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The Most Valuable Players of the Natural Capital League: Part 2

Wrong Kind of Green

October 19, 2017

 

 

The Natural Capital League (NCL) has gained it’s power and influence steadily over time and through it’s extensive networks.

After 35 years of the development of ecological economics two senior foundational figures have emerged who are utterly worthy of the title MVP.

One of these senior figures is a revered economist and the other is a lawyer, networker, manager, author, and academic.

Herman Daly

Herman Daly is not only a most valuable player, he has defined the game itself while developing the other talented players who’ve pushed the league forward. His great conceptual achievement is the idea of the ‘steady state’ (1977). He has been a very active proponent of the ‘polluter pays principle’. In 1991, while he was at the World Bank to work on sustainable development policy, he argued for the idea of ‘rights to pollute’. In 1992 he co-wrote a paper containing one of the earliest usages of the term ‘natural capital’ titled ‘Natural Capital and Sustainable Development’. In this paper a definition of the term ‘natural capital’ was provided based on a ‘functional definition’ of capital – “a stock that yields a flow of valuable goods and services into the future”.

Herman Daly was the 1996 winner of the Right Livelihood Award, the 2008 Adbusters ‘Man of the Year’ and the 2014 Blue Planet Prize winner. He co-founded the journal Ecological Economics, was closely involved in the founding of the International Society of Ecological Economics and is currently on staff at the Centre for the Advancement of Steady State Economics (CASSE). In 2012 he was a featured interviewee in the documentary ‘Four Horsemen’ directed by Ross Ashcroft who is also known as the Renegade Economist.

“Instead of maximizing returns to and investing in man-made capital (as was appropriate in an empty world), we must now maximize returns to and invest in natural capital (as is appropriate in a full world).”

Herman E. Daly (1994) in: AnnMari Jansson. Investing in Natural Capital: The Ecological Economics Approach To Sustainability. 1994. p. 24

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‘Rights to Pollute’

Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable. Ecological Economics

http://www.uvm.edu/~jfarley/EEseminar/readings/sus%20jus%20eff.pdf

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CASSE – Meet our staff

http://www.steadystate.org/meet/our-staff/

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Natural Capital and Sustainable Development

http://www.life.illinois.edu/ib/451/Costanza%20(1992).pdf

“The SSE will also require a “demographic transition” in populations of products towards longer-lived, more durable goods, maintained by lower rates of throughput.”

http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/data/files/publications/Herman_Daly_thinkpiece.pdf

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Gus Speth

James Gustave Speth is all about networking and was once dubbed the “ultimate insider”. He’s an MVP because his whole contribution is much greater than the some of the parts he has played, and he has played so very many parts. His list of fellowships and board appointments stretches to every corner of the sustainable development project. He is the highest ever American office holder at the united nations. He was the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, and he went on to become the Special Coordinator for Economic and Social Affairs under UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and chair of the United Nations Development Group. He cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and founded the World Resources Institute (WRI). Crucially he knows how to reposition his career to the advantage of sustainable development.

Gus Speth got arrested with climate justice movement leader Bill McKibben in an anti-KXL pipeline protest for the first time in 2011 shortly after moving on from the NRDC and WRI. He responded to the threat of climate change by joining the US advisory board of climate justice organization 350.org and followed up on his vision for the future laid out in his book ‘America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy’ through his various networks and positions held in the new economy movement. He is a senior fellow of the Democracy Collaborative, associate fellow at the Tellus Institute, co-chair of the NextSystem Project, board member of New Economy Coalition, former dean Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Professor at Vermont Law School and was chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration). He has a string of other fellowships and advisory roles all relating to sustainable development and new economy issues.

It’s Gus Speth’s role as consultant to the Capital Institute that ties all his networks to the Natural Capital League. The Capital Institute could be called the home of ‘regenerative capitalism’ which connects natural capital flows to the restoration of nature to improve the value of ‘ecosystem services’. Several natural capital economists from organisations such as the Gund Institute with which he shares a close relationship are involved in the Next System Project which he chairs. The Next System Project is focussed very much on social enterprise, support for communities and democratic process. We can expect that Gus Speth will continue to refine his networks and position himself to see sustainable development and the Natural Capital League flourish.

“CHILDREN CENTERED, NOT GROWTH CENTERED. Overall economic growth will not be seen as a priority, and GDP will be seen as a misleading measure of well-being and progress. Instead, indicators of community wealth creation — including measures of social and natural capital — will be closely watched, and special attention will be given to children and young people — their education and their right to loving care, shelter, good nutrition, health care, a toxic-free environment, and freedom from violence.”

America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part II

https://orionmagazine.org/article/america-the-possible-a-manifesto-part-ii/

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Measuring What Matters: GDP, Ecosystems and the Environment

http://www.wri.org/blog/2010/04/measuring-what-matters-gdp-ecosystems-and-environment

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Review of America the Possible by John Fullerton

https://capitalinstitute.org/blog/crb_book_review/gus-speths-america-possible/

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Gus Speth Returns to WRI, Inspires

http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/11/gus-speth-returns-wri-inspires

 

Further reading:

 

The Most Valuable Players of the Natural Capital League: Part 1

 

 

Avaaz: And a Billionaire Shall Lead Them [2017 Avaaz Series: Part 3]

September 23, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

 

Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel Joins Unilever’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission

Mr Ricken Patel, Executive Director, AVAAZ.org, Thematic Session “New Media: Towards new forms of social engagement and participation”, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Rio Forum

 

“Our research shows achieving the Global Goals in just four economic systems could open 60 market ‘hot spots’ worth an estimated US$12 trillion by 2030 in business savings and revenue. The total economic prize from implementing the Global Goals could be 2-3 times bigger, assuming that the benefits are captured across the whole economy and accompanied by much higher labour and resource productivity. That’s a fair assumption. Consider that achieving the single goal of gender equality could contribute up to US$28 trillion to global GDP by 2025, according to one estimate. The overall prize is enormous.” — Better Business, Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 2017

In June of 2016, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission announced its newest members which included Ricken Patel, President and Executive Director of  Avaaz. Patel was joined by eleven[1] others of elite status and influence which included the following people:

  • Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group (BABA,Tech30): Richest person in Asia and 14th richest in the world. Net worth is US$41.8 billion (June 2017). [Source] Ranked 2nd inFortune’s 2017 “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list.[Source] board member of Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy and co-founder of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
  • Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings Private Ltd: Married to the Prime Minister of Singapore. Listed as the 30th most powerful woman in the world by
  • Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO, Women’s World Banking: Worked for 17 years at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank and the investment bank Lehman Brothers. Iskenderian is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source]
  • Begümhan Do?an Faralyal?, Chairwoman, Do?an Holding: Do?an Holdingis one of the largest conglomerates in  It’s industry sectors include energy, media, industry, trade, insurance and tourism. It is founded by Ayd?n Do?an (who remains a major shareholder), Begümhan Do?an Faralyal?’s father.
  • Mark Wilson, CEO ofAviva: Named in the 2016 Debrett’s list of Britain’s 500 most influential people for his role in the £5.6bn acquisition of Friends Life. This was the largest takeover in the insurance industry in nearly 15 years turning Aviva into one of UK’s largest investment firms (£300bn-plus in assets). Wilson enjoys an annual salary of GBP £4.4 million.

The commission was officially launched at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2016. The new members bring the Commission membership to 31.

eColonization for Sustainable Development

Malloch Brown and George Soros, March 19, 2002: “Mark Malloch Brown (L), administrator of the United Nations Delvelopment Program (UNDP) and George Soros chat during a press conference at the International Bussiness Center in Monterrey City, north of Mexico, in the context of the International Conference on Financing for Development, where more than 50 heads of State will participate.” AFP PHOTO/Jorge UZON

The co-founders of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission are Mark Malloch Brown and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Polman is chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development  (WBCSD) and serves on the

Board of the UN Global Compact, “the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative”. He also served as part of “the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel helped draft Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17, which aims to ‘to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.'” [Source]

Above: Paul Polman. Unilever website: “The launch of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission: Our CEO Paul Polman co-founded the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, which works to make a powerful business case for driving a sustainable, inclusive economy.” [Source]

Polman is a “B Team Leader”. The corporation he heads, Unilever, is a member of We Mean Business (WMB). “WMB is a coalition of business groups including WBCSD, BSR, CERES, B-Team, Corporate Leaders Group, CDP, The Climate Group and supported by other networks.” The Corporate Leaders Group is The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group – a partner of the GCCA/TckTckTck – founded by Avaaz, 350, Greenpeace, Oxfam, etc. (When publicly criticized for this partnership The Prince of Wale’s Corporate Leaders Group name was removed from the TckTckTck website which has now been re-branded and will be discussed at length later in this series).

Mallock Brown (“Baron” Malloch Brown, “Lord” Mallock Brown) serves as co-chair for the WBCSD. His prestigious background is most extensive. It is paramount to look at his background, however dense, to understand what form the world will take under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).

Mallock Brown is a “former number two” in the United Nations having served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan (appointed in 2006), as well as having served in the British Cabinet and Foreign Office. He was UK’s Minister of State in the Foreign Office, covering Africa and Asia (2007-2009), as well as a member of Gordon Brown’s cabinet. Prior to that, Mallock Brown had an extensive history with the United Nation Development Program serving as Administrator from 1999-2005. He began his career as a political correspondent at The Economist (1977-1979 and 1983-1986). Other previous positions include Vice-President for External Affairs at the World Bank (joining the World Bank as Director of External Affairs in 1994), Vice-President for United Nations Affairs (1996 to 1999) and Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum. In 2007, Mallock Brown was sworn in to “Her Majesty’s” most honourable Privy Council and appointed as a Knight Commander (KCMG), an elitist title bestowed upon only the most senior of civil servants by the Queen of England.

Global briefing 2014. Mark Malloch Brown (left) and George Soros. Credit: International Crisis Group flickr

Malloch Brown has long-term personal ties to Soros. He served as vice-chairman of both George Soros’s Investment Funds and the Soros Open Society Institute. While working for Refugees International (bankrolled in large part by Soros), he was part of the Soros Advisory Committee on Bosnia in 1993–94, formed by George Soros. Spouse Trish Malloch-Brown, referred to as “Lady” Mallock Brown (Chair of Biodiversity International UK Board of Trustees, Member of Bioversity International Inc. US Board of Trustees, and Independent Humanitarian Affairs Consultant) [Source]. She is  also identified as directors emeriti on the Refugees International website where she served as Vice Chair for 12 years having been an active supporter since 1986. She served as a program officer at the Open Society Institute from 1989-1992.

Trish Malloch Brown served as the Director of International Rescue Committee-UK from 2010-2013. In 2008, foreign correspondent and investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow reported that “[t]he International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is.” [2] Prior to her appointment, it is of much interest to note that the crux of the 2007 International Rescue Committee’s annual lecture given by Mark Malloch Brown was centered upon the “politics of humamitarianism after Iraq” and the social acceptance necessary for the global implementation of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine:

“I and the Secretary General and many others, many of you in the room here tonight, have pressed in recent years for this right to intervene when a government attacks its own population – the so-called Responsibility to Protect, which requires us indeed to intervene when a government commits the equivalent of war crimes or mass abuse of human rights against its own citizens. And we have seen an emergence of groups like the International Crisis Group, as well as the IRC and many others, who have become a lobby for effective intervention in these situations, of which Darfur is just one. But we have to find a way of winning universal, global understanding and support for this concept. We have to work amongst the nations of Africa, for example, to build acceptance of this.’ [Source]

Above: Lionel Rosenblatt, then head of Refugees International, Mort Abramowitz and Mark Malloch Brown, at Sarajevo airport moments before coming up with the concept of Crisis Group, January 1993. CRISIS GROUP

“Mark Malloch Brown (L) and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (R) attend the Pakistan: Hopes Submerged, Resilience Remains event at Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association on November 15, 2010 in New York City.”

For the past 30 years Refugees International has held a lavish annual event for the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award. Participants include the crème de le crème of the world’s most influential and power. In 2007, this award was bestowed upon both Mark Malloch Brown and Lady Trish Malloch Brown. This same award was presented to the terrorist group the White Helmets this year. Last year the award was given to The B Teams Richard Branson. [Full list of benefactors] .

RI Staff and Board Member Queen Noor-Al Hussein with the White Helmets and staff of the Syria Campaign. — Refugees International Website | White Helmets volunteer Jehad Mahameed (back row third from right), “Her Majesty Queen” Noor Al-Hussein (back row second from left), White Helmets volunteers Manal Abazeed (center) and Mounir Mustafa (front row, 2nd from left)

Video published March 16, 2017: RI Board Member Queen Noor Al-Hussein presents Refugees International’s highest humanitarian award to the White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense) at RI’s Anniversary Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2017. Accepting the McCall-Pierpaoli Award on behalf of the White Helmets are Mounir Mustafa, Manal Abazeed, and Jehad Mahameed. [Source]

 

[International Crisis Group and Refugees International will be discussed later in this report.]

