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Freedom House And The West’s Alternative Universe

Freedom House And The West’s Alternative Universe

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Freedom House And The West’s Alternative Universe
January 29
13:23 2015

The US-based NGO Freedom House just released their annual “Freedom in the World” report about the state of democracy in 2014. The document reads like a checklist of State Department talking points, making one question exactly how “non”-governmental the organization actually is.

The “Freedom in the World” report paints a bleak dystopian picture of democracy, ominously fear mongering that it’s been on the decline for the ninth-straight year. As if reading right out of Jen Psaki’s regular script, it alleges such ridiculous things as an increase in Ukrainian ‘democracy’ since the coup and civil war and says that Syria is the most anti-democratic place on Earth today. Such statements would be laughed at and mocked if they were not voiced by an organization that has considerable influence on Western ‘hearts and minds’.

This goes to show that certain strategic ‘non-governmental’ organizations, presumed to be ‘impartial’, can actually function as subjective government tools in carrying out mass perception management operations. They succeed with their plans partially because there aren’t any analogous non-Western counterparts to push back against them, meaning that if the multipolar world is serious about advocating a diversity of thought, its key countries absolutely must create such counter institutions. If they don’t, then the West will continue to dominate the narrative, and the multipolar world will continually be on the normative defensive.

Tricks Of The Trade

The unipolar world leaves nothing off the table in its battle for ‘hearts and minds’, resorting even to large-scale misinformation campaigns such as the one represented by Freedom House. The concept is to exploit the popular perception that the Western audience holds about NGOs and use that to advance the US’ ‘strategic communications’ goals. Most people are under the assumption that NGOs are ‘neutral’ and ‘nonbiased’ owing to their proclaimed ‘non-government’ affiliation, but that’s not always the case. However, since most people are of that belief anyhow, it presents a lever of influence for manipulating their perception, especially if the ‘non-governmental’ organization has a nifty-sounding name like Freedom House.

Thus, when the reports of such organizations ‘happen’ to closely coincide with official US-government policy (as Freedom House’s does), they’re not seen as being instruments for advocating government influence, but rather as ‘private entity’ confirmations that prove that the original policy was correct in the first place. This capitalizes off of the common cynicism that Americans have towards their government. The understanding is that both Democrats and Republicans lie, but if a private and ‘independent’ organization (especially a domestically non-partisan one) releases a report corroborating US policy, then the policy itself must have been correct, because a ‘non-governmental’ organization, by its very name, supposedly doesn’t have any ties to the government and is assumed to be nonbiased.

Warping Reality

Freedom House’s report presents a warped version of reality that perfectly coincides with official US foreign policy against key states. Looking at the two most extreme examples, it’s worthy to explore how the ‘non-governmental’ organization (and by de-facto extension, the US government) views Ukraine and Syria:

Ukraine:

According to Freedom House, Ukraine’s ratings in the three main categories of freedom, civil liberties, and political rights are twice as good as Russia’s, despite the former having undergone an illegal coup and bled through a violent civil war. What’s more, the organization ranked Crimea as a separate entity for this year, and gave it a zero for the categories of functioning government, political pluralism and participation, electoral process, and the rule of law – ‘ratings’ that put it on par with the war-torn and genocidal-prone Central African Republic of last year (2013). Carrying their ‘unbiased’ reporting even further, they specifically cite the fact that Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoysky had some assets seized in Crimea after Reunification as a strike against the Republic’s ‘personal autonomy and individual rights’.  Be that as it may, no mention is made of Kolomoysky’s murderous Nazi-affiliated Azov Battalion threatening the ‘personal autonomy and individual rights’ of the people of Donbass.

Syria:

If Freedom House is to be believed, then there is no place worse for democracy in the world than Syria, beating Libya (which can no longer really be talked about as a ‘country’ anymore), Saudi Arabia (the land of ‘legal’ beheadings), and even North Korea (the US’ ‘favorite dictatorship’). They attempt to base their findings on the fact that the country is in a ‘civil war’, ignoring that it’s an external war concocted by the US and allied Gulf States and being waged largely by terrorist and mercenary means. Even under such arduous conditions, however, 88.7% of Syrians voted with a 73.42% turnout to re-elect President Assad in June of last year, demonstrating an approval rating and turnout unheard of in Western ‘democracies’ (even while Syrians abroad in the US, France, and Germany were barred from voting by their ‘host’ governments). If there’s anywhere that democracy is alive and well in the Mideast, it’s in Syria, and the designation of the country as the worst place for democracy in the world is part of a larger information campaign to discredit the government and make the case for militant ‘democracy promotion’ sometime in the future.

The Antidote

Western ‘non-governmental’ institutions such as Freedom House are obviously poisoning the hearts and minds of their audience, but there is an antidote, and it rests in the multipolar world creating their own similar institutions (albeit actually nonbiased).  Whether an actual NGO or otherwise, multipolar states need to create their own or shared institutions that challenge the unipolar narrative if they are to survive this normative onslaught. Without having their own understanding of what actually constitutes ‘democracy’ (or perhaps whatever else they may more accurately call it), they will continually be on the strategic defensive, never able to seize the initiative in this full-spectrum information war. ‘Democracy’ ratings aren’t the only thing that the multipolar world needs to have more of, as their own ‘terrorism’ and fragility indices are also necessary. Should they succeed in constructing such alternative ‘ratings’ institutes, then the multipolar world can finally have a chance to fight back against the West’s mudslinging and present a more accurate reflection of the world as it truly is.


 

Andrew Koryabko, Sputnik News

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A Korybko

A Korybko

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