How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Regime

How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Regime

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:07 am

How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Regime Change Around the World
by Derek Royden
October 30, 2015



“A lot of what we do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA.”
-- Alan Weinstein, one of the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy

When we think about non governmental organizations we tend to focus on heroic groups like Doctors Without Borders, whose members travel into war zones treating the wounded without regard to the political affiliations of their patients. It’s dangerous work, as shown by a recent air-strike on a hospital run by the group in the Afghan city of Kunduz in which 13 staff and 10 patients died (7 other bodies have yet to be identified).

So, when we hear about Russia crafting a law in 2012 to make certain NGOs register as “foreign agents”, we naturally think this shows growing repression in that country. Offered as further proof of this is the fact that Putin’s government has created even stronger rules this year, seeking to ban “undesirable” groups. The first to be thrown out of the country in this way was the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). How could Russian law-makers ban an organization whose motto is: “Supporting freedom around the world’?

Many notable people, including Carl Gershman, Chairman of the Endowment since its creation in 1983, have been vocal in criticizing this Russian legislation. They invariably fail to mention that the original 2012 law was based on a an American one enacted in 1938, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. This law, “also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.”

Although it promotes itself as a “non-governmental organization”, NED receives at least 90% of its funding from the US Congress, earmarked to USAID; the balance is provided by right leaning non-profits like the Olin and Bradley Foundations. To most people, the Endowment probably looks like a pretty innocuous organization. After all, who’s against more democracy? But when you examine the records of those who control it and its affiliates, it starts to look like they’re running a shadow foreign policy, not only in Eurasia but throughout the world, sometimes acting in ways that are contrary to the wishes of the powers that be in Washington.

To bolster its credibility as “non-partisan” in the American context, NED distributes more than half of its money to four organizations: the Free Trade Union Institute of the AFL-CIO (FTUI), the Center for International Private Enterprise of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Chairing the latter is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), probably the most well known hawk in the US Senate.

In fact, for an organization with the aim of “peaceful democracy promotion” it’s riddled with Neoconservatives and their Liberal Hawk counterparts, including such luminaries as Elliot Abrams (of Iran-Contra fame), Zalmay Khalilzad (Former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan).and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright (Chairwoman of the NDI), to name just a few.

The presence of reliably pro-war Washington insiders like these points to the real roots of the organization during the Reagan Era when it was created with the input of then CIA Chief William Casey. At that time, the actions of the US intelligence community were being scrutinized in light of the Church Committee hearings and other revelations of the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, some of the functions that the CIA once performed were farmed out to the newly created Endowment. One has to concede that NED is a PR savvy version of what these agencies used to do covertly and it also helps to keep the hawks in the foreign policy conversation, whatever disasters they leave in their wake when they hold the reins of power.

Disturbing Patterns

Looking critically at the so-called “Color Revolutions” that NED has funded, one begins to see similarities that couldn’t be coincidental. One example is the symbol of a clenched fist, probably expropriated from the Black Panthers and first used by OTPOR, a Serbian youth group that became something of a template for successful regime change operations from the end of the 90s until today. Now called CANVAS (Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies), remnants of the group train civil society and student groups in many countries.

The fist symbol, originally black but often using the “colors” associated with each individual “movement”, has been seen with some variation in Georgia, Ukraine and Venezuela, places where NED or its affiliates spent big to produce regime change.

And it isn’t just student groups being trained and funded by the Endowment. As a 2013 report by Al Jazeera showed, in the weeks and months leading up to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, NED and some of its affiliates were funding individuals and organizations calling for the overthrow of the elected government in the country.

The reporter on the story, Emad Mekay, made some interesting discoveries about the role that the organization played in the ouster of the Egypt’s first democratically elected president, including tracking down where some of the organization’s money was going: “A main conduit for channeling the State Department’s democracy funds to Egypt has been the National Endowment for Democracy. Federal documents show NED, which in 2011 was authorized an annual budget of $118m by Congress, funneled at least $120,000 over several years to an exiled Egyptian police officer who has for years incited violence in his native country.”

This charming man, Colonel Omar Afifi Soliman, the recipient of a “human rights fellowship” at NED, used social media to call for some pretty heinous things. One Facebook post, featured in the report, had Soliman calling on his Egyptian followers to “Make a road bump with a broken palm tree to stop the buses going into Cairo, and drench the road around it with gas and diesel. When the bus slows down for the bump, set it all ablaze so it will burn down with all the passengers inside… God bless.”

Although the press and politicians quickly forgot, it needs to be emphasized that Morsi was the elected leader of Egypt and, before he was ousted, he tried to negotiate an end to the crisis he helped to instigate, admitting that he “made many mistakes”. The word coup was rarely uttered in the aftermath of his removal and military aid to the tune of a billion and a half a year soon started flowing back into the country.

