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What CIA seeks to achieve through Ford Foundation

James Petras, retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, and adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, wrote a damning article on September 18, 2002, exposing the Ford Foundation’s sinister choice of beneficiaries of its donations. He accused the CIA of using “philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source”.
Beginning the 1950s, “50 per cent of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations were funded by the CIA,” he wrote, citing a US Congressional investigation in 1976 that said the CIA considered foundations such as Ford “the best and most plausible kind of funding cover”. This article will go beyond the professor’s findings that showed that the Ford Foundation-CIA connection was a deliberate, conscious joint effort to strengthen US imperial cultural hegemony and to undermine left-wing political and cultural influence.
Frances Stonor Saunders wrote in his book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, 2001, “At times it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of Government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The Ford Foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects.”
That should keep India safe because the US claims to further the cause of democracy while India is the largest democracy, right? Wrong. The Americans often follow an Indira Gandhi-like policy: Romancing with nefarious elements till they serve as Pentagon’s puppets. A deep probe into the site reveals that the Ford Foundation has dirty pro-Islamic businesses it would rather be silent on. There have been a number of reports by journalists about it founding anti-Israel NGOs. It is also worth noting that Henry Ford created the Ford Foundation while he was involved in and impressed by Nazi Germany, two years before he received his award. Remember, Ford also had a factory in Imperial Japan and, for some unexplained reason in March 1945, Japan sent orders for a pro-independance committee to be formed in Indonesia.
Former Ford Foundation president Richard Bisell acknowledged that the purpose of the Ford Foundation was not “so much to defeat the Leftist intellectuals in dialectical combat as to lure them away from their positions”. In other words, you make them work in ‘harmless’ activities, and not in those that may eventually pose a threat to the interests of the US Administration.
Almost exactly 50 years ago, reports writer and documentary filmmaker G Edward Griffin, an unusual meeting took place between one Roland Gaither, then President of the enormously wealthy Ford Foundation, and a Norman Dodd, then chief investigator for the Congressional Committee to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations. Gaither asks Dodd, “Would you be interested in knowing what we do here at the Ford Foundation?” Dodd replies, “Yes! That’s exactly why I am here. I would be very interested, sir.” Gaither tells him, “Mr Dodd, we operate in response to directives, the substance of which is that we shall use our grant making power to alter life in the United States so that it can be comfortably merged with the Soviet Union.” When he recovers from his shock, Dodd asks whether Gaither believes he doesn’t have an obligation to disclose this aim of one of the wealthiest tax-exempt foundations in the country to the American people. Gaither replies, “We would never dream of doing such a thing.” So, even the American citizenry is not supposed to know what the Ford Foundation is up to!
Niti Central now digs out from the archives of The New York Times a report that speaks of the Ford Foundation’s links with the CIA:
What CIA seeks to achieve through Ford Foundation
Click to enlarge
Next, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (Penguin, 2008) speaks of the Ford Foundation’s involvement in the ‘Southern Cone’ (South Americas) and Indonesia. It is an account of intellectual sponsorship of fascist intellectuals such as those following Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics, embarrassment of the aftermath, followed by sponsorship of human rights organisations.
The Congressional report spoken of above names some of the Ford Foundation’s projects that looked innocuous but had American soft imperialism as their motive:
• Establishment of a publishing house, Inter-cultural Publications, and the publication of a magazine Perspectives in Europe in four languages.
• Setting up journal Der Monat funded by the Confidential Fund of the US military and run by Melvin Lasky.
• Funding CIA-organised Congress for Cultural Freedom (Donation: $7 million in the early 1960s).
• Proliferation of a number of journals and access to the mass media which pro-US intellectuals used to launch vituperative polemics against Marxists and other anti-imperialists. The FF funding of these anti-Marxists organisations and intellectuals provided a legal cover for their claims of being “independent” of government funding (CIA).
Other authoritative sources reveal a different set of sinister activities of the Ford Foundation:
• In 1968, the Ford Foundation began disbursing $12 million to persuade law schools to make “law school clinics” part of their curriculum. Clinics were intended to give practical experience in law practice while providing pro bono representation to the poor. Many, however, charge that the clinics have been used instead by professors to engage in political activism. Critics cite the financial involvement of the Ford Foundation as the turning point when these clinics began to change from giving practical experience to engaging in advocacy ["Clinical, Cynical" by Heather MacDonald in the Wall Street Journal, 2006, p A14].
• In 1994, Christina Hoff Sommers in her book, Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, alleged that the Ford Foundation funded “gender feminism”, an ideology that abandoned the feminist quest for equity in favour of a gender war against men. Similar claims were made by the Spanish judge Francisco Serrano Castro in his 2012 book, La Dictadura de GĂ©nero (The Dictatorship of Gender).
• Joan Roelofs, in Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003), wrote that Ford and similar foundations played a key role in co-opting opposition movements. “While dissent from ruling class ideas is labelled ‘extremism’ and is isolated, individual dissenters may be welcomed and transformed. Indeed, ruling class hegemony is more durable if it is not rigid and narrow, but is able dynamically to incorporate emergent trends”. She reports that McCloy, while chairman of the Ford Foundation’s board of trustees from 1958 to 1965, “thought of the Ford Foundation as a quasi-extension of the US Government. It was his habit, for instance, to drop by the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington every couple of months and casually ask whether there were any overseas projects the NSC would like to see funded.” Roelofs also charges that the Ford Foundation financed counter-insurgency programmes in Indonesia and other countries.
• In 2003, the Ford Foundation was critiqued by American news service Jewish Telegraphic Agency, among others, for supporting Palestinian NGOs that were accused of promoting anti-Semitism at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism. Under pressure from several members of Congress, chief among them Rep Jerrold Nadler, the Ford Foundation apologised and then prohibited the promotion of “violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any state” among its grantees. This move itself sparked protest among university provosts and various non-profit groups on free speech issues.
• In 2005, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox began a probe of the Ford Foundation that ultimately backfired. Though the Ford Foundation is headquartered in New York City, it is chartered in Michigan, giving that state some jurisdiction. Cox focused on its governance, potential conflicts of interest among board members, and what he viewed as its poor record of giving to charities in Michigan. Between 1998 and 2002, the Ford Foundation gave Michigan charities about $2.5 million per year, far less than many other charities its size. The Ford Foundation countered that an extensive review and report by the Gaither Study Committee in 1949 had recommended that the Ford Foundation broaden its scope beyond Michigan to national and international grant-making. The report was endorsed by the Ford Foundation’s board of trustees, and they subsequently voted to move the Ford Foundation to New York City in 1953.
• The Ford Foundation’s partnership with the New Israel Fund, which began in 2003, was frequently criticised regarding its choice of mostly liberal grantees and causes. This criticism came to light after the 2001 Durban Conference, where some nongovernmental organizations funded by the Ford Foundation backed resolutions equating Israeli policies as apartheid, and later, against those groups which support the delegitimization of Israel. In response, the Ford Foundation adopted stricter criteria for funding.
In the new millennium, Petras says, the Ford Foundation has turned “more flexible in providing small grants to human rights groups and academic researchers who occasionally dissent from US policy. They are not as likely to recruit CIA operatives to head the organisation. More significantly, they are likely to collaborate more openly with the US government in its cultural and educational projects, particularly with the Agency of International Development.”
We will see how the CIA has spread its tentacles in India in the next article in the series.


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