Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Easter

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Easter

Postby admin » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:54 pm

Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe
by Gerald Sussman
© 2010 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.





Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe is a study of the uses of systemic propaganda in U.S. foreign policy. Moving beyond traditional understandings of propaganda, Branding Democracy analyzes the expanding and ubiquitous uses of domestic public persuasion under a neoliberal regime and an informational mode of development and its migration to the arena of foreign policy. A highly mobile and flexible corporate-dominated new informational economy is the foundation of intensified Western marketing and promotional culture across spatial and temporal divides, enabling transnational interests to integrate territories previously beyond their reach. U.S. "democracy promotion" and interventions in the Eastern European "color revolutions" in the early twenty-first century serve as studies of neoliberal state interests in action. Branding Democracy will be of interest to students of U.S. and European politics, political economy, foreign policy, political communication, American studies, and culture studies.

"Gerald Sussman's Branding Democracy offers a crucial analysis of the ways in which citizens are under assault from an army trying to control our minds. With a sophisticated understanding of modern propaganda, Sussman looks at the way our government sells empire through 'democracy promotion.' If real democracy is to emerge in this world, we must take Sussman's analysis to heart."

-- Robert Jensen, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin; Author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002)

Gerald Sussman is Professor of Urban Studies and Communications at Portland State University, where he teaches graduate courses in political economy, development, urban studies, and media and information technology studies. He is the author or editor of four previous books, the latest being Global Electioneering: Campaign Consulting, Communications, and Corporate Financing. He is currently at work on a new edited volume, The Propaganda Society, which rethinks the meaning and reach of propaganda within an intensified promotional culture. Professor Sussman serves on a number of academic journal editorial boards as well as the community advisory board of Portland, Oregon's public broadcasting station, KOPB.

Table of Contents:

Tables and Figure
Abbreviations Used in This Study
Promotional Culture
The Neoliberal Ordering of Society
Understanding Propaganda
The Political and Economic Foundations of Propaganda
The Professionalization of Politics
Propaganda in Domestic Policy
Propaganda in the Service of Foreign Policy
Marketing the State
The Containment of Socialism
Political Warfare
Post-War Interventionism The Creation of NED
Democracy Incorporated
W's Dubious Democracy Credentials
The Propaganda of Democracy Promotion
Constructing "Transition"
From Transition to Transnationalism
The Administration of Propaganda
The Machinery of Foreign Policy Propaganda
The Regime Change Bureaucracy
National Endowment for Democracy
International Republican Institute
National Democratic Institute
Freedom House
The Public Diplomacy Forces
Philanthropic Interventions
The Mainstream Media and Democracy Promotion
Other Democracy Assistance Groups
European Democracy Promotion
The German Democracy Foundations
Britain's Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Other European Democracy Promotion Foundations
The Polish Corridor
U.S.-Central European Linkages
Russia: Americans to the Rescue
The Template "Revolutions"
Bulldozing Milosevic from Power
Georgia: Taking the "Color Revolution" on the Road
The "Orange Revolution"
NGOs and Social Movements as Regime Change Agents
Template Politics Beyond Europe
Revolution as a Marketing Device
The Meaning of Democracy
A Democracy Index


Table 1.1 Top 10 Advertisers in the United States, 2008
Table 2.1 Quality of Life Indicators, 30 OECD Countries
Table 3.l. IRI and NDI Fiscal Year 2006 Revenue
Table 4.1 NED Funding by Region, 1990-1997
Table 4.2 Total U.S. Military and Economic Assistance, Military Arms Sales, and Foreign Direct Investment
Figure 4.1 Map of Central and Eastern Europe


ACILS: American Center for International Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center)
ACLU: American Civil Liberties Union
AEI: Albert Einstein Institution
BTC: Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
CEE: Central and Eastern Europe
CEU: Central European University
CIA: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
ClPE: Center for International Private Enterprise
CIS: Commonwealth of Independent States
CPR: Russian Communist Party
DoD: US Department of Defense
DRL: U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
ERB: European Radio for Belarus
E.U.: European Union
FCC: Federal Communications Commission
FES: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
FH: Freedom House
FMLN: Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (of El Salvador)
FNS: Friedrich Naumann Stiftung
GDP: Gross Domestic Product
HBS: Heinrich Boll Stiftung
ICNC: International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
IMF: International Monetary Fund
IRI: International Republican Institute
MSN: Moya Stolitsa Novosti
NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NDI: National Democratic Institute
NED: National Endowment for Democracy
NGO: Non-Governmental Organization
NIMD: Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy
NSC: U.S. National Security Council
OECD: Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
OPD: U.S. Office of Public Diplomacy
OPIC: Olof Palme International Center (of Sweden)
ORS: U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization
OSI: Open Society Institute
OTI: USAID Office of Transition Initiatives
PAUCI: Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative
PDPA: U.S. State Department Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
PR: Public Relations
PSB: Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates
R&D: Research and Development
RFE/RL: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
SEED: U.S. Congress Support for East European Democracy Act
TI: Transparency International
TNC: Transnational Corporation
TOL: Transitions Online
U.K.: United Kingdom
U.S.: United States
USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development
USC: University of Southern California
USCC: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
USIA: U.S. Information Agency
USSR: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
VOA: Voice of America
WFD: Westminster Foundation for Democracy (U.K.)
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:03 pm


This study started with research on an earlier book, Global Electioneering, which focused on the corporate industrialization and takeover of electoral campaigns in the United States and the export of professional election management all over the world. The present project reaches further into the analysis of foreign-aided political activity abroad by taking a critical look at the so-called" democracy promotion" initiatives of public and private agencies in the United States and Western Europe. This is an important but largely under-the-radar formal activity of the U.S. government with which most Americans are completely unfamiliar.

Outside of a few newspaper and academic journal articles, there is little critical attention given to "democracy assistance" organizations. The work of William Blum's Rogue State comes to mind as one of the salient critiques of postwar U.S. foreign policy, but even this study focused on one organization in the "democracy promotion" arsenal, the National Endowment for Democracy. It did not consider a range of other groups, public, and private, such as educational and cultural exchanges and overseas programs, journalism and broadcasting training, international civic and business organizations, international police and military training, private political consultants, and others engaged in state actions and "public diplomacy." One British scholar considers "democracy assistance" of the type practiced by U.S. and E.U. statist institutions as essentially undemocratic, "involving an external imposition on internal processes of political change," with the intent of imposing "a particular model of democracy, perceived as a limited, procedural form, largely devoid of a social reform content" (Crawford 2003b, 17-18). This critique is redolent of William Robinson's analysis of the overseas promotion of "polyarchy" (Robinson 1996b).

My principal emphasis is on the policies and propaganda techniques of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the quasi-public National Endowment for Democracy, and affiliated private organizations, including Freedom House, the various Soros foundations, and other allied groups. I also consider, though to a lesser extent, the work of Western and Central European organizations that fund and otherwise support political activities abroad. The spatial-temporal focus is on Eastern Europe since 2000, mainly on the political upheavals that displaced nationalist-oriented leaders in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine and failed to do the same in Belarus.

The dissolution of Soviet power throughout the region of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) [1] and Central Asia excited a new kind of Western intervention, a "soft imperialism" described in official lexicon as "democracy promotion." In the late 1990s and into the next decade, Western mass media typically represented the serial political upheavals that took place in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as "people power" struggles for democracy over tyranny. The United States actively encouraged and helped coordinate political destabilization and street mobilizations in the region that sequentially deposed Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia and invalidated the election of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine. Foreign electoral intervention helped to politically engineer their replacements with pro-Western politicians who, in the name of democracy, were expected to take on "reforms" in concert with state and commercial interests of the United States, the European Union, the WTO, and NATO.

Under the G. W. Bush administration, "democracy promotion" became a rhetorical centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy (Epstein, Serafino, and Miko 2007) and continued into the Obama administration. Democracy promotion can be understood as having a double meaning - and indeed, as an oxymoron. The intended ideological meaning of the term by groups such as USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Freedom House is premised on the notion that foreign agencies can help transplant democracy through institutional transfers and training of willing local agents. The second functional meaning is that institutional transfers require a mobilization of the most active citizenry through marketing and public persuasion, the promotion of democracy. The oxymoronic element is that such a notion negates the organic and evolving basis of democracy, something which cannot be transferred like a turnkey technology but which must arise from the long-term struggles of a people within their own defined spaces of identity and "imagined community."

The underlying assumptions of democracy promotion beg several basic questions. The first is whether the United States is justified in considering itself a democracy. Indicators of democracy are discussed in the concluding Chapter 5 and in the American case are found wanting. Given the extreme concentration of wealth in the United States, with the top 1 percent astoundingly owning more financial wealth than the lower 95 percent and with the greatest income inequality of any leading industrial state, there is growing skepticism about its democratic claims. Indeed, for much of its early history, the term "democrat" had a pejorative meaning for the governing class, usually associated with a condescending and anxious view of popular participation in politics (Wray 1999, 744). To the extent that the United States can be considered democratic (as opposed to those who would describe it as plutocratic), can it also be assumed that the features of democracy are universal and transferable, without regard to specificities of history, culture, demographic makeup, economic conditions, existing political institutions, and variations in the idea of state sovereignty?

Second, looking at the minimalist definition of democracy, namely, the holding of regular elections, the United States has problems convincing many people outside (or even within) the country that it is a system worthy of emulation. Poor turnouts and extraordinarily high costs of campaigning earn its political system the epithet of "the best elections that money can buy." And, last, does the United States or any other country have the moral or legal right to help depose political leaders of other states in situations short of a declaration of war or where crimes of genocide or those of similar severity are present and established? Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia was arrested and subsequently charged with genocide (the first state leader to be so charged in a court of law) only after his failed reelection in 2000, not during the NATO bombing campaign that sought to drive him from office. Clearly, the scale of U.S. violence against the citizenry in Indochina was of a magnitude higher than that of any country since Nazi Germany's Holocaust, but no serious effort was ever made to bring Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon to legal account.

It is remarkable that the American mainstream media lay blame for state corruption at the top of the political ladder in other countries but permit their own government to assign fault at lower levels of decision-making. The false information that led to the invasion of Iraq, the abuses committed in Abu Ghraib, the illegal surveillance of American citizens, the politicization of hiring and firing of Justice Department attorneys and other civil service employees, the human disaster following Hurricane Katrina, and other policy scandals were laid at the feet of lower-Level officials, and neither the media nor the opposition party chose to pursue these matters beyond meek and ineffective Congressional hearings. In other capitalist states, such state behavior most likely would have led to the resignation of the head of government and probably the immediate collapse of the administration in power.

The year 1991 marked the final crumbling of the Soviet Union and the alliance of communist parties in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to international brand consultant, Jared Salter, while millions of people "were watching the images of Germans sledge-hammering the Berlin Wall, a number of multi-national corporations were huddled in conference rooms across the world planning their entrance strategies into Eastern Europe" (Salter 2006). By 1996, the Russian economy, guided by Western "shock therapy," was in shambles, nearly cut in half. Most of the rest of the region also fell into varying degrees of recession. And although the majority of the Russian people may not have given up on the idea of democracy, the neoliberal market version of democratic doctrine that the United States attempted to transplant was largely discredited.

With the passing of the Soviet Union, the United States could in the short term exert power in CEE as never before. As a second tier industrial region, the CEE countries were ripe for economic and financial integration with the West. The United States and its Western European allies were active as well in influencing the pace of change in the political sector. Of total Western political party support in the post-Soviet era, the majority of it has focused on Central and Eastern Europe (Adesnik and McFaul 2006, 435). The H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations gave active support to Russia's new president, Boris Yeltsin, despite his well-known alcoholism and unstable, autocratic personal reputation.

The postwar U.S. propaganda agencies, largely associated with America's Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, did not slow with the end of communist rule. U.S. propaganda, paced by the commercial advertising, marketing, and PR industries, has become a staple of American society. Of course, the United States has not been alone in the development of propaganda. Indeed, two of Russia's largest political marketing firms are called "Niccolo M." (named for the first state propagandist) and, even more explicit, "PRopaganda." The difference is that Russians (and previously the Soviet Union) are relatively open about their uses of propaganda and do not associate the term with lies, manipulation, or social deception. In the early Soviet era, the government had a department for agitation and propaganda, designed for what it saw as the necessity of stirring the masses to action and spreading revolutionary information (one of the functions of their media system). They later renamed it the ideological department. In the United States as well the term "propaganda" had a legitimate status through the Second World War, after which it came to be negatively associated with totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

In statist command economies, propaganda is identified as simply persuasion. In market economies, advertising is seen as "information." Michael Schudson (1984) sees propaganda in the form of mass advertising as "capitalist realism," which, he argues, diminishes recognition of actual human experience. But the problem of capitalist propaganda is more destructive than that. Commercial advertising represents commodities through appeals to fantasy and sentiment, reducing ordinary people to spectators of commodified exotica, which are fetishized as independent of their own labor. Similarly, the United States casts Cold War propaganda as a religiously Manichean tale, disguising its origins in the formation of the military-industrial complex.

Propaganda techniques were central to the development of the "color revolutions" that took place in Eastern Europe.2 The term "color revolution" (not to be confused with the "color war" games played in children's summer camps) is a brand drawn from the emblems of oppositionist parties that contested the existing power arrangements in their respective former communist countries in the CEE and Central Asian regions. From the U.S. point of view, these were authentic struggles for "democracy." As one study on international public diplomacy found, one of the frequent metaphors associated with these "revolutions" was the term "frontier," a policy concept first described in the westward expansion of Europeans on the North American continent. What the United States portrayed as a domestic struggle between tyranny and freedom, deploying a glossary of Orwellian metaphors, concealed the proxy aspect of the conflict between the lone superpower and Russia (Zhang 2007).


In this study, I focus on the uses of" democracy promotion" as a rhetorical device and term of propaganda employed in foreign state intervention. In critiquing" democracy promotion," the intention is to both reveal the importance of political communication as an instrument of policy legitimation and the uses of political language in the framing and defense of state behavior. I argue that foreign policy propaganda is an extension of its expanded and systemic uses in the domestic context and that, especially in recent years, democracy promotion abroad corresponds to democracy's decline in the United States. Indeed, sweeping state assaults on accepted civil rights standards have seriously eroded core tenets of the putatively democratic American society, particularly during the G. W. Bush administration. This has made official "democracy" lexicon rather dubious and raised the specter of an Orwellian state discourse that applies emancipatory language in the practice of citizen surveillance and repression. Elections serve as unique symbolic opportunities for channeling foreign support toward the capture of state authority, but the legitimacy of their outcomes is selectively authorized for favored candidates and groups. When groups such as Hamas or when socialists or nationalists capture the votes of most citizens, the process is withheld. "Democratic" is assigned a posteriori, corresponding with the desired result (and with the structural changes anticipated to follow).

Propaganda is the lens through which I analyze America's "freedom agenda" [3] and program of "democracy promotion," specifically the active intervention of the United States in the Eastern European "color revolutions." In Chapter 1, I provide what I think is a fresh approach to understanding political persuasion with the idea of systemic propaganda. In brief, I argue that the United States and other "post-industrial" states have structurally transformed their economies through principles of neoliberalism and with an infrastructure of digital information and communication technologies and information workers that serve as the main forces of production. The informational economy essentially sells commodities that are largely produced elsewhere. As such, promotional activities, including advertising, marketing, public relations, and sales management, are now key areas of what Castells (1996) calls the new "mode of development." Rooted in almost every aspect of daily life, the science of organized persuasion has extended propaganda to new boundaries, resulting in a promotional commercial, political, and popular culture. According to Kenneth Osgood:

Paralleling a broader development in international politics, where symbols and images loom large as critical components of political power, the phenomenon of posturing for public opinion has become increasingly sophisticated, involving such techniques as staged media events, generated news, orchestrated public appearances, and carefully scripted sound bites. The communication techniques that camouflage modern propaganda have obscured the basic fact that the end of the Cold War has brought about more propaganda, not less (Osgood 2001).

Adopting the concept framework of systemic propaganda, I review in Chapter 2 the relationship and development of propaganda in foreign policy since the Second World War. As Antonio Gramsci, Robert Brady, Edward Bernays, Noam Chomsky, and others, each in distinct ways, have pointed out, propaganda is a central requirement of capitalist democracies in order to construct a consensus in which the public willingly complies with elite prerogatives. "Democracy promotion" has been part of U.S. power relations in the world since the Second World War, but until the late 1970s it was associated with the covert actions of the CIA. Public reaction against rogue state behavior, at home and abroad, led to a more refined instrument for pursuing big power objectives with the creation in 1983 of the National Endowment for Democracy and other public and private organizations that assumed the role as democracy promoting agents overseas. Chapter 3 discusses the organizational infrastructure, bureaucracy, and background of contemporary democracy promotion programs and their guiding principles. I include a comparative analysis of the U.S. and Western European democracy assistance institutions as well as the NGOs in Central Europe that carry out programs in Eastern Europe on behalf of their Western donors. In Chapter 4, I discuss the projects of all these organizations in Central and Eastern Europe. The main Central European countries studied are Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, and the Eastern European countries in which U.S. and E.U. interventions are considered include Russia, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus, with additional references to other Eastern European and Central Asian countries. And Chapter 5 provides a summary of the main findings about "democracy promotion" as a term and instrument of propaganda in the "color revolutions." This final chapter also offers a counterpoint to conventional notions about American democracy and the rationale for the transfer of U.S. political institutions overseas. It then offers a prescription for strengthening the meaning and practice of democracy promotion.


I should make clear that the design and objective of this study are not to evaluate the legitimacy of Eastern European institutions, politics, or states or to judge whether the upheavals that brought about regime change were necessary or not. Nor is its purpose to disparage or dispute the democratic aspirations of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe who took protest to the streets. Rather, the purpose is principally to analyze the role of the United States, and to a lesser extent for comparative interest that of Germany and Britain, in intervening in the events that brought down constitutional heads of state and government in that region. The study is intended neither as a defense nor a critique of people such as Milosevic, Shevardnadze, or Yanukovych, who were forced out of power. It is a critical investigation of the ideological claims of the United States that it acted in support of democracy and that it demonstrated impartial behavior with respect to the competing party formations and personalities in the countries in which it targeted its regime change interventions. It raises the larger concern about whether the United States, alone or in concert with its allies, respects the sovereignty of former Soviet bloc states and whether it provoked the onset of what one Canadian journalist sees as a "new Cold War" (MacKinnon 2007).

I also do not compare U.S. and Russian intervention in Eastern Europe, as I do not wish to resuscitate a Cold War framing of political events. From my standpoint, and I believe for most, though certainly not all, people from the CEE region, Russian political interference is no more welcome in the region than that of the United States. However, one has to understand the Russian point of view, particularly with regard to the historical tragic realities of the multiple brutal invasions that struck the Soviet Union during the 20th century to appreciate the Russian government's and people's misgivings about U.S. and allied collusions and interventions with elements in the region that are hostile to Russia. If this is difficult to comprehend, it might help to imagine a scenario in which the story is reversed - an aggressive political and military presence in the countries contiguous or close to the United States (e.g., Cuba) by a foreign power and how the United States currently would perceive and respond to such threats.

Furthermore, inasmuch as democracy promotion involves a large number of programs and projects, the focus in this study is on a particular set of" democracy promotion" activities in the political, party, and electoral sphere and not on those concerned with constitutional law, public administration, or civil society, though there is discussion of civil society with reference to some of the political NGOs that have operated in support of regime change in the CEE region. With the growing concentration and influence of industrial and financial power in state policy, political parties have become in many countries fragile entities. But parties remain, nonetheless, critical entities for articulating diverse ideological streams and interests and mobilizing voters around issues, instead of just personalities. They are also extremely important for contesting power, even if, as in the United States, they have become convergent in many respects (foreign policy, defense of corporate agendas, downsizing the public sector, etc.).

As for the selection of the CEE region, although the United States and its allies engage in democracy promotion all over the world, there is a compelling reason to study the former communist European countries inasmuch as they served as the central concern of U.S. foreign policy throughout the postwar era and were long both the source and the target of intense propaganda. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the dramatic collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact alliance opened possibilities for new and organic forms of democratic governance. The internal ruling party conflicts and social upheavals across the region that brought down the old governing structures led to hopes by many for a deeper level of citizen engagement in public affairs. Popular demands included independent labor unions, grassroots civic organizations and political and social movements, and direct and genuinely representative, inclusive, transparent, and non-discriminatory political institutions. A key question for this study is whether U.S.-led efforts have accelerated or set back the organic development of a genuine democratic movement in the Eastern European region as a whole.


1. For the purpose of this study, Russia is considered part of Eastern Europe.

2. In this study, so as not to reinforce the propaganda value they seek to create, I avoid capitalizing many terms that are constructed by the state and the media for ideolog1ca purposes.

3. Bush made his "freedom agenda" and "democracy promotion" a highlight of his second inaugural address in 2005 when he declared: "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world (U.S. White House 2005).
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:04 pm


Research for this book required travel to places far from home: Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Boston, England, Scotland, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, and other locations where I met with members of various political and civil society NGOs, fellow academics and researchers, government officials, and international political, development, and media consultants or presented papers. The project would not have been possible without institutional funds, travel grants, and summer stipends from Portland State University. For those individuals who shared my enthusiasm for this research project and were willing to assist it financially, I have a special debt of gratitude. I thank Larry Wallack, who as dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs has been a consistent source of encouragement and support for my research, as has my School director, Ethan Seltzer. PSU's vice president for international affairs, Gil Latz, also expressed much interest and provided timely financial assistance, as did Liberal Arts & Sciences dean, Marvin Kaiser. I thank my unknown colleagues who sat on committees that approved various research and travel awards. Appreciation is also offered to David Miller at Strathclyde University, Frank Webster, then at University of Birmingham, and Dominic Wring at Loughborough University, who helped support my travels to the United Kingdom, and to Ibrahim Aoude and Joel Myron, friends, comrades, and interlocutors for many years, and Winfried Schulz, who connected me with people at the German political party foundations. In the world of scholars and journalists who have written about democracy assistance, Tom Carothers, Janine Wedel, and Jonathan Steele gave solid advice on how to think about and pursue the topic.

Over several years, with the help of graduate research assistants, I collected a roomful of materials and carried out many interviews, both in the United States and abroad. Much appreciation goes to several students who over the past few years assisted my research on this project. Leanne Serbulo not only tracked down items like a good social science detective but also critically engaged me in discussions about the meaning and significance of political movements, civil society organizations, and democracy assistance as a foreign policy construct. Sascha Krader collected many important documents for this study and collaborated on one of the early published spinoffs of this book research. Tanya March and Renee Bogin were meticulous researchers, who located relevant articles and several of the people whom I interviewed for this project. Carey Higgins helped with the index. And Cosimo Valela generously shared documents he discovered in connection with his own graduate research on promotional culture.

Among my current and former Portland State colleagues, I especially want to thank Sy Adler, Evguenia Davidova, Mel Gurtov, John Hall, Charles Heying, Vivek Shandas, and Irina Sharkova, who were regularly available for conversations and offered insights or questions that needed to be answered. I also wish to thank Mary Savigar of Peter Lang for her patience, interest, and encouragement for this book project, and to Bruce Gronbeck, who, as series editor, offered good suggestions on the first draft of the study.

I reserve my deepest affection for my wonderful and bright children, Daniel and Jacqueline, who helped me maintain a healthy perspective and sense of humor during the arduous course of researching and writing this manuscript.
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:36 pm

Part 1 of 2


In the West the calculated manipulation of public opinion to serve political and ideological interests is much more covert and therefore much more effective than a propaganda system imposed in a totalitarian regime . ... It's not so much the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about.


This study examines what the U.S. government calls it "democracy promotion" agenda in foreign policy, treating the concept (hence the quotation marks) as an expression of propaganda. Indeed, the very use of the term "promotion" in foreign policy signals a spectacular publicity and marketing effort on behalf of state enterprise. The area focus of this study is Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), a region that has been a primary target of propaganda before, during, and since the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. government and other public and private agencies began to exercise a free hand, including the renewed use of Cold War type propaganda, in opening the region to political, economic, cultural, and military intervention, which in turn revived Russian anxieties about the West and renewed propaganda on both sides. Some in fact speak of a new cold war in the making.

Building on the traditional conception of propaganda, namely the various instrumental and ideological forms of representation aimed at legitimizing certain policy objectives of organized and powerful interests, or those aspiring to that status, the analysis employed reaches beyond this understanding. Propaganda since the late 20th century is seen to stem from the systemic foundations of promotional communications in the informational market economy. That is to say, propaganda is more than a unit of symbolic expression summoned up to persuade the public about specific projects and programs; it has broad social, material, or policy objectives. There are various types of propaganda, some of which might be called "hard propaganda," which refers to a deep level and wide canvas of public persuasion and mobilization, and another, more common, type, a "soft propaganda," which is more fleeting in its objectives and where state interests are less directly involved.

Propaganda is immanent within the restructured information-intensive Western economy and the publicity-hungry "symbolic state." As such, its uses are compelling, particularly in a society where social value is increasingly measured in terms of customer or audience share. Enterprise of every sort, from health care to university undergraduate curricula, is now grounded in a pervasive culture of marketing. [1] It is rooted in an economy whose state and corporate agents have moved large segments of labor-intensive manufacturing employment offshore and converted workers and professionals, in the United States in particular, into information processors and a nation of viral marketers.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2006 there were approximately 583,000 people in advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales management (US. Department of Labor 2007). A report of the Institute for Public Relations called this figure a gross underestimation (Falconi 2006). In any event, it is a small fraction of the actual employment involved in promotional work. Such would also include sales clerks, sales and customer services agents, telemarketers, lobbyists, speech writers, graphic designers, commercial illustrators, producers, talent, and crew members involved in ad production, copy writers, advertising strategists, window display designers, and a myriad of other occupations in which people in some part of their work lives engage in pitching commodities, services, images, private or government interests, or public policies. According to a PRWeek survey, as of early 2009, 67 percent of PR professionals worked for PR firms or corporations, the rest worked as free lancers (8 percent), for non-profits (8 percent), education (5 percent), and government (3 percent) (Zerillo 2009).

A 2003 study cited a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculation that over 15 million people work in sales positions alone (Lambert 2003, 8). Sponsored activity, from public plazas to high school sports stadia, has exploded over time, particularly in cash-strapped public institutions. Global corporate sponsorship in the first 9 months of2003 alone amounted to $122.4 billion. Of this, 60.8 percent came from US.-based firms, 11.3 percent from Britain, 8.4 percent from Italy, and 4.1 percent from firms based in France (Lewis 2004).

For the past 25 years, advertising expenditure in the United States has been a steady proportion of GDP, between 2.0 and 2.5 percent from 1982 to 2007. In 2006, the amount spent on U.S. advertising reached more than $155 billion, close to the GDP of Egypt (with more than 80 million people). This does not include the enormous expenditures on consumer research, design, packaging, display, PR, and marketing. American culture, and increasingly other cultures, is awash in oceans of image-making activities. Media executives do not have to be told by advertisers to produce content that motivates desires for the consumer life. Many of the leading U.S. pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than on R&D. By far, the largest source of media revenue (almost 100 percent for television) comes from pitching consumer messages. The cultivation of critical awareness would disrupt the mood for consumption and the main trade of media enterprises - delivering audiences to advertisers.


Modern propaganda techniques have been largely advanced within the private corporate commercial sphere. Drawing on overflowing citizen-consumer databases in a surveillance-penetrated society, American corporations focus more of their energies on marketing commodities and brands than on producing them. And in the public sector, with much of the state's functions now farmed out to private contractors, the business world has considerably more of a direct hand in influencing if not managing governmental affairs - from producing public informational goods, to providing mercenary soldiering abroad, to organizing the political campaign process. Intensive surveillance and analysis of citizen personal data and consumer habits are conducted by companies such as Acxiom [2] and sold to private vendors and to political campaign consultants who then target customized, interest-focused direct mail to potential voters for their candidates.

One of the early leaders in the field of public relations, Edward Bernays, wrote a book, Propaganda, originally published in 1928, in which he begins with the following proposition: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country" (Bernays 2005, 37). As Bernays argued, propaganda serves to lead "the masses" (or what a political commentator of his time, Walter Lippmann, called "the bewildered herd")3 toward a frame of understanding that protects the social order from the continuous resurfacing of radical dissent or simply citizens' assertions of First Amendment rights.

The hegemonic grip of the Western capitalist state is considerably more solidified through systemic propaganda, now reliant on ever-intensified applications of digital information technologies and media to deliver unending spectacles of commercial culture and political events. On any local American television station, the "hook & hold" order of news presentation almost always commences with stories of murder, car accidents, or a fire disaster and includes a lot of advertising. There are clear reasons for this. The country's leading television consulting firms, such as Frank Magid Associates, working closely with advertising interests, suggest this format to local stations to capture the attention of the viewing public and high ratings, converting news into a form of entertainment.

Moreover, violent crime stories in particular are inexpensive to produce, as local police public relations offices are happy to provide data and interviews, which in turn ideologically support public financing for police work. But the most important reason is that high ratings please potential advertisers, on whom TV stations rely for virtually all of their earnings. The anxiety induced by violent crime, fire, and other fear-based reports is also associated with consumption and habitual reconsumption. In news reporting, the market prevails - and fear sells. Indeed, one could say that in authoritarian states, one seeks freedom of the media, whereas in quasi-democratic states, relief from propaganda requires freedom from the (mainstream) media (Ragnedda 2005).

In laissez faire economies, all forms of culture are subject to appropriation and commoditization. The lyrics of the "rebel" Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" were leased to advertise a British supermarket. His "Forever Young" was sung on behalf of Pepsi at Super Bowl XLIII. Works of art are integrated into vodka commercials. All that was once considered part of a distinct cultural realm is now open territory for the pitching of consumerism and brand identification. One U.K.-based branding and marketing firm for companies and their products, which calls itself "Propaganda," has a registered trademark on the name.

The information economy is increasingly grounded in the selling of symbolic goods (images, data, visual games, media, and other immaterial commodities) requiring a greater emphasis on consumerism as the prevailing "religion." Most popular manufactured consumer goods (clothing, footwear, toys, computers, phones, television sets, hardware, and other items) are produced offshore, while domestic industry revolves around advertising and marketing activities. In the last 50 years of the 20th century, manufacturing jobs in the United States were reduced from more than one-third of the total to just over one-tenth, while service employment rose to about 80 percent (Hagenbaugh 2002). The biggest structural change IS that the U.S. and other leading capitalist economies have become marketing (promotional) economies and cultures.

The escalation of promotional culture derives largely from neoliberal injunctions to put the market first (and labor last). Popular culture is glutted with examples of risk-averse, low-cost media productions, including the monotonously repetitious "reality TV" format. Such a format deceptively has little to do with its implied spontaneity and real-life drama, as the reality shows, like more traditional programs, are structured via casting, directing, sequencing, and manipulative editing designed to evoke suspense, extreme emotions, confrontation, and a survival-of-the-fittest response from non-actors set up in contrived feuding or romantic situations. Like WWE wrestling or the Jerry Springer show, the idea is to stimulate the credulous, bored, high-testosterone, or alienated audience's visceral response and sell them on fake conflict or love interest, which in turn pleases advertisers. The principal "reality" is that production studios hire the program "talent" and crew largely without benefit of unions and wage and benefit protections (Poniewozik 2006).

