The new Gladio in action?
By Jonathan Mowat
Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 19, 2005, 02:34
"Gene Sharp started out the seminar by saying 'Strategic nonviolent
struggle is all about political power.' And I thought, 'Boy is this guy
speaking my language,' that is what armed struggle is about." -- Col. Robert
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government and allied forces'
year-end installation of Victor Yushchenko as president of Ukraine have
completed the field-testing of the "Postmodern Coup." Employing and
fine-tuning the same sophisticated techniques used in Serbia in 2000 and
Georgia in 2003 (and unsuccessfully in Belarus in 2001), it is widely expected
that the United States will attempt to apply the same methods throughout the
former Soviet Union.
"We have to confront those forces that are committed to
reproduce a Georgian or Ukrainian scenario," Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev
stated on December 26, the day of the coup, "we'll not allow the import of
Rose [Georgian] and Orange [Ukrainian] revolutions in our country." One
day later, the Kazakh government launched a criminal case against the Soros
Foundation for tax evasion, one of the coups' financiers. And last spring,
Uzbek President Islam Karimov accused Soros of overseeing the revolution in
Georgia, and condemning his efforts to "fool and brainwash" young
intelligentsia in his own country, banned the group. The same networks are also
increasingly active in South America, Africa, and Asia. Top targets include
Venezuela, Mozambique, and Iran, among others.
The method employed is usefully described by The Guardian's
Ian Traynor in a November 26, 2004, article entitled "US campaign behind
the turmoil in Kiev," during the first phase of the coup.
With their websites and stickers, their pranks and slogans aimed at
banishing widespread fear of a corrupt regime, the democracy guerrillas of the
Ukrainian Pora youth movement have already notched up a famous victory -- whatever
the outcome of the dangerous stand-off in Kiev.
[T]he campaign is an American
creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western
branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been
used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US
government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big
American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first
used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in
Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he
repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring
down Eduard Shevardnadze. Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US
ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central
America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to
defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
The operation - engineering
democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that
the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections
the coup apparatus is the same that was used in the overthrow of President
Fernando Marcos of the Philippines in 1986, the Tiananmen Square
destabilization in 1989, and Vaclav Havel's "Velvet revolution" in
Czechoslavakia in 1989. As in
these early operations, the National Endowment
for Democracy (NED), and its primary arms, the National
Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), played a
central role. The NED was established by the Reagan Administration in 1983, to
do overtly what the CIA had done covertly, in the words of one its legislative
drafters, Allen Weinstein. The Cold War propaganda and operations center, Freedom House,
now chaired by former CIA director James Woolsey, has also been involved, as
were billionaire George Soros' foundations, whose donations always dovetail
those of the NED.
What is new about the template bears on the use of the Internet
(in particular chat rooms, instant messaging, and blogs) and cell phones
(including text-messaging), to rapidly steer angry and suggestible "Generation
X" youth into and out of mass demonstrations and the like -- a capability
that only emerged in the mid-1990s. "With the crushing ubiquity of cell
phones, satellite phones, PCs, modems and the Internet," Laura Rosen
emphasized in Salon Magazine on February 3, 2001,"the information age is
shifting the advantage from authoritarian leaders to civic groups." She
might have mentioned the video games that helped create the deranged mindset of
these "civic groups." The repeatedly emphasized role played by
so-called "Discoshaman" and his girlfriend "Tulipgirl," in
assisting the "Orange Revolution" through their aptly named blog, "Le Sabot Post-Modern," is
indicative of the technical and sociological components involved.
A Civilian Revolution in Military Affairs
The emphasis on the use of new communication technologies to
rapidly deploy small groups, suggests what we are seeing is civilian
application of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "Revolution in Military Affairs"
doctrine, which depends on highly mobile small group deployments "enabled"
by "real time" intelligence and communications. Squads of soldiers
taking over city blocks with the aid of "intelligence helmet" video
screens that give them an instantaneous overview of their environment,
constitute the military side. Bands of youth converging on targeted intersections
in constant dialogue on cell phones constitute the doctrine's civilian
This parallel should not be surprising since the US military
and National Security Agency subsidized the development of the Internet,
cellular phones, and software platforms. From their inception, these
technologies were studied and experimented with in order to find the optimal
use in a new kind of warfare. The "revolution" in warfare that such
new instruments permit has been pushed to the extreme by several specialists in
psychological warfare. Although these military utopians have been working in
high places (for example the RAND Corporation) for a very long time, to a large
extent they only took over some of the most important command structures of the
US military apparatus with the victory of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon
of Donald Rumsfeld.
The new techniques of warfare include the use of both
lethal (violent) and nonlethal (nonviolent) tactics. Both ways are
conducted using the same philosophy, infrastructure, and modus operandi. It is
what is known as Cyberwar. For example, the tactic of swarming is a fundamental
element in both violent and nonviolent forms of warfare. This new philosophy of
war, which is supposed to replicate the strategy of Genghis
Khan as enhanced by modern technologies, is intended to aid both
military and non-military assaults against targeted states through what
are, in effect, "high tech" hordes. In that sense there is no
difference, from the standpoint of the plotters, between Iraq or Ukraine, if
only that many think the Ukraine-like coup is more effective and easier.
Indicative of the common objective are the comments of the
theoreticians of the post modern coup, for example, Dr. Peter Ackerman, the
author of "Strategic
Nonviolent Conflict" (Praeger 1994). Writing in the "National
Catholic Reporter" on April 26, 2002, Dr. Ackerman offered the following
corrective to Bush's Axis of Evil speech targeting Iraq, Iran, and North Korea,
which he otherwise approved: "It
is not true that the only way to 'take out' such regimes is through U.S.
Speaking at the "Secretary's Open Forum" at the
State Department on June 29, 2004, in a speech entitled, "Between Hard and Soft Power:The
Rise of Civilian-Based Struggle and Democratic Change," Ackerman
elaborated on the concept involved. He proposed that youth movements, such as
those used to bring down Serbia, could bring down Iran and North Korea, and
could have been used to bring down Iraq -- thereby accomplishing all of Bush's
objectives without relying on military means. And he reported that he has been
working with the top US weapons designer, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, on
developing new communications technologies that could be used in other youth
movement insurgencies. "There is no question that these technologies are
democratizing," he stressed, in reference to their potential use in
bringing down China, "they enable decentralized activity. They create, if
you will, a digital concept of the right of assembly."
