Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Do You Escape a Color Revolution? Replace Emotional Reaction With Intellectual Sobriety

Understanding the 21st Century Global Information War: Protect Your Zeitgeist
By Eric Pottenger and Jeff Friesen
Special Report for Color Revolutions and Geopolitics
January 24, 2012

Authors' Introductory Note: the following essay was prepared in the style of an "open letter" intended to be read by leaders and policy-makers of nation-states targeted for "regime change" by the West.

Try to imagine a world where cultural guidance and future prospects are created largely from within rather than from without. Try to imagine youth in your country—symbolized by genuine energy and enthusiasm and political awareness—pointing the way toward a new national understanding based upon instincts offered from within instead of from without.

Of course each of us knows that Western governments hope to subvert the ambitious political plans of competitor countries and blocs so as to maintain global hegemony and forestall a more equitable distribution of power.

And although there are multiple levels to explore, understand, and different ways to combat this threat, brevity demands that the following analysis offer only a brief solution in the most simplistic terms: namely, the prospect of a world where fear of young people and new ideas are replaced by embracing possibilities; the kind of possibilities that these young people should rightfully embody.

The premise here is that it's absolutely incorrect (and potentially catastrophic) to conclude that 'oppositionists' in each of your countries—and here we mean young local 'foot soldiers' of Western-backed political agendas—are conscious 'agents' of Western governments; or that they're largely “corrupt” or even “unpatriotic.”

The defining characteristics of typical foreign-funded opposition protesters are their youth, their inexperience, their lack of discernment, their relatively high level of education, their personal ambition, their access to media and technology, and their strong inclinations to rebel against the status quo (what they deem to be an unrewarding social and political culture).

In other words, if strategically-placed foreign money, tactical training, and a self-interested geopolitical purpose were absent, these young “protesters” and their rebellion could stably be addressed by (and absorbed within) the local social and political culture, even help infuse this culture with characteristics that every great culture needs: self-reflection; derision; laughter; art; indifference; transcendence; something greater than mere self-preservation.

Unfortunately these movements aren't isolated concerns of an individual nation—they are international security threats. The West now uses both “humanitarian” crises and fake social “revolutions” as a part of its strategic package. This makes national political movements potential arms of foreign powers. To quote Allen Weinstein, the first President of the United States' National Endowment for Democracy (NED), “A lot of what [the NED does] today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

This presents the principle challenge: how to develop an effective self-defense strategy. The trick is to provide a remedy that doesn't fuel more discord. Coercion sows discord. The movement tacticians anticipate and use ham-handed, unsophisticated, strictly coercive local responses as part of their operational templates. They derive strength from these responses, not weakness. Ultimately the coercive response is a recipe for defeat. If the coercive response appears to be necessary or inevitable, at least it should be provided with some balance.

When the "pro-democracy protester" faces the "government crackdown," whose side are you gonna be on?
Better instead to learn how the imperialist game is now played. The new battlefield of warfare is in the informational realm, the psychological realm. More than at any point in history, war is primarily a media war. The reason the United States, in particular, has been so effective in this style of warfare is because the whole structure of U.S. society has been built around promotion and consumption as a pathway to wealth and power. In the United States, the corporate marketing and advertisement industry has merged seamlessly into the operational templates of foreign policy. There is little difference between selling Coca Cola and selling a particular foreign policy initiative. Corporations sell commodities through marketing campaigns and advertisements; governments sell policies through a myriad of techniques of information control and propaganda.

only the emotional imprint...
Like corporate advertising, propaganda is primarily effective as a form of emotional communication, not one of critical analysis. The purpose is to promote a prescribed behavior, whether that behavior result in the purchasing of a new pair of blue jeans, the supporting of a social initiative, or advocating one's inclusion amongst a battalion of protesters, each of them dragged willingly into the streets to weaken the stature of a particular government.

One identifiable technique the propaganda specialist employs to overthrow unwanted leaders is the exact same one used in the corporate realm: “branding.” In essence, the propagandist attempts to strengthen the “brand” of the opposition movement while weakening the “brand” of the targeted leader or system.

...of the brand remains.
All critical details are removed from the propaganda message; only the emotional imprint of the “brand” remains. The propagandist will rarely explain in substantive terms either the problems of society or the concrete solutions. Instead he will brand the issues in broad emotional terms. The opposition movement will likely be branded as “fun,” “rebellious,” or “revolutionary,” etc., whereas the problems of the entire society are made unspecific, reduced to the actions of a “corrupt,” “greedy,” “power-hungry” “dictator.” The goal is to broadcast this message simply and incessantly; and especially to make people believe that it's true.

