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Bob Geldof and the Aid Industry: “Do They Know it’s Imperialism?”

Under the Mask of Philanthropy

March 29, 2017

by Michael Barker

[Author Michael Barker published the following article in the activist journal Capitalism Nature Socialism in 2014 (Volume 24, No.1, pp.96-110).]

The central role that celebrities maintain within global society provides a good illustration of the essentially hollow and manipulative nature of contemporary democracies. Corporate elites literally manufacture all-star celebrities, and acting through these malleable figureheads, freely flood the world with imperialist propaganda. Much like the economic forces acting to misguide politicians, institutional pressures ensure that only right-thinking individuals become trusted celebrities. However, the main difference between celebrities and politicians is that the public cannot exert democratic control over celebrities. Bob Geldof is no different in this regard, and as the consummate celebrity-power broker, he stands clear of many contemporaries as a pioneer of celebrity-led imperialism: acting effectively in the service of capital. It is for this reason that this article critically excavates such a largely overlooked history to help unearth an explanatory framework for understanding exactly why the ongoing tragedy of famines will never be solved under a capitalist framework.

Stephanie McMillan industry

Geldof first rose to fame in the 1970s as the lead singer of the Irish band the Boomtown Rats and, having learned how to play the music industry’s game to perfection, went on to become a rare beneficiary of the stifling culture industry. However, that was not enough for Geldof, and at the peak of his musical career he attempted to give something back to the world; call it something akin to musical social responsibility. For Geldof, this time of charitable maturation arrived in 1984 when, having been shocked by a news report about the ongoing famine in Ethiopia, he sought to harness his celebrity power and to direct it toward the challenge of solving global injustice. Such good intentions are all well and good, but seeing that Geldof explicitly set upon this task in a manner that ignored any systematic critique of the politics of exploitation, his actions ending up bolstering the very same unjust capitalist system that created the problem in the first place. In fact, a good case can be made that it is precisely the imperialism-lite of ostensibly good-intentioned liberal elites—whose activities are subsumed under the kind-sounding rhetoric of “philanthropy,” “democracy,” and “human rights”—that has facilitated the institutionalization of neoliberalism.

Celebrities and the Politics of Starvation

In our interconnected world, extended famines do not occur when harvests fail, or because there are too many mouths to feed; quite the opposite, they occur with unfortunate regularity precisely because geopolitical priorities place profit before people. Scrutinizing the case study provided by the Ethiopian famine is important, as not only did it mark Washington’s “first hundred-million dollar commitment to international disaster relief,” but the intervention has also provided a “blueprint for future policymakers to follow”. Thus, to advance a realistic and useful solution to starvation, one needs to look beyond the mainstream media’s propaganda of futility, and strive to examine the role of capital in catalyzing “natural” disasters. Celebrity activists cannot be relied upon in searching for such solutions; as embedded within capitalist networks of power, they tend to be amongst those few individuals least likely to engage in such a rational approach to problem solving.

victorian

Counter to the rational nature of anti-capitalist thought, the latest tried and (media) tested method of addressing capital’s wrong-doings is to harness the angry voice of a celebrity (or better still a group of celebrities) to rant and rave about individual greed. Illustrating this is the latest iteration of a longstanding trend that has seen capitalists harness the power of philanthropy to the extension and consolidation of capitalist relations worldwide. This smokescreen approach to social change channels public attention away from any discussion of meaningful issues, and ensures that capitalists are empowered to “solve” the very same problems they caused in the first place. Geldof is singled out in particular because he took this basic formula for corporate success and then pushed this model for celebrity-led reaction to such an extent that celebrities are now a vital part of the “aid” industry.

Geldof clearly does not interpret his own actions in such a negative way, and seems to believe that the moral suasion of celebrities can force the hands of the very same political and economic elites that sustain their careers. There may be a limited grain of truth in this way of thinking, but it is to state the obvious that a celebrity campaign to expose capitalist injustice is hardly likely to be instigated by corporate-sanctioned celebrities, let alone gain active elite support in corporate circles. Hence, a good case can be made that Geldof’s entire Band Aid/Live Aid phenomenon actually shifted:

the focus of responsibility for the impoverishment of the Third World from western governments to individuals and obscured the workings of multinational corporations and their agents, the IMF and the World Bank. Worse, it made people in the West feel that famine and hunger were endemic to the Third World, to Africa in particular (the dark side of the affluent psyche), and what they gave was as of their bounty, not as some small for what was taken from the of the Third recompense being poor World…. [A] discourse on western imperialism was transmogrified into a discourse on western humanism. [1]

Geldof’s own humanitarian campaign thus exemplified itself as a stereotypical attack on governments and the existing aid industry: the visual problem was identified (famine), blame was then squarely placed on the local (foreign) government, and a “new” uncorrupted form of charity was then promoted. Along with such myths, he also pushed the equally misleading idea that foreign governments allowed the famine to continue because they were apathetic. Geldof’s serviceable response to these “problems” was obvious; he had to force Western governments to care more for distant others and rail against the existing aid industry’s inefficiencies. In both instances, this meant that Geldof dismissed the primary institutional reason for the existence of the aid industry. This is because governments do not donate food out of generosity; rather their food distribution networks are considered to be an integral weapon through which they promote their foreign policies. Critical books that Geldof might have read at the time include Nicole Ball’s World Hunger: A Guide to the Economic and Political Dimensions (1981), Susan George’s How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger (1976), Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty (1981), and Marcus Linear’s Zapping the Third World: The Disaster of Development Aid (1985).

Geldof book

Paradoxically, writing in 1986, Geldof was evidently aware (at the rhetorical level anyway) of the strategic use of aid:

Aid is given in direct proportion to how friendly a government is towards the donor. It is used as threat, blackmail and a carrot. This is wrong …. Aid by and large benefits the donor country as much as the recipient, more so in fact as it stimulates, by trade, the donor’s economy, but leaves the recipient aid-dependent. (Bob Geldof, Is That It?, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1986, p.318.)

However, such critical words never informed his actions.

Band Aid Imperialism

Considering the exploitative nature of government food aid, the actions of the glut of “Bloody Do-Gooders” that Geldof brought together under the remit of Band Aid in 1984 certainly need to be viewed in a critical light. [2] Released in December 1984, Band Aid’s humanitarian anthem “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” quickly became the fastest-selling UK single of all time and marked Geldof’s return to the public stage as a born-again humanitarian rabble-rouser. Reflecting on his initial experiences in his autobiography Is That It? (1986), Geldof acknowledged that the result of Band Aid’s fund raising “would be so small in the context of the problem that it would be like putting a tiny plaster on a wound that required twelve stitches” (p.223).

Do They Know It's Christmas

With the benefit of hindsight, I would suggest that this is an extremely bad misdiagnosis. A more accurate description of Band Aid’s work would be to say that they put a plaster over capitalism’s body politics and sutured the public’s eyes shut. Here, Geldof would vehemently disagree as he insists that Band Aid carried out its work without involving itself in regional politics. Such claims, however, are patently false, especially given the fact that he recruited some of Britain’s leading elites to serve as trustees of the charity, the Band Aid Trust, which was set up to distribute the funds raised in the course of his activism. [3]

So how did it all start? If one returns to the initial seven-minute BBC story broadcast on October 24, 1984 that fueled Geldof’s humanitarian impulses, it turns out that the two reporters who filed the report (Mo Amin and Michael Buerk) were working under the auspices of World Vision—a well-publicized, imperialist, evangelical Christian charity. World Vision exists as just one, often overlooked part of imperial counterinsurgency efforts carried out by conservative evangelists who wage “spiritual warfare” upon recalcitrant populations. Little wonder that the television report described Ethiopia as the scene of a “biblical famine,” which was the “closest thing to hell on earth”. Thus, it is appropriate that in the early stages of Geldof’s frantic organizing efforts, the head of World Vision UK, Peter Searle, “kept phoning” Geldof in a bid to influence his activities. Having never heard of World Vision, Geldof recalled that he was “very suspicious” of Searle’s offers of help, but he seems to have been reassured when told that “they were an excellent organization but with roots in the right-wing American evangelical revival.” As Geldof continues: “Later we backed several of their projects” (p.235), [4] but to be more precise, it should be noted that as reported in May 1986, the “largest sum spent so far [by Band Aid] on a single project, dollars 1m, went to the charity World Vision” for their work in the Sudan (“The Band’s Last Big Number/The Future of Band Aid.” The Sunday Times, May 11, 1986).

Lest one forgets, the Cold War was in full swing, and Ethiopia was in the grip of a protracted civil war against rebels of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Geldof thankfully recognized the existence of this war; but when he met the officials of the Ethiopian government’s relief commission, he told them, “It seems to me that your basic problem is one of PR.” He added that while “I may not know anything about famine … I do know a lot about PR.” The narrow solution as viewed through Geldof’s celebrity eyes was that Ethiopia should see the international media as their natural ally because, he continued, “once people in the West appreciate the scale of what is going on here you won’t be able to stop them from helping” (p.249). Geldof’s naivety certainly did not make him receptive to the contrary idea presented by members of the Ethiopian government, that the Western media were part of the problem, and that it had actually consciously acted against the best interests of their country. Further, given Geldof’s gross ignorance about Ethiopian politics, it is no surprise that he missed the fact that the Ethiopian government was deliberately withholding food aid from the “huge areas of Tigray where TPLF guerrillas held sway” because, as their acting foreign minister Tibebu Bekele made clear at the time, “Food is a major element in our strategy against the secessionists”. [5]

William Hogarth the_lottery

One might note that the only aid group active in Ethiopia at the time that challenged the hegemonic imperialist discourse of the famine was Médecins sans frontiers, and for doing so, they were promptly ejected from the country. At that time, the longstanding trend of manipulating humanitarian aid to serve the donor countries’ geostrategic interests is most clearly demonstrated in the provision of aid on the borders of Pakistan-Afghanistan and Honduras-Nicaragua during the 1980s. In the former case, Fiona Terry concludes, “Whether they believed they were neutral or not, NGOs that received US funding either in Pakistan or for cross-border operations were assisting the foreign policy strategy of the US government.” With respect to Honduran “aid,” some NGOs themselves were openly critical about such manipulations, and a report by Catholic Relief Services concluded, “The border relief programs are not designed to meet the long- or short-term interests of the Miskitos, but rather are designed for political purposes as a conduit of aid to the contras”. Interestingly in Ethiopia, Catholic Relief Services appear to have maintained a somewhat antagonistic stance vis-à-vis their role in promoting US foreign policy objectives but, despite rhetorical objections, still retained their prestigious position as the largest recipient of US disaster grants.

It is, therefore, far from surprising that more recent reports demonstrate that some of the relief monies entering Ethiopia were used to buy arms for the rebels via the TPLF’s aid front group, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST). The US government was of course well aware of this situation as a now-declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report written in 1985 makes clear. The report observes, “Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes”. Geldof, no doubt dismissed such possibilities as belonging to the realm of conspiracy theories, which is perhaps the reason he did not refuse an offer of aid from the shadowy employee of a former CIA agent. As Geldof recounts in his autobiography, the influential CIA agent in question was Miles Copeland, whose philanthropic-minded boss was the longtime Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, and whose militaristic background remained unmentioned by Geldof. Thus, Geldof adds, he was informed by Miles Copeland’s son, Stewart Copeland (the drummer in the rock group The Police), that:

Khashoggi was interested in donating some planes for us to use. On the eve of my departure for Ethiopia I met up with Khashoggi’s son who was passing through London. The planes would be for famine relief in the Sudan only, he said, and a meeting would be arranged between me and President Numeiri’s personal adviser, Baha Idris. It all seemed very complex, but the offer for the planes was firm, I was assured. (p.251) [6]

Then, while on his subsequent foray to the Sudan, Geldof had lunch with Andrew Timpson of Save the Children where his briefing provided:

… one enlightening piece of information. Adnan Khashoggi was said to have oil interests in the Sudan and a special relationship with President Numeiri which led him to getting a remarkably good return on his investment. It was said that if anyone could arrange a cease-fire in the civil war which was disrupting development in the oil field which was thought to be the biggest in black Africa, it was he. (p.252)

Alan Hardman

Geldof’s follow-up sentence is increasingly curious, but as far as he is concerned, that is the end of the story as he fails to return to this intriguing subject. He does, however, mention in passing that during the preparations for the Band Aid concert, “all the Band Aid office expenses were being paid for by a Malaysian oil millionaire called Ananda Krishnan” and, contrary to Geldof’s own personal intentions for the project, Krishnan “was interested in turning Band Aid into a permanent institution” (p.266). Such curious humanitarian contacts befit a man with little enthusiasm for challenging the legitimacy of powerful political interests. In Geldof’s own words:

[A]s in England, where I didn’t want to get involved in party politics, so too in Africa. ‘I will shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to the people who need help,’ I would say, when I first asked questions about the political complexion of some local government. That was crucial, for you could become bogged down in the myriad moral uncertainties of dealing with an imperfect political system. (p.318)

Geldof Versus the American Government?

Despite Geldof recognizing the fact that aid is regularly used by powerful governments “as threat, blackmail and a carrot,” in 1985, Band Aid strangely sought to gain the support of the best-organized imperialist aid agency in the world, the US Agency for International Development (AID). No need to worry about such incongruous behavior though, as Geldof would have us believe “the greatest single donor in the world” did not really know what it was doing in terms of coordinating its global operations. Geldof recalls that he “was frightened” that USAID “would have the better of me or have a better grasp of the facts.” “But they didn’t” he continues, “we were all tap dancing” (p.320). [7] This seems most peculiar, and I would argue that this interpretation of events owes more to his naivety than to reality, but either way this false impression certainly gave Geldof the confidence boost he needed to argue for their help. That said, he didn’t have to argue much, as USAID already knew his plans, as he “had stipulated the agenda before” he arrived in America. He recalled, “They knew that we were not prepared to leave without firm undertakings from them that they should match us on a dollar-for-dollar basis on some of our mutually beneficial projects” (p.322). So in the end, it is not surprising that the US State Department came through for Band Aid. The Ethiopian government, on the other hand, was, as Geldof reports, “not delirious to have help from US Aid” (p.323).

usaid-humanitarian-relief

Are we really to believe that it was Band Aid that manipulated the US government and not vice versa? If we just consider the quantitative issue of food aid, the total value of US aid for Ethiopia in fiscal 1983 was around $3 million; this then increased to some $23 million the following year, and then “jumped to more than four times that amount (about $98 million) between October 1 and December 1, 1984.” Given that approximately two-thirds of this last increase was committed after the initial National Broadcasting Company (NBC) broadcast of the famine in the United States (October 24, 1984), one way of interpreting this change would be to say this boost in aid was due to the change in media coverage and the resulting public outcry. Alternatively, one could just as easily interpret this change as illustrating that the media became more receptive to the issue once the US government signaled that they were increasing, and no longer decreasing, food aid to the region. This latter argument is evidenced by the fact that in March 1984, Senator John Danforth (Republican-Missouri)—who throughout 1984 played an important role in lobbying for famine relief in Ethiopia —successfully introduced a bill (H.J.Res. 493) that provided $90 million in food assistance for emergency food assistance for Africa. This money was not, however, freed up until an earlier bill (H.J.Res. 492), which aimed to provide $150 million to famine-stricken areas in Africa (which the $90 million represented part of) stalled, passing into law in July 1984, but only when proposed amendments to add covert funding for the Contras in Nicaragua had been dropped from the bill (African Famine: Chronology of U.S. Congressional and Executive Branch Action in 1984, Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service).

