The untrustworthiness of Uncle Walter

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Walter Cronkite at his anchor desk

He wasn’t evil, really, but he was immensely influential, often in very counter-productive ways. In fact, when his career was at its height, few people anywhere wielded the kind of power he did to shape the way in which Americans thought about the world around them. No single person today, in a time when the news media are so highly fragmented, comes close to having as much influence as he did.

His name was Walter Cronkite, and for almost twenty years, from 1962 to 1981 – though it feels like longer – he was the anchorman and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.

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Cronkite (far right) during World War II

It was an era when almost every American’s main source of information about the world was one of the three evening network news shows. And of the three, CBS, during the reign of Cronkite, was the undisputed champion. It had the biggest budget and the highest viewership. And it had Cronkite, who, year after year, was voted the most trusted man in America. It was long before the Internet, which helped people around the world to understand just how foolish it was to place their unreflecting trust in any single news source.

©Globe photos / lapresse 18-07-2009 Washington, USA varie È morto Walter Cronkite, leggenda del giornalismo Usa Aveva 92 anni. Racconto' agli americani i piu' importanti eventi del secolo scorso Walter Cronkite, il celebre anchorman della CBS che per il pubblico televisivo americano fece la cronaca di eventi storici quali lo sbarco sulla luna, l'assassinio di John Kennedy e lo scandalo Watergate, e' morto all'eta' di 92 anni Only Italy WALTER CRONKITE ©DM/GLOBE PHOTOS, INC.
Reporting on Vietnam

To careful observers, it was clear that Cronkite (who, born and raised in Texas, had been a war correspondent in Europe and spent several years at CBS before taking over the evening news) admired John F. Kennedy and favored Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. His reporting during the latter campaign was manifestly intended to reinforce LBJ’s message that Goldwater was a dangerous right-wing war hawk who might well plunge the nation into nuclear war.

Later, Cronkite played a pivotal role in shifting public attitudes toward the Vietnam War. After the 1968 Tet Offensive, which was really a U.S. victory, Cronkite spun it as a U.S. defeat, calling the war itself “unwinnable” and suggesting that American troops be withdrawn. President Lyndon Johnson famously said that by losing Cronkite, he had lost America. There’s no way to know what course the war might have taken had Cronkite stuck to reporting the news instead of commenting on it, but his verdict on the war caused millions of Americans to view it fatalistically and led many government officials to think not in terms of how to win but of how to back out honorably.

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In Vietnam

Similarly, in the early 70s, Cronkite’s relentless attention to the story of the Watergate break-in (he had always hated Nixon) helped to turn it into the political scandal of the century. Indeed, the glorifying of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein by the movie All the President’s Men served to downplay the role of Cronkite and CBS in bringing down the Nixon administration. (After all, few Americans outside of the Beltway read the Washington Post.) In this instance, too, Cronkite may have affected the course of history.

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In 1985

Throughout his years at CBS, Cronkite – known affectionately to the nation as “Uncle Walter” – carefully maintained his pose as an impartial, hard-working reporter, digging for the truth and fearlessly following it wherever it led. After his retirement, he dropped the act and made clear his far-left leanings. Among much else, he attacked President Reagan’s invasion of Grenada and his plans for a so-called “Star Wars” weapons system (which, in fact, actually ended up helping to bring down the Soviet Union). Cronkite was also an early eco-hysteric, reporting seriously on “expert” predictions that the planet was on the verge of environmental catastrophe. (Even so, as one critic has noted, “he thought nothing about hopping on the gas-guzzling supersonic Concorde.”)

In his later years, when he gradually morphed into a far-left crank, Cronkite said that he had always considered fear of the Soviet Union ridiculous and overblown, and called for a United Nations-run world government that would strike a balance “between capitalism and communism.”

And that’s the way it was. Alas.

Kim conquers New York

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The Ureuk Symphony Orchestra on September 22

On September 22, the Merkin Concert Hall at New York’s Kaufman Music Center hosted a so-called “Peace Korea Concert” by an ensemble that calls itself the Ureuk Symphony Orchestra. The name of the event should have been a giveaway, but it came as a surprise to audience members – and, purportedly, to at least some of the musicians – when reporters for the Wall Street Journal informed them that at least three of the numbers on the evening’s program were paeans to the Kim dynasty in North Korea.

One of the works was Footsteps, “an inspirational ode to Kim Jong Un”; another celebrated the Kim dynasty; a third, according to the Journal‘s Jonathan Cheng and Timothy W. Murphy, “called for a unified Korea under the rule of Pyongyang.” (Immediately below is a video of the Ureuk group playing Footsteps; at the bottom of the page is a recording of the same tune, not by Ureuk, with subtitles translating the Korean lyrics into English.)

Informed of this fact, a cellist who’d played that evening acknowledged that the music had “seemed kind of militaristic.” A member of the audience recalled observing a group of “stern, well-dressed Korean men” in the audience. As it turned out, they were North Korean diplomats, led by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. The day after the concert, Ri gave an address to the U.N. General Assembly that consisted of the usual hostile rants about America. So much for “Peace Korea.”