What’s going on in Egypt is an overlooked humanitarian disaster, it isn’t just members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are being rounded up by President al-Sisi’s thugs and given death sentences in mass trials. Many of the young people and progressive forces who so bravely faced off against Mubarak at Tahrir Square to create a more progressive Egypt are facing similar persecution. Ironically, some of them received aid from NED or affiliated groups and this could be used as evidence against them in court as Egypt has its own version of the “Foreign Agent Registration Act”discussed earlier.

A Danger to Democracy

There’s also the glaring hypocrisy revealed by where most of NED’s money gets spent. The cases of Haiti, Venezuela and most recently Honduras show that those governments deemed “Anti-American” (often a euphemism for not laying down for multi-national business interests) will be targeted for regime change regardless of their citizens’ democratic choices. It doesn’t matter how many elections deemed free and fair you win if you are seen as acting against American interests there is a good chance NED or one of its affiliates will put you in their cross-hairs.

It’s pretty obvious that foreign policy programs run by groups like NED risk de-legitimizing protest. If an increasing number of governments (or corporations for that matter) start engaging in these activities as we’re just beginning to see, paying protesters and the like, they could essentially professionalize protest, at the same time putting genuine aid workers at risk. As an interesting side-note, a convincing argument has been made that this kind of “Astro-turfing” helps explain the rise of the Tea Party movement in the US.

What’s most dangerous about NED is that it gives voice and a measure of power to some of America’s biggest hawks whether they’re in government or not. In this way and many others, NED is not only not promoting democracy, it’s often doing the exact opposite at US taxpayer expense.
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Re: How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Re

Postby admin » Tue May 23, 2017 11:05 pm

Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony (Excerpt)
by William I. Robinson

The shift from the CIA to the NED

What little political aid the United States has attempted in the past 35 years has been more or less covert, largely financial and most often administered through the CIA. It did not take long for most policymakers to realize that such covert operations were inappropriate, awkward, and embarrassing.

-- Project Democracy consultant [29]

Political aid programs were sporadic and underdeveloped in the post-World War II period. Those programs that did exist were managed by the CIA. The Truman administration created the CIA out of its World War II precursor, the Office of Strategic Security, as a covert branch of the US state in the Cold War. Since its inception, the CIA has carried out thousands of covert operations; overthrown countless governments; and contributed to the death, directly or indirectly, of millions of people as a result of its actions.30 Alongside intelligence gathering and paramilitary campaigns,a major component of CIA intervention has been political operations involving the creation, covert funding and guidance of allied political groups and individuals in target countries -- media, political parties, trade unions, businesses, and associations.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s, despite occasional scandals and failures like the Bay of Pigs, the CIA enjoyed the respect of much of the US public, and the full extent of its activities remained hidden from the international community. But during the 1970s, as many of its seamy covert operations became public, it fell into disrepute. In 1974-5, congressional investigations revealed the sordid underworld of CIA covert activity at home and abroad. Top-level CIA officers defected and exposed the history of overseas intrigues, and investigative journalists uncovered unsavory details of US secret activities.31 After the US defeat in Indochina and the delegitimization of foreign intervention, the CIA by the late 1970s was badly discredited. In the United States, bipartisan and constituent support crumbled. In target countries abroad, association with CIA programs meant instant repudiation. In addition to the stigma, there were other problems.The CIA had proved adept at staging coups, assassinations, and installing dictators. It achieved its stated goal in 1973 in Chile, for instance, when it orchestrated the military overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. In Guatemala, it was impeccably efficient in organizing the removal in 1954 of the elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. The CIA showed similar proficiency in operations in Brazil, Iran, the Congo, the Philippines, Iraq, and dozens of other countries.

Yet there was something clumsy about these operations. The political aftermath of covert operations seemed to create new, more complex problems over the long term. The CIA could destabilize quite well, but, its detractors argued, it was not good at creating stability. Nearly four decades after the CIA overthrew the Arbenz government, Guatemala remained a cauldron of guerrilla insurgency, gross human rights violations and social instability. The Pinochet regime lasted sixteen years but was an international pariah. Iran's nationalist prime minister, Mossadegh, was ousted in the CIA-led coup of 1954, which installed the Shah and recovered Iranian oil fields for Western petroleum companies. But, despite twenty years on the throne, the Shah was unable to sustain himself in the face of a rising Islamic fundamentalist movement and popular struggles against his policies. CIA operations seemingly lacked sophistication and long-term vision. The CIA was not able to create stable governments or to mold structures in civil society itself that could provide long-term protection for a core-dominated market economy and a pro-US political program. Here, the capable hands of a political surgeon were needed, not the heavy hand of a paramilitary assassin.

