 2014 coup against the government in Kiev. In Zimbabwe, Omidyar money funded a “cultural activist network” that campaigned for the ouster of President Robert Mugabe in 2017. And in the Philippines Omidyar is backing The Rappler, a news site opposed to President Rodrigo Duterte that is developing surveillance technologies like a “mood meter” of the audience to capture – and channel? – “non-rational reactions.”

Not progressivism but power

Omidyar is not doing this on his own, either, working hand in hand with US Agency for International Aid and Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“He has the money and – for one reason or another– the desire to participate in such destabilizing policies,” Rubinstein told RT, noting that the billionaire’s embrace of such projects makes him “the perfect private partner for the US government” in seeking regime change abroad.

How does a self-described progressive find himself riding the horse of regime change? This is one of the questions Rubinstein and Blumenthal hope further research will answer. Their digging has found Omidyar’s money behind the Alliance for Securing Democracy and The Bulwark – projects led by NeverTrump neoconservative Bill Kristol that push “Russiagate” and carry the torch of interventionism.

“If partnering with the neocon think tank guru who was a main conduit for US government messaging in the lead-up to the Iraq War is ‘progressive’ then I think it’s time we retire the term,” Rubinstein told RT.

He believes that Omidyar is not driving the regime-change agenda, but going along with it in “the perfect alliance of convenience.”

“If you’re looking for a coherent ideology that permeates through each of Omidyar’s investments, it’s not progressivism: it’s power… and power lies with empire,” Rubinstein said.

More specifically, Omidyar is looking to manage all areas of modern life, from journalism and transportation to banking and finance and government administration, journalist Yasha Levine, author of ‘Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet,’ told MintPress.

To him it’s not just about running a single service, but integrating things together to give technocrats, business executives and government officials a God’s-eye view of the world – to manage and control society more efficiently.

The role of Omidyar and other billionaires – who would be called ‘oligarchs’ if they were Russian but keep being presented as ‘philanthropists’ in the West – in influencing media and politics around the world is woefully under-examined, Rubinstein and Blumenthal argue.

Controlled or ‘responsible’ opposition?

Part of the problem is that Omidyar funds a wide range of media outlets through foundations, nonprofits and other cutouts, and many journalists who consider themselves independent or progressive aspire to work at Omidyar-backed Intercept, famous for publishing (some of) the documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.

“All of the media ventures funded by Omidyar have one thing in common: their slickness,” Rubinstein said, noting that the “cutting edge design, high production values, and the esoteric portrayal of the process of reporting” all contribute to creating the image of Omidyar-backed outlets as the “responsible opposition” in contrast to outlets with a more shoestring budget.

While Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald has been sharply critical of US foreign policy and the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory, other writers at the outlet have “carried water for al-Qaeda in Syria” and pushed Russiagate, said Rubinstein.

He described as “incredibly troubling” the fact that The Intercept has rolled out only a portion of the Snowden documents, de facto making them serve the agenda of Omidyar and his First Look Media rather than be responsibly released to the public, as Snowden intended.

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer

By Joyce Nelson | CounterPunch | February 15, 2019

On February 11, Bloomberg News published an astonishing piece about the unfolding Venezuelan turmoil. It was apparently the result of a major investigative effort involving three reporters and five others providing “assistance”. You’ll notice I haven’t called it a piece of news (although that’s what it looks like), but I’m not sure what to call it. It’s a piece of something, but what?

With eight people working on it, the piece is a long one, with plenty of sources. By my count, there were 19 sources. Here are 16 of them:

1-4) “four people with knowledge of the discussions”
5) “another person”
6) “a person familiar with the thinking”
7) “a person with knowledge of the conversations”
8) “another person” (different from the previously cited “another person”)
9) “a foreign military official”
10) “a French official”
11) “another person with knowledge of the deliberations”
12) “a person with knowledge of the internal discussions”
13) “a person familiar with [Juan] Guaido’s thinking”
14) “a person familiar with the discussions”
15) “a senior Turkish official”
16) “another person” (different from the previously cited “another person” and “another person”)

A seventeenth source was Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s special representative for Venezuela. It’s not clear, however, that any of Bloomberg News’ three reporters or the five others providing “assistance” actually interviewed Abrams or were simply quoting from a previous press conference: “Speaking in Washington last week, Abrams said…”

So what was the focus of this piece? The intrepid reporters were picking up on a January 31st tweet by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, who encouraged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to retire to “a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela” while he still had time.

The Bloomberg News piece is entitled: “As Nicolas Maduro digs in, his aides hunt for an emergency escape route out of Venezuela.” It got wide exposure, including in Canada’s National Post. [1] The eight reporters and aforementioned 16 sources imply that Maduro is frantically seeking a bolthole somewhere, anywhere – Cuba? Russia? Turkey? Mexico? France? – while appearing to hang on to power.

Their quote from Abrams is this: “’I think it is better for the transition to democracy in Venezuela that he be outside the country,’ Elliott Abrams, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s special representative for Venezuela, said of Maduro. ‘And there are a number of countries that I think would be willing to accept him,’ he told reporters, citing ‘friends in places like Cuba and Russia’.”

There were two more sources cited in this piece: Andrey Kortunov, head of a Moscow research organization entitled the Russian International Affairs Council, and Russian lawmaker Andrey Klimov, deputy head of the upper house of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Both affirmed Maduro’s resilience in the midst of the turmoil, with Klimov telling Bloomberg News that Maduro “is not planning to go anywhere.”

Indeed, Klimov “dismissed talk of Maduro’s evacuation as ‘psychological warfare’ aimed at ‘sowing panic and hysteria’” in Venezuela.

In the old days, according to persons knowledgeable on the matter, psychological warfare was conducted through the CIA’s “Mighty Wurlitzer” – massive propaganda efforts utilizing mainstream media and other outlets. These days U.S. taxpayer-funded organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have taken over much of that function. As The Intercept (Jan. 30) informs us, Elliott Abrams is on the board of the NED. [2]

The Mighty Wurlitzer blares on, but under different management and branding. Has Bloomberg News become part of this effort? At this point, persons familiar with the company’s thinking about the question have yet to come forward.

Footnotes:
[1] Esteban Duarte, Eric Martin, Ilya Arkhipov (Bloomberg News ), “As Nicolas Maduro digs in, his aides hunt for an emergency escape route out of Venezuela,” National Post, February 11, 2019.
https://nationalpost.com/news/world/as-nicolas-maduro-digs-in-his-aides-hunt-for-an-emergecy-escape-route-out-of-venezuela
[2] Jon Schwartz, “Elliott Abrams, Trump’s Pick for Fixing ‘Democracy’ in Venezuela, Has Spent His Life Crushing Democracy,” The Intercept, January 30, 2019.

Joyce Nelson’s sixth book, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, can be ordered at: http://watershedsentinel.ca/banksters. She can be reached through www.joycenelson.ca.<

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Integrity Initiative: New leaks show UK-funded project sought £5.5m for Balkans influence campaign

RT | February 12, 2019

Hackers have released a sixth batch of Integrity Initiative leaks, this time focusing on how the project sought £5.5 million in funding from the British government to establish an influence campaign in the Western Balkans.

According to the leaks, Chris Donnelly, who heads the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) — the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization — used his NATO contacts and extensive background in military intelligence to try to secure the money for the program.

The Integrity Initiative (II) had been positioning itself as an “independent” anti-disinformation charity until hackers began dumping batches of internal documents last November which revealed its government funding and the fact that it was running Europe-wide anti-Russia influence campaigns using “clusters” of cooperative journalists, academics and politicians. In response to the leaks, the II wiped all content from its website and claimed that while some of the documents were “genuine,” others were “falsified” — but did not provide any proof that this was the case.

The latest leaks show that the Balkan program would be run in conjunction with global marketing and communications firm Edelman, which Donnelly said could help produce “advertising campaigns on TV promoting change,” English-language training promoting the “right messages” and even “a TV soap opera looking at the problem of corruption.”

To aid ‘Her Majesty’s Government’

In a letter to former MI6 employee Guy Spindler and good governance expert Keith Sargent — who would be a key figure in the Balkan effort — Donnelly explains how the project would need “local partners” in the WB6 countries. The partners will help find journalists “who can be allies” in their efforts and who could be brought “on trips to London, HQ NATO etc.”

Donnelly’s letter is dated October 15, but no year is given. It appears, however, that it is from 2018, based on the fact that the proposal documents for the Balkan project make reference to the year 2018 and January 2019 as the potential start date.

The letter focuses on the efforts to set up the “anti-corruption” and “good governance” influence campaign across the Western Balkans, which a separate document says would “contribute to the aims and strategy of HMG” (Her Majesty’s Government) and would shield the region from corruption “being used as a method of external influence.”

