Special Reports
The new Gladio in action?
By Jonathan Mowat
Online 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 Helvey

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 box.

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

Much of 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 application.

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. military action."

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 Hysteria"

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.)

This 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 public.

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.

And Dope Too?

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 Institute (IRI).

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 NDI-favored Marriott.

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 operation.

Commenting on that expansion, Albert Einstein staffer Chris Miller, in his report on a 2001 trip to Serbia found on the group's website, reports:

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 other countries.

And 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 high time.

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 powerful.

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 world."


  • 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 Ukrainian coups?

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 terrorized.

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 Sanctions."

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:

Armed ethnic 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 many years.

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.

Myanmar Operations

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 of Burma.

"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 Political Defiance."

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 Karen leaders.

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:

He was 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.

AEI's 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 is possible."

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 State Department.

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 nonviolence.

The center's vice chairman, Berel Rodal, is the former director-general of the Policy Secretariat of the Canadian Department of National Defence.

The Arlington Institute

The Arlington 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.

The 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

Penn, 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 campaigns.

"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 others."

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:

International strategists, 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 communist-era ruler.

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.

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.

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 Associates.

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 Europe.

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."

Alan 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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