THE REVOLUTION BUSINESS -- SCREENPLAY
Report by Patrick A. Hafner, Alexander Steinbach
the Postmodern Coup, by Webster Griffin Tarpley
[transcribed from the movie by Tara Carreon http://youtu.be/lpXbA6yZY-8]
[Narrator] Democracy has awoken in the Middle East. But was what seems like a spontaneous revolution actually a strategically planned event, cultivated by professional consultants?
[William Engdahl, Author] The events in North Africa are orchestrated down to the finest details.
[Narrator] These revolution consultants are the worst nightmare of every regime.
[Hugo Chavez, Venezuela President] Here you can see the symbol of resistance.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] We have become the red flag for the secret police of these places.
[Narrator] They mainly operate in countries in which the Western World has a clear interest -- hardly a coincidence, it seems.
[Gene Sharp] The institutions that support him, if you take them away, the regime has to fall.
[Narrator] Cairo in early February. The sudden appearance of the wild horsemen at this demonstration shocked the world over. Storming into the crowd, they split the peaceful demonstration apart. Yet, what seemed like a brutal attack by the Mubarak regime, was actually a staged affair intended for the national and international media. The message: Egypt is in a state of chaos. Provoked by these false attacks, demonstrators reacted with violence and the situation escalated. Right from the start, the revolution consultants followed a specific strategy, a strategy developed by the Serbian organization OTPOR. This organization mobilized millions of people to bring about the downfall of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. Their strategy became a blueprint, proving successful once again when used in the revolution in Egypt.
[Mohamed Adel, Activist] OTPOR organized workshops in the outskirts of Cairo. In these workshops, we were trained in the art of peaceful resistance. We had to learn that the police are not our enemy and that we must try to get them on our side. We had to impress people with the idea of non-violent resistance.
[Narrator] Opposition movements from all over the world come here to the Serbian capital of Belgrade to be educated in the art of overthrowing a dictatorship. The Serbs have used their experience 12 years ago to form a revolution training school, the Center of Strategy for Nonviolent Resistance, or for short, CANVAS. Chief instructor Srdja Popovic is one of the few CANVAS members who would show his face publicly in front of the camera. It was here, in his office, that the Egyptian revolution was planned.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] The trick is that you don't push, you pull. What you're actually doing is you're persuading these people from the police force, from military force, that there will be a place for them in the new age.
[Narrator] And it isn't just Egyptians getting trained in the art of revolution here.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] The part of our work now is focused back to the Middle East because of a few reasons: First of all, the struggle is not over, and we're already talking about 8 or 9 countries. In some of these countries which I, of course, wouldn't mention, we have very good groups who we are communicating with, we don't want to endanger these groups, so we wouldn't speak about it publicly. In some of these countries we are just observing the situation and preparing an [inaudible]. It is very interesting what will come of it.
[TV ad Lady] Believe me, I've tried everything....It has a great program which, with confidence and security, permanently cleans this and similar stains.
[Pushes button of revolution fist]. See? It works.
[Narrator] It was here, outside the Belgrade Parliament, that OTPOR's influence began.
[Reporter] How many countries you were working with after that?
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] We worked with 37 countries after the Serbian revolution. We had a successful 5 revolutions now, before the Middle East. And it's in Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon, Maldives, and now Egypt and Tunisia. And the list will grow longer. And at the end, we don't have an idea of how many countries the clenched fist of OTPOR was used. Probably a dozen countries right now.
[Narrator] After Milosevic's downfall, OTPOR became an international phenomenon. The symbol of the fist appears all over the world as the symbol of the revolution makers.
It reemerged in Kmara, Georgia.
It was followed by Oborona in Russia.
Then in Venezuela and Iran.
And most recently it was used by the opposition groups in Egypt. The American author and Princeton University lecturer William Engdahl has written for over 30 years about Washington's secret geopolitics. He has established a widespread information network that extends deep into America's secret service. He is convinced OTPOR is not acting alone.
[William Engdahl, Author] The key actors in OTPOR went on to create CANVAS, as you mentioned, and operate in some 50 countries. They are simply following an agenda given them by people in Washington, for regime change. They are using this deniability that they are simply idealistic young people from Serbia who did it successfully, and are so happy about it they want to show the rest of the world. That's hardly a plausible explanation, and in my view they're getting well-financed by American Intelligence Services for doing this. And the target countries they target, like Egypt most recently, are precisely the countries that are on the Pentagon agenda for destabilization and regime change.