Stumbling blocks and help from the BBC

Perceptively, the document — which lays out the projected three-year costs of £5.5 million ($7.87mn) — also recognizes that the program itself could be “identified as external interference” in the domestic affairs of the Balkan countries. Another leaked document notes “Russian hostility” and “traditional Soviet ties” as potential stumbling blocks to the Western influence campaign.

One serious concern is that many Serbian organizations “promote friendly ties with Russia” and it is suggested that BBC broadcasts could help to “counter Russian fake news” in the region. The fact that Serbia, Russia and a number of other countries do not recognize Kosovo’s independence is also cited as a “major problem” for the project.

‘A Bellingcat for counter-corruption’

To achieve success Donnelly said they would need to “identify a national goal” that could be used as a “lever”— citing Macedonia’s efforts to join NATO as an example. Donnelly boasts about his efforts in Slovakia in the 1990s using MPs to teach businesses how they could lobby government “legitimately in a democracy” rather than using “their then model of cash in brown envelopes.”

Part of the so-called anti-corruption program would entail building “training courses for journalists, students and wider public activists” to help them obtain the relevant investigative tools. Such a program could be “a Bellingcat for counter corruption,” the proposal document states. Bellingcat shot to prominence as a controversial one-man investigative website, which later expanded, received money from the notorious US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and was also linked to the II.

Anti-Russia entertainment

The latest leaks also reveal contacts between IfS fellow Euan Grant and a number of journalists, academics and think tank lobbyists. Grant sent a “memorandum of cooperation” to US writer Martha Bayles after a “detailed Skype call” in July 2018. He was looking for her “input into media documentaries and fictional entertainment” to counter Russian narratives.

Governments seeking help from writers and the entertainment industry to counter Russian narratives is nothing new. The 2014 hack of Sony Pictures revealed that the US State Department enlisted Hollywood’s help with “anti-Russia messaging” for movies and TV shows. It appears from these leaks that the British government is also trying to use thinly-disguised entertainment propaganda to promote divisive anti-Russia messaging onto TV screens in politically volatile regions of Europe.

The leaks say that the II should “alert” the press, radio and TV journalists to the “relevance” of already-made entertainment like the BBC series ‘McMafia’ which focuses on a London-based corrupt Russian family.

‘Sympathy for Russia’ in Scotland

There was also contact between the IfS and Neal Stewart, an adviser to the Scottish National Party’s Westminster front bench about “considerable sympathy for Russia” in Scotland in general, but particularly within academia. The “significant Russian speaking presence in private schools and in the Universities could fuel such attitudes,” the document warns. Another leaked document also cites “academic sympathies with Russia” as an indicator of “malign influence and disinformation.”

Targeting academics and students for their ‘Russian sympathies’ brings up rather negative historical parallels, particularly with the McCarthy era in the US, during which entertainers, academics and left-leaning activists were aggressively accused of being Communist sympathizers or agents and were placed on industry blacklists.

More recently, in Britain, a group of academics were smeared on the front page of the Times for similar sympathies, based on the fact that they publicly expressed doubts over certain anti-Russia media narratives. One of the academics involved called it a“coordinated smear campaign” against anti-war journalists and activists. The authors of the Times report were later named in Integrity Initiative documents, proving the existence of collusion between the British government and pro-establishment journalists to target those who do not stick to certain narratives.

High profile names & media ties

In an II“weekly report,” Grant names University of Exeter Professor Jeremy Black and Sunday Times journalist Roland White as two people who expressed interest in collaborating with the II. Roderick Parkes of the Paris-based ISS think tank and Nigel Gould-Davies, an associate fellow at Chatham House, were also named.

The leaks also say that Deborah Haynes of Sky News (a co-author of the aforementioned Times report) and Jonathan Beale of the BBC attended a speech by Air Marshal Sir Philip Osborn on the future of intelligence and information warfare in May 2018. The speech was described in the document as “manna from heaven for the Integrity Initiative.”

Grant writes that the government-funded IfS has “particular links with the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and BBC TV and radio” but says that it needs to “strengthen” its relationship with the Mail.

Times writer and CEPA lobbyist Edward Lucas also crops up in the latest leaks and due to his “considerable interest” is named as the II’s way into getting “articles and references” in the Times. Lucas recently defended the II in an op-ed for the newspaper and argued that criticism of the project would “play into the Kremlin’s hands.”

NGOs and the ‘Australian cluster’

The documents also reveal that the II wanted to provide NGOs with manuals on Russian corruption. Among the named organizations are Transparency International, Global Witness and the World Wildlife Fund.

One of the newly leaked documents also shows just how far the II has extended its reach, referencing an”Australian cluster.” Given the issue of Russian and Chinese influence in that region, Grant writes that there is “scope for a lot of crossover with media in Europe” and Australia relating to “Russian issues.”

Presenting the new leaks, the Anonymous-linked hackers claim that the Integrity Initiative has been trying to “divert people’s attention from the organisation’s wrongful activity” since the documents were made public. The leakers bash the II’s “pathetic attempt” to cover its tracks and say all its efforts have been “shattered to pieces by irrefutable evidence” of wrongdoing that has been shared with the public.

RT sent requests for comment to the people named in the story who were linked to the Integrity Initiative in the latest leaks.

February 12, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

By Erik D’AMATO | Ron Paul Institute | January 18, 2019

If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury. With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between over-hyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation. But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable… To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would be directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

By Dan Kovalik | CounterPunch | December 7, 2018

According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

The Contras, after effectively exhausting the Nicaraguan people and extorting them into voting Ortega out of office in 1990, largely disarmed. However, as the Times wrote back in March of 2016 in a laudatory piece about the Contras’ return, this changed sometime after Ortega’s re-election in 2007. The Times piece begins as follows:

He calls himself Tyson, wears tattered United States Army fatigues and carries a beat-up AK-47.

He is a rebel fighter in the mountains of Nicaragua, setting ambushes against President Daniel Ortega’s government and longing for the days when covert American funding paid for overt warfare.

Tyson and his men are contras — yes, like the ones from the 1980s who received stealth funding during the Reagan administration to topple Mr. Ortega’s leftist Sandinista government.   . . .

The contras of today, often nicknamed “the rearmed,” are a shadow of what they once were. . . .

Still, skirmishes in rural areas around the country as recently as last week have left police officers, civilians and soldiers dead, a violent expression of the broader anger brewing against the government.

In this same article, the Times acknowledges that “Mr. Ortega enjoys strong support among the poor . . . .” And of course, this makes absolute sense given Ortega’s enlightened social policies. As the website Popular Resistance explains,

these policies have yielded the highest growth rate in Central America and annual minimum wage increases 5-7% above inflation, improving workers’ living conditions and lifting people out of poverty. The anti-poverty Borgen project reports poverty fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2014.

The FSLN-led government has put into place an economic model based on public investment and strengthening the safety net for the poor. The government invests in infrastructure, transit, maintains water and electricity within the public sector and moved privatized services, e.g., health care and primary education, into the public sector. This has ensured a stable economic structure that favors the real economy over the speculative economy. The lion’s share of infrastructure in Nicaragua has been built in the last 11 years, something comparable to the New Deal-era in the US, including renewable electricity plants across the country.

Still, according to the Times, the Contras re-emerged in response to what they viewed as Ortega’s over-consolidation of power.

Meanwhile, the Times was not the only one writing about these rearmed Contras. Indeed, over the years, there have been a number of reports about these Contras. According to a 2013 article in Insight Crime, for example, “estimates of the numbers of rearmed contras have varied from dozens to hundreds, and even thousands . . . .” This article explained that eight people had recently been killed as a result of Contra activity in northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

For his part, Tim Rogers, a viciously anti-Sandinista journalist, has been writing for years about the phenomenon of the rearmed Contras. For example, in a 2014 piece, Rogers wrote:

A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.

Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.Video

The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s.

This very sort of attack against Sandinista rank and file members was played out time and again over this past summer during the three-month-long crisis which received significant media attention. Indeed, when I was in Managua this past July for the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, I was told that, contrary to traditional practice, there would not be buses sent to Managua from other parts of the country for the celebration for fear of such attacks.

And yet, while the mainstream press covered the crisis in Nicaragua this past summer with rapt attention, and while Tim Rogers himself published a number of pieces in the mainstream press about it, there was not one whisper about the rearmed Contras, nor was there coverage of the regular assaults against Sandinista rank and file – attacks which included torture, rape and murder. Instead, we were told by the mainstream press, and by most of the “left-wing” press as well, only of peaceful protesters being attacked by an allegedly repressive Sandinista government. And, when people were killed by sniper attacks, we were told that it had to be government security forces because the opposition used only peaceful means, and, in any case, did not have the capacity to carry out such assaults.

Just as the devil was able to do about his own existence, the greatest feat accomplished in this instance was to convince the public that the rearmed Contras did not exist. Of course, this is not a difficult task given that most Americans’ historical memory is about 24 hours.

