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Inside the “Humanitarian” Regime-Change Network Exploiting Jo Cox’s Death

Mint Press

By Vanessa Beeley and Whitney Webb

 

“From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well- connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and have recently exploited Jo Cox’s death to do so.”

 

Brendan Cox, widower of murdered British MP Jo Cox makes a speech during a gathering to celebrate her life, in Trafalgar Square, London, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Jo Cox, a 41-year-old Labour lawmaker who had championed the cause of Syrian refugees, was stabbed and shot to death outside a library in her northern England constituency on Thursday. The suspect gave his name in court as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

 

LONDON — The Jo Cox Fund, set up in memory of the slain MP soon after her death in 2016, was established by a cadre of pro-interventionist “humanitarians” with a history of involvement in past regime-change operations and whose connections to some of the world’s most ardent imperialists, as well as the Not for Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC), are legion. For that reason, as well as the past of Cox herself, it is hardly surprising that the fund designated among its causes the U.S. coalition-financed White Helmets, whose primary purpose has been to escalate unlawful NATO state-proxy and direct military intervention in Syria.

However, the fund’s efforts in promoting the White Helmets goes far beyond merely filling the organization’s coffers. Using lessons learned in past NATO interventions, the founders of the Jo Cox Fund — along with their financiers and associates — have used the fund’s association with the White Helmets in order to protect that group from criticism, largely by exploiting Jo Cox’s posthumous status as a modern-day saint in British politics, now known more for her “compassion” than her support of pro-interventionist policies that are hardly “humanitarian” in practice.

Thus, the Jo Cox Fund — and those behind it — not only have exploited the fund to promote the White Helmets “humanitarian” image but have also profited from their combined expertise to develop a sophisticated “public relations” machine that effectively promotes the destruction of the Syrian state.

 


This is Part II of a four-part series on the life and legacy of Jo Cox. Read part 1 here. In this part, we focus on how the people behind the Jo Cox Fund have applied strategies intended to promote foreign military intervention that was first perfected in the NATO intervention in the Balkans to the current conflict in Syria. Additionally, we examine how these players have helped develop the massive public-relations machine with the White Helmets at its center and how that machine has sought to use Cox’s death to sanctify the controversial group and shield it from scrutiny.


 

Perfecting the blueprint for “humanitarian” regime change: from the Balkans to Syria

It all began in the Balkans. The blueprint for the Syrian regime change, multi-spectrum war, and the roadmap for partitioning a sovereign nation along sectarian lines, was inaugurated in what was once known as Yugoslavia. Corporate media in the West, during the conflict and after, have diligently followed the NATO scriptnamely that the Bosnian Serbs were “motivated by a hatred of Muslims.” It was largely ignored that the Serbs wanted to protect the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and that, in Bosnia, they opposed the concept of an Islamic fundamentalist government, which the authorities of Alija Izetbegovic were attempting to introduce.

The fact that many Bosnian Muslims — including Fikret Abdic, who was actually the true winner of the 1990 elections for the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina — were in agreement with the Bosnian Serbs over those two key issues was largely disregarded. While Western media labelled the Bosnian Serbs as “the new Nazis,” NATO-friendly Bosnian Muslims were euphemistically labelled “rebels,” and, in Kosovo, the NATO-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an organized crime group with Islamic fundamentalist leanings and connections, was labelled as “moderate” and “democrats.”

Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, an expert on former Yugoslavia and a frequent traveller to the region, told Mint Press News:

Yugoslavia and the Serbs were the first victims of the American-led unipolar world that emerged in 1991. Because it was in Yugoslavia — namely, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo — where the U.S. and its principal ally, Britain, together with Germany, destroyed the sanctity of internationally recognized borders; disregarded the authority of the United Nations Security Council; dealt irrevocable damage to the United Nations Charter by having undermined legitimate state authorities and having supported, with arms, training, money, logistics and intelligence information, armed secessionist movements (which comprised fascist, Islamist and organised crime groups); facilitated the arrival of Mujahideen and jihadist fighters to the region; employed their respective media outlets to demonize the people standing in the way of their objectives — the Serbs — accusing them of mass murder and genocide, thus justifying the West’s policy in the Balkans; and then directly intervened with military force to guarantee the accomplishment of their objectives.  In short, Yugoslavia was the template for Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

Acclaimed historian Mark Curtis has written extensively about the British government’s collaboration with the “pro-Jihadist forces in Kosovo” under the leadership of Iraq war-hawk, Tony Blair. In his book Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, Curtis concludes:

[T]he NATO bombing that began in March 1999 had the effect of deepening, not preventing, the humanitarian disaster that Milosevic’s forces inflicted on Kosovo.”

Author and academic John Laughland wrote a book detailing the travesty of justice that was the trial of Slobodan Milosevicentitled: Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice. In an opinion piece written for The Guardian in 2008, under the title “Lies of the Vigilantes,” Laughland wrote:

Slobodan Milosevic was posthumously exonerated on Monday when the international court of justice ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica […] The new ICC, created by Britain, also seems to operate on the basis that white men do not commit war crimes: its prosecutors are currently investigating two local wars in Africa while turning a blind eye to Iraq. Only when that hideous strength which flows from the hypocrisy of interventionism is sapped, will the world stand any chance of returning to lawfulness and peace.”

Dr. Papadopoulos also spoke to Mint Press News about the role played by Bernard Kouchner, high-profile founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders), and former French Foreign Minister, in Kosovo:

Like Paddy Ashdown in Bosnia, Bernard Kouchner acted like a colonial-style governor in Kosovo. Mr. Kouchner played a lead role in the Western colonization of the Serbian province by, for instance, dismantling the Yugoslav civil service there and replacing it with a pro-U.S., pro-NATO and pro-EU one, and ensuring that NATO would have supervisory offices in key institutions in Kosovo.”

In a recent article published at Global Research, Dr. Papadopoulos highlights how in the summer of 1995, the Bosnian Serb army was presented with an opportunity to conquer Srebrenica and thereby end the massacres of Serb villagers in the area. According to Dr. Papadopoulos, “it was a trap set by Bill Clinton and Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic, who were both looking for ‘genocide’ so that NATO would have the justification to extensively intervene in Bosnia.

Dr. Papadopoulos then describes how even Kouchner, the “colonialstyle governor” in Kosovo, admitted the lies that permeated Western media accounts of events in Bosnia.

In 2003, Kouchner interviewed Izetbegovic when the Bosnian Muslim leader was on his deathbed.  “They [the camps in Bosnia] were horrible places, but people were not systematically exterminated. Did you know that?” asked Kouchner. To which Izetbegovic replied, “Yes. I thought that my revelations could precipitate bombings. Yes, I tried, but the assertion was false. There were no extermination camps” (excerpted from Les Guerriers de la Paix: Du Kosovo a l’Iraq, Editions Grasset, 2004; published in English as The Warriors of Peace).

Even now, after analyses and counter narratives abound to challenge the NATO-aligned media versions of events in the former Yugoslaviathose who question the “official” accounts are still attacked, maligned and slandered as “genocide deniers.”

In Part 1 of this series, we outlined the role played by Mabel van Oranje in manufacturing consent for the NATO bombing campaign in the Balkans through her founding of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans. That “council for peace,” with van Oranje at the helm, went on to promote a bombing campaign that pounded Yugoslavia into sectarian division and chaos, from which the region has never recovered.

Another intelligence cog in the Syrian-regime-change-war apparatus was also present in Kosovo during the NATO intervention there. James Le Mesurier, who would go on to found the White Helmets in Turkey in 2013, served as intelligence coordinator for Pristina City in Kosovo soon after the NATO intervention that led to NATO being accused of war crimes for its targeting of thousands of civilians and media.

Years later, in 2015, Le Mesurier was interviewed for a Georgetown Security Studies Reviewa publication for the Center of Security Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Services. The review examined the Le Mesurier-proposed “framework for demobilization and reconstruction in post-conflict Syria.” The parallels with the Kosovo operation reviewed by Le Mesurier and Georgetown Security are blatant:

These teams [White Helmets] possess many of the factors that made past demobilization efforts successful, such as the transition of the Kosovo Liberation Army to the Kosovo Protection Corps.”

In Syria, the Yugoslavia blueprint has since evolved, as the forces that destroyed Yugoslavia seek to perfect their practice of rehabilitating terrorists for the purpose of justifying foreign military intervention. In Kosovo, the KLA, a terrorist group, was rebranded as a “protection corps.” In Syria, the same “protection corps” myth was incubated with immediate effect, working in lock-step with the various terrorist and sectarian gangs that were armed, trained and financed by the U.S/U.K.-led interventionist coalition.

White Helmets promo video

Screenshot from a promotional video for the “moderate opposition” in Syria.

 

The Georgetown study argues that the White Helmets must be an integral part of the transitional process in post-conflict Syria. Despite claims of being an apolitical organization, the White Helmets would be involved in an external  “reconciliation” process managed by NATO member-states, their allies in the Gulf, and Israel, per Georgetown’s recommendations. Internal Syrian/Russian-led reconciliation processes are not even acknowledged, despite their many successes in achieving reintegration of many of the armed factions back into the fabric of Syrian secular society.

The study then claims that the Kosovo model shows that such proposed reintegration programs can succeed if they are managed by groups like the White Helmets and similar local actors aligned with the U.S coalition policy of toppling the Syrian government. The lofty claims of promoting “stability on multiple fronts” should ring hollow considering the role of the NATO member-states in fomenting instability and chaos in a recalcitrant sovereign nation to force compliance with their supremacist geo-strategic objectives in the region. Effectively, the White Helmets are the entry point of the shadow-state wedge that has been plunged deep into the heart of Syrian society and culture.

 

The Balkans, the Jo Cox Foundation and James Le Mesurier

Unsurprisingly, the Jo Cox Foundation retrospectively endorses the NATO intervention in 1999 and upholds the narratives that manufactured consent for this NATO-state unlawful aggression that was never legitimized by a UN mandate.

Jo Cox named her first child Lejla, in memory of a “Bosniak genocide victim she met at Srebrenica.” Cox based much of her argumentation for military intervention in Syria upon the dubious and deadly case for military interference in the Balkans.

In February 2018, Brendan Cox resigned from both the Jo Cox Foundation and More In Common after sensationally admitting to being a repeat-offending “sex-pest” during his time working for Save the Children (STC). This followed new allegations that Cox drunkenly grabbed a woman by the throat, forced her against the wall of a London bar, and told her “I want to f**k you.” Cox had resigned from STC in 2015 after accusations of harassment and indecent behavior had forced his ignominious departure.

Brendan Cox had started working with orphans and children in Sarajevo when he was just 18 years old. In a speech given in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, in March 2017, under the auspices of the Jo Cox Foundation, Cox stated that he had been “working to counter extremism and hatred long before it attacked his own family.” Cox’s journey began in the former Yugoslavia, where he worked with “survivors of the siege of Sarajevo” and continued for the “next ten years.” Cox claims to have spent every summer and Christmas running “holiday camps, volunteering in orphanages and teaching in schools.” Cox worked with “children from Moster, Vukovar and Srebrenica”

James Le Mesurier’s Balkans career path is a little more intricate than previously revealed. After speaking to sources in Serbia, his role has been clarified in greater detail.

In 1998 Le Mesurier was seconded to the Office of the High Representative (OHR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, under Carlos Westendorp, before being sent to Kosovo in summer of 1999 after the deployment of KFOR (Kosovo Force) to the province.

From July 1999 – 2000, Le Mesurier was appointed Intelligence Coordinator for Pristina City, acting as liaison officer between Intel officers of different national contingents in KFOR. Le Mesurier left the British Army in 2000.

From January 2001 – February 2002, Le Mesurier was Deputy Head of the Advisory Unit on Security and Justice and the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Hans Haekkerup’s security policy body within the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). In this position, Le Mesurier acted as political advisor to the UN Police Commissioner and represented the SRSG on civil-military-police coordination bodies. He led interdepartmental working groups, developing regulatory regimes for private security companies and weapon possession and control.

From February 2002 – July 2003, Le Mesurier was advisor on economic crime with the EU Mission in Kosovo, supporting units countering money laundering, terrorism, smuggling, anti-corruption and financial disclosure.

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The Bernard Kouchner connection

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Bernard Kouchner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Sept. 27, 2010 David Karp | AP

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Bernard Kouchner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Sept. 27, 2010 David Karp | AP

 

In 1999, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bernard Kouchner was one of the original co-founders of MSF and in 1999 he arrived in Pristina as the UN Special Representative to Kosovo, elected by Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General at the time. Kouchner served as head of UNMIK from July 1999 until January 2001. Kouchner also has a history of high-level involvement in interventionist campaigns from Romania in 1989 and including Haiti, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and the more recent, ongoing Syrian and Ukrainian NATO-led regime change projects.

According to the Serbian sources who described Le Mesurier’s role in greater detail, Le Mesurier would have been under the direction of Kouchner in Pristina:

Bernard Kouchner was UN Special Representative until mid-January 2001. Le Mesurier left the British Army (where he served as an intel coordinator for City of Pristina) in mid-2000. Therefore, it is clear that he was given a job by Kouchner.”

Kouchner’s tenure in Kosovo was plagued by controversy and accusations of involvement in human and organ traffickingmasterminded by the Albanian mafia gangs within the KLA.  We will examine this element in greater detail in the final part of this series, which will outline the possibility of a far more nefarious role played by the White Helmets as an integral part of the global human-trafficking schemes that benefit from the chaos of conflict and war.

In this video, Kouchner responds to questions about the “yellow houses” that were the suspected center of the organ-trafficking trade. Victims, the majority of whom were Serbs, had been taken from Kosovo to Albania where their organs were brutally removed. Kouchner responds with laughter and calls the reporter “stupid, insane.”

Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, detailed these crimes in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, which was published in 2008 just after Kosovo declared its independence. In 2010 an interim report by the Council of Europe vindicated Del Ponte’s claims, which had garnered skepticism and criticism from the NATO-aligned media and spokespeople. Del Ponte persistently complained, at the time, that UN authorities in Kosovo were systematically blocking her investigations into crimes committed by the Kosovan Albanians in the KLA and the rebranded Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC):

The allegations are macabre and shocking. In the closing days of the Kosovo conflict, hundreds of civilians were allegedly kidnapped by Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) guerrillas and transported to neighboring Albania. There, dozens were killed and their organs “harvested” to be sold abroad. The victims included Serbs, Russians, and at least one Albanian.” (Allegations of Organ Trafficking in Del Ponte Memoir Spark Scandal)

So, in Kosovo we saw the early interconnecting links that would later expand into Syria and into the establishment of soft-power structures that would infiltrate Syrian society and provide justification for the criminalization of the Syrian government and its allies. We witnessed the curiously coincidental positioning of actors such as Kouchner, Le Mesurier and even Cox — all of whom would move on to take a pivotal role in the Syrian regime-change war.

Kouchner parted company with MSF in 1979 but subsequently founded Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World). His has been one of the most strident anti-Syrian government voices in Western media and among the ruling elite organizations that have driven the narratives on Syria in the West. In 2013, Kouchner accompanied John McCain on a clandestine tour of Syria, smuggled in illegally by armed extremist factions. In 2012, Huffington Post published an article co-authored by French war-orchestrator Bernard-Henri Levy and Bernard Kouchner, Jacques Beres, Mario Bettati and Andre Glucksmann. It was entitled “Enough Evasion, We Must Intervene in Syria!”

Did Brendan Cox cross paths with Le Mesurier and Kouchner or both? Was it a coincidence that they all operated in the same interventionist theatre at the same time? Why have Cox and Le Mesurier never emphasized the crimes committed by the Kosovar Albanians against the Serbs? Why have they been silent (to our knowledge) on the organ trade and human trafficking that would have potentially preyed on the very orphanages where Cox worked during his summer holidays?

Probably the most telling element in the updated description of James Le Mesurier’s role is that he was instrumental in the conversion of the KLA, consisting of Al Qaeda elements alongside the Kosovar Albanian warlords, into the rebranded Kosovo ‘Protection’ Corps. This blueprint has clearly been carried forward into Syria with the creation of the White Helmets to merge with and offer protection for the extremist groups, including Al Qaeda. We have also seen similar rebranding exercises for Al Qaeda in Syria: Al Nusra Front has been given a number of new identities in an effort to disassociate it from its terrorist origins.

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The White Helmets PR machine and the Jo Cox Fund

Having perfected the blueprint of “humanitarian” regime change in the Balkans, many of the same players, along with their proteges and the reincarnations of certain pro-intervention NGOs, have since been sought to apply this model to other “rogue” states deemed regime-change targets, such as Syria.

In Syria, the White Helmets have been crucial to these efforts aimed at disguising the destruction and plundering of the Syrian state as an exercise in “humanitarianism.” Unsurprisingly, the White Helmets’ reputation as “humanitarians” and “good-doers” has been promoted by a highly sophisticated and interconnected nexus of NGOs that have consistently perpetuated falsehoods about the Syrian conflict in service to reviving this blueprint — first developed in Kosovo —  once more in Syria. Many of the NGOs at the heart of this nexus count among their most influential members the same four individuals who formed the Jo Cox Fund in 2016.

Of the organizations most deeply involved in this effort, several stand out for their capacity to shift public opinion, their creation and co-opting of popular movements, and their ability to manipulate popular sentiment through the use of petitions, social media campaigns and other related strategies. Groups like Purpose, Avaaz and Change.org are arguably the most notable of these organizations and two of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund are intimately involved in their leadership.

For instance, Tim Dixon, once a speechwriter for Australian prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, is an experienced corporate and political strategist who shifted his focus to “humanitarian” NGOs after 2010 — co-founding Purpose Europe after joining Purpose New York in 2011, and subsequently the pro-intervention Syria campaign. Dixon also shares deep connections to Avaaz, which helped create Purpose, through Dixon’s collaboration with his “professional associate” Jeremy Heimans, who helped found Avaaz and co-founded Purpose.

Screenshot Jeremy Heimans

Screenshot supplied by Cory Morningstar’s website, The Art of Annihilation – Angels and Demons: Otherwise Known as the Conquerors and the Conquered – Revisionist Linguistics.

 

Dixon has also collaborated with Brendan Cox for years, as together they have been “instrumental” in reshaping the “refugee” narrative “through opinion research, message development, popular movement-building and campaigning to reach mainstream audiences.” Then, after Jo Cox’s death, Dixon, Brendan Cox and Gemma Mortensen — another Jo Cox Fund co-founder — created the organization More In Common, which claims to work “to build stronger and more inclusive democratic societies that are resilient to the threats of populism and division.”

People hold signs during a Jo Cox memorial in Trafalgar Square, London, June 22, 2016. Alastair Grant | AP

People hold signs during a Jo Cox memorial in Trafalgar Square, London, June 22, 2016. Alastair Grant | AP

 

However, as will be shown in a moment, the connections among these three significantly pre-date More In Common, as all three were intimately involved in the pro-intervention “humanitarian” group Crisis Action Network.

Jeremy Heimans Avaaz

 

Avaaz and Purpose often focus the campaigns they develop at “rogue” nations that challenge U.S. empire. As journalist and researcher Jay Taber wrote for Cory Morningstar’s Wrong Kind of Green: “When challenges to U.S. hegemony arise — such as in Bolivia, Libya, Syria, Burundi and Congo — Avaaz and Purpose create campaigns to discredit and destabilize these independent governments.” By dressing up these campaigns that are American empire-driven in the illusion that they are entirely “people driven” by local communities, these groups are capable of falsifying narratives about a country’s political climate on a massive scale.

Avaaz Syria

Activist’ group Avaaz demands former U.S President Barack Obama impose a No Fly Zone in Syria – June 2015.

Avaaz and Purpose have used campaigns they have created to great effect within Syria, particularly through campaigns that sprang up early on in the Syrian conflict in support of the so-called “revolution,” as well as through their creation of the Bambuser platform that allowed Syrian opposition “activists” to upload video footage that on several occasions was later shown to be falsified. Eventually, in 2018, the platform was closed down but not before a number of the falsified videos had been downloaded by watchful researchers and journalists.

Shortly after the creation of Bambuser, Avaaz campaign manager Pascal Vollenweider had bragged that Avaaz had helped “kickstart” the Syrian “revolution” by equipping these “citizen journalists” and giving them the tools to produce multimedia used to further false narratives about the reality of the Syrian conflict.

Watch | Avaaz campaign manager brags about “kick-starting” the Syrian conflict:

One of those Avaaz-sponsored campaigns, “Smuggle Hope into Syria,” was initially highly effective in promoting the false narrative of a people-driven revolution waged by heroic “rebels” and centered around “Danny” Abdul Dayem’s efforts to raise $2.5 million for communication equipment needed by “citizen journalists” who were promoting the “rebel” cause. However, one of “Danny’s” videos that had aired on CNN was exposed as fake soon after, as were similar Avaaz and Purpose-backed videos produced by other “citizen journalists” like Khalid Abu Salah.

Since then, Avaaz and Purpose have heavily promoted a NATO-imposed “no fly zone” in Syria, without ever mentioning the dangers such a policy would pose to the Syrian civilians or the fact that such measures are historically precursors to large-scale military action. Furthermore, without ever providing proof, Avaaz has routinely accused Russia and the Syrian government of committing “coordinated atrocities” against media personnel and journalists in rebel-held areas of Syria. In addition, Avaaz has directly raised more than $2 million for the White Helmets.

Syria Protest Avaaz

Avaaz stages a protest with fake corpses and actors masked as Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad on June 7, 2012 near the United Nations in New York. Bebeto Matthews | AP

 

Another organization that has operated in Syria and elsewhere among similar lines is Change.org, whose Chief Global Officer from 2016 to 2017 was Gemma Mortensen, another co-founder of the Jo Cox Fund. Change.org has been found to deliberately manipulate petitions on its page when they challenge the Western narrative on Syria, such as their removal — during Mortensen’s tenure — of a petition campaigning against the White Helmets’ nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, despite the fact that the petition garnered more than double the number of signatures than had the petition calling for the group to be given the prize. At the time, Change.org claimed the petition rejecting the White Helmets’ nomination for the prize had “violated community standards.”

However, the most influential of this type, at least where Syria is considered, has been the Syria Campaign. The group was co-founded by Dixon and Mortensen in 2014 with funding from Ayman Asfari, the Syrian-in-exile oil baron living in England, who has donated almost £700,000 since 2009 to the U.K. Conservative Party. As was noted in Part I of this series, Asfari has been very influential in driving the false narratives about the Syrian conflict that are promoted by Western governments.

With Asfari’s funding, the Syria Campaign has officially sought to amplify “moderate” and “democratic” voices in the Syrian opposition. In practice, the Syria Campaign, along with its progenitor Purpose, have managed public relations for the White Helmets, creating high-quality multimedia content and even the group’s website, in order to promote the White Helmets in the mainstream media and on social media — essentially directing the group’s branding thousands of miles away from Syria, in their New York office.

Most notably, however, the Syria Campaign has led the lion’s share of White Helmet fundraising efforts from individual donations in the West in order to secure the “funding that they [the White Helmets] so desperately deserve.” Even though the White Helmets have received millions of dollars from NATO member states and Gulf states, the Syria Campaign urges would-be donors to “give generously.”

In addition, just like Avaaz, Purpose and the White Helmets themselves, the Syria campaign has actively pushed for a “no fly zone” in Syria, one that would require the deployment of 70,000 U.S. soldiers to enforce and would risk embroiling the U.S. in a full-scale war against the Syrian state and Russia. More recently, it promoted the hashtag #Act4Daraa, which sought to pressure the UN Security Council to prevent the Syrian government’s now-successful effort to eliminate Western sponsored extremist and ISIS pockets in Syria’s south.

Furthermore, the Syria Campaign has been intimately involved in attempting to silence critics of the White Helmets. In its report titled “Killing the Truth: How Russia is fuelling a disinformation campaign to cover up war crimes in Syria,” the Syria Campaign calls for technology and social media companies to block criticism of the White Helmets and pro-intervention narratives as they are “polluting the public debate central to any healthy democracy.” The report — which mentions Vanessa Beeley, co-author of this article series, by name — further urges news organizations to “not give conspiracy theorists a platform in the name of balance,” as alternative narratives “cloud the truth.” In effect, the Syria Campaign has been at the forefront of attempts to silence those who are exposing the murkier aspects of the White Helmets and the billionaire network pulling their strings.

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Ayman Asfari extends influence in Syria

In May 2016, the Asfari Foundation (covered in part 1 of this series) teamed up with the Said Foundation to raise money for the Hands Up for Syria Appeal. The Asfari and Said Foundations matched the £ 3.997 million that was raised for “millions of young children” deprived of an education during the seven-year conflict in Syria. Speakers at the event included then-British Prime Minister David Cameron; David Miliband — President and CEO of International Rescue Committee; and actress Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Prince Charles sent a video message emphasizing the importance of education to the rebuilding of Syria.

Ayman Asfari at the The Hands Up for Syria Appeal, May 2016, has raised £3,997,928 from ‘generous donors’. Photo | Hands Up Foundation

Ayman Asfari at The Hands Up for Syria Appeal, May 2016, has raised £3,997,928 from ‘generous donors’. Photo | Hands Up Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again there was no mention of the root cause of the issues being highlighted. Money was effectively raised to treat the symptoms of the British imperialist project inside Syria that violates international law on many counts. Why would the British monarch-in-waiting have any involvement in the “rebuilding” of a sovereign nation that his successive Tory governments have, alongside their allies in the U.S. coalition of proxy terror, systematically destabilized and weakened?

The money raised will be funneled into Idlib via the Hands Up Foundation, which claims to raise money for “vital health services” in North West Syria, a region infested with all manner of extremist and terrorist groups. Many of those groups have been evacuated to Idlib from liberated areas of Syria such as East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, increasing the numbers of armed, hostile groups in the area. It is worth remembering that OPCW refused to enter this area after the alleged chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun April 2017 because the risk of beheading or kidnapping was too high.

Hands Up Foundation operates in partnership with SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), which works with the White Helmets alongside the controlling extremist factions where they are based. SAMS is a predominantly Chicago based, Muslim Brotherhood organization that receives copious funding from USAID, the U.S. State Department outreach agent for CIA clandestine operations against target nations. USAID has also donated $31 million to the White Helmets via Chemonics, one of its many subcontractors.

While 85 percent of inhabited Syria under Syrian government protection and control suffers under the weight of U.S./U.K./EU imposed sanctions that have targeted the Syrian state health sector, Hands Up Foundation is raising money for “medical salaries” of $150,000 per year at a health clinic “south of Aleppo.” Another project claims to be raising $105,000 for “medical training” in Idlib City, which was invaded by Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) in March 2015 — an invasion that resulted in the summary executions of civilians who were deemed “Shabiha,” a term that designates loyalty to the Syrian government, state and Syrian Arab Army. The White Helmets were filmed alongside the terrorist fighters, celebrating and participating in brutality against civilians.

According to Hands Up Foundation accounts for 2017, it has received a three year organizational development grant of £150,000  from the Asfari and SAID Foundations, “central” to achieving its aims in Idlib. While HUF makes claims of transparency and a document trail to recipients of its funding, there is nothing available to that effect on the website. Money is raised through its Syrian Supper Club, Marmalaid, and Singing for Syrians projects.

HUF focuses on three medical clinics, one in Reyhanli on the Turkish border and two inside northern Syria, in partnership with SAMS, which also operates in these areas. The placement of these clinics is important and will be examined in greater depth in Part 4.

