NGOs, The Missionaries of Empire

NGOs: Missionaries of Empire
by Devon Douglas-Bowers – 10 Mar.12 – FPJ

Non-governmental organizations are an increasingly important part of the 21st century international landscape performing a variety of humanitarian tasks pertaining inter alia to issues of poverty, the environment and civil liberties. However, there is a dark side to NGOs. They have been and are currently being used as tools of foreign policy, specifically with the United States. Instead of using purely military force, the US has now moved to using NGOs as tools in its foreign policy implementation, specifically the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and Amnesty International.

National Endowment for Democracy

According to its website, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is “a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world,”[1] however this is sweet-sounding description is actually quite far from the truth.

The history of the NED begins immediately after the Reagan administration. Due to the massive revelations concerning the CIA in the 1970s, specifically that they were involved in attempted assassinations of heads of state, the destabilization of foreign governments, and were illegally spying on the US citizens, this tarnished the image of the CIA and of the US government as a whole. While there were many committees that were created during this time to investigate the CIA, the Church Committee (led by Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho) was of critical importance as its findings “demonstrated the need for perpetual surveillance of the intelligence community and resulted in the creation of the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.”[2] The Select Committee on Intelligence’s purpose was to oversee federal intelligence activities and while oversight and stability came in, it seemed to signal that the CIA’s ‘party’ of assassination plots and coups were over. Yet, this was to continue, but in a new way: under the guise of a harmful NGO whose purpose was to promote democracy around the world—the National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED was meant to be a tool of US foreign policy from its outset. It was the brainchild of Allen Weinstein who, before creating the Endowment, was a professor at Brown and Georgetown Universities, had served on the Washington Post’s editorial staff, and was the Executive Editor of The Washington Quarterly, Georgetown’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, a right-wing neoconservative think tank which would in the future have ties to imperial strategists such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski.[3] He stated in a 1991 interview that “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”[4]

The first director of the Endowment, Carl Gershman, outright admitted that the Endowment was a front for the CIA. In 1986 he stated:

We should not have to do this kind of work covertly. It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, 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.[5] (emphasis added)

It can be further observed that the Endowment is a tool of the US government, as ever since its founding in 1983, it “has received an annual appropriation approved by the United States Congress as part of the United States Information Agency budget.”[6]

No sooner than the Endowment was founded did it begin funding groups that would support US interests. From 1983 to 1984, the Endowment was active in France and “supported a ‘trade union-like organization that for professors and students’ to counter ‘left-wing organizations of professors,’”[7] through the funding of seminars, posters, books, and pamphlets that encouraged opposition to leftist thought. In the mid and late 1990s, the NED continued its fight against organized labor by giving in excess of $2.5 million to the American Institute of Free Labor Development which was a CIA front used to undermine progressive labor unions.

Later on, the Endowment became involved in interfering with elections in Venezuela and Haiti in order to undermine leftwing movements there. The NED is and continues to be a source of instability in nations across the globe that don’t kneel before US imperial might. Yet the Endowment funds another pseudo-NGO: Freedom House. …more

Palestinians Set to Seek Redress in a World Court

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Palestinians Set to Seek Redress in a World Court
By JODI RUDOREN – 31 Dec.14 – NYT

JERUSALEM — President Mahmoud Abbas moved on Wednesday to have the Palestinian Authority join the International Criminal Court, opening a new front in the Middle East conflict that could lead to war-crimes prosecutions of Israeli officials and that risks severe sanctions from Washington and Jerusalem.

The step is part of a strategic shift by the Palestinian leadership to pursue statehood in the international arena after decades of failed American-brokered negotiations with Israel. It came a day after the defeat of a United Nations Security Council resolution that demanded an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory by 2017.

“There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down — where shall we go?” Mr. Abbas said at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah as he signed the Rome Statute, the founding charter of the court, and a number of other international conventions.

“We want to complain to this organization,” he said of the court. “As long as there is no peace, and the world doesn’t prioritize peace in this region, this region will live in constant conflict. The Palestinian cause is the key issue to be settled.”

An American State Department spokesman called the action “counterproductive,” arguing that it would only push the two sides further apart.

“It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people,” Jeff Rathke, the spokesman, said in a statement. “Actions like this are not the answer. Hard as it is, all sides need to find a way to work constructively and cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and find a path forward.”