What is most deeply disappointing and frustrating, however, is that most of the American left, which presumably should know better, has also fallen for this devil’s trick, and has quickly leapt to join in the right-wing chorus calling for the removal of Ortega and the Sandinistas from office. This despite the fact that, as journalist Max Blumenthal explained, there is clear evidence that the US itself has been behind the violent push to unseat Ortega. As Blumenthal related, on May 1, 2018, a publication funded by the Cold War-era National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “bluntly asserted that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’” which took place over the summer. And, the US AID just announced that it will continue this work by sending another $4 million to support opposition civil society groups in Nicaragua.

What’s more, as far back as 2012, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen was not only writing about the rearmed Contras but also about the US and Israeli support for them. While Madsen can sometimes be prone to conspiracy theories which do not always pan out, his claims back then about this particular subject seem spot on and indeed quite prescient.

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders. He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government. In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

And, just last week, in a further attempt to unseat Ortega, the US Senate finally passed the NICA Act which will cut Nicaragua off from all international financing – financing which the Ortega government has been using to effectively combat poverty in Nicaragua. The NICA Act has been in the works for some time, and Nicaraguan opposition forces, including the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), have openly been lobbying for this. This, however, has not stopped most of the left in the US, who obviously have not been impressed with Ortega’s successful social programs and his real support for the poor, from cheerleading and romanticizing these very same opposition forces.

The result of the NICA Act sanctions will be massive suffering for the poor of Nicaragua who support Ortega the most. These sanctions will be particularly painful after the crisis this past summer in which the opposition managed to trash the economy along with substantial civilian infrastructure (just as the Contras had done in the 1980s). And, should Ortega be unseated as a result of all this, it will most certainly be the violent and most right-wing portion of the opposition which will take power, for it is they who have the resolve and the means to do so.

But, guided by the new religion of “humanitarian interventionism,” the pro-imperialist left of the US is indifferent to the consequences of their support, whether explicit or tacit, of Western imperial aggression.  Just as many on the US left cheered on the NATO invasion of Libya – an invasion which inevitably left that country broken and with slaves being sold openly on the streets – they now applaud the counterrevolution taking place in Nicaragua. This shows once again that the US left has a very high tolerance for the suffering of Third World peoples so long as they feel that this suffering is endured for the sake of their own abstract notions of human rights.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also author of the newly-released, The Plot to Control the World:  How the US has Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook teams up with US government to police ‘fake news’ in foreign elections

RT | September 24, 2018

Facebook has teamed up with two US government-funded think tanks as part of a new initiative to bolster the social media giant’s “election integrity efforts” around the globe.

The new partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) was revealed by Facebook in a call with reporters last week and reported by Reuters — but the company’s choice of partners has since raised a few eyebrows. Both think-tanks are funded by the US government, through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Tweeting about the initiative, Mark Weisbrot, a co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, called Facebook’s decision to work with the US government-funded organizations “Orwellian” and said that they “specialize in overseas propaganda.” Weisbrot also criticized Reuters reporting of the news which focused on Facebook’s supposed fake-news busting efforts and seemed lacking in “any awareness” of who the two groups were.

During the telephone Q&A with reporters focusing on the upcoming elections in the US and Brazil, Facebook’s Elections and Civic Engagement Samidh Chakrabarti, said that “preventing election interference” on the platform has been “one of the biggest cross-team efforts” the company has seen. But is teaming up with government-funded think tanks really the best way to prevent election interference on Facebook?

Asked by CNBC reporter Salvador Rodriguez to elaborate on the partnership, Katie Harbath, who heads up Facebook’s Global Politics and Government Outreach team, said she wanted to be clear that Facebook’s work with the IRI and NDI is only focused “internationally” and that it has nothing to do with domestic elections in the US. Harbath said the two organizations have “a lot of experience in working in elections and in many countries around the globe” and that Facebook can learn from them about “election integrity risks” that exist in other countries.

That knowledge might prompt a sign of relief from American journalists, but given the US government holds a very real stake in the outcome of many other elections worldwide, it still seems a little odd that Facebook should be using US government-funded organizations to help it decide what constitutes fake news in foreign elections, or to “slow the global spread of misinformation” as Reuters put it.

It’s not the first time Facebook has chosen a dubious partner to help it out in its fight against fake news, either. The social media giant also entered a similar partnership with the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by the US and other NATO governments, as well as by a slew of US weapons manufacturers.

Shortly after its partnership with the Atlantic Council was revealed, Facebook temporarily deleted the English-language page of the Venezuela-based news outlet Telesur without explanation. Telesur is one of the only English-language media sources providing an alternative view on events in Venezuela.

Facebook has also been criticized for capitulating to demands and threats made by the Israeli government by deleting the accounts of a number of accounts run by Palestinian activists.

Nonetheless, Facebook has said it is setting up a “war room” ahead of major elections in Brazil next month. The war-like rhetoric echoes a Washington Post op-ed by Facbook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month, in which he said Facebook was in an “arms race” against “bad actors” and that the platform needed to improve its “defenses”.

Amy Studdart, a senior advisor at the IRI, told Reuters that the details of its partnership with Facebook had not been fully worked out, but said the organization would help Facebook employees “understand how their platform is being used on the ground all around the world.”

The NED and its affiliates have been criticized as engines of “regime change” around the world, and one of its founders famously noted in 1991 that “a lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.”

September 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US: The Century of Lost Wars

By James Petras | Global Research | September 12, 2018

Introduction

Despite having the biggest military budget in the world, five times larger than the next six countries, the largest number of military bases – over 180 – in the world and the most expensive military industrial complex, the US has failed to win a single war in the 21st century.

In this paper we will enumerate the wars and proceed to analyze why, despite the powerful material basis for wars, it has led to failures.

The Lost Wars

The US has been engaged in multiple wars and coups since the beginning of the 21st century. These include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Venezuela and the Ukraine. Besides Washington’s secret intelligence agencies have financed five surrogate terrorist groups in Pakistan, China, Russia, Serbia and Nicaragua.

The US has invaded countries, declared victories and subsequently faced resistance and prolonged warfare which required a large US military presence to merely protect garrison outposts.

The US has suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties – dead, maimed and deranged soldiers. The more the Pentagon spends, the greater the losses and subsequent retreats.

The more numerous the vassal regimes, the greater the corruption and incompetence flourishes.

Every regime subject to US tutelage has failed to accomplish the objectives designed by its US military advisers.

The more spent on recruiting mercenary armies the greater the rate of defection and the transfer of arms to US adversaries.

Success in Starting Wars and Failures in Finishing Them

The US invaded Afghanistan, captured the capital (Kabul) defeated the standing army … and then spent the next two decades engaged in losing irregular warfare.

The initial victories laid the groundwork for future defeats. Bombings drove millions of peasants and farmers, shopkeepers and artisans into the local militia. The invaders were defeated by the forces of nationalism and religion linked to families and communities. The indigenous insurgents overcame arms and dollars in many of the villages, towns and provinces.

Similar outcomes were repeated in Iraq and Libya. The US invaded, defeated the standing armies, occupied the capital and imposed its clients—- which set the terrain for long-term, large-scale warfare by local insurgent armies.

The more frequent the western bombings, the greater the opposition forcing the retreat of the proxy army.

Somalia has been bombed frequently. Special Forces have recruited, trained, and armed the local puppet soldiers, sustained by mercenary African armies but they have remained holed up in the capital city, Mogadishu, surrounded and attacked by poorly armed but highly motivated and disciplined Islamic insurgents.

Syria is targeted by a US financed and armed mercenary army. In the beginning they advanced, uprooted millions, destroyed cities and homes and seized territory. All of which impressed their US – EU warlords. Once the Syrian army united the populace, with their Russian, Lebanese (Hezbollah) and Iranian allies, Damascus routed the mercenaries.

After the better part of a decade the separatist Kurds, alongside the Islamic terrorists and other western surrogates retreated, and made a last stand along the northern borders–the remaining bastions of Western surrogates.

The Ukraine coup of 2014 was financed and directed by the US and EU. They seized the capital (Kiev) but failed to conquer the Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Corruption among the US ruling kleptocrats devastated the country – over three million fled abroad to Poland, Russia and elsewhere in search of a livelihood. The war continues, the corrupt US clients are discredited and will suffer electoral defeat unless they rig the vote.

Surrogate uprisings in Venezuela and Nicaragua were bankrolled by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). They ruined economies but lost the street wars.

Conclusion

Wars are not won by arms alone. In fact, heavy bombing and extended military occupations ensure prolonged popular resistance, ultimate retreats and defeats.

The US major and minor wars of the 21st century have failed to incorporate targeted countries into the empire.

Imperial occupations are not military victories. They merely change the nature of the war, the protagonists of resistance, the scope and depth of the national struggle.