Hands Up Foundation Syria

The Said Foundation also appears to be involved in the training of paramedics in the same region of Syria — at the Bab Al Hawa hospital, in partnership with U.K.-registered charity Syria Relief. While the White Helmets are not mentioned, it is safe to assume that this “aid” will be heading their way. The screenshot is from an archive of this page on the Said website, as it now requires a “login” to view the information.

The clusters of medical centers supported by these foundations and charities are based exclusively in areas occupied by and under the control of U.S. coalition-backed armed groups. How do we know that the funding is not ending up in the hands of those groups as part of the “moderate opposition” bankrolling scheme?

Syria M10 Hospital

Inside the Nusra Front-controlled M10 Hospital in Sakhour, East Aleppo. UOSSM and SAMS stickers were posted next to a statement made by terrorist factions in Libya warning Syrian extremist factions to deny “Democracy.” Photo | Vanessa Beeley

 

Syria Relief comes under the umbrella of UOSSM (Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations), founded in France in 2012. UOSSM makes the same lofty claims as the White Helmets: “To support the health and well being of individuals and communities affected by the Syrian crisis regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, or political affiliation.” The Union includes SAMS. In my experience of entering the hospitals of East Aleppo after liberation in December 2016, SAMS and UOSSM stickers and logos could be seen on the walls of all the medical centers that had been overrun and requisitioned by Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham and other extremist groups. Those hospitals included the infamous M10 hospital next door to Nusra Front and White Helmet headquarters in Sakhour, East Aleppo.

Watch |  In April 2018 Independent French Humanitarian Pierre Le Corf runs through the logos on the l of the M10 hospital. It includes a message from terrorists in Libya for the terrorists in Syria saying that “Democracy is for Kafirs (non-believers)”

Again and again, we demonstrate the close-knit regime-change community, as diverse as it is deadly for Syria and the Syrian people, who have endured seven years of war owing largely to the efforts of these organizations to sustain the narratives that dupe people in the West into believing in the case for “humanitarian” intervention. An intervention that obfuscates the underlying causes while amplifying the fraudulent cover stories for another neocon destabilization campaign in Syria.

The diversity and complex branding of all these foundations, think tanks, organizations, NGOs, and associated charities can be compared to the rebranding of the terrorist groups, in particular Nusra Front (Al Qaeda). It serves to confuse, to bury the evidence of involvement in questionable activities deep inside the soft-power-complex underbelly.

 

A closer look at Crisis Action

The smart-power complex that generates support for the White Helmets is vast and powerful. At the center of the NGO Hydra is an organization that remains in the shadows, a more clandestine behavioral insight guru that motivates and directs other members of the cartel, rather than taking center stage.

Crisis Action brings together Tim Dixon, Gemma Mortensen and Brendan Cox, who was instrumental in the incubation of this influential body of policy makers. Cox was executive director from June 2006 to January 2009. As Gemma Mortensen says, “We [Crisis Action] need to stay behind the scenes because that is the way in which partners will genuinely see that we are in it for the benefit of the collective work, not to promote ourselves.”

Gemma Mortensen was with Crisis Action from August 2006 to August 2015. She joined in 2006 as a Senior Political Analyst and progressed to U.K. Director, before becoming Executive Director in 2009. Crisis Action describes itself as a “global network of the leading human rights, humanitarian and foreign policy organizations; harnessing their expertise to mount joint campaigns to ensure world leaders uphold their collective obligations to protect civilians in situations of conflict.” Another catalyst for global change in a direction that will be governed by the sponsors’ objectives.

In 2013 Crisis Action was awarded a Ford Foundation grant as one of the seven NGOs to reshape the global human rights movement. Its “innovative model for conflict prevention” has been recognized by the 2012 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and the 2013 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. According to the Crisis Action annual report for 2017, Mabel Van Oranje is on the Board, thus almost closing the circle of the Jo Cox Fund originators’ involvement in this behind-the-scenes conflict “management” team.

Mabel at Crisis Action

Crisis Action partners are an impressive collection of “all the big human rights organizations,” including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, International Crisis Group, and many more NGOs that work as extensions of U.S./U.K. state foreign policy in a chosen conflict zone. In fact, the Crisis Action network is one of the most expansive webs of the NGOs prevalent in providing cover for multiple regime-change wars.

Among tHe Syria-related NGOs we find: Syria Campaign, Avaaz, 38 Degrees (branch of Avaaz), UN Foundation, Mosaic Syria, Chatham House, InterAction. These also include the Muslim Council of Britain, heavily influenced by Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which have long been an instrument of destabilization in Syria and the region for the U.S. coalition.

Many of these Crisis Action partners were listed as supporters of the White Helmets in the run-up to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, when the White Helmets failed in their bid to join such luminaries as Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize podium. Many observers were horrified to see Greenpeace (member of the Crisis Action coalition) publicly support the White Helmets.

When members of the public wrote to Greenpeace to question its judgment, they all received a standard response. This response, that basically dismisses criticism of the White Helmets as being generated by the “extreme right” or “supporters of Syria or Russia”, is the same argument used across all platforms defending the White Helmets. This uniformity of response might suggest that it is coming from a central source, perhaps the “friends at the Syria Campaign”,  and being fed to the organizations caught wittingly or unwittingly in the web of the anti-Syria soft power complex.

Greenpeace appeared to make no effort to engage with the questions, the evidence presented or the concerns of the public regarding the White Helmets. If the response is indicative of Greenpeace’s actual position, at the very least that is negligence on their part, at worst they must be considered to be compromised by their association with Crisis Action. As a major behavior influencing organization, Greenpeace owes it to their public sponsors to not mislead or misrepresent events in Syria. Particularly when that misrepresentation will inevitably support narratives provided by the White Helmets, designed to maintain external military and economic pressure upon Syria and its allies and to prolong the war, rather than foster peace.

Thanks for your message. I’m sorry to hear that you disagree with us posting about the work of the White Helmets.

 

We have looked at the claims made against the White Helmets, but found a lack of evidence and inconsistency in the allegations. Opposition also seems to be based on opposition to NATO policy, which in turn seems to be based on support for the Syrian government and the Russians.

 

The people making these claims are also questionable. For example, extreme right wing US politician Ron Paul, who thinks global warming is a hoax.

 

The White Helmets have the support of our friends at the Syria Campaign, and also the late MP Jo Cox, who was very knowledgeable on these issues. They also have 133 organisations backing their bid for the Nobel Peace Prize, which includes a number of highly respected organisations from around the world.”  (emphasis added)

The list of the organizations and individuals backing the White Helmets is certainly impressive and comprises many key actors from the Crisis Action NGO pool or those otherwise linked to Jo Cox. Another example of the exploitation of the murder of Jo Cox and the harnessing of her high profile and contacts to expand the support base for the U.K/U.S. White Helmet project in Syria. The Crisis Action machiavellian efforts certainly seem to have paid dividends for the White Helmets and their backers. Would we see such efforts being made for Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) or even for the REAL Syria Civil Defence, whose name has been stolen by the White Helmets and their marketing teams?

Asaad Hanna, the White Helmet Media and Advocacy Manager, is a regular contributor to Chatham House, according to his own CV. Chatham House is a U.K. government-linked policy influencer that has consistently promoted the White Helmets, even screening their Oscar-winning Netflix Documentary in October 2016, despite the mounting controversy surrounding the group of questionable “humanitarians.”

It is noteworthy that Hanna states that he is “managing a team of 150 media people in Syria and the office of the headquarters out of Syria.” As Peter Ford, former U.K. ambassador to Syria from 2003 to 2006, pointed out in Whitewashing the White Helmets: “They [the White Helmets] have a press department 150 strong, bigger than that for the whole of the UK ambulance service.”

InterAction, another “united voice for global change” and Crisis Action partner, was on the verge of giving Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, the 2016 “Humanitarian Award” when he was unexpectedly deported from Dulles Airport because of his “extremist connections.”

Crisis Action lays claim to being a member of the NPIC (Not for Profit Industrial Complex) while stating:

We receive financial support from a range of foundations, governments and private individuals, many of which provide unrestricted multi-year funding. In addition, all of Crisis Action’s core partners make an annual financial contribution, with the exception of those located in the Global South.”

Crisis Action plays a pivotal role in swaying policy makers towards the agenda of their powerful donors and sponsors, which include Ford Foundation, Humanity Utd, Rockefeller Foundation, Skoll Foundation, George Soros Open Society Foundation, Sundance Institute, and a number of other major foundations. Canada, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland sponsor Crisis Action via their foreign affairs ministries.

According to its report and statements from its sponsors, Crisis Action has heavily influenced and covertly managed events in Sudan, Congo, Gaza, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Libya and Syria.Crisis Action claims to amplify the voices of Syrian heroes — which include the White Helmets, lauded by Crisis Action as an “awe inspiring feature of the last six years”. This will be further explored in Part 3.

As already mentioned, Crisis Action supported the White Helmet nomination for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which “they sadly didn’t win” and celebrated the Oscar win for the Netflix documentary. Crisis Action worked with partners to secure a series of high-level meetings for the White Helmets in Brussels, Paris and London. Is this the extreme level of PR marketing and brand management we should expect for a “grass-roots” bunch of “bakers, tailors, engineers, students, carpenters, painters and pharmacists,” as the script goes?

With emphasis added, the Crisis Action Report states:

Crisis Action was privileged to work with the White Helmets, providing them platforms to engage decision-makers from Berlin to Washington DC. Their powerful testimony of their work put a human face on a grim conflict, shattering the prejudice that all Syrians are refugees or rebels, and motivating politicians and individuals to act on Syria who wouldn’t have done so otherwise.

Crisis Action also collaborated with Bond, which is the umbrella group for British overseas development agencies, “to help shape a vision for Britain’s role in the world, post-Brexit. In the face of growing nationalism and antipathy towards immigrants,” Bond and Crisis Action collaborated to help their “partners” to influence the U.K.’s main political parties on the refugee crisis, aid, and climate change.

Jo Cox White Helmets

Ciaran Norris was political affairs advisor at Bond from 2014 to 2016, before he became director of the Rising Global Peace Forum (RGPF) from 2016 to 2017. Norris is currently head of external affairs at Oxfam. While Director at RGPF, Norris awarded the Peace Prize in 2016 to Jo Cox and the White Helmets:

The volunteers of Syria Civil Defence (aka The White Helmets) and the late Labour MP Jo Cox – who championed their heroism amongst so many other causes – are the perfect examples of people dedicated to peace. In our view, there could be no more deserving recipients for this prize and it is all the more significant that we recognise them together.”

A #LoveLikeJo tribute video emerged from this prize-giving ceremony, featuring Alison McGovern MP, White Helmet Munir Mustafa, and Nick Martlew, and was chaired by Norris. The panel reflected on the life of Jo Cox bringing the White Helmets more publicly into the fold of the global change manufacturers.

Munir Mustafa has since featured in Robert Stuart’s forensic investigation into BBC Panorama’s “Saving Syria’s Children” that has caused substantial waves among corporate media hierarchy in the U.K. Stuart’s work has involved “analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, contending that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.” As a part of his investigation, Stuart exposed Mustafa as having connections to armed, extremist groups in areas occupied by the White Helmets. This inconvenient truth was overlooked by the organizers of the RGPF.

The global policy-influencing market is a very lucrative one for the board members and employees of Crisis Action. According to its 2017 annual report, Crisis Action received £3.1 million from its government and foundation sponsors. Their salaries andrelated costs came to a whopping £2.33 million, a huge percentage of their income.

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Crisis Action case study: Hamza al Khatib

Beyond its dubious connections to powerful governments and organizations and its “supportive” role to the White Helmets, Crisis Action has directly promoted specific members of the group despite their known ties to extremists and unsavory pasts. By obfuscating the reality of the situation and elevating these individuals to practical sainthood, Crisis Action provides numerous examples of how elite-connected NGOs serve as PR agencies for the terrorist-linked foot soldiers of covert regime-change operations.

A clear example of Crisis Action’s role in promoting such dubious individuals for the sake of narrative is Hamza Al Khatib, who at one time was ubiquitously described as one of the “Last Doctors in Aleppo,” particularly during the final battles between the Syrian allied forces and Western-backed extremist factions just prior to final liberation of East Aleppo in December 2016.

This label was shamefully misleading on the part of the Western media, as it effectively “disappeared” the 4,000-plus doctors operating in Syrian government-secured West Aleppo, who had been extending aid into East Aleppo at the request of the Syrian Government — until the occupying militant groups began to refuse them entry in 2016.

The colonial media battalion stepped up its hyperbole war as the curtains came down upon the regime-change project they had supported in East Aleppo for almost five years at the expense of the Syrian civilians being held hostage, used as human shields, starved, tortured and abused by the extremist gangs the media euphemistically labelled “rebels.”

Mortensen’s petition platform, Change.org, joined the throngs of Al Khatib supporters alongside the Crisis Action campaigns. Over 779,000 signatures were allegedly achieved on the petition that called upon its global community to “make the world a better place” by supporting a “doctor who risked death to save lives”. A team of Change.org “PR professionals” produced reports on a variety of platforms to reinforce the emotive messaging. A.J.Walton, one such “PR professional,” reached out on Medium and outlined the organizations that supported this campaign:

Change.org is fortunate to partner with great humanitarian organizations. A few such organizations are Oxfam America, Mercy Corps, and USA for UNHCR, all working to help the victims of the Syrian conflict.”

An entire PR network rallied around the dying embers of the “revolution” in East Aleppo, drawing on their global supremacy in the information market to attempt to turn the tide of public consensus that was rapidly seeing through their firewall of lies. Al Khatib directly called upon “World leaders to save our lives in Aleppo” via the Change.org petition.

A Change.org petition raised in conjunction with a Crisis Action campaign to amplify the voices of East Aleppo’s “Last Doctors” during final Syrian/Russian military operations to liberate the enclave from Western client terrorist groups.

A Change.org petition raised in conjunction with a Crisis Action campaign to amplify the voices of East Aleppo’s “Last Doctors” during final Syrian/Russian military operations to liberate the enclave from Western client terrorist groups.

 

Abdo Haddad is a representative of the ancient Christian town of Maaloula who has spent considerable time raising awareness on the origins of the Syrian conflict, in Europe and further afield. The town is 56 km northeast of Damascus and was built into the craggy mountains that rise out of the surrounding plains. It is one of the few remaining places in the world where Aramaic is still spoken and taught in schools. Maaloula was briefly and brutally occupied by Nusra Front-led forces in 2013 before being liberated by local Christian militia, SAA and Hezbollah in 2014.

Haddad shared his observations on Al Khatib with MintPress News and reported:

Hamza Al Khatib is a pseudonym; his real name is Zaher Emad Katerji. Here he is photographed surveying battle maps with Fastaqim, one of the many extremist groups occupying East Aleppo… I took these screenshots and photos from his social media accounts … many of the posts have since been deleted.”

Hamza Al Khatib

Haddad also explained to MintPress that he had checked on Al Khatib/Katerji’s Aleppo University medical degree status.

Hamza Al Khatib medical exams

“According to the Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Higher Education documents, Al Khatib (Katerji) failed his final medical exams. He was not a qualified doctor”

 

Haddad had spent some time going through Al Khatib’s Facebook posts and translating conversations to get a better picture of the darker side of the “heroic Last Doctor.”

 

Hamza Al Khatib Al Zinki

In the photo above, taken from the Facebook page of Reuters photographer Abdelrhman Ismail, we see Hamza Al Khatib with his arm around Mayof Abu Bahr, one of the Nour Al Din Zinki beheaders of 12-year-old Abdullah Issa in July 2016, 200 meters from the Al Ansari White Helmet center that featured in the Oscar-nominated Last Men in Aleppo.

 

11 june 2016 Hamza Khatib convo

Haddad told MintPress:

Al Khatib knew that the local foreign-backed organizations, like the local councils and the so-called civil defence [White Helmets], were thieves and criminals; but he never mentioned that fact to the media channels who relied upon his testimony.”

20th Jan 2017 Khatib left mines etc

Haddad also pointed out:

Al Khatib was described by Western media outlets as some kind of saint. Do ‘saints’ leave mines and IEDs, booby traps to murder more civilians after they have been evacuated out of danger by the Syrian government in the green buses? Conversations that Al Khatib had on Facebook with his cronies demonstrate that he personally made sure these hidden killers were planted in East Aleppo residential areas.”

Finally, Haddad described how Al Khatib had clearly witnessed the execution of at least one SAA prisoner-of-war by the militant groups, but had never thought to mention these atrocities to Western media.

Hamza Al Khatib execution

In this post Al Khatib discusses the apparent execution of an SAA soldier in East Aleppo with Mayof Abu Bahr. (Nour Al Din Zinki).”

 

Crisis Action and Change.org were responsible for the whitewashing of crimes committed by the U.S. coalition armed groups in East Aleppo just as surely as Al Khatib participated in them or denied their existence in his reports on events in the beleaguered enclave.

“I consider Al Khatib a traitor to Syria and to his own people” Haddad told Mint Press, adding:

Al Khatib played a criminal role in enabling the terrorist occupation of East Aleppo; he watched Syrians die under foreign-financed  torture and sectarian violence but said nothing. Is that the work of a genuine “doctor” or even a decent human being?”

 

Conclusion

From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well- connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and to maintain a monopoly on the prevailing narrative. By using time-tested strategies to mobilize public outrage within the very countries whose governments fund and promote these emissaries of false “humanitarian” narratives, these individuals and those behind them seek to pull at our heart strings in order to manufacture public consent for destructive regime-change operations that leave a trail of bloodshed and failed states in their wake.

This model, perfected in the Balkans, has been used to great effect in Syria with the help of many of the same individuals who have worked to disguise a regime-change operation originally planned by powerful, corrupt interests. The favored Empire narrative producer this time is a “ragtag, grass-roots band of ordinary altruists from all walks of life,” more commonly known as the White Helmets. However, even a rudimentary examination of the White Helmets funding and their extensive PR network, as well as the true nature of the group, negates any notion of “humanitarian” motivation guiding the group itself or its Western and Gulf State masters.

This callous, calculating manipulation of humanitarianism for the profit and expansion of Western empire is made all too clear in the destruction that these narratives and their principal actors have wrought upon Syria — helping to prolong the conflict and, as a consequence, increase the horrifying toll on Syria’s beleaguered population. The Syrian people are faced with widespread destruction of infrastructure, displacement and long term trauma from the effects of this predatory campaign waged by the West against a sovereign nation.

As we will see in Part 3 of this series, the web of the main actors driving this manipulation of narratives and public opinion shares innumerable connections to prestigious “charitable” organizations as well as to each other. Notably, the founders of the Jo Cox Fund — Tim Dixon, Nick Grono, Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, and Brendan Cox — have not only been at the forefront of such efforts in Syria, but they have all spent the majority of their careers engaged in similar efforts to whitewash imperial military adventurism on behalf of powerful political and philanthrocapitalist interests.

 

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

August 26, 2018

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer 

 

This is part II of  Purpose Goes to Latin America. [ Part I, published August 8, 2018]

 

Foreword:

In part one of our report Purpose Goes to Latin America ( August 8, 2018) we demonstrated how global powers orchestrate destabilization, war, economic and imperial domination via the facilitation of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Specifically, we looked at how this successful strategy is unveiling itself in Latin America. We explored “New Power” as a new instrument of hegemony, whereby New Power exponents when mobilized, can be successfully manipulated to serve neoliberal forces in ways never before achievable.

We disclosed the fact that Purpose (the for-profit PR arm of Avaaz) has set up in Latin America with campaigns and projects underway in Brazil and Columbia. This is not a coincidence. In the ongoing destabilization effort being waged against Venezuela, Columbia is being used as a base to launch further aggression. [August 9, 2018: Colombia Can Not Lend Itself to a Foreign Intervention against Venezuela] Consider Purpose “movements” are not decrying the more than 300 assassinations of Colombian leaders over the last two years [Source], rather they are organizing Concordia Summits to facilitate an advancing privatization in Columbia (and the world at large), as they court right wing politicians  and oligarchs.  This can best be described as “power in white face”.

“In the presence of the so-called White Helmets on the border with the brother country, the first-class treatment given by the Colombian government to conspirators and provocateurs… While we condemn and denounce these grotesque maneuvers, we alert our people, the progressive and democratic peoples and governments of Latin America, the Caribbean and the world, not to allow more interference with sovereign Venezuela… Colombia can not lend itself to a foreign intervention against Venezuela. Our continent is a zone of peace and we must not allow ourselves to be deprived of that right.” — August 9, 2018:  Colombia Can Not Lend Itself to a Foreign Intervention against Venezuela [Emphasis added]

 

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Part II

Mobiles Coupled with Social Media Equal the Capture of Momentum by New Power

Source: GSMA Intelligence

This is where the lines between NGOs, internet and militarism begin to overlap and blur. In part one of this report, we discussed New Power at length as the new tool for expanding global hegemony. By the conclusion of this report, we will have explored the machinations of our new digital world, and how neoliberal and Imperial forces are using it to further colonization and drive economic growth – all under the guise of freedom, democracy and human rights. At this time, in the year 2018, we have come full circle to the inception of this blueprint, charted in 2007.

“This paper suggests that the rapid spread of information and communications technology (ICT) in the global south offers possibilities for democratic and social change unmatched since decolonization.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

In 2007, Res Publica completed a research and advisory project for the Gates Foundation titled Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation. (From the report: E-advocacy is the strategic use of ICT by individuals or movements to press for policy change.”) The Project Leader for the project was Res Publica and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel.

“Moreover, penetration of these technologies can revolutionize advocacy long before they reach substantial percentages of the population. The President of the Philippines was deposed in 2001 in an SMS-organized mobilization he called a “coup de text” when just 15% of Filipinos had mobile phones.Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

 

However, there are formidable barriers to the realization of this opportunity. The digital divide is felt most acutely in sub-Saharan and South/Central Africa. While mobile phone penetration is growing rapidly even in this region, the promise of the internet and other ICTs is dimmed by regressive telecommunications policies and poor infrastructure. Across the global south, censorship and intimidation have shut off the internet as a source for social change in nations most in need of reform.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

The lead researcher for the project was Mary Joyce who worked for the Gates Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. [Source]

“The study of e-advocacy in the global south is a new field and as such this report is based on the synthesis of different fields of expertise rather than the summarizing of existing research… e-Advocacy is the future of social change.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

Katrin Verclas, Executive Director of Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, was one of two expert advisors to the project. In 2018 Verlas, named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company in 2011, was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for fraud. [March 29, 2018: German Citizen Indicted For Major Fraud In Connection With A State Department Grant, March 29, 2018]

The second expert advisor, digital political strategist Alan Rosenblatt “built the Center for American Progress’s* social media program (2007-13) and trained nearly 20,000 people across the world in digital/social media strategy, including civil society leaders across the Arab world in 2009; executives at leading advocacy groups and news media outlets; Members of Congress and their staff; as well as a couple future kings.” [Source: LinkedIn] [*Founded/directed by John Podesta. After losing his congressional seat (D-VA), Res Publica/Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello, served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.]

“Network-centric mobile activism is seductively simple. Massive events can be created with little or no effort or cost.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

 

“If possible, fund the fringe, but if this is perceived as too high a risk then invite them to the table by including them in conferences and convenings.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

Case study authors included Rishi Chawla (Global Internet Policy Initiative), Atieno Ndomo (Bretton Woods, Unicef, WFP, UN),  and Priscila Néri (Researcher/Res Publica: “Wrote the case study on Brazil for the report “Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South”, commissioned by the Gates Foundation and published in 2007. The report paved the way for the launch of Avaaz.org, an international network focused on promoting global activism on a wide range of issues.” Source: LinkedIn. Néri is now with Witness). Gbenga Sesan (Harvard, Paradigm Initiative, Africa), and Idris Sulaiman (Research consultant for World Bank, now with WBCSD) were also authors.

Those in charge of reviewing the paper included Rob Faris, Research Director for the Internet and Society of Harvard and OpenNet Initiative (which is mentioned further in this report), and Janet Haven of the Open Society Institute. [1]

June 2017: Number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide hits 5 billion:

Source: GSMA Intelligence

Excerpts from the Gates project report under the heading “The Cellular Savior”:

“The mobile phone is changing the way the global south communicates. Even as the number of landlines grows slowly, the growth of mobile phones is sky-rocketing, changing the connectivity potential for the planet…. What these figures indicate is that mobile phones are a great opportunity for e-advocates who want to reach a mass audience, and the applications are endless. [p. 18]

 

“… After the successful implementation of SMS [short message service/text messages] campaigns at the national level, the Gates Foundation might decide to fund an international SMS campaign*. Unlike the local SCO partners of the pilot programs, an international campaign would partner with international advocacy organizations with strong technology programs like Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the new international e-advocacy organization Avaaz.” [p. 41] [*Highlighted text in original document]

 

“The Gates Foundation has the unique ability to lead this new front of social change. The foundation’s distinctive experience in providing access to technology and challenging inequality in the global south, combined with resources that rival many nations, make it an ideal trailblazer in the global promotion of e-advocacy. We the researchers, writers, advisors, and reviewers of this report urge the Gates Foundation to take on this historic role. [p. 5]

Here we can pause for a moment to reflect. Avaaz, et al were not working toward a goal of ensuring every person on Earth would have access to clean drinking water. Rather, they were united in a global undertaking to ensure everyone on Earth would have access to a mobile phone. There is a quote attributed to Vladimir Lenin, in which variations are known to most in the Western world: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Perhaps in the 21st century we should update it to “The Capitalists will sell us the mobiles with which we will hang ourselves.”

There is little doubt that if society had chosen not to purchase cell phones, our corporate overlords and oligarchs would have put them in cereal boxes for free. But of course, we lined up and paid for our own enslavement, just as Aldous Huxley so aptly prophesied in 1931.

“The goal of this funding strategy is to create a structure in which access to ICTs leads to a cyclical process of innovation and dissemination in e-advocacy which leads to social change. The final result of the implementation of ever improving e-advocacy methods is social change, achieved bit by bit through thousands of e-advocacy campaigns worldwide. E-advocacy is a powerful means for social change in the global south and the Gates Foundations has the unique ability to make that potential a reality.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

The Igarapé Institute

The Igarapé Institute was formed in 2011 as a “think and do tank” in Brazil. The stated purpose of the institute is “raising attention to the challenges of violence and insecurity across Brazil and Latin America.” It works with international organizations such as the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank toward changes in government policy. The institute is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with staff in São Paulo, Brasília, Bogota and Mexico City.

Canadian Robert Muggah is the co-founder of the Igarapé Institute, SecDev Group, and SecDev Foundation.

The Igarapé Institute “supports a range of alliances, including with the CivCap group, UN, World Bank, World Economic Forum, World We Want and many others in civil society.” [Source] Key partners include Crisis Action and a wealth of United Nation divisions. A “shortlist” of its key partners that operate under the auspices of “peace and security” inclusive of Crisis Action, and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect is extensive. Funders include Open Society Foundations, SecDev Foundation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Virgin Unite. Honorary Igarapé board members include Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil, and Cesar Gaviria, former president of Colombia, both having served as key early architects of neoliberal reform.

Notable is the fact that the International Peace Institute (IPI) is cited as both a key partner and funder. Here we will divert, if only to once again demonstrate the nefarious interlocking directorate amongst the elite institutions which serve as the halls of power for empire and the advancement of colonial global domination. IPI is the discreet and upper level arm of the United Nations specializing in “multilateral approaches to peace and security issues”, working closely with the UN Secretariat and membership which has specific regional programs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The IPI convenes “high-level panels” that focus on international affairs and armed conflicts in the international peace and security genre.

The IPI Vienna Seminar on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping is an annual event, held in Vienna, Austria since 1970. Notable documents from the 39th seminar (June 14-16, 2009) are the foreword, and preface for the paper “The UN Security Council and the Responsibility to Protect: Policy, Process, and Practice”.