Oh, you pretty things!  In the words of OTPOR (Serbian) youth group co-founder and international regime change tactician, Ivan Marovic, "I hate politics.  It sucks.  It's boring.  It's not cool.  Normal people hate politics...but...you need normal people if you're gonna make change.  To do that, you need to make politics sexy.  Make it cool.  Make it hip.  REVOLUTION as a FASHION LINE.
This branding logic works the same for Western governments to achieve domestic public consent for aggressive foreign policy initiatives. For example, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is known throughout the West as “Europe's Last Dictator.” That is Lukashenko's brand in the West. This brand has been created to prepare Western audiences for his abrupt removal from power. Like Libya's Muammar Gaddafi: allegations of corruption and sponsorship of terrorism had for years been attached to the image of Gaddafi, a fact which later made it permissible for NATO to not only remove him from power illegally, but to even kill him. This should be seen as no surprise. Gaddafi had been branded beforehand for such a fate. The Western public had already been prepared to react uncritically to this violation international justice. For many Westerns, the killing of Gaddafi was even seen as a victory for “the people.”

If I don't live in these countries; and if I know next to nothing about them; WHAT are these ubiquitous images sure to convince me into THINKING?  The answers are obvious, but here's the rub: since I don't live there, how can I know for certain whether the impressions they are promoting are actually true?

The only defense against the strength of these branding techniques is to challenge the brand.

Opposition media should never be restricted or prohibited. Instead, governments should provide the domestic media with tools for an effective counter-attack. Governments should sponsor new and better media. They should throw money at it; promote it culturally; expand educational initiatives that develop it. They should make it more entertaining; make it more interesting; infuse it with substance and criticism.

Media should be used to deconstruct the brand the West is selling; it should successfully offer an alternative brand.

The idea here is to hire young people instead of arresting them. Put people to work in the government that have credibility and can project youth and vigor. Demanding love for the country will never be effective if it's about prostrating oneself before the government. The most important and effective way for young people to invest in the destiny of the country is to be embraced as part of the internal power structure. Otherwise these same people are left to wander, highly vulnerable to the venus flytrap of Western propaganda.

Independent media voices in the West can help, both at home and abroad.

Through the critical lens of independent Western media, the highly-romantic impression of “life in the West” (that which is deceptively sold by the propagandist) can be legitimately challenged. Credibility in this case is essential. If these romantic impressions are countered by the local government, the criticism could easily be perceived as propaganda; whereas if an independent Westerner said the same thing, the impressions would probably be considered both interesting and informative. These voices are plentiful in the West. The challenge is to find them and put them to use.

So far as how your countries are perceived in the West, what's important to know is that Western audiences (and especially those in the United States) usually become aware of the existence of a country (and all its internal “problems”) only after that country has been publicly targeted for attack. Although a sizable portion of Western audiences could one day be made to see the injustice of such an attack, by that time it's already too late.

These policies and the motives behind them can be anticipated and even preempted in the dialogue of Western media.

The logic here is that policy-makers and local leaders around the world should come to recognize the value in strengthening the reach of independent voices in the Western media, and expand contacts with them. In other words, help Western journalists more effectively use their own platforms toward the creation of a more balanced view of your countries. Ensure that local officials and scholars are made available to foreign journalists as informational resources. Promote critical conferences and cultural exchanges.

Help assist independent foreign voices to “re-brand” your countries in the West.

Russia has provided a solid example to follow with the launching of the English language media network, Russia Today. By offering Western analysts with a high-profile media platform, Russia Today has provided serious critics of Western policy with the ability to challenge and subvert NED/CIA propaganda campaigns.

Through this contribution, in many circles Russia has come to be seen as “progressive” and even “hip” in the West. And furthermore it is now Western governments--not the usual political targets--that must combat a damaging informational narrative, even on territory the Western propagandist once monopolized.

We conclude here by pointing out that, in a world where the information war reigns supreme, the essence of protecting national sovereignty is change: not change of values, necessarily, but change of attitudes and perspectives. A smart policy would be to embrace this change.

Why not lead the struggle off the traditional battlefield and into the media realm: to television and radio broadcasts; to books and blogs and publications?

