November 26, 2006
As the engineered sectarian melt-down in Lebanon crawls forward, it is interesting to read the neocon columnists as they bewail the erosion of the "Cedar Revolution," that is to say the neocon-neolib subversion of Lebanese politics.
"In this sense, the Gemayal assassination is one of the opening shots in Hezbollah’s showdown with supporters of the Cedar Revolution," writes Mario Loyola for the National Review Online.
But what of this so-called Cedar Revolution? Is it purely a Lebanese political phenomenon, having risen out of the anger and opposition to the presence of Syria in the country?
"Standing behind Lebanon’s current effort to build democracy are U.S. and other international aid groups. Many had spent the past years building the foundations for democratic change. Now they can help ensure the success of what is known as the Cedar Revolution—named after the national tree depicted on the Lebanese flag," explains USAID, a documented CIA asset, now more precisely an asset for the Pentagon and the State Department, as noted by Bill Berkowitz earlier this year.
"The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) functions as an instrument of CIA penetration into civil society, by enabling the 'legitimate’ funding of millions of dollars to promote U.S. foreign policy abroad and influence internal politics of foreign nations while avoiding Congressional scrutiny," writes Eva Golinger. According to Ralph McGehee, a former CIA agent, and other former CIA operatives, the agency manipulated the trade union movement in the Philippines through USAID front organizations.
"In a recent article in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, American sociologist James Petras describes how progressive non-government organizations can be neutralized, if not coopted, thru US government, big business-backed funding agencies or CIA fronts and conduits masquerading as foundations," writes Roland G. Simbulan for the Manila Studies Program at the University of the Philippines.
The purpose, according to Petras, is "to mystify and deflect discontent away from direct attacks on the corporate/banking power structure and profits toward local micro-projects …that avoids class analysis of imperialism and capitalist exploitation." Neo-liberalism today, according to Petras, encourages NGOs to "emphasize projects, not movements; they 'mobilize’ people to produce at the margins, not to struggle to control the means of production and wealth; they focus on the technical financial aspects of projects not on structural conditions that shape the everyday lives of people." While using the language of the Left such as "people empowerment," "gender equality," "sustainable development" etc., these NGOs funded by USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Asia Foundation, etc. have become linked to a framework of collaboration with donors and even with government agencies with whom they have partnerships that subordinate activity to nonconfrontational politics, rather than militant mass mobilization.
But it is not simply Asia where USAID works its "democratic" magic, more accurately described as cultural and economic voodoo. The CIA (and Pentagon) connected so-called NGO has turned up in Iraq, Haiti, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Nigeria, and elsewhere.
It is especially interesting to read the account of USAID interference in Lebanon, as recounted by the Lebanese socialist Bassem Chit. "Lebanon’s 'cedar revolution’ is being touted as the shining example of regime change on the cheap. Since the mass protest drove out the Syrians last year, Lebanon has seen an ascending flow of US interference. It varies from direct political manipulation and media campaigns to discreet funding of civil movements through 'NGOs," Chit wrote in May of this year.
It is worth quoting Chit at length:
A few months after the protests I received a call from a friend telling me that a US NGO called Freedom House wanted to meet "Lebanese activists". Being a well known activist on the left and one of the organizers of the anti-war movement, I was intrigued by the purpose of the meeting. A few of us were invited to an expensive British restaurant in one of Beirut’s trendy neighborhoods.
An American-Lebanese woman representing Freedom House was accompanied by a "retired revolutionary" from Ukraine. The guy was eager to get us on board, and boasted of the joys of being "US-funded" — he added that after Ukraine’s Orange Revolution he even had the opportunity to "meet George Bush." He obviously thought that was enough to close the deal.
After some questioning about the intentions of Freedom House it became clear they wanted to "fund youth movements to help the process of democratization". At that point we told them that if they really wanted democracy to thrive in Lebanon they should leave the country immediately. Undeterred, they returned a few months later wanting to fund "transparency workshops and projects". Again we refused.
That the US is wanting to finance Lebanese leftists might seem odd, but it is part of a pattern of political interference that emerged since the invasion of Iraq. During the "cedar revolution" US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman invited many of the leaders of the anti-Syrian movement to dinner parties. The US embassy also had a direct hand in fomenting the anti-Syrian protests.
The New York Post reported how, at the height of last year’s protests, "the CIA and European intelligence services were quietly giving money and logistical support to organizers of the anti-Syrian protests to ramp up pressure on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad… The secret program is similar to previous support of pro-democracy movements in Georgia and Ukraine, which also led to peaceful demonstrations."
Now the country is awash with dubious NGOs. Among them is the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon, headed by Ziad Abdel Nour. The son of wealthy right wing Lebanese MP, Nour let the cat out of the bag when he declared, "We have absolutely no problem with heavy US involvement in Lebanon. On an economic level, military level, political level, security level… whatever it is. Israel is the 51st state of the United States. Let Lebanon be the 52nd state. And if the Arabs don’t like it, tough luck."
As well as trying to tempt the left into its orbit and bankroll the many genuine civil movements, there is a whiff of arrogance about the US in Lebanon. Embassy staff and their hangers-on regularly colonize the cafes and restaurants in downtown Beirut. It seems no expense will be spared to wine and dine their way to regime change.
Yet the US has a problem. The sparkle has gone out of the "cedar revolution" and, far from delivering stability and prosperity, the country is sinking into economic malaise. The slogan that marked the revolution, "We have had enough of your lies, now leave", is still being chanted, but now its is not aimed at the Syrians but at the US-backed politicians that run the country. You can’t buy that.
It is interesting Chit mentions the Freedom House. This so-called NGO is stacked with neocons and neolib one-worlders, including James "World War Four" Woolsey, a former director of the CIA and VP for Booz Allen Hamilton, and the Rockefeller protégé Zbigniew Brzezinski, the engineer behind the Afghan Mujahideen, eventually to conveniently morph into al-Qaeda. Others include the Trilateralist Samuel P. Huntington, architect of the "clash of civilizations" currently underway, and Clinton national security adviser Anthony Lake, former Kissinger lackey and Clinton’s pointman on the bombing of Yugoslavia.
It now appears all the hard work of the neocons and the USAID, NED, and other reactionary NGOs—work designed to subvert indigenous political activity frowned upon by the one-world types and their neocon kissing cousins—is for naught. "Hezbollah may be about to win power in Lebanon," laments Mario Loyola. "But in the political dialogue of Lebanon—and the Arab world—Hezbollah has already won the argument. The murderous law of Hezbollah’s many grievances is now the real constitution of that country. That is the meaning of the martyrdom of Pierre Gemayal, and it is a tragedy for all of us."
Of course, Mr. Loyola is speaking the language of his masters—the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, yet another neocon "think tank" aligned with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, and the above mentioned Freedom House.
Predictably, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies includes on its roster the usual suspects, including the Ritchie Rich Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Newt Gingrich, Joseph Lieberman, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, and Richard Perle.
Obviously, with friends like these, Lebanon needs no enemies.