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National Endowment for Empire
Democracy Promotion Means Regime Change
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“Democracy” may be the most loosely defined word in the English language today. Gone are the Hitler and Stalin-like revilers of democracy. Now it’s just about everybody’s favorite form of government, though there are markedly differing views on what exactly it is. The Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy provides one example. Founded in 1983 to enhance US foreign policy by teaching aspects of democracy abroad, it now spends 100 million dollars a year of American taxpayers’ money on projects that are not always appreciated by recipients who complain that they are not so much democratic as interventionist. They may seek a regime change that is not desired by the people who are supposed to benefit.

Take Ukraine, where the NED financed no less than sixty-five projects to arouse opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych, who had offended by seeming to draw away from the European Union and move closer to Russia. But wait! He had been elected to the presidency in an election considered free and fair in 2010. Was NED violating its own principles by encouraging a regime change correctly called a coup? Hardly the first time, say critics. It’s been an NED habit over the years. Politics come first, democracy a distant second.

NED occupies an envious position. Though government funded, it operates with little in the way of oversight. Amid the many voices projecting US foreign policy – the White House, State Department, Defense Department, Congress – it can be heard above others because it speaks forcefully with ideological assurance. It is indeed the voice of the neo-conservatives who recommend US military intervention wherever it can be employed with special attention to the needs of Israel. Explains Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and chairman of the National Democratic Institute, an offshoot of NED: “We stand tall, and thus see further than other nations. We are the indispensable nation.” Is a name change in order perhaps? The National Endowment for Empire.

So the neocons of NED decided that Ukraine must be an adjunct of empire. In this they have been ably assisted by their counterparts in the State Department, especially Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and wife of neocon guru Robert Kagan, who still defends the 2003 neocon-inspired war against Iraq which laid waste that country. In fact, NED has provided refuge for neocons discredited by their instigation of the war. Writes investigative reporter Robert Parry: “That steady flow of NED funding gave the neocon movement the staying power that other foreign policy viewpoints lacked.” Bureaucracy to the rescue.

Nuland was close enough to the anti-government protesters in Ukraine to hand out cookies to them on the street, democratically distributed no doubt. Once they violently achieved power, she carefully appraised appointments. When the European Union had some different thoughts on the matter, she expostulated on the phone to the cooperative US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt: “Fuck the EU.” These may well be the most memorable words to emerge from the Ukraine imbroglio, eclipsing even “democracy.”

Proud of its engagement with Ukraine, although complicated by the intense Russian reaction, the National Democratic Institute led a 38-member delegation to Ukraine to celebrate new elections on May 25. Heading the group was empire-minded Madeleine Albright, who hadn’t exactly burnished her democratic credentials when she was asked on CBS-TV if the US sanctions on Iraq were worth it since they had led to the deaths of half a million children. Yes, she replied. ” We think the price is worth it.” Empire first, children second.

People abroad understandably confuse NED policies with those of the US Government, but they aren’t necessarily the same. Neocons, to be sure, have considerable influence in the Obama White House, but it may not be decisive. Their ultimate target is Putin with Ukraine a crucial step toward that goal. NED is now spending eight million dollars a year to educate Russians in democracy with half a million allotted to “increase political competition in Russia.” NED President Carl Gershman wrote in the Washington Post: “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” NED’s very personal agenda. On all accounts, get Putin. The possible consequences for Russia, the world? Incidental to true ideologues.

Not as acquiescent to the neocons as some Americans, Putin showed no appetite for demise and responded to the Ukrainian coup by swiftly annexing Crimea. An outraged Zalmay Khalilzad, a member of the NED governing board, demanded more democratic action: “The United States should impose further sanctions against Russian officials, increase support to regional allies (including the restoration of American missile defense commitments and the movement of NATO forces into Eastern Europe), provide military assistance to the Ukrainian government and arm forces to resist a Russian occupation of Eastern Ukraine.” NED for World War Three.

Trouble is the White House may have something else in mind. President Obama continues to conflict with Putin over Ukraine, but the Russian’s help is needed in other parts of the world. Like it or not, Russia remains a substantial power not to be ignored. Professing his liking for Obama, Putin helped save him from a disastrous war in Syria by persuading President Hafez al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons, thereby infuriating the neocons bent on war. Putin has sent military aid to Iraq and Syria, joining the US effort to combat the extremist Islamic State that is threatening the region. Russian advisers are returning peacefully to Afghanistan to contribute to a postwar settlement. Russians as peaceniks under the pugnacious Putin? What a blow to combat-ready NED.