Counter to Geldof’s recommendation to Ethiopian officials that they only needed better PR to get their story out to the global public, US journalists had been attempting to air stories about the famine for some time, but they simply had no takers in the mainstream media. As far as the media were concerned, “It was not ‘new’ news, for the roots of the 1984 disaster lay in conditions known for years before the disaster hit the headlines”. However, by the end of the year, Ethiopia was now considered as being an issue that deserved political attention. One wondered if this was in any way related to ongoing attempts to coerce the Ethiopian government to accept more aid from the West. For example, it is interesting to observe that just after the increase in aid and media attention (in October), Reuters reported on December 1, 1984, how “The Marxist Government of Ethiopia has agreed to move toward a free market policy to improve the country’s agricultural production…” (“Ethiopians Consider Free Market.” The Globe and Mail, December 1, 1984). Thus, extensive economic and diplomatic pressure was clearly being brought to bear on Ethiopia well before the rise in media attention. By way of another example, the Italian government had its own important role to play in ramping up the political pressure, “and the Italian ambassador is generally credited with making it clear to Mengistu in early October 1984 that Ethiopia could not continue to suppress information about the famine, but must publicize it in order to attract Western relief”.

Ethiopia was now the media’s number one story, but during the seemingly endless deluge of one-dimensional coverage, at no point did the mainstream media help the public understand what was happening by making any significant effort to explain the root causes of the famine. One would have been hard-pressed to have heard of the ambitious land reform program—launched in 1975 when the military Marxists (known as the Derg) rose to power—that was “very successful in eliminating large holdings, absentee landlordism and landlessness.” Similarly, there was no talk of how the Derg’s top-down control over their agrarian reform program had the net effect of “lessen[ing] farmer’s incentives for good natural resource management by decreasing both the security of land tenure and the profitability of agriculture”. Factors that combined with the prolonged civil war and the Derg’s massive resettlement program (which was undertaken in the wake of the 1984–1985 famine) exacerbated farmer land insecurity and mismanagement, which depressed agricultural production in Ethiopia’s time of need.

Banksy

Instead of providing historically-informed investigative journalism that explored such issues, the racist media delivered up a nightmarish story about a natural disaster of biblical proportions. This is an outcome that was entirely predictable given the propagandist nature of the mainstream media that was well aligned to celebrate the successes of the imperialist development narratives upon which the nongovernmental (NGO) aid industry operates. Thus, the media and the international aid community simply latched onto well-worn neo-Malthusian environmental degradation narratives to justify ongoing aid in the post-famine period (1985–1990). Likewise, little or no mention has been made of the deleterious effect that the Soviet Union’s policy of disengagement had on the nominally Marxist government.

Such an ill-informed development narrative was supremely useful to imperialist donors as it promoted an intervention in a geostrategically important region which “was narrowly technical, largely bypassed the Ethiopian government, was targeted directly on the rural poor and would be welcomed by the growing environmental lobby in Washington”. With respect to the utility of this massive influx of aid (for the people of Ethiopia), “in retrospect, it is clear that much of this effort was wasted or counterproductive.” It is not coincidental that it was during this golden period of “development” aid that the Derg “moved away from socialist agriculture”.

One might point out that neo-Malthusian arguments drawn upon in Ethiopia are intimately enmeshed with the ideological underpinnings of the mainstream environmental movement, which are especially in line with the environmental lobby in Washington. Indeed, since the 18th century, such specious logic has solidified yeomen service to imperial elites who falsely argue that humans simply cannot cultivate enough food to feed the entire human population. Thus, given Ethiopia’s positioning in the ongoing Cold War, it is appropriate that the leading proponents of neoliberal environmentalism played a major role in justifying the aid communities’ protracted interventions in the region. For example, from late 1984 to mid-1986, the executive coordinator of the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa was none other than , the immensely powerful former oil executive who, over the past four decades, has arguably done more than any other individual to promote the misnomer of sustainable development.

Capitalists for Just Exploitation

Old humanitarian habits die hard and, having already proved their ability to neglect the role of imperial power politics in global affairs, Geldof and his Band Aid friends have continued to act as willing implementers of capitalistic responses to capitalist-bred inequality. However, if one had to choose one Band Aid contributor who best followed Geldof’s own model of leadership on behalf of imperial elites it would have to be Bono, who in 2005 was voted TIME magazine’s Person of the Year alongside the well-known “humanitarian” couple Bill and Melinda Gates. After contributing to the Band Aid single and the Live Aid gig in 1985, Bono had even emulated Geldof’s commitment to the right-wing evangelical charity World Vision, and spent six weeks volunteering at one of their orphanages in Ethiopia. Bono’s overt commitment to Christian missionary work was then put on hold, that is, until 1997 when Jamie Drummond encouraged him to became a spokesperson for a church-based campaign known as Jubilee 2000, a group which was set up to campaign the canceling of Third World debt. Fresh from this spiritual revival, Bono then began spending weekends at the World Bank with his friend Bobby Shriver, who himself was an old colleague of the World Bank’s president, James Wolfensohn, having worked with him within the venture capital division of the Wolfensohn Firm.

Having gained his humanitarian apprenticeship under leading imperialists like Wolfensohn, it is fitting that economist Jeffrey Sachs completed Bono’s education. Bono, like Geldof, was pioneering new ground within the realm of celebrity activism, moving from the former archetypal celebrity-as-fundraiser to the realm of celebrity-as-corporate-lobbyist. With the zeal of a born-again zealot, Bono endeavored to work the circuits of power of the hallowed nonprofit-industrial complex, and in 2002 he turned to Geldof, who helped devise the name DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to christen his and Bobby Shriver’s new group; this organization flourished with $1 million start-up grants flowing in from the likes of global democracy manipulator George Soros, software businessman Edward W. Scott, Jr., and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Once established, DATA recruited like-minded high profile corporate lobbyists, the two main ones being the Democrat AIDS activist /defense contractor lobbyist Tom Sheridan, and Scott Hatch, who formerly ran the National Republican Campaign Committee. Much like Geldof, Bono sees his work as bipartisan, that is, encompassing all political views as long as they stand firmly on the side of capitalism.

cartoon-wasteful-system-jpeg-large

In 2004, Bono extended his activist commitments, and with the backing of Bread for the World, the Better Safer World coalition, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he created “ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History,” which merged with DATA in 2007 and is now known as ONE Campaign. All board members of ONE are leading representatives of the US power elite, but three who exhibit outstanding service to capitalist propaganda are president and CEO Michael Elliott (who most recently served as the editor of TIME International), board chair Tom Freston (who is the former CEO of Viacom and MTV Networks), and Joe Cerrell (who presently works for the Gates Foundation, but formerly served as the vice president of the philanthropy practice at APCO Worldwide and as assistant press secretary to former US Vice President Al Gore). A significant recent addition to ONE’s board of directors is World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is active on the board of Friends Africa where he sits alongside African “friends” like Jeffrey Sachs and the chairman of De Beers, Jonathan Oppenheimer. Yet another especially interesting ONE board member is Helene Gayle, who as a former employee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now employed as the president of the leading international “aid” outfit, CARE.

Here, it is noteworthy to recall that CARE was formed by Herbert Hoover as the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, and since its inception in 1945 has provided a valuable means of promoting imperialism via the strategic provision of food aid. Indeed, as Susan George suggests in her excellent book How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger (1976), Hoover was given the opportunity to form CARE primarily because he had demonstrated his ability to use food aid as a weapon during and after World War I. In fact, she suggests that Hoover was arguably the “first modern politician to look upon food as a frequently more effective means of getting one’s own way than gunboat diplomacy or military intervention”. As recent critical scholarship on the international role of CARE demonstrates, it still serves much the same imperial purpose that it was created to perform.

CARE thus provides a vital training ground for budding “humanitarians”; for instance, many of their former staff are involved in a relatively new venture known as Build Africa—a “charity” working in rural Uganda and Kenya that helps “young people” better themselves through learning about the wonders of “business enterprise.” One particularly significant trustee of Build Africa (who also heads their board of ambassadors/investment bankers) is the investment banker and private equity power broker Mark Florman, the CEO of the British Venture Capital Association. In addition to acting as one of the co-founders of the UK-based Center for Social Justice—a think tank that was set up in 2004 by the former leader of the Conservative party, Iain Duncan Smith [8]—Florman worked with Bob Geldof to raise $200 million to launch a private equity fund in 2012, called 8 Miles, with the aid of , which, bluntly put, aims to capitalize on Africa. According to the Financial Times:

Among others that Mr. Geldof has approached for advice on the [] venture is Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born telecoms tycoon turned philanthropist, and Arki Busson, the founder of hedge fund EIM. He has also discussed his plans with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who sits with Mr. Geldof on the Africa Progress Panel, monitoring donor commitments towards increased aid to Africa. [9]

To flesh out the backgrounds of Geldof’s new friends, one might note that Mo Ibrahim was soon to be a board member of the ONE Campaign and is currently chair of the advisory board for an investment firm focused on Africa called Satya Capital; its small portfolio includes Namakwa Diamonds, a mining group whose board members notably include a former executive vice president of the notorious Barrick Gold. In 2004, Ibrahim founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation “to recognize achievement in African leadership and stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world.” In this context, “good governance” means implementation of neoliberal reforms. [10] Hedge fund tycoon Arki Busson, like Ibrahim, is well-versed in the power of philanthropic propaganda, and on the side of his main business interests he runs an educational charity known as Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), which is one of Britain’s powerful new academy chains that run academies on US charter school lines. In 2007, at ARK’s seventh annual fundraiser, Geldof and Tony Blair were in attendance, so it is suitable that ARK’s patrons include two close associates of Geldof’s. The first is the “human rights” crooner Sir Elton John, and the second is the former World Bank economist Dambisa Moyo.

Moyo is the author of Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009), and she lividly expresses her humanitarian commitment through service on the boards of Barclays, SABMiller PLC, and the global independent oil and gas exploration and production company, Lundin Petroleum. [11] With “her total unflinching faith in markets as the ultimate solution and her silence on issues of social justice” Moyo’s book sits comfortably with the ambitions of the “Bono-Bob Geldof-driven development industry that is convinced that the ingredients of lifting the wretched of the earth out of poverty include higher economic growth, liberalised markets, good governance, better-funded NGOs and, most important of all, more aid”.

A Leftist critic of the aid industry (and of Geldof in particular) reminds us:

[t]o understand the Geldof phenomenon, we need to look historically at the role that Africa has played in the European imagination and in global capitalism. Geldof’s crusade and attitude is not new. He is only the latest in a long line of European men whose personal mission has been to transform Africa and Africans. David Livingstone, the celebrity of his day, embarked on a similar crusade in the late 19th century, painting Africa as a land of “evil,” of hopelessness and of child-like humans. His mission was to raise money to pursue his personal ambitions.

In this manner, “Livingstone’s and Geldof’s humanitarianism fits well with the demands of global capitalism as they serve to obscure distinct phases in the exploitation of Africa.

early bob

Close Your Minds and Give Your Money!

Contrary to the pleasant-sounding rhetoric accompanying the entire Band Aid phenomena, Band Aid and its offshoots have always worked closely with imperialist policy agendas. Thus, the Band Aid Trust still exists, with the most recent revival of their formula for deception being the Live8 concert, which was held in 2005, which again relied heavily upon the two most famous celebrity big hitters, Geldof and Bono. While Geldof and Bono’s initial approach to humanitarianism could at best be described as naïve, the power-struck duo are now quite obviously working hand-in-hand with neoliberal elites, not in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. So while the musicians involved in the first Band Aid project might argue that they were unaware of the means by which food aid is tied to imperialism, the same could be not true of the artists who participated in the monumental corporate aid bonanza that was Live8. After all, it was there that Geldof introduced Bill Gates to the millions watching Live8 as “the world’s greatest philanthropist”; George Monbiot appropriately observed, “Geldof and Bono’s campaign for philanthropy portrays the enemies of the poor as their saviours.”

Over the past three decades, the formidable Bono-Geldof tag-team has provided a vital propaganda service to ruling elites. On a broader level too, some argue that their celebrity activism is a natural corollary to the politics of privatization. C. Wright Mills, in his seminal book, The Power Elite (1953), dedicated an entire chapter to celebrities, observing that with the rise of national means of mass communication, “the institutional elite must now compete with and borrow prestige from these professionals in the world of the celebrity.” He thereby outlined the integral function that celebrity lives fulfill vis-à-vis the requirements of managing democracy, noting “the liberal rhetoric—as a cloak for actual power—and the professional celebrity—as a status distraction—do permit the power elite conveniently to keep out of the limelight”. Writing so many years ago, Mills was unsure as to whether the power elite would be content to rest uncelebrated; however, now, under neoliberal regimes of media and social management, the differences between interests of the jet setting crowd and other parts of the power elite have converged. Celebrities become political leaders and politicians become world class “actors,” while the real power behind these media-friendly figureheads remains in the hands of an increasingly concentrated economic elite.

Notes

1 For a musical critique of Live Aid see Chumbawamba’s album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records: Starvation, Charity and Rock & Roll – Lies & Traditions (1986).

2 Geldof’s initial suggestion for Band Aid’s name was “The Bloody Do-Gooders.”

3 Geldof was also involved in the US version of Band Aid which under the organization of Harry Belafonte released the song “We Are the World” in March 1985, which became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The Band Aid Trust was initially chaired by Lord Gowrie, then Minister for the Arts. Other founding trustees included Lord Harlech, the head of Harlech TV, Michael Grade, the controller of BBC1, Chris Morrison, the manager of Ultravox, Maurice Obserstein, the chairman of the British Phonographic Institute, John Kennedy, a pop industry lawyer, and Midge Ure (Geldof 1986 Geldof, B. 1986. Is That It? London: Sidgwick & Jackson. [Google Scholar], 256).

