After the Duvalier dictatorship came to an end in 986, the country prepared for its first free elections the following year. However, Haiti’s main trade union leader declared that Washington was working to undermine the left. US aid organizations, he said, were encouraging people in the countryside to identify and reject the entire left as “communist”. Meanwhile, the CIA was involved in a range of support for selected candidates until the Senate Intelligence Committee ordered the Agency to cease its covert electoral action.
Bulgaria, 1990-9911 and Albania, 199-1992
With no regard for the fragility of these nascent democracies, the US played a major role in ousting their elected governments. See “Interventions” chapter.
For four months (March-June), a group of veteran American political consultants worked secretly in Moscow in support of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential campaign. Although the Americans were working independently, President Clinton’s political guru, Dick Morris, acted as their middleman to the administration, and Clinton himself told Yeltsin in March that he wanted to “make sure that everything the United States did would have a positive impact” on the Russian’s electoral campaign. Boris Yeltsin was being counted on to run with the globalized free-market ball and it was imperative that he cross the goal line. The American consultants in Moscow scripted a Clinton-Yeltsin summit meeting in April to allow the Russian to “stand up to the West”, just like the Russian Communist Party-Yeltsin’s main opponent-insisted they would do if they won.
The Americans emphasized sophisticated methods of message development, polling, focus groups, crowd staging, direct-mailing, etc, urged more systematic domination of the state-owned media, and advised against public debates with the Communists. Most of all they encouraged the Yeltsin campaign to “go negative” against the Communists, painting frightening pictures of what the Communists would do if they took power, including much civic upheaval and a virtual media blackout against them, the Communists were extremely hard pressed to respond to the attacks or to shout the Russian equivalent of “It’s the economy, stupid.”
It is impossible to measure the value of the American consultants’ contributions to the Yeltsin campaign, for there’s no t knowing which of their tactics thee Russians would have employed anyhow if left to their own devices, how well they would have applied them, or how things would have turned out. But we do know that before the Americans came on board, Yeltsin was favored by only 6 percent of the electorate. In the first round of voting, he edged the Communists’ 35 percent to 32, and was victorious in the second round 54 to 40 percent. “Democracy,” declared Times magazine, “triumphed.”
The National endowment for Democracy worked for several years with the opposition to the governing Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (the former communists, who had won the 1992 election) to achieve a very surprising electoral victory. In the six-year period leading up to the 996 elections, NED spent close to a million dollars in a country with a population of some 2.5 million, the most significant result of which was to unite the opposition into a new coalition, the National Democratic Union. Borrowing from Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the NED drafted a “Contract With the Mongolian Voter”, which called for private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment. The MPRR had already instituted Western-style economic reforms, which had led to widespread poverty and wiped out much of the communist social safety net. But the new government promised to accelerate the reforms, including the privatization of housing. The Wall Street Journal was ecstatic that “shock-therapy” was now going to become even more shocking, as with the sale of state enterprises. The newspaper’s editorial was entitled “Wisdom of the Steppes”. The new government was one that Washington could expect to be more hospital to American corporations and intelligence agencies than the MPRR. Indeed, by 998, the National Security Agency had set up electronic listening posts in Outer Mongolia to intelligence service was using nomads to gather intelligence in China itself.
Bosnia effectively became an American protectorate, with Carlos Westendrop-the Spanish diplomat appointed Washington’s offspring: the 1995 Dayton peace accords-as the Colonia Governor-General. Before the September elections for a host of offices, Westendrop removed 14 Croatian candidates from the ballot because of alleged biased coverage aired in Bosnia by neighboring Croatian’s state television and politicking by ethnic Croat army soldiers. After the election, Westendrop fired the elected president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, accusing him of creating instability. In this scenario those who appeared to support what the US and other Western powers wished were called “moderates”, and allowed to run for and remain in office. Those who had other thoughts were labeled liners”, and ran the risk of a different fate. When Westendrop was chosen to assume this position of “high representative” in Bosnia in May 1997, the Guardian of London wrote that “The US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, praised the choice. But some critics already fear that Mr. Westendrop will prove too lightweight and end up as a cipher in American hands.”
Further evidence of Washington’s love affair with elections
There have also been the occasions where the United States, while (perhaps) not interfering in the election process was, however, involved in overthrowing a democratically-elected government, such as in Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, the Congo 1960, Ecuador 1961, Bolivia 1964, Greece 1967 and Fiji 11987.
In other countries, US interventions resulted in free, or any, elections being done away with completely for large stretches of time, as in Iran, South Korea, Guatemala, Brazil, Congo, Indonesia, Chile and Greece.
Trojan Horse: The National Endowment for Democracy
How many Americans could identify the National Endowment for Democracy? It is an organization which often does exactly the opposite of what its name implies. The NED was set up in the early 1980s under President Reagan in the wake of all the negative revelations about the CIA in the second half of the 1970s. The latter was a remarkable period. Spurred by Watergate, the Church Committee of the Senate, the Pike Committee of the House and the Rockefeller Commission, created by the president, were all busy investigating the CIA. Seemingly every other day there was a new headline about the discovery of some awful thing, even criminal conduct, the CIA had been mixed up in for years. The Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name, and it was causing the powers-that-be much embarrassment.
Something had to be done. What was done was not to stop doing these awful things. Of course not. What was to shift many of these awful things to a new organization, with a nice sounding name-the National Endowment for Democracy. The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.
It was a masterpiece. Of politics, of public relations and of cynicism.
Thus it was that in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy was set up to “support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, nongovernmental efforts”. Notice the virtually every penny of its funding comes from the federal government, as is clearly indicated in the financial statement in each issue of its annual report. NED likes to refer to itself as an NGO (nongovernmental organization) because this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. But NGO is the wrong category. NED is a GO.
Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, was quite candid when he said in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” in effect, the CIA has been laundering money though NED.
The Endowment has four principal initial recipients of funds: the International Republican Institution; the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; an affiliate of the AFL-CIO (such as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity); and an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce (such as the Center for International Private Enterprise). These institutions then disburse funds to other institutions in the US and all over the world, which then often disburse funds to yet other organizations.
In a multitude of ways, NED meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries by supplying funds, technical know-how, training, educational materials, computers, fax machines, copiers, automobiles and so on, to selected political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, other media, etc. NED programs generally impart the basic philosophy that working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform and growth, and the merits of foreign investment are emphasized.
From 994 to 1996, NED awarded 15 grants, totaling more than $2,500,000, to the American Institute for Free Labor Development, an organization used by the CIA for decades to subvert progressive labor unions. AIFLD’s work within Third World unions typically involved a considerable educational effort very similar to the basic NED philosophy described above. The description of one of the 1996 NED grants to AIFLD includes as one its objectives: “build union-management cooperation.” Like many things that NED says, this sounds innocuous, if not positive, but these in fact are ideological code words meaning “keeping the labor agitation down…don’t rock the status-quo boat.” The relationship between NED and AIFLD very well captures the CIA origins of NED.