Mallock Brown is a former chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at FTI Consulting, a political consulting firm.

Mallock Brown has also played a role in the humanitarian industrial complex. “From 1979 to 1983, he worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). From 1979 to 1981, he was stationed in Thailand, where he was in charge of field operations for Cambodian refugees. He was appointed Deputy Chief of UNHCR’s Emergency Unit in Geneva, undertaking extensive missions in the Horn of Africa and Central America.” [Source]

Malloch Brown was an adviser to the former President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a U.S. lapdog who carried out the neoliberal Washington consensus in Bolivia from 1993 to 2003. After a brutal conflict in 2003, known as the “Bolivian Gas War” in which at least 64 people killed and further 400 injured, Lozada resigned and fled to Miami. Lozada and 15 of his ministers were charged by the Bolivian Supreme Court with the crime of genocide in 2005. The Bolivian Government led by Evo Morales (the first Indigenous president of Bolivia) has been seeking Lozada’s extradition from the US to no avail. On December 18, 2007, a year after Evo Morales was swept into power by the majority of Bolivians, “Lord” Malloch stated in the UK parliament:

“The Constitutional Assembly was an important effort to try to get both sides to arrive at a comprehensive solution to the country’s political problems, which are very real and which revolve, as the noble Baroness knows, around marginalised Indian populations who have felt excluded for a long time. However, including them in a country that had a strong pre-existing democracy but which also had strong vested economic interests has proved extremely difficult.”

Here it is important to note that Indigenous peoples in Bolivia constitute appox. 62% of the population. The fact that Malloch Brown states that prior to the new Morales government, that the country had “a strong pre-existing democracy” demonstrates clearly and unequivocally Mollach Brown’s loyalties to colonization, imperialism, and empire.

From 1986 to 1994 Malloch Brown was the lead international partner at the US-based Sawyer-Miller Group communications consultancy. He ultimately co-owned the firm with three other partners. [Source] The firm was one of the first communication consultants “to use US-style election campaign methods for foreign governments, companies, and public policy debates.” [Source] Note that Trish Malloch Brown began her foray into international political consulting at the Sawyer Miller Group in 1986. [Source]

Notable is his work in Peru assisting Mario Vargas Llosa with his 1990 presidential campaign. In 1987, Llosa helped establish and then lead the Movimiento Libertad party in Peru. The following year his party formed a coalition with the parties of Peru’s two principal conservative politicians: ex-president Fernando Belaúnde Terry (Popular Action party) and Luis Bedoya Reyes (Partido Popular Cristiano). They would form the center-right coalition Frente Democrático (FREDEMO).  During his 1990 presidential campaign, he proposed a sweeping economic austerity program that frightened the country’s poor emphasizing “the need for a market economy, privatization, free trade, and above all, the dissemination of private property.” [Source]

His firm also consulted Venezuela where they worked against and then for Carlos Andrés Pérez, another US lapdog who presided over Venezuela from 1974-1979 and from 1989-1993. He became the first Venezuelan president to be forced from office by the Supreme Court for the embezzlement of 250 million bolívars belonging to a presidential discretionary fund. In 1992, his party survived two coup attempts. The first attempt took place February 4, 1992, and was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chávez, who would later become the revolutionary leader of Venezuela until his untimely death. They also consulted in Colombia where they advised the government on how to shed “its image as the political wing of the Medellin cartel”:

“Sawyer Miller has also played a key role in skewing the ‘war on terror’ in Colombia. As a result of PR activities conducted by the group, FARC is considered the ‘most dangerous international terrorist group based in the Western Hemisphere’. However, this is mainly due to the work of Sawyer Miller and the Colombian military who, according to the US ambassador to Colombia in 1996, ‘considered it a way to obtain U.S. assistance in the counterinsurgency’. And this assistance has continued to this very day. Colombia continues to be on of the largest recipients of American military aid in the world.”[Source]

The following is the synopsis for the book 2009 book titled Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business by James Harding, in which Mollock Brown plays a prominent role:

“Alpha Dogs” is the story of the men behind an enormously influential campaign business called the Sawyer Miller Group, men who served as backroom strategists on every presidential contest from Richard M. Nixon’s to Barack Obama’s… Long after their firm, Sawyer Miller, had broken up and sold out, its alumni had moved into the White House, to dozens of foreign countries, and into the offices of America’s blue-chip chief executives. The men of Sawyer Miller were the Manhattan Project of spin politics: a small but extraordinary group who invented American-style political campaigning and exported it around the world. In this lively and engaging narrative, James Harding tells the story of a few men whose marketing savvy, entrepreneurial drive, and sheer greed would alter the landscape of global politics….”

In the Philippines, Mallock Brown worked with Corazon (Cory) Aquino in the campaign against Marcos: “The book [Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business] described Malloch Brown’s propaganda strategy that Cory adopted, the demonization of Marcos, a tactic her son, Benigno 3rd, continues to use three decades later: ‘Malloch Brown was living on the fringes of the press corps, picking up the scuttlebutt. He came to see the campaign in binary terms, knocking Marcos down and building Cory up… Twenty years later, Malloch Brown sat in his office on the thirty-eighth floor of the United Nations building and said that Cory had to be pushed to go negative, but that the decision to get more aggressive, dirtier, had been quite deliberate: ‘We set out to make it about Marcos. It was very negative campaign.'” [Source]

Malloch Brown has also “worked extensively on privatisation and other economic reform issues with leaders in Eastern Europe and Russia.” [Source]

Mallock Brown currently serves as the co-chair of the International Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees, (alongside Larry Summers (Goldman Sachs), Alexander Soros, George Soros and The B Teams, Mo Ibrahim). The international Crisis Group was  conceptualized in 1993 by Mallock Brown with Mort Abramowitz, then President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. [3] He also serves on the board of Kerogen Capital (“Kerogen provides expansion and development capital to established junior oil and gas companies.”) He chairs and/or serves on the board of a numerous NGOs including the Open Society Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Centre for Global Development.

Above: Mark Malloch Brown – Leaders Dinner: A Night of Pioneers – 23 June, 2016

Mallock Brown is Chairman of SGO (Society of Gynecologic Oncology) and its elections division Smartmatic, “the world’s leading voting technology provider”, which can’t be surprising given Brown’s extensive immersion into international politics and influential manipulation of foreign elections. He serves on the Boards of Investec and Seplat Petroleum Development Company plc (Nigerian oil and gas) which are listed on the London, Johannesburg and Lagos stock markets; Kerogen, an oil and gas private equity fund. He is chairman of GADCO Cooperatief U.A. (An agribusiness privately owned and funded by financial and impact investors and registered in Amsterdam, GADCO is the largest commercial rice farm in West Africa). In 2005, Time Magazine placed Malloch Brown on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

International Crisis Group Gala: Above: Alex Soros an ICG trustee who recently gave 500,000 to the NGO, honourary Richard Branson (The B Team), and Frank Giustra, executive member with the International Crisis Group, Photo: Don Pollard for International Crisis Group, flickr

In the following YouTube video published on Oct 24, 2015: “Sir Richard Branson will receive the Chairman’s Award for inspiring leadership to advance the cause of peace. The founder of Virgin Group and co-founder of The Elders is recognised for his visionary reshaping of private sector initiatives to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development.”

To be clear The B Team has played a pivotal role in the formation of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development:

“The B Team is also supporting the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development, created by B Team member and Unilever CEO Paul Polman, which aims to quantify and articulate the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Branson and Benioff are among the 27 investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of investors committed to supporting the commercialization of clean energy ideas.” — The B Team Launches ‘Born B’ to Support Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs, Sustainable Brands, April 4, 2016

Under the subsection The Global Goals (p. 31) of The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, a quote is referenced by Paul Polman, co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission:

“Business and civil society, including some of my fellow B Team Leaders, have formed the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, tasked with quantifying the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the SDGs.”


Above: The B Team Press Release with the Purpose address. Note the language in the release; “2C threshold, aspiration to achieve, net-zero (rather than virtual zero).

Transforming Markets: The Greatest Economic Opportunity of a Lifetime

The managing partners of the Business and Sustainable Development commission are SYSTEMIQ (which shares the same address as the commission) and the United Nations Foundation.

The purpose of SYSTEMIQ is to unleash “viable growth” and transform markets. SYSTEMIQ is a new kind of enterprise – that combines advisory, business building and investment expertise to deploy human talent and long term capital in order to originate projects, de-risk investments and accelerate growth and system-level impact.”

The stated goal of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission is to “inspire business leaders to seize upon sustainable development as the greatest economic opportunity of a lifetime. Our flagship report, Better Business, Better World, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the Global Goals, and shows how to achieve them.”

“The Business and Sustainable Development Commission, launched in Davos in January 2016, aims to map the economic prize that could be available to business if the UN Sustainable Development Goals—17 objectives to end poverty and hunger, achieve gender equality, and tackle climate change by 2030—are achieved.” — Business and Sustainable Development Commission Better Business, Better World report

The Commission’s Better Business, Better World report was led by its commissioners, and supported by: the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). [Source]

“The UN Foundation, the WBCSD, the Overseas Development Institute and The B Team are supporting the Commission, which is also receiving funding support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.” — New Global Commission Aimed at Quantifying Business Case for Helping to Achieve SDGs, Sustainable Brands, January 21, 2016

The Business Commission’s Steering committee is comprised of individuals representing the following institutions: World Business Council on Sustainable Development, UN Foundation, International Chambers of Commerce, Rockefeller Foundation, UN Global Compact, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, World Economic Forum, Unilever, World Resources Institute, The B Team, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Overseas Development Institute. [5]

The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group is comprised of individuals representing the following institutions: : UBS and Society, UN Foundation, World Bank Group, Volans, McKinsey Social Initiative, World Resources Institute Europe, PWC, Brookings Institute, FSG, Practice of Public Policy, School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Accenture, Z/Yen, Channel 4 News, UN Foundation, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Minister of the Environment, Nigeria, Center for Development Policy Solutions, Equity Group Holdings Limited, OECD, UN Sustainable Development Network and Winston Eco-Strategies. [6]

The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group Supporting Orgs includes: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), United Nations Foundation, Unilever, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), Australian department department of foreign affairs and trade, Sida (a government agency that works on behalf of the Swedish Parliament and Government) and UKAID.

The Business Commission’s agenda is evident. From the Global Green Growth website:

“A Global Green Growth AgendaA rapid, large-scale industrial transition is needed if global economic growth is to continue while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting societies to climate change and promoting a sustainable use of resources. This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth.” [Source]

In the aforementioned report, the following passage regarding the underlying need for perpetual growth can be found on page 22 under the heading New Metrics:

“There is overwhelming evidence that the transition to a thriving, clean economy is inevitable, irreversible — and irresistible… The global market for low-carbon goods and services, for example, is worth more than US$5.5 trillion and is growing at 3% per year… Sustainability is no longer just the right thing to do — it fuels growth. At the same time, we see huge yields from social investment. For every one dollar invested, the global economic return on sanitation spending is US$5.50, and an investment in nutrition gives a US$17 return. Surely no one can argue with that.” — Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source][Emphasis added]

To be clear, it is impossible to undergo a rapid, large-scale industrial transition (to ensure continued global economic growth) while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even a slow, small-scale industrial transition cannot and could not be coupled with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. An industrial transition will require massive amounts of fossil fuels – resulting in a requisite increase in greenhouse gas emissions. All so-called “clean” energy is dependent upon fossil fuels from cradle to grave. Further, planned obsolescence is an integral component in “clean energy” technology in order to sustain perpetual growth.

Further, in the censored paper by atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett titled Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?, his conclusions are as follows; contrary to popular belief, improving energy efficiency actually leads to accelerated growth of CO2 emissions; absent collapsing the economy, emissions can only be stabilized by building the equivalent of one nuclear plant per day, and, emissions growth has inertia.[Source]

“Over the next 15 years, driving system change in line with the Global Goals with sector peers will be an essential, differentiating skill for a world-class business leader. It means shaping new opportunities, pre-empting the risks of disruption and renewing businesses’ licence to operate.” — Better Business, Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 2017

Today, unbeknownst to the entire global population, policies implementing the financialization of nature into government legislation, a scheme that is global in scale, continue to accelerate forward unabated – with essentially zero public scrutiny. The 21st century privatization of the commons  is not spoken of by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex, who are most complicit in the scheme. Consider that the Amazon rainforest is already listed on the world’s first green stock exchange [Source] and the world’s first “species banking” ecosystems marketplace has been established:

“Until now, there has been no centralized information resource to serve buyers, sellers, and other market participants. Basic information such as number of banks, species covered, location, availability of credits, and contact details have not been readily available…. The ultimate goal of speciesbanking.com is to facilitate species credit trading as an effective tool for the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

 

Speciesbanking.com is a project of the Ecosystem Marketplace, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information on markets and payment schemes for ecosystem services (services such as water quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity). The Ecosystem Marketplace believes that by providing reliable information on costs, regulation, science, and other market-relevant factors, markets for ecosystem services will one day become a fundamental part of our economic system, helping give value to environmental services that, for too long, have been taken for granted. In providing this information, the Ecosystem Marketplace hopes not only to facilitate transactions, but also to catalyze new thinking, spur the development of new markets, and achieve effective and equitable nature conservation.

