Egypt: A Virtual Smoking Gun?

By Maidhc Ó Cathail 

On January 12, 2009, US Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman joined a group of Egyptian political bloggers from the Virtual Newsroom of the American University in Cairo. Is this the “virtual” smoking gun that indicates American collusion in the subsequent ouster of Hosni Mubarak?  

Less than two months earlier, Glassman and Jared Cohen from Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff had given an on-the-record briefing on the State Department’s alliance with ten partners in the private sector—including Facebook, Google, MTV, AT&T, Howcast, Access 360 Media—to form the Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM). During that briefing, Glassman singled out Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement for special mention, saying that some of its members would be in attendance at the inaugural AYM youth summit in New York from December 3-5. Asked about “the risk of unleashing something here that is going to come back to bite you, especially with our allies,” Glassman replied: “We are very supportive of pro-democracy groups around the world. And sometimes, that puts us at odds with certain governments.” 

When pressed by the questioner, Glassman explained: “Now, we have to work with those governments. And let me also just say, there’s a difference on an operational level between public—what we do in public diplomacy and what is often done in official diplomacy. We are communicating and engaging at the level of the public, not at the level of officials. So you know, it certainly is possible that some of these governments will not be all that happy that—at what we’re doing, but that’s what we do in public diplomacy.” 

After Jared Cohen pointed out that the organizations that are coming together online form “a new kind of civil society organization” that eventually leads to a “transformation,” Glassman acknowledged that the US government has “been engaging with such civil society organizations in places like Egypt for a long time.” 

As Al Jazeera revealed in a behind the scenes look at Egypt’s non-violent coup, the State Department-backed April 6 Youth Movement did indeed play a crucial role in that “transformation,” through organizing and directing the protests that toppled America’s erstwhile ally Mubarak. The April 6 leaders also received training from the Belgrade-based Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), which works closely with the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). The ICNC was founded and funded entirely by Peter Ackerman, the multi-millionaire junk bond “teflon guy,” who chaired Freedom House between 2005 and 2009. Freedom House is funded in part by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US government-sponsored neoconservative-led regime change specialists 

On April 19, 2010, Ackerman attended an event entitled “Cyber-Dissidents and Political Change” sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute, which Glassman has headed since September 3, 2009. “Inspired by President and Mrs. Bush’s unwavering commitment to freedom for all people,” its website states, “the Bush Institute works to embolden dissidents and freedom advocates, creating a powerful network for moral support and education.” Among the cyber-dissidents in attendance at its Dallas event were Rodrigo Diamanti from Venezuela; Arash Kamangir, from Iran; Oleg Kozlovsky, from Russia; Ernesto Hernández Busto, from Cuba (who lives in Barcelona); Isaac Mao, from China; and Ahed Alhendi, from Syria. Clearly, some people are seen as more deserving of Mr. and Mrs. Bush’s freedom advocacy than others. 

In 2007, Glassman became chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a US government agency that provides propaganda to overseas audiences via the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti). Norman J. Pattiz, the “founding father” of Radio Sawa, which is increasingly popular in Egypt, sits on BBG’s board. Pattiz is also on the national board of the Israel Policy Forum, which is “committed to a strong and enduring U.S.-Israel relationship and to advancing the shared interests of the United States and the State of Israel.” Its Israeli Advisory Council is comprised of prominent figures from Israel’s military and intelligence establishment, mostly notably David Kimche, who was once described as “Israel’s leading spy and would-be Mossad chief.” According to aWashington Report profile, “The ‘man with the suitcase,’ as Kimche became known by colleagues in Israel, would appear in an African country a day or two before a major coup, and leave a week later after the new regime was firmly in control, often with the aid of Israeli security teams.”  

Prior to his involvement with “democracy promotion,” Glassman was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the neoconservative propaganda mill that pushed the concept of a “global war on terror” primarily to advance the national interest of Israel. While there, he founded The American, a magazine of ideas for business leaders, and was its editor-in-chief from 2005 to 2007. Evidently, Glassman’s neocon paymasters were not put off by his unenviable financial track record. In his 1999 book Dow 36,000, written shortly before the dot-com bubble burst, he predicted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would rise to 36,000 within a few years. Commenting on the “hysteria” that fueled the deregulation-induced financial crisis nine years later, Ralph Nader singled out Glassman’s bestseller, joking that he would send it back to Glassman with one of the zeros missing.