Pressed by the neocons within and without the White House – Hillary Clinton is one – Obama, an indecisive leader at best, has failed to make a case for reaching an understanding with Russia and for devising a general strategy useful to the US, if not to the unelected NED. It’s significant that the American people flooded Congress with objections to going to war with Syria when the President was on the verge of it. This expression of democracy should better serve US foreign policy than the clearly undemocratic NED. Its elimination, in fact, would not be a loss but a boon to America’s relations with the world.

Veteran journalist Ed Warner who has been reporting for more than 55 years. Ed wrote for Time Magazine from 1958-1982 and wrote, edited and reported for the Voice of America from 1983-2005. He continues to freelance today and his articles have appeared in The American Conservative and on and other news websites.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Neocons, Victoria Nuland 
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  1. geokat62 says:

    “…Madeleine Albright, who hadn’t exactly burnished her democratic credentials when she was asked on CBS-TV if the US sanctions on Iraq were worth it since they had led to the deaths of half a million children. Yes, she replied. ” We think the price is worth it.” Empire first, children second.”

    Why not call a spade a spade and write: Israel first, children second?

    Madeleine Albright (whose real name is Marie Jana Korbel), Victoria Nuland (whose real surname is Nudelman), Carl Gershman (who once worked for B’nai B’rith), et al are all Israel Firsters. Until the American people come to understand that their government has been infiltrated by a fifth column, things will become progressively worse before they get any better!

    On another note, I couldn’t agree more with the subtitle of this article: Democracy Promotion Means Regime Change. It’s very important to remember the source of the Bush Doctrine. It was a book (The Case for Democracy) by Natan Sharansky who was a refusnik and former Interior Minister of Israel. Rather than having a genuine desire to liberate the peoples of the ME, Sharansky devised a scheme that would destabilize Israel’s remaining enemies. These countries were targeted because they were supporting the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli oppression. The common trait among these countries was that they were led by autocrats – Hussein in Iraq, Assad in Syria, Gaddafi in Libya – or autocratic regimes – the theocracy in Iran. Since these regimes proved difficult to subvert from without, Sharansky’s brilliant idea was to topple them from within. And toppling from within would not require much effort thanks to how most of these countries were artificially constructed on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was based on the principle of “Divide and Rule.” So Shia, Sunni, and Kurd were placed within a common border. Good luck trying to establish a functioning democracy under these circumstances. So next time someone talks about the virtue of “spreading democracy,” remember this is really code words for spreading instability and ultimately, bringing about regime change.

  2. John says:

    What our forefathers feared the most was a tyranny of the majority – but alas what befalls us is a tyranny of a small minority.

    Our forefathers wisely split up the powers of government – they instituted a free press – they gave us freedom of speech and freedom of assembly – and coinage was to be a function of the state, not private banks.

    Through unjustified wars, national spying, and unthinkable debt, all of these fine things are being robbed from us – they exist in name only. We have been manipulated – we have abandon our freedoms and cower in fear.

    Sad – shame – shame!

    To reclaim our patrimony – all we have to do is speak up about this small minority.

  3. rod1963 says:

    Nice expose on the NDI.

    They were neck deep in promoting Chalabi in Iraq along with the IRI(International Republican Institute).

    NDI, IRI(Chaired by Sen. McCain) and Freedom House were instrumental in meddling in the affairs of Egypt and angering their government to the point of jailing it’s employees.

    Where ever they go trouble will soon follow.

    Here’s a additional article on these little demons.

  4. Ben_C says:

    “Democracy” may be the most loosely defined word in the English language today. Gone are the Hitler and Stalin-like revilers of democracy.

    I don’t want to get too much into it, but many forget that Adolph Hitler came to power via “democracy”…as he was ‘elected’ “Chancellor” of Germany via a “democratic” process.. Hitler was the product of “democratizing” Germany via WWI. Can anyone reasonably argue Kaiser Wilhelm II was worse than Adolph Hitler, or that the “democratically elected” Adolph Hitler was an “improvement”?

    As another interesting ‘question’: was Czar Nicholas II worse than Stalin who came to power via a ‘people’s revolution’, or was Stalin an improvement to the Czar’s rule???

    But all that aside…

    Is China, home of 1 out of 5 people on the entire planet Earth and the 2nd largest economy in the world, a so-called “democracy”? If so, then I guess ‘anything goes’…right???

    Needless to say, the US cannot afford a ‘war’ with China…either via ‘boots on the ground’ or economically, or otherwise…

    The so-called “democracy” worship needs to stop…in all its forms…

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Our mean problem are Jews center a clear speaking “Zoinist” so first kick them out of our holy earth and yes we can…start in your street by all means…I hate this ugly and evil stanic people..Look in Sweden we have such a Bonnier family whom control the poor people of Swedin by thait media and cheap news paper like Expreesen and DN..give them the real boom…

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