It seems like all I do these days is skim through the “about” pages of an endless list of NGOs with countless varieties of the same name, looking for the same half-a-dozen funds, endowments, organisations, slogans, mottos and buzzwords that always appear. It’s got to the point where it’s simply a matter of ticking off the items on a shopping list.
The National Endowment for Democracy…check.
The International Monetary Fund…check.
It’s always the same. It has come to the point where, if the “Our Partners” section of an organization with a vaguely benign-sounding name, along the lines of Middle East Fund for Democracy and Liberty or somethingorother, DIDN’T contain a reference to George Soros’ Open Society Foundation or the World Bank…I just wouldn’t be able to contain my shock.
Checking up on the sources and organisations behind this opinion piece on the Guardian yesterday morning (September 23rd) did not shock me, in the least.
Enough is enough. It’s time to protect aid workers
Before insisting, in the subhead:
Attacks on those who respond to global emergencies must be stopped – and the perpetrators must be held accountable
The article, written by Patricia McIlreavy, is long on generals but short on specifics. Long on problems, but short on solutions. It doesn’t discuss the war in Syria, except in the most simplistic terms. It doesn’t lay blame for any “attacks” at the feet of anyone specific, it just condemns attacks in general. The gaping maw of the unsaid echoes into infinity. Its final paragraph:
There comes a time when enough is enough, when even the most altruistic among us become angry. That time is now. World leaders must recognise and respect those who rush in to help when all others turn away, and provide humanitarians the protection they need and deserve.
Stop the attacks, and hold accountable those who seek to harm us. The time for talk is over.
It’s perfectly clear what she means, she just can’t actually say it. When she talks about “altruism” becoming anger, when she says the time for talk is over, she is talking about war. She is proposing that UN “peacekeepers” or NATO troops or a “coalition of the willing” or any and all of the above march into Syria and “protect” NGO employees…by attacking the Syrian government, and almost certainly coming into conflict with the Russian military.
But who is this author making this argument and what is the organisation she represents? What is the section of the Guardian which showcases such articles? And what is the foundation that “sponsored” this material in the Guardian?
Let us tackle these one at a time.
1. The Author’s Foundation
The author, the Guardian tells us, is Patricia McIlreavy, the vice-president of Humanitarian Policy and Practice at InterAction.
“What is InterAction?”, you ask?
InterAction is an alliance organization in Washington, D.C. of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Our 180-plus members work around the world. What unites us is a commitment to working with the world’s poor and vulnerable, and a belief that we can make the world a more peaceful, just and prosperous place – together.
InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader and voice of our community. Because we want real, long-term change, we work smarter: We mobilize our members to think and act collectively, because we know more is possible that way. We also know that how we get there matters. So we set high standards. We insist on respecting human dignity. We work in partnerships.
Doesn’t that sound nice? Working in partnerships, protecting the vulnerable, human dignity. That’s all good stuff, right? Shame on you for thinking it’s nothing but empty marketing and PR sloganeering.
I mean, just because the author of the article used to work at USAID, and just because their CEO worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and just because their President used to work for the World Bank and also worked for the Obama administration…wait a minute…
2. The Section
The Guardian’s “Global development professionals network” was first launched in 2012. It is subsidiary to their “Global Development website”, which was launched a year earlier. Their purpose, to quote their own description, is to provide:
A space for NGOs, aid workers and development professionals to share knowledge and expertise
It is, to read between the words of that sentence, a space for the Guardian to publish opinion pieces and press releases from US and UK government-backed NGOs, whilst taking no direct editorial responsibility for this blatant issuing of propaganda. It is much the same as the New East Network in this regard.
In case you were wondering where they get their funding for this:
Like the main Guardian global development website, the professional network is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as by a range of sponsors.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is on the list of predictable names I referenced at the beginning of this article. wherever there is creepy Orwellian propaganda pushing for odd social controls in the name of “justice” (be it common core education, or remote control contraception) you will find Bill and Melinda Gates. The foundation is also, of course, a corrupt tax dodge.
Now, you might be worried about the impartiality of a newspaper that is part-funded by the richest man that has ever existed, and other (unnamed) “sponsors”, but don’t be concerned because:
All our journalism remains independent of sponsorship and follows GNM’s published editorial code.
Any content produced by, or in partnership with our funding partners, will be clearly labelled.
So that’s alright then.
3. The Sponsor
Here we come to the worst part. The part that, only two years ago, would have shocked me. The article was apparently “supported by” a private corporation: Crown Agents, who describe themselves thus:
We are an international development company that partners with governments, aid agencies, NGOs and companies in nearly 100 countries. Taking on clients’ fundamental challenges, we make lasting change to the systems and organisations that are vital for people’s well-being and prosperity.
We bring an agile and resourceful approach to complex development issues.
Which, when translated from neo-liberal BS language into actual English, means they act as a bridgehead in allowing corporations to move into third world countries and make a fortune by buying up public assets from corrupt or incompetent governments. Take a look at their latest projects for proof. When they’re not helping the Americans privatize Pakistan’s state assets, they’re “facilitating” Ukraine’s joining of the WTO. Interestingly they also enjoyed a very large contract for “rebuilding” peace in Libya.
They are all over the so-called developing world, “boosting revenues”, “fighting corruption” and “reforming financial practices”. They do all this in cooperation with their partners at the US government, the UK government and certain (unnamed) “private foundations“.
To be very clear about this – Crown Agents is NOT an NGO. They are not a charity, or an aid organisation, or a barely-there disguise of some alphabet agency. They are a private business, they make money, they are FOR PROFIT.
The same company which made money off the aftermath of the Libyan war, is now sponsoring an article calling for war in Syria. It is an undeclared agenda, a classic conflict of interest, and totally disgusting. That it takes place in a supposedly “liberal paper”, with supposedly “progressive values”, in the name of charity and humanitarianism, is the height of modern hypocrisy.
The Guardian are selling space in their paper to for-profit companies, who publish pro-war opinion pieces, trying to incite public support for a war that will make them money.
That would have been shocking once upon a time.