Let’s hope that the Egyptian activists who put their faith in Glassman’s “public diplomacy” haven’t a similar rude awakening in store.

Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. He is editor of The Passionate Attachment blog.

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Comments

  • Inam Khan  On March 6, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Sharing a Video link:

  • Ijaz Khan  On March 6, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Interesting write up Maidhc. It’s always a pleasure to read your articles on Yasmeen’s forum.
    The Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions did not just spontaneously erupt. No… They are well planned, drawn out, militant efforts to bring about revolutionary change on a global scale. This was done using the Internet and the young, who were manipulated into revolt, with either legitimate causes, manufactured wrongs or a combination of both. Enter The Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM). From The Daily Bell:

    The latest and most astonishing global gambit is called AYM and Wikipedia provides us some information about the group, as follows: “The Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM) began with a December 2008 summit in New York City to identify, convene, and engage 21st century movements online for the first time in history. The United States Department of State partnered with Facebook, Howcast, MTV, Google, YouTube, AT&T, JetBlue, Gen-Next, Access 360 Media, and Columbia Law School to launch a global network and empower young people mobilizing against violence and oppression.”

    According to Wikipedia, “Founders of AYM include Jared Cohen, former advisor to both Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton and now Director of Google Ideas at Google, Jason Liebman, CEO and co-founder of Howcast and Roman Tsunder, co-founder of Access 360 Media. Speakers at the 2008 summit included actress Whoopi Goldberg, Facebook Co-Founder Dustin Moskovitz, The Obama Campaign’s New Media Team, and then-current Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of the United States James K. Glassman.”
    Bull’s Eye Maidhc!

  • Syed Ataur Rahman  On March 6, 2011 at 4:56 am

    So the Americans, now it is confirmed are behind the ‘coup’ in Egypt and propagating the same in other Arab countries. The resulting chaos and instability in those countries will allow the Americans to maneuver favourable position for Israel. They must have set up new stooges and lackeys to take over these countries, just like they have done in the case of Egypt. Hosni Mubarak was thrown out probably because he refused to support US/Israeli plans to invade Iran. In any case he had been there for too long and America never keeps leaders that long. It is a sad state of affairs but the world at least seem to be helpless to challenge America in a still uni-polar world. However, this might not remain this way in the near future when other power blocks are emerging, particularly China and Russia. Let us hope they will bring a safer and more just world. However, nations that do not stand up for themselves are always liable to these external dangers.

    • Munir Ahmad  On March 6, 2011 at 6:13 am

      Wierdly though, they replaces Mobarak with another stooge. He must have done something to make US mad.What was it Mr O’Cathail?

      • Inam Khan  On March 7, 2011 at 1:02 am

        Husni Mubarak was becoming unpopular so Americans led the riots to bring in a new face who wd continue to protect American and Israeli interests……………………………Inam Khan

  • siddiquimy  On March 6, 2011 at 5:32 am

    This article does not come as a surprise; sometimes back US Think Tanks were advocating re drawingof the ME map !!!!!!
    The change is started from Egypt because Israel has run out of space for new colonies and needs more space : Change of govt will give the israelis a potent excuse reg their security and will occupy Sinai pretending agreement with saadat has been violated……………….
    After all they did occupy Golan Height and have refused to vacate it …………
    Any takers????????

    siddiqui

  • Haroon Wasti  On March 6, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Don’t we have people like Glassman ?

    Or don’t we have the people who can dig out persons like Glassman to place at stratagic places to get the results ?

    Didn’t some one found Dr.AQK ?

    Or are our minds so barran that we can not even visualize innovative futuristic stratagies for the national interest ?

    After 1965 war Indra Gandhi hand picked a very senior ICS bureaucrate D.P.Dher to go to Spain for an in-depth study of the reasons of downfall of the muslim empire in spain to use the same /similar strategies to fight the next war with Pakistan. The results of 1971 war are a proof of that study.

    Or perhaps we lack resources to undertake such long term innovative strategies / ventures because the peoples’ institutions were time and again uprooted for long spells, breaking continuaty.

    We need to really look ….. within.

