Saturday, October 08, 2005

Toxic Notionals 

"public diplomacy", propaganda, and the NED

"I will send you a proposal to double the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the development of free elections, and free markets, free press, and free labor unions in the Middle East. And above all, we will finish the historic work of democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, so those nations can light the way for others, and help transform a troubled part of the world." (Applause.) ~ George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan 20, 2004.

topic: The National Endowment for Democracy. The following background information concerning the NED includes Ken Sander's "Politics of Dissent" blog post dated October 7, 2005, as well as details available via Source Also included are excerpts from Sara Diamond's Roads to Dominion published by The Guilford Press, 1995.

On October 06, 2005 George W, Bush addressed the National Endowment for Democracy.


Imperialists in Democratic Clothing | by Ken Sanders | October 07, 2005

With his ratings in the tank and desperately in need of a boost, not to mention a distraction from the sudden impotence of his administration, this week President Bush fell back on what worked so successfully for him in the past: fostering fear and promoting war. Originally scheduled to mark the anniversary of 9/11, but postponed so that Bush and his cronies could ignore Hurricane Katrina, Bush delivered his latest pro-war screed to the ludicrously misnamed National Endowment for Democracy. A government-funded, semi-private organization (which happens to be free of Congressional oversight), the NED is a darling of the neo-conservatives and shares membership with the Project for a New American Century. Created by Reagan in the 1980s, ostensibly to promote "free market democracies" through "the magic of the marketplace," the NED's interests and practices are anything but democratic. As can be gleaned from its stated goals, the NED's notion of "democracies" are countries friendly to U.S. corporate interests. If a country isn't "democratic" enough already, the NED uses U.S. taxpayer money to subversively fund and instigate regime change.

Examples abound of the NED's fondness for interfering with the elections and democratic processes (however imperfect) of other nations. In the 1980s, the NED funded militaristic and dictatorial candidates in Panama, as well as opposition candidates in such stable democracies as Costa Rica (the opposition candidate in Costa Rica also had the endorsement of that champion of democracy, Manuel Noriega). In the 1990 elections in Haiti, the NED provided significant funding to former World Bank official Marc Bazin in a failed attempt to oust the leftist Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Bazin, seen by most Haitians as a "front man for military and business interests," received only 12% of the vote. Displeased with that result, the NED funded anti-Aristide groups, culminating in the violent political instability in Haiti that left dozens dead and ultimately resulted in Aristide's exile.

In the 1990s, the NED supported Skender Gjinushi, speaker of the Albanian parliament and former member of the Stalinist Politburo in Albania. Gjinushi was a principle organizer of the unrest that led to the 1997 fall of the democratic government in Albania, not to mention the death of over 2,000 people. In Slovakia, the NED funded several initiatives that ultimately resulted in the defeat of Slovakia's freely-elected government. The NED-backed "reformers" who took over in Slovakia were largely leading officials in the Communist regime of then-Czechoslovakia.

Additionally, and most notoriously, backed and funded the aborted coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Determined to install a pro-U.S. leader in Venezuela, the NED funded a subsequent recall referendum and then forged exit polls declaring Chavez' defeat. Venezuela, like Iraq, possesses huge oil reserves estimated at 78 billion barrels, making it the world's seventh largest oil resource. Chavez, however, is staunchly anti-American and even publicly called Bush an "asshole." The NED's motivation to "democratize" Venezuela should be abundantly clear.

Regardless of how one feels about Chavez or Aristide or any other leader or government of a sovereign nation, it is antithetical to the principles of democracy to interfere with and influence the election processes of other nations. It is particularly appalling when the goal is not to foster democracy so much as to further enrich U.S. corporations.

Continue reading at Politics of Dissent; see link above. Post also published by ZMag.

From Source
The week before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, a documentary called Voices of Iraq opened in ten cities across the country. The PR firm Manning Selvage & Lee coordinated publicity for the movie. Questions Raised about the Film Journalist Eartha Melzer wrote of the movie, "People seem happy that Saddam is gone and optimistic that, if the United States stays in Iraq, democracy will prevail. They seem unafraid of bombs going off nearby. People say Saddam funded al Qaeda. Former Iraqi political prisoners are shown laughing off the stories of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib – what Arab man wouldn't want a female American soldier to play with his penis?" [1]

The timing of the movie's release, its tone, and the fact that the same PR firm used by the U.S. Army, MS&L, promoted it led Melzer to question its intent. "According to MS&L Managing Director Joe Gleason, he and his colleagues also deliver key targeted messages about the war in Iraq to specific constituencies," wrote Melzer.

