Political Warfare Old and New: The State and Private Groups in the Formation of the National Endowment for Democracy

Robert Pee




On 8 June 1982, Ronald Reagan gave a speech to the British Parliament calling for a global crusade for democracy. The practical outcome of this was the creation, in December 1983, of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED was an autonomous non-governmental organisation (NGO) consisting of four foundations: the National Democratic Institute and National Republican Institute (currently International Republican Institute) to dispense funds and training to politicians and political parties; the Centre for International Private Enterprise to provide training, funding and networking opportunities for business associations; and the AFL-CIO to assist foreign trade unions. Its impact was immediate. The NED funded programs in support of candidates acceptable to the US in elections in Grenada, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala throughout 1984 and 1985 in order to prevent communist victories, and create stable pro-US governments. In Europe, the NED funded organisations carried out pro-NATO propaganda in Britain and, in one notable scandal, a right-wing French student organisation was linked to fascist paramilitaries. The endowment also funded organisations devoted to anti-Sandinista propaganda in Nicaragua and also funded opposition elements within Nicaragua8 and disbursed around $3.7 million to Solidarity in Poland between 1984 and 1990.


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