Are Freelancers Running Our Russia Policy?

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Are the neoconservatives and their neo-liberal collaborators in the global crusade for democracy pushing America into confrontation and a second Cold War with Russia? So it would seem.

Ex-CIA director James Woolsey threw out the word “fascist” on FOX News the other night in describing Putin’s Russia. Earlier, he was quoted as saying, “The Russian government under Putin has moved to within striking distance of being, essentially, fascist.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski in a Wall Street Journal essay last fall referred to Putin as “Moscow’s Mussolini” and described his regime as “in many ways … similar to Mussolini’s fascism.”

As Woolsey is a former DCI and Zbig an ex-national security adviser, Moscow is likely to regard these as fighting words. As would we, if ex-high-level officials in Russia suddenly began calling George W. Bush a fascist and our government fascistic.

But it is not only the insults that have Putin demanding to know if America intends the encirclement and isolation of Russia.

We have been pumping millions into former Soviet republics, in the hallowed name of democracy, to bring down regimes friendly to Moscow and elect politicians and parties who will break away from Russia, look to the West and join NATO, the U.S.-dominated alliance.

According to The Associated Press’ Matt Kelley, America funneled $65 million into Ukraine in two years, with the money directed at dethroning the regime of President Leonid Kuchma, defeating his prime minister and designated successor Victor Yanukovich, and electing Viktor Yushchenko president. While Yushchenko’s victory in Sunday’s run-off is being hailed as one of the great events of Ukraine’s history, it looks suspiciously like a product of American electoral engineering.

According to Kelley, U.S. cash went to Ukraine “to train groups and individuals opposed to the Russian-backed government candidate — people who now call themselves part of the Orange Revolution.”

British writer John Laughland says the youth group Pora, which took over Kiev’s central square when Yushchenko appeared to have been robbed of victory in November, is, “like its sister organizations in Serbia and Georgia, Otmar and Khmara … an organization created and financed by Washington.”

According to Ian Traynor of The Guardian, U.S. agencies have perfected an operation — “engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience” — “so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.”

While the operation failed to unhorse Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, it succeeded in replacing Milosevic in Serbia, our old friend Edouard Shevardnadze in Georgia and now Kuchma-Yanukovich in Ukraine.

Among the agencies and organizations used to assist pro-West and pro-NATO parties with men, money and training are the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and its subsidiaries — the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute — Freedom House and George Soros’ assorted charities.

Who chairs IRI? John McCain. Who chairs NDI? Ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Who chairs Freedom House? Ex-CIA Director Woolsey. Did the White House give these groups a green light to interfere in and tip the Ukrainian elections to Yushchenko?

Writing in The Washington Post, Hoover Institution scholar Michael McFaul concedes, “American agents of influence … meddle(d) in the internal affairs of Ukraine,” and adds that we have a moral right to do so.

Pro-democracy organizations, he says, though financed by the U.S. government, operate independently. The State Department and White House “have had almost nothing to do with the design or implementation of democracy assistance programs.”

Bush’s press secretary denies this. “There’s accountability in place,” says Scott McClellan. “We make sure that money is being used for the purposes for which it’s assigned or designated.”

What is the truth? Has Bush surrendered control of Russia policy to freelancers who detest Putin and want to isolate his government, or is the White House giving itself plausible deniability, while letting freelancers do the work done in Cold War days by the CIA?

If Putin is enraged, can we blame him? How we would react if the Chinese or French meddled in our elections, and then the EU and Putin denounced the 2000 Florida recount and 2004 Ohio returns as fraudulent?

Winning Russia’s friendship was among the great achievements of Ronald Reagan and great dividends of our victory in the Cold War. We ought not allow unelected, foreign-policy freelancers — or rogue agencies, or non-governmental organizations — to put that vital relationship at risk.

If President Bush will not get control of NED and its progeny, or defund the rogues, or assume responsibility for them all, Congress must hold public hearings. At least let the people know who is steering us into a new Cold War with Russia and the “World War IV” that ex-Director Woolsey and his friends have in store for us.

Patrick J. Buchanan [send him mail], former presidential candidate and White House aide, is editor of The American Conservative and the author of eight books, including A Republic Not An Empire and the upcoming Where the Right Went Wrong.

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