Zapatismo

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The Zapatistas presented themselves to the world on January 1, 1994, though the roots of the rebellion can be traced back 500 years to the European invasion of the Americas. During those five centuries, indigenous communities lost control of historic lands and were often forced into various forms of slavery and/or virtual slavery. Many rebellions occurred during this period, making the Zapatista uprising part of a long history of struggle and resistance. By the late 20th century, indigenous communities in Chiapas lived on the most marginal and isolated lands in the state. High levels of poverty, and lack of health care and education plagued the communities. The Zapatista uprising was a direct result of these conditions.

The Zapatista movement finds its modern roots in the historical context of the last half of the 20th century. Mexico’s “dirty war” turned many young people away from establishment politics and toward open rebellion. This was particularly true of the Fuerzas de Liberacion Nacional (FLN) and several Maoist groups that sent cadre to work in indigenous communities in southern Mexico. Simultaneously, the Catholic church was involved in a social awakening inspired by the “preferential option for the poor” of the Vatican II conference. Indigenous deacons under the direction of Bishop Samuel Ruiz spread a gospel rooted in a combination of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs. But most of all, the rebellion came out of the indigenous communities themselves. Tired of generations of abuse, mired in a crisis that combined land shortages with lack of economic opportunities, and seeing no political resolution, indigenous communities organized the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN) in the mid 1980s. …more

Human rights defender Maryam Alkhawaja, jailed without access to lawyer

Bahrain: Human rights defender jailed without access to lawyer
By Milana Knezevic – 1 Sep. 2014 – Index on Censorship

Prominent human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja has been jailed in Bahrain. She was detained at Bahrain International Airport on Friday as she tried to enter the country, and has yet to meet with her lawyer.

Alkhawaja, a dual Danish-Bahraini citizen, had her Danish passport confiscated and was told she no longer held Bahraini citizenship. She was also barred from using her phone or contacting her family, according to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the organisation of which she is co-director. GCHR also reported that she was interrogated on charges of assaulting and injuring police officers, while lawyer Mohamed Al Jishi said he was not allowed to speak to his client before she was questioned. She is currently held in Isa Town women’s prison.

Alkhawaja was travelling to see her imprisoned father, who last week started a hunger strike. Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is a Bahraini human rights campaigner who co-founded the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), which won the 2012 Index Freedom of Expression Award for Advocacy. He was sentenced to life in prison on terrorism charges following pro-democracy protests that swept the country in 2011. Abdulhadi and his daughters Maryam and Zainab are outspoken critics of human rights violations in the constitutional monarchy, which is categorised as “not free” by Freedom House.

The case first gained attention after Alkhawaja tweeted about being detained on Friday, and an unnamed person close to the family continues to provide updates through her Twitter account. On Saturday, the account reported that she is also facing charges of insulting the king of Bahrain and over an anti-impunity campaign she was involved with in November 2013.

Human Rights Watch called the arrest “outrageous”, while GCHR has labelled the charges “fabricated” and has called on the international community to put pressure on Bahraini authorities to release father and daughter. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is sending a representative to Bahrain to provide support. Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard tweeted on Sunday that a “solution must be found in Al-Khawaja case” and that he has raised the issue with the European Union.

This comes as the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bahrain on Sunday upheld a 10-year sentence on photographer Ahmad Humaidan. He was convicted over an attack on a police station in 2012, but human rights groups believe the case against him is connected to his coverage of pro-democracy demonstrations. …source

Speak Up for Hussain Hubail, a photographer illegally detained and dying in Bahrain Jau Prison

Hussain Hubail, is struggling to get medical care and survive in Jaw Prison. If he gets a consultant’s appointment the prison refuses to provide transport. Hussain’s Appeal on 20th August against his 5 year sentence was postponed until 21st September.
If the US and UK Governments don’t want this young man to die in prison, they should use their influence to get him released on medical and humanitarian grounds.

Hussain’s crime, like all the photographers, is to take pictures of the attacks on unarmed demonstrators by the Bahraini police force, most of whom aren’t Bahrainis. They have documented the Khalifas’ attack on freedom of speech and assembly so the world knows what is going on. The Khalifas want them silenced, so they have detained and tortured them. This is dangerous work with three journalists killed and 25 sent to prison. 14 photographers are in prison today with sentences from 3- 10 years.

Professor Abhi Prasad at St Georges Hospital, Tooting has agreed to treat Hussain if we can get him released. What can you do to help? This is URGENT – Hussain has had no medicine since April 2014 when he left Dry Dock Detention Centre and was moved to Jaw Prison.

Please contact your Congressmen or MP and ask them to ask the al Khalifa regime to allow treatment.

