what's left

Concerned Africa Scholars’ Jacob Mundy

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By Stephen Gowans

A member of the executive committee of the scholars’ organization that has accused Mahmoud Mamdani of falling for what it calls the anti-imperialist rhetoric of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, has volunteered and worked for pro-imperialist organizations and has given briefings to the US State Department and Intelligence Council. (1)

Jacob Mundy, who co-edited a recent collection of articles posted on the Concerned Africa Scholars’ website, criticizing Mamdani for failing to take a hard negative line against Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF party, was a Peace Corp volunteer and has held jobs with The International Crisis Group and Amnesty International. (2)

The Peace Corps “was spawned by the US cold war desire to compete with the Soviet bloc for influence in the third world.” While it no longer has a cold war mission, it remains, at its core, committed to a “battle for hearts and minds” (3) – instilling pro-West and pro-capitalist values in third world populations.

On top of its missionary function, the Peace Corps has been used as a CIA front.

“Those agents in the Peace Corps who were conscious of their role had several tasks. As they mingled with the people, they were identifying future leftist leaders as well as those right-wingers who in the future would work for U.S. interests. They were assessing consciousness, evaluating reactions to reforms. And they were selecting and training future agents.” (4)

That’s not to say Mundy is a CIA operative, only that his CV is replete with connections to organizations that are interlocked with the CIA or have served pro-imperialist roles, beginning with the Peace Corps.

Mundy’s term with the Peace Corps coincided with the directorship of Mark L. Schneider, who would later join the notoriously pro-imperialist International Crisis Group as Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America. Mundy would later show up at the ICG to serve a three month stint in 2005. (5)

The International Crisis Group is funded by such pro-imperialist and CIA pass-through organizations as the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, The Soros Open Society Institute and the Ronald Reagan established US Institute for Peace, of which the US Secretaries of State and Defense are ex officio board members.

The ICG’s board members, past and present, include US and British foreign policy luminaries, among them Wesley Clark (who commanded the Nato assault on Yugoslavia in 1999), cold warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski (who ordered the backing of the Mujahadin in Afghanistan), Lord Robertson (the former Secretary General of Nato), and billionaire financier George Soros, who has been active in bankrolling color revolutions. (6)

Also on the board is Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, wife of Peter Ackerman. Ackerman, another color revolution activist, is a member of the US ruling class Council on Foreign Relations, heads up the CIA interlocked Freedom House, and runs the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict (the ICNC).

The ICNC is significant for having Stephen Zunes, who once was a research fellow at the United States Institute for Peace, as a member of its academic council. What’s the connection to Mundy? Zunes is co-author, along with Mundy, of the forthcoming Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution in Northwest Africa.

The rights group Amnesty International, whose US branch Mundy worked for as assistant country specialist, North Africa, from 2004 to 2007, tends to reserve its harshest criticisms for countries outside the West, preferring a more reserved and nuanced approach to its criticisms of Western governments and their allies. This reflects an underlying commitment to the view that the West possesses a moral credibility which legitimizes its taking a leadership role in the world. For example, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, William Schulz, once called on George W. Bush to order a full investigation into the “atrocious human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers,” because,

“when the US government calls upon foreign leaders to bring to justice those who commit or authorize human rights violations in their own countries, why should those foreign leaders listen? And if the US government does not abide by the same standards of justice, what shred of moral authority will we retain to pressure other governments to diminish abuses?” (7)

In this can be glimpsed the basis of AI’s human rights imperialism – the idea that the US government has an obligation, borne of an assumed moral authority, to lead the world in the defense and promotion of human rights. It’s astonishing that anyone with even a passing acquaintance of US foreign policy would believe that the US hadn’t long ago surrendered the last ounce of moral credibility it ever had and is, without exception, the world’s worst human rights violator.

Former Amnesty International USA board member Dennis Bernstein underscored AI’s eagerness to expose human rights violations outside the West and kid gloves approach to Western countries in a 2002 interview.

“To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and womanpower, publicity, you name it, they can throw whatever they want at that. But if it’s dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it’s like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation. They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it’s not like the official enemies list.” (8)

In 2006, Mundy wrote a paper on Western Sahara, Islam, Terrorism and Economic Marginality in the Sahara-Sahel for the U.S. National Intelligence Council, gave a presentation on Morocco and Western Sahara to the U.S. State Department and National Intelligence Council, and in August of that year, briefed Ambassador-designate for Algeria, Robert Ford on Western Sahara.(9)

Let’s review.