The new, post-Vietnam breed of political professionals lobbied for the transfer of crucial aspects of the CIA's political operations -- namely, "political aid" -- to a new agency. They lobbied for the establishment of an institution that would use sophisticated techniques, including elections, political aid, and other political operations, to achieve lasting results. Two of the original NED founders noted: "Since the advent of the Cold War, the United States has worked abroad politically, mainly covertly, with direct government action and secret financing of private groups." This US political intervention capacity "is necessary for protecting US security interests," but efforts to date have proven inadequate: "[The] various covert means for filling the political gap in US policy solved some short-term needs, but did not provide effective long-term solutions. Covert political aid provided directly by the US government is limited in its effectiveness."32 Thus, while CIA intervention has continued, a more specialized, sophisticated entity with a focus on political operations, a long-term vision, and a strategic agenda came into existence with the creation of the NED in 1983. This new entity would not only play the role of skillful political surgeon, but it would overcome the taint associated with the covert political operations that the CIA had been carrying out abroad. Specifically, NED would take over much of the funding and political guidance for political parties, trade unions, business groups, news media, and civic organizations that the CIA had traditionally supplied. The NED is a "combination of Government money, bureaucratic flexibility and anti-Communist commitment. .. which mixes public funds and private interests," noted the New York Times shortly after the Endowment's founding. The NED's work "resembles the aid given by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s, 60s and 70s to bolster pro-American political groups."33 Former CIA director William Colby commented in regard to the NED program: "It is not necessary to turn to the covert approach. Many of the programs which ... were conducted as covert operations [can now be] conducted quite openly, and consequentially, without controversy."34 The idea was to create a further division of labor within the organs of US foreign policy. The NED would not replace the CIA, whose programs have continued and even expanded in the 1990s.35 Rather, it would specialize in the overt development through political aid programs of political and civic formations, supplementing CIA covert activities in synchronization with overall US policy towards the country or region in which it operated.

The NED, with its ideological underpinning of "promoting democracy," was well equipped for rebuilding US domestic consensus for political operations abroad. The name National Endowment for Democracy conjures up an apolitical and benevolent image not unlike that of the National Endowment for the Arts or other humanitarian societies. The efforts to project such an image are, in fact, part and parcel of the ideological dimensions of the new intervention, and have been remarkably successful. Standard university texts perpetuate such an uncritical image. "The National Endowment for Democracy, launched by the Reagan administration in 1983, is a recent manifestation of a tradition with a long heritage," states American Foreign Policy: Pattern and Process, one of the staple US college texts on foreign policy. "Its purpose is to encourage worldwide the development of autonomous political, economic, social and cultural institutions to serve as the foundations of democracy and the guarantors of individual rights and freedoms."36 Yet the NED was created in the highest echelons of the US national security state, as part of the same project that led to the illegal operations of the Iran-Contra scandal. It is organically integrated into the overall execution of US national security and foreign policy. In structure, organization, and operation, it is closer to clandestine and national security organs such as the CIA than apolitical or humanitarian endowments as its name would suggest. The NED has operated in tandem with all major interventionist undertakings in the 1980s and 1990s.

The NSC's Project Democracy

Efforts to create "political development" programs date back to the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, when Congress discussed, but declined to approve, several bills to establish a "Freedom Academy" that would conduct party-building in the Third World. The passage of the Title IX addition to the Foreign Aid Act in 1966 spurred renewed interest in such an agency. The Brookings Institute, one of the most important policy planning institutes, undertook an extensive research program on political development programs in coordination with the AID and other government agencies.37 In 1967, President Johnson appointed the three-member Katzenback Commission which recommended that the government "promptly develop and establish a public-private mechanism to provide public funds openly for overseas activities of organizations which are adjudged deserving, in the national interest, of public support."38 A bill was introduced in Congress in 1967 by Rep. Dante Fascell (D.-Fla.) to create an "Institute of International Affairs," but it was not approved.39 Meanwhile, the public outcry against intervention abroad in the early 1970s as a result of the Indochina war and the revelations of CIA activities, as well as the Watergate scandal, put these initiatives on hold for much of that decade.

Then, in 1979, with reassertionism taking hold, a group of government officials, academicians, and trade union, business, and political leaders connected to the foreign-policy establishment, created the American Political Foundation (APF), with funding from the State Department's United States Information Agency (USIA) and from several private foundations. The APF brought together representatives of all the dominant sectors of US society, including both parties and leaders from labor and business. It also brought together many of the leading figures who had been developing the ideas of the new political intervention, many of them associated with the transnationalized fraction of the US elite.40 Among those on the APF board were Lane Kirkland of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), former Republican National Committee chair William Brock, former Democratic National Committee chair Charles Manatt, international vice-president for the US Chamber of Commerce Michael Samuels, as well as Frank Fahrenkopf, Congressman Dante Fascell, Zbignew Brezezinski, John Richardson, and Henry Kissinger. The APF was chaired by Allen Weinstein, who would later become the first president of the NED. The names of APF activists and the composition of the APF board are revealing. They fall into three categories. One is members of the inner circle of second-generation post-World War II national security and foreign policymakers, such as Kissinger, Brezezinski, and Richard Allen, all former National Security Advisors. Another is top representatives of the four major constituencies that made up the post-World War II foreign-policy coalition -- the Democratic and Republican parties, labor and business. The third is operatives from the US intelligence and national security community. These intelligence and security operatives include people associated with the CIA and dozens of front organizations or foundations with which it works, as well as operatives from the USIA.

