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WATCH: SOFT POWER | The Partnering of Western NGOS and the US Military

WATCH: SOFT POWER | The Partnering of Western NGOS and the US Military

Image: 3P Human Security’ is working to develop guidance documents to deconflict between local and international NGOs and other civil society groups to the challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq, top US military and political under a new Department of Defense Directive that puts stabilization on par with war-fighting. | 3P organized a March 2010 roundtable hosted by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars between global peacebuilding civil society organizations and US government and military personnel. This report details an agenda for future discussions. | 3P organized a March 2010 roundtable hosted by Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars between global peacebuilding civil society organizations and US government and military personnel. | 3P worked with the University of Notre Dame to plan a three day discussion between global practitioners and NGOs in peacebuilding and development to discuss their relationship with military personnel in their countries, hosted by the Kroc Center for International Peace Studies at University of Notre Dame.

March 5, 2013

by Forrest Palmer & Cory Morningstar – WKOG

 

It seems to me that somewhere along the line that people don’t have a clear understanding of the role and the unique nature of NGOs. And not surprisingly so considering what’s going on in Iraq at the moment. On one side we have US Military personnel parading in certain times in civilian clothes, driving white 4×4’s and even driving civilian vehicles. We have civilian “aid workers” wearing Department of Defense ID’s surrounded by armed security guards. The media meanwhile refer to soldiers and armed security personnel killed in action as humanitarians, and NGOs themselves in some cases request and accept military escorts or contracts from the Department of Defense. – Denis Dragovic, International Rescue Committee, 2004

 

In response to the challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq, top US military and political leaders call for strengthened civilian capacities and more effective civil-military cooperation. US military personnel increasingly conduct humanitarian, development and peacebuilding activities to achieve stabilization effects under a new Department of Defense Directive that puts stabilization on par with war-fighting. Military leaders list “building civil society” and “local ownership” in their strategies and seek NGOs as “implementing partners.” – Civil Society – Military Dialogue, 3P Human Security

Foundations for Empire: Corporate Philanthropy and US Foreign Policy

Ceasefire Magazine

May 20, 2012

In his latest column, Michael Barker argues that, far from eradicating poverty and aiding economic development, major US philanthropic foundations have played a key role in undermining efforts to promote a meaningful democratic alternative to capitalism, both at home and abroad.

 

John F. Kennedy and McGeorge Bundy outside the White House, June 13, 1962 (Source: nybooks.com)

Professor Inderjeet Parmar, chairman of the prestigious British International Studies Association, has written an interesting book: Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power (Columbia University Press, 2012) in which he argues that philanthropic foundations have provided “a key means of building the ‘American century,’ or an American Imperium, a hegemony constructed in significant part via cultural and intellectual penetration.”

In making the case for this uncontroversial conclusion, he acknowledges that his work builds upon Edward Berman’s “excellent monograph” The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy: The Ideology of Philanthropy (State University of New York Press, 1983). Yet despite these kind words, rather than extending and deepening Berman’s seminal study, Parmar seems to have only revisited it to provide a less radical alternative (albeit Gramscian).

With his sights firmly set on documenting the role of foundations in constructing “global knowledge networks”, Parmar mistakenly concludes that the creation of such networks “appears to be their principal long-term achievement.” However, on a more accurate note, he subsequently adds that “despite their oft-stated aims of eradicating poverty, uplifting the poor, improving living standards, aiding economic development, and so on, even the U.S. foundations’ own assessments of their impact show that they largely have failed in these efforts.”

But while the Big Three foundations may well have created strong global knowledge networks, their principal long-term achievement has simply been to undermine efforts to promote a meaningful democratic alternative to capitalism, both at home and abroad. With foundation knowledge networks being just one instrument among many that have been used to consolidate capitalism.

Other significant tools to enforce American global hegemony include the military, and a commitment to shaping public opinion through propaganda (which is based on the foundations’ “belief in the pervasiveness of popular ignorance and the consequent need for elites to ‘educate’ the people in ‘right thinking’”).[1]

Providing evidence of the central role of foundations in manufacturing consent (both of the masses and of elites), Parmar investigates the work of Hadley Cantril’s Office of Public Opinion Research, a body formed at Princeton University in 1940, with a $90,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Using archival records, Parmar illustrates that Cantril worked with military intelligence agencies during the war, and undertook studies of public attitudes towards Latin America; adding that by 1943 Cantril had received a further $50,000 from the government that did not include “unspecified amounts from the coordinator of inter-American affairs.”

Parmar also points out that the U.S. Army opened a Psychological Warfare Research Bureau within Cantril’s Princeton office. However, despite undertaking archival research into such matters Parmar apparently forgot to conduct a literature review on this subject,[2] only citing one other writer (Christopher Simpson, Science of Coercion), whose valid criticisms of foundations he then chose to ignore.