Debate on The Albert Einstein Institution and its Involvement in Venezuela, Pt. 2

The second and final installment of a debate about the Albert Einstein Institution's involvement in Venezuela, which has been accused by some of providing support to the opposition in developing non-violent protest strategies to destabilize the Chavez government.

Editor's note: This is part 2 of a debate on the Albert Einstein Institution's involvement in Venezuela. Stephen Zunes response to George Cicariello-Maher and Eva Golinger comes first, followed by their reply below. Part 1 of this debate can be found here: Debate on the Albert Einstein Institution and its Involvement in Venezuela

False Accusations and Ad Hominem attacks Hurt Venezuela Solidarity Movement

by Stephen Zunes

Eva Golinger and George Ciccariello-Maher have based their ad hominem attack on me (Making Excuses for Empire, posted on August 4) on the fallacy that if you defend someone from false accusations of a crime, you must therefore support the crime itself.  Just because I believe that many of the accusations against Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution which claim that they are working with the U.S. government as part of an imperialist plot to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Venezuela are false, are not supported by any credible evidence, and are contradicted by considerable evidence to the contrary, it does not mean that I support efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government or in any way support U.S. imperialism.

Yet this is exactly what Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher claimed in their article.  

The apparent basis for these ridiculous attacks against me was an article I wrote back in June for the progressive web site Foreign Policy in Focus challenging a series of false accusations against Gene Sharp, the noted scholar of strategic nonviolent action, and his tiny NGO known as the Albert Einstein Institution, some of which were posted on this web site.  

At the outset, it should be noted that I am far from being alone in defending Sharp and his institute against these false charges.  Though Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher falsely claimed in their article that Arthur Edelstein “appears to be, besides Zunes, Sharp’s only other self-appointed defender,” in reality, scores of prominent anti-imperialist scholars and activists have gone on record defending Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution from these spurious attacks, including Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Stephen Shalom, Dan Ellsberg, Frida Berrigan, Paul Ortiz, George Lakey, Greg Bates, Sandino Gomez, Mary Bull, Matt Meyer, Elizabeth McAllister, Matthew Rothschild, Paul Loeb, Mark Lance, Greg Guma, Paul Engler, Cynthia Boaz, Bill Sutherland, and David Swanson, among many others.  

Do Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher really expect readers to believe that all of them are also “making excuses for Empire” by defending Gene Sharp from such spurious attacks?”  These men and women are among the most active and prominent critics of U.S. imperialism anywhere.
I will address the directly their allegations as well as address the more legitimate concerns regarding Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution below, but first I feel obliged to respond to the false claims contained in their recent article against me personally.