The US has been successful in defeating standing armies as was the case in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Ukraine. However, the conquest was limited in time and space. New armed resistance movements led by former officers, religious activists and grass roots activists took charge…

The imperial wars slaughtered millions, savaged traditional family, workplace and neighborhood relations and set in motion a new constellation of anti-imperialist leaders and militia fighters.

The imperial forces beheaded established leaders and decimated their followers. They raided and pillaged ancient treasures. The resistance followed by recruiting thousands of uprooted volunteers who served as human bombs, challenging missiles and drones.

The US imperial forces lack the ties to the occupied land and people. They are ‘aliens’ serving time; they seek to survive, secure promotions and exit with a bonus and an honorable discharge.

In contrast, the resistance fighters are there for the duration. As they advance, they target and demolish the imperial surrogates and mercenaries. They expose the corrupt client rulers who deny the subject people the elementary conditions of existence – employment, potable water, electricity etc.

The imperial vassals are not present at weddings, sacred holidays or funerals, unlike the resistance fighters. The presence of the latter signals a pledge of loyalty unto death. The resistance circulates freely in cities, towns and villages with the protection of the local people; and by night they rule enemy terrain, under cover of their own people, who share intelligence and logistics.

Inspiration, solidarity and light arms are more than a match for the drones, missiles and helicopter gunships.

Even the mercenary soldiers, trained by the Special Forces, defect from and betray their imperial masters. Temporary imperial advances serve only to allow the resistance forces to regroup and counter-attack. They view surrender as a betrayal of their traditional way of life, submission to the boot of western occupation forces and their corrupt officials.

Afghanistan is a prime example of an imperial ‘lost war’. After two decades of warfare and one trillion dollars in military spending, tens of thousands of casualties, the Taliban controls most of the countryside and towns; enters and takes over provincial capitals and bombs Kabul. They will take full control the day after the US departs.

The US military defeats are products of a fatal flaw: imperial planners cannot successfully replace indigenous people with colonial rulers and their local look-alikes.

Wars are not won by high tech weapons directed by absentee officials divorced from the people: they do not share their sense of peace and justice.

Exploited people informed by a spirit of communal resistance and self-sacrifice have demonstrated greater cohesion than rotating soldiers eager to return home and mercenary soldiers with dollar signs in their eyes.

The lessons of lost wars have not been learned by those who preach the power of the military–industrial complex, which makes, sells and profits from weapons but lack the mass of humanity with lesser arms but with great conviction who have demonstrated their capacity to defeat imperial armies.

The Stars and Stripes fly in Washington but remain folded in Embassy offices in Kabul, Tripoli, Damascus and in other lost battlegrounds.

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How NATO-linked Think Tanks Control EU Refugee Policy

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 27.04.2016

A flood of uncontrolled war refugees from Syria, Libya, Tunisia and other Islamic countries destabilized by Washington’s ‘Arab Spring’ Color Revolutions, has created the greatest social dislocation across the EU from Germany to Sweden to Croatia since the end of World War II. By now it has become clear to most that something quite sinister is afoot, something which threatens to destroy the social fabric of the very core of European civilization. What few realize is that the entire drama is being orchestrated, not by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or by faceless EU bureaucrats of the Brussels EU Commission. It is being orchestrated by a cabal of NATO-linked think tanks.

Last October 8, 2015 amid the great stream of hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into Germany from Syria, Tunisia, Libya and other lands, a newly self-confident German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed on a popular German TV program, “I have a plan.” She took the occasion to take a sharp dig at coalition partner, Bavarian CSU head, Horst Seehofer, a stauch critic of Merkel’s open arms refugee position since spring 2015 that saw more than one million refugees enter Germany last year alone.

Since that point, with iron-hard resolve, the German Chancellor has defended the criminal Erdogan regime in Turkey, an essential partner in her “plan.”

Most of the world has looked on with astonishment as she ignored principles of free speech and decided to prosecute publicly a well-known German TV comedian, Jan Böhmermann, for his satirical remarks about the Turkish President. They were astonished as the symbol of European democracy, the German Chancellor, chose to ignore Erdogan’s imprisonment of opposition journalists and his shutting of Turk opposition media as he proceeded with plans to establish a de facto dictatorship rule within Turkey. They were puzzled as Berlin’s government chose to ignore overwhelming proof that Erdogan and his family were materially aiding and abetting ISIS terrorists within Syria who were in fact creating the war refugee crisis. They were astonished to see her push through an EU commitment to give Erdogan’s regime billions of euros to supposedly deal with the refugee flow from Turkish refugee camps across the border into EU neighbor land, Greece and beyond.

The Merkel Plan

All of those seemingly inexplicable actions from the once-pragmatic German leader appear to go back to her embrace of a 14-page document prepared by a network of pro-NATO think-tanks, brazenly titled “The Merkel Plan.”

What the newly-self-confident German Chancellor did not tell her hostess, Anne Will, or her viewers was that “her” plan was given to her just four days earlier, on October 4, in a document already titled The Merkel Plan, by a newly-created and obviously well-financed international think-tank called the European Stability Initiative or ESI. The ESI website showed that it had offices in Berlin, Brussels and in Istanbul, Turkey

Suspiciously, the authors of the ESI plan titled their plan as if it had come from the German Chancellor’s office and not from them. More suspicious is the contents of The Merkel Plan of ESI. In addition to already taking more than one million refugees in 2015, Germany should “agree to grant asylum to 500,000 Syrian refugees registered in Turkey over the coming 12 months.” In addition, “Germany should accept claims from Turkey… and provide safe transport to successful applicants… already registered with the Turkish authorities…” And finally, “Germany should agree to help Turkey obtain visa-free travel in 2016.”

That so-called Merkel Plan was a product of US and NATO-linked think tanks and of governments of NATO member countries or prospective members. The maxim “follow the money trail” is instructive in this case to see who really runs the EU today.

The ESI

The ESI came out of NATO-led efforts to transform South East Europe following the US-instigated war in Yugoslavia during the 1990’s that resulted in the Balkanization of the country and establishment of a major USA and NATO airbase, Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo.

Current ESI Chairman directly responsible for the final Merkel Plan document is Istanbul-based Austrian sociologist, Gerald Knaus. Knaus is also a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and an Open Society Fellow.

Founded in London in 2007, the ECFR is an imitation of the influential New York Council on Foreign Relations, the think-tank created by the Rockefeller and JP Morgan bankers during the 1919 Versailles peace talks to coordinate an Anglo-American global foreign policy. Significantly, the creator and moneybags for the ECFR is American multi-billionaire and Color Revolution funder, George Soros. In virtually every US State Department-backed Color Revolution since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including in Serbia in 2000, in Ukraine, in Georgia, in China, in Brazil and in Russia, George Soros and offshoots of his Open Society Foundations have been in the shadows financing “democracy” NGOs and activists to install pro-Washington and pro-NATO regimes.

The select members, called Council Members or associates, of the London-based ECFR include ECFR co-chairman Joschka Fischer, former German Green Party Foreign Minister who arm-twisted his party into backing Bill Clinton’s illegal 1999 bombing of Serbia without UN Security Council backing.

Other members of the Council of Soros’ European Council on Foreign Relations think tank include former NATO Secretary General, Xavier Solana. It includes disgraced plaigarist and former German Defense Minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg; Annette Heuser, Executive Director Bertelsmann Stiftung in Washington DC; Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference; Cem Özdemir, chairman, Bündnis90/Die Grünen; Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, German Liberal Party (FDP) MP; Michael Stürmer, Chief Correspondent, Die Welt; Andre Wilkens, Director of Mercator Foundation; pederasty defender, Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the European Parliament. Cohn-Bendit, known as “Danny the Red” during the May, 1968 French student riots, was a member of the the autonomist group Revolutionärer Kampf (Revolutionary Struggle) in Rüsselsheim, Germany along with his close ally, now ECFR chairman, Joschka Fischer. The two went on to found the “realo” wing of the German Greens.

The Open Society Foundations is the network of tax-exempt “democracy-promoting” foundations created by George Soros on the collapse of the Soviet Union to promote “free market” pro-IMF market liberalization of former communist economies that opened the doors for the systematic plundering of invaluable mining and energy assets of those countries. Soros was a major financier of the liberal economic team of Boris Yeltsin including Harvard “Shock Therapy” economist, Jeffrey Sachs, and Yeltsin liberal adviser, Yegor Gaidar.

Already it becomes clear that the “Merkel Plan” is the Soros Plan in fact. But there is more if we wish to understand the darker agenda behind the plan.

The ESI Funders

The European Stability Initiative think-tank of Soros-tied Gerald Knaus is financed by an impressive list of donors. Their website lists them.