Neoliberalism's assault on government regulations has had a direct impact on the promotional content of the mainstream media. The withdrawal of promotional restraints that were originally intended for citizen protection has given corporations a virtual carte blanche to market potentially dangerous products, such as in direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals targeted to both adults and children, with seemingly little concern for physical and mental health risks. Orbs Dissolvable Tobacco, which looks like mint candy, is designed to appeal to children, just as "Joe Camel" cigarettes had a similar demographic appeal until the RJ. Reynolds Tobacco Company agreed to end this particular advertising campaign in 1997.

The decline of corporate broadcasters' standards is also evident is the profusion of advertising featuring semi-erotic sexuality, from "girls gone wild," to telephone sex-talk advertisements, to ubiquitous promotion of male potency and other sexual enhancement drugs. Ordinary web pages are filled with seductive ads featuring young nubile women in suggestive poses. The media also use the airwaves to incite salacious interest in celebrities, helping to foster uncreative, unproductive, and voyeuristic interests in viewers, which is another kind of soft pornography. The common denominator of all these examples is the need of media producers to create audience-grabbing programs to satisfy their backers - financial and advertising. The FCC has facilitated this capture of the airwaves by focusing regulation on "dirty words." Congress appears unwilling to take on powerful corporate sponsors or to establish rules that put broadcasting in the service of broader public interests.

Commercial media messages, many very crude, are penetrating literally every pore of the society through print media and the nominally public airwaves. Sports stadia bear corporate identities. Metropolitan transit administrations are selling off naming rights for long-established subway and streetcar stops, such as the new Barclays reassignment to the old Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street station in Brooklyn. Air New Zealand hired a woman to shave her head and permit a tattooed commercial to be printed on it as part of what's called a "cranial billboard" (Newman 2009). Another manifestation of this hyper-commercialization is the increasing use of product placement and plugola (marketing the network or parent company's assets in news and public affairs programming). Cisco Systems, as just one example, has a 'long list of media outlets where it covertly weaves product appearances and even pays for script adaptations to feature its line of goods. Its media outlets include: "CSI: NY" (CBS), "24" (Fox), "Heroes" (NBC), "You, Me and Dupree" (Vivendi Universal), and "I Am Legend" (Time Warner! Warner Bros.). In an episode of "24," "the words 'Cisco Telepresence' [video conferencing system] appear in a close-up that fills the screen" (Clifford 2008, C1). What alarms media critics is the surrender of television to the lustful demands of advertisers and its annihilation as even a limited medium for the dissemination of impartial information, culture, and ideas that benefit the public.

With the reduction of barriers to the global monopolistic integration of markets, there also has been a greater utilization of audiences as a valorizing force in the production of informational commodities and propaganda. Under the broad surveillance of commercial vendors, credit institutions, polling organizations of various kinds (which originated from market research), and associated interests, socio-economic groups and individuals are targeted and profiled for their tastes, lifestyles, and materialist predilections. "The trend is toward one-to-one marketing and personalized techniques such as loyalty 'clubs,' co-branded credit cards, named and narrow-cast mailshots and targeted advertising on invoices that are customized to the buying patterns of each consumer," writes David Lyon (Lyon 2001, 43). In the marketing-oriented economy, consumption effectively becomes a form of labor insofar as either voluntarily proffered or surreptitiously gathered data are central to commodity conception and the processing of sales.

As labor is defined by the creation of value, consumers who supply information about themselves (and virtually all consumers do precisely that) are employed largely without compensation as de facto labor. Industries also profit from commodifying as an asset people's "watching time" and through the valorization of consciousness, relying on the audience's informal person-to-person marketing (Jhally 1987). Beyond the exploitation involved in "watching as working," the panoptic surveillance of credit cards, Internet use, employment, medical, and other records, as well as information collected through various kinds of surveys, yields a data base from which companies make production, design, and market decisions. Citing Marx's observations in Capital, one author notes that in the contemporary economy, capitalism is able to engage in super-exploitation with the appropriation of "non-wage and irregular labour as a necessary condition for the production of surplus value," which takes on "a more general societal character" (Fuchs no date). The working population that gives of its personal information and knowledge, accumulated in both the present and the past ("dead labor"), constitutes a wageless and commodified labor sector. Consumer information is thus employed by the capitalist as a force of production.

Far from constituting a "post-industrial" era, the present economic condition is one of hyperindustrialism in which the regimentation of factory life is extended in the so-called information society to services production, bringing about sweeping surveillance and a more pervasive organization of consumption. Mario Tronti anticipated in 1962 an era in which "the whole society becomes an articulation of production ... a function of the factory" (cited in Cleaver 1992, 137, n. 13; Cleaver's translation). This transformation involves a decentralization of symbolic from material production in the international division of labor where "[b ]rand names, product definition and design, and marketing are being kept in-house, while manufacturing, logistics, distribution, and most support functions are being outsourced" (Sturgeon 1997, 14). Far more easily accessed and reprocessed into forms of symbolic persuasion than in the past, information is easily and regularly converted into flexible, manipulatable propaganda. [4] As such, it is no longer an incidental practice in the neoliberal political economy; it resides at the core of both production and consumption, transforming data into commodities and forms of capital.

Neoliberalism is a top-down, supply-side discourse about generating wealth through networked centers and flows of capital and dismantling the New Deal social welfare orientation of the state. Under neoliberalism, a convergence of commercial and political propaganda finds its maturity in the "post-fordist" (flexible, deterritorialized production processes) political economy. And under postfordism (starting in the 1970s), politics and public administration are restructured, privatized, and submerged within a system of promotionalism, branding, rapid turnover, and intensified consumerism for those with the means to pay for it. Government services are largely contracted out to the private sector. According to National Public Radio's Daniel Zwerdling, from 2001 to 2007 alone, the Bush administration outsourced $2.2 trillion of government services to private contractors, most of it based on limited or non-competitive bidding (cited in Hall 2008), leading to a scale of waste and corruption never before seen in the United States.

With neoliberalism, TV stations invent new broadcasting standards and regularly use celebrities and supposed "experts" to offer "news" about commercial products - infomercials. At least half of print and broadcast news in fact originates with PR firms, which, as the 2003 documentary "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You" revealed (see also the 1995 book by same title), transforms journalists into operatives for state and commercial propaganda. It has become standard practice at many local TV stations for the business department to select topics and events for reporters to cover, often those that relate directly to station sponsors. Such genetically modified journalism illustrates neoliberalism's impact on the newsroom.

There is another convergence of information and propaganda, "infoganda," a term which New York Times op-ed writer Frank Rich used to refer to the Bush administration's efforts to spin the news (e.g., the "Mission Accomplished" photo op on board a U.S. warship during the 2003 invasion of Iraq). Infoganda was first applied during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf conflict (under Bush Sr.) to describe the reports and footage the military supplied to journalists covering that invasion. This was the government's way of controlling print and broadcast messages reaching the public (Nunberg 2004). "Strategic communication" is the military's counterpart to the civilian sector's "public diplomacy." Both involve the centralized and instrumental uses of communications toward targeted audiences (i.e., propaganda). Strategic communications are now employed in business enterprises as well to create a unified image through multiple channels of dissemination: PR, advertising, marketing, sales, and other forms of promotion.

In the era of "fordism" (regulated capitalism, centralized, large-scale mass production, powerful unions, state welfare), the doctrine called for paying workers in the core countries enough to afford the basic amenities of life; under "post-fordism," there is a spatial segregation of production and promotion of goods production, held together by a global communications infrastructure, that annihilates this expectation and socializes workers in the main consumer countries through the instruction of desire to go into debt to purchase such commodities. Aided by time and space compression and removing constraints previously imposed by history, culture, or past political practice, global communications infrastructure enables an imperial class to dominate a world that does "not recognize other polities as legitimate equals" (Hendrik Spruyt in Pieterse 2004, 121). Western consumption is increasingly subsidized by repression in the manufacturing platforms that have been relocated to less developed countries, where formal sector wages are far lower and benefits are almost non-existent. This has resulted in a new geographically distributed, though intrinsically unstable, international division of labor, with increasing levels of precarity (highly insecure worklives) for workers in the core countries.

As the United States has become a finance- and credit-driven service and high consumption economy, its commercial activities have required more sophisticated selling, marketing, advertising, and other types of promotional activities. Indeed, it is a cliche among marketers that "perception is reality," which speaks to the level of image making necessary to sell commodities and deceive consumers. Nearly every formal activity, from medical practice to higher education to the running of used car lots, falls under this commercial logic. The maintenance of power in the United States is premised and dependent upon the cultivation of "free market" doctrine, constant innovations in marketing and spin, and massive military spending and sales. Promotion is always at the forefront of private and public policy. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, former lobbyist for the automobile industry, indicated that the rationale for setting September 2002 as the start of the PR campaign for the invasion of Iraq was rooted in promotion: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August" (Pie terse 2004, 123, 128).


The French sociologist Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) offered an important insight in proposing that modern propaganda is not simply communication in the service of discrete powerful interests but rather has a much broader character, embedded in the whole of technological society. [5] Mainstream media, he argued, form the modern informational environment for the political and commercial orchestration of dominant ideas and values. The importance of propaganda, he observed, is not only to agitate people to action but also to reinforce the integration of people in their societal roles (Kellen 1965, vi). One limitation in Ellu1's thinking, which was guided by a Christian ethos, is that he regarded technology as an independent force invariably serving the interests of organized power and despoiling the natural world. Under-theorizing, he ignored the political economic necessities behind technological developments as well as the contested possibilities in which individuals and groups could and do reappropriate their design and uses. Ellu1's ideas nonetheless formed an important critical contribution to the sociology of technology and the understanding of its relationship to organized power.

Ellul would likely be more discouraged about the present era, as the current structure of propaganda is more systemically rooted than in his own time. By systemic, I refer to the political and economic structuring and restructuring of society. Transnational corporations (TNCs), with the active support of the state, have moved a large share of the manufacturing workforce overseas as part of a domestic deindustrialization, while retaining finance, creative industries, and producer services, including advertising, marketing, public relations, polling, focus group analysis, and other information management activities in their headquarters markets. These techniques and technologies of persuasion are now part of a global propaganda network in which the economic and political interests of the state are more fully converged and dependent upon massive public support to commercial, financial, and industrial markets and technological innovation. It is indeed one of the compelling myths that an independent business class and "free market" have guided the material development of the United States, when in fact, as any substantive historical text will reveal, the rise of the American economic system was founded on a deep alliance and mutually reinforcing political, economic, and juridical relationships between capital and the state.

One of the most perceptive analyses of 20th century political economic development in the United States is found in the work of an Australian, Alex Carey. In his most-cited work, Carey showed how corporate capitalism managed a system of propaganda in order to "take the risk out of democracy." By this he meant that democracy had been captured by a corporate-dominated political order that would not permit the public to restrain its market-dominating, monopolistic behavior and agenda-setting privileges. This required the control of key instruments of informational dissemination - the mainstream media, the social sciences, and other avenues of public persuasion. Public relations was created to help relieve corporate capitalism of the risks of both its expansion and public outrage at its concentration of power. By the 1950s, propaganda had become not simply a tool of industry but an industry unto itself. Reaching every home in America, advertising and PR redirected public awareness away from the realities of corporate concentration and power, not as a conspiracy but as an immanent necessity (Carey 1995).

By the 1980s, corporate elites moved vast amounts of capital overseas. TNCs now wield the single greatest power over U.S. foreign policy, and some of the most repressive regime behavior by the West and their subalterns is frequently overlooked in order to protect their interests. Among the many worst examples of the 20th century included Union Carbide's successful efforts to get Congress to set aside the U.N.-directed sanctions against the white minority Rhodesian government in the 1970s, the cooperation of American corporations with Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, and the collaboration of state and capital in support of the brutal juntas in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile in the 1970s and early 1980s (Rieffer and Mercer 2005, 390). One could add to this list the support for the Saudi regime on behalf of the oil and weapons industries, coffee trade with Latin American regimes, arms sales to Egypt and Pakistan, farm exports to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, and massive military transfers to Israel carried out in the name of defending peace.

The conversion to a civilian economy after the Second World War, backed up by a high level of military spending, an intact industrial base with no major competition for world markets, pent-up consumer demand, relatively strong trade unions, a pro-business expansion government, and the advent of advertising-sponsored television that reached more than 90 percent of households, led to an explosion of consumerism. By the 1950s, consumerism had become the prevailing "religion" in America. Both catch-all political parties led the celebration of the materialist and largely mythical "American dream." In the 1980s, there was a marked shift in the structural features of the U. S. economy, engineered by neoliberal economic policies, government deregulation, and the beginning of a digital revamping of the production system. From that point, surveillance and storing, processing, merging, and massaging data on citizens have had greatly expanded capacities. The demand for promotional services made propaganda industries a systemic necessity for the stimulation and social conditioning of public taste, cultural attitudes and values, brand loyalty, and, in the political domain, the management of "public opinion." [6]

Manuel Castells sees tertiary sector technology and its related organizational structures as aspects of the new "mode of development" (the organizational and technological structures) that, together with a new caste of information workers, operates within the dominant mode of production (capitalism). The most central of production technologies is digital communications, whose main utility is in developing and delivering various forms of marketable information and informational commodities. In turn, the persuasive uses of symbols to sell ideas and ideology - from consumption of goods to consumption of politics and foreign policy projects - is the logical outcome of such a mode of development and production. In the era of digital production of symbolic goods, the main application of knowledge is upon knowledge itself (Wayne 2003, 44). Social relations of production in the new economy are transfigured within the larger international division of labor, taking it beyond capital and formal labor toward value-creating associations between marketer and consumer (the commodified citizen), further mystifying the nature of the social production of commodities.

In his notion of the "information society," Daniel Bell imagined information to have a neutral character. This can hardly be valid in a world given to extraordinary levels of consumerism - and its cognate, promotionalism - as a way of life. In the consumer economy, the prevailing uses of processed data are not simply informational in character or designed as a public good (such as critical teaching of history). Rather they are primarily promotional, which involves a control of language in ways that displace the value of general wisdom and "common sense" that historically emerged in sites where public conversation, debate, and consensus on necessities and meanings took place (the public sphere).

In the technological and institutional settings of this new political economy, symbols and symbol-wielding language and tactics used to produce consensus cross political and commercial lines. What Castells calls the informational mode of development is central not only in commerce but in the system of choosing political representatives and leaders. According to Jean Baudrillard, "Propaganda becomes the marketing and merchandising of idea-forces of political men [sic] and parties with their 'trade-mark image' .... This convergence defines a society - ours - in which there is no longer any difference between the economic and the political, because the same language reigns in both, from one end to the other" (Baudrillard 1994, 88).

Aided by digital communications appearing in multiple formats that diffuse and increase the impulse to consume (Migone 2007), the public sphere is thus transformed. The new media enable an acceleration in the way that raw data, processed information, logos, ideas, symbols, images, currencies, financial documents, and surveillance produce the symbolic universe of politics, finance, culture, and commerce. As the mediating influence and behavioral codes of the public sphere diminish, private and state capital rely ever more on propaganda. This is the logical outcome of the neoliberal basis of accumulation, speeding up the integration of the world as "spaces of flows" of goods and services (Castells 1996). For many years, corporate advertisers, virtually unimpeded, have imprinted American adults and youth alike with branded identities of consumption. In the area of public affairs information, more than half of what passes for news in America originates covertly with PR firms. The "PR state," as one observer (Young 2004) calls it, is founded on advertising and political marketing, which stir up emotional states for commodity and political consumption.
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

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Propaganda is usually conceived as a form of speech, text, or other audio or visual message created on behalf of an empowered interest in a way that not simply informs but to enjoins the receiver in a subordinate relationship of uncritical belief. Propaganda may be based on false or misleading information, or it may contain accurate information or both. The point of propaganda is not necessarily to deceive but rather to help internalize or reinforce in the receiver identification with the practical and policy outcomes of the institution or individual for which it was produced. For Hannah Arendt, propagandists view politics as a form of public relations in which citizens are reduced to audiences (Arendt 1972, 11). The economist Robert Brady wrote:

When these ideas and techniques are focused on the "sale of ideas," the net result may be summarized as forceful persuasion, via calculating doctrinal exegesis, of those potentially convertible social layers who are most apt to be won over to the rules of status at the lowest per capita cost, by articulate and ideologically ambidextrous spokesmen for those who have a special vested interest in the maintenance of the status quo (Brady 1943, 292).

The status quo refers to the power configuration of political and economic elites acting in coordination, for the most part without direct collusion, to maintain control through accumulation of wealth, the mobilization of public opinion - or what the leading journalist of his time, Walter Lippmann, called the "manufacture of [popular] consent" - and, when necessary, via the use of state repression and violence. Neoliberalism, introduced in the 1970s in response to the fiscal crisis of the state, smashes the assumptions of the benevolent state by eroding the protections of working people. Undertaking a vast redistribution of wealth, the neoliberal state requires a higher order of persuasion or diversion in order to undertake a further expansion of global capitalism and the principles of governance (legitimation) required for that purpose. Carnoy and Castells hold that under the neoliberal "network state":

Accumulation and domination are facilitated globally by co-national and supranational institutions. Legitimation and reproduction are ensured primarily by regional and local governments and NGOs .... Legitimation through decentralization and citizen participation in non-governmental organizations seems to be the new frontier of the state in the twenty-first century (Carnoy and Castells 2001, 14, 16).

It is not the case, as commonly presumed, that the role of the state withers away under neoliberalism. And as Ulrich Brand (2005) observes, not all state functions are relegated to the private sector. The state reserves for itself certain areas, including the use of military force, though even in the use of armed force, the United States has opted to subcontract much of its military assignment, even assassination and intelligence functions, as in Iraq, to private firms, such as Blackwater. Rather, the functions of the state become more clearly defined by the needs of highly mobile transnational capital, as its social welfare obligations are untethered and turned over to private and non-governmental agencies.

This is not true, however, for corporate welfare, which by the late 1990s amounted to $300 billion annually in subsidies and tax breaks, including taxpayer-funded corporate advertising of products overseas, such as Pillsbury muffins, Sunkist oranges, and McDonald's Chicken McNuggets (Derber 1998, 66, 157). In 2008-2009, Citigroup was bailed out by the federal government in the amount of$280 billion; Bank of America, $142.2 billion; $25 billion to the automobile industry; $180 billion to the AIG insurance corporation; $30 billion to the international investment bank of Bear Stearns; and $400 billion to the federally chartered mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (ProPublica 2009). The state's central role consists of the securing of unfettered opportunities and stable environments for capital expansion, not unlike the description that Marx and Engels gave of government: the "executive committee of the ruling class."

Since the Second World War, the propaganda operations of the state have become gradually subsumed by private enterprise. As one scholar notes: "Whereas governments were the universal object of propaganda agitation in the 1960s, today it is the corporations that to some extent have replaced them." And propaganda increasingly has gone global. "The radical dynamism of global free markets is seen as sandblasting the authenticity of cultures and demolishing traditional authority structures" (O'Shaughnessy 2004,146-147). Indeed, the free flow of western mass culture, together with local creolized and hybrid variants that plant commercialism more firmly in the vernacular, have made inroads in the developing and former socialist regions of the world and induced a conversion to Western style politicking and commercial and promotional techniques of electioneering.

Preceding capitalism, propaganda is historically associated with the Latin term propagate (propagare), referring to the cause of spreading the Christian faith during the Middle Ages, but it has been long used by state and commercial interests to support their materialist objectives, be it general approval of state behavior or the promotion of consumption. Effective promotion has much to do with the capacities and competencies for selling ideas or images as well as the social, cultural, and historic environment in which it is employed. As a Canadian business journal reported: "Politicians have become the ultimate consumer product. Just like a box of soap, a can of soup or a carton of cornflakes, they require marketing strategies, promotion campaigns and plenty of spin to grab that all-important market share" (Posner 1992). In politics, a U.S. senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, told the Democratic national convention in 2004: "there are those who are preparing to divide us - the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of 'anything goes'" (Washington Post 2004).

Commercial propaganda in the form of advertising, marketing, public relations, and common media practices, such as product placement and plugola (promoting network or parent company assets through subsidiary news or entertainment outlets), is intensifying the commodification of public culture. [7] The prevalence of commercial propaganda has set a standard for the political realm, if indeed the two can anymore be separated. As the scholar and public intellectual Noam Chomsky, supra, has argued, liberal democratic states, compared to autocratic regimes, have a more compelling reason to employ propaganda in public information. Indeed, propaganda is far more pervasive (and sophisticated) in corporate democratic states than in dictatorships, precisely because the former more heavily rely on a mythology of popular empowerment (Chomsky and Mermet 2007). And in a society as stratified as the United States, the most class polarized of all the leading industrial states in fact, the need to promote the myth of democracy is all the more forceful.

Propaganda comes in several different formats in "capitalist democracies," and these include public relations, marketing, public diplomacy, [8] advertising, and other instruments of public opinion formation. Distraction from the realities of inequality and social injustice and the organizing of public spectacles is a principal utility of propaganda in countries, such as the United States, where violent methods of controlling the population are restricted (though reports suggest it has a high rate of police brutality, particularly directed against people of color). In other areas, where state and corporate actors feel compelled to respond to critical public attitudes about the concentration or conduct of power, their PR agents stage a solicitation of "public opinion" as a way of depicting established authority as responsive to the critical scrutiny of citizens, while, at the same time, demonstrating good will and organizing public consensus (Habermas 1991, 193-195). For Chomsky, propaganda uses in quasi-democratic capitalist states foster "necessary illusions" cultivated under elite administration for the maintenance of control of the social order. The electioneering process, in which two-thirds of campaign funds go to TV ads (Young 2004, 169) that emotionally batter would-be voters over nearly two years of unending sound bite propaganda and attack advertising, is central to the mode of social management. (See Sussman 2005). The visceral character of American electioneering can be viewed as a form of political Darwinism: the winner-take-all victor is the last candidate still standing - and ultimately dependent on those elite forces that brought her/him to the finish line - as voters lose all semblance of a citizenry. [9]

Even if there is no universal consensus on the meaning of democracy, most would agree that the minimalist threshold includes regular elections and referenda and full citizen enfranchisement. But this does not mean that where there are elections, there necessarily is democracy. Even repressive regimes employ elections as means of establishing state legitimacy. Where wealth is highly concentrated, as it is in the United States, the development of democracy is severely constrained, [10] necessitating greater uses of public persuasion or diversion to maintain the dominant ruling mythology. For the United States, the staging of elections in countries where it seeks regime change, serves as an entry point for intervention and the opportunity to use its superior propaganda (marketing, advertising, PR, branding, and the like) techniques to prevail in image-driven political campaigns. As one scholar notes: "By limiting the definition of' democracy' to a narrowly conceived political mechanism [elections], the concept is emptied of any policy outcomes on, and continuous deliberation of, public issues" (Lane 2009, 116).

In most cases, elections merely provide for a circulation of elites, not revolutionary change, popular empowerment, or even major reform. Elections allow the "outs" to recover power at some not-too-distant future. Political uprisings that force elections tend to quickly marginalize the populace from any real power sharing once the electoral event is completed. In the absence of dense participatory and deliberative structures and active social movements, elections largely serve as symbolic actions to create or maintain the structural organization of the state. Mainstream media treat elections as spectacles: "News about politics encourages a focus upon leaders, enemies, and problems as sources of hope and fear" (Edelman 1988, 120), hiding the social formations and ideologies behind the political discourse that they project.


A professionalization of politics has emerged within the discursive framework of modernization. This largely has displaced amateur (citizen) politics with a corporate version that is designed to encourage linkages between corporate consultants, public opinion pollsters, public relations specialists, speech writers, and lobbyists - who do political campaigning as "off-season" work - and their corporate clients, and political parties and candidates. Public relations specialists are employed to organize propaganda for state initiatives, often designed by conservative national-level interest groups or party functionaries simply to drain the resources of the public sector and labor unions and thereby weaken their capacity to deliver services or support Democratic Party candidates. Small states like Oregon, in which ballot initiatives are easy to create, are frequently used as PR testing grounds for anti-tax, culture-war, and property rights organizations (Galizio 2009). As electoral and party politics are turned into consultant-led exercises in branding and propaganda, citizens are deprived of rights of democratic deliberation and converted into spectators of political imagery, symbols, and rhetoric (Barber 2007, 205), all of which can be continually recycled into multiple resale formats, "infinitely recursive discourses" (Wernick 1991, 151), that strip away their original meaning and intent.

Although the Internet has become a significant source of political information, it remains, as of 2009, still far behind television in terms of the influence on citizen political education. And it is not clear how much the existence of the Internet has changed the majority of people's political information-seeking habits. Certainly, for those active voters who are inclined to seek alternative political analysis, it is a very helpful tool with much potential. Mainstream media and partisan political organizations have heavily migrated to online formats (which are largely unrestricted by McCain-Feingold legislative rules on campaign spending), but that doesn't mean they have converted to new ways of representing public policy issues. Thus, it is not apparent that the larger socializing institutions - schools, mainstream media, churches, and government - are redirecting people toward a critically democratic analysis of politics. Indeed, the Internet is an increasingly effective instrument for surveilling voters and targeting them for highly misleading propaganda, which became very obvious, for example, during the 2009 national health care debate. Many formerly enthusiastic supporters of the Obama presidential campaign, which relied to a greater extent than previous elections on the Internet, are now asking whether the candidate's rhetoric (e.g., "Change We Can Believe in") was much more than electioneering propaganda.

The seeming success of spin techniques in domestic politics [11] has encouraged their migration to foreign policy and often relies on the same personnel to carry out their promotional objectives (Sussman 2005). Foreign policy "public diplomacy" is now more fully embedded within the commercial, globalist, and "entrepreneurial" character of contemporary transnational capitalism. Ambassadorial assignments and overseas private electioneering consulting abroad are integrated with the larger goals of U.S. foreign policy, acting as instruments of political capital. The U.S. diplomat is conceived not as a servant of the public sector but more as an agent of the corporate sphere, collapsing the (traditional) distinction between diplomacy and public relations. The former director of University of Southern California's (USC) Center on Public Diplomacy aptly describes the role of the contemporary diplomat this way: "The territory? Cerebral. The currency? Ideas. The marketplace? Global. The diplomat? Part activist, part lobbyist, and part street-smart policy entrepreneur" (Fouts 2006, 22).

Elections, like wars, are the best ways of testing the efficacy of weapons (mass persuasion or mass destruction). American corporate-influenced political marketing and propaganda techniques are rapidly finding their way into European elections as well. Following the American example, politics is conducted not as an open debate and struggle over the allocation of resources but as a professionalized marketing campaign in which the public is disciplined as spectators and voters and through mostly elite civil society organizations in which "local geographical and cultural knowledge is eschewed in favour of a technical managerial approach implemented by "experts" (Jenkins 2005, 615-616). Dutch spin doctor, Jack de Vries, for example, adopted the "flip flopping" ("draaikont") theme employed against John Kerry in the 2004 American election against an opposition candidate, Wouter Bos, vying for prime minister in the 2006 general election in the Netherlands (Vuijst 2008b). British consultants have seen American elections, been impressed, and adopted their own "spin masters." And for his skillful deployment of propaganda, Barack Obama was voted by the nation's leading advertising journal as "Advertising Age's marketer of the year for 2008," beating out Apple Computer (Creamer 2008), a reflection of the nexus of business culture and politics.

Enlisted to the political sphere, commercially trained consultants have converted their information gathering and processing and promotional skills into the new electioneering techniques, developing analogous campaign management styles involving polling, spin doctoring, image management, media advertising, and opposition research. Engaged with business and private interest groups during "off-year" cycles, consultants "bring their assumptions, opinions, and tactics" to the political arena during election seasons. Paid political advertising on television and radio contributes over 42 percent of an average consulting firm's income. The largest share of their revenue for .political services comes from placing ads on television for which they are given hefty, typically 15 percent, commissions (Grossmann 2009).

Mainstream news outlets regularly turn to party spin specialists as "pundits" to provide highly partisan, charged media commentary, as if any notion of objectivity had been retired to the dustbin of professional journalism. The acceleration of professionalization and propaganda uses in politics is clearly linked to neoliberalism's deregulation and privatization doctrines and "to the harnessing of the revolution in communications" (Osgood 2001). For members of Congress, the first staff hired are pollsters, media consultants, and fundraisers, in that order, reflecting the symbiotic interests and coordination among the campaign image-making professionals, mainstream media, corporate. backers, and politicians. The polled opinion of consultants themselves is that the most important aspect of campaign success is getting the message right, and political advertising, particularly via television, is the first line of battle in the manipulation of the public's attitudes (Kinsey 1999, 116- 118),12 Polling is not about listening to voters as much as testing political messages for their persuasive effectiveness. Unlike politicians whose main criterion for success is getting the most votes, the "consultants generate more revenue primarily by having their client spend the most money on their campaign" and in instigating longer campaign seasons (Grossmann 2009). In non-election years, the political promotional work of many consultants is offered to interest groups involved in legislative battles and in overseas political campaigns (Sussman 2005, Chapter 5).

The private consulting industry, which in recent years has grown by leaps and bounds (Grossmann 2009), is a vehicle for integrating corporate business culture with political discourse, which, like quarterly earnings reports, focuses more on who's ahead than what's being produced. Aided by digital information storage, production, and transmission capacities and with expanded telecommunications delivery systems, the consultants' powers of persuasion have been magnified. Neoconservatives and liberals alike have some of the most influential spin masters at their disposal, people like Karl Rove, Ann Coulter, Bill Bennett, and the lineup of pundits on the Fox News network and numerous right-wing syndicated radio programs coordinating one ideological stream and Arianna Huffington, Paul Begala, James Carville, and Air-America radio serving as titular heads of the liberal blogosphere. The left is marginally represented. (Amy Goodman is the best example.) As an echo chamber for the parties, pundits make careers out of sensationalizing and trivializing politics to ever more banal levels - occasionally dealing with matters of substance but typically with the same shallowness and manipulations of "reality TV" Mainstream media industries have a particularly tight relationship with the consulting industry, as paid political advertising represents a large share of the former's revenue stream. As broadcasting news coverage of issues has steadily declined over the years, political advertising expenditures have rapidly gone up - costs which directly and indirectly are paid for by the public at large.

Beyond political advertising and punditry in broadcasting, political promotion is also embedded in the types of partisan "news" formats that exist in commercial radio and television; the more sophisticated types of leaflets, brochures, and placards; photo opportunities; direct mail; telemarketing; websites, blogging, and twitter; opposition research, polling, and focus groups (designed for public speeches and other propaganda outlets); in some countries, text messaging (SMS); and other forms of broadly distributed communication. The country that most closely resembles the United States as a merchandizing culture, Britain, comes in second on this measure. In Britain, as in the United States, "[t]erms such as 'image makers' and 'spin doctors' are now part of the popular electoral lexicon" (Wring 1999, 45). The now conventional staging of campaigns is crafted to produce a personalistic drama, a contest between individuals, rather than conflict among organized interests and institutions vying for control of the policy and administrative process. The gaze of the television camera hides most of what occurs in camera.