4 On his first visit to Ethiopia, Geldof bumped into another conservative religious “aid” worker, Mother Teresa (Geldof, Is That It? p.239), who according to Christopher Hitchens “has consoled and supported the rich and powerful, allowing them all manner of indulgence, while preaching obedience and resignation to the poor.”

5 One should look to Ethiopia’s recent past for similar examples that illustrate the political nature of famines. For example, “During the final two years (1973–1975) of the US-supported Haile Selassie regime, some 100,000 Ethiopians died of starvation due to drought. At least half the amount of grain needed to keep those people alive was held in commercial storage facilities within the country. In addition, Emperor Selassie’s National Grain Corporation itself held in storage 17,000 tons of Australian wheat which it refused to distribute. While commercial interests thrived by selling hundreds of tons of Ethiopian grain, beans, and even milk to Western Europe and Saudi Arabia, the Ethiopian government received 150,000 tons of free food from aid donors”.

6 Khashoggi was the arms dealer in the Iran-Contra scandal.

7 “The impact of food aid can only be understood within the context of the broader US aid programme. Two-thirds of the total aid package is security assistance: military aid and cash transfers to governments deemed ‘strategically important’ to the US national interest. So whatever worthwhile may be achieved by feeding some people or supporting some useful development efforts is far outweighed by the propping up of anti-democratic elites and regimes whose policies perpetuate inequality”.

8 It is interesting to note that the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Philippa Stroud, was recently employed by the charity known as Christian Action Research and Education, which is also known as CARE, and whose activities are separate from the aforementioned “aid” agency with the same acronym. The long-serving chair of Christian Action Research and Education is Lyndon Bowring, who is a council member of the conservative Christian group The Evangelical Alliance and a member of the board of reference of the equally zealous Christian Solidarity Worldwide that is very active in promoting “aid” in the Sudan.

9 The “core funding 2008–2010” for the Africa Progress Panel “comes from two sources: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).” Africa Progress Panel, available online at: http://www.africaprogresspanel.org/en/about/, accessed 11 January, 2012.

10 Mo Ibrahim is one of many elite counselors of a group called One Young World, which describes itself as “the premier global forum for young people of leadership calibre.” Bob Geldof is also counted as one of their counselors, and One Young World’s cofounder, marketing executive David Jones boasts of “work[ing] closely” with David Cameron and the Conservative Party in the UK and having been tasked to “create and lead the Tck Tck Tck, Time for Climate Justice Campaign.” For an insightful critique of this latter campaign, see Cory Morningstar’s “Eyes Wide Shut: TckTckTck Expose from Activist Insider.”

11 Lukas Lundin a board member of Lundin Petroleum serves as the chair of Lundin Mining, a corporation whose CEO, Phil Wright, is the former president of Freeport-McMoran’s Tenke Mining.

PODCAST: Washington Post Attacks Burundi

KPFA Radio

January 1, 2017

by Ann Garrison

 

“The end of the unipolar, U.S.-led global order is most dramatically signified by the U.S. loss of its proxy war with Russia in Syria, despite dropping bombs faster than U.S. weapons industries could manufacture them. For the past year and a half, a much quieter struggle has been playing out in the tiny East African nation of Burundi. This week the Washington Post launched its latest salvo in the West’s propaganda war on Burundi.”

 

The end of the unipolar, U.S.-led global order is most dramatically signified by the U.S. loss of its proxy war with Russia in Syria, despite dropping bombs faster than U.S. weapons industries could manufacture them. For the past year and a half, a much quieter struggle has been playing out in the tiny East African nation of Burundi.

The U.S. and E.U. nations have repeatedly demanded that Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza step down, but Russia and China have stood up for Burundi, as for Syria, on the U.N. Security Council. Despite its small size, Burundi is, like Syria, very geostrategically situated.

To the east, it borders the scandalously resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo. To the north, it borders longstanding U.S. ally and military proxy Rwanda. To the East, it borders Tanzania, which also favors Russia and China and borders the Indian Ocean.

Russian and Chinese firms have won Burundi’s major mining contracts, and Russia and China have repeatedly blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions to condemn, sanction or send armed force to Burundi. The U.S. and E.U. nations have punished Burundi by cutting aid, imposing sanctions, and turning a blind eye to Rwanda’s cross border aggression.

Western press and officials, including U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, have also waged a relentless propaganda war against Burundi. On December 26, 2016 the Washington Post published an attack on Burundi with no more evidence than its PropOrNot denunciation of independent news sites or its claims about Russians hacking DNC computers and even the U.S. power grid in Burlington, Vermont.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza

The story was first titled “They served an abusive regime. The U.N. made them peacekeepers anyway” but was later changed to “U.N. discovers that some peacekeepers have disturbing pasts.” This referred to the 1,130 Burundians serving as U.N. peacekeepers, primarily in Somalia and the Central African Republic, making it the 23rd greatest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations as of July 31, 2016.

Aside from its reliance on anonymous witnesses and its dateline Rwanda, the Washington Post story failed to mention that the top 10 contributors of U.N. peacekeeping troops include infamous human rights abusers Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal, Egypt and Indonesia. Ethiopia, where the 6 percent Tigrean minority rules with an iron fist, is the top contributor of U.N. peacekeeping troops, with 8,333 peacekeepers deployed, seven times more than Burundi.

Washington, D.C.-based Ethiopian human rights activist Obang Metho, founder of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, says that Ethiopia escapes criticism by serving the West. “The Ethiopian government – the ruling ethnic minority regime that terrorizes its own people – they are not being criticized because they are the darling of the West. They’re pretty much that from Bush till Obama. Anything that the West will ask of them, they will do that.”

Metho also calls Ethiopia an ethnic apartheid regime. “Ethiopians call it not only an ethnic minority group. People also call it an ethnic apartheid group, because it’s almost like the way it was in South Africa and other countries. This tiny ethnic group, they control the security, the intelligence, the economy – almost every sector – and then they use it to divide and conquer, to divide one ethnic group against the other.”

The U.S. has never called on Ethiopia’s President Mulatu Teshome or his predecessor, Meles Zenawi, to step down, as they have Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. National Security Council Advisor and Former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice gave a 15 minute tribute to Zenawi at his funeral.

 

[Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 3]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 9, 2016

Part three of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Standing Rock Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]:  Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Addendum

 

In Part 3 of this series, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer break down the funding and high-profile players and corporations behind the non-profit industrial complex who have been the soft power behind the climate change agenda and actions in recent years. From ice cream tycoons to liberal author darlings, there are deep connections to resources that have strategically co-opted the climate justice movement in its entirety. The spread of activist fervor is being harvested as a potential source new “consumer-activism.”  The consumer-activism is guided by bestselling playbooks for nonviolent revolution and a global network of trainers with a common “indigenous led” pedagogy.

Indigenous Ally: Unilever

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“Never Waste a Good Crisis” – Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever

“Standing with Standing Rock” is racist Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s.

In 2010, Unilever’s brand “Vaseline” launched a Facebook app in India to encourage users to whiten their skin in profile pictures. Further, Unilever owns “Fair and Lovely” — a deeply problematic line of skin bleaching products sold around the globe. [Source: Ben & Jerry’s is supporting Black Lives Matter — but will it make a difference? October 7, 2016 ] The question is: how did Indigenous Nations end up partnering with a corporation that shames people of colour and why does such a partnership continues?

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Unilever’s Kodaikanal mercury poisoning is one of the well chronicled cases of toxic pollution anywhere in the world. Kodaikanal Pollution is a proven case of mercury contamination by (Hindustan Unilever) during the process of manufacturing mercury thermometers for global export. In 2016, following 15 years of legal action, a settlement between Hindustan Unilever and the 591 former workers of the thermometer factory in the southern Indian hill town of Kodaikanal was reached. The amount was not disclosed. [Kodaikanal Won’t Video]

According to the Ben & Jerry’s website, this corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever with an independent Board of Directors. Upon purchase, Unilever agreed to a one-time gift of $5 million to The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to be administered by the foundation trustees. Board of directors include Annie Leonard (Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.” and co-founder of Earth Economics, a newer NGO that will provide tools for the financialization of nature)[1], and Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer for Unilever.

Ben & Jerry’s (owned by Unilever) is in partnership with United Nations, 350.org, Avaaz and BICEP (a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations created by 350.org divestment campaign partner Ceres). Campaigns include Save Our Swirled campaign and the recent Pathway to Paris campaign. Unilever  is also a partner to The B Team (the NGO founded by billionaire Richard Branson) as well as partner of the Avaaz sister organization, Purpose Inc., the for-profit marketing firm specializing in behavioural change. Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans also serves the B Team. Both Unilever, B Team and Purpose are all united under the NGO “We Mean Business” . [Further reading: PATHWAYS TO SPECTACLE | CONSUMERISM AS “ACTIVISM”]

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As an alternative to the American/colonial “Thanksgiving” dinner, a “Water Protectors Community Appreciation Dinner” was held on November 24, 2016 at the Standing Rock Community School on the reservation. Ben & Jerry’s donated the ice cream for dessert. As David Jones, former Global CEO of Havas Advertising and co-founder of TckTckTck as well as One Young World, foresaw in 2010, “who cares wins.”

“The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Indigenous Environmental Network to help them bring food and water to the camp and provide medical and legal aid for the protestors.” Ben & Jerrys website

On a similar note, in April, 2013 Upworthy (co-founded by Eli Pariser: Avaaz co-founder, Open Societies Foundations Advisory Board member) announced its initial revenue approach, “and that Unilever will become the first commercial brand to join a new “Upworthy Collaborations” advertising and sponsorship program…. Participation in the Upworthy Collaborations program will extend to brands, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and foundations.” [Source]

“Upworthy attracts a huge community of highly influential, socially conscious citizens — people who share our goal of building a better future for children,” said Marc Mathieu, Unilever Senior Vice President, Global Marketing. “Our partnership will include work for several of our brands, and we are looking forward to seeing how effective story-telling can help us engage with people more meaningfully.”

On the Ben and Jerry’s website (September 22, 2016) under “Here are Four Easy Ways YOU Can Help” the text reads “Please join us right now in supporting this remarkable cause” with the number one recommended action being: “1) Sign this petition to urge President Obama to stop the pipeline.”. The petition does not direct to the Standing Rock website, rather it redirects the reader to the 350.org website petition. Regardless, despite any given amount of energy being expended into online petitions, the reality is that this very “strategy” functions first and foremost as a means of broadening a support base and collecting massive volumes of personal information. The state doesn’t give a fuck about the common man (referred to commonly today as human capital) and never will. For the state, the working class are nothing more than mere consumers and human capital while minority groups are considered disposable/dispensable (and treated as such). One key task of the NPIC is to condition/convince these very citizens to believe otherwise. That oppressors can be made to be caring and good by demonstrating a fine display of moral conduct.

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“Unilever’s chief executive reflects on lessons learned at three major consumer goods companies, including how to manage people in a global context, the obligations corporations have to society, and why you should never waste a good crisis.” — McKinsey conversations with global leaders: Paul Polman of Unilever [Source]

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On the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe website page promoting a *Dave Mathews rock concert sponsored by Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s, there are three “take action” options. Option 1, sign the petition; Option 2, call the Whitehouse; Option 3, donate. [*Dave Mathews band has been working in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s since 2002.]

Upon clicking option 1 (sign the petition) you are re-directed to the Stand With Standing Rock  (“an official site of standingrock.org”) “take action” page to sign the petition:

As one can see in the screenshot below, the petition is brought to you by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the “Other 98”. The petition cites a target goal of 1 million signatures (in other words, the data of one million people). In tiny text under the two logos it reads “Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Other98 may send you updates on the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline via email.” There is no privacy disclosure as to what organizations (if any) Other98 will be sharing vast volume of collected data with.

Who is Other98?

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Other98%

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The Other 98%: “On tax day in 2010, Agit-Pop communications announced a new project called ‘The Other 98%'”. Agit-Pop worked closely with MoveOn (founder of Avaaz) in past campaigns. This campaign would be no exception.  “The pledge [2010:08:10: “Fight Washington Corruption Pledge”] is part of a broader campaign, titled the Other 98%, that will work this fall to elect leaders who will fight for the majority of Americans and not just the top 2%. This will be MoveOn’s major push this election cycle.” [Source: Wikileaks]

“That’s not what The Other 98 Percent would be doing, of course. They’re already closely involved in Occupy Wall Street. In fact, The Other 98 Percent’s Action Director, helped get Occupy Wall Street off the ground, taking part in early planning sessions and facilitating the meeting the night before the protest launched. — Occupy Wall Street Poses Branding Problem for “The Other 98 Percent, November 9, 2010

Andrew Boyd  is  the founder & project director at Beautiful Trouble. Boyd is co-founder of The Other 98% (which has been rebranded to Other98), a founding partner of Agit-Pop Communications.

“Agit-Pop Communications is an award-winning one-stop creative studio delivering strategic messaging, cutting edge New Media and boots-on-the-ground campaigning to the progressive netroots. We’ve won a Webby, two Contagious Festivals, Best Political Prank of 2009, YouTube’s Best Political Video of 2007, and the grudging respect of our enemies.”

His past activities include founding “Billionaires for Bush” (2003-2005), creative consultant for Credo mobile, Campaign Consultant & Campus Presenter for organizations ad NGOs such as UAW, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Council of Canadians, JWJ, CTWO, RAN, etc.

Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution  seeks to gather together, in one place, as much of this dispersed knowledge as possible. In doing so, editors Andrew Boyd (of Billionaires for Bush) and Dave Oswald Mitchell have produced a true treasure trove of collective wisdom. Authors include activists from a wide array of organizations — including Code Pink, the Yes MenRuckus SocietyJustice for JanitorsRebel Clown Army, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers — along with journalists, filmmakers, trainers, and researchers.” [Source]

One “problem” with having Andrew Boyd as a key member of the organization behind the Standing Rock NGO campaign is that Standing Rock should never be equated in any form to “beautiful trouble”. “Beautiful Trouble” is liberal soft porn for bored albeit well-intentioned liberals and those with limited exposure to the history of movements and revolutionaries. The resistance at Standing Rock is not “beautiful trouble” – rather, it is life and death in the face of genocide for Indigenous nations. It is worth noting Code Pink (a contributor to “Beautiful Trouble”) an NGO that has recently become active at Standing Rock, has recently issued a media release promoting the Netflix White Helmets propaganda video.

