Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The National Endowment for Democracy - Supporting America's Democratic Agenda

Washington's non-stop blathering about Russian electoral interference seems to be unending and we can assure ourselves that it will continue ad nauseam as we enter the 2020 presidential election cycle.  While America's political leadership takes great pains to assure American voters that Russia is to blame for America's political woes, it doesn't take much digging to find that Washington is guilty of the same crimes that it is accusing Vladimir Putin of undertaking.

Let's start by looking at a key player in Washington, the National Endowment for Democracy or NED.  NED claims that it is a private, nonprofit foundation "dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world."  NED was founded in 1983 as you can see in this announcement from then-President Ronald Reagan:

NED's Statement of Principles and Objectives reads as follows:

"Democracy involves the right of the people freely to determine their own destiny.

The exercise of this right requires a system that guarantees freedom of expression, belief and association, free and competitive elections, respect for the inalienable rights of individuals and minorities, free communications media, and the rule of law."

As I noted above, NED touts itself as a "private" foundation, in other words, it is independent of government. That could not be further from the truth.  Here's what NED has to say about itself that belies its true character:

"NED is a unique institution. The Endowment’s nongovernmental character gives it a flexibility that makes it possible to work in some of the world’s most difficult circumstances, and to respond quickly when there is an opportunity for political change. NED is dedicated to fostering the growth of a wide range of democratic institutions abroad, including political parties, trade unions, free markets and business organizations, as well as the many elements of a vibrant civil society that ensure human rights, an independent media, and the rule of law.

This well-rounded approach responds to the diverse aspects of democracy and has proved both practical and effective throughout NED’s history. Funded largely by the U.S. Congress, the support NED gives to groups abroad sends an important message of solidarity to many democrats who are working for freedom and human rights, often in obscurity and isolation.

The Endowment is guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration that can be realized through the development of democratic institutions, procedures, and values. Democracy cannot be achieved through a single election and need not be based upon the model of the United States or any other particular country. Rather, it evolves according to the needs and traditions of diverse political cultures. By supporting this process, the Endowment helps strengthen the bond between indigenous democratic movements abroad and the people of the United States — a bond based on a common commitment to representative government and freedom as a way of life.

From its beginning, NED has remained steadfastly bipartisan. Created jointly by Republicans and Democrats, NED is governed by a board balanced between both parties and enjoys Congressional support across the political spectrum. NED operates with a high degree of transparency and accountability reflecting our founders’ belief that democracy promotion overseas should be conducted openly."

For an organization with a "nongovernmental character", it certainly is closely linked to Washington, isn't it?  In fact, NED receives its funding through an annual appropriation from the United States Congress through the department of State.  NED does state that it is NED's independent Board of Directors that controls how the appropriation is spent.  Here is the current board noting that Elliott Abrams, an American diplomat who is now Donald Trump's U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela is currently on leave:

The list reads like a who's who of Washington, doesn't it?  

NED claims that it works as follows:

1.) Helping democrats in closed societies by working with both democrats within the country in question and those in exile.

2.) Consolidating democracy boy strengthening institutions and procedures of electoral democracy to ensure fair elections.

3.) Applying a multi-sectoral approach through its four core institutions which represent America's two political parties, its labour movement and its business community.

4.) Co-operating with other democracy foundations to encourage all established democracies to create organizations that are similar to NED.

5.) Cultivating partner organizations in new democracies who will then share their democratic expertise with democrats in nations that are not currently democratic.

6.) Building a worldwide movement for democracy.

NED funds only organizations that are non-governmental, a rather ironic choice given its own ties to Washington.  Each year, NED makes direct grant to more than 1600 non-governmental groups that are working for democracy in more than 90 nations around the world.  An average grant lasts for 12 months and is around $50,000 in size.

With the Russian 2016 election meddling narrative in mind, let's look at a sample of some of the projects that this so-called "private foundation" undertook in Russia in 2018 and how much was spent on each project:

This is just a small sampling of NED's activities in Russia.  IN case you happen to think that 2018 is a "one off", here is a partial listing of what NED did "for" Russia in 2016, the same year that Washington accuses Russia of meddling in the American electoral system:

In 2016, NED gave 108 grants totalling $6.8 million to influence Russia's political system.

It is very apparent that NED's overt actions in Russia and other nations around the world are very similar in scope and style to the Central Intelligence Agency's covert nation re-engineering operations.  While the spending of taxpayers' dollars by NED is insignificant compared to what is spent on the American intelligence community as a whole, the spending of any amount of money to influence democracy by funding groups that have parallel interests to Washington's agenda in other nations can only be viewed as meddling.

The National Endowment for Democracy - "Supporting Freedom Around the World".  That is, freedom and democracy "American-style".

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