The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
New Plymouth, New Zealand
December 02
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at


MARCH 14, 2012 6:23PM

Why the Government Funds the Peace Movement

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Stephen Gowans

Stephen Gowans

(This is the third of five posts about the American godfather of nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, and the role of CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance.)

In my last blog I discussed Stephen Zunes’ strongly worded article and petition defending so-called progressive nonviolent guru Gene Sharp and the rebuttal, Sharp Reflection Warranted, by Australian researcher Michael Barker. The response by Canadian activist Stephen Gowans, Defending the Indefensible: Sham Democracy Promoter Defends Imperialist Ties, is even more critical. He begins by questioning why Zunes, a paid adviser to the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), an organization founded by former junk bond king Michael Milken’s right-hand man Peter Ackerman, continues to defend “non-violent pro-democracy” activists who promote “overthrow” movements abroad. Gowans is most troubled by Zunes’ dismissal of Eva Golinger’s Monthly Review expose, Bush vs. Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, which discusses assistance Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) provided the Venezuelan opposition to help them find “new and inventive ways to overthrow Chavez.”

A Classic Straw Man Argument

Gowans also points out that Zunes’ defense of Sharp rests almost entirely on a straw man argument concerning so-called “fabricated allegations,” that Sharp is part of a Bush administration conspiracy to overthrow foreign governments. It’s a straw man argument mainly because none of Sharp’s critics have specifically linked him to the Bush presidency. Sharp has been criticized mainly for accepting funding from and acting (whether intentionally or not) on behalf of US corporate and government interests. As Gowans rightly points out, these forces are much broader than the Bush administration.

Zunes’ Links with Peter Ackerman and the CFR

He goes on to argue that Zunes is hardly a neutral or objective party in this debate, given his involvement with Peter Ackerman and the ICNC. Ackerman, hardly the progressive peace activist, is a Wall Street investment banker, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and head of Freedom House  which, according to Noam Chomsky (in Manufacturing Consent), is interlocked with the CIA and a “virtual propaganda arm of the (US) government and international right wing.” According to Louis Proyect, Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the ultraconservative Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security Choice. Not surprisingly, this group strongly advocates privatizing Social Security.

Rationalizing Government Funding for the Peace Movement

Zunes, according to Sharp, devotes two pages to rubbishing the charges against Sharp, only to reinforce the case his critics have been making. He does so by revealing that the AEI

• is funded by corporate foundations.
• is open to accepting funding from organizations that have received funding from government sources (i.e., accepts government funding passed through intermediary organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, Rand Corporation, US Institute for Peace, etc.).
• has received grants from the US Congress’s National Endowment for Democracy (an organization that does overtly what the CIA used to do covertly.).
• has advised members of the Venezuelan opposition.

As Gowans stresses, Zunes clearly would like us to believe that nonviolent pro-democracy groups are not influenced by the corporations and wealthy individuals who fund them. Gowans’ article concludes by referring readers to Frances Stonor Saunders’ 2000 Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. Her book reveals that “non-communist left”  groups receive generous funding from corporate foundations and the CIA. According to Saunders, the underlying strategy is to marginalize more militant leftists by amplifying the voice  of the “pro-imperialist non-communist left.”

To be continued.

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So you think Stevie boy may be sprawled out naked on the bones of Geronimo, with Dubya, eating pretzels at the Crawford Ranch, while they giggle at OWSers that read his books? Stevie likes non violence, Dubya likes non violence, all of the Bush’s like non violence, unless it is genocidal or the occasional sporting indulgence like shooting a president or two.
That about sums it up, Jack. However, as you will see in my next post, the group the AEI and ICNC started in Venezuela wasn't exclusively nonviolent and resulted in several deaths.
I am late but I read the previous two posts to catch up. The more I learn the more evidence I see of the big money's plan: paving the way all around the world for free enterprise. The big money must rule. Excellent work, Dr. Thank you. R
I'm still on the side of non-violence, but in one of my less peaceful moods I wrote a little anthem about "diversity of tactics."
Jacob, most "diversity of tactics" proponents spend most of their time engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience - it's often the most appropriate tactic for the situation. "Diversity of tactics" means exactly what it says - a broad range of tactics, including education and outreach, movement building, provision of services to the disadvantaged, nonviolent civil disobedience - and where called for, smashing a few windows and throwing stones at charging cops.
Golly, Dr. Bramhall, you sure are smart! Most of us IDIOTS don't even know that "diversity" implies some kind of limit like "throwing stones at charging cops," and if you read for example this outstanding article on firedoglake from my friend Wendy Davis along with the comments you will be shocked to see how many well-informed people think "diversity of tactics" includes outright terrorism and violent insurgencies like the ANC and even Shining Path!
Sorry, Jacob, it seems like we are hanging out with different idiots. To the best of my knowledge, the "diversity of tactics" debate in the Occupy movement has involved tactics that can be discussed openly at a publicly advertised meeting (i.e. involving no physical harm to other human beings except in self-defense). The only people I know who try to discuss armed insurgency at public meetings are either psychotic or work for the government.
I know exactly what you mean, Dr. Bramhall, wink wink nudge nudge, and that's exactly we non-insurgents, wink wink nudge nudge, use vague terms like "diversity of tactics," wink wink nudge nudge, that could mean anything or nothing, wink wink nudge nudge, like all the rest of Occupy's non-agenda, wink wink nudge nudge!
[r] cooption cooption cooption ... neoliberalism is so dark and craven. thanks for the consciousness raising. libby