The list includes, in addition to Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Soros-tied German Stiftung Mercator, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. ESI funders also include European Commission. Then, curiously enough the funder list for The Merkel Plan includes an organization with the Orwellian name, The United States Institute of Peace.

Some research reveals that the United States Institute of Peace has anything but a peace-loving background. The United States Institute of Peace is chaired by Stephen Hadley, former US National Security Council adviser during the neo-conservative war-waging Bush-Cheney administration. Its Board of Directors includes Ashton B. Carter, current Obama Administration neo-conservative hawkish Secretary of Defense; Secretary of State John Kerry; Major General Frederick M. Padilla, President of the US National Defense University. These are some very seasoned architects of the US Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance strategy for world military domination.

The “Merkel Plan” authors at the European Stability Initative, in addition to the largesse of George Soros’ foundations, list as “core” funder, the German Marshall Fund of the United States. As I describe in my book, The Think Tanks, the German Marshall Fund is anything but German. With its seat in Washington, as I noted in the book, “It’s an American think tank with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. In point of fact, its agenda is the deconstruction of postwar Germany and more broadly of the sovereign states of the EU to fit them better into the Wall Street globalization agenda.”

The German Marshall Fund of Washington has been involved in the post-1990 USA agenda of regime change around the world in league with the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy, Soros Foundations, and the CIA front called USAID. As I describe it in the think tanks book, “The major focus of the German Marshall Fund according to its 2013 Annual Report was to support the US State Department agenda for so-called democracy-building operations in former communist countries in eastern and south-eastern Europe, from the Balkans to the Black Sea. Significantly their work included Ukraine. In most instances, they worked together with the USAID, widely identified as a CIA front with ties to the State Department, and the Stewart Mott Foundation which gives funds to the US Government-funded National Endowment for Democracy.”

Notably, the same Stewart Mott Foundation is also a funder of the ESI-authored Merkel Plan, as is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

This all should give pause for reflection as to who and for what goals the Merkel-Erdogan deal for dealing with the EU refugee crisis is intended. Does the Rockefeller-Bush-Clinton faction in the United States intend to use it as a major social engineering experiment to create chaos and social conflict across the EU at the same time their NGOs such as the NED, Freedom House and the Soros Foundations are stirring things up in Syria and Libya and across the Islamic world? Is Germany, as former US presidential adviser and Rockefeller crony, Zbigniew Brzezinski called her, a “vassal” of US power in the post-1990 world? To date the evidence is pretty strong that that’s the case. The role of US and NATO-linked think tanks is central to get an understanding of how the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union are actually controlled from behind the Atlantic curtain.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Deception | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Violent Coup Fail in Nicaragua

By Kevin Zeese | CounterPunch | July 24, 2018

On Clearing The FOG radio and podcast, Margaret Flowers and I interviewed Stephen Sefton, who lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal. He names the names behind the violence and describes what is happening in Nicaragua.

Lessons Learned From The Failed Violent Coup In Nicaragua And Next Steps

The violent coup in Nicaragua has failed. This does not mean the United States and oligarchs are giving up, but this phase of their effort to remove the government did not succeed.  The coup exposed the alliances who are working with the United States to put in place a neoliberal government that is controlled by the United States and serves the interests of the wealthy. People celebrated the failure of the coup but realize work needs to be done to protect the gains of the Sandinista revolution.

People Celebrate Revolution, Call For Peace, Show Support for Government

The people of Nicaragua showed their support for the democratically-elected government of Daniel Ortega with a massive outpouring in Managua in a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. In addition to the mass protest in Managua, various cities had their own, in some cases very sizeable ones.

People have wanted peace to return to Nicaragua. They have also wanted the roadblocks removed, which have resulted in closed businesses, job loss and loss of mobility. Roadblocks have been removed, even in the opposition stronghold of Masaya. There were two opposition deaths and one police officer killed in the removal. There was also an earlier death of a policeman in Masaya, captured when he was off-duty, tortured and burnt to death. This brings the total of police killed since April up to at least 21 with hundreds injured. With the opening of the main road on the east side of Masaya, all Nicaragua’s main routes are open to traffic and buses etc are operating normally.

At the rally, President Ortega called on the people of Nicaragua to defend peace and reinstate the unity that existed in the nation before the violent opposition protests. He described how the violent coup attempted to destabilize the country and ended the peace that has existed through the eleven years of his time in office. He said, “Peace must be defended every day to avoid situations like these being repeated.”

He also criticized the Catholic Bishops for their role in the failed violent coup. Ortega described the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua as “coup leaders” for collaborating with the opposition during the protests. Not only did the Catholic leadership side with the opposition during the national dialogue, but priests were involved in kidnapping and torture. Pope Francis has a lot of work to do to rein in the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. If their role in these violent protests and opposition to an economy for the people is not stopped, this will become a scandal for the Catholic Church.

Other Latin American leaders spoke out against involvement in the coup. Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned US “interference” in Nicaragua, denouncing the “criminal strategies” used against the government of Daniel Ortega. Morales accused the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of “openly supporting violence” in Nicaragua. Also at the celebration were the foreign ministers of Cuba and Venezuela, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and Jorge Arreza, all supporting Nicaragua over the violent coup of the United States and oligarchs.

The United States is Escalating Economic War and Support for Opposition

The United States is not giving up. Also on the anniversary of the revolution, the NICA Act, designed to escalate the economic war against Nicaragua, was introduced in the Senate. It has already been passed by the US House of Representatives. The Senate bill, called the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-corruption Act of 2018, imposes sanctions, calls for early elections and escalates US intelligence involvement in Nicaragua. It is a law that ensures continued US efforts to remove the democratically-elected government.

At the same time, USAID announced an additional $1.5 million for Nicaragua to build opposition to the government. This will fund the NGOs that participated in the protests, human rights groups that falsely reported the situation, media to produce the regime change narrative and other support for the opposition.

The coordination between Nicaraguan opposition and the United States was shown by Max Blumenthal’s attempted visit to an organization that funnels USAID and NED money to the opposition. He visited the Managua offices of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies (IEEPP in Spanish), but it was closed because its director, Felix Maradiaga, who was at the heart of the violent unrest, was in Washington, DC seeking more funding from USAID.

On July 18, the US-dominated OAS passed a resolution concerning “The Situation in Nicaragua.” An earlier effort to endorse a report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was so biased that it failed. The report ignored the opposition’s widespread violence or inaccurately attributed it to the government.  It also failed to recognize government actions in self-defense. The resolution approving the IACHR report was supported by only ten out of 34 countries.

The resolution, which was finally passed by the OAS, condemned violence on all sides and urged Nicaragua to pursue all options including the national dialogue to seek peace begun by Ortega. On the issue of elections, the resolution urged Nicaragua “to support an electoral calendar jointly agreed to in the context of the National Dialogue process.” Only this mainly symbolic resolution could pass muster in the OAS, despite US domination.

What Happened and What Was Learned

In our article “Correcting the Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua,” Nils McCune and I describe what was behind the violent coup attempt. We reported that there was a lot of misinformation on what was occurring in Nicaragua, indeed the false narrative of regime change was part of the tactics of the failed coup. Perhaps most importantly we described the alignment of forces behind the coup.

The coup was a class war turned upside down. The Ortega government includes none of the oligarchic families, a first in the history of Nicaragua. He has put in place a bottom-up economy that has lifted people out of poverty, provided access to health care and education, given micro-loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses and created an economy energized by public spending. Ortega expanded coverage of the social security system; as a result, a new formula was required to ensure fiscal stability.

Ortega made a counter-proposal to the IMF/business proposal, which would cut social security and raise the retirement age. He proposed no cuts to social security and increasing employer contributions by 3.5% to pension and health funds, while only slightly increasing worker contributions by 0.75% and shifting 5% of pensioners’ cash transfer into their healthcare fund.  These reforms were the trigger as it was the business lobby who called for the protests.

The forces aligned with the violent coup included the oligarchs, big business interests, foreign investors (e.g. Colombian financiers), the US-funded NGO’s and the Catholic Church, a long-term ally of the wealthy. Also involved was the Movement for Renovation of Sandinismo (MRS), a tiny Sandinista offshoot party, of former Sandanistas who left the party when Ortega lost an election in 1990 who are aligned with the US State Department.

Regarding students, there were already student protests around university elections, and these were redirected by the violent coup effort and supported by a small minority of students from private universities, the April 19th Movement. Some of these students had been brought to the US by the Freedom House, which has long ties to the CIA and met with far-right interventionist members of the US Congress, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Ted Cruz.

