Who pulls the strings behind world unrest?

Globe, December 16, 2007

The sinister visage of Karl Rove* gazes out from the cover of the current issue of Globe, Xinhua News Agency's biweekly magazine of international politics.

The cover feature for final issue of 2007 is a doozy: "Investigation: America's Fake Think Tanks - the dark hand behind non-violent regime change." Here's the introduction to one article:

American planning and participation in "color revolutions" takes place through a series of NGOs disguised as think tanks and foundations. Most of these "fake think tanks" are funded by the US government, and though they claim to be think tanks, they are actually nothing more than tools used to carry out government-ordered coups.

These agencies are not rare in the US. They are numerous and have complicated relationships with each other. Several fairly prominent ones are the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation led by financier George Soros, Freedom House, and the Albert Einstein Institution.

The article mixes cursory summaries of the makeup and goals of those four organizations (basically what you'll find in those Wikipedia links) with examples of their activities:

  1. NED's anti-Chavez activity in Venezuela;
  2. Funding by Soros organizations for regime change in Eastern Europe, particularly the Orange Revolution in Ukraine;
  3. The oppostion newspaper funded by Freedom House (and the US State Department) in Kyrgyzstan that "in a single month utterly overthrew the political foundation that Akayev had painstakingly run for fifteen years";
  4. The Albert Einstein Institution's involvement in Burma since the mid-1980s, particularly Gene Sharp and Robert Helvey's strategic training in non-violence.

Unfortunately, the article does not go into much detail about any of these situations, and the most intriguing point mentioned—that "fake think tanks" whipped up the recent protests in Burma—is mentioned only in a caption to a photo of a street jam-packed with crimson-robed monks.

The article concludes:

These "fake think tanks" are notorious on the international stage, and they have generated considerable opposition in the US itself. Republican candidate Ron Paul criticised the actions of the NED four years ago: it promotes the designs of a minority of US interest groups in the name of advancing democracy, it is ill-managed, corrupt, and wastes American taxpayer money while making enemies abroad.* He called for Congress to eliminate the organization.

Some liberal American academics, lawyers, and activists have formed the International Endowment for Democracy to oppose the NED. They point out "the tragic and rapidly deteriorating state of democracy in the United States, and the government's efforts (aided and abetted by such institutions as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)), to engage in what it calls 'democratic nation building' and 'democracy promotion'." By contrast, they urge the people of the world to promote and support America's own democracy.*

A second article gives additional information on Gene Sharp and his role in shaping the theory of non-violent regime change. After suggesting that the reader do a web search for Mr. Sharp to learn about his involvement with Aung San Suu Kyi, the article offers this depiction of his influence on the Burma protests:

In the Burma crisis, what was different from past worker and students protests was that the monks were substantially more in control of their actions. Things were thoroughly planned out beforehand, all political slogans were completely banned, no direct conflict occured with the police sent out by the authorities, and they voluntarily dispersed before sundown. These were key in putting the Burmese military junta into a difficult situation. Such careful strategies were described in detail by Gene Sharp in From Dictatorship to Democracy, the "bible of the color revolutions."

The article goes on to describe the geo-political interests that are driving Burmese regime change, and then paints a picture of how new, non-violent "soft regime change" may work in the future. Like the first article, it only scratches the surface of what there is to say about the subject. Karl Rove, incidentally, doesn't show up anywhere in the feature.

Also in this issue:

  • A feature on the Middle-East that examines four powder-kegs that have the potential to destabilize the region: Palestinian statehood, the Kurds, Turkey's role in the Middle East, and war in Iran;
  • The latest installment in the "Global Cutting-Edge Fashion Cities": Tokyo. Includes an interview with one of the directors of Kodansha, Japan's largest publisher;
  • An interview with Zhang Zilin, this year's Miss World;
  • The rush to train interpreters for the 2008 Olympics.

Note 0: Perhaps this is a photo of Michael Hayden, head of the CIA. See comments below.
Note 1: Those criticisms were actually made by Barbara Conry; Ron Paul merely quoted her in his article.
Note 2: This quotation is adapted from the English-language text of the IEFD's Statement of Purpose. Interestingly, it calls its founders "progressive," which is translated in the Chinese version as "具有进步思想的"; the Globe article calls them 自由派, "liberal."
Note 3: Globe is distinct from Global People (环球人物), People's Daily's magazine of global affairs. Last December, Danwei reported on a Global People feature about the major boosters of the China Threat concept.

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There are currently 18 Comments for Who pulls the strings behind world unrest?.

Comments on Who pulls the strings behind world unrest?

The Globe story is fairly accurate, I bet. It is in great company with Amy Kazmin's cracker in the FT recently.

The Financial Times
December 7, 2007
In 1994 a visionary American appeared on the Thai-Burmese border, preaching non-violence to students from Burma who more than five years before had fled a crackdown on a prodemocracy uprising and were committed to armed struggle against their country's military rulers.