Professionalization of politics is thus tied to the technification of political processes, which transforms political engagement from organic community and street- and plaza-oriented events and social movements into stage-managed symbolic events, such as prepared speeches delivered on special occasions (themselves symbolically constructed), big money election extravaganzas, the crafting of daily briefings to the obedient media, and in some countries professionally organized public "protests." The restraints on popular active participation by marginalizing citizens into spectators and "consumers" of politics reconsolidate elite and corporate control of the policy and administrative process, a privilege happily paid for by organized wealth as simply a cost of doing business. Even in the case of the relatively activist orientation of the Obama campaign, no major structural change (health, education, housing, energy, environment) was offered to the public once he took office (at least through 2009). The system of professional management and corporate control of politics has shown to work so well in keeping an alienated American public at bay that European elites, east and west, have established their own creolized political-industrial-media complexes.


Since Rush Limbaugh developed a mass national following in the early 1990s with syndicated talk radio, the uses of mass media as a political propaganda tool have become more widespread. One of the earliest, though ultimately discredited, radio voices was the pro-fascist Catholic priest, Charles Coughlin, who had an audience estimated in the millions. The beginning of the Second World War was the coup de grace for his brand of public persuasion but not the end of broadcast propaganda. Following the 2008 election, failed Republican presidential campaigners, began to flock to the next best "bully pulpit" - talk radio. As a result of the Republican debacle in both the presidential and Congressional campaigns that year, Limbaugh became de facto ideological leader of the party, and even the head of the Republican National Committee felt compelled to apologize to the radio commentator for his momentary lapse in challenging that status (Nagourney 2009).

A month after the election, Republican campaigners Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee accepted positions as syndicated radio talk hosts. The notorious television talk show host, Jerry Springer, had earlier been mayor of Cincinnati. Local radio host Ed Koch was mayor of New York City. Others include former New York governor Mario Cuomo, former San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock, former U.S. House representative Robert Dornan, former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder, and U.S. Senate contender Oliver North. Jesse "the body" Ventura, who parlayed his fame as a professional wrestler into the governorship of Minnesota later had his own political commentary TV show on MSNBC.

It was rumored that after her defeat as vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin was also considering doing a television or talk radio program. Evangelist Pat Robertson returned to his "700 Club" TV religious talk show after making a run for the presidency in 1988. Defeated as a U.S. Senate candidate, Christine Whitman moved to talk radio before becoming governor of New Jersey. Ross Perot guest hosted the "Larry King Live" program between two presidential campaigns. Numerous other political figures, former cabinet and public administration members, political consultants, and aides to politicians also have joined the ranks of talk show hosts (Davis and Owen 1998, 56-65). The large majority of politician-turned- media propagandists are conservative. As political promoters, they joined the 30,000 political consultants in the United States, who enjoyed an estimated turnover in 2008 of $7 billion (Vuijst 2008c).

Candidates for high public office must not only be policy specialists or good orators, they must also have some degree of celebrity cachet. Hence, the regular appearance of presidential or congressional candidates on late-night TV entertainment programs. Like much of the popular culture, including the mainstream media, politics has thus taken on a more tabloid character. Anticipating the growing links between media and politics, U.S. Office of War Information director Elmer Davis once commented: "The easiest way to inject a propaganda idea into most men's [sic] minds is to let it go in through the medium of an entertainment picture" (cited in Nunberg 2004).

Table 1.1 Top 10 Advertisers in the United States, 2008  
Source: TNS Media Intelligence, 2009
Data do not include free-standing inserts, house ads (plugola), or public service advertising.

The intensity of promotional culture in the United States is evident in the data. It is first in the world in the percentage of GDP that goes to advertising (Wring 1999, 43). (See Table 1.1 for the top corporations' advertising expenditures.) Its total in-country advertising expenditures in 2007, even with a downturn from the previous year, was, according to one estimate, $285.1 billion (Elliott 2008). This was greater, based on World Bank data, than the GDP of all but 36 other countries in the world, including all but three of the countries (Russia, Poland, Ukraine) in the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. Of the $25.5 trillion generated in total economic activity in the United States in 2005, $5.2 trillion derived from advertising (National Association of Newspapers 2007). In 2000, there were some 1,600 companies in the United States that defined themselves as public relations firms, with about 150,000 practitioners identifying as PR professionals (Campbell 2002, 431-432).

The political sphere is likewise grounded in promotional tactics. Political campaign managers, drawn from the ranks of the advertising, marketing, lobbying, and polling professions, treat voters more as audio/visual consumer data than as activated citizens. Despite the low grade quality of American democracy, the term still strongly resonates as a concept with the public, as it does with other publics. It is a tribute of sorts to the democratic values of most people that politicians feel compelled to explain their policies in the language of democracy. In a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003, G. W. Bush used the term (singular and plural) 49 times (Sorensen 2003). But within the neoliberal economy, democracy is more procedural than distributive in character, as citizens are increasingly stratified by ever deeper divisions of class and mobility. The United States is indeed the most class polarized of all the leading industrial states. Elections by themselves do not confirm the existence of a democratic state. In the United States, they have become, in fact, professionally organized exercises in intra-elite circulation, and it is largely wealthy individuals and corporations who are permitted to purchase access to public officials and policy, for them a price well worth paying.

Under neoliberalism, states are expected to submit formerly public tasks to the private sector, resulting in a commercialization of politics. Voters, meanwhile, are increasingly commodified, assuming the role of spectators and consumers of politics - a relationship to elites that enables propaganda to work. "Today, the ideology of consumerism functions to conflate the concepts of consumption and citizenship and capitalism and democracy, as if consumption offered a resolution to social and political struggles" (Jubas 2007, 251). Actual voting, as opposed to its fetishized representation (which encourages a false validation of popular will), is not with ballots but with dollars. Voters determine the outcome only in the last instance. By then, those who even bother for the most part have been processed by the mainstream media into legitimating candidates and parties for which the majority have little basis for connecting to their intrinsic interests.


Public understandings of foreign policy are more easily manipulated by the state than those of domestic or local affairs. This can be explained, I would offer, by a proximity theory of state deception. Walter Lippmann wrote: "In order to conduct propaganda there must be some barrier between the public and the event" (Lippmann 1922, 43). That is, information that is more proximate and thereby accessible to citizens is harder to reconstruct and distort than news from distant shores that few people have a direct way of confirming. Conflicts in Third World and other less developed countries, such as in Eastern Europe, are laboratories for propaganda, which may be an important reason, apart from the asymmetries of power and the lure of their primary resources, they have been the most regular objects of U.S. intervention. From a Gramscian perspective, it is more desirable to internalize, rather than coerce, the standards of politics in a subject population. U.S. political practices have found their way into the campaign styles of Eastern European politicians (Kiss 2005), no doubt influenced by the steady presence of American political consultants and NGOs in the region. (See Chapter 4.)

Confident of the political utilities of propaganda, the G. W. Bush administration put renewed emphasis on selectively pushing a "democracy" agenda in U.S. relations with the former Soviet-allied states. In U.S. "realist" foreign policy thinking, the use of the expression "democracy promotion" does not necessarily correspond to the conception of democracy as a dense participatory structure, that is, popular democracy. Indeed, it has been argued that its locution in "democracy promotion" is in the main ideological in purpose, and it is rather absurd that the Bush regime, with its chronic disregard for constitutional principles and protections, would presume to take leadership of a global democracy campaign. It is of course a cynical exercise in propaganda. The employment of a popular term like democracy is intended to convey high-minded intentions that disguise the more prosaic interests of the state, such as expanded market opportunities, especially for allies of the regime, and its broader strategy of maintaining a Pax Americana throughout the world. Compared to U.S. initiatives toward the economic restructuring of the former socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, those dedicated to civic engagement in fact have been extremely limited.

William Robinson sees the U.S. government's use of the term "democracy" to actually mean polyarchy. This, he suggests, is about the building and preservation of elite interest groups in society carried out in the name of democracy but having the effect of institutionalizing inequality (Robinson 1996a, 626). The Congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) (see Chapter 2 and infra) was created in 1983 precisely, he says, to introduce polyarchy to societies formerly governed by centralized statist regimes. The issue of who actually wields power once polyarchy is introduced in such "low-intensity democracies" is simply overlooked (Robinson 1996a).

The Reagan administration determined that U.S. status had waned under Carter and that it was time to restore the global position of American power and demolish the Soviet state: "It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history .... [It is] the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism/Leninism on the ash heap of history" (Reagan's speech to the British Parliament in 1982). A mythological product of media construction himself, Reagan supported a series of propaganda operations abroad (see Chapters 2 and 3) that involved collaboration among foreign policy actors, professional consultants, the mainstream media, academics acting in concert with government, and a broad range of "public diplomacy" efforts in the service of the state.

Propaganda became a staple of American foreign policy. In 1983, CIA director William Casey was asked by President Reagan to initiate a public diplomacy operation, characterized as ''America's first peace-time propaganda ministry" and designed to keep Congress, the press, and the electorate in tow with the foreign policy line developed by the State Department and National Security Council. Reagan's Office of Public Diplomacy was shut down in 1988, when the Comptroller General found that it had "engaged in prohibited, covert propaganda activities designed to influence the media and public to support Administration Latin American policies" (Stauber and Rampton 1995, 162, 167). But propaganda continued during and after the Reagan years.

In 2005, the US. relief effort for the tsunami victims in Southeast Asia was conceived within the ranks of government less as a humanitarian gesture and more essentially as an example of "successful public diplomacy." It was seen as changing the image of the United States government as a correction of the prevailing negative foreign opinion toward "Brand America" (Fouts 2006, 15, 17). A 2006 report of pollsters, politicians, and academics, sponsored by USC's Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School of Communication and the Pew Research Center, defined public diplomacy as image building, designed for the purpose of helping to improve "negative public opinion abroad" toward the United States. Critical to this task is "the importance of identifying elite opinion when conducting polling research," which is taken "as a barometer of a broader public opinion." And business leaders are seen as "an under-utilized group of opinion leaders, which could potentially play an important role in public diplomacy initiatives" (Fouts 2006, 8, 11).

Although those who engage in public diplomacy do not necessarily support US. militarist tactics, such as those undertaken by the Bush administration in Iraq, they nonetheless do associate themselves with state interests. Foreign negative opinion of the United States as it exists is directed largely against the state, not American citizens per se. It thus makes the term "public diplomacy" rather ambiguous inasmuch as the public is normally conceived in democratic societies as independent of the state. According to one contributor to the USC study, "The Voice of America, Radio Sawa, Radio Marti, and the activities of the US. Information Service, and some CIA activities are all part of American public diplomacy." All of them are propaganda organs of the state (Taylor 2006, 48). Public diplomacy is therefore state propaganda, indeed the most essential form of state propaganda.

The use of the term ''American,'' as in ''American public diplomacy," which normally refers to the people and culture of the United States, not the government per se, is treated as identical with state interests and behavior. Such an idea of conflating state and culture is more typical of fascist states, not democracies. Public diplomacy is said to represent a form of "soft power," which can be understood as the pacification underside of a more aggressive foreign policy. In January 1983, anticipating the purpose and structure of the NED, President Reagan signed a secret National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled "Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security," which designated public diplomacy as a formal instrument of state propaganda.

Public diplomacy was then conceived as "comprised of those actions of the US. Government designed to generate support for our national security objectives." As part of the new propaganda apparatus, an "International Information Committee" was created to administer assistance to foreign governments and private groups "to encourage the growth of democratic political institutions and practices" consistent with strategic US. global interests, particularly with respect to the Soviet Union and its allied states. According to the Reagan government's plan:

This will require close collaboration with other foreign policy efforts - diplomatic, economic, military - as well as a close relationship with those sectors of the American society - labor, business, universities, philanthropy, political parties, press - that are or could be more engaged in parallel efforts overseas .... [in] programs and strategies designed to counter totalitarian ideologies and aggressive political action moves undertaken by the Soviet Union or Soviet surrogates (US. White House 1983).

Under the Directive, a "public affairs committee" was formed to take over the business of an internationally-focused "Project Truth Policy Group" (subsequently folded into "Project Democracy"), which "detailed plans to pay for the operation by 'harnessing financial resources from a coalition of wealthy individuals' ... U. S. defense contractors and private foundations." The committee was run by a former CIA propaganda specialist, Walter Raymond, Jr., working inside the National Security Council "to manage both the domestic and foreign 'public diplomacy' campaigns aimed at the American public, the media and Congress." Raymond "ran domestic public diplomacy much the same way he would have organized a CIA propaganda operation against a target nation" (Binion 2001, quoting Robert Parry). Parry, a Newsweek and Associated Press correspondent during the Reagan years, found "that a May 5, 1983 'public diplomacy strategy paper' discussed ways to 'correct' public opinion of those opposing the Reagan administration's support for the covert war in Nicaragua." According to Parry, "[t]he project's key operatives developed propaganda 'themes,' selected 'hot buttons' to excite the American people, cultivated pliable journalists who would cooperate, and bullied reporters who wouldn't go along" (Binion 2001). Raymond resigned his CIA post in order to take on this assignment. But clearly his training in CIA "psyops" (psychological operations) was integral to the task at hand (Parry 2004, 220, 224).


Since Reagan, propaganda has become far more privatized than in the past. To rephrase football coach Vince Lombardi's famous aphorism, image isn't everything - it's the only thing. And nowadays that's not just a creed for celebrities or business corporations, but also for entire nation states, which PR firms handle as "accounts," little different than Anheuser Busch or MatteI. South Korea has a presidential council on nation branding. Wally Olins, a recognized specialist in nation branding, says: "branding is propaganda ... what it boils down to is manipulation and seduction. That's the business we're in. That's the business of life" (cited in Jansen 2008, 135).

Simon Anholt, a British journal editor and international marketing adviser, provides an indexing service for foreign governments that he calls "nation branding," which he defines as "the business of applying corporate marketing theory to countries" (Teslik 2007). None of the main countries featured in this study (Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine) made it to Anholt's 2008 index of the. top 50 branded countries. Ernst and Young, one of the largest global accounting and auditing firms, conducts "attractiveness surveys" for CEE countries to measure how well they appeal to potential transnational corporate investors. That is to say, countries must take their business-friendly image seriously lest they disappear from the world map of General Motors, Intel, BP, Mitsubishi, Citigroup, and other iconic citizens in the TNC community.

As Marx and Engels put it in The Communist Manifesto, transnational capital brings to the world the "heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls." They were referring to commodities and hadn't conceptualized the crucial function of promotion in commodity production and circulation. Since the spate of "color revolutions," branding and place marketing have become important concerns of CEE state policy, particularly focused on attracting tourism, trade, and foreign investment. In the Czech Republic, for example, this effort is conducted by "a group of internationally renowned consultancies and producers in the form of the Association for Foreign Investment." Poland has an "Institute of Polish Brand," which is closely tied to the government and has worked with the British branding company, Saffron, for selling the country's image (Capik 2007, 156; Saffron 2008).

In this new universe, there seemingly is no end to the marketing of place and space. "The word brand excites a great deal of contentious discussion," says Wally Olins, chair of London-based Saffron Brand Consultants, who prefers the term "reputation management" - as if that were less contentious (Olins 2005). Anholt, who was a PR specialist for Hill and Knowlton in Budapest and London and more recently a British business university lecturer, contends rather directly that nation branding or reputation management in Central and Eastern Europe turns on their capacity to institute neoliberal reforms as the basis for attracting foreign capital. He asserts that: "Having a country brand is necessary to attract investors but not enough; there must be an infrastructure, a skilled workforce, favourable tax policies and returns on investment," and that

for countries whose image is better than reality (Poland, Czech Republic, or Romania), the challenge is to transform their superior image into concrete investment projects while the countries that score higher on reality than image (Hungary, for example) should improve their perception in the market and level of notoriety.

Even better, he offers, the Czech Republic would be well served to change the English version of its name to make it easier for foreigners to vocalize. Estonia, too, would be better off if it adopted the German name Estland (for its association with high-ranking Finland on the attractiveness scale) (cited in Szondi 2007).

Who better to advise countries on integrating neoliberal "reforms" than people who work both sides of the aisle, the public and the private sector? Indeed, hundreds of former politicians and government officials have gotten in on the act, working as lobbyists, consultants, PR flacks, or other kinds of agents for foreign clients. Their easy seguey into such promotional occupations makes fiction of traditional distinctions between public and private sector activities. Former presidential candidate Robert Dole was a lobbyist for the UAE in the United States. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright served as a lobbyist for the UAE in China. And former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig, both represented U.S. transnational corporations doing business in China. Former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani was hired as a consultant for the Mexican government. Richard Gephardt ended a 28-year year career in Congress, including a period as majority leader, to become a Wall Street consultant. Discredited former attorney-general John Ashcroft left the Bush administration in 2005 to start a K-Street lobbying firm, plying his background contacts in the Justice department and Homeland Security to private companies, including a credit data firm, ChoicePoint (Rich 2006,208). Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senate majority leader, was paid millions to parlay his connections to government to get favorable treatment for his clients in the health care industry. Trent Lott, another former Republican Senate majority leader, left the Senate with $1.3 million left in his reelection fund and started a lobbying firm. One of his first clients was Northrop Grumman, which was then seeking to protect its $35 billion government contract (Attkisson 2008).

These are just of a few of the many federal employees and officials who have passed through the revolving door to assume second careers as well-paid hired hands for foreign interests in the United States and abroad. "Of the 198 members who left Congress since 1998 [to 2005] and are eligible to lobby, 43.4 percent ended up in the influence industry" (Public Citizen 2005, 6). From 2005 to early 2008, another 195 members of Congress left government to take up lobbying careers (Attkisson 2008), including former populist progressives like Richard Gephardt, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 under a campaign strategy of fighting lobbyists. Gephardt is now a lobbyist himself, whose firm's clients include Goldman Sachs (against financial institution reform), Visa (against credit card industry regulation), for state infrastructure privatization (toll roads), Peabody Energy ("clean coal"), PhRMA (the pharmaceutical drug cartel), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Oones 2009, 21-24). Running for president, Barack Obama promised to shut the revolving door of business and politics, but as president, he too appointed big corporate lobbyists to be part of his administration and cabinet.

The greater integration of politicians and state administrators into corporate practice represents a maturation of capitalism. It is an age in which everything, including the public sphere and its representatives, are subject to its commodifying grip. In Marxian structural analysis, the state carries out three essential functions: capital accumulation (assisting in the production of wealth), legitimation (inducing consent among the non-elite majority who are most subject to its control), and coercion (creation and enforcement of legal authority). Propaganda relates to all of these state functions but in particular legitimation. In an information-intensive economy, such as it is, the mode of persuasion becomes a more central form of production, which requires propaganda arts to take on added significance.

Indeed, the new capacities to conduct surveillance of citizens and store, process, and massage and merge data on citizens has given greater emphasis to the management of "public opinion" in propaganda campaigns compared to past practices in traditional diplomacy. As one specialist on propaganda has noted:

Through the use of modern instruments and techniques of communications it is possible today to reach large or influential segments of national populations - to inform them, to influence their attitudes, and at times perhaps even to motivate them to a particular course of action .... [and] by appealing over the heads of governments directly to public opinion, effective propaganda and other measures would encourage popular opinion to support U.S. policies, which would in turn exert pressure on government policymakers (Osgood 2001).

One of the leading political and commercial surveillance organizations, Aristotle Inc., is said to have a database on 175 million Americans. Many major U.S. political campaigns, mostly Republican, including those of George W. Bush, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani, as well as many other Senate, House, and gubernatorial candidates have paid for Aristotle's voter data. Aristotle counts among the commercial clients for its voter lists major financial enterprises, such as U.S. Bancorp (Verini 2007). These surveillance data are available to foreign clients as well, though one wonders if the government of a country such as Cuba would be an acceptable customer. An ally, Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko availed himself of its services for use in the 2004 election. But its client base does not end with politics.

The informational mode of development and its technological infrastructure is an artifact of the restructuring within the neoliberal economy that requires them for the assertion and maintenance of domestic and international power. This economy provides the systemic basis of the transition to a propaganda society and its promotional foreign policy. In Chapter 2, I turn to the historical foundations of these developments within the United States. The idea of democracy is both a great promise and a great pretense. The struggle for its capture remains open, but a popular form of democracy has long been suppressed by the supervening necessities of organized wealth, which continue to impose neoliberal economic assumptions on its meaning. The term "democracy" thus becomes a handmaid of corporate capital, whose power is sustained not only by the control of resources and the domination of the political process but also through the popular internalization of belief in its inevitable, advanced, and progressive character.



1. The culture of marketing is central to both formal and informal enterprises. In the film, "The Girlfriend Experience," a young New York City prostitute is confronted by the reality that one's image is everything in getting ahead, which requires among other marketing devices a competitive web presence to lure customers. Prostitution is thus routinized by the same standard disciplinary practices, during both upswings and downturns, as any other business venture.

2. Among its several known breaches of privacy rights, Acxiom Corporation proposed to the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2001 to carry out an Internet surveillance for websites dealing with such political issues as abortion, white power, religion, immigration, and foreign policy and to provide contact information from such sites. In 2003, Acxiom was found to have passed along personal information on millions of Jet Blue and other airline customers, without notification, to a firm doing an anti-terrorism study for the Department of Defense (Gunn 2006).

3. Lippmann wrote in The Phantom Public that the notion of the public was "an abstraction" and "a mere phantom": "The public must be put in its place so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of the bewildered herd" (cited in Snow 2003, 66).

4 Symbolic language is a central part of propaganda. Germany's Nazi movement (National Socialists) appropriated the then popular term "socialist" to impose a brutally authoritarian, militarist, and racist society, not to free people from the control of state and corporate power. "Liberty" and "freedom" were commonly part of the nomenclature of elitist organizations, often supported by the CIA, in opposition to progressive labor unions and other left-leaning organizations. Reagan called the counter-revolutionaries his administration illegally supported in Nicaragua "freedom fighters," and a missile system designed for first strike capability against the Soviet Union was called the "peacekeeper." "Free markets" are those that are open to control by international capital, not for small or local businesses. "Revolution," when used by the right, generally refers to a conservative political order. Corporations use the term "revolution," as in "communications revolution," not for the purpose of social liberation, but, in the name of technological and social progress, to impose a more regimented economic order involving millions of job losses and deskilling undertaken for increased profitability in the name of "efficiency."

5. In their otherwise brilliant analysis of media propaganda, Herman and Chomsky surprisingly paid little attention in the later edition of their book, Manufacturing Consent (2002), to the positive and negative uses of new technologies, such as the ways that corporate broadcasting and print outlets have employed telecommunications and digital systems to drastically reduce staff journalists and thereby their coverage of world events and also the alternative ways that dissidents have appropriated electronic media.

6. The term "public opinion" has to be treated skeptically (hence the quotation marks around it), because the opinions that the media typically report are based on questions that originate with mainstream media, not the public. The journalist Walter Lippmann wrote that the public can never properly voice opinions about state policy inasmuch as the media create a "pseudoreality of stereotypes and emotional impressions" that mislead proper public understanding of the issues (Snow 2003, 32).

7. Although Britain has followed many of the commercial directions of the United States, its BBC public service oriented broadcasting system remains the dominant radio and television transmitter in the country. Unlike the BBC, which became a chartered public medium in 1927, NBC and CBS radio went on the air the same year as commercial (promotional) national networks.

8. The term is said to be have been coined in 1967 by then dean of the Fletcher School of Diplomacy Edmund Guillon, a former State Department official, and an outspoken defender of the U.S. invasion of Vietnam. Public diplomacy is actually not diplomacy at all, as it is targeted to ordinary citizens, not diplomats. University of Southern California Center for Public Diplomacy senior fellow John Brown, cites Guillon's own description of public diplomacy: "To describe the whole range of [international] communications, information, and propaganda, we hit upon 'public diplomacy' (Brown 2004).

9. Based on an empirical assessment of political consultants' views, Richard M. Perloff and Dennis Kinsey found that the key strategy of political persuasion is to appeal to the emotions (cited in Kinsey 1999, 119) - not at all different from that of the Nazi propagandists - rendering politics as an exercise in visceral public management.

10. One is reminded of the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." On the matter of measures of democracy, the United States ranks extremely low on election turnouts, hovering around 50% in most recent elections, although the 2008 turnout was nearly 57% - the highest in 40 years. Of 172 countries measured by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance from 1945-2008, the United States ranked 139'\ with average turnouts below all the Western, Central, and Eastern European countries, as well as those in Central Asia (IDEA 2008). The United States is 51" in rankings of union membership (of 60 reporting) - only 7.6 percent of the private sector - far below almost all of these same countries (Swivel 2007).

11. One of the many abuses of spin was the campaign tactics used on behalf of North Carolina senator Jesse Helms by the consultant Alex Castellanos, who incited racial fear in voters against the African-American challenger Harvey Gantt with his "white hands" political ad in 1990. In 2000, Castellanos did an attack ad against Al Gore, running the word "rats" across the screen image of the presidential candidate for a brief moment to try to achieve a subliminal effect. For all his notoriety, Castellanos is treated as a respectable and regular guest commentator on CNN.

12. Although the use of the Internet is growing rapidly in political campaigning, television ranks as the top source for reaching voters. Targeting voters through video ads has become more of a science over time (Kinsey 1999,119). In the 2007-2008 election cycle, spending on political advertising spending was projected to break records at $2.5 billion.
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:08 am

Part 1 of 2


There was nothing left to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could for them, as our fellowmen for whom Christ also died.


[God] has marked the American people as his chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are trustees of the world's progress, guardians of its righteous peace.


The "manifest destiny" of the United States to spread democracy is rooted in an older Christian tradition of propaganda and proselytization. [1] Indeed, the term propaganda was originally conceived in the medieval era for the propagation of religious faith. Indigenous peoples ("pagans") and nations suffered humiliation, annihilation, and cultural genocide at the hands of Columbus and his progeny of conquistadores in the name of Christianity and civilization. Slavery and slave trade were widely practiced by churchgoing Christians and sanctioned by the Constitution of the early republic, as was the denial of voting rights to women. Attitudes and policies toward foreigners and aliens and toward large numbers of its own citizens and legal immigrant residents, though reformed over time, never matched the lofty images of American iconography. America's record of assistance to nations undergoing political or ethnic repression or threats to the democratic way of life is at best badly tarnished. The Second World War, on the other hand, and the defeat of fascism, is broadly regarded as America's finest hour.

America's empire-building ambitions, echoed in Senator Beveridge's oratory, supra, took off under the presidency of William McKinley. In 1898, his decision to seize the Spanish colonial territory, the Philippines, was defended in his expressed desire to "uplift, civilize, and Christianize" the peoples of that country (who had been largely Catholic for nearly four centuries). Woodrow Wilson held a similar patriarchal international outlook, expressed in his declaration in 1914 about invading Mexico: "I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men" (cited in Judis 2003). His sending of military forces to fend off the Bolsheviks' consolidation of power in Russia also proceeded from divine inspiration. Wilson could be regarded as the first "democracy promoter," a role, one scholar notes, he assumed in order "to secure the best conditions for international capital accumulation" (Robinson 2000, 313).

After the First World War, a leading proponent of propaganda, Edward Bernays, who had been part of Wilson's Committee on Public Information, an effort to persuade the public to support the war, became one of the founders of the public relations industry. In democracies, he believed, the reconciliation of America's disparate realities requires the extensive use of propaganda in order to organize people's beliefs both at home and abroad about America's unique democratic character and civilizing mission. Bernays saw propaganda as a permanent necessity in the daily conduct of politics, finance, manufacture, agriculture, charity, education, and other areas and as "the executive arm of the invisible government" (Bernays 2005, 48). Immediately following the Second World War, government and mainstream media leaders came to identify public persuasion with the needs of its leading capitalist enterprises, including General Motors, Procter & Gamble, General Electric, and the petroleum industry (Miller 2005, 12), and with legitimizing the US. as the police force of the "free world." Propaganda was thus central to America's political economy, rooted in what came to be known as the "military-industrial complex" and in supporting its ideological nexus - the Cold War.


Assuming its role as leader of the "free world," the U.S. Department of War was renamed in 1947 the Department of Defense (DoD), despite the reality that none of its invasions following the Second World War could remotely be conceived as being in defense of American territory. The same year, the Truman administration created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a successor organization to the wartime Office of Strategic Services, designed for covert overseas intelligence gathering but frequently employed under subsequent administrations as a force for political destabilization. Toward gaining a worldwide edge in propaganda, Truman issued a directive in 1951 creating the Psychological Strategy Board, made up of officials from the State Department, DoD, and CIA, for the coordination, planning, and conduct of overseas psychological warfare tactics. The functions of US. military intervention, the CIA, and other foreign intelligence-gathering agencies can be viewed as political overhead by which the state subsidizes market opportunities for private capital. Hence destabilizing states, such as Iran under Mossadegh or Chile under Allende, carried out in the name of democracy assistance, in fact served the purpose of protecting key U.S. corporate energy, mineral, and other investments in those countries. In 1933, Marine Major General Smedley Butler, a soldier twice decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor, described just such political overhead invested in the invasions he led in Latin America , calling himself "a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers" - "a gangster for capitalism" (cited in CommonDreams 2004).

It is not certain whether Franklin D. Roosevelt was referring to the dictator Trujillo of the Dominican Republic or Somoza of Nicaragua when, as often cited, he famously said: "He may be an s.o.b., but at least he's our s.o.b." This reflected a long-term pattern of situational ethics ("political realism") in US. foreign policy in which its moral rhetoric could be adjusted according to the degree of lobbying from organized interests, such as agriculture, oil, mining, finance, and military-linked industries. What the United States learned from its experience with colonialism is that intervention in the affairs of other states should be circumspect about enduring entanglements or prolonged physical occupations. Formal decolonization enabled the imperial powers to pass on the administrative costs of the former possessions to subaltern domestic elites while maintaining control of the overall direction of their economies and their strategic resources.

With the decolonization of the Philippines in 1946, U.S. overseas investment in political overhead rapidly expanded. Its list of client regimes headed by s.o.b.s has covered nearly every continent. Today, the U. S. is by far the world largest arms merchant, runs over 700 military installations in about 130 countries, and had an official defense budget of $653 billion in FY 2009 (almost $1 trillion when the costs of the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and remaining costs of past wars and other defense-connected expenditures are counted). According to foreign policy analyst Chalmers Johnson, the official U.S. military budget for FY 2008 was larger than that of the rest of the world combined (and more than that of ten times larger than that of the second largest military spender, China). This does not include the hidden expenditures, such as nuclear weapons research, veterans' benefits, and military assistance ( 2008; Johnson 2008). The Defense Department's military assistance to former Soviet states under the International Military and Education Training program, established in 1976, is another form of "democracy" assistance. IMET support to the CEE and Central Asian regions amounted to almost $27 billion in 2002 (out of $70 billion worldwide).