Dr. Ackerman is the founding chairman of International Center
on Nonviolent Conflicts of Washington, DC, of which former US Air Force
officer Jack DuVall is president. Together with former CIA director James
Woolsey, DuVall also directs the Arlington Institute of Washington, DC, which
was created by former Chief of Naval Operations advisor John L. Peterson in
1989 " to help redefine the concept of national security in much larger,
comprehensive terms" it reports, through introducing "social value
shifts into the traditional national defense equation."
"Swarming Adolescents" and "Rebellious
As in the case of the new communication technologies, the
potential effectiveness of angry youth in postmodern coups has long been under
study. As far back as 1967, Dr. Fred Emery, then director of the Tavistock
Institute, and an expert on the "hypnotic effects" of television,
specified that the then new phenomenon of "swarming adolescents"
found at rock concerts could be effectively used to bring down the nation-state
by the end of the 1990s. This was particularly the case, as Dr. Emery reported
in "The next thirty years: concepts, methods and
anticipations,'' in the group's "Human Relations," because
the phenomena was associated with "rebellious hysteria." The British
military created the Tavistock Institute as its psychological warfare arm
following World War I; it has been the forerunner of such strategic planning
ever since. Dr. Emery's concept saw immediate application in NATO's use of "swarming
adolescents" in toppling French President Charles De Gaulle in 1967.
In November 1989, Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio,
under the aegis of that university's "Program for Social Innovations in
Global Management," began a series of conferences to review progress
towards that strategic objective, which was reported on in "Human Relations"
in 1991. There, Dr. Howard Perlmutter, a professor of "Social Architecture''
at the Wharton School, and a follower of Dr. Emery, stressed that "rock
video in Katmandu," was an appropriate image of how states with
traditional cultures could be destabilized, thereby creating the possibility of
a "global civilization." There are two requirements for such a
transformation, he added, "building internationally committed networks of
international and locally committed organizations,'' and "creating global
events" through "the transformation of a local event into one having
virtually instantaneous international implications through mass-media."
(Perlmutter on the
origin of the concept of globalization: see quote.)
brings us to the final ingredient of these new coups -- the deployment of
polling agencies' "exit polls" broadcast on international television
to give the false (or sometimes accurate) impression of massive vote-fraud by
the ruling party, to put targeted states on the defensive. Polling operations
in the recent coups have been overseen by such outfits as Penn, Schoen and Berland, top advisors to
Microsoft and Bill Clinton. Praising their role in subverting Serbia, then
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (and later Chairman
of NDI) , in an October 2000 letter to the firm quoted on its website,
stated: "Your work with the National Democratic Institute and the Yugoslav
opposition contributed directly and decisively to the recent breakthrough for
democracy in that country . . . This may be one of the first instances where
polling has played such an important role in setting and securing foreign
policy objectives." Penn, Schoen, together with the OSCE, also ran the
widely televised "exit poll" operations in the Ukrainian elections.
In the aftermath of such youth deployments and media
operations, more traditional elements come to the fore. That is, the forceful,
if covert, intervention by international institutions and governments
threatening the targeted regime, and using well placed operatives within the
targeted regime's military and intelligence services to ensure no
countermeasures can be effectively deployed. Without these traditional elements,
of course, no postmodern coup could ever work. Or, as Jack DuVall put it in
Jesse Walker's "Carnival and conspiracy in Ukraine,"
in Reason Online, November 30, 2004, "You can't simply parachute Karl Rove
into a country and manufacture a revolution."
Gladio and James Bond Get a Youth Group
The creation and deployment of coups of any kind requires
agents on the ground. The main handler of these coups on the "street side"
has been the Albert
Einstein Institution, which was formed in 1983 as an offshot of Harvard
University under the impetus of Dr. Gene Sharp, and which specializes in "nonviolence
as a form of warfare." Dr. Sharp had been the executive secretary of A.J.
Muste, the famous U.S. Trotskyite labor organizer and peacenik. The group is
funded by Soros and the NED. Albert Einstein's president is Col. Robert Helvey,
a former US Army officer with 30 years of experience in Southeast Asia. He has
served as the case officer for youth groups active in the Balkans and Eastern
Europe since at least 1999.
Col. Helvey reports, in a January 29, 2001, interview with
film producer Steve York in Belgrade, that he first got involved in "strategic
nonviolence" upon seeing the failure of military approaches to toppling
dictators -- especially in Myanmar, where he had been stationed as military
attach� -- and seeing the potential of Sharp's alternative approach. According
to B. Raman, the former director of India's foreign intelligence agency, RAW,
in a December 2001 paper published by his institute entitled, "The USA's National
Endowment For Democracy (NED): An Update," Helvey "was an officer
of the Defence Intelligence Agency of the Pentagon, who had served in Vietnam
and, subsequently, as the US Defence Attache in Yangon, Myanmar (1983 to 85),
during which he clandestinely organised the Myanmarese students to work behind
Aung San Suu Kyi and in collaboration with Bo Mya's Karen insurgent group. . .
. He also trained in Hong Kong the student leaders from Beijing in mass
demonstration techniques which they were to subsequently use in the Tiananmen Square
incident of June 1989" and "is now believed to be acting as an
adviser to the Falun Gong, the religious sect of China, in similar civil
disobedience techniques." Col. Helvey nominally retired from the army in
1991, but had been working with Albert Einstein and Soros long before then.
Reflecting Albert Einstein's patronage, one of its first
books was Dr. Sharp's "Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of
Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defense," published in 1985 with a forward
by George Kennan, the famous "Mr. X" 1940's architect of the Cold War
who was also a founder of the CIA's Operations division. There, Sharp reports
that "civilian-based defense" could counter the Soviet threat through
its ability "to deter and defeat attacks by making a society ungovernable
by would be oppressors" and "by maintaining a capacity for orderly
self-rule even in the face of extreme threats and actual aggression." He
illustrates its feasibility by discussing the examples of the Algerian
independence in 1961 and the Czechoslovakian resistance to Soviet invasion in
1968-9. In his forward, Kennan praises Sharp for showing the "possibilities
of deterrence and resistance by civilians" as a "partial alternative
to the traditional, purely military concepts of national defense." The
book was promptly translated into German, Norwegian, Italian, Danish, and other
NATO country languages. See the link to the Italian translation of the book (Verso
un'Europa Inconquistabile. 190
pp. 1989 Introduction by Gianfranco Pasquino) that sports a series of fashionable sociologists and "politologists"
prefacing the book and calling for a civil resistance to a possible Soviet
invasion of Italy.
