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Ukraine and the National Endowment for Democracy: A Form of Intervention?


HOWARD FRIEL, howardfriel at
Friel is author or co-author of several books including The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports U.S. Foreign Policy. He recently wrote the piece “The Siege of Sevastopol Threatens War,” which states that a “U.S. National Endowment for Democracy ‘Resource Summary’ for Fiscal Year 2013 says this about its policy toward Europe in 2013: ‘The objective of the Endowment in most of the countries where it is active in the Europe region is “helping new democracies to succeed.” For Eastern and Southeastern Europe, this goal is best met through these countries’ accession to the European Union and NATO (italics added).'” [PDF]

“In the same paragraph, the NED lists Ukraine as its first priority in Europe as follows: ‘In the Europe region, the 2013 priority countries will include Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo.'”Likewise, a U.S. State Department ‘Budget Summary’ for Fiscal Year 2013 says this about Ukraine: ‘U.S. assistance aims to promote the development of a democratic, prosperous, and secure Ukraine, fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community as it struggles to overcome the effects of the global financial crisis and worsening backsliding on democratic reform (italics added).’

“Given that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol, Crimea … my question is: How does the Obama administration expect Russia to respond to the U.S.-led effort to ‘integrate’ Ukraine, including the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, into the NATO military alliance? Isn’t this where the provocation lies?”

Friel tallies up the total “to at least $75 million of U.S. involvement in Ukraine, where the head of state was just overthrown as explicitly supported by the United States.”

In another recent piece, “On Democracy and Orchestrated Overthrows in Venezuela and Ukraine” Friel writes: “On April 11, 2002, the democratically elected president of Venezuela was overthrown by a group of military officers who installed a prominent Venezuelan businessman as president. The Bush administration announced that day that it supported the coup. Two days later, on April 13, the lead editorial in the New York Times announced that it also supported the coup, claiming that it was a victory for ‘Venezuelan democracy’…

However, “Two weeks after the short-lived military coup against Chávez in Venezuela, [Times reporter Christopher] Marquis reported: ‘In the past year, the United States channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to American and Venezuelan groups opposed to President Hugo Chávez, including the labor groups whose protests led to the Venezuelan president’s brief ouster this month. The funds were provided by the National Endowment for Democracy, a nonprofit agency created and financed by Congress. As conditions deteriorated in Venezuela and Mr. Chávez clashed with various business, labor and media groups, the endowment stepped up its assistance, quadrupling its budget for Venezuela to more than $877,000.’ …

“In short, the essence of the NED enterprise itself almost certainly violates the customary international law norm of non-intervention, given its overall interventionist orientation, which features the neo-liberalization of foreign countries and the destabilization and overthrow of foreign governments.”