National Endowment for Democracy:
Paying to Make Enemies of America
by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
International Endowment for Democracy,
October 11, 2003, www.iefd.org/
The misnamed National Endowment for Democracy
(NED) is nothing more than a costly program that takes US taxpayer
funds to promote favored politicians and political parties abroad.
What the NED does in foreign countries, through its recipient
organizations the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the
International Republican Institute (IRI), would be rightly illegal
in the United States. The NED injects "soft money" into
the domestic elections of foreign countries in favor of one party
or the other. Imagine what a couple of hundred thousand dollars
will do to assist a politician or political party in a relatively
poor country abroad. It is particularly Orwellian to call US manipulation
of foreign elections "promoting democracy." How would
Americans feel if the Chinese arrived with millions of dollars
to support certain candidates deemed friendly to China? Would
this be viewed as a democratic development?
In an excellent study of the folly of
the National Endowment for Democracy, Barbara Conry notes that:
"NED, which also has a history of
corruption and financial mismanagement, is superfluous at best
and often destructive. Through the endowment, the American taxpayer
has paid for special-interest groups to harass the duly elected
governments of friendly countries, interfere in foreign elections,
and foster the corruption of democratic movements...
"...the controversy surrounding NED
questions the wisdom of giving a quasi-private organization the
fiat to pursue what is effectively an independent foreign policy
under the guise of 'promoting democracy.' Proponents of NED maintain
that a private organization is necessary to overcome the restraints
that limit the activities of a government agency, yet they insist
that the American taxpayer provide full funding for this initiative.
NED's detractors point to the inherent contradiction of a publicly
funded organization that is charged with executing foreign policy
(a power expressly given to the federal government in the Constitution)
yet exempt from nearly all political and administrative controls...
"...In the final analysis, the endowment
embodies the most negative aspects of both private aid and official
foreign aid-the pitfalls of decentralized 'loose cannon' foreign
policy efforts combined with the impression that the United States
is trying to 'run the show' around the world."
The National Endowment for Democracy is
dependent on the US taxpayer for funding, but because NED is not
a government agency, it is not subject to Congressional oversight.
It is indeed a heavily subsidized foreign policy loose cannon.
Since its founding in 1983, the National
Endowment for Democracy has been headed by Carl Gershman, a member
of the neo-Trotskyite Social Democrats/USA.
Perhaps that is one reason much of what
NED has done in the former Communist Bloc has ended up benefiting
former communists in those countries. As British Helsinki Human
Rights Group Director Christine Stone has written:
Both (IRI and NDI) are largely funded
by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) ... which, in turn,
receive money from the American taxpayer. Both have favoured the
return to power of former high-ranking Communists which has also
meant co-opting foot-soldiers from the new left who have extremely
Skender Gjinushi, speaker of the Albanian
parliament, thanks the IRI for its assistance in drafting the
Albanian constitution in 1998. What the IRI does not say is that
Gjinushi was a member of the brutal Stalinist Politburo of Enver
Hoxha's Communist Party until 1990 and one of the main organizers
of the unrest that led to the fall of the Democratic Party government
in 1997 and the death of over 2000 people.
President Stoyanov of Bulgaria drools:
"Without IRI's support we could not have come so far so fast."
Indeed. Indeed. So far did they come that Ivan Kostov (who supplies
another encomium to IRI) was catapulted from his job teaching
Marxism-Leninism at Sofia University to being prime minister of
Bulgaria and a leader of "reform."
In Slovakia, NED funded several initiatives
aimed at defeating the freely-elected government of Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar, who, interestingly, had been persecuted by the
previous Communist regime. After the election, an IRI newsletter
boasted that "IRI polls changed the nature of the campaign,"
adding that IRI efforts secured "a victory for reformers
in Slovakia." What the IRI does not say is that many of these
"reformers" had been leading members of the former Communist
regime of then-Czechoslovakia. Is this democracy?
More recently, IRI president George A.
Folsom last year praised a coup against Venezuela's democratically-elected
president, saying, "Last night, led by every sector of civil
society, the Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in
their country." It was later revealed that the National Endowment
for Democracy provided funds to those organizations that initiated
the violent revolt in the streets against Venezuela's legal leaders.
More than a dozen civilians were killed and hundreds were injured
in this attempted coup. Is this promoting democracy?
The National Endowment for Democracy,
by meddling in the elections and internal politics of foreign
countries, does more harm to the United States than good. It creates
resentment and ill-will toward the United States among millions
abroad. It is beyond time to de-fund this Cold War relic and return
to the foreign policy of our founders, based on open relations
and trade with all countries and free from meddling and manipulation
in the internal affairs of others.
National Endowment for Democracy (NED)