[Narrator] In New York we are meeting again with Srdja Popovic. We want to find out if the OTPOR organization is actually following a secret agenda of the United States. The OTPOR movement was indeed financed by American tax money during the Serbian revolution, a fact that only became public knowledge after Milosevic's downfall. This chapter, however, is one that OTPOR is keen to close.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] Unlike popular belief that this is funded from America, CANVAS is 100% privately funded. My organization's biggest donor is a Serbian you're going to meet: his name is Slobodan Jinovic, and he's also my partner in this organization. This gives us independence. Our idea is, "Okay. Let's use this momentum to try to build a kind of permanent institution. Let's see what we can do with great scholars, and great scholars here in U.S., in Boston." What if you can make a permanent, international thinktank which will brief the world on what is happening, so we make sure that the world won't get amazed the next time a bunch of strategically organized kids come out and kick down a guy like Mubarak?
[Narrator] Columbia University has invited Popovic to speak as a guest lecturer.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] This is the OTPOR [inaudible] from the top of our book, and this is the famous Associated Press photo of people protesting.
[Narrator] The guest from Serbia enlightens the students on the truth behind the changes in the Middle East. Who was actually behind it all? Popovic himself knew for years, but only now can he talk about it publicly.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] This was no spontaneous 19-day revolution. Forget about this revolution. This is only a very shallow understanding of the thing. They were there for a very long time. The young people of our world have awakened and understood that they are powerful.
[Narrator] The old city of Tunis. The Tunisians were the first in the Arab world to overthrow their government. Yet the euphoria about their dictator's downfall was hardly noticeable. The uncertainty of their political future left the Tunisian population anxious. For decades, the people of Tunisia were oppressed by Ben Ali's totalitarian ruling. These days, its people are agitated, overwhelmed by their freedom. The center of the town appears like a Roman forum. Everywhere there are heated discussions about politics.
The new generation wants change. Most of the young people are well educated. They see themselves as westerners.
Until recently, scenes like this were thought impossible. Suddenly, the fear is gone, at least during the moment of revolt. The people are standing up. Finally the world recognizes the desperate political situation of their state.
Amine Ghali has been an activist from the start. He shows us the photographs of a meeting in Morocco.
This was the beginning of a long-hoped-for change in Tunisian history.
[Amine Ghali, Freedom House] We had a trainer from Belgrade, yes, actually, from the city of Belgrade, who came and trained the participants on these strategies, focusing mainly on the Serbian experience. After the wave of changes in the 90's and early 2000 in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Bloc, of non-violent strategies, [inaudible] influence to the Arab region, that this is what we should be doing to bring in change to our own countries.
[Narrator] The time was ripe for a revolution test ground. Discontentment with the political situation had been growing among the population for years. Life in the slums had become desperate. Lack of food and medical care left the people without any prospect of a better future. With living conditions going from bad to worse, the Tunisians could hide their anger no more. The activists saw the opportunity, and used this anger to achieve their goal: the overthrowing of Ben Ali's regime.
[Ezzedine Zaatour, U.G.E.T. Student Union] In a way, we have done the same that they did in Belgrade in the 90's: non-violent resistance, the ridicule of the regime. There was no violence on the street. Even when the police intervened, we did not fight. The people from OTPOR gave us a book in which they described all their strategies, how you have to proceed when you want to overthrow a regime.
[Narrator] That book, which is used by opposition movements worldwide, was actually written in Boston, U.S.A. "From Dictatorship to Democracy," is considered the Bible of the non-violent resistance. The author of this revolution guidebook lives in one of the poorer neighborhoods on the outskirts of Boston. It was 83-year-old Gene Sharp who wrote the masterpiece first published in 1993. It contains 198 methods of non-violent action.
[Gene Sharp, Author] And when people are not afraid, that dictatorship is in big trouble, big trouble. Based on basic human stubbornness, they refuse to do what they are told to do, and insist on doing what they're told not to do. And then you do that politically. And that's the essence. But the details are much more complicated.
[Narrator] Gene Sharp taught for many years at Harvard University. His work describes various strategies, from hunger strikes to the unmasking of intelligence officials. His assistant, Jamila Raqib, is responsible for distributing Sharp's work. "From Dictatorship to Democracy" has been translated into 34 languages.
[Jamila Raqip, Albert Einstein Institute] This booklet is the Arabic version of "From Dictatorship to Democracy," which is one of Gene Sharp's most important and widespread publications. It's been disseminated very, very widely, this Arabic version. So a few years ago, maybe perhaps 2 years ago, an individual had it printed by a publishing house in Beirut.
[Narrator] Sharp's guide to revolution is feared by dictators around the world. Venezuela's President Chavez called Sharp a rabblerouser in the service of the CIA. In Russia, possession of the book is considered a hostile act against the government.
