“Anatomy of a coup.”
The N.E.D. in Ukraine.
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BELGRADE, 26 MAY—Obvious cases of America’s covert actions abroad are typically hard to identify these days. There are exceptions, per usual: The appalling violence the C.I.A. sponsored in Syria as it financed, armed, and trained groups of savage jihadists was all too obvious and is now a matter of record. But carnage and wreckage of the kind we saw in Syria from 2012 onward has generally been judged too messy since the Church Committee, in the mid–1970s, exposed the agency’s long list of assassinations, government overthrows, and psyops. There is too much risk of blowback in such operations.
Accordingly, the coup function was transferred out of Langley in the post–Church years. But we must immediately dismiss the notion that anything other than method has changed since subversion and subterfuge were the C.I.A.’s bailiwick.
Let us consider the Ukraine crisis from this perspective. My investigations reveal just how a C.I.A. cutout has served to destabilize Ukraine over many years, to preclude any prospect of a peaceful settlement of the differences that divide the nation—and, not least, to misrepresent events in Ukraine more or less entirely, even extravagantly.
This is the anatomy of an American subversion operation and the story of its afterlife, how the dire consequences of the Ukraine campaign violently reverberate today.
The Church Committee’s bombshell findings—even if Congress finally refused to impose legal or legislative restraints on the C.I.A.—were precipitous. From the late–1970s onward the C.I.A.’s clandestine operations have been transferred to an organization with a superficially acceptable public face, the National Endowment for Democracy. This process can now be counted more or less complete. In the Ukraine case, there is no question that the agency has operatives on the ground, just as it has operatives more or less everywhere. But it is the N.E.D. that has long run the Ukraine operation—this beginning many years before the coup the U.S. cultivated in Kiev in February 2014.
The N.E.D. created a shadow political structure to stir up unrest in Ukraine.
The N.E.D.’s modus operandi is such that it can run a program more or less openly and still obscure its true objectives from public view: Subterfuge with a human face, this is to say. Since it was founded in 1983, the N.E.D. has distributed hundreds of thousands of grants around the world, up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in size, to organizations, media outlets, and political-campaign groups it thinks will be of use as it disrupts, destabilizes, and ultimately displaces governments Washington has decided are America’s enemies.
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