The National Endowment for (Meddling in) Democracy – Consortiumnews

The unwritten rule governing the NED’s activities is that the U.S. has an unqualified right to do unto others what others may not do unto the U.S., explains Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

“They’re meddling in our politics!” That’s the war cry of outraged Clintonites and neocons, who seem to think election interference is something that Russians do to us and we never, ever do to them.

Logo for the National Endowment for Democracy

But meddling in other countries has been a favorite Washington pastime ever since William McKinley vowed to “Christianize” the Philippines in 1899, despite the fact that most Filipinos were already Catholic. Today, an alphabet soup of U.S. agencies engage in political interference virtually around the clock, everyone from USAID to the VOA, RFE/RL to the DHS—respectively the U.S. Agency for International Development, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Department of Homeland Security. The last maintains some 2,000 U.S. employees in 70 countries to ensure that no one even thinks of doing anything bad to anyone over here.

Then there is the National Endowment for Democracy, a $180-million-a-year government-funded outfit that is a byword for American intrusiveness. The NED is an example of what might be called “speckism,” the tendency to go on about the speck in your neighbor’s eye without ever considering the plank in your own (see Matthew 7 for further details). Prohibited by law from interfering in domestic politics, the endowment devotes endless energy to the democratic shortcomings of other countries, especially when they threaten American interests.

In 1984, the year after it was founded, it channeled secret funds to a military-backed presidential candidate in Panama, gave $575,000 to a right-wing French student group, and delivered nearly half a million dollars to right-wing opponents of Costa Rican president Oscar Arias—because Arias had refused to go along with our anti-communist policy in Central America.

A year later, it gave $400,000 to the anti-Sandinista opposition in Nicaragua and then another $2 million in 1988. It used its financial muscle in the mid-1990s to…

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