March 1, 2011:

“The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Diplomatic Academy Vienna have put together the first comprehensive analysis of the role of the UN Security Council in the ongoing process of implementing the responsibility to protect (RtoP).”

Authors of the paper include Susan E. Rice, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group and co-chair of the International Advisory Board of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.[Full bio].

International lawyer Rita Hauser chaired IPI for 23 years, stepping down in 2016. Hauser’s background is extensive. On December 23, 2009, former US President Barack Obama appointed Hauser to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board while in 2001 Hauser was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Hauser is Chair of the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group. In 2007, Hauser was elected to the Board of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, which was chaired by Kofi Annan. She has served as a director of many organizations including the RAND Corporation and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), as well as a former member of the Board of Advisers of the Middle East Institute. Hauser and her husband established The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, and she is Co-Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School. She received the Award of the Women’s Leadership Summit at Harvard Law School in October 2008.[Full bio].

The modus operandi employed by “humanitarian NGOs” advocating for peace, security and “democracy”, falls somewhere between George Orwell’s euphemisms laid out in the 1949 publication 1984. Today we bear witness as “war is peace” dovetails with the term doublethink (“the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”) If we add in Jeremy Heiman’s New Power methods (see part 1), what we have is a world based more on fiction than reality. Aldous Huxley’s prophetic Brave New World written in 1931, almost pales in comparison to today’s blind servitude among the conditioned masses.

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” —George  Orwell, 1984, published 1949

The following excerpt is from the IPI website. Published August 10, 2018, following the western-led failed coup attempt against Nicaragua:

“At the vanguard of Nicaragua’s uprising are the thousands of young protesters who have and continue to risk their lives. To them belongs the laurel for having exposed the path to dictatorship that, under a democratic veil, has been advancing in Nicaragua. The young protesters behind Nicaragua’s uprising do not belong to a political party, nor do they subscribe to any of the main political ideologies.”[Source]

It is important to highlight the very end of that statement: “[N]or do they subscribe to any of the main political ideologies.” Finally, a semblance of truth. The targeted youth, the 21st century sacrificial lambs for empire, are being socially engineered by entities such as Purpose and CANVAS (discussed further in this section) to organize not only against their own best interests, but in the interests of the ruling elites and global corporatocracy to which they will be further subjugated.

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The co-founder and executive director of Igarapé Institute is Ilona Szabó de Carvalho.  Carvalho’s bio is extensive. Since 2007 she has consulted with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the UNDP, the EU, and several international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), conducting assessments across Latin America.

Co-founder Robert Muggah (Research Director and Program Coordinator for Citizen Security) has an extensive background consulting with the mainstream economic structures that impose financial dictates on the Global South, which are done in the best interests of profitability for multinational corporations and banks. “In 2010 he also co-founded the SecDev Foundation and Group – organizations devoted to cybersecurity and the digital economy, especially in the Middle East and Eurasia, and South Asia regions. He consults with governments, the UN, World Bank and firms ranging from Google to McKinsey” and “serves as a senior adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, UN agencies, and the World Bank.” [Source] [Bio] [Emphasis added]

“In 2017, Igarapé’s research, analysis and commentary were featured in 7,647 news stories published in 107 countries and territories, effectively doubling the number from 2016 (3,206). Igarapé researchers produced 130 op-eds, published or reproduced in 275 media outlets around the globe. More than 1,500 stories appeared in the Brazilian media and nearly 2,500 stories were published in international news outlets… It also expanded its domestic and international profile through participation in 135 events, which included conferences, panels and lectures in 18 countries.” [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

To further illustrate the intermingling of the NGO network with these powerful entitites that comprise the global capitalist infrastructure, the  Igarapé Institute has given multiple keynote lectures at high-profile venues such as the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and Dubai, TED and TED Global, and the UN General Assembly. The Igarapé’s research was featured in flagship publications of The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the World Bank. [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

The Igarapé Institute has an operating income of $BRL6,352,059.00 ($USD1,547,486.45). [Source] This “operating income” is a direct result of the influx of funding from Open Society Institute and USAID. Additional financial support comes from IPI and Jigsaw (Google). [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

The number of Igarapé partners is extensive and includes the Purpose project Movilizatorio, Open Society Foundations, the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, Inclusive Security, United States, and Amnesty International Brazil. [Full list]

The following observation is of critical importance. From the book Enabling Openness: The Future of the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean by  International Development Research Centre, Canada, it is observed:

“Through the research conducted by Instituto Igarapé we have analysed many examples that reflect a significant move towards this new form of policy making. Through the Open Empowerment Initiative (OEI) –a joint research project with the SecDev Foundation of Canada, aimed at understanding the effects of “cyber empowerment” on the reconfiguration of the social, political and economic spheres in Latin America– we have observed an ever bigger role played by the democratising potential of new technologies. These have allowed civil society actors to make their voices heard and to become involved in areas of public interest that were once the exclusive domain of the state, such as public security….

 

These types of websites include: change.org, gopetition.com, petition24.com and peticiones24.com, thepetitionsite.com, signon.org, elquintopoder.cl, avaaz.org, sumofus.org, causes.com, getup.org.au and twitition.com.” [Section 3, Smart data, digital inclusion and interactive democracy: Reflections on the use of ICTs to enhance citizen security in Latin America by Gustavo Macedo Diniz][Emphasis added]

Of interest and perhaps unknown to the author is that the bulk of these “social change” websites have been created by the same and select group of individuals that inhabit elite circles. Audience and spheres of influence are of paramount importance here since it is the foundation of whose interests is ultimately at stake. With this in mind, we can note that many of the websites  are exclusively  written in the English language (as opposed to Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, etc.) Yet this doesn’t appear to be a barrier to the desired changes sought by the think tanks. Ultimately, this begs the question of who the target audience truly is. However, this is changing as international NGOs now shift their focus to developing countries to spread their message among the indigenous youth residing in critical hot spots in the Global South, which mirrors the online “clitcktivism” rampant in the Western world and its indoctrinated youth.

To further explore this line of questioning, we can delve into the Operations Newsletter compiled by Mr. Jeff Harley US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Army Forces Strategic Command G39, Information Operations Division. [Vol. 12, no. 04, February 2012] The compilation includes an article describing the  December launch (2012) of the State Department’s “virtual embassy” for Tehran, essentially a standard U.S. embassy website without a physical embassy standing behind it – which could be duplicated for Syria and any other potential geopolitical targets in the future. Also highlighted is Muggah’s SecDev in Syria:

“It’s difficult to measure how much effect sites like the virtual embassy have, Anderson said, but ideally they can present a clearer vision of U.S. society, culture and policy than what’s portrayed in Iranian state media.

 

“It’s basically the hearts and minds things,” he said.

 

The Damascus embassy’s website could easily be transitioned into something like the Tehran website, Anderson said, but would be stymied by a lower level of tech savvy in Syria.

 

About 20 percent of Syrians are online compared with about 30 percent of Iranians, according to the OpenNet Initiative, a joint project by Harvard, the University of Toronto and the SecDev Group, a Canadian security and development company. Syrian Internet is significantly less developed and more regulated, though, according to ONI.

 

A more important diplomatic tool than maintaining the website, Anderson said, will be maintaining a U.S. presence in social media. Ambassador Ford’s Facebook chats, for instance, could be done just as easily from Washington as from Damascus and would reach a wider audience.” [Emphasis added]

On March 12 , 2018 a lecture titled The Rise of Citizen Security in the Americas by Robert Muggah was to be presented by the University of Calgary Latin America Research Centre (later cancelled). In the event description along with Muhggah’s extensive background, it reads:

“Latin American and Caribbean societies are among the most violent on earth. With some exceptions, the problem appears to be worsening. Why? There is not one, but several explanations that account for the steady increase in violent crime across the region. In addition to widespread impunity and jarring inequality, a major part of the problem is connected to repressive and punitive approaches to tackling criminality.” [Emphasis added]

This is a glaring representation of the obvious modern paternalistic aspects of the relationship between North America and South America. Latin American and Caribbean societies are not among the most violent on earth. Rather, they are among the most exploited. Exploited by the hands that feed the non-profit industrial complex and institutions that hide the cold hard fact that US imperialism and the capitalist economic system are both founded and dependent on violence.

Examples of Muggah’s extensive collection of hit pieces written to disparage the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela that continue fight back against foreign interference include:

  • It’s really hard to say which city is the world’s most murderous [in Venezuela], February 27, 2016, published by Agence France-Presse
  • Venezuela is on the brink of civil war. Here’s how its neighbors could stop it, August 2, 2017, published by PRI
  • Nicaragua was one of Latin America’s least violent countries. Now it’s in a tailspin, July 19, 2018, published by LA Times
  • The only way out of Nicaragua’s violent crisis rests in Ortega’s hands, July 19, 2018, published by the Globe & Mail
  • My Turn: Robert Muggah: Ortega cracks down on his people, July 24, 2018, published by Providence Journal

 

SecDev

Joining SecDev co-founder Robert Muggah is SecDev CEO Rafal Rohozinski. Rohozinski is a founder and principal investigator of SecDev and OpenNet. He serves on the advisory Board of the Canadian Association for Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), and, the Canadian International Council (Canada’s foreign relations council). He is a senior fellow for cyber security and future conflict at the British think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). IISS was rated as the tenth-best think tank worldwide and the second best Defense and National Security think tank globally in 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index. IISS works with governments, defence ministries and global organisations including NATO and the European Union.

“New Frontier in Defense”, February 2, 2017, “Rafal Rohozinski speaks with NCAFP member Edythe Holbrook after the program”.The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, Inc. (NCAFP) was founded in 1974 … It is a nonprofit policy organization dedicated to the resolution of conflicts that threaten U.S. interests. Toward that end, the NCAFP identifies, articulates, and helps advance American foreign policy interests from a nonpartisan perspective within the framework of political realism”. [Source] [Emphasis added]

In January 25, 2018, the French philosopher and author, Dr. Lucien Cerise  observed the blurred lines between digital “phishing” and behavioural change achieved via social engineering in the paper The Social Engineering of Identitarian Conflict:

“According to the famous computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, social engineering is the art of deception; it is essentially about playing on the credulity of others to modify their behavior, which is also what “phishing” is all about. The fact that the apex is perceived with trust or indifference allows it to be seen, but not as the architect of conflict. It is a matter of “hiding in plain sight”, a “royal art” and technique used by prestidigitators, illusionists, esoteric societies, and secret services.”

This is exactly what think tanks in collaboration with NGOs, global institutions and media are now being able to achieve with increasing precision. It is doubtful that such engineering, global in scale, could be achieved outside the digital age.

Like Dixon of Purpose, Muggah created a Syrian based anti-Assad #AmennySyria through The SalamaTech project, an initiative of The SecDev Foundation:

“The 8-week campaign was launched on July 1, 2014 by SalamaTech in conjunction with several partner organisations.

The campaign has already reached more than 480,000 people on Facebook alone.

 

Digital safety matters in Syria. Syrian netizens are being captured, tortured and killed because of their online activities. This threat comes not just from the Assad regime. Armed groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are also capturing and torturing people to access their online accounts. When a Syrian human rights defender (HRD) is captured, his or her entire network including friends and family, are exposed.”

The SalamaTech partners in its #AmennySyria “movement”, include Cyber Arabs ( a project of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting), Technicians for Freedom (now seemingly defunct), The Syrian Revolution Technical Guide (now seemingly defunct), The Office for Security Counseling of the Syrian Revolution (now largely inactive), and Orient News.[Source]

Another notable creation of SecDev is the digital awareness campaign, Salmatech Project which produced the Syrian project A Tale of Two Cities targeting the Canadian youth audience: “All Canadian participants in the Tale of Two Cities project will be required to undertake public speaking engagements within their schools or community groups, to share their new understandings… We are seeking Canadian partners – teachers, educators, donors – who would like to support the Tale of Two Cities effort.” [Source]

As the American left is besieged with the most intense Facebook censorship crackdown to date, consider the opposite set of rules for SalamaTech in the August 2014 “Special Report, A ‘Kingdom of Silence No More’: Facebook & the Syrian Revoltion”:

“Facebook has redefined community in Syria, both online and off. The communities that have emerged through social media provide a glimpse of what a post-Assad Syria might look like: diverse, divided and chaotic; but also empowered and connected – connected like never before, including across the sectarian and geographic barriers being increasingly erected by the war.”[Emphasis added]

Diverse, divided and chaotic; but also empowered and connected”… like Libya? From the most prosperous nation in Africa to an absolute failed state? It’s nothing less than tragic that the NATO-led invasion of Libya did not teach the West a thing about Western-backed regime change under the guise of “humanitarian intervention”.

“From the earliest days of the revolution, Facebook and YouTube served as indispensable platforms for Syrian non-violent activists to call for change and to organize. As Dlshad Othman states: “The internet has been central to the revolution in Syria. It brought us together. It taught us about our rights. It gave us freedom.” [p. 2][Emphasis added]

Here it is not only wise to ask the question as to who Dlshad Othman really is, in this modern day of NGO warfare, doing so is imperative. In 2012, Dlshad was chosen an Internet Freedom Fellow (one of six), a program funded by the U.S. State Department. Of interest is the fact that another chosen Internet Freedom Fellow, Andres Azpurua of Venezuela, was a RightsCon (Access Now) speaker in May of 2018 (“Information Controls in Latin America: Censorship in Different Layers and Nuances“)(information on RightsCon/Access Now follows.)

In a testament to the intermingling of modern day social media for neocolonial purposes of propaganda, the Twitter accounts utilized by SecDev foundation and SecDev Group follow affiliated organizations such as Citizen Lab, Global Voices, OpenNet Initiative, Freedom House, NED, US Embassy Syria, Rising Voices (Global Voices), Brookings, Rand, Global Citizen, Chatham House, Carnegie Endowment, Crisis Group, Igarapé Institute, the White Helmets, Omidyar Network, Skoll Foundatiom and Amnesty International Tech.

NGO Rebranding Exercises

As the Syrian Army (and her people) continues to defeat the seven-year long destabilization effort carried out by the most powerful military forces on Earth, The Syria Campaign (Purpose) saw fit to launch a new initiative (May 17, 2018) with a new branding strategy: Idlib Lives: The Untold Story of Heroes. Partnering with Peace Direct, the new PR campaign, peddled by the Guardian, included a new website, a new hashtag (#IdlibLives) and a new report bearing the same title.

Peace Direct US Board members includes Michael Ryder, former head of the UK’s Foreign Office’s Security Policy department, dealing with international defence and security, and Carolyn Makinson, former Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee. Staff are comprised of those affiliated with USAID, digital strategy and marketing firms, United Nations, etc. The UK division includes Eleanor Harrison, Chief Executive of GlobalGiving UK and patrons Scilla Elworthy. Elworthy assisted in the creation of The Elders Initiative (co-founded by Richard Branson) and acted as an advisor to Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson. In 2002 she co-founded Peace Direct alongside Carolyn Hayman OBE. Other alliances include Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Dame Emma Kirkby. [Source]

May 26, 2018, The Guardian: Amid Syria’s horror, a new force emerges: the women of Idlib:

“Assad’s position was boosted last week when he finally achieved control of all areas around Damascus. The almost daily aerial bombardment of Idlib by Syrian and Russian forces is expected to be stepped up.

 

The regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons in Idlib. Despite this attrition, a new report, Idlib Lives – The Untold Story of Heroes, by the independent advocacy group the Syria Campaign and the international anti-war organisation Peace Direct [6]  paints an extraordinary picture of creative resilience and innovation in the teeth of appalling adversity – and at a time when the UN says international assistance and aid has fallen to critically low levels.”

The executive summary of the Idlib Lives report features extensive writings by Raed Fares, the Syrian face for the new campaign:

Raed Fares is the Syrian face for the new Purpose campaign

On November 6, 2015, Fares made an appearance at The Atlantic Council (a Washington think tank), where he was introduced by Ambassador Frederic Hof – former special advisor for transition in Syria to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State. [Source] A week prior to the Atlantic Council appearance, Fares met with US Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Fares was a 2017 speaker for the Oslo Speaker Forum as was Srdja Popovic (CANVAS, Harvard, Otpor). He is the founder of “Radio Fresh”(the Kafranbel Media Center) which received funding from international groups including the Human Rights Foundation, and the U.S. State Department. [Source] Fares is also a speaker at the Arab Conference at Harvard (the largest pan-Arab conference in North America).

“In late 2011, Fares produced one that challenged Obama’s inaction and suggested the world would be better if George W. Bush were still president. ‘Obama’s procrastination kills us; we miss Bush’s audacity,'” — January 31, 2014, Raed Fares, Huffington Post

In the Dec 4, 2014 New York Time article Radio-free Syria, the reporter describes her interview with Fares in the back seat of an automobile with incredible candor, disclosing Fares dalliances with those directly aligned with the U.S. State Department:

“The two Americans in the front seat laughed. One, a 57-year-old named Jim Hake, is the founder and chief executive of Spirit of America, a nongovernmental organization with the explicit mission to support U.S. military and diplomatic efforts… The driver, Isaac Eagan, 33, is a U.S. Army veteran who works for Hake. Earlier that week, Fares had slipped over the Turkish-Syrian border to meet Hake and Eagan and collect 500 solar-powered and hand-crank radios that Spirit of America, working with the State Department, was giving to his radio station, Radio Fresh.”

Also undergoing a major re-branding exercise is the Purpose Syria Deeply which has been transformed into Peacebuilding Deeply.

Hacking Conflict

In 2015 a #HackingConflict #Diplohack Challenge was co-organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsThe SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Canadian International Council. It was promoted in the following way: “The event will emphasize the political like-mindedness of Canada and the Netherlands in international affairs, and the vast potential for creative, political cooperation to solve difficult global challenges… Specific resources relevant to the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine – such as social media data streams – will be available for teams that choose to use them…. Please note that the #HackingConflict #DiploHack challenge will be by invitation only.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

The particpating groups that comprised the “Hacking Conflict Teams” submitted proposals, that included Disrupt the Chain: End Barrel Bombs in Syria and Chorus : Joining voices to combat sexual violence in Syria.

Under the banner Flash Notes from Syria, SecDev Foundation produces publications such as  Facebook Prison: Testimonies from Syria , A “Kingdom of Silence” No more: Facebook & The Syrian Revolution and A Risky Business: The Internet, Circumvention and Iran’s Digital Generation.

Cyber Dialogue

 “The [2014] Cyber Dialogue conference, presented by the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, convened an influential mix of global leaders from government, civil society, academia and private enterprise to participate in a series of facilitated public plenary conversations and working groups around cyberspace security and governance.” [Source]

Significant attendees among the cabal of participants from the 2011 Cyber Dialogue conference were Brett Soloman, [2] former campaign director for Avaaz and Purpose Action Board of Directors and co-founder of Access Now, as well as Ron Deibert and  Rafal Rohozinski from SecDev:

“Ron Deibert (PhD, University of British Columbia) is Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development hothouse working at the intersection of the Internet, global security, and human rights. He is a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative and Information Warfare Monitor projects. Deibert was one of the founders and (former) VP of global policy and outreach for Psiphon Inc. and a founder of SecDev.cyber.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

 

“Rafal Rohozinski is one of Canada’s thought leaders in the field of cybersecurity. He is the founder and CEO of The SecDev Group and Psiphon Inc., and his work in information security spans two decades and 37 countries, including conflict zones in the CIS, the Middle East and Africa. In 2005-2006, Rafal served as an embedded Chief Technical Advisor to the Palestinian Authority. He is a senior scholar at the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and previously served as director of the Advanced Network Research Group, Cambridge Security Program, University of Cambridge. He is a senior research advisor to the Citizen Lab, and together with Ronald Deibert, a founder and principal investigator of the Information Warfare Monitor and the OpenNet Initiative.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

Other 2011 participants included Rex Hughes, a cyber defence advisor to NATO, James P. Farwell,  consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, and scores of representatives with military, state and “cyber defence” backgrounds. In addition, the far-reaching list of think tanks, NGOs and institutions included Open Society, USAID, Access Now, Freedom House, and National Defence Canada. [Full list of 2011 participants]

To illustrate the fact that this is an ongoing process of domination, we can look at a similar conference that took place in 2015. The RightsConocation conference took place in Asia (Manila) which is detailed in the following excerpt: “Hosted by Access Now, RightsCon is where the world’s business leaders, technologists, engineers, investors, activists, human rights experts, and government representatives come together to build partnerships, shape global norms, showcase new technologies, and confront the most challenging issues at the intersection of human rights and technology. More than an event, RightsCon is a global community with thousands of leading voices across stakeholder lines.” [Source]

Avaaz and the SecDev Foundation were key participants in a massive cast of those that today shape the world – and infiltrate our “hearts and minds”.

According to Avaaz’s Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access who hosted the event:

“The conference is taking place at a time when governments, companies, technologists, and human rights activists are dealing with a range of pressing issues in the Southeast Asia region.  From Singapore to Malaysia, Myanmar to Hong Kong, Southeast Asia’s 600 million people are coming online rapidly, and its businesses and consumers are making innovative use of technologies to develop their economies and to expand activities online. This explosive growth has huge ramifications for human rights.”[Source]

The 2018 RightsCon event took place in Toronto, Canada with a speaker list so extensive, it is six pages long.

“Born out of the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian election, Access uses cutting edge technologies to help people living behind the firewall, provides thought leadership on the new frontier of digital rights and mobilizes a global citizens’ movement of 300,000 people in over 100 countries.” — Cyber Dialogue 2012 participant webpage

Open Empowerment Initiative: Latin America

The Open Empowerment Initiative (OEI) is a partnership between Muggah’s SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Igarapé Institute (Brazil), which not coincidentally was also co-founded by Muggah. Its said mission is to “investigate how cyberspace is shaping citizen action and state-society relations in LatinAmerica. The third partner in this modern day NGO “axis of evil” is the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian Crown corporation established by an act of Parliament in 1970 to help developing countries find solutions to their problems. Most of IDRC’s funding comes from annual appropriations from Canada’s Parliament. IDRC also receives funds from other sources, such as foundations and other Canadian and international organizations. [Source]

From the SecDev website, Open Empowerment Initiative: Latin America:

“The past twenty years have seen the greatest expansion of information in the history of humanity. We now create more information in two days than we did from the dawn of civilization. Two-thirds of humanity are now connected to the internet. There are more cell phones than people on the planet. Computing power doubles every 18 months. The cost of communication continues to fall.

 

We live in revolutionary times…

 

Institutions are under stress as digital natives — those born into a 24×7 online world — flex their political muscles. Empowerment in the wired world is not constrained by borders or convention.  Street protests in Brazil and the regional narco-economy share commonalities. They are made possible by friction free communication that enables coordination without hierarchy and lowers the barriers of entry into the global marketplace.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

As we have barely scratched the surface upon the matrix of allied NGOs, cyber firms, military institutions, think tanks, institutions, states and media, working  in tandem to remake the world in the image of the West, the following excerpt from the paper The Moment of Truth – A Portrait of the Fight For Hard Net Neutrality Regulation by Save the Internet and Other Internet Activists by Strand Consult, July 2016, sheds much needed light on the barren, manufactured “movements” of the 21st century:

“Activist causes could not be achieved without a significant investment in digital tools and technologies. This includes a database of users and associated marketing and communications technologies to engage the user bases. Activists organizations and political parties have been honing these tools over the last decade with regard to net neutrality. A 2006 article describes net neutrality as “the brainchild of the likes of Google and Amazon.com, which want to offer consumers things like high-speed movie downloads, but don’t want to pay the network operators a fee to ensure what in the industry is called “quality of service”– i.e. , ensuring the consumer gets what he pays for quickly and reliably.”  The article describes the founding of a “Data Warehouse” by Hillary Clinton political adviser Harold Ickes, a fundraising list service and data mining operation. The $11.5 million investment was supported primarily by Soros, Google and Amazon. Former Democratic National Committee Director of Engineering Nick Gaw explains in a video how the data warehousing function runs on Amazon Web Services to enable Democratic party members to be elected at local and national level and to mine the information of its voters. Gaw is now the Senior Technology Advisor for Avaaz.org, an online platform to conduct online activist campaigns including European campaigns against Brexit, Donald Trump, and Monsanto’s Glyphosate. The website notes some 44 million members. Avaaz was founded by Brett Solomon [3], now Executive Director of Access, a net neutrality advocacy…

 

With well-funded, globally coordinated, digitally sophisticated campaigns, SavetheInternet and related Internet activists have succeeded to deliver hard net neutrality regulations in some 50 countries. Internet activism is an industry; “digital prostitutes” who will lend their support to corporate-inspired causes are available for hire; and net neutrality activism has received hundreds of millions of dollars of support from corporate and foundation funders intent on protecting their financial portfolios and business models. US-based net neutrality activists franchise and broker their activism models and concepts to a variety of activist entrepreneurs around the world.” [Emphasis added]

[Also see the June 20, 2016 Disruptive Views review titled Moment of Truth – the fight for hard net neutrality regulation]

OpenNet Initiative was created as a collaborative partnership of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and the SecDev Group in Ottawa. [Source]

Responsibility to Protect

From 2008 to 2015, More In Common (a Purpose project) co-founder Gemma Mortensen served as executive director of Crisis Action. The Deputy Executive Director for Crisis Action, Nicola Reindorp has contributed extensively to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine: “There, she led Oxfam’s global campaigning on conflict and humanitarian crises, working alongside allies in government and civil society to achieve the historic agreement by world leaders that they have a responsibility to protect populations from genocide and crimes against humanity, at the 2005 UN World Summit. From Oxfam, Nicola moved to set up the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.” Prior to this, Reindorp was an advisor for Avaaz. [Source]

Nicola Reindorp of Avaaz, Jonathan Hutson of Enough, 2011: “The bishop presented an Avaaz petition to the Security Council with nearly half a million signatures, calling for Security Council members to take urgent action to halt ongoing human rights violations in South Kordofan and other parts of Sudan.”  [Source]

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[Crisis Action Who We Work With – Our Network, Crisis Action Who We Work With – Core Partners, Crisis Action Who We Work With – Campaign PartnersCrisis Action Who We Work With – Funders

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Prior to founding Avaaz, all co-founders of this organization share a vital common They all share a background working in one capacity or another for the United Nations. Over the decades they have only strengthened and utilized this relationship to serve the elite classes and empire as a whole.  A prime example of this relationship is Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello, who worked as a legal adviser to the UN and related bodies in Sierra Leone, Darfur and Afghanistan and later became a US congressman helped into power by former US president Barack Obama. Another person of prominence is Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse, who formerly worked for both United Nations and the World Bank (where she continues today).