So what’s the deal here? How did the Kaufman Music Center end up hosting a performance of North Korean propaganda music?

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Ureuk’s September 22 program

Well, it turns out that the conductor of the Ureuk Symphony Orchestra is one Christopher Joonmoo Lee, who is a member of that most bizarre subgroup of useful stooges – namely, the Western admirers of the barbaric, deranged Kim regime, which terrorizes and tortures its subjects willy-nilly and operates prison camps currently inhabited by approximately 200,ooo enemies of the state. (This in a country of about 25 million people.) Lee lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, but, according to the Journal, is “a frequent visitor to Pyongyang who appears regularly in North Korean media under his Korean name Ri Jun Mu.” Earlier in September, Lee took to Facebook to rejoice in the latest North Korean nuclear test: “It was a morning where the cheer for a unified Korea was exceptionally loud and clear!” he wrote.

jeung10While this warped creature’s orchestra has apparently escaped widespread notice up to now, it has in fact been performing at the Kaufman Center several times a year for over a decade. Its concerts routinely open with classical standards by composers like Mozart, Tchaikowsky, Dvorak, Verdi, and Vivaldi, then sneakily segue into Korean tunes eulogizing the Kims. (One of its concerts last February was a commemoration of Kim Jong Il’s birthday.) The main point of these performances, one gathers, isn’t to propagandize New York audiences, but to enable Kim’s state-run media to inform his subjects that American audiences have applauded musical programs exalting their wonderful system and their beloved dictator.

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Hak-Soo Kim

Several of Lee’s soloists – including violinist Khullip Jeung, soprano Yuri Park, and tenor Hak-Soo Kim – are Korean or Korean-American. The Journal didn’t quote any of them, and we haven’t been able to find any indication online of what their political views might be. But they clearly know what’s going on – they know exactly what they’re a part of. The vocalists certainly understand every word they sing in praise of the Great Leader, Dear Leader, and Sonny Boy. Somebody in the media should hunt these artists down and ask them – just for starters – how they manage to sleep at night. 

gillogly4It appears, though, that most of the instrumentalists on Lee’s payroll are Americans who don’t know any Korean. While at least one or two of them were reportedly surprised when the Journal reporters explained to them what the Korean songs were about (unlikely though that may seem), others admitted to knowing full well that they were participating in a public-relations effort on behalf of the world’s most abominable totalitarian state.

But, hey, a gig is a gig! The show must go on! That’s entertainment! Adorable violinist Samantha Gillogly denied having the slightest concern about the repulsive lyrics to the Korean songs: “The art on its own does not hurt anyone,” she told the Journal.

Perhaps not. Or perhaps every insidious effort to normalize the truly evil North Korean regime in the West is a dangerous step in the wrong direction, and anyone who contributes to that effort needs to examine his or her conscience.

George Galloway’s accounting methods

George Galloway arrives for the funeral of former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, central London.
Wide boy

In a 2005 article, the late, great Christopher Hitchens called George Galloway “a type well known in the Labour movement. Prolier than thou, and ostentatiously radical, but a bit too fond of the cigars and limos and always looking a bit odd in a suit that was slightly too expensive. By turns aggressive and unctuous, either at your feet or at your throat; a bit of a backslapper, nothing’s too good for the working class: what the English call a ‘wide boy.’” As Hitchens neatly put it, Galloway “has stayed just on the right side of many inquiries into his character and his accounting methods.”

You can say that again. When Galloway hasn’t been busy praising dictators or slandering lovers of freedom, he’s spent a lot of time participating in shady international money transfers, some of which involved fattening his own pockets, and some of which involved passing cash and merchandise on to terrorists and tyrants.

Christopher Hitchens, polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator, debates with George Galloway, a member of the British parliament, in Baruch College in New York September 14, 2005. Galloway kicked off a tour for his new book "Mr. Galloway Goes To Washington, The Brit Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq" in Boston. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Christopher Hitchens

From 1983 to 1987, he ran a charity called War On Want. During his tenure, questions were raised about the organization’s less than transparent financial picture. Accused of having used the charity’s dough to “liv[e] the high life in dirt-poor countries,” as Hitchens put it, Galloway was forced to resign and to pay back a relatively small sum in “contested expenses.” There are those who believe that in this case, as in many others, the true dimensions of Galloway’s perfidy were covered up.

In 1998 he founded the Mariam Appeal, which purportedly aimed to provide medical help to people in Iraq. Galloway raked in huge sums from sheiks in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, among others. Again, questions were raised about his personal use of the organization’s funds. The group was investigated several times by the U.K.’s Charity Commission, which chided Galloway for not registering it as a charity and not reporting on its finances as required by law. When the commission asked to see the Mariam Appeal’s books, they turned out to have been shipped off to Amman and Baghdad, far from prying British eyes. The whole thing looked extremely fishy, but once again Galloway got off with a slap on the wrist. The Mariam Appeal shut down in 2003.

