09 August 2009

Reply to Al Giordano re "Toppling a Coup, Part I: Dilemmas for the Honduras Regime"

I'm currently engaged in a debate over at NarcoNews' The Field, over comments to Al Giordano's article "Toppling a Coup, Part I: Dilemmas for the Honduras Regime".

This is my last reply. I didn't mean to stir a hornet's nest, but I think the criticism was over-the-top and not entirely accurate. Please go over and read the debate and decide for yourself. All comments will be published here.

Here is my reply sent in to The Field:

Thanks Al & Ivan. Let's try to keep this discussion civil shall we -Al?

1. You refer to "the US left" and "US activists", presumably about me. Actually I'm British, resident in Spain. Also, I am an ordinary man in the street, and I humbly apologise if my choice of words when writing my comment in a hurry was not to your liking. This is now the second time you've jumped on me like a ton of bricks. Its as if there has to be some kind of a 'pensamiento único' on the left which is crap.

2. Nowhere do I say anything contrary to your assertion that the US "only supported OTPOR in Serbia during the last three months of its struggle". That's a straw man Al.

William D. Montgomery, the former American ambassador to Croatia virtually confirmed what you say in this NYT article, so why should I counter it?

"'Milosevic was personal for Madeleine Albright, a very high priority,'' says Montgomery, who was yanked out of Croatia in June to head a group of officials monitoring Serbia. ''She wanted him gone, and Otpor was ready to stand up to the regime with a vigor and in a way that others were not. Seldom has so much fire, energy, enthusiasm, money -- everything -- gone into anything as into Serbia in the months before Milosevic went.''"

However, according to Paul B. McCarthy, an official with the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy:

''And so,'' McCarthy says, ''from August 1999 the dollars started to flow to Otpor pretty significantly.'' Of the almost $3 million spent by his group in Serbia since September 1998, he says, ''Otpor was certainly the largest recipient.'' The money went into Otpor accounts outside Serbia. At the same time, McCarthy held a series of meetings with the movement's leaders in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, and in Szeged and Budapest in Hungary. Homen, at 28 one of Otpor's senior members, was one of McCarthy's interlocutors. ''We had a lot of financial help from Western nongovernmental organizations,'' Homen says. ''And also some Western governmental organizations.''

"At the International Republican Institute, another nongovernmental Washington group financed partly by A.I.D., an official named Daniel Calingaert says he met Otpor leaders ''7 to 10 times'' in Hungary and Montenegro, beginning in October 1999. Some of the $1.8 million the institute spent in Serbia in the last year was ''provided direct to Otpor,'' he says. By this fall, Otpor was no ramshackle students' group; it was a well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States."

So, is McCarthy lying? Was Homen? Was Calingaert? Or is it Roger Cohen? Of course, it might very well be the case that they were trying to overstate their involvement.

You specifically say 3 months, but August 1999 to Sep/Oct 2000 is a bit more than 3 months...

3. You assert that I suggest "Ivan Marovich was...trained by IRI or any US agency", False. I said "they trained the student movement, Otpor". Once again Roger Cohen: "Calingaert's organization arranged for a seminar at the luxurious Budapest Hilton from March 31 to April 3. There a retired United States Army colonel, Robert Helvey, instructed more than 20 Otpor leaders in techniques of nonviolent resistance. This session appears to have been significant."

It was Srdja Popovic "...who coordinated the training of Otpor's 70,000 members in 130 branches...These training methods were heavily influenced by Helvey. Gathered in a conference room of the Budapest Hilton (''We thought it was stupid to organize a revolution in a luxury hotel,'' Srdja says, ''but the Americans chose that place''), the Otpor activists listened as Helvey dissected what he called the ''pillars of support'' of the regime. These naturally included the police, the army and the news media, but also the more intangible force of Milosevic's ''authority.'' That is, his capacity to give orders and be obeyed.

Find nonviolent ways to undermine authority, Helvey suggested. Look at Myanmar. There, the opposition National League for Democracy took a farmer's hat as its symbol; so everyone started to wear farmer's hats. The regime tried to make the hats illegal, but such repression merely provoked outrage..." etc.

4. Nobody said anything about "people in other lands" being "unable to do things for themselves" apart from yourself. Neither did I make any"claims that because, one, OTPOR had a clenched fist logo and then, two, the Iranian resistance used a clenched fist logo that there is some kind of US backed conspiracy in both." That was you.

Again, referring to Otpor, I said "They were also the 'inspiration' behind other 'color' revolutions". Inspiration Al: ": the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions or the act of influencing or suggesting opinions" http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inspiration

I should have mentioned Georgia and the Ukraine. as well.

As for Helvey holding a training session for Venezuelan students, this is no conspiracy theory but a fact. I just stated that fact.

Finally, you claim that I am "inventing and spreading counter-insurgency rumors". This is just not so.

Ivan:

I don't deny that the claims "came from NED and IRI", and that "they wanted us to forget the role of the US in Serbian politics during the nineties". The point is, is it true what they say about their involvement in the last months?

You also say "Robert Helvey played no role in our struggle" and "most leaders of the movement were not present"

Srdja Popovic doesn't appear to hold the same opinion. According to the NYT "It was he (Popovic) who coordinated the training of Otpor's 70,000 members in 130 branches...Helvey stressed the sources of momentum in a nonviolent movement. ''There is an enormous price -- domestic and international -- paid today for using force against a nonviolent movement,'' he says. ''The battle is asymmetrical. The dictator still may hold the externalities of power, but he is steadily undermined.'' This process has been dubbed ''political ju-jitsu'' by Gene Sharp, an American writer who is close to Helvey and who emerged as a sort of guru to Otpor leaders. His book ''From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation,'' became a samizdat passed around Otpor branches in the last months of Milosevic's rule...Srdja is often to be found in Belgrade with heavily underlined copies of Sharp's work, parts of which were translated into Serbian as the ''Otpor User Manual.'' Not for nothing were Otpor's activities drawn from Sharp's list of 198 ''methods of nonviolent action.''

Further, Helvey wasn't the only one as the NYT article claims:

"McCarthy held a series of meetings with the movement's leaders in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, and in Szeged and Budapest in Hungary" and "Daniel Calingaert says he met Otpor leaders ''7 to 10 times'' in Hungary and Montenegro, beginning in October 1999."

But then we can always say that these meetings were inconsequential and that "US institutions have to show how they are the ones making things happen". Curious then that people such as Bill Blum or former CIA agent Philip Agee seem to believe it, They must be a conspiracy theorists I suppose...or Agee a Cuban agent.

It is also entirely possible that Popovic was overstating his own role "Srdja calls himself -- half jokingly -- the ''ideological commissar'' of Otpor" and that The NYT' Roger Cohen was also trying to "show how they are the ones making things happen".

This all however, by the by. The point is Honduras. Al, I respect your work greatly, which is why I always come here to read your stuff, and I have got no desire to get into an acrimonious debate. But let's not understate US involvement in colour revolutions around the world. My point was, that it is indeed ironic that tactics developed to support 'colour' revolutions and influenced and financed by US GOs and so-called NGOs, are now being used against pro-US dictatorships and against US 'interests'.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Unfortunately, Al Giordano doesn't believe in free speech:

His reply:

"
Mr. Sketchley - Regarding your last submission: Counter-insurgency is counter-insurgency, and won't be obliged here. Take your sloppy use of facts combined with innuendo somewhere else. It is not welcome here."

The problem is he's censored my post while at the same time referring to it.

