The election engineering merchants of George Soros and other “one-size-fits-all” democracy templates may have been vanquished in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Myanmar, but they are, by no means, down and out. International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have simply borrowed a page from international consultancies and gone quasi-private, racking up lucrative contracts as political advisers to pro-capitalist candidates around the world.
With the US Foreign Service largely neutered under President Donald Trump and Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo, there is virtually no one left at various US embassies in far-flung diplomatic posts to
warn host governments about the modern version of American “snake oil salesmen” pitching their
election assistance wares to unsuspecting candidates for office.
Take Vanguard Africa, a Washington, DC-based election campaign consultancy that seeks public
contributions under the aegis of the Democratic Party’s fundraising organization, ActBlue. During a time
when there are complaints in the United States of foreign interference in American elections, why is an
outfit like Vanguard America involved in elections in The Gambia and Niger? What is good for the
goose should be good for the gander.
If someone donates to ActBlue to elect more Democrats to the US Congress, state legislatures, and
mayors’ offices, why is ActBlue, working with Vanguard Africa, involved in helping to elect in January
2017, Adama Barrow as president of The Gambia in West Africa? Vanguard Africa’s US leadership
includes Joe Trippi, former Vermont Democratic Governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign
chairman, and former Democratic US Representative Al Wynn of Maryland.
Vanguard Africa unabashedly admits on its website that it mixes election engineering with lobbying in
Washington: “Access to Influential Leaders – Opening lines of communication and building trusted, long-term relationships with key pro-democracy groups, civic leaders, elected officials and policymakers – in Washington, DC and internationally.” While such a service helps line the pockets of Washington lobbyists and increases the profiles of certain African leaders, such as Barrow in The Gambia, it does little to alleviate the extreme poverty of Africans in The Gambia or anywhere else on the
It is not merely the connections of outfits like Vanguard Africa to the Central Intelligence Agency-funded
National Endowment for Democracy (NED) that should ring alarm bells, but also its connection to the
Washington lobbying organization Sanitas International, whose partner, Christopher Harvin, is a co-
founder of Vanguard Africa. Sanitas has a contract with Tzvika Brot, of Delaware-incorporated BSI
Public Affairs, Brot ran the 2016 get-out-the-vote campaign targeting US voters in Israel on behalf of
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. Washington deal-making does not get any “swampier” than this. And
Mr. Trump, who rants and raves about “draining the swamp,” is one of its chief scaly denizens.
Perhaps it is time for an international convention, either through the auspices of the United Nations or
regional supranational organizations, like the African Union, European Union, and others, to prohibit all
foreign government or corporate interference in elections in other countries. If narcotics and human
trafficking, as well as weapons smuggling, can be banned internationally, why not foreign election
Such a regime would stop Vanguard Africa from providing advice to clients like Daher Ahmed Farah,
the president of the of the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development opposition in the
militarily-strategic country of Djibouti on the Red Sea, or Ibrahim Yacouba, a 2021 presidential
candidate in Niger and Biram Dah Abeid, a failed 2014 presidential candidate in Mauritania. Questions
have been raised about how Abeid became one of the richest men in Mauritania after receiving huge
“human rights” grants from foreign NGOs. Apparently, promoting “democracy” on behalf of foreign
masters can be a very lucrative business.
Vanguard receives funding from Tony O. Elumelu, one of Nigeria’s richest men and chairman of Heirs
Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp, as well as the founder of the Africacapitalism Institute.
While Barack Obama may have supported the “entrepreneurship” notions of “Africacapitalism,” the
quasi-libertarian gobbledygook of a “rising tide lifts all boats” espoused as part of such policies
represents a slap in the face of the pan-African socialism of the founders of modern independent Africa.
These include Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, and Patrice Lumumba,
and later, Muammar Qaddafi and Thomas Sankara.
The Guardian newspaper spelled out the problems associated with the “do-gooder capitalism” of those
like Elumelu in a July 12, 2013 piece. The article quotes University of British Columbia law professor
Joel Bakan as asserting that schemes like that of Elumelu parrot the rhetoric often used as a
“smokescreen for big business to push towards deregulation.” Bakan believes that such “shared value” business models distort the public’s relationship with mega-businesses. In Africa and Latin America,
where state ownership of key industries and foreign government economic assistance programs
helped advance national economies from Third World to Second and First World status, the arrival of
snake oil salesmen selling “beneficial capitalism” led to crippling austerity imposed by the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Another snake oil merchant, Avenue Strategies Global – co-founded by Trump 2016 campaign
manager Corey Lewandowski and Barry Bennett, manager of current Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Ben Carson’s presidential run – is also selling political advice abroad. The firm, which is
situated on a corner across from the White House, recently signed a lucrative contract with former
Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. It is obvious that Avenue Strategies is helping Tymosheno
position herself for a future presidential run in Ukraine. And it is quite convenient that the firm, which
Lewandowski has departed, is close, both geographically and politically, to the offices of Trump
administration key officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Lewandowski is associated with another political advice consultancy, Turnberry Solutions, LLC of
Washington, DC. Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump Turnberry is the name of Trump’s Scottish golf
resort. Yet another Lewandowski-linked firm, Washington East West Political Strategies LLC, which
dissolved in 2017, had been advising political candidates in Albania and Kosovo, as well as others in
the Middle East, Canada, and Central America. Lewandowski’s links with the Amsterdam Group,
another Washington lobbying firm, puts him in the same orbit as former YUKOS oil head, Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, a client of Amsterdam Group and someone who has been working from the United
States, Europe, and Israel to oust Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Of more concern is Lewandowski’s links to the Boston, Massachusetts-based social media analytics
firm, Crimson Hexagon, which stands accused of manipulating Facebook data to affect election
outcomes. The threat posed by the intersection of political advisory firms, “big data” manipulators, and
NGOs cannot be underestimated.
Big Brother is now a reality and he does not want your vote, he wants to cast your vote. One of the most
sinister buildings on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC is the inaptly-named US Institute of Peace.
Its election manipulation activities, conducted in concert with consultancies, data analytics firms, and
NGOs, often result in wars and civil strife.
As the weeping over the death of Senator John McCain subsides, it should be remembered that his
pride and joy, the election-meddling International Republican Institute, and his former campaign
manager, Rick Davis, had longstanding organizational ties to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign
manager. Manafort now sits in a jail cell in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted on eight counts of fraud, and
awaiting trial in Washington, DC on additional criminal counts. The Trump administration wasted no
time in immersing itself deep into this political swamp and help market American political snake oil to
unsuspecting countries around the world.
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