Mundy starts out working for the Peace Corps, an organization established expressly to serve imperialist goals, and which has a history of being used as a cover for, and means of, recruiting CIA agents.

He serves a short stint at the International Crisis Group, which is linked up with the US government foreign policy establishment, corporate foundations, and color revolution financier George Soros.

He spends four years working for Amnesty International, an organization whose eagerness to attack US foreign policy targets and reluctance to take on the US, Britain and its allies is notorious.

Meanwhile, he gives briefings to the US State Department and National Intelligence Council while co-authoring a book on Western Sahara with Stephen Zunes, who is active in the US-government-corporate-foundation-supported community of pro-democracy, non-violence activists who travel the world training youth to overthrow the governments of US foreign policy targets, among them the Mugabe government in Zimbabwe.

Next he shows up as member of the executive committee of the Concerned Africa Scholars, an organization offering a scholarly legitimation of the US, British and EU demonization of the Mugabe government, which these powers have openly targeted for regime change.

The orientation of the Concerned Africa Scholars and the background of one of its executive directors provide an answer to the obvious question: About what are the Concerned Africa Scholars concerned? The answer would seem to be legitimizing the narrative that justifies Western intervention in Zimbabwe (even if only limited to the new missionaries, NGOs (9)) and more broadly, in Africa as a whole.

1. Mundy’s CV was pointed out to me by Michael Barker, who has written indefatigably on the networks of organizations and individuals engaged in democracy manipulation.

2. Jacob A. Mundy, Source Watch, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jacob_A._Mundy

3. Kevin Lowther, “‘Service to your country’ muddied by Peace Corps-military agreement”, Christian Science Monitor, September 21, 2005.

4. Annon, “Under the Cloak and Behind the Dagger”, North American Congress on Latin America, Latin America & Empire Report, July – August 1974, pp. 6-8.

5. Mark L. Schnieder, Source Watch, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Mark_L._Schneider

6. International Crisis Group, Source Watch, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=International_Crisis_Group

7. Alan Cowell, New York Times, May 26, 2005.

8. Francis A. Boyle and Dennis Bernstein, “Interview with Francis Boyle: Amnesty on Jenin, Covert Action Quarterly, Issue 73, Summer 2002.

9. Jacob A. Mundy, Source Watch, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Jacob_A._Mundy

10. One of the articles critical of Mamdani compiled by Mundy is written by a civil society scholar who is referred to in some anti-imperialist circles as Bond, Patrick Bond, of her majesty’s NGOs. Bond has labeled Sokwanele, a US-financed poplar insurrection group trained by “pro-democracy” non-violence activists, as an independent left, despite its connections to imperialist governments and corporate foundations. I’m not sure what Sokwanele is independent of, but it’s not independent of the US government’s regime change plans for Zimbabwe. Neither, it would seem, is Mundy.

9 Responses

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  1. Hello

    You obviously have the intelligence, and care about at least some of the right things. Why don’t you expand your analyses, explore some of the other players (e.g. do the same ripping apart you do here of Mamdani’s background and Mugabe’s connections and alies), admit your mistakes, and become a true force for social justice for people of color?

    blessings
    keith harmon snow

    keith harmon snow

    March 18, 2009 at 12:28 am

  2. An exceptionally well-researched and thought-out piece, as I’ve come to expect from Gowans.

    Keith, clearly you’re American, so let me enlighten you on a few things. First, we’re called Africans, not ‘people of color’. Just because your great-great-great-grandpapi was tossed on a ship and dropped off in the US as cheap labour doesn’t change the fact that we are African. Contrary to what you might think, the exploitation of people’s labour by the ruling class did not end when they abolished the slave trade. They just slashed their shipping costs.

    I can forgive you that ignorance, but what I cannot forgive is your suggestion that to be a “true force for social justice” one must throw all reason to the wind and jump on the Mugabe-bashing bandwagon. The man has many faults, yes, but not once have I ever read anything written by Gowans that made excuses for those faults.

    More importantly, why don’t you do some of that research and look into Mugabe’s background, connections and allies? Go ahead. You aren’t going to find billionaire funding or plots to secure resources and cheap labour. What you’ll find is a history of resistance to imperialist rule and a hand in the liberation of peoples all over southern Africa.

    But don’t take my word for it. Please, do the research.

