National Endowment for Democracy: Paying to Make Enemies of America

I appreciate BOTH Ron Paul AND his take on NED. Thanks.

I wonder, though, if the ideology driving some of the redder NED outcomes has been actually so red as Ron Paul seems to suggest. The red outcomes so far in formerly Iron Curtain countries might have been coincidental because the "talent pool" of opportunists in certain locations contained so many from the red school chums. The outcomes in Latin America, for instance, have been the opposite of red.

I’d like to see some comment on NED role in overthrow of Milosevic if anyone can supply a ref or two. Although the NED role in installation of free marketeers in Serbia – and probably other malignant trends we aren’t enough aware of – has been wicked, it does model regime change in a way that’s mercifully less painful for all involved. (Compare with military smash model used in Afghanistan and Iraq and the horrible Clinton military action in Serbia and Kosovo.)

~ Jeanne Koster

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I remember reflecting upon the Serbian "revolution" shortly after I started writing Balkan Express, and citing several sources indicating US involvement. However, I never did any in-depth research, mostly because what was out there was quite enough to make my point. Jared Israel has done quite a bit of digging on the topic ( and I remember the BHHRG coverage of Serbia mention US involvement (and inevitably, NED) as well.

Hope this helps.

Choose Your Favorite Pro-War Candidate

As a longtime admirer of John Pilger’s work, I was shocked, shocked! to see that he truly has not followed this presidential race. Paragraph four: "All the Democratic presidential candidates supported the invasion of Iraq, bar one: Howard Dean."

Many of the original group of candidates did not support the war from the beginning, Dean among them, but the candidate who was most active and vocal in opposition to the buildup to war was Representative Dennis Kucinich. He led the Democrats in the vote against the "War Resolution" in October, 2002, rallying 128 out of 206 Democrat Representatives to vote against the resolution – a clear majority. And he continues to be a candidate for the presidency now! Today! He has not quit!

His candidacy has been marginalized and trivialized, but he is the Real Deal, not Kerry: he is a politician who is utterly disinterested in joining up with the New Democrats. He offers instead a paradigm shift which, apparently, we are not yet ready for, but I do wish that John Pilger might pay it some attention.

~ Kim Zumwalt

Eric Garris replies:

I added the word "leading" to indicate that Pilger was not referring to the candidates not really in contention.

Hey folks! Thanks for that. Gee, I wasn’t even contemplating suicide this morning. I agree with John Pilger except there is the slightest difference between the two parties; it may be a straw but I’m grasping at it.

With the current neo-con regime, we stand a 100% chance of war unto bankruptcy. With the Demo’s, all we have to do is get rid of the DLC, and then we only stand a 98% chance of utter ruin.

I don’t know what else to do. I’m gonna take that 2% shot.

~ PH

I‘m writing in response to the article noting very little difference between Bush and Kerry. I agree.

I am disappointed with the "political process" which chose Kerry as the Democratic candidate. He was actually selected and anointed by the media, not the voters.

However, I will back Kerry, in the "Anybody But Bush" spirit. My reason is not that I see a great difference in the candidates, but in one small yet significant difference – Bush is running for a second term, and Kerry is running for a first term.

George Bush and his minions have done a great deal of damage in the last three years – to the economy, the environment, foreign policy, civil rights, etc. All this, while he is expected to face the voters in a bid for (re)election. What will he do with a second term, with no accountability at all?

There has been a great deal of talk about a draft, and the U.S. cannot continue its military engagements without drafting additional soldiers. The draft proposal calls for mandatory service of all, men and women, between the ages of 18 and 26. Those who refuse to fight as conscientious objectors will be assigned to Homeland Security.

Do you have children these ages? Do you want your children to fight in additional conflicts which promote the NeoCon agenda? Do you want your children to spy on their fellow citizens in the name of Homeland Security?

A first term president is safer. Vote for Kerry.

