News from Argentine – the struggle continues and the manipulation seems unstoppable

Judge Rafecas, Mr. Sharp and mega-meddling
By Mempo Giardinelli  For the Herald

This week the President seemed to wake up and start playing politics, which is what the Kirchner couple does best.

It was inadmissible that the “Nisman case” should dominate the entire scenario for more than 40 days. The citizenry of a democratic nation has a lot on its plate and so does their government. Starting with politics, which is the only valid practice for facing up to and overcoming institutional crises such as that posed by the suicide/murder of the hapless prosecutor for the AMIA case (frozen over the last 20 years).

Perhaps the president felt inspired after reading the valiant resolution of Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas, who ruled that there was not even the minimal basis for starting a criminal investigation on the grounds of the presentation by Prosecutor Alberto Nisman during his lifetime. His 62-page resolution establishes quite clearly that neither of the two crime hypotheses subsequently sustained by Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita has a leg to stand on.

She then proceeded to that double shuffle which was already an open secret — the returns of Aníbal Fernández to being Cabinet chief and of Jorge Capitanich to being the governor of Chaco. And to replace that dull minister Juan Luis Manzur, she named a respected public hygiene expert (as Daniel Gollán appears to be) to head the health portfolio.

Yet clearly the crisis is not over. This is Argentina, after all, and the whole country knows that it is highly probable that an appeals court will reject the decision of judge Rafecas, ordering the trial to continue under “friendly” magistrates. And if the case gets that far, it is also highly probable that the Supreme Court will dither as usual.

Meanwhile hatred remains insidiously installed in the foreground via the various programmes of national teletrash. Which also explains why that other great (and hidden) protagonist of the Argentine present is the here almost unknown Mr. Gene Sharp, a veteran United States philosopher who specializes in overthrowing governments via non-violent methods, substituting lies, disobedience and boycotts for bombs and guns.

A political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Sharp founded in 1983 the so-called Albert Einstein Institution, whose mission is the use of non-violent action to “democratize” the world, toward which aim he does not hesitate to resort to malicious forms of manipulating the social mood.

In his essay “From dictatorship to democracy,” translated into dozens of languages, Mr. Sharp proposes non-violent action as an ideal method to manipulate conflicts whose gravity he stimulates to intolerable limits in which they can burst into violence, but in that case it is “justified” because “the people yearn for freedom.” That is why it is necessary to characterize the governments to be overthrown as “dictatorships.”

The guiding principle is what Sharp calls “political jiu-jitsu.” It started in 1973 with his first book The Politics of Non-violent Action, in which he proposes 198 methods for toppling governments, dividing them into three phases — protest, the withdrawal of co-operation and intervention. Such actions are always applied before or after the electoral process, always starting by not recognizing the results of the presidential elections, followed by various actions to undermine the legitimacy of the institutions.

This “method” has already been applied to innumerable political and social crises (for example, Venezuela, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq and many other countries in Asia and Africa) and also in Salvador Allende’s Chile. That is the context into which the case of Argentina today may be read. Where the dominant media and the vast majority of opposition political leaders whip up an exaggerated discontent, often lying to exasperate the population.

Which is absurd, because from the socio-economic standpoint that hatred which they preach lacks any point in a society like the Argentine, which has multiple problems but also many solutions and palliatives which have come along in the last 10 or 12 years to mitigate social suffering.

Although much of the middle class does not recognize it, Argentine workers in general have prospered and assumed their rights. And even if all too many victims of the 2001 social horror generated by Carlos Menem have still not recovered (around 10-20 percent of the total population or between four and eight million Argentines), those sectors are not so easy to manipulate these days because they know and realize that for the first time in decades, their rights are being attended — badly or insufficiently but attended. That is why they are not the Argentines who are sick with hatred.

The virulence and the blind spite of this class can be exasperated via systematic misinformation and also by the fact that the government has made many mistakes and thus has been losing the battle. Because you do not respond to the theories of Mr. Sharp with nervous answers and pure irritation. In that sense, the ruling of judge Rafecas and the renewed political initiative of the government count as successes, even if only momentary. Because the struggle continues and the manipulation seems unstoppable.


Former Uruguayan president Mujica on Sharp

Mujica compared the efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro with the strategy employed in other countries such as Serbia, Ukraine and a number of Arab countries.

The Uruguayan president stated that the tactics described by U.S. academic Gene Sharp are being applied in Venezuela. Sharp’s ideas largely deal with regime change, which Mujica claims were successfully used for the first time in Serbia and subsequently used during the so-called Arab spring and to topple the government in Ukraine last year.

in the foreword to The Politics of Nonviolent Action Sharp observes that…

„I have been arguing for years that governments and defense departments – as well as other groups – should finance and conduct research into alternatives to violence in politics and especially as a possible basis for a defense policy by prepared nonviolent resistance as a substitute for war. As acceptance of such Defense Department funds involved no restrictions whatever on the research, writing, or dissemination of the results, I willingly accepted them.“ (Sharp, 1972: viii)

Eerily, echoing Sharp’s simple defence of the merits of encouraging the military to fund peace research, Serbian activist Ivan Marovic – who is a founding member of the US-funded opposition group, Otpor (for more details, see later) – acknowledged receiving funding from the US government to help overthrow Slobodan Milosevic, but says: “So we did get money, but we never got orders from anyone. That’s why we succeeded” (cited in Mueller 2005). This comment is significant on a number of levels, as not only did Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution play an integral role in training Serbian activists in the techniques required to oust Milosevic, but Otpor itself also received financial aid from numerous foreign groups which included the National Endowment of Democracy (NED). This latter US-based quasi- nongovernmental organisation, the NED, was formed in 1984 with bipartisan support, and according to their former president, carries out “a lot of work” that was formerly undertaken by the CIA (cited in Ignatius 1991). Indeed, Cavell (2002: 105) in his book Exporting ‘Made in America’ Democracy suggests that the “degree to which the NED will go to subvert a country’s sovereignty can perhaps best be gleaned from its funding of anti-Sandinista groups in Nicaragua” throughout the 1980s.

The NED’s president, Carl Gershman, stated in 1999 that “democracy-promotion has become an established field of international activity and a pillar of American foreign policy” (cited in Cavell, 2002: 112). With a relatively meagre annual budget of around $80 million, the NED’s most important function is to coordinate the work of larger better endowed ‘democratic’ funders like the US Agency for International Development and the CIA. The most detailed critical examination of the NED’s attempts to co-opt progressive movements and install low-intensity democracy around the world is Robinson’s (1996) seminal book Promoting Polyarchy: however, since then numerous other studies have bolstered his analyses (for further details, see Barker, 2006a).