In democracies, propaganda rests more on persuasion than coercion, although the Cold War, reverting to the tactics of the "red scare" of 1919-1920, turned heavily on the inculcation of fear of communism. The second wave, launched by conservatives, led to McCarthyism and political purges. A demonological mantra echoed throughout the political culture, casting the Soviet Union as an implacable "enemy of freedom" and blacklisting or arresting thousands of Americans as dangerous subversives, stripping them of their political and civil rights. Unlike the earlier red scare, the reach of McCarthyism extended well beyond the labor movement. Liberals in the State Department and other branches of government, the movie, newspaper, and the new television industries, educational institutions, the literary arts, and other public sectors came under the relentless pursuit of the witch hunters.

The Soviet Union and its allied states were viewed in Manichaean terms of a satanic "world communist conspiracy" versus the "free world," which threatened the foundations of Christian morality and the sacred freedoms in the "American way of life." As the ideological underpinning of the Cold War, anti-communism served the formation of a "military-industrial complex," which thrust the United States as the first-ranked military, political, and economic power in the world. The expansion of its heavily state-financed economy and a relatively open immigration system enabled millions of Americans to enjoy prosperity and inspired numerous social policy initiatives and millionaire and foundation philanthropy. But America's capacity to act generously rested on imperial assumptions - the right to exploit cheap primary resources and human labor in countries that subsidized its relative freedom. Attempts of third world revolutionary movements to break the neocolonial grip, and the support the Soviet Union lent to such aspirations, found a militaristic response by U.S. foreign policy planners. Indochina, where estimates of five million civilians died as a result of the U.S. invasions of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, is not, unlike the wall dedicated to U.S. soldiers in Washington, D.C., commemorated in official American memorials.

The principal target of U.S. foreign policy was the Soviet Union. U.S. military bases and installations, many equipped with nuclear weapons capable of reaching Soviet cities, closely flanked almost all the borders of the U.S.S.R. The U.S.S.R set up no bases on states contiguous to the United States, which created an uneven threat perception on the part of the two states, momentarily altered with the Cuban "missile crisis." Though the Soviet Union certainly and aggressively pursued an alliance system within Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere to Secure friends, trading partners, and competition to the capitalist world, there never was anything approaching an equivalence of political, economic, or military influence in the world. To be an American in the first decades after the Second World War was to be immersed in a relentless doctrine that the U.S.S.R represented an immediate and palpable threat to U.S. security. Western Europe did not cultivate comparable frenzied outlooks even though they were more directly vulnerable to the potential use of Soviet military capabilities. The Bush administration and its echo chambers in the mainstream media charged Russia with launching a new "cold war," [2] even as the United States increased pressure on Central Europe to accept U.S. missile "defenses" and increased pressures to overthrow Eastern European and Central Asian leaders allied with Moscow.

Although the Cold War is commonly seen to have ended with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, there is reason to assert that it never came to a close (consider U.S. hostility toward left-wing states in Latin America, for example) or was simply renamed (the "war on terrorism"). Seymour Melman (1974) maintained that the U.S. postwar economic system was built upon on a permanent war foundation. The project to place missile defense installations in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic (both NATO members) - in official pronouncements to protect those countries from a future Iranian missile attack - and to induce other countries in the CEE region to join the military organization, raised deep concerns in Russian ruling circles about encirclement. For added "security," the United States offered to place an offensive Patriot missile battery on Polish soil. This recalls the "Cuban missile crisis," a time when the Khrushchev government attempted to partially even the score on threats from U.S. air-, land-, and sea-based missile launching facilities easily capable of reaching Soviet territory.

Rather than evolving organically, as in the West, democracy development is lodged within the context of big powers that believe that democratic practices can be taught and transferred. But given the long list of dictatorial regimes the United States put in power or supported over the course of its history, it is not difficult to understand the skeptics' view of democracy export. Indeed, what is most consistent about U.S. forays overseas is its commitment to establishing markets for its commodity exports and corporate investments, along with military intervention and arms transfers to prevent left-wing forces from gaining power either by the bullet or the ballot. Few if any enthusiasts for democracy promotion either defend or contextualize it with reference to the "gunboat diplomacy" tradition of U.S. foreign policy.

The "containment" policy toward the Soviet Union and its allies put forward by the Truman administration defined the general willingness to at least temporarily accept the European borders established with its wartime allies, Britain and the US.S.R., at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences in 1945. But the United States never fully accepted these agreements and continued to undermine the legitimacy of communist party governance over the Central and Eastern European region. US. "police actions" in Korea and its invasions of Vietnam and Grenada were consistent with containment. But even with military and technological superiority, little could be done to prevent the communist takeover in China. The effort to bring Eastern Europe into the fold of NATO was "the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era," according to the author of containment policy, George F. Kennan in 1997, as it would likely incite Russian nationalism, anti-Western attitudes, and militaristic tendencies and set back East-West relations (cited in Chomsky 2008). For their part, the Soviet-allied states certainly never deferred to the notion of containment and actively supported socialist revolutionary uprisings in much of the Third World.


The Second World War accelerated the development of propaganda and psychological warfare. Some of the key postwar communication specialists and academics received their training in the US. wartime propaganda effort. Among them in the Office of War Information were Wilbur Schramm, Paul Lazarsfeld, Hadley Cantril, and George Gallup; in the intelligence organization, Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA, were Morris Janowitz, Elmo Roper, W. Phillips Davison, Saul Padover, and Daniel Lerner; and in the Army's Psychological Warfare Division were William S. Paley (later CEO of CBS) and Edward Shils (Simpson 1996). Janowitz and another psychological warfare specialist, William E. Daugherty, wrote: "Political warfare may be defined as a form of conflict between states in which each protagonist seeks to impose its will on its opponent by methods other than the use of armed force. For practical purposes, the principal weapon of political warfare may be described as the combined operation of diplomacy and propaganda" (cited in Scott-Smith 2008).

With the end of the war, the propaganda apparatuses (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Crusade for Freedom, CIA, and others) were refocused on administering Pax Americana and defeating challenges from revolutionary, national liberation, and communist movements around the world. Part of this effort resided in a paradigm and curriculum of" development communication" that was introduced in universities throughout Third World countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. One of the leading development communication researchers and a Stanford University professor, Schramm, by at least one account, had been a covert FBI informant as well as an adviser and consultant since 1942 to the wartime and postwar U.S. military and intelligence agencies (Bah 2008, 187). Development communication was closely associated with the propaganda of the Cold War. Lerner had written that propaganda was one of the four pillars by which the US. government conducts foreign policy, the others being diplomacy, sanctions, and war. Under Eisenhower, government propaganda via overseas broadcasting was consolidated under the Operations Coordinating Board (Bah, 2008, 184-185).

George F. Kennan, head of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff during the Truman administration and one of the key theoreticians of the Cold War "containment" strategy toward the Soviet Union, wrote a secret memorandum on May 4, 1948 entitled, "The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare." As Kennan explained, "[P]olitical warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation's command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives" (U.S. Department of State 1948), a strategy that envisioned the engagement of both state and private organizations in a global propaganda struggle. Containment involved other forms of struggle as well. Interference in the French and Italian elections in 1947 and 1948 were among the early forays of the CIA, in which millions of dollars were spent in support of center-right and conservative parties to block Western communist parties from winning parliamentary elections (Broder 1997; Sussman 2005, Chapter 4).

The Soviet Union and its allies had another formidable enemy in the Dulles brothers. John Foster Dulles, together with CIA director Allen Dulles, who were was among the main architects of the aggressive and covert Cold War policies of the Eisenhower administration (1953-1961). Foster Dulles was a profoundly conservative ideologue and anti-communist, who held that "Bolshevism was a product of the Devil and that God would wear out the Bolsheviks in the long run" (Hoopes 1973/1974, 173). His covert foreign policy initiatives aimed at "rolling back" the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe were to have a long-term effect on US.-Soviet/Russia relations up to the present time.

For anti-communist state planners like Dulles and Kennan, the Cold War was supposedly a "war of ideas." But Dulles certainly did not confine the State Department's responses to words. One of his critical miscalculations was his decision to use the CIA to force out of power in 1953 the elected nationalist Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh and through a sponsored coup and the return to power of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. A program of US. propaganda was drawn up to mischaracterize Mossadegh as a "communist." Oil politics featured prominently in this initiative. Among Dulles's former Wall Street law clients were Gulf Oil, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, Texaco, and Mobil, which, following the coup and the return of the Shah, were permitted to take over 40 percent of the country's oil supply (Sherrill 2006). The Shah carried out a "modernist" program by exercising repressive dictatorial control, with the help of his secret police agency, Savak. This eventually instigated a popular revolt and his fall from power in 1979.

In Southeast Asia, the US. invasion of Indochina began with Dulles. Under Dulles, the State Department had supported the waning years of French colonialism in Indochina before beginning its own military intervention in the region. Together with his brother, Foster Dulles organized the overthrow of an elected government in Guatemala in 1954 after its president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman attempted to nationalize the properties of the American-owned, Guatemala-based United Fruit Company (on which Allen Dulles had been a board member). The Dulles brothers also supported the Cuban dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, which in 1959 fell to the popular revolution led by Fidel Castro.


US. political and military intervention certainly did not begin or end with the Dulles brothers. Stephen Kinzer details 14 examples of US. interventions that led to regime changes of elected or established governments. None of the 14 is included among the many more "rogue" operations carried out by the United States. The former enjoyed "bipartisan" and cabinet level support (cited in Sherrill 2008). William Blum (2008) documents far more examples of US. assaults on the sovereignty of nation states. Another academic has compiled a partial list of 143 US. military interventions at home (against domestic uprisings) and abroad from 1890 to 2008 (Grossman, 2008).

Avoiding the sensitive issue of sovereignty, US. policy makers have characterized their interventionary behavior mainly in terms of responding to threats from enemies of the "American way of life." In the early postwar years, it was turning back the "world communist conspiracy." In the post-Soviet era, the construction of enemies has turned to a demonology of state leaders, a recent list which would include Ahmadinejad, Arafat, Assad, Castro, Chavez, Gaddafi, Kim, Lukashenko, Milosevic, Morales, Noriega, Saddam, Yanukovych, and others. Demonology serves to reduce foreign policy to basic Manichaean dramas that the government and the mainstream media can market to a gullible public. A moral tale is behind the "war against terrorism," to which former Attorney General John Ashcroft prescribed a "paradigm of prevention" (taken from the Green movement's "precautionary principle" of intervening to slow down global warming even before all the evidence is available). For Ashcroft, this meant a policy designed to arrest without supporting evidence potential criminals before any crime was committed. This tactic was adopted by George Bush, working with Tony Blair, for what they determined to be a necessity: preemptive strikes against imagined enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan bent on destruction of the West.

The construction of external enemies, as Murray Edelman (1988) observed, is a critical ideological function in the maintenance of state legitimacy. Enemies also facilitate the collusion of political parties in liberal democracies in defining the "national interest." From the end of the Second World War until the early 1990s, the Soviet Union served the zealous ambitions of the superpower elite as public enemy number one. Communism was treated as the sinister force behind revolutionary independence movements in much of the Third World, including China and Vietnam. Contradictory scholarship and journalism, where it occasionally occurred (Michael Herr's Dispatches, for example), could not penetrate the filter set up in the mainstream media to depict revolutions in conspiratorial terms. Not until the 1970s were official documents exposed that revealed that during the height of the Cold War era, many respected members of the mainstream media covertly worked with the CIA to develop anti-Soviet propaganda in the service of state interests. (See Sussman, 2005, Chapter 4, for a fuller account.)

Given the frequency of US. interventions in the affairs of other countries and its violent history of resisting civil rights protections of so many of its own citizens, one could reasonably ask why the United States so ardently claims the mantle of being the leading overseas democracy promoter. It would be rather naive to accept such claims uncritically. There is little documentation that U.S. foreign policy has been predicated on much more than self-serving state interests. Even with regard to the Second World War, Roosevelt did little to stop European fascism, starting with Spain, until Hitler declared war on the United States. Apart from its forceful advocacy of corporate interests, the long list of support for repressive regimes does not recommend the United States as a credible advocate for popular democracy.

Indeed, democratic elections that put in power political groups that opposed US. imperial power, such as the electoral victories of Lumumba in the Congo, Salvador Allende in Chile, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran, Ortega in Nicaragua, Chavez in Venezuela, and the Hamas party in Palestine, were subject to US. political subversion, the first four having succumbed. Political uses of the words "free," "freedom," and "liberty" were usually attached to projects associated with Cold War initiatives or corporate interests: "free press," "free labor," "free enterprise," "religious freedom," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Freedom was ideologically pushed on the former Soviet Union and other communist states but rarely demanded of US.-allied dictatorships. The terms "equality" and "social justice" are virtually absent from official US. lexicon and historically have been associated with communism. Such is the backhanded honor that is conferred on those who believe in communism.

The use of the term "freedom" continues to work as a powerful trope to undermine those states the U.S. government sees as insufficiently deferential to its world leadership. The existence or non-existence of freedom is predicated on the degree to which states accept international business institutions as legal "individuals" and citizens in the political and economic spheres of society. [3] "Freedom" has become "an abstracted signifier of American imperialism ... transforming it into a master rationale for the neoliberal empire's symbolic dramas of emergency and extension" (including state responses to "enemies of freedom" and the permanent need for military campaigns in the cause of liberty) (Kennedy and Lucas 2005, 325). "Freedom" is thus a code word that signifies not the collective well-being of each and every citizen but rather an "empire of liberty" in which individuals have "the freedom to accumulate and consume without restraint" (Pieterse 2004, 120).

In the Cold War era, a key instrument of defense of freedom propaganda was radio. The official voice of the U.S. government, the Voice of America, was originally (1943-1945) put under the control of Office of War Information and subsequently under the State Department from 1945-1953 (with Russian language broadcasting started in 1947). Established in 1949, Radio Free Europe (RFE) went on the air in 1950, focused on overturning the communist governments in Central Europe. [4] RFE was widely blamed for instigating the failed 1956 Hungarian uprising. Radio Liberty (RL) started broadcasting in 1951, aimed at the Soviet Union. A formal RFE/RL merger took place in 1975. According to declassified government records, both stations had been organized by the CIA, a fact known to many journalists long before its public exposure.

All of these propaganda stations, together with an associated fund drive in support of their activities, Crusade for Freedom, [5] enjoyed the complicity of much of the U.S. mainstream media, more than 400 of whose journalists covertly worked for the CIA from the 1950s into the late 1970s (Bernstein 1977). The RFE/RL operation was seen in foreign policy circles as playing a key role in rolling back the communist parties as part of its "culture war" in the CEE region. In 1996, CIA director John Deutch stated that the Agency still presumed the right to employ media organizations in their covert operations (Cone 1998/1999, 153). The G. W. Bush administration tried to put Hollywood in the service of his military initiatives in the Middle East and South Asia, sending his adviser Karl Rove to meet with film executives to recruit film stars to entertain at U. S. military bases. In Congress, Representative Henry Hyde (Republican, Illinois), chair of the U.S. House committee on international relations, asked media, advertising, and television executives to help reconstruct a global strategy of public diplomacy (Kuchment 2001).

Joseph Duffey, then director of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) under Clinton, saw the government's propaganda agency as serving market interests. He reported to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations in 1993 that: "One of the most important areas for enhanced agency activity is that of business, trade, and economics. More and more, we are teaching others not only about the principles of free markets but the very mechanisms that make free markets and open trade possible" (cited by Snow 1997). The USIA carried out its propaganda charter through various conference activities, speaker tours, educational exchanges, short-term visitor programs, and other projects (Carothers 2000, 189). In 1994, aiming for foreign policy program consolidation, Congress passed an International Broadcasting Act, which put under the U. S. Information Agency and its US Information Service outposts abroad, the Voice of America, Radio Marti, TV Marti, World net television, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and, starting in 1996, Radio Free Asia (targeted to China and subsequently Tibet, North Korea, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam). In 1999, the Clinton administration put the USIA itself under the jurisdiction of the State Department, specifically the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, thereby making the country's principal overseas propaganda arm "a part of the larger intelligence community" (Critchlow 2004, 84).


An avowed anti-communist since the time when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan as U.S. president sought to use both covert and relatively transparent instruments to help overturn communism and revolutionary socialism wherever they appeared. A White House program called Project Democracy (originally Project Truth) [6] was organized by the White House through private funding in support of secret foreign policy initiatives and in close coordination with his CIA director William Casey (Parry 1999). Project Democracy was intended to "achieve a specific intelligence objective, not foster a full-and-open democratic debate," covertly using media outlets to disseminate propaganda (and counter Soviet propaganda). Walter Raymond (see also Chapter 1) took over the propaganda effort of the Central American Public Diplomacy Task Force, which included the State Department, USAID, USIA, Defense Department, the NSC, and the CIA (Parry 2004, 219-221). The Reagan administration simply "threw out the policies on balanced news treatment, and the USIA became a propaganda organ" (Austin 2005, 145).

Raymond brought a range of activities previously organized by the CIA to this project, including "significant expansion of our ability to utilize book publication and distribution as a public diplomacy tool." He also worked on the" development of an active PSYOP [psychological operations] strategy," and regular "[m]eetings (ad hoc) with selected CIA operational people to coordinate and clarify lines between overt/covert political operations on key areas. Examples: Afghanistan, Central America, U.S.S.R-EE [Eastern Europe] and Grenada" (Raymond cited in Parry 1999). The downsizing and disciplining of the CIA during the Carter administration was only a momentary deterrent for Reagan, whose wish it was to restore by subtler means the aggressive imperial prerogatives exercised during the Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon years.

Reagan's illegal efforts in the 1980s to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, through military assistance to an exile organization known as the Contras, was led by Lt. Colonel Oliver North and endorsed by the National Security Council. It relied heavily on a propaganda agenda. Reagan labeled this specific initiative the "Democracy Program" (Calvo Ospina 2007). "Democracy" thus became delinked from organic, home-grown political power struggles and was instituted as a formal discursive tactic to expand and legitimize interventionism by the superpower state.

Project Democracy also was used by the Reagan administration to describe a method for delivering propaganda to the American people. An external relations official in USAID at the time, Kate Semerad, called for a foreign policy propaganda apparatus whose "targets would be: within the United States, the Congress, specifically the Foreign Affairs Committees and their staffs, ... the general public [and] the media" (Binion 2001, 1). Reagan officials maintained an active disinformation campaign through regular briefings with the American press about the situation in Nicaragua. From a search of government documents, journalist Robert Parry found that Reagan funded the instrument outside of the purview of Congress by raising money from a "coalition of wealthy individuals," including defense contractors and private foundations (Parry 1999).

In a "white propaganda operation" memo of March 13, 1985 sent by the Office of Public Diplomacy's (OPD) Johnathan Miller to Reagan's White House communications director, Pat Buchanan, it was revealed that anti-Sandinista stories prepared by the Office were planted in the Wall Street Journal, NBC news, the Washington Post, and the New York Times (Cohen, 2001). The OPD, first headed by propaganda specialist Otto Reich, was created under the same executive order that proposed the NED. It was intended to serve as the United States' "first peace-time propaganda ministry" using "the scientific methods of modern public relations and the war tested techniques of psychological operations," which the National Security Agency and the State Department had designed "to keep the news media in line and to restrict conflicting information from reaching the American public" (Robert Perry and Peter Kornbluh, cited in Stauber & Rampton 1995, 162). The OPD, however, had to be disbanded in 1988 when the U.S. comptroller general found that it was "engaged in prohibited, covert propaganda activities designed to influence the media and public to support Administration Latin American policies" (cited in Stauber and Rampton 1995, 167).

The "white propaganda" operation was introduced in 1982. Speaking to the Thatcher-led British parliament on his policy toward the Soviet Union, Reagan declared: "What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term - the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people." This was his preamble to what he called a "campaign for democracy," which led to the formation of the semi-autonomous National Endowment for Democracy (National Review Online 2004).

Reagan found allies among Democrats such as Dante Fascell (D-FL). Building on Fascell's initiatives from the 1960s to develop a democracy assistance organization and the formation of the American Political Foundation in 1979, [7] modeled after the German party foundations (Stiftungen), the Reagan administration founded the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1983. NED was intended to serve similar purposes to, but avoid the stigma of, the CIA and designed to be a semi-autonomous, semi-private overseas "democracy promotion" instrument of the U.S. government. But, according to NED vice president David Lowe, it would be able to penetrate foreign countries with a flexibility and relative autonomy not available to established government entities such as USAID, the State Department, and the U.S. Information Agency (Lowe 2008). Its purpose was to channel money, equipment, political consultants, and other expertise to other countries in order "to strengthen democratic electoral processes ... through timely measures in cooperation with indigenous democratic forces" (Damrosch 1989,19). One of NED's founders and its first acting president, Allen Weinstein, told the Washington Post that "A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." Relative openness was seen as a better formulation for pursuing U.S. national interests (Ignatius 1991). [8]


Unlike the CIA, the quasi-private NED creates careers for political operatives who need not assume underground lives and identities. But even if less covert, NED nonetheless

meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries by supplying funds, technical knowhow, training, educational materials, computers, faxes, copiers, automobiles, and so on, to selected political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, other media, etc. (Blum 2000, 180).

By one estimate, the camouflaging of its imperial purposes while maintaining a benevolent image makes the NED a far more effective instrument of state policy than the CIA ever was (Robinson 1996b, 110-111) - a soft imperialism.

In its early years, NED was funded as an item under the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget. In 1999, the USIA and NED were put under the State Department, through which passed their congressional appropriation. A small but not insignificant share of NED funding comes from private corporate sources. By the early 1990s, NED and other U.S. agencies, USAID, the National Security Council, and the departments of State, Justice, and Defense were supporting democracy promotion programs in well over a hundred countries, including most of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries (Robinson 1996a, 653; Rieffer and Mercer 2005, 391). An early opportunity for regime change in post-Soviet Europe came with the rise of Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement. NED was joined in its objectives by the institutes it funded, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), together with USAID, the private, government-supported Freedom House, George Soros's Open Society institutes, and other government agencies and private institutions. (See Chapter 3 and Sussman 2006.)

The center-right politics of CIPE and the Solidarity Center are clear, and one look at the backgrounds and links of the members of the NDI and especially the IRI (listing 64 corporate and foundation "benefactors") reveals a formidable intersection of bureaucrat-capitalists (public officials with corporate connections) with representatives from the American Enterprise Institute and Fortune 500 energy, automobile, media, and defense sectors (IRI, 2003). Although corporations such as Chevron-Texaco, ExxonMobil, and Enron help fund both NDI and IRI, their influence, particularly in major NED target countries such as Venezuela, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East, extends much farther than their relatively small direct contributions would suggest. What makes NED a particularly useful instrument is that although federally funded, most of the activities of its grantee institutes are not reported to Congress.

NED has supported overseas training in law, constitution, civil society, and elections. This study focuses on the electoral sphere, where its work has been most controversial. In this sphere, NED encourages elections in countries it hopes will undergo a transition to liberal democracy and supports those where elections were already established. Government and non-government critics see NED as an interventionist, anti-communist Cold War relic falsely claiming non-partisanship and that such intervention is likely to damage the reputation of the United States in the long term. Janine Wedel, a close observer of early NED support for "transition," described the democracy promotion enterprise largely as a kind of gold rush: "As 'transition to democracy' came into vogue, carpetbaggers and consultants, foundations and freelancers rushed to explore, and sometimes to exploit, the new frontier" (Wedel 2001, 4).

NED's assertion of its non-partisanship is based on its inclusion of multiple power interests, the two major parties, business, and labor, but in reality the sections of these interest groups represented in NED have long been closely aligned with narrow neo-conservative foreign policy objectives (Right Web 2007). The coordination of such interests serves to foster "the illusion of detachment of the state" from private NGOs (Kennedy and Lucas 2005, 316). As one observer remarked, "Rarely has the US promoted human rights and democracy in a region when they did not suit its grander foreign-policy objectives" (Chaulia 2006).

As a quasi-private foundation, NED is useful in the contracting out to nongovernmental organizations, along with academics, professional consulting companies, self-described human rights groups, and other private associations in the service of state foreign policy objectives. At its inception NED was entirely funded by Congress. At the time, Congress did not intend funding for NED to go to American political parties, yet the two most important recipients are institutes affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties. About two-thirds of NED grants go to its four core institutes, the rest to private contractors (Scott 2002, 200). By 1994, it was accepting private donations. Some of the leading defense and energy interests, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Texaco, and Enron have been among its funding sources.

USAID sees democracy as circumscribed and sustained within a system of pluralist institutions and "free markets' (USAID, 2007). William Blum, who quit his position at the State Department in 1967 in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, argues that NED's basic philosophy is that:

working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free market economy is equated with democracy, reform and growth, and the merits of foreign investment are emphasized .... In short, NED's programs are in sync with the basic needs and objectives of the New World Order's economic globalization, just as the programs have for years been on the same wavelength as US foreign policy (Blum 2000, 180, 181).

How does NED choose its target countries? According to William Robinson (2005), the funding link to Congress and that body's foreign policy priorities is part of it. Essentially, he argues, NED policy originates in the State Department and the White House, sometimes with the coordination of the CIA. [9] In the 1980s, the Reagan administration revised the State Department's emphasis on human rights under Carter to push a different version of democracy promotion (Carothers 2000, 189). The main funding and implementing channel overall for democracy assistance, USAID, began a Support for East European Democracy (SEED) program, which stipulated that for countries in the region to avail themselves of US. funding, they must adopt both the institutional features of US.-style democracy and a market economic system. According to USAID: "The primary goal of the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act of1989 is to promote democratic and free market transitions in the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, enabli,ng them to overcome their past and become reliable, productive members of the Euro-Atlantic community of Western democracies" (USAID 2000b). The original SEED legislation specifies that its funds are "not to contribute any substantial benefit ... to Communist or other political parties or organizations which are not committed to respect for the democratic process" (USAID 2000b).

SEED was funded at the level of $360 million per year until 1994 (Hook 2002, 114). This was followed by additional aid under the Freedom Support Act of 1991, largely targeted to Russia and Ukraine in support of programs on elections, political parties, civil society, and legal reform, which includes the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative of the American Bar Association (Carothers 2000, 185, 191). The USAID website candidly asserts the national interest aspects of its assistance programs:

The principal beneficiary of American foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of contracts and grants flow back to American firms. Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial products and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans (USAID, cited in Greenpeace 2002). [10]

Working with OPD, one of the early targets of NED was the Sandinista government under Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, against whom it was active in organizing, sustaining, uniting, and promoting the formation of a coalition (Roelofs 2003, 164). The Bush (senior) administration earmarked some $9 million for NED in Nicaragua, of which it channeled some $4 million on behalf of newspaper publisher, opposition leader, and presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro in her bid to oust Ortega in the 1990 election (Stauber and Rampton 1995,166). NED was said to have given $100,000 directly to her newspaper, even though the paper did not offer space to the campaign of Chamorro (Bovard 2005,60). Chamorro won.

However, there was political dissent within the US. government toward this blatant act of intervention. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said at the time: "Do we really want Mrs. Chamorro to be known as the best candidate American money can buy? Do we really want free elections and fair elections in Nicaragua, or do we want an election bought and paid for by the United States government?" (cited in Bovard 2005, 59). Following his and the Sandinistas' electoral defeat in 1990, Ortega remained a strong opposition figure. He recaptured the presidency in 2006.

A more recent controversy involving NED in Latin America occurred in Venezuela, where NED has financially assisted political opposition to President Hugo Chavez. Anti-Chavez groups received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the United States. George Folson, an international investment banking consultant in partnership with former national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, was then president of the International Republican Institute, one of the core groups funded by NED. During a coup in 2002 that briefly ousted Chavez, Folson publicly cheered the political-military group that was involved (Rieffer and Mercer 2005,398). In the brief time Chavez was being illegally detained (47 hours in all), the coup leaders dissolved the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court declared the constitution void. The Bush administration blamed Chavez for the events that led up to the coup and indicated by its failure to condemn the illegal takeover that it fully supported it. The New York Times as well initially supported the coup in its editorial page, though it issued a quick retraction once Chavez resumed office.

Despite NED's claimed non-partisanship, the programs of all its grantee institutes launched in Central and Eastern Europe have had a collaborative and pronounced interest in blocking communist and successor left political organizations from regaining power. If there is any region of the world where the partisanship of NED is in fact most conspicuous, it is in the former Soviet and allied states. Western European and US. support for center and center-right parties in the CEE region in the 1990s "represents the largest concentration of party aid of the post-Cold War period." Parties of the left (reformed communists) are labeled a priori by the Western aid providers as "anti-democratic" and thus receive no political assistance (Carothers 2006b, 153, 165). This approach is much closer to the American conception of democracy than the more broad-based European view, where a much fuller spectrum exists for public debate and participation.
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:08 am

Part 2 of 2


The Bush/Cheney administration ended as one of the most unpopular governments in US. history. But although they may have represented in some respects a "cowboy" departure from traditional US. foreign policy, they did not radically depart from the central objectives of US. postwar ambitions. The invasion of Iraq followed a long history of US. attacks on weak Third World countries. Polk, a Democrat, invaded Mexico and confiscated nearly half that country's territory. McKinley, a Republican, invaded Cuba and colonized the Philippines. Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, invaded the Dominican Republic and expanded the invasion of Vietnam. Reagan, a Republican, invaded tiny Grenada. What distinguished Bush, like his father, was the extent of propaganda organized during his administration.

What has emerged in U.S. domestic and foreign policy is a regime of surveillance and propaganda. The Bush administration in particular pushed the edges of covert surveillance and propaganda, frequently undertaken under the pretext of "fighting terrorism." The government-ordered secret and warrantless wiretaps on the telephones of tens of millions of American citizens by the supersecret National Security Agency (Cauley 2006) was challenged in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU (ACLU v. NSA), together with academics, lawyers, and journalists, among others. The NSA practice was upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court in July 2007 and approved by Congress a month later. Obama, perhaps as much as Bush, has relied on "state secrets" to block public disclosure of the secret rendition, torture, and warrantless spying programs carried out by his predecessor - not the open government approach that his campaign speeches led his followers to expect.