Such formulations suggest that Albert Einstein activities
were, ironically, coherent (or, possibly updating) the infamous NATO's "Gladio"
stay-behind network, whose purpose was to combat possible Soviet occupation
through a panoply of military and nonmilitary means. The investigations into
Gladio, and those following the 1978 assassination of former Prime Minister
Aldo Moro, also shed some light (immediately switched off) on a professional
apparatus of destabilization that had been invisible for several decades to the
It is noteworthy that the former deputy chief of
intelligence for the US Army in Europe, Major General Edward Atkeson, first "suggested
the name 'civilian based defense' to Sharp," John M. Mecartney,
Coordinator of the Nonviolent Action for National Defense Institute, reports in
his group's CBD News and Opinion of March 1991.
By 1985, Gen. Atkeson, then retired from the US Army, was giving seminars at
Harvard entitled "Civilian-based
Defense and the Art of War.
The Albert Einstein Institution reports, in its "1994-99
Report on Activities," that Gen. Atkeson also served on Einstein's
advisory board in those years. Following his posting as the head of US Army
intelligence in Europe, and possibly concurrently with his position at the
Albert Einstein Institution, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS) reports that Gen. Atkeson, who also advised CSIS on "international
security." served as "national intelligence officer for general
purpose forces on the staff of the director of Central Intelligence."
A 1990 variant of Sharp's book, "Civilian-Based
Defense: A Post-Military Weapons System," the Albert Einstein
Institution reports, "was used
in 1991 and 1992 by the new independent governments of Estonia, Latvia, and
Lithuania in planning their defense against Soviet efforts to regain control."
As we shall see below, with such backing, Col. Helvey and
his colleagues have created a series of youth movements including Otpor! in
Serbia, Kmara! in Georgia, Pora! in Ukraine, and the like, which are already
virally replicating other sects throughout the former Soviet Union, achieving
in civilian form what had not been possible militarily in the 1980s. The groups
are also spreading to Africa and South America.
Col. Helvey's long experience in Myanmar in training
insurgent ethnic minorities in a region that is the center of world opium
production raises another question of great bearing on "post modern coups."
That is: what is the role of narcotic mafias in facilitating "regime
change?" Law enforcement agencies from many nations, including the United
States, have long reported that the Balkans is the major narcotics pipeline
into Western Europe. Ukraine is said to be a top conduit, as is Georgia.
Kyrghyzstan, now at the top of the hit list, is another opium conduit. And
George Soros "the Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization," has been the
top "private" funder of all the Eastern European and Central Asian
insurgent groups, as well as those in Myamar. The spread of such mafias, is, of
course, one of the most efficient ways of infiltrating and corrupting government
agencies of targeted states.
Col. Helvey is not the only operator with such a background.
The head of the OSCE's vote monitoring operation in Ukraine, for example,
Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, was German Ambassador to Colombia in the late 1990s, when
German secret agent Werner Mauss was arrested for working closely with the
narco-terrorist ELN, whose bombings are financed by the cocaine trade. Ahrens
was also on the scene in Albania and Macedonia, when the narcotics smuggling
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was created with US and German patronage. And
Michael Kozak, the US ambassador whose 2001 effort to overthrow Belarus'
Lukachenko failed, had been a top handler of the cocaine-smuggling Contras.
The Serbian Virus
The networks and methods used in the Serbian through Ukraine
sequence were first publicly revealed in a Washington Post article on Dec. 11,
2000, by Michael Dobbs, entitled. "U.S.
Advice Guided Milosevic Opposition: Political Consultants Helped Yugoslav
Opposition Topple Authoritarian Leader." He reports that:
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.
Some Americans involved in the anti-Milosevic effort said they were
aware of CIA activity at the fringes of the campaign, but had trouble finding
out what the agency was up to. Whatever it was, they concluded it was not
particularly effective. The lead role was taken by the State Department and the
U.S. Agency for International Development, the government's foreign assistance
agency, which channeled the funds through commercial contractors and nonprofit
groups such as NDI and its Republican counterpart, the International Republican
While NDI worked closely with
Serbian opposition parties, IRI focused its attention on Otpor, which served as
the revolution's ideological and organizational backbone. In March, IRI paid
for two dozen Otpor leaders to attend a seminar on nonviolent resistance at the
Hilton Hotel in Budapest, a few hundreds yards along the Danube from the
During the seminar, the Serbian
students received training in such matters as how to organize a strike, how to
communicate with symbols, how to overcome fear and how to undermine the
authority of a dictatorial regime. The principal lecturer was retired U.S. Army
Col. Robert Helvey, who has made a study of nonviolent resistance methods
around the world, including those used in modern-day Burma and the civil rights
struggle in the American South.
Helvey, who served two tours in Vietnam, introduced
the Otpor activists to the ideas of American theoretician Gene Sharp, whom he
describes as "the Clausewitz of the nonviolence movement," referring
to the renowned Prussian military strategist.
Peter Ackerman, the above-mentioned coup expert, analyzed
and popularized the methods involved in a 2001 PBS documentary-series and book,
"A Force More Powerful:
A Century of Nonviolent Conflict," together with retired US
Airforce officer Jack DuVall. Focusing on youth organizing, they report:
After the NATO bombing, which had helped the regime suppress
opposition, Otpor's organizing took hold with a quiet vengeance. It was built
in some places around clubhouses where young people could go and hang out,
exercise, and party on the weekends, or more often it was run out of dining
rooms and bedrooms in activists' homes. These were "boys and girls 18 and
19 years old" who had lived "in absolute poverty compared to other
teenagers around the world," according to Stanko Lazendic, an Otpor
activist in Novi Sad. "Otpor offered these kids a place to gather, a place
where they could express their creative ideas." In a word, it showed them
how to empower themselves.