Let me change the tense of 'respect' to the past simple. Mr. Giordano has just lost the respect I had.
This is a cowardly action if ever there was one.

My last message to Mr. Giordano:

"Of course, it's your blog so can play God and refuse to publish whatever you want.

But...

Counter-insurgency? Sloppy use of facts combined with innuendo? Where? The only sloppy use of facts combined with innuendo was on your part, as I showed in the post you censored. Which is of course why you censored it. And you talked about shame? Pure hypocrisy. If it was sloppy, publish it, it should be easy to refute it.

It reminds me of what Chomsky wrote to me about the use of the word conspiracy theory, another charge you level against me. He likened it to bar-room brawl, where when some one is left with no verbal argument, they invariably start the brawl."

********************

It seems Mr. Giordano just started a brawl.

45 comments:

Tom said...

Sorry, Mr. Sketchley, but Al Giordano is basically right about this. You can string together factoids from the internet to try to lend credence to your thesis of U.S. sponsorship of the Serbian resistance, but the reality is that people like Helvey and the IRI had at most a very marginal intellectual or advisory effect on Otpor. The famous (or infamous) encounter at a Budapest hotel that Helvey had with a few Serbs wasn't much more than an extended discussion, and it came a year after Otpor was already well organized on the ground. By the way, most of those dollars to Otpor went for stuff like bumper stickers and t-shirts, as Popovic is on record as saying. But it's basically a silly idea that Americans in Washington can remotely choreograph resistance movements anywhere. As Giordano says, that just reinforces the false concept that smart Americans are needed to teach the uneducated locals how to do things, which demeans what people living under repression are capable of themselves. Long before IRI or NED existed, there were dozens of stunningly successful movements of nonviolent resistance, in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The history that the Serbs made in Serbia was not a conspiracy driven from Washington, and an eternity of Trotksyite blogging will not prove otherwise. That a small mob of democracy promoters in Washington rushed to take credit for what happened in Serbia (beginning with Madeleine Albright) does not mean we should take their claims at face value. You haven't given me reasons to believe them rather than Ivan Marovic.

dailysketch said...

Thanks Tom. Unfortunately making statements without providing evidence to back them up is the stuff of counter-insurgency or plain ignorance of the facts.

"it's basically a silly idea that Americans in Washington can remotely choreograph resistance movements anywhere"

Really? What planet have you been living on? The evidence just doesn't support your claims. To take just one case: Afghanistan in 1979. And we all know what that lead to...
http://www.counterpunch.org/brzezinski.html

Secondly The Washington Post published an article on 11 Dec 2000:

"Held in a luxury hotel in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, in October 1999, the closed-door briefing by Schoen, a Democrat, turned out to be a seminal event, pointing the way to the electoral revolution that brought down
Milosevic a year later. It also marked the start of an extraordinary U.S. effort to unseat a foreign head of state, not through covert action of the
kind the CIA once employed in such places as Iran and Guatemala, but by modern election campaign techniques.

While the broad outlines of the $ 41 million U.S. democracy-building
campaign in Serbia are public knowledge, interviews with dozens of key players, both here and in the United States, suggest it was much more extensive and sophisticated than previously reported.

In the 12 months following the strategy session, U.S.-funded consultants played a crucial role behind the scenes in virtually every facet of the anti-Milosevic drive, running tracking polls, training thousands of opposition activists and helping to organize a vitally important parallel vote count. U.S. taxpayers paid for 5,000 cans of spray paint used by
student activists to scrawl anti-Milosevic graffiti on walls across Serbia, and 2.5 million stickers with the slogan "He's Finished," which became the revolution's catchphrase...Behind the seeming spontaneity of the street uprising that forced Milosevic to respect the results of a hotly contested presidential election on Sept. 24 was a carefully researched strategy put
together by Serbian democracy activists with the active assistance of Western advisers and pollsters...
"Without American support, it would have been much more difficult," said Slobodan Homen, a student leader who traveled to Budapest and other European capitals dozens of times to meet with U.S. officials and private
democracy consultants. "There would have been a revolution anyway, but the assistance helped us avoid bloodshed."

"The foreign support was critical," agreed Milan Stevanovic, who oversaw the marketing and message development campaign for the opposition coalition, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. "In the past, we did what we intuitively thought we should do. This was the first campaign where our strategy was based on real scientific research."
http://www.mail-archive.com/pen-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu/msg50866.html

You also state "As Giordano says, that just reinforces the false concept that smart Americans are needed to teach the uneducated locals how to do things, which demeans what people living under repression are capable of themselves."

This just bullshit. It does no such thing.

Ivan Marovic said...

Ha ha ha. Using your logic, Lenin was a puppet of the German government, becuase they gave him a train to travel through Germany from Switzerland to Russia and start a revolution.

dailysketch said...

Actually, that is a good example, bit it goes a lot deeper..surely its pertinent to ask about German motives for putting a train at his disposal? Is it possible that German elites saw it as a way to de-stabilise its competitor Russia?

So do you deny you have associations with the ICNC? The evidence suggests otherwise. Do you deny that you have an association with Col. Helvey? Again the evidence suggests you do.

May I ask who funded your trip to Honduras? And Mr Giordano's? I don't know, that's why I'm asking.

For those interested in finding out more about the ICNC I suggest reading the long exchanges between, on the one hand, Stephen Zunes and on the other Michael Barker, Stephen Gowans and others:
http://michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com/icnc/

Ivan Marovic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivan Marovic said...

"Actually, that is a good example, but it goes a lot deeper..."

If you go too deep, you will start claiming that the Russian Revolution was a Jewish conspiracy :)

"So do you deny you have associations with the ICNC? The evidence suggests otherwise. Do you deny that you have an association with Col. Helvey? Again the evidence suggests you do."

What I deny is that they played a role in the Serbian Revolution. No evidence suggests that. But I thought we were talking about IRI and NED. Well, they played a role, they provided a train.

dailysketch said...

Why are you being so evasive, so coy abut your association with ICNC?

Obviously the ICNC played no part in the Serbian 'Revolution' as you call it, and I never said they did. This just yet another straw man to add to the ad hominem attacks on me by Giordano and his straw men. It hadn't even been founded then. What are you trying to do, lay a trap? Do you think I don't do my research?

However, ICNC boss (and yours) was involved through the Albert Einstein Institution. At "the time of the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, both Ackerman and his wife were directors" of said Institution and "between 1993 and 1999 this Institution received funding from the Ford Foundation, the US Institute of Peace, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the International Republican Institute (one of the NED’s core grantees), amongst many others."
http://fanonite.org/2008/03/08/nonviolent-imperialism/

Helvey himself confirmed this in the AEI's 2000-2004 Report on Activities: "Where conflict situations have become critical, AEI consultants have helped train members of nonviolent struggle movements. A major success story was the end of the Milosevic dictatorship in Serbia in 2000. After receiving training on how to plan a sound strategy, members of the pro-democracy [NED-backed] group OTPOR were able to mobilize the Serbian people in a nonviolent mass demonstration, forcing Slobodan Milosevic to step down."

Wired.com has an article that states quite clearly that you "worked with the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict".
http://www.wired.com/gaming/gamingreviews/news/2005/10/69372

Well, your statement that NED and IRI 'played a role' is not exactly what Giordano said: "The sugges tion that the US...or its agencies like IRI "trained the student movement" are false in a way that make them counter-insurgency disinformation."