Following the lead of commercial propaganda, and with the help of a complicit mainstream media, Bush stretched the powers of an imperial presidency to manage and manipulate public opinion. As a condition for news media coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Pentagon required that they accept the status of "embedded" journalists, which enabled the government to guide what they saw, create an empathic relationship with and physical dependency on U.S. soldiers, and ultimately censor their news dispatches. At the outset of the invasion, [11] much of the footage of the "embeds" was live and unedited, which meant that it typically had no context from which to evaluate the meaning of the shots. Action shots, always taken from the U.S. side, lent support to the government's propaganda lens, while the mainstream media dutifully parroted core Pentagon propaganda phrases such as "war on terror," "coalition of the willing," "operation desert fox," "weapons of mass destruction," "collateral damage," and a caricatured evil figure, "Chemical Ali." [12]

The U.S. invasion, bombing, and blitzkrieg in Iraq in March 2003 was represented in the U.S. mainstream media as a spectacular display of pyrotechnics for hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide and even given theatrical titles: "Operation Iraqi Freedom," "Shock and Awe," and U.S. troop "surge" (escalation). This kind of sensationalized news coverage, along with fatuous slogans like "support our troops," is reminiscent of Walter Lippmann's comment: "We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy's side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace" (cited in Shah 2005). The Bush administration concentrated propaganda operations within the White House under its 24-hour "anti-terrorism" war room, the "Coalition Information Center," staffed by NSC, DoD, CIA, and State Department officials, and a subsequent "Office of Global Communications" (Austin 2005, 146). That the Bush regime carried out such a deceptive policy in Iraq is only one-half of the propaganda equation: the other half is the willingness or the irresponsibility of the major news media echo chambers and their rumor-mongering acolytes active in the blogosphere to be complicit in its deceits.

Undoubtedly cheered by its initial success in persuading the public about the righteousness of its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration extended its propaganda efforts into domestic policy. PR firms were put to work to produce and distribute policy propaganda about government "success stories" packaged as standard television news items but without attribution as to the source. Bush's secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, acknowledged that the administration had contracts with many PR firms and media outlets. These included Hager Sharp, ABC Radio Networks, Bauhaus Media Group, Radio One Inc., the Corporate Sports Marketing Group, and North American Precis. They all were paid to help promote government policies to the public (Kornblut 2005). In 2004 alone, the Bush administration spent over $88 million in taxpayer money on contracts with public relations agencies, 40 percent of which were awarded on a non-competitive basis. This was a 128 percent increase in spending over Clinton's last year in office, 2000 (when over 80 percent of the contracts were competitively awarded). Based on preliminary data that were expected to rise to a higher amount, the total from 2001 to 2004 reached over $250 million spent on 286 contracts (U.S. House of Representatives 2005, 1, 4, 6).

In addition, actors were hired to pose as journalists to give the appearance of a station or network-produced news segment without disclosing the truth to the audience. There also were cases in which syndicated journalists, such as Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher, secretly were involved in payola schemes with government agencies to cheerlead for administration policy initiatives. In effect they were like "embedded" journalists but without public notification. Williams's contract with the Bush administration called on him to "regularly comment on NCLB [the administration's No Child Left Behind policy] during the course of his broadcasts" (U.S. House of Representatives 2005, 2-3). At least 20 different government agencies of the Bush administration, producing hundreds of news style segments (called video news releases or VNRs), were distributed to television stations for airing without informing viewers of the source (Barstow and Stein, 2005). [13] The White House even permitted a fake journalist, James Guckert, armed with a fake name, "Jeff Gannon" (discovered to actually earn a living in the sex trade) to participate as a shill in official media briefings from 2003 to 2005 as if he were part of the credentialed press corps (Kurtz 2005). Guckert is currently (2009) a blogger for the National Press Club.

Under the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 (Public Law 402), the government is forbidden from using taxpayer money to disseminate propaganda within the United States. The federal Government Accountability Office determined that several of the Bush administration's covert attempts to use the media to influence public opinion were improper. (The White House instructed government agencies to ignore the GAO finding.) It is also illegal under the act to distribute overseas U.S. propaganda to American audiences, a rule made largely meaningless, however, in the era of the Internet. Patricia Kushlis, a former 28-year foreign service officer in the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), which until its closure in 1999 managed much of the government's overseas propaganda, acknowledged that many of its transmissions abroad were in fact received by Americans in the blowback of new media (Kushlis 2008).

One of the policies that assured this outcome was launched by the Defense Department under Donald Rumsfeld. To assure favorable coverage of its war aims, the Defense Department launched a "psychological operation" with the hiring of a Washington-based private defense contractor, the Lincoln Group, [14] to plant stories written by the military in 12 to 15 Iraqi and other Arab newspapers. Local news organizations were paid anything from $40 to $2,000 to run the copy as news or advertisements. According to Pentagon documents, Lincoln claimed to have "planted more than 1,000 articles in the Iraqi and Arab press and placed editorials on an Iraqi Web site," as well as recruited Iraqi journalists to write stories on a monthly retainer of $400 to $500. Often military-written stories planted in the Iraqi and Arab press bore Iraqi names in order to remove traces of their American origin and to invent a sense of local anger directed at the Iraqi resistance (Gerth 2005). Employing private contractors, similar to the hiring of the Blackwater private security firm in Iraq, helps to blur the distinction between public and private actions and insulate the administration from government oversight, a standard modus operandi under Bush and Cheney. [15] In this way, the administration can more easily deploy disinformation and other forms of propaganda as tactics in its policy objectives (Daragahi and Mazzetti 2005).

Furthering this propaganda initiative, the task force also secretly purchased an Iraqi newspaper and took over a radio station to transmit pro-U.S. "news" without identifying the source. According to a Los Angeles Times report, many of the planted newspaper stories appeared to be written by independent journalists but "trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country" (Daragahi and Mazzetti 2005). The task force covered its tracks by attributing the radio and newspaper stories to the "International Information Center," which a New York Times reporter said was "an untraceable organization." The commander of the Fort Bragg-based Fourth Psychological Operations Group, Colonel Jack Summe, quite baldly described the rationale behind such practices: "We call our stuff information and the enemy's propaganda .... We have no requirements to adhere to journalistic principles of objectivity" (Gerth 2005). The propaganda exercises focused on Iraq and Afghanistan are in sharp contrast to the moral claims of the U.S. "to promote democratic principles, political transparency and freedom of speech" and liberate the country from the corruption of the Saddam regime. It was understood that one of the byproducts of this project was the "bleeding" of the stories back to the Western press and readers (Daragahi and Mazzetti 2005).

In an effort to directly influence American public opinion about the invasion, the DoD concocted a number of fake news stories about the "heroism" of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. In 2003, Private Jessica Lynch, an Army supply clerk in Iraq, was part of a unit that came under attack from Iraqi resistance. Her vehicle crashed, and injured with fractures, she was subsequently delivered to a nearby hospital by Iraqi soldiers loyal to Saddam Hussein. Contrary to what the U.S. military had claimed and what much of the mainstream media, including the Washington Post and New York Times, sensationally reported, she had not been shot or stabbed. Nor was she engaged in battle. The military's version read like a Hollywood movie script, complete with the "storming" of the hospital where Lynch was treated. In fact, she was given special care by Iraqi doctors and nurses after the crash and needed no special rescue by American troops, as there were no Iraqi troops present - an action that the military concocted and filmed for propaganda purposes, a composite redux of "Saving Private Ryan" and "Black Hawk Down." Lynch herself publicly disputed her "heroism" and the facts reported in the media at a U.S. Congressional hearing in 2007, although she accepted a share of a million dollar advance for a book about her by a New York Times reporter, Rick Bragg, which repeated or ignored falsehoods put out by the military (Kampfner 2003; Scheer 2003).

In another crude incident of botched military propaganda, a former National Football League star turned soldier, Corporal Patrick Tillman, was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. The Army had claimed that he was killed in action by Taliban fighters, and this is what Tillman's family and the mainstream media were told. A soldier who witnessed his actual death, either an act of "friendly fire" or outright murder (based on the medical examiners' evidence), was forced by his commanding officer to keep silent about what he saw. Despite what was likely a fratricide, Tillman was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and a posthumous promotion, while the news media ran the story of his "heroism" (Associated Press 2007; CNN 2007b). The House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee attempted to investigate the matter but was met by both a military coverup and the Bush administration's refusal to turn over key documents in the case (Renner 2007). The exploitation of Tillman apparently was too important to the administration's post-9/11 PR to be interfered with by the facts of the case.

When important segments of the mainstream media began to show signs of life and belatedly question the administration's justifications for the invasion of Iraq, Bush and Cheney became more recalcitrant in responding to a range of congressional investigations. On one occasion, Bush's PR team organized what was purported to be a spontaneous meeting with ordinary GIs in Iraq. But it was subsequently revealed that the GIs were hand picked by the event planners and that the topics and responses were carefully rehearsed.

As one news reporter observed, rehearsed meetings were nothing new for Bush, as "his White House has perfected the public relations strategy of holding scripted events featuring the president's supporters." A typical speech by Bush was one in which his "aides stacked the audience with Republicans and tutored participants in these town hall events on what to say" (VandeHei 2005). More to the manipulation of public opinion, the former secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, wrote a book in 2009 in which he averred that the White House manipulated announcements about the national threat level in order to raise public support for the administration, including one such application of the tactic just after the Democratic Party convention in July 2004 that dramatically brought down a polling lead by presidential candidate John Kerry (Baker 2009). These are but a few examples of the fake news culture that infests America's public information apparatuses. Bush's advisers may have pushed the envelope, but spin doctoring has been a central feature in American political discourse since the Reagan backers dubbed him the "great communicator" - a president well known for serial errors and misstatements and a general speech incapacitation in the absence of a teleprompter.


Rooted in the premise that only in market economies can democracy exist, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) insists that former socialist state candidates for democracy assistance must undergo a "shock therapy" of strict compliance with neoliberal regulations. This means a full range of business property rights, "privatization of economic entities," including banking, elimination of all restrictions on imports and exports, "dismantlement of all wage and price controls," supply-side tax policies, the right of full repatriation of foreign corporate profits, and a functioning investment system of stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. USAID also stipulates that no funding can go to communist and other parties that "are not committed to respect for the [above definitions of] democratic process" (USAID 2005b). "Reducing government regulations and licensing" is listed in a USAID document as one measure of "fighting corruption" (USAID 2000a). [16]

Apart from the general fiction about free market economies, USAID assumes as a matter of doctrine that markets must be construed as those conditions pertaining to present economic conditions in the most developed economies, that is, corporate monopolies. By fiction, I mean that there are prevailing historical myths about the achievements of the American market system and its industrial developments, commonly rendered through "great man" (Morse, Whitney, Bell, Edison, et al.) narratives, and false notions about the autonomy of capital, which in fact relied on huge subsidies of the state at each phase of industrial expansion - from the land grants given to private railroad and telegraph companies to the "military-industrial complex" (which originated with the Civil War). Another aspect of the autonomous market mythology is that unique aspects of American popular and political culture led to its vast wealth creation. Such a belief ignores the realities of conquest, pillage, war, support for foreign state repression, and coercive dependency of Third World economies, which transferred massive amounts of resources to the United States and other capitalist economies, rooted in colonialism and neocolonial exploitation of third world peasant and industrial labor. It also ignores the economic elements relevant to state-supported slavery and the confiscation of the lands of indigenous peoples.

Democracy promotion is an extension of modernization theory. One of the tenets of the theory regarding "underdevelopment" is that less developed countries do not identify with the values of development (the "need for achievement") and lack the will and capacity for developing the political, economic, and cultural institutions that provoke such virtues. In this view of history, "one of a non-contingent process of social evolution which is not driven by specific actions and contexts," there is a governing "transhistorical logic" in which the "goal [is] known in advance" (Brier 2009, 343). Talcott Parsons and Max Weber put much faith in the power of institutions to discipline the behavior of their participants toward functional tasks and help create a social integration of society as a whole. Modernization theory draws on this notion, postulating that institutions can be transferred in ways that transform traditional behavior toward modern institutional practices.

Political scientist Dankwart Rustow (1970) held that national unity, rather than institutionalization, is the primordial factor in the "transition" to a democracy - a type of polity that he regarded as necessarily elitist ("bourgeois"). He did acknowledge that there can be many forms of democracy, and on this, Rustow took issue with other democracy theorists of his time in arguing that requisites of democracy are not necessarily pre-requisites and that democracy could stem from many different conditions and take many different forms. But it's not democracy, he insists, if it does not contain significant conflict. With compromise on the part of competing elites, democracy becomes "habituated" over time in the practices of a society.

There are important shortcomings in Rustow's thinking. One is that democracy is not polyarchy (pluralist elite governance). He does not consider how a corporate capitalist system of rule, which parallels the central command decisional structure of the former Soviet economy, delimits the possibilities of democracy and its "habituation." Second, democracy requires a dense participatory structure with a high level of civic engagement, but there is no single definition of what constitutes civil engagement. And, third, he does not recognize that popular demand may not always or necessarily prioritize political freedom (itself a complicated concept) over other necessities of life, including access to health care, affordable housing, education, and cultural events, full and meaningful employment, and amenities like athletic facilities, museums, theaters of performing arts, and public parks. In this form of accounting, the United States does not fare especially well, even when compared, on some measures at least, to present (Cuba) and former socialist states. Although most Americans and their political leaders may regard their country as the premier democracy in the world, it is partly because they know little of the metrics of democracy calculated in quality of life indicators or when compared to such measures in Western Europe.

Looking at the partial list of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development data from the 30 leading industrialized countries in Table 2.1., the United States is outperformed by Western Europe, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia in almost all categories of quality of life indicators - and even in some measures by countries in Central Europe recently the target of democracy assistance programs. It is clear that despite its vast wealth, American students, tested at age 15, are not being properly trained in the fundamentals of reading, math, and science. American workers are among the most overworked in hours per year.!7 Infant mortality, longevity, and obesity statistics also reveal unimpressive results under the American health care system, which also happens to be the most expensive in the world. Similarly, the U.S. has the worst record in terms of energy usage and environmental pollution. With 4 percent of the world's population, the United States has 25 percent of the world's prison population - largely people of color, which represents its failure to distribute the benefits of its productivity across diverse populations. And it is first, by a big margin, in arms sales, military spending, and prison population, which speaks to the economy's dependence on violence and police power factors of wealth creation.

Table 2.1 Quality of Life Indicators, 30 OECD Countries
a Among countries ahead of U.S. were Poland, S. Korea, Ireland, Hungary, Czech Rep
b Among countries ahead of the U.S. were Slovak Rep., Spain, Poland, Czech Rep
c Among countries ahead of the U.S. were Poland, Japan, S. Korea.
d Among countries ahead of the U.S. were Spain, Greece, Italy
e Among countries ahead of the U.S. was Slovak Rep
Sources: GEeD Factbook, 2008; Abramson (2008); Infoplease Database (2008).

This would logically raise questions among citizens in the CEE region as to whether the United States system of democracy would redound to their benefit and whether, therefore, it is a country worthy of emulation or institutional reproduction. Indeed, the U.S. and world economic downturn has stirred publics to challenge the business-as-usual assumptions rooted in recovery programs. And the election of Obama stirred expectations throughout the world of a change in the corporatist, militarist, chauvinist, anti-environmental, and anti-intellectual undercurrents and direction of U.S. domestic and international policies. The quality of life data do not suggest that there are not other areas where the United States has shown leadership, but they do disrupt the more turgid claims and frequent moral posturing about being "number one" or about being "the leader of the free world."

The appeal of the "modern" American political process is diminished when personalities, rather than institutionalized political structures, including political parties, dominate the electoral process. In the United States, the role of political parties is now largely limited to fund raising, while image making professionals have taken over most of the political campaign functions. Moreover, the modernization thesis that political party formation and elections are processes that can be reproduced in various national contexts is suspect, as it ignores the historical, political, economic, and cultural contexts in which political action-indeed social and political norms is rooted. In the language of modernization theorists such as Walt Rostow, there is a presumption that new states need to follow the "stages of development" if they are to achieve a trajectory toward development and take their place in the interstate system.

The arguments about modernization and democracy, however, are based on state building and strong state structures. However, among the strongest state builders have been people such as Ho Chi Minh, Nasser, Mao, Castro, Nkrumah, Sukarno, Nehru, Mandela, Arafat, and other revolutionary leaders for whom the United States had little regard at a time when they were attempting to transform their countries from colonialism to independence. This is of course because those leaders did not embrace what came to be known as the "Washington consensus" on economic prescriptions nor subscribe to "free world" military organization membership as part of their national development aspirations. American political institutions were not regarded by these leaders as particularly relevant to the conditions of newly emerging Third World states.

The adoption of American-type democratic institutions continues to be seen in State Department quarters as a logical precursor to political development. One of the key democracy promotion efforts of USAID and the American Bar Association's Rule of Law Initiative project in Central and Eastern Europe is to train lawyers and judges in American jurisprudence, theory and procedure with regard to constitutional law, business law, and "election reform." Among the recipients of the ABA initiative were five of the Ukrainian Supreme Court judges who overturned the results of the November 2004 presidential election that forced a second poll and the subsequent declaration of a U.S.-backed candidate as the winner (Boot 2004).

Thomas Carothers found that "the various assumed component processes of consolidation - political party development, civil society strengthening, judicial reform, and media development - almost never conform to the technocratic ideal of rational sequences on which the indicator frameworks and strategic objectives of democracy promoters are built" (Carothers 2002, 15). Indeed, numerous studies have concluded that the United States has placed too much emphasis on elections as constitutive of democracy, which has had the effect of actually undermining democratization. Others, such as Steven Hook and Patrick Regan, have found little correspondence between assistance for democracy programs and actual democratic progress (cited in Scott and Steele 2005, 443). Democracy transfer may better serve as an ideological rationale for preserving status quo big power relations than as a rational starting point for "transition" states.


The notion of the "transitional" state proceeds from a presumed hierarchy of nation states and the ahistorical understanding of how that condition came about, including the failure to acknowledge the modern Western hegemon since the 15th century. A former U.S. secretary of state, Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke quite explicitly on this point:

As the imitation of American ways gradually pervades the world, it creates a more congenial setting for the exercise of the indirect and seemingly consensual American hegemony. And as in the case of the domestic American system, that hegemony involves a complex structure of interlocking institutions and procedures, designed to generate consensus and obscure asymmetries in power and influence (Brzezinski 1997, 26-27).

The idea underlying the term "transitional states" relates to a political version of stage theory in which those countries that have experienced communist party rule or right-wing authoritarianism would logically give way to the universal logic of Western-style democracy. This masks the privileged status of the leading capitalist states that employ stage theory to position themselves as the natural leaders of the world order. It also disguises the private sector bias and transnational character of contemporary global structures and institutions, particularly under a neoliberal world order in which strong states are no longer seen as critical to development. With the collapse of the communist party system in Central and Eastern Europe, U.S. public funding toward that region during 1990-1994 amounted to $1.8 billion. "This initial public assistance focused almost entirely on private-sector needs" (Regulska 1998, 41).

Neither of the two major parties in the United States seems to recognize that external intervention in a country's political life almost always fails to achieve its long-term objectives. U.S. obstruction of the elections held in Iran in 1953 led to a dictatorship and the deep resentment of the Iranian people towards the United States for its support of the Shah. The CIA's hand in the overthrow of elected leaders in Guatemala in 1954 and Chile in 1970 in support of dictatorships earned the deep distrust of the people of those two countries. Even the US.-assisted ouster of a much-despised dictator in the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, did not delude Filipino nationalists into overlooking the fact that the United States had supported his one-man rule from the 1972 coup until nearly the end of his regime in 1986. Restive forces in the post-Marcos Philippine Senate forced the closure of the US. military bases.

Looking at "democracy promotion" from the perspective of target countries, Carothers sees the expression not as a representation of a genuine commitment to popular empowerment but rather as code words for "regime change," either by military or other means. Equally threatening to much of the world was the Bush administration's "freedom agenda," which was used by the State Department to designate "enemy" states and as a rationale for intervention (Carothers 2006a). In the historical memory of many target nations, the US. government's enthusiasm for the coup d'etat as a method of regime change does not bolster the credentials of the United States as a neutral advocate for democracy. America's credibility is put on the line every time its government finds justification for either direct intervention or support for extra-legal means of removing incumbents. When given the chance to pressure coup leaders in Honduras to restore the overthrown left-of-center president Manuel Zelaya, such as through strict sanctions, Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton balked for more than a month. Had the US. neoliberal ally in Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, been removed in such a way, it is virtually certain Obama would have acted vociferously to restore "the rule of law."

Ideology colors the selective perception of what constitutes democratic behavior. USAID, for example, insisted on listing the Democratic Republic of the Congo as being in "transition to democracy" despite its record as "a strife-wracked country undergoing a turgid, often opaque, and rarely very democratic process of political change" (Carothers 2002, 7). During and since the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko (1971-1997), the country has been engulfed in ethnic violence, civil war, and profound levels of corruption. Thomas Carothers, who has extensive experience in the U.S. "democracy promotion" program, has observed that there is a strong partisan tint to the work of Western political party aid providers. This would be particularly evident in the forms of US. party assistance in Russia. (See Chapter 4.)

There is a certain illusion, denial, and conceit infused in the notion of democracy promotion. British scholar David Lane critiques the literature on democracy promotion for its general failure to recognize the power of Western institutions "to influence political outcomes in host states" (Lane 2009,127). Although many who work on democracy assistance appear to be activated by a humanitarian spirit, the main architects of the project are incited by less noble national political economic appetites, by anticipation of ideological and theological proselytization, or by personal and pecuniary considerations. A broad array of critics of Western democracy promotion propaganda ranges from left to right. From a more conservative standpoint, British development studies scholar Gordon Crawford (2003a) finds that democracy assistance groups, such as the State Department and USAID, measure results from a false logical positivist quantitative set of metrics that confuses the relationship between governance and democracy. Such an approach, according to another close observer, leads to "a deeply flawed undertaking that is producing little useful insight or knowledge, and introducing serious distortions into the designing and implementing of such aid" (Thomas Carothers, cited in Crawford 2003a, 82).

Democracy promotion has been undertaken by the aid community as the chief organizing principle behind US. foreign policy, while authoritarianism is seen as a fetter on the "freedom" of capital accumulation and the fluid transfer of wealth within and across borders in a transnational world economic order (Robinson 1996a, 634). And yet during the most critical "transition" phase in the 1990s, the democracy promotion share of US. assistance to countries classified by Freedom House as "not free" increased from 18 percent to 30 percent from 1991 to 1996. This appeared to reflect an overall lending strategy that did not require democratic commitments of recipient countries. Authoritarian regimes of strong economic interest to the United States, such as Congo-Kinshasa, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, featured prominently in its trade policies during the 1990s, and China, which was continuously criticized for its human rights violations, was nonetheless encouraged to join the World Trade Organization (Hook 2002, 119, 122).

Given a long U.S. history of state interventions undertaken in the name of delivering democracy, Barbara Rieffer and Kristan Mercer ask whether "Washington is motivated by a national mission to do good in the world ... [in] comparison to advancing its own expedient interests on the premise that liberal democratic states form a security community in which the probability of armed conflict is zero." In fact, they note, that the United States was happy to forego democracy audits when it came to forging tactical alliances with Tito in Yugoslavia, Pinochet in Chile, Stalin during the Second World War, the defense of South Africa's apartheid governments, or China during Carter's high-profile "human rights" administration (Rieffer and Kristan 2005,386,390). Although the United States perennially labels China a major human rights violator, it encourages transnational corporations to engage in extensive trade and investment with that wage- and labor-repressed country. Indeed, it has been argued that it is the human rights of American workers that are violated by the massive job exports that result from this kind of market freedom.

A critic from the conservative side, journalist George Szamuely (writing for Commentary, The Times [London], American Spectator, and the Wall Street Journal among others), notes the double standard by which the United States holds it illegal for foreign governments to fund an American political party yet regularly supports political leaders and parties, sometimes indirectly, whom it holds in its favor (Szamuely 2001). Democracy is not a process that can be transferred like an automobile plant but must be developed and continually redefined internally and organically through conflict and trial and error. American democracy was certainly not socially inclusive at its inception but required much struggle and even a civil war before it even began to confer basic political rights and protections on the majority of its citizens. And even today, many question whether, given its growing income and other social inequalities and declining access to basic social benefits, the United States might be better served by concentrating on democracy promotion at home.

Crawford sees democracy assistance as a badly conceived bureaucratic initiative: "Democracy assistance thus becomes a technical exercise, with the underlying reasons for the democratic failings of institutions left unaddressed" (Crawford 2003b, 3). Ottaway and Carothers assert that one of the failings of USAID initiatives in democracy assistance is their heavy reliance on American NGOs and contactors to carry out the technical assistance and oversee the grants rather than setting up local foundations for that purpose as is the practice of the European Union (Ottaway and Carothers 2000,306-307). USAID itself acknowledges that it has taken an active role in linking American NGOs with CEE and Eurasian counterparts and has many formal partnerships with other U.S. and international agencies in support of its assistance program, including the Departments of State, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Treasury, Labor, and Justice, U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Environmental Protection Agency, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (USAID 2000a).

A long trail of political "realists," from Walter Lippmann to George Kennan to Henry Kissinger, has instructed U.S. foreign policy decision makers not to yield to impulses about spreading democratic values but rather to "accept the necessity of a more sober pursuit of American national interests abroad." In line with this thinking, democracy promotion should be understood as a rhetorical device to gain entry to regions of the world in the "sober pursuit" of the "national interest," to which business and military executives give a nod, while collaborating with overseas politicians interested in joining the OECD and NATO. Weaker authoritarian states already integrated into the supply chain of neoliberal capital or which host U. S. military bases need not be concerned that democracy demands will be applied to them, at least not until local popular movements threaten the alliance structure. U.S. support for the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines only ended when the local business class threatened to tactically ally with the communist New People's Army in a joint effort to force him out. The best use of democratic rhetoric is to help dress up underlying material interests, while its worst applications result in crusading efforts to remake the world in the Wilsonian tradition (Ikenberry 1999).

Economic "reform" and military "security" initiatives have a corollary in the political sphere: the export of American-style electoral practices, constitutional legal codes, standards of governance, and civil society organizations. The emphasis on these institutional changes within a supposed pluralistic civil society underplays the importance of broad-based citizen governance. Even from a market standpoint, inactive workers and consumers make fewer demands on businesses to innovate their production practices, which tend to make those businesses less competitive. The way U.S. assistance is rendered makes recipients beholden to the tutelage and future financial support of donors. In anticipation of the 2004 election in Ukraine, the American Bar Association was given $400,000 by USAID "to tutor Ukrainian judges, including a number of current supreme court judges, in election law" (Rieffer and Mercer 2005, 398). In the end, it is the U. S. government that determines political standards in host countries (Newberg and Carothers 1996, 104).

USAID and other U.S. foreign policy planners are known for making little effort to consult with knowledgeable people of target countries, including political scientists, prior to planning and undertaking democracy assistance fieldwork, particularly with regard to understanding the political context. Policy evaluation of country-specific assistance is based on an evaluation procedure "undertaken by a small team of (almost all) donor country personnel, flying in and out on a short fieldwork mission" (Crawford 2003a, 95). When Americans showed up to provide democracy assistance in the early years of Poland's new market economy, they were sarcastically labeled the "Marriott brigades," because they hardly ventured beyond the confines of the Warsaw hotel (Wedel 2001, 45). Parachute politics tends to reward foreign "experts" and exclude the subjects-deemed-objects, for whom the policy is putatively intended, thus undervaluing the organic requirements of genuinely democratic initiatives. Though the Cold War may have formally ended, the United States continues to regard Eastern Europe, including Russia, with a mix of benevolence and contempt that reflects its big power complex, a chauvinist set of assumptions about its rightful and unilateral uses of police agency in the world, and its deep lack of appreciation of the complex historical, political, social, and cultural bases of national sovereignty.

The following chapter looks at the infrastructure of democracy assistance in the United States and Western Europe and discusses their common and dissimilar approaches to regime change and institution building. It is important for Americans in particular to understand that though both regions may share market economy structures, there are significant differences in how they conceive and practice democracy both at home and abroad.



1. The same spirit if not the identical practice still prevails in the official U. S. world outlook. George Bush was wont to attribute his regime's foreign policy desires to the aggressive demands of his Christian deity: "Freedom is not America's gift to the world," he asserted, "it is the almighty God's gift to every man and woman in the world. And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom" (Bush 2004). Echoing Wilsonian imperialist precepts and the jingoism of the William McKinley era even earlier, the United States is presumed in this view to be a chosen instrument for divine commandments (Zizek 2005, 22).

2. A similar tone was uttered by Obama's vice president Joe Biden who issued a broadside verbal attack on the Medvedev/Putin government's domestic and foreign policies following his visits to Georgia and Ukraine in 2009.

3. However, the framers of the U.S. Constitution apparently did not see it that way. The only reference to the term "business" in the U.S. Constitution refers to the legislative business of the House of Representatives. That is, the term "business" is associated with the work of the public sphere, not with the privileged status of private profit-seeking entities. The term "profit" in the Constitution similarly has a non-pecuniary meaning and refers essentially to the honor of being an office holder. There is no reference to the word "market" in the document. For the United States to impose on emerging liberal democracies a neoliberal market requirement, particularly in the context of the overpowering global economic forces that currently exist, is to set up such states for the domination of external private capital, the very antithesis of democracy. Under its "index of freedom," even the conservative Freedom House does not include among its measures of civil and political rights the rights of business enterprises (Kegley and Hermann 1996, 312).

4. In the 1980s, special services with radio and television sections, Radio Marti and TV Marti, were added to target Cuba.

5. According to one study on RFE, its local counterpart, the Crusade for Freedom, which drew on private donations, was set up in part to disguise the CIA's role in overseas broadcasting. "While not exactly sinister, the Crusade for Freedom was unquestionably deceitful. Over almost twenty years, it repeatedly took advantage of American good will, expanding from a small, obscure program into a monstrous propaganda subterfuge" (Cone 1998/1999).

6. Reagan was not the first president to employ "truth" as a term of propaganda. During his time as president, Harry Truman pushed a "Truth Campaign" to fight communism, for which Congress appropriated $121 million (Snow 2003, 59-60).

7. The American Political Foundation, funded by a $300,000 grant from USAID and drawing from the two main political parties, was intended to be a tax-exempt "bipartisan commission" to link the two main parties to sister parties and groups elsewhere in the world and overcome the stigma of other U.S. organizations that had functioned as fronts for the CIA. The APC originally became known as "The Democracy Program" and recommended what became NED, which would include two party-based international foundations and internationally-oriented institutes representing business and labor.

8. According to the deputy executive director of Freedom House, the downsizing of the CIA that started in the Carter administration was reversed during the G. W. Bush administration, and that while its "capacity had indeed atrophied, it had been revived and become quite robust by, say, 2002" (Melia 2005, 22).

9. A number of historic figures who worked with CIA covert activities have been members of NED's Administrative Council, including Otto Reich, John Negroponte, Henry Cisneros, and Elliot Abrams (Clark 2007).

10. The original USAID document, "Direct Economic Benefits of U.S. Assistance by State" and its web location,, cited by many sources, was removed by USAID.

11. Indeed, even referring to the invasion as a "war" lends the action legitimacy, inasmuch as war is normally conceived as a willingness of two or more parties to resolve conflict through violence. In the case of the U.S.-Iraq conflict, it was a one-sided policy to employ violence, while the other side was principally engaged in self-defense and flight.

12. The 2009 film, "Hurt Locker," though largely a paean to the heroics of the invasion of Iraq, offered one small detail about how the military employs propaganda in every aspect of its violent adventures: the renaming of a base camp from "Liberty" to "Victory."