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Faraz Zureikat

One of the Mariam Appeal’s big donors was Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian businessman whom Galloway eventually put in charge of the operation. In 2005, Zureikat became a focus of a U.S. Senate subcommittee’s investigation into Saddam Hussein’s abuses of the U.N. Oil-for-Food program, under which Saddam’s government, despite trade sanctions, had been allowed to sell oil to buy food and medicine. Galloway became a focus, too. Documents were reportedly uncovered showing that he, his then wife (Amineh Abu-Zayyad), and his campaign organization had all received shares of the illicit profits from Iraqi oil sales.

George Galloway - Elections...George Galloway with his wife Amineh after voting at Streatham in the in Local Goverment elections,London Mayoral election and European Parliamentary Elections. ... George Galloway - Elections ... 10-06-2004 ... LONDON ... UK ... PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: Michael Stephens/PA Archive. Unique Reference No. 1968245 ...
George Galloway and wife #2, Amineh Abu-Zayyad

Galloway admitted that some of the money made illegitimately through the exploitation of the U.N. Program had ended up in the coffers of the Mariam Appeal, but insisted that he hadn’t personally profited. So did his wife. (By the way, Galloway has been married four times and divorced thrice; his last three wives have been Muslims, whom he married in Islamic ceremonies.) Although the subcommittee sent reports detailing evidence of corruption on the part of both M. and Mme. Galloway to the U.S. Justice Department, to law officials in New York and the District of Columbia, to the ethics office of the British Parliament, and to the U.K.’s Charity Commission, no action was taken by any of these bodies.

George Galloway returns to his property on Ambleside Avenue, Stretham, with his new wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi. (please confirm Identity) 2/4/12
George Galloway and wife #4, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi

To be sure, he hasn’t just taken cash from hooligans – he’s distributed it, too. When he took part in the 2009 Viva Palestina convoy, he transported a substantial amount of illicit cash and merchandise which he handed over to the Hamas rulers of Gaza. He denied having done this, even though video footage showed him presenting bags of cash to these creeps.

We’ve noted earlier that both Galloway and his wife (this would be wife #4, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi) are on the payroll of Putin’s English-language TV station. Galloway is also a paid employee of Iran’s state-owned TV station, Press TV, and of the pro-Hezbollah TV station Al Mayadeen. You’ve got to hand it to him. When in modern times has a member of any national legislature in the Western world had fingers that were at once so sticky and so filthy?

Maurice Strong, dealmaker for China

We’ve been spending the last couple of days remembering Maurice Strong, the “godfather of global warning,” who died on November 27. We’ve seen that Strong was something of a New Age wacko and a champion of world government by himself and other UN elites.

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Maurice Strong

But there’s more. As John Izzard noted at the Australian website Quadrant, Strong “was caught with his hand in the till.” Here’s the story:

Investigations into the UN’s Oil-for-Food-Program found that Strong had endorsed a cheque for $988,885 made out to M. Strong — issued by a Jordanian bank. The man who gave the cheque, South Korean business man Tongsun Park[,] was convicted in 2006 in a US Federal court of conspiring to bribe UN officials. Strong resigned and fled to Canada and thence to China where he has been living ever since.

Why China? Apparently Strong enjoyed a special protected status in that country because of his relative Anne Louise Strong (1885-1970), an American author and journalist who was a prolific propagandist for Communism and a friend of Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong. (According to Izzard, she actually spent two years in an intimate relationship with Mao.)

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Claudia Rosett

Claudia Rosett, a first-rate journalist and longtime UN expert, wrote in 2007 that any effort to clean up the UN after a rash of recent scandals – not just the Oil-for-Food scandal, but also scandals involving procurement fraud” and “peacekeeper rape” – must involve “a look at the long and murky career of Maurice Strong, the man who may have had the most to do with what the U.N. has become today.” In all of the darker chapters of recent UN history, stated Rosett, “Maurice Strong appears as a shadowy and often critically important figure.” Above all, she suggested, Strong’s story “illustrates the way in which the U.N., with its bureaucratic culture of secrecy, its diplomatic immunities, and its global reach, lends itself to manipulation by a small circle of those who best know its back corridors.”

As for Strong’s relocation to China, Rosett noted that the country was “a special place for Strong, a self-declared, life-long socialist.” How special? Well, consider this: although it’s “one of the world’s biggest producers of industrial pollution,” China had been profiting handsomely “from the trading of carbon emissions credits – thanks to heavily politicized U.N.-backed environmental deals.” And who arranged those deals? Who else? Maurice Strong.

FILE - In a Jan. 22, 2003 file photo, Maurice Strong, special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on North Korea, responds to a question outside the Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York. The head of the U.N.'s environmental agency says Strong, whose work helped lead to the landmark climate summit that begins in Paris on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, has died. He was 86. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Rosett painted a vivid picture of the expertise with which Strong used – and, it appears, continually magnified – his power:

Strong has developed a distinctive pattern over the years of helping to set up taxpayer-funded public bureaucracies, both outside and within the U.N., which he then taps for funding and contacts when he moves on to other projects….Through his maneuvers, Strong has nurtured the U.N.’s natural tendencies to grow like kudzu into a system that now extends far beyond its own organizational chart. In this jungle, it is not only tough to track how the money is spent, but almost impossible to tally how much really rolls in – or flows through — and from where, and for what.