Bill Blum, author of Rogue State put to me like this in an e-mail:

"The assertion by Giordano that the left is saying that people in other countries are not capable of staging a revolt is an either/or idea. Either it's a totally home-grown movement or it's the result of outside agitators. Why can't he accept the simple idea that NED et al. go into a country which already has a lot of discontent (almost all countries) and gives the dissidents money, materials, and instructions? And NED et al. do indeed have the resources and experience to provide all of these things in abundance." (E-mail to me dated 13 August 2009)

Its perfectly understandable that you want OTPOR to have the credit for the homegrown Serbian movement, but the facts speak for themselves, without US financial support & training and lengthy western sanctions your 'revolution' would probably not have succeeded.

You yourself admitted in an interview with Bob Garfield for On the Media in December 2004: "Otpor was actually the fourth attempt that I was involved in, and the other three were pretty much big failures."

The training and finance you received from NED and IRI were what made a difference.

You yourself admitted as much in the WSJ article of 13 September 2008 American Revolutionary about Sharp:

"You had to do a lot of work to get all you need...Gene Sharp put it all together."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122127204268531319.html

As did Popovic in the same article:
"It was interesting to hear that there was this whole science behind what we were learning the hard way" and "You cannot import social change," says Mr. Popovic. "But the knowledge can be transferred."

continues...

dailysketch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dailysketch said...

In the On The Media interview Garfield said this about OTPOR without you saying anything to the contrary "They've spent the last few years exporting their expertise to popular uprisings in Belarus and Georgia, the seed money for which has come in part from the United States government which spent 40 million dollars to fund the Serbian revolt. Ivan Marovic was a founder of Otpor, the Serbian political student group, and he's been consulting in places like Ukraine ever since." At the end of the interview he stated, again without correction from you "Ivan Marovic is a trainer for The Center for Non-Violent Resistance in Belgrade."
http://www.onthemedia.org/yore/transcripts/transcripts_120304_revolution.html

Again, in the WSJ journal's Article on Sharp, Philip Shishkin wrote: "The Otpor alumni now run the Belgrade-based Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies, or Canvas, which is funded by Mr. Ackerman's ICNC. Canvas has trained activists from Venezuela, Nigeria and the Palestinian territories, among many others. A large part of ICNC's and Canvas's theoretical arsenal is drawn from Mr. Sharp's writings."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122127204268531319.html

Also do you deny that you trained Iranian democratic activists in Dubai in April 2005, as reported in the NY Sun?
http://www.nysun.com/foreign/iran-launches-a-crackdown-on-democracy-activists/29058/
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HC14Ak04.html

All this information is in the public domain so why you and Mr Giordano deny it is beyond me.

I've proved you are connected to Helvey, to the so-called Iranian 'democracy' movement and that you are a trainer for ICNC, a US organisation. I've shown that the US institutions did train and fund OTPOR (I never claimed, as Giordano says, that you personally were trained by them). I have shown that OTPOR, financed by US institutions, did indeed provide training and support to other 'color' revolutions.

Do you also deny that in March 2005 you participated in a strategy workshop in Boston funded by the ICNC and hosted by the Albert Einstein Institution for
Venezuelan nonviolent activists?

As Michael Barker comments "The hosting of this workshop is controversial for two reasons, firstly, the workshop involved the participation of two former leaders of the Serbian nonviolent struggle group Otpor (Slobodan Dinovic and Ivan Marovic) – a group that was strongly supported by the NED and the international
democracy-manipulating community to help facilitate the ouster of President Milosevic (Barker, 2006a). And secondly, it is not clear why NED-connected groups like Otpor, the Albert Einstein Institution and the ICNC, are training nonviolent activists from a country in which the NED actively supports opposition groups which have been involved in attempting to oust the democratically elected President Chavez from power."
http://www.scu.edu.au/research/cpsj/human_rights/AHRP2008_Proc_Final.pdf (p.30)

In 1999 James Petras wrote in his classic article 'NGOs: In the Service of Imperialism': "The egregious effects of structural adjustment policies on wages and salaried workers, peasants and small national businesspeople generates potential national popular discontent. And that is where the NGOs come into the picture to mystify and deflect that discontent away from direct attacks on the corporate/banking power structure and profits toward local micro-projects and apolitical 'grass roots' self-exploitation and 'popular education' that avoids class analysis of imperialism and capitalist exploitation."
http://www.hmb.utoronto.ca/HMB303H/weekly_supp/week-12-13/Petras_NGOsImperialism.pdf

Who funded your trip to Honduras, Mr Marovic?

Ivan Marovic said...

You forgot to mention that I met with George W. Bush back in 2005. Now that is the ultimate guilt by assosiation! Marovic-Bush Summit explains it all.

dailysketch said...

I am aware you met with George Bush. I specifically chose NOT to say anything precisely to avoid the guilt-by-association charge you have now introduced with your own straw man.

Why don't you answer the question: who funded your trip to Honduras?

Ivan Marovic said...

First you have to admit that you like me.

dailysketch said...

I'd like you a whole lot more if you answered the question ;-)

Ivan Marovic said...

Typical western conditionality! "We will give you aid if you privatize your industry first." "I will like you if you sleep with me first." Can't you just admit that you like me?

dailysketch said...

Stop trolling and answer the question.

Al Giordano said...

Oh, this is precious. Ivan as Groucho Marx with Sketchley as his Mrs. Teasdale...

Now, Sketchley, you're seeing what Milosevic had to go through.

While you go through your McCarthyist attempt to appoint yourself a prosecutor and jury with your line of questioning - "Are you now or have you ever been associated with... the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict!!!???" - Marovich is demonstrating exactly why the resistance in Serbia damn well would have won no matter what the United States did.

Of course, I'm an old community organizer who has actually won political battles, so I have a sense of how it happens.

And yes, what you are practicing with your anal-retentive prosecutorial tone is counter-insurgency.

When I covered, as a reporter, a meeting sponsored by ICNC last June, the meeting was chaired by a co-chair of the War Resisters League, Joanne Sheehan. When someone tried to introduce me to her, Joanne said, "oh, Al? I trained him when he was 17 years old to be a nonviolence trainer!"

There you go: another lead for your witchhunt. The War Frickin' Resister's League is in on it too!

To you, anybody that ever shook hands with someone else part of some dark conspiracy hatched in Washington to... what exactly you think is being done on Washington's behalf by Honduran resistance leaders' invitation to Marovich to hear about his struggle - it came from them - you never say.

It's all just one big evil conspiracy to you!

Mrs. Teasdale, indeed!

P.S. You're over-glorifying yourself when you represent a comment to my blog as a "debate with Giordano." I'm with Groucho. Here's a whoopie cushion for you.

dailysketch said...

"And yes, what you are practicing with your anal-retentive prosecutorial tone is counter-insurgency."

That's very funny! You're the one that reported that Marovic was in Tegucigalpa and I'm the counter-insurgent! Very good. I'm still laughing at that one. What did you think? That no one would read your missive somewhere in Washington or Honduras or Venezuela or even here in Spain? A man with your impressive resistance record?

So now you've found me guilty of counter-insurgency, what are you going to do? Al paredón?

Instead, why don't you address some of the issues raised by Stephen Zunes and Michael Barker in their 'exchange' (got to watch the phrasing or I'll be mauled again) about the ICNC with Stephen Zunes whose arguments you seem to parrot so accurately? And by Eva Golinger in her exchange with the same Zunes?
http://michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com/icnc/
http://www.zmag.org/blog/view/3417

As for the rest of your ad hominem attacks, that's all they are, ad hominem attacks. Sticks and stones and all that.

dailysketch said...

