what's left

The Company Patrick Bond Keeps

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By Stephen Gowans

While Patrick Bond likes to create the impression he offers an independent left perspective on Zimbabwe, it’s difficult to reconcile the impression with the reality. Bond has, in the past, recommended that progressives look to two of Zimbabwe’s “pro-democracy” groups, Sokwanele and Zvakwana, to find out what’s going on in Zimbabwe. (1) Both groups are modeled after Otpor, a Western-funded youth group that worked to oust Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Like their Serb progenitor, the Zimbabwean groups are handsomely funded by Western governments (2), not to oppose the interests of wealthy individuals, corporations, banks, investors, and imperialist states, but to promote them.

“The United States government (is) working with the Zimbabwean opposition” “trade unions, pro-democracy groups and human rights organizations” “to bring about a change of administration.” (3) It supports “the efforts of the political opposition, the media and civil society,” including providing training and assistance to grassroots “pro-democracy” groups (4) – groups Bond celebrated in a Counterpunch article as “the independent left.” (5)

The US also supports “workshops to develop youth leadership skills necessary to confront social injustice through nonviolent strategies,” (6) a project enlisting the kinds of nonviolent imperialists Stephen Zunes has made a practice of vigorously defending. (7)

Bond’s most recent attempt to bamboozle the West’s progressive community is a Z-Net article co-authored with a woman who is part of US-sponsored regime change operations in Zimbabwe. (8)

Last April, Grace Kwinjeh traveled to Washington with Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of one faction of the Zimbabwe opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, and representatives from NGOs funded by the US Congress’s National Endowment for Democracy: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. (9)

The NED does overtly what the CIA once did covertly, namely, meddle in the affairs of foreign countries to bring down governments that refuse to do Washington’s bidding.

Soon after it was established, the MDC became the party favored by white farmers in Zimbabwe for its opposition to the government’s land reform policies. The party is backed by the US and EU. Tsvangirai, the party’s original leader, and now leader of one its two factions, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, pledging to restore property rights and to compensate white farmers for the loss of land their settler ancestors took by force. (10)

Last April’s delegation to Washington was organized by the Open Society Initiative, a project of billionaire speculator George Soros, to “build and strengthen the values, practices and institutions of an open society throughout Southern Africa” (11) — roughly, to promote open markets and free enterprise where governments are pursuing programs of economic indigenization.

SW Radio Africa, which operates on funding provided by the US State Department’s Office of Transition Initiatives, reported that the group was in Washington to “brief Western institutions like the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Woodrow Wilson Center.” (12)

The CSIS is a little known think-tank run by a bipartisan collection of upper class leaders, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft. It recently prepared a report recommending that the West use preventive nuclear first strikes to stop other countries, like Iran, from acquiring nuclear weapons. (13)

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is a US government established center that links “scholarship to issues of concern to officials in Washington.” The Center’s Africa program was launched with a grant from the Ford Foundation to promote dialogue between scholars and US policy-makers on Africa. The tenor of the dialogue is obvious in the latest edition of the Center’s journal, The Wilson Quarterly. Articles extol competition (it’s hard-wired into humans) and the US Department of Homeland Security (it doesn’t get enough credit.)

Kwinjeh is a frequent guest on Studio 7, a radio station sponsored by the US-government’s propaganda arm, the Voice of America. (14) She calls herself “a founder member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC),” and says she “spent some time in Belgium as the MDC Representative to the EU.” (15)

At one point, she was the deputy secretary for international relations in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC. She ran for the post of MDC secretary of information (the party’s propaganda office) unsuccessfully.

When writing for Western audiences, Kwinjeh conceals her MDC connections and presents herself as a journalist – not a senior member of the US and EU-backed MDC, not a part of US-government regime change operations.

The key questions for Western progressives are: Does Patrick Bond know who Grace Kwinjeh is? If so, why is he co-authoring articles with her? Is Bond’s definition of “independent” the same as that of the US state and Western media, i.e., any individual or group that facilitates the US government in its efforts to bring down foreign governments that refuse to do the West’s bidding? If Patrick Bond doesn’t know who Grace Kwinjeh is, why is he passing himself off as a left expert on Zimbabwe? Surely, someone who professes to have a knowledge of Zimbabwe greater than that of Western progressives would know about Kwinjeh’s role in US regime change operations. And what separation is there between the views of Bond and those of Kwinjeh, an MDC operative who has traveled to Washington on George Soros’ account to brief a ruling class think-tank that promotes a nuclear first strike strategy?