Correcting the false accusations about me

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are wrong when they claim I “go out of my way to defend” the actions of the National Endowment for Democracy or the International Republican Institution.  Indeed, I have been harshly critical of those institutions, particularly their involvement in Venezuela.  I have simply said that Sharp and his institute are not part of such efforts since they have never received any financial support from or coordinated with these institutions for any of their activities related to that country.  Indeed, the only links the Albert Einstein Institution has ever had with these two Congressionally funded foundations was receiving two small grants back in the 1990s to translate some of Sharp’s scholarly works.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also wrong when they claim that I am “comfortable” with those who would play a “destabilizing and reactionary role” in Venezuela.  In reality, I have found such counterrevolutionary activities totally reprehensible and have repeatedly condemned them. I have simply stated that I believe that Sharp and his institution are not playing such a destabilizing and reactionary role.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are wrong yet again when they claim that I “would have no problem imperialistically imposing a nonviolent strategy upon those inhabiting other parts of the world.”   In reality, I oppose any efforts of any outsiders imposing any strategy – nonviolent or violent – upon others, have said so repeatedly and have seen no evidence that Sharp or his institute engage in such practices either.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are wrong still further when they claim I give my “blessings” to the reactionary forces in Venezuela and anywhere else.  Indeed, I have been outspoken in my opposition to such sinister efforts.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also wrong in claiming that I am somehow defending the Albert Einstein Institution’s activities in Venezuela.  I was only defending them against false and exaggerated charges.  I do not support the very limited but still, in my view, highly problematic work they have done with Venezuelan oppositionists.  Defending someone from false accusations does not mean that one does not also recognize that some other criticisms may be valid and justified.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also wrong when they claim that I have never publically expressed my serious concerns regarding contacts by Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution with the Venezuelan opposition and other right-wing elements or that I have never expressed my disagreement with a paragraph on the group’s web site which includes what I consider to be a rather simplistic and over-critical analysis of the political situation in Venezuela.  I have done so on a number of occasions and freely reiterate my strong objections to both.  I simply argue that this does not constitute proof of the many wild accusations which have appeared on this web site claiming that they are major players in destabilizing the country.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also totally inaccurate in implying that I somehow believe that the U.S. government or the coup-mongering Venezuelan opposition somehow constitutes a “phantom enemy.”  It is all too real and I have said so on many occasions.  The “phantom enemy” I was referring to was this tiny NGO falsely accused of being part of some U.S.-led conspiracy to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically-elected government.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher also totally misrepresent me by claiming that I somehow “want peace at any cost.”  I am not a pacifist and, as anybody familiar with my writings and public lectures will tell you, I recognize that peace can only be rooted in economic and social justice.  I do believe that armed revolutionary struggle is, in some cases, morally justifiable, though I also believe that strategic nonviolent action can in the vast majority of cases be more effective and with less damaging consequences.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also incorrect in claiming that I depict Sharp as representing a “principled, ethical approach to nonviolent action.”  In reality, while he was active in the radical pacifist movement as a young man, I have pointed out both in articles and in public lectures that Sharp has subsequently approached nonviolent action from a strategic and pragmatic orientation.   

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also false in claiming that I said anyone questioning the Albert Einstein Institution for working with dubious political figures as being guilty of harboring the “racist attitude.”  The accusation of racism in my article was only in reference to those who have made such false accusations as those which claim Sharp was personally responsible for recent uprisings in Burma, Tibet and other places where – unlike Venezuela – the majority of the people clearly oppose their government and argue that the people of these countries, despite a history of generations of resistances, are somehow incapable of taking action themselves in defying what they see as illegitimate authority without some white American academic telling them to do so.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also incorrect in claiming that I believe that “critics of the AEI, it seems, are either racists or (here echoing McCarthyism) Marxist-Leninists, or preferably both.”  In my original article, I speculated that many of those who put forward arguments that massive nonviolent insurrections in the Global South could only take place as a result of manipulation of a handful of white Westerners appeared to reflect a vanguard mentality that understates the power of ordinary people to create change and, in a few extreme cases, a racist attitudes that people of color can only be prompted to rebel by white outsiders.  In no way was I implying that all critics of AEI were racists and/or Marxist-Leninists.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are also misleading readers in implying that my argument rested primarily on Gene Sharp’s personal attributes.  A reading of my original article demonstrates that the thrust of my argument was rebutting the false charges themselves.

Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher are wrong yet again in implying I was being disingenuous or manipulative in differentiating between published articles and private communications, since the excerpt they quoted was not a private communication but was actually from a submission for posting on the Counterpunch web site.

It is not surprising, perhaps, that those who would misrepresent Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution would misrepresent me as well.  It is still profoundly disappointing, however.  

Where’s the Proof?

Apparently, in making the various charges against Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution, neither Golinger nor Ciccariello-Maher even bothered to interview Sharp or anyone else affiliated with AEI, nor have they apparently interviewed anyone who had participated in any of their workshops, nor have they ever attended any lecture or workshops.  

By contrast, I have.  

As a result, I believe I have a better sense of what Sharp and AEI have done than does Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher.  And, based on the lack of evidence they present that Sharp is working with the U.S. government or right-wing Venezuelans to stage a coup against Hugo Chavez and considerable evidence suggesting that Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution would never do such a thing, I believe the facts weigh against them.  Readers can decide for themselves.

In the interest of accuracy and in the interest of maintaining the credibility of those of us who oppose efforts by the U.S. government to subvert, undermine or overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela, it is important to distinguish between real threats from phony threats.