  • TMH  On March 6, 2011 at 8:08 am

    This is what happens to all those who work for their foreign employers. Look at
    the history books, full with the end results of such like people.
    Problem is that every new one who comes on the scene and willing to
    be the tool of foreign masters, think of himself cleverer than the previous ones.

    TMH

  • Maidhc Ó Cathail  On March 6, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Thank you all for your informed responses.

    It would take a few more articles to answer all your questions but I’ll try to be brief…

    In 1982, an Israeli strategist named Oded Yinon wrote a very important paper titled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” It proposed the fragmentation of the entire Middle East along ethnic lines. These “revolutions” may help advance that plan by removing strong centralized military dictatorships that hold these countries together.

    Seocndly, it appears that Mubarak opposed the breakup of Sudan. There’s a very good article in the January-February edition of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs on this.

    Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this is about opening up the Middle East to George Soros and his pals. Check out my articles, “ElBaradei: Soros’s Man in Cairo” and “The Junk Bond ‘Teflon Guy’ Behind Egypt’s Non-Violent Revolution” on my website.

    Finally, this is not about advancing American interests. The United States is actually committing national suicide by its misguided pursuit of Israeli and banking interests. Note that Glassman worked for the American Enterprise Institute. It should, however, be called the Israeli Enterprise Institute. Note especially the role played by people like George Soros, Peter Ackerman, Jared Cohen, Robert Kagan, Joe Lieberman and others with ties to Israel in this crisis.

  • Maidhc Ó Cathail  On March 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I forgot to mention that all this attention on Israel’s neighbours means less attention on Tel Aviv’s occupation and colonization of Palestine. And if the Arab regimes are busy dealing with their internal problems they don’t have time to put pressure on Israel to make a settlement with the Palestinians.

    • pakpotpourri2  On March 6, 2011 at 8:53 am

      Thank you for the presence & inputs Maidhc,from which I am better educated.Iam sure our readers enjoy the direction interaction with the writer too.
      Best
      Yasmeem

  • Simon Fraser  On March 6, 2011 at 8:59 am

    The Israeli lobby obviously exists. AIPAC and the ADL being the most prominent examples. They have huge resources and influence. You cross them in bourgeois politics at your peril. However, and I think this is so often overlooked as to make me wonder why, the power that the lobby holds stems not simply from its money and the influence that brings, and certainly it doesn’t stem from any supposed “great love of the Jewish people” on the part the good citizens of the United States. It has the influence it does because its aims, more or less, are the aims of US imperialism. Even when the aims momentarily diverge, the logic doesn’t. That their actions often undermine their aims is only testimony to the illegitimacy of their aims. During the Presidency of Bush I, those like Jim Baker were urging that the US build on the break in the Arab consensus developed around the first Gulf War shifting US support more decisively to the Saudis (the Bushes and the Saudis go way back) and even trying to bring Syria on board. Loan guarantees were frozen to Israel when they refused to stop settlement activity. Arguably the toughest measure ever taken by a US government against Israel. But the New World Order would not come to be. The Clinton administration returned to Israel right or wrong (the Dems have almost always been Israel’s staunchest supporters) and then 9/11 happened.