Follow Up, April 11, 2008

Z-Net changed Kwinjeh’s bio after I wrote to Chris Spannos about it, complaining the omission was deceptive.

Bond, usually obsessive about rising to these kinds of challenges, hasn’t replied to the article above, or to the questions asked of him at the end of it.

His most recent writing on Zimbabwe of which I’m aware (this time authored without the help of the US, British, and Australian government-backed MDC) appeared on Pambazuka News. Pambazuka News is directly financed by the Ford Foundation and billionaire speculator George Soros and indirectly by the Canadian government, the European Union and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

You can’t help trip over Bond’s connections to corporate foundations and groups and political parties financed by imperialist governments. They fund his civil society center and pay for his junkets. Groups he urges leftists to look to as an “independent” left voice are bankrolled by the US, British and other Western governments. Is it any wonder he’s known as Bond…Patrick Bond….of Her Majesty’s NGOs?

At one time, CIA spooks channeled money to left scholars like Bond covertly. Now, the funding is open, and the connections are hardly concealed.

Incidentally, Spannos mounted a sophistical defense of Z-Net’s accepting Bond’s MDC co-authored Zimbabwe article. Explained Spannos: If Z-Net refused to accept submissions from people who are connected, in some way, to parties or institutions dominated and funded by corporations and imperialist governments, Z-Net would have to dissociate itself from most of the submissions it gets on a daily basis.

This follows along the lines of a Stephen Zunes argument. Almost everyone, if they have a job, gets paid by capitalists or capitalist-supported governments, so what’s the fuss? The fuss is that few people get paid to undertake funded political activity. Equating a clerk who works for Sears and writes on Zimbabwe to Grace Kwinjeh, is like saying, “Just because George Bush is president doesn’t mean his views on public healthcare are more reflective of the interests of the US ruling class than those of Walmart employees, whose livelihood is also linked intimately to the US ruling class through their employment by a giant corporation.” Walmart employees, unless they’re in the PR department or boardroom, don’t get paid to represent Walmart’s political interests or those of the US ruling class. Kwinjeh, on the other hand, has a direct material interest in representing the interests of the MDC, and through it, the MDC’s patrons.

Sadly, Z-Net, and Z-Net favorites, Bond and Zunes, have a penchant for this kind of specious nonsense.

1. http://gowans.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/zimbabwe-and-the-politics-of-demons-and-angels/

2. Los Angeles Times (July 8, 2005)

3. The Guardian (August 22, 2002)

4. U.S. Department of State, April 5, 2007 report on human rights. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/shrd/2006/

5. http://www.counterpunch.org/bond03272007.html

6. U.S. Department of State

7. http://gowans.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/stephen-zunes-and-the-struggle-for-overseas-profits/

8. http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2008-03/11bond-kwinjeh.cfm

9. http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2007-04/2007-04-27-voa54.cfm?CFID=213706089&CFTOKEN=96857847 and http://www.swradioafrica.com/news290407/un270407.htm .

Regarding NED funding of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition see http://fanonite.org/2008/03/10/nonviolent-imperialism-major-revision/

10. The Herald (Zimbabwe) (March 23, 2008)

11. http://www.osisa.org/

12. http://www.swradioafrica.com/news290407/un270407.htm

13. http://gowans.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/whose-nuclear-first-strike-strategy-is-this-anyway/

14. http://www.voanews.com/english/africa/zimbabwe/

15. http://gracekwinjeh.blogspot.com/

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Written by what's left

March 24, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Posted in NGOs, Zimbabwe

One Response

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  1. Hi Steve, this blog entry was brought to my attention and I would like to clarify here in this comment section, or for you to clarify yourself in your blog, your email interaction with me and the paraphrasing you use of my reply to you, which is selective of only a small portion, and copied below, in our full exchange, so your readers can judge where any “sophistical defense” may have been used, in either my reply or your blog.

    You write in your blog above “Z-Net changed Kwinjeh’s bio after I wrote to Chris Spannos about it, complaining the omission was deceptive.” Indeed you did write and my response was “I agree that Grace’s political affiliations should be attached to the commentary, so I’ve changed her byline to read: Grace Kwinjeh is a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist, political activist and founding member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC).”