Why not take the fight to the battlefield that actually matters?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anti War Dot Com Betrays Mission Statement; Silences Critics of Humanitarian Wars

Antiwar.com – Your Best Source for Antiwar News?
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
Originally published on his own blog site
January 9, 2011
Images and captions added by Color Revolutions and Geopolitics

Launched in 1995, Antiwar.com describes itself as a site “devoted to the cause of non-interventionism” whose “initial project was to fight against intervention in the Balkans under the Clinton presidency.” Explaining their “key role” in the battle for public opinion during that seminal “humanitarian intervention,” the editors write:

Proof that slogans are easy
Our goal was not only to inform but also to mobilize informed citizens in concerted action to stop the war. The war at home was an information war: an attempt by the government to both limit and shape the information that Americans had. It was, above all, a propaganda war, one in which the American government and its allies in the media were bombing and strafing their own people with hi-tech lies.

Back in the early days of the internet, Antiwar.com did indeed do a very good job of countering the interventionist narrative. Writers such as John Laughland, Chad Nagle, Justin Raimondo, Christine Stone, and George Szamuely showed readers what was really going on in the Balkans and elsewhere, helping many to understand the imperative of non-interventionism. Today, only Raimondo still writes for Antiwar.com.

By 2011, the information war had shifted from the former Yugoslavia to the Middle East and North Africa, as country after country was being destabilized by a wave of supposedly “spontaneous” uprisings against the region’s dictators — not unlike the one that toppled Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 — dubbed an “Arab Spring” by some dubious cheerleaders (the term was originally used by Israel partisans such as Charles Krauthammer to refer to an “initial flourishing of democracy” in 2005) and an “Arab Awakening” by others. But while the people were still being bombed and strafed by the interventionists’ lies, Antiwar.com appeared to be either missing in action or even to have gone over to the other side.

As the media focus quickly shifted from a “liberated” but devastated Libya to a besieged Syria, there was disturbingly little to distinguish between mainstream reports and those in Antiwar.com. Apparently having forgotten the interventionists’ need to “limit and shape the information” getting to the public, Antiwar.com managed to limit and shape it even further by providing a largely uncritical daily synopsis of mainstream reporting of suspect opposition claims, without even the mainstream’s caveat that “the opposition claims could not be independently verified.”

Its reliance on the interventionists’ “allies in the media” for its “news” on Syria can be gauged from examining its research editor’s choice of sources. In a survey of 10 news reports on Syria between December 14 and December 27, Jason Ditz linked to a total of 24 outside sources, 16 of which were from mainstream media such as the BBC, New York Times and Haaretz; two were from Voice of America, the official external broadcast institution of the US government and a key instrument of its regime change agenda; two from Monsters and Critics, a web-only entertainment/celebrity news and review publication with political commentary and news; and one was from Human Rights Watch, to which billionaire hedge fund manager and prominent “pro-democracy” advocate George Soros (astutely described in an excellent February 2001 Antiwar column as a “False Prophet-At-Large”) pledged $100 million last year, enabling it “to deepen its research presence on countries of concern.” The remaining three were taken from SANA, the Syrian Arab News Agency, whose claims were briefly mentioned only to be dismissed with a cynicism clearly absent in the credulous treatment of opposition sources.

Antiwar.com research editor Jason Ditz
The almost exclusive reliance on mainstream sources was clearly reflected in the content of the news reports. By far the most popular phrase appears to have been “At least … killed,” which appeared in at least 36 separate headlines on Syria in 2011, such as “Good Friday Massacre: At Least 88 Protesters Killed in Syria Crackdown” (April 22), “At Least 60 Killed as Protests Grow in Syria” (June 3), “Hama Massacre: At Least 140 Killed in Syrian Tank Offensive” (July 31), “Syrian Navy Attacks Latakia, At Least 31 Killed” (August 14), “At Least 16 Killed as Syrian Troops Launch New Crackdowns” (August 25), “At Least 17 Killed in Syria Protest Crackdown” (September 2), “At Least 40 Killed as Syria Protesters Call for ‘No-Fly Zone’” (October 28), “At Least 65 Killed in Two Days Since Syria Announced Arab League Deal” (November 3), “At Least 57 Killed in Two Days as Syrian Opposition Express Fear of New Massacre” (December 10) and “At Least 30 Killed as Syrian Forces Shell Homs” (December 26). A September 4 report typically entitled “At Least 24 Killed as Syria Crackdown Continues” encapsulates Jason Ditz’s tendentious analysis of the situation:

The violence marks continued public protests against the Assad regime and months of security forces attacking the demonstrators under the assumption that the attacks will eventually end the nationwide rallies.

Massive Negative Reader Feedback

Throughout the crisis in Syria, dismayed readers have pointed out Antiwar’s complicity in the propaganda war, despite the clear parallels with previous interventions, particularly the most recent one in Libya. In response to that September 4 report entitled “At Least 24 Killed As Syria Crackdown Continues,” someone called “keltrava” commented:

Let me get this wrapped around my head.