The prominence of the USIA is significant, since this is an agency with a long track record in political and psychological operations. It was created by the Eisenhower administration in 1953 as an agency within the NSC at the recommendation of a top-secret report issued by the President's Committee on International Information Activities. Its explicit purpose was to conduct propaganda, political and psychological operations abroad in conjunction with CIA activities.41 A National Security Action Memo in 1962 stipulated coordination among the USIA, the AID, the CIA, the Pentagon, and the State Department in waging political warfare operations, including civic action, economic and military aid programs.42 Based on research programs it conducts directly or commissions governmental and non-governmental agencies to conduct, the USIA selects propaganda themes, determines target audiences, and develops comprehensive country plans for media manipulation and communications programs. As part of Project Democracy, USIA activities were greatly expanded in the 1980s.43

The APF recommended in 1981 that a presidential commission examine "how the US could promote democracy overseas." The White House approved the recommendation for Project Democracy. At its onset, Project Democracy was attached to the NSC, and supervised by Walter Raymond Jr., a high-ranking CIA propaganda specialist who worked closely with Oliver North, a key player in the Iran-Contra scandal, on covert projects.44 "Overt political action," explained Raymond, could help achieve foreign-policy objectives by providing "support to various institutions [and]... the development of networks and personal relationships with key people."45 Raymond explained that the creation of the NED as a "vehicle for quasi-public/private funds" would fill a "key gap" in US foreign-policy -- it would be a "new art form."46 Raymond and his staff at the NSC worked closely with Democratic Congressman Dante Fascell of Florida. Fascell chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee which would draft the legislation creating the NED and organized support for the project within Congress.47

In June 1982, in a speech before the British parliament considered the symbolic inauguration of the new policy, Ronald Reagan announced that the United States would pursue a major new program to help "foster the infrastructure of democracy around the world."48 A secret White House memo on the minutes of a Cabinet-level planning meeting to discuss Project Democracy held two months later, in August, set the agenda: "We need to examine how law and Executive Order can be made more liberal to permit covert action on a broader scale, as well as what we can do through substantially increased overt political action."49 Then, in January 1983, Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 77 (NSDD 77), which laid out a comprehensive framework for employing political operations and psychological warfare in US foreign policy. At least $65 million was allocated by the administration to underwrite the activities and programs contemplated in the NSC directive.50 NSDD 77 focused on three aspects of Project Democracy.51 One aspect was dubbed "public diplomacy" -- psychological operations aimed at winning support for US foreign policy among the US public and the international community -- and involved an expansion of propaganda and informational and psychological operations. The directive defined "public diplomacy" as "those actions of the US Government designed to generate support for our national security objectives." An Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) operating out of the White House was established.52 The General Accounting Office ruled OPD an illegal domestic propaganda operation in 1988. Another aspect set out in the NSC directive was an expansion of covert operations. This aspect would develop into the clandestine, illegal government operations later exposed in the hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. Parallel to "the public arm of Project Democracy, now known as the National Endowment for Democracy," noted the New York Times, "the project's secret arm took an entirely different direction after Lieut.-Col. Oliver I. North, then an obscure National Security Council aide, was appointed to head it."53

The final aspect was the creation of a "quasi-governmental institute." This would engage in "political action strategies" abroad, stated NSDD 77.54 This led to the formal incorporation of the NED by Congress in November 1983. While the CIA and the NSC undertook "covert" operations under Project Democracy, some of which were exposed in the Iran-Contra investigations, the NED and related agencies went on to execute the "overt" side of what the New York Times described as "open and secret parts" of Project Democracy, "born as twins" in 1982 with NSDD 77.55 But while the Iran-Contra covert operations that grew out of Project Democracy were exposed and (assumed to be) terminated, the NED was consolidated and expanded as the decade progressed. With the mechanisms in place by the mid-1980s, the "reassertionists" turned to launching their global "democracy offensive." "The proposed campaign for democracy must be conceived in the broadest terms and must weave together a wide range of superficially disparate aspects of US foreign policy, including the efforts of private groups," noted one Project Democracy consultant. "A democracy campaign should become an increasingly important and highly cost-effective component of ... the defense effort of the United States and its allies."56 The countries in which the NED became most involved in the 1980s and early 1990s were those set as priorities for US foreign-policy. "Such a worldwide effort (a 'crusade for democracy'] directly or indirectly must strive to achieve three goals," one Project Democracy participant explained. "The preservation of democracies from internal subversion by either the Right or the Left; the establishment of new democracies where feasible; and keeping open the democratic alternative for all nondemocracies. To achieve each of these goals we must struggle militarily, economically, politically and ideologically."57