As most readers of this web site know, the Bush administration has been involved in a quiet but persistent and illegitimate intervention in Venezuela, utilizing a number of U.S. government agencies and Congressionally-funded organizations to fund, train and otherwise support right-wing opposition groups, often in the name of promoting “democracy,” in part through the utilization of such Congressionally-funded foundations as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).  Such efforts must be exposed and categorically condemned.

However, most of the charges which have appeared on this web site regarding Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution – as well as similar NGOs, such as the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and the Center for the Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) – for their alleged involvement in such sinister efforts are categorically false.

For example, in a previous article, Golinger claimed that Sharp had written, “a big destabilization plan aiming to overthrow Chavez government and to pave the way for an international intervention” including sabotage and street violence.  Similarly, in her otherwise-excellent book Bush vs. Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, Golinger falsely claims that the Albert Einstein Institution has developed a plan to overthrow that country’s democratically elected government through training right-wing paramilitaries to use “widespread civil disobedience and violence throughout the nation” in order to “provoke repressive reactions by the state that would then justify crises of human right violations and lack of constitutional order.”  

Interestingly, no one to my knowledge has ever seen this supposed “big destabilization plan” or shown any evidence of AEI training of right-wing paramilitaries.  If such a written destabilization plan really exists, I challenge Golinger to either make it public or let it be known through what sources she learned of its existence.  Similarly, if the Albert Einstein Institution has indeed trained right-wing paramilitaries, she should make such evidence public.

Given that Sharp and the Einstein Institution have consistently and vehemently opposed all forms violence and sabotage, such accusations are particularly ludicrous.  Indeed, those who have actually read his work would immediately recognize that it is not the nature of his research and writing and recognized that such claims are bogus.  

Again, I challenge Golinger or anyone else to produce any supposed “big destabilization plan” for Venezuela produced by the Albert Einstein Institution or to cite any credible source who has actually seen such a plan.

Also, I challenge anyone to produce any evidence whatsoever that Sharp or anyone affiliated with Albert Einstein institution led or were even present during those demonstrations.  

In another article that appeared in this web site, George Ciccariello-Maher falsely accuses Sharp of having links with right-wing Venezuelan assassins and terrorists and offering training “toward the formulation of what was called ‘Operation Guarimba,’ a series of often-violent street blockades that resulted in several deaths.”  I challenge Ciccariello-Maher to provide any evidence whatsoever that Sharp offered training in support of Operation Guarimba or any street blockades or any violence.  There has never been any credible report of Sharp having ever been involved in training in support for any violent actions whatsoever and Ciccariello-Maher has failed to produce any evidence as to why, for the first time in his nearly sixty-year career, Sharp would suddenly do so now.
The only other example cited in Ciccariello-Maher’s article of a supposed role of Sharp and his institute in the emergence of the anti-Chavez movement was a photo of a stylized clinched fist found in some AEI literature (taken from a student-led protest movement in Serbia eight years ago) which matched those which appeared on some signs later carried by anti-Chavez protesters in Venezuela.  If you are alleging a conspiracy, you really do have to provide stronger evidence than that.

The Funding Issue

Despite Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher’s claims to the contrary, neither Gene Sharp nor the Albert Einstein Institution has ever “received funds directly from the U.S. government.”  Nor, as Golinger claimed in a previous article on this web site, has the Albert Einstein Institution ever been “State Department-funded.”  I challenge either of them to make available any evidence supporting such claims.

It is true that Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution have received a some U.S. government funding indirectly through Congressionally funded foundations, but such support was very limited, took place some years ago, and was for special projects, not operational expenses.  The Albert Einstein Institution received a couple of small grants from NED and IRI back in the 1990s to translate some of Sharp’s scholarly work. In addition, nearly forty years ago (and fifteen years prior to the founding of the Einstein Institution), Sharp received partial research funding for his doctoral dissertation from Harvard University professor Thomas Schelling, who had in turn received support from the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense to fund doctoral students.

That is the extent of Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution’s “government funding.”  These grants from these Congressionally-funded programs account for less than one-tenth of one per cent of what Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution has received for its work over the years, the vast majority of which has come from individuals and private foundations supportive of nonviolent action in support of human rights and democracy.  Their sources of funding are of public record and anyone who would actually bother look at it would find the vast majority of contributors are liberals and leftists and left/liberal foundations.  Not one penny, direct or indirectly, has come to Gene Sharp or the Albert Einstein Institution from the U.S. government since either George Bush or Hugo Chavez came to office.  