The article says as a matter of fact 24 “more” people killed. Yet when it comes to Syrian troops killed it is qualified as “reported by state media”. Why is it written in stone that 24 people [were] killed[?] What are the sources? This is typical of the reporting from Syria and Libya.

Even one of Antiwar’s top columnists was prompted to point out the obvious flaws in Jason Ditz’s reporting. Commenting on the July 31 “Hama Massacre” report, Phil Giraldi wrote:

Any story that is unsourced or is sourced to the rebels or to any of their supporters, as this story is, should be considered suspect. I don’t know what is happening in Syria but nor does any antiwar editor or any source that has a stake in what is going on and is probably writing his account from a hotel in Beirut. The US has clearly sided with the rebels and is doing everything in its power to advance their cause, including easing the passage of their propaganda into international media.

In stark contrast to the readers’ concerns about another Libya-style intervention, Ditz displayed what might most charitably be described as wishful thinking. In an October 25 report predictably entitled “At Least 24 Killed as Syrian Protestors Mass Nationwide,” he averred:

Enthusiasm has tended to grow in protest cities when other regimes fall, and while the situation in Syria isn’t the same as the one in Libya, the causes are largely the same. The protesters are hoping the end result will be too, though ideally without the multi-month civil war and the post-dictator mess Libya is facing.

Despite what another reader accurately described as “massive negative reader feedback,” Jason Ditz appears neither to have responded directly to the criticism nor to have let it in any way moderate his subsequent reports. Antiwar’s response to its readers’ (including at least two of its own writers’) concerns appears to have been mainly in the form of a moderator’s snide remarks attached to some of the more persistent critics’ comments. On December 29, an exasperated Gordon Arnaut exclaimed:

Even as readers have been pointing out the gaping holes in your so-called coverage…you have done NOTHING to address these problems…

You are a WASTE OF TIME…for anyone who is truly interested in truth about current events…

His criticism elicited this response from Thomas L. Knapp:

Thomas Knapp
[Moderator's Note: Mr. Arnaut, if you consider Antiwar.com a waste of time, why do you waste so much time here? Pull down your hem, dear, your agenda is showing - TLK]

Arnaut replied:

Mr. Knapp:

Yes I have an agenda…it’s called THE TRUTH…

Yes I waste time here because I can’t stand FAKE NEWS…

On other occasions, Knapp did attempt to make a slightly more reasonable defence of Antiwar’s coverage. For example, in response to this writer’s question as to how its uncritical reporting of claims coming from Western-based and -backed opposition sources has differed from the pro-war propaganda in the mainstream media, Knapp replied:

If I could snap my fingers and cause Antiwar.com to be able to afford to send its own correspondent to Syria and environs to get the real scoop, I’d snap them immediately. Since I can’t, I try to be understanding of the fact that Mr. Ditz et. al have to rely on outside sources and try to squeeze the truth from the information they can get, a process that’s obviously vulnerable to error.

But as David Daniels had commented on a rather belatedObama Secretly Preparing for Syria Intervention” on December 28:

And instead of leading the fight with facts and hard research against the lies that stimulate the R2P instinct, this website has once again fallen for all of the lies that led NATO into Libya and the various overt and covert interventions (like the lie of the “Green Movement”).

This is important and all readers should take note: Antiwar.com has repeatedly pushed the lies that lead NATO to attack. Draw your own conclusions. The “moderators” here will say that they just don’t have enough information and any mistakes are not theirs. Do you believe that, readers? Are you that gullible, or did you first come here as I did to see behind the bull**** of the mainstream propaganda machine?

If Antiwar.com had tried a little harder “to squeeze the truth from the information they can get” (or even paid better attention to the information that all too infrequently appeared on its own site) they would find that the reality in Syria (see a more recent and comprehensive analysis here) was quite different from what their research editor would have its readers believe. Moreover, it wasn’t as difficult as some seem to have have found it to see who was pushing hardest (as they had done in Libya and in previous interventions) to get America to take the “humanitarian” road to Damascus.

Ideological Blinders

While most readers were perplexed by Jason Ditz’s blatant bias in favour of the Syrian opposition, a look at some of his earlier writings provides an explanation. In a March 3, 2008 post on the Antiwar Blog entitled “In Defense of Non-Violence,” Ditz opined:

Rather, we know precisely what strategy the Israeli military employs in response to non-violence, because it is the only strategy available to it. Indeed it is the only strategy militaries ever employ in response to non-violence, and we saw it clearly this weekend.