    Though – and this underlines my point I hope – Saudi Arabia (a bête noire only a spot below Iran in Israeli eyes) remains as key to US interests in the region as Israel (though in different ways). The close ties to the Wahabi monarchy, a bulwark of civilization, go back much further than those with the Zionist state, they preceded it in fact. The US supports Israel (in part) to defend it against….its other most important ally in the region. But on the grounds of public opinion the Saudis don’t even bother to try (except in the financial press) to exert their influence….and yet they retain it fully. That most of the participants in the attacks of 9/11 were Saudi, curiously, didn’t lead to a single Tomahawk or drone attack.
    Go after the lobby, of course, but the ideology at the heart of support the majority of Americans (and it is a majority) have for Israel has next to nothing to do with whatever Abe Foxman or Howard Kohr might do or say. Can we really imagine, given the history of US imperialism, that if it weren’t for the lobby the US would be embracing the Arabs as equals in a brotherly hug? Hardly a “Jewish lobby”, the Israeli lobby appeals to folks whose only interest in Israel is that she might usher in a Biblical Armageddon (which unfortunately, Jews, being unsaved, would not survive). With friends like these…..
    The lobby, by the way, makes every effort to foster this relationship, officially sponsoring Holy Land Tours for the faithful (some of whom insist the Jews killed Jesus). In lobbying liberal supporters the religious references are replaced by appeals to “rights”, “civilization” and, most disgustingly, to a fake feminism. There is no doubt that the lobby uses the Holocaust to beat up with and blackmail politicians and powers, but how many white Christian fundamentalists (Israel’s most fervent supporters) feel any guilt whatsoever for the Holocaust? For most of Israel’s US supporters saying “Poor Little Israel” is just another way of saying “Those Dirty Filthy Arabs.” As Israel’s political gravity moves to the right, so does the makeup of its supporters. Increasingly fascist organizations, not known for shedding many tears over past Jewish suffering, have taken up the cause of the Jewish State. If I were a Zionist, even a rabid one, that would give me pause. And yet they carry on.
    If Israel is a mill around the neck of US foreign policy (in its own terms), than isn’t also its own “War on Terror”? Its own occupations? The US defends Israel as vehemently as it does, not because it is blindly following Israel, but because it is blindly leading the imperialist world order. While I share the outrage, as must be obvious, over Israel’s crimes and wish fervently for the end of the racist Zionist project, I must take up the issue of legitimacy. Is the racist colonial, settler state of the United States more legitimate than Israel? Or for that matter “republican” France or “multi-national and democratic” Belgium. Weren’t all of these built on a rapine that make the worst of Israel’s crimes pale by comparison? Don’t they all continue to uphold the bloody imperialist world, one made in their own image?And what of Turkey, whose government is now so praised for standing up to Israel? Turkey, that denies Kurdish aspirations with the same zeal as the Israeli’s deny the Palestinians? The same Turkish regime that houses hundreds of leftist, Kurdish and human rights campaigners in its prisons? Turkey, who even in the midst of this crisis, ensures a military deal with Israeli for those insidious drones to suppress Kurdish resistance? The Turkish government, who violently denies the rights of its own citizens a protector of Palestinian rights? The Turkish government is not an ally of the oppressed. That they have reacted as they have is an indication that it is the oppressed of Turkey, the working class men and women, whose rage and solidarity have forced the Turkish government into its present position that are the real allies of the Palestinian people. Demand, yes. Rely on, not a chance.Any state that enshrines and defends private property and capitalist power, that most spurious of powers, is entirely illegitimate in my eyes. Those states have led the word to untold disasters in defense of profit, in pursuit of accumulation. Give me a current state and I’ll recite you a radix Mali. Why is Israel the state that is not legitimate? The United States currently occupies several countries and has bases in well over a hundred. It has spilled oceans of blood to protect its “civilization” and “values”. The list of its crimes would fill the shelves of every library in Tel Aviv and then some. And yet Israel is attacked, quite rightly, while the US is asked to intervene? We want Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton to intervene in the conflict in the Middle East? They are intervening! The point should be that they stop intervening. Israel would be forced to make peace tomorrow if the US closed her accounts.

  • Idrees  On March 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Hell! This means that Qaddafi after all is right in calling them ‘western vermins.”
    id

    • TMH  On March 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      That’s right they are. We should stand by the Qaddafi, no
      what he is our ………
      TMH

  • Nasim Hassan  On March 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Who will grab the power in Egypt? This is the question that the US and Europe must be looking.

    The most organized force will eventually win like the Ayatullahs in Iran. In Iran the liberals, small businessmen, Socialists were active in the struggle. After Shah left then there was a power struggle.

    Ayatullah had money, organization spread all over Iran in the Madrassahs or religious seminaries. So slowly they first kicked and killed liberals. Then they decimated socialists, leftists and communists. There was a fight but powerful always win. The remaining small businessmen fell into line.

    I really do not know but Muslim Brotherhood seems to be the most organized group in Egypt. If they are smart then they will take time to consolidate power. If they are in a hurry then there will be a civil war where army will side with the civil society or liberal elements.

    The US should not jump to conclusions like ordering instant coffee. Let us all watch and see.

    Nasim Hassan

  • Laila Isphandyar  On March 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Excellent write up again by Maidhc.
    L

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