Otpor's leaders knew that they "couldn't use
force on someone who . . . had three times more force and weapons than we did,"
in the words of Lazendic. "We knew what had happened in. Tiananmen, where
the army plowed over students with tanks." So violence wouldn't work -- and
besides, it was the trademark of Milosevic, and Otpor had to stand for
something different. Serbia "was a country in which violence was used too
many times in daily politics," noted Srdja Popovic, a 27 year-old who
called himself Otpor's "ideological commissar." The young activists
had to use nonviolent methods "to show how superior, how advanced, how
civilized" they were.
This relatively sophisticated
knowledge of how to develop nonviolent power was not intuitive. Miljenko
Dereta, the director of a private group in Belgrade called Civic Initiatives,
got funding from Freedom
House in the U.S. to print and distribute 5,000 copies of
Gene Sharp's book, "From
Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation."
Otpor got hold of Sharp's main three-volume work, "The Politics of
Nonviolent Action," freely
adapting sections of it into a Serbian-language notebook they dubbed the "Otpor
User Manual." Consciously using this "ideology of nonviolent,
individual resistance," in Popovic's words, activists also received direct
training from Col. Robert Helvey, a colleague of Sharp, at the Budapest Hilton
in March 2000.
Helvey emphasized how to break the people's habits
of subservience to authority, and also how to subvert: the regime's "pillars
of support," including the police and armed forces. Crucially, he warned
them against "contaminants to a nonviolent struggle," especially
violent action, which would deter ordinary people from joining the movement:
and alienate the international community, from which material and financial
assistance could be drawn. As Popovic put it: "Stay nonviolent and you
will get the support of the third party."
That support, largely denied to the Serbian
opposition before, now began to flow. Otpor and other dissident groups received
funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, affiliated with the U.S.
government, and Otpor leaders sat down with Daniel Serwer, the program director
for the Balkans at the U.S. Institute for Peace, whose story of having been
tear-gassed during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration gave him special
credibility in their eyes. The International Republican Institute, also
financed by the U.S. government, channeled funding to the opposition and met
with Otpor leaders several times. The U.S. Agency for International
Development, the wellspring for most of this financing, was also the source of
money that went for materials like t-shirts and stickers.
No Lack of Opportunities for Employment
In the aftermath of the Serbian revolution, the National
Endowment for Democracy, Albert Einstein Institution, and related outfits
helped establish several Otpor-modeled youth groups in Eastern Europe, notably
Zubr in Belarus in January 2001; Kmara in Georgia, in April 2003; and Pora in
Ukraine in June 2004. Efforts to overthrow Belarus President Alexsander
Luschenko failed in 2001, while the US overthrow of Georgian President Eduard
Schevardnadze was successfully accomplished in 2003, using Kmara as part of its
Commenting on that expansion, Albert Einstein staffer Chris
Miller, in his report on a 2001 trip to Serbia found on the group's website,
Since the ousting of Milosevic, several members of Otpor have met with
members of the Belarusian group Zubr (Bison). In following developments in
Belarus since early this year, It is clear that Zubr was developed or at least
conceptualized, using Otpor as a model. Also, [Albert Einstein's report] From
Dictatorship to Democracy is available in English on the Zubr website at www.zubr-belarus.com. Of course,
success will not be achieved in Belarus or anywhere else, simply by mimicking
the actions taken in Serbia. However the successful Serbian nonviolent struggle
was highly influenced and aided by the availability of knowledge and
information on strategic nonviolent struggle and both successful and
unsuccessful past cases, which is transferable.
Otpor focused on building their
human resources, especially among youth. An Otpor training manual to "train
future trainers" was developed, which contained excerpts from The
Politics of Nonviolent Action, provided to Otpor by Robert Helvey during
his workshop in Budapest for Serbs in early 2000. It may be applicable for
with funding provided by Freedom
House and the US government, Otpor established the Center for
Nonviolent Resistance, in Budapest, to train these groups. Describing the
deployment of this youth movement, Ian Trainor, in the above cited Guardian
November 2004 article, reports:
In the centre of Belgrade, there
is a dingy office staffed by computer-literate youngsters who call themselves
the Centre for Non-violent Resistance. If you want to know how to beat a regime
that controls the mass media, the judges, the courts, the security apparatus
and the voting stations, the young Belgrade activists are for hire.
They emerged from the
anti-Milosevic student movement, Otpor, meaning resistance. The catchy,
single-word branding is important. In Georgia last year, the parallel student
movement was Khmara. In Belarus, it was Zubr. In Ukraine, it is Pora, meaning
Stickers, spray paint and websites
are the young activists' weapons. Irony and street comedy mocking the regime
have been hugely successful in puncturing public fear and enraging the
Last year, before becoming president in Georgia, the
US-educated Mr Saakashvili travelled from Tbilisi to Belgrade to be coached in
the techniques of mass defiance. In Belarus, the US embassy organised the
dispatch of young opposition leaders to the Baltic, where they met up with
Serbs travelling from Belgrade. In Serbia's case, given the hostile environment
in Belgrade, the Americans organised the overthrow from neighbouring Hungary --
Budapest and Szeged.
In recent weeks, several Serbs
travelled to the Ukraine. Indeed, one of the leaders from Belgrade, Aleksandar
Maric, was turned away at the border.
The Democratic party's National
Democratic Institute, the Republican party's International Republican
Institute, the US State Department and USAID are the main agencies involved in
these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom
House NGO and billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute.
An Associated Press article by Dusan Stojanovic, on November
2, 2004, entitled "Serbia's export: Peaceful Revolution," elaborates:
"We knew there would be work
for us after Milosevic," said Danijela Nenadic, a program coordinator of
the Belgrade-based Center for Nonviolent Resistance. The nongovernmental group
emerged from Otpor, the pro-democracy movement that helped sweep Milosevic from
power by organizing massive and colorful protests that drew crowds who never
previously had the courage to oppose the former Yugoslav president. In Ukraine
and Belarus, tens of thousands of people have been staging daily protests -- carbon
copies of the anti-Milosevic rallies -- with "training" provided by
the Serbian group.
The group says it has "well-trained"
followers in Ukraine and Belarus. In Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus,
anti-government activists "saw what we did in Serbia and they contacted us
for professional training," group member Sinisa Sikman said. Last year,
Otpor's clenched fist was flying high on white flags again -- this time in
Georgia, when protesters stormed the parliament in an action that led to the
toppling of Shevardnadze.
