Tibet, China, and the National Endowment for Democracy
by Michael Barker
Global Research, August 13, 2007
The National Endowment for Democracy:
Revisiting the CIA Connection
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
was established in 1984 with bipartisan support during President
Reagan's administration to "foster the infrastructure of
democracy - the system of a free press, unions, political parties,
universities" around the world. Considering Reagan's well
documented misunderstanding of what constitutes democratic governance,
it is fitting that Allen Weinstein, the NEDs first acting president,
observed that in fact "A lot of what we [the NED] do today
was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA". So for example,
it is not surprising that during the 1990 elections in Nicaragua
it is has been estimated that "for every dollar of NED or
AID funding there were several dollars of CIA funding".
By building upon the pioneering work of
liberal philanthropists (like the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations')
- who have a long history of co-opting progressive social movements
- it appears that the NED was envisaged by US foreign policy elites
to be a more suitable way to provide strategic funding to nongovernmental
organizations than via covert CIA funding. Indeed, the NED's 'new'
emphasis on overt funding of geostrategically useful groups, as
opposed to the covert funding, appears to have leant an aura of
respect to the NED's work, and has enabled them, for the most
part, to avoid much critical commentary in the mainstream media.
The seminal book exposing the NED's 'democratic'
modus operandi, is William I. Robinson's (1996) Promoting
Polyarchy, which as it's title suggests, lays out the argument
that instead of promoting more participatory forms of democracy,
the NED actually works to promote polyarchy. Robinson argues that
the NED's active promotion of polyarchy or low-intensity democracy
"is aimed not only at mitigating the social and political
tensions produced by elite-based and undemocratic status quos,
but also at suppressing popular and mass aspirations for more
thoroughgoing democratisation of social life in the twenty-first
century international order." His book furnishes detailed
examples of how the NED has successfully imposed polyarchal arrangements
on four countries, Chile, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Haiti;
while similarly, Barker (2006) has illustrated the NED's anti-democratic
involvement in facilitating and manipulating the 'colour revolutions'
which recently swept across Eastern Europe. More recently, both
Barker and Gerald Sussman (2006) have provided detailed examinations'
of how the NED works to promote a low intensity public sphere
(globally) through its selective funding of media organizations.
This article will now extend these three initial studies by critically
examining the NED's support for Tibetan media projects from 1990
National Endowment for Democracy (NED)