These groups acted in opposition to the bulk of Nicaraguan society and showed their true colors. This includes:

No doubt more will come out about this in the future as the coup is researched and analyzed. As the facts become clear, the opposition will lose more political power and be even less likely to win elections. The blockades of roads with violence undermined the economy and had a negative impact on the poor and working class. If it becomes evident that this was a strategy of the opposition, they will lose power. NGO’s that are funded by the US and run by members of the MRS will be noted for their dishonest narrative and will be seen as an arm of the United States and not trusted by the people of Nicaragua. Media outside of Nicaragua will come to understand that human rights groups and NGOs are not reliable sources of information but need to be questioned. They need to be pushed to break their ties with the United States.

This does not mean all is well on the Sandinista side of the alliance of forces. The coup is an opportunity for self-reflection and self-criticism that is already happening, as seen in this list of 20 results from the coup, which begins with “A more consolidated and United FSLN.” In addition, the Action Group of the Solidarity with Nicaragua Campaign put forward seven propositions to unify around. The protest took advantage of challenges the Nicaraguan government faces in continuing to lift up the poor and economically insecure. It shows their need to build their capacity to quickly let the public know their side of the story. And, it shows the need for planning for a post-Ortega Sandinista government, as the president is in his third term.

The anniversary of the revolution was a good beginning at strengthening the unity of the Sandinista movement and celebration of the defeat of the coup, but there will be challenges ahead. Nicaragua is a poor country that needs foreign investment. If the United States escalates the economic war, which seems to be the intent, it will make it challenging to continue the social and economic programs that are lifting up the poor. Nicaragua had relied on investment from Venezuela, but it is also in the midst of an economic war, which along with the low oil prices has created economic challenges for them. Nicaragua has begun to build economic relationships with China, Russia, Iran and other countries; these will likely need to expand.

The misinformation was deep and widespread. Inside Nicaragua, there were stories of students being killed that never happened but that escalated the protests. The opposition claimed to be nonviolent when their strategy was to use violence to force regime change while the government quartered the National Police. False news and videos of attacks on neighborhoods and universities never stopped being manufactured.  One example, students calling for help and claiming they were under attack, was later exposed in a video showing the students practicing the false social media narrative.

Peace and justice activists in the United States and western nations have learned they need to be much more careful believing reports on what is occurring in Nicaragua. The US-funding of NGOs involved in women’s issues, environmental protection and human rights in Nicaragua make them questionable sources of information for justice advocates. In addition, US-funded regime change efforts are getting more sophisticated at social media; and thus, care must be taken as social media is abused by regime change advocates. We must look to other sources that have shown the ability to report accurately e.g., Tortilla con SalTelesurRedvolucion.  Peace and justice advocates must be grounded in anti-imperialism and nonintervention by the United States.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

In Nicaragua, is Operation “Contra bis” failing?

By Alex Anfrus | Journal of Our Americas, Investig’Action | July 21, 2018

Thrown under the spotlight since mid-April, the homeland of Sandino is still facing an intense political crisis. From now on, the crisis seems to be approaching its final resolution. On the one hand, the Nicaraguan people are mobilizing more and more alongside the authorities to help them dismantle barricades in insurgent spots. And on the other hand, in one week two big demonstrations for peace took place. Against the wishes of an opposition camp and spokespersons of the US administration, the message of Daniel Ortega during the march for peace of July 7 in Managua was crystal clear: “Here it is the people who set the rules in the Constitution of the Republic. They will not change overnight by the will of some coup leaders. If the putschists want to come to the government, let them seek the people’s vote in the next elections. With all the destruction they have provoked, we will see what support they will have.” But these facts are minimized by the private media and major news agencies, which continue to hide the evolution on the ground and blow on the embers of the dispute. Which side will tip the scales?

A dreadful propaganda scheme

In a recent article, I examined a number of contradictions in the treatment by international media of Nicaragua. Notably, one can recognize one of the principles of war propaganda which is to reverse the aggressor and the victim. The scheme works as follows: first, an opposition sector, one that refuses dialogue with the government, plans to control some parts of the capital and other cities by means of barricades. These areas are then considered “liberated from tyranny”, and thus represent the hearth of insurgency that must recur throughout the country, to defeat the operations of “repression” of police forces. This tactic of deploying barricades has been theorized as an effective means of preventing the authorities from gaining control over the national territory, because it is “impossible for the government to have enough personnel to control every inch of the country”. The first obvious thing to emphasize is that this is not a completely spontaneous crisis that emerges from a massive popular mobilization, but that there is indeed an insurrectional plan in place capable of standing up to the authorities for months. We are witnessing the first phase in the development of an unconventional war to overthrow a democratically elected government.

Then, a number of clashes take place in these areas “liberated” by the opposition. At this point, it is not trivial to note that the activists who defend these barricades are no longer peaceful protesters that the mainstream media has portrayed. Images of hooded youths handling homemade mortars and other explosive devices are impossible to conceal. In fact, they even contribute to the creation of a “romantic” dimension of popular resistance in the context of face-to-face contact with the professional police corps. This is where the second phase of the unconventional war comes in, namely the decisive role of media corporations that contribute to the production of a dominant and one-sided narrative of the crisis. It is easier to identify with a young demonstrator who is rebelling than a young police officer compelled to use force to enforce the law. Thus, when there have been deaths around the barricades, it becomes complicated for an outside observer to know the truth.

Who is not concerned with these victims?

A simple and quick tour of private media news will make anyone realize that the idealized dimension mentioned above serves only to delegitimize government action. No one is asking themselves this simple question: “Was the victim a pro-government Sandinista helping the police dismantle the barricades, or an opponent who defended them?” Many testimonies in favor of the first version have been systematically dismissed! Indeed, the role of the private media is fundamental in order to give maximum credibility to the opposition’s side of the story. Would the latter be manipulating the victims’ memory with the complicity of some private media in Nicaragua? This is quite a strong point for us: what about the many cases of victims whose membership in the pro-government camp has been proven?

In the framework of the peace talks, the Nicaraguan government first accepted that the IACHR (Note: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, organ of the Organization of American States (OAS)) lead a human rights observation mission. But it went on to denounce that its report does not include the description of many cases of attacks against civilian victims, including public officials, as a result of the violence unleashed by the opposition. Are the dice loaded? Here are some recent examples that illustrate a much more nuanced situation than that described by some media:

– On June 19, the authorities launch an operation in Masaya to release the Deputy Director of the National Police Ramon Avellan and his agents, who were entrenched in the police station, surrounded by barricades since June 2. Every night, protesters fired mortar at the police station, accompanied by threats: “What do you think? That there were only “güevones” (rascals) in this fight? Here again, here is my little sister… ” Then, the mortar fire would start again near the police station… Under the pretext of playful action, a video shows how protesters positioned behind a barricade sing menacing songs against General Avellan, accompanied by shots. According to the Pro-Human Rights Nicaraguan Association ANPDH organization, as a result of the police rescue operation, six people – including three whose identity remains to be verified – were murdered in several surrounding neighborhoods.

– On June 30, in the context of an opposition march, a protester was shot dead. Recorded a few minutes before the tragedy by a journalist who was there, a video shows how opposition members surround a private security officer and ask him to handover his weapon, simulating a hostage situation in order to justify their action. Then, the images show a person who stands behind the agent, points a pistol at his temple and steals his rifle. Later, the protesters will attribute the death to government repression.

– On July 3, two people were kidnapped in Jinotepe by a group of armed hooded men: police major Erlin García Cortez and Enacal worker Erasmo Palacios. Three days later, Bismarck de Jesús Martínez Sánchez, a worker from the Managua City Hall, was also kidnapped. A week later, relatives had still not received any sign of life from them.

– On July 5, the lifeless body of National Police officer Yadira Ramos was found in Jinotepe. She had been kidnapped, raped and tortured. She had been forced to get off her vehicle and her husband had been killed on the spot.

– On July 6, FSLN member Roberto Castillo Cruz was killed by opposition hoodlums who held barricades in Jinotepe. His son, Christopher Castillo Rosales had been killed just a week before him. In a video published shortly before his own murder, Castillo Cruz denounced the murderers: “This criminal gang of the right has killed my son, I only ask for justice and that peace prevails so that our children do not lose their lives!”

– On July 8, during a nighttime clash in Matagalpa, a 55-year-old man named Aran Molina was killed while rescuing Lalo Soza, a Sandinista activist who was under attack. The following day, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) paid tribute to him through a procession. The same day, two other people were killed: social worker Tirzo Ramón Mendoza, executed by hooded people after being kidnapped, and a third victim whose identity remains unknown.

– On 9 July, the authorities dismantled the barricades that prevented free movement in the towns of Diriamba and Jinotepe. Many residents then testified about the many violent actions of the opposition, including torture against the Sandinistas. At the same time, representatives of the Episcopal Conference arrived. Citizens of Jinotepe then entered the church, where they found opposition members disguised as members of the clergy. Residents accused church officials of protecting them and not saying anything or doing anything to stop the violence unleashed in the last two months. In Diriamba, the inhabitants also discovered an arsenal of mortars hidden in the church of San Sebastian.