[Gene Sharp, Author] The manuscript for that was at a printer in Moscow, and the FSB, the successors to the KGB, arrived and said, "What is this?" And looked at it and said, "This is a bomb! Stop the presses immediately." The presses were stopped. The people took the translation away with them, they went to a printer outside of Moscow and got it printed, and brought the copies back in. They wouldn't sell that book except in two bookstores in Moscow. It was in two or three weeks mysteriously caught on fire.
[Narrator] Now, with the Internet, anybody has access to Sharp's revolution strategies.
[William Engdahl, Author] It's what Mr. Sharp one time called, "Non violence as a method of warfare." And they are going in every place since the end of the Cold War to destabilize regimes which offer resistance to this larger agenda, the globalization agenda, as Washington defines it.
[Narrator] So are all of these revolutions actually initiated by the Americans? We can look back at what happened during the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine for evidence. The events that took place in Kiev in 2005 appear to endorse this assumption.
Traditionally, the Ukraine was part of Russia, but by the end of 2004 the tide had turned.
The United States pumped millions of dollars into the opposition movements in favor of regime change. We are meeting with the two former leaders of the Ukraine revolution. Just by being a member of the opposition movement, Pora, they received significant sums of money, together with training in civil disobedience. Finally, they were given the book.
[Mychailo Swystowitsch, Former Ukraine Activist] Oh yes, the book by Gene Sharp. We all used it. And it connected us with everybody. Without Pora in Serbia, the opposition movement in Belarus and Kmara in Georgia, ...
[Narrator] It was in November, 2004, when hundreds of thousands of people flooded Independent Square in Kiev and demanded Viktor Yushchenko for their president. At the end of the revolution, the crowd got what they demanded. Yushchenko became president due to the massive support he received from the Western World.
[Dmytro Poteschin, Political Consultant] We had a number of great examples of dramatizing, as well as having fun on the streets.
[Narrator] The revolution as a celebration. This is the spirit of Gene Sharp. Every movement becomes a brand with its own symbolism.
Oranges in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Denim Revolution in Belarus.
All different symbols, but with the same concept and the same sponsor: The United States of America.
[Dmytro Poteschin, Political Consultant] In my case, in 2004 I was heading a water [inaudible] campaign with budget of $1 million bucks.
[Reporter] $1 million dollars?
[Dmytro Poteschin, Political Consultant] Yes. That's not because American taxpayers wanted to protest Yanukovych, but because Yanukovych tried to steal the vote. The United States and the European Union and others, they are serious about democracy.
[Narrator] After the revolution in Ukraine, Dmytro Poteschin made a career from being a former activist. He now works as a revolution trainer. From his flat, he instructs the opposition movements in Iran, Russia, Belarus, and Egypt. Via Skype he's able to stay in touch with all his clients.
[Dmytro Poteschin, Political Consultant] In principal, it's possible to trace it, but it will need much more human resources and time for every single connection.
[Narrator] An activist from the opposition movement in Belarus is online. Dmytro is planning a workshop over there which is not without its difficulties, as he is labeled persona non grata by the Belarus government.
[Dmytro Poteschin, Political Consultant] I got the feeling that actually it's like a concentration of a number of conflicts which cannot be resolved without mobilization. And it looks like it can happen the way it happened in Egypt. Some smaller country, like Belarus, for instance, or Ukraine. And then we can get Russia.
[Narrator] Back in Belgrade, OTPOR trainer Ivan Marovic proudly presents his new gadget for resistance training. It's a computer game that simulates the fight against the power of the State. Ivan is sure that the game will make his training much more effective. Sponsorship for the development of the game came from American organizations.
[Ivan Marovic, Co-Founder of OTPOR] The game, downloaded on the Internet or smuggled on a CD, can reach people that we personally cannot. And so that obstacle is removed. And another thing is the question of scale. You know, personally I can meet up to 150 people a year if I work full-time. The game can actually reach a much, much bigger number of people.
The tactics of mass protest, occupying buildings, blocking the whole city, you know, but you're trying to kind of galvanize people, like rock concerts, to come. And then you use that opportunity to recruit, and etc., etc.
[Narrator] Marovic argues that the new generation doesn't want to read books. They would prefer to play video games. And it's far more effective.
[Ivan Marovic, Co-Founder of OTPOR] Just now they are kicking our ass, I mean really. So we're actually losing bigtime.
People are leaving and joining the regime. The evilness of the regime depends upon the artificial intelligence, how the computer actually runs the regime. And that varies from scenario to scenario.
If the player wants to play an easy scenario, I recommend fight against corruption. If he wants to play a very difficult scenario, I recommend fight against Dictatorship. Or fight against Occupation.
[Narrator] Despite the Internet, the revolution trainers spend most of their time traveling to countries in need of a well-organized resistance. Just in the past year, Srdja Popovic has flown over 100,000 miles. His inside knowledge and experience is his capital.