    You say above that I explained to you: “If Z-Net refused to accept submissions from people who are connected, in some way, to parties or institutions dominated and funded by corporations and imperialist governments, Z-Net would have to dissociate itself from most of the submissions it gets on a daily basis.” But these are your words and not an exact quote of mine, nor even a complete paraphrase, which is misleading. My exact words, again, pasted in context of our full exchange at the bottom of this reply, were:

    “…we regularly publish material by whistle blowers and people on the Left, who are allies, and comrades, who unfortunately are, in one way or another, affiliated with institutions and parties we despise, and in fact this also applies to any university professor too, since they work mostly in institutions who have ties to imperialism and capitalism.”…” The article itself seems fine to me. Bond has written for us for many years, and Grace, although I’ve never met her, never had any communications or contact, there is nothing about the article, or that I see on her blog, that would cause us to disassociate ourselves. If we did that, and were consistent, we’d have to dissociate ourselves from most of the submissions we get on a daily basis. That hardly seems like an effective strategy for us in movement building…”

    Any reader can see the difference between my full quote and what you mis-paraphrase.
    When you wrote, I assumed it was in good faith, and I replied as such. Perhaps I am wrong in my reading of your blog above and your reference to your interaction with me. If so, I no worries, and I hope this note clarifies our exchange for your readers. If my reading is right however, I’m content enough with this comment appearing beneath this blog, and no further exchange is necessary, as I’m sure you’re just as busy as I am, and there is much more important work at hand.

    Just below is our full exchange, beginning with my reply to you, and your first email just beneath that.

    Best,
    Chris Spannos

    From: Chris Spannos
    Sent: Wed 3/26/2008 12:22 PM
    To: stephen gowans
    Subject: FW: Patrick Bond’s and Grace Kwinjeh’s, “Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip”
    Hi Stephen,
    I agree that Grace’s political affiliations should be attached to the commentary, so I’ve changed her byline to read: Grace Kwinjeh is a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist, political activist and founding member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC).
    On the other hand, we regularly publish material by whistle blowers and people on the Left, who are allies, and comrades, who unfortunately are, in one way or another, affiliated with institutions and parties we despise, and in fact this also applies to any university professor too, since they work mostly institutions who have ties to imperialism and capitalism.
    The article itself seems fine to me. Bond has written for us for many years, and Grace, although I’ve never met her, never had any communications or contact, there is nothing about the article, or that I see on her blog, that would cause us to disassociate ourselves. If we did that, and were consistent, we’d have to dissociate ourselves from most of the submissions we get on a daily basis. That hardly seems like an effective strategy for us in movement building…

    ________________________________________
    From: stephen gowans
    Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2008 1:11 PM
    To: Chris Spannos
    Subject: Patrick Bond’s and Grace Kwinjeh’s, “Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip”

    Concerning the article by Patrick Bond and Grace Kwinjeh, “Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip,” posted on March 11, 2008, as content available to Z sustainers, http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2008-03/11bond-kwinjeh.cfm :

    The article lists Kwinjeh as a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist. A google search of “Grace Kwinjeh” turns up Kwinjehviews, http://gracekwinjeh.blogspot.com/ , a blog by Grace Kwinjeh. Therein Kwinjeh describes herself as “a founder member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC)” and also as a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist, the latter description matching the brief bio provided at the end of the article. Presumably, this is the same Grace Kwinjeh who co-wrote the Bond article.

    Inasmuch as the Bond-Kwinjeh article is highly critical of the current Zimbabwean government, and concerns the upcoming March 29 elections, it, is no insignificant point that:

    (1) Kwinjeh fails to disclose her connection to the MDC. This is tantamount to an IBM employee writing a scathing review of Mac computers and then presenting herself as a technology issues journalist without acknowledging her connection to IBM;

    (2) Patrick Bond has a history of promoting “independent” left voices that are hardly independent.

    Since the views of the MDC’s are not views one would expect Z-NET to directly promote, and since one would think Z-Net would dissociate itself from a deception, Grace Kwinjeh’s connection to the MDC should be fully disclosed in the article.

    On the other hand, if you don’t want to be seen as promoting the viewpoint of a political party that has manifold connections to the US and British states and favors neo-liberalism, you might consider disassociating yourself from the article. At the very least, you ought to make plain to readers that the views of Kwinjeh and Bond are not the views of an “independent” left.

    Stephen Gowans

    Chris Spannos

    April 21, 2008 at 2:26 am


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