13. Fake news is actually a far more common practice of pharmaceutical and other corporate industries, whose PR representatives pitch the offerings to TV stations around the country.

14. The Lincoln Group also secured a five-year contract, worth up to $100 million, with U.S. Special Operations Command, based in Tampa, to develop a strategic communications campaign for special operations forces around the world (Daragahi and Mazzetti 2005).

15. Lockheed-Martin, on which Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney, served as a board member (1995-2001), is engaged in sorting mail, issuing Social Security checks, and several other sensitive government functions, aside from being the world's largest defense contractor (Klein 2007, 293). Richard Cheney at the time was CEO of Halliburton.

16. USAID also employs a neoliberal approach in other spheres of support activities, such as training Kazakhs in the privatization of pension programs and the elimination of state subsidies for housing and utilities in Ukraine, and other ways in which "USAID will continue its commitment to change in the region through U.S. and regional partnerships which advance the development of market economies, private business, democratic practices and social equity" (USAID 2000a).

17. Sociologist Juliet Schor documented this reality about American workers in the early 1990s. More recently (2006), it was found that 43 percent of Americans had either no vacation time or less than one week, the worst record among the wealthy countries. Whereas 127 other countries have a mandated vacation law, the United States does not. (Martin 2007). Even China guarantees an annual three-week vacation.
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:09 am

Part 1 of 4


I am not particularly concerned whether either gunpowder or propaganda have benefited or harmed mankind. I merely emphasize, at this point, that propaganda on an immense scale is here to stay. We Americans must become informed and adept at its use, defensively and offensively, or we may find ourselves as archaic as the belted knight who refused to take gunpowder seriously 500 years ago.



The prevailing develop mentalist narrative is premised on an established and legitimate international power hierarchy, headed by dominant Western political, economic and military organizations. From this narrative, the notion of "transition" derives from the conception that these power arrangements are permanent, orderly, and just, and that there's a compelling logic behind intervention rooted in the West's historical civilizing mission and modern, universal, progressive values. In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of Third World states, with allies in the (socialist) Second World, began to challenge this narrative and its asymmetrical allocations and entitlements of power. The revolt was directed mainly against the existing unequal basis of trade relations, vast technological differences, and forms of cultural power and demanded a "new international economic order" followed by a "new world information and communication order."

But the emancipatory Third/Second World solidarity movement, which had sprung from the non-aligned nations conferences, was undermined with the coming of the Thatcher and Reagan governments to the point that it lost its momentum and eventually its collective leadership. Concurrently, social democracy in both Europe and North America went into a period of decline under the pressures of Anglo-American neoliberalism and supply side ideology. By the 1980s, economic globalization, paced by new digital communication technology, had gained ascendancy, further widening the income gaps between rich and poor countries. Global economic integration, ignoring as it did the colonial and neocolonial history and foundations of the world economy, took center stage at the expense of the weaker nations of the world.

Meanwhile, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, starting in the late 1980s, gave fresh impetus to the dreams of a capitalist world economy with an international division of labor that Marx had anticipated a century earlier. With the end of the Soviet Union, the lure of Russian oil and gas and the possibilities of a vast new market for corporate investment beckoned the energy, defense, manufacturing equipment, forestry, and finance sectors, among others. Long-term planning for conquest and economic integration however, required a degree of sophistication and forbearance that aggressive U.S. technocrats and business moguls could not tolerate. Economic integration soon led to devastating results, particularly for ordinary Russian citizens, who experienced the collapse of the social security and welfare systems, an abrupt decline in public health, life span, dietary habits, public services, financial stability, and purchasing power and steep increases in poverty, crime, unemployment, corruption, murder, suicide, infant mortality, alcoholism, and other negative social indicators.

The Yeltsin regime fueled by oil and natural gas exports, though limited by corruption and his own chronic inebriation, was open for business to the West. The sudden economic opening proved disastrous, with effects considerably worse than the Great Depression coming in the wake of the radical transition to capitalism. Similar results followed in other former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, where HIV/AIDS is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. The sociologist James Petras found that:

Over the past 15 years of the transition to capitalism almost all basic industries, energy, mining, communications, infrastructure and wholesale trade industries have been taken over by European and US multi-national corporations and by mafia billionaires or they have been shut down. This has led to massive unemployment and temporary employment, relative stagnation, vast out-migration and the decapitalization of the economy via illegal transfers, money laundering and pillage of resources (Petras 2004).

And yet the superiority and eastward expansion of the market economy was taken as an article of faith by most Western state planners. "America had won the cold war, and 'market democracy' - to use Bill Clinton's concise term - would spread from Belgrade to Bishkek" (Rutland 2000, 243). Few people in government publicly acknowledge the growing inequalities characteristic of American "market democracy," the growing numbers of its citizens who cannot afford either health care or higher education, or the fact that the U.S. spews out more greenhouse gases (CO2) than any other country except China (but with a far higher per-capita rate). In the case of China, much of the industrial pollution in that country is emitted from U.S. and other foreign-owned or subcontracted export-oriented corporations, thus requiring a transnational economic analysis of the cause of pollution.

USAID, far from being a humanitarian organization dedicated to the alleviation of poverty, disease, inequality, and economic deprivation, has become increasingly politicized in recent years. Its Office of Transition Initiatives, formerly Office of Democratic Initiatives (started in 1984), was (re)established in 1994, primarily aimed at restructuring Russia and Eastern Europe. In the words of that office, "seizing critical windows of opportunity, OTI works on the ground to provide fast, flexible, short-term assistance targeted at key political transition and stabilization needs" (USAID 2006), which means that it can direct funds to organizations faster than USAID itself and with much independence on the part of its overseas offices to spend on "democracy promotion" projects (Melia 2005, appendix 1: 12). In Serbia, as USAID explained:

The goal of USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI) was to fund programs and media outlets that could disseminate messages pushing immediate political change. USAID/OTI characterized its activities as "pushing the reform agenda" (cited in McClear, McClear, and Graves 2003, 30).

OTI also has a limited focus in Latin America, being focused exclusively on Venezuela and Bolivia, two countries that share a deep distrust of U.S. intervention in the region. In Venezuela, OTI operates out of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. From 2002, when the Venezuelan military launched an unsuccessful coup against the Chavez government to the first quarter of 2008, OTI had dedicated $11.3 million to transition initiatives. OTI is known as "the special forces of development assistance," with much of its activity hidden from public scrutiny. It refuses to name the organizations that it funds in Venezuela, a practice that would be illegal of a foreign entity in the United States. That democracy assistance would be aimed at Venezuela, which has been recognized as a democracy since 1958, suggests that OTI was acting as a political instrument of the Bush administration to help dislodge from power its designated enemy, Chavez (Gould 2006).

For U.S. policy leaders, the doctrine of "political realism" is the most coherent way of conceiving international relations. It is posited on the pursuit and defense of state interests and national security as the central pillars of its foreign policy and rationalizes its self-referential behavior by representing politics and economics (and U. S. interventions) in a universalizing glossary of "world interests" and the establishment of" democracy," with little regard for the differentials in power geographies and national, regional, cultural, and historical specificities. According to British diplomat, Shaun Riordan: "The realist school of diplomacy disregards both the internal working of other states and the importance of values in international relations .... There is no space here for the engagement of foreign publics, or even policy elites, in genuine debate .... Foreign policy is decided and implemented within the hermetically sealed world of diplomatic professionals" (quoted in Critchlow 2004, 85). Although Riordan is exaggerating the role and importance of" diplomatic professionals" and ignoring private sector interests, foreign policy does indeed have very little citizen input.

The larger "hermetically sealed" interventionist project requires a discursive strategy in order to legitimate state practice. The discursive practice of" democracy promotion" emphasizes assistance to "state capacity" building, and intergovernmental "partnerships" as a way of diverting attention from the transnational corporate community's desire to evade public debate about its economic and other power interests and policies. This is achieved in part by using the informal mechanisms of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to effect policy change, thereby bypassing a broader consultation with and engagement of the populace. State building is seen not as a participatory as much as a technocratic and administrative exercise (Chandler 2006, 90).

The exercise of transnational power requires the cooptation of domestic elites as "partners" .of regime change. This occurs for several reasons. Local elites may see their own status rise via association with powerful foreign interests. In the past, such people were often viewed as "compradors." Or they may see little alternative other than seeking external allies, especially when they perceive regional forces as overwhelming, as many politicians view Russian influence in Eastern Europe. Or it may be simply a career path for local professionals seeking opportunities to avail themselves of the wealth of resources offered in the West. One report found a strong tendency of local NGOs to "adapt to the discourse of the donors" in order to continue to receive financial support from their Western patrons and gain status and visibility, leading to "upward linkages and accountability to donors" and diminishing accountability to those below (Philippe Schmitter and Imco Brouwer, cited in Crawford 2003a, 94).

For donor groups, the cooptation of local talent means easier entry to the halls of power of the targeted country. This gives outside agents access to local resources. Particularly important in provoking the "color revolutions" in Eastern Europe were the links and financing that external groups established with student organizations, such as Otpor (Serbia), Kmara (Georgia), and Pora (Ukraine), and Zubr (Belarus). Pro-western local elites are essential in normalizing the political, economic, and cultural way of life that foreign powers hope to influence. And it also means that the "best and the brightest" local talent may migrate to the West or to local outposts of foreign agencies and thereby serve the global objectives of the institutions in which they are employed - producing a brain drain.

While not addressing the larger issues associated with democracy assistance, two specialists in democracy assistance analysis see a weak commitment on the part of the United States toward genuine (participatory) democracy, particularly during the most formative years of "transition." As they see it:

Since 1989, promoting strong economic and security relationships has been the paramount policy initiative for the United States in the region, while promoting democracy is an ancillary goal. (The approximately $150 million the U.S. government has spent since 1989 on programs aimed at helping the former communist countries of central and eastern Europe carry out democratic transitions represents only 6.5 percent of all U.S. assistance to the region in this period) (Newberg and Carothers 1996, 97).


The center of power in foreign policy normally is the president and the national security adviser and key cabinet members in the departments of state and defense (DoD). Under Bush, it was obvious enough that the key players in U.S. foreign policy were his vice president Richard Cheney and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Colin Powell was shunted aside by the former two, which eventually forced his resignation as secretary of state. His successor, Condoleezza Rice, similarly, was marginalized in policy making. But there were others too, including Richard Armitage, Robert Zoellick, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, who were influential in developing the policy of invading Iraq. Intelligence was regularly bent to serve policy objectives rather than the other way around, and the manipulations that were eventually exposed were characterized by the Bush regime as simply "intelligence failures."

The many misrepresentations of foreign policy point to the weight that the Bush administration gave to propaganda in achieving its goals. Karl Rove's White House role was expanded from pollster, spin master, and chief strategist to assistant to the president, deputy chief of staff, and senior adviser, with a portfolio that involved "coordinating the policies of the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council and the Homeland Security Council" and "a formal hand in foreign policy as well" (Froomkin 2005). As reported in the Washington Post (2004), Rove and his associates regularly gave briefings to leading diplomats and other public officials about the strategy for defeating Democratic party incumbents in the 2004 and 2008 elections, more than 100 overall in his seven years in the White House. He called this tactic "asset deployment," an effort to use civil servants as political marketers and dispatchers of propaganda, putting ideological and party interests above the normally understood apolitical character of civil service (Solomon, MacGillis, and Cohen 2007).

This provoked concerns about possible violations of the Hatch Act, passed by Congress in 1939 to, among other things, prohibit government officials from using federal resources for campaigns and other partisan political activities. Seven diplomats, based in Europe and one in Bermuda, who had contributed $1.6 million to Republican party coffers were briefed in 2007 at the headquarters of the U.S. Peace Corps, an organization assumed to be non-partisan. In response to questions raised by then Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), White House spokesperson Scott Stanzel remarked that the Peace Corps, including its director, need not be insulated from sectarian politics. Dismissing conventional reasons for maintaining a non-partisan civil service, Stanzel offered a bit of spin: "Why shouldn't the president's appointees have our understanding of the political landscape?" (Kane 2007; Solomon, MacGillis, and Cohen 2007).

Under Rove's tutelage, a broad range of White House, civil service appointees, and people outside of government, including political pundits and conservative journalists covertly on the government payroll, were trained to think of policy, politics, propaganda - and news - as inseparable. But, unlike Nazi Germany, there appears to have been no central command post for running the government's propaganda machine, only the willing compliance of opportunists and followers of neoconservative and market ideology - or the compelling intimidation that attaches civil servants and people in public life to the partisan roles assigned to them as agents of public deception. But the overall propagandist in charge, "the decider," was Bush himself Bush explained his role rather prosaically: "See, in my line of work, you gotta keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in - to kinda catapult the propaganda" (YouTube 2005).

Bush had partisan appointments working for him in the CEE region as well. U.S. ambassador to Hungary, April Foley, appointed in 2006, did not need such loyalty training, among other reasons, perhaps, because she was by her own account an old girlfriend of "W." More important, she brought with her a portfolio as former vice president, vice chair, and director of the U.S. Export-Import Bank after working as a strategist for PepsiCo and Reader's Digest for 17 years as well as at the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. It is not surprising, therefore, that seeking big business investment opportunities would be cited by Foley as one of the primary objectives of her ambassadorship. Speaking at the Hungary Harvard Club in January 2007, after making an opening token remark about "freedom and democracy," Foley elaborated on the need "to further build the extensive commercial ties between the U.S. and Hungary." Her explicit goal, she said, was to expand the operations of IBM Data Storage, GE Energy, Caterpillar, and Microsoft in Hungary and in general "work with the Hungarian government to improve the climate for business" (Foley 2007). Being a disinterested public servant was quite out of the question. More on the role of U.S. ambassadors is discussed in Chapter 4.

The State Department is the principal government agency responsible for designing the objectives and developing the coordinates of U.S. foreign policy. Democracy assistance is handled primarily by its Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) through grant and policy making and diplomacy, while its Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs handles exchanges and scholarship programs in line with its broader political strategy (Melia 2006, 124). In 2008, DRL was headed by assistant secretary David Kramer, who previously had been deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. And prior to that, he had been a senior fellow at the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, the think tank that wrote the major policy paper promoting increased military spending, the invasion of Iraq, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. As deputy assistant, he played an active role in the U.S. effort to unseat Belarus president, Aleksandr Lukashenko. According to the State Department, prior to the 2006 election in that country, Kramer declared: "Lukashenko's days are numbered. We will be engaged in Belarus for the long haul." He gave public assurances that the United States would actively provide moral and financial support to the opposition (Crawley 2006).

With Powell outmaneuvered by Rumsfeld, the DoD assumed a dominant position in foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. With Rumsfeld in charge, the Defense Department, with deference to the president, presumed to speak for the "national interest." A 2004 DoD study drawn together by invited representatives from industry, universities, private consulting groups, and government agencies asserted that: "Nothing shapes U.S. policies and global perceptions of U.S. foreign and national security objectives more powerfully than the President's statements and actions, and those of senior officials. Interests, not public opinion, should drive policies" (U.S. Department of Defense 2004,3; italics added). If, as stated, public opinion is of little consequence, the notion of democracy would seem to be a rather hollow concept to propagate to the emerging "transition" states of the world.

In Appendix D in that report, the executive summary of an earlier (October 2001) DoD study on "managed information dissemination," the meaning of strategic communications is rather clearly summarized in its final conclusion:

Information is a strategic resource - less understood but no less important to national security than political, military, and economic power. In the information age, influence and power go to those who can disseminate credible information in ways that will mobilize publics to support interests, goals, and objectives. What is required is a coherent approach as to how we think about managed information dissemination and the investments that are required for its more effective use by America's diplomats and military leaders (U.S. Department of State 2004, 99).


To a great extent elite-driven propaganda in foreign affairs is employed as an antidote to independently observed reality (or realities). This is analogous to the way that "creationism" is claimed to be equivalent to evolutionary science as an explanation of the origins of the universe. Shortly after September 11, 2001, as part of the US. government's effort to wage psychological warfare against perceived enemies in the Middle East, the Rumsfeld Pentagon created an Office of Strategic Influence (OSI). The DoD had the largest PR operation within the Bush government (Snow 2003, 48). To help in the OSI project, the DoD hired Victoria Clarke, who previously ran the Washington D.C. office of the controversial Hill & Knowlton public relations firm, [2] as public affairs officer (Cockburn and St. Clair 2004,321). Clarke's approach was to achieve "information dominance" and "to recruit 'key influentials' - movers and shakers from all walks who with the proper ministrations might be counted on to generate support for Mr. Rumsfeld's priorities" (Barstow 2008). They also brought in the Rendon Group, [3] a prominent, self-styled "perception management" consulting firm involved in numerous secret programs of the United States in the Middle East and elsewhere. Its president and CEO, John Rendon, speaking to the U.S. Air Force Academy, styled himself "a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager" (cited in Rampton and Stauber 2003). [4]

Surveillance and national security expert James Bamford sees the Bush regime's use of Rendon for undercover functions previously undertaken by CIA intelligence as a way to avoid Congressional oversight:

Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors - people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs - or how much unchecked power they enjoy (Bamford 2005).

The many controversies surrounding the administration's secret and deceptive methods in foreign policy and the Democrats' failure to take Bush and Cheney to task only encouraged the continued use of privately contracted propaganda operations well beyond their final term of office. In October 2008, the Washington Post reported that the Defense Department had paid four private "strategic communications" contractors, SOS International, the Lincoln Group, [5] Leonie Industries, and MPRI, up to $300 million over three years "to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to 'engage and inspire' the local population to support US. objectives and the Iraqi government" to "expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls 'information/ psychological operations.'" Although the State Department was nominally in charge of strategic communications, the Pentagon had by far the biggest share of its operations. And although US. law forbids the use of government propaganda on the American public, the "statement of work" for the companies, written by the US. Joint Contracting Command in Iraq, includes "U.S. audiences" in its list "strategic audiences ... to gain widespread acceptance of [U. S. and Iraqi] core themes and messages" (DeYoung and Pincus 2008).

Leonie, SOS International, and MPRI all cite their operations in Central and Eastern Europe, most of which are hidden from the American public even though their work is central to U. S. foreign policy in the region. MPRI's work in Eastern Europe and Central Asia included a 12-day "military-media symposium" for 50 public affairs officers in the region (MPRI 2006). In the mid-1990s, MPRI had US. military contracts to help train the Kosovo Liberation Army as part of the Clinton administration efforts to overthrow the Milosevic regime in Yugoslavia. MPRI employed retired military officers to train the KLA at secret locations in Albania, in effect a subcontracting of foreign affairs to the private sector. MPRI military advisers also helped plan the Croatian offensive, "Storm and Strike," that forced out some 350,000 Serbs from Krajina province in 1995. In 1996, the State Department contracted the firm to train and equip the Bosnian Croat-Muslim Federation Army (Project Censored 2009).

An unnamed Pentagon official said the Department's propaganda tactics range "from the blackest of black programmes to the whitest of the white" (Hodgson 2002). Revelations about its black propaganda (disinformation that is given false attribution as to source with the intent of vilifying the enemy) objectives forced the Pentagon to abandon the OSI project, at least in name, in February 2002, but this did not deter Rumsfeld from starting up another overseas covert propaganda campaign of the same sort shortly thereafter. (See also Chapter 2.) Bamford discovered that several of its operations were simply moved to another office, the clandestine-sounding "Information Operations Task Force," which extensively employed the services of Rendon (cited in Rich 2006,188). In October 2006, Rumsfeld rekindled the idea of creating a "rapid response" propaganda unit in the Pentagon to counter stories in the U.S. and international press that the DoD deemed negative - as if public relations were the remedy for the unfavorable image of the United States around the world. His successor, Robert Gates, dropped the unit and folded some of its functions into its public affairs office (Roston 2007). [6]

American media executives were willing co-conspirators in the government's domestic propaganda initiatives. The New York Times revealed in April 2008, based on the DoD's internal communications, that starting in 2002, the Pentagon recruited over 75 military generals to spread propaganda in the mainstream media, many of whom also worked with military contracting firms. [7] Acting as military news analysts on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, these hand-picked officers, none with media backgrounds, were inserted as objective and authoritative contacts for major network and cable news channels, dutifully and uncritically reporting stories they were fed in camera by Bush administration leaders at the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, and the White House. Their sources included Dick Cheney, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. The news analysts also worked with Pentagon officials in writing opinion articles, one of which, a tribute to Donald Rumsfeld, appeared in the Wall Street Journal (Barstow 2008).

This relationship essentially rendered them as DoD and defense industry propaganda surrogates for military policies in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and elsewhere. It allowed the imperial Bush regime to manage the mainstream media as a "psyops" (psychological operations) division while skirting federal restrictions on using tax money for domestic propaganda. [8] Even if the analysts were not directly paid by the government to do its propaganda work, the generals saw their contacts with the news media as a means of fostering opportunities for lucrative business ties to defense contractors, "either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants." John C. Garrett, for example, a retired Army colonel and analyst for Fox news, is also a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, a lobbying firm that "helps firms win Pentagon contracts" (Barstow 2008).

The Times found that the Pentagon's "information apparatus" used the analysts "in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance" and as influential "message force multipliers" to disseminate DoD talking points and counteract critics. Brent Krueger, a senior aide of former Pentagon public affairs spokesperson Victoria Clarke, who organized the propaganda operation, explained that the military analysts were effectively "writing the op-ed" for the invasion and occupation of Iraq (Barstow 2008). The major television news media that employed the analysts refused to cover the story. This is not surprising given the level of mainstream media complicity in the deceptions generated by the Bush administration in making the cause for invasion - from the trumpeting of the Pentagon's "Shock and Awe" and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" propaganda to the placement of over 500 embedded reporters under the protection of U.S. and British military forces (Rich 2006, 74). Clarke has since worked as a commentator for network news.

In another form of government-media collusion that strains the meaning of a "free press," the ABC television network started up a new "reality" series in early 2009 called "Homeland Security USA," based on the work of the federal government's Department of Homeland Security. Claiming not to be political, the show glorified the work of Homeland agents in search of "terrorists," another effort that helped to water down federal restrictions on using propaganda on American citizens. In evaluating it as propaganda, one might ask whether its "reality" format reveals the bigotry and scapegoating that attach themselves to immigration policies, especially toward Latin Americans. A National Public Radio reviewer found that the show, paced by thriller background music, is more like "Cops" than the documentary "Frontline." (Kahn 2009). And the New York Times called it "homage, not reportage," ignoring the reality of the Homeland Security agency's illegalities, mismanagement, and corruption (Stanley 2009).


The deputy executive director of Freedom House, Thomas Melia, says that "America cannot actually make other countries democratic; we can only encourage and empower our natural allies and penalize and constrain those working against democracy" (Melia 2006, 123, emphasis in original). This is a controversial claim. First, USAID, the principal funding agency for democracy assistance, insists that a key determinant of democracy is the government's legal establishment of open-ended foreign investment and trade. USAID believes that an "anti-corruption environment" requires

the establishment of an environment in which good government and business practices can flourish and in which corruption cannot easily take root. These programs include fiscal reform efforts, financial sector restructuring and improvement, privatization of state-owned enterprises, more efficient and transparent capital markets and land titling reforms .... [which] facilitate the efficient and effective functioning of free markets and encourage private sector growth, both domestically and through foreign direct investment. Finally, such programs help to incorporate developing countries into the mainstream of the global marketplace (USAID 2009a).

Thereby, "good government" is conceived in terms of globally-integrated markets fully open to foreign corporate penetration. Any utterance of economic sovereignty and restraint on trade or investment would ipso facto serve as evidence of "corruption" (and of "those working against democracy"). Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), which provides an index of corruption on which USAID relies for doling out or withholding economic assistance, is funded almost entirely by transnational corporations, such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Arthur Andersen and by the US., British, and other Western governments. One study alleged that TI operates under a "private sector bias" in the interpretation of corruption. That study found that the "willingness to present one's corporation as transparent and ethical can explain the fact that companies with a particularly poor record contribute monetary and in-kind support to organizations like Transparency International" (Bajolle 2005, 37).

Given its funding dependency, TI's claims to being apolitical and the credibility of its objectivity in evaluating the practices of its own corporate donors are very much in doubt. Peter Eigen, a signatory to the charter creating TI and its autocratic chair since 1993, defended corporate corruption: "Big companies want to stop bribing, but don't know how to do it. They are afraid to lose to their competitors. No one wants to be the first to stop" (cited in Bajolle 2005, 36). But such apologies apparently don't apply to public sector corporations. According to a British press report, the data for the poor corruption rating that TI gave the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, for example, were compiled by an anti-Chavez activist, based in Caracas, that backed the 2002 coup against the country's president. The Guardian story found that with regard to Venezuela, the TI study was anything but transparent (Tucker 2008).

Second, the empowerment of what Melia calls "natural allies" can only refer to those who align themselves with US. power, not with those who may align themselves elsewhere or declare themselves non-aligned. Third, even if the United States cannot impose democracy, he implies that it has the right to use coercion in such an effort. There is very little difference between this assumption and, despite a difference in rhetorical phrasing, that of the early 20th century imperialist spokesman Albert Beveridge, cited at the top of Chapter 2. Even a casual reading of American history would reveal that the United States has a poor record of supporting democracy overseas.

U.S. "democracy promotion" initiatives are organized through a range of government, private, and NGO activities targeted to a number of Third World and former communist states. According to two well-placed conservative policy analysts, these activities include "technical support for reforming [foreign] government agencies; training for lawyers, [judges,] journalists, political party leaders, and trade unionists; direct financial aid for civil society organizations; and exchanges and scholarships for students" (Adesnik and McFaul 2006, 7). They argue in the language of political realism that the use of diplomacy in support of democracy promotion "does not mean establishing cordial relations in the hope that perhaps someday friendship and prosperity will eventually result in democratization." With echoes of Jeane Kirkpatrick, the analysts conclude that the best strategy is to work with and guide friendly autocrats, who have bonds of dependency on U.S. economic assistance, legitimacy, and weapons (Adesnik and McFaul 2006, 8).

Kirkpatrick is probably best known for her widely cited 1979 doctrinal piece in Commentary in which she lambasted the Carter administration for tolerating revolutionary movements opposed to the Shah's and Somoza's dictatorships in Iran and Nicaragua. She attacked Carter for a "flawed belief that change per se in such autocracies is inevitable, desirable, and in the American interest" (Kirkpatrick 1979, 38). Kirkpatrick was a member of the Project for a New American Century (supra). Her hard line stance against the Soviet Union drew the attention of the Reagan administration, which appointed her US. ambassador to the United Nations. Kirkpatrick's "evil empire" view of the Soviet Union coalesced with Reagan's rhetoric, as did her advocacy of supporting free trade regimes, regardless of their often authoritarian character. Until her death in 2006, she sat on the board of International Republican Institute. (See Chapter 2 and infra.)

The equation of freedom (e.g., Bush's "freedom agenda") with "free markets" is a matter of catechism in U.S. foreign policy, regardless of which party is in power. The U.S. National Security Strategy of 2002 declared: "The U.S. will use this moment of opportunity [post-9/11] to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world." This sounded the rationale and warning of the military's "Shock and Awe" display and the "virtuous wars" to follow (Kennedy and Lucas 2005, 325). In late 1989, one of the first initiatives of the US. Congress toward democracy assistance in post-communist Eastern Europe was the legislation of a SEED (Support for East European Democracy) act (22 US.C. 5421), initially appropriating $938 million for Poland and Hungary, including funds, according to President Bush's (Sr.) signing statement, for "economic stabilization, trade liberalization, Enterprise Funds to nurture private sector development, labor market reform, and enhanced environmental protection" (Bush 1989).

USAID described the "Enterprise Funds" under this act as a "public-private partnership [that] would facilitate well-functioning markets through a combination of investment and development activities" (USAID 2000b). Of the $15.9 billion allocated as of 2003 by USAID for SEED and the Freedom Support Act (FSA) programs (targeting Russia and Eurasia) in support of market democracies in the CEE region, 53 percent was targeted to economic reform. Only 17 percent explicitly was dedicated to democracy building. The economic leverage was of specific interest to the transnational business community that availed itself of state assistance (as opposed to "free trade") to trade and investment opportunities in the region (Rieffer and Mercer 2005, 398). What follows are descriptions of the main bodies engaged in the coordination of U.S. efforts to effect regime change in Eastern Europe (and elsewhere) and the larger strategic political economic and military motives and the tactical uses of propaganda behind their engagement in the region.


By its own reckoning, USAID is the world's largest democracy program donor, with $1.3 billion spent in FY 2005 for "democracy and governance" (Melia 2005, appendix 1: 12). Its principal actors are in its Office for Democracy and Governance and its Office of Transition Initiatives. [9] In earlier years, USAID was predominantly involved in economic assistance to poor countries, but since 1990, the agency increasingly has focused its efforts in the area of democracy assistance. In 2006, it allocated about $1.3 billion for this purpose (Melia 2006, 124). Most of this assistance involves subcontracting to private firms and consulting groups. By law, USAID is restricted in its ability to favor particular political parties at home or abroad. It views worthy NGOs as those that contribute to a "global civil society," that is to say those integrated within the larger market-oriented agendas of Western international agencies.

Of all the U.S. public and private democracy support institutions, USAID's Democracy and Governance office is the most important in setting strategic objectives and provides some 90 percent of democracy assistance contracting and funding. It serves as a center for organizing the administrative and policy orientation of democracy assistance programs. USAID does not operate as an independent assistance organization, however. "Programs are developed in cooperation with the State Department, the National Security Council, and U.S. embassies." And as much as 80 percent of its democracy and governance program support is allocated by the State Department (USAID 2005a, 1 + footnote 2).

Working closely with the Defense Department's covert operations, USAID plays a significant role in overseas state propaganda, a role typically conducted in secrecy. The agency, for example, "finances about 30 radio stations in Afghanistan, but keeps that from listeners." It also "has distributed tens of thousands of iPodlike audio devices in Iraq and Afghanistan that play prepackaged civic messages, but it does so through a contractor that promises 'there is no U.S. footprint.'" A USAID representative in Afghanistan confided: "We want to maintain the perception (if not the reality) that these radio stations are in fact fully independent." Speaking for the U.S. government, Rumsfeld proclaimed: "The American system of openness works," and it must find "new and better ways to communicate America's mission abroad," including "a healthy culture of communication and transparency between government and public" (Gerth 2005).
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

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Part 2 of 4

National Endowment for Democracy

As noted in Chapter 2, with little Congressional oversight, the accountability of NED has always been ambiguous. The core and other grantees funded by NED carry out projects in nearly 100 countries. I focus principally on its electoral interventions in Central and Eastern Europe. NED serves as a political development "clearinghouse" that "provides money, technical support, supplies, training programs, media know-how, public relations assistance, and state-of-the-art equipment to select political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, and other media." Although considered a "non-governmental organization," it has actively worked in many countries to "destabilize progressive movements, particularly those with a socialist or democratic-socialist bent" (Berkowitz, 2004). As a result, there is a deep distrust of its presence in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe and Latin America, even among many people who welcome democratic reforms. This was acknowledged in a 2006 NED report to the Senate foreign relations committee entitled "The Backlash against Democracy Assistance" (NED 2006). One critic found the study "a seemingly interminable expression of faux surprise at other regimes' xenophobic resentment towards foreign spies, black propaganda, heavily funded 'protest groups' and media, consultants and agent provocateurs fomenting civil unrest with the overthrow of the state as their aim." This all-insider" democracy building" community review of the report permitted no change in policy. (Clark 2007). Another NED study found that even when its funding in Chile's 1988 election helped bring down the Pinochet regime, the country's opposition parties that benefited nonetheless expressed resentment against U.S. interference (Conry 1993).