One example: through a UN-created outfit called the University for Peace, Strong poured UN funds into North Korea. Of course, the purported ends were humanitarian; but in reality much of that money likely found its way into the Hermit Kingdom’s munitions programs. Rosett noted that at Tongsun Park’s trial, “it emerged in court testimony that a few years after Strong accepted from Park the check for almost $1 million funded by Baghdad, the two men had set up yet another business arrangement.”

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Tongsun Park

And now he’s gone. But his work is finished; the mischief is done. Thanks in extremely large part to Strong, climate change has become a rallying cry for power-hungry elites everywhere, routinely cited by them as a legitimate reason to curb individual liberties and economic freedoms and to transfer political authority in democratic states from those countries’ citizens to the leaders of the UN and other world organizations (which are dominated, in all too many cases, by unfree and partly free nations). Not only was Strong himself a useful stooge in many respects – a champion of Chinese Communism, a tireless agitator for the UN superstate. He was also, as hundreds of adoring obituaries attest, the cause of useful stoogery in blinkered admirers around the world, who, rather than recognizing him as a singular threat to human freedom, celebrated him as a noble savior of the planet. 

Maurice Strong and “World Governance”

Yesterday we started looking at the career of the late Maurice Strong, a Canadian business magnate and top-level UN bureaucrat who – supposedly to save the environment – sought to enhance UN power and weaken national sovereignty.

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Maurice Strong after winning one of his many awards

As James Delingpole noted in his obit in Breitbart News,  Strong “was the main instigator of the blueprint for arguably the most sinister and insidious assault on liberty and free markets: Agenda 21.” What is Agenda 21? Well, let’s put it this way: for decades, people who view the UN as a nefarious plot to establish a world government were mercilessly mocked as far-right lunatics. Strong’s Agenda 21, an action plan that emerged from the Rio Conference, is exactly what those people feared: as Delingpole described it, “a blueprint for one-world government by an unelected bureaucracy of technocrats, enabled by diehard progressive activists.” Here’s Strong’s own summing-up:

The concept of national sovereignty has been an immutable, indeed sacred, principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental co-operation. It is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states, however powerful. The global community must be assured of global environmental security.

But what was Strong’s real motive? Was he really passionate about the environment? Did he sincerely think the planet’s climate was imperiled? Or was “environmental security” merely a convenient excuse for trying to impose UN domination?

maurice-strongJohn Izzard, writing at the Australian website Quadrant, forcefully argues that it was the latter. Strong, as Izzard recounts, “was the driving force behind the idea of world governance by the United Nations,” one of his ideas being “a world tax on monetary transactions of 0.5% which would have given the UN an annual income of $1.5 trillion.” Strong made this proposal, note well, at a time when that sum represented the gross income of the entire United States of America (!). When he wasn’t able to push this idea through because of the veto power of the Security Council, Strong actually tried to get the Security Council eliminated. According to Izzard, it was only after that effort failed that Strong conceived of “the idea that global warming might just be the device to get his World Governance proposal up and running.” It would appear, in other words, that Strong’s prime objective was not to preserve the environment – it was to institute “World Governance” by himself and his pals at the UN.

2strongThis doesn’t mean he had no interest in the environment. Izzard tells a bizarre story about Strong’s purchase of 200,000 acres in Colorado where he wanted to pump out and sell the water “but was stopped by the locals as they feared it would destroy the delicate environment.” There’s more: according to Izzard, Strong bought that tract not just because he wanted to monetize the H2O but because he’d bought into the nonsense served up by some “mystic” who told him that that particular patch of Colorado land “would become the centre for a new planetary order which would evolve from the economic collapse and environmental catastrophes that would sweep the globe in the years to come.” In accordance with this inane augury, Strong established something called the Manitou Foundation, a “New Age institution” whose headquarters were constructed directly “above the sacred waters that Strong had been denied permission to pump out.” As if that weren’t enough, he then founded something called the Conservation Fund, whose assigned task was  “to study the mystical properties of the Manitou Mountain,” and built “a circular temple devoted to the world’s mystical and religious movements.”

To sum up, then, so far: Maurice Strong was a dangerous fanatic for World Governance and a far-out New Age nut. Oh, and one more little detail: he was also a big-time crook. We’ll get around to that tomorrow.

Who was Maurice Strong?

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Maurice Strong

When Maurice Strong died on November 27, mainstream news media, global-warming activists, and international bureaucratic types around the world began churning out the superlatives. In his own home country, for instance, the Toronto Star, beneath a headline extolling him as “a model of vision and persistence,” called him “remarkable” and “legendary” while praising his “extraordinary insight and persistence” and “extraordinary far-sightedness.”

Who was Maurice Strong? Here’s a brief bio. Born into a poor Alberta family in 1929, he went into business and enjoyed early success, striking it rich in the oil and gas game and being named, in 1976, by Pierre Trudeau, as head of Petro-Canada, that country’s newly established national oil company.