That first Stepen Zunes should of course read Michael James Barker.

Tom said...

Mr. Sketchley, I want to credit your good intentions, and you're obviously an intelligent guy, but if you've had to go to the lengths of relying on Michael Barker, whose "research" consists of guilt-by-association, three-degrees-of-separation allegations (e.g. V sat with X on Y's board ten years ago, proving that he was behind the Z project) which would cause any university term paper to be flunked, you're in deep water without a paddle. He is not taken seriously by any actual scholar of the history of nonviolent action. And I find it interesting that you should also rely on The Wall Street Journal -- located on the far other side of the ideological spectrum from Mr. Barker -- about the various actors and groups who do nonviolent training around the world, as if the WSJ, a steady fount of applause for Washington's wars, has any perceptible expertise on nonviolence. By the way, there are scores of nonviolent trainers, based in Europe and Africa as well as the Americas, and we work with dozens of organizations, and we are everywhere, but virtually none of us have accepted so much as a bus ticket from the NED, whose head, by the way, has denounced training in nonviolent resistance. What Barker and other conspiracy theorists neglect to mention are all the facts that don't fit the supposed conspiracies, like the training that Stephen Zunes did for Sahrawis struggling against Moroccan occupiers of Western Sahara, or Ivan Marovic's talks to Egyptian activists fighting Hosni Mubarak's regime. Barker & Company don't mention them, because inconveniently they involve helping opponents of regimes supported by the U.S. government. And what about the workshops the Serbs like Marovic have done for anti-Iraq war and immigrant-rights activists in the U.S.? How do they fit into the Great Washington Conspiracy to overthrow regimes that the CIA doesn't like? Please. The conspiracy garbage is just that. Don't buy it. The reality is this: People want to use nonviolent resistance because they know that African-Americans, Czechs, South Africans, Filipinos, Serbs and about 20 other peoples succeeded with it. They read books by scholars like Ackerman (whose two books on the subject, by the way, are used as texts in hundreds of universities), and they hear of trainers like Marovic, and they meet with them or invite them to speak. The demand for nonviolent training is global and tidal right now, and that's a good thing. To give the U.S. government or the Einstein Institution credit for either the demand for the training or the supply is absurd. That's equivalent to suggesting that a secret network of three or four meteorologists start all the world's hurricanes. Two final rejoinders to your response to my earlier comment. First, when I said that it was silly to believe that Americans in Washington could remotely control resistance movements anywhere, I meant civilian-based movements that have to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people around real grievances that only locals understand, not something like the violent guerrilla war in Afghanistan. And when I said that it's demeaning to the people who start these struggles to suggest that they need smart Americans to tell them what to do -- and I mean people like Guatemalans fighting gang violence, and West Papuans fighting Indonesian oppression, to cite two other struggles where training was given by people you've attacked) -- that's not "bullshit", to use your word, that's the truth.

Ivan Marovic said...

What have we learned here?

I learned that capitalism is here to stay, at least in England, because Sketchley will set up no barricades in London, he is too busy blogging in Sevilla. Oh, sweet life of petite bourgeoisie!

Sketchly learned something too. He learned that it is not wise to mess with Yugoslavs, they are just crazy! But he learned that without much pain, which couldn't be said for the House of Hapsburg, Hitler and Stalin.

Let me try to wrap up, Sketchley. I know that you would prefer me to use your stiff anglo-saxon logic, but I can't, I'm from the Balkans, so my final message to you will be one of our traditional Yugoslav songs:

With Marshal Tito
Our greatest hero
We will be stronger than hell.

We raise our heads,
We march trough the streets
And tightly we clench our fists.

We're an ancient tribe,
But Goths we are not!
We're children of ancient Slavs.

Who says that we're not,
He slanders and lies
And surely will face our rage.

Like fingers on our hands,
Even in sorrow,
The Partisans are always united.

When we die, we don't cry
To the Sun, to the Sky,
We raise our fists up high!

(link)

Al Giordano said...

Counter-insurgency - whether by governments, mass media, or a lone blogger - tries to smear a social movement (Honduras' civil resistance to the coup, in this case) by implying something is somehow wrong with it or who it is associated with, and it is especially vicious in your case because you don't ever come out and say what it is you are so "concerned" about.

Are you "concerned" that Mr. Marovich was giving bad advice to the Hondurans who asked for his counsel?

Are you "concerned" that if his advice was bad (you can read many quotes from his advice that we've published) that Honduran resistance leaders and organizers would be dumb enough to take bad advice?

Just what is it that you are trying to get at here? What possible relevance does it have to the attention the Honduran anti-coup movement needs to wage a clean fight against the golpistas?

You never say it aloud.

So god knows what you're thinking!

Throwing up clouds of smoke over a movement that needs sunlight is indeed counter-insurgency, whether intentional or - more likely in your case - just a boneheaded First Worlder's attitude that you know better than the people on the ground risking life and limb for their country.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Frankly, I wish folks would look at the capacity and will of the people on the ground, at their integrity and willingness to risk harm without threatening physical harm. Who cares which organization supplied bumperstickers, which government, or which grassroots collection of activist donors or wealthy ones with enough of a conscience to do so? People in the streets who are trying to gain some freedom using nonviolence deserve support from any quarter willing to give it. Each and every one of my battles over the past 45 years has been with the US government and except for the disgusting invasion of Iraq, I've been on the winning side, ultimately. I've been convicted of two felonies (Plowshares actions at US nuclear bases) and spent time in three prisons. I've been one of the many organizers of many anti-imperialist campaigns and I teach literally hundreds of students annually at a university and a community college from exactly that standpoint. I help turn US military members toward the right thing--opposition to US wars--and I've housed AWOL service members (at least a couple of them quite 'hot') and I am so grateful for Peter Ackerman, Jack DuVall, Gene Sharp, Stephen Zunes and Steve York. They help me and plenty others create a whole new generation of American students who know FAR better than I did when I was their age how to stand up with strong nonviolent organizing to the policies of our government that hurt so many others. Some of the soldiers in my classes are truly transformed by the knowledge of how to gain and use strategic liberatory nonviolence and they feel like they can approach conflict in a whole new way. The thing that this whole debate misses is that the crosscutting lines are not left or right, but they come down on methods of conflict management. I strongly dislike most of what my own government does, but from very interesting and illuminating conversations I've had with people as diverse as Daniel Serwer and Amory Lovins, I know there are pockets of great people with some resources in various levels and cul-de-sacs of our massive fed government. If they do something right, like support Otpur with the functional equivalent of less than half a minute of what the US spends on the military, good on 'em. Mr. Sketchley, you sound like a very nice guy--when you aren't prosecuting womderful folks like Ivan--so why not be happy that, whether it's an odd Chinese manufacturer, a unique NGO like ICNC, or even some relative outlier members of some government with their mitts on some money, someone comes through with a few resources once in a while to support the bootstrapping struggles of people who just want to be free or just want a world without violence? As someone who has spent ungodly amounts of time in the streets, in organizing meetings, in jails and in prisons over the decades, I say thank you to whomever helps the nonviolent civil society movements that topple dictators. There are three major paths for these movements confronting brutality: armed resistance, nonviolent resistance or retreat. I hope we can agree that retreat is sadly necessary sometimes but that access to some desperately needed resources can change that picture and that's a Good Thing. I don't expect we necessarily agree on the preference for nonviolence, but that is all I'm interested in and I find ICNC gives us access to the tools we need. I was first acquainted with all these theories and histories via Gene Sharp and his amazing work long before Peter's doctoral work or his first book. When Peter and Jack wrote A Force More Powerful and constructed a teaching website and Steve York produced the six-episode film, they gave the world usable tools and we will never put them down, whether the oppressor is a friend of the US, the US itself, or an enemy of the US. Jodi Williams calls us the new superpower and ICNC is our friend and teacher. I've NEVER been told by them who to support, they know my politics, and they've helped and helped. They are the wrong target if you wish to work for more freedom with less bloodshed.