The following excerpt is from the journal article, Power of the iMob authored by Andrew Marshall, a media consultant and former journalist  who worked for Avaaz as a paid consultant in 2009.[Source: The World Today, Vol. 68, No. 3, April & May 2012 published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs]:

“Avaaz, ultimately the largest and most global of the dot-orgs, also came out of MoveOn and its alumni. Individual co-founders included Ricken Patel (Avaaz’s Canadian executive director); Tom Pravda, a former British diplomat; Tom Perriello, who had worked as a legal adviser to the UN and related bodies in Sierra Leone, Darfur and Afghanistan and later became a US congressman; Pariser, formerly of MoveOn; Andrea Woodhouse, formerly of the United Nations and the World Bank; and Australians Madden and Heimans. 38Degrees, the next in the family, was launched in May 2009 as a British parallel to GetUp! Founders included Ben Brandzel, formerly of MoveOn; Gemma Mortensen of Crisis Action; Paul Hilder, also of Avaaz; and Benedict Southworth of the World Development Movement. Most of these people had worked with government or international organisations abroad. Madden had served as an army officer, and worked for the World Bank in East Timor and the UN in Indonesia. Heimans had worked for McKinsey. Others had been with NGOs. Patel, for example, had been with International Crisis Group in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Several had been at elite academic institutions…

 

The dot-orgs are also growing up and moving beyond an online-only presence: indeed they would say that online was never the point. In Syria, Avaaz provided cameras and satellite communication gear to help the opposition to get its story out. This isn’t coincidence. Patel’s movement may for many people symbolise technology and geekdom, but Patel is much more interested in what technology can actually achieve. The organisation has for some years experimented with the use of new technologies to help activists communicate, broadcast, witness and report atrocities and bring in intervention” [Source]

This is most revelatory since this sentiment is not expressed by an outsider, but someone who has been immersed in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

The background into both Avaaz and Purpose has been documented extensively. Further reading of the 2012 investigative series is required reading for legitimate activists and movements in the global south.

Higher Learning : The Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Otpor)

Harvard’s Pied Piper: On Friday, April 13, Srdja Popovic officially became the 53rd Rector of the Scotland’s first university. (via St Andrews).

Part 4 of the 2017 investigative series on Avaaz analyses the role of Harvard University in global destabilization campaigns via the churching out of “activists”, “thought-leaders”, think tanks and doctrines at large. Of particular interest is Srdja Popovic, cofounder of Otpor, now rebranded as Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) and his position at Harvard Kennedy School as Lead Instructor for the Harvard “executive education” program, Leading Nonviolent Movements for Social Progress.  Popovic leads the course with Otpor co-founder Slobodan Djinovic.

Djinovic established one of the first internet companies in Serbia (MediaWorks) which since merged with two other providers to form Orion Telekom where Djinovic serves as the CEO. [Source] Djinovic  is a counselor of the World Bank and a co-founder of the ICT Hub (information and communications technology, closed in 2008). According to the Financial Times: “Djinovic is a good-looking former basketball player with an MA in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the US, and has a self-possessed, confident air. He founded Serbia’s first wireless internet provider and could be a Silicon Valley mogul if he wanted to, but instead he gives half of what he earns to keep Canvas afloat. (The other half comes from various NGOs and the UN.)”

OTPOR! Is the organization credited with the overthrow of  Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 and has since played a leading and pivotal role in Western backed “coloured revolutions“.

“CANVAS  has welcomed interns from Harvard University since 2013.”— CANVAS website

Harvard is not alone. Popovic and his regime change squadron now engage with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including  the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, Rutgers (NJ), Colorado College, University of Essex, Northeastern University, Grinnell College, Georgetown University, United States Air Force Academy, Belgrade University, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Syracuse University, University of Alabama, University of Virginia, University College London, Arcadia University, George Mason University, Bayerischer Rundfunk, University of Notre Dame, Yale University, St. Michael’s College, Loyola University, Watson University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Heidelberg, and University of Colorado Boulder. CANVAS courses and intern programs with many of the aforementioned universities are  ongoing.

“Akin to the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, today’s so-called environmental leaders and human rights activists are not (yet) genetically engineered, rather they are socially engineered experiments decanted from Harvard, Yale, Rockwood Leadership Institute and other institutions of indoctrination that serve and expand the global hegemony. One could theorize that today’s 21st century activism is a new process of mimesis – the millennial having assimilated into spectacle – far removed from both nature and reality.” — The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

Amongst CANVAS’s partners are the Albert Einstein Institution, the Article 20 Network, New Tactics, Humanity in Action, Partners Global, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), and Project Shield. Otpor/CANVAS funders/affiliates include National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Freedom House, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

On February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files which consisted of over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. Disclosed emails revealed that Popovic had an extremely close relationship with Stratfor. [Dec 3, 2013: Globally Renowned Activist Collaborated with Stratfor]

Twitter accounts followed by CANVAS (only 267 as of this writing, accessed August 25, 2018)  include the Avaaz NGO and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel (8th and 9th follows), Avaaz’s Emma Ruby-Sachs and Luis Morago, Purpose, Purpose Europe co-founder Tim Dixon, 350.org, and numerous Occupy accounts.

Srdja Popovic of CANVAS

Six-figure salaries and the ties that bind: Riga, Latvia, 2014: “Before Biko, Peter [Gabriel] brought onstage some special people working for human rights: Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm of Withness, Leif Coorllim of CNN Freedom Project, Jennifer Morgan of World Resources Institute, Emma Ruby Sachs [Deputy Director] of avaaz.org, Ellie Feinglass of  Namati Mozambique, and Srdja Popovic of CANVAS Serbia.” Peter Gabriel Back to the Front Tour [Source: TONY LEVIN’S WEBSITE AND ROAD DIARY]

Following in the footsteps of Avaaz co-founders Jeremy Heimans and Ricken Patel, in 2014 Popovic was listed as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2011, Foreign Policy Magazine listed Popovic as one of the “top 100 Global Thinkers”(joining Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel in 2012) for “inspiring the Arab Spring protesters”.

CANVAS: “Where We’ve Been”

On the CANVAS website, the “educational institution” documents governments being crushed by foreign/Western interference and ongoing destabilization efforts against targeted states such as the recent failed coup attempt against Nicaragua:

“#SOSNicaragua – Is the Ortega Murillo Dynasty Crumbling ? -The protests may have started in response to a social security system reform. What follows, however, will be determined by the population, fueled by repression, discontent, and poverty. A people that hasn’t been this fearless for 30 years. And as fake metal trees are falling to the ground, a population armed with social media is on the rise.” [Source]

VIDEO: New Power: How the West is Orchestrating Social Media to Capture Latin America. In this excerpt from an exclusive interview with Max Blumenthal (the Gray Zone), President Daniel Ortega describes the impact of the social media campaigns unleashed against the Sandinista Government in an attempted coup. [July 30, 2018]

 

“… but these retirees were barely out on the street when suddenly a hashtag came out called OCUPA INSS* which is the social security Institute building and that went viral internationally and suddenly we found ourselves confronted by this sort of embryo of a force through the social networks that was really quite powerful actually. And when the situation… because then the people came, you know people, young people who had been hearing this on the, through social media came down to the Social Security Institute building and they went into the building and many of these were really the supporters of the very same parties and governments that had been in power in the 17 years when the retirees were not getting any money if they hadn’t filled their entire quotas, and that was also the first time that the leaders of the Catholic Church, it got involved in a conflict of this nature…” —  President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua 

[The @OccupaInss twitter account contains what could be said, the key architects of the destabilization movement (396 following, 15k followers, with 52, 274 “likes”on Facebook. Accessed August 24, 2018). The account follows three international NGOs. Two being Avaaz and Amnesty International (as well as Amnesty International Press – @Amnestypress ). Also followed is the US Treasury Department, the Organization of American States (OAS) (a colonial thorn in the side of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua), the U.S. Department of State Spanish twitter account. The third international NGO followed is Bianca Jagger, President and Chief Executive of the Bianca Jagger of the Human Rights Foundation under the twitter account Bianca Jagger Nicaraguense por gracia de Dios with 69.5k followers.]

[For an accurate assessment on Nicaragua, one can read the TeleSUR article Nicaragua’s Sandinista Achievements Baffle World Bank, IMF, August 31, 2017]

CANVAS publishes weekly reports (the first published June 12, 2017) highlighting political hot zones and states targeted for regime change including Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Maldives, and Cambodia.

Srdja Popovic twitter account

Commencing in 2018, states featured in the CANVAS spotlight include Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua (which has received highlighted weekly coverage since April 20, 2018). As this article is focused on the influx of NGOs in Latin America to meet Imperial objectives, it is critical to note that Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela represent the primary targets for destabilization in Latin America at this time. [See the CANVAS analysis on  Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.]

“On the level of a bottom-up approach, opposition leaders like María Corina Machado have advocated for popular protest and resistance as the best way to topple the Maduro government. This would require more than just street protests and would need to be an all-encompassing effort from all sectors of society.” — p. 35, CANVAS, Analysis on situation in Venezuela, August 2016

CANVAS states that regarding the Venezuela “uprising”, “the student movement was the primary group involved in the 2014 anti-government protests”. CANVAS acknowledges the protests contained “virtually no representation of the majority class in Venezuela”:

“However, although the opposition has used grassroots campaigning to gain the support of the poor in the past, they seem to be losing their sense of what the poor majority wants. This was evidenced most visibly in the 2014 protests, where the largely student-based middle class population marched, with virtually no representation of the majority class in Venezuela, the poor. This was because the opposition has chosen to advocate for changes unfamiliar and of less concern to the poor than more pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime. However, the structure of the opposition and methodology is well developed, and would be instrumental in disrupting the regime, especially if they were to realign their goals with the poor in mind.” — p. 34, CANVAS, Analysis on situation in Venezuela, August 2016 [Emphasis added]

CANVAS is incorrect in its conclusions that the absence of the majority “was because the opposition has chosen to advocate for changes unfamiliar and of less concern to the poor than more pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime.” The truth is that the Venezuelan majority, under attack for decades by the West, has developed a deep understanding of colonialism, imperialism and Western interventionism. A knowledge lost on most all Western society. The “pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime” are recognized across Venezuelan society as the direct and deliberate destabilization efforts orchestrated by foreign interests.

Simultaneously, the Venezuelan youth targeted by CANVAS are those belonging to the middle/upper classes, who, indoctrinated by the false illusion of the American Dream, have a deep desire to be assimilated into the Western culture. The truth is that the majority of Venezuelans support the Maduro government, demonstrating remarkable, strength, courage and endurance to the relentless destabilization efforts orchestrated by the west, that continue to this day.

Video: Licking the Imperial Boot: The Ongoing Destabilization of Venezuela with Srdja Popovic:

 

Regarding Bolivia, CANVAS appears even more desperate.  The CANVAS analysis on Bolivia utilizes reports from Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, US Department of State and Amnesty international (all instruments of empire), to present its misleading arguments. As an example, the report states “…racism is rife in the country according to Freedom House, especially against indigenous groups” and yet in reality, almost the entire population in Bolivia is indigenous, including President Evo Morales himself.

Incredibly CANVAS tries to diminish this fact and frame it as a psyop against the Bolivian people, by lauding Andrés de Santa Cruz as the first true Indigenous president of Bolivia:

“The protest movement then also paved the way for Evo Morales’ Presidency. After losing his first Presidential race against De Lozado in 2001, Morales was elected President of Bolivia in late 2005, “on a wave of a popular and indigenous rebellion against neoliberal privatizations and for popular (Bolivian and indigenous) sovereignty”. He thus became what the country believed to be its first head of state of indigenous origin. This idea is, however, part of the very well managed propaganda created by the government around Morales’ image. He was not the first indigenous president of Bolivia; that title belongs to former president Andrés de Santa Cruz Calahumana. The political propaganda created to legitimize Morales’ image has taken advantage of Bolivia’s poor education system to repeat this lie enough times that it has become an accepted fact by the general public, and the few historians that have dared to challenge this idea have been silenced by state media.” — CANVAS, Bolivia, Country Anylsis, p 3

Santa Cruz, the president of Bolivia from 1829 – 1839, was born into a family of the colonial nobility. His Spaniard father, José Santa Cruz y Villavicencio, married Juana Basilia Calahumana, a heiress of a rich mestiza family said to be a descendant of the Incas. At the time of birth, Andres de Santa Cruz was classified in his baptismal certificate as Spanish, a term used in the colonies to refer to the white race. This is not to say that Santa Cruz did not play an integral part for Bolivia’s independence. It is only to say that the fact CANVAS highlights this historical background, which is a historical inaccuracy at best and a lie at worst, is a simple imperialist tactic to marginalize Morales’ achievements (not to mention the deliberate negating of ethnicity and class divisions).

Morales “image” as CANVAS calls it, is simply a reflection of the man with most humble origins. Born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers, Morales was raised in the small rural village of Isallawi in Orinoca Canton. One of seven children, only he and two siblings, survived past childhood. [Source: The Extraordinary Rise of the First Indigenous President of Bolivia]

On January 10, 2018, CANVAS published the article Crumbling Democracy and Protest Movements in Evo Morales’ Bolivia:

“In the last week of 2017, CANVAS wrote about the rising tension in Honduras, after the November 2017 elections turned into a true stand-off. A little further south, in Bolivia, citizens also face an increasingly authoritarian government. As President Evo Morales tries to sideline the country’s constitution to assure himself of another term in office, Bolivian citizens are rising up to restore democracy in their Andean country, using nonviolence as one of their main weapons…

 

Finally, the nature of the protest-movement opposing the Morales-administration has also fundamentally changed. In the past, movements have backed particular individuals and their battle to facilitate Morales’ fall from the throne. But the Bolivian population has turned its eyes to younger generations looking for new leaders, with new developments mainly concentrated in the city of Santa Cruz. Currently, citizen platforms are organizing themselves in a singular, horizontal group of socially coordinated movements, which seek to “empower not any one individual but the message of struggle for democracy itself,” according to Vaca Daza.

 

In line with this new strategic direction, over 15 platforms and independent activists united themselves with a manifesto on December 29th. A broad coalition of student unions, female civic resistance groups, health workers, environmental groups and democracy activists pledged to build on the active and interventionist tactics of nonviolent resistance to “resist the tyranny” and called on fellow citizens to join them in making their voice heard. CANVAS will be following the developments in Bolivia closely!”[Emphasis added]

Note that CANVAS inadvertently points to the new hub of “activism” as being “mainly concentrated in the city of Santa Cruz.” CANVAS omits the fact that 1) Santa Cruz, has long been known as home to the powerful economic elite, right-wing political organizations, and 2) the racism Otpor utilizes for its own unjust cause, stems from the “light-skinned” Santa Cruz populace: “Racism is not admissible in the world in the 21st century, but it must be known that it is being promoted in Bolivia by sectors of the population which are economically powerful. These groups, today settled in the region of Santa Cruz, many of them offspring of immigrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East have appropriated the indigenous identity of Santa Cruz, known as “camba” and this is being used to show racial supremacy over the “colla” and “chapaco” (indigenous people of the West and South of Bolivia)… This discourse, which is being used to paint both the President and the process of political change as a force for ill, has created an atmosphere which is intended to breed conditions for social and racial violence towards Bolivia’s indigenous and working classes.” [Source]

This type of tactic is what we have previously witnessed in various regions when it comes to Western NGOs and media forces. They exploit existing societal fractures in order to provoke violent conflict for various political and economic gains. Where fractures don’t exist, they are created. If ever there is evidence of what it looks like – to seize and utilize existing hate, racism and divisions within the confines of a state – for geopolitical gain, a key methodology that CANVAS is exploiting to its fullest, one needs to look no further than the 2014 coup in Ukraine: “Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok (Executive producer Oliver Stone) provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which led to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.”

 

In 2014 CANVAS was listed as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates: “Reasons for the inclusion of Serbian non-profit CANVAS is widely understood around the region. Last December, the Kuwaiti National Security Agency released a social media video explaining the role of CANVAS in promoting dissent in the state. Furthermore, security agencies in the region are closely monitoring members and affiliates of the group, however no official stance has been taken until now.” [Source]

Yet, as old as Otpor may be, rebranded and repackaged under the sophisticated pretext of academia, CANVAS  is just getting started. CANVAS has launched BUILD A MOVEMENT (BAM):

“(BAM) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to researching and spreading knowledge on the methods of nonviolent, grassroots activism to promote democracy, human rights and social change.

 

On the ground with activists, on university campuses, with policy-makers or in the media, Build A Movement aims to strengthen the capacity of people-power movements and civil society around the world, not only to challenge authoritarianism and injustice, but to ensure durable transitions to democracy…

Over the past decade, BAM staff and trainers have worked in dozens of countries, including Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, Cambodia, Burma, Zimbabwe, and Egypt, and trained thousands of activists fighting for democracy, transparency, accountability, human rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, environmental protection, racial justice and social justice. BAM instructors have also taught courses at U.S. universities such as the Harvard Kennedy School and New York University.

 

Beyond training, BAM supports front line activists by developing educational material on movement building and technological tools to evade surveillance, censorship and harassment.” [Source]

+++

When a Western society collectively celebrates an African leader beloved by his people (including Nelson Mandela)being sodomized and murdered, only to then mourn the death of a war criminal, the society is not only grounded in ignorance, it is collectively, ethically and morally bankrupt. All the so-called “higher education” in the world will not make this fact any less so. Our so called “environmental NGOs” purport to “fight for the climate” and “save the bees” all while playing key roles in the annihilation of whole countries, complete with all the biology and life they formerly encompassed. Simultaneously “human rights NGOs”, sitting at the table with the world’s most imperial institutions, create the acquiescence needed to bomb countries to smithereens, inclusive of the women and children that live in them, while Yemenis, Palestinians, Congolese and Haitians are ignored with not a trace of outcry to be found. The fact that Purpose and The Rules co-founder Tim Dixon, enjoys reading Ronald Reagan biographies in his spare time, yet is upheld as a radical leader of social movements, reveals more about the left and it’s “movements” than can ever be articulated in this report. Welcome to the 21st century non-profit industrial spectacle.

+++

And finally, we come full circle, back to the technology that will further serve Western interventionism: enter the Whistler cell phone app.

The CANVAS WHISTLER Mobile Application

“BAM is now expanding in the digital realm, providing digital security training and developing Whistler, a mobile application designed to enhance the digital and physical safety of activists.” — Tech Nonprofit Directory

In partnership with PartnersGlobal (“Together For Democratic Change”), Jigsaw (Syria Defection Tracker), Wickr Foundation, Build a Movement (CANVAS) and National Democratic Institute, CANVAS has launched the “Whistler” app for “activism”.

Jigsaw is the relatively new name of Google Ideas (rebranded in 2016) which came under scrutiny for its links with the US State Department and its regime change activities. It is a tech incubator created by Google, and currently operated as a subsidiary of Alphabet which was created in 2015 to serve as the parent company of Google.

Jared Cohen is the founder and CEO of Jigsaw (as well as the former founder and director of Google Ideas). Cohen is firmly established in the crème de la crème of the upper echelon having served on the Policy Planning Committee at the US State Department for both the Obama and Bush administrations (“state department innovator”), as well as an advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is also recognized as an Adjunct Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source] Cohen is also the co-founder of Movements.org. (the Alliance for Youth Movements rebranded in 2011) – an NGO “created to help online organization of groups and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations”. Movements.org is funded through  public-private partnerships with the US State Department as the organization’s public sponsor.” [Source]

“This is the beauty of the new media. There is no way to control it.”— Srdja Popovic

Popovic states there is no way to control the “new media” (another take on New Power). What this really means, is that the non-submissive governments targeted for destabilization have no way of controlling what Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega described this past month in the failed coup attempt as an “embryo of a force”. CANVAS et al instigate the momentum, then capture it, effectively orchestrating the uprisings out of both mind and sight. The momentum of the people, manipulated by the elite forces, become the agents of their own cataclysmic decent into the neoliberal noose of imperial servitude.

In 2013 Google Ideas hosted the “Conflict in a Connected World Roundtable Series”, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center of Preventative Action. One can see from the summary report that the main focus of the series is the role of social media in destabilization campaigns:

“Regardless of any changes to future sanctions regimes, the importance of social media in the conflict is already enormous. In particular, the Syrian civil war has been understood by foreigners almost exclusively through the lens of social media. With limited ability for journalists to enter the country, the world has watched the evolution of the conflict on sites like Facebook and YouTube, where literally hundreds of thousands of amateur videos have been uploaded since the war began.” [Source]

People’s Intelligence

Whistler is not alone in its quest to dominate technologies’ relatively new foray into “activism”.

“USAID, Humanity United and OpenIDEO have partnered to pursue ways to prevent mass atrocities – that is, deliberate mass violence against civilians.” — The challenge, OpenIDEO website

OpenIDEO informs that “[t]oday, 1.5 billion people are living in countries affected by violent conflict. And since 1945, 67% of mass atrocities have occurred within the context of armed conflict, which makes these areas difficult to access.” What it omits is the fact that almost all large scale violence to humans on this Earth is caused by imperialism, colonialism and the capitalist industrial economy. Foreign interference ensures all three are kept alive and thriving.

Answering this challenge, apparently inspired by Avaaz, is People’s Intelligence.

“People’s Intelligence is an “Alert” winner of Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention sponsored by Humanity United and USAID.”

In September 2013, with the authorization of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the non-profit foundation Stichting People’s Intelligence was established to develop and implement the People’s Intelligence mobile application. The application “automates the collection of relevant human rights and humanitarian information from hard to access areas using crowdsourcing and “dumb” mobile phones.”

The application is in its demo stage and can be found here.

“We welcome your hard earned currencies as well as your time and skills. In the first phases of the project you can help us design and develop PI version 1.0 to be deployed in countries where human rights need defending and humanitarian crises unfold.” — PI website

The founder of People’s Intelligence is Christophe Billen who began his career as an intern for the UN in Haiti during the crisis which removed Aristide from power in 2004. Billen has a lengthy background in security having worked as a Political Affairs officer for the United Nations in many field offices in areas of conflict (i.e foreign interference) for the United Nations MONUC (Ituri, Mahagi, Kwandroma and then Aru). He was  also “appointed to head the Lord’s Resistance Army coordination cell which monitored LRA’s activities and coordinated the responses of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Sudan and the D.R. Congo.” Billet worked as a consultant for Open Society Foundations where his work informed the design for the “People’s Intelligence” concept. [Source: LinkedIn] He now works as analyst for the International Criminal Court where he oversaw a unit “which monitored and analysed occurrences of crimes across several countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Georgia, LRA affected areas, D.R. Congo and Libya.”

 “The main beneficiaries will be the victims and witnesses who will have their voices heard and receive actionable information in return for quality information as well as partnering organizations who will become better informed and equipped to decide where to allocate resources and coordinate their efforts.”PI website [Emphasis added]

People’s Intelligence has partnered with Amnesty International, the Liberia Peacekeeping Office, Universiteit Leiden, Participatory Systems and Free Press Unlimited. It is funded by HIF, elrha and USAID. [Source] The advisory board includes United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Justice Initiative, Amnesty International and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. [Full list]

Amnesty International has signed a letter of intent that “once PI reaches operational maturity and conforms to Amnesty’s needs and requirements to make use of it in pursuit of their mandate.” [Source]

+++

As the Earth’s final remaining resources continue to be depleted at an accelerated rate, as Imperial powers fight to exercise global domination, those living in geopolitical hot zones, can expect the West and it’s bourgeoisie army of  “young leaders” to orchestrate the installation of “democracy” forcefully and strategically driven in to the very fabric of their sovereign nations. In-between Ted Talks, high level meetings at the UN, university lectures, and Starbuck lattes, the Harvard hit squad will carry out their marching orders dressed in Armani suits.

The options for outmaneuvering the tried and true methods of subjugation are limited. You can 1) run for your life  2) target those who bank on your naïveté and have sold you down the river with no systemic change 3) do nothing and be crushed by imperial forces and 4) organize like your life depended on it. Number one is not a good option since there is nowhere to run. Number two is affirmative action without freedom and self-determination. Number three means certain oppression. Number four is the only salvation.

It is not for those of us in the West to decide what options or measures are taken, this must only be afforded to those who will bear the consequences of each and every action – that is the citizens that comprise the homeland of the targeted state. What we are speaking of is self-determination. A simple moral code that colonial agents of empire are unable to grasp, and unwilling to accept.

+++

As we reach the conclusion of this report, it is vital to make clear that this analysis is not in any way suggesting “that nonviolent resistance should not have a central role in any revolutionary struggles for social change, only that the twisted imperial-friendly narrative of nonviolence promoted by such individuals should be treated with extreme caution by all activists who wish to avoid being oppressed by US backed dictatorships or their latest equally toxic  manifestation, US managed ‘democracies.” [CANVAS[ing] For The Nonviolent Propaganda Offensive: Propaganda In The Service Of Imperial Projects, March 26, 2011]

+++

Che Guevara, First Latin American Youth Congress, July 28, 1960:

“There are government leaders here in Latin America who still advise us to lick the hand that wants to hit us, and spit on the one that wants to help us. [Applause] We answer these government leaders who, in the middle of the twentieth century, recommend bowing our heads. We say, first of all, that Cuba does not bow down before anyone…

“We, who belong to the Cuban Revolution-who are the entire people of Cuba-call our friends friends, and our enemies enemies. We don’t allow halfway terms: someone’s either a friend or an enemy. [Applause] We, the people of Cuba, don’t tell any nation on earth what they should do with the International Monetary Fund,for example. But we will not tolerate them coming to tell us what to do. We know what has to be done. If they want to do what we’d do good; if not, that’s up to them. But we will not tolerate anyone telling us what to do. Because we were here on our own up to the last moment, awaiting the direct aggression of the mightiest power in the capitalist world, and we did not ask help from anyone. We were prepared, together with our people, to resist up to the final consequences of our rebel spirit.”

 

Endnotes:

[1] Other reviewers included Helen King ( Shuttleworth Foundation), Paul Maassen (Hivos), Sascha Meinrath (IndyMedia, founder of Open Technology Institute), and Russell Southwood (CEO of Balancing Act Africa).

[2] Brett Solomon is the cofounder and Executive Director of Access—a non-profit human rights organization focused on digital freedom (formerly Access Now). Access’ mission is to ensure open global internet access and an uncensored and secure digital sphere by working to create a world where citizens can be active participants in their future by freely seeking, receiving and imparting information digitally. Prior to Access, he was the Campaign Director at Avaaz.org, and before that, the first Executive Director of GetUp!. He holds a Bachelors of Law at the University of Sydney and a Masters in International Law at the University of NSW. He founded the International Youth Parliament and has worked for both Oxfam Australia and Amnesty International Australia.” [Source]

[3] According to our research Brett Solomon was the campaign director for Avaaz from 2008 -2009.

 

[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 GreenThe 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.]

Moment of Truth – the Fight for Hard Net Neutrality Regulation

Disruptive Views

July 20, 2016

by Tony Poulos

 

Over the last few years, John Strand and his firm, Strand Consult, have followed the net neutrality debate and published a number of research notes and 7 detailed reports on the topic. Hard net neutrality rules are in place in some 50 countries even though soft rules are proven to work better to support investment and innovation.

For the last 20 years Strand Consult has published serious, independent research about the telecommunications industry. They are not afraid to say unpopular and embarrassing things about its actors in the industry.

With this free report “The moment of truth – a portrait of the fight for hard net neutrality regulation by Save The Internet and other internet activists” Strand Consult shares its knowledge and offers a free 50 page report detailing how sophisticated global coalitions such as Save the Internet have succeeded to overwhelm seemingly “independent” telecom regulators and implement hard rules.

The report shows that Save The Internet and other internet activists with well-funded, globally coordinated, digitally sophisticated campaigns, have succeeded to deliver hard net neutrality regulations in some 50 countries. Internet activism is an industry; “digital prostitutes” who will lend their support to corporate inspired causes are available for hire; and net neutrality activism receives hundreds of millions of dollars of support from corporate and foundation funders intent on protecting their financial portfolios and business models.

US-based net neutrality activists franchise and broker their activism models and concepts to a variety of activist entrepreneurs around the world. Telecom regulators such as BEREC, FCC and TRAI are both supporters and victims of activist campaigns. They may tout the mails delivered as part of digital campaigns as support for rulemaking, but they also experience increasing lack of credibility, as the activism exposes their lack of political independence.

