Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave USAID until October 1 to shut its doors in Moscow. This is an excellent decision by the Russian Government. And Washington’s immediate and virulent reaction only confirms that Russia is right on target.
The New York Times next morning on the front page cited American officials who “quickly pledged to maneuver around the Kremlin.” Even before the public announcement, on Tuesday 18 September, US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul and USAID leadership met with their Russian partners.
Grigory Melkonyants, deputy head of the Golos Association – one of the top recipients of USAID funding – confirmed after the meeting that the agency is “not going to leave Russia completely” and they are “brainstorming” about how to reorganize. In the meantime, Ambassador McFaul announced that “it will take at least a year” for USAID to exit Russia, according to Bloomberg News.
Brainstorming on how circumvent the Russian government’s decision – instead of how to pack up faster – is only one more demonstration of Washington’s utter disrespect for another country’s sovereignty. Indeed, there are a number of ways in which USAID can maneuver around its predicament.
Funding can be channeled directly from USAID headquarters in Washington to its Russian beneficiaries – no need to go through a Moscow office.
USAID funding can be redirected through a great number of other US institutions, beginning with the National Endowment for Democracy and its four mandated institutes; private funds such as MacArthur, Soros’s Open Society Institute, or Freedom House; universities’ Russia programs, etc.
To hide the American connection, USAID can channel funding through their partners in Ukraine, Poland or Georgia – for their very active operations in the Caucuses; in this case the money entering Russia will be Ukrainian, Polish or, God forbid, Saakashvili’s.
In October last year, USAID signed an agreement with Cisco Systems on joint 50/50 funding of Cisco Networking Academies for Public Service Program. Cisco and other major US corporations may continue running USAID programs.
A year ago Michael McFaul announced an initiative to create a new US$50 million fund, essentially an endowment for a private foundation established under Russian law for Russian civil society groups.
Washington may use any combination of these and other possibilities. One way to put an end to USAID activities in Russia is not only to close their Moscow office, but to insist on shutting down all USAID programs and funding for Russia. This is American taxpayers’ money – give it back to the American people, use it to help them pay mortgages instead of throwing families out of their homes.
Obviously, USAID cannot be allowed to stay in Moscow beyond the set date. This delay will only serve to build up additional infrastructure – people and organizations – to run operations remotely.
The main lament of the Western press has been about how hard USAID closure will hit the sick, disabled, mothers, newborns and other children that the agency helps. Well, let’s take a look at USAID leadership to see how well they are suited for healthcare services.
Director of USAID/Russia Charles North, according to its official biography is “a 2004 graduate of the National War College, with an MS Degree in National Security Strategy.”
Earlier North served as Senior Deputy Director of USAID’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Task Force, and helped launch a presidential initiative to support Mexico and Central America in battling organized crime and drug trafficking.
In Washington, Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia until last year was Douglas Menarchik: a 26-year career US Air Force officer, Vietnam veteran with 211 combat missions, assistant for terrorism policy at the Pentagon, where he developed the Defense Department’s Strategic Plan for Combating Terrorism, military advisor to the vice-president of the United States with a portfolio including terrorism and low intensity conflict. Earlier Menarchik was instructor at the Air Force Special Operations School, teaching combating terrorism and counter insurgency.
But that’s not all. If you check Charles North’s bio on USAID site, you will see a new “updated” version that excludes his National War College stint. However, a cached copy of his true biography is still available – and this snapshot shows the page as it appeared on September 14, 2012. Someone was cleaning house a few days before the public announcement.
Enough tales about healthcare dispensed by US military and national security cadre. USAID – out. Russia must take care of its own civil society, ill and disabled by itself instead of outsourcing it to Washington. Russia’s shutting USAID operations is also an excellent example for any other country where USAID operatives still work on “winning hearts and minds” of the local population.
- Russia shows USAID the door (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The latest round of the war against an independent Syria unfolded in Paris last week at the gathering of the “Friends of Syria”.
Russia and China very rightly did not attend this “amoral” – in the diplomatic language of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – meeting. At the meeting western champions of the war insisted on their interpretation of the one-week old Geneva agreements: “transition government based on mutual consent” means “Bashar al-Assad must go”, affirmed French President Hollande.
This recent round of pressure highlights two new tactics employed by Washington: word games and an end-run around the United Nations itself.
First, the new formula “transition government”. The authoritative Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “regime” as “government” and “change” as “transition.” Thus, for those who reject “regime change,” a euphemism was created that has much better chances to go through.