US Militarizes Racism and Neoliberal Violence

The Militarization of Racism and Neoliberal Violence
18 Aug. 2014 15:43 By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

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Police form a line during a standoff with protesters in Ferguson, Mo. – Photo: Whitney Curtis – NYT

The recent killing and then demonization of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American youth, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer has made visible how a kind of military metaphysics now dominates American life. The police have been turned into soldiers who view the neighborhoods in which they operate as war zones. Outfitted with full riot gear, submachine guns, armored vehicles, and other lethal weapons imported from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, their mission is to assume battle-ready behavior. Is it any wonder that violence rather than painstaking, neighborhood police work and community outreach and engagement becomes the norm for dealing with alleged “criminals,” especially at a time when more and more behaviors are being criminalized?

But I want to introduce a caveat. I think it is a mistake to simply focus on the militarization of the police and their racist actions in addressing the killing of Michael Brown. What we are witnessing in this brutal killing and mobilization of state violence is symptomatic of the neoliberal, racist, punishing state emerging all over the world, with its encroaching machinery of social death. The neoliberal killing machine is on the march globally. The spectacle of neoliberal misery istoo great to deny any more and the only mode of control left by corporate-controlled societies is violence, but a violence that is waged against the most disposable such as immigrant children, protesting youth, the unemployed, the new precariat and black youth.

Neoliberal states can no longer justify and legitimate their exercise of ruthless power and its effects under casino capitalism. Given the fact that corporate power now floats above and beyond national boundaries, the financial elite can dispense with political concessions in order to pursue their toxic agendas. Moreover, as Slavoj Žižek argues “worldwide capitalismcan no longer sustain or tolerate . . . global equality. It is just too much.” (1) Moreover, in the face of massive inequality, increasing poverty, the rise of the punishing state, and the attack on all public spheres, neoliberalism can no longer pass itself off as synonymous with democracy. The capitalist elite, whether they are hedge fund managers, the new billionaires from Silicon Valley, or the heads of banks and corporations, is no longer interested in ideology as their chief mode of legitimation. Force is now the arbiter of their power and ability to maintain control over the commanding institutions of American society. Finally, I think it is fair to say that they are too arrogant and indifferent to how the public feels.

Neoliberal capitalism has nothing to do with democracy and this has become more and more evident among people, especially youth all over the globe. As Žižek has observed, “the link between democracy and capitalism has been broken.” (2) Theimportant question of justice has been subordinated to the violence of unreason, to a market logic that divorces itself from social costs, and a ruling elite that has an allegiance to nothing but profit and will do anything to protect their interests. This is why I think it is dreadfully wrong to just talk about the militarization of local police forces without recognizing that the metaphor of “war zone” is apt for a global politics in which the social state and public spheres have been replaced by the machinery of finance, the militarization of entire societies not just the police, and the widespread use of punishment that extends from the prison to the schools to the streets. Some have rightly argued that these tactics have been going on in the black community for a long time and are not new. Police violence certainly has been going on for some time, but what is new is that the intensity of violence and the level of military-style machinery of death being employed is much more sophisticated and deadly. For instance, as Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers point out, the militarization of the police in the United States is a recent phenomenon that dates back to 1971. They write:

The militarization of police is a more recent phenomenon [and marks] the rapid rise of Police Paramilitary Units (PPUs, informally SWAT teams) which are modeled after special operations teams in the military. PPUs did not exist anywhere until 1971when Los Angeles under the leadership of the infamous police chief Daryl Gates, formed the first one and used it for demolishing homes with tanks equipped with battering rams. By 2000, there were 30,000 police SWAT teams [and] by the late 1990s, 89% of police departments in cities of over 50,000 had PPUs, almost double the mid-80s figure; and in smaller towns of between 25,000 and 50,000 by 2007, 80% had a PPU quadrupling from 20% in the mid-80s. [Moreover,] SWAT teams were active with 45,000 deployments in 2007 compared to 3,000 in the early 80s. The most common use . . . was for serving drug search warrants where they were used 80% of the time, but they were also increasingly used for patrolling neighborhoods. (3)

At the same time, the impact of the rapid militarization of local police forces on poor black communities is nothing short of terrifying and symptomatic of the violence that takes place in advanced genocidal states. For instance, according to a recent report entitled “Operation Ghetto Storm,” produced by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, “police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes extra judicially killed at least 313 African-Americans in 2012. . . . This means a black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours. The report suggests that “the real number could be much higher.” (4) …more