To claim that these rather insignificant federally-subsidized grants constitutes government approval or government oversight of their actions is as ridiculous as those charges leveled in 1992 against President George H.W. Bush by his far right-wing rival for the Republican presidential nomination Patrick Buchanan, who insisted that NEA grants to gay photographers and filmmakers constituted Bush administration approval of a pro-gay and anti-Christian agenda.  

Thousands of grants are awarded annually to individuals and nonprofit organizations that do not meet any particular ideological litmus test of the U.S. government.  While any Congressionally funded institution will inevitably be ideologically slanted to some degree, it does not mean that every allocation of funding to every individual or group gets the approval of top political officials.  

I wish Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution had never accepted such funding.  I wouldn’t accept such funding personally.  The fact that they did, however, does not make them agents of U.S. imperialism or constitute evidence that they are plotting with the U.S. government to overthrow Chavez.

What Sharp and Einstein Have Actually Done vis-à-vis Venezuela

Notwithstanding all these false allegations, there have indeed been some real connections between Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution and some elements of the Venezuelan opposition.  

Given the nature of much of the Venezuelan opposition and my support for the goals of the Bolivarian Revolution, I have not and do not support such contacts, and efforts by Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher to imply otherwise are totally inaccurate and unfair.

However, these contacts have been very limited and not particularly significant.

To the best of my knowledge, the sum total of contacts between Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution with members of the Venezuelan opposition have limited to the following:

In 2002, a small number of oppositionists of varying ideological orientations visited Gene Sharp in Boston to learn more about his research on strategic nonviolent action in the hope that they might utilize some of these strategies against Chavez.  It was the Venezuelans, not Sharp or anyone related to the Albert Einstein Institution, who initiated the contact.  They were among the scores of unsolicited visitors Sharp receives annually, which have also included Palestinians struggling against the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation, Equatoguineans struggling against the U.S.-back Obiang regime, Thais struggling against the U.S.-backed junta, Egyptians struggling against the U.S.-backed Mubarak regime and scores of others.

In 2005, a different and more diverse group of Venezuelans – primarily younger center-left activists who opposed Chavez but didn’t support the old bourgeois opposition either – took part in a workshop sponsored by the Albert Einstein Institution.  The content was consisted primarily of generic information about the theory, history and dynamics of nonviolent action and – according to those I’ve interviewed who were present – included absolutely nothing about plotting to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

To the best of my knowledge, that is the total extent of involvement by Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution’s involvement with the Venezuelan opposition.   They were initiated by the oppositionists, not by Gene Sharp, the Albert Einstein Institution, the U.S. government, or any U.S. government-funded entity.  

Bob Helvey, who at one time was a consultant for the Albert Einstein Institution and for two years served in the largely-honorary title as president, along with Chris Miller, did one workshop in Venezuela in 2003 with some oppositionists.  This workshop came together in part as a result of interest in the topic of strategic nonviolent action by some oppositionists following a meeting they initiated with Gene Sharp during the previous year, but the workshop itself was not under the auspices of, financially supported by or coordinated with the Albert Einstein Institution or Gene Sharp, so they were not acting as “AEI operatives” as Golinger and Ciccariello-Maher allege.  I do not know what transpired at that workshop.  

This ideological indifference on the part of Sharp and his institution of meeting not just with progressive activists but right-wing activists as well has been troubling for many of us on the left, including those of us who have been long-time admirers of their work.  I object strongly to his willingness to meet with anti-Chavez elements and other right-wingers and the purpose of this article is not to defend this practice.  Similarly, a number of us have expressed our disappointment at the uncritical adoption of some of the inaccurate depictions of the situation in Venezuela used by the opposition which have been included in the brief segments on that country on the AEI web site.