    Critical Reader

    March 18, 2009 at 1:25 pm

  3. The world of politics is not a nice place keith,the struggle for power and domination is very real,as is the struggle for the ruling empire[s] to keep its colonies and influence and maintain the class domination of the political economy of capitalism.These REAL political struggles push individuals and political movements into defending thier interests and nations against a host of representatives of the imperial order[wether its proponents are aware of it or not].In the ensuing struggles people get killed and displaced,societies are devastated and plundered,subterfuge and skullduggerry abound.Such is the struggle for national independance,The nature and intesity of this struggle depends on the actions of the competing interests.In this struggle for power one cannot stand above,seperate or independant of the class struggles that brought independance into being without being doomed to confusion,siding with one set of interests or another is inevitable.There is no moral standard that exists independant of the society that each of us live in and the dominant ideology of its ruling class,we dont live in a moral vacuum,in the end there is only struggle to replace the old order with the new.The road to hell is paved with good intentions such as concepts of fairness and balance or ”social justice”that you ask Stephen to expouse,but inevitably you will have to fall on one side of the class divide or the other.I choose national independance and socialism,what about you?

    mark h

    March 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

  4. Also, you have to love how Keith Harmon Snow has an entire website devoted to how wonderful Keith Harmon Snow is, where Keith Harmon Snow blogs about Keith Harmon Snow in the third person.

    Keith Harmon Snow also really seems to love his name, Keith Harmon Snow.

    PS: I will not be sending any money to Keith Harmon Snow, despite the fact that every page of his website suggests that I really, really should.

    Critical Reader

    March 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm

  5. To all who wish Robert Mugabe to go way; you might regret that, because what the FED needs right now is his expertise on how to survive the economic crisis.
    http://blog.atimes.net/?p=773

    I hope the Americans have enough trees.

    gess

    March 19, 2009 at 10:58 am

  6. Where is Samantha “Save Darfur” Power when you need her?

    Certainly, she can be trusted to save Africa from itself!

    AR

    March 21, 2009 at 9:26 pm

  7. Hello

    To Critical Reader —

    “People of color ” applies to all people who are not white (or pink) and who are subject to white supremacy. Under that heading, Africans is one large subgroup. Its a perfectly reasonable use of language and it says nothing about my whiteness or my grandfathers.

    More importantly — you have no idea what you are talking about.

    [1] Stephen Gowans has denied in many of his writings that there are any human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. He paints a rosy picture of Mugabe, which is dishonest. So he does make excuses for Mugabe’s faults, and in your ignorance or blindness you can’t see or wont see that.

    [2] This sentence of yours makes it clear how little you understand:

    “More importantly, why don’t you do some of that research and look into Mugabe’s background, connections and allies? Go ahead. You aren’t going to find billionaire funding or plots to secure resources and cheap labour. What you’ll find is a history of resistance to imperialist rule and a hand in the liberation of peoples all over southern Africa.”

    If you would do the work, like Gowans needs to do,as I suggested very kindly, you will find the following billionaires (all white) behind and associated with Robert Mugabe. Some began funding him as early as circa 1977 or 1978.

    [1] Tiny Roland (LONRHO Corporation)
    [2] John Bredenkamp (one of Britain’s 50 richest men and one of the world’s leading war criminals and profiteers)
    [3] Billy Rautenbach

    There’s plenty of others connected to these three names. They have been fucking people of color over for decades and are never held to account. You wont see then mentioned by the International Crises Group (flak) or NED or any of these other “democratic” and “peacekeeping” (gatekeeping) institutions.

    I’m sorry you don’t like my web site — you will note that its not updated: seems no likes to support a radical position — and I use keith harmon snow with my middle name because there are at least 7 Keith Snow’s in the world.

    At least I have the courage to say what I say using my name, not some “critical reader” pseudonym to hide behind.

    Seems you can’t find very much in my work to complain about, so you have to personalize it. That doesn’t say much for being part of a movement to help people, just to divide them.

    But the subject above was not only the whites behind Mugabe, but also the need to understand who Mahmood Mamdani is, and what his role is in subverting and covering up the truth. You (like Gowans) don’t seem to want to do that.

    blessings
    keith

    keith harmon snow

    June 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

  8. Hi all,
    I am a student who has been researching the Western Sahara for some time, and have yet to find an author who is explicitly anti-imperialist or anarchist. Any recommendations? In english or french.

    Peter

    March 19, 2010 at 7:11 am


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