The Technique of a Coup d’Etat (2010)
The Technique of a Coup d’Etat
By John Laughland
Originally published in Voltairenet
January 5, 2010
Images and captions added by Color Revolutions and Geopolitics
In recent years, a number of “revolutions” have broken out all over the world.
In November 2003, the president of Georgia Edward Shevardnadze was overthrown following demonstrations, marches and allegations that the parliamentary elections had been rigged.
The result was that country was ripped away from its previous geopolitical role as a bridge between East and West, and put it on the path to becoming a fully-fledged member of NATO and the EU. Considering that Kievan Rus is the first Russian state, and that Ukraine has now been turned against Russia, this is a historic achievement. But then, as George Bush said, “You are either with us or against us.” Although Ukraine had sent troops to Iraq, it was evidently considered too friendly to Moscow.
Shortly after the US and the UN declared that Syrian troops had to be removed from Lebanon, and following the assassination of Rafik Hariri, demonstrations in Beirut were presented as “the Cedar Revolution.” An enormous counter-demonstration by Hezbollah, which is the largest political party in Lebanon, was effectively ignored while the TV replayed endlessly the image of the anti-Syrian crowd. In one particularly egregious case of Orwellian double-think, the BBC explained to its viewers that “Hezbollah, the biggest political party in Lebanon, is so far the only dissenting voice which wants the Syrians to stay.” How can the majority be “a dissenting voice”?
This constantly repeated myth of popular rebellion against a dictatorial government is popular on both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum. Previously, the myth of revolution was obviously the preserve of the Left. But when the violent putsch occurred in Kygyrzstan, The Times enthused about how the scenes in Bishkek reminded him of Eisenstein films about the Bolshevik revolution, The Daily Telegraph extolled the “power to the people,” and the Financial Times used a well-known Maoist metaphor when it praised Kyrgyzstan’s “long march to freedom.”
One of the key elements behind this myth is obviously that “the people” are behind the events, and that they are spontaneous. In fact, of course, they are often very highly organised operations, often deliberately staged for the media, and usually funded and controlled by transnational networks of so-called non-governmental organisations which are in turn instruments of Western power.
The literature on coups d’état
The survival of the myth of spontaneous popular revolution is depressing in view of the ample literature on the coup d’état, and on the main factors and tactics by which to bring one about.
It was, of course, Lenin who developed the organisational structure for overthrowing a regime which we now know as a political party. He differed from Marx in that he did not think that historical change was the result of ineluctable anonymous forces, but that it had to be worked for.
But it was probably Curzio Malaparte’s Technique of a Coup d’état which first gave very famous expression to these ideas. Published in 1931, this book presents regime change as just that – a technique. Malaparte explicitly took issue with those who thought that regime change happened on its own. In fact, he starts the book by recounting a discussion between diplomats in Warsaw in the summer of 1920: Poland had been invaded by Trotsky’s Red Army (Poland having itself invaded the Soviet Union, capturing Kiev in April 1920) and the Bolsheviks were at the gates of Warsaw. The debate was between the British minister in Warsaw, Sir Horace Rumbold, and the Papal nuncio, Monsignor Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti – the man who was elected Pope as Pius XI two years later. The Englishman said that the internal political situation in Poland was so chaotic that a revolution was inevitable, and that the diplomatic corps therefore should flee the capital and go to Posen (Poznán). The Papal Nuncio disagreed, insisting that a revolution was just as possible in a civilised country like England, Holland or Switzerland as in a country in a state of anarchy. Naturally the Englishman was outraged at the idea that a revolution could ever break out in England. “Oh never!” he exclaimed – and was proved wrong because no revolution did break out in Poland, according to Malaparte because the revolutionary forces were simply not well organised enough.
This anecdote allows Malaparte to discuss the differences between Lenin and Trotsky, two practitioners of the coup d’état/revolution. Malaparte shows that the future Pope was right and that it was wrong to say that pre-conditions were necessary for a revolution to occur. For Malaparte, as for Trotsky, regime change could be promoted in any country, including the stable democracies of Western Europe, providing that there was a sufficiently determined body of men determined to achieve it.
This brings us onto a second body of literature, concerning the manipulation of the media. Malaparte himself does not discuss this aspect but it is (a) of huge importance and (b) clearly a subset of the technique of a coup d’état in the way regime change is practised today. So important, indeed, is the control of the media during regime change that one of the main characteristics of these revolutions is the creation of a virtual reality. Control of this reality is itself an instrument of power, which is why in classic coups in a banana republic the first thing that the revolutionaries seize is the radio station.
People experience a strong psychological reluctance to accept that political events today are deliberately manipulated. This reluctance is itself a product of the ideology of the information age, which flatters people’s vanity and encourages them to believe that they have access to huge amounts of information. In fact, the apparent multifarious nature of modern media information hides an extreme paucity of original sources, rather as a street of restaurants on a Greek waterfront can hide the reality of a single kitchen at the back. News reports of major events very often come from a single source, usually a wire agency [e.g., Reuters is owned by the Rothschilds], and even authoritative news outlets like the BBC simply recycle information which they have received from these agencies, presenting it as their own. BBC correspondents are often sitting in their hotel rooms when they send dispatches, very often simply reading back to the studio in London information they have been given by their colleagues back home off the wire. A second factor which explains the reluctance to believe in media manipulation is connected with the feeling of omniscience which the mass media age likes to flatter: to rubbish news reports as manipulated is to tell people that they are gullible, and this is not a pleasant message to receive.