 

We believe that, if implemented correctly, species credit banking for compensatory mitigation – and it’s variations in other countries and in its various forms, such as biodiversity offsets – can help create value for biodiversity, transforming endangered species from a liability into an asset, and thereby furthering endangered species recovery. ” [Source]

On the surface, the Avaaz climate campaign (rolled out in tandem with other prominent NGOs) is a seemingly admirable call for a “global” transition to “clean energy”. However, this campaign, marketed to a privileged (and majority Anglo) demographic, conveniently (and deliberately) makes no mention of the fact that an estimated 1-2 billion global citizens have no access to electricity at all. The most critical and ironic information not spoken of (which is again deliberate in nature) is the fact that this same targeted demographic being appealed to by Avaaz, et al in its demand for “100% renewable energy”, is the very demographic that creates 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. [50% of global greenhouse gas emissions are created by 1% of the global population.][Source] Yet, this same 1% does not want to live with less. This same 1% (comprised of anyone who can get on a plane) that has created and continues to accelerate our ecological crisis wants MORE. Faster, shinier, better, new, modern. This 1% now demands “clean energy” on top of their insatiable appetite for dirty energy. Luxury Teslas. Turbines. Solar. Biofuels. All part of a grotesque consumer culture that drives (lifestyle) wars and imperialism, as billions go without, which is ultimately perpetuated and encouraged by NGOs. This glaring inequality beset by arrogance/selfishness is more apparent when one acknowledges that only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown in an airplane. [Source]

To emphasize this point, consider that in 2011, “the average American consumed 13,240 kilowatt hours (kWh) per person per year, while the average Ethiopian consumed only 56 kWh. Further, across all of Sub-Saharan Africa, annual per capita kWh use is one-sixth the load requirements of a relatively efficient American refrigerator. Globally, the poorest three-quarters of the world’s population comprise less than ten percent of total energy consumption.” [Source] Of course, the lowest levels of rural electricity access are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa – the single richest continent on the planet that continues to provide aid  to the West. As an example, Burundi (a a recent target of empire for destabilization) can only supply electricity to about 1.2% of its population due to insufficient power production. In Sudan, only 3.5% of its people have access to electricity despite its oil, minerals and timber. [Source] (But yes, give more to the Global North with the excess concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of Anglos. We demand it. We deserve it. We want our consumption and we would like it green. At least let us pretend it to be so.)

The reality is this: behind closed doors, not only do those at the helm of these NGOs understand full well that the “new economy” is a fantasy, the real task at hand is insulating and expanding the fledgling global economic capitalist system. Consider this consensus from McKinsey (Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group, and incidentally, affiliated with many of the Avaaz co-founders):

“Despite huge investments in clean energy, in 2020 the ratio of fossil fuel consumption to renewable and nuclear power will remain largely as it is today—roughly 80 percent. No realistic scenario will move the needle: the embedded resource infrastructure is so large that any transition away from fossil fuels will take decades.” — Pricing the Planet, June, 2010

And perhaps even more graphic, from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission website:

“Trade’s share of GDP is declining for the first time in 30 years. Global unemployment reached 197 million last year, while 600 million new jobs are needed just to keep up with population growth… The environmental costs of the old growth model are growing, too. Environmental externalities like carbon emissions, natural resource degradation and loss of ecosystem services cost the world over $4.5 trillion a year. Resource prices are becoming more volatile as 3 billion more consumers join the global economy, and the supply of resources like water and land remains finite. The global carbon budget for keeping average warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius is set to be used up in just five years.”

Here it is critical to reflect upon the biophysical limits of the Earth. Scientists have been warning for decades that by  2030 we will require the equivalent of two planets’ productive capacity to meet our annual demands (which is really the needs of the 1% responsible for our multiple ecological crises). This is less than 13 years away, yet the elite establishment would have us believe we can transform the entire global infrastructure while simultaneously using less fossil fuels. [Further reading: Environmentalism is Dead – Welcome to the Age of Anthropocentrism]

“No person with a shred of decency would disagree that the vast majority of reserves should not be burned. But you can’t have it both ways. If it cannot be burned for the industrialized “fossil fuel” economy, it cannot be burned for an industrialized, and more importantly, illusory “clean energy” economy either. Illusory as the fantastical infrastructure is fossil fuel based, fossil fuel dependent. Possible only by exhausting Earth’s natural resources that scientists warn will be depleted in their entirety by 2030, even without incorporating a third industrial revolution.” — Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital, April 23, 2016

Here it is critical to recall that The B Team, founded by Richard Branson (Virgin Group)[4] is led/managed by Purpose. That Purpose is Avaaz. The Avaaz and Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans speaks for We Mean Business, is a B Team Leader, and that Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s brainchild) is a key client of Purpose. The Unilever CEO being that of Paul Polman, co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission and chair of WBCSD.

In addition, Avaaz co-founder Patel is now a member of Polman’s and Mallock Brown’s newest venture, the aforementioned Business and Sustainable Development Commission. Furthermore, a founding NGO of We Mean Business is Ceres –a partner in the divestment campaign of 350.org. Another founding NGO of We Mean Business is The Climate Group. This NGO was incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation – as was 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011. The B Team was incubated by Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin Group. The Climate Group is a partner of Avaaz (no longer public on the Climate Group website).

The “global goals” in reality, must be understood as the true objective for corporate capture and complete privatization of the commons. This objective is drenched in deceiving holistic linguistics – hidden in plain sight. Hence at the top of the hierarchy, the elite structured power institutions are deploying the legislation and unifying the corporate interests/power they are immersed under one key goal (the financialization of nature). While beneath it, the NGOs that target/appeal to the Anglo-centric middle class (Avaaz, Purpose, 350, Greenpeace, etc.) will be tasked with slowly but methodically bringing society up to speed with this brave new world, which they will be socially engineered to not only accept, but to believe it is in their own best interests.

“The B Team is grateful for the support it receives from Ford FoundationKering GroupGuilherme LealStrive MasiyiwaJoann McPikeThe Tiffany and Co. FoundationThe Rockefeller FoundationUnilever and Virgin Unite and for the contributions of past supporters Derek Handley [Founding CEO of The B Team] and One Young World.” — The B Team website

 

“In tackling climate change The B Team shares a common message: We Mean Business. The B Team joined forces with seven of the world’s largest business platforms to launch the We Mean Business coalition. In the months ahead, the coalition will use its collective voice and energy to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and help achieve climate justice.” — We Mean Business – The B Team, Sustainable Brands, September 24, 2014

From left to right: “Jamie Henn, Communications Director, 350, organizers of the world’s largest climate action on October 24; Ricken Patel, Executive Director, Avaaz, the world’s largest digital campaigning org, with 3.5M supporters; Ben Margolis, Campaigns Director, TckTckTck, an open campaign involving 220+ global NGO partners. At Fresh Air Center facilitated by tcktcktck for bloggers, downtown Copenhagen. 14 December 2009.” flickr, Tcklive

Earth Economics is co-founded by Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. Earth Economics, created to accelerate and exploit the financialization of nature scheme, now well underway, is a member of Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), which is in turn a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. [Source]

Recently, WBCSD, chaired by Business and Sustainable Development Commission co-founders Polman and Mallock Brown, launched another initiative to privatize ecosystems — Natural Infrastructure for Business: “It is the first step towards achieving our vision that by 2020, investing in ecosystems-or natural infrastructure-will no longer be just a good idea; it will be common practice across industry sectors worldwide.” [Source] “The Natural Infrastructure for Business platform developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), CH2M (with support from The Nature Conservancy), and other member companies is designed to introduce business leaders and practitioners to natural infrastructure… It is the first output of the WBCSD’s Natural Infrastructure work program, chaired by Shell and Dow and involving a group of over 30 WBCSD members. [Source]

One of the key achievements of The B Team as identified by Branson’s Virgin:

“What has The B Team achieved so far? Joined forces with the Natural Capital Coalition, WBCSD, IUCN and others to develop the first ever Natural Capital Protocol for business.”

 

“Working as part of the Natural Capital Coalition The B Team supported the development of the first global, standard Natural Capital Protocol – a set of tools for companies to measure their impacts and dependencies on nature. The protocol was launched July 2016, following pilots by more than 40 companies, including Kering and Dow Chemical.” [Source]

Above: The B Team “Experts”. From left to right: Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans, Founder and President of Capital Institute John Fullerton, co-founder and President of Ceres (350.org divestment advisor/partner) Mindy Lubber [Source: The B Team]

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood (Goldman Sachs) and 350.org’s Bill McKibben. Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

The following video is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans (The B Team) speaking for We Mean Business at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

 

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Purpose, 2011

Screenshot from the Devex Website. The address for The B Team Headquarters is the address of Purpose.  As demonstrated in part 1 of this series , The B Team appears to be, for all intent and purposes, the Purpose public relations firm.  

Citizens as the Puppets of Oligarchs

The Peoples Climate March of 2014 led by GCCA/TckTckTck (co-founded by 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace, along with 17 other international NGOs) and 2017 , the divestment campaign (Ceres), the Women’s March on Washington, the scores of NGO petitions designed to placate the masses…. these are not financed by the world’s most powerful elites and institutions – to the tune of trillions – for nothing. The funds are not “grants” –  the funds are investments. For the highest return. This is not philanthropy – this is security. For the world’s most powerful corporations and elites, foundations have become essential, tax-evading investments with returns that outweigh gold. The liberal faux activists are anthropocentrists craving status and access. Those leading the “movements” move in the same elite circles as those that finance the movements. Behind closed doors the fait accompli is the expansion of nuclear energy. The financialization of nature is the final coup de grace.

 “And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.” — We Mean Business

 

“Building on our experience supporting sister marches inspired by the Women’s March, the Purpose team helped the People’s Climate Movement leverage its vast volunteer base through compelling digital content and distributed organizing.” — People’s Climate March: The March and the Movement, Phil Aroneanu (Founder of 350.org) et al, Senior Campaigns Director, Purpose

 

“In the months and weeks leading up to January 21, Purpose had the honor of working with a collective of organizers called The Sister March Network to launch a digital and organizing program designed to support distributed events around the country.” —  How the Women’s March Went Viral, Phil Aroneanu (co-founder of 350.org) , Senior Campaigns Director, Purpose

And while hundreds of thousands marched like fools (albeit well-intentioned and naive) with those that have united to further destroy what little remains of our natural world …. who protect and expand the existing power structures that enslave us, who in united fashion strategize to manipulate, to lie, to further utilize behavioural change science via  behavioural insight teams (governments) and social engineering (NGO & ivory tower think tanks), the crème de le crème of the world’s most powerful psychopaths are privatizing the planet. 350’s “radical” Naomi Klein may have called your attention to the fact Branson never failed to deliver on his 3bn dollar climate pledge, but she certainly didn’t call your attention to her financiers plans to privatize the planet via the financialization of nature. And she knew. As they all did. The above phrase from Malcolm fits most appropriately in this regard: “Oh, and I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run amok!”

“The NCP [Natural Capital Project] was developed by a coalition of 38 organisations, including, WBCSD, IUCN and The B Team, with hundreds of others consulted. The protocol has been piloted and feed into by more than 80 companies, representing 15 industry sectors and seven geographical regions. The protocol for generating, trusted, credible and actionable information around natural capital impacts and dependencies associated with a business operations is now freely available to all business leaders.” — New Natural Capital Protocol Will Help Business Value Nature, July 13, 2016

The Global Goals for Sustainable 21st Century  Colonization

“A customer of GADCO, a new Acumen investment in West Africa”  Credit: The Acumen website

“As part of an effort to build sustainable businesses in Africa and fight poverty, the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) today announced a US$5 million investment in GADCO, a Ghanaian agriculture company. ” — Soros Economic Development Fund Invests in Ghana to Bolster Food Security, March 21, 2014

At the end of this second segment of this series, we must take a moment to reflect upon the aforementioned agribusiness venture GADCO, that Molloch Brown chairs, for it represents a microcosm of what we can expect from the UN’s “Global Goals” which have now been incorporated globally into the education curriculum of children as ” The World’s Largest Lesson”. The “Global Goals” being steadily accelerated by the world’s most powerful institutions and NGOs with Purpose (Avaaz)/The B Team, We Mean Business (350.org divestment partner Ceres, etc.) and the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (inclusive of Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel), all working intricately together at the helm.