SavetheInternet.eu website: “In this campaign hundreds of thousands of Internet users banded together from 2013 till 2016 to keep the Internet free and open. Together, we sent a loud, clear message to the European Institutions: protect net neutrality. And it worked! The final rules, which were published on 30 August 2016, offer some of the strongest net neutrality protections we could wish for. So long as these new rules are properly enforced by national telecom regulators, they represent a resounding victory for net neutrality.”

SavetheInternet.eu purports to have delivered some 94,000 mails to BEREC as part of the net neutrality consultation, but based upon access to “20,000” mails Strand Consult received under freedom of information laws, Strand Consult believes the actual number to be only 4,000 – 5,000 mails. Each mail is delivered to the 28 telecom regulators of the EU. Moreover some 30 percent of the mail come from Americans in the USA, not Europeans.

In a battle that has waged for a decade, telecom operators have been outmatched by the net neutrality lobby in funding, coordination, leadership, and impact.  The funding of the Ford and Open Society Foundations to activists alone exceed what the entire telecom industry spends on advocacy on the issue. In the BEREC stakeholder consultation in December 2015, Google had financial support with 7 of the 14 official stakeholder organizations in all three categories (including 3 of the 4 civil society organizations).  Telecom industry representatives were only found in one category.

In a modern democracy, it is important to listen to people and have a debate.  A serious debate should be based on facts and provide transparency. The debate about a free and open internet is important, but self-interested Internet companies such as Google and Netflix have poisoned the debate. They have used their combination of money, public relations spin, and outsourcing of the dirty work to digital prostitutes around the World.

Avaaz website: “Update 12 November 2014|”We won! After a nerve-wracking battle, the delivery of our 1.1 million-strong petition, and hundreds of thousands of emails and calls to key MEPs, the EU Parliament voted for strong Net Neutrality rules. Now the EU governments have the final say — let’s keep up the pressure so they don’t backtrack – sign and tell everyone!”

The net neutrality debate is not about a free and open internet; it is game in which big companies fight their competitors. In the process, users and regulators are abused as tools. BEREC, FCC, TRAI and other regulators has become the naïve victims, having been co-opted by well-funded activists.  The process could be cleaned up with an appropriate return to the facts and academic evidence.

Strand Consult’s goal is to bring transparency to the net neutrality debate and to demonstrate how well-funded, sophisticated global campaigns have succeeded to make hard net neutrality rules in the US, EU, India, and other countries.

Download the free report here: The Moment of Truth

[Tony Poulos is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide.]

The New Humanitarianism: The Imperative to ‘Act’ and to ‘Act Now’

April 14, 2018

 

An Excerpt from the book Celebrity Humanitarianism – The Ideology of Global Charity by Ilan KapoorFirst [2013]

 

‘Ilan Kapoor’s stunning new book exposes the most appealing – and thus most dangerous – sacred cows of contemporary ideology: the humanitarian actor, the billionaire philanthropist, and the NGO. Kapoor shows that it is precisely where we feel most emotionally satisfied that we must be most suspicious. Celebrity Humanitarianism represents a landmark in the critique of ideology and a decisive blow in the struggle against apolitical ethics.’ — Todd McGowan, University of Vermont, USA

 

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an explosion of international NGOs, particularly development and humanitarian ones, leading to the rise of what is termed ‘global civil society’. In large measure, this is due to the ascendancy of neoliberalism, which has seen NGOs fill the many gaps created by government cutbacks and privatization. But in part, it is also the result of the intensification of globalization and the information economy, which has opened up possibilities for greater  borderlessness’. Not content with doing only aid and development work, NGOs have carved out an increasingly more activist and interventionist role for themselves in the global arena. This trend is what has been called ‘the new humanitarianism’.

Central to the new humanitarianism is a security discourse, which divides the world, not so much along the lines of wealth vs. poverty as it used to, but more in terms of stability vs. threat. Mark Duffield argues that the security discourse is constructed on the basis of the metaphor of the ‘borderlands’ (i.e. the Third World), an imagined geographic space of instability, excess, and social breakdown, which poses a threat to the metropolitan areas (2001: 309).

The borderlands are depicted as violent and unpredictable, or at least always a  potential danger; they are the source of many of the problems seen to plague global security, including drug trafficking, terrorism, refugee flows, and corrupt/weak/rogue states.

Accordingly, the point of international intervention is to tame and manage instability. In this scenario, poverty, corruption, and refugee flows are to be feared much more than alleviated. Development and humanitarianism are seen not as problems of reducing inequality or protecting the most vulnerable, but as technologies of security, which function ‘to contain and manage underdevelopment’s destabilizing effects’ (Duffield 2007: ix, 24).

The practical outcome of this new humanitarianism is a significant shift away from respecting national sovereignty and towards external intervention in the Third World: it means neglecting international law, or obeying the ‘higher’ moral law of humanitarianism, under the guise of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (cf. Mamdani 2009: 274; Watson 2011: 5). In other words, new humanitarianism has increasingly become neoimperialism, allowing the West to ‘transform conflicts, decrease violence and set the stage for liberal development’ (Duffield et al. 2001: 269). Not just a Third World country’s foreign policy, but now also its domestic economic or human rights situation is seen as a credible threat (Duffield 2001: 311), recalling colonialism’s ‘civilizing mission’ to eradicate ‘barbaric’ Third World cultural practices such as widow-burning or infanticide. More often than not, the form of external intervention is military, that is, armed intervention parading as humanitarian rescue mission. The post- 9/11 War on Terror has only escalated this trend, enabling the possibility of ‘unending war’ to secure the borderlands (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) (Duffield 2007: 131). Illustrative of unending war is the following list, compiled by Watson (2011: 4), enumerating the countries for which humanitarianism has been used to justify military intervention in recent years: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Zaire, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

NGOs are firmly enmeshed in this security–humanitarian network. For the past two decades particularly, the private–public linkages between Western states, UN agencies, private firms, militaries, and NGOs has grown. In fact, as Duffield puts it, the securitization of development/humanitarianism ‘has been of central importance for legitimising the growing involvement of non-state actors’ (2001: 312; cf. Watson 2011: 3–4). And NGOs have become not just accomplices in this network, but key players. Mamdani goes so far as to argue that the new humanitarianism is the ‘twin of the War on Terror’ (2009: 274), with groups such as Save Darfur as pivotal facilitators. NGOs have pushed for and capitalized on the vast resources directed at emergency and security operations around the globe. Many such operations (e.g. in Afghanistan, Haiti, Bosnia) have been ambitious and well coordinated, with relief agencies working alongside military or peacekeeping campaigns.

 

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) calling for a Darfur intervention and criminal indictment. August 3, 2004 screenshot: “Only one thing will stop the killing in Sudan: an immediate international intervention” … “Click here to sign a petition calling for humanitarian intervention Darfur” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The imperative to ‘act’ and to ‘act now’ is central to these NGO campaigns.

To be sure, beginning mainly in the post-World War II era, organizations such as Oxfam, ActionAid, and MSF were created to respond to global crises, ranging from armed conflicts and epidemics to ‘natural’ or man-made disasters. Whether we are talking about the 1949 Palestinian refugee situation, the 1967 Nigerian civil war, the 1984–85 Ethiopian famine, or the more recent 2005 Pakistan earthquake, emergencies have become an opportunity for humanitarian NGOs to function and even expand. Indeed, they have been able to justify and aggrandize themselves based on what Duffield refers to as a ‘permanent emergency regime’ (2007: 25, 47–49, 219). All of them rely on a ‘threaturgency narrative’ to ‘legitimize their functions’ (Watson 2011: 9); it is this narrative that allows them to identify and categorize the disaster (e.g. as an impending famine or a pressing refugee crisis), as well as publicly highlight the humanitarian duty to save lives or assist ‘populations in distress’, as MSF puts it (http://www.msf.org).

One of the most poignant recent examples of the construction of emergency discourse is that of the Save Darfur Coalition, especially during the 2004–7 period. The Coalition relied on highly charged rhetoric to issue its emergency call for international intervention. The first move, as Mamdani underlines (2009: 64–65), was to categorize the conflict in the Darfur region as racially motivated: the government-armed ‘Arab Janjaweed militia’ were reportedly perpetrating violence against ‘black-skinned non-Arabs’. Such stereotyping became pervasive in Western public discourse and was often repeated by the mainstream press, including The Washington Post (Mamdani 2009: 64; cf. Hassan 2010: 98). Mamdani notes (2009: 6) that this ethnicized/racialized framing has its origins in the colonial tradition of racializing the peoples of Sudan for political purposes (i.e. as a divide and rule strategy); it is a framing that, in the contemporary global conjuncture, only served to reinforce the discourse of the War on Terror, demonizing Islam and Arabs, and pressing for immediate counter-terrorist action.

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) March 8, 2005 screenshot: “Sign a petition below … over 18,000 signatories in the last week!” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The Coalition’s second discursive move was to characterize the Darfur situation as ‘genocide’ (despite evidence to the contrary, as we shall see below). It is the deployment of this culturally and politically charged term that, almost single-handedly, brought together such a large and diverse range of US-based organizations that made up the Coalition (see above), while catching the attention of the media and politicians alike (cf. Save Darfur Coalition 2011). After Save Darfur’s ‘genocide alert’ in 2004, events quickly gathered pace: a student-led divestment campaign was organized, a large Save Darfur Rally To Stop Genocide was held in Washington, DC, and an impassioned plea (by George Clooney) was made to the UN Security Council for international intervention. In 2007, the rhetoric was ratcheted up. The Coalition criticized China for its strong support of the Sudanese government, with a campaign that included taking out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Mia Farrow denouncing the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the ‘Genocide Olympics’.

The overall effect of this emergency discourse was to exercise tremendous pressure on political leaders in the US and around the world. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified in front of the Senate Relations Committee that genocide was being committed in Darfur. The US Congress agreed, pushing for political and economic sanctions for Sudan. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court, sent UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan, and following China’s change of position on the Council in the face of public pressure, established a larger joint UN–African Union peacekeeping mission, with financial support from the US Congress (cf. Flint and de Waal 2008: 181, 280; Haeri 2008: 35–37).

One of the most troubling features of this NGO emergency discourse is its tendency towards militarization and war. The imperative to act ‘now’ tends to provide added impetus and rationale for militarized intervention. We are familiar with NGOs providing relief work in war zones, in which they must sometimes coordinate with warring factions to deliver aid programs. We are also familiar with the use of army troops in non-military crises such as the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (to keep law and order, or help NGOs distribute food aid). Increasingly, as Watson argues, ‘states and the international community have institutionalized a militarized response through the establishment of specialized military entities such as the United States Foreign Disaster Assistance or the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team’ (2011: 9).

But what is relatively new and noteworthy is the call by humanitarian NGOs for military intervention – a phenomenon described by the paradoxical concept, ‘humanitarian war’. It is a concept that, as Vanessa Pupavec notes, NGOs themselves helped legitimate, especially through their demands for military intervention in the Balkans during the 1990s (2006: 263). Thus, MSF appealed for military action in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, while Save the Children lobbied Western governments for armed intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s (Pupavec 2006: 255). Since that time, several other similar calls have been made. Of particular note are Oxfam’s demand, in relation to the Darfur situation, for a broader interpretation of the UN Charter on the principle of non-interference to include intervention, and Save Darfur’s outright plea for a no-fly zone and Western military action. In fact, ‘Out of Iraq and Into Darfur’ became a common Save Darfur slogan. Pupavec points out, in this regard, that NGOs were quick to criticize the failure to obtain UN Security Council authorization for military intervention in Iraq, but were only too willing to ignore such authorization when they demanded military  ntervention in Kosovo and Darfur (2006: 266).

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz): “SUCCESS!! – Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur” … “SUCCESS!! – International Criminal Court to Prosecute Architects of Genocide in Darfur” [February 10, 2006 screenshot]

 

If rhetorical demands for action raise the stakes, resulting in the militarization of the new humanitarianism, so do media demands for spectacle. The mediatization of NGO emergency work – that is, the drive not just to act now, but also to be seen to be acting now – adds greater urgency. NGOs may well be responding to save lives, but they are also playing to the global media and public. MSF’s témoignage (witnessing) after all, is about witnessing not just on behalf of disaster victims, but also for the media/public. This recalls our earlier arguments about the entertainmentization of humanitarianism – the pressures to create ‘megaspectacles’, to satisfy seemingly insatiable appetites for suffering, death, and disaster. The militarization of emergency work only supplies further fuel to this fire, aiding and abetting the spectacularization of violence and war. In this regard, Henry Giroux contends that we are witnessing a new phase in the society of the spectacle, that of the ‘spectacle of terrorism’ (2006: 26).

According to him, a ‘visual culture of shock and awe has emerged’, which celebrates violence in the form of night bombing raids, hostage takings, and beheadings, or the destruction of public buildings (2006: 21, 24).

The pressure to create spectacle, then, means that spectacular NGOs are not simply observers or objective relays in delivering humanitarian aid; they are full-fledged actors, identifying emergencies and constructing them for public consumption (cf. Keenan 2002: 5). Add militarization to this mix, and you move from the imperative to act now and be seen to be acting now, to an imperative to be seen to be acting now, militarily if needs be (or preferably?).

The systemic and symbolic violence of spectacular NGOs

Three friends are having a drink at the bar. The first one says, ‘A horrible thing  happened to me. At my travel agency, I wanted to say “A ticket to Pittsburgh!” and I said “A ticket to Pissburgh!”’ The second one replies, ‘That’s nothing. At breakfast, I wanted to say to my partner “Could you pass the sugar, honey?” and what I said was “You dirty fool, you ruined my life!”’ The third one concludes, ‘Wait till you hear what happened to me. After gathering the courage all night, I decided to say to my spouse at breakfast exactly what you said to yours, and I ended up saying “Could you pass me the sugar, honey?”’

(adapted from Žižek 2004b: 61)

Often, the most traumatic situations are not necessarily the outwardly perceptible ones (i.e. the gaffes of the first and second interlocutors in the joke), but the less obvious ones (i.e. the repressed content in the outward politeness of the third). As Paul Taylor suggests, telling are the moments ‘in which nothing of substance is said… in that non-utterance resides all manner of psychologically destructive forces’ (2010: 93).

And so it is with spectacular (humanitarian) NGOs: it is most often in these organizations’ non-utterances that ideological violence is to be found. The spectacle of NGO humanitarianism is revealing not simply for what it shows, but more importantly for the violence it often ignores, takes for granted, or disavows. Žižek distinguishes two types of violence: (i) ‘subjective violence’, which is directly visible and identifiable (e.g. emaciated babies, physical destruction in the wake of a hurricane); and (ii) ‘objective violence’, which is less immediately perceptible (2008a: 1–2). Objective violence is itself made up of ‘systemic violence’, which refers to our often slow yet steady social oppressions  (e.g. gender exclusion, wage discrimination, the daily grind of alienating work), and ‘symbolic violence’, the violence inherent in our systems of representation (e.g. the way in which an image of a starving child can hide as much as it reveals). The crucial point for Žižek is that objective violence is what is required for the ‘normal’ functioning of our social and economic systems. In other words, systemic and symbolic violence is the background against which subjective violence happens: objective violence ‘may be invisible, but it has to be taken into account if one is to make sense of what otherwise seem to be “irrational” explosions of subjective violence’ (Žižek 2008a: 2). Accordingly, I’d like to highlight the systemic and symbolic violence of humanitarian NGOs, violence which serves as backdrop to their spectacle.

The systemic violence of humanitarian NGOs stems, at least in part, from the very nature of their work – short-term emergency operations that attempt to rescue people from immediate danger, but make no attempt to address the broader or underlying causes of such danger. As MSF’s James Orbinsky readily admits, MSF action ‘takes place in the short term’ with limited objectives in the wake of a crisis, ‘but does not itself attempt to solve the crisis’ (2000: 10). The problem is that such an approach is premised on what was earlier denoted as a ‘permanent emergency regime’: rather than working themselves out of a job, NGOs depend (and count) on more and more crises.

They have every interest in global neoliberal capitalism’s continued production of emergencies, which enables and legitimizes their spectacular humanitarianism. In this sense, the NGO-ization of humanitarianism (and development) may have less to do with finding effective solutions to problems than a way of keeping the humanitarian business in business.

True, some humanitarian NGOs do carry out broader ‘development’ programming, alongside their short-term relief and advocacy work. For example, MSF organizes a campaign to make cheaper generic drugs more readily available to Third World countries (cf. http://www.msfaccess.org), and Oxfam runs a host of projects in gender equality, health, and education around the world (cf. Oxfam UK 2011). But as pointed out in Chapters 1 and 2, most of these initiatives are depoliticized; they steer clear of, say, anti-capitalist/anti-racist critique, or unionization of workers (or women), in favour of tamer and nonthreatening areas such as mainstream human/gender rights and education. As Issa Shivji contends, in Sub-Saharan Africa issues of equality and equity are banished to the ‘realm of rights, not development’; that is, rights are a question of NGO ‘advocacy’, ‘not a terrain of people’s struggle’ (2006: 35). Moreover, many NGO development projects (e.g. job training, micro-credit) are ultimately an attempt at integrating subaltern groups into global capital; as James Petras puts it (1999: 432), they help corner ‘a new segment of the poor’ (e.g. young people, marginalized women, landless farmers, the urban poor), binding them to market entrepreneurialism. The result once again is a reaffirmation of the status quo, whose systemic violence is the basis for humanitarianism. And so the cycle continues … (I am not, of course, suggesting that humanitarian advocacy/relief and development should not happen, or that people must not be assisted in disasters; the problem is the significant institutional interests in people’s ongoing suffering or dispossession, and the enormous investments made in addressing the symptoms rather than the cure.)

This myopic and status quo approach is integral to the symbolic politics of humanitarian NGOs, too. The spectacularization of their relief and advocacy work is notable for what it includes as much as what it excludes. There is, first, the tendency (underlined earlier) to ‘sell’ stories and images that are visually and sound-byte friendly. Spectacles involving celebrities, poverty-stricken people, crying   mothers/children, gun-toting soldiers, or war-ravaged landscapes tend to be given priority. Most often, the resulting sensationalized images/stories are serialized and repeated to achieve maximum public and media spread and exposure. As one NGO media person puts it, ‘the misery of the victims of famine, flood, war, and plague must be underlined, perhaps even exaggerated, if [the organization] is to attract sufficient public attention’ (quoted in DeChaine 2002: 361). In this regard, MSF has been criticized for its sensationalized stories, causing some to pejoratively characterize the organization’s press officers as ‘catastrophe babes’, ‘whose motives are said to be driven more by the market than by the crises’ (DeChaine 2002: 360). Such tendencies  illustrate well the symbolic violence noted above, fetishizing and commodifying the outwardly visible (i.e. ‘subjective violence’) in the service of the society of the spectacle.

More often than not, the stories and commodity-images produced by NGOs resort to classic hero narratives, in which the NGO-as-hero/celebrity overcomes adversity (obstacles, enemies, crises) to save hapless victims. All the characters are clearly identifiable: the saviour-heroes are the aid workers, human rights advocates, and volunteer doctors/nurses; the enemies/adversaries are ‘natural’ disasters, or corrupt and authoritarian governments/leaders (e.g. the Janjaweed militia and President Al-Bashir, in the case of the Save Darfur narrative); and the victims are women, children, and dispossessed communities. Robert DeChaine states, for instance, that MSF’s credibility as a humanitarian agency hinges at least in part on ‘its ability to establish a perception of its volunteers as courageous, ideologically pure, morally committed agents of change. They are saviors, champions of the voiceless, who knowingly and willfully face the morally unrighteous enemies of humanity’ (2002: 362).

The creation of victims is key, and the humanitarian spectacle manages to never run out of them. Debrix argues that what transnational humanitarian NGOs such as MSF create when they intervene across state boundaries are ‘spaces of victimhood’, both spatial and symbolic: ‘Under the guise of reaching “victims” the world over, MSF constructs new spaces – humanitarian zones – inside which individuals in distress are identified as “victims”, are sorted out, and become recognisable as generalised examples of human drama’ (1998: 827).  The establishment of refugee camps, famine sanctuaries, and the like, are meant to clearly demarcate these spaces, so that the victims can be triaged, categorized, treated, managed.

The people shepherded into these zones tend to be constructed as passive beneficiaries. Rarely do they have a voice; most often, it is the NGOs that speak and ‘witness’ for them. In the Darfur debacle, for example, there was a notable absence of any articulate Sudanese or indeed Darfurian voices; as Salah Hassan points out, the discourse was dominated by ‘Western celebrity activists, aid workers, and other self-appointed experts and spokespersons, thus reconfiguring the “white man’s burden” in a significant way’ (2010: 97). Faced with such persistent victimization, it should hardly be surprising that NGO saviourheroes have sometimes been received by disaster ‘victims’ with hostility rather than thanks, as in the case, for example, of Somalia in 1992 or Iraq after the 2003 invasion (Watson 2011: 14).

Kate Manzo (2008) underlines how often humanitarian NGOs resort to the use of child iconography (usually close-ups of single children’s faces). Think of the 1960s ‘Biafra child’, the 1980s ‘Ethiopia child’, or the current-day Plan/World Vision/Save the Children poster child. Child imagery has become the face and brand of NGO humanitarianism (cf. Chapter 1). Here too, the child tends to be depicted as victim, with children’s commodity-images deployed to evoke innocence, dependence, suffering (Manzo 2008: 636). Frequently, the child is meant to stand for the Third World, crying out to be helped and saved.  Such paternalism only reproduces colonial tropes of infantalization of the colonies to rationalize Europe’s ‘civilizing mission’.

The production of these black-and-white stories and images, with plainly identifiable heroes, adversaries, and victims, makes for the ideal humanitarian morality tale. Drama and sensationalism permit clear and simplified messaging, enabling the audience to take sides, claim moral indignation at the situation, and feel good about its support for NGO humanitarianism. Mamdani likens this to a kind of pornography, which in the case of Save Darfur yielded a highly moral movement that appealed to people’s self-righteousness rather than political analysis (2009: 56–57; cf. Flint and de Waal 2008; DeChaine 2002: 358–59). Moral campaigns tend towards depoliticization, opting (as we have seen) for short-term, managerial, and emergency/militarized solutions. Pupavec contends that moral advocacy avoids ‘the stresses and  responsibilities of implementing assistance programmes on the ground … In other words, advocacy can in some cases represent a disingenuous flight from responsibility for social problems, rather than deeper engagement with them’ (2006: 266).

The problem with the moral spectacle is precisely that it is less concerned with analysis and understanding than with taking sides and issuing calls to action. Manichean tales simplify, mystify, and ignore the often highly complex politics of emergencies. The focus on the outwardly visible and the spectacular, on special effects and sound-bytes, avoids layered, substantive, and mediaunfriendly investigation. Sensationalized media reports tend to decontextualize and homogenize, telling the story for its universal message, not its specific content: thus, for instance, earthquake ‘victims’ stand as ‘global victims’, so that the disaster ‘is made into the general condition of humankind’ (Debrix 1998: 841, 843). Media/NGO stories tend to linger on the photogenic, privileging physical destruction. In the case of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the disaster was presented in the media as ‘natural’, ‘unpreventable’, ‘indiscriminate’, or ‘random’, when in fact the physical destruction and human suffering had as much to do with human activity and social systems (e.g. use of poor building materials, especially in poorer neighbourhoods): ‘the physical evidence is used to tell a particular story – one that, in essence, speaks for itself in a way that is de-historical and de-political’ (2011: 14–15).

 

Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original]

 

What is left out of the NGO/media stories are the un-photogenic details, the ‘boring’ particulars of the daily grind of people’s lives, the recurring patterns of alienation or marginalization. Historical knowledge is a no-no: ‘spectacular time’ militates against ‘historical time’, because the former must organize information ‘through the media as dramatic events that are quickly displaced and forgotten’ (Stevenson 2010: 162). When there is interest in details, the media usually home in on the personal (i.e. issues of identity, individual tragedy, etc.) or the gory (i.e. violence), rather than broader politics. In the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the media tended to fetishize human-interest stories (e.g. personal and family tragedies), devoid of any social or political context, and to sometimes suggest that ‘victims’ were responsible for their own plight (2011: 14). Moreover, all tsunami ‘victims’ were treated the same, ignoring the fact that local residents and Western tourists were differently impacted, and that local women and children, in particular, were the worst affected: the ‘human-tragedy component served to tie all the human victims together: Westerners and locally affected populations … [thus obliterating] the different sources of vulnerability for the two groups’ (Watson 2011: 14–15). Similarly, in the Hurricane Katrina crisis, Tierney et al. (2006) find that the media focused almost exclusively on issues of looting, poverty, and racial tensions, and had almost nothing to say about recurring state cuts for infrastructure and social services in the worst affected, low-lying, and mainly poor black neighbourhoods. Concentrating on ‘secondary malfunctions’ and ‘subjective violence’ – poverty, crime, corruption, individual trauma – as opposed to the ‘objective violence’ of, say, inequality and broader political economy, is a recurring ideological strategy that we have observed before. ‘Under the guise of exposing global trauma and injustice in spectacular detail, genuine consideration of the key political and economic causes is displaced’ (Taylor 2010: 131).

 

Such tendencies to ignore key details or broader contexts are integral to the types of photos or films produced by NGOs. Invariably, these are either largescale images (i.e. aerial or wide-angle shots) of landscapes and neighbourhoods, or close-ups of individuals and faces. This toggling between the bird’s eye view and the shrunk/miniaturized view, as Jim Igoe argues,

allows for the simultaneous presentation of problems that are so large they demand the attention of the whole of humanity, while identifying specific groups of people who are their perpetrators … Missing from these presentations are the complex and messy connections and relationships that are invisible in both the open-ended vastness of spectacular [landscapes] and the compelling specificity of prosperous villagers. (2010: 382)

It is not just the broader contexts of emergencies that spectacular humanitarianism ignores; it is also that some emergencies tend to be neglected altogether. During the Asian Tsunami, for example, the Western press focused almost exclusively on known tourist locations across the region, overlooking the devastation in ‘lesser-known countries and localities’ (Cottle and Nolan 2007: 879). The other, more telling recent example here is the Congo, where over four million people have died over the last decade, but which has received little attention from the press. Žižek writes in this regard that:

The Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradian ‘heart of darkness’. No one dares to confront it head on. The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, not to mention an Israeli or American, is mediatically worth thousands of times more than the death of a nameless Congolese. (2008a: 3; cf. Mamdani 2009: 63)

The various manifestations of symbolic and systemic violence outlined above are revealing of the ideology of spectacular NGOs. For what is ideology, in the Žižekian sense that we mean it, other than the production of spectacular images and smooth spaces (i.e. humanitarian zones) to cover up the Real (broader political economy, long-term political alternatives, Western complicity)? The glossy photos and sensational headlines help create pure, untarnished, and moral humanitarian fantasies to be commodified and sold. The smooth spaces (refugee camps, etc.) help manufacture artificial humanitarian sanctuaries where ‘victims’ are categorized, controlled, and ultimately served up as advertisements for the likes of MSF, Save Darfur, or Save the Children (cf. Debrix 1998). The NGO/media spectacle helps to unify and stabilize reality, disavowing anything that disturbs the humanitarian dream-fantasy, is discomforting to the public, or threatens the neoliberal global order. Outwardly visible, subjective violence may well be shown, or even fetishized, but that it is symptomatic of a dirty underside, a broader underlying objective violence, is glossed over.

Of course, spectacular NGOs hide behind their faux objectivity and nonpartisan humanitarianism to repudiate any accusations of political ideology. Yet, as we have seen, their very presentation of reality through their stories and images is already an ideological construction of it (cf. Taylor 2010: 83). They create (the public view of ) emergencies and disasters in advance, so that ‘reality’ and the audience’s perception of it are one and the same (cf. Žižek 1994b: 15). Thus, Debord writes, ‘For what is communicated are orders: and with perfect harmony, those who give them are also those who tell us what they think of them’ (1990: 6).