Cynthia said...

How surreal- the very folks who should be most encouraged by mass displays of civilian resistance to tyranny keep buying into propaganda of the repressors- whether it's coming from Serbia, Burma, Iran, or Honduras.

The persistence of these conspiracies reflects some degree of naivete about how nonviolent struggle works. To claim that resistance on the scale we've witnessed in the countries above (and elsewhere) can be manufactured abroad is to grossly overestimate the influence of US agents and agencies.

Maybe the biggest shame is that most of those disseminating these theories are not paranoid fringe radicals, but well-meaning individuals harboring legitimate -if misplaced- concerns. A decade of neoconservative "democracy promotion" understandably has turned otherwise rational people skeptical. But to quote my friend Stephen Zunes, "the beauty of strategic nonviolent action is that it cannot succeed in threatening any government's rule unless the regime has lost its legitimacy with the people and the opposition has widespread popular support." In other words, Albright's personal campaign against Milosevic was irrelevant because nothing Otpor or any other group could have done would have been productive had the resistance not been truly indigenous. The strategizing, the implementation of tactics, and most importantly the will to resist have always been (and must always be, if the struggle is to succeed) at the volition of the Serbian/Burmese/Iranian/Honduran people.

I firmly believe that anyone who claims an affinity for democracy, rights, and people power owes it to the courageous people of these countries to recognize their resistance as their own. To question a movement's ownership of their struggle serves the interests of brutal repressors and risks undermining the morale of individuals participating in those movements.

-Cynthia Boaz

dailysketch said...

As Stephen Gowans puts it:

"If opponents of the coup act to destabilize the coup government with the aim of bringing it down, and Ivan Marovic wants to help them do it, I'm all for it. The question is, What are the ends to which the techniques the US taught Otpor being put? If they're used to seize power for progressive ends, great."

Unfortunately, this is not always so, as the historical record shows.

dailysketch said...

Prof Boaz.

Thanks for your comment.

You say "To claim that resistance on the scale we've witnessed in the countries above (and elsewhere) can be manufactured abroad is to grossly overestimate the influence of US agents and agencies."

Unfortunately, this a straw man. I have never claimed that resistance is "manufactured abroad". However,why can't you accept the simple idea that US Agencies go into a country which already has a lot of discontent?

And I see you talk about "buying into propaganda of the repressors".

Another straw man unless you're accusing Stephen Gowans and Michael James Barker of being 'repressors' or their propagandists. Perhaps you'd care to reflect on what your colleagues at the ICNC, Ackerman and DuVall, wrote in Sojourners Magazine in the Sep-Oct 2002 edition: "Saddam Hussein has brutalized and repressed the Iraqi people for more than 20 years and more recently has sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction that would never be useful to him inside Iraq. So President Bush is right to call him an international threat."
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0209&article=020910

It certainly appears to me that they accepted US positions on Iraq as legitimate, when most of us who are anti-war knew from the start that they were in fact illegitimate. Talk about "buying into propaganda of the repressors"!

I note from your bio that you are "an academic advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict" and not surprisingly therefore, you're discourse closely echoes that of your colleague Stephen Zunes, specifically when it comes to accusing people of gullibly falling prey to conspiracy theories.
(see http://fanonite.org/2008/01/16/people-power-or-political-puppetry/)

I agree with Barker when he wrote "The conspiracy charge is of course a tactic that is commonly used to deflect critical inquiry", a view incidentally supported by Noam Chomsky, as I mentioned above.

"I firmly believe that anyone who claims an affinity for democracy, rights, and people power owes it to the courageous people of these countries to recognize their resistance as their own. To question a movement's ownership of their struggle serves the interests of brutal repressors and risks undermining the morale of individuals participating in those movements."

Is this some kind of Stalinist doctrine: we mustn't question those who know better? Again no one is saying that there isn't a home grown movement in Honduras, it would quite simply fly in the face of the evidence.

What some of us are concerned about is an attempt to co-opt that movement. Considering the connections of your boss Ackerman, I truly believe I am entitled to formulate those questions, and those, like you, who lend their impeccable credentials to Ackerman should do the same.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Who cares which organization supplied bumperstickers, which government, or which grassroots collection of activist donors or wealthy ones with enough of a conscience to do so? People in the streets who are trying to gain some freedom using nonviolence deserve support from any quarter willing to give it.

Each and every one of my battles over the past 45 years has been with the US government and except for the disgusting invasion of Iraq (which DuVall and Ackerman tried to stop with their piece in Sojourners). I teach literally hundreds of students annually at a university and a community college from exactly that standpoint.

I am so grateful for Peter Ackerman, Jack DuVall, Gene Sharp, Stephen Zunes and Steve York. They help me and plenty others create a whole new generation of American students who know FAR better than I did when I was their age how to stand up with strong nonviolent organizing to the policies of our government that hurt so many others. Some of the soldiers in my classes are truly transformed by the knowledge of how to gain and use strategic liberatory nonviolence and they feel like they can approach conflict in a whole new way.

The thing that this whole debate misses is that the crosscutting lines are not left or right, but they come down on methods of conflict management. I strongly dislike much of what my own government does, but from very interesting and illuminating conversations I've had with people as diverse as Daniel Serwer and Amory Lovins, I know there are pockets of great people with some resources in various levels and cul-de-sacs of our massive fed government. If they do something right, like support Otpur with the functional equivalent of less than half a minute of what the US spends on the military, good on 'em.

Mr. Sketchley, you sound like a very nice guy--when you aren't prosecuting womderful folks like Ivan--so why not be happy that, whether it's an odd Chinese manufacturer, a unique NGO like ICNC, or even some relative outlier members of some government with their mitts on some money, someone comes through with a few resources once in a while to support the bootstrapping struggles of people who just want to be free or just want a world without violence?

As someone who has spent ungodly amounts of time in the streets, in organizing meetings, in jails and in prisons over the decades, I say thank you to whomever helps the nonviolent civil society movements that topple dictators. I have far less concern about getting coopted--I see who sacrifices and who has integrity and only the uninvolved can carp about such things in seriousness.

There are three major paths for these movements confronting brutality: armed resistance, nonviolent resistance or retreat. I hope we can agree that retreat is sadly necessary sometimes but that access to some desperately needed resources can change that picture and that's a Good Thing.

I don't expect we necessarily agree on the preference for nonviolence, but that is all I'm interested in and I find ICNC gives us access to the tools we need. I was first acquainted with all these theories and histories via Gene Sharp and his amazing work long before Peter's doctoral work or his first book.

When Peter and Jack wrote A Force More Powerful and constructed a teaching website and Steve York produced the six-episode film, they gave the world usable tools and we will never put them down, whether the oppressor is a friend of the US, the US itself, or an enemy of the US.

Jodi Williams calls us the new superpower and ICNC is our friend and teacher. I've NEVER been told by them who to support, they know my politics, and they've helped and helped. They are the wrong target if you wish to work for more freedom with less bloodshed.

windsor1 said...