"Was the left-leaning art house crowd one of those constituencies? Is the government hiring documentary filmmakers to propagandize the U.S. population?" [2]

Iraq Foundation Involvement:
The filmmakers were assisted by the Washington DC-based Iraq Foundation, which receives funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy. The Iraq Foundation, or “The Free Iraq Foundation” as identified on its tax return, is 99.9% funded by U.S. government grants. [5] According to Melzer, the Iraq Foundation helped the filmmakers "figure out how to get around and who to give the cameras to," as well as providing "torture footage." [6]

Kunert wrote, "The Foundation provided the images of beatings and a hand being cut off. The remaining, majority of torture footage was riped [sic] from DVD’s being sold on the streets of Baghdad." He added that many people and groups assisted the filmmakers, including "taxi drivers, hotel workers, families, scientists, people on the street, Kurds up north, the Iraqi Dawa Party - and the mass of people you see in the film with cameras." [7]

More, including footnote links above, see: Source Watch

Also, via Source Watch:
Although publicly funded, the activities of these four institutes are not reported to Congress. According to William Robinson, "NED employs a complex system of intermediaries in which operative aspects, control relationships, and funding trails are nearly impossible to follow and final recipients are difficult to identify." In a March 2005 interview, former CIA officer Philip Agee discussed the thinking behind NED's establishment: (Dennis Bernstein, "Philip Agee, Former CIA agent speaks on Venezuela", Flashpoints, March 14, 2005):

During the late 1970s there was new thinking at the highest levels of the U.S. foreign policymakers, and they reconsidered whether these ugly murderous military dictatorships of the 1970s were really the best way to preserve U.S. interests in these countries – U.S. interests being defined traditionally as unfettered access to the primary products and raw materials, to the labor and to the markets of foreign countries. This new thinking led to the establishment in 1983 of the National Endowment for Democracy. They had chosen the German pattern in which the major political parties in Germany have foundations financed by the federal government. They did more or less the same thing with the establishment of the NED as a private foundation – there is really nothing private about it, and all its money comes from the Congress.

But then there were the other core foundations – this was the fundamental mechanism for promotion of democracy around the world, but in actual fact, when they say the promotion of democracy, or civic education, or fortifying civil society, what they really mean is using those euphemisms to cover funding to certain political forces and not to others. In other words, to fortify the opposition of undesirable foreign governments as in the case of Venezuela, or to support a government that is favorable to US interests and avoid of coming to power of forces that are not seen as favorable to US interests. This will be the case since the early 1990s in Nicaragua because all those programs that were started in order to assure the defeat of Daniel Ortega in 1990 continued, and they continued to make sure that Sandinista Front was not reelected again after their defeat in 1990 – and that has been the case. These programs go on in various different countries and they require quite a bit of research. ... I am sure that one could find these programs in Mexico, Colombia, Peru probably, Brazil, and other countries outside the Latin American region.

From Sara Diamond's Roads to Dominion:
From the start, NED drew its executive personnel from neoconservative ranks. NED President Carl Gershman was an aide to UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and former leader of Social Democrats, U.S.A. Between 1984 and 1990, NED channeled about $152 million to pro-U.S. political and cultural institutions in 77 countries, mostly in Latin America and eastern Europe. Individual foreign projects were solicited from, and administered by, U.S. university departments and right wing think tanks. [Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion; chapter 9, "Right Wing Power in the 1980's"; page 226]

[chapter notes:] NED was the outgrowth of the U.S. Information Agency-funded American Political Foundation, a bipartisan coalition of labor, business, academic, and political leaders. APF recommended that the Reagan administration establish an agency for the promotion of "democracy" abroad. With White House approval and State Department funding, APF became the nucleus of "Project Democracy," formerly incorporated as NED by Congress in 1983. NED waqs organized as a publicly funded agency with a private citizens' board of directors.

Initially, Project Democracy was attached to the National Security Council, under the supervision of Walter Raymond, Jr., a CIA propaganda specialist, who also directed the previously mentioned Office of Public Diplomacy. Raymond was also one of the administration officials active in Faith Ryan Whittlesey's White House Working Group on Central America, through which Raymond and others coordinated pro-Contra projects with the New Right, neoconservative, and Christian Right organizations. --- [from] Notes to chapter 9, "Roads to Dominion", page 385; 111-112 -|- William I. Robinson, A Faustian Bargin: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post Cold War Era (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992), p. 14 -|- See also National Endowment for Democracy: A Foreign Policy Branch Gone Awry (Washington, DC and Albequerque, NM: Council on Hemispheric Affairs and Inter-Hemispheric Resource Center, 1990).

"The Heretik" writes:
THE HERETIK HAS SEEN this before. And before that. As Bush said, "See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in . . . to kind of catapult the propaganda."



Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they'd heard of pilgrims borne aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more into the elements from which it sprang. Out of that whirlwind no voice spoke and the pilgrim lying in his broken bones may cry out and in his anguish he may rage, but rage at what? And if the dried and blackened shell of him is found among the sands by travelers to come yet who can discover the engine of his ruin? ~ Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian

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