Cliff Kincaid
How democracies perish
By Cliff Kincaid
May 28, 2014

If you thought it was strange that conservative columnist Pat Buchanan has become a passionate defender of Vladimir Putin, brace yourself for the fact that "far-right" French politician Marine Le Pen has also praised the former KGB officer. Putin's posture as a "Christian" has made inroads in Europe, with Le Pen telling the Austrian daily Kurier that Putin defends "common values" and the "Christian heritage."

Le Pen's National Front party (FN), once considered a refuge for neo-Nazis, was the top vote-getter in France's European elections, with 25.41 percent.

In Britain, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) came out on top, with 27.5 percent of the vote. Party leader Nigel Farage has also expressed his admiration for Putin and, to the surprise even of the left-wing Guardian, has been showing up regularly on Moscow-funded Russia Today (RT) television. Sounding like an agent of influence for Putin himself during one appearance favorably covered by RT, Farage claimed the European Union (EU) has "blood on its hands" for supporting Ukraine.

These extraordinary developments bring to mind the great book How Democracies Perish, by French thinker Jean-Francois Revel. He participated in a 1984 U.S. Information Agency video on how the West is constantly fooled by "active measures," including disinformation and influence operations, from Moscow.

A new report calls it "Russian information warfare," as Putin confuses and misleads the West and its political leaders about his true intentions in Ukraine and elsewhere. The report, "The anatomy of Russian information warfare: The Crimean operation, a case study," explains in detail how the disinformation campaign has been waged.

An article in The Kyiv [Ukraine] Post by William Schreiber, entitled "European Parliament election results bring no good news for Ukraine," demonstrates how Putin's influence has corrupted many different European political parties, on the right and left.

In fact, describing the results of the European elections, Schreiber reports, "In Greece, the left-wing Syriza led the vote, with over 26 percent. The far-right Golden Dawn placed third, with close to 10 percent, meaning Golden Dawn will enter the parliament for the first time ever. Despite their locations on the political spectrum, both Syriza and Golden Dawn rejected the legitimacy of Kyiv's interim government and accused the EU of provoking Russia."

So the right and left have come together on behalf of Moscow. This is true not only in Europe but America, where communist parties, leftist movements, and others sympathetic to Moscow have found themselves in bed with figures such as Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul in defending Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In Austria, Schreiber reports, the Freedom Party won 20 percent of Austrian voters, a significant leap in its representation. He says its head, Heinz-Christian Sache, opposes EU and U.S. sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Putin is finding allies all across the globe.

Consider South African President Jacob Zuma, a "former" member of the Communist Party (like Vladimir Putin), whose regime is a "strategic partner" with the Russian government.

Domestically, in his own version of Obama's "fundamental transformation" of a country, Zuma is promising "the implementation of radical socio-economic transformation policies and programs over the next five years." These include (in his words):
  • Strengthening and expanding the role of the state in the economy

  • Making state-owned enterprises and development finance institutions "engines of development, complementing the State in promoting inclusive economic growth"

  • Changing the ownership and control of the economy

  • Land restitution and redistribution
Ironically, South Africa is being touted as one of three vibrant democracies in a new "Democracy Works" report from the Legatum Institute and the Center for Development and Enterprise, even though Zuma's African National Congress (ANC) just won another election on racial grounds, this time with 62.2 percent of votes. The ANC is a Communist Party front and has never lost a national election in black-ruled South Africa.

At a National Press Club press conference, I asked Ann Bernstein of the Center for Development and Enterprise in South Africa why her country should be seen as a worthwhile model of democracy and development. "South Africa has yet to pass that test," she said, referring to national elections for a political party other than the one that has been in power. "But democracy is about a lot more than elections." She insists much progress is being made there.

She did claim that "The Communist Party is actually a small part of South Africa. They've become important because they latch on to the ANC. And then some of them get into government and become ministers who introduced the most market-friendly policies you can imagine."

It's true that capitalism has not been destroyed in South Africa. The ANC Marxists understand the need for capital, just as Putin opened the door to American corporations and got a Russian "re-set" and Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status from President Obama and Congress.

But it was apparent that Bernstein hadn't read "The South African Road to Socialism," a document on the website of the South African Communist Party, covering the period from 2012 to 2017. The document talks about the "mobilization of private capital into an NDR [National Democratic Revolution] struggle" (page 48) and how "rolling back" and "transforming" the capitalist market (page 51) is essential to progress. That is precisely what Zuma is doing.

If the South African Communist Party is so small and insignificant, then why did Nelson Mandela conceal his membership in the Party? She had no explanation.

Bernstein and Anne Applebaum, director of the Legatum Institute's Transitions Forum, made a number of appearances in Washington, D.C., including one hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a federally funded organization. The NED has done some good work, but if this report becomes the basis for even more foreign aid to South Africa, the American taxpayers – and democracy – will not be served. South Africa functions like a one-party state, even though some private enterprise and freedom of the press are currently tolerated. The communists dominate the ANC government.

The list of funders for Bernstein's group and her projects is quite impressive and includes the NED, along with some prominent U.S.-based conservative foundations. Yet, they have consistently failed to explain how a communist-ruled South Africa that is clearly on the road to socialism qualifies as a democracy in the sense that we understand the word.

To make matters worse, the South African government is a member of the BRICS alliance of nations, standing for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Their foreign ministers issued a statement opposing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

Interestingly, India and Brazil were the other two countries included in the "Democracy Works" report. Brazil is ruled by a former communist terrorist, Dilma Rousseff. The regime tolerates some dissent but has been a solid ally over the years of dictatorships such as Castro's Cuba.

India has been a functioning democracy, with power going back and forth between competing political parties. But the most recent winner of national elections, the "right-wing" Bharatiya Janata Party, issued a manifesto declaring it "will continue our dialogue, engagement and cooperation, with global forums like BRICS..." So its anti-American foreign policy will continue.

The two biggest members of BRICS, Russia and China, just signed a $400 billion gas deal, cementing what even the media recognize as a "strategic alliance" against the United States.

On every continent, it seems, the enemies of America are on the offensive.

But look at who the enemies are. In Afghanistan, where American troops continue to sacrifice their lives for some semblance of democracy, the Obama administration released the name of the CIA station chief in violation of the law that protects the identities of U.S. intelligence operatives. The White House called it a mistake.

So-called "mistakes" like this, in the face of determined enemies, make the survival of America and the Free World a matter of urgent debate.

© Cliff Kincaid


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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