 

[Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.”]

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Angels & Demons: Otherwise Known as the Conquerors & the Conquered

Revisionist Linguistics

March 31, 2018

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

 

Michael archangel vanquishing the devil. 1603-06. Au Hans Reichle

The Abraham Lincoln statue, 1879, by Thomas Ball. Park Square, Boston

This opinion piece has been written to accompany the excerpt from the lecture given by Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans on July 5 for the OuiShare Fest Paris 2017.

OuiShare: “Unlocking the potential of creative humans to reinvent how we work and nurture systemic change OuiShare is a global community, a collective of freelancers and, at heart, an incubator of people driven by a set of core values. Founded in January 2012 in Paris, OuiShare rapidly evolved from a dozen enthusiasts to a global community spread across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and is an international leader in the field of collaborative economy, future of cities, future of work.”

From the OuiShare website: Jeremy Heimans: “PURPOSE, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, USA, Jeremy Heimans is a prolific political and social activist. He is CEO & co-founder of Purpose, a social business building global movements trying to change the world, and is also a co-founder of Avaaz.org, one of the largest and most powerful online activist networks in the world. He believes in the power of collective action to tackle the world’s biggest problems.” [Source]

Background

The concept of “new power” has been named by CNN as one of ten ideas that can change the world. “Originally laid out as the Big Idea in Harvard Business Review and subsequent TED talk, new power offers a frame to understand the distributed and participatory models that are rising in business, life and society.” [OuiShareTV]

According to Heimans, “power traditionally functions as a currency, something valuable to which society wants to cling. The new power, on the other hand, works like a current: it is fluid. While the old forms of power are based on pyramidal forms and a power that goes from “top down”, the new power works in reverse, “as an “upload”. The new models of power are founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses, without participation these forms of power remain empty. These new models are collaborative platforms that need the active collaboration of their participants to survive.” [Source]

Strengthening Current Power Structures With the Language of New Power

 

What the “new power” model actually represents is capitalism in its most efficient form. Citizens, en masse, are utilized, organized and mobilized to provide social media online content – which is then captured and exploited for increased corporate revenues – with no monetary compensation for their labour. Although such movements may appear to be “founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses” (Heimans) – they have been largely created, or co-opted, at or since inception. The “new power” “uploads” to an existing structure. The structure responds by “downloading” an illusion of capitulation in order to satisfy/empower the masses. Yet, by design, its true triumph is the achievement of the following: 1) creating/accelerating economic growth (i.e. market mechanisms),  2) consolidating added power into the hands of the West, 3)  the further insulating of the elite classes from all/any risk, 4) protecting and expanding the capitalist economic system, and 5) resolving issues only within the confines of the globe’s current power structures.

Never in history have such powerful conglomerates managed to foment and then seize the required labour to create billion dollar platforms and profits – for free, as they do today. Such fervor for the citizenry to bestow their labour to the elites classes is textbook “Brave New World.” Karl Marx’s theory of surplus labour is classically interpreted as the “extra labour produced by a worker for his employer, to be put towards capital accumulation.” It could be said (even in jest) that one good example of surplus labor in modern times is “the extra labour (physical) produced by the “prosumer”, the willing participants for the elite classes (via social media), to be put towards cultural appropriation and modification (in the form of social capital) with no ownership over the means of production (digital platforms).

Consider that while Western society criticizes the Bolivian government for legalizing child labour laws in order to protect working Bolivian children, it remains completely ignorant of the fact that the elite global corporatocracy is exploiting labour from their own Western children for free – via social media – in what we can call postmodern Western domination. A Brave New World model of “soft exploitation” – with no protection from adults whatsoever. [2] Hence while child labour is a respected part of Bolivia’s social conscience – the gross exploitation and manipulation of their own children and youth (that enriches corporations as opposed to enriching families) does not even register in our collective consciousness at all.

This direct line to youth via the cell phone surpasses all levels of social engineering on a scale never before imagined much less thought to be achievable. The art of storytelling, exploitation and manipulation, at once consolidated to create a youth populace in the image of superficiality and consumption. The Children of the West have been thrown to the wolves. A gift to our corporate gods.

 

 

As one of ten ideas that can change the world, embraced and highlighted by some of the world’s most powerful and elite  institutions, the false perception of grass roots mobilization seizing power (designed and financed by the oligarchs) is a strategic marketing maneuver designed to create a short-term euphoria that feels like victory. The perceived victory –achieved via “the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination” (Heimans) – is always made malleable to further protect – the identical powers. Hence, it is not “new power”, it is “old power” simply rebranded with more vapid methods of exploitation targeting and manipulating the target demographic, which is “millennials”.

According to Heimans what societies are experiencing and undergoing today is “a big war over values”. What is unspoken is whose values Heiman’s New York PR firm pledges allegiance to and is paid to expand: Western values.”

Angels & Demons

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language is not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

In the realm of behavioural change and the new era of “storytelling”, language is always key and framing is paramount. Heimans repeatedly frames citizens as “consumers” while viewing himself and the corporate oligarchs he serves as those “on the side of the angels. In this particular segment of the lecture, focused exclusively on Syria, Heimans introduces far-right “Trump” values  as “nativist” and “tribalist” that  will “essentially return” society ” to a kind of nativist tribalist world”:

“… so I want to show you this from our own work in Syria so I use this as an example of a pick a positive counterpoint right so if we think of ourselves at the moment as you know kind of big war over values in the world right on the one hand you’ve got the trumps and the brexits who want to essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world…”

[The original lecture, in its entirety can be found here: https://youtu.be/UWgPFGJBx7I]

The old adage goes “The more things change; the more they stay the same”. One of the things that has stayed the same is the utilization of language to manipulate the masses throughout history. Today’s  infusion of propaganda into the Western psyche through mass media is astounding. What is perhaps more stunning, is how words that have been appropriated in the most vulgar manner, that  should have been deemed as abhorrent in the past (and thus rejected) are now being utilized and hence popularized by factions of the elite to give further advantage to those in power.

“It is no accident that the contemporary uses of the term tribe were developed during the 19th-century rise of evolutionary and racist theories to designate alien non-white peoples as inferior or less civilized and as having not yet evolved from a simpler, primal state.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

Revisionist Linguistics & Colonial Narratives

Two  terms that have currently been transformed from ones of indigenous degradation are “nativism” and “tribalism”. These words were at one time used in a slanderous aspect directed at those designated as genetic inferiors due to a non-anglo ethnic background. Today they are being used in a similar fashion, but to denigrate a different adversary along ideological lines and not ethnic ones. This transference of motive has dictated the meaning of these words.

In order to correctly digest the change in climate regarding the minute differences in language, we must first look at the particular terminologies in question, how they are defined and to what degree they are used today in comparison to yesterday.  According to Wikipedia the word “nativism” is defined as the following:

“Nativism is the political policy of promoting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants. However, this is currently more commonly described as an anti-immigrant position.”

In terms of this definition in a general context, the determining factor of what is considered native is the point of contention.  As this terminology has now been procured by many on the alleged leftist side of the aisle, the fact of the matter is that the one thing that has been constant in its usage is the European being the determined native in the argument.

Therefore, that which has been dictated as nativists has remained the same as the focal point (the European), whether it was in comparison to the original inhabitants of the land (the indigenous First Tribe nations) or those that are currently the enemy, the almost exclusive black and brown migrants from the Global South. Therefore, the collective personage of victimization is the European with all other people being seen as invaders in the eyes of the Westerner.  This rationalization is due solely to ethnicity and locality of the European in regards to where he or she wants to stay and what environment is most needed for capitalism. Consider that the modifications and usage of the word native, to “nativist” or “nativism”, thoughtfully and crudely reframed to represent “xenophobic nationalism” is “an almost exclusively American concept that is rarely discussed in Western Europe.”

The Historical Context

 “Nativism is currently gaining traction across the Western world” — What Is a Nativist?, The Atlantic, April 11, 2017

In order to understand the intricacy with which the term native has been appropriated as well as the current movement of nativism, we must look at the history of appropriation regarding native rights. Rights which have been transferred from the first people to those who conquered them. Historically if you look at indigenous tribes, the migratory patterns came about from the necessity to  travel to places which would allow them to survive, have freedom and not be in conflict with those who were in close proximity. The end result of this curiosity and the travel is  the definitive indication of man’s residence as no more or less than any instinctual animal that prizes self-preservation as a form of a survival above all else. Yet in terms of that migratory pattern there were only so many places that were amenable to the survival of man. Man eventually had to accept that like any animal, it couldn’t venture far past certain places on the planet or it would perish. This relationship of life to Earth was no different than any animal found in certain regions of the world and not others. The locale will determine whether or not a particular form of life will flourish or perish. As man is like any other creature, its body acclimates to the environment in which it resides – only to the degree it is physiologically possible.

What was different in regard to the travels of the European from a cultural aspect is that it was done entirely for economic reasons. That is the burgeoning stages of the formation of the capitalist system. The beginning invasion of the European into these vast  foreign lands was done at the behest of trade if necessary and conquering if possible. But as any foreign invader who possessed ulterior motives yet lacked the strength to impose their will, the relationship began as one of charity of  the original people towards the European. Yet, as the Europeans strengthened themselves and moved from a relationship of dependence to equals to eventual dominators of the indigenous, the response from the indigenous went from one of acceptance to anger, to fear, and finally a plea for some form human decency.  Surely a reasonable request considering  they were the original caretakers of the land and even helped the European in their many hours of need.

If we fast forward to the present day, there is a most insidious element regarding the extermination of the indigenous, the original native, by way of genocide or ethnic cleansing: witness the unspoken method of supplanting the native by the Europeans (conquerors) appropriating the terminology that should be descriptive of the dispossessed. The best means of masking heinous atrocities is to scrub the victim from history and disallow him/her/them to speak for themselves. [2] From a philosophical context, this is why it was necessary for the European to exterminate the original native in order to take her/his rightful inhabitance as keeper and defender of the land.

Once this was established, it was then easy to lay the foundation of transitioning roles, from that of a meek interloper to the role of shifting and shaping the narrative as conqueror. A revision of history that erased the extermination preceding the present day circumstances of European domination. This was and continues to be most easily accomplished by dehumanizing the people who at one time resided here. To strip away the humanity of the aggrieved is in essence to place man (i.e. the white anglo-saxon) as rightfully seizing the land away from the native or animal, which has been designated not only as undeserving  inhabitants of the area – but even as detrimental to the land itself. The destruction of the native was no different than the destruction of the buffalo in the mind of the white power structure. The singular caveat being the verbalization of the destruction via the indigenous peoples caused internal consternation for some Europeans at varying degrees. Here we have an offshoot of the economic system colliding with the religious beliefs and social structure of racism. All converge to appoint the Anglo at the top of the hierarchy as the only peoples worthy of protection. To absolve centuries of deplorable crimes committed by the Anglo, their descendants obfuscate the truth by sanitizing and rewriting history.

As time moved on, the eradication of the original peoples made way for the European to write history in their image. The original native was erased and replaced by what has been deemed as the ONLY human:  the white man. Over the years, this transition nefariously evolved into one where the unacknowledged basic human rights of the “savage” (i.e. Indigenous) was eclipsed for the overwhelming protection of “the humans” (ie. White man) who procured the land and continue to control it to this day.  As a result of this, the overwhelming desire that permeates the consciousness of the Western world is for ” the humans” to protect its potential reclaiming by the “savage.” In a historical comparison, the greatest fear of the slaveholder during chattel slavery was always the rise of the slave. This foreboding mindset has permeated into every aspect of the present day Anglo society, inclusive of regions that are predominantly non-anglo (land reformation in South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc.).

In reality, the Western mentality of nativism is merely a euphemism for the continued and escalating demand for the  protection of white people’s rights. It is nativism, which has fed the fervor for a wall “protecting” the U.S. from Mexico (described as any non-anglo who comes from south of the U.S. border). It is nativism that nurtures the belief (and fear) that any infusion of non-anglo people to Euro-dominated states is a sure sign of being overtaken by “the savage” – even when the surrounding environment demonstrates no signs of threat. The appropriation of being the native by way of extermination has led the Anglo to incur an abject (if not unconscious) fear: the fear of retribution (although there is no evidence to support this whatsoever).

The truth of the matter is this – “nativism” effectively erases racism. Discrimination and racist hatred of 21st century migrants and refugees is rebranded as conflict due to religious and cultural differences – not colour nor race. Political correctness replaces vulgar reality. Racists have been rebranded into politically correct “nativists” that are simply supporting the wrong political party due to a shortsightedness. No one in power wants to alienate nor offend racists when one day the same racists may tip the needle in your favour on a separate issue. But even more so, no one wants to be seen as an institution or thought-leader seeking support from or appealing to racists. Thus, the term “nativist” will be popularized in a country where racism is on fire.

Revisionist  linguistics is made to re-write history while simultaneously re-wiring our brains and preying upon our fears instilled by imperial, colonial and capitalist forces.

Nativism is racism – made politically correct.

Tribalism

Rebranding ethnicity as tribalism is a deliberate and systematic furthering of cultural denigration – one that by no accident furthers US imperialism and foreign policy. These rebranded pejorative terms have proven to be highly coveted by both media and academia resulting in the terms being more and more an embedded part of the social fabric – propagating the motive and desired effect: the representation (and selling) of Eurocentric and Western ideologies regarding what is and isn’t acceptable. The revamped derogatory terms are utilized by both the faux left and the far right.

“In New York, we term it ethnicity, but in Africa it becomes tribalism.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

The results are threefold. The language

1) further decays Indigenous identity.

2) reintroduces elements of savagery and negative, subconscious colonial connotations reinforced via societal conditioning.

Such an example is the perceptions cultivated in Western children using social cues and constructs via mainstream media, with Disney’s infamous movie Pocahontas being one of many cases. By the age of five, most children in the Western world equate the words “native” and “tribe” with Indigenous peoples.” Indeed this is a Western construct digested by children who are fed by and privy to its tentacles. 3) provides a tool for the expansion of neoliberalism. “Tribalism” according to Heimans et al implies a “disorganized, primitive, and less civilized peoples.” whereas “modern governments” (Anglo governments) are meant to “promote the fulfillment of individuals”. Thus, African and Middle Eastern countries, targets for the expansion of neoliberalism, are by extension, prime targets for the labeling of “tribalism” (i.e evoking fear in the Euro mind) by those with a vested interest in US foreign policy (while foundation money is the oil that turns the cogs in the machine). This is the beauty of social engineering. The ability to reinforce the behavioural economics of hatred (via fear and racism) – in broad daylight, hiding behind a wall of words.

The Descent into Tribalism, The Guardian, August 23, 2006:

“Modern governments, when they try to justify their existence in historical terms, are apt to propose a rough-and-ready anthropology for human development. First came the tribe – savage in instinct, ritualistic in religion and run on the basis of a grunting solidarity; humanity’s first exercise in collectivism. The nation, which takes its place, is for more refined, literate peoples and can call upon scholars and scribes, chroniclers and preachers, who propose common goals for the nation. Organised states, with their bureaucracies, sanitation services and taxation policies, like to think that they exist on a higher plane than either the tribe or the nation. Ethics loom large and morality’s plans acquire a finer focus. Modern governments are meant to promote the fulfillment of individuals, their happiness and ease of life. Savages have become citizens and can look beyond the narrow ambitions of the tribe.”

Instilling Ethnic Fear via the Utilization of Cultural Language

Image result for tribalism kenya

Image: Tribalism is utilized to conjure up images of the “black savage” in foreign (frightening) lands. 

Tribalism in effect has various usages, but all to the same effect. Within the mainstream, it is continuously used in a pejorative context – but viewed as positive or negative depending on the personal beliefs directed at those utilizing the language. Regardless of the person who is using it or whatever the particular ideological thinking, the seemingly benign use of “tribe” (used in reference to small groups, etc.) by extension implies the term “tribal” (used in reference to civil wars, backwardness, barbarism, etc.) and as a result gives the user a free pass for acceptable racist expression.  By continuously intermixing the explicit term “tribalism” and the centuries long socially cultivated subliminal idea of “African” (ie. phenotypical non-anglo) savagery – the ultimate result is fear, which is a more intense emotion and ultimately dominates the meaning, even if it is only on a subconscious level. Although not acknowledged, this subconscious racism hums softly beneath the white supremacist power structures.

Although no people or culture is perfect, there are examples of many that are a complete reversal of the global imposition of Western culture and its foundational principles in a market economy with no emotional investment outside of the worst traits of man, such as greed and avarice. For example, African philosophy in a general context before victimization through colonization and imperialism has historically been strongly associated with tribalism and an intimate feeling of attachment with nature: we’re not here to “have dominion”… We are a part of the Earth, we are dependent  on it… we have ecological responsibilities …. “Nature” is not just a resource…. We are nature.”

To delve further, this ideology is visible in various Indigenous philosophies – philosophies that represent the antithesis of Western consumer culture and therefore a direct hindrance and threat to globalization, to industrialization and, most importantly, to capitalism. This can be equated with the race to kill off paganism to be replaced by both Christianity and Catholicism. Utilizing language, the word tribalism is revamped and utilized to instill fear and further racism (strengthening white supremacy). The word becomes another instrument to decimate surviving/existing cultures – with the goal of replacing such culture with superficial nothingness – a consumer society. These rebranded terms have been the catalyst for the modern day subconscious belief system, where indigenous self-reliance will always be seen as a  threat to neoliberal order. What a “Tribe” represents in Africa could be loosely associated by sought after local ways of living in the western world – such as transition towns, slow town movements and overall movements for relocalization. All these movements are in direct contrast and opposition to globalization and the goals of corporatocracy.

Autonomous communal living based on subsistence agriculture and sharing are the enemy of foreign policy, the IMF, the world bank and essentially everything today’s global elites and corporate superpowers hold dear. In essence, we are being wholly conditioned to automatically perceive/equate non-Western culture as an automatic threat. Further, US and foreign occupations, destabilizations, wars and the rape, pillage and theft of resources (oil, minerals, labour) across the Global South are conveniently blamed on “tribalism’.  Hence – tribalism also provides a free pass to imperialism – while cementing the image of the “un-noble” savage. Tribalism & nativism are recolonization via linguistics.

Note: These characteristics are presented in a general context. We must be cautious not to simplify all cultures as monolithic or even perfect, rather a regional designator that runs current throughout the tradition of these philosophies as a whole.

In countries that fall under the imperial gaze of European and Western states, “tribalist” discourse has effectively crushed critical discussion of ethnicity in all states that are under the auspices and domination of European control, be it internal colonization (the native reservation system) or external imperialism (state control in other continents by way of multinational corporations). In Euro-dominated institutions and landscapes, (see the “Academic Imperialism” lecture by Claude Alvares) those that raise questions concerning ethnicity risk being accused of provocateurs inciting “tribalism” (ie: enticing division within a nation that is supposedly united). The ‘criminalisation of ethnicity’ and the erasure of racism in America via linguistics – must be acknowledged as another dangerous yet effective instrument of soft power.

The Purpose of Purpose

In no uncertain terms, academia and media have strategically and deliberately rebranded/reframed the words native (“nativist”) and tribal (tribalist”) with the most negative of connotations. Academia and NGOs, as highly financed apparatus of the oligarchy reverberates the language through the eco chambers of foundations, think tanks, universities and entities within the non-profit industrial complex, all financed and ultimately controlled by the oligarchs.

Going one step further, the word native is currently in process of being replaced/rebranded into “nativist”, which simultaneously and effectively erases all Indigenous such as the American Indians who continue to  resist an ongoing genocide by Europeans that persists to this day. “Nativists” could be referred to as revisionist linguistics since in its new form, “native” refers to native-born Protestant Americans – the “nativists” of the land – stolen from native tribes.

Sycophants of the establishment are tasked with the popularizing of such terms when it serves their interests. To further those interests, U.S. media has been abuzz in directing this type of subtle terminology, exemplified by current U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration since it came to power. The slander of “tribalism” directed at an enemy has become synonymous with someone being “woke” in leftist circles that are centered in the U.S. but has now reached global levels.

An example of this in the left wing faction of the establishment is an article in The Atlantic entitled “The Tragedy of President Trump’s Tribalism” (November 2, 2017) This article illustrates the shifting of the U.S. linguistic landscape, where what was once acceptable overt racism has now morphed into covertly coded language of acceptability, including that used by academia. With a fair degree of certainty, you can bet that when the world’s most prestigious marketing agencies polled for key words that stir up negative emotions in American constituents – the words native and tribes were both at the top of the list. If not outwardly said, definitely in the mindset of those in power, be it conspicuously or subconsciously.

Revisionist linguistics is made to re-write history while simultaneously re-wiring our brains and preying upon our fears instilled by imperial, colonial and capitalist forces. This is carried out by those on the right side of spectrum as well as those on the faux left.

“… you’ve got the trumps and the brexits who want to essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world and on the other hand you’ve got people who support openness pluralism compassion science etc the challenge for those of us on the side of the angels…” — Jeremy Heimans, Avaaz/Purpose co-founder

As illustrated by the supposed left spectrum, the dogma to be digested from the tenacles of empire is clear. We can “essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world” – or we can join Avaaz, Purpose, Heiman’s et al and the oligarchs they serve are those on the “side of angels” (ie. “ethical” NGOs).

In similar lectures, one such corporation on the side of the “angels” in Heimans warped view is Unilever: “… you know we’re in the business of purpose of trying to figure out how to do mass mobilization of people and we can’t mobilize enough people if we don’t get the help of some of the brands who already on the side of the angels on climate change to reach into their consumer bases technology companies [and] media companies… companies like Unilever…”

Neotribes

Above: NEOTRIBES video promoting through advertising for Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s.  [Source]

Yet, Purpose takes revisionist linguistics to an even more unimaginable level. Consider the marketing of “neo-tribes” by (former) Purpose/Avaaz staff and like-minded digital marketing executives for the purpose of branding, influencing and the marketing of consumer products as well as (Western) ideologies. Here the word of negativity is spun into positivity when applied to themselves (ie. the angels): “As neotribers, let us dream big but also stay rooted in pragmatism.” Rest-assured, “an angel” of a “neo-tribe” can and will employ the words tribes and/or tribalist, as well as native, for those that they forever denigrate and seek to further colonize. It is at the sole discretion the Anglo male, the self-determined and acknowledged bringer of “civilization” to the global non-anglo savage through colonisation and imperialism, whether the words are spun as positive or derogatory, based on their own desires as well as the desired framing for further conditioning of the citizenry.

“Organizations can adapt two network strategies. They can either build their own brand tribe, or reach out to existing consumer tribes. While some people will advocate one way over the other, both should be considered whenever possible. Regardless it’s important for companies to understand how people exercise influence within their tribes when reaching out to them. This will make their initiatives more native and successful… To be truly native and successful you should strive to understand and share as much of tribal culture as possible…Don’t forget. Influencers are tribal influencers. — The 7 Cs of Tribal Influence, Tribaling, Tribal Growth Hacking website, August 27, 2013 (Emphasis added)

In 2016 Alexa Clay presented a lecture titled Neo-Tribes: The Future is Tribal. Clay’s position scaling social innovation at Ashoka Ashoka (Soros) is but one past held position in her very extensive bio. With John Elkington [further reading: Beautiful Delusions] and Maggie de Pree she co-authored the report The Social Intrapreneur: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation. Clay belongs to the class of upper echelon in elite activism. In addition to advising the Clinton Foundation, Clay’s voice has been highlighted by the International Monetary Fund. Clay serves on the (all-white) advisory board of Purpose Economy (the Purpose Network, Purpose Companies, Purpose Foundation). Incidentally, the lecture this opinion piece is based on was created for OuiShare and NeoTribes are partnered with Coliga – a part of Tipping Canoe, “an accelerator for consumer driven communities.”

The task of Purpose, Avaaz, 350 and a multitude of NGOs expanding into countries across the middle east and Africa is simple: convert  Middle Eastern values (evoking revionist linguistics such as “nativist” and “tribalist”) into Western values (“openness, pluralism, compassion, science, etc.”). In short, good vs. evil. Indeed, Avaaz has used this very strategy in the past, over and over, to satisfy and fulfill the wishes of empire – and fulfill they do.

 

End Notes:

[1] May 26, 2016: “Teens are spending nearly nine hours a day consuming media. And children ages eight to 12 are spending nearly six hours a day doing the same thing. Let’s say the average teen wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 10 p.m. — that means that nine of their 15 waking hours are spent on their phones, computers, or tablets.” [Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/teens-average-phone-screen-usage-2016-5] | January 4, 2017: ” Teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, while 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile – 60% of social media time spent is facilitated by a mobile device.” [https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic]

[2] “The best means of masking heinous atrocities is to scrub the victim from history and disallow him/her/them to speak for themselves.” This paternalistic blueprint has been in place for centuries if not millennia. A recent example of this is deconstructed in the article “All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide” which preceded the  Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits investigative series in 2017. A more recent example is identified under the umbrella of the “Reject Kinder Morgan” national campaign in Canada. The latest anti-pipeline campaign in a series that commenced with Stop the Keystone XL (in 2010, see investigative series and timeline) – which permitted (and made obscure) a 21st century crude via rail boom with billionaires such as Warren Buffett (whose family foundation NoVo is a primary funder of TIDES foundations which distributes the anti-pipeline funding) profiting to the tune of billions. Akin to the Standing Rock website, the Indigenous resistance website for the Kinder Morgan campaign promoted by international NGOs such as 350.org and Greenpeace, is actually owned/registered to a 350.org employee. Further, Stand Earth, the rebranded Forest Ethics NGO founded by corporate ally Tzeporah Berman, is hosting the “Protect the Inlet” data.

[These protests have had zero impact on the volume of crude being produced and consumed. Rather, the result has been the phenomenal and exponential growth of the crude via rail industry resulting in the deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic Quebec in 2013. The pipeline campaigns essentially hid the new burgeoning industry of crude via rail from public view (and more importantly, scrutiny and dissent) while all eyes focused on a single pipeline. At the end of the day, devising a plan based on the fact “crude has no economic value unless run through a refinery” would be the most effective strategy for stopping oil as an energy source, is kept well-hidden.]

 

 

[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.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REAL Syria Civil Defence Describe Terrorist ‘Double Taps’ & Chemical Weapon Attacks in Aleppo

21st Century Wire

March 26, 2018

By Vanessa Beeley

 


One of the many REAL Syria Civil Defence vehicles that had been targeted by Nusra Front & associated extremist groups in control of Layramoun and areas surrounding the RSCD centre in East Aleppo, prior to final liberation by the SAA and allies in December 2016. January 2018 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The Syrian Arab Army is powering towards a final victory in Eastern Ghouta. Tens of thousands of Syrian civilians have been liberated over the last few days and are pouring out of the enclaves that have been controlled, for the last five years, by groups such as Failaq Al Rahman, Ahrar al Sham, a much diminished Free Syrian Army and finally, Jabhat Al Nusra which is Al Qaeda in Syria.

JAN goes by the rebranded name of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham but retains the same leadership and extremist ideology. All these groups have been financed by a variety of Gulf States & armed, supported, equipped by NATO member states led by the United States.

The colonial media in the West has resisted this SAA campaign to remove their state-sanctioned terrorist assets on the ground in the eastern suburbs of Damascus with familiar fury and hysterical sensationalism. Much of that hyperbole is sustained by the reports and daily cameo videos from the multi-million-dollar propaganda construct, the White Helmets, embedded with the aforementioned extremist groups in Eastern Ghouta.

Interestingly in recent weeks we have seen a change of uniform for the White Helmets and a rebrand very similar to that of their partners on the ground inside Syria – Nusra Front. Many media outlets have described the White Helmets as the Civil Defence or even as the Syrian Civil Guard.

Perhaps they are trying to distance the group from the mountain of evidence that has been amassed against them by a number of analysts and investigative journalists, much of it emanating from the White Helmets themselves or from the Syrian people who have lived under their occupation in areas previously occupied by teams of White Helmets alongside Nusra Front. This tweet taken from one of their many Twitter pages show the White Helmets ‘resplendent’ in their new kit which somehow made it safely into Eastern Ghouta despite the alleged Syrian government ‘siege’ of the district.

What has underpinned the Western media magnification of the White Helmet claims is the reliance upon two primary propaganda drivers.

1. Alleged “double tap” airstrikes by the Syrian Arab Air Force and Russian Air Force.

“Ten White Helmet volunteers have been killed in Syria over the past month, including two in eastern Ghouta. Half of them were killed in what are known as “double-tap” strikes, in which a plane bombs an area and then returns to attack it again after rescue workers have arrived.” ~ Kareem Shaheen based in Istanbul and reporting for The Guardian.

2. Alleged Chemical Weapons attacks by the SAA.

“Eight volunteers have been wounded in Ghouta, including two in an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday night.” ~ Kareem Shaheen in the same Guardian article.

As Syrian regime bombs rain down, the White Helmets fear their families will be next” Kareem Shaheen opines as his opener to this familiar romanticization of the White Helmet organisation. The Guardian has consistently been at the forefront of the White Helmet media protection racket yet has never examined their darker side that has been in full view to other more discerning media outlets since the White Helmets were established by the British and American hybrid war experts in March 2013.

 Another pro-imperialist academic and theatrical commentator on the Syrian conflict, Idrees Ahmad, has even gone so far as to describe the White Helmets as his “family” and any criticism of this organisation is usually followed by a stream of invective and a block by Ahmad on Twitter. This is a reaction that is designed to deter those of faint heart from investigating this UK FCO intelligence asset working hard to bring the pressure of the pseudo humanitarian complex to bear upon the Syrian government and its allies.

This is extraordinary behaviour for an ‘academic’, one who appears to be incapable of admitting there is a diverging view – a view that highlights the criminal and violently sectarian nature of the White Helmets as testified to by a large number of Syrian civilians, particularly from East Aleppofollowing its final liberation in December 2016.

As one corporate media journalist admitted to me recently inside Syria – “the White Helmets are too polarizing and controversial.” It appears that they are the “untouchables” in mainstream media and neocon circles. Hardly surprising that this is a red rag to independent media that has not abandoned its principles, nor its moral compass just because a subject becomes high-risk according to those who further the ambitions of some of the most predatory global powers that are currently occupying and targeting Syria with an aim to reduce it to the same hollowed out, terrorist infested state as Libya.

Aleppo – The REAL Syria Civil Defence Highlights Western Media’s Dishonest Reporting on Syrian Conflict

Unlike the corporate media who have shied away from being set upon by the White Helmet lynch mob – we at 21st Century Wire have consistently exposed this organisation for the fraudulent “shadow state” concept it really is. So have John Pilger, Robert Parry, Finian Cunningham, Richard Labeviere, Jeremy Salt, Tony Cartalucci, Afshin Rattansi, Stephen Kinzer, Gareth Porter, Scott Ritter, Philip Giraldi, Ron Paul, Daniel McAdams, Eva Bartlett, Tim Anderson, UK Column, Clarity of Signal, Syrian War Blog and many many more of the uncompromised media.


View from the RSCD yard in Layramoun, Aleppo, 25 meters from the frontlines with Nusra Front and associated militant factions. January 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I had previously visited the REAL Syria Civil Defence (RSCD) centres in Damascus, Lattakia, Tartous and Aleppo in the Hamdaniyeh area during the final battles for East Aleppo’s liberation. On New Year’s Day in 2018 I finally visited the main centre in Layramoun, Aleppo. The crew here had stayed in the centre throughout the occupation of East Aleppo by the US/UK/EU supported and armed terrorist factions, financed by UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

They were less than 25 metres from the Terrorist front lines, dominated by Nusra Front. They were also very close to Bani Zaid, another fiercely contested area held by the so-called “moderate” 16th Division of the  Free Syrian Army in partnership with Nusra Front, for a period of time.


One of the many RSCD ambulances that had been put out of service by mortar or sniper fire from terrorist held enclaves. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

These terrorist-held areas would rain mortars down upon civilian districts of Syrian government controlled West Aleppo. The commander of the RSCD told me that their volunteer Civil Defence centre received between 10-20 mortars or rockets per day over the 4.5 year occupation of the East. Everywhere we walked in the yard, we saw the mangled remains of vehicles and buildings that had been targeted. Twisted metal, gaping holes in the roof of most buildings, craters in the tarmac now overgrown with grass and weeds.


One of the buildings that had housed RSCD vehicles, targeted by Nusra Front mortars. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

“They (terrorists) targeted us deliberately in order to destroy our equipment & structures. They wanted to prevent us being able to work for our people. They would target our crew with sniper fire and explosive bullets. Their main mission was to kill the crew and destroy our base so we couldnt care for the people of Aleppo” ~ Commanding Officer (CO) of RSCD, Layramoun.

According to the Commanding Officer of this RSCD centre, the main terrorist objective was to paralyse the essential infrastructure for the 1.5 million Syrian civilians sheltering in the Syrian Government controlled West Aleppo. This included the destruction of water trucks, water pipes, electricity stations and the RSCD crews, vehicles and equipment.

“The Syrian people are our people. It is our duty to care for them, wherever they are. We are unarmed, we dont even think of our own protection, our priority are the defenceless people around us. We had a Syrian Arab Army guard around our centre but that was our only protection” ~CO of RSCD.


This tall tower behind the RSCD centre was held by the SAA throughout the East Aleppo terrorist occupation. This was all that stood between the RSCD and invasion by the Nusra Front-led factions. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Standing in the RSCD yard, I could see a tall building towering over the yard. The RSCD CO told me that this building was held by the SAA during the period of terrorist occupation of East Aleppo. This was all that stood between the RSCD and the terrorist groups that would have massacred their crew members had they made it past the SAA defences.

Terrorist “Double Taps”

I was told that the terrorist groups systematically carried out double-tap attacks on the RSCD crew. Nusra Front or one of their affiliates would fire mortars into a densely populated civilian area of West Aleppo. For example in June 2016, terrorist groups intensified their attacks on West Aleppo. The district of Midan was pounded by mortar fire and during one attack, a huge number of civilians were injured and trapped in destroyed buildings. The RSCD sent teams to evacuate the wounded and to dig out those trapped inside the buildings.

“The terrorists waited for us to arrive and begin work, before they targeted the same area again – with mortars and hell cannon missiles”  ~ CO, RSCD

The RSCD is never mentioned in western media reports. The only existing “civil defence” according to the West are the White Helmets who endure “double taps” on what appears to be an hourly basis from their lurid accounts and video footage.

The RSCD works without recognition from the West and it is targeted by the Western promoted terrorist groups. The RSCD embodies everything that the White Helmets pretend to be, while in reality White Helmets work alongside the very same terrorist groups that are attacking the mainstay of humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians in 85% of the inhabited regions of Syria.


One of the missiles fired into the RSCD yard during the terrorist occupation of East Aleppo that ended in December 2016. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Terrorist Chemical Weapon Attacks

According to the RSCD, in August 2016 the terrorist factions in East Aleppo carried out what has been described as an unidentified gas attack on the Old City of Aleppo. During this attack, three RSCD members died and 20 SAA soldiers lost their lives.

I was able to talk to two surviving crew members who pieced together the events of that day. They told me that the terrorists had been tunneling to reach SAA positions in the Old City and that SAA special forces had discovered the tunnels and had entered them to confront the terrorists or to destroy the tunnels.

It was hard to put the fragments of memory together into a coherent narrative but what the two crew members described was horrific.

First the RSCD team leader spoke:

“We arrived at the area and knew we had to enter the tunnel to save the soldiers who were trapped down there. We got to the deepest part of the tunnel and we started to feel the effects of whatever gas had been used. One of my crew radioed me that he couldnt feel his limbs. I shouted for him to come back and we grabbed him to pull him out of the tunnel” ~ RSCD team leader.

Then the affected RSCD crew member told me what happened to him:

“I entered the tunnel and immediately began to feel strange. My whole body seemed to lose control. I couldnt breathe. I pulled on the rope. Red spots appeared on my hands and there was a strange smell in the air, I still cant describe it” ~ RSCD crew member.

RSCD team leader:

“When we got him to the surface we tried to give him some water to drink. He went hysterical, lashing out at everyone”. ~ RSCD team leader. 

The CO told me that he had visited his crew in hospital immediately after the attack. He visited many times but the crew had no memory recall of the incident and it has only partially returned long after the incident.

The RSCD team leader told me:

“I spent one week in hospital. For three days, I felt like I had gone crazy. I even tried to bite my wife. I was just so full of rage.” ~ RSCD team leader.

Both RSCD crew members still  have respiratory problems and are still undergoing medical treatment for the effects of this chemical weapon attack. Both men were clearly still struggling with their memory of that day in August 2016 but piecing together what they could remember and combined with the lasting physical side effects, there seems no doubt that a CW of some kind was used against them. Why was it never reported by Western media nor listed as a war crime by the UN organisations that are mandated to document such crimes?

I had previously visited the RSCD based in Hamdaniyeh in Aleppo, in August 2016 just after the chemical weapon attack, they had also lost a crew member while trying to evacuate civilians from the area.

“They were wearing lightweight paper oxygen masks. Because of U.S. and EU sanctions being imposed on Syria, these rescue workers are unable to replace their supply of high-spec gas masks that would have been a lifesaver on many occasions.

The concentration of gas was so high that the flimsy oxygen masks did not effectively prevent the toxic fumes entering their lungs. One of the crew members, Mohammed Ahmed Eibbish, 36, died while trying to rescue a woman from an affected building.

Other crew members and civilians reported symptoms of gas poisoning, such as dizziness, nausea, burns, spasms, and difficulty breathing. Four women died from inhaling toxic fumes during this attack, and 25 civilians were affected and hospitalized as a result.” ~ Journey to Aleppo, Mint Press

(These two incidents were investigated at different times, & with RSCD crews from different areas of West Aleppo, there is no record of any other chemical weapon attack in Aleppo in this time period so it is reasonable to surmise it was the same incident with both crews attending a different area under attack. I will verify this during my time here now.)

What is clear is that while the world has been conditioned to hang off every White Helmet report of attacks on their terrorist controlled premises, I have been unable to find a single report on the attacks by terrorist groups against the REAL Syrian Civil Defence. Their existence is effectively removed from our state media snapshot of Syria, by a media intent on replacing them with the US/UK White Helmet construct that was created to magnify the alleged “war crimes” of the Syrian government and its allies, while erasing the terrorist atrocities from our television screens.

While speaking with the CO of the Layramoun RSCD, he told me:

“2 days ago and yesterday we were trying to recover the bodies of three of our crew members who had been killed by terrorist groups in the Eastern countryside (of Aleppo). The terrorists are deliberately preventing burial of our comrades. No religion in the world should be able to condone such an action, it is inhumane, unimaginable for us that anyone could do such a thing”.

When I asked the CO about the White Helmets, he told me:

“The White Helmets had two distinct roles. Most of them were fighters (militants) who would then change into their White Helmet uniforms when the cameras were on them. They worked only with the terrorist groups. When SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) tried to evacuate civilians from East Aleppo to bring them to West Aleppo for medical treatment during the occupation, these terrorist groups including the White Helmets refused to allow them to leave. How can anyone call them a humanitarian organisation under these circumstances?”

The CO also told me that the US/EU economic sanctions make their job almost impossible.

“We need high quality equipment. Most of it comes from Italy, Germany and the UK who are supplying the White Helmets but will not supply us what we need to replenish our own equipment. Many of our stores and vehicles were destroyed or burned by the terrorists who invaded East Aleppo in 2012/13. Many vehicles were stolen and later used by the White Helmets.”

The RSCD has endured unspeakable crimes against their crew members on a daily basis without recognition by the west. Why are their voices and their harrowing experiences of no value to western media while the White Helmets who run with terrorist groups have their testimony republished without question or verification?

Meeting the Martyrs of the REAL Syria Civil Defence.


The family of RSCD crew member Damen Al Abazah from Sweida, killed in November 2013 in Deir Etiah, on the Damascus to Homs road. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I met with the family of Damen Al Abazah from Sweida in January 2018, in Damascus. On my first visit to the RSCD centre in Damascus, 200m from the previously terrorist held Ein Tarma area of Eastern Ghouta, the colonel was very surprised that I was interested in talking to them, no western media had ever requested an interview previously.

I had the same experience when I met this family, they were shocked that anyone from the West was interested in the death of their family member. This is a sad indictment on the standard of reporting on the conflict in Syria, why do these people and their story not have any validity for Western media, is their loss not as painful as the endless stream of accounts of tragedy from the “opposition” controlled areas? Those areas under the occupation of a number of Western backed extremist and militant groups financed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey among others.

Al Abazah’s wife is in the centre of the picture holding a photograph of her husband that had been hanging on the wall of their simple living room. Her name is Rabiaah Matar and she is 44 years old.

Al Abazah was a volunteer civil defence member with thirty years experience. Rabiaah, his wife, told me:

“He was 10 months from his retirement. I was so looking forward to having him at home  and we planned to take a lot of holidays. My husband was the officer responsible for the vehicle repair. He was so brave, so committed to his job and his colleagues. Even at weekends he would go to work and if I ever complained he would tell me, it’s my duty day or night. The night he he was killed,he was not on duty but he went anyway, he told me it was his mission”

Earlier on that fateful day, terrorist groups, namely Nusra Front and Ahrar Al Qalamoun, had attacked Al Basel Heart hospital in Deir Atiah on the Damascus to Homs road. Three suicide car bombs had attacked Syrian Arab Army checkpoints in Deir Atiah and Al Nabek killing & injuring many. Following these explosions the terrorist groups attacked Deir Atiah City and the battles centered around Al Basel hospital between the terrorists and the SAA.

Raabiah continued to describe what happened to her husband:

“The medical staff were trapped on the third floor. The terrorists were on the roof and on the ground floor and the hospital was surrounded. The SAA accompanied the RSCD vehicles until the final checkpoint before the hospital where the battles were raging. At this point the RSCD were advised not to advance as it was too dangerous…”

Raabiah paused and I asked her what her husband decided to do:

“My husband refused to abandon the doctors and medical staff. He drove the fire engine forward and tried to use the ladders to help the doctors and staff to escape. As they went forward, they were being targeted by the terrorist home made bombs. They tried to fix the ladder, the doctors were at the window calling to them to get them out. My husband was shot in the heart by one of the terrorist snipers. The other two crew members were also shot. One in the hand. They survived.”

Even five years after this incident, Raabiah was still clearly distressed by the loss of her husband. She told me that all the medical staff were killed by the terrorist groups, including 9 doctors.

“It was 21 days before we could recover his body from Homs. it was snowing and it was impossible for the Army to get to him. We were so worried that the terrorists would do something terrible to his body. Eventually the army flew his body back from Homs to Damascus and we could finally say goodbye to him here”

Raabiah and Damen have three children. A girl and two boys, aged 26, 24 and 23. One son is still with the SAA and has been with them for the last five years fighting the same US Coalition-imposed terrorism that murdered his father who was doing his “duty” trying to save Syrian medics & doctors from the terrorist groups that eventually killed them in the hospital where they worked.

I have searched the internet for any reference to this attack in Western corporate media and not found one. Damen Al Abazah was unarmed and neutral, he gave his life for his own people under attack from the terrorist groups inside Syria, yet he has not been proclaimed a hero by the colonial media, nor by the UN or its affiliates that will lionise the White Helmets without hesitation.

The “Disappeared” REAL Syria Civil Defence Operating on a Shoestring Budget, Under Sanctions, Saving REAL Syrians.

While in Damascus I asked the CO of the headquarters close to Ein Tarma to give me a breakdown of the national annual operating budge for the RSCD. He came back with a figure of $ 1.46m which included:

1. $ 890,000 for salaries and compensation for families of martyrs.

2. $ 320,000 for training, equipment and supplies including water and electricity.

3. $ 250,000 for the maintenance of buildings and vehicles, machines.

Compare this to the annual budget of the NATO-member-state financed White Helmets.

When I met with Hilal Assi,  the Director of SARC in Aleppo, also in January 2018 he told me:

We never saw the White Helmets in East Aleppo. They belong to the terrorists and they receive money from outside Syria, from more than one country”.

Rania A, a SARC Volunteer for three years in Salamiyah who had worked in both Hama and Idlib on the outskirts of terrorist held areas, told me:

“White Helmets are terrorists. They are specialists in acting and drama, not humanitarian work. The White Helmets abuse the “humanitarian” title to gain trust and to brainwash people in Syria and outside. They are a big lie. There are many foreigners working with the White Helmets”


The RSCD yard in Layramoun, Aleppo. January 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

So the White Helmets receive more than twenty times the annual financing of the REAL Syria Civil Defence. The White Helmets operate in less than 15 % of Syrian territory that is entirely under the control of terrorist factions. The White Helmets do not appear to provide rescue services for civilians except when the camera is trained on them, they work as “Nusra Front civil defence” for the majority of the time. The White Helmets are the go-to organisation for media in the West, the UN and their State handlers in the US, EU and UK. The reports supplied by the White Helmets, however dubious, are accepted without question by all these entities who diseminate them across as many platforms as possible with a terrifying uniformity.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence is ignored, marginalised, disappeared from view while they are working to rescue civilians in 85% of inhabited Syria now back under the protection of the Syrian state. The RSCD also works on rebuilding and restoring infrastructure in the recently liberated areas yet the rare western media journalists who actually do bother to come to Syria never mention them.


Childrens day in Lattakia Fire Brigade/RSCD centre. 

Every time the terrorist factions embedded in the (now liberated) Eastern Ghouta suburbs have targeted civilians in Damascus with mortars, missiles, suicide bombs or sniper bullets – it is the RSCD that races to the scene, not the White Helmets yet those victims and their rescuers are irrelevant to the regime-change-war consent- manufacturing corporate media.

The RSCD must be brought out of the shadows of NATO-member-state deliberate erosion of Syrian civil society and a light must be shone upon their existence as the REAL Syrians helping REAL Syrians throughout this conflict, giving their lives to help others who are suffering under the weight of economic, military and media terrorism without acknowledgement by those who are inflicting all of this hardship, bloodshed & poverty upon the Syrian people.

 

[Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

From the End of History to the End of Truth

TeleSUR

March 11, 2018

By Tortilla Con Sal

 

 

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. | Photo: Reuters

Non governmental organizations play a role in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them.

Making nonsense of Fukuyama’s premature triumphalist screed, it is commonplace now to note that the United States corporate elites and their European and Pacific country counterparts are increasingly losing power and influence around the world. Equally common is the observation that these Western elites and the politicians who front for them have acted over the last twenty years to reassert their control in their respective areas of neocolonial influence. The European Union powers have done so in Eastern Europe and Africa, most obviously but not only, in Ukraine, Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and the Central African Republic. Likewise, the United States has acted to reassert its influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, effectively declaring war on Venezuela, maintaining its economic and psychological warfare against Cuba and intervening elsewhere with varying degrees of openness.

Before they died, among the main Western media bogeymen were Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Muammar al Gaddhafi. Now Vladimir Putin and Bashar al Assad have been joined by Xi Jinping and Nicolas Maduro. Along with these and other world leaders, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has also constantly been the object of endlessly repetitive Western media hate campaigns. This longstanding, plain-as-day media strategy, regularly and blatantly prepares mass opinion to facilitate Western government aggression against the latest target government. No one following these processes with any attention will have failed to notice the leading role played by non governmental organizations in the Western elites’ offensive against resistance to them by political leaders and movements around the world.

In almost every case of recent Western provoked interventions, from Venezuela in 2002, through Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, Ecuador in 2010, Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, Ukraine in 2014, Western media have used deliberately misleading and downright deceitful reports from Western NGOs to support their own false misreporting of events. In Nicaragua’s case, the usual untrustworthy NGO suspects like Amnesty International, Transparency International and Global Witness constantly publish misleading reports and statements attacking or undermining President Daniel Ortega and his government. In general, their reporting is grossly biased and disproportionate given the regional context of incomparably horrific events and deplorable conditions elsewhere in Latin America, but, as often as not, it is also downright untrue.

In a recent example, Global Witness stated that Nicaragua’s proposed interoceanic canal “wasn’t preceded by any environmental impact reports, nor any consultation with local people”. Both those assertions are completely untrue. But this Big Lie repetition is the modus operandi of the Western elites who fund outfits like Global Witness, Amnesty International, and other influential NGOs like International Crisis Group and Transparency Intenational. For example, Amnesty International claims “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion”. But it bears constant repetition that many of Amnesty International’s board and most of its senior staff responsible for the organization’s reports are deeply ideologically committed with links to corporate dominated NGO’s like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Also worth repeating is that Global Witness in 2016 received millions of dollars from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, the Ford Foundation and NATO governments. The boards and advisory boards of these NGOs are all made up overwhelmingly of people from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector. Many have a strong corporate business background as well. All move easily from one highly paid Western NGO job to the next, serving NATO country foreign policy goals. Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based Avaaz and Purpose, noting “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

Back in 2017 it was already a truism to note that Western NGOS “operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.” What is now becoming even more clear in the current context is that these Western NGOs and their media accomplices are confident enough to publish downright lies because reporting the facts no longer matters. Western public discourse has become so debased, incoherent and fragmentary that the truth is almost completely irrelevant. All that matters is the power to impose a version of events no matter how false and untruthful it may be.

This sinister media reality is intimately related to the politicization of legal and administrative processes in the national life of countries across Latin America. The spurious legal processes against Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva in Brazil, against Milagro Sala and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, against Jorge Glas and, no doubt very soon, Rafael Correa in Ecuador are all based on the same faithless virtual association and complete disregard for factual evidence as Western media and NGO propaganda reports attacking Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua. It is imperative to overcome the ridiculous liberal presupposition that the region’s elites, with the advantage of designing and controlling their countries’ legal systems and communications media for over 200 years, are somehow going to respect high falutin’ avowals about “separation of powers”.

Note: this article borrows from previous articles here and here.

 

 

[Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.”]

Imperialism On Trial: Eva Bartlett speaks on North Korea & Syria (FULL)

RT
January 31, 2018

“Journalist Eva Bartlett speaks candidly on her experiences in North Korea and Syria at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 2018.

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.”

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said. [Source: Conscious]

Eva K. Bartlett is creating Interviews, Articles, Photography and More Support: www.patreon.com/EvaKBartlett

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH: Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets

Corbett Report

February 7, 2018

 

“For the past two years, Vanessa Beeley has been doing on-the-ground reporting in Syria exposing the lies of the NATO powers and their terrorist proxies. Her work on the White Helmets in particular has drawn the ire of the warmongers and their media mouthpieces. Today we talk to Beeley about the true nature of the White Helmets and the well-funded PR campaign that seeks to defend them.” [Corbett Report]

 

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria

In Gaza

January 6, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

 

neil clark tweet

*Neil Clark’s tweet

 

On December 18, 2017, the Guardian issued a shoddily-penned hatchet piece against British journalist Vanessa Beeley, Patrick Henningsen and his independent website 21st Century Wire, Australian professor and writer Tim Anderson, and myself.

Many insightful writers have since deconstructed the lies and omissions of the article, which I will link to at the bottom of my own.

Judging by the scathing comments on the Guardian’s Facebook post, the general public didn’t buy it either. The Guardian, like Channel 4 News and Snopes, whitewashes terrorism in Syria, employs non-sequitur arguments, promotes war propaganda, and simply gets the facts wrong.

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As the purported theme of the The Guardian‘s story was the issue of rescuers in Syria, I’ll begin by talking about actual rescuers I know and worked with, in hellish circumstances in Gaza.

In 2008/9, I volunteered with Palestinian medics under 22 days of relentless, indiscriminate, Israeli war plane and Apache helicopter bombings, shelling from the sea and tanks, and drone strikes. The loss of life and casualties were immense, with over 1,400 Palestinians murdered, and thousands more maimed, the vast majority civilians. Using run-down, bare-bones equipment (as actual rescuers in Syria do), Palestinian medics worked tirelessly day and night to rescue civilians.

There was not a single occasion in which I ever heard the medics (in Sunni Gaza) shout takbeer or Allahu Akbar upon rescuing civilians, much less intentionally stood on dead bodies, posed in staged videos, or any of the other revolting acts that the White Helmets have been filmed doing in Syria. They were too damn busy rescuing or evacuating the areas before another Israeli strike, and usually maintained a focused silence as they worked, communicating only the necessities. The only occasion I recall of screaming while with the medics, were the screams of civilians we collected and in particular the anguished shrieks of a husband helping to put the body parts of his dismembered wife onto a stretcher to be taken to the morgue. The medics I knew in Gaza were true heroes. The White Helmets, not a chance. They are gross caricatures of rescuers.

oli 5

A White Helmets member. “Unnarmed and neutral”?

Reply to The Guardian 

In October, a San Francisco-based tech (and sometimes fashion) writer named Olivia Solon (visibly with no understanding of Middle East geopolitics) emailed myself and Beeley with nearly identical questions filled with implicit assumptions for a “story” we were to be imminently featured in. My own correspondence with Solon is as follows:

In brief, I’ll address Solon’s emails, including some of her most loaded questions:

-Who is the “we”, Solon mentions? Her mention of “we” indicates this story isn’t her own bright idea, nor independently researched and penned. Parts of the article—including the title and elements I’ll outline later in my article—seem to be lifted from others’ previous articles, but that’s copy-paste journalism for you.

-It isn’t just that I believe the mainstream media narrative about the White Helmets is wrong; this narrative has been redundantly-exposed over the years. In September 2014, Canadian independent journalist Cory Morningstar investigated hidden hands behind flashy PR around the White Helmets. In April 2015, American independent journalist Rick Sterling revealed that the White Helmets had been founded by Western powers and managed by a British ex-soldier, and noted the “rescuers” role in calling for Western intervention—a No Fly Zone on Syria. (more on these articles below). This was months before Russian media began to write about the White Helmets.

Since then, Vanessa Beeley has done the vast amount of research in greater detail, doing on-the-ground investigations in Syria, including: taking the testimonies of Syrian civilians who had (often brutal) experiences with the White Helmets; establishing that the Syrian Civil Defense exists and has existed since 1953, but are not the White Helmets—which has misappropriated this name; establishing that the international body, the International Civil Defence organisation in Geneva, does not recognize the White Helmets as the Syrian Civil Defence; establishing that men now White Helmets members looted vehicles and equipment from the Syrian Civil Defence in Aleppo—and belongings from civilians; and establishing that White Helmets shared a building in Bab Al Nairab, eastern Aleppo with al-Qaeda and were present as al-Qaeda tortured civilians, among other points.

It is hard to believe that in the span of the two months between her contacting Beeley and myself that Solon, in her certainly deep investigations, has not seen this video, clearly showing uniformed White Helmets members with supporters of Saudi terrorist, Abdullah Muhaysini. Not quite “neutral” rescuers. But then, perhaps she did. She was willing to write off the presence of White Helmets members at execution scenes, standing on dead Syrian soldiers, and holding weapons, as a few bad apples sort of thing.