In countries designated as hostile and under Soviet influence, such as Nicaragua and Afghanistan, the United States organized "freedom fighters" (anti-government insurgents) in the framework of low-intensity conflict doctrine, while the NED and related organs introduced complementary political programs. Those countries designated for transition from right-wing military or civilian dictatorships to stable "democratic" governments inside the US orbit, including Chile, Haiti, Paraguay, and the Philippines, received special attention. By the late 1980s and early 1990s ,the NED had also launched campaigns in Cuba, Vietnam, and other countries on the US enemy list, and had also become deeply involved in the self-proclaimed socialist countries, including the Soviet Union itself. While these first programs were tied to the 1980s anti-communist crusade, the NED and other "democracy promotion" agencies made an easy transition to the post-Cold War era. As the rubric of anti-communism and national security became outdated, the rhetoric of "promoting democracy" took on even greater significance. Perestroika and glasnost highlighted authentic democratization as an aspiration of many peoples. But US strategists saw in the collapse of the Soviet system an opportunity to accelerate political intervention under the cover of promoting democracy. In the age of global society, the NED and other "democracy promotion" organs have become sophisticated instruments for penetrating the political systems and civil society in other countries down to the grassroots level.

Structure of the "democracy promotion" apparatus

Constitutive documents describe the NED as an "independent" and "private" organization. "Non-governmental" is its juridical status. In any political or practical sense, such a classification is meaningless; structurally and functionally it operates as a specialized branch of the US government. The NED is wholly funded by Congress with funds channeled through the USIA and the AID, both entities of the Department of State. From its inception in 1983 to its financial year 1992 allocation by Congress, it has received approximately $210 million in monies allocated by Congress.58 According to the NED's public documentation, these allocations account for some 99 percent of its funding. However, it is clear from the study of its operations abroad that NED spending is so interlocked with other direct and indirect, secret and public US government spending, that talk of fixed budgets is not all that meaningful. All NED grants are submitted to the State Department for approval, and US embassies abroad frequently handle logistics for and coordination of NED programs. The State Department and other executive agencies regularly appoint personnel to participate in NED programs.59 The decision to make the NED a quasi-private entity was based on several considerations. First, this would make it easier to insulate its operations from public scrutiny and accountability. For instance, the NED would not be subject to congressional oversight, as is the CIA. Second, a "private" organization would not be subject to the same bureaucratic encumbrances as a formal government agency, and therefore would be afforded greater flexibility in its operations. Third, formally separating the NED from the State Department would eliminate apparent or potential conflicts between government-to-government diplomacy and partisan interference in the political systems of other countries.

The NED operates overtly, at least on paper, as opposed to the CIA's covert activities. Its assistance to groups and individuals in other countries is conducted publicly -- above board -- according to the NED charter. This shift from covert to overt is a product of several practical and ideological concerns held by policymakers. Overt political intervention described as "democratic, nonpartisan assistance" is more difficult to discredit than "CIA bribes," "covert payoffs," or "secret intervention." Similarly, it is easier and more ideologically convincing to sell intervention as "democracy promotion" than as national security, and thus this assists in legitimizing foreign policy. Transferring political intervention from the covert to the overt realm does not change its character, but it does make it easier for policymakers to build domestic and international support for this intervention. It also provides policymakers with greater flexibility and options in pursuing their country-specific objectives. Despite its officially overt character the NED also engages in extensive covert operations. In fact, "overt" appears to be more an aspect of the "democracy" rhetoric than actual NED policy. NED activities are often shrouded in secrecy, and NED officials operate more often in the shadows than in the open, much like an agency dedicated to covert operations. Revealingly, NSC and other governmental documents of the early 1980s spoke almost interchangeably of "political action" and "covert action," and one secret White House planning document on Project Democracy referred to "covert action on a broad scale" to promote public and private "democratic institutions" abroad.60 Clearly those involved in Project Democracy were not yet clear how covert and overt aspects of the new political intervention would be portioned out.

The NED functions through a complex system of intermediaries in which operative aspects, control relationships, and funding trails are nearly impossible to follow and final recipients are difficult to identify. Most monies originating from the NED are first channeled through US organizations which, in turn, pass them on to foreign counterparts, who are themselves often pass-throughs for final recipients. Dozens of US organizations have acted as conduits for NED funds. Financial accounting becomes nearly impossible, facilitating all sorts of secret funding, laundering operations, and book-keeping cover-ups which allow for unscrutinized transactions. Through the multi-tiered structure of go-betweens, it is difficult to establish the links between US government operations on the one hand, and seemingly independent political activities in other countries on the other. In this Alice's Wonderland of political intervention, things are not what they seem, at first blush, to be.