Seeing the path of non-violence to its necessary conclusion is not easy for precisely this reason: that every act of non-violence [sic] defiance is met with an act of increasingly disproportionate violence in the hopes of realizing a violent response and vindicating the claim that the posture of non-violence is an insincere one.


The people of the Gaza Strip must hold firm in their resolve for non-violence. They must make it clear to the Israeli military that they will not be swayed, nor will they respond violently. They must leave the Israeli government with only two choices: acquiescence or committing genocide. And despite what Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister or anyone else may say, they must remain confident that Israel cannot choose the latter.

This weekend may have been a setback for non-violence, but it is nothing resembling failure. Non-violence remains not just an option for the Palestinians in the face of occupation, but at the end of the day, the only one.

In March 2005, Ditz was the first to respond to a message on an Anti-State.com discussion forum entitled “Ideas for How Somalis can defend themselves” in which someone called “chemical_ali” notified participants of the Albert Einstein Institute’s release of Robert Helvey’s On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict as a free PDF. Describing “chemical_ali” – a rather odd choice of pseudonym for an advocate of nonviolence – as “probably my favorite new poster in the past year,” Ditz didn’t raise any questions (nor did anyone else in the discussion) about why Gene Sharp’s nice-sounding “nonviolent resistance thinktank” might be offering a book on strategic nonviolent conflict for free by the former military attaché at the US Embassy in Rangoon.

As luck would have it, Antiwar.com soon provided an answer. In his column on April 16, editorial director Justin Raimondo noted the collaboration between a key sponsor of nonviolent revolution (who later told the Wall Street Journal that he had given a sum in the “low eight figures” to the Albert Einstein Institute) with one of the more notorious proponents of violent regime change:

Say You Want a Revolution,” is the title of a piece by neoconservative Michael “Faster Please” Ledeen, a tireless advocate of the U.S. waging endless wars of “liberation,” and Peter Ackerman, chairman of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). Its theme: more U.S. tax dollars to fund “revolutionaries” in a new model of “regime change” – as in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. According to these two, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria are next. Now, before you say anything, it’s just a coincidence that all these countries are in the Middle East and just happen to be Israel’s worst enemies – stop being such a killjoy! Besides, the “revolutionaries” are ready to roll, but they can’t do it without U.S. tax dollars and other assistance.

Smug guru of "nonviolent revolution," Peter Ackerman.  Make no mistake: when Peter Ackerman's deceptive political game becomes common knowledge, the bulk of our troubles will be over.
Observing that Ackerman’s ICNC had been “at the center of machinations that have felled regimes from Belgrade to Bishkek and back,” Raimondo traced the business ties of its founding vice-chairman, Berel Rodal, to then Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, whose short-lived controversial venture capital company, Trireme Partners LLP, invested in technology, goods, and services related to Homeland Security. Pointing out that “[t]he little stormtroopers of the ‘democratic’ revolutions are in most cases unwitting foot-soldiers of War Profits, Inc.,” Raimondo concluded that the seemingly idealistic advocates of nonviolent resistance and the most extreme warmongering ideologues were little more than two sides of the same deceptive coin:

Chameleon-like, they readily assume “left” and “right“-wing forms, appropriating the language of whatever audience they’re trying to manipulate: they speak the harsh language of nationalism and super-patriotism as well as the more polite PC lingo of “humanitarian intervention” and “human rights” internationalism. Ledeen invokes Mussolini’s ghost, while the ICNC channels Martin Luther King and Gandhi.

Interestingly, it was reported in an April 2005 profile of Ackerman in The New Republic, aptly entitled “Regime Change, Inc.,” that he had sent a trainer to Palestine “to spend twelve days creating a nonviolent vanguard to challenge Hamas” – three years before Antiwar’s Jason Ditz opined that nonviolence was the Palestinians’ only option.

Platform for Regime Change, Inc.

Gene Sharp: NED monkey off his leash
Yet despite Raimondo’s exposure of the nonviolent revolutionaries, the chameleon-like channelers of King and Gandhi continued to be given a platform at Antiwar.com. On February 28, 2011, its Viewpoints section featured a link to an interview with Gene Sharp entitled “Teaching People Power,” just as, in the words of Reason magazine’s Jesse Walker, “the revolutionary fire lit in Tunisia in December was burning across the Middle East and Africa.” On December 5, as that Regime Change, Inc.-kindled fire was being directed against Damascus, Antiwar’s Viewpoints featured Gene Sharp’s “Choices for Defecting Syrian Soldiers,” in which “The 83 Year Old Who Toppled Egypt” offered strategic advice to the few who had already defected, suggesting that they “help the regime’s other soldiers also to defect from the Assad regime.”