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At the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972

Strong went on to serve as an executive or board member at major firms around the world. He also became one of the top-level UN bureaucrats of all time. His CV consists largely of a mind-bogglingly long list of commissions, conferences, councils, forums. He was the first head of the UN Environmental Programme. He served on the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development. He co-chaired the Earth Charter Commission, chaired the World Resources Institute, was a director at the World Economic Forum, and was a senior advisor to the president of the World Bank. His shining hour – about which more presently – was perhaps his role as Secretary General of the 1992 UN Earth Summit, aka the Rio Conference.

For some observers, as we’ve seen, Strong was a hero – specifically, an environmental hero. The New York Times called him “the planet’s prime custodian”; the Toronto Globe and Mail, in its obituary, celebrated him as “the last of the mythic founders of the international environmental movement”; the Guardian hailed him as “the founding father of international cooperation on the environment and sustainable development.”

strong3When you scratch the surface of the man’s career, however, the picture becomes more problematic – a lot more problematic. James Delingpole, remembering Strong’s life at Breitbart News, said he was “[o]ne of the most dangerous men of the Twentieth Century.” Why dangerous? Well, for one thing, as Delingpole put it, Strong probably did more than anyone else in our time to make the world “more expensive, inconvenient, overregulated, hectored, bullied, lied-to, sclerotic, undemocratic.” And he did all this in the name of “climate change,” which, thanks to him, notes Delingpole, “is now so heavily embedded within our system of global governance that it is now almost literally impossible for any politician or anyone else whose career depends on the state to admit that’s it not a problem.” 

strong4And Strong did all this from his various perches at the UN – an institution that Delingpole described as Strong’s “perfect playground,” a place “where, he quickly realized, he could achieve his dream of a world of global governance by a self-appointed elite. And the best way to go about this, Strong understood, was by manipulating and exploiting international concern about the environment.” Delingpole wasn’t making this up; Strong himself argued explicitly that if we wanted to save the planet, the inhabitants of the affluent West would have to make radical lifestyle changes – changes that most of those people would not be willing to make unless forced to do so by international organizations vested with the power to force them. 

But was Strong really devoted to the environment? Or was something else going on here? We’ll get around to these questions next time.

Loving Mugabe

Zimababwe's President Robert Mugabe chants Zanu PF slogans with supporters gathered at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare, Wednesday May 3, 2000. Mugabe launched the Zanu PF's election manifesto which bears the slogan "Land is the Economy and the Economy is Land". (AP Photo/Christine Nesbitt)
Robert Mugabe

Yesterday we noted that the admiration of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro by his American fans shows no sign of having been dimmed by reports of his apparent descent into madness – and his transformation of his country into what one observer has called “an Orwellian dystopia.” Today we thought it might be appropriate to wonder aloud whether the American aficionados and collaborators of another tyrant, Robert Mugabe, who’s been running Zimbabwe since 1980, have been unsettled at all by his latest moves.

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Dan Och

Among Mugabe’s stateside enablers, as we’ve previously seen, is New York hedge-fund king Dan Och, whose shady deals with Mugabe provided the despot (whose profligate government had run out of funds) with enough cash “to buy votes and unleash a campaign of brutal repression in an election in which he [had previously] faced almost certain defeat.” Och, as one account put it, “raised $100M for Mugabe’s weapons and torture-chambers in exchange for a sweetheart deal on the country’s platinum mines.” Och can’t claim he was acting out of ignorance: he knew very well that his payments to Mugabe – which led to investigations by both the Department of Justice and the SEC – would be used to fuel the systematic, savage abuse of Mugabe’s own people.

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Bill de Blasio

Then there’s Bill de Blasio, now Mayor of New York, who during his tenure in the City Council took part in a tribute by that body to Mugabe, who gave a speech and was fêted at a cocktail reception. The man who organized that event, as we’ve seen, was former Black Panther Charles Barron, who at the time was a City Council member and is now a state assemblyman.

De Blasio and Barron represent themselves as progressive heroes. What, then, do they have to say about Mugabe’s late September speech to the General Assembly of United Nations, in which he concluded an inane rant condemning international efforts to address his human-rights abuses by insisting: “We are not gays!”

“We are not gays!” The subject of homosexuality has been a longstanding preoccupation of Mugabe’s. Gays in Zimbabwe face fines, prison, beatings by the police, and worse. (“Even Satan wasn’t gay!” Mugabe growled when the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land.)

Councilman Charles Barron fights with CUNY Trustee Jeffrey Weisenfeld at Groundbreaking ceremonies for CUNY's new $259 Million Fiterman Hall. The original Fiterman Hall at 30 West Broadway was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.
Charles Barron

Of course, Zimbabweans don’t need to be gay to feel deprived of freedom, security, and prosperity: Mugabe’s presidency is, by all reasonable accounts, a “reign of terror,”  his government a “murderous kleptocracy,” his nation a land of “bloodthirsty depravity” that is characterized by cartoonish levels of corruption, is patrolled by a thuggish secret police that spreads “dread in the cities,” is guilty of “torture on an industrial scale,” and has undergone a precipitous economic decline that The Economist has described as “the most dramatic peacetime collapse of any country since Weimar Germany.”