Partners publicly identified by Beautiful Trouble include Sellers and Boyd’s Agit-Pop Communications /The Other 98%, 350.org, The Ruckus Society, Code Pink, The Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly smartMeme) Waging Nonviolence, and others. [2]

Agit-Pop clientele includes MoveOn, Avaaz, Amnesty International, Rainforest Action Network, Credo, Tar Sands Coalition (350.org), and many others. [Client list as accessed by Sourcewatch in 2013]

Prior to the communications studio being called Agit-Pop, it was called “Ruckus Productions”.  May 24, 2007: “Our friends at Ruckus Productions recently did an incisive and graphically charged agit-prop video to help launch the Avaaz.org campaign: Stop The Clash of Civilizations, with music by DJ Spooky. Yesterday it was posted on the home page of YouTube and as of this moment has been viewed over 188,000 times.” [Avaaz was founded in 2007].

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Above: Screen shot of the Other98 “Warriors Wanted” video for Standing Rock identifying the Standing Rock partnerships. The video posted October 18, 2016 on Facebook has garnered 371,000 views  and 14, 103 shares (as of Dec 1, 2016).

The Other 98% twitter account follows their project partners and the usual blasé liberal NGO establishment. MoveOn, Eli Pariser (Avaaz/Upworthy founder), Credo, NRDCc, RAN, New Organizing Institute, 350, SEIU, Tar Sands Action, New Economy Coalition, Next Gen, Rising Tides, Greenpeace, Annie Leonard, CodePink and many more who move through  the interlocking directorate of the NPIC.

John Sellers is co-founder of The Other 98% and Agit-Pop Communications with Boyd. He is the former executive director of the Ruckus Society and current board president. Sellers worked for Greenpeace in the early 90s (office director, Greenpeace,  Washington) prior to joining  Ruckus. (Andy Menconi, who serves as Agit-Pops’s art diector is also co-founder of Agit-Pop Communications with Sellers and Boyd.) [SouceWatch: John Sellers run the liberal public relations and online campaign consulting business Agit-Pop which he co-founded with Andrew Boyd. Their clients include dozens of groups affiliated with Democratic Party politics and liberal causes including MoveOnCREDOFamilies USAAFSCME, etc.”]

The Other98 & AVAAZ

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Image: U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello. Perriello served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and as a Counselor for Policy at Center for American Progress until July of 2015 when he was appointed Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa by the White House.[Source]

“The Ivy League bourgeoisie who sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests. — Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, which is described as a global civic advocacy group, and Democratic front party, Moveon.org. The silent voice behind Avaaz, Res Publica, is, in the public realm, essentially comprised of three key individuals: Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur; Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello; and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department. [Source: WELCOME TO THE BRAVE NEW WORLD – BROUGHT TO YOU BY AVAAZ]

Boyd shares an affiliation with both MoveOn (co-founder of Avaaz) and Avaaz itself.

On the “team” section located on the Billionaires for Bush website, the disclosed Board of Advisors (identified as a “partial listing”) includes Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel. [Description: “A fellow of Res Publica and co-founder of Faithful America. Graduated first in a class of 350 from Balliol College, Oxford and was a Silliman Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard. He has consulted widely including for the Rockefeller Foundation, Harvard University, and CARE International.”] [Further background on Patel]

Boyd shares office space with the Avaaz Foundation headquarters in New York. He uses Avaaz address for Agit-Pop communications even referencing those who wish to contact him to ring to the “Avaaz” buzzer.

avaaz-address-2

Above screenshot: The Avaaz Foundation (also known as Avvaz.org) address as listed on the Guidestar website: 857 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003

Below screenshot: Contact information as found on Boyd’s personal website: “me at the office: Agit-Pop East, 857 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (at corner of B’ & 17th., “Avaaz” buzzer, 3rd floor)

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Much of the Beautiful Trouble book project took place in the Avaaz office:

“Writing Beautiful Trouble has been a novel process…The book was assembled in the cloud, with much of the heavy lifting done during four ‘book sprints’ that took place in Avaaz’s lovely New York City office, which they were generous enough to let us use.” [Source]

One thing is certain. Imperial-liberal left “activists” have no issues in maintain close relationships with NGO co-founders who share much responsibility for deaths of hundreds of thousands of Libyan and Syrian citizens. This begs the question on why they would feel any differently toward the ongoing genocide of Indigenous nations on American soil.

Ironically, part two of Beautiful Trouble shares a section titled “No one wants to watch a drum circle.” [Source]

Climate Ribbon

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Andrew Boyd, Gan Golan, and Naomi Klein at the Climate Ribbon art-ritual after the People’s Climate March, NYC, September 21, 2014.

Another project of The Other 98 is the direct action project “Climate Ribbon” created to coincide with the September 2014 “People’s Climate March (PCM) organized by GCCA/TckTckTck. [“In the Climate Ribbon ritual, participants are invited to find a stranger’s ribbon, read it aloud, have the group answer ‘We are with you,’ or ‘We’ve got your back!’ Then they tie the ribbon onto their wrists and take it home with them.”] The launch of the Climate Ribbon was the culminating art installation at the 2014 People’s Climate March. The project’s Advisory Circle includes AVAAZ, 350.org, Greenpeace, Beautiful Trouble, Rainforest Action Network, Movement Generation, The Other 98%, CODEPINK, and many others.  [Source] 1563 organizations participated.

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Notables featured for their ribbons include Al Gore, Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben.

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Our pied pipers fly to faraway places. The masses follow. The crude oil must flow to feed the collective appetite of the 1-2% who create 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. That is, anyone who can afford to fly on a plane. We write messages of love on spools of red synthetic ribbons imported from Chinese sweatshops, to adorn our egos and self-gratification. Simultaneously, our brothers and sisters throughout the global south are paying the price for our carbon intensive, consumptive lifestyles that continue to expand unabated. ” By way of our collective actions, “the other 98%” does not matter. Actions speak louder than words. Our appetites cannot be quelled. We look away. As the grotesque Madeline Albright once said: “we think the price is worth it.”

The ribbon theme would be utilized the following year (2015) for COP21 in Paris.

Beautiful Trouble

“Beautiful Trouble is a crash course in the emerging field of carnivalesque realpolitik, both elegant and incendiary.”— Naomi Klein

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“Based in New York City. Project spans the globe…. The leadership of Beautiful Solutions first published Beautiful Trouble, a book that has sold 10,000 copies, been translated into seven languages, and used by campaigns and classrooms across North America and Europe.” [Source: Rauschenberg Foundation]

As previously discussed, partner organizations publicly disclosed by Beautiful Trouble include Sellers and Boyd’s Agit-Pop Communications /The Other 98%, The Ruckus Society, and others. More recent partnerships include 350.org, This Changes Everything and Avaaz.

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Collectively these NGOs (identified above) serve as the hub of organizations that provide non-violent direct action (NVDA) training, shaping  and developing the ideologies and aspirations of whole societies via expertise in behavioural change.

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Following in the footsteps of Avaaz and 350.org, both global in scale, Beautiful Trouble outlines its own “expanding beautiful universe”, “beautiful happenings” and “share the love”:

“We launched (and are hard at work on) Beautiful Solutions: In partnership with Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, we’re building an interactive online gallery for sharing the stories, solutions and big ideas from the new economy and social justice movements that are critical to address the challenges we all face from climate change.”

A recent paid/part-time internship opportunity for Beautiful Trouble can be found on The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution that “fosters a commitment to the ideals of public service and informed public debate exemplified by Nelson A. Rockefeller, former governor of New York State and Vice President of the United States.” [Source] This posting, as uneventful as it seems, exemplifies the target market/demographic of potential leadership sought and developed by NGOs that comprise the NPIC: that of ivy league status and class. There are no Indigenous trainers identified on the Beautiful Trouble website.

The Beautiful Trouble network “is an alliance of artists, trainers, and creative campaigners who continue to support creative activism. It seeks creative approaches to social change.” [Source] Beautiful trouble is not about revolution. It about the development for the expansion of American driven ideologies and social constructs imparted by those who benefit from such institutions. The Beautiful Trouble network is an exercise of the development and expansion of networked hegemony driven by the belief of American exceptionalism. It reframes the necessity regarding the required dismantling of  the capitalism system in its entirety by creating a false illusion that the system can instead be made better by the “new economy”, otherwise known as transformative capitalism, generative capitalism and natural capitalism.

To do so, it targets and appeals not to those who wish to overthrow the system, but to those who wish to further benefit from the system – by developing a strong base and ideology with more than willing converts. This creates a cultural ambience, where improving the economic system is the only acceptable recourse. It further drives these manufactured societal norms via social engineering. Revolution is no longer the overthrowing of a system to save what little remains of life on this Earth, but a pathway for electric cars, fair trade Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and solar panels.

“We also began work on Beautiful Rising: Starting in 2015, Beautiful Trouble and ActionAid Denmark are teaming up with activists, movements and organizations across the Global South to assemble a toolkit of creative activism that will showcase the innovative tactics and strategies of southern social movements. If you have activist connections in Burma, Uganda, the Middle East/Jordan, Zimbabwe, and (maybe) El Salvador… let us know, we’d love to reach out to them.” Beautiful Trouble website, January 8, 2015

The Beautiful Trouble network has previously been focused on establishing success domestically and is now targeting global expansion. This is an almost unconscious exercise in psychological conditioning of whole societies which spreads like a contagion. A physical maneuvering that affords 21st century colonization and the expansion of US imperialism a shield against any/all criticisms. In a very real sense this 21st century form of  colonization and the expansion of US imperialism although carried out in broad daylight, remains invisible.

This is imperial soft power in its most gentle form. This is the belief in American exceptionalism to be contemplated, digested and finally dispersed to non-Anglo countries by the white middle class demographic, in periods of boredom and emptiness between shopping and Netflix. A Brave New World virus transmitted via a “hearts and minds” netwar.

In partnership with 350.org, GCCA, and Avaaz, we pulled off BT’s First European Training in Budapest in September, 2014 with youth climate leaders from a dozen countries across Eastern and Central Europe.

 

“Help us supply low-budget activists across the globe with a free copy of Beautiful Trouble (follow the link and click “gift edition”.) We’ll take these copies with us in our global workshops, as well as use them to stock worker centers and prison libraries, to ensure they reach people who can use a little trouble in their life but otherwise couldn’t access the book.” [Source: 2015: More beautiful(s) than ever! – January 8, 2015]

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The Beautifful Trouble Network, a key instrument of empire, has it eyes on the global South: “Beautiful Trouble and ActionAid Denmark are teaming up with activists, movements and organizations across the Global South”.

Par for the course, Beautiful Trouble, like all imperial NGOs, tows the line in framing governments in the global south as repressive, without ever referring to their own government/governments in this manner. All while their own governments (in this instance the US) is carrying out war, occupations ad illegal invasions throughout the entire globe. This sets the tone for destabilization efforts throughout the globe such as the current one in Venezuela, where Canvass/Otpor (promoted by 350, OWS, etc.) is utilizing the work of Gene Sharp and has been working in concert with right-wing forces to overthrow socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

“Hoaxes or flash mob, protest modes should, according to American activist Andrew Boyd, adapt to changes of capitalism, without neglecting traditional events… Internet has multiplied the interconnections. Movements like 350 or Avaaz , which has 42 million members, weigh heavily internationally. Both organizations working on human rights, environmental justice, corruption, and will probably be very active at the Climate Conference in Paris in December. In a forthcoming book, Beautiful Rising, whose website already allows sharing of experiences, the idea is to provide better tools to the particular circumstances of the South, where the political environment is often more repressive, Internet less accessible. Cultural differences exist due to less economic development. Mounting an action in the favelas in Brazil has nothing to do with the struggle of the middle class in New York.” — The Challenge Must Go Through More Creative and Joyful Actions, March 27, 2015

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Above: Naomi Klein. “Spectacle celebrities like Naomi Klein, while raising valid (albeit hypocritical) criticism of the complex, count on infantile consumers to maintain their activist credentials. Serving as proxies for consumer rage, yet asking nothing serious of them as citizens, makes these capitalist activists popular and profitable PR puppets.” [Further reading: THE INCREASING VOGUE FOR CAPITALIST-FRIENDLY CLIMATE DISCOURSE]

December 10, 2012: “BT invited along on 350.org’s “Do the Math” tour. Andrew Boyd, one of Beautiful Troubles editors, saw the show in New York City where BT author Joshua Kahn Russell MC’d an event that felt more like a mass-workshop cum rock-concert than a lecture tour.” [Source]

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One funder of Beautiful Trouble is the Chorus Foundation is founded by Farhad Ebrahimi. Ebrahimi co-chaired Environmental Grantmakers Association‘s 2015 flagship retreat, which featured Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter) as a speaker. [Source] (Chorus Foundation is a member of Environmental Grantmakers Association.) The foundation utilizes the language of “new power” (Jeremy Heimans of Purpose) and the “new economy” (the green economy rebranded): “We need to divest from the old economy and invest in the transition to a new economy. To date, we have invested nearly $4 million in solar and other clean energy as well as in a very small number of companies building the new economy.” The Chorus Foundation is a member of New Economy Funders Network (NEFN). This network identifies “applied ecological economics” (“applying these measures of environmental services and values to economic policy and financial realms.”) as its future and paramount purpose.

The Chorus foundation has invested in Seventh Generation, 350.org, New Economy Coalition, Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society, Idle No More, Mosaic Solar, among others, contributed $46,900.00 in 2015 towards a Beautiful Trouble ($5,900.00 for a staff retreat), and identified the NGO as follows: “Beautiful Trouble is a collaborative effort by 70 artist-activists-strategists and over 10 leading creative campaign organizations including the YesMen/YesLab, Ruckus Society, Other 98%, and others.” According to the Chorus Foundation website, $25,000 of the funding went to the “initial phase of the Beautiful Solutions project, a partnership with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis’ This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.” [Source]

Beautiful Solutions, The Backbone Campaign

Beautiful Solutions is fiscally sponsored by The Backbone Campaign which is also identified as a partner NGO in the Beautiful Trouble network. Executive director Bill Moyer co-founded the Backbone Campaign in 2003. An internet search on the Backbone Campaign address [PO Box 278, Vashon, WA 98070, 206-408-8058] also pulls up the Patagonia corporation (a primary funder of Ruckus).