~ Linda Jitmoud


I am confused by Jeremy’s exclusion of the Oil Empire’s dependency on oil as a reason for war. The dots connect for me. Cheney, Halliburton, Oil, War. Change the source of energy, and the reasons for war change. Or better, disappear. If Shell or Exxon executives are sitting on new energy technology and withholding it from the masses because they have profits yet to reap from oil, then damn them to hell.

~ John Delehanty

Jeremy Sapienza replies:

I don’t see where you could be confused. I didn’t say anything about war not being connected to oil. I didn’t even mention war except to note that the letter was off-topic. Most of the responses, too, have been off-topic, so I won’t be responding to them.

Rest assured that while I agree oil is connected to war, it is not the main reason. The main reason is power. It makes the State and those who benefit from it (the very few) richer. Don’t be so naive as to think they won’t have other reasons to go to war.

As an aside, I don’t care WHY oil companies are sitting on clean energy technology – but I care HOW. They wouldn’t be able to do that in a free market, without the State keeping them in business as near-monopolies.

While reading your interesting exchange on oil, I stuck on David Berberick’s statement:

"The American people want all of the (relatively) cheap crap that they can buy and eat. It is apparent that most Americans are mainly concerned with their levels of consumption, rather than with their civil rights."

I keep encountering variations on this theme and wonder what hard evidence there is to support this view of Americans. I wonder if American life is imperiled because of its addiction to stuff or if we’re just doing the easy thing and blaming the victim.

What I see all around me are Americans leading lives of quiet desperation trying to support their families on two incomes. The great middle class luxury, that of a wife /mother managing the quality of home and community life has disappeared in a single generation. I wish my husband, my kids, my community, and I could afford a wife. Most of the Americans I know don’t work like dogs so they can buy televisions, fast food, and SUV’s. They work to provide the basics of middle class life: housing, medical care, transportation, and education. Basics that are rapidly becoming unaffordable.

People go to fast food restaurants, big boxes, strip mall churches and colleges because they have very little time or disposable income and because that’s where their neighbors are. Do not underestimate the basic human need to connect. The Market now designs, builds, and manages our social, political, educational, and religious institutions. The natural consequence is that consumerism as the opiate of the people.

~ Sharon Dymond

A Philosophical Question

I have a question regarding libertarian philosophy. It appears that libertarians hold property rights sacred, while abhorring government interference in free markets. But in reality, it is governments that recognize the legitimacy of individual and collective claims to property. Whether authoritarian or "democratic" in nature, governments are able to maintain their authority over the recognition of property rights as long as they have a practical monopoly over the use of force.

My question is: (1) What type of government do libertarians imagine would be a truly honest and uncorrupt broker in recognizing property rights? (2) Has such a government ever existed? (3) Has there ever been a market that was truly free?

~ Peter Swayze

Jeremy Sapienza replies:

The answers are (1) none; (2) no; and (3) no, the State has always crushed us under its boot.

And actually, libertarianism is based on one axiom: nonaggression. The right to enjoy the fruits of your labor (aka, property) follow from that, in that anyone denying you that right is aggressing on you.

Sam Koritz replies:

Some self-described libertarians believe that government has legitimate functions (such as the protection of life and liberty, and the enforcement of contracts) and would agree with your statement that "it is governments that recognize the legitimacy of individual and collective claims to property"; others believe that all services provided by the state could be better provided by non-state actors in a system of private property. Since Jeremy has provided a market anarchist perspective, here’s a minarchist reply:

Lord Acton wrote: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." That being the case, we can’t depend on government officials to be "truly honest and uncorrupt," we can’t solve once and for all the problem of power; we can only attempt, with eternal vigilance, to limit the damage. Although all actually existing governments are unacceptably oppressive, some governments are more libertarian than others, and the evidence seems to indicate that the residents of the more libertarian states are usually richer and happier.