GADCO is financed in part (see below) and managed by Acumen Fund. Its partner community includes Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Unilever, UK Department of International Development, USAID, Goldman Sachs, Ford Foundation, General Electric, IKEA Foundation, Omidyar Network The Rockefeller Foundation, American Express, The Dow Chemical Company, Skoll Foundation, Citi, Barklays, Google, and a plethora of other foundations. [Full list]

“In setting up the outgrower scheme, GADCO deliberately sought partners from the development world – such as the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the World Bank – as well as private investors.”— When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

GADCO began its venture with a 30-year lease of 1,000ha (to start) of the land belonging to the Fievie community (in Ghana) for a 2.5 percent share of the venture’s profits and the grant of 48ha of developed irrigated plots back to the community. It is reported that the Fievie community members that were displaced were compensated by GADCO. GADCO sees Africa as a “growth market with compelling fundamentals driven by urbanization, population growth, and rising incomes.” GADCO is backed by Summit Capital, Acumen Fund (which hosts the website for GADCO) and loan capital by Deutsche Bank (JV fund with KfW) and Root Capital. [Source: World Bank] Acumen‘s egregious business model is based on replacing seed saved from the prior year by the rural farmers of Africa (where most farms use farm-saved seed) with seed from the West. [Source]

The farm labourers for GADCO (21st century colonizers) are paid 9 cedis a day (USD$4) “with some farmers stating this was lower than what they had earned doing the same job elsewhere.” As if it were not enough to colonize the community (the further modern-day colonization of Africa will expand in lockstep with GADCO’s growth) the patronizing patriarchs would also establish where and how this pittance of profit sharing would be spent. The 2.5% paid to the community “would be deposited into a special account to be used exclusively on local development projects.” As of January 2014, the Fievie’s 2.5% revenue share has gone towards 1) upgrading street lighting, 2) building a school block, 3) providing furniture for a kindergarten, and 4) buying a set of drums for a local youth group. Labourers who complained about shoddy boots and equipment had their needs fall on deaf ears. Labourers also expressed dissatisfaction that the transportation (part of the perks/negotiations promised by GADCO) to return them home at the end of the working day was inadequate. Another perk promised by GADCO was the luxury of being able to buy some of company’s rice at a subsidised price – but there was no rice available. The community approached GADCO in hopes of assistance to build a water pipeline. While the community, now adorned with updated street-lighting and kindergarten furniture, further negotiated for GADCO to supply a pipe for water in 2013, over $15 million was spent on the first phase of the project. The next phase of the project would be launched within the next two years with a $100-million investment to develop rice paddies in five Sub-Saharan countries, including Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria.

“Nevertheless, the complaints of GADCO’s labourers – the one group the company can most easily replace and so arguably doesn’t need to try as hard to please – doesn’t reflect well, and some might be concerned that although other parties seem happy for now, the more the firm grows, the more it will be able to leverage its power to squeeze greater profits from those other groups too. There is a fundamental power imbalance between GADCO and its small-scale farmers, for example, which will only increase as the company develops a stronger monopoly on inputs and markets.”—  When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

 

“Meanwhile, AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) has supported the expansion of agrodealers into rural areas; the development of private seed companies; and reforms to intellectual property rights in Ghana. This has resulted in the increasing movement of seeds produced by multinational companies into the Ghanaian market, threatening to displace nationally produced certified seeds, and the enactments of new laws to facilitate market penetration and research by transnational agribusiness. A Biosafety Protection Law was enacted in 2010, facilitating the movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related research into Ghana… [GADCO] has entered into an arrangement with the communities to lease 1,000ha of land for a 2.5 percent share of the profits and the grant of 48ha of developed irrigated plots back to the community… GADCO is exploring other avenues of gaining access to seeds produced by transnational seed companies and from Ghanaian seed research institutes, although there are problems with the quality of certified seeds produced in Ghana and difficulties in getting regulatory clearance from imported seeds. For the present, it has entered into an alliance with Wienco, which has contractual rights to distribute Syngenta seeds in Ghana.” [Source]

 

“The Syngenta Foundation is linked to the much-maligned agrochemical giant Syngenta while AGRA – which is in fact chaired by Annan himself – has been accused of being a shill for biotech corporations and of undermining the sovereignty of local farmers.”— When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

The philanthropic gestures played out by the corporate state and hyped by the mass media they own and fund (hence control) are for propaganda purposes only – wholly utilized to give the semblance of concern. Be assured that the only true concern is both the protection and expansion of the current power structure via policies that will expand capital markets with investments, legislative policies and privatization that will not only further enslave the Global South, but further destroy all life on Earth. This series will continue to demonstrate that without doubt, there is no entity on Earth that sustains the status quo than the NPIC, the mercenaries and protectorate of global hegemony.

 

End Notes:

[1] The remaining 6 individuals to join the commission were: 

  1. Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association): [Full bio]
  2. Helen Hai, CEO, Made in Africa Initiative: Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) “By leveraging the expertise of leading industry experts and influential persons with experience working in China and Africa, the Made In Africa Initiative will ensure that Africa’s economic transition integrate knowledge and advice drawn from three decades of rapid economic development in China… Members of the board fully support industrialization in Africa.” [Source] [Full bio]
  3. Mads Nipper, Group President, CEO, Grundfos: Served as Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Vice President of Markets and Member of Management Board at LEGO A/S (known as Lego Group) from 1991-2014. [Source]
  4. Cherie Nursalim, Vice Chairman, GITI Group: Former research associate at the Harvard Business School and director of East-West Bank in California. Named Young Global Leader by the World Economic forum.[Full bio]
  5. Dinara Seijaparova, CFO, National Management Holding Baiterek: CFO of National Oil&Gas company; work on Kashagan financing; World Bank Group in Washington DC, analyst.[Source]
  6. Hans Vestberg, Executive Vice President and President of Network and Technology, Verizon: formerCEO of telecommunications company Ericsson. [Source]

[2] “The International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is. This is exactly what is going on with the IRC today, and more, when the IRC—heavily subsidized by the very same profiteers—sends its body counters into Congo. But the IRC is not only the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, it is also the ideal instrument of intelligence gathering. The IRC capitalizes on their access to refugee populations, conflict areas and individual refugee encounters and interviews to gather intelligence on armed groups, leadership, resources, weapons and geographical conflicts, information that is selectively used to serve the greater interests of the IRC and its partners.” Source: The War that did not make the Headlines: Over Five Million Dead in Congo? Behind the Numbers Redux: How Truth is Hidden, Even When it Seems to Be Told, January 31, 2008

[3] “In January 1993, Mort Abramowitz, then President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Mark Malloch Brown, then World Bank Vice President for External Affairs and later Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, are seated next to each other on a flight out of war-torn Sarajevo. The two men debate why it had been so difficult for the international system to effectively respond to Bosnia and other conflicts. An idea is hatched: to create an independent organisation that could serve as the world’s eyes and ears on the ground in countries in conflict while pressing for immediate action. The concept of the International Crisis Group is born.” [Source]

[4] “In 2013, following a series of workshops and meetings hosted by Virgin Unite, a group of business leaders came together with a shared belief that business could no longer be motivated by profit alone. From these extensive discussions The B Team was formed and incubated by Virgin Unite with the support of many wonderful partners.” [Source” Virgin Website]

[5] The Business Commission’s Steering committee is comprised of the following individuals: Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council on Sustainable Development; Kathy Calvin, President & CEO, UN Foundation; John Danilovich, Secretary General, International Chambers of Commerce; Zia Khan, Vice President, Initiatives and Strategy, Rockefeller Foundation; Lise Kingo, Executive Director, UN Global Compact; David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change; Richard Samans, Managing Director, World Economic Forum; Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever; Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute; Keith Tuffley, Managing Partner & CEO, The B Team; Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Chief Communications Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Kevin Watkins, Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute.

[6] The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group is comprised of the following individuals:Caroline Anstey, Group Managing Director and Global Head, UBS and Society, UBS; Kaysie Brown, Special Advisor for Policy and Strategic Initiatives, UN Foundation; Paula Caballero, Global Practice Director for Environment and Natural Resources, World Bank Group; John Elkington, Chairman and Chief Pollinator, Volans; Helene Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative; Kitty van der Heijden, Director, World Resources Institute Europe; Celine Herweijer, Partner in PwC’s Sustainability and Climate Change, PWC; Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development program, Brookings Institute; Mark Kramer, Co-founder and Managing Director, FSG; Kishore Mahbubani Lee, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; Jessica Long, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy and Sustainability, Accenture; Professor Michael Mainelli, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Z/Yen; Paul Mason, Economics Editor, Channel 4 News; John W. McArthur, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation; Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Co-founder and Chief Executive, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development; Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of the Environment, Nigeria, and CEO/Founder, Center for Development Policy Solutions; James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director, Equity Group Holdings Limited; Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair, OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct; Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, UN Sustainable Development Network and Andrew Winston, Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies, LLC.

 

 

How Identity Became a Weapon Against the Left

Black Agenda Report

August 30, 2017

by Briahna Joy Gray

 

 

Responses to skepticism about Harris have simply dismissed the substance of the analysis, instead suggesting a “targeting” of Harris because of her gender and/or race.”

 

Having an “identity politics” is incredibly beneficial. Identity politics, which emphasizes the unique concerns of different communities and demographic groups, shows how historical inequities have been distributed across different races, genders, religions, abilities, and sexualities. In doing so, it allows us to better understand how to critique and reform the systems that replicate those inequities. It reveals how the foreclosure crisis disproportionately hurt [1]black home owners, how health issues manifest differently [2] across populations, and how various forms of “hidden taxes [3]” penalize women in professional life. To ignore identity is to ignore injustice. Yet there are risks to viewing the world through the prism of identity. If people are defined by their demographic characteristics, they can be reduced to those characteristics in a way that obscures differences within groups. If “identity” becomes synonymous with “perspective,” dissenting members within the identity group risk having their viewpoints erased and their humanity diminished. And when used cynically, as a political weapon, a simplistic view of identity can allow people of a particular political faction to wrongly imply that they speak for all members of their racial or gender group.

Kamala Harris is black. She is a lot of other things, too: a person of South Asian descent, a woman, a former prosecutor and state Attorney General, a sitting Senator, and, according to Barack Obama, “the best looking attorney general in the country [4].” (I am your sister in side-eye, Michelle.) Out of nearly 2,000 senators in the country’s history, Harris is one of only ten black Americans and two black women to have held the position. Her personal characteristics and political accomplishments, together with the intelligence and tenacity that propelled her to the Senate, have made her a highly visible prospect for the 2020 presidential race. Already, influential Democrats have shown a strong interest in Harris [5], with prominent former Clinton donors meeting privately with Harris in the Hamptons [6]. The San Francisco Chronicle called her the Democrats’ “Great Blue Hope [7],” and a Guardian writer suggested [8] that the combination of Harris’s race and her centrist platform “could be the party’s solution to its identity crisis.”

The San Francisco Chronicle called her the Democrats’ Great Blue Hope.’”

But certain parts of Kamala Harris’s political résumé have led to skepticism from the left. As California’s Attorney General, with responsibilities for overseeing the second largest prison population [9] in the country, Harris’s professional obligation to put people behind bars was seen as being [10] in direct tension with the goals of Black Lives Matter, perhaps the most prominent progressive movement of our time. Harris touted a reform-minded “smart on crime [11]” approach in her prosecutorial role, one that encouraged education and reentry programs for ex-offenders, and in the Senate, she has co-sponsored legislation [12] to improve prison conditions for women. Yet she has also come under heavy criticism from activists for, among other things: defending [13] the state against court orders to reduce its prison population, declining [13] to take a public stand on sentencing reform proposals, attempting to block a court decision [14] requiring the state to provide a transgender inmate with gender reassignment surgery, opposing a measure [15] to require independent inquiries into police uses of force, and obstructing efforts [13] by federal judges to hold California prosecutors accountable for an “epidemic [16]” of misconduct. Harris has been a zealous prosecutor (at times, she said [13], she has been “as close to a vigilante as you can get”), and certain of her policies—like bringing criminal charges [17] against parents whose children miss school—conflict with the efforts of groups like BLM to reduce the reach of the criminal justice system into people’s lives.

Harris has also drawn scrutiny over the crimes she wasn’t tough on. While serving as Attorney General of California, Harris failed to prosecute now-Treasury Secretary Steven “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin after his OneWest Bank engaged in a notoriously aggressive pattern of home foreclosures. Under Mnuchin, OneWest was a “foreclosure machine [18]” that did everything it could to seize people’s houses, inflicting misery [19] on homeowners while failing to properly review foreclosure documents. Harris’s consumer law division found that OneWest had engaged in “widespread misconduct [20]” in its treatment of borrowers; the investigators urged Harris to “conduct a full investigation of a national bank’s misconduct and provide a public accounting of what happened.” Instead, Harris closed the case, not even pursuing the compromise measure of a civil penalty. As David Dayen writes [21], this “watered-down version of public accountability was seen as the best possible outcome, and Harris didn’t even go for that.” In failing to hold the bank accountable, Dayen emphasizes, Harris was far from alone among state law enforcement officials. Harris was, however, the only Democratic senatorial candidate to whom Steven Mnuchin felt compelled to give a campaign donation [22].

Harris said she has been ‘as close to a vigilante as you can get.’”