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Marian Tupy

The very fact that Mugabe was allowed to speak at the UN was a disgrace. But it’s hardly a first. Officials of international organizations, in the face of demands by human-rights activists and other right-thinking people that Mugabe be banned from international conclaves, have routinely given in to demands by Zimbabwe and its African neighbors that it be included. As Marian Tupy wrote in the Wall Street Journal Europe in 2007, European Union officials – who’d recently fallen for Zimbabwean propaganda depicting Mugabe as a victim of Western propaganda and/or succumbed to African leaders’ boycott threats – were responsible for the ethically challenged decision to welcome Mugabe to an EU summit in Lisbon.

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Thabo Mbeki

But African leaders, noted Tupy, were also deeply culpable: under Mugabe, Zimbabwe had become a terror state, but many leaders of neighboring countries had responded to the nightmare he was creating for his people by “clos[ing] ranks” around him. The most guilty party of all, in Tupy’s view, was South African President Thabo Mbeki, who, given Zimbabwe’s economic dependence on his nation, was “in a position to force change or end Mr. Mugabe’s reign overnight,” but who’d in fact “done more than any other African leader to help Mr. Mugabe hang onto power.”

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Jacob Zuma

Alas, Mbeki’s successor, Jacob Zuma, has proven to be even more supportive of Mugabe, saying earlier this year that economic cooperation between the two countries “has never been stronger.” Peter Godwin, a white Zimbabwean who now lives abroad, explained this seemingly inexplicable state of affairs a couple of years ago: these various African regimes came to power in anti-colonial revolutions, and they’re all still in power, and “it’s not in the interest of any of them to let any of the other ones lose power.” Susan Booysen of the University of the Witwatersrand, commenting in 2008 on Mbeki’s refusal to criticize Mugabe, made essentially the same point: “People expected statesmanship. But at the end of the day, he didn’t have the guts to stand up to a fellow liberation movement leader.”

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Rick Salutin

But why is any Westerner eager to be an apologist for Mugabe? One word: imperialism. Or, if you prefer, colonialism. In the eyes of certain Western leftists, who subscribe to a political philosophy that sees the West (especially America) as invariably evil and racist, and the rest of the world (especially Africa) as its helpless victims, Mugabe, no matter what horrors he may be guilty of, is still a good guy, a casualty, a hero, an innocent.

Such is the case, apparently, with Toronto newspaper columnist Rick Salutin, who, as Jonathan Kay of the National Post noted a few years back, had slammed Prime Minister Stephen Harper for, in Salutin’s words,

piling onto Zimbabwe…for its “fraudulent election” and “illegitimacy.” He showed no sense of perspective: that the U.S. held a fraudulent election in 2000, or illegitimately tortures in Guantanamo, and that his own government continues to permit the Americans to practise on Canadian Omar Khadr.

NATIONAL POST STAFF PHOTO // PST053007 - Toronto - Jonathan Kay poses for a headshot, mugshot, portrait, head furnature. STAFF PHOTO: (Tyler Anderson/National Post)
Jonathan Kay

We’ll close with Kay’s highly apropos comment:

Ah yes – “perspective.” Who among us does not remember those pitiful scenes from the 2000 U. S. election, when Republican storm troopers went door-to-door in Florida’s left-leaning counties, burning alive the children and wives of Democratic activists? Or Al Gore’s pitiful concession speech in which he pled (unsuccessfully) for Dick Cheney to spare the lives of DNC election observers being held at South Beach concentration camps?

Joe Stiglitz, Soros “point man”

Yesterday we started looking at Joseph Stiglitz, the massively influential Columbia University economist who derides “American-style capitalism” while preaching government intervention as the key to prosperity. We ended up by stating that while Stiglitz has been called a liberal, it really makes more sense to call him a socialist. Why?

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The Socialist International Commission on Global Financial Issues. Stiglitz can be seen along the right side of the table, leaning forward, between the windows

Well, to begin with, quite simply, he’s a card-carrying member of the Socialist International. In 2008, he chaired a Socialist International commission charged with “tackling the global financial crisis.” The commission’s other members included not just socialists but out-and-out Communists from around the world.

UNStiglitz is also a fervent enthusiast for the UN, a supporter for a dramatic increase in its power, and an advocate for the view that the U.S. and other sovereign states should be subordinated to that power. He’s one of those people who believe, perversely, that when you scrape together the (at best) dicey representatives of a hundred or so corrupt, poor, unfree, incompetently managed nations and pack them into a building on First Avenue in Manhattan, they magically turn into a body of wise, noble, upright sages who are equipt to restructure the world order – and reorder the world economy. Among the UN officials with whom Stiglitz has closely collaborated is Miguel D’Escoto, a hard-line Marxist who was foreign minister for the Communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, who won the USSR’s Lenin Peace Prize, who’s an outspoken enemy of both the U.S. and Israel, who has publicly hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and who, a few years back, appointed Stiglitz “to chair a high-level U.N. task force to review the global financial system.”