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Dal LaMagna, Getty Images

In regards to both the address and phone number, The Backbone Campaign is shared with the Progressive Government Institute founded by Dal LaMagna in 2003. The Executive Director of PGI is identified as Bill Moyer, who describes the group in the following way: “The Progressive Government Institute is a non-partisan, educational organization dedicated to ensuring transparency and accountability in the executive branch of the federal government.” Yet, it is glaring that the founder of the group, Dal LaMagna, ran for U.S. Congress twice in the 3rd Congressional District in New York as the Democratic and Green candidate in 1996 and 2000, respectively and ran for President in the 2008 Democratic Primary.

In 2005, LaMagna merged PGI with the Backbone Campaign.

Who is Dal LaMagna?

“Dal is currently working as a responsible capitalist activist. He is an major funder and active Trustee of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute which awards MBA’s in Sustainable Business.” [Source] LaMagna is founder of Tweezerman, a corporation founded in 1980 “that practices responsible capitalism”. LaMagna’sTweezerman, U.S.A. was acquired in 2004 by Solingen, Germany based Zwilling J.A. Henckels for a reported $57 million. The following year LaMagna sold his shares in Tweezerman, India.

LaMagna is a member and former advisory board member of the Social Venture Network (SVN), “a group of responsible capitalists promoting social and economic justice through their businesses.  He is on the board of directors of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, an MBA program that is “Changing Business for Good.”  Part of the BGI program includes the Dal LaMagna Responsible Capitalism series” LaMaga also serves on the board for The Center For CongressYes MagazineTweezerman Corporation, and Icestone.   He is a founding partner of and a blogger at The Huffington Post and serves on the Dean’s Council for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.”

LaMagna supports numerous NGOs including: CodePink, The League of Young Voters, the Rainforest Action Network, UFPA United for Peace and Justice, , Business Leaders For Sensible Priorities (BLSP),  the Drug Policy Alliance, the Center for Economic Policy and Research,  The Nation Institute,  Momma’s House, The Rockridge Institute, the Center For Partnership Studies, Gold Star Families For Peace, the Campaign For America’s Future, the Center for Independent Media,  Mount Desert Island Laboratory, and the Washington State Progress Alliance. He currently lives in Poulsbo, Washington and has a second home in Washington, D.C.

LaMagna epitomizes the ultimate ideologies/philosophies and vision of the NGOs and training organizations that comprise the NPIC: a global economy that flourishes under “responsible capitalism”. B Corp corporations, yet another million dollar certification scheme, such as Ben & Jerry’s, set the stage for examples of “evolving capitalism, conscious capitalism and natural capitalism. The CEOs of B Corporations are upheld as the progressive visionaries of our time. The newly appointed stewards of nature. From shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism is the carrot for society meaning, “we are willing to give you a piece of the pie provided we all work together sustain the capitalist economic system”.

“And at least one major corporation is involved. gave a $25,000 grant to the Indigenous Environmental Network, a nongovernmental organization, to support the indigenous community at Standing Rock.” — Fashion Steps Up at Standing Rock, December 2, 2016

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Backbone Campaign: “Rent or borrow this awesome, portable, compact, and lightweight pipeline prop that fully inflates in about a minute. We worked with Rising Tide Seattle to take-over the offices of a top financier of tar sands extraction in a bold and impressive way. Bring this prop to you action, march or protest. It’s fun for participants to help mobilize and grabs the attention of photographers and spectators alike. You can create your own banner to put on the side of it if you like. It’s approximately 30ft long and can be easily help above the heads of the crowd. (check out the exciting video from its debut HERE). Fill out the form below to rent or borrow this prop for your actions.”

Backbone’s said purpose is to “use creative tools and strategies to  educate the public on issues of government transparency, civic participation and democracy. It’s primary focus is imagery and trainings workshops. Highlights of their work include a 2010 flashmob created for MoveOn & Other98 paid for by MoveOn.org Political Action. Other clients/allies include Working Washington & AgitPop, Popular Resistance, and Tzeporah Bermans ForestEthics (now called STAND).

Backbone organized “14+ powerful Kayaktivist actions that earned international headlines”… inspiring “Kayaktivism across country and planet.” [Source]

Global Domination

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Avaaz, “*Our Victories, 2014: Saving the Maasai’s Land” [Source]| Feb 27, 2015: “…another round of evictions is under way: thousands of Maasai have been evicted at gunpoint and their homes burnt to ashes.” [Source]  August 28, 2016: “Thousands of pastoralist Maasai groups in Tanzania have been evicted from a 1,500 sq km area close to the Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro national parks.”[Source]  *Note that there is no update on the Avaaz “Our Victories!” page.

In a 2006 USAID document, the organization suggests that NGOs should be given legal recognition “as an important element in the development of sustainable community development as associated with ecotourism.” Today NGOs are undoubtedly recognized “the most important element in the development of sustainable  community development as associated with the new economy.” The fact that elite interests would like to see NGOs granted legal recognition (this means protection) reveals how critical, and understood, NGO involvement actually is (by the United Stated government) for the further expansion of new markets (payments for ecosystem services), neoliberalism and US foreign policy.

350.org (Rockefeller foundation, Clinton Initiative) has expanded into an international powerhouse. Avaaz, GCCA (TckTckTck) and 350.org are today the most powerful NGOs on the planet. They are perhaps the most vital instrument in empire’s war chest. The goal is the utilization of western ideologies to obtain global domination.

“A five-day Beautiful Trouble training session for 25 young climate activists was organised jointly with 350.org and Avaaz in September with participants from Belarus, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. GCCA provided expertise, outreach, logistical support and part of the funding for the session, while the group shared an innovative methodology that has proved successful at bringing people out on the street and encouraging them to join the global movement. As a direct result of this session, youth groups organised Peoples’ Climate March actions on 21st September in both Budapest and Warsaw, and successfully used these tactics to take a visible stand against a government squeeze on civil society space in Hungary. GCCA will continue to support the groups involved as they work to mobilise citizens across the region.” — GCCA Annual Report 2014 [Emphasis added][Source]

It is critical to note the gross undermining carried out by TckTckTck/GCCA against Bolivia, the G77 and small island states in 2010 at COP15. Their collective actions, unknown to most, should be considered for what they are: crimes against humanity. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

“The objective was to make it become a movement that consumers, advertisers and the media would use and exploit.” — Havas Press Release, EYES WIDE SHUT, TckTckTck expose, January 6, 2010

GCCA/TckTckTck (lead organizer of the 2014 People’s Climate March)  is a “coalition of twenty key international organizations” including Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace , Kofi Anna’s Global Humanitarian Forum, OXFAM, WWF, World Council of Churches, Union of Concerned Scientists, Equiterre, Global Call to Action against Poverty (also co-chaired by Kumi Naidoo), and the Pew Environment Group. [Source: TckTckTck: The Bitch is Back]

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350.org in Burundi, Africa:”Hundreds of thousands join the People’s Climate March in New York and in more than 2,000 communities all over the world … Meanwhile, one of the most popular malls in the Philippines has launched the world’s largest solar power on its facility. The SM Supermalls has installed 5,700 solar panels on its North EDSA branch on November 24, 2014. The system is said to generate 1.5 megawatts of solar energy, covering five percent of the store’s average daily electricity consumption.” [For more photos see source] Avaaz is also in Burundi on other business. The business of destabilization: Avaaz Hones In On Burundi as Next U.S. Fait Accompli

Consider that from June 13-15, 2016, 350.org, headlined at “The Global Youth Forum of the World Bank”  (live blog). Those on the first panel included activities from Energy Action CoalitionHere Now (Purpose), 350.org, and Green Brunei. It’s not the mere fact that 350 et al wish to work within the system. What must be understood (and thus far it is not) is that they are part of the system itself.

“Slogans like “350”, “New Economy”, and “Sustainable Capitalism” are promoted by Mad Men via foundation-funded front groups, and echoed by media, thus generating enough noise to overwhelm critical judgement. Symbols that appeal to progressives’ emotional vulnerabilities, like rising sun logos used to symbolize hope and change, are recycled to mean “This Changes Everything”, thus creating the impression that neoliberal reform is socialist revolution.” — Hijacking the Environmental Movement, April 25, 2016

All good intentions aside, well intentioned and well meaning citizens are being corralled by the world’s foremost experts in social engineering and behavioural change. East Indians struggle to survive poisoning at the hands of Unilever while in the West, liberal left sycophants strive to partner with Unilever, Patagonia, Seventh Generation (recently purchased by Unilever) etc. – all under the banner of “environmentalism” and “social justice”. “Success” is only achieved by economic growth. The more growth, the more environmental destruction, exploitation of those most vulnerable, pollution and carbon emissions – on an already exhausted planet on the brink of ecological collapse. It is the height of insanity.

 

Next: Part 4

 

End Notes:

[1] “The goal to commodify the commons under what has come to be known as “(payment for) ecosystem services” (as well as Natural Capital, Biosphere Economy, etc.) will look to the private sector for investment. The scheme promises corporations, private investors and the world’s most powerful financial institutions both ownership and control (i.e. expansion of power) of Earth’s natural resources, as the return on capital investment. We bear witness to an explosion of new environmental markets and ecosystem services products which are already being developed in order to capture the trillions of dollars to be made from the capture and exploitation of “natural capital”. The implementation of payment for ecosystem services will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed. New markets offer speculation that promises unimaginable profits.

This is a new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy (those with financial capital on the top tier) via the global commodification of nature’s functions and services. In essence, the implementation of payment for ecosystems services represents an unprecedented coup: a privatization of the commons. A free-for-all for further corporate capture like nothing the world has yet witnessed. Corporations and the financial institutions are frothing at the mouth. Never before has neoliberalism witnessed such opportunity and scope as in the expansion of markets and capital. The commodification of most everything sacred, the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure, will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”

[2] Others include The New Organizing Institute, Beyond the Choir, Nonviolence International, Alliance of Community Trainers, The Yes Men/Yes Labs, The Center for Artistic Activism (where Boyd serves on the advisory board), and Escola de Activismo.

 

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.]

 

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 2]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

The Left in Denial over Canadian Imperialism

Yves Engler

August 12, 2016

by Yves Engler

 

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Above: From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: “Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it)(February, 2016)

As hard as it is to admit for a former junior hockey player who spends many hours writing at the neighbourhood Tim Hortons, some things are better in the USA.

For example, comparing Green Party leader Elizabeth May to her American counterpart Jill Stein on foreign-policy issues puts Canada to shame. While Stein has articulated forthright criticism on various international issues, May spouts nationalist platitudes as often as she challenges unjust policies.

Recently, Stein endorsed the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, called for Washington and Moscow to work together and said, “US pursuit of regime change in Libya, Iraq, and Syria created the chaos that promotes power grabs by extremist militias. Many of the weapons we are sending into Syria to arm anti-government militias are winding up in the hands of ISIS. This isn’t a clever foreign policy — it’s disastrous militarism.”

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For her part, May spent last weekend undermining her party’s internal democracy to protect the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund and Israel from censure. At their convention in Ottawa May and most of the Green leadership succeeded in eliminating any mention of the JNF in a resolution, which was rewritten from targeting that institution to call on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the status of all charities engaged in international human rights violations. Fortunately, the party leadership failed to block a resolution endorsing BDS in what is probably the single most significant pro-Palestinian victory in Canadian history.

While the Green members who bucked the party leadership to support the JNF and BDS resolutions deserve to be congratulated, the anti-Palestinian, right-wing Israeli nationalist groups who terrorized May in the lead-up to the convention raised an important, if disingenuous, point: Why were there only two resolutions dealing with foreign-policy at the convention? Why didn’t the Greens debate Canadian mining companies’ abuses abroad, special forces in Iraq/Syria, international tar sands promotion, troops on the Russian border, among numerous other important international issues?

The Green’s 2015 federal election foreign-policy platform paper was peppered with nationalist platitudes. It said “Canada is fundamentally a peaceful country” and “defender of human rights.” In laying out the party’s 2015 election position in Esprit de Corps magazine May wrote, “the world needs more Canada” and argued, “we should also support the United Nations’ ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine”, which was used to justify bombing Libya in 2011 and ousting Haiti’s elected government in 2004.

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May backed the Conservative government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a $30-$40 billion effort to expand the combat fleet over three decades. But the naval upgrade will strengthen Canadian officials’ capacity to bully weaker countries. The 2000 book Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy details the navy’s extensive history of flexing its muscles, including dozens of interventions in the Caribbean and pressuring Costa Rica to repay money the Royal Bank loaned to an unpopular dictator. And it’s not just history; over the past 25 years the Canadian Navy has played an increasing pro-imperial role in the Middle East and off parts of Africa.

May and Green Party policy statements have also mythologized Canadian foreign policy, citing Lester Pearson as some sort of hero. May claimed “a Green Party approach to international issues will return Canada to the values of Lester B. Pearson.” But, as I detail in Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, the former external minister and prime minister was an ardent cold warrior, who played a part in dispossessing Palestinians, creating NATO and helping the US wage war in Vietnam and Korea.

Of course, the problem runs deeper than May or the Green Party. Much of the Canadian ‘left’ is highly nationalistic, wedded to both the idea this country is a US “dependency” and international “peacekeeper”.

While far from what’s needed, internationalist minded Americans have helped expose US imperialism. Progressive people in this country have largely failed to do the same with Canadian imperialism. In fact, left-wing Canadian academics have probably written more books and articles criticizing US foreign policy than Canada’s.

Certainly the US left has built more of an infrastructure/culture willing to genuinely challenge US foreign policy. A number of prominent academics are highly critical of US foreign policy and left-wing US media outlets such as CounterPunch, Z, Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, etc. shun foreign-policy apologetics.

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In Canada the most prominent ‘left-wing’ foreign-policy think tank is led by Peggy Mason who was a key adviser to Conservative foreign minister Joe Clark in the late 1980s and has held numerous diplomatic postings and UN positions since. During a 2012 National Defence Committee parliamentary meeting on NATO the head of the Rideau Institute noted, “I’m talking as someone who has spent the better part of the last 10 years working with NATO.” Mason trained NATO commanders for peace and crisis stabilization operations and boasted she trained the general Charles Bouchard, who led the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya, which the Rideau Institute head described as a “very important mission.”