Last month, Ukrainian border authorities denied
entry to Alexandar Maric, a member of Otpor and an adviser with the U.S.-based
democracy watchdog Freedom House. A Ukrainian student group called Pora was
following the strategies of Otpor.
James Woolsey's Freedom House "expressed concern"
over Maric's deportation, in an October 14, 2004, press release which reported
that he was traveling to Ukraine as part of "an initiative run by Freedom
House, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican
Institute to promote civic participation and oversight during the 2004
presidential and 2006 parliamentary elections in Ukraine." In a related
statement, it added that it hoped the deportation was not a sign of the
Ukrainian government's "unwillingness to allow the free flow of
information and learning across borders that is an integral and accepted part
of programs to encourage democratic progress in diverse societies around the
- Otpor! founded in Belgrade, Serbia in
October 1998. Postmodern Coup overthrows Slobodan Milosevic on October 5, 2000. Subsequently forms Center for Nonviolent
Resistance to spead !!! revolutions.
- Clinton Administration's Community of
Democracies launched in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2000.
- Zubr! founded in Minsk, Belarus, on
January 14, 2001. Election-Coup efforts fail in September 9, 2001.
- Mjaft! founded in Tirana, Albania, on
March 15, 2003.
- Kmara! founded in Tblisi, Georgia in
April 2003. "Rose revolution" overthrows President Eduard
Shevardnadze on November 23, 2003.
- Pora! founded in Kiev, Ukraine in June
2004. "Orange revolution" installs Victor Yushchenko into power
on December 26, 2004.
- Kmara! overthrows Abashidze of Ajaria
(western Georgian secessionist province) May 5, 2004
Who Is Col. Bob Helvey?
Who is Col. Bob Helvey, who personally, and through his
Albert Einstein Institution, played such a key role in the Serbian and
According to his own account, Helvey first got involved in "strategic
nonviolence" upon seeing the failures of military approaches to toppling
dictators, especially in Myanmar (also known as Burma). In a January 29, 2001,
interview with Steve York in Belgrade, Helvey stated:
My career has been that of a
professional soldier. And one of my last assignments was to be the defense
attach� in Rangoon [Myanmar]. And I really had an opportunity -- two years
living in Rangoon and getting around the country -- to really see first hand
what happens when a people are oppressed to the point that they're absolutely
And, you know, there was no future
for people and there was a struggle for democracy going on, but it was an armed
struggle on the periphery of the country and in the border regions. And it was
very clear that that armed struggle was never going to succeed.
So, when I got back [to the US], I kept Burma in the
back of my mind. Here were a people that really wanted democracy, really wanted
political reform, but the only option they had was armed struggle. And that was
really a nonstarter, so there was really a sense of helplessness.
Back in the US, he reports, he was selected as senior fellow
at the Harvard Center for International Affairs -- while still an active duty
officer, where he attended a meeting on a "Program for Nonviolent
Dr. Gene Sharp happened to be
there. And he started out the seminar by saying, "Strategic nonviolent
struggle is all about political power. How to seize political power and how to
deny it to others." And I thought, "Boy, this guy's talking my
language." And, you know, that's what armed struggle is about. So I got
interested in this approach because I saw immediately that there may be an
opportunity here for the Burmese.
And how did he get involved in Serbia?
I had done some work along the Thai-Burmese border
with the International Republican Institute. So when they were looking for
someone to present information on strategic nonviolent struggle to a Serb
group, they called me.
The Albert Einstein Institution repeatedly emphasizes Col.
Helvey's role in training the Myanmar opposition, and a substantial amount of
the group's web page stresses the group's involvement there. Reflecting this
preoccupation, Albert Einstein's writings have repeatedly been translated not
only into Burmen, but also into Karen, Chin, Mon, Jingphaw and several other
ethnic minority languages and dialects in that country.
The Albert Einstein Institute does not emphasize, however,
that even the US State Department and Drug Enforcement Agency identify the
ethnic minority opposition to the Myanmar government as comprising the world's
largest producers of opium and heroin.
The DEA's 2002 "Drug Intelligence Brief: Burma: Country
Brief," for example, states:
minority groups who have been in conflict with the GOB [Government of Burma,
aka Myanmar ed] for decades control cultivation, production, and trafficking in
Burma. . . . The drug trafficking groups operating within Burma are mostly
insurgent factions that have been warring with the GOB and among themselves for
Special note should be made here of Bo Mya and his Karen
group, which Col. Helvey has advised for years. Bo Mya, now retired, has admitted
to have held meetings with Burmese drug king
pin Khun Sa, that Khun Sa said were held in an unsuccessful attempt to
negotiate opium and heroin routes of Myanmar and Thailand. (Bo Mya has denied
Myanmar government allegations of his
involvement in the narcotics trade.)
According to Khun Sa's statements -- later made famous by
the US military "Missing in Action" investigator "Bo" Gritz
-- his opium trafficking was done under the coordination of Richard Armitage,
currently US Undersecretary of State. (See references here, here and here)
While Col. Helvey's precise relations with former CIA deputy
director Theodore Shackley, who had been widely accused of overseeing this
narcotics trafficking, remain unknown, such reports do lend credence to claims
that narcotics syndicates have played a pivotal role in the recent coups in the
Balkans, and now Ukraine, which comprise an important route for Southeast Asian
heroin entering Western Europe.
In its "Report on Activities, 1993-1999,"
the Albert Einstein Institution laid great stress on the importance of Helvey's
operations to subvert the Myanmar regime as a centerpiece of their activities.
In fact, the first paragraph of the introduction of the report reads:
Colonel Kyaw Thein was clearly unhappy with our
workshop on nonviolent struggle held along the Thai-Burma border. At a
September 1996 press briefing in Rangoon, the spokesman for the military
dictatorship charged that "aliens and mercenaries" were trying to "disrupt
the peace and tranquility" in Burma -- as if widespread torture, forced
labor, and other human rights atrocities constitute "tranquility."
The military official was incensed by an ever increasing global phenomenon:
direct transnational assistance and cooperation between nongovernmental
organizations and pro-democracy groups around the world, in this case of
course, in Burma. The Albert Einstein Institution's groundbreaking outreach on
strategic nonviolent struggle is but one example of this growing trend that
moves beyond traditional humanitarian and human rights efforts.