The president of NED since its inception, Carl Gershman, was a one-time Social Democrat (representing the right-wing branch of the former Socialist Party) who moved further to the right and became a senior counselor to archconservative Jeane Kirkpatrick when she was Reagan's U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (NED, 2005). Until her death in 2006, Kirkpatrick sat on the board of the NED-funded International Republican Institute. Gershman also worked for a right-wing, stridently anti-communist lobbying group, the Committee for the Free World, which was run by future defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In explaining the work of NED, Gershman told a British journalist, "You could say we're promoting American values ... but these are universal values" (Turner 2003).

From 2001 to 2008, NED was chaired by Yin Weber, whose background includes membership on the Council on Foreign Relations and a partnership in the Washington, D.C. consulting firm Clark & Weinstock. He is also known as a "super-lobbyist," whose clients have included Mobil Oil, Microsoft, Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, and the Edison Electric Institute. Weber was the co-founder of the right-wing organization, Empower America, and served as a fund-raiser for George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. He also served as an adviser to John McCain. From 1981 to 1993, Weber was a Republican member of the House of Representatives representing Minnesota. Following Barack Obama's election as president, Weber was replaced in NED by former House representative and majority and minority leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO). After retiring from the House in 2005, Gephardt became a consultant to Goldman Sachs and a major Washington lobbyist. Hence the leadership of NED has remained in the hands of people with strong PR credentials.

From the outset, NED has been a controversial quasi-public organization, with periodic efforts in Congress to defund it. Texas Republican Congress member Ron Paul called NED "nothing more than a costly program that takes the US taxpayer funds to promote favored politicians and political parties abroad" (Paul 2003). The public sector also supports those employees who convert their training in NED and its funded institutes, paid for with taxpayer dollars, into lucrative private corporate careers in consulting and lobbying. The public nature of international relations is continually giving ground to the interests of the for-profit sector.

Apparently, this kind of public sponsorship of revolving door" diplomacy" is not publicly well received. As NED itself revealed in a 2006 report to Congress, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) do not approve of the government's "democracy assistance" programs. Oddly, Republicans, who traditionally have opposed meddling in foreign affairs, heavily support it (76 percent), whereas only a minority (43 percent) of Democrats, who historically have been more inclined toward greater international assistance programs, are in favor (National Endowment for Democracy 2006). How is it that most Democrats, who otherwise have been at the forefront of expanding the political franchise (labor union's, women's, children's, ethnic minorities' civil rights and protections) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not supportive of what purports to be "democracy promotion" abroad?

What is most interesting in the report is that the question was never asked. A more inquisitive study might have revealed that most Democrats simply do not take NED's concept of democracy at face value, anymore than they see the invasion of Iraq and the threats against Iran as motivated by democratic commitments (a rationale indeed constructed post-facto to justify the occupation, once the original purpose was betrayed as mass deception). Given that statistically more educated people tend to vote for Democrats, it would follow that they may be more aware and skeptical of the history of U.S. interventions carried out in the name of democracy. That history involves support for a long list of undemocratic regimes, discussed in more detail in Chapters 2 and 4.

Despite its direct involvement in the political affairs of so many countries, its close links to governing structures of the United States, and a board of directors made up of numerous individuals carrying government portfolios, NED's website refers to itself as a non-governmental organization. This is hardly an apt description, as even the conservative World Bank conceives of NGOs as "independent from government" and which "depend, in whole or in part, on charitable donations and voluntary service" (cited in NGO Handbook 2009). NED's board of directors includes in fact six current and past members of Congress as well as several other public officials. Almost all of its funding comes from the U.S. government. Although it receives a small share of its funds from private foundations, for all intents and purposes, it is a government-funded instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

G.W. Bush promised to more than double the NED allocation in 2006 to $80 million in efforts to foster new "democracies." (Congress ultimately allocated $60 million.) But the funding was contingent. Speaking to the IRI in 2005, Bush said, "I want you to understand that we have the funding, but we will focus that funding to help new democracies after the elections are over." This would mean that funding could be held back should such electoral outcomes be seen as unfavorable. Toward that end, Bush established an Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization (ORS), housed in the State Department, "to meet an essential mission: helping the world's newest democracies make the transition to peace and freedom and a market economy" (Bush 2005). Similar to the way Naomi Klein described the U.S. "shock doctrine," the main task of ORS, as Bush declared, is "to deploy quickly to crisis situations as civilian 'first responders' ... ready to get programs running on the ground in days and weeks, instead of months and years" - democracy promotion's "green berets." Lest economic shock therapy be insufficient, Bush also vowed to "make our Armed Forces faster, more agile and more lethal- and ... more effective in helping societies transition from war and despotism to freedom and democracy" (Bush 2005).

Although the USAID democracy and governance program is much better endowed than NED and its grantee institutes, the latter are known for their greater "flexibility" in getting funds directly to local organizations overseas (Fukuyama, personal communication 2005). NED funds four main grantee institutes: the International Republican Institute (IRI, affiliated with the Republican Party and chaired by the 2008 presidential candidate John McCain); the National Democratic Institute (NDI, Democratic Party affiliated and chaired by Bill Clinton's secretary of state Madeleine Albright); the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), which focuses on expanding market opportunities for American capital; and the Solidarity Center (which represents the international interests of the trade federation AFL-CIO). However, the amount that goes to the four institutes, about equal proportions to each, is much less than the funding provided by USAID. About half of NED's budget goes directly to NGOs abroad and to operating expenses (Feierstein and Shaiko 1999, 49). Almost all party-focused activity abroad is undertaken by IRI and NDI (Melia 2005, 24). Both political party foundations have focused the largest share of their budgets on the Eastern Europe/Eurasia regions, 29 percent for IRI and 34 percent for NDI in 2004 (Wersch and Zeeuw 2005, 53).

International Republican Institute

The International Republican Institute (IRI), like the National Democratic Institute and their parent organization, is incorporated as a private, non-profit charitable 501 (c) organization. IRI claims in its mission statement that its programs are "non-partisan and clearly adhere to fundamental American principles such as individual freedom, equal opportunity, and the entrepreneurial spirit that fosters economic development" (Shelley 2000). Chaired by conservative leader John McCain, its "American principles" do not suffer, however, a version of "nonpartisanship" that tolerates leftist organizations. [10] And despite its non-partisan claims and the denial of its close affiliation with the Republican Party, IRI is a tightly conservative organization that equates freedom to "free enterprise." Its current (2009) board of directors is packed with Republican House and Senate members, party leaders, and White House staff, cabinet, and ambassadorial appointments (7 from George W. Bush, 4 from George H. W. Bush, 4 from Reagan), some of whom have joint positions with conservative foundations and think tanks. Cheryl Halpern, chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, nominally a non-partisan position, is on the IRI board and, together with her husband, contributed over $200,000 to the G.W. Bush and other Republican election campaigns 2009. She is also an executive board member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, funded by the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. A similar partisan composition would be found on the board of its Democratic Party counterpart, the National Democratic Institute.

Lorne Craner, president of IRI, insists that his organization is on the same page with NDI and that both are non-partisan organizations. He regularly meets with NDI president, Kenneth Wollack, and emphasizes the common cause that both "democracy promotion" groups serve. "Americans tend to cluster overseas," he says. The differences between the two institutes, he says, are in the emphases given to party development (IRI) and civil society groups (NDI) and that they simply carry out a division of labor in countries where they operate (Craner, personal communication 2005).

This is not the view of other NED-affiliated people I interviewed. Several made distinctions between IRI's more partisan party orientation and NDI's more "open tent" approach. An administrator at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies and former NDI consultant in Croatia said that IRI is far more concerned than NDI about picking and working with political winners who are aligned with their own ideological leanings (Breslow, personal communication 2005). Thomas Carothers, a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, shares this critical view (Carothers, personal communication 2005). But according to a former NDI vice president and program director for the Central and Eastern European region, U.S. ambassadors in certain countries have called in both IRI and NDI to concur on favored election candidates, and the State Department has provided personal services contracts to a political consulting firm explicitly for that purpose, such as in the Balkan countries (Melia, personal communication 2005).

More than the NDI, Carothers finds, IRI uses an ideological litmus test in its funding programs (Carothers 1996, 137). IRI took an active role, he says, in working with opposition parties toward the 2004 overthrow of the Aristide government in Haiti (Carothers 2005), which it regarded as leftist. According to another report, IRI paid for 600 opposition Haitian figures to meet in the Dominican Republic. Its senior program officer for Haiti, Stanley Lucas, went on one of the country's radio stations to openly call for the president's overthrow (Blumenthal 2004). Clinton's ambassador to Haiti in the 1990s, Brian Dean Curran, "accused the group [IRI] of supporting the opposition groups that overthrew former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide" (Gomez 2007).

Eric Bjornlund, a Washington, D.C. international consultant and former senior staff member of NDI, asserts that IRI, although legally separate from the Republican Party, was nonetheless consistently preferred as a foreign policy instrument of the Bush administration. The principal arm of overseas assistance, USAID, he said, was seen by Bush as heavily staffed by Democrats and relatively independent from the White House. According to Bjornlund, Craner actively supported Bush administration efforts in Kampuchea "to try to overthrow the former communists that run the government there" (Bjornlund, personal communication, 2005) in favor of the Sam Rainsy party, which favors a free trade orientation for the country.

The IRI has been more aggressive than NDI in its attacks on leftist political leaders, though NDI is no more favorable to revolutionary leaders such as Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez. Just prior to his ascension to the IRI presidency, Craner's predecessor, George Folsom, responding to the Venezuelan military intervention in April 2002 that briefly ousted the country's president, Hugo Chavez, defended the coup, declaring: "Venezuelans were provoked into action as a result of systematic repression by the government of Hugo Chavez." On the day of the military takeover, the IRI president hailed the result: "The Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country." Leading up to the coup, NDI had been given a $210,500 NED grant "to promote the accountability of local government" in Venezuela, and IRI, with an office in Caracas, "received an NED grant of $339;998 for political party building." These grants were part of a heightened funding effort by NED, which quadrupled its overall budget for Venezuela to more than $877,000 in response to escalating tensions between the U.S. and the Chavez government (Marquis 2002). Craner, whose father was a prisoner of war in Vietnam with IRI board chair John McCain, replaced Folsom shortly thereafter.

Assisted by NED and its grantee institutes, one of the coup leaders, Leopoldo Martinez, of the right-wing Primero Justicia party, was named finance minister by Pedro Carmona, the man who became dictator for a day. The State Department's inspector general investigated U.S. intervention in the event and found "that the work of the National Endowment for Democracy broke no U.S. laws. It also found there was no evidence the NED or the U.S. government did anything to encourage Chavez's unconstitutional overthrow." However, the report, ''A Review of U.S. Policy Toward Venezuela - November}OOl-ApriI2002," did concede that the Pentagon and U.S. assistance organizations "provided training, institution-building and support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chavez government" although there was "no evidence that this support directly contributed, or was intended to contribute, to that event."

Following the coup, which lasted less than two days, NED added $53,400 to assist an anti-Chavez local group called Sumate in an effort to demand and defeat him in a recall election. Subsequently, NED senior program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Chris Sabatini, admitted that "the organization is handing out $922,000 this year [2004], largely to groups opposed to Chavez, and gave out $1,046,323 last year [2003]. He said pro-Chavez groups have not received funds because they didn't ask for any or they rejected the National Endowment's overtures" (Jones 2004).

In the Central and Eastern European region, IRI also took an unambiguous position in its direct support to opposition parties of the center and center-right, "with highly focused campaign aid designed to help IRI's partner parties win specific elections" (Carothers 2006b, 153). According to one of the leading Washington democracy promotion insiders who has written extensively on this topic, "IRI viewed the political life of these transitional countries as a black-and-white struggle between emergent democratic parties and holdover post-communist or neocommunist forces." The European party institutes, on the other hand, provided some assistance to fraternal parties but were less inclined to take a hard line position of opposition vis-a-vis the party in power (Carothers 2006b, 100, 153). Whatever restraint U.S. democracy promotion programs may have exercised in other regions where authoritarian rule was common, their work in former communist states represented a mission of more explicit moral urgency.

In Romania in the 1990-1992 electoral period, IRI, with the the financial backing from USAID, intervened actively on behalf of opposition parties around a strategy of developing campaign tactics and political parties that relied on Western backing (Newberg and Carothers 1996, 100), particularly since the dominant political figure at the time, Ion Iliescu, was a former Communist leader, who remained known for his left-wing leanings after the collapse of the party. Despite his reputation and although he refused assistance from NDI during the 2004 Romanian election, Iliescu and the ruling party moved toward the American political marketing model by hiring private American consultants (Carothers 2006b, 94). The Americans brought in worked closely with high-powered Israeli consulting partners [11] In Czechoslovakia on the other hand, the anti-communist and pro-market orientation of the post-communist political order was so well entrenched that the United States felt little need to directly influence the dominant party structure. As good students of the American political system, current Czech politicians tend to be preoccupied with campaign fund raising (Newberg and Carothers 1996, 100-101). IRI and NDI activities in Central and Eastern Europe are discussed more extensively in Chapter 4.

Table 3.1 shows the financing for the two principal NED grantees, IRI and NDI. Their funding comes from NED, USAID, the State Department, international organizations, such as the World Bank, and private institutions. In its 2006 budget, the IRI drew at least $1 million from private corporations, including $200,000 from AT&T. Its corporate funders represent the oil, defense, shipping, transportation, finance, beverage, and telecommunications industries. Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BP, all with significant interests in Iraq, and Blackwater USA, the company that operates a paramilitary security in that country, are additional IRI funding sources (Hamburger 2008; Theimer 2007). The largest share of the two party institutes' backing comes from USAID.

Table 3.1 IRI and NDI Fiscal Year 2006 Revenue
Sources: IRI: GuideStar 2009aj NDI: GuideStar 2009b

Speaking at a dinner for the IRI, George W. Bush said: "For IRI, and others in the business of promoting democratic change, this is good news - it means you are in a growth industry." Elaborating further on the meaning of growth, Bush counseled the IRI on the ends of democracy assistance: "We need you to help businesses in new market economies organize trade associations and chambers of commerce so that they can promote pro-growth economic policies. And we need you to teach newly-elected governments the importance of building public support for their policies and programs, as well as how to deal with a free news media" (Bush 2005). This essentially sums up the purpose of democracy promotion organizations. Their work is founded on creating opportunities for open market capitalist institutions and to teach such governments the techniques of securing public acquiescence and media complicity. Free news media means based on commercial ownership and advertising.

National Democratic Institute

NDI has a slightly more diverse group on its board of directors, which includes members of teachers' unions, philanthropic and human rights groups, law, and the media. However, looking at their composition, it is clear that both organizations rely primarily on people not with experience in development work "but [rather] in the war rooms of presidential campaigns, in congressional and lobbying efforts, and through family relationships to top party officials" (Samuels 1995). It is also common for people who start with NDI to go on to work for big Washington, D.C. political consulting firms or vice versa. Mark Feierstein at Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research previously worked for NDI and the Clinton-era State Department. NDI is chaired by Madeleine Albright, formerly secretary of state under Clinton. Its president, Kenneth Wollack, is a former Middle East newsletter publisher and legislative director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee the principal U.S. lobbying group for Israel.

More than IRI, NDI works more closely at the civil society level, including programs for women and ethnic minorities in politics. But sociologist William Robinson sees all NED-affiliated civil society work as serving not genuine democracy promotion but rather alliance building with powerful organizations in the United States, which ultimately serves as "an arena for exercising domination." In the end, it is the preservation of the elite order that matters, he argues, not the transfer of power to the majority - regardless of good intentions (i.e., "false consciousness") that may exist on the part of NED-supported project employees. The projects are not run by these employees; they originate in the State Department and White House, often with the coordination of the CIA and always in liaison with the U.S. embassy in the particular country (Robinson, quoted in Gindin 2005).

There is another problem with emphasizing-civil society development. In weak democracies, such as those in Eastern Europe, a focus on civil society, where interests typically are represented by NGOs, the state, even if it were so inclined, is too weak to mobilize at the general public interest level. Citizens in weak democracies are better served in the long run by programs aimed at state capacity building rather than neoliberal welfare-slashing ("tough love") approaches. There is little evidence that NGOs in such states help develop an active citizenry. They more likely forestall citizen empowerment and the willingness and ability of people to directly pressure the state through social movements for redistribution of income, employment opportunities, affordable housing and education, accessible healthcare, and other positive social investments. The problem, according to an Eastern European regional specialist, is that to U.S. and British planners, civil society is more about downsizing the state and "entrenchment of an international [economic] liberal agenda than about engaging with people's self-expressed concerns." Without a strong state, there cannot be a viable civil society sector, she argues (Matveeva 2008, 4, 6-7).

"Indeed, many civil society actors are not volunteers concerned with citizens' issues or individuals willing to spend their free time pursuing a cause," she writes (Matveeva 2008, 11). This is partly why as civil society projects expand in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, democracy appears to be stymied if not in retreat. As another scholar notes, civil society is weak democracies cannot flourish in a supranational setting, particularly when the resources and power of its main agents are asymmetrical to those of its counterparts in the target country or community. A vibrant civil society first needs a healthy and stable deliberative democratic state in which the prevailing economic conditions and political culture support active and widespread citizen engagement (Goodhart 2005).

In Eastern Europe where the state, with limited capacities to begin with, is only as strong as the faction that grabs momentary control of government apparatuses, there is little foundation for a civil society, at least not one that operates from the bottom up, to develop a citizen-based participatory structure. It is more likely, though not certain, that in the long run, even an authoritarian state like China will have a greater capacity for civil society development than countries such as Ukraine or Georgia. This is because there is a higher degree of autonomy of the state from the dominating influences of supranational power (and notions such as "global democracy") in China. Over time, Chinese citizens can be expected to demand and extract concessions, including greater levels of self-governance, as the state delivers a degree of stability and comfort for its members. The success of such a civil society in-the-making in turn depends dialectically on the degree to which people feel compelled to mobilize for the common good and the discipline of the state to avoid official corruption and resist repression. In Western Europe there is a rethinking of support for civil society, which has been openly expressed, for example, by Germany's Friedrich Ebert Foundation in light of its own experience with the eastern region of the country (Bungarten, personal communication 2008).

While there are certain differences in the tactics that NDI sees for democracy building, it shares with its conservative counterpart common strategic interests. NDI's website boasted, for example, that its work in the Czech Republic from 1992 to 1996 helped put the country "on the road to a stable democracy and a functioning market economy" and led to its membership in NATO, the European Union, and "Euro-Atlantic institutions" (NDI 2007a). For its part, IRI says that its "non-partisan" overseas objectives "clearly adhere to fundamental American principles such as individual freedom, equal opportunity, and the entrepreneurial spirit that fosters economic development" (cited in Shelley 2000,227). Its corporate patrons in 2005 included Citigroup, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron Texaco, Bell South, Honeywell, Microsoft, Time Warner, and Coca-Cola (NDI 2005). Among its foundation supporters, the Mott Foundation provided it with $150,000 in 1998 "to increase public confidence in democratization and the transition to a market economy in Ukraine" in addition to $50,000 for election monitoring (Roelofs 2003, 163). The 1998-2004 Mott contribution to NDI was nearly $740,000 ($640,000 for Ukraine) (Elling 2005).

Many of the people who work for NDI and other democracy assistance programs come from backgrounds in the promotional professions and presently work or have worked for private political consultants, drawing on the techniques for winning elections that they learned with high-powered polling and PR firms. The political polling and consulting firm of Greenberg, Quinlan, and Rosner (GQR) is a case in point. The deputy director of NDI's Central and Eastern Europe program, Catherine Pajic, had previously worked for G@.. She acknowledged that people who work on democracy assistance often convert their training and experience into an opportunity to move into professional consulting, retaining their contacts with IRI and NDI in their later careers. The deputy director of Freedom House and a former vice president ofNDI also worked for GQR, and in turn the firm has done several projects for the Institute. Mark Feierstein, a partner in the GQR, was previously director of the Latin American desk at NDI before joining the firm (Pajic, personal communication 2005).

The two party institutes' capacity to quickly move funding and personnel to support campaign organization abroad make them very flexible instruments of state policy. IRI focuses more on single party training, primarily parties on the right, whereas NDI takes a broader approach, which includes some parties on the left as well as the right. IRI has a stronger preference for hiring Americans for their overseas work, whereas NDI has a much larger share of its personnel from other countries, including local employees in its project countries. NDI's head of overseas political party development, Ivan Doherty, spent 15 years as a leader in Ireland's Fine Gael party. A visit to their respective Washington, D.C. headquarters is quite revealing in this regard. The NDI office has a noticeably international workforce, whereas the most visible images entering IRI are distinctively nationalist and partisan: an almost entirely American staff, an oversized portrait of Ronald Reagan, and a scattering of elephant sculptures and images. [12]


With the United States and its core allies at the top of the modernization hierarchy, as seen by the advocates of democracy promotion, countries targeted for assistance have little choice but to accept the axiomatic notions of what constitutes the pathway to development, namely open economies. What is omitted in this linear ontology ("stage theory") is the historical evidence of how the West developed "underdevelopment." Colonial conquest, economic and cultural imperialism, slavery, punitive invasions, Indian removal policies and genocide, political repression, racist exclusion, asymmetrical trade relations, an international division of labor rooted in unequal exchange, technological and patent monopolies, various forms of mercantilism, and the coercive imposition of dependency on subject nations, are simply ignored, as if contemporary international economic, political, and military relations originated in the post-colonial era. The current structure of power is deeply rooted in this history. Absent this awareness, the donor community regards itself as benevolent and assumes a fiduciary responsibility on the part of client states to satisfy the terms of "assistance" as established by the patron.

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) is one of the four core grantees of NED. CIPE describes as its mission: "To strengthen democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform." In 2008, NED provided CIPE with almost $1.4 million in grants to work with political parties and other overseas organizations to promote "market reforms" (NED 2009). On its website, CIPE says it is "affiliated" with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), whereas the Chamber states on its own website that it "runs" CIPE. The president of CIPE, Thomas Donohue, and vice president, Lt. Gen. Daniel Christman, are also, respectively, president (and CEO) and vice president of USCC. As a subsidiary of USCC, CIPE is therefore an instrument of American corporate policies abroad. According to USCC, "Donohue has built the Chamber into a $200 million a year lobbying and political powerhouse with expanded influence across the globe" (USCC 2009b).

USCC states that: ''As the voice of business, the Chamber's core purpose is to fight for free enterprise before Congress, the White House, regulatory agencies, the courts, the court of public opinion, and governments around the world" (U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2009a). In the CEE and Central Asia regions, including Russia, the USCC envisions opportunities to exploit the "enormous untapped energy reserves and some of the fastest growing economies in the world" (U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2009c). The USCC, which created CIPE in 1983 as part of the organization of NED, has become more closely entrenched within the Republican Party (and presumably CIPE has as well). The Bush administration regarded it at the top of its "go-to" organizations on public policy. In 2004, it was the largest lobbying organization in the country, expending $30 million during the first six months of that year (Birnbaum 2005), a small portion of its worldwide lobbying effort.

In helping foster a favorable political climate for its overseas work, CIPE joined IRI, NDI, and the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs in sponsoring a contest, the "democracy video challenge," in which 3-minute submissions competed by answering through moving images, "Democracy is .... " Joining them in the project were the film schools of New York University and University of Southern California, NBC Universal, the Directors Guild· of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and YouTube. The prize is a visit to New York, Hollywood, and Washington, D.C., where the winner was to meet with democracy promotion groups. For the Bush administration, this government-private sector collaboration in propaganda was intended to "add a sense of legitimacy and gravitas to 'what we are trying to do." A State Department spokesperson for the project expressed confidence in its success, because, as he said, "we also bring a pretty healthy distribution network" (Cohen 2008).


The fourth major grantee institute of NED is the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), commonly known as the Solidarity Center. In 2008, ACILS received $895 thousand from the National Endowment for Democracy alone to undertake democracy promotion programs with unions in regions targeted by NED (NED 2009). The Solidarity Center is closely affiliated with the AFL-CIO labor federation. Its chair, John Sweeney, is president of the national labor federation. Although the labor movement in the United States is recognized as representing the interests of working people, the AFL-CIO has had a very controversial history because of its close association with the Central Intelligence Agency during the heyday of the latter's covert destabilization efforts in former Soviet-allied Europe and in the Third World (Sherrill 2006), particularly during the George Meany and Lane Kirkland leadership era (1962-1995). The Federation is known to have supported dictatorships in the Philippines, Chile, South Africa, South Korea, and other countries out of a desire to gain concessions from its collaboration with the assertion of U.S. imperial power.

In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the AFL-CIO under Meany and Kirkland supported right-wing labor groups and opposed those that were aligned with liberation movements. The AFL (before it merged with the CIO in 1955) worked with a Latin American affiliate of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in support of the CIA-instigated overthrow of a democratic government in Guatemala in 1954. The AFL-CIO established one of its four regional institutes, the American Institute for Free Labor Development, in 1962, which collaborated in the military coups that overthrew elected governments in Brazil in 1964 and Chile in 1973 (Scipes 2005). Its Europe-centered organization, the Free Trade Union Institute, created in 1977, was a kind of model for the NED startup, disbursing almost half of the dollar value of NED grants from 1984 to 1988 (Sims 1992,54),13 When Sweeney took over the Federation in 1995, he replaced all the semi-autonomous overseas institutes with the centralized ACILS. Sweeney and other AFL-CIO and ACILS officers serve on the State Department's Advisory Committee on Labor Diplomacy (ACLD).

Prior to the 2002 military coup in Venezuela, ACILS received $154,377 from NED "to assist the main Venezuelan labor union in advancing labor rights." That union, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), organized "work stoppages that galvanized the opposition to Mr. Chavez. The union's leader, Carlos Ortega, worked closely with Pedro Carmona Estanga," a business leader who c' ' took over during the short-lived coup (Marquis 2002). The military takeover 'x had disturbing echoes of the U.S.-supported 1973 coup that overthrew another democratically elected leader in Chile, Salvador Allende. AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland sat on the board of the Trilateral Commission, along with one of the architects of the Chile coup, Henry Kissinger.

Sweeney is said to have moved away from the close partnership with the CIA and with the infatuated stance taken by his predecessors with the joint foreign policy project of corporate and labor neoliberalism. ACILS continues to receive the largest share of its overseas project money from USAID, the State Department, and NED. This has compromised the Federation in the eyes of many within its progressive wing. Its once-powerful grip on the labor movement in the United States has been shattered by breakaway unions in recent years, including its two largest unions, the Service Employees International Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Perhaps the biggest problem for organized labor in the United States has been its relations with overseas counterparts, which, according to one labor analysis, reflects its ''America first" disposition. This, she says, flows from its history of economic nationalism and legacy of racism and xenophobia. In the past, the AFL-CIO was quick to join the elite chorus in depicting rebellious union organizers abroad as communists and extremists (Ancel 2000). Nowadays, the Federation is more circumspect about these issues, as neoliberalism belatedly has taught them that transnational corporations' long-term interests are not coincident with those of American workers. As of 2006, Solidarity had programs and projects in over 60 countries (Solidarity Center 2006).

Freedom House

Founded in 1941, Freedom House (FH) is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and New York and operates programs in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. As of 2007, five of its nine overseas offices were in the former Soviet-bloc states: Ukraine, Serbia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Its funding, $26.8 million in FY 2005, largely comes from the US. government (75 percent), although FH claims to be fully independent of any government, including the United States. Freedom House provides democracy indexes to countries the way Standard & Poor's rates investment options (Freedom House 2005).

Although FH is the most cited source in the West for scoring countries' democracy standards, a number of social scientists do not accept certain measures they employ, and some have accused the organization of holding an Anglo-Saxon bias rooted in 1950s modernization theory about media pluralism and filtered by a US.-centered conception of a "free press" (Holtz-Bacha 2004) or of being too closely associated with the State Department's foreign policy line. It is also considered part of the National Endowment for Democracy "family," which raises questions about the independence of its findings with regard to NED's program priorities. Freedom House relies heavily for its rankings on "regional experts and scholars," whose claims to unbiased judgments cannot be verified (De Maio 2007, 3). The Financial Times reported in 2006 that Freedom House was selected by the State Department to receive funding for clandestine activities inside Iran (Dinmore 2006).

Since its founding, Freedom House has been particularly useful to conservative causes. In 1983, according to a National Security Council memo, Reagan's U.S. Information Agency director, Charles Wick, organized a private fund-raiser at the White House, which netted $400,000 on behalf of Freedom House along with a right-wing media attack group, Accuracy in Media, and other "public diplomacy" organizations (Parry 1999). It was the Reagan administration's thinking that the use of private groups in foreign policy, such as the Trilateral Commission, the US. Chamber of Commerce, media executives, bankers, and the elite Bilderberg Group of businessmen, together with key politicians, would be formidable foreign policy allies. The administration also calculated that "private" instruments would be less subject to Congressional scrutiny (Parry 1999).

Although FH also has supported certain liberal causes within the United States, including those of the civil rights movement, it mainly follows the official U.S. policy lead overseas, relying almost entirely on US. State Department, USAID, and NED funding for its work, again implicating donor bias. Indeed, no social or physical scientist would have any credibility accepting funding from an organization for which their research has a direct impact. FH's ranking of Cuba as among the least free countries in the world (133rd out of140) is one indication of its subservience to US. government policy toward the island nation and its political and ideological bias. Indeed, measured in terms of educational attainment, health standards, literacy, the mortality rate, infant mortality, life expectancy, and other physical quality of life index (PQLI), Cuba, a very poor country, ranks among the highest of the nearly 80 percent of the world population made up by Third World countries. According to the Overseas Development Counci1's PQLI indices, as of 1989, Cuba's world ranking was 11th, whereas the U.S. rank was 15th. On another measure of the health of a country, Cuba also is a model nation in terms of its attention to ecological systems (Global Exchange 2009). Freedom House does not include such measures in its human rights index.

A country that spends its limited wealth on educating its people and caring for their health (and that of the planet) should be part of the human rights equation. And, moreover in the context of being under a continuous economic and cultural embargo and the threat of invasion by the United States for nearly 50 years, state repression, undesirable as it is, is far from being among the worst in the world and should not be unexpected. Its economic stagnation is clearly a designed outcome by the United States in order to justify the continued isolation and ultimate destruction of its socialist system. But Freedom House does not take context into consideration, and without context, its human rights reports foster the regime of propaganda.