There are therefore both principled and pragmatic reasons why people on the left might be skeptical of a Harris candidacy. There’s a serious question about whether Harris can be counted on to advance progressive values when doing so might require political sacrifices. But there’s also a question of strategy: from a leftist perspective, it’s unwise to run yet another presidential candidate whose ties to banks could make them “untrustworthy” in an era of low public trust [23] in elected officials. Given the crushing defeat of November 2016 (which was all but predicted [24] by certain insightful progressives), it would seem obviously beneficial for the Democratic Party to listen to progressive criticism early and adapt candidates and their messaging accordingly.

Yet progressive critiques of Harris were met with swift and unyielding hostility. After a Mic article [25] documented the lack of left-wing enthusiasm for a Harris candidacy, investigative journalist Victoria A. Brownsworth suggested that a better headline for the article would be: “Kamala Harris, biracial senator and former Attorney General of the most populous state, faces misogynist white men defaming her.” (This despite the fact that every critic quoted in the piece was female, and one was a woman of color.) Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally and frequent defender of the Democratic Party, declared [26] she found it “odd” that “these folks” (meaning Bernie Sanders supporters) “have [it] in for Kamala Harris and Cory Booker” in particular. “Hmmmm,” she said, implying that criticisms of Harris and Booker were racially motivated. MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid said the Mic article simply reported the opinions of “3 alt-left activists,” “alt-left” being a term used to brand leftists as racist analogues of the neo-Nazi alt-right. In Cosmopolitan, Brittney Cooper wrote [27] that the left in general, but in particular the “Sanders Left,” “has a black-woman problem,” a charge I’ve addressed[28]elsewhere. Cooper said that those criticizing Harris “think that black women who care about establishment politics lack vision” and that the debate “isn’t about Harris, but about the emotional and political labor that black women are expected to do to save America’s soul.” “Angry white Sanders voters,” she said, must “get off [Harris’s] back.” In large part, responses to skepticism about Harris have simply dismissed the substance of the analysis, instead suggesting a “targeting” of Harris because of her gender and/or race.

By wielding identity to neutralize political pushback, these commentators were continuing a trend. Throughout the 2016 campaign season, criticism of Hillary Clinton was frequently deflected with claims that her critics were motivated by sexism. And certainly, there were a lot of sexist attacks. Allusions to her husband’s sexual exploits, scrutiny of her appearance, and a perception of the candidate as “untrustworthy” were all rooted, in part, in gender bias. No one can credibly deny that Clinton’s gender has affected the public’s perception of her since the very beginning of her career, including the early political hostility she faced in Arkansas [29]when she refused to give up her maiden name, and the time in 1992 when she was publicly pressured into proving that she liked to bake cookies [30].

Criticism of Hillary Clinton was frequently deflected with claims that her critics were motivated by sexism.”

But writing off Clinton’s leftist critics as necessarily motivated by gender bias was sexist in itself. It reduced Clinton to her gender and implied that she had no agency in her own decision-making. Some people had perfectly defensible grounds for seeing Clinton as “untrustworthy,” such her shifting position [31] on subjects like the TPP, welfare “reform,”[32] and NAFTA. Others disapproved of Clinton for her hawkishness [33], her insistence that single-payer would “never ever [34]” happen, her ties to Wall Street, or myriad other legitimate reasons [35]. Those who raised these concerns, however, were often dismissed as either “Bernie Bros” or unpersuadable “deplorables” motivated by bigotry.

The “Bernie Bro” narrative, which attempted to paint Sanders supporters as disproportionately sexist (and Sanders himself as borderline bigoted) was deeply pernicious and effective. Sanders was vulnerable to this kind of attack: in a world in which personal identity has become a shorthand for “progress” (see e.g. Obama), and “white man” has become an epithet, Bernie’s identity was an easy target. His unflinching support of women’s issues, his history of advocacy for racial justice, his record of support for civil rights and LGBT issues, even his Jewishness were all made secondary to his image as an “angry white male [36].” Sanders was accused of downplaying the political concerns of people of color. Even now, when 73% of African Americans view Sanders favorably [37] (as compared with 52% of white people), he is still treated as having a race problem.

Since more allies are generally made by engaging one’s critics than dismissing them as biased deplora-bros, the heckling approach was not a politically savvy one. Just as importantly, though, the “bro” stereotype entirely erased the perspectives of countless women and people of color who did not share the center-left political position. The “Bernie Bro” mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it. In all the words spilled about the uninterrupted whiteness of Sanders supporters, prominent “Bros” like Rosario Dawson, Ben Jealous, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Glaude, Spike Lee, Killer Mike, Cornel West, and Nina Turner went largely unmentioned. Hillary supporters were appalled [38] that leftists challenged civil rights hero John Lewis’s commitment to Clinton, but it seems civil rights legend Harry Belafonte was considered less sacrosanct—his endorsement of Bernie Sanders was whited-out of the public discourse along with the perspectives of Michelle Alexander [39]and Ta-Nehisi Coates [40]—both of whom are generally considered among the most respected liberal thought leaders.

The ‘Bernie Bro’ mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it.”

One of the most powerful pro-Black Lives Matter messages heard during the entire campaign was a Sanders video [41] featuring Erica Garner talking about her father, but Garner was an inconvenient figure for the narrative. As black progressive Leslie Lee III said[42] in March 2016:

“Me, myself, and many other POC, people of color, who support Bernie Sanders, feel like we don’t get to be a part of the conversation. We get ignored. We get erased. It’s assumed that the black vote, the Hispanic vote, and everyone is all behind Hillary Clinton and none of us really get Bernie Sanders or like Bernie Sanders.”

In March of 2016, exasperated Sanders-voting POC even employed the hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite [42], joking that a love of the band Journey and pumpkin spiced lattes would accrue with our new race status. Other, more sardonic, tweeters celebrated the immunity from police violence their newfound caucacity [43] might bring. Ironically, whiteness—when attributed to blacks—became a punishment rather than a privilege.

Twitter has been an especially revealing host forum to this ugly friction between identity and ideology: there, unapologetically leftist people of color and women are routinely shouted down [44], called race traitors, self-hating women, or, incredibly, are accused of being white—even by people with white-presenting avatars. Twitter is where you can find a liberal Democrat referring to Our Revolution president Nina Turner as “Bernie’s Omarosa[45].” It’s disorienting to see white (and black) liberals calling leftists of color sellouts, Uncle Toms, “coons,” house-slaves, and well, white people, all in the name of anti-racism. But the Bernie Bro framework tells us that all the racists are at the fringes of the political spectrum, while the middle remains pure. Progressive women or leftists of color therefore present a kind of glitch in the matrix. The solution? Deny our existenceLeftists of color are regularly told—by white liberals!—that we are white and/or secretly racist. And while stories about the sexism Clinton supporters faced online are familiar, the racism and sexism directed by the center against the left are ignored. Purported anti-racist Democrats stayed largely silent as an Islamophobic smear [46] campaign was waged against progressive black Muslim Representative Keith Ellison, one of the ugliest instances of bigotry to come out of the Democratic Party in recent history.

Leftists of color are regularly told—by white liberals!—that we are white and/or secretly racist.”

The same kind of hypocrisy could be seen in Gloria Steinem’s inane quip that young women who supported Bernie must be in it for “the boys [47].” A feminist icon struggled so much to make sense of the inconvenient fact that a majority of young women supported [48] Sanders that she fell back on the same basic gender stereotypes she has been fighting since the 1960s. But this is the dissonance created by a certain conception of identity: if we believe that Hillary Clinton is “the candidate of women and people of color,” and “women and people of color” are defined entirely by those identities, it becomes impossible to understand how anyone who shares the identity could reject the candidate. Once the distinction between perspective and identity is erased, voters of color become an undifferentiated hive mind incapable of political independence.

It’s strange that we’re at the point where this needs to be said: a black politician is not necessarily the best politician to promote black interests, and a female politician will not necessarily serve women’s interests better than a man would. Race produces a set of lived experiences that inform our political perspective, but identity cannot be used as a mitigating factor for political shortcomings. A glance at the unusually diverse 2016 Republican primary field illustrates as much. If we believe that a political candidate’s identity overrides their substantive beliefs and policy prescriptions, then a Ben Carson/Carly Fiorina ticket would have been a progressive dream. Brittney Cooper of Cosmopolitan, in her defense of Harris, makes a good point here: Cooper says that, despite a history of performing the role, black people should not be cast as “the conscience of the nation.” The burden is too heavy for any group, and it certainly exceeds the capacity of any single politician. Belonging to a protected class does not immunize a politician from error, nor should it insulate her from criticism.

A black politician is not necessarily the best politician to promote black interests.”

During the 2012 presidential race, Cory Booker went on Meet The Press and defended [49]—of all people—Mitt Romney against criticism of Romney’s work for Bain Capital. Booker, evincing more sympathy for the financial industry than for the disproportionate number of black people affected by the financial industry’s bad acts, told voters to “stop attacking private equity.” Booker was wrong to do so. During the 2016 primary, Representative John Lewis unfairly impugned Bernie Sanders’ character, implying [50] that because Lewis hadn’t personally seen Sanders in the crowd of hundreds of thousands at the 1963 March on Washington, Sanders was probably lying about having gone. Lewis, likewise, was wrong to do so. Democrats defending [51] Hillary Clinton’s support of the 1994 Crime Bill relish pointing out that two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus voted in favor of it. But those members, too, were wrong—despite being black. The other members of the CBC, the ones who opposed the bill, were right. Likewise, the contemporary equivalent of that dissenting third—the black voters who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary—should not be erased because other quantities of black people disagree. Any statement about what “black people” think or support automatically discounts the perspective of very large numbers of us, because—as is often said but rarely internalized—black people are not a monolith. Identity is, at best, a loose proxy for a person’s political commitments, and individual identity groups contain incredibly diverse perspectives. Failure to recognize that fact can result in dangerous consequences: it can lead us to support policies contrary to the best interests of a community simply because of optics, and it can turn us into a “firewall” to lean on, rather than a constituency to be won.

Even worse, because the optics are improved, it can actually become harder to combat the harm posed by in-group bad actors: a black-run [52] police force can be just as harmful to a black community as one headed by whites, but the optics of equal representation can obscure the reality of systemic racism. Hillary Clinton was widely accepted as the best candidate for what are considered “women’s issues,” such as protecting the right to choose and ensuring access to reproductive care, even though Bernie Sanders had a nearly-identical track record [53]. Yet even though Clinton almost automatically received endorsements from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other women’s organizations, she chose as her Vice Presidential nominee a senator who had historically been [54] a staunch opponent of abortion rights. As governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine had advocated for adoption over abortion, pushed for abstinence-only education, and even supported a law requiring that minors seeking to end their pregnancies get parental approval. This history would ordinarily have caused outrage among reproductive rights advocates, who see abortion as a non-negotiable issue. (Witness the trouble [55] Sanders got into after [56] giving a speech supporting an anti-abortion mayoral candidate in Nebraska.) But Clinton’s gender insulated her from scrutiny with respect to women’s issues. Those who challenged Clinton’s VP choice on the grounds that it demonstrated a lack of commitment to feminist principles were—ironically—dismissed as “bros,” regardless of our gender. In short: the interest in Hillary as a woman candidate trumped interest in having the best candidate for women.

Clinton’s gender insulated her from scrutiny with respect to women’s issues.”

The recent backlash to rumors about Kamala Harris’s potential 2020 candidacy shows how this bizarre and cynical version of “identity politics” continues to be used as a weapon to derail progressives whose record of commitment to racial justice, gender equality, and LGBT issues has historically eclipsed that of the Democratic Party itself. Using identity this way is harmful to the interests of progressive politics. Leftists, particularly leftists of color, are invested in ensuring that the Democratic Party learns from its mistakes. To that end, we are committed to helping the party put forward candidates who are less vulnerable to the types of attacks which dogged Hillary – that she was a corporatist, that she was owned by Wall Street, that she could not be trusted. That is why we question candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick – all floated as 2020 possibilities in recent weeks. Though each of them has at least one black parent, it is intellectually dishonest to pretend it is that quality, rather than their corporatism, which draws criticism from the left. (And with Nina Turner emerging as the presumptive heiress to Bernie’s progressive leadership, it is increasingly difficult to credibly contend otherwise.) It is natural to be skeptical of an out-group member’s views about a subject important to members of that group—especially when certain race or gender-based factions have historically been in conflict. But the inquiry into whether to listen to a particular critic cannot stop at that critic’s identity.

Of course, identity still matters, and prejudice operates in subtle and pervasive ways. On one level, my instinct is to agree with those who say all Harris’s critics are racist: the truth is that everyone is racist [57]. But our culture’s conscious and unconscious biases won’t be resolved before 2020, and until they are, we must rely on something more than mere identity to determine the legitimacy of political criticism. It’s fair to ask of a critic: are you able to articulate a reason why you are wary of a candidate? Do, they, for instance, cite the candidate’s conservative “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice, or do they trade in gendered stereotypes, dog-whistles, or vague statements of “feeling” that suggest an ulterior motive? This analytical step is crucial: a critic should not be impugned on the basis of a candidate’s identity, but on the soundness of the critique itself. Nor should a critic be ignored because of their own identity, without anything more. After all: biology is not (political) destiny.