. . . The impetus for our intensive workshops on nonviolent
struggle for Burmese groups came in November 1991, when Robert Helvey, a
retired U.S. Army colonel and former U.S. military attach� in Burma, requested
that we assist in reviewing lesson plans for an introductory course in
nonviolent struggle. Mr. Helvey designed the course for Burmese opposition
groups in part by relying on Gene Sharp's The Politics of Nonviolent Action.
The May 1992 course, conducted inside Burma at the opposition headquarters
at Manerplaw, was extremely well received. In fact, when leading Burmese
opposition groups formed the umbrella organization National Council of the
Union of Burma in August 1992, they also established a "Political Defiance
Committee" to educate activists and to organize strategic nonviolent
struggle inside Burma ("political defiance" is the term adopted in
Burma to connote nonviolent struggle). Senior pro-democracy leaders requested
additional workshops from Robert Helvey and the Albert Einstein Institution.
A Fall 1992 article in "Nonviolent Sanctions" by
Gene Sharp, entitled "Exploring Nonviolent Struggle in Thailand
and Burma," and found on Albert Einstein's website, describes
their role in Myanmar, and in particular Col. Helvey's role:
Gene Sharp traveled to Thailand and
Burma in the fall, October 20�November 8, 1992, in response to two invitations.
The American Friends of Democracy in Burma (headquartered in Alexandria,
Virginia) asked him to help evaluate a course on "Political Defiance"
that had been taught in Mannerplaw by Robert Helvey for the Democratic Alliance
"After two days rest and
orientation in Bangkok, I traveled to Mannerplaw, a base camp for the Burmese
democratic opposition located along the Thai-Burma border. . . . During my four
days in Mannerplaw I participated in a variety of meetings and discussions
about nonviolent struggle (or political defiance as it is more often called there).
These included meetings with top political officials, military officers, and
leaders of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front, the National League for
Democracy, the Karen Youth Organization Leadership Seminar, the Democratic
Alliance of Burma, and the Political Defiance Committee."
Robert Helvey, a retired U.S. Army colonel and an
expert on Burma, began offering a course on political defiance to groups in
Mannerplaw last spring. The aim of this intensive course is to give
participants a basic understanding of the technique of nonviolent struggle. At
the end of the course, students are expected to understand the insights into
political power on which political defiance is based, and also to have
developed an understanding of the technique's multiple methods, its dynamics of
conflict against a repressive regime, the mechanisms of change, and the
principles of strategy in nonviolent struggle.
Peace Magazine, in its April June 2003 issue, contains
further details on Helvey's career, in a laudatory article entitled "Robert Helvey's Expert
From 1983 until 1985 Helvey was a
US military attach� at the American Embassy in Rangoon, where he was dismayed
by the futility of armed resistance to the brutal dictatorship of Burma. An
armed struggle had continued without success for over two decades.
After retiring from the army in
1991, Helvey gave a speech in Washington, using Sharp's insights and adding his
own. A member of the audience later offered to pay his way to Burma to spread
his message. With this funding, from 1992 to 1998, he made 15 trips to the
Thai-Burmese border to meet with more than 500 members of the National Council
Union of Burma, a pro-democracy umbrella group. On eight occasions, Helvey
taught a six-week course, seeking to build confidence, identify the
dictatorship's major weaknesses, and form pressure groups.
Many of those attending Helvey's course had been
officers in armed resistance groups for many years and were skeptical about
nonviolence. For example, Auun Nang Oo, who is now a fellow at Harvard's
Kennedy School of Nonviolence, was astonished that a career soldier could hold
such views. Another unbeliever was General Bo Mya, the leader of the Karens,
the biggest national minority. At first he would just grumble and grunt that he
"wasn't interested in doing the work of cowards." To change such
attitudes, Helvey coined the more militant-sounding phrase, "political
defiance," which won Bo over and caused him to ask Helvey to train more
The Myamar government has also commented on Col. Helvey's
career. For example, at a June 27, 1997 press conference
entitled "How some Western powers have been aiding and abetting terrorism
committed by certain organizations operating under the guise of democracy and
human rights by giving them assistance in both cash and kind." There,
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, at the time Secretary-1 of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council of Myanmar, said of Helvey:
assigned to Myanmar as Defense Attache (Army) at the U.S. embassy in Myanmar
from 1982 to 1984 with the rank of full colonel. On conclusion of his
assignment in Myanmar he went home, retired immediately from the US Army and
returned to the Myanmar-Thai border. He is military advisor to the KNU, KNPP
and the Democratic Party for New Society, personally giving military training
and manipulating the armed groups in various ways right up till now.
The Myamar government newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, on
February 4, 1995, also reported on Helvey's involvement with
insurgent groups then working with opium kingpin Khun Sa.
As the second strategy of the NCUB
[National Coalition Union of Burma], it formed the Political Defiance
Committee with the objective to use all sorts of subversive acts so that the
people will have wrong impressions of the Government and lose their respect on
it and so disturbances and upheavals will break out in the country. Thus, they
made contacts with underground elements within the country and distributed
agitative pamphlets, set off bombs in townships to disturb peace and tranquility
and cause disturbances and resorted to other disruptive acts. Those who gave
training in political defiance (PD) activities were a former retired US Defence
Attache Robert Helvey and one Gene Sharp. It was seen that during the
three-year period of extending invitation for peace, the KNU were bent on
undermining the interest of the people. KNU Bo Mya sent KNU Lt-Col Law Wadi,
demolition expert Lt-Col Saw Isaac, to drug
warlord Khun Sa at Homein Camp and had discussions from 10 to 12 April 1994 on
cooperation between KNU and MTA, assisting in making land mines and arms and
ammunition and other economic cooperation.
The Coup Plotters
The Albert Einstein Institution
The Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) has played the key
role in recent years in training and deploying youth movements to help prepare
the conditions for coups through fostering the impression that the targeted
regimes are deeply unpopular, and through destabilizing those regimes through
their demonstrations and the like. The group, which is funded by the Soros
foundations and the US government, is led by former DIA officer Col. Robert
Helvey, and Harvard University's Dr. Gene Sharp.