[Srdja Popovic, Revolution Trainer] One of the tricks is making everybody busy. Because when people are busy, they don't have time to be afraid. This sounds crazy, but this is exactly what they do in the military training. Okay?
So the way you do it in non-violent struggle is actually you create this group identity. You want people to feel each other. You want people to be dressed in similar clothes. You want people to sing, because songs make them work together. You will have drums there that will give the rhythm to your march. You want whistles; you want music; you want fun. This is a very important part. Now it looks like a big love parade.
[Narrator] The Egyptians followed Srdja's rules exactly, and succeeded. The whole world was watching as the people celebrated on Tahrir Square. The regime was powerless. If it had reacted with violence, it would have lost face in front of the whole international media.
[William Engdahl, Author] The events in North Africa and the Middle East, from Bahrain, from Yemen and so forth, it goes back, actually, to 2003, the time right after the U.S. Occupation of Iraq, when George Bush at the G-8 summit of 2004, June, announced a greater Middle East project, that Washington's goal was to turn the Middle East into a free market paradise like they had turned Poland and the countries of Eastern Europe, with shock therapy.
[George W. Bush] America is pursuing a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East.
[Hillary Clinton] Diversify their economies. Open their political systems.
[George W. Bush] We must stand with democratic leaders, and moderate reformers across the broader Middle East.
[William Hague] The United Kingdom is ready to work with governments and civil society in the Middle East in support of greater economic development and more open political systems.
[George W. Bush] From Damascus to Tehran, that freedom can be the future of every nation.
[___, 47th Munich Security Conference, 2011] You must not get the impression that what happens in the streets of Cairo at the moment is initiated by the Western World or other foreign states.
[Narrator] The Iranian government produced this propaganda video.
[Iranian video] Gene Sharp, the theoretician of civil disobedience and velvet revolutions, who has published treatises on this subject. "We must contact authors, intellectuals, and influential people in society who have common interests with us. We should cooperate closely with the NGOs that share our goals."
[Narrator] This video is apparently unmasking a U.S. conspiracy group. Part of the secret gathering is Gene Sharp, author of the guidebook "From Dictatorship to Democracy." This video shows Iran is acutely aware of just how much of a threat Gene Sharp and his NGOs are to their rule. Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez also voices his concerns.
[Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] Mr. Cameraman, come close. Here is the symbol from Serbia, and here's the same in Venezuela in 2007. This is called a "gentle coup."
[Narrator] Cairo after the revolution. The city seems quiet despite recent sectarian violence. Remarkably few police or military forces are present. But everyday life is hard for the Egyptians. The constant fear of a counter-revolution is always at the forefront of their minds. Anyone and everyone is a suspect, a potential counter-revolutionary who wants to bring back the old regime. The Old City is as vibrant as ever, only the tourists are missing.
The people's thoughts revolve around their immediate future, the upcoming elections. What will democracy bring for them? The established political parties? The military? Or the Islamic Brotherhood? And what will be left from the spirit of the revolution? -- The hopes and dreams of the people of Egypt.
[Mohamed Adel] The people that suggest that there was a big master plan behind this revolution, they don't know what was going on in the streets of Egypt. We have witnessed what our country had become. We wanted the changes. And we wanted them to come from us. We want to be the creators of our own destinies, to fight for our rights. I cannot believe that the Americans can influence millions of people.
[Narrator] The people of Tunisia still enjoy their new freedom.
For the first time they are able to discuss publicly what has troubled them for decades: their former leaders' lies, the corruption, the unfair distribution of wealth. They are unsettled, however, by the recent arrests of civilians and the curfews. Also, the economy is a major concern for them. Tourism is slow, and foreign investors see Tunisia as a risky endeavor.
[Amine Ghali] We have to differentiate between the revolution that brought us freedom, which is a very big and major important step, which took place in a month or two in Tunisia, but then we're going through an entire process of democracy transition. And when we talk about democracy transition, we are not talking about weeks or a month, but we are talking about years. We should not be impatient about democracy. We have achieved freedom through this revolution. It's a big capital. It's a big thing to keep on. But we have to move on to democracy building.
[Mohamed Adel] We are scared, especially looking at the example of Romania. There was a revolt against their regime, but then the old potentates came back into power. We figured that it could happen here. There have been talks about a counter-revolution. Everybody from the old regime involved in criminal activities must be brought to justice.
[Narrator] The revolutionary road to democracy is one filled with many obstacles. Once the overthrowing of a government is accomplished, the hard work really starts. Civil liberties must be established and defended. For the revolution consultants, this has become a very lucrative business.
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