Even a rich country such as the United States exercised extensive state repression during periods of declared national emergencies, such as during the First and Second World Wars and in the years immediately following the 9/11 attack. Indeed, if the present rate of imprisonment were the key measure of repression, the least free country would be the United States. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, it holds 25 percent of its prisoners. One in thirty-one adults is incarcerated or under probation or parole status. African Americans suffer four times the rate of white adults in the corrections system (CNN 2009).

The partisanship of Freedom House can be attributed in part to the strong core of conservative membership among its board of trustees, which reflects a heavy influence of government officials, national intelligence, corporate business, law, consulting, and think tanks. Past and present prominent conservative members have included Steve Forbes, Kenneth Adelman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Samuel P. Huntington, Otto Reich, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, P. J. O'Rourke, Mark Palmer, and the organization's former chair, James Woolsey (2003-2005).

The current (2009) board chair is William H. Taft IV (great-grandson of the Republican president), who served in cabinet-level positions under five Republican presidents. His immediate predecessor, Peter Ackerman, was a wealthy American financier and director of international capital markets at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Ackerman was involved in huge leveraged buyouts and worked as an acolyte for junk-bonds king Michael Milken prior to the latter's arrest. He was also deeply involved in the events that led to the present decade's uprisings and regime changes in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine.

Ackerman crosses over the worlds of business, media, foreign affairs, and academia. He is founding chair of an organization called International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), which claims to accept no money from any government, foundation or any private or government-related institution. He also recently has been on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, chair of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy's board of overseers, and serves on the board of the libertarian Cato Institute, the U.S. advisory council of the United States Institute of Peace, and the business advisory council of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Freedom House acknowledged receiving $100,000 from Ackerman in 2005 and an additional $100,000 from his organization (Dinmore 2006). That same year he became FH's board chair.

In 2001, Ackerman produced a documentary, "Bringing Down a Dictator," about the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, which was repeatedly aired in Georgia on an anti-government station prior to the overthrow of Shevardnadze (see Chapter 4). As protests grew in strength, the film was used by Georgian dissidents as "a prime vehicle for indoctrinating the growing crowds in the principles of nonviolent struggle." One protest leader said that because of the film, "[a]ll the demonstrators knew the tactics of the revolution in Belgrade by heart." The State Department passed along this and another of Ackerman's films to anti-Castro dissidents in Cuba and advised them to meet with the American activist (Foer 2005, 17).

In collaboration with Freedom House, the State Department, and NED, Ackerman's ICNC became an outpost for supporting uprisings through video distribution and seminars. His center also has produced a video game called ''A Force More Powerful," which teaches nonviolent tactics for overthrowing authoritarian leaders out of favor with U.S. foreign policy. One of his center's target countries is Iran. Through ICNC, Ackerman organized "workshops" in Dubai "to teach Iranians the lessons learned from East European movements" (Dinmore 2006). [14]

In a study for Freedom House in which Ackerman served as chief adviser, the tactics of non-violent civic resistance were defined as: "boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders" (cited in Dinmore 2006). Such tactics do not require a forswearing of violence. Speaking at an official U.S. Department of State function, Ackerman announced that his ICNC had collaborated with the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, one of the leading U.S. weapons designers (including nuclear weapons), to develop communications devices that would assist students to more effectively stage insurrections (Ackerman 2004). Fusing foreign policy with business interests, Ackerman characterizes his methods as part of a political "pyramid marketing scheme" (Foer 2005, 22). The U.S. government has put up few obstacles to this kind of political entrepreneurialism or to his private forays in regime change.

His immediate predecessor at Freedom House, James Woolsey, was an active neoconservative and militarist supporter of the Project for a New American Century and the invasion of Iraq. As part of a hawkish resume, Woolsey strongly embraced the "war on terrorism" and served on several security-oriented groups, including the Committee on the Present Danger, the Center for Security Policy, Rumsfeld's DoD Defense Policy Board, and from 1993-1995 as director of the CIA. In 2002 he became vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and its Global Strategic Security division, a corporate and military contractor, risk management advisor, and supplier of technology and personnel to U.S. government spy agencies, and was a principal in Paladin Capital Group, which solicits financing for homeland security firms. Although a self-declared Democrat, Woolsey served as McCain's advisor on national security during the senator's presidential campaign (Right Web 2008). Woolsey is a co-director of a security-focused think tank, The Arlington Institute, with Jack DuVall, who is president of Peter Ackerman's International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
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Re: Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Ea

Postby admin » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:11 am

Part 3 of 4

The Public Diplomacy Forces

There are numerous other groups and institutions involved directly and indirectly in democracy assistance programs. The most important is found in the office of the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs (PDPA). Speaking on the subject of public diplomacy to an audience of U.S. diplomats and State Department officials, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in November 2001: "What are we doing? We are selling a product. That product we are selling is democracy. It's a free-enterprise system, the American value system. It's a product that is very much needed."

The influence behind this PR babble was Charlotte Beers, Powell's then recently hired undersecretary for PDPA and a former executive at three ad agencies, J. Walter Thompson, [15] Tatham-Lair and Kudner, and Ogilvy and Mather. As "the queen of Madison Avenue," Beers brought her spin techniques to public diplomacy, especially in the Middle East - an approach that had failed when it was first tried fifty years earlier (Critchlow 2004, 85-86). Congress appropriated $520 million for her "Brand America" campaign, "the biggest public-relations effort in the history of United States foreign policy" (Snow 2003,2 4). It focused mainly "on beaming US propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens" (Cockburn and St. Clair, 2004, 320).

Beers' propitious training for foreign policy work was as a brand specialist pitching Uncle Ben's rice and Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo (Dumenco 2001). Her boss, Powell, with whom she has been a co-board director at Gulf Airstream Aircraft, had the more difficult task of pitching Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction." Beers lasted in the position from October 2001 until March 2003. Powell stayed on until the end of Bush's first term. Beers' immediate successor, Margaret Tutwiler, had little more success, lasting less than a year in the position, and abruptly left to take a position as a government relations specialist with the New York Stock Exchange and also joined the board of directors of the International Republican Institute.

Tutwiler, in turn, was succeeded by Karen Hughes, a former communications advisor to the then governor of Texas, George Bush, and a member of the White House Iraq Group, which, with Karl Rove, Republican consultant Mary Matalin, and others, helped design and market the invasion. A 22-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service, John Brown, who quit the State Department in protest over the invasion, described Hughes as a "key person in the creation of the crude propaganda that led our country into war" (Press Action 2006). After failed efforts at winning over the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East with her "compassionate conservative" photo ops and the refusal of most Arab countries to run her propaganda videos about happy Muslims living in America (Barber 2007,207; Rich 2006, 223), Hughes stepped down as undersecretary for PDP A at the end of2007. In 2008, she joined the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, headed by Hillary Clinton's former chief presidential campaign strategist, Mark Penn.

In 2002, the State Department started a propaganda campaign, initially led by Beers, called the "shared values initiative" (SVI), focused on the Middle East, to counter critical views of US. policy in the region. Estimated at a cost to taxpayers of $15 million, this effort included the purchase of local broadcast time on Arab channels to promote the State Department's messages (Kendrick and Fullerton 2004, 297). Beers brought in Cari Eggspuehler, head of the American private sector interest group Business for Diplomatic Action (Brand Strategy 2004). Beers also hired the consumer marketing services of advertising agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide to assist her in the production of television spots about American and Muslim "shared values" for placement in various Islamic countries. She described the project as "the most elegant brand I've ever had to work with" (Kuchment 2001). There is little evidence to show that negative opinion in the Middle East toward the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, with all the violence that has engendered, has been placated by attempts to persuade people in the region of America's good intentions. With few stations willing to run the promotions, the U.S. mainstream media reported that SVI was poorly received (Brand Strategy 2004). The SVI ads were soon suspended, and Beers promptly resigned her post.

Benjamin Barber writes that the State Department's PDP A "not only treats America as a brand but argues that the country's fortunes may depend less on policy realities or traditional identity and behavior than on brand marketing by experienced advertising and marketing executives." The branding of foreign policy, and politics in general, reflects the shift to a marketing economy and, as Barber notes, effectively privatizes it. Foreign policy is often handled as if it were just another product like Cola-Cola. Officials in the State Department, especially the secretary of state, and many law makers involved in foreign policy are expected to support the marketing model of politics (Barber 2007, 200, 205). The official Congressional budget for all forms of public diplomacy for 2005 was $1.2 billion (Johnson, Dale, and Cronin 2005). There is no precise measure of how much the U.S. government spends on "public communications" overall, but, according to a minority staff report, private PR firms alone (not including projects performed by internal government agency employees) received $88 million in public relations contracts in 2004 alone (Kosar 2005, 7-8). The State Department's budget for public diplomacy for FY 2009 was $37 million ($36 million in FY 2008) (White House 2009).

Often working closely with their respective government's public diplomacy efforts, several universities in the United States provide training for overseas work. Such training is generally constructed within the ontology of democracy promotion, and the concept of democracy differs little from the approach taken by USAID, which is to say in support of open market economies and training in public relations/diplomacy. One of the best known is the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, whose curriculum includes a Seminar on Advanced Topics in International Marketing, Marketing Research and Global Intelligence, Seminar on Strategic Management in Privatizing and Deregulating Industries, Field Studies in Global Consulting, Global Media and International Conflict, and International Communication. Another is the Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, where public diplomacy is taught from a persuasion and communications perspective. One of its required course descriptions acknowledges that "public diplomacy [is] a term used interchangeably with propaganda, mass persuasion, and international public relations" (University of Southern California 2009). Syracuse University's public diplomacy program consists of a dual master's degree in international relations and public relations, conjoining foreign policy with the principles of propaganda. Other universities with programs on democracy promotion include Georgetown, Stanford, California-Irvine, Oklahoma at Tulsa, and Australian National University (Melia 2005, appendix 1: 18).

Backing up the more benign initiatives characterized as public diplomacy are more militant means of employing communications in the conduct of foreign policy. The University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies works closely with Hollywood and the U.S. Army "to develop cutting-edge virtual- reality technology from the entertainment and game-development industries to help train the modern soldier and future soldier" (Snow 2003, 33). Starting in 1999, the U.S. army provided USC with $45 million over five years, extended with an additional $100 million in 2004, to improve military training simulations and special effects for movies with anti-terrorism plots, video games (such as "Full Spectrum Command"), and virtual reality arcades (Associated Press 2004; Kaplan 1999). "[O]perating as a brain trust for the U.S. Army" (Weiner and Fierman 2001), this collaboration, which included the involvement of the Hollywood creative talent that produced "Die Hard," "Delta Force One," and "Missing in Action," consolidated the links between the military, the university, and the film industry. In service to U.S. war aims, it helps when films and games depict U.S. aggression in a favorable light and socializes players of computer war games into the propaganda and culture of militarism and violence.

Universities and government institutions also participate in numerous other programs for advancing various U.S. interests overseas. Both offer leadership training for politicians and business people seeking to learn the American way of expanding one's portfolio. Both also offer scholarships and other educational opportunities in U.S. universities, and it is very telling that many of the top political and business leaders in Central and Eastern Europe hold American (pedi) degrees. In Budapest, the Central European University (CEU) was founded by the Hungary-born American George Soros16 in 1991 to direct an education "transition" in its graduate social science and humanities programs from socialism to capitalism and the liberal principles of his Open Society Institute. With campuses in Budapest, Warsaw, and Prague and exchange programs in the United States, CEU remains administered largely by American educators and business leaders and is enchartered in the state of New York. Its faculty is made up of largely Americans or U.S.-educated Eastern Europeans. Its curriculum has emphasized privatization and corporate governance and freeing economics from political supervision. Despite its name, CEU eventually abandoned its identity as a regional university and shifted in the early 2000s as a "post-national, 'cosmopolitan education' explicitly meant to integrate entire regions into the process of globalization by easing the conversion of their elite to its main ideologies and policies" (Guilhot 2007). According to its website, "CEU is a European leader in providing graduate education modeled on the best examples of US universities" (CEU 2009).

U.S. universities are also engaged in many other forms of "soft power." Harvard University hosts foreign journalists and other professionals in its Nieman Fellows programs, and a similar program for journalists is run by the State Department-founded East-West Center in Honolulu. The U.S. Peace Corps is yet another institution that places Americans abroad to engage in a variety of business, technical, and educational projects that are designed to foster good will for the United States, its overseas missions, and its broad political and economic objectives. Many Peace Corps volunteers came to regard their service as a system of pacification to provide a fig leaf for the real intentions of government in sending them to Third World countries: business and military aggrandizement (Cullather 2000, 549). Service and religious organizations provide scholarships to international students, usually with the long-term view of fostering overseas linkages for their respective programs. Fulbright academic awards enable international faculty and students to come to the United States and American academics and students to study abroad. Many of these programs encourage learning and mutual understanding, but they also have less sanguine results as well.

Elite institutions serve America's larger state and corporate interests. British journalist Graham Turner was able to evoke several academic endorsements for U. S universities' contributions to imperial power. Joe McCarthy, director of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government degree programs, says that his institution's mission "is to train the next cadre of public sector leaders not only from the United States, but also from the rest of the world. No less than 45 percent of our students come from 80 countries around the globe." At the School, 270 of its 330 international students in 2003 were given scholarships by Soros, the Ford Foundation, and other donor organizations. Discussing his university's impeccable imperial pedigree, Harvard dean and former director of CIA intelligence analysis, Joseph Nye, offered that in South Korea, "a key adviser to the President is one of our graduates. When I go to Singapore, a third of the Cabinet studied here. In Mexico, we've already produced two presidents [now three, plus one from Yale]; one each in Costa Rica and Ecuador. The global outreach of great American universities, such as Harvard, is as least as great as the British Empire's" (Turner 2003).

Meanwhile, the head of the Harvard Business School imperiously claimed that "foreign students who come to us from 70 countries are already half-converted when they arrive. What we do is turn them into zealots." Harvard's public relations chief boasts: "The Old Boy network was really invented at Harvard .... Any advertising agency would pay a million dollars for our directory." At the Law School, the dean Robert Clark pointed out that as part of its "global reach," one of his colleagues worked in Russia "to adapt their legal system to promote the development of business. Another has helped shape constitutions in various Eastern European countries. It's all missionary work, and we do a great deal of it" (Turner 2003).

University exchange programs in particular significantly contribute to American influence among the educated ranks in other countries. According to a Polish study:

In the 1990s, former [Polish] Fulbright scholars already occupied important positions in the world of business and politics. Their pro-market economy and pro-democratic attitudes, strengthened during several stays abroad, proved to be very important in the process of democracy consolidation in Poland. Former Fulbright scholars were often responsible for the shape of Polish foreign policy, the economy, the ED accession negotiations, or the establishment of the Warsaw stock exchange. Two of them served as prime ministers (Cwiek-Karpowicz and Kaczynski 2006, 29).

Philanthropic Interventions

Since the early part of the 20th century, American philanthropic foundations, such as the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations, have had a great deal of influence on U.S. foreign policy. In the Central and Eastern European region, the Open Society Institute (OS1) of George Soros (born Gyorgy Schwartz in 1930) has been the most actively interventionist. A billionaire funds manager and financier, with a fortune largely amassed during the deregulatory 1970s and 1980s, Soros started OSI in 1984 - an umbrella organization made up of 31 separate foundations that focus their civil society work in over 60 countries. With funding initiatives at about $500 million per year (until recent years as much as the U.S. government provided in democracy assistance), Soros is an important force in the CEE region (Melia 2006, 126), both as a political and economic actor.

Soros is a former member of the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations and continues to maintain close associations through his investments in the Carlyle Group and in his International Crisis Group with such key American international security specialists as national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski (under Carter) and Richard Allen (under Reagan), former NATO supreme allied commander Wesley Clark, and former congressman, Stephan Solarz, a key lobbyist and tactician for Israel. According to one analysis, Soros followed "a pattern he has deployed to great effect over the whole of eastern Europe: of advocating 'shock therapy' and 'economic reform,' then swooping in with his associates to buy valuable state assets at knock-down prices" (Clark 2003). Soros is also a significant contributor to liberal and left causes and media groups in the United States.

The role of a private sector actor like Soros in postwar U.S. foreign policy is rather unprecedented, but it has much to do with the political values behind neoliberalism - namely the privatization of public sector activities. And were Soros's initiatives not in line with the contours of U.S. policy in the CEE region (resisting the concentration of state power, strengthening the transnational capitalist mode of production, encouraging local foreign donor-controlled NGOs, and marginalizing the influence of nationalist, socialist, and grassroots social movements), he would not be permitted the level of cooperation he has received from conservative and liberal government foreign policy officials. While he preaches the rights of independent media and electoral institutions, Soros also has major investments in the CEE countries, a region that the United States has pushed to accept the "shock therapy" of laissez faire economics. His Open Society is in fact more about open markets.

Soros is one of a few European emigres, including Zbigniew BrzezIllsb (an NDI director), Madeleine Albright (NDI board chair), and former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, [17] one might add Manhattan Project physicist and nuclear weapons advocate' Edward Teller, who have had direct and significant influence on postwar U.S. foreign policy. All held strong anti-communist attitudes prior to the downfall of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. After leaving Hungary in 1947, Soros was a student at the London School of Economics at a time when the economic program of the School was dominated by the conservative economic philosopher, Friedrich von Hayek. He remained a dedicated follower of free market economics - and politics (Guilhot 2007). Brzezinski recently served as a foreign policy adviser to Obama, and although Soros was a big financial supporter of Obama's election, particularly through, he and the then candidate Obama sorted out over U.S. policy toward Israel, Soros taking the more critical stance toward Israel's intransigence toward Hamas and the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Lake 2007).

According to Russian and East European studies specialist, Princeton University professor Mark Beissinger, NGOs involved in democracy assistance , such as the Soros Foundation, Freedom House, and the Albert Einstein Institution, have had the effect of precipitating a backlash in recipient former Soviet-allied states, which tend to view them unfavorably as "revolutionary organizations" (Beissinger 2006, 23), a fact that the NED itself acknowledges, though not for the same reasons (NED 2006). Soros's foundations and several other foreign-backed NGOs have been pushed out of Russia, Belarus, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Referring to the "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, democracy promotion analyst and Washington "insider" Thomas Carothers agreed with Beissinger's critical regional assessment, noting that the NDI, IRI, Freedom House, and Soros's Open Society Institute each "played a key behind-the-scenes role in fomenting these upheavals [which] have clearly helped trigger the backlash" (Carothers 2006a). [18]

The Mainstream Media and Democracy Promotion

Even while American mainstream media are roundly criticized from all corners of the public - the more and less educated, across the generational divide, and from different political persuasions - the U.S. government and other public and private organizations compel a "free press" as a measure of democracy and as a condition for assistance in Eastern Europe. Less than 20 percent of the American public believe all or most of the news media (Broadcast Engineering 2008). According to Time magazine, the most trusted "newscaster" by far is not even a journalist - it's Jon Stewart from the "Daily Show," which is not a news program but rather a political satire (Time Poll Results 2009). While an independent press would more likely provide the highest level of credible information, commercially owned media have not shown themselves to better educate citizens than state-run media. As mainstream print media in the United States are collapsing, it is the independent websites and bloggers that have shown the most resilience in attracting educated readers.

Even as commercial interests are permitted to dominate news dissemination in the United States, abroad various agencies of the U.S. government provide assistance to what they consider "independent" professional media development. In targeted countries, this has included broadcasting equipment and training for selected opposition political movements to help them discredit incumbent governments. Mark Palmer, a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, vice chair of Freedom House, and a co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Council for a Community of Democracies, and Central European Media Enterprises, urged the U.S. government to spend $100 million annually to train local students in media uses for the overthrow of non-democratic governments. He also called for the extensive use of mass text messaging devices to help "manage demonstrations for communications among democrats" (Palmer 2006). On the basis of this proposal, Moldovan and Russian officials would be right to be suspicious of the "Twitter revolution" tactics employed in the streets of Chisinau in April 2009 that were designed to stage large, sometimes violent, protests against the government. [19] The Iranian government could justifiably feel the same way and thereby rationalize, as in Russia and Moldova, the escalation of anti-U.S. rhetoric, xenophobia, and ultra-nationalism. If independent journalism were in fact seriously treated as a foundational aspect of democracy, the U.S. government would have reduced or terminated diplomatic relations with a number of allied countries and trading partners, including Berlusconi's Italy.

In 2009, Twitter, a blogging and networking technology developed in the United States, was actively employed during the presidential campaign in Iran. It was used to mobilize protest demonstrations of those challenging the declared electoral victory of the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the candidate least favored by the Obama administration. When the Twitter corporation scheduled a brief outage for maintenance in the midst of public demonstrations in Tehran in June, Obama's assistant secretary of state for public affairs, P. J. Crowley, requested the company postpone it in support of the protesters, even as Obama denied meddling in Iranian internal political affairs. Twitter notified its subscribers that it would comply because of "the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prefers to label such state behavior not intervention but "e-diplomacy" (Landler and Stelter 2009).

In the late 1990s and into the next decade, Western mainstream media generally characterized the serial political upheavals that took place in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and Central Asia as legitimate and democratic populist uprisings. Most of these reports fetishized the "color revolutions" in a heroic iconography of freedom-loving dissidents opposing dictatorship. This was part of a drumbeat by the mainstream media, including the Washington Post and New York Times, to regularly accuse Russia of restarting a new cold war. U.S. intervention was reported in the American media for the most part as uncontroversial (Cohen 2005).

American mainstream media also treated uncritically U.S.-organized economic "shock therapy" in the former Soviet region, while demonizing socialism and all forms of economic nationalism (Klein 2007). The labeling of several Eastern European leaders as "dictators" was not an accurate depiction even if they did display certain authoritarian characteristics. And, as some have argued, even for those militant youth groups that intended more radical outcomes, the uprisings ended up as "failed revolutions" (Beissinger 2006). Presently (2009), the three states have pro-Western neoliberal leaders in power, two of whom, Saakashvili in Georgia and Yushchenko in Ukraine, faced massive pressure to step down, though the United States, which helped to install them (see Chapter 4), did not intervene toward the more recent "people power" objective.

Media at the local level also played a major role in regime change. The U.S. government provides various media training grants through' Freedom House, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), Internews, and other American and domestic groups in Ukraine and Georgia (Mitchell 2006; U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, no date). NED notes that in the 1990s, it focused the bulk of its "Center for International Media Assistance" funding on the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (CIMA 2008, 6). On a larger canvas, a steady flow of anti-government reporting directed at former communists was transmitted to the region from the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the BBC World Service, and other Western broadcasting media that in recent years incited "color revolution" activists to take to the streets. The Open Society Institute (OSI), through its Open Media Research Institute (OMRI), helped launch and funded the Czech-based Transition magazine (later, renamed Transitions) and in 1999 its successor, the web-based Transitions Online. The web version also received funding from the U.S.-based and USAID-funded Eurasia Foundation (which focuses on 12 former Soviet republics), the British Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Freedom House, the NED-funded Independent Journalism Foundation, the Ford Foundation, [20] and the Congressionally-funded U.S. Institute of Peace (Barker 200S). The magazine was directed at the 28 republics formed after the breakup of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. On its website, OMRI states that it was established in 1994 "as a public-private venture between the congressionally appointed U.S. Board for International Broadcasting and the Open Society Institute [which] has picked up where the Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty Research Institute left off when it was dissolved in December 1994" (Barker 2008).

Another overseas media training enterprise, Internews, started in 1982, is an Arcata, California-based company run by David Hoffman that works with private media organizations in many countries, including offices throughout the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact region. Topping its list of target countries is Russia, where it has been working since 1992 to develop U.S.-style commercial media (Meier 1995). "Internews secured $S million to set up a media center, a news agency, and broadcast and print outlets in Ukraine" (Baker 2004). Its declared mission is to "empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard" (Internews 2009). Its numerous funders include private foundations, OSI, the World Bank, and most extensively the State Department, USAID (U.S. Office of Transition Initiatives), and NED. Of its $27 million budget in 2004, about 90 percent came from U.S. taxpayers (Melia 2005, appendix 1: 10). Other funding sources have included AOL/Time Warner, GE, and Microsoft (Baker 2004). In a Washington Times article, Hoffman and a co-author emphasized the market orientation of media assistance.

How do we win the war of ideas? Resist the temptation to control the message. Depend instead on two pillars of American democracy - free enterprise and free media. The federal government should support the role of private enterprise in meeting the challenge. Private enterprise is better equipped to win hearts and minds than anything that governments produce. While there may still be a need for U.S. broadcasting for strategic reasons, the bulk of public funding should go towards local, private broadcasters (Hoffman and Dale 2005).

Other Democracy Assistance Groups

There are numerous other organizations involved directly and indirectly, in regime change. David Adesnik and Michael McFaul,21 who work, respectively, at the conservative Institute for Defense Analysis and the Hoover Institution, note that:

The democracy-promotion toolbox has been filled for more two decades with various standard assistance programs, including technical support for reforming government agencies; training for lawyers, journalists, political party leaders, and trade unionists; direct financial aid for civil society organizations; and exchanges and scholarships for students (Adesnik and McFaul 2006, 7).

One toolbox organization, the American Bar Association, has been involved in the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI), largely focused on the former states of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. Another influential organization, IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) has trained many Central and Eastern Europeans in election monitoring. Even more directly influential in the "color revolutions" of Eastern Europe is the curiously named Albert Einstein Institution (AEI), based in the private home of its founder, Gene Sharp, in Boston, Massachusetts. According to one detailed account, Sharp's publications helped instigate the u.S.-supported uprising in Serbia in 2000:

Miljenko Dereta, the director of a private group in Belgrade called Civic Initiatives, got funding from Freedom House in the U.S. to print and distribute 5,000 copies of Gene Sharp's book, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. [Serbian youth group] Otpor got hold of Sharp's main three-volume work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, freely adapting sections of it into a Serbian-language notebook they dubbed the "Otpor User Manual." Consciously using this "ideology of nonviolent, individual resistance," in [Otpor leader Srdja] Popovic's words, activists also received direct training from Col. Robert Helvey, a colleague of Sharp, at the Budapest Hilton in March 2000 (Mowat 2005).

Founded the same year as NED (1983), AEI advocates for applications of "strategic non-violent action. In recent years, AEI has targeted youth groups within semi-authoritarian states in efforts to overthrow established nationalistic leaders by extra-legal means. A former AEI director, Col. Robert Helvey, is a retired US. Army intelligence specialist who spent two tours of duty in Vietnam. Helvey was also the US. military attache in Myanmar (1983-1985) and a long-time officer in the US. Defense Intelligence Agency. Another former director of AEI and protege of Sharp, Peter Ackerman founded the ICNC (supra) and served as board chair of Freedom House. Whereas both AEI and ICNC cast themselves iconically within the Gandhian tradition of non-violent action, Gandhi himself firmly believed that democracy cannot be drawn up by foreign agents, even those with good intentions. GandhI once asserted: The Spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within." He opposed every form of imperialism. Moreover, unlike Gandhi, the leadership of AEI and ICNC do not see themselves as pacifist, only strategically non-violent, allowing for violence in situations deemed necessary. Employing Gandhi's name and image without his spiritual substance constitutes a form of identity theft and deceptive propaganda.

Although he supported U.S. participation in the "color revolutions," Sharp was not unaware of the duplicitous nature of state intervention. He wrote: "Frequently, foreign states will tolerate, or even positively assist, a dictatorship in order to advance their own economic or political interests .... Some foreign states will act against a dictatorship only to gain their own economic, political or military control over the country" (Sharp 1993, 6). Even while holding such views Sharp apparently for "reasons of state" could not contextualize AEI's involvement within the postwar history of U.S. support for dictatorships (Marcos, Chun Doo Hwan, the Shah of Iran, Batista, Duvalier, Trujillo, Somoza, Ngo Dinh Diem, Pinochet, Suharto, Musharraf, to name just a few). Nor could he recognize his own complicity in the U.S. manipulation of internal struggles in Eastern Europe for "economic, political, or military control." His manifesto on defeating regimes with non-violent tactics, including the use of civil disobedience, street protests, the use of outside election observers, and other tactics became a playbook for regime change in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Sharp insists that he works independently of the US. government, but he also disassociates the work of overthrowing regimes from the contexts that create them and the consequences that follow (Sharp, personal communication, 2008).

Last noted are the professional consulting groups that participate in the business of democracy promotion. According to Thomas Melia, a handful of private groups grab the lion's share of democracy assistance. The main ones are Management Systems International, Creative Associates International, Chemonics International, Development Associates, Booz Allen Hamilton, Research Triangle Institute, Checchi & Co., PACT, and World Learning (Melia 2005, 5). For Thomas Carothers at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Those in the business of dispensing democratic aid are much more inclined toward action than retrospective reflection .... Many democracy promoters are temperamentally resistant to critical reflection .... Missionary zeal pervades the field, bringing with it a disinclination for self-doubt and a reflexive belief in the value of the enterprise .... To the extent that they produce reports for external consumption, such publications are by necessity usually more public relations efforts than anything else (Carothers 1999, 8; my emphasis).

European Democracy Promotion

Unlike the programs of the U.S. party institutions, IRI and NDI, which focus almost entirely on democracy promotion, European party institutes engage in a more general assistance program. U.S. forms of political support are also more deeply entrenched with professional consulting groups continually in search of clients with a large amount of money to spend. A very large part of US AID assistance in general is returned to such private groups in the form of salaries, travel, and overhead expenses compared to the amount spent for local counterparty organizations (Newberg and Carothers 1996, 106). Political consulting is indeed a lucrative enterprise. According to Jordan Lieberman, editor of the main journal of the consulting industry, Campaigns & Elections: "Political campaigns and Hollywood movies are America's most successful exports" (cited in Vuijst 2008a, b, or c). This is consistent with other indications that America has become a promotional political economy.

European democracy assistance is a less calculated business affair. As one comparative study on democracy promotion programs in the United States, Britain, and Canada has found, "it is interesting to note that promoting markets is relatively important to the US foundation (10.8% of its grants)" compared to either its Canadian or British counterparts, which devote less than 1 percent for the purpose of developing market economies.

While the relative importance of this purpose to the United States fits with the orthodox idea that capitalism is essential to building and strengthening democracy, the disparity among the foundations may indicate that foundations outside the United States are not as ready to link these political and economic elements under the rubric of promoting democracy (Scott and Walters 2000, 250).

On the whole, the European democracy promotion foundations take a more measured approach than their U.S. counterparts in attempting to transfer political institutions and practices, though they do share common objectives: the establishment of neoliberal market economies. One difference is that the Europeans take a longer view of the project [22] and tend to be more cautious than the United States about giving direct aid to political dissidents. One NGO director based in Prague rejected the Western European approach, as, in his view, constructive engagement with leaders like Lukashenko does not work (Blazevic, personal communication, 2007). Aggressive action is needed.
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