There are many elements to media manipulation. One of the most important is political iconography. This is a very important instrument for promoting the legitimacy of regimes which have seized power through revolution. One only need think of such iconic events as the storming of the Bastille on 14th July 1789, the storming of the Winter Palace during the October revolution in 1917, or Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922, to see that events can be elevated into almost eternal sources of legitimacy.
However, the importance of political imagery goes far beyond the invention of a simple emblem for each revolution. It involves a far deeper control of the media, and generally this control needs to be exercised over a long period of time, not just at the moment of regime change itself. It is essential indeed, for the official party line to be repeated ad nauseam. A feature of today’s mass media culture which many dissidents lazily and wrongly denounce as “totalitarian” is precisely that dissenting views may be expressed and published, but this is precisely because, being mere drops in the ocean, they are never a threat to the tide of propaganda.
One of the modern masters of such media control was the German Communist from whom Joseph Goebbels learned his trade, Willi Münzenberg. Münzenberg was not only the inventor of spin, he was also the first person who perfected the art of creating a network of opinion-forming journalists who propagated views which were germane to the needs of the Communist Party in Germany and to the Soviet Union. He also made a huge fortune in the process, since he amassed a considerable media empire from which he creamed off the profits.
Münzenberg was intimately involved with the Communist project from the very beginning. He belonged to Lenin’s circle in Zurich, and in 1917 accompanied the future leader of the Bolshevik revolution to the Zurich Hauptbahnhof, from whence Lenin was transported in a sealed train, and with the help of the German imperial authorities, to the Finland Station in St. Petersburg. Lenin then called on Münzenberg to combat the appalling publicity generated in 1921 when 25 million peasants in the Volga region started to suffer from the famine which swept across the newly created Soviet state. Münzenberg, who had by then returned to Berlin, where he was later elected to the Reichstag as a Communist deputy, was charged with setting up a bogus workers’ charity, the Foreign Committee for the Organisation of Worker Relief for the Hungry in Soviet Russia, whose purpose was to pretend to the world that humanitarian relief was coming from sources other than Herbert Hoover’s American Relief Administration. Lenin feared not only that Hoover would use his humanitarian aid project to send spies into the USSR (which he did) but also, perhaps even more importantly, that the world’s first Communist state would be fatally damaged by the negative publicity of seeing capitalist America come to its aid within a few years of the revolution.
After having cut his teeth on “selling” the death of millions of people at the hands of the Bolsheviks, Münzenberg turned his attention to more general propaganda activities. He amassed a large media empire, known as “the Münzenberg trust,” which owned two mass circulation dailies in Germany, a mass circulation weekly, and which had interests in scores of other publications around the world. His greatest coups were to mobilise world opinion against America over the Sacco-Vanzetti trial (that of two anarchist Italian immigrants who were sentenced to death for murder in Massachusetts in 1921) and to counteract the Nazis’ claim in 1933 that the Reichstag fire was the result of a Communist conspiracy. The Nazis, it will be remembered, used the fire to justify mass arrests and executions against Communists, even though it now appears that the fire genuinely was started on his own by the man arrested in the building at the time, the lone arsonist Martinus van der Lubbe. Münzenberg actually managed to convince large sections of public opinion of the equal but opposite untruth to that peddled by the Nazis, namely that the Nazis had started the fire themselves in order to have a pretext for removing their main enemies.
The key relevance of Münzenberg for our own day is this: he understood the key importance of influencing opinion-formers. He targeted especially intellectuals, taking the view that intellectuals were especially easy to influence because they were so vain. His contacts included many of the great literary figures of the 1930s, a large number of whom were encouraged by him to support the Republicans in the Spanish civil war and to make that into a cause-célèbre of Communist anti-fascism. Münzenberg’s tactics are of primary importance to the manipulation of opinion in today’s New World Order. More then ever before, so-called “experts” constantly pop up on our TV screens to explain what is happening, and they are always vehicles for the official party line. They are controlled in various ways, usually by money or by flattery. [mediachecker->Munzenberg has stated he used professors first to test his propaganda as their giant egos are more easily manipulated.]
Psychology and the manipulation of opinion
There is a second body of literature, which makes a slightly different point from the specific technique which Münzenberg perfected. This concerns the way in which people can be made to react in certain collective ways by psychological stimuli. Perhaps the first major theoretician of this was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, whose book Propaganda in 1928 said that it was entirely natural and right for governments to organise public opinion for political purposes. The opening chapter of his book has the revealing title – “Organising chaos” – and Bernays writes:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised opinions and habits of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
“We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. … In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
Bernays says that, very often, the members of this invisible government do not even know who the other members are. Propaganda, he says, is the only way to prevent public opinion descending into dissonant chaos. Bernays continued to work on this theme after the war, editing Engineering consent in 1955, a title to which Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky alluded when they published their seminal Manufacturing Consent in 1988. The connection with Freud is important because, as we shall see later, psychology is an extremely important tool in influencing public opinion. Two of the contributors to Engineering consent make the point that every leader must play on basic human emotions in order to manipulate public opinion. For instance, Doris E. Fleischmann and Howard Walden Cutler write:
“Self-preservation, ambition, pride, hunger, love of family and children, patriotism, imitativeness, the desire to be a leader, love of play – these and other drives are the psychological raw materials which every leader must take into account in his endeavour to win the public to his point of view … To maintain their self-assurance, most people need to feel certain that whatever they believe about anything is true.”
This was what Willi Münzenberg understood – the basic human urge for people to believe what they want to believe. Thomas Mann alluded to it when he attributed the rise of Hitler to the collective desire of the German people for “a fairy tale” over the ugly truths of reality.
“For the CIA, the strategy of promoting the Non-Communist Left was to become ’the theoretical foundation of the Agency’s political operations against Communism over the next two decades’.”
“We, in the United States, are a melting-pot and, by being so, we have demonstrated that peoples can get along together irrespective of race, colour or creed. Using the “melting-pot” or some such catch phrase for a theme we might be able to use the Met as an example of how Europeans can get along together in the United States and that, therefore, some sort of European Federation is entirely practicable.”
|“soft power” is a variant on this theme|
To be sure, it would be wrong to attribute the spread of ideas only to covert manipulation. They have their force in large-scale cultural currents, whose causes are multiple. But there is no doubt that the dominance of such ideas can be substantially facilitated by covert operations, especially since people in mass-information societies are curiously suggestible. Not only do they believe what they have read in the papers, they also think they have arrived at these conclusions themselves. The trick of manipulating public opinion, therefore, lies precisely in that which Bernays theorised, Münzenberg initiated, and which the CIA raised to a high art. According to CIA agent Donald Jameson:
“As far as the attitudes that the Agency wanted to inspire through these activities are concerned, clearly what they would like to have been able to produce were people who, of their own reasoning and conviction, were persuaded that everything the United States government did was right.”
|Is Wikileaks a disinfo medium?|
Sefton Delmer was both a practitioner and theoretician of such “black propaganda.” Delmer created a bogus radio station which broadcasted from Britain to Germany during the Second World War, and which created the myth that there were “good” patriotic Germans who opposed Hitler. The fiction was sustained that the station was actually an underground German one, and was put on frequencies close to those of official stations. Such black propaganda has now become part of the US government’s armoury of ‘spin’: the New York Times revealed that the US government makes news reports favourable to its policies which are then carried on normal channels and presented as if they were the broadcast company’s own reports.
There are many other such authors, some of whom I have discussed in my column, “All News is Lies”. But perhaps the most relevant to today’s discussion is Roger Mucchielli’s book, Subversion, published in French in 1971, which shows how disinformation had moved from being an auxiliary tactic in war to a principal one. The strategy had developed so far, he said, that the goal was now to conquer a state without even attacking physically, especially through the use of agents of influence inside it. This is essentially what Robert Kaplan proposed and discussed in his essay for The Atlantic Monthly in July/August 2003, “Supremacy by Stealth.” One of the most sinister theoreticians of the New World Order and the American empire, Robert Kaplan, explicitly advocates the use of immoral and illegal power to promote US control of the whole world. His essay deals with the use of covert operations, military power, dirty tricks, black propaganda, hidden influence and control, opinion-forming and other things like political assassination, all subject to his overall call for “a pagan ethic,” as the means to ensuring American domination.
The other key point about Mucchielli is that he was one of the first theoreticians of the use of bogus non-governmental organisations – or “front organisations” as they used to be known – for effecting internal political change in another state. Like Malaparte and Trotsky, Mucchielli also understood that it was not “objective” circumstances which determined the success or failure of a revolution, but instead the perception created of those circumstances by disinformation. He also understood that historical revolutions, which invariably presented themselves as the product of mass movements, were in fact the work of a tiny number of highly organised conspirators. In fact, again like Trotsky, Mucchielli emphasised that the silent majority must be rigorously excluded from the mechanics of political change, precisely because coups d’état are the work of the few and not the many.
|NATO leaflets in Tripoli, Libya, 2011 (click to enlarge)|
Public opinion was the “forum” in which subversion was practised, and Mucchielli showed the different ways in which the mass media could be used to create a collective psychosis. Psychological factors were extremely important in this regard, he said, especially in the pursuit of important strategies such as the demoralisation of a society. The enemy must be made to lose confidence in the rightness of his own cause, while all effort must be made to convince him that his adversary is invincible.
The role of the military
One final historical point before we move onto a discussion of the present: the role of the military in conducting covert operations and influencing political change. This is something which some contemporary analysts are happy to admit is deployed today: Robert Kaplan writes approvingly of how the American military is and should be used to “promote democracy.” Kaplan says deliciously that a phone call from a US general is often a better way of promoting political change in a third country than a phone call from the local US ambassador. And he approvingly quotes an Army Special Operations officer saying, “Whoever the President of Kenya is, the same group of guys run their special forces and the President’s bodyguards. We’ve trained them. That translates into diplomatic leverage.”
The historical background to this has recently been discussed by a Swiss academic, Daniele Ganser, in his book, Nato’s Secret Army. His account begins with the admission made on 3rd August 1990 by Giulio Andreotti, the then Italian Prime Minister, that a secret army had existed in his country since the end of the Second World War, known as “Gladio”; that it had been created by the CIA and MI6; and that it was coordinated by the unorthodox warfare section of NATO.
|Gladio: NATO’s secret army|
He thereby confirmed one of the most long-running rumours in post-war Italy. Many people, including investigating magistrates, had long suspected that Gladio was not only party of a network of secret armies created by the Americans across Western Europe to fight in the resistance to a putative Soviet occupation, but also that these networks had become involved in influencing the outcome of elections, even to the extent of forming sinister alliances with terrorist organisations. Italy was a particular target because the Communist Party was so strong there.
Originally, this secret army was constructed with the aim of providing for the eventuality of an invasion. But it seems that they soon moved to covert operations aimed at influencing the political process itself, in the absence of an invasion. There is ample evidence that the Americans did indeed interfere massively, especially in Italian elections, in order to prevent the PCI from ever winning power. Tens of billions of dollars were funded to the Italian Christian Democrats by the US for this very reason.
Ganser even argues that there is evidence that Gladio cells carried out terrorist attacks in order to blame Communists, and to frighten the population into demanding extra state powers to “protect” them from terrorism. Ganser quotes the man convicted of planting one of these bombs, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, who duly explained the nature of the network of which he was a foot soldier. He said that it was part of a strategy “to destabilise in order to stabilise.”
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security. This is the political logic which remains behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened.”
|William Walker in Kosovo|
The main tactics were perfected in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s. Indeed, many of the operatives of regime change under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. have happily plied their trade in the former Soviet bloc under Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr. For instance, General Manuel Noriega reports in his memoirs that the two CIA-State Department operatives who were sent to negotiate and then engineer his downfall from power in Panama in 1989 were called William Walker and Michael Kozak: William Walker resurfaced in Kosovo in January 1999 when, as head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, he oversaw the artificial creation of a bogus atrocity which proved to be the casus belli for the Kosovo war, while Michael Kozak became US ambassador to Belarus, where in 2001 he mounted “Operation White Stork” designed to overthrow the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko. During an exchange of letters to The Guardian in 2001, Kozak brazenly admitted that he was doing in Belarus exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua and Panama, namely “promoting democracy.”
There are essentially three branches to the modern technique of a coup d’état. They are non-governmental organisations, control of the media, and covert operatives. Their activities are effectively interchangeable so I will not deal with them separately.
The overthrow of Slobodan Miloševic was obviously not the first time the West used covert influence to effect regime change. The overthrow of Sali Berisha in Albania in 1997 and of Vladimir Meciar in Slovakia in 1998 were heavily influenced by the West and, in the case of Berisha, an extremely violent uprising was presented as a spontaneous and welcome example of people power. I personally observed how the international community, and especially the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), fiddled its election observation results in order to ensure political change. However, the overthrow of Slobodan Miloševic in Belgrade on 5th October 2000 is important because he is such a well-known figure, and because the “revolution” which unseated him involved a very ostentatious use of “people power.”
The background to the putsch against Miloševic has been brilliantly described by Tim Marshall, a reporter for Sky TV. His account is valuable because he writes approvingly of the events he describes; it is also interesting because this journalist boasts of his extensive contacts with the secret services, especially those of Britain and America.
At every turn, Marshall seems to know who the main intelligence players are. His account is thick with references to “an MI6 officer in Priština,” “sources in Yugoslav military intelligence,” “a CIA man who was helping to put together the coup,” an “officer in US naval intelligence,” and so on. He quotes secret surveillance reports from the Serbian secret police; he knows who the Ministry of Defence desk officer is in London who draws up the strategy for getting rid of Miloševic; he knows that the British Foreign Secretary’s telephone conversations are being listened to; he knows who are the Russian intelligence officers who accompany Yevgeni Primakov, the Russian prime minister, to Belgrade during the NATO bombing; he knows which rooms are bugged in the British embassy, and where the Yugoslav spies are who listen in to the diplomats’ conversations; he knows that a staffer on the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee is, in fact, an officer in US naval intelligence; he seems to know that secret service decisions are often taken with the very minimal ministerial approval; he describes how the CIA physically escorted the KLA delegation from Kosovo to Paris for the pre-war talks at Rambouillet, where NATO issued Yugoslavia with an ultimatum it knew it could only reject; and he refers to “a British journalist” acting as a go-between between London and Belgrade for hugely important high-level secret negotiations, as people sought to betray one another as Miloševic’s power collapsed. (My suspicion is that he may be talking about himself at this point.)
One of the themes which inadvertently runs through his book is that there is a thin dividing line between journalists and spooks. Early on in the book, Marshall refers casually to “the inevitable connections between officers, journalists and politicians,” saying that people in all three categories “work in the same area.” He then goes on jokingly to say that “a combination of ‘spooks’, ‘journo’s’ and ‘politicos’, added to ‘the people’” were what had caused the overthrow of Slobodan Miloševic. Marshall clings to the myth that “the people” were involved, but the rest of his book shows that in fact the overthrow of the Yugoslav president occurred only because of political strategies deliberately conceived in London and Washington to get rid of him.
Above all, Marshall makes it clear that, in 1998, the US State Department and intelligence agencies decided to use the Kosovo Liberation Army to get rid of Slobodan Miloševic. He quotes one source saying, “The US agenda was clear. When the time was right they were going to use the KLA to provide the solution to the political problem” – the “problem” being, as Marshall explains earlier, Miloševic’s continued political survival. This meant supporting the KLA’s terrorist secessionism, and later fighting a war against Yugoslavia on its side. Marshall quotes Mark Kirk, a US naval intelligence officer, saying that, “Eventually we opened up a huge operation against Miloševic, both secret and open.” The secret part of the operation involved not only things like stuffing the various observer missions which were sent into Kosovo with officers from the British and American intelligence services, but also – crucially – giving military, technical, financial, logistical and political support to the KLA, which, as Marshall himself admits, “smuggled drugs, ran prostitution rackets and murdered civilians.”
The strategy began in late 1998 when “a huge CIA mission (got) underway in Kosovo.” President Miloševic had allowed the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission to enter Kosovo to monitor the situation in the province. This ad hoc group was immediately stuffed with British and American intelligence agents and special forces – men from the CIA, US naval intelligence, the British SAS and something called “14th intelligence,” a body within the British army which operates side by side with the SAS “to provide what is known as ‘deep surveillance’.” The immediate purpose of this operation was “Intelligence Preparation of Battlefield” – a modern version of what the Duke of Wellington used to do, riding up and down the battlefield to get the lie of the land before engaging the enemy. So as Marshall puts it, “Officially, the KDOM was run by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe … unofficially, the CIA ran (it) … The organisation was just packed with them … It was a CIA front.” Many of the officers in fact worked for another CIA front, DynCorp, the Virginia-based company which employs mainly “members of US military elite units, or the CIA,” as Marshall says. They used the KDOM, which later became the Kosovo Verification Mission, for espionage. Instead of doing the monitoring tasks assigned to them, officers would go off and use their global positioning devices to locate and identify targets which would be later bombed by NATO. Quite how the Yugoslavs could allow 2,000 highly trained secret service agents to roam around their territory is difficult to understand, especially since, as Marshall shows, they knew perfectly well what was going on.
The head of the Kosovo Verification Mission was William Walker, the man deputed to oust Manuel Noriega from power in Panama, and a former ambassador to El Salvador whose US-supported government ran death squads. Walker “discovered” the “massacre” at Racak in January 1999, the event which was used as a pretext for starting the process which led to the bombing which began on 24th March. There is much evidence to suggest that Racak was staged, and that the bodies found were in fact those of KLA fighters, not civilians as was alleged. What is certain is that Walker’s role was so key that the country road in Kosovo which leads to Racak has now been renamed after him. Marshall writes that the date for the war – spring 1999 – was not only decided in late December 1998, but also that the date was communicated to the KLA at the time. This means that when the “massacre” occurred and when Madeleine Albright declared, “Spring has come early,” she was behaving rather like Joseph Goebbels who, on hearing the news of the Reichstag fire in 1933, is supposed to have remarked, “What, already?”
At any rate, when the KVM was withdrawn on the eve of the Nato bombing, Marshall says that the CIA officers in it gave all their satellite phones and GPS equipment to the KLA. “The KLA were being trained by the Americans, partially equipped by them, and virtually given territory,” Marshall writes – even though he, like all other reporters, helped propagate the myth of systematic Serb atrocities committed against a totally passive Albanian civilian population. [mediachecker->again similar to providing terrorists, oops, “freedom fighters” in their April Spring contrived “revolutions”]
The war went ahead, of course, and Yugoslavia was ferociously bombed. But Miloševic stayed in power. So London and Washington started what Marshall happily calls “political warfare” to remove him. This involved giving very large sums of money, as well as technical, logistical and strategic support, and including arms, to various “democratic opposition” groups and “non-governmental organisations” in Serbia. The Americans were by then operating principally through the International Republican Institute (a branch of the National Endowment for Democracy), which had opened offices in neighbouring Hungary for the purpose of getting rid of Slobodan Miloševic.
“It was agreed” at one of their meetings, Marshall explains, “that the ideological arguments of pro-democracy, civil rights and a humanitarian approach would be far more forceful if accompanied, if necessary, by large bags full of money.” These, and much else besides, were duly shipped into Serbia through the diplomatic bags – in many cases of apparently neutral countries like Sweden who, by not participating formally in the NATO war, were able to maintain full embassies in Belgrade. As Marshall helpfully adds, “Bags of money had been brought in for years.” Indeed they had. As he earlier explains, “independent” media outlets like the Radio Station B92 (who is Marshall’s own publisher) were, in fact, very largely funded by the USA. Organisations controlled by George Soros also played a crucial role, as they were later to do, in 2003–4, in Georgia. The so-called “democrats” were, in reality, nothing but foreign agents – just as the Yugoslav government stolidly maintained at the time.
Marshall also explains something which is now a matter of public record that it was also the Americans who conceived the strategy of pushing forward one candidate, Vojislav Koštunica, to unite the opposition. Koštunica had the main advantage of being largely unknown by the general public. Marshall then describes how the strategy also involved a carefully planned coup d’état, which duly took place after the first round of the presidential elections.
He shows in minute detail how the principal actors in what was presented on Western TV screens as a spontaneous uprising of “the people” were, in fact, a bunch of extremely violent and very heavily armed thugs under the command of the Mayor of the town of Cacak, Velimir Ilic. It was Ilic’s 22 kilometre-long convoy carrying “weapons, paratroopers and a team of kick boxers” to the federal parliament building in Belgrade. As Marshall admits, the events of 5th October 2000 “looked more like a coup d’état” than the people’s revolution of which the world’s media so naïvely gushed at the time.
Many of the tactics perfected in Belgrade were used in Georgia in November 2003 to overthrow President Edward Shevardadze. The same allegations were made, and repeated ad nauseam, that the elections had been rigged. (In the Georgian case, they were parliamentary elections, in the Yugoslav case presidential.) Western media uncritically took up these allegations, which were made long before the actual voting took place. A propaganda war was unleashed against both presidents, in Shevardnadze’s case after a long period in which he had been lionised as a great reformer and democrat. Both “revolutions” occurred after a similar “storming of the parliament,” broadcast live on TV. Both transfers of power were brokered by the Russian minister, Igor Ivanov, who flew to Belgrade and Tbilisi to engineer the exit from power of the incumbent president. Last but not least, the US ambassador was the same man in both cases: Richard Miles.
The most visible similarity, however, came in the use of a student movement known as Otpor (Resistance) in Serbia and Kmara (It’s enough!) in Georgia. Both movements had the same symbol, a black-on-white stencil of a clenched fist. Otpor trained people from Kmara, and both were supported by the US. And both organisations were ostensibly structured along communist lines – combining the appearance of a diffuse structure of autonomous cells with the reality of highly centralised Leninist discipline.
As in [Serbia], the role played by US money and covert operations has been revealed – but only after the event. During the events, the television was full of wall-to-wall propaganda about how “the people” rose up against Shevardnadze. All images which counteracted the optimistic view were suppressed, or glossed over, such as the fact that the “march on Tbilisi” led by Mihkail Saakashvili started off in Gori, Stalin’s birthplace, beneath a statue of the former Soviet tyrant who remains a hero to many Georgians. The media was equally unconcerned when the new president, Saakashvili, was confirmed in office by elections which awarded him the Stalinist score of 96%.
In the case of Ukraine, we observe the same combination of work by Western-backed non-governmental organisations, the media and the secret services. The non-governmental organisations played a huge role in de-legitimising the elections before they occurred. Allegations of widespread fraud were constantly repeated. In other words, the street protests which broke out after the second round, which Yanukovich won, were based on allegations which had been flying around before the beginning of the first round. The main NGO behind these allegations, the Committee of Ukrainian Voters, receives not one penny from Ukrainian voters, being instead fully funded by Western governments. Its office was decorated with pictures of Madeleine Albright and indeed the National Democratic Institute was one of its main affiliates. It pumped out constant propaganda against Yanukovich.
During the events themselves, I was able to document some of the propaganda abuses. They involved mainly the endless repetition of electoral fraud practised by the government; the constant cover-up of fraud practised by the opposition; the frenetic selling of Viktor Yushchenko, one of the most boring men in the world, as a charismatic politician; and the ridiculously unlikely story that he had been deliberately poisoned by his enemies. (No prosecutions have been brought to date on this.) The fullest account of the propaganda and fraud is given by the British Helsinki Human Rights Group’s report, “Ukraine’ Clockwork Orange Revolution.”
An interesting explanation of the role played by the secret services was also given in The New York Times by C. J. Chivers who explained that the Ukrainian KGB had been working for Yushchenko all along – in collaboration with the Americans of course. Other important articles on the same subject include Jonathan Mowat’s “The New Gladio in Action: Washington’s New World Order ‘Democratization’ Template,” which details how military doctrine has been adapted to effect political change, and how various instruments, from psychology to bogus opinion polls, are used in it. Mowat is particularly interesting on the theories of Dr. Peter Ackerman, the author of Strategic Non-Violent Conflict (Praeger, 1994) and of a speech entitled “Between Hard and Soft Power: the Rise of Civilian-Based Struggle and Democratic Change,” delivered at the State Department in June 2004. Mowat is also excellent on the psychology of crowds and its use in these putsches: he draws attention to the role of “swarming adolescents” and “rebellious hysteria” and traces the origins of the use of this for political purposes to the Tavistock Institute in the 1960s: that institute was created by the British Army as its psychological warfare arm after World War I and its illustrious alumni include Dr. David Owen, the former British Foreign Secretary and Dr. Radovan Karadžic, the former President of the Bosnian Serb Republic. Mowat recounts how the ideas formulated there by Fred Emery were taken up by one Dr. Howard Perlmutter, a professor of “Social Architecture’’ at the Wharton School, and a follower of Dr. Emery, (who) stressed that “rock video in Katmandu,” was an appropriate image of how states with traditional cultures could be destabilized, thereby creating the possibility of a “global civilization.” There are two requirements for such a transformation, he added, “building internationally committed networks of international and locally committed organizations,’’ and “creating global events” through “the transformation of a local event into one having virtually instantaneous international implications through mass-media.
None of this is conspiracy theory – it is conspiracy fact. The United States considers as a matter of official policy that the promotion of democracy is an important element of its overall national security strategy. Large sections of the State Department, the CIA, para-governmental agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy, and government-funded NGOs like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which publishes several works on “democracy promotion.” All these operations have one thing in common: they involve the interference, sometimes violent, of Western powers, especially the US, in the political processes of other states, and that interference is very often used to promote the quintessential revolutionary goal, regime change.
Malaparte – The Technique of Revolution
National Endowment for Democracy
“NED was created with a view to creating a broad base of political support for the organization. NED received funds from the U.S. government and distributes funds to four other organizations – one created by the Republican Party, another by the Democratic Party, one created by the business community and one by the “labor” movement (N.B.: the names of these organizations have changed over time):
- International Republican Institute (IRI)
- National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)
- Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Private Enterprise (CIPE)
- AFL-CIO’s American Center for International Labor Solidarity
Although publicly funded, the activities of these four institutes are not reported to Congress. According to William Robinson, “NED employs a complex system of intermediaries in which operative aspects, control relationships, and funding trails are nearly impossible to follow and final recipients are difficult to identify.”
In a March 2005 interview, former CIA officer Philip Agee discussed the thinking behind NED’s establishment:
“Most of the NED, and its affiliated organizations, deals with influencing political processes abroad. The means employed range from influencing civil society, media, fostering business groups, lending support to preferred politicians/political parties, election monitoring, and fostering human rights groups.” [mediachecker->example…human rights groups, such as, the International Crisis Group, Crisis Watch, or Human Watch…all headed and supposedly funded by George Soros! IMO, Soros doesn’t spend a penny of his own money on anyone other than himself]http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=National_Endowment_for_Democracy
Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp as mentioned in the article:
At first blush, a private equity fund (and not, say, Exxon-Mobil) being the number 2 profiteer in the Iraq war might sound strange. However, the cleverly run fund has raked in $1.44 billion through its DynCorp subsidiary. The primary service DynCorp has provided to the war efforts is the training of new Iraqi police forces. Often described as a ‘state within a state‘, the sizable company is headed by Dwight M. Williams, former Chief Security Officer of the upstart U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With this and other close ties to defense agencies, Veritas Capital Fund and DynCorp are well-positioned to capitalize on Iraq even more.
What is a “Color” Revolution???
As Egyptians youth hail their revolution as the first “peaceful” revolution, what those politically un-informed youngsters fail to see is that The Egyptian Revolt of 2011, is just another revolution in a series of “Color” revolutions which have occurred in the past 10 years.
So What exactly is a Color revolution?
Colour revolutions is a term used by the media to describe related movements that developed in several societies in the CIS (former USSR) and Balkan states during the early 2000s.
Participants in the colour revolutions have mostly used nonviolent resistance, also called civil resistance. Such methods as demonstrations, strikes and interventions have been intended protest against governments seen as corrupt and/or authoritarian, and to advocate democracy; and they have also created strong pressure for change. These movements all adopted a specific colour or flower as their symbol.
The colour revolutions are notable for the important role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and particularly student activists in organising creative non-violent resistance.These movements have been successful in Serbia (especially the Bulldozer Revolution of 2000), in Georgia’s Rose Revolution (2003), in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (2004), in Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution and (though more violent than the previous ones) in Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution (2005), in Kuwait’s Blue Revolution (2005), in Iraq’s Purple Revolution (2005), and in Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution (1989), but failed in Iran’s Green Revolution (2009–2010) . Each time massive street protests followed disputed elections or request of fair elections and led to the resignation or overthrow of leaders considered by their opponents to be authoritarian. Tunisia’s ”Jasmine Revolution” of 2010–2011, is the first Color revolution in North Africa and the Second in the Middle East and it launched the 2011 Middle East revolutionary wave.
Influencing factors – Anti-Communist revolutions
Many have cited the influence of the series of revolutions which occurred in Central and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. A peaceful demonstration by students (mostly from Charles University) was attacked by the police – and in time contributed to the collapse of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Yet the roots of the pacifist floral imagery may go even further back to the non-violent Carnation Revolution of Portugal in the mid 1970s, which is associated with the color carnation because carnations were worn.
The first of these was Otpor (“Resistance”) in Serbia, which was founded at Belgrade University in October 1998 and began protesting against Miloševic’ during the Kosovo War. Many of its members were arrested or beaten by the police. Despite this, during the presidential campaign in September 2000, Otpor launched its “Gotov je” (He’s finished) campaign that galvanised Serbian discontent with Miloševic’ and resulted in his defeat.Members of Otpor have inspired and trained members of related student movements including Kmara in Georgia, Pora in Ukraine, Zubr in Belarus and MJAFT! in Albania. These groups have been explicit and scrupulous in their practice of non-violent resistance as advocated and explained in Gene Sharp’s writings.
The massive protests that they have organised, which were essential to the successes in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, have been notable for their colourfulness and use of ridiculing humor in opposing authoritarian leaders.
Soros foundation and U.S. influence
Opponents of the colour revolutions often accuse the Soros Foundation and/or the United States government of supporting and even planning the revolutions in order to serve western interests. It is noteworthy that after the Orange Revolution several Central Asian nations took action against the Open Society Institute of George Soros with various means – Uzbekistan, for example, forced the shutting down of the OSI regional offices, while Tajik state-controlled media have accused OSI-Tajikistan of corruption and nepotism. Evidence suggesting U.S. government involvement includes the USAID (and UNDP) supported Internet structures called Freenet, which are known to comprise a major part of the Internet structure in at least one of the countries – Kyrgyzstan – in which one of the colour revolutions occurred.
The Guardian reported that USAID, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and Freedom House are directly involved; the Washington Post and the New York Times also reported substantial Western involvement in some of these events. Activists from Otpor in Serbia and Pora in Ukraine have said that publications and training they received from the US based Albert Einstein Institution staff have been instrumental in the formation of their strategies.
Yugoslavia & Former USSR states
The ‘Bulldozer revolution in 2000, which led to the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević. These demonstrations are usually considered to be the first example of the peaceful revolutions which followed. However, the Serbians adopted an approach that had already been used in parliamentary elections in Bulgaria (1997), Slovakia (1998) and Croatia (2000), characterised by civic mobilisation through get-out-the-vote campaigns and unification of the political opposition. The nationwide protesters did not adopt a colour or a specific symbol; however, the slogan “Gotov je” (Serbian Cyrillic: Готов је, English: He is finished) did become an aftermath symbol celebrating the completion of the task. Despite the commonalities, many others refer to Georgia as the most definite beginning of the series of “colour revolutions”. The demonstrations were supported by the youth movement Otpor, some of whose members were involved in the later revolutions in other countries.
The Rose Revolution in Georgia, following the disputed 2003 election, led to the overthrow of Eduard Shevardnadze and replacing him with Mikhail Saakashvili after new elections were held in March 2004. The Rose Revolution was supported by the Kmara civic resistance movement.
The Orange Revolution in Ukraine followed the disputed second round of the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004, leading to the annulment of the result and the repeat of the round – Leader of the Opposition Viktor Yushchenko was declared President, defeating Viktor Yanukovych. The Orange Revolution was supported by Pora.
The Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (also sometimes called the “Pink Revolution”) was more violent than its predecessors and followed the disputed Kyrgyz parliamentary election, 2005. At the same time, it was more fragmented than previous “colour” revolutions. The protesters in different areas adopted the colours pink and yellow for their protests. This revolution was supported by youth resistance movement KelKel.
Colour revolutions in the Middle East
The Cedar Revolution in Lebanon between February and April 2005 followed not a disputed election, but rather the assassination of opposition leader Rafik Hariri in 2005. Also, instead of the annulment of an election, the people demanded an end to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Nonetheless, some of its elements and some of the methods used in the protests have been similar enough that it is often considered and treated by the press and commentators as one of the series of “colour revolutions”. The Cedar of Lebanon is the symbol of the country, and the revolution was named after it. The peaceful demonstrators used the colours white and red, which are found in the Lebanese flag. The protests led to the pullout of Syrian troops in April 2005, ending their nearly 30-year presence there, although Syria retains some influence in Lebanon.
Blue Revolution was a term used by some Kuwaitis to refer to demonstrations in Kuwait in support of women’s suffrage beginning in March 2005; it was named after the colour of the signs the protesters used. In May of that year the Kuwaiti government acceded to their demands, granting women the right to vote beginning in the 2007 parliamentary elections. Since there was no call for regime change, the so-called “blue revolution” cannot be categorised as a true colour revolution.
Purple Revolution was a name first used by some hopeful commentators and later picked up by United States President George W. Bush to describe the coming of democracy to Iraq following the 2005 Iraqi legislative election and was intentionally used to draw the parallel with the Orange and Rose revolutions. However, the name “purple revolution” has not achieved widespread use in Iraq, the United States or elsewhere. The name comes from the colour that voters’ index fingers were stained to prevent fraudulent multiple voting.
Green Revolution is a term widely used to describe the Iranian election protests. The protests began in 2009, several years after the main wave of colour revolutions, although like them it began due to a disputed election, the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Protesters adopted the colour green as their symbol because it had been the campaign colour of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, whom many protesters believed had actually won the elections. These protests, also referred to as the Iranian Green Movement, however failed to bring any changes to the Iranian government.
Jasmine Revolution is a widely used term for the 2010-2011 Tunisian protests. The Jasmine Revolution led to the exit of President Ben Ali from office and the beginning of the 2010–2011 Arab world protests.
Lotus Revolution is a term currently used by various western news sources to describe the protests in Egypt that forced President Mubarak to step down in 2011 as part of the 2010–2011 Arab world protests, which followed the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia. Lotus is known as the flower representing resurrection, life and the sun of ancient Egypt. It is uncertain who gave the name, while columnist of Arabic press, Asharq Alawsat, and prominent Egyptian opposition leader Saad Eddin Ibrahim claimed to name it the Lotus Revolution. Lotus Revolution later became common on western news source such as CNN. Other names, such as White Revolution and Nile Revolution, are used but are minor terms compare to Lotus Revolution, currently common in Arabic and Western media.