I've come in onto this discussion late, but I'm not sure why Mr. Sketchley is so opposed to Ivan Marovic having done a workshop for pro-democratic Zelaya supporters hoping to overthrow the right-wing junta. Does he really think it is wrong to provide information and a strategic framework to those who could use such information to possibly bring down that illegitimate regime?

I have seen Ivan at work, most recently when he co-led a workshop for progressive immigrants rights activists at the Chavez Center here in California, and I can attest he is one of the best progressive trainers and activists around.

Remember that there were a lot of leftists like Marovic involved in Otpor who recognized how Milosevic had betrayed socialism in Yugoslavia. That Otpor received some funding from Congressionally-funded agencies does not mean they were puppets of Washington any more than my friends who receive Congressional funding to support their health clinic for migrant workers here in Santa Cruz County are puppets of Washington. Like Marovic, they are leftists and anti-imperialists.

I would be suspect of any government funding for training for strategic nonviolent action, but I see nothing wrong with ICNC or any other private independent foundation supporting such work. They have supported workshops for Palestinians resisting the US-backed Israeli occupation, Western Saharans resisting the US-backed Moroccan occupation, West Papuans resisting the US-backed Indonesian occupation, as well as pro-democracy activists struggling against U.S.-backed regimes in Egypt, Guinea, Azaerbaijan, and other countries.

As a result, it's confusing as to why one would think that ICNC is part of some imperialist intrigue. Fabrications by such sectarians like Michael Barker have long since been repudiated.

It's time to support those fighting for freedom and against imperialism in Honduras and stop attacking individuals and organizations who are active in supporting such a just struggle.

Al Giordano said...

Seriously, here's what I see as McCarthyism in your arguments, Sketchley.

In this exchange you've taken an argument written against the war in Iraq and cherry-picked a single sentence from it to imply - falsely and maliciously - that it's authors were somehow pro-war.

And in your exchange with professor Boaz, even you knew you over-shot because you went back and changed your own comment (without offering the ethical disclosure that you were correcting a gross untruth originally forwarded on your part).

The part of your comment that still says, to Boaz, "I note from your bio that you are 'an academic advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict' and not surprisingly therefore, you're discourse closely echoes that of your colleague Stephen Zunes," what is it that you're trying to imply? That the professor doesn't think for herself? That she gets marching orders from someone else? That's the implication, because otherwise your words make no sense at all.

In your original version - edited by you - you referred, in the conversation with Boaz, to Peter Ackerman as "your boss." Maybe you sobered up and later removed it, but I thought it was revealing of your McCarthyist mindset. After all, someone that is on a board is actually the boss in the hierarchy over an officer of that entity. You had it bass-ackwards.

It's indicative of your cloudy thinking on this entire subject. So this, when you say:

"What some of us are concerned about is an attempt to co-opt that movement."

The use of the phrase "some of us" is cowardly. You're hiding behind the skirt of an unnamed group of people. (If that group is the likes of Gowan and Barker, why don't you just say that you've joined them out on that lonely limb of conspiracy ranting?)

But you never have said what you mean by "co-opt." What exactly do you think anybody could do to "co-opt" the people's movement of Honduras? Be specific, because it's at the center of your fears and fantasies regarding your entire argument here.

It's a vague suggestion on your part, as if the Honduran people are somehow too weak-minded to resist some unstated scenario of co-optation. That you don't even suggest what that could look like says to us readers that you haven't a frickin' clue - that you're more upset that Honduran movements invited a Serb to talk with them because it screws with your script of demonizing Serbs. It says to me that you care nothing about whether Honduras wins or loses its struggle against the coup, that your real concern is that they not do it in any way that bothers your ideological prejudices and constructs.

That sir, indeed, is counter-insurgency, and you're practicing it. Thanks for hanging yourself out to dry with your own words here.

Cynthia said...

For the record, I want to note that I'm glad Mr. Sketchley is engaging all of these folks directly rather than posting scurrilous articles in obscure venues all over the web.

To address some of Al's remarks about Mr. Sketchley's comments to me: when I saw the reference to Peter Ackerman as my "boss", I knew we weren't having a serious discussion. And then the reference to my "echoing" of Stephen was equally ridiculous. If my intention was to sound like Stephen without actually *being* Stephen, I would have been more careful than to quote him directly.

I am, for the most part, unconcerned about the amateurish character assassinations against me or my associations- I adhere to Gandhi's observation that "even if you're a minority of one, the truth is the truth." However, my larger concern is for the people of these various struggles who come across the kinds of accusations being made here and elsewhere by people like Gowans, Barker, and Weissman, all of which tell these courageous people that they are simply puppets of some agency of the United States. I find that willful attempt at disempowerment irresponsible and probably far more dangerous than whatever it is we (advocates and supporters of nonviolent expressions of people power and civil resistance) are accused of doing.

-Cynthia Boaz

dailysketch said...

Al.

So, are you Cynthia Boaz' spokesperson now? Particularly amusing when you accused me of "trying to imply" that "the professor doesn't think for herself?"

Prof. Boaz has the right of reply here (unlike myself, who was refused the right to reply to vicious ad hominem attacks by you on your very own website!) You have the right of reply here even though those replies are laden with insults and ad hominem attacks.

You see Al, I'm just an ordinary guy, who's out there trying to make sense of this crazy world. I look to people like you to give me an insight. But what people like me don't like is being lectured to by pompous, cynical arseholes with so little humility their claims of moral superiority fail to convince, who insult with sweeping generalisations and provide no evidence of their own to back up their arguments.

Why aren't you trying to convince me with argument and evidence instead of trying to bludgeon me with insult and ad hominem attacks? I'm more than willing to be persuaded if the arguments and evidence are sound. I do not have a closed mind. But to date you have provided neither.

Particularly enlightening were Marovic's attempts at trolling and his very amusing accusation of: "Typical western conditionality! "We will give you aid if you privatize your industry first." "I will like you if you sleep with me first." Can't you just admit that you like me?"

I say amusing because his previous comment had been just that.
"Blogger Ivan Marovic said...

First you have to admit that you like me.

13/8/09 19:03"

What is the comment "First you have to admit that you like me" but 'conditionality'! I have to admit I had a good chuckle at that one, I can assure you.

I will give you credit though Al, far be it from me to refuse credit where it's due, you're a past master at the art of straw men.

You say "In this exchange you've taken an argument written against the war in Iraq and cherry-picked a single sentence from it to imply - falsely and maliciously - that it's authors were somehow pro-war."

No I haven't 'cherry-picked' and no I didn't 'imply'. I said "they accepted US positions on Iraq as legitimate," specificially the positions that Saddam Hussein "sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction that would never be useful to him inside Iraq" and that "President Bush is right to call him an international threat."

Both these positions were well known at the time to be false. Or do you now want to tell me that you bought into them as well? It seems you don't even accept this was propaganda! Remember it was Prof. Boaz who accused me of "buying into propaganda".

Regarding 'boss' and 'colleague', this proves nothing but that I am someone willing to correct mistakes when they are made.

dailysketch said...

Oh yes. I forgot one thing. You say that I make "a vague suggestion" that "the Honduran people are somehow...weak-minded".

This is a vile comment apart from being blatantly false. You imply I am some sort of racist nazi.

You continue, accusing me of being "upset that Honduran movements invited a Serb to talk with them because it screws with your script of demonizing Serbs."

All this while, of course, you and Marovic and everyone else in fact, have been silent on Diane Johnstone's comment about " means and ends", and particularly the fact that those means "say nothing about the political quality of the ends pursued" and that "the Otpor generation...would rather blame their own government than give up their aspiration to belong to "the world" as reflected in American entertainment culture".