Interestingly enough, this term was promoted by an expert of Russian origin, Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. On June 28, 2012 Trenin published a suggestion in his piece “Syria: A Russian Perspective”: “Russia might be willing to cooperate with the U.S. and other countries if the goal moves towards “transition” rather than “regime change” – what has been dubbed the “Yemen model.”
So who is Mr. Trenin? This retired Soviet colonel was a Senior Research Fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome just before he was recruited in 1993 to join the Carnegie Moscow Center, created the same year by none other than Michael McFaul, the current US Ambassador in Moscow. After nearly 20 years in the pay of the Americans Trenin was rewarded with his current post as director by his former boss, Rose Gottemoeller, who left Moscow in 2008 to join the State Department where she is now Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. Big shoes to fill for Mr.Trenin, but in Washington they know how to pick their cadre.
The board of the Carnegie Endowment in Washington features – this world is truly small – Kofi Annan himself. Among the Endowments “Funders and Supporters” are George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the US National Intelligence Council, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, the US Defense Department, and a collection of other private and public enthusiasts.
Of course the “transition government” and “Yemen model” are nothing other than “regime change.” Honestly: we, Russians, brought up on Tolstoy and Chekhov, should be able to miss Washington’s elementary-school semantic traps.
Secondly, unable to push anti-Syrian resolutions through the UN Security Council due to Russia and China’s staunch resistance, Washington is building up a group of more than a hundred nations more pliable to US pressure. Such “coalitions of the willing” have been put together before, but this time the number of countries makes it look like a parallel anti-UN construct acting as if it is replacing the UN General Assembly itself.
Such a gathering, despite total absence of legitimacy, is not just a talking platform. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Parisien that the Paris meeting would push for a Chapter VII United Nations resolution to enforce the transition plan. A Chapter VII resolution can authorize the use of military force “to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
In the short term, the United States may attempt to institutionalize this ad hoc grouping into a mechanism to implement a “final solution” to President Al-Assad. In the long term, Washington may try to solidify such structure into an anti-U.N. body of sycophants, ready and willing to approve any U.S. initiative.
Now, from tactics to strategy. Looking at the type of leaders that are seizing power in the Arab world with American assistance, a normal person is perplexed: why does the United States, with assistance of their local satellites, keep on removing moderate secular governments and bringing to power, in one country after another, increasingly radical extremists – that same type of people who committed 9/11, the greatest tragedy in U.S. post-WWII history?
Indeed, this question is not solvable by listening to Washington’s official line of arguments. But take a look at the policies of the US and its European partners during the 1930s. Then, America and its ever so reasonable and civilized European allies provided the financial, industrial and political support encouraging the highly energized, violent extremist Nazi and fascist movements in Europe. With a purpose: to direct its violence against Russia. According to the plan, Germany and Russia were to exhaust themselves so that the US would emerge dominant.
Similarly, the earlier use of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and again today the encouragement of various Muslim extremists including elements of the Muslim Brotherhood are part of the plan to create a regional movement which could be thrown against Iran, Russia and China. Such a furnace of war and chaos in the Middle East, the Caucuses and Central Asia will permanently disable all three of America’s strategic rivals and allow Washington to rise to uncontested world domination.
We should be able to decipher not only US language, but also US strategy. In the 1930s, the Soviet Union was at the front line of the fight against Fascism in Europe. Today, Russia owes it to its history and to the fallen in the anti-fascist struggle to recognize, and before it is too late, avert American designs.
We must prevent Russian and other people from being drawn into a bloodbath of mutual extermination in the voracious interest of Washington’s drive for global hegemony.
The US State Department says Washington will continue to support non-governmental groups in Russia, ignoring a warning by Moscow that the move could lead to a strain in the two countries’ ties.
“This is designed to support a vibrant civil society in Russia and to allow us to work with those Russian NGOs who want to work with us,” AFP quoted the US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland as saying.
The US official added that Washington has proposed to set up a USD 50-million fund in order to help the Russian non-governmental groups “to develop their skills and their voice and their ability to represent the aspirations of Russians to increasingly deepen and strengthen their democracy.”
This is while Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin has repeatedly accused the US of using its so-called pro-democracy program to fuel the protests that erupted after December’s parliamentary elections in Russia.
On Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also noted that Moscow continues to raise the issue with US officials but has not received a clear explanation about the ultimate aims of the funding.
“This activity is reaching a scale that is turning into a problem in our relations,” Ryabkov stated.
“We really are concerned that Washington is funding certain groups and movements in Russia,” he added.
Russian media has also criticized US Ambassador Michael McFaul’s meetings with the members of the anti-Putin movement since his arrival in Moscow two months ago.