– On July 12, a criminal gang attacked the Morrito Town Hall in Rio San Juan. A historical Sandinista fighter, Carlos Hernandez, was kidnapped there. Seriously wounded and unable to escape, a youth Sandinista activist, two police officers and their superiors are murdered. A Sandinista activist received a bullet in the abdomen. Later, schoolmaster Marvin Ugarte Campos would succumb to his injuries. The version of the opposition? It says the massacre was … a “self-attack by paramilitaries”!

It seems that some deaths and violent acts have no value, while others are erected as martyrs for a sacred cause. In the end, does everything depend on the prism through which we look at reality? Are we already placed in a camp in a conflict without knowing it or even suspecting it? In this case, would it be a waste of time to try to form one’s own opinion from fact analysis? The search for peace and truth prevents us from succumbing to such resignation.

In a remarkable 46-page work entitled “The monopoly of death – how to inflate figures to assign them to the government”, Enrique Hendrix identified the numerous inconsistencies in the various reports presented by the three main human rights organizations, the CENIDH (Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights), the IACHR and the ANPDH. Comparing the various reports from the beginning of the crisis to the date of the last reports presented (from April 18 to June 25), he concluded that the three organizations recorded a total of 293 deaths. In 26% of cases (77 citizens), information on the deaths is incomplete and remains to be verified. In 21% of cases (60 citizens), the dead are persons murdered by the opposition, either public officials or Sandinista militants who were murdered for helping the authorities dismantle the barricades. In 20% of the cases (59 citizens), the dead were protesters, opposition members or people who erected barricades. In 17% of cases (51 citizens), the dead do not have a direct relationship with the demonstrations. Finally in 16% of the cases (46 citizens), the dead were passers-by who did not take part in the clashes.

As can be seen in this study, the balance sheets of these organizations are sorely lacking in rigor and mix all sorts of victims (fights between gangs, road accidents, murders in the context of vehicle theft, conflict between land owners, police officers, a pregnant woman in an ambulance blocked by barricades …). Conclusion: if we take into account the exact circumstances of each death, it is obvious that we cannot attribute the responsibility to the government alone. In light of these elements, we have the right to challenge the international media about their lack of objectivity. Why such an alignment with a sector of the opposition who has declared itself fiercely hostile to any dialogue?

Who is not interested in dialogue?

This propaganda mechanism is completed by the “blackout” of other information that is not considered relevant. However, while the media focuses on the clashes, other sectors of the opposition continue to participate in the various sessions of the “dialogue tables for truth, peace and justice”, organized to listen to different points of view and seek to establish responsibility in the wave of violence ravaging the country. Moreover, the final conclusions of the various human rights observation missions in the country had not yet been made, they were to be discussed and include new elements. But what can we expect from the dialogue between the two parties, when a number of observers have already decided in advance that the government alone is responsible for the violence?

All over the world, the role of the police is to repress in case of “disturbance of public order”. But we struggle to understand why the authorities would order it to attack civilians wildly and arbitrarily at the same time as the peace dialogue is taking place. On the other hand, one could expect such an attitude from those who, refusing to participate in the dialogues, would seek to sabotage it, having an interest in the derailment of this process. In this case, it is not unlikely that hooded thugs have been posing as police forces on several occasions.

In any case, it is no less credible than the version of these same hooded thugs, who say that the government of Daniel Ortega would have given the green light to disguised civilians to destroy infrastructure and kill other civilians! Still, the government did not deny that at the beginning of the crisis some police officers sometimes acted using disproportionate violence, and it responded that justice will have to determine their responsibility in actions punishable by law. The National Assembly, for its part, has launched an initiative to create a “Commission for Truth, Justice and Peace” with the aim of reporting on the responsibilities of human rights violations within three months.

But in the fairy tale that the mainstream media is manufacturing from dawn to dusk, and on the internet 24 hours a day, it is not even conceivable that the government of Nicaragua is facing difficulties whose causes would be complex and numerous. The media hype and the positions of foreign political figures serve as irrefutable proof! As has been the case in Venezuela in recent years, taking the public hostage in this way is an insult to its intelligence. Of course, not everything is explained by the tentacles of the imperialist octopus. But for those who are interested in the history of inter-American relations for the last two centuries, it is not serious to forget about its weight and consider that this influence is a thing of the past.

How to export democracy in dollars

It seems that few observers are really shocked by the rapid progression of these events, which are shaped like a breadcrumb trail towards a single objective: condemning the Ortega government and demanding early elections. That’s where the hiccup is: Latin American countries where assassinations of trade unionists, peasants and social leaders have been a common thing for years, where the peace efforts of governments are considered, at best, as totally ineffective, and at worst as non-existent, such as Colombia, Honduras or Mexico, are not at all worried about the image of their “democracies”. There is something wrong, isn’t it? To shed some light on this mystery, a reminder of the history of the twentieth century is worth the detour.

The coups and destabilizations fomented from abroad, such as in the Dominican Republic or in Guatemala, show that in the second half of the 20th century the Latin-American context was still marked by the military interventionism of the Monroe Doctrine and the “manifest destiny” of the United States. It was nothing more than an imperialist policy of controlling the resources and raw materials of Latin America, now presented as an anticommunist “crusade” in the context of the Cold War. On the other hand, the dominance of the United States would not be limited to a demonstration of force based on the “regime change” and the sending of troops on the ground, but it would also take forms of cultural domination, in particular through the so-called “development aid” policies.

In his speech in January 1949, US President Harry Truman described non-industrialized countries as “underdeveloped” countries. Thus, in 1950, the American Congress passed an Act for International Development (AID). On September 4, 1961, a US Congress law replaced the AID by USAID, which was to implement a new, more comprehensive vision of “development assistance” directed anywhere in the planet. As can be seen in the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, the anti-communist struggle was only a pretext. The main concern of the US government was to prevent the development of national consciousness within the armies and police of “underdeveloped countries”. That is why, from 1950 to 1967, “the United States government spent more than $ 1,500 million on military aid to Latin American countries.” (1)

After the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, John Kennedy announced the Alliance for Progress in 1961. It was a similar initiative to the Marshall Plan in Europe. Between 1961 and 1970, the Alliance for Progress provided $ 20 billion in economic assistance to Latin America. One of the objectives was the stabilization of the regimes that fought against communism and the influence of Cuba.

“John F. Kennedy and his advisers are developing an action plan for the region, the Alliance for Progress, consisting of a $ 20 billion investments for economic development and massive military assistance. The decade of the sixties is marked by the formation of a new generation of Latin American military and the transfer of capital and technology from the US military to Latin America. The Pentagon and the CIA draw their strategy to halt the advance of socialism: the US Army-run Panama School trains the cadres of the Latin American armed forces “. (2)

Under the fallacious concept of “development aid policies”, the “creation of strong armies and police” and “military aid to reactionary and pro-imperialist regimes” served to offer to the monopolies “the most favorable conditions of exploitation of underdeveloped countries “. (3) In other words, this “aid” represented above all a political weapon in favor of the economic interests of the countries of the Global North. These were represented in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), founded in 1961 and also known as the “Rich Country Club”. It consisted of 27 countries, mostly those of North America, Western Europe and Japan.

Resistance emerges sooner or later

But the new reality resulting from decolonization in Asia and Africa also represented an awareness: the strength of the liberated countries now resided in their unity. This would enable them to exercise some orientation on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly, and to defend the autonomous “right to development”. Thus, in the 1970s, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) would play an important role in defending the interests of the Group 77. Created in 1964, UNCTAD was characterized by the Common Declaration of the 77 countries as a “historic turning point”.

The invasion and the military occupation of Nicaragua by the United States makes it possible to better appreciate the historical value of the Sandinista Popular Revolution and the resistance to the interferences which it showed in the 1980s. The scandal of the financing of Contras by the CIA through the drug trade in Central America was proof that these plans are not infallible. Despite the many interferences and destabilizations suffered throughout history, the peoples of the South have an advantage over the powerful: collective memory and intelligence.

After the dictatorships’ repression, the debt crisis and the rule of the IMF in the 1970s and 1980s, Latin America was to experience many social revolts in the 1990s, paving the way for the arrival of new progressive governments in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela or Bolivia. The next step was to launch the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a regional cooperation body created in 2004 to defeat the proposed Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas (ALCA in Spanish) by the United States.

What remains today of yesterday’s meddling?

Since the 1990s, at the end of the Cold War, US aid no longer had the pretext of restraining communism. It then took the form of “counter-terrorism” or “security and anti-drug policies”. Here are the main recipients of US aid in Latin America: $ 9.5 billion for Colombia; $ 2.9 billion for Mexico; and since 2016, aid to all countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) has exceeded that of the first two. (4) Which explains why we systematically condemn some countries and not others… regardless of reality and the degree of violence.