Miguel-D´Escoto
Miguel D’Escoto

As great as Stiglitz’s enthusiasm for the UN is his contempt for the International Monetary Fund. In his 2002 book Globalization and Its Discontents, according to Irwin M. Stelzer, Stiglitz “almost equates the consequences of policy failures by the International Monetary Fund with the consequences of Nazi Germany’s final solution.” What, in Stiglitz’s view, needs to be done to fix the IMF? Easy: give more power to the African countries that are the chief beneficiaries of its largesse. As Stelzer put it, “in a perfect world it would be sensible to confer more power on the recipients of IMF assistance so that the funds might be deployed more effectively. But we don’t live in that world. Ours is one in which kleptocratic African regimes impoverish their nations with a combination of misrule, military adventures, and policies that discourage inward investment.”

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George Soros

Then there’s Stiglitz’s connection to George Soros, the far-left multibillionaire who is actively seeking to use his wealth to transform the world – and, not least, as we’ve seen in previous posts on this site, diminish American power and American freedom. Soros, as Cliff Kincaid has observed, “wants to phase out the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency and bring the U.S. into a system of international socialism, with new and more powerful global agencies deciding our economic and financial fate.” And who is Soros’s “point man” on this alarming project? None other than Joe Stiglitz – who, as head of a Soros-funded NGO called the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, is fighting for the institution of “a new international currency” and of an international taxation system.

Yes, you read that right: an international taxation system.

More tomorrow.

Soros’s echo chamber

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George Soros

Last time around, we took a brief look at George Soros‘s youth and at his parents’ values – his father was an Esperanto idealist, his mother a self-hating Jew. As we’ll see, this mixture of influences helped shape a man who would, paradoxically, combine utopian ideology and philanthropy with a staggering egocentrism and personal moral expediency.

Let’s move on to his early career. Studying economics in London after the war, Soros came to embrace the concept of the “open society” – a society, that is, that shrinks from considering itself in any way superior to any other. In short, he became a moral relativist – a position consistent, perhaps, with his twisted youthful enthusiasm for the Nazis. He found work on Wall Street, but found the U.S. “commercial” and “crass.” In 1959 he settled in Greenwich Village, where he befriended New Left radicals who despised capitalism; meanwhile, his own mastery of capitalist enterprise caused his wealth to grow exorbitantly.

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Aryeh Neier

In the 1980s he began to spend his wealth on causes dear to his heart; in 1993, he established the New York-based Open Society Institute, which remains the centerpiece of his philanthropic work. His consiglieri during all these years has been Aryeh Neier, a Marxist who back in the 1960s founded the radical group Students for a Democratic Society. With Neier at his side, Soros has handed out princely sums to a wide range of “progressive” groups – ranging from ACORN to the Arab American Institute to the National Council of La Raza – that despise capitalism and the U.S. while supporting big government, the welfare state, and socialist-style wealth redistribution.

Soros has thrown money at radical environmentalists, radical feminists, and groups that agitate for the subordination of the U.S. government to the authority of the United Nations; he’s supported Occupy Wall Street and the effort to exploit the Ferguson, Missouri, unrest to inflame racial tensions and demonize cops; he’s poured truckfuls of cash into far-left news media such as Pacifica Broadcasting, The Nation Magazine, and Air America Radio, as well as into various journalism-related groups that pose as objective “media centers” and “media institutes” (notably Media Matters for America), but whose actual role is to protect and perpetuate the leftist media narrative and to demonize truth-tellers whose work disrupts that narrative. His Soros Documentary Fund, which subsidizes “social justice” films, has been part of the left-wing Sundance Institute since 2001.

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Lynne Stewart

Among the countless other beneficiaries of his largesse have been The Constitution Project, which has provided support to Islamic terrorists, and the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, which has bankrolled lawyer Lynne Stewart, convicted of serving as a messenger between her client Omar Abdel Rahman and the terrorist group al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya. Most recently, Soros money was critical in the successful bid by the left to subordinate the Internet to FCC regulation. As John Fund put it in National Review on February 26, the goal of the Soros-funded Internet grab is, quite plainly, “an Unfree Press — a media world that promotes their values.”

But to focus on these individual groups, grantees, causes, and collaborators is to miss the forest for the trees. And quite a forest it is. During the last decade or so, the groups has created or funded have been shaped into a veritable “Shadow Party,” as it’s been called – a network of key political actors that collaborate in pushing the Democratic agenda, all the while pretending to be apolitical and independent of one another. Key elements of the Shadow Party include the Center For American Progress, which poses as a think tank, and MoveOn, a PR and fundraising operation.

soros6In January 2015, Washington Times reporter Kelly Riddell provided a picture of the way in which this Shadow Party operates. Describing Soros as the “man at the financial center of the Ferguson protest movement,” she explained that some of his grantees “helped mobilize protests in Ferguson, building grass-roots coalitions on the ground backed by a nationwide online and social media campaign,” while other Soros grantees “made it their job to remotely monitor and exploit anything related to the incident that they could portray as a conservative misstep, and to develop academic research and editorials to disseminate to the news media to keep the story alive.” These Soros-funded groups, Riddell recounted, “fed off each other, using content and buzzwords developed by one organization on another’s website, referencing each other’s news columns and by creating a social media echo chamber of Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter hashtags that dominated the mainstream media and personal online newsfeeds.”