The Rideau Institute’s lead collaborator/advisor is an employee of the Canadian Forces who aggressively supported Canada’s worst foreign-policy crime of the first decade of the 21st century (the coup in Haiti). Walter Dorn’s Rideau Institute reports are usually co-published by Canada’s leading left think tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. While the CCPA Monitor publishes some articles critical of Canadian foreign policy, its international affairs reports, which receive the bulk of resources, do not offer serious criticism. A number of recent reports have called for adjustments to military priorities while accepting the broad outlines of Canadian militarism. In February they co-published Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it). On the cover of the report a white Canadian soldier, with a massive M-16 strapped around his shoulder, is bent over to hold the hand of a young black boy. In the background are Canadian and UN colours. A call for the Canadian Forces to offer its members more peacekeeping training, Unprepared for peace? is premised on the erroneous notion that UN missions are by definition socially useful and it repeatedly implies that Canada’s most significant recent contribution to a UN mission — the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) — was an operation we should be proud of.

Last year the CCPA and Rideau Institute co-published Smart Defence: A Plan for Rebuilding Canada’s Military, which introduces the issue this way: “When the Harper government came to power in 2006, it pledged to rebuild Canada’s military. But for nine long years, it has failed to deliver on most of its promises, from new armoured trucks and supply ships to fighter jets and search-and-rescue planes.” Author Michael Byers peppers the report with various militarist claims. Canada “faces challenges at home and abroad that require a well-equipped and capable military,” he writes. At another point he says “the Canadian Army cannot deploy large numbers of troops overseas because of a shortage of armoured trucks.” In other words, let’s improve Canada’s military capacity.

While mostly providing a counterpoint to the dominant media, Rabble also publishes some blatantly establishment foreign-policy pieces. It regularly runs Gerald Caplan’s apologetics for the US–Britain–Canada backed Paul Kagame, Africa’s most bloodstained dictator. In late 2015 Rabble ran interviews by CCPA research affiliate Christopher Majka of Libyan, Syrian and Russian invitees to the Halifax International Security Forum, which is sponsored by NATO, the Department of National Defence and various arms firms.

Last week Rabble published a blog by Penney Kome, former editor of the now defunct left website Straight Goods, claiming Donald Trump is soft on Russia. She wrote: “Three of Trump’s top aids have extensive Russian connections, (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page) and Trump’s policies — such as they are — are strongly pro-Russian. It’s only fair to wonder what his Russophillia means for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and for former Soviet Union countries that Vladimir Putin may still want to annex, such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.” Kome’s piece comes a few weeks after Ottawa announced it would send 450 troops and armoured vehicles to Latvia to be permanently stationed on Russia’s border.

During his campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination Bernie Sanders, who largely avoided foreign-policy before endorsing a hawk for president, at least criticized Washington’s role in overthrowing Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, Salvador Allende in Chile as well as the US war in Indochina. It made me wonder if a leading Canadian politician had ever criticized a past foreign policy.

It’s hard to imagine an NDP leader saying, “we shouldn’t blindly follow Washington’s war aims since that led Lester Pearson’s government to deliver US bombing threats to North Vietnam in violation of international law.” Or, “as we evaluate our support for this UN mission let’s not forget the blow Canadian peacekeepers delivered to central Africa when they helped undermine Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba.”

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Further reading: Canada’s Role in the Assassination of Patrice Lumumba

It’s as if there’s a sign hanging in Parliament that says: “foreign policy mythologizers only.” A maxim Elizabeth May seems to have embraced, to the shame of all Canadians who really do want this country to be a force for good in the world.

Unworthy Victims: Houthis in Yemen and Hutus in Burundi

Black Agenda Report

August 30, 2016

by Ann Garrison

 

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The U.S. reserves for itself the right to decide which nations and peoples are worthy to exist. Washington gives thumbs down to Hutus, who make up the vast majority in Burundi and Rwanda, and condemns the Houthis, a significant part of Yemen’s population. “The U.S. and its allies have deemed the Tutsis to be ‘worthy victims,’ the Hutus ‘unworthy victims.’” The same goes for Houthis targeted for death by the Saudis.

***

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Above: Burundi is the latest target in the many “Avaaz” destabilization campaigns: “Burundi: before it’s too late

“If there is an outbreak of violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi, the U.S. will bear huge responsibility.”

Last week the U.S. helped its Saudi pals bomb another hospital and school in Yemen, killing 25, including at least 10 children. Don’t imagine that its intentions are any more humanitarian in? Burundi? just because they’re not selling fighter bomber jets, MK-84 laser guided bombs or GBU-31 satellite-guided bombs to their pal Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president for life. Kagame is intent on bringing down President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government in Burundi, as Saudi sheikhs are intent on bringing down the Houthi government in Yemen.

There are no multibillion dollar weapons sales motivating the U.S. to support a coup in Burundi, but access to the strategic mineral wealth required to manufacture weapons is among the stakes. Burundi has nickel, gold, copper, uranium, tungsten, tin, peat, platinum, limestone, vanadium, tantalum, niobium, kaolin and cobalt. Though its output has not yet been globally significant, its government has contracted with a Russian firm to mine its nickel reserves, and Bloomberg today quotes a Chinese source predicting a bull market in nickel just beginning. Nickel is used to make stainless steal, and nickel alloys are used in electronics, specialist engineering, space vehicles, submarines and the tubing used in desalination plants for converting sea water into fresh water. I haven’t seen Burundi’s mining contract with the Russian firm, but I’ve been told that the Russians valued the country’s nickel reserves far higher than Western firms and offered a much better deal.

More importantly, Burundi shares a western border with the scandalously mineral rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and an eastern border with Tanzania, an East African nation with an Indian Ocean port that is also leaning towards the East in the heightening competition between Eastern and Western axes of power.

If the U.S. and Rwanda succeed in taking down the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza, we won’t see video of hair-raising Pentagon special effects. Instead we’ll hear more preposterous rhetoric about the world’s obligation to “intervene,” ignoring Burundi’s’ sovereignty, to “stop genocide” or “stop the next Rwanda.” This argument has also been used to justify war in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and even Iraq, where genetic damage caused by toxic U.S. munitions is the most literal genocide the world has yet seen.

I’ve been told that the Russians valued the country’s nickel reserves far higher than Western firms and offered a much better deal.”

The “stop the next Rwanda” argument is more easily made in Burundi because Rwandans and Burundians are close to being the same people. They share both a border and a Hutu majority, Tutsi minority demographic. Their languages, Burundi’s Kirundi and Rwanda’s Kinyarwanda, vary only slightly.

This recently shrill warning from the UN and the Voice of America — UN: Violence, Hatred Against Burundi Tutsis Could Presage Genocide — is one more in a steady stream published in the U.S. and European press since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s re-election in July 2015. In a nation in which these two groups, Hutus and Tutsis, have been historically polarized and have massacred one another in competitions for power, this is akin to shouting fire in a crowded theatre. If there is an outbreak of violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi, the U.S. will bear huge responsibility as it did for the Rwandan war of 1990 to 1994, which ended in horrific massacres of both groups as U.S. ally Paul Kagame seized power.

Here’s some context that you won’t find in the Western propaganda about Burundi during the past year:

1)  Some, most notably Rwandan scholar Léopold Munyakazi, have argued that Hutus and Tutsis are best understood as social classes, not ethnic groups, and the Rwandan war of the 1990s as a class war, not a genocide. Hutus and Tutsis share the same language and culture, eat the same food, and marry each other, and the vast majority are Christian. The Tutsis were a pre-colonial ruling class, the Hutus their peasant subjects, until the Hutus rose up in 1959, in what is sometime called the Rwandan Revolution, sometimes the Hutu Revolution. By 1961 Rwanda had transitioned from a Belgian colony led by a Tutsi monarchy to an independent nation led by elected Hutu politicians and intellectuals.

2) In 1990, U.S.-backed Tutsi general Paul Kagame led a refugee army that invaded Rwanda from Uganda to seize power, re-establish a de facto Tutsi dictatorship, and establish the U.S. as the dominant power in Rwanda, displacing France. The U.S., Europe and Israel have long found it convenient to favor the Tutsis and depict them as the endangered minority without acknowledging that Hutus suffered for centuries under the Tutsi ruling class or that Hutus as well as Tutsis were massacred by extremists in what came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide. In Rwanda and Burundi, the U.S. and its allies have deemed the Tutsis to be “worthy victims,” the Hutus “unworthy victims,” in the parlance of Professor Edward S. Herman, co-author with David Peterson of The Politics of Genocide and Enduring Lies: Rwanda in the Propaganda System 20 Years On.

“The Tutsis were a pre-colonial ruling class, the Hutus their peasant subjects, until the Hutus rose up in 1959, in what is sometime called the Rwandan Revolution, sometimes the Hutu Revolution.”

3) On October 21, 1993, violence and massacres broke out in Burundi after elites in the Tutsi army assassinated the first Hutu president, political intellectual Melchior Ndadaye. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians, mostly Hutus, were slain, largely because the Tutsi elite still controlled the army. A civil war began and didn’t end until 2005. President Pierre Nkurunziza is a Hutu, but Hutus and Tutsis have been integrated in both the government and the army, with the Tutsis enjoying larger percentages because they are perceived, as the minority, to be in greater need of representation.

4) On April 6, 1994, the 100 days of violence known as the “Rwandan Genocide” or, in Rwanda, “genocide against the Tutsi,” began immediately after the assassination of two more Hutu presidents, Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira. Their plane was shot out of the sky over Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, as they returned from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but this assassination of two African presidents was never investigated by the highly politicized International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, which prosecuted only Hutus. Susan Thomson, a scholar of Rwandan history and politics and persona non grata in Rwanda, has described what followed in a video interview for a documentary film in progress: “There were pogroms, there were massacres on both sides, disinformation on all sides. At the elite level, as you go down the food chain, people are scared. Regardless of ethnicity, regardless of region, religion, whatever cleavage you want to choose, Rwandans were caught up in the violence. So it’s absurd to say that only Tutsis are victims.”

Now, to repeat two points about the assassination of three presidents: On October 3, 1993, massacres and then civil war broke out in Burundi after the assassination of the country’s first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye. On April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s famous hundred days of massacres broke out after the assassination of two more Hutu presidents, Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira. Therefore, if the U.S. were really trying to prevent genocide in Burundi, wouldn’t they be trying to prevent the assassination of another Hutu president, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza?  Rwandans and Burundians who understand this history know that Nkurunziza’s assassination would be a catastrophe and know that U.S.-backed insurgents would like to assassinate him, whether the U.S. approved such a plan or not. The months since Nkurunziza’s re-election in July 2015 have been punctuated by the assassination of upper-level army commanders and government officials close to him.

In the third week of November 2015, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that “Burundian insurgents” had fired mortar rounds at the presidential palace in Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura. Near the same time, I spoke to former UN official Jeff Drumtra about his documentation of Rwanda’s recruitment of Burundian refugees to form a new rebel army to destabilize Burundi. I also asked him about the mortar rounds fired at the presidential palace, to which he responded, “I can say, having worked on issues of Rwanda and Burundi on and off for more than 20 years, that we know, historically, that the violence gets worse and the risk of mass atrocities becomes much more serious when both sides feel that they have been victimized. And so, a mortar attack on the presidential palace . . . if it were to hit its mark and actually create a large number of deaths, or even the death of a president . . . would certainly create a situation where the ruling party and everyone who voted for the ruling party in Burundi would feel victimized at a whole new level. And if something like that were to happen, that’s when, historically, violence in Burundi becomes much worse, and that’s what everybody fears here.”

I then contacted the U.S. State Department and asked whether they were not alarmed by AFP’s report of mortar fire aimed at the presidential palace, considering that the massacres of the 1990s in both Rwanda and Burundi had broken out after the assassination of Hutu presidents.

“In Rwanda and Burundi, the dominant narrative has long been that Tutsis are the victims or potential victims to be protected from the Hutus.”

State took the question quite casually and responded that they had submitted a query on my behalf to their Ambassador in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, and they’d get back to me when he responded. They never did, and that should be the end of any fantasies that the U.S. is trying to stop genocide in Burundi. The State Department is usually helpful when a question doesn’t threaten their dominant narrative. In Rwanda and Burundi, that dominant narrative has long been that Tutsis are the victims or potential victims to be protected from the Hutus. Hutus are the perpetrators to be tried at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, imprisoned, hunted down in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and demonized as subhuman killers driven by innate bloodlust and singular determination to kill Tutsis. That narrative is repeated endlessly by Western media, as in this 02.19.2002 Guardian report, “Pastor who led Tutsis to slaughter is jailed.” Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark represented the pastor, Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and called his conviction “a travesty of justice.”

Like the Houthis in Yemen, the Hutus have been deemed unworthy victims by the U.S. State Department, though for centuries they were the oppressed class in what is now Rwanda and Burundi, and though hundreds of thousands of them, perhaps as many as a million, have been massacred in the horrific violence of the last 50 years in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Like most Burundians and Rwandans that I know — Hutus and Tutsis — I would love to see this virulent bigotry land in the dustbin of history along with the “Hutu” and “Tutsi” distinctions that have alienated people in this part of the world from one another, but that will not happen so long as the West gives singular victim status to the Tutsis and demonizes the Hutus in its humanitarian interventionist ideology.

[Ann Garrison is a writer living in Oakland, California. John Bannister is a writer living in Alameda, California.]

 

“The Non-Profit Industrial Complex”, and the Co-opting of the NGO Environmental Movement

Global Research

By Michael Welch

Global Research News Hour Episode 139: A Conversation with Cory Morningstar

 

“Why do people continue to believe that NGOs such as 350.org/1Sky that are initiated and funded by Rockefeller Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Ford, Gates, etc. would exist to serve the people rather than the entities that create and fund them? Since when do these powerful entities invest in ventures that will negatively impact their ability to maintain power, privilege and wealth? Indeed, the oligarchs play the “environmental movement” and its mostly well-meaning citizens like a game of cards.”— Cory Morningstar, Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse

 

“If activists fail to address the crucial issue of liberal philanthropy now this will no doubt have dire consequences for the future of progressive activism – and democracy more generally – and it is important to recognize that liberal foundations are not all powerful and that the future, as always, lies in our hands and not theirs.” — Michael Barker Do Capitalists Fund Revolutions?

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Length (59:23)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

April 22nd , when this episode first went to air, was Earth Day, an occasion when ecologically conscious community members around the globe attempt to channel their energies toward protection of our natural world. [1]

Human generated climate change, of course, is very much top of mind at this time in human history. Indeed, the twenty-first century climate movement has been compared to the anti-war, civil rights, gay rights, and women’s liberation movement in terms of its dynamism and its presentation as a political force to be reckoned with. [2]

Spearheading this movement have been the big environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, including Greenpeace, The Sierra Club and most notably the group 350.org. Tactics employed by these NGOs have involved the mobilization of people in New York City and around the world for the Peoples Climate March in September of 2014, direct actions frustrating attempts to build TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, petitions, divestment campaigns and a 40,000 person protest outside the White House in February of 2013. [3][4][5][6]

It is widely believed that the movement is enjoying success in terms of fundamentally shifting the priorities of political leaders like US President Barrack Obama. We are presented then with a classic ‘David vs. Goliath’ narrative where grassroots activists are pushing the Powers That Be into compliance with the demands of the world’s peoples for a secure future for our children and grandchildren.