Gene Sharp, the Oxford-educated, Harvard-affiliated theoretician on peaceful resistance to repression, urged the rebels to embrace non-violent means to fight the junta. His acolyte, retired colonel Robert Helvey, a US military attache in Rangoon in the 1980s, expounded on how to use military-style planning and strategising for peaceful dissent. Initially, few of the students paid heed. But, as the futility of combat against the powerful Burmese army grew more apparent in the late 1990s, the dissidents turned to alternative ways to fight for democracy - including Mr Sharp's teachings on undermining the pillars of a repressive regime.

Over the last three years, activists from the exile movement's "political defiance committee" have trained an estimated 3,000 fellow-Burmese from all walks of life - including several hundred Buddhist monks - in philosophies and strategies of nonviolent resistance and community organising. These workshops, held in border areas and drawing people from all over Burma, were seen as "training the trainers", who would go home and share these ideas with others yearning for change.

Are you sure that's Karl Rove on the cover? Looks a bit like Michael Hayden to me.

No mention of Mohatma Ghandi's non-violent regime change?

Abby Lavin: you may be right, but they do look pretty similar:

This is Karl Rove.

This is Michael Hayden.

That's not Karl Rove on the cover; it's Michael Hayden.

Good to know SOMEBODY is being useful & keeping tabs on those "trainers-of-trainers" (aka trouble-makers).

I for one am glad that somebody is getting to the bottom of this. The last thing anyone wants is unrest caused by ordinary people non-violently opposing repressive dictatorships around the globe. Won't somebody think of the repressive governments out there? Unrest looks bad, loses investment, and forces bloody crackdowns on monks and so forth. Well, now that it has all been exposed as a secret plot by the evil Americans, we can all sleep better at night....

The Chinese media now joins the ranks of the like of Bill O'Reilly, who spends half of his time bitching about how Soros is trying to bring him down personally because he funds sites like Media Matters, which take an anti-crazy position.

Soros also tried to bring democracy to China in 1989, and to help Kerry in 2004. Both failed. It makes the ominousness of people like Soros and the US government decrease a lot if you mention that the vast majority of the time, they fail.

Soros didn't cause the 1989 riots. The "Goddess of Democracy" students may have built the standard around which huge numbers of people rallied, but the proximate cause for the rioting--or at least the scale of the rioting--was soaring food price inflation. The backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall made matters yet worse.

Sigh...Chinese Buddhist been censored (or "moderated"): Two innocuous replies to 88 just FAIL to appear. But then, Life is full of great mysteries, I guess. Especially in area of "Censorship" (misdeed on "antagonist's" part) & "Moderation" (divine right on "protagonist's" part). Merry Christmas anyway.

chinese buddhist: Sorry, I reflexively deleted those comments without recognizing your name. When I checked the comment queue and saw two comments reading "Yup. Quite so. Indeed," they seemed to be the sort of generic spam comments we get hundreds of every day.

"Abby Lavin: you may be right, but they do look pretty similar:

This is Karl Rove.

This is Michael Hayden." ---written by Jeremy Goldkorn.

Speaking of lookalikes...
Hey Jeremy: did you know that you and Josh Groban look a lot alike?
That guy just outdid Elvis!!!!!!!
You should go around claiming you are Groban for free brew or something.
Anyway, Danwei should do a story about lookalikes...

(No grudge against this blog. It has journalistic integrity as an objective and balanced site. The following is directed to those obssesed with a regime change in China, especially those in the United States.)

You guys are crazy about democracy and pretending to have some moral superiority as if you have everthing good and possible back in your country, but you never ask an ordinary Chinese what he or she really wants.

So, now, let's me give your a China Situation 101:

I, as an ordanary Chinese middle class citizen, want peace, stability and prosperity. I want an accountable government. That's for sure. But I have strong doubts your democracy prescription will bring that to us. You have elected and corrupt governments all over the world. You even have Hamas-led extreme governments in the Middele East. I've been in Millde East for 2 years. Let's me tell your guys something. If you have what you call free and fair elections in that region, you will have popular, Islamic and anti-Amercian governments all over that region, from Morocco to Iran. But apparently your government will never let that happen. So, as you conveniently forget to note that the most repressive and corrupt government on the Planet, ie Saudi Arabia, is your dear ally.

Damn your regime change, be it violent or nonviolent. Go back and do that dirty thing in your own country. You have one of the most terrible and failed presidents in history. Why you're just sitting idle here and obssessed with a regime change in a country half a world away?

Let's me tell you again. I want an accountable and responsive government. We will have that through continuing reform and evolution. And we want to do that ourselves. You betrayed democray in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. We, as Chinese citizens, have never counted on you to bring your beautiful democracy to us. No, thanks, we can do it ourselfs. You'd better go back and mind your own business.

Again, dissidents are real and numerous in China, but they are never the mainstream. If you have a popular vote in China, most Chinese will vote for eventual military action against Taiwan if it goes atray and possible military action against whatever warships or carriers standing in the way.

By the way, most Chinese will also vote for a better, more prosperous and peaceful China, and, of course, a mega gala in summer 2008.

You just don't know Chinese, or you just choose to believe what you want to believe. What a pity.