Haiti: A Case History

Justin Raimondo is entitled to be skeptical that Aristide’s removal from office was a US assisted coup – but only in the same that that Ronald Reagan was "entitled" to express the view that ketchup is a vegetable. As in the case of ketchup, the left has a pretty good circumstantial case. In the weeks prior to Aristide’s "escape" the US government and media were urging him, the elected President, to step down "for the good of his country," something that is often a prelude to US intervention. Then there is the fact that no one in the Clinton or Bush administrations ever wanted Aristide in office. Just the fact that Aristide accepted an invitation from Castro to visit Cuba would have been enough reason to hate him, but Aristide went farther and revealed that the U.S. government had blackmailed him into agreeing to an IMF structural adjustment program as a condition for his being restored.

We know that the US connived with the macoutes and the light skinned oligarchy of the island to remove him from office the first time, and Clinton was forced to restore him to office only by pressure from the Black caucus in congress, who threatened to pull their support for one of his pet legislative initiatives. At that time many of Aristide’s opponents were on the payroll of the CIA. One of them, Emmanuel Constant, a leader of the death squad known FRAPH, is still living today under US protection despite efforts to bring him to trial for several murders.

No doubt our government is saying that all this is in the past. But in this latest debacle, whom do you suppose is one of the military leaders of the forces opposing Aristide? None other than "Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former Haitian soldier who headed army death squads in 1987 and a militia known as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, or FRAPH, which killed and maimed dozens of people between 1992 and 1994," according to the Associated Press, February 15, 2004. Chamblain was, according to this report, waiting just over the border in the Dominican Republic, a close US ally, for the right moment. Now where have we heard this before? Substitute Nicaragua for Haiti and Honduras for the Dominican Republic. Think Contras.

Maybe Aristide wasn’t actually kidnapped by US soldiers. Maybe he was just told that unless he left *now* he would be left to the tender mercies of FRAPH. But none of that really matters. The bullet that killed Salvador Allende probably was not fired by an American soldier either. But is his blood on our hands?

~ Jeffery Bogdan

Uncle Sap Suckered Again

Justin Raimondo has a sharp eye, and I look forward to his columns. I was taken aback, however, by his depiction of the people of Iraq in Monday’s column "Uncle Sap Suckered Again."

". . . the rich fat American is ripped off by ungrateful demanding foreigners, who turn around and blame us for all their problems. Have the lights gone out – again! – in Baghdad? It’s the fault of the Americans, they did it on purpose! Do Iraqi children lack schoolbooks? Why aren’t the Americans shipping them over faster? Emergency! Iraq’s healthcare system is in a state of utter collapse! Hey, why aren’t the Americans on the job fixing it – those brutal heartless thugs! . . ."

This misses a few points. First of all, according to these reports from the Congressional Research Service [pdf file] and OMB [government website, pdf file], in 2003 most of the funds spent by the CPA for Iraqi reconstruction belonged to Iraq. These included money from previously frozen Iraqi bank accounts; assets seized in Iraq; and money transferred from the Oil for Food Program.

Iraqis had no say in how the US spent their money, most of which went to US companies. This doesn’t include the larger amount that the UN sent to Iraq through the Oil for Food program. If that’s included, something like 80% of the "assistance" to Iraq was provided by Iraq itself.

Second, the US as an occupying power is legally responsible for the welfare of Iraqis. We absolutely insisted on assuming this burden by our insistence on invading Iraq.

Third, the US was responsible for much of the terrible state of Iraq to begin with. We destroyed much of the Iraqi civilian infrastructure during the first Gulf war, then refused to allow Iraq to rebuild it. The US was mainly responsible for the duration and especially the severity of the UN sanctions on Iraq. (For more information on the US manipulation of the administration of the sanctions, see "The American media and its reporting on Iraq," That’s why Iraqi hospitals are in a state of collapse.

Is the US really the victim of Iraq? I don’t think so.

~ Bruce Dodds, Boston