Zunes: out cruising for suckers
While Regime Change, Inc.’s aging intellectual guru appears to have at least one or two fans at Antiwar.com, its “publicist within the progressive community,” Stephen Zunes, is even more popular there. During the so-called “Green Revolution” in Iran, they reprinted his “Iran’s Do-It-Yourself Revolution,” in which the well-paid chair of the academic advisory committee of Peter Ackerman’s International Center on Nonviolent Conflict attempted to deny the democracy-meddling establishment’s self-confessed role in that and other “colour revolutions.”

On one of the rare occasions that Regime Change, Inc.’s role in the so-called “Arab Spring” was actually acknowledged at Antiwar.com, Zunes appeared semi-anonymously in the comments section to pooh-pooh the very idea. In a June 24 column entitled “Invasion of the Mind Snatchers,” Nebosja Malic reviewed “The Revolution Business,” a documentary that shows veterans of Otpor, the Sharp/Helvey/Ackerman-linked Serbian youth group that toppled Milosevic, training the activists who directed the not-so-spontaneous-after-all “Arab Spring.” Touting one of the Serbian trainer’s “anti-imperial” credentials, “StephenZ” commented:

And does Malic really think that a handful of Serbs can get millions of peoples out on the streets? Does he really think that Arabs are simply sheep that a few white Europeans lead to a popular insurrection against entrenched US-backed dictatorships? Get real!

StephenZ did not respond to my comment inquiring whether this was part of his responsibilities as chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

More recently, “the great Stephen Zunes” was interviewed by Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio in which he argued that the Arab Spring was “the culmination of decades of peaceful rebellion against tyrannical governments.” Despite his collaboration with Otpor alumni in training activists in Egypt and elsewhere in nonviolent conflict (an important fact that was deftly obscured during the interview, unless we count Zunes’ oblique reference to having “met” Syrian activists), the ICNC’s academic advisor claimed that the US had “very little” to do with these “really exciting” developments.

But as Professor William I. Robinson, the author of the seminal critique of the “democracy promotion” establishment, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony, has written of the man who funds Zunes’ work:

Angela Keaton: confident and confused
That Ackerman is a part of the U.S. foreign policy elite and integral to the new modalities of intervention under the rubric of “democracy promotion,” etc., is beyond question. There is nothing controversial about that and anyone who believes otherwise is clearly seriously misinformed or just ignorant.

When it comes to Antiwar.com, however, one certainly cannot rule out the possibility of ignorance. Asked by Russia Today’s Adam Kokesh in early August “to help put what’s going on in Syria into the broader context of modern history in the Arab world,” Antiwar Radio producer Angela Keaton offered this astounding explanation of the mainstream media’s supposed “reluctance” to report the Syrian government’s alleged atrocities:

I mean, you know, [inaudible], Assad’s a US puppet.

Change We Can Believe In?

While there had been a few exceptions to Antiwar’s biased coverage of Syria throughout 2011, most notably from Justin Raimondo, Philip Giraldi, Eric Margolis, and Pepe Escobar, the prevailing impression one got from reading it was a simplistic narrative of peaceful protestors being killed by a tyrannical regime. However, in his January 2, 2012 column, Justin Raimondo wrote:

The last bastion of Ba’athist secular rule in the region has been rocked by anti-government riots, with groups of well-armed men taking on the Syrian military and hundreds killed and wounded in violent street demonstrations. What’s interesting is that we hear much about the latter in the Western media, while the former is downplayed or not reported at all.

As the intensity of the anti-Syrian propaganda war picks up in the “mainstream” media – which focuses on alleged atrocities committed by government forces while maintaining a soft focus on the violence of armed rebel groups – the news that the Obama administration is making plans to intervene comes as no surprise. Indeed, the Americans are already intervening behind the scenes: the question is, will they come out in the open and call for “regime change”?

Considering that Jason Ditz’s reporting on Syria has been marked by the exact same bias, Raimondo’s criticism of the mainstream media seems disingenuous to say the least. Ironically, Raimondo’s link to “alleged atrocities” takes the reader to VOA News, one of his colleague’s most trusted sources, regularly cited as evidence of Assad’s alleged violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.

In a recent op-ed piece not published on Antiwar.com, Professor James Petras warns against the “anti-imperialism of the fools”:

The long history of imperialist manipulation of “anti-imperialist” narratives has found virulent expression in the present day. The New Cold War launched by Obama against China and Russia, the hot war brewing in the Gulf over Iran’s alleged military threat, the interventionist threat against Venezuela’s “drug-networks”, and Syria’s “bloodbath” are part and parcel of the use and abuse of “anti-imperialism” to prop up a declining empire. Hopefully, the progressive and leftist writers and scribes will learn from the ideological pitfalls of the past and resist the temptation to access the mass media by providing a ‘progressive cover’ to imperial dubbed “rebels”. It is time to distinguish between genuine anti-imperialism and pro-democracy movements and those promoted by Washington, NATO and the mass media. (emphasis added)

If Antiwar.com wants its claim to be “the central locus of opposition to a new imperialism that masks its ambitions in the rhetoric of ‘human rights,’ ‘humanitarianism,’ ‘freedom from terror,’ and ‘global democracy’” to be taken seriously, they will need to heed that warning.

However, if it is to regain the trust of its readers, Antiwar.com will also need to address the serious concerns raised in this report. An important first step would be to undertake an internal review of its reporting of last year’s tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa. For it to be worthwhile, it should provide its many disillusioned readers with satisfactory answers to the following questions:
  1. Are all members of staff qualified to comment on foreign policy? Have some staff members allowed their ideological biases to adversely affect their analysis of complex foreign policy issues?
  2. Why has well-documented information provided by readers that challenge its interpretation of events either been ignored or treated with contempt? Why do critical comments by certain readers either get deleted or have to be approved by the site admins before they appear publicly, while comments by others are banned altogether?
  3. Why does it provide a platform for those who are “integral to the new modalities of intervention” while ignoring the work of others who could have provided a genuinely non-interventionist perspective on last year’s events? Among those overlooked by Antiwar.com in 2011 were Prof. Mark Almond, Ibrahim al-Amin, Michael Barker, Jeffrey Blankfort, Dr. K R Bolton, Alistair Crooke, Sibel Edmonds (banned from even posting comments on the site), Belén Fernández, Jeff Gates, Prof. David N. Gibbs, Diana Johnstone, Dr. Franklin Lamb, Prof. Joshua Landis (apart from a couple of references in articles by others), John Laughland, Dr. Rania Masri, Cynthia McKinney, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Maidhc Ó Cathail (despite the submission of articles published in mainstream media), Gearóid Ó Colmáin, Dr. Adrienne Pine, Prof. William I. Robinson, Prof. Jeremy Salt, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Dr. Stephen J. Sniegoski, Julien Teil, and Amjad Yamein.
  4. How can readers be assured that one or more of its “generous” but anonymous “angels” do not have an interest in interventionism?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Mythology of People Power (2005)

"If you wish to study a Granfalloon, just remove the skin of a toy balloon." Book of Bokonon

Editors' Introduction

Is "the protester" now the new hero of TIME Magazine?  

The protester?  A new hero of this flagship publication of the US corporate media complex?  Owned, in essence, by the same bodies that also own the weapons industry and the biggest banks and the two-party political system?  Owned by those that recently bombed Libya into submission; by those that over this past decade have killed over a million Iraqi citizens; by those that first placed dynamite and then lit the fuse for a controlled, desperate, end-of-era economic collapse?

NOW these reliable corporate-sponsored mind managers have suddenly and inexplicably either 'capitulated to'(capitulated to what?)--or have become inspired by (inspired by whom?)--a leaderless sloganeering demand-free global movement of "spontaneous" park "occupiers"?  

We beg each reader to take a close look at the recent issue of TIME; take a good look at the stylized images; the faces and the outfits; take notice of the diversity of class, of race, and of nationality; then ask yourself, how do you think these images are intended to make you FEEL

Where would this "global movement" be without a CONSTANT stream of nurturing media attention?  Where would this movement be?  Are there not plenty of quality examples to the contrary?  

Because in their collectible year-ending magazine issue, TIME actually devoted its high-profile pages to advance...what?...the beginnings of a social revolution?  They draw attention to such topics as "how to occupy a square"; or "how to tweet during a crisis."  They include advertisement-quality photographic images that collectively sell the protest movement much like a corporate brand is sold--as a lifestyle choice--as if protesting required a certain hair gel, a sleeve of tattoos, or a pair of dirty GAP blue jeans.

Images above courtesy of our friends at TIME magazine
Of course those that have followed and learned from the color revolutions are not surprised by this phenomenon.  

What the color revolutions in the former Soviet space teach us is that well-meaning and highly-energetic groups of people can be (and are!) wholly manipulated into playing supportive, legitimizing roles toward the installation of sham popular governments; political regimes that, due to their suffocating support from Western benefactors, accelerate the weakening of social programs and prepare their economies for devastating privatization schemes to fit the "open society" model of global capital movement.

As with each period in the history of civilization, advances in communication technology initiate corresponding advances in strategies of class warfare and social control.