"Go back and do that dirty thing in your own country. You have one of the most terrible and failed presidents in history. "---MUNIR MING

I assume you are talking about BUSH. Why is he a failure? He is residing over one of a stock market that consistently sets all-time highs. There is NO immediate plan for the U.S. to bring democracy to your land because if we did than it wouldn't be business as usual. It behooves most of the world not to press your land for these essential rights of the populace because it will hurt their bottom-lines. Everyone preaches morality but money still talks to all leaders of the world. As long as the status quo still produces a constant cashflow than most of them don't care much for change. When that money supply is interrupted then these conflicts arise. Don't be too naive or upset about it...this is the way that it is. Sure it's messed up and your land probably does it much more than the U.S. its just that we are more subtile about it all. Plus most of us have religion and we feel bad about it and repent and eventually try and bring some good to those lands that you claim we abandon. Your country however consistently just takes want they want and makes deals with less than noble tyrants and leaves their people to fen for themselves. That's my 2 cents. Bush isn't incredibly good but he could probably win in a boxing match against your fearless leader.


I know there is no imminet regime change in China, but I just see it irritating that some people are always obssessed with that kind of thing in other people's country. When you're talking about regime change in cold scientific-like term, we see social unrest, confrontation, no business. That's why I dislike the whole idea so much.

As for Bush, I'm not talking about economy. Even there is ongoing subprime morgage crisis, but I don't think it is his fault. What I'm talking about is a reckless cowboy president squandering the resources of the only super power in the world jut to make the world a worse place. Go and check the special yearend edition of Newsweek. People around the world are talking about a post-Bush rehabiliation.

As for China-Sudan relations, I can tell you something from my own experience. I happened to visit south Sudan in the summer. People from China, Sudan, India and Malaysia are drilling for oil. Local villiagers, many of whom were fighters during the devastating war, are oil workers now. The oil companies are building water systems, clinics and schools. Yes, China is doing business there and needs the oil, but local people also benefit. What the US is doing is trying to support the southerners to break away from Sudan. Maybe you don't like the Khartoum government, but if you try to feul unrest in the south, there surely will be bloody confrontation again.

Business is the best way to help people. China benefits a lot from US investments. Surely US and China can do that in other countries. Just forget regime change and try to creat economic opportunities, because with economic opportunities usually come prosperity and hope.

Merry Christmas to all

MUNIR MING your sense of things is both warped and scary.

The horrible abuses in SUDAN far outweigh any progress that is made. Also I believe the Darfur region of Sudan is in the west and NOT the south as you mentioned. Your thoughts are so scary because your criticism of the world actually does nothing to help it. Your thoughts and those in the same school as you are perpetuating a lack of progress.

The underlying purpose of war is economics and politics and more often than not you can't separate the two. My country's government is run by business interests...your economy is run by the government. They both have problems. But your criticism and that of most on the left is that it is devoid of progress.

Regardless of the pretense for American's current war on terrorism (and say what you will about that) we can not leave Iraq or Afghanistan now or in the foreseeable future for if we do it will create a power vacuum. Iran or Syria would be happy to fill the void and then that area is totally doomed. Saddam had to go, Milosevic had to go, as should have Castro, and current lunatics Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez, and Mugabe amongst others. The fact that you don't recognize these tyrants for what they are is insane.

Please don't wish me a Merry Christmas after insulting my president.

I don't insult yours. Just because my countrymen have freedom of speech and can criticize our administration doesn't mean you have the right to do so...especially when you dare not do that to your own.

The U.S. never really volunteered for the role of "world police" but if the U.S. doesn't do it then who will? Your country? Come on now don't be naive. The U.S. helped you enter the WTO. The U.S. enabled you to win the Olympics. And you have the audacity to bite the hand that feeds. WOW!!!!!!!!!!

MUNIR MING sounds about right: I think his views represent the Chinese public quite accurately, which is "Be Constructive".

? FRITZ. Why shouldn't MM criticize Bush, when Americans criticize China without cease? Often without justification too. Okay, so to grant your wish, May You Have a Nasty Christmas.

"MUNIR MING sounds about right: I think his views represent the Chinese public quite accurately, which is "Be Constructive".

? FRITZ. Why shouldn't MM criticize Bush, when Americans criticize China without cease? Often without justification too. Okay, so to grant your wish, May You Have a Nasty Christmas."
---Chinese Buddhist

Yes they probably do represent your general public---of which is misinformed, and apathetic to change any of your own problems. You are both the opposite of constructive. Fix your own mess before you point the finger. That is what your country does best...criticize the U.S. when there are far more problems in your own homeland.

Mm and you shouldn't criticize Bush because you don't have this right...if you tried to exercise that right you would be killed or imprisoned and you dare not criticize your own leader because you are scared of the you pick on bush who is doing for more good than your head of state. Plus how the hell does bush affect you anyway?

Americans criticism of your land is probably justified...and it is more often than not constructive criticism that will help you for instance produce safer products that will benefit all.

Chinese Buddhist you are just an instigator and have nothing ever helpful to add to any conversation. How about you get a hobby like botany?

I would wish you a Merry Christmas but you probably have no religion so it's meaningless. Get an ethos.

Go have a bottle of Yanjing...

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