Yet the Cold War is not over in the minds of some. Thus, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro believes it is necessary in 2018 to comply with White House requirements, and to harass night and day countries such as Nicaragua or Venezuela at the risk of being ridiculed. Indeed, when in a special session of the OAS the US spokesperson has just criticized the violence in Nicaragua and attributed it exclusively to the government, can we take his word for it? It would be better to remind him that his country does not have the slightest legitimacy to talk about Nicaragua, because it invaded and occupied it militarily for 21 years, then went on to support the clan of the dictator Somoza for another 43 years!

The “conservative restoration” of recent years, with the “soft coups” to overthrow Lugo in Paraguay, Zelaya in Honduras, Rousseff in Brazil; the failure of the peace process in Colombia, the judicial persecution against Jorge Glas, Lula Da Silva and now Rafael Correa, is the ideal context for the OAS, this obsolete organization, to try to put an end to the memory of the social achievements of recent years.

Since the US did not invent hot water, to reach their ends they must use the means at hand. Unsurprisingly, Freedom House, funded among others by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), decided to create a special task force to fight the FSLN in Nicaragua in 1988. It is always opportune to hear NED Co-Founder Allen Weinstein: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA. The biggest difference is that when such activities are done overtly, the flap potential is close to zero. Openness is its own protection.”. (5)

Today, the interference keeps going through the financing of opposition movements, framed by training programs for “young leaders” ready to defend tooth and nail the values ​​of the sacrosanct “democracy” and to overthrow “dictatorships” from their countries of origin. From 2014 to 2017, the NED has dedicated up to $ 4.2 million to Nicaraguan organizations such as IEEPP (Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy), CPDHN (Human Rights Permanent Commission in Nicaragua), Invermedia, Hagamos Democracia and Fundacion Nicaraguense para el Desarrollo Economico y Social. When we remind this to young opponents and their sympathisers, they pretend not to understand…

While it may have been extremely effective in some countries like Ukraine in 2014, the pattern we have described must be confronted with the reality and political traditions of each country. In Nicaragua, the FSLN is the dominant political force that has won democratically in the last three elections. It is significant that opposition sectors that rely on the support of the US, the right wing, and local employers are forced to use references to Sandinismo in an attempt to gain credibility. However, this practice goes too far when it tries to compare the Sandinista government and the dictatorship of Somoza, thus demonizing Daniel Ortega.

The march for peace convened by the FSLN on July 13, in tribute to the 39th anniversary of the historic “tactical retreat” of Sandinism in Masaya, was a new show of strength of the Nicaraguan people and its willingness to defeat the violent strategy of the opposition. Will the peoples of the world live up to the solidarity that this moment demands?

Notes

1) Yves Fuchs; La coopération. Aide ou néo-colonialisme ? Editions Sociales. Paris, 1973, pp. 55 (Cooperation. Help or neo-colonialism?)

2) Claude Lacaille; En Mission dans la Tourmente des Dictatures. Haïti, Equateur, Chili : 1965-1986. Novalis, Montreal, 2014. p 23. (In Mission in the Torment of Dictators. Haiti, Ecuador, Chile: 1965-1986)

3) Gustavo Esteva, “Desarrollo” in SachsWolfgang (coord.) Diccionario del Desarrollo, Lima, PRATEC, 1996. p. 52.

4) https://www.wola.org/es/analisis/ayuda-militar-de-estados-unidos-en-latinoamerica/

5) Washington Post, 22 September 1991.

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NED Pursues Regime Change by Playing the Long Game

By Edward Hunt | Lobe Log | July 3, 2018

During a recent congressional hearing, the heads of three influential non-profit organizations that operate in numerous countries around the world revealed the subtle ways in which the United States meddles in the internal affairs of other countries by playing what the officials called “the long game.”

The three officials—Carl Gershman, Daniel Twining, and Kenneth Wollack—told Congress about their long-term efforts to empower the opponents of U.S. enemies and boasted about their ability to change foreign governments. They said that they had recently helped their political allies gain political power in Malaysia, acknowledged that they have helped train thousands of activists in Nicaragua, and speculated about the potential to create new governments in China, Russia, and North Korea.

All three men strongly defended their activities, insisting that they are critically important to the advancement of democracy in the world.

“We’re not asking people to do anything that they don’t want to do,” Gershman said. “We’re supporting their own aspirations and giving them some of the tools to realize those aspirations.”

Gershman is the president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S. taxpayer-funded nonprofit created by the U.S. government in 1983. As the president of NED, Gershman oversees the issuance of grants to its political-party-associated organizations, including the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is headed by Twining, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), which is headed by Wollack.

Facing skepticism about their work from the Trump administration, which views the organizations as unnecessary expenses and wants to cut their funding, Gershman and his colleagues provided Congress with a broad overview of how their work affects the world. They defended their ongoing operations, trying to persuade Congress that they should continue to receive funding.

Ultimately, the three officials revealed how they are helping the U.S. government interfere in numerous countries around the world.

The NED Approach

The general strategy of NED is to empower like-minded activists to build new political movements in their home countries. NED helps these activists become influential political actors, often with the goal of creating new possibilities for political change.

Officials typically describe their approach as one of “democracy promotion.” They argue that they are helping democratic forces introduce democratic politics into countries ruled by authoritarian leaders.

“These leaders, their strategic Achilles heel is fear of their own publics,” Twining explained. “And I think we should think about the old Reagan message of exploiting that a little bit.”

The strategy requires a long-term commitment in the countries where the NED is active. Twining calls it “playing the long game.” Gershman calls it “long-term work.”

The officials discussed numerous examples. Twining said that IRI has been working with opposition forces in Malaysia since 2002. He credited IRI with helping opposition forces prevail in the country’s recent parliamentary elections, calling the victory “an example of playing the long game.”

U.S.-backed opposition forces are “now in-charge of this very strategic country right there on the frontlines of the South China Sea, right there on the frontlines of the Islamic world’s intersection with rest of Asia,” Twining said. “And that’s good for America.”

The NED has also been active in Nicaragua, where opposition forces are organizing major protests against the Nicaraguan government. The protesters are trying to bring down the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a popular leftist leader who has been in power since 2007.

“We have been working on youth leadership programs and have worked with more than 8,000 youth on a very extensive coursework and academies to develop U.S. engagement,” Wollack said.

Although Wollack denied that the organizations are training their grantees for the purpose of overthrowing Ortega, Gershman indicated that regime change is the ultimate goal. “Time for him to go,” Gershman said, referring to Ortega.

The three officials also cited many additional opportunities to influence governments around the world. They are especially excited about opportunities in Armenia, where a major social movement recently ousted a government backed by Russia.

Twining speculated about the possibility of achieving regime change in Russia, calling Putin a “very brittle” leader who is “frankly quite insecure.”

Gershman saw potential for a similar outcome in North Korea. “This is an eroding totalitarian system, so we shouldn’t give up hope on the possibilities for internal change,” he said.

Gershman believes that the primary focus should be on China, however. He called China “the most serious threat our country faces today.”

Although Gershman said that the U.S. government will initially respond to challenges from China with a mix of military, economic, and geostrategic power, he insisted that the long-term solution could be found in the “unhappy people” who oppose the Chinese government.

“We have to not give up on the possibility for democratic change in China and keep finding ways to support them,” he said.

The Controversy in Washington

The open talk of U.S. meddling in other countries around the world was so commonplace that the U.S. mass media spent no time covering the hearing, even though the speakers did encounter some pushback. Not all members of Congress are on board with the programs.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made the strongest critique, insisting that U.S. meddling destabilizes countries while creating more problems for the United States in the long run. Rohrabacher blamed recent U.S. meddling for destabilizing Ukraine. He argued that the U.S. involvement in national protests that led to the downfall of the government of Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 prompted the subsequent Russian invasion of the country and the war that continues there today.

“I don’t believe the Russians would have invaded Ukraine had we not arrogantly involved ourselves to overthrow that democratically elected government in Ukraine,” Rohrabacher said.

Rohrabacher also insisted that the U.S. should support dictators. He singled out Egypt, saying that the country should continue to be ruled by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military dictator who gained power by overthrowing the country’s first democratically elected government in 2013.

“I know I am making everybody mad at me, but I had to say it,” Rohrabacher commented.

Faced with Rohrabacher’s criticisms, the remaining participants in the hearing made some effort to counter his arguments but otherwise said very little, preferring instead to blandly praise NED for performing admirable work by promoting democracy around the world.

The general feeling in Congress is that the U.S. government should continue to fund the work of the NED and its affiliated institutes. Most members of Congress view the organizations as important assets in the U.S. government’s toolkit, believing they play an important role in U.S. global strategy.

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) unabashedly praised NED, IRI, and NDI, calling their work “exciting.” He told the three officials that “nothing does America prouder than the work frankly you’re doing.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment