Home > Democracy Promotion, Iran, Israel, US Foreign Policy, Zionism > Exposing Democracy Promotion in the Middle East (Transcript, English)

Exposing Democracy Promotion in the Middle East (Transcript, English)

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Maidhc Ó Cathail
the tumultuous events
in the Middle East, 2011


Edited by

Are these uprisings
in the Middle East
spontaneous events?

I was watching Al Jazeera and cheering on the crowds in Tahrir Square, like most people around the world. There were a couple of things that pointed me in the right direction.

One was an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on February 3 by none other than George Soros. It was entitled “Why Obama has to get Egypt right.”

In that op-ed, Soros was urging Obama, whom he had helped get elected, to support the protestors. He said that his foundations would contribute what they could.

However, anyone who knows what happened in Eastern Europe, with the fall of communism and the subsequent “colour revolutions,” know the key role of George Soros, his Open Society Institute, and his collaboration with U.S. government agencies such as USAID; and near-governmental organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy, and its affiliates, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

They know that when Soros is talking about democracy, he’s really talking about opening up those countries to his investment opportunities.

So, that was was the first thing that made me suspicious. I wrote a piece on that entitled “ElBaradei: Soros’s Man in Cairo.” In his op-ed, Soros said it was a “hopeful sign” that the Muslim Brotherhood was cooperating with ElBaradei, the former IAEA chief. Soros neglected to mention, however, that ElBaradei was a board member of the International Crisis Group, which was founded and financed by Soros. Of course, he gave up his board membership on his return to Egypt.

The second thing that really confirmed my suspicions was when I was looking at Mondoweiss, which is another very good blog that’s critical of Israel, focuses a lot on Palestine, and the Israel lobby’s influence in America.

But Mondoweiss, like most critics of Israel, is gung-ho in their support for the Arab protestors. But I noticed a blog entry referring to an Al Jazeera programme. It was called “Egypt: Seeds of Change,” in its People & Power series.

So I had a look at this programme, which was aired on February 9. It was amazing; they said this is not a spontaneous revolution. And they interviewed the leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement, who were shown organizing and directing the protests from the very start.

And what was even more amazing, they interviewed a Serb called Srdja Popovic. Srdja Popovic was one of the leaders of the Otpor youth movement that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

The fist is also prominently displayed on the Facebook page of the April 6th Youth Movement. Here people can find out about the Egyptian group and its activities, via blogs, links and over Twitter.

Visitors are greeted with a song “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great). But religion isn’t the focus here. The fist symbol is an import, and Ivan Marovic is the man who has been exporting it. He is happy about his role in the Egyptian revolution. Marovic is a Serb who lives in Belgrade; years ago he traveled to Egypt for the first time, and stays in contact with people there over Facebook.

Information is the key, and that’s what makes the internet so important. Today Otpor is called CANVAS, but the people behind it are the same. With the help of the internet, they train revolutionaries around the globe; their methods are studied the world over.

It’s an open secret that the U.S. and Europe helped finance Otpor’s fight against Milosevic. Its successor organization, CANVAS, has no trouble finding takers for its services.

It’s like a company. They would always say, “No, we are driven by an idea,” but it’s a very good business now. It’s a business for them. They run “Otpor Enterprise,” and “Otpor Enterprise” is going around selling their services.

But maybe it’s money well spent; after all, the wars against Milosevic cost the West billions.

Of course, the Otpor movement was funded and trained by the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and [trained] by an interesting character called Colonel Robert Helvey.

Helvey had been a defense attaché at the U.S. embassy in Burma. And he’s a close associate of a Harvard academic called Gene Sharp. Sharp is referred to as “the Clausewitz of Nonviolent Warfare.”

There was an article I later came across in the New York Times entitled “Shy US Intellectual Created Playbook Used in Revolution.”
It talks about Gene Sharp, whose book From Dictatorship to Democracy, is a guide to toppling autocrats. It’s available for download in 24 languages. This [book] has been used to inspire the dissidents in Serbia, and later on in Eastern Europe.

Actually, Popovic created a group in 2003 called CANVAS, the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies. This group then taught workshops in Georgia, which led to the “Rose Revolution” in 2003; they were involved with a group called Pora in the Ukraine which led the “Orange Revolution” in 2004, and so on.

CANVAS is very closely connected to a guy called Peter Ackerman.
Ackerman studied under Gene Sharp before moving to Wall Street.

On Wall Street, he worked for Drexel Burnham Lambert, the infamous investment banking firm that went bankrupt in 1990 after the junk bond scandal. Ackerman was an aide to Michael Milken, the “junk bond king.” Ackerman made about $500 million.

But unlike Milken, who went to jail for 10 years, four months before the collapse of Drexel, Ackerman, as Businessweek put it, “beat a fortuitously timed retreat” to an institute in London, where he made “an improbable transformation” from junk bond promoter to nonviolent democracy promoter.

Ackerman was funding Gene Sharp’s work, through the Albert Einstein Institution, while he was on Wall Street, and later on, he set up his own group called the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

Ackerman also has been chairman of Freedom House between 2005 and 2009.

If you look at Freedom House’s board of trustees, you see names like Thomas Dine, head of AIPAC in the 1980s; Max Kampelman, chairman emeritus of Freedom House, one of the ex-Trotskyite followers of Max Shachtman who created the neoconservative movement; Kenneth Adelman, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in 2002 saying the invasion of Iraq would be a “cakewalk”; Paula Dobriansky, another one of the neoconservatives, who when she’s not in a neoconservative think tank is working for the State Department; and Joshua Muravchik, another one of the ex-Trotskyite neocons; and a very interesting character called Mark Palmer.

Mark Palmer is a former State Department official. He wrote a speech in 1982 that Ronald Reagan gave to the British Parliament about democracy promotion. This speech led to the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983.

Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best, a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation, for the sake of peace and justice.

Another important figure at the National Endowment for Democracy is Allen Weinstein. Weinstein famously said that “We do today what the CIA did 25 years ago.” In other words, the National Endowment for Democracy is carrying out regime change in a more overt way than the CIA did previously.

This is what U.S.-backed regime change used to look like back in the days; in a bid to ensure U.S. political and economic interests were safeguarded, a new concept for regime change was born. One that sounds and looks better: “democracy promotion.”

The concept of democracy promotion is simple: finance, train and politically back local opposition forces around the world that support Washington’s agenda.

So the U.S. set up these different mechanisms for penetrating the civil societies and the political systems of countries where they are going to intervene, to assure that the outcomes would be pleasing to Washington’s foreign policy objectives.

And like the CIA, USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and a slew of similar organizations receive funding from Congress.

What’s so suspicious
about these nice-sounding
freedom and democracy
promoting organizations?

You only have to look at some of these people and their connections.

For example, Mark Palmer wrote a book in 2003, entitled Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025. Again, it sounds great, but in the book’s acknowledgments, Palmer says, “Peter Ackerman and Max Kampelman encouraged me to think through a strategy and tactics to achieve a 100 percent democratic world.” Again, it sounds great, until you find out who the likes of Peter Ackerman and Max Kampelman are, and what they stand for.

For example, Ackerman attended the 2008 Herzliya Conference, which is Israel’s major annual national policy conference. And at that conference, Ackerman participated in a roundtable discussion entitled “The Challenge of Radical Islam.”

Around the table with him was Uzi Landau, who was Ariel Sharon’s Minister for Internal Security, and a current member of the Knesset for Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Other people there were Judith Miller, who published Ahmed Chalabi’s lies about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction”; and Steven Emerson, the so-called “terrorism expert,” who has played a major role in creating the Islamophobia that’s gripping America.

And as I said before, Kampelman is one of the ex-Trotskyites who created the neoconservative movement that has led to all these wars for Israel in the Middle East.

Palmer has created his own group called the Council for a Community of Democracies. And they’re supported by such wonderfully-sounding groups like Freedom House, the Open Society Institute, and the ubiquitous National Endowment for Democracy.

Their senior advisors are Peter Ackerman and Max Kampelman, and another major player in democracy promotion, Frank Carlucci.
Frank Carlucci is a former Deputy Director of the CIA. He is also very much involved in the Carlyle Group.

And this leads to another one of those democracy promoters. There is a guy called Jared Cohen [who has described Carlucci as “a wonderful mentor”].

Jared Cohen is now the director of Google Ideas, but before that, he was in the policy planning staff of the State Department. He was advising, first, Condoleezza Rice, and then, Hilary Clinton, on democratization.

And also, he was charged with counter-radicalization in the Middle East. And I think that’s a key point here, when we are talking about why these people are promoting so-called democracy in the Middle East.

How come
dissidents and activists
aren’t aware of all this?

That’s a really good question, and I haven’t been able to figure that one out myself. It really amazes me. For example, I was just talking about the Council for a Community of Democracies, there is another group called CyberDissidents.org.

There was an article in the Washington Post the other day about the U.S. supporting opposition groups in Syria. It mentioned Tamara Wittes [Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs who coordinates democracy and human rights policy].

It also mentions a guy called Jim Prince. And Jim Prince is involved with the Democracy Council. Jim Prince is also an advisor to CyberDissidents.org.

That’s headed by a guy called David Keyes. David Keyes worked for Natan Sharansky. Sharansky was referred to as “Bush’s Brain” due to the influence his book, The Case for Democracy, had on George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda.”

The president went on that the book was part of his presidential DNA… “It’s what I think; it’s a part of all policy… It is part of my philosophy.”

It just amazes me that Arab dissidents don’t ask themselves, “Why would somebody like Natan Sharansky, who resigned from Ariel Sharon’s government in 2005 over Sharon’s disengagement plan from Gaza…[support them?]

If you believe in democracy that much, would you allow the fate of the settlers in Gaza to be decided by all the people of Gaza? Let them vote on whether the settlers should stay or go. You think they should stay.

This is Natan Sharansky who says the “new anti-Semitism” is political criticism of Israel. Why would somebody like that… [support Arab dissidents]? And another advisor to CyberDissidents.org was Bernard Lewis.

Bernard Lewis, considered the major intellectual influence behind the Iraq war, had many meetings with Dick Cheney before the invasion, and brought us the concept of a “Clash of Civilizations.”

He has a warning for America and the West.

The main message that I am trying to communicate is that we are engaged in a struggle comparable with the two great struggles of the 20th century against Nazism and against Bolshevism. And that it would improve our chances of winning if we understand who “we” are and who “they” are, and what it is all about.

Lewis says, the struggle is between Islam and Christendom.

And Lewis proposed, very significantly, in terms what we are talking about now, the “Lebanonization” of the Middle East. That’s the breakup of these Arab states.

But why would Natan Sharansky and Bernard Lewis be so concerned with promoting the human rights and freedom of dissidents in Arab countries and Iran? It amazes me that the dissidents themselves, or the journalists in the Middle East, and their supporters in the West aren’t looking at what’s behind this.

It doesn’t take that much research. All you need to do is go to any of these organizations and look up their advisors or trustees, donors, and so on.

I would say, as somebody said to me the other day, that it’s “analysis by desire.” A lot of people want to believe that this is real democracy and freedom. They would rather not listen to any dissenting voices like yours and mine.

But if only they looked at what has happened in the aftermath of the “democracy” revolutions in Eastern Europe, the future doesn’t look very bright.

Is the agenda
to subvert
the culture and religion
of the Middle East?

I think that the profit motive is probably one of the most significant factors. I mentioned previously this guy, Mark Palmer.

Mark Palmer was U.S. ambassador to Hungary in the late 1980s, leading up to the fall of communism. After the fall of communism, Mark Palmer in association with Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, who was involved in the privatization of the World Trade Center pre-911, and a supporter of the Anti-Defamation League…

Actually, it was almost like an Austro-Hungarian media empire. Palmer was U.S. ambassador to Hungary while Lauder was U.S. ambassador to Austria leading up to the fall of communism. And in the aftermath, they went into the media business, setting up commercial TV and radio stations throughout Eastern Europe.

And I think it’s very interesting that Palmer is chairman of SignalOne Media. An organization that is creating independent commercial [youth-targeted] television stations in emerging markets, initially in the Middle East.

And, of course, the profit motive there relates back to what you said about the cultural agenda, because Palmer and Lauder’s media in Eastern Europe have come under a lot of criticism for the content of their programmes.

Is religion
standing in the way of
Israeli hegemony
in the region?

Yes, I think you’re probably right there. Islam, especially what they would consider “radical Islam,” is a major obstacle to Israeli hegemony in the region.

You see that in the speeches of these so-called democracy promoters. They often refer to, what they would refer to as “anti-Semitic attitudes” in the Middle East.

For example, Larry Diamond, the founding co-editor of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy, gave a very interesting speech at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2008.

He was criticizing the Bush administration for having walked away from its “freedom agenda” after the relative electoral success of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

He was calling for a gradual democratization that would allow time for a “third alternative” to emerge to, what he called, the “bifurcated playing field” of Islamists versus autocrats.

And what they are looking for is a so-called “moderate” liberal Islamic democracy that will be friendly to Israel, even beholden to Israel, after all the help they got to achieve democracy from the likes of Carl Gershman, Larry Diamond, Jared Cohen, Peter Ackerman, Max Kampelman, Natan Sharansky, and so on.

You see that also in Carl Gershman, the longtime president of the National Endowment for Democracy. Previously, he worked in the research department of the Anti-Defamation League.

As we know, “research” is often a euphemism for spying on the enemies of Israel. He spoke at the Anti-Defamation League’s 2004 Rome conference on “Anti-Semitism – A Threat To Democracy”… [laughter]

Well, I think it is a threat to democracy in the way they understand “democracy,” which is basically, I suppose, their oligarchy. He made an interesting comment there. He said that:

“Whatever their differences,
the Baathists and Islamists share
a visceral hatred of liberal values
that finds its most potent expression
in the vilification of Israel
and the Jewish people.”

Carl Gershman

I think you can see there the pro-Israel motivation behind the promotion of “democratic reform” in the Middle East. It is, as Natan Sharansky puts it, a way to counter the “new anti-Semitism,” which is political criticism of Israel.

What do you think
is going to happen next
in these Arab countries?

I imagine that those dictators are going to fall, maybe some of them will hold on, but I imagine most of them will fall, and there will be some sort of democratic regime in place.

And I think that within a few years the Arab protesters will feel the same disillusionment that the protesters in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere felt, when they had their health and education cut, and their fuel and food subsidies cut…

I think it’s ironic that at the time when Egyptians were massing in Tahrir Square, there were 70,000 Serbs marching in Belgrade, protesting unemployment and poverty – in protest over the policies that had been introduced after the democratic reform.

Nineteen percent of Serbia’s working population are jobless, those in work earn an average net wage of 390 euros a month. This protester said he lived with great difficulty, and could barely survive after losing his job.

This woman said having fewer corrupt politicians would improve the social situation in Serbia, and would result in lower unemployment and less crime.

I think we’re going to see the same disillusionment in Middle Eastern countries.

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