Harris, Booker, Patrick, Biden, Warren: all deserve scrutiny. So does any other potential candidate. That scrutiny should be applied evenly, in proportion to a candidate’s likelihood of success and the quality of their record. It’s not an act of racism to question whether the Democratic Party should select as its presidential nominee a career prosecutor with a controversial record on misconduct issues. Pretending that these candidates are criticized solely on the basis of race or gender is, in itself, a lesser form of prejudice: it erases their flaws, and flattens their humanity. Treating people as people requires acknowledgment of their imperfections. To err, after all, is human.

 

[Briahna Joy Gray  co-hosts the SWOTI podcast: https://www.swotipod.com/ – she can be followed on Twitter @briebriejoy]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

Part 3 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

:: Houston Hurricane
:: Update on Liars and Exploiters at camps and elsewhere
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 3

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/09/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-3/

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Part 2 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

:: Update on Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind
:: Addressing Racism, Privilege, Power in Fargo
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 2

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/06/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-2/

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

Part 1 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case such as Christina Hollenback, Nexus, and Menape.  Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

Consortium News

September 13, 2017

By Robert Parry

 

President George W Bush visits CIA Headquarters, March 20, 2001.

 

Special Report: “Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

 

[Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).]

 

What a Wonderful World – US Saviour Complex

21st Century Wire

September 16, 2017

by Bruno Guigue

Purveyor of platitudes, the West portrays itself as the epitome of universal values . A paragon of democracy, this champion of human rights always deploys its presumed virtues in support of its hegemonic ambitions. Like the Fairy Godmother, doing her best to match her morals with her interests, she veils her ambitions with the cloak of Law and Justice. 

Thus, the “Free World” goes about bombing foreign nations for the sake of “democracy”, preferably in oil or mineral-rich territories. By combining a simple creed with capitalist greed, it is acting as if it can convert its economic supremacy into moral privilege.

The rest of the world is not fooled by these tactics, but who cares? The “Free World” is always right because it represents the “good fight” and for as long as it is the most powerful, it will not be contradicted. The inherent barbarism that it projects onto others is the counter to its self-proclaimed monopoly on “civilization”. Sanctified by the holy order of “right to intervene”, a marriage of the GI sandbags with the Kouchner-style bag of rice, the West, vassalized by Washington, believes wholeheartedly that they can save the world by subjugating it to the pitiless ravages demanded by the financial vultures and military industrial complex.

This supremacist enterprise was not born yesterday. It was midwived in the historical period dear to Fernand Braudel, that of the emergence of the “world economy”. Driven by its superior technological advances, since the Renaissance, the western world has propelled itself towards the conquest of our planet earth. Patiently, the west has appropriated other cultures, other worlds, and twisted them into its own image, enforcing obeissance and imitation, eliminating all those who would not conform. Its certitude is untroubled by its own hypocrisy, the West perceives itself as a metaphor for this world. The West wanted to expand from being a part of the world into being the “whole” – in the same way, today, we see countries comprising 10% of the world’s population portraying themselves as the “International Community”.

Over the last three centuries, colonial conquest has demonstrated the West’s desire to expand its influence beyond its own boundaries, under the banner of bringing “civilization” to the under-developed. This global domination project was temporarily derailed by the uprising of the colonized peoples in the 20th Century, but it made a triumphant return with its North American branch of hegemony. America, the “Far West” ‘discovered’ by Christopher Columbus in search of the “Far East”, inherited the “Old Continent” penchant for imperialism and rapacious carpet baggery. The US converted its lack of history into the promise of a ” better future”, emerging suddenly from Anglo-Saxon puritanism, the US magnified the globalist “for profit” ethos. Paid for with the blood of the American-Indian genocide, America was born, the newly minted metaphor for the world.

It is not certain that this change was for the better. Colonial empires collapsed under the weight of their archaic structures, while US hegemony maintains itself through modern technology channels, from Google to drone warfare. Suddenly the US was the most supple and resilient. What imbues it with flexibility also ensures its longevity. From the white pith helmet of the european colonial overlords to the digital screens of US cyber warfare, a revolution took place. The US substituted a shock-colonization, dismantled after bloody decolonization conflict, with a multi-faceted hegemonic enterprise. Taking over from the classic colonial three “M”s, the “made in the US” NGOs replaced the Christian missionary complex, “merchants” became multi-nationals and the “soldiers” converted to cyber supremacy.

Emboldened by the die-hard spirit of “born again” Midwesterners, the American empire is projecting its devastating Manichaeism upon the rest of the world. Dreaming with its eyes wide open, the US envisages a definitive alliance between good and evil, the indestructible pillar upon which to build a straightforward ethnocentrism. The “law” is on their side as it ’embodies the core values of ‘democracy, human rights and market economy’.  Obviously, this is a crude ideology, a fraudulent mask for its own sordid interests, but it is effective. Its efficacy is proven by the popular consensus that the “US won the second world war, capitalism works, Cuba is a tropical gulag, Assad is worse than Hitler and that North Korea is a threat to the world.”

This process of self-beatification, bestows upon the North-American-Empire zealots, the right to track down all “Evil” in the world. No scruples will impede its saviour frenzy, it is the very incarnation of such an “exceptional civilization”, that it must cleanse the world of barbarism by all means at its disposal. That is why modern imperialism functions as a court of “universal” law, a judge, that rewards or punishes where it sees fit. Before this elevated “moral” jurisdiction, the CIA represents the prosecution, the Pentagon is the secular chamber, the US President is the high court judge, a “deus ex machina”, invoking divine justice, the lightning strike, upon the “Axis of Evil” and any other sinners circulating in the court of the “Empire of Good”.

This tendency for the US to see itself as the moral compass for the world is central to this structure and is unperturbed by the rapid turn-around of Presidents in the White House, a new tenant changes nothing. Washington’s “crusade” against the “barbarians” conceals the unbridled greed of the Military Industrial Complex and the iron claw of the deep state. From Harry Truman to Donald Trump with Barack Obama inbetween, from Korea to Vietnam to Syria, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, South Africa, Serbia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, death is the cure, by proxy or directly, for all those who oppose the saviour’s kingdom of universal justice.

“Philanthropic America” always harnesses the local labour force to carry out its dirty work.Franco, Hitler and Mussolini (until 1939), Chiang Kai Shek, Somoza, Syngman Rhee, Ngo Dinh Diem, Salazar, Batista, Mobutu, Marcos, Trujillo, Pik Botha, Duvalier, Suharto, Papadopoulos, Castelo Branco, Videla, Pinochet, Stroessner, Reza Shah Pahlevi, Zia Ul Haqq, Bin Laden, Uribe, King Salman, Nethanyahu, Ukrainian Nazis and the “moderate terrorists” in the Middle East have been of invaluable service to Empire.

Undisputed leader of the “Free World”, America claims to embody “civilization” while obliterating entire populations with nuclear weapons, napalm or a rain of cruise missiles. Sometimes it chooses a slow death for  its prey, with Agent Orange, depleted uranium or embargos on medicines and humanitarian aid. While America is never short of sychophants praising their “services to Humanity”, the evidence is irrefutable, that the collapse of this Empire would be a cause for celebration.

 

Translation by Vanessa Beeley for 21st Century Wire

***

[Bruno Guigue is a French author and political analyst born in Toulouse 1962. Professor of philosophy and lecturer in international relations for highter education. The author of 5 books including  Aux origines du conflit Israélo-Arabe, l’invisible remords de l’Occident (L’Harmattan, 2002).]

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

September 8, 2017

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

“Good fucking luck with the World Bank ‘supporting’ your transition to democracy. Soon, the ADB (Asian Development Bank) will come and do the same – if it hasn’t already. Everyone falls for the utterly stupid. Mad world.” – Philippine citizen/activist Kristine Alvarez in response to the announcement “World Bank OKs first Myanmar aid in 25 years”, November 2, 2011

Andrea Woodhouse poses for a portrait on the new bridge on Sule Pagoda road, downtown Yangon. (C) Chiara Luxardo

 

In the book NGOs – The Self-Appointed Altruists (written in 2002 and updated in 2011) the author observes:

“NGO’s in places like Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Albania, and Zimbabwe have become the preferred venue for Western aid – both humanitarian and financial – development financing, and emergency relief. According to the Red Cross, more money goes through NGO’s than through the World Bank. Their iron grip on food, medicine, and funds rendered them an alternative government – sometimes as venal and graft-stricken as the one they replace.”

 

“The elites like this model, but it’s fragility is evident. Cancun itself can only take so many more category 5 hurricanes before it will be retired like Mazatlan or Atlantic City. When this happens, new frontiers of commodified leisure, whether in Colombia, Sri Lanka or Myanmar, will be developed, but even so the economic and political costs of the 2 degree Celsius average temperature rise that the world leaders have deemed acceptable are staggering.” — Normalizing Catastrophe: Cancun as Laboratory of the Future, Dec 18. 2010

In the March 3, 2017 article Yangon, Myanmar: World Bank Specialist Goes Back to Beginnings the Financial Times published a full feature on Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse. The article covers the following events.

In 2008 Avaaz co-founders Andrea Woodhouse and her husband David Madden went to Myanmar. According to Woodhouse, she carried out post-disaster work for nine months following Cyclone Nargis for “a body comprising the government, the UN, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”. During this time, Woodhouse states there were “no credit cards, no ATMs and a SIM card for a mobile phone cost roughly $1,500.00.”

Former United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi and her staff at her home in Rangoon on November 19, 2012. Source: (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Neoliberalism would soon follow. In 2012, Woodhouse would relocate to central Yangon “to settle as a social development specialist for the World Bank, which was re-engaging with Myanmar after an absence of more than 20 years” with her spouse and Avaaz co-founder David Madden. Not so coincidentally, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, US and EU sanctions began to lift and “market liberalisation” was under way. Between 2011 and 2015 the cost of renting a typical apartment more than doubled with landlords catering to the wave of foreign money by demanding a full years rent up front.

In the Montessori school where Woodhouse’s child attends (“one of maybe two expats in a class of about 15 to 20 children”) the school teaches in English rather than Burmese. Living in one of the poorest countries in Asia, wealthy expats (inclusive of Woodhouse and Madden) and Myanmar elites travel abroad for medical treatment and child birth. Woodhouse acknowledges her children are  “extremely privileged”.

August 18, 2017, The FINANCIAL — “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the World Bank today signed a US$200 million credit for a First Macroeconomic Stability and Fiscal Resilience Development Policy Operation…. The terms for the IDA credit include a repayment period of 38 years…” [Source]

“In 2012 if we went to a restaurant popular with expats, we would probably recognise everyone there. Now we wouldn’t know a single person.”— Andrea Woodhouse

The vast majority of expats rent. Typical two-bedroom, serviced apartments in the capital cost about $5,100 per month. Parliament passed a new condominium law, which gives foreigners rights to purchase flats, in January 2016.

Avaaz Co-founder David Madden in Myanmar

  

Avaaz and Purpose co-founders Jeremy Heimans (l) and David Madden: “Jeremy Heimans and David Madden founders of Get Up! Action for Australia, at Old Parliament house in Canberra on Friday, 29th July, 2005.” THE AGE NEWS Picture by PENNY

“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” — Parami Road Website

As first noted in the 2014 article, SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire, David Madden, co-founder of both Avaaz and New York consulting firm Purpose, has also co-founded the marketing firm Parami Road in Myanmar (“Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work”) as well as the tech firm Phandeeyar – a 6000 square foot ICT hub in the heart of downtown Yangon. Launched with the support of several sponsors in 2014, including Internews and Phandeeyar (previously operated as Code for Change Myanmar), it is important to note that the key partners of Phandeeyar are USAID, the US State Department, U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and the  US-ASEAN Business Council. [Source]

“A serial entrepreneur who co-founded the global campaigning website Avaaz.org and U.S.-based digital strategy agency Purpose, among others, the Harvard-educated Madden believes technology is essential for Myanmar’s development.” — July 8, 2015, Myanmar Now

Simply stated, Madden plays a vital role in bringing western ideologies and foreign investment to the doorstep of Myanmar. As a co-founder of Avaaz, an NGO that specializes in behavioural change, Madden’s hashtag for his tech firm (“human Capital Development”) sums up the goal: social impact (#socialimpact MM). Of course, Madden cannot achieve this alone, thus he is joined by thousands of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex:

“Estimates vary widely on the number of local NGOs in Myanmar. An article claimed more than 10,000 such groups, while another study conducted in 2003 by Save the Children—the first detailed look at civil society in Myanmar—estimated there were 270 local NGOs at that time. Regardless of the number, there is a vibrant and growing nongovernment sector encompassing a range of interests and approaches throughout the country. International NGOs are increasingly active in Myanmar, working in humanitarian response and longer-term development in a multitude of sectors, including the environment, health, education, livelihoods, rule of law, advocacy, and civil society capacity building. International NGOs, present in small numbers since the 1990s, have entered Myanmar in two recent waves: in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, and since the forming of the new government in early 2011.” — Civil Society Briefs Myanmar

A key function of Madden’s tech firm is not unlike that of MoveOn.org (a co-founding NGO of Avaaz) and its relationship with the US Democratic party, which is to focus on building Myanmar’s voter registration. It’s other key function is to pitch business opportunities to investors. In September of 2016, the tech firm launched the “Phandeeyar accelerator”.  According to Forbes (October 31, 2016), the “accelerator” provides $25,000 in seed funding, mentoring and free office space in Phandeeyar’s 6,000-square-foot building. Participants also receive “$200,000 worth of strategic services, including access to Amazon Web Services, free English classes and a range of other benefits. They’ll also have the opportunity to pitch investors who Madden describes as ‘serious about the Myanmar market.'” Madden foresees startups that establish themselves “could be poised for explosive growth in the next several years as the economy continues to accelerate.”

“Madden said that some had been hesitant, waiting to see how State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to power would play out. But confidence is growing following the peaceful political transition, and the U.S.’ decision to ease sanctions in recent years has inspired much interest in the country. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that Myanmar’s economy has the potential to reach $200 billion in 2030, more than tripling from $45 billion in 2010. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, run by the U.S. government, issued the first installment of $250 million loan to the telecommunication company Apollo Towers Myanmar in June. Microsoft is working with the Myanmar Computer Company to help 100,000 people develop IT skills within the country. And the country saw a strong performance from its first listed stock earlier this year, indicating potential for future growth. Investment opportunities abound, with deep needs across the energy, tourism and infrastructure markets, according to the British Chamber of Commerce.” —This Tech Accelerator Is Betting That Myanmar’s Startup Scene Is Set To Explode, Forbes, October 31, 2016 [Emphasis added]

In 2017, the Phandeeyar Accelerator’s Demo Day hosted over 200 local and international investors. The list included 70 venture capital investors (VCs) and mentors including Red Dot Ventures, Digital Ventures, and Omidyar Network. Note that although the official language of Myranmar is Burmese, spoken by 70-80% of the population, all Burmese speaking in the Phandeeyar demo day video are speaking English. Far be it for Anglo “leaders” to make any concerted effort to speak Burmese, let alone learn the language. This of course is colonization in one of its most accepted and blatant forms. This point is further validated by the fact that Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) is a strategic partner of Phandeeyar.

Madden is not the only expat poised for explosive growth in Myanmar. With the global capitalist economic system hovering close to stall speed, the world’s most powerful corporations are desperately searching for new markets. Myanmar is the “new sweet spot” for the most egregious corporate entities:

“Still, the country’s young, inexpensive workforce and low living standards offer huge potential for growth. GE, on its website, describes Myanmar as a “new sweet spot” for growth in Southeast Asia. Some other major U.S. brands got a head start, including Coca-Cola, which has a factory producing for the local market. Ball Corp. has a factory in Yangon’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone making cans for Coca-Cola. MasterCard is expanding in the area of ATM cards. GE is active in energy and other sectors and leases Boeing 737-800s to the country’s national airlines. ConocoPhillips and Chevron have stakes in oil and gas exploration and development. Some U.S. businesses, like Caterpillar, have distribution tie-ups in Myanmar with local or other foreign companies.” [October, 2016, Source]

 

Above: Phandeeyar headquarters

On June 3, 2016 it was announced that Phandeeyar secured a $2 million follow-on investment from Omidyar Network. [Source: Deal Street Asia] Omidyar Network first invested in Phandeeyar in 2014 with other investors and aid givers including the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, USAID and Google. Deal Street Asia also reports that “[A]part from Phandeeyar, Omidyar Network has invested in Proximity Designs, Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI), Myitmakha news agency, Yangon Journalism School, Global Witness and Namati in the country.”

Financiers of Madden’s entrepreneurial tech operations and innovations also include Internews, Facebook, the United States Embassy, Hewitt Packard, Samsung, the US State Department, Pact, Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID), The Asia Foundation, KBZ Bank and Red Dot Ventures. Strategic partners include (but are not limited to) telenor, wave money (telenor, Yoma Bank), Fb Start, AWS Activate (Amazon), JobNet, Microsoft BizSpark, Today Ogilvy Myanmar (“we make brands matter”), Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) and PwC.

The Innovation Marketplace is a joint initiative by Phandeeyar and FHI 360, and supported by USAID in which a primary focus is “mobilization of popular support for social change.”

And while the rich get richer:

“Land laws were changed in 2012 and 2013 to make it easier for the government to facilitate land grabs and many segments of the rural population have seen their homes demolished and their paddy fields ruined to make way for foreign development projects. Farmers like Umya Hlaing have been left without land with, “no conversation, no replacement land, no adequate compensation.” [January 30, 2017, Source]

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Here one must note that while Myanmar opens its arms to neoliberal foreign policy, it simultaneously transitions into a playground for the rich – all while the tensions and killings between the Muslim Rohingya, the Buddhist Rakhine, the Burmese authorities, Burmese government and its military escalate. As the so-called human rights NGOs (which are actually in servitude to empire) turn up the volume on this crisis, we must acknowledge there is much more going on behind the scenes that we, in the west, are not cognizant of. For example, terrorist factions such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda have embedded themselves into various Rohingya organizations such as the Rohingya Liberation Organization and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. The well-documented atrocities and killings of Buddhist Rakhine by the Rohingya go unreported by mainstream media. This has undoubtedly been orchestrated, at least in part, by foreign interests. Exploiting existing divisions is key to controlled chaos and destabilization. Where divisions do not already exist – they are created.


Above: Avaaz campaign

Above: Avaaz training Buddhist Monks:A young student and monk take part in a non-violence training program – they cannot show their faces for fear of being identified by the military.” Source: Avaaz website

The said contention surrounding the Rohingya is the issue of legal citizenship (sovereignty and nationality) verses refugee/migrant status. This ongoing crisis is then conflated with the religious components. The fact that this is a basic human rights issue is then lost. Further, “Harsha Walia, a social justice activist and journalist, tells us that borders are constructs and that they serve an imperialistic purpose. Borders represent practices used to legally coerce displaced migrants into precarious labor and criminalized existence. In her work, Undoing Border Imperialism, Walia offers a framework termed ‘border imperialism,’ which is a system that controls the flow of people, themselves fleeing the military or economic violence of empire, who are racialized and economically exploited by their illegalization.” [Source: Borders: Imaginary Lines, Real Exploitation]

What is notable here is that fact that although Avaaz has produced a campaign to bring attention to this tragedy, never do they ask for the world to demand the implementation of a no-fly zone as they have done in countries that reject imperial dominance. It appears as though, if Myanmar does not continue to kowtow sufficiently to foreign interests, an intervention with a no-fly-zone on could easily be the next campaign demand for NGOs to rally behind. However, this is most unlikely as the full transition of Myanmar to western ideologies is already well underway with foreign investment now pouring in. Regardless of the geopolitics involving China and Asia as a whole, the fact is the World Bank has already sunk it’s teeth in. There is simply too much to risk with a full raze of the landscape. Indeed, the Myanmar crisis will prove to be a problematical balancing act of sabotaging Chinese interests while simultaneously attracting foreign investment from western corporations. If necessary, a coup is far more likely to be orchestrated by foreign interests. The crisis being highlighted by international NGOs should be seen as more of a threat – pressure upon Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure complete subservience more than anything else. The key factor is this: interventions by imperial states are never based on protecting human rights.

Also, to be taken into account, is the power struggle between the declining United States and new superpower China. First, consider the massive investment into Myanmar by China:

 “But the total $248 million U.S. companies have committed since 1988 amounts to less than 1 percent of total foreign investment of about $60 billion. China has invested more than $25 billion, according to Chinese figures.” [October 2016, Source]

Secondly, consider the crucial energy aspect:

 “After the massive Rakhine energy reserves were discovered in 2004 they attracted China’s attention. By 2013 China completed oil and natural gas pipelines, which connect Myanmar’s port of Kyaukphyu with the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province.” [Source]

Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, sums it up as follows:

“First, this is a game against China, as China has very large investments in Arakan [Rakhine] Second, it is aimed at fueling Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia…. Third, it’s the attempt to sow discord within ASEAN [between Myanmar and Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia]. — [Source]

Myanmar-to-China Crude Oil & Gas Pipelines

The Myanmar-China crude oil and gas pipelines were designed to carry more than 22 million tons of oil and more than 420 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year was to commence operations in 2013. On April 11, 2017, the Financial Times announced that China and Myanmar would open long-delayed oil pipeline after being suspended for years, fraught with delays and conflict. “Once fully operational, the pipeline from Made island in Rakhine state can supply almost 6 per cent of China’s crude oil imports. The gas line is already in use.” On May 20, 2017 India of Times reported that “China-Myanmar oil pipeline opens enhancing tie: The oil reached Ruili, a border city of in China’s Yunnan Province at 4 p.m. on Friday according to the state owned China National Petroleum Corporation, which built the pipeline.”

Map: Oil & Gas Journal, 2012

Near-term pipeline plans grow, longer-term projects sag – Oil & Gas Journal, February 6, 2012:

“Myanmar awarded China National Petroleum Corp. exclusive rights to construct and operate the proposed Myanmar-to-China crude oil pipeline. This line and a companion natural gas pipeline would transport hydrocarbons from the Bay of Bengal across Myanmar to southwestern China (Fig. 4). Plans call for the 440,000-b/d crude pipeline to run between Maday Island in western Myanmar through Ruili in China’s southwestern Yunnan province and on to a new 200,000-b/d refinery in Anning. Both the pipeline and refinery are to begin operation by 2013. CNPC began building a large oil import port at Kyaukpyu, Myanmar, in October 2009 to serve as the pipeline’s input point. The port will be able to receive vessels up to 300,000 dwt and will have storage capacity of 600,000 cu m.”

The natural gas pipeline is scheduled to begin carrying 12 billion cu m/year to southwestern China in 2013. Route preparation began in mid-2010, with the first pipes welded in August 2011. The pipeline will parallel the route of the crude pipeline to Ruili. From there it will run to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, before extending to Guizhou and Guangxi in South China.

The crude line will transport oil carried by tanker from the Middle East, while the gas line will carry material from Myanmar’s offshore A-1 and A-3 blocks. Total estimated project costs are $1.5 billion for the oil pipeline and $1.04 billion for the gas pipeline.

The new pipelines will give China better access to Myanmar’s resources and will speed deliveries and improve China’s energy security by bypassing the congested Malacca Strait, which currently ships most of China’s imported crude oil.”

Here it is important to note that 90% of the crude oil going through the Myanmar-to-China pipeline is designated for China – while the bulk of the ecological devastation and social impacts/displacement, has been placed on the Myanmar ecosystems and most vulnerable populations.

The Strategic Expansion of Globalization & Capitalism

In this Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 photo, a sign of KFC’s grinning Colonel Sanders and his goatee is lit outside its outlet in Yangon, Myanmar. The end of most U.S. sanctions against Myanmar is raising hopes western businesses will join the rush to invest in Myanmar that up to now has been dominated by China and other Asian countries. But much hinges on how the government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, reshapes the country’s outdated laws and other policies. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

 

Here it is critical to acknowledge that empire’s strategic plans for expansion are designed years and even decades in advance. Consider that the co-founder of Avaaz Ricken Patel has been involved in Burmese activism since 2001 – 6 years prior to the founding of Avaaz – and also prior to co-founding Res Publica (a founding NGO of Avaaz) with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello:

“…I have worked for years in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, and Afghanistan for international organizations, and I first got involved in Burma activism in 2001, so I had some experience to bring to understand the dynamics and the groups involved.

 

From the start, we recognized that granting money well, monitoring its expenditure, and following up is a demanding activity that requires professional support. Avaaz is a campaigning organization and not in this business. So we chose a foundation partner with long experience supporting the Burmese people to advise and administer our community’s donation. That group is the Open Society Institute, one of the largest and most respected foundations in the world. OSI is taking no overhead on the funds we are granting to Burmese groups, and has also increased its own support to this cause in 2008.” [Source]

It is also vital to recall George Soros (a key financial backer of Avaaz at its inception) has long had his eye on Myanmar.  The 2003 Council of Foreign Relation’s report titled “Burma: Time For Change,” (“Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations”) summarized the intentions: “[T]hese recommendations are intended to inform U.S. government actions as well as to increase U.S. cooperation with other countries, especially in Asia, to bring about a long overdue political, economic, and social transformation of Burma.” The independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations included 21 task force members (inclusive of George Soros) who were representative/associates of the following organizations, corporations and institutions:  Human Rights Watch, Goldwyn International Strategies (an international consulting firm focusing on the geopolitics of energy), the Unocal Corporation (oil and gas), liaisons for Vanity Fair, New York Times, New Republic, U.S News, World Report, The Economist,  the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network, Soros Fund Management, the World Bank, Amnesty International, National Security Council, the Millennium Development Goals, Psychiatry and Public Health, Refugee NGOs, and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

The seven organizations/institutions represented by eight task force observers were The Century Foundation, The Asia Foundation, U.S. Department of State, Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, International Crisis Group and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

As a side note, the report also demonstrates the extent to which the international NGOs work hand in glove with imperial states, funneling funds through NGOs rather than governments. This demonstrates the blatant paternalism unabashedly embedded in the policy of Western governments:

“According to the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, current U.K. policy is to deliver “targeted, transparent, and accountable assistance to ordinary Burmese people through the UN, international NGOs, and not through the Burmese authorities,” — The Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) 2003 document entitled “Burma: Time For Change,” [Source]

And while those in Ivory Towers, who have succeeded in decimating the natural environment in their own countries, transform Myanmar into a country that will reflect not only Western values but also the vapid western waste and consumption… and while rich expats rent apartments for USD $3,000 – $8,000 per month… consider the residents of 555:

“Like many others, he moved to Yangon to look for work in the sprawling shantytowns that have grown up on the outskirts of the city. The suburbs are centers of industries that have begun to boom since Myanmar opened to the world in 2011. Factories cordoned off behind iron gates produce everything from salt to garments. But with a new government in power since April, the 555 residents are among hundreds of thousands of informal settlers facing an uncertain future as displacement looms on the horizon again.

 

Nay Shwe moved to Hlaing Tharyar in 1996 as a construction worker employed to build the upmarket Pun Hlaing Golf Course — a gleaming image of wealth right next door to the slums. He rifled through a plastic wallet to pull out a crumpled, yellowed letter granting permission for himself and several other laborers to live near the grounds. At the time, there was little more than vacant scrubland. “We have endured hardships since that time until now,” he says. “We had to pump much sand from the river to live here.” Subsequent years brought tussles over the land. In 2012, he spent six months in prison for organizing protests against a planned forced eviction that was eventually suspended…

 

“When we describe the slums we always describe the negative things,” says Slingsby. “We never look at the positive things. These people are great survivors. … Somehow they manage to survive. Somehow a lot of them send their children to school and even to university. Who built the houses? The people built houses themselves.”

 

When their kids were turned away from the official schools, the 555 residents simply built their own. They recruited their own volunteer teachers. On a recent morning, a group of village elders, all men, stood outside and admired their handiwork. Like most of the structures in the area, the single-story school is propped up on wooden stilts to protect it from the rising water.

 

“So flooding is a problem here, but we can build a concrete road, so flooding for two or three hours is OK for us,” says Hla Htay. 555 might not exist, officially, and it might not be good land, but it is home.

 

“We prefer living here because it is the nearest place to our work, to the factories, so here we can build everything by ourselves,” he says. “We can build our houses. If we need to move somewhere provided by the government it will be expensive. … It will be a lot of rules.” [July 18, 2016, Evicting the Residents of 555]

The word Avaaz apparently translates to “voice”. Unfortunately, Avaaz is a voice for the elite power structures that keep the world at large enslaved. Avaaz is a slap in the face to the self-determination of citizens in sovereign countries everywhere. It must be recognized that those who continue to support this organization, with full knowledge of its elite formation, share these paternalistic Western values.

 

 

Further reading:

  • China Kunming to Myanmar Kyaukpyu DWP pipelines to open in June 2013, January 23, 2013
  • Myanmar, la Cina assetata di petrolio costruisce un porto e un gasdotto: in fuga migliaia di pescatori locali e 23 villaggi fantasma, February 5, 2015
  • Geopolitics of Rohingya Crisis, September 3, 2017
  • The Rohingya Crisis: Conflict Scenarios And Reconciliation Proposals, September 7, 2017

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Thomas Sankara: Africa’s Unsung Inspiration

21st Century Wire

September 5, 2017

by P.D. Lawton

 

Thomas Sankara, a man in his early thirties transformed the world’s poorest country at that time, Upper Volta, into a self-sufficient modern thinking nation in just four years.

This African miracle nation remains little known about in the West because its story contradicts every negative image that has ever been painted of African leadership and African nations. Sankara would prove to the people of Burkina Faso, to other African nations and to the colonial powers what could be achieved in the blink of an eye by Africans under African leaders of integrity.

Upper Volta in 1983 was little more than a French run labour camp for French run Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). This region of West Africa was up until the mid-1800’s part of the ancient Mossi Kingdom, and has always been called ‘The Land of Upright Men’, men of integrity, hence the name Burkina Faso. Spiritually the people of this region are of great significance and still  to this day practice the world`s most ancient belief.

In the August Revolution, Sankara and the military overthrew the CSP (Council for the Salvation of the People) headed by conservative Jean-Baptiste Quedraogo and formed a new government of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR).

Two years later infant mortality had dropped from 280 deaths for every 1000 births to 145, with the aid of Cuban volunteers and a mass vaccination program. School attendance rose, in two years, from 12% to 22%. In just the first year of its implementation, Sankara’s environmental program to halt desertification in this Sahel region, over 10 million trees were planted. Without international aid which was not forthcoming from the World Bank with which to improve infrastructure, Sankara and the population got down and dirty and with their bare hands and laid hundreds of kilometres of railway track to facilitate manganese extraction. This was not done by forced labour at gunpoint, there were no bloodbaths under Sankara who did not believe in war but instead, in ideas. Like Gamal Nasser of Egypt, Sankara got the people of his country to prove to themselves that they could achieve anything they put their minds and hearts into. The previous government were brought before a tribunal and asked to explain to the people of the country why they had misappropriated so much money. This was there only form of punishment and public humiliation. This is on record. One of Sankara’s first acts as president was to slash his ministers’ salaries, starting with his own. He sold the previous government`s fleet of Mercedes and replaced them with little Renault 5’s, which is what he drove. This is a stark contrast to the Kenyan governmental 2003 purchase of $12 million worth of luxury cars. Sankara remained humble and refused to allow his portrait to be displayed across the country, explaining that it was their revolution and that “There are 7 million Thomas Sankaras.” At the time of his assassination his salary in 1987, was $450 a month and he owned one car and four push bikes.

Sankara dissolved all other political parties, seen by him as representative of the colonial powers and open to subversion, just as did Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana.

This man was loved by his people. In his attempt to raise the consciousness of the people as a  whole and to do away with colonial and long standing feudal practices within society he abolished all gender regulation, making women the equals of men, appointing many to government positions, allowing them to join the army which they did and proved themselves the equals of male soldiers; and started a National Women’s Day on which all women could stay at home and the men to take their places in going to market for the day`s groceries. Women loved it! Great strides were taken to speak openly against domestic violence and women’s traditionally subordinate role. Thomas Sankara was the first leader in Africa to do this; brave to say the least in an extremely patriarchal culture, and one of the first leaders in the world to promote women’s rights for genuine reasons.

“We must give a job to every woman of this country. We must give every woman the means to earn an honest and decent living.”

 

“Our country produces enough to feed us all. We can even produce more than we need. Unfortunately for lack of organization we still need to beg for food aid. This type of assistance is counter-productive and has kept us thinking that we can only be beggars who need aid. We must put aside this type of aid and succeed in producing more because the one who feeds you usually imposes his will on you. Let us consume what we can control. Some people ask me: But where is imperialism? Just look into your plates; you see imported corn, rice or millet. This is imperialism. No need to look any further… Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid. But in general welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us; thus beguiling us and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political and cultural affairs. We choose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being.

Thomas Sankara recognized the western-run pseudo-philanthropic-humanitarian effort for what it is in Africa today. That it is the same as “Debt is a cleverly managed re-conquest of Africa,” which he said before the OAU summit in 1987. In his enlightened understanding of economics, he refused all but essential aid and encouraged instead for people to buy produce and products grown or manufactured within Burkina Faso. This policy for the domestic economy`s revival (which happens to be the exact opposite of all World Bank economic policy) created in just 4 years,  a cotton growing, processing and fabric industry that beautifully clothed the entire population as well as exporting. So people would feel pride in modern-traditional clothes, in Burkinabe fashions and look African instead of advertising coke and blue jeans. All government workers, teachers etc. had to wear Burkinabe clothes (this was actually not to everyone`s taste so government workers tended to have a spare outfit at all times in case Sankara called by, they called the traditional clothes the Sankara-is-coming-outfit).

Sankara started a mass housing project and brick factories to build homes so no-one would live in an urban slum but would live with dignity whether in the rural areas or in a city. In 4 years all regions of Burkina Faso were connected by a network of roads. Sankara was the first African leader to encourage people to take up sport or other forms of fitness as “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” And Sankara was the first president to speak about real environmentalism. He started a project to plant a grove in every village, a grove of trees and shrubs to remind people to respect and protect the land. Tens of millions of trees were planted in under 4 years to combat desertification. During all of these programs Sankara got down and dirty; he personally planted hundreds of trees, made bricks and laid stones on railway lines, there were no tasks that he asked people to perform that he wouldn’t do himself. This man was a hero.

Within 4 years Burkina Faso had become self sufficient. The average for the Sahel region is 1700kg of wheat per hectare. In 1986 Burkina Faso was already producing 3900kg of wheat per hectare.

Within Sankara’s understanding of the nature of colonialism and how it had undermined Africans own self-worth and within his understanding of neocolonialism and how subversive force counter-revolutionized people back into accepting western economics; were the reasons for his political, ideological indoctrination of the people. He forced into people’s minds progressive thinking and had them repeat mantras of how they were going to change the future of themselves, each other and their country. These activities were labelled by Western media as communist indoctrination meetings. Sankara also started the Pioneers Movement which trained children under twelve in social responsibility. He knew they would be the county’s future and his efforts were to oppose what he knew would take place in Western-backed counter-revolutionary thought. His ideological training of the adult population was based on a number of de-brainwashing techniques, to instill new positive thinking and confidence, but also as he said:

“…. a soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.”

He didn’t want Burkina Faso to ever become part of an orchestrated bloodbath run by armed men with no aim, no principles and only gain, which he saw happening across Africa.

Already by 1984 Sankara`s revolution was influencing people across the continent, giving hope and questions to people and giving ground for fear from the imperialist powers.

The final nail in the coffin for this sublime hero of Africa was what he later said at the OAU summit in 1987. He asked the leaders present in the most affable manner to unilaterally reject African debt.” A loan is a gamble, like in a casino “, he explained that while African states remain in debt to the colonial powers they will remain dependents. He put forward an economic solution for Africa that is in complete contrast to World Bank policy and said:

Let’s make sure that the African market belongs to Africans. Let’s produce in Africa, manufacture in Africa and consume in Africa. Let’s produce what we need and consume what we produce.”

 

“The Debt problem needs to be analysed starting from its origins. Those who lent money to us are the same people who colonized us, are the same who so long managed our states and our economies; they in-debted Africa with ‘donations’ of money. We were not involved in the creation of this debt, so we should not pay it. The debt, moreover, is linked to the machinery of neo-colonialism, the colonizers became technical assistants, I would call them technical assassins, and they suggested, recommended to us the financiers, they told us about the financial advantages. That is why we indebted ourselves for decades and renounced the satisfaction of our people`s needs. In today`s shape, controlled and dominated by imperialism, the foreign debt is a well-organized tool of colonial re-conquest: in order to make the African economy a slave of those who were so clever as to give us capital with the obligation of reimbursing them. We are asked to reimburse our debt. But if we do not pay, the capital lenders will not die, if we pay, we will die. We cannot pay, and we don`t want to pay. We are not responsible for the debt burden. We have already paid a lot of the debt. We are asked to co-operate in researching balance mechanisms, balance in favour of those who own the financial institutions and use the power against the peoples. We cannot be accomplices. The Paris Club is there, let’s create the Addis Ababa Club for cancelling our foreign debt. Our Club should say-our debt will not be paid. Don’t think it is a proposal made only by young people like us. Mrs Bruntland said African countries cannot pay, as did Mr Mitterrand and Fidel Castro… we should explain in other conferences that we cannot pay. We must be united, otherwise, individually we will be murdered. Avoiding debt repayment is a condition which will allow us to free resources for our development.”

Source: Asad Ismi, ‘Impoverishing a Continent: The World Bank and the IMF in Africa‘, (2004).

The assembled “open unpatriotic sons of Africa,” bought and paid for by foreign powers and their corporations, refused to hear him and just as he knew would happen if they did not back him in unison, Sankara was not present at the following year’s OAU summit.

Back in Burkina Faso with French Intelligence and the Foccart business network behind them, Blaise Compaore began agitating, telling people that Sankara was holding back from them the prosperity on offer. Compaore and his top military men assassinated Thomas Sankara on the 15 October 1987.

“In a way, great men enlighten people, enlighten their time long after they`ve gone; and I say after their death because its when you`ve lost something that you become aware of its true value. Sankara has become a moral and spiritual reference for us all.”(Jean-Hubert Bazie from Robin Shuffield’s documentary)

Main Source: documentary on YouTube, a film by Robin Shuffield, ‘Thomas Sankara, The Upright Man’. Watch this short impactful film:

 


[Author P.D. Lawton is a native of South Africa and host of African Agenda, and committed to finding African solutions to Africa’s political and socio-economic problems.]