-As to Solon’s interest in my “relationship” to the Syrian government: No, I have not received payment, gifts or other from any government. To the contrary, I’ve poured my own money into going to Syria (and have fund-raised, and also routinely received Paypal donations or support on Patreon by individuals who appreciate my work). See my article on this matter.

As to how my visits to Syria and North Korea came about, this is another transparent attempt to imply that I am on the payroll of/receive other benefits from one or more of the governments in question.

-One of The Guardian’s questions was regarding my following: “That you attract a large online audience, amplified by high-profile right-wing personalities and appearances on Russian state TV.”

What following I do have began exactly one year ago, after I requested to speak in a panel at the United Nations, as the US Peace Council had done in August 2016. It is as a result of a short interaction between myself and a Norwegian journalist, which went viral, that my online audience grew. In fact, I deeply regret that what went viral was not the important content of the three other panelists and my own over twenty minutes report on conditions in Aleppo which was then still under daily bombardments and snipings by what the West deems “moderates”.

However, given that so many people responded positively regarding the interaction—which dealt with lies of the corporate media and lack of sources—it seems that the public already had a sense that something was not right with corporate media’s renditions on Syria.

The first person to cut and share the video clip in question (on December 10, one day following the panel) was Twitter profile @Walid970721. As I have since met him personally, I can attest he is neither Russian nor funded by the Kremlin, nor any government, and that he shared that clip out of his own belief that it was of interest. Otherwise, on December 10, before any major Russian media had, HispanTV also shared my words. Further, India-based internet media Scoop Whoop’s December 15 share garnered the most views (nearly 10.5 million by now). That Russian media later shared the clip and reported on the incident is neither my doing nor a bad thing: thank you Russian media for doing what Western corporate media always fail to do.

-Regarding The Guardian Solon’s question: “That you think that Assad is being demonized by the US as a means to drive regime change.” Of course I do, as do most analysts and writers not blinded by or obliged to the NATO narrative. As Rick Sterling wrote in September 2016:

“This disinformation and propaganda on Syria takes three distinct forms. The first is the demonization of the Syrian leadership. The second is the romanticization of the opposition. The third form involves attacking anyone questioning the preceding characterizations.”

Boston Globe contributor, award-winning foreign correspondent and author, Stephen Kinzer wrote in February 2016:

“Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.”

Countering corporate media’s demonization campaigns, I’ve written on many occasions—notably including the words of Syrians within Syria—about the vast amount of support the Syrian president enjoys inside of Syria and outside.

In my March 7, 2016 article, I cited meeting with internal, unarmed, opposition members, including Kurdish representative, Berwine Brahim, who stated,

We want you to convey that conspiracy, terrorism and interference from Western countries has united supporters of the government and the opposition, to support President Bashar al-Assad.”

In that same article, I wrote:

“Wherever I’ve gone in Syria (as well as many months in various parts of Lebanon, where I’ve met Syrians from all over Syria) I’ve seen wide evidence of broad support for President al-Assad. The pride I’ve seen in a majority of Syrians in their President surfaces in the posters in homes and shops, in patriotic songs and Syrian flags at celebrations and in discussions with average Syrians of all faiths. Most Syrians request that I tell exactly what I have seen and to transmit the message that it is for Syrians to decide their future, that they support their president and army and that the only way to stop the bloodshed is for Western and Gulf nations to stop sending terrorists to Syria, for Turkey to stop warring on Syria, for the West to stop their nonsense talk about ‘freedom‘ and ‘democracy’ and leave Syrians to decide their own future.”

In my May 2014 article from Lebanon, having independently observed the first of two days of Syrians streaming to their embassy to vote in presidential elections, I cited some of the many Syrians there with whom I spoke (in Arabic):

“’We love him. I’m Sunni, not Alawi,’ Walid, from Raqqa, noted. ‘They’re afraid our voices will be heard,’ he said….’I’m from Deir Ezzor,’ said a voter. ‘ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is in our area. We want Bashar al-Assad. The guy walks straight,’ he said, with a gesture of his hand.”

No one escorted me in a Syrian government vehicle to that embassy, by the way. I took a bus, and then walked the remaining many kilometres (the road was so clogged with vehicles going to the embassy) with Syrians en route to vote.

In June 2014, a week after the elections within Syria, I traveled by public bus to Homs (once dubbed the “capital of the revolution”), where I saw Syrians celebrating the results of the election, one week after the fact, and spoke with Syrians beginning to clean up and patch up homes damaged from the terrorist occupation of their district.

When I returned to Homs in December 2015, shops and restaurants had re-opened where a year and a half prior they were destroyed. People were preparing to celebrate Christmas as they could not do when terrorists ruled. In Damascus, attending a choral concert I overheard people asking one another excitedly whether “he” was here. The day prior, President Assad and the First Lady had dropped in on the pracitising choir, to their surprise and delight. And although the church was within hitting distance of mortars fired by the west’s “moderates” (and indeed that area had been repeatedly hit by mortars), the people faced that prospect in hopes of a re-visit by the President.

These are just some of many examples of the support Syria’s president sees and the attempts to vilify he and other Syrian leadership. Even Fox News acknowledged his support, referring to the 2014 elections:

…it underscored the considerable support that President Bashar Assad still enjoys from the population, including many in the majority Sunni Muslim community. …Without Sunni support, however, Assad’s rule would have collapsed long ago.”

Regarding war crimes, Syria is fighting a war against terrorism, but corporate media continues fabricating claims, and repeating those fabricated, not-investigated, accusations. For example, the repeated claim of the Syrian government starving civilians. In my on the ground investigations, I’ve revealed the truth behind starvation (and hospitals destroyed, and “last doctors”) in Aleppo, in Madaya, in al-Waer, in Old Homs (2014). In all instances, starvation and lack of medical care was solely due to terrorists—including al-Qaeda—hoarding food (and medical supplies). Vanessa Beeley has in greater depth exposed those corporate media lies regarding eastern Aleppo.

Even Reuters later reported on finding stockpiles of food in a “rebel” held building, citing civilians saying specifically that the Army of Islam “rebels”,  “kept all these items, here and there. They did not allow us to eat even a piece of bread. We died out of hunger.”

Regarding chemical weapons accusations, those have long been negated by the investigations of Seymour Hersh (on Ghouta 2013; on Khan Sheikhoun 2017) and the UN’s own Carla Del Ponte who said:

“…there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Regarding convoys allegedly bombed, see my own article on one such claim, as well as award-winning investigative journalist, Gareth Porter’s article.

Regarding whether the White Helmets have done any good work rescuing civilians: they are working solely in areas occupied by al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists, so no one can prove whether they have actual done any rescue work of civilians. However, we have numerous on the ground witness testimonies to the contrary, that the White Helmets denied medical care to civilians not affiliated with terrorist groups.

In September 2017, Murad Gazdiev (instrumental in his honest reporting from Aleppo during much of 2016) documented how the White Helmets headquarters in Bustan al-Qasr, Aleppo, was filled with Hell Canons (used to fire gas canister bombs on Aleppo’s civilians and infrastructure) and remnants of a bomb-making factory. The headquarters was in a school.

Gazdiev’s reporting on the headquarters was preceded by French citizen Pierre Le Corf, living in Aleppo for over the past year, who visited the White Helmets headquarters in March 2017 (and again in April), documenting the al-Qaeda and ISIS linked flags, logos, and paraphernalia found inside the White Helmets headquarters, and that the White Helmets’ headquarters was next to a central al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) headquarters. Le Corf also wrote about his encounters with civilians from Aleppo’s east, and their take on the White Helmets:

“…the last two families I met told me that they helped the injured terrorists first and sometimes left the civilians in the rubble. When the camera was spinning everyone was agitated, as soon as the camera extinguished, the lives of the people under rubble took less importance…. all the videos you’ve seen in the media come from one or the other. Civilians couldn’t afford cameras or 3G internet package when it was already difficult to buy bread, only armed and partisan groups.”

Vanessa Beeley took testimonies she took from civilians from eastern, al-Qaeda-occupied Aleppo, in December 2016 when the city was liberated. Beeley later wrote:

“When I asked them if they knew of the “civil defence”, they all nodded furiously and said, “yes, yes – Nusra Front civil defence”. Most of them elaborated and told me that the Nusra Front civil defence never helped civilians, they only worked for the armed groups.”

Beeley also wrote of the White Helmets’ complicity in the massacre of civilians (including 116 children) from Foua and Kafraya in April 2017.

Credentials, Please: What Is Journalism?

Regarding Solon’s question on my competency as a journalist, I note the following:

I began reporting from on the ground in Palestine in 2007, first blogging and later publishing in various online media.

In 2007, I spent 8 months in the occupied West Bank in occupied Palestine, in some of the most dangerous areas where Palestinians are routinely abused, attacked, abducted and killed by both the Israeli army and the illegal Jewish colonists. There, I began blogging, documenting the crimes in print with witness testimonies, first person interviews, my own eye-witness experiences, photos and videos.

After being deported from Palestine by Israeli authorities in December 2007, in 2008 I  sailed to Gaza from Cyprus and documented not only the daily Israeli assaults on unarmed male, female, elderly and child farmers and fishers, but also the effects of the brutal Israeli full siege on Gaza, Israel’s sporadic bombings and land invasions, and of course two major massacres (Dec 2008/ Jan 2009 and Nov 2012).

In the 2008/2009 war against Palestinian civilians, I was on the ground in northern Gaza with rescuers—actual rescuers, no acting, no staging—under the bombings, and under heavy sniper fire. I was also on an upper floor of a media building in Gaza City that was bombed while I was in it. And otherwise, I remained in Gaza after the slaughter had ended, taking horrific testimonies, documenting Israel’s war crimes, including Israel’s: assassinations of children, widespread use of White Phosphorous on civilians; holding civilians as human shields; and targeting (and killing) of medics.

See this link for a more detailed description of this documentation, with many examples, and my further documentation during the November 2012 Israeli massacre of Palestinians, as well as detailed accounts of my reporting from seven trips, on the ground, around Syria.

While questioning my credentials as an investigative reporter in the Middle East, The Guardian casually assigned the story to a San Fransisco based writer specializing in fluff piecesfashion and Russophobic analysis, who visibly has little to no understanding of what is happening on the ground in Syria.

Addressing “the propaganda that is so often disguised as journalism,”award-winning journalist and film maker, John Pilger, said (emphasis added):

Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented. It’s a history few journalists talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising.

 

As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called ‘professional journalism’ was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment, objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalists. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media.

 

The whole thing was entirely bogus. For what the public didn’t know, was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources. And that hasn’t changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories, domestic and foreign, and you’ll find that they’re dominated by governments and other establishment interests. That’s the essence of professional journalism.

On a publicly-shared Facebook post, journalist Stephen Kinzer wrote:

“I happen to agree with Eva’s take on Syria, but from a journalist’s perspective, the true importance of what she does goes beyond reporting from any single country. She challenges the accepted narrative–and that is the essence of journalism. Everything else is stenography. Budding foreign correspondents take note!!”

In The Guardian’s smear piece, it is interesting that Solon employed a tactic used to denigrate the credibility of a writer by dubbing he/she merely a “blogger”. In her story, Solon used “blogger” four times, three times in reference to Vanessa Beeley (who contributes in depth articles to a variety of online media).

In the latter case, she quoted executive director of the Purpose Inc-operated “Syria Campaign” PR project, James Sadri saying:

“A blogger for a 9/11 truther website who only visited Syria for the first time last year should not be taken seriously as an impartial expert on the conflict.”

Remind me when either Sadri or Solon was last there? Seems to be 2008 for Sadri, and never for Solon. But they are “credible” and someone like Beeley who has since her first 2016 visit to Syria has returned numerous occasions, in the country at pivotal times—like during the liberation of Aleppo, speaking with Syrian civilians from eastern areas formerly occupied by al-Qaeda and co-extremists—is not?

As for bloggers, there are many insightful writers and researchers self-publishing on blogs (for example,  this blog). However, that aside, it is amusing to note that Solon on her LinkedIn profile list her first skill as blogging. Is she a mere blogger?

oli blogging

Regarding Solon’s use of the “truthers” theme, did she recycle this from an article on Wired peddled eight months ago? Her use of “truthers” is clearly to paint anyone who investigates the White Helmets as Alex Jones-esque. Is she capable of originality?

castello

Nov 4, 2016: Less than 100 metres away, the second of two mortars fired by terrorist factions less than 1 km from Castello Road on Nov. 4. The road and humanitarian corridor were targeted at least seven times that day by terrorist factions. Many of those in corporate media had retired to the bus, and donned helmets and flak jackets. I was on the road without such luxuries. Read about it here.

Guardian Uses CIA “Conspiracy Theory” Tactic

In addition to using denigrating terms, The Guardian threw in the loaded CIA term “conspiracy theorists”.

As Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media Studies and author, noted in a June 2017 panel (emphasis added):

“Conspiracy theory was not much used by journalist for the decades prior to 1967, when suddenly it’s used all the time, and increasingly ever since.

And the reason for this is that the CIA at that time sent a memo to its station chiefs world wide, urging them to use their propaganda assets and friends in the media, to discredit the work of Mark Lane… books attacking the Warren Commission Report. Mark Lane’s was a best seller, so the CIA’s response was to send out this memo urging a counter-attack, so that hacks responsive to the agency would write reviews attacking these authors as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and using one or more of five specific arguments listed in the memo.”

Guess Solon got the memo.

Professor James Tracy elaborated:

“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.”

Researcher and writer Kevin Ryan noted (emphasis added):

“In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.

 

“…Of course, in these uses the phrase is always delivered in a context in which ‘conspiracy theorists’ were made to seem less intelligent and less rationale than people who uncritically accept official explanations for major events. President George W. Bush and his colleagues often used the phrase conspiracy theory in attempts to deter questioning about their activities.”

In her piece for the Guardian, Solon threw in the Russia is behind everything clause.

Scott Lucas (who Solon quotes in her own article) in August 2017 wrote (emphasis added):

“Russian State outlets have pursued a campaign — especially since Moscow’s military intervention in September 2015.”

Solon’s article? (emphasis added):

“The campaign to discredit the White Helmets started at the same time as Russia staged a military intervention in Syria in September 2015…”

But I’m sure this is a mere coincidence.

Initial Investigations Into The White Helmets Precede Russia’s

As mentioned earlier in this article, in 2014 and early 2015, long before any Russian media took notice, Cory Morningstar and Rick Sterling were already countering the official story of the White Helmets.

Morningstar on September 17, 2014, wrote:

“The New York public relations firm Purpose has created at least four anti-Assad NGOs/campaigns: The White Helmets, Free Syrian Voices [3], The Syria Campaign [4] and March Campaign #withSyria. …The message is clear. Purpose wants the green light for military intervention in Syria, well-cloaked under the guise of humanitarianism – an oxymoron if there ever was one.”

This is where the White Helmets step in.

Rick Sterling’s April 9, 2015, article looked at the White Helmets as a PR project for western intervention in Syria. He wrote (emphasis added):

“White Helmets is the newly minted name for “Syrian Civil Defence”. Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria. Rather it was created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor whose company is based in Dubai.

Since her initial scrutiny into the White Helmets in September 2015, by October revealing their ties to executioners in Syria, Vanessa Beeley has relentlessly pursued the organization, and the lies and propaganda around it, their funding of at least over $150 million, far more than needed for medical supplies and high-tech camera equipment.

As 21st Century Wire pointed out (emphasis added):

“Note that The Guardian and Olivia Solon also claim that the White Helmets are only “volunteers” – a foundational misrepresentation designed to generate sympathy for their employees. One could call this a gross lie when you consider the fact the White Helmets are paid a regular salary (which the Guardian deceptively call a ‘stipend’) which is in fact much higher than the national average salary in Syria – a fact conveniently left out in the Guardian’s apparent foreign office-led propaganda piece:

 

Guardian informationists like Solon would never dare mention that the White Helmet’s ‘monthly stipend’ is far in excess of the standard salary for a Syrian Army soldier who is lucky to take home $60 -$70 per month.”

The Guardian Whitewashes the White Helmets

What are some things The Guardian could have investigated, had Solon’s story not been predetermined and had she approached with an honest intent to investigate the White Helmets?

  • Solon very misguidedly chose to highlight the White Helmets’ “mannequin challenge” video, writing that the video was “stripped of its context”. What was the context? That the White Helmets, supposedly frantically, full-time rescuing civilians under the bombs, took time to make a video simulating a heroic rescue scene? The video reveals the patently obvious point that the White Helmets can clearly stage a very convincing “rescue” video. But Solon ignores this point, it doesn’t fit her factless, Russophobic story. Further, I cannot imagine any of the Palestinian rescuers I worked with wasting a moment of precious time for such an absurd video.
  • That in spite of the White Helmets’ professed motto, “To save a life is to save all of humanity” they willingly participated in executions of civilians. But Solon wrote those extremist-affiliated White Helmets who hold weapons or stand on dead bodies or chant with al-Qaeda off as “isolated” and “rogue” actors, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Best part? It wasn’t Russia which photographed them, it was from their own social media accounts, where they proudly displayed their allegiance to terrorists.

 

In her attempt to defend the “rogue” assertion, Solon brings in White Helmets leader, Raed Saleh, who she doesn’t mention was denied entry to the US in April 2016, and deemed by the State Department’s Mark Toner to have ties to extremists.

Here’s one poignant example of a rogue actor who was dealt with by White Helmets’ leadership:

“Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen, and he later became infamous for his involvement in the execution of two prisoners of war in Aleppo. For this rogue bad appleness he was supposedly fired from the White Helmets, although he was later photographed still with them. He has also been photographed celebrating ‘victory’ with Nusra Front in Idlib.”

  • The soldiers which Solon calls “pro-Assad fighters” are actually members of Syria’s national army. Lexicon is important, and by denigrating members of the national army, Solon is playing a very old, and once again lacking in originality, lexicon card worthy of some UN member states who violate UN protocol and in the UN call the Syrian government a “regime” (as Solon also does…) instead of government. In the UN, governments must be called by their official names. The Syrian Arab Republic, or the government of Syria.
  • That it is not the entire UNSC which believes that Syria has committed the crimes Solon repeats, it is some members with an admitted vested interest in toppling the Syrian government.

 

The Chemical Card

In her attempt to validate the White Helmets, and delegitimize those who question them, The Guardian article presented as fact claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017, that the White Helmets provided valuable documentation to the fact, and stated that Beeley and myself were some of the “most vocal sceptics” of the official narrative.

But so was the British and US media:

“The following Mail Online article was published and subsequently removed.

Note the contradictory discourse: “Obama issued warning to Syrian president Bashar al Assad”, “White House gave green light to chemical weapons attack”.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-06-at-21.01.09-768x725

From the horse’s mouth: CNN

Screen-Shot-2017-04-06-at-19.12.35-768x144

Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons

Amusingly, according to the article (by the Qatari-owned channel, Al Jazeera) which The Guardian provided to back up their assertion of the Syrian government’s culpability (instead of providing the September 2017 UN report, itself questionable, and a much longer read for Solon), (emphasis added):

“All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Sheikhoun.”

Reasonable grounds to believe is not exactly a confirmation of evidence, it’s just a belief.

The same article noted the investigators had not been to Syria and “based their findings on photographs of bomb remnants, satellite imagery and witness testimony.”

Witness testimony from an al-Qaeda-dominated area? Very credible. The White Helmet leader in Khan Sheikhoun, Mustafa al-Haj Yussef, is an extremist showing allegiance to the actions of al-Qaeda. As Vanessa Beeley wrote:

“Yussef has called for the shelling of civilians, the execution of anyone not fasting during Ramadan, the murder of anyone considered a Shabiha, the killing of the SAA and the looting of their property. …He clearly supports both Nusra Front, an internationally recognised terrorist group, and Ahrar Al Sham…Yussef is far from being neutral, impartial or humanitarian.

The initial analysis (of an April 2017 White House statement on Khan Sheikhoun) by Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Theodore Postol, found (emphasis added):

“I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

Postol’s analysis concludes that the alleged evidence

“points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4,” and notes that “the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft.”

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh also looked at the official accusations, noting that claims made by MSF contradicted the official accusation of the Syrian government bombing the area with sarin. Hersh wrote (emphasis added):

“A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that ‘eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.’ MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there ‘smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.’ In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.”

The second article to which Solon linked was a NY Times article which called the report a “politically independent investigation”. This should make readers pause to guffaw, as the investigating mechanism includes the questionably-funded OPCW, and among those which the investigators interviewed were al-Qaeda’s rescuers.

Regarding the report, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli (founder and chairman of Swedish Professors and Doctors for Human Rights) in November 2017, refuted it as “inaccurate” and “politically biased”. Points he made included (emphasis added):

  • “The same JIM authors acknowledge that rebels in Khan Shaykhun have however destroyed evidence by filling the purported impact “crater” with concrete. Why the “rebels” have done that – and what consequences that sabotage would have for the investigation of facts is not even considered by the panel.”
  • “By acknowledging that Khan Shaykhun was then under control of al-Nusra, the JIM report exhibits yet another methodological contradiction: That would mean that al-Nusra and its jihadists allies, by having control of the area, they were also in control of the ‘official’ information delivered from Khan Shaykhun on the alleged incident. This would imperatively call for a questioning of the reliability/credibility (bias) of main sources that the panel used for its allegations.”

 

Twitter user @Syricide picked up on one of the JIM’s most alarming professed irregularity, tweeting:

Syricide

Even the Nation in April 2017 ran a piece stressing the need for actual investigation into the chemical weapons claims, citing the research of Postol, as well noting the following (emphasis added):

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA case officer and Army intelligence officer, told radio host Scott Horton on April 6 that he was “hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available, who are saying the essential narrative we are hearing about the Syrians and Russians using chemical weapons is a sham.”

Giraldi also noted that ‘people in the both the agency [CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented’ what had taken place in Khan Sheikhun. Giraldi reports that his sources in the military and the intelligence community “are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the US media.”

The same article included the words of the former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, who noted:

“It defies belief that he would bring this all on his head for no military advantage.” Ford said he believes the accusations against Syria are “simply not plausible.”

So, in fact, no, some of the most vocal and informed sceptics were neither Beeley nor myself, but MIT Professor Emeritus Theodore Postol, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, former UK ambassador Peter Ford, and former CIA and Army intelligence officer Philip Giraldi, not exactly “fringe” voices.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry in April 2017 wrote of a NY Times deflection tactic (one which Solon employed), emphasis added:

“Rather than deal with the difficulty of assessing what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, which is controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and where information therefore should be regarded as highly suspect, Rutenberg simply assessed that the conventional wisdom in the West must be correct.

 

To discredit any doubters, Rutenberg associated them with one of the wackier conspiracy theories of radio personality Alex Jones, another version of the Times’ recent troubling reliance on McCarthyistic logical fallacies, not only applying guilt by association but refuting reasonable skepticism by tying it to someone who in an entirely different context expressed unreasonable skepticism.”

That sounds familiar. Solon wrote:

“Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also an editor at Infowars.com.”

Infowars is Alex Jones’ site, and Henningsen is for many years no longer affiliated.

Solon followed this with another non sequitur argument about Beeley and the US Peace Council meeting with the Syrian president in 2016, a point irrelevant either to the issue of the White Helmets or the alleged chemical attacks. But irrelevance is what corporate media do best these days.

The Guardian story-writer has done literally zero investigative research into the fallacies she presents as fact in her article. She’s just employed the same, predictable, tired, old CIA defamation tactics.

Integrity-Devoid Sources Solon Cited

In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, it is interesting to note some of the other sources Solon quoted to fluff her story:

  • Scott Lucas, whose allegiance to Imperialists is evident from his twitter feed, a textbook Russophobe, Iranophobe. Lucas relied on the words of terrorist-supporter, Mustafa al-Haj Youssef, for his August article on the White Helmets (the one Solon seemingly plagiarized from). Solon relied on Lucas’ smears to dismiss the work and detract from the integrity of those Solon attacked. That, and being a token professor to include in attempt at legitimacy, was Lucas’ sole function in the Guardian story.

 

  • Amnesty International, the so-called human rights group which as Tony Cartalucci outlined in August 2012, is “US State Department Propaganda”, and does indeed receive money from governments and corporate-financier interests, including “convicted financial criminal” George Soros’ Open Society.

 

It’s not just “conspiracy theorists” like Cartalucci who have written on Amnesty’s dark side. Ann Wright, a 29-year U.S. Army/Army Reserve Colonel and a 16-year U.S. Diplomat serving in numerous countries, including Afghanistan, who “resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war,” and “returned to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2010 on fact-finding missions,” has as well. Her co-author was Coleen Rowley, “a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003, and a whistleblower “on some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures.” Together, in June 2012, they wrote about “Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars”.

Professor of international law, Francis Boyle, who himself was a member of the US board of Amnesty, wrote of the group’s role in shilling for war. In October 2012, he wrote of Amnesty’s war mongering regarding Iraq—endorsing the dead incubator babies story told by the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter—and his own attempts to inform Amnesty “that this report should not be published because it was inaccurate.” He noted:

“That genocidal war waged by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, inter alia, during the months of January and February 1991, killed at a minimum 200,000 Iraqis, half of whom were civilians. Amnesty International shall always have the blood of the Iraqi People on its hands!”

Boyle’s parting words included:

“…based upon my over sixteen years of experience having dealt with AI/London and AIUSA at the highest levels, it is clear to me that both organizations manifest a consistent pattern and practice of following the lines of the foreign policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel. …Effectively, Amnesty International and AIUSA function as tools for the imperialist, colonial and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel.”

  • Eliot Higgins, of whom Gareth Porter wrote:

“Eliot Higgins is a non-resident fellow of the militantly anti-Russian, State Department-funded Atlantic Council, and has no technical expertise on munitions.

British journalist Graham Phillips wrote in February 2016 on Eliot Higgins. Answering his question on who is Eliot Higgins, Phillips wrote:

“He never finished college, dropping out of the Southampton Institute of Higher Education. When asked…what he studied at university, his answer was, Media…I think.’ Higgins has always been completely open about his lack of expertise.”

The Guardian’s Russia Obsession

By now it should be clear that the intent of Solon’s December 18th story was not to address the manifold questions (facts) about the White Helmets’ ties to (inclusion of) terrorists in Syria, nor to question the heroic volunteers’ obscene amount of funding from Western sources very keen to see Syria destabilized and its government replaced.

Rather, the intent was to whitewash this rescue group, and to demonize those of us highlighted, and especially to insert more Russophobia (although Russia’s military intervention in Syria is legal, unlike that of the US-led coalition, of which Solon’s UK is a part).

Since our last early October communication until the long-awaited publishing of her slander-filled piece, Solon produced (or co-produced) 24 stories for the Guardian, nine of which were blame-Russia! sort of stories, including such lexicon as “Russian operatives”, “Russian interference”, “Russian trolls”, “Russian propagandists”, and “Russian bots”.

Is Baroness Cox, of the UK House of Lords, who recently spoke in support of Russia’s (invited) intervention in Syria, a “conspiracy theorist”, a Russian operative” or Kremlin-funded? She said (emphasis added):

“And the fourth point that I would like to make particularly to you is the very real appreciation that is expressed by everyone in Syria of the support by Russia to help get rid of ISIS [Daesh] and get rid of all the other Islamist religious groups.”

Cox, who went to Syria, is probably not a Kremlin or Assad agent. She probably just listened to the voices of Syrians in Syria, like the rest of us Russian propagandists who have bothered to go (repeatedly) to Syria and speak with Syrian civilians.

This is the first part of a longer article. Part II is forthcoming.

(*Some small additions are marked in red.)

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[Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.]