But to borrow a term from Al Gore, there is at least one “inconvenient truth” complicating this heroic story-line. Elite funders like the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill Gates, and the Clintons finance and foster these NGOs; or so argues Cory Morningstar.

Cory Morningstar has written extensively on the role of these NGOs in playing into the hands of their Wall Street benefactors.

Morningstar attended the COP15 UN Climate Conference and was on hand to video-record the following press conference by Lumumba Di-Aping, the chief negotiator for the G77 bloc of developing countries. In this conference, Di-Aping blasts the international NGO community for not embracing the ambitious (science-based) reduction targets favoured by the G77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, in favour of the compromise targets restricting global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels to (as much as) 2 degrees Celsius. This goal would mean, in Di-Aping’s words, “certain death for Africa” and “certain devastation of small island states.”

 

 “…and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments.”   -Lumumba Di-Aping

On the Earth Day edition of the Global Research News Hour, Morningstar talks about fossil fuel divestment as a flawed climate strategy, the failure of climate activists to address imperialism, a critical UN Advisory Group report which environmental groups conspired to keep buried from public view, and other inconvenient truths plaguing the non-profit industrial complex.

This episode also includes a brief clip from a 2016 Winnipeg talk by celebrated author, journalist, and 350.org Board member Naomi Klein.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Length (59:23)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

Notes:

  1. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day/
  2. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26591-a-change-in-the-climate-the-climate-movement-steps-up
  3. http://2014.peoplesclimate.org/
  4. Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson (February 13, 2013), Washington Post, “Activists arrested at White House protesting Keystone pipeline”; https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/activists-arrested-at-white-house-protesting-keystone-pipeline/2013/02/13/8f0f1066-75fa-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_story.html
  5. Naomi Klein (2014), “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”, (pg.302-303) Alfres & Knopf Canada
  6. http://350.org/campaigns/

 

 

[Hosted and produced by CKUW News Director and contributor, Michael Welch, in association with the Centre for Research on Globalization, the Global Research News Hour is a one hour analysis of major developments in the world of economics, politics and geo-politics, with researchers and news makers from around the world. If you want to get the story beyond the headlines, strap yourself in for 60 minutes of informative and provocative radio. Global Research News Hour broadcasts every Friday from 1:00pm – 2:00pm.]

Journey to the End of the Night: The Paris ‘Nuit Debout’ Movement

Gearóid Ó Colmáin

April 20, 2016

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

 

Nuit_Debout

 

In his novel ‘Journey to the end of the night’ Louis-Ferdinand Céline provocatively described the soldiers who had died in the First World War as ‘idiots’. The French writer was referring to the fact the soldiers had given their lives for a cause that was not their own – a futile slaughter of the poor for the benefit of the rich. In the book’s many pertinent reflections on the human condition, the Céline notes how, in modernity, the street has come to constitute the place of dreams. “Que fait-on dans la rue, le plus souvent ? On rêve. C’est un des lieux les plus méditatifs de notre époque, c’est notre sanctuaire moderne, la Rue.” (“What do we most often do in the street, we dream. It is the most meditative place of our time, it is our modern sanctuary.”)

Since the French government recently introduced legislation reforming labour laws, a new ‘spontaneous’ and acephalous, social movement has taken root throughout French cities – the ‘Nuit Debout’ (Up all night) movement. As the title suggests, the social movement is taking place at night time and one of its slogans is Rêve général! (General dream), which is a pun on Grève générale (General strike).  So, instead of calling for a general strike in order to bring the government to its knees, the activists are calling for dreaming in the streets!

The movement took off after the release on the 23rd of February of journalist Francois Ruffin’s film, ‘Merci Patron‘ (Thank-you boss), a firm critical of French plutocracy.

Although the film criticises the avarice of contemporary capitalism, it does not treat the relationship between monopoly capitalism, foreign wars of conquest in the service of capital accumulation, class warfare and mass media disinformation.

Nor does Ruffin’s film expose and denounce the complicity of all corporate French media outlets in war crimes and genocide in the Middle East and throughout Africa, through the dissemination of lies and disinformation about the role of Western imperialism in these wars. There is no mention of the fact that the reason President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast was kidnapped in 2010 by French commandos (his country bombed and his character assassinated) was due to the fact that he defied the powerful Club de Paris, the circle of French bankers who control the African neo-colony’s money. Gbagbo had proposed that the Ivory Coast print it’s own currency, a bold move which would have enabled the resource-rich country to build up its own industrial base independent of colonial interests.

Although there is a stand at the place de la Republique claiming to expose the detrimental role of French policy in Africa, there is no real information about what that role is, nor have any of the pan-Africanist intellectuals who have written on the topic been invited to speak and sell their books. The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is predominantly white and middle class.

Ruffin’s film also fails to point out how French bosses in the cereal industry colluded with terrorism against the people of Libya when they secretly met in  with Libyan traitors in  Paris in November 2010 to organise the bombing and destruction of Africa’a richest and most democratic country.

The French ruling class are not just guilty of destroying centuries of social gains by French workers, they are complicit in genocide and crimes against humanity. So why is Ruffin silent about that fact?

Ruffin writes for ‘leftist’ publications which supported the NATO-backed ‘rebels’ in Libya, rebels who were, in fact, Al-Qaeda terrorists in the service of NATO. In 2011, the ‘left-wing’ Monde Diplomatique published an article on Libya declaring that there was no doubt about the ‘brutality of the regime’, in spite of the fact all of the crime imputed to Colonel Gaddafi, were carried out by the Takfiri ‘rebels’.

Ruffin and the dishonest publications he writes for are all complicit in the genocide waged by NATO against the people of the Southern Hemisphere states, from the Middle East and Africa to Latin America.

No, none of these uncomfortable realities are depicted in Ruffin’s ‘anti-capitalism.’ Instead, we have ultra-leftist slogans, petty-bourgeois irony and the mindless occupation of a public square by youths, who have neither the education nor the experience necessary to understand the structural reasons and deeper implications of the labour reform they claim to oppose.

The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is certainly not spontaneous, nor is it grass-roots as so many pundits claim. On the contrary, it is the result of decades of careful policy analysis by US imperial ideologues. Since the undemocratic dissolution of the USSR in, 1991, the United States has perfected a regime change technique commonly referred to as ‘colour revolutions’. The strategy involves co-opting leftist slogans and symbols to serve a right-wing agenda. Lenin and the Bolshevik party had repeatedly denounced Leon Trotsky for utilising this counter-revolutionary technique both before and after the October Revolution. It has now become a standard tool of US foreign policy.

The manipulation of youthful naivety and rebellion, for the purposes of either overthrowing a foreign government hostile to US-interests or, creating a ‘left-wing’ opposition movement in imperial countries designed to kill all real opposition – is a strategy which every would-be activist needs to study if he wishes to engage in movements capable of real, social, political and economic change.

The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is being led by petty, bourgeois-bohemians with little or no understanding of contemporary capitalism. The movement is organised on the same principals as the US-backed colour revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring – empty slogans, idiotic puns and political infantilism. Although we cannot yet prove it, the use of the clenched fist as the movement’s logo coupled with  cretinous slogans, are strongly reminiscent of strategies and tactics of CANVAS, the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Actions and Strategies, a regime change youth training organisation close to the CIA.

The ruling class in France have evidently spent more time reading Marx than their would-be opponents. For the objective allies of monopoly capitalism in Europe today are the likes of François Ruffin and the other leading bourgeois leftist ideologue of this movement Frédéric Lordon- both of whom mask the reactionary nature of their pseudo ‘anti-capitalism’ or, to be more precise, their ‘anti-neoliberalism’, with a mixture of convoluted semantics, pseudo-intellectualism and ultra-leftist sloganeering.

There are thousands of real, grass-roots organisations in France, and they get much of their information from independent media such as Meta TV, Cercle Des Voluntaires, Reseau Voltaire and much more. Real proletarian analysis of capitalism is provided by communist organisations such as OCF , and URCF. Coherent bourgeois critique of French and EU imperialism is provided by the political party UPR.

The ‘Nuit debout’ activists talk about a ‘convergence of struggle’ yet  journalists and activists from these genuinely popular organisations have been forcibly escorted from the Place de la Republique and denounced as ‘fascists’. Antifa is an organisation which purports to fight fascism but spends most of its time attacking all genuine anti-imperialist activists by blackening their name with the label ‘fascist’.

Antifa has been active again in the movement where genuine French anti-imperialists such as Sylvain Baron have been forcibly evicted from the square.

This writer repeatedly pointed out in 2011 that the failure of the left to understand the reactionary ideology of the Arab Spring and the role of US agencies in its planning and execution would have dire consequences for progressive politics. Now, similar techniques are being used throughout the world in order to criminalise real anti-capitalist agitation and create the conditions of military dictatorship. The objective allies of that strategy are petty bourgeois ‘anti-capitalists such as François Ruffin and Frédéric Lordon; these are the phantasmagorical, would-be intellectuals who shine in  the streets of the nocturnal, metropolitan dream world so eloquently depicted by Céline.

voyage au bout de la nuit eb5e9

The representation of imperialism’s foreign wars of aggression as ‘revolutions’ and ‘humanitarian interventions’, coupled with an infantile advocacy of vacuous concepts such as ‘social Europe’- this is the nefarious role played by these post-modern ‘revolutionaries’, who are the very avant-garde of reactionary imperialism. A malady when this writer denounced it in 2011, pseudo-leftism has now morphed into a serious planetary pandemic. If this form of leftism did not exist, imperialism would have had to invent it. The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is now spreading throughout the world. Pseudo-leftist media will zealously present this movement as a global painting of Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ when sadly, it is rather more of a sinister version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Pied Piper2 dcb23

The soi-disant ”anti-fascists” in this movement denounce as ”fascists” those who expose corporate media lies used to justify the crimes of NATO’s foreign wars. The foreign wars of capital accumulation waged by the same corporations imposing austerity and class war at home; but it is they who are the fascists, it is they who are the enemies of the working class!

Ideological confusion is the great political illness of our time. Céline describes war and illness as the two ‘infinities of nightmare’. The French author could have included fascism in among the nightmares cited- the pernicious ideology his cynicism eventually led him to embrace. One could describe the two contemporary ‘infinities of nightmare’  as the proliferation of wars of aggression and the triumph of capitalist repression  due to the political illness of ultra-leftist cretinism, which has taken over the labour movement in the last 30 years.  Until our youth emancipates themselves from the pernicious influence of controlled opposition and pseudo-leftist ideology, which turns them into useful idiots of the monopoly capitalism rather than revolutionaries, their good-natured activism is tragically destined to  precipitate civilisation’s journey to the end of the night.

 

 

 

[Gearóid Ó Colmáin is an Irish journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalisation, geopolitics and class struggle.]

 

EU To Burundi: Regime Change Trumps

Oriental Review

March 30, 2016

By Andrew Korybko

EU To Burundi: Regime Change Trumps Anti-Terror Help

The EU has stepped up its behind-the-scenes role in organizing regime change in Burundi by taking the dramatic step to cut most of its funding for the country’s anti-terror contingent in Somalia, this according to the latest exclusive report from Reuters. Burundi provides nearly a quarter of the 22,000 African Union (AU) troops stationed in the country and is the largest international contributor. Correspondingly, while there’s no official data about the number of AU soldiers who have been killed during the nearly decade-long African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), reliable estimates and official UN data from 2013 indicate that Burundi has borne the brunt of the roughly 3,000 fatalities that are thought to have occurred.

Given Burundi’s dedicated commitment to fighting terrorism in Somalia and the blood that its military has already shed in furtherance of this goal, it’s all the more surprising that the EU would risk undermining its anti-terror effectiveness, especially when Burundi is essentially carrying out its task as a paid surrogate for Western troops themselves. Revealingly, Brussels’ decision adds proof to the convincing allegations that the EU elite are more influenced by US-whispered geo-economic imperatives in overthrowing the leader of a geopolitical pivotal and mineral-rich state than pragmatically assisting its forces in the shared struggle against global terrorism.

Black-On-Black Terrorism

Probably the most immediate reason why the EU elite don’t appreciate Burundi’s anti-terror commitment in Somalia is because Al Shabaab, the primary target of this indefinite mission, only operates in Africa and targets black victims. It’s not that the group is doing this out of any purposeful intent, but simply that its area of operations around the Horn of Africa puts it within range of mostly black targets. In an ironic rebuff to their ideology but in accordance with their unsurprising and typical double standards, the Cultural Marxist EU elite don’t see any pressing need to halt black-on-black terrorism so long as it’s contained to Africa and doesn’t target European-based Africans. Al Shabaab has yet to expand its zone of attack to anywhere directly relevant to conventional EU interests, preferring instead to kill Ethiopians, Kenyans and even fellow Somalians in its crazed pursuit of an irredentist and ethnic Somali-dominated “Islamic State” in East Africa.

Members of Somalia's hardline Islamist rebel group al Shabaab. Photo: The Daily Nation

Members of Somalia’s hardline Islamist rebel group al Shabaab. Photo: The Daily Nation

It’s true that there exist certain grievances that the regional Somali community definitely has towards their respective governments no matter which country they presently reside in, and there was a failed Cold War-era effort at reviving the “Greater/Natural Somalia” that was divided by European and what was perceived to be African (Ethiopian) imperialism, but Al Shabaab has expertly manipulated these preexisting sentiments and historical memory and intertwined it with the violent doctrine of extreme Islam in order to manufacture a semi-appealing terrorist group that masquerades as a pseudo-“resistance” organization. Furthermore, there have been strong suspicions in the West that Qatar is one of the terrorist group’s sponsors, and while no smoking gun has emerged, such a truth would believably mesh with the emirate’s already proven modus operandi in the Mideast.