The color revolution social media "democracy" template (and here we include the "occupy" movement) is one such strategy, designed for the digital age.

As the following article, written in 2005, reveals (and, indeed, as many articles on this site reveal), there is a symbiotic relationship between a supportive media environment and a fake "democracy" uprising or a fake "social revolution."


The Mythology of People Power: The Glamour of Street Protests Should Not Blind Us to the Reality of US-Backed Coups in the Former USSR
By John Laughland
Originally published in the Guardian (London)
March 31, 2005
Images and captions added by Color Revolutions and Geopolitics

Before his denunciation yesterday of the "prevailing influence" of the US in the "anti-constitutional coup" which overthrew him last week, President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan had used an interesting phrase to attack those who were stirring up trouble in the drug-ridden Ferghana Valley. A criminal "third force", linked to the drug mafia, was struggling to gain power.

Originally used as a label for covert operatives shoring up apartheid in South Africa, before being adopted by the US-backed "pro-democracy" movement in Iran in November 2001, the third force is also the title of a book published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which details how western-backed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can promote regime and policy change all over the world. The formulaic repetition of a third "people power" revolution in the former Soviet Union in just over one year - after the similar events in Georgia in November 2003 and in Ukraine last Christmas - means that the post-Soviet space now resembles Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, when a series of US-backed coups consolidated that country's control over the western hemisphere.

Many of the same US government operatives in Latin America have plied their trade in eastern Europe under George Bush, most notably Michael Kozak, former US ambassador to Belarus, who boasted in these pages in 2001 that he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua: "supporting democracy".

But for some reason, many on the left seem not to have noticed this continuity. Perhaps this is because these events are being energetically presented as radical and leftwing even by commentators and political activists on the right, for whom revolutionary violence is now cool.

As protesters ransacked the presidential palace in Bishkek last week (unimpeded by the police who were under strict instructions not to use violence), a Times correspondent enthused about how the scenes reminded him of Bolshevik propaganda films about the 1917 revolution. The Daily Telegraph extolled "power to the people", while the Financial Times welcomed Kyrgyzstan's "long march" to freedom.

This myth of the masses spontaneously rising up against an authoritarian regime now exerts such a grip over the collective imagination that it persists despite being obviously false: try to imagine the American police allowing demonstrators to ransack the White House, and you will immediately understand that these "dictatorships" in the former USSR are in reality among the most fragile, indulgent and weak regimes in the world.

The US ambassador in Bishkek, Stephen Young, has spent recent months strenuously denying government claims that the US was interfering in Kyrgyzstan's internal affairs. But with anti-Akayev demonstrators telling western journalists that they want Kyrgyzstan to become "the 51st state", this official line is wearing a little thin. 

Even Young admits that Kyrgyzstan is the largest recipient of US aid in central Asia: the US has spent $746m there since 1992, in a country with fewer than 5 million inhabitants, and $31m was pumped in in 2004 alone under the terms of the Freedom Support Act. As a result, the place is crawling with what the ambassador rightly calls "American-sponsored NGOs".

CIA's Woolsey: an "activist"...of sorts
The case of Freedom House is particularly arresting. Chaired by the former CIA director James Woolsey, Freedom House was a major sponsor of the orange revolution in Ukraine. It set up a printing press in Bishkek in November 2003, which prints 60 opposition journals. Although it is described as an "independent" press, the body that officially owns it is chaired by the bellicose Republican senator John McCain, while the former national security adviser Anthony Lake sits on the board. The US also supports opposition radio and TV.

Many of the recipients of this aid are open about their political aims: the head of the US-funded Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, Edil Baisalov, told the New York Times that the overthrow of Akayev would have been "absolutely impossible" without American help. In Kyrgyzstan as in Ukraine, a key element in regime change was played by the elements in the local secret services, whose loyalty is easily bought.

Former Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
Perhaps the most intriguing question is why? Bill Clinton's assistant secretary of state called Akayev "a Jeffersonian democrat" in 1994, and the Kyrgyz ex-president won kudos for welcoming US-backed NGOs and the American military. But the ditching of old friends has become something of a habit: both Edward Shevardnadze of Georgia and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine were portrayed as great reformers for most of their time in office.

To be sure, the US has well-known strategic interests in central Asia, especially in Kyrgyzstan. Freedom House's friendliness to the Islamist fundamentalist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir will certainly unsettle a Beijing concerned about Muslim unrest in its western provinces. But perhaps the clearest message sent by Akayev's overthrow is this: in the new world order the sudden replacement of party cadres hangs as a permanent threat - or incentive - over even the most compliant apparatchik.