The first tier in this system of intermediaries consists of what are known as the NED core groups. These groups handle the bulk of appropriated NED funds and programs. They are: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and its counterpart, the National Republican Institute for International Affairs (NRI, whose name was later changed to International Republican Institute, or IRI), which are the "international wings" of the Democratic and Republican parties; the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a branch of the US Chamber of Commerce; and the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI), an international branch of the AFL-CIO (the AFL-CIO also operates abroad through three regional organizations, the AALC, for Africa, the AAFLI, for Asia, and the AIFLD, for Latin America). These core groups carry out programs in target countries with those sectors considered strategic pillars of society: labor (FTUI), business (CIPE) and the political parties and organizations (NDI and NRI). A host of other US "private" organizations enmeshed with foreign policy, such as Freedom House, the Council on the Americas, the Center for Democracy, and US universities, foundations, think-tanks, and even the YMCA, handle programs for "civic" sectors. In this structure, the US state foments direct linkages between the organs of US civil society and their counterparts in other countries.

Another characteristic of the NED is its fusion of the public and the private domains in its operations. In "democracy promotion" operations, "congressional testimony, agency budgets, speeches for department heads, planning and programming have been routinely farmed out to private firms rather than done internally by the responsible bureau," candidly explained one Project Democracy counselor. "In some cases, these 'private' agencies are really just fronts for the departments they serve; the agency may prepare a report or a research project that it then gives to the private firm to attach its letterhead to, as if it were really a private activity or initiative."61 The lines of funding in leadership which originate at the highest levels of the formal state apparatus and filter down through public and "private" networks ostensibly unconnected to the government obscures the linkage between many on-the-ground activities in intervened countries and the US state. Although they are projected as non-governmental organizations (NGOs -- or in official AID terminology, private voluntary organizations, or PVOs), the "private" groups which actually manage many "democracy promotion" programs in intervened countries form part of an extended US state apparatus. Obscuring this linkage means that the governmental identity of these groups and the function of their activities in the service of US foreign policy are almost universally unrecognized by US and foreign publics, and may even be unrecognized by other branches of the state apparatus (e.g., members of the US Congress), by many of their own employees, and by governments and publics in intervened countries. (However, the leadership of these quasi-private groups, top-level policymakers and field operatives, quite fully recognize their status as instruments of US foreign policy.) This blurring of "public" and "private" in US foreign policy was exposed in the 1980s during investigations into the Iran-Contra dealings. However, this was mistakenly seen as an aberration limited to that scandal. It is actually a structural feature of foreign policy in the current era. In this process, the US state oversees and guides the application of the overall resources of society to foreign policy objectives. This means tapping the technological, intellectual and organizational expertise of those not formally in the government in which diverse interests are merged and the distinction between state activity and private activity disappears. For instance, US intervention in the Nicaraguan elections involved the coordinated actions of the White House, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Department of State, the Pentagon, the USIA, the AID, Congress, the Democratic and Republican parties, the AFL-CIO, the US Chamber of Commerce, and dozens of "private groups," ranging from Freedom House and the Cuban American National Foundation, to the National Association of Broadcasters and sectors of the US Catholic Bishops Conference (see chapter 5). In theoretical terms, this should be seen as a feature of transnationalization. The US state acts to combine and fuse the actions and resources of elites operating in synchronization in civil and political society, and then project them into a transnational setting, through which cross-national politics are conducted and efforts are undertaken to construct hegemony.

A striking feature of the NED structure is the system of interlocking directorates. The boards of the "core groups" and the host of other "private" groups in US civil society that participate in "democracy promotion" programs, such as Freedom House, the Council on the Americas, and so on, heavily overlap with government and "private" organization officials who promoted Project Democracy and who sit on the NED board itself.62 In turn, this is an exact mirror of the institutional structure of power in the United States, in which the top leadership of the corporate world, government, and civic groups is thoroughly interlocking -- what Dye has analyzed as the "oligarchic model" of power and national policy-making. This oligarchic model has its flip side in the intervened country, where the United States promotes a string of civic, political, labor, and media organizations whose leadership is remarkably interlocking. Through US intervention programs, this leadership is brought together, trained and groomed by the United States in the art of polyarchic political processes, the ideological and other dimensions of consensual domination, and is expected to cohere into a society-wide elite exercising effective institutional power. This elite becomes responsive to the concerns of their US mentors and to the transnational agenda. The goal is to construct a functioning oligarchic model of power and a polyarchic system which links local elites to the transnational elite.

This interlocked core group of political warfare specialists strategizes on and actually conducts these "democracy promotion" projects as agents of the US elite, but does not constitute a unified group in terms of domestic US politics or affiliation. They do not represent any specific sector or ideological strain in mainstream US politics, and include right-wing Republicans and moderate Republicans, liberal Democrats and conservative Democrats and even social democrats, representatives of labor and representatives of business, and so forth. The new political intervention is less a creature of the right-wing Republican presidencies of the 1980s which actually oversaw the shift in policy than of dominant groups in the United States as a whole, and underscores the importance of Project Democracy for the restoration, beyond the specific program of anyone administration, of bipartisanship in foreign policy which had collapsed in the aftermath of the Vietnam and Iran debacles. Behind its mere restoration, those who developed the new political intervention sought the reconstitution of consensus among the major sectors of US society (political parties, government, labor, and business). "One byproduct" of the creation of the NED "may well be the restoration of bipartisanship to its central place in the American foreign-policy-making process," noted the principal Project Democracy report. "Not since the post-World War II consensus broke down during the debates over American involvement in Vietnam has this missing ingredient -- bipartisanship -- been present."63 This bipartisanship represented a consensus among the US elite on the political aspect of the transnational agenda (promotion of polyarchy), reflecting the hegemony that the transnationalized fraction had won.
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Re: How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Re

Postby admin » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:39 am

Trojan Horses and Color Revolutions: The Role of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
by William Blum
10 Aug 2017
Copyright © William Blum, 2017



This article is a chapter from Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum published in 2005. William Blum is an author, historian, and U.S. foreign policy critic. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others. The original source of this article is William Blum

How many Americans could identify the National Endowment for Democracy? An organization which often does exactly the opposite of what its name implies. The NED was set up in the early 1980s under President Reagan in the wake of all the negative revelations about the CIA in the second half of the 1970s. The latter was a remarkable period. Spurred by Watergate – the Church committee of the Senate, the Pike committee of the House, and the Rockefeller Commission, created by the president, were all busy investigating the CIA. Seemingly every other day there was a new headline about the discovery of some awful thing, even criminal conduct, the CIA had been mixed up in for years. The Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name, and it was causing the powers-that-be much embarrassment.

Something had to be done. What was done was not to stop doing these awful things. Of course not. What was done was to shift many of these awful things to a new organization, with a nice sounding name – The National Endowment for Democracy. The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.

It was a masterpiece. Of politics, of public relations, and of cynicism.

Thus it was that in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy was set up to “support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, nongovernmental efforts”. Notice the “nongovernmental” – part of the image, part of the myth. In actuality, virtually every penny of its funding comes from the federal government, as is clearly indicated in the financial statement in each issue of its annual report. NED likes to refer to itself as an NGO (Non-governmental organization) because this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. But NGO is the wrong category. NED is a GO.

“We should not have to do this kind of work covertly,” said Carl Gershman in 1986, while he was president of the Endowment. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the C.I.A. We saw that in the 60’s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.”

And Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

In effect, the CIA has been laundering money through NED.

The Endowment has four principal initial recipients of funds: the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; an affiliate of the AFL-CIO (such as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity); and an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce (such as the Center for International Private Enterprise). These institutions then disburse funds to other institutions in the US and all over the world, which then often disburse funds to yet other organizations.

In a multitude of ways, NED meddles in the internal affairs of numerous foreign countries by supplying funds, technical know-how, 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. NED typically refers to the media it supports as “independent” despite the fact that these media are on the US payroll.

NED programs generally impart the basic philosophy 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 in their economy are emphasized.

From 1994 to 1996, NED awarded 15 grants, totaling more than $2,500,000, to the American Institute for Free Labor Development, an organization used by the CIA for decades to subvert progressive labor unions. AIFLD’s work within Third World unions typically involved a considerable educational effort very similar to the basic NED philosophy described above. The description of one of the 1996 NED grants to AIFLD includes as one its objectives: “build union-management cooperation”. Like many things that NED says, this sounds innocuous, if not positive, but these in fact are ideological code words meaning “keep the labor agitation down … don’t rock the status-quo boat”. The relationship between NED and AIFLD very well captures the CIA origins of the Endowment.

NED has funded centrist and rightist labor organizations to help them oppose those unions which were too militantly pro-worker. This has taken place in France, Portugal and Spain amongst many other places. In France, during the 1983-4 period, NED supported a “trade union-like organization for professors and students” to counter “left-wing organizations of professors”. To this end it funded a series of seminars and the publication of posters, books and pamphlets such as “Subversion and the Theology of Revolution” and “Neutralism or Liberty”. (“Neutralism” here refers to being unaligned in the cold war.)

NED describes one of its 1997-98 programs thusly: “To identify barriers to private sector development at the local and federal levels in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and to push for legislative change … [and] to develop strategies for private sector growth.” Critics of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, a socialist, were supported by NED grants for years.

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.

Interference in elections

NED’s Statement of Principles and Objectives, adopted in 1984, asserts that “No Endowment funds may be used to finance the campaigns of candidates for public office.” But the ways to circumvent the spirit of such a prohibition are not difficult to come up with; as with American elections, there’s “hard money” and there’s “soft money”.

As described in the “Elections” and “Interventions” chapters, NED successfully manipulated elections in Nicaragua in 1990 and Mongolia in 1996; helped to overthrow democratically elected governments in Bulgaria in 1990 and Albania in 1991 and 1992; and worked to defeat the candidate for prime minister of Slovakia in 2002 who was out of favor in Washington. And from 1999 to 2004, NED heavily funded members of the opposition to President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to subvert his rule and to support a referendum to unseat him.

Additionally, in the 1990s and afterward, NED supported a coalition of groups in Haiti known as the Democratic Convergence, who were united in their opposition to Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his progressive ideology, while he was in and out of the office of the president.

The Endowment has made its weight felt in the electoral-political process in numerous other countries.

NED would have the world believe that it’s only teaching the ABCs of democracy and elections to people who don’t know them, but in virtually all the countries named above, in whose electoral process NED intervened, there had already been free and fair elections held. The problem, from NED’s point of view, is that the elections had been won by political parties not on NED’s favorites list.

The Endowment maintains that it’s engaged in “opposition building” and “encouraging pluralism”. “We support people who otherwise do not have a voice in their political system,” said Louisa Coan, a NED program officer. But NED hasn’t provided aid to foster progressive or leftist opposition in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, or Eastern Europe – or, for that matter, in the United States – even though these groups are hard pressed for funds and to make themselves heard. Cuban dissident groups and media are heavily supported however.

NED’s reports carry on endlessly about “democracy”, but at best it’s a modest measure of mechanical political democracy they have in mind, not economic democracy; nothing that aims to threaten the powers-that-be or the way-things-are, unless of course it’s in a place like Cuba.

The Endowment played an important role in the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s, funding key components of Oliver North’s shadowy “Project Democracy” network, which privatized US foreign policy, waged war, ran arms and drugs, and engaged in other equally charming activities. At one point in 1987, a White House spokesman stated that those at NED “run Project Democracy”. This was an exaggeration; it would have been more correct to say that NED was the public arm of Project Democracy, while North ran the covert end of things. In any event, the statement caused much less of a stir than if – as in an earlier period – it had been revealed that it was the CIA which was behind such an unscrupulous operation.

NED also mounted a multi-level campaign to fight the leftist insurgency in the Philippines in the mid-1980s, funding a host of private organizations, including unions and the media. This was a replica of a typical CIA operation of pre-NED days.

And between 1990 and 1992, the Endowment donated a quarter-million dollars of taxpayers’ money to the Cuban-American National Foundation, the ultra-fanatic anti-Castro Miami group. The CANF, in turn, financed Luis Posada Carriles, one of the most prolific and pitiless terrorists of modern times, who had been involved in the blowing up of a Cuban airplane in 1976, which killed 73 people. In 1997, he was involved in a series of bomb explosions in Havana hotels, and in 2000 imprisoned in Panama when he was part of a group planning to assassinate Fidel Castro with explosives while the Cuban leader was speaking before a large crowd, although eventually, the group was tried on lesser charges.

The NED, like the CIA before it, calls what it does supporting democracy. The governments and movements whom the NED targets call it destabilization.



1. The New York Times, June 1, 1986
2. Washington Post, September 22, 1991
3. NED Annual Reports, 1994-96
4. NED Annual Report, 1996, p.39
5. For further information on AIFLD, see: Tom Barry, et al., The Other Side of Paradise: Foreign Control in the Caribbean (Grove Press, NY, 1984), see AIFLD in index; Jan Knippers Black,United States Penetration of Brazil (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1977), chapter 6; Fred Hirsch, An Analysis of Our AFL-CIO Role in Latin America (monograph, San Jose, California, 1974) passim; The Sunday Times (London), October 27, 1974, p.15-16
6. NED Annual Report, November 18, 1983 to September 30, 1984, p.21
7. NED Annual Report, 1998, p.35
8. See NED annual reports of the 1990s.
9. Council on Hemispheric Affairs (Washington, DC), press release, June 13, 2002; Washington Post, November 18, 2003; NED Annual Report, 1998, p.53; Haiti Progres (Port-au-Prince, Haiti), May 13-19, 1998
10. New York Times, March 31, 1997, p.11
11. Washington Post, February 16, 1987; also see New York Times, February 15, 1987, p.1
12. San Francisco Examiner, July 21, 1985, p.1
13. New York Times, July 13, 1998
14. For a detailed discussion of NED, in addition to the sources named above, see: William I. Robinson, A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era (Westview Press, Colorado, 1992), passim
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