In contrast to Saudi Arabia’s terrorists, Qatar’s have largely refrained from attacking Western targets, possibly owing to a tacit agreement that they have with the latter’s governments to provide soft support (media sympathy, “refugee” status, etc.) for Doha’s patronized Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated elements in exchange for much-needed and competitively priced energy contracts. Both sides are presently upholding this deal, with the EU continuing to purchase Qatari energy resources while Emir Thani holds off the terrorist hordes from attacking European targets (at least for now), and with Al Shabaab likely part of this arrangement, Brussels sees no urgent need to substantially support outsourced anti-terror activities against a regional African group that only targets local black victims. For this self-interested and ideological inconsistent reason, the “bleeding heart” Cultural Marxists of the EU are eagerly willing to sacrifice the effectiveness of a solid and tested anti-terrorist force in Somalia solely as a means of encouraging regime change in Burundi.

The Geopolitical Hinge

The average observer might be dumbfounded with disbelief that the EU would knowingly hamper anti-terror operations in Somalia in order to pile up regime change pressure on a geographically tiny and landlocked Central African state, but the unspoken geopolitical reality behind all of this is that Burundi is actually quite important in a regional strategic sense. It’s far from being a pivot, but because it plays an integral influencing role on the nearby pivots themselves, it can more accurately be described by the author’s own neologism as being a “geopolitical hinge”. Its strategic disposition one way or the other can impact on regional affairs but not necessarily change them owing to the country’s comparatively lesser influence on its neighborhood, but it nevertheless fulfills an important role in the larger East African paradigm of power. All economic considerations aside about the lust that Western companies have for displacing their expected Russian and Chinese rivals in the country’s largely untapped mineral sector, Burundi occupies an ideal geographic space in one of the most dynamic and gradually focused-on areas of the continent. To place the country into a grander context, East Africa is on the cusp of undergoing New Silk Road-affiliated transnational integrational projects that could dramatically elevate its regional partners’ multipolar status in the emerging world order.

Un-burundiThat said, Burundi is the weak link in this emerging construction due to the potential that its domestic identity-differences, legally subdued but still socially present, could be manipulated from abroad to engineer a disruptive Hybrid War that sabotages an important spoke of the African Silk Road network. To get into the details, Burundi abuts regional giant Tanzania, whose population is expected by the UN to surge to epic and powerful proportions by mid-century to 137 million, making it the fourth-fastest-growing country in the world. Relatedly, while this could potentially be a demographic curse, it could also be an economic blessing, and it’s for this reason why China and other countries have a deep-seated interest in getting involved in the country’s economy now while it’s still relatively early on to do so. However, a prompted Hybrid War in Burundi would inevitably lead to overspill effect across the Tanzanian border, not only in terms of “Weapons of Mass Migration”, but also in armed non-state actors traversing its territory and embedding themselves along the Central Corridor railroad line that’s expect to form a crucial part of the East African Railway Master Plan, itself the New Silk Road infrastructural backbone of the formative East African Federation.

Additionally, any humanitarian/militant crisis in Burundi could easily draw in Rwanda, which is already conspiring against Bujumbura as it is (and even worse, exploiting refugees to do so), and this could offset one of the most economically promising countries on the continent. One should bear in mind, however, that this is mostly a macroeconomic and statistical illusion largely facilitated by Rwanda’s developing hub status and its key role in laundering the eastern Congolese minerals that its affiliated rebel forces have pillaged (despite it being ‘officially’ illegal to do so). Even so, Rwanda does have a lot of minerals in its own right and is the world’s largest exporter of coltan, for example, but the US likely takes issue with the fact that it’s selling some of them to China and diversifying its overall economic relations with Washington’s prime global economic rival. Rwanda’s role vis-à-vis China is increasingly taken on a very strategic nature owing to the importance that its own and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) (illegally transited) minerals have to China’s (overseas) scientific-technological manufacturing base. As much as Paul Kagame has wantonly behaved as an untouchable American proxy since he came to power on the heels of the country’s externally instigated genocide, that does appear to be changing, as Washington signaled its “disappointment” at his ambitions to run for a third term next year, indicating that it now potentially sees him and his county as dispensable scraps of geopolitical “scorched earth” material in the larger New Cold War that it’s fighting against China’s New Silk Road vision in Africa.

To summarize Burundi’s geopolitical hinge relevance in East and Central African affairs, not only could a Hybrid War in the tiny country offset Tanzania and the East African Federation’s broad New Silk Road integrational connective projects, but it could also return the neighboring mineral-rich country of Rwanda to being an unapproachable battlefield that scares away and obstructs all possible Chinese strategic investments there. Tangentially, but no less importantly, Burundi’s location next to the extraordinarily mineral-rich areas of the eastern DRC also means that both its possible Hybrid War problems or the influence of any ‘Western/foreign protector’ can extend into one of the most prized natural resource regions in the entire world, either indefinitely offsetting its export capability (both legal and illegal via Rwanda) or redirecting its market destinations more firmly to the West at the expense of East Asia. Undoubtedly then, after considering these geopolitical and geo-economic imperatives, tiny Burundi begins to take on an outsized significance in the global calculations of the New Cold War.

Rekindling The Hybrid War Conflict

Imbued with a relevant understanding of Burundi’s grandiose geostrategic and geo-economic pivot importance to New Cold War affairs and fresh with knowledge about how the EU (under likely American orders) has betrayed Burundi’s brave anti-terrorist sacrifices in Somalia, it’s now time to investigate the connection between these two seemingly disparate topics and unveil that larger goal that’s being pursued. As is already widely known, the US and its allies have been pushing for a regime change against the democratically elected and legitimate Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, wanting to replace him with a pliant politician that would open the country up to full Western ‘investment’ at Russia and China’s strategic multipolar expense. The ‘normative’ cover for doing so was to allege that the President was constitutionally barred from running for a third term, but the country’s highest court ruled that he can do so on the technicality that his first term was an appointment and not an actual election.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang and the First Vice President of Burundi laid the foundation for the primary school to be built with China's assistance, January 2008

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang and the First Vice President of Burundi laid the foundation for the primary school to be built with China’s assistance, January 2008

No matter the nitty gritty details of the state’s sovereign affairs, it’s evident that foreign powers were involving themselves in this process as a means of acquiring future long-term influence inside what they presumed would quickly become a post-Nkurunziza Burundi. A low-intensity Hybrid War was launched against the country on the grounds that the President’s campaign and eventual election to a third term was unconstitutional, and the UN estimated that a comparatively small figure of 474 people have been killed there since the manufactured turmoil broke out on command in April 2015. While the global body quite rightly recognizes that the conflict could spill over Burundi’s borders and become the spark for a larger regional conflagration (in line with the author’s above-mentioned assessment about the US’ scorched earth Hybrid War tactics in East and Central Africa against China), it’s quite telling that, respectfully speaking, not even half a thousand people have died in a political crisis that captivated the attention of most of the world’s leading international news outlets for almost the past year. This attests not only to the exaggerated importance that the Western media gave to this crisis, but also to the patriotism of the country’s civilian population and the majority of its military leaders, not counting of course the conspirators of the failed May 2015 coup.

Although the attempt at a traditional regime change ploy miserably failed, the fact that it came the closest out of all of the ones that were tried (Color Revolution and Unconventional War included) indicated to the West that this is the method which must be most heavily invested in for possible future success. Returning to the beginning of the article where Reuters’ exclusive report was cited about the EU cutting off funding for the Burundian anti-terrorist forces in Somalia, it must be qualified that this doesn’t translate to the full suspension of funds, but to a significant enough percentage that it will negatively impact not only on the government itself (which takes a 20% cut), but most relevantly on the soldiers themselves who have come to depend on this added income. The goal is to turn the rank-and-file soldiers against the government by essentially blackmailing them into supporting another military coup sometime in the future, but unlike its failed predecessor, any forthcoming one might have a larger supportive cadre of conspirators to draw from and might end up splitting the military forces along ethnic lines. Whether it succeeds or not in overthrowing the government at that point isn’t actually all that vital so long as it can add fuel to the Hybrid War flames of identity violence that the West has been trying to fan for almost a year now.

Concluding Thoughts

It shouldn’t be forgotten that if the US can’t successfully co-opt or change a targeted government, then it will instinctively resort to geopolitical ‘scorched earth’ tactics in taking down the country and the rest of the region that are expected to otherwise play very constructive roles in China’s New Silk Road global multipolar paradigm. Burundi, with its small size and relatively godforsaken geographic location, surprisingly plays a very significant role in affecting the geopolitics of East and Central Africa, especially when this its geo-economic relevance is factored into the overall strategic equation. The West is very cognizant of the Hybrid War vulnerabilities that plague the country, particularly the recent and very bloody Hutu-Tutsi civil war, and it’s adroitly manipulating these factors in order to add increasingly intense pressure on the government.

Thankfully, the people are well informed of the external threat against their country and understand the nefarious plot that’s been deployed against them to return Burundi to ethnic-based civil war, hence why the Hybrid War plan has dismally failed to reach its full and genocidal hoped-for potential that would have then triggered a “humanitarian intervention” by the African Union, the East African Federation, the UN, and/or a unilateral “coalition of the willing” from the West. In light of this ‘inconvenient’ reality, the West now appears to be investing heavily in winning the ‘hearts and minds’ (and pocketbooks) of the rank-and-file soldiers of the Burundian military, obviously in anticipation of a forthcoming military coup redux that represents the best possible chances at overthrowing the government or sparking a renewed civil war.

There’s a possibility that a separate foreign patron (perhaps China) could step in to fill the financial void left by the EU’s withdraw of monetary commitment to the Burundian anti-terrorist forces in Somalia, but if even if this doesn’t eventuate, the proven patriotism of the country’s military and the astuteness of its officer corps should be enough to repel the forthcoming conspiracy against it and ensure that it fails just as badly as its forerunner did. Nevertheless, depending on how the forecasted situation develops, it frighteningly might be destabilizing enough that it exacerbates Burundi’s internal identity-based divisions and noticeably pushes it closer to the brink of Hybrid War, possibly even involving a more robust Rwandan role. The next few months will be decisive, and any major national commemoration or foreign presidential trip might be chosen as the date for launching the latest coup attempt bringing Burundi back to its days of civil war and dysfunction.

 

[Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency. He is the post-graduate of the MGIMO University and author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015).]

 

Survival International Accuses WWF of Involvement in Violence and Abuse

Survival International

February 10, 2016

 

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Forced out of the forest, many Baka communities complain of a serious decline in their health. Living on the roadside, they are increasingly exposed to malaria and other diseases. © Survival International

 

Survival International has launched a formal complaint about the activities of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Cameroon.

This is the first time a conservation organization has been the subject of a complaint to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), using a procedure more normally invoked against multinational corporations.

The complaint charges WWF with involvement in violent abuse and land theft against Baka “Pygmies” in Cameroon, carried out by anti-poaching squads which it in part funds and equips.

Before beginning its work in Cameroon, WWF failed to consider what impact it would have on the Baka. As a result, WWF has contributed to serious human rights violations and broken the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It supports conservation zones on Baka land, to which the Baka are denied access, as well as the anti-poaching squads that have violently abused Baka men and women, and other rainforest tribes, for well over a decade.

The international conservation organization has thereby violated both OECD human rights guidelines and its own policy on indigenous peoples, and Survival’s legal team has therefore submitted a formal complaint.

Baka have repeatedly testified to Survival about the activities of these anti-poaching squads in the region. In 2015 one Baka man said: “When they came to beat me here in my home, my wife and I were sleeping. They beat me with machetes. They beat my wife with machetes.”

 

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The Baka have lived sustainably in the central African rainforest for generations as hunter-gatherers © Selcen Kucukustel/Atlas

“They are letting the elephants die out in the forest at the same time as they are stopping us from eating,” another Baka man told Survival. Today, the destruction of Baka land through logging, mining and the trafficking of wildlife continues, provoking concern among tribespeople that their land is being destroyed, even as they are denied access to large parts of it in the name of conservation.

Survival International is calling for a new approach to conservation that respects tribal peoples’ rights. Tribal peoples have been dependent on and managed their environments for millennia. Despite this, big conservation organizations are partnering with industry and tourism and destroying the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world – tribes. They are the environment’s best allies, and should be at the centre of conservation policy.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today: “WWF knows that the men its supporters fund for conservation work repeatedly abuse, and even torture, the Baka, whose land has been stolen for conservation zones. It hasn’t stopped them, and it treats criticism as something to be countered with yet more public relations. It calls on companies to stick to the same OECD guidelines it routinely violates itself. Both conservation and development have been allowed to trump human rights for decades and millions of people in Africa and Asia have suffered as a result. It’s time the big conservation organizations got their act together. If WWF really can’t stop the guards it funds in Cameroon from attacking Baka, then perhaps it should be asking itself if it has any right to be there at all.”

 

Watch Baka recount the abuse they suffer at the hands of anti-poaching squads supported by WWF:

 

Further reading:

WATCH: WWF SILENCE OF THE PANDAS | A Journey into the Heart of the Green Empire

Cameroon: WWF Complicit in Tribal People’s Abuse

Burundi: Nkurunziza Refuses to Bow to Samantha Power’s Demands

The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper

January 26, 2016

By Ann Garrison

US-UN-Ambassador-Samantha-Power-Burundian-President-Pierre-Nkurunziza-Angolan-UN-Ambassador-Ismael-A.-Gaspar-Martins-press-conf-012216-by-Reuters

At a press conference held Jan. 22 by Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, center, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power stands to his left, Angolan Ambassador to the U.N. Ismael A. Gaspar Martins to his right. – Photo: Reuters

The tiny East African nation of Burundi and its president remain unbowed despite pressure from Western officials.

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Transcript (to listen, click above radio icon)

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, speaking to the press yesterday, remained firm in his rejection of a proposed African Union peacekeeping force in his country. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza told a visiting delegation of the U.N. Security Council that the African Union “must respect Burundi as a member state, and we must be consulted.” In mid-December last year, the African Union Peace and Security Council voted to deploy 5,000 peacekeeping forces in Burundi without the government’s consent.

Burundi-map

Burundi borders Rwanda to the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Tanzania to the east. U.N. officials and the NGO Refugees International have documented Rwanda’s recruitment of Burundian refugees into a new rebel army.

However, international law prohibits the deployment without a two-thirds vote of African Union member states, and the approval of the U.N. Security Council, whose five permanent members, China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., have veto power. The Burundian government was no doubt encouraged by remarks of the Russian and Chinese ambassadors on the importance of protecting Burundi’s national sovereignty.

U.N. Ambassador to the U.S. Samantha Power expressed her disappointment.

In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

 

WKOG UPDATE JANUARY 30, 2016: The African Union has voted against military intervention in Burundi. The intervention in Burundi continues to rightfully oppose.

 

 

[Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.]