However, none of this constitutes evidence that they are part of a U.S.-funded conspiracy to overthrow Hugo Chavez or other governments or that they have any interest in advancing U.S. imperialism and capitalist hegemony.  Indeed, the Albert Einstein Institution’s consulting policy explicitly prohibits them from taking part in any political action, participating in strategic decision-making with any group, or taking sides in any conflict.  For example, if anyone from the Venezuelan government desired to set up an appointment with Gene Sharp to talk about ways of nonviolent defense against an attempted military coup, I have little doubt that he would agree to meet with them, particularly since he has already personally offered President Chavez his book on that topic.

Indeed, if AEI really has an ideological bias in support for U.S. imperialism, why would they also meet with and hold workshops for those struggling against U.S.-backed regimes like Israel, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Thailand and other governments supported by U.S. military and economic aid?

Furthermore, AEI does not initiate contact with any individual or organizations; those interested in the group’s educational materials come to them first.

Furthermore, I have never seen  any evidence that Sharp or the Albert Einstein Institution has ever been requested, encouraged, advised, or received suggestions by any branch of the US government to do or not do any research, analysis, policy studies, or educational activity, much less engage in active subversion of foreign governments on behalf of the U.S. government.
How Nonviolent Insurrections Succeed

As anyone familiar with the theoretical literature of Gene Sharp and other scholars of strategic nonviolent action recognizes, unarmed insurrections simply cannot succeed if they are led by and primarily consist of a tiny minority bourgeoisie.  In a country which has been as stratified by social class as Venezuela, they simply don’t have the numbers to pull something like that off.  Chavez himself noted the difference between his country’s situation and that of other countries which have experienced these uprisings, observing how “In almost every country where that strategy worked . . . there were governments with little popular support.”

Successful nonviolent revolutions, like successful armed revolutions, often take years or decades to develop as part of an organic process within the body politic of a given country.  There is no standardized formula for success that a foreign government or a foreign non-governmental organization could put together, since the history, culture and political alignments of each country are unique.  No foreign government or NGO can recruit or mobilize the large numbers of ordinary civilians necessary to build a movement capable of effectively challenging the established political leadership, much less of toppling a government.  

Trainers and workshop leaders emphasize certain strategies and tactics that have been successful elsewhere in applying pressure on governments to change their policies and undermining the support and loyalty required for governments to successfully suppress the opposition.  In some cases, local activists may try to emulate some of them. However, a regime will lose power only if it tries to forcibly maintain a system that the people oppose, not because a foreign workshop leader described to a small group of opposition activists certain tactics that had been used successfully in another country at another time.  

As most of us who have actually been to Venezuela recognize, support for the Bolivarian Revolution is far too strong and runs far too deep for a handful of North American intellectuals or workshop leaders meeting with a few dozen pretentious bourgeois oppositionists to in any way threaten its survival.  

The only way a minority could seize power is through violence and Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution explicitly reject all forms of violence.

It should also be noted that many progressive Venezuelans, including some in government ministries, have found materials produced by Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution very beneficial.  For example, when I was in Venezuela during the World Social Forum in 2006, I gave some copies of Gene Sharp’s monograph The Anti-Coup to some Chavez government officials.  I was told that they found it quite useful.

With the U.S. corporate media and even otherwise progressive elected officials refusing to challenge the very real efforts by the Bush administration to subvert and undermine the Chavez government, the credibility of those of us attempting to expose such genuine imperialistic intrigues are being compromised by those who insist on putting forward these bizarre conspiracy theories involving the Gene Sharp, Albert Einstein Institution and related individuals and NGOs.  Anyone who is actually familiar with those individuals and organizations falsely accused immediately recognizes such charges as totally ludicrous, thereby allowing people to dismiss legitimate exposés of what really is true. Golinger’s books and articles, for example, bring to light some very real and very dangerous efforts by the U.S. government and U.S. government agencies.  It is hard for many people to take her real accusations seriously, however, in the face of her simultaneously putting forward such falsehoods about Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution.

It is very unfortunate that those who defend Venezuela from U.S.-backed subversion are so willing to repeat these bizarre conspiracies about Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution when progressive forces instead need to be focusing our energy on fighting the Bush administration and others who really are targeting Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. To claim that this tiny NGO and its senior scholar are major players in advancing U.S. hegemony only serves to discredit those of us who are trying to expose the very real U.S. subversion in Venezuela, Bolivia and elsewhere.

Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and a senior analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus.

A Final Reply to a Non-Reply

by George Cicariello-Maher and Eva Golinger

Stephen Zunes has accused us, in the most recent of a number of repetitive critiques, of subjecting him to an “ad hominem” attack for having defended the Albert Einstein Institution from our charges of playing a tacit role in imperial designs, especially in Venezuela. But as the professor surely knows, to argue “ad hominem” is to engage in the diversionary tactic of emphasizing personal character at the expense of the issues at hand. There can be little doubt that, in this precise sense, it is Zunes who has insistently brought the debate at hand to questions of individual character, thereby obscuring the central question: the functional role played by the AEI in contemporary forms of U.S. imperialism.

Indeed, in our previous article, we attempted to bring to light the erroneous nature of Zunes’ methodological individualism, arguing that “while Zunes focuses on issues of personal history, what is more crucial is political fact.” Rather than recognize and come to terms with this error, however, Zunes has either failed to grasp it or consciously ignored it, choosing instead to redouble his individualizing efforts. But now, we are treated not to the personal history of Gene Sharp, the AEI’s “senior scholar” and nominal subject of discussion, but rather that of Zunes himself, his courageous anti-imperialist exploits, and the curious claim that by virtue of his friendliness to the AEI, he is gifted with a “better sense” of the institution’s role in global politics.

As a result of such persistent efforts to once again avoid the issues, the debate grows weary. All that remains is for us to restate briefly what it is that Zunes has refused to answer, what charges his inverted ad hominem-ism have obscured. For simplicity, we reduce these charges to a single central concern with the AEI’s role in imperial designs in Venezuela: that the institution has played a functional role in facilitating U.S.-backed opposition efforts to subvert the Chávez government. As evidence of this functional role, we have in the past mentioned both the AEI’s active role in meeting on several occasions with members of the opposition, and the institution’s crowing and self-important gloating about such meetings taken from its own literature, as well as the admittedly more passive role of providing a blueprint for “nonviolent” regime change that can be used by any and all comers indiscriminately.

Rather than replying to this crucial charge, we can see above that Zunes confronts us with the most impossible and nonsensical of demands: to provide a paper trail for the U.S.’s role in Venezuela. Nonsensical because neither of us have ever claimed that Gene Sharp had sat down with the U.S. government and the Venezuelan opposition to draft a master plan for eliminating the pesky Bolivarian Revolution. Impossible because, as any anti-imperialist knows, the U.S. government isn’t exactly forthcoming with documentation of its role abroad (would Zunes have demanded the same rigorous proof of the U.S. role in the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile?).

Incidentally, it is Golinger herself who has done the most in this regard, petitioning the government under the Freedom of Information Act for documents demonstrating the U.S. role in Venezuela (as published in The Chávez Code). This role took the specific form of NED and IRI funding, funding also present in the case of the AEI (Zunes is at pains to deny this, conveniently ignoring the non-financial support the IRI has provided to AEI, which we have documented and of which the AEI has boasted in its own literature). Why is this not cause for concern for an “anti-imperialist” like Zunes? Why is he so charitable to an organization which, he admits, has engaged in some questionable activities in Venezuela?

Because his demands are much more rigorous when it comes to friends than enemies: “I challenge Golinger or anyone else to produce any supposed “big destabilization plan” for Venezuela produced by the Albert Einstein Institution or to cite any credible source who has actually seen such a plan.” Perhaps the professor would like a signed portrait of Gene Sharp, George W. Bush, María Corina Machado, and Luis Posada Carriles in the Oval Office, hunched over a map of Venezuela? But even this, we fear, wouldn’t be enough for Zunes.

George Ciccariello-Maher is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at UC Berkeley, and is currently writing a people's history of the Bolivarian Revolution entitled We Created Him.  He can be reached at gjcm(at)berkeley.edu.  Eva Golinger is a lawyer based in Caracas, and the author of two books, The Chávez Code and Bush Versus Chávez, which use classified documents to reveal US strategies against the Venezuelan government.  She can be reached at evagolinger(at)gmail.com.