According to the Albert Einstein Institution's report, Dr
Gene Sharp (curriculum vitae and Biographical Profile)
"founded the Albert Einstein Institution in 1983 to promote research,
policy studies, and education on the strategic uses of nonviolent struggle in
face of dictatorship, war, genocide, and oppression."
Dr. Sharp has held research appointments in Harvard
University's Center for International Affairs for nearly 30 years. His
writings, which on the strategic use of nonviolence in overturning states, have
been translated into 27 languages. Through funding provided by the Soros
foundations, and through the National Endowment of Democracy and other US
government conduits, Sharp and his associates have regularly traveled to
targeted regions to facilitate revolutions, since the group's creation.
According to Sharp, "If the issue is to bring down a
dictatorship, then it is not good enough to say, 'we want freedom.' It's
necessary to develop a strategy, or a super-plan, to weaken a dictatorship and
that can only be done by identifying its sources of power. These [sources of
power] include: authority, human resources skills, knowledge, tangible factors,
economic and material resources and sanctions like police and troops."
For this reason, Sharp reports, he has written numerous
books on nonviolent struggle to help oppressed peoples develop a "superplan."
These works, of which the major one is "The Politics of Nonviolent Action,"
have been translated into 27 languages. Among these languages are Russian,
Ukrainian, Latvian, Estonian, Macedonian, Arabic, Tamil, Burmese, Karen (and
several other Burmese minority languages), Thai, Chinese, Korean, as well as
French, Dutch, Spanish, German, Italian, and other European languages still
spoken in former colonies.
While Sharp is the main theoretician of the group (and
officially its senior scholar), its more practical work is overseen by its
president, Colonel Robert Helvey, who began working with the center even before
officially retiring from the US Army in 1991. A 30-year veteran of the Defense
Intelligence Agency, Helvey had practical experience in subversive operations
throughout Southeast Asia prior to his work with the institution. According to
numerous reports, Helvey was the case officer for the US-sponsored coup in
Serbia, was deeply involved in similar operations in Georgia, and according to
at least on report, was on the ground in the recent coup in Ukraine. (Ukrainian translation of From Dictatorship to Democracy by Sharp has just been announced by The
Albert Einstein Institution)
According to the Albert Einstein Institution's report for
the years 2000 to 2004, its mission is to "advance the worldwide study and
strategic use of nonviolent action in conflict."
Numerous individuals and organizations interested in the potential of
nonviolent struggle contact the Albert Einstein Institution. In recent years,
requests for information or advice have come from people involved in conflicts
in Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, Cyprus, the Republic of Georgia,
Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates,
Iraq, Lebanon, the Occupied Territories, Vietnam, China, Tibet, West Papua, Sri
Lanka, Malaysia, Aceh (Indonesia), Kashmir, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia,
Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Angola, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Togo, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
translation program has been instrumental in expanding our global reach. In the
last four years alone, the Albert Einstein Institution's publications have
appeared in Serbian, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Tibetan, and
several ethnic Burmese languages. Additional translations are currently
underway in Chinese and Kurdish.
In his letter from the president, Col. Helvey reports:
Strategic nonviolent struggle must
be recognized as a subject that can be understood and applied by all who seek
to throw off the yoke of governmental oppression.
. . . The assumption that there is no realistic alternative to
violence in extreme situations is contradicted by various cases of important
nonviolent struggles in several countries in recent decades. These include
Norway, Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, the Philippines, the Soviet Union,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, and
others. Many earlier cases of improvised nonviolent struggle occurred and are
also relevant. Usually the importance of these history-making nonviolent
struggles has been trivialized or ignored. Although there have also been some
failures in nonviolent struggle, such as in China and Burma, the fact that
these cases could have been waged at all, and that numerous nonviolent
struggles have succeeded, is highly important.
International Center on Nonviolent Conflicts
The International Center on Nonviolent Conflicts has been
heavily involved in the new Postmodern Coups, especially through its top
figures, Dr. Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall.
According to its website, the center
"develops and encourages the use of civilian-based, nonmilitary strategies
to establish and defend democracy and human rights worldwide." It "provides
assistance in the training and deployment of field advisors, to deepen the
conceptual knowledge and practical skills of applying nonviolent strategies in
conflicts throughout the world where progress toward democracy and human rights
The most significant nonviolent
conflicts in the world today, which may lead to "regime changes," it
reports, are occurring in Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Chinese Tibet, Belarus, Ukraine
[now nearing completion], Palestine, Iran, and Cuba.
Dr. Peter Ackerman is the founding chairman of the center.
He is currently the chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School
of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, an important US intelligence
recruitment center, and is on the Executive Council of the International
Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Dr Ackerman was also a founding
director of the Albert Einstein Institution.
Dr. Ackerman was the executive producer of the PBS-TV
documentary, "Bringing Down a Dictator,"
on the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, which has since been translated into Arabic,
Farsi, French, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish. He was also the series editor
and principal content advisor behind the PBS-TV series, "A Force More
Powerful," which documents the use of nonviolence in regime changes. It
has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. Ackerman
is the co-author of two books on nonviolent resistance: A Force More
Powerful (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press 2001), which is a companion book to
the television series, and Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of
People Power in the Twentieth Century (Praeger 1994). He regularly lectures
on the use of the nonviolence in toppling targets states, including at the
Former Air Force officer Jack DuVall, is the president of
the center, and was one of its founders. Like Dr. Ackerman, DuVall gives
frequent lectures nationally and internationally on the strategic use of
The center's vice chairman, Berel Rodal, is the former
director-general of the Policy Secretariat of the Canadian Department of National
The Arlington Institute
Institute (TAI), is an apparent strategist in the use of postmodern coups.
It was founded in 1989 by John L. Petersen, in order, in his own words, "
to help redefine the concept of national security in much larger, comprehensive
terms by introducing the rapidly evolving global trends of population growth,
environmental degradation, and science and technology explosion, and social value
shifts into the traditional national defense equation." Among its board
members are Jack DuVall, the former Air Force officer who is director of the
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict in Washington, DC and James
Woolsey, the former Clinton administration CIA director and neocon spokesman
who is currently the chairman of Freedom House.
need for an organization like the Arlington Institute, its website
reports, "evolved from the bipartisan, eighteen-month long National
Security Group project that Petersen co-founded and jointly led in Washington,
DC, in 1986-7. That ad-hoc group of national security experts was brought
together to explore and map the security environment that the successful
candidate would have to operate within after the 1988 presidential campaign.