What you imply is that it doesn't matter what the ends are, we must focus our attention on the means. And this is the core of our fundamental differences. The impression is that you couldn't give a damn about the ends as long as the means are non-violent.
This is exactly the reason I posted Gowan's comment ""If opponents of the coup act to destabilize the coup government with the aim of bringing it down, and Ivan Marovic wants to help them do it, I'm all for it. The question is, What are the ends to which the techniques the US taught Otpor being put? If they're used to seize power for progressive ends, great."

'Progresive ends' Al. Otherwise it's all in vain. If its for the backdoor promotion of polyarchy, don't you think progressive Honduran organisations would want to know, especially if that's what they're fighting for?

dailysketch said...

Correction The last words in the previous post "fighting for" should of course have read 'fighting against'.

dailysketch said...

By the way Al: you say that I "changed" my "own comment". This is a lie. The boss comment is still there and always has been. I didn't edit anything. Not losing it are you?

To Prof. Boaz:

"I want to note that I'm glad Mr. Sketchley is engaging all of these folks directly rather than posting scurrilous articles in obscure venues all over the web"

Thanks Cynthia. Yes, it wouldn't do for this counter-insurgency to get out, would it? I would like to have had this discussion on The Field but I wasn't allowed to.

I'm just a little curious though about your use of the word scurrilous. Which definition did you have in mind?

Using or given to coarse language? Or vulgar and evil? Or was it: containing obscenities, abuse, or slander?

You say "when I saw the reference to Peter Ackerman as my "boss", I knew we weren't having a serious discussion". Really? Why? You don't explain.

Please forgive me for thinking that "the founding Chair" of a foundation could possibly be 'a person who exercises control or authority' over someone who just gives advice. Silly of me really, I don't know what I must have been thinking. The fact that you left your comment anyway shows that it is/was/always will be irrelevant.

You also accuse me of "amateurish character assassinations against me or my associations". Really? Where? You don't explain or give examples so how am I supposed to reply? In fact, the character assassination is coming from Mr. Giordano, yourself and others and the target is your's truly.


You also say that I am making 'accusations' that the "courageous people" of Honduras "are simply puppets of some agency of the United States."

This is entirely false. Where do I say any such thing?

But we all know what the elephant in the room is.

Pete Ackerman and his elite financial and foreign policy connections.

Continues...

dailysketch said...

.../continued from previous post.

It's very noticeable that no one has even tried to reply seriously, preferring instead to obfuscate the issue with such ad hominems and character assassination as: "whacky", "anal-retentive", "McCarthyist", "petit bourgeois", trying "to smear" the Honduran "social movement", "vicious", "boneheaded First Worlder", "buying into propaganda of the repressors", serving "the interests of brutal repressors", being (a) drunk ("Maybe you sobered up"), "cowardly", "you haven't a frickin' clue", "demonizing Serbs", "irresponsible", "dangerous".

Pretty impressive collection considering all these insults come from 'non-violent' professionals.

I do agree however with "amateurish" and I make no apologies. I'm just a concerned citizen after all, I'm not an intellectual or a journalist.

I would at this stage like to quote Prof. William I. Robinson (http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/faculty/robinson/):

"That Ackerman is a part of the U.S. foreign policy elite and integral to the new modalities of intervention under the rubric of "democracy promotion", etc., is beyond question. There is nothing controversial about that and anyone who believes otherwise is clearly seriously misinformed or just ignorant. Marovic too is part of the intervention network; that has been well documented. The only thing I can imagine that could have thrown Giordano off his own political good sense is the notion that masses of people who become swept up in movements whose leaders may be agents of the intervention network are themselves "dupes" or agents of U.S./transnational intervention, which as we know is generally not the case and not a helpful approach (although it did not seem that this is what you were arguing). Rather, the financial and political networks set up by the interventionist apparatus attempt to penetrate, manage, and reorient mass movements, with varying degrees of success. I do not know what Ackerman and the ICNC have done in Honduras but surely the interventionist apparatus is pursuing, as it always does, a two-track strategy. One is to support the Honduran business and political elite and the other is to penetrate the mass popular/resistance movement (e.g., through meetings, financing, grooming some leaders and marginalizing others, trying to shape the movement's discourse, etc.), in order to keep it from radicalizing out of control into a genuinely revolutionary movement able to threaten the whole elite order"
(E-mail to David Sketchley 15 Aug 2009)

I'll leave you all to reflect on that.

Tom H. Hastings said...

I'd like to commend you, Mr. Sketchley, on finding so many ad hominem phrases and other descriptors left over from the bad old days of adversarial conflict. Of course, a cursory read of your work reveals similar, often rebound expressions. I apologize if I've thus participated. I suspect that conflict fatigue may strike all of us and we sometimes resort to less than constructive language. As I am a developer of the civil discourse initiative at my university, I try (and sometimes fail) to avoid responding with the uncivility my anger or irritation naturally accesses.

I think another worrisome tendency is to ascribe the label dupe to anyone. That seems to be what Robinson does when he credits people like Ackerman with "grooming" some and marginalizing some after infiltrating an indigenous movement. It's a tempting analysis and I would assert that in fact it's usually the other way 'round, that the infiltration of the movements are usually done via provocateurs who urge more violence, not nonviolence. That was the case for us in Minneapolis when we faced down Honeywell corporation during the Vietnam War--they manufacturing the antipersonnel cluster bombs. We were doing well until 'we' started smashing windows, at which point the police smashed the movement and the movement forfeited public sympathy and thus lost both its recruitment ability and protection. Nonviolence is the way to sustain more gain with less pain, so when I see Robinson's website with its guns and Che Guevara t-shirts (was there ever a more romantic, sexy revolutionary with a worse theoretical analysis?), I worry that he makes it much more dangerous for indigenous movements on the ground by his apparent "let's you and him fight" stance.

Unless I read too fast, you never replied to the information that ICNC has offered numerous trainings to all kinds of opponents of US hegemony. Why does this information--which I would assert obviates most of your case--not seem important enough to you to generate a response, or at least an acknowledgement? Perhaps you hinted at it by saying you were open to persuasion. I would think that you might find that information part of how your own thinking might evolve in a critical consideration of more information.

Let's assume we are all people of good will. I've met Ackerman several times, I feel I know Jack DuVall fairly well and like him a lot, Cynthia Boaz is the ultimate combination of keen political scholarship and personal sweetness, and Stephen Zunes has an anti-imperialist set of street and academic credentials that go back even to his high school days.

Now I have to go cook for students and other friends coming over for dinner and discussion. If you are ever in Portland, Oregon, join us where I live at Whitefeather Peace Community.

dailysketch said...

Tom H Hastings.

Thanks for your reply and I wasn't referring to you about the ad hominems, and apologies if that was the impression given. In fact, your measured language and tone were conducive to me taking more notice of your arguments which I found to be informative, after all I am new to this topic.

I have to disagree with you, however, in your analysis of what Prof Robinson wrote. You say he ascribes the word dupe "when he credits people like Ackerman with "grooming" some and marginalizing some after infiltrating an indigenous movement."

Not at all, a closer inspection of what he actually wrote will reveal that he states categorically that "the notion that masses of people who become swept up in movements whose leaders may be agents of the intervention network are themselves "dupes" or agents of U.S./transnational intervention, which as we know is generally not the case and not a helpful approach".

I also see no hint of a "let's you and him fight" stance" in his comments. Please provide an example.

