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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/28/14

A Shadow US Foreign Policy

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Source: Consortium News


The National Endowment for Democracy, a central part of Ronald Reagan's propaganda war against the Soviet Union three decades ago, has evolved into  a $100 million  U.S. government-financed slush fund that generally supports a neocon agenda often at cross-purposes with the Obama administration's foreign policy.

NED is one reason why there is so much confusion about the administration's policies toward attempted ousters of democratically elected leaders in Ukraine and Venezuela. Some of the non-government organizations (or NGOs) supporting these rebellions trace back to NED and its U.S. government money, even as Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials insist the U.S. is not behind these insurrections.

So, while President Barack Obama has sought to nurture a constructive relationship with Russia's President Vladimir Putin especially in hotspots like Iran and Syria, NED has invested in projects in Russia's close neighbor, Ukraine, that fueled violent protests ousting President Viktor Yanukovych, who won election in 2010 in balloting that was viewed by international observers as fair and reflecting the choice of most Ukrainian citizens.
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Thus, a U.S.-sponsored organization that claims to promote "democracy" has sided with forces that violently overthrew a democratically elected leader rather than wait for the next scheduled election in 2015 to vote him out of office.

For NED and American neocons, Yanukovych's electoral legitimacy lasted only as long as he accepted European demands for new "trade agreements" and stern economic "reforms" required by the International Monetary Fund. When Yanukovych was negotiating those pacts, he won praise, but when he judged the price too high for Ukraine and opted for a more generous deal from Russia, he immediately became a target for "regime change."

Last September, NED's longtime president, Carl Gershman, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to urge the U.S. government to push European "free trade" agreements on Ukraine and other former Soviet states and thus counter Moscow's efforts to maintain close relations with those countries. The ultimate goal, according to Gershman, was isolating and possibly toppling Putin in Russia with Ukraine the key piece on this global chessboard.

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"Ukraine is the biggest prize," Gershman wrote...

"The opportunities are considerable, and there are important ways Washington could help. The United States needs to engage with the governments and with civil society in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to ensure that the reform process underway not only promotes greater trade and development but also produces governments that are less corrupt and more accountable to their societies. An association agreement with the European Union should be seen not as an end in itself but as a starting point that makes possible deeper reforms and more genuine democracy.

"Russian democracy also can benefit from this process. Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. ... Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."

Shadow Structure

In furtherance of these goals, NED funded a staggering 65 projects in Ukraine, according to its latest report. The funding for these NGOs range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars and created for NED what amounted to a shadow political structure of media and activist groups that could be deployed to stir up unrest when the Ukrainian government didn't act as desired.

This NED shadow structure, when working in concert with domestic opposition forces, had the capability to challenge the decisions of Yanukovych's elected government, including the recent coup -- spearheaded by violent neo-Nazis -- that overthrew him. Presumably, NED wanted the "regime change" without the neo-Nazi element. But that armed force was necessary for the coup to oust Yanukovych and open the path for those IMF-demanded economic "reforms."

Beyond the scores of direct NED projects in Ukraine, other major NED recipients, such as Freedom House, have thrown their own considerable weight behind the Ukraine rebellion. A recent Freedom House fundraising appeal read: "More support, including yours, is urgently needed to ensure that Ukrainian citizens struggling for their freedom are protected and supported." Freedom House meant the "citizens struggling" against their elected government.

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So, over this past week, a policy dispute about whether Ukraine should accept the European Union's trade demands or go with a more generous $15 billion loan from Moscow escalated into violent street clashes and finally a putsch spearheaded by neo-Nazi storm troopers who took control of government buildings in Kiev.

With Yanukovych and his top aides forced to flee for their lives, the opposition-controlled parliament then passed a series of draconian laws often unanimously, while U.S. neocons cheered and virtually no one in the U.S. press corps noted the undemocratic nature of what had just happened. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Cheering a 'Democratic' Coup in Ukraine."]

An Incipient Civil War

On Wednesday, Yanukovych insisted that he was still the rightful president and his supporters seized government buildings in the eastern, ethnically Russian part of the country, setting the stage for what has the look of an incipient civil war.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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