If there’s a figure, then, in the carpet of U.S. politics today, it’s not the Koch brothers. It’s George Soros, enthusiast for “social justice” and foe of freedom.

Pat and Putin – a love affair

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Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has invaded other countries – but, hey, they used to be part of the USSR, and who are we to question his desire to bring them back into the Kremlin’s loving embrace? He’s had his critics imprisoned, tortured, poisoned – but, hey, you can’t deny that the Russian people love him! Also, he’s terrorized gay people – but, hey, it’s all in the name of protecting Russian youth from perversion.

Such is the reasoning of one American conservative after another who think the Russian despot is the bee’s knees.

Never mind that he’s driven the Russian economy into the toilet. They like his style. They like his demagoguery. They like his contempt for the EU and UN. (They don’t seem to realize that it’s possible to disapprove of these institutions without becoming a Putin fanboy.) And they like the speeches in which he celebrates “traditional values” and his country’s Christian heritage – never mind that he’s pretty much as far as possible from a model of gospel virtues.

Meet The Press
Pat Buchanan

We’ve seen how respected conservatives like Christopher Caldwell have found ways to reduce Putin’s perfidy to a handful of peccadillos. But the real master of pro-Putin propaganda is good ol’ Pat Buchanan. When the Kremlin was the headquarters of a dictatorship that ruled a so-called “union” of so-called “republics” and that identified itself as Marxist-Leninist, Buchanan was among its fiercest adversaries in the West; now that the Kremlin is the headquarters of a dictatorship that rules Russia alone in what is supposedly a non-Marxist republic, he is one of its fiercest defenders in the West.

In September 2013, for example, he praised a New York Times op-ed by Putin in which the Russian president assailed the U.S. position on Syria and decried the concept of American exceptionalism. A few months later, Buchanan extolled a speech by Putin condemning NATO expansion. “When he talks about the Cold War he has a valid point,” Buchanan insisted on an episode of the McLaughlin Group.

The Soviet Union,” Buchanan explained, “took its army out of Germany, out of Eastern Europe, all the way back to the Urals. They dissolved the Warsaw Pact. And what did we do? We moved NATO into Central Europe, into Eastern Europe, into the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. We’re trying to bring in Ukraine, trying to bring in Georgia. He’s saying, ‘Get out of our space; get our of our face.’”

Why is Pat so big on Putin? Largely because Buchanan, famous for his “culture war” speech at the 1992 G.O.P. Convention, sees Putin as a brother-in-arms – a fellow culture warrior out to rescue traditional values from Western secularism.

In August 2013, for example, Buchanan mocked Western outrage over Putin’s new Russian law against “homosexual propaganda” – which could lead to imprisonment for anybody, gay or straight, who had anything positive to say about gays or even about any particular gay individual. Citing Pope Benedict XVI, Buchanan reminded readers that the “unnatural and immoral” nature of homosexual acts “remains Catholic teaching.” So, he argued, “if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda?”

Buchanan also ridiculed Western support for the gutsy women of the anti-Putin rock group Pussy Riot, who, as he put it, “engaged in half-naked obscene acts on the high altar of Moscow’s most sacred cathedral.” He asked: “Had these women crayoned swastikas on the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., would the [Washington] Post have been so sympathetic?”

For Buchanan, Putin’s crackdown on gays and protests and so on was all part of an admirable effort “to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation it had been for 1,000 years before Russia fell captive to the atheistic and pagan ideology of Marxism.” Quoting Putin’s statement that the “adoption of Christianity became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped turn it into one of the largest world powers,” Buchanan asked: “Anyone ever heard anything like that from the Post, the Times, or Barack Hussein Obama?”

Four months later, Buchanan again found occasion to extol the Moscow martinet. “In the culture war for mankind’s future,” he asked rhetorically, “is he [Putin] one of us?” For Buchanan, the answer was clearly yes. Putin has blasted the U.S. for supposedly revising “moral and ethical norms” and equating “good and evil.” Buchanan helpfully provided a “translation” of Putin’s critique: “to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.” For Buchanan, plainly, the validity of this charge was self-evident. “Our grandparents,” he lamented, “would not recognize the America in which we live.”

Most Americans and most people around the world, Buchanan went on to argue, share his and Putin’s “traditional values” orientation. “Only 15 nations out of more than 190,” he noted, recognize same-sex marriage. “In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table.”

Putin Views Russian Arms On Display At Expo

Predicting a 21st century in which “conservatives and traditionalists in every country” would be “arrayed against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite,” Buchanan made clear that he was on the former side, arm in arm with Putin, the Communist rulers of China and North Korea, the tyrants of sub-Saharan Africa, and the brutal Islamic regimes of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran (where gays are, of course, executed), and against the liberal democracies of North America and Western Europe.

Again: one can deplore many aspects of 21st-century Western culture without throwing one’s lot in with the world’s most murderous despots.