Petersen also wrote the final report for the group, 'The Diffusion of Power: An
Era of Realignment,' which became a strategy document used at the highest
levels of the Department of Defense."
"In the early part of the 90s," it adds, "Petersen
was engaged in a number of projects for the Department of Defense which
functioned to build a systematic understanding of the major approaches that
were then being used to study and anticipate futures. One notable project for
the Office of the Secretary of Defense involved traveling throughout the world
visiting the foremost practitioners of futures research to assess each
methodology and attempt to develop a new, synthetic approach that drew from the
best of the then current processes." Petersen became an advisor to a
number of senior defense officials during this time, serving in various
personal support roles to the undersecretary of the Navy and the chief of Naval
Operations, among others.
Midway through the 1990s, it adds, "Petersen became
convinced that humanity was living in an extraordinary time of change that
would necessarily result in a major global shift within the following two
decades. TAI committed itself to playing a significant role in facilitating a
global transition to a new world that operates in a fundamentally different way
from the past."
Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates
Schoen and Berland (PSB) has played a pioneering role in the use of
polling operations, especially "exit polls," in facilitating coups.
Its primary mission is to shape the perception that the group installed into
power in a targeted country has broad popular support. The group began work in
Serbia during the period that its principle, Mark Penn, was President Clinton's
top political advisor.
PSB was founded in 1975, with
offices in Washington, DC, Denver, and New York. It reports it has conducted
research in over 65 countries for Fortune 500 companies and major political
"PSB is perhaps best known for our work as long-term
strategic advisors to Bill Gates and Microsoft," it reports, while in the
political world, "the firm is best known for being the long-time strategic
advisors to President Bill Clinton and to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, among
The firm reports that it has conducted "a wide variety
of government research projects, including recent work for the U.S. State
Department in troubled countries overseas." Its business clients have included Siemens, American Express,
Eli Lilly, Fleet, Boston Financial, Texaco, BP, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, ING
Group, DeBeers, and KMG, among others.
The groups touts its role in Serbia. In an article, entitled
"Defeating dictators at the ballot box: Lessons on how to develop
successful electoral strategy in an authoritarian society," posted on
their website, coauthors Penn and Schoen report:
political and media consultants -- such as ourselves have played critical roles
behind the scenes of the elections in Serbia and Zimbabwe, helping the
opposition parties craft strategies, messages and organize a credible and
effective campaign that has enabled them to weaken the dictator, his political
party, and eventually throw him out of power..
The introduction of cutting edge
political and communications techniques is as well as the advise of the best
Western political consultants and image makers, is as potent a weapon as the
planes, bombs, and intelligence technology used in such conflicts as the
Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, and, most recently Afghanistan.
The firm's role in subverting
Serbia was first detailed in a December 11, 2000, Washington Post article by
Michael Dobbs, US Advice Guided Milosevic Opposition.
In a softly lit conference room,
American pollster Doug Schoen flashed the
results of an in-depth opinion poll of 840 Serbian voters onto an overhead
projection screen, sketching a strategy for toppling Europe's last remaining
His message, delivered to leaders of Serbia's
traditionally fractious opposition, was simple and powerful. Slobodan Milosevic
-- survivor of four lost wars, two major street uprisings, 78 days of NATO
bombing and a decade of international sanctions -- was "completely
vulnerable" to a well-organized electoral challenge. The key, the poll
results showed, was opposition unity.
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
Milosevic's strongest political card was the
disarray and ineffectiveness of his opponents. The opposition consisted of
nearly two dozen political parties, some of whose leaders were barely on
speaking terms with one another.
It was against this background that 20
opposition leaders accepted an invitation from the Washington-based National
Democratic Institute (NDI) in October 1999 to a seminar at the Marriott Hotel
in Budapest, overlooking the Danube River. The key item on the agenda: an
opinion poll commissioned by the U.S. polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland
The poll reported that Milosevic had a 70
percent unfavorable rating among Serbian voters. But it also showed that the
big names in the opposition -- men such as Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Draskovic -- were
burdened with negative poll ratings almost as high as Milosevic's.
Among the candidates best placed to
challenge Milosevic, the poll suggested, was a moderate Serbian nationalist
named Vojislav Kostunica, who had a favorable rating of 49 percent and an
unfavorable rating of only 29 percent.
Schoen, who had provided polling advice to former
Yugoslav prime minister Milan Panic during his unsuccessful 1992 campaign to
depose Milosevic, drew several conclusions from these and other findings of the
poll. . . . Most important, only a united opposition had a chance of deposing
Milosevic. "If you take one word from this conference," Schoen told
the delegates, "I urge it to be unity."
Mark Penn has been president of the firm since its founding
in 1975. He served as President Clinton's pollster and political adviser for
the 1996 re-election campaign and throughout the second term of the
administration, including during the period he oversaw the Serbian election
campaign which toppled President Milosevic. His influence over the Clinton administration
was such that the Washington Post called him perhaps "the most powerful
man in Washington you've never heard of". According to the firm's website,
Penn helped elect 15 overseas Presidents in the Far East, Latin America, and
Doug Schoen is the firm's founding partner and a principal
strategist. According to the firm, Schoen has, for the last 20 years "created
winning messages and provided strategic advice to numerous political clients in
the United States and to heads of state in countries around the world,
including Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic,
Bermuda and Yugoslavia." Additionally, he was "President William
Jefferson Clinton's research and strategic consultant during the 1996
reelection, and has been widely credited with creating and effectively
communicating the message that turned around the president's political fortunes
between 1994 and 1996."
Fleischmann, who runs the firm's Washington offices, is described as a "specialist
in strategic and crisis communications who has served in domestic and overseas
senior management posts in the private and public sectors, specializing in
finance, public and foreign policy, marketing, communications, negotiation,
mediation, and strategy. Prior to joining the firm, Fleischmann been staff
director of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western
Hemisphere of the United States Congress, and a senior advisor to the House
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Fleischmann has also been a legislative
aide to the late German Chancellor Willy Brandt in the German Bundestag.
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