Rather he is saying "the interventionist apparatus" of which Ackerman is "a part of" and "integral to"..."is pursuing, as it always does, a two-track strategy. One is to support the Honduran business and political elite and the other is to penetrate the mass popular/resistance movement (e.g., through meetings, financing, grooming some leaders and marginalizing others, trying to shape the movement's discourse, etc.), in order to keep it from radicalizing out of control into a genuinely revolutionary movement able to threaten the whole elite order".

After all he's part and parcel of that elite order.

And why none of you will even consider this is extremely bafflng.

No one doubts Zunes' credentials or Boaz' sweetness. DuVall and Ackerman I'm less sure of and that's what all this is about, not whether they're nice guys, which I'm sure they are.

Many thanks for your kind invitation. I can't quite see myself ever returning to the US unless there is some serious, radical change there. And from what I see that's going to be a long time coming.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Ackerman is rich. Ackerman uses some of his own fortunes to help lower the costs of indigenous struggles, whether they are in opposition to friends or foes of the US government. I am happy to see him give up some of his wealth for this purpose. It is a Good Thing. Those of us who have been community organizers for impoverished peace and justice groups for decades occasionally come across a wealthy person who wants to help. That makes us happy, Mr. Sketchley. I have no idea if you are an organizer, a citizen intellectual, or just a blogger, but Ackerman is an organizer's help, and he is also a peace intellectual, so he comes with a strategic analysis. This makes him unwelcome in the blood-in-the-streets camp, since he says that most of that blood is avoidable, which is dire news to those who are committed to armed revolution.

I have taken $thousands from a surgeon who liked my work as an organizer. Did he finesse my organizing or change our agenda? Nope, he helped it. I have taken $thousands more from the owner of a series of truck stops, of all the unlikely things. Did he micromanage or even try to steer how I organize or the goals I bring to the movements I am involved in? Nope, but his donations have moved ours forward faster.

Get over it, please. Ackerman is a wealthy guy whose organization has worked to lower the costs of struggle and make the fruits of that struggle last longer with more freedoms for more people and more human rights for all. I am grateful for his work and for the work of ICNC.

Deep Politics Forum said...

Daily Sketch, this is a cross posting from Machetera but I thought I would post here also as the same people are posting here. Magda

I don’t see a problem with wanting to know the source of Ivan Marovich’s funding and who pulls his strings. If the future of Honduras is going to be that of the dismembered bleeding corpse of what little is left of Yugoslavia then they had better have a rethink about their direction. Washington’s doormats in each of the little Balkan statelets. I too have been a community worker and know plenty of peace activists from around the world. Where do we find all this string free money to do what we want? Where do I sign? No, really.

“unfounded suspicion run amok” Please. The evidence is in Belgrade for one. And all the other places Otpor clones staged their fake revolutions. Of course the US has interest in the resistance to the coup. They have an interest in the coup and maintaining those power arrangements. With or with out Micheletti.

windsor1 said...

Deep Politics Forum seems to have history confused. The dismemberment of Yugoslavia took place back in the early 1990s. Otpor wasn't formed until the late 1990s and led the ouster of Milosevic in 2000. Ivan Marovic, like many Yugoslavians involved in Otpor, was of mixed Serbian and Croatian heritage and opposed the breakup of his country.

Anyone who knows Ivan knows that nobody pulls his strings; he is an independent leftist thinker and activist.

If any one has any evidence that Marovic or Giordano or anyone else who was at the workshop in Honduras were in any way advocating turning Honduras into a "dismembered bleeding corpse," please present it now. Otherwise, stop spreading such lies and instead take the time to talk with the progressive Honduran activists who actually were at the workshop, at least 90% of whom were highly favorable of the content and what they learned from it.

Deep Politics Forum said...

To Windsor. Actions to dismember Yugoslavia began in the 1960's with German involvement (a renewal of where they were forced to leave off in 1945) and still in progress though largely completed for all intents and purposes especially once the NATO Anschlus is complete. Ivan Marinovich's ethnicity is neither here nor there. What matters is his intentions and those of his paymaster. Now, he gets a good press from many like Al and yourself and he probably is a great guy. I hope so. If he is all you say the Honduran popular movement is lucky to have his skills and we will all be very grateful if Micheletti is removed and real democracy is gained by the Honduran people. However, if Otpor is the recommendation it is a poor one. There is nothing to grateful for in Serbia/Yugoslavia. So, they got rid of Milosevic. Did they really? Or were they the barking dog that chases the bus up the road believing it was them that made the bus go away from their territory? It seems they were more the Western cat's paw than the voice of the people. And what is the legacy? Puppet states ruled by quislings willing to do the bidding of Washington's interests. Is this going to be the fate of Honduras too? Washington doesn't need or care about Micheletti. Anyone will do as long as they represent ruling class interests well. It really isn't personal. It is what happens after Micheletti goes that matters. The Otpor legacy is not one I would wish on any one. And the same miserable outcome can be seen in all the venues of the CIA and NED coups.

Daily Sketch has clearly referred to the two track policy used in the management of the popular resistance everywhere to prevent a real popular revolution.

Windsor, no one is spreading lies about Ivan or Al or saying that they advocate "turning Honduras into a "dismembered bleeding corpse,"". It is just that Ivan has been presented as a proverbial Che Guevara figure of the Honduran popular resistance organisation on the basis of Otpor's 'success' in removing Milosevic (and delivering Serbia to NATO). Well, we know who paid Che and more importantly who did not but who paid to have him and his ideas killed. Why is every one so coy about Ivan's paymaster? I know it is gauche to talk about money in bourgeois circles but...Is it verboten to ask these questions? Why?

I am in contact with organisers in Honduras and I know people from Yugoslavia also. There is no love for Otpor and its aftermath from those I know in Yugoslavia and they fear for the people of Honduras (and Iran) if the same forces are going to be at work there. Al's articles on organising in Narco News are very good and I hope they get a wide audience. There is nothing wrong with providing information and a strategic framework to those who could use such information to possibly bring down the illegitimate oligarchy regime. Why aren't Ivan and Otpor in Serbia doing just that? They surely need it there. The progressive Latin American activists I know are also concerned about the activity of the NED and their fronts in the region including the Friedrich Naumann Foundation who has strong ties to the Honduran oligarchs and players http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/56260.

Stu Piddy said...

Al Giordano called me a fuck up...he said the coup in Honduras had been officially declared a coup by the U.S gov on 8.28....

He doesn't know anything about anything,

He's very conservative, an Obama health care supporter, supports CIA influenced Daily Kos and on and on

Here's a diary on it.

http://www.pffugeecamp.com/diary/350/al-giordano-of-narco-news-owes-me-an-apology

michaeljamesbarker said...

My recent Swans article "Failure of Progressive Thought" (December 2009) draws upon some of the contents of this blog post.

http://www.swans.com/library/art15/barker38.html

Best Wishes, Michael Barker

dailysketch said...

Thanks Michael. Excellent piece.


Interesting too, to note what Eva Golinger wrote about USAID recently:

"A high-level USAID official confirmed two weeks ago that the CIA uses USAID’s name to issue contracts and funding to third parties in order to provide cover for clandestine operations."
http://www.chavezcode.com/2009/12/cia-agents-assassinated-in-afghanistan.html

dailysketch said...

Machetera also has a blog piece with a video from 2007 "on Otpor and incidentally, Peter Ackerman:"

http://machetera.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/dais-not-so-invisible-puppet-show/

Dr. said...
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