The Office of Transition Initiatives and the Subversion of Societies


On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order establishing the United States Peace Corps with the objective of ‘helping’ underdeveloped nations struggling for economic growth and social progress.  This order appealed to many of America’s young and brightest.  Thousands of American youths flocked to serve a number of societies in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  These young people assisted in the building of sewer and water systems, constructed schools, helped in agricultural methods, and health initiatives among many things. The Peace Corps appealed to young idealistic Americans looking to change the world. Many had been brought into the Civil Rights struggles of that era. But, as with all things, capital and the opportunity for profit making was sure to follow.   In those days, transnational corporations such as International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) and the seven sisters of oil dominated the planning for manipulation, today, these forces are called capital equity firms and are more tenacious in seeking to manipulate idealistic youths.

Since the end of the Cold War, the imperial centers have been working hard to control the thinking and actions of youths who want real social change. The buzz words of ‘Sustainable Development,’ ‘Humanitarian Assistance’ and ‘Good Governance’ had been mobilized to sustain the ideation plane of the neo-liberal order.  ‘Nation Building,’ ‘Peacekeeping,’ ‘Transitions and Reconstruction Operations’ represents the new template for the Wall Street, Military and Information complex.  This ‘mission’ of US capitalism has now been refined into the promoting of good governance internationally. US capitalists organized in ‘capital equity’ groups now work through ‘development’ NGO’s . These fronts for capital equity have replaced the idea that humanitarian organizations should be neutral, independent, and impartial in providing assistance to the exploited.

In this paper we will outline how contractors are central to the new ‘militaristic humanitarianism. The implementing agencies of the capital equity forces require cooperation between the State Department, USAID and the Department of Defense in the form of Development, Diplomacy and Defense. Recent information on the role of the top ‘development’ contractors for the USAID in a program of the Office for Transition Initiatives in planning for regime change in Cuba and Venezuela should assist Third World societies in evaluating the ‘development’ projects submitted to their societies by international development agencies, especially those from the United States and Britain.  These exposures of the numerous SWIFT (Support Which Implements Fast Transitions) subcontractors of the Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) place the British Department of International Development (DIFID) on the list of reliable ‘subcontractors’ for the US corporate and military interests. The subversion of the USAID/OTI may take different forms as in twitter accounts in Cuba, recovery initiative in Haiti, ‘democratic transition ‘ in Libya or ’yes youth can’ Kenya, but the ultimate objective is to advance US corporate interests.

It is important to outline how the interests of the youth who are seeking to make social change are divergent from the interests of the organizations for which they work. Progressive students, peace activists and pacifists need to be vigilant  that in the demilitarization campaigns that focus on the plans and operations of the US military or intelligence agencies alone will not shed light on the numerous fronts that are being opened to subvert democratic participation and alternative forms of economic organizations. Since the African Awakenings in Tunisia and Egypt, US capital has gone way out to co-opt social media platforms to serve the top 1 per cent. We will end with a reflection on the need to demilitarize the ‘development’ field so that the neo-cons and Wall Street will discontinue the manipulation of idealistic young persons in the USA who are bogged down by massive student loans. Under the IMF and the ‘structural adjustment’ policies, neoliberalism has intensified the exploitation of all peoples around the world. Even, within the US military, it is difficult for the rank and file to defend the interests of Goldman Sachs, the other top Bankers and Private equity elements such as the Carlyle Group and Cerberus. The US military is on the defensive at home and abroad and the role of the progressive forces internationally is to expose their activities, out their front operations and bring the private military companies under democratic control by constant exposure  on the forms that the new military contractors are taking.

Office of Transition Initiative, Creative Associates and the New Security Infrastructure

In 2003, a group of Harvard and Georgetown college students founded an organization called, “Roots of Hope” with a shared interest in Cuba.  (  The stated goal of the organization is “empowering Cuban youth to be the authors of their own future.”  According to its Wikipedia page, the organization grew to be “a network of more than 4,000 high school students, college students and young professionals across the United States and abroad, with chapters in major cities such as New York, Miami, Washington DC and Madrid.”

It was revealed in an Associated Press investigative report in April, that the leaders of this organization of idealistic youngsters were in fact supported by the US government with the aim of toppling the Cuban government.  [i]  The leaders of Roots of Hope were approached by the federal government’s secret “Cuban Twitter” program connecting contractors with potential investors and even serving as paid consultants.

The investigative report by the Associated Press that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had worked with Creative Associates International (CAI) to set up a Twitter-like social media network as an instrument for subverting the government of Cuba is only the latest in the revelations surrounding the humanitarian industry as one arm of the military and intelligence capabilities of the United States. [ii] Many idealistic graduates from elite centers such as the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Maxwell School of Citizenship of Syracuse University or the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University among others had been seduced by the skilled public relations work of Creative Associates, Casals and Associates, International Resources Group and other ‘development’ contractors. I teach in one of these Universities and it has been painful to see the ways in which the so called NGO Initiatives have been refined over the past twenty years to support neo-liberalism and to depoliticize idealistic students. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)  a university-wide center involving multiple entities is at the top of higher education infrastructure that has been reprogrammed to mobilize youthful energies into transnational non-governmental service to do ‘development’ work.

These are the new cadre of ‘development’ NGO’s that are now integrated into the activities with political aims that are presented in the form of Diplomacy, Development, and Defense (3Ds). The 3Ds are represented by the Department of State (State), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DoD or Defense) and have become the basis for the melding of militarism and humanitarianism. Outright military forays are now supplemented by private contracting firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton that gobble up information that serves private equity elements. I remember over thirteen years ago when it was difficult to reach those students who believed that working for consulting and accounting firms such as Arthur Andersen was the dream job. Some woke up after the massive scandals that exposed Enron, World Com and the collapse of this accounting and consulting group that covered up the illegal activities of Private Equity firms. The most notable private equity firms include the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Group, The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and TPG Capital. In turn these moguls of capitalism have firms that are called ‘consulting’ groups. ‘Consulting’ groups such as Bain Capital, McKinsey, the Boston Consulting Group and until recently the Monitor Group have all had their share of media attention in the past few years as Trojan horses for the rich and powerful. [iii]

The revelations about Booz Allen Hamilton, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the intelligence enterprise have brought new focus on so called ‘management consultants’ who are ‘bound by the thread of turning government secrets into profits.’ [iv] Until the full revelations of the activities that were revealed by Edward Snowden, Booz Allen Hamilton, a subsidiary of the Carlyle group represented itself as just another management consulting group. Policy makers had long been aware of the importance of the Carlyle group for the military/ financial complex and the fact that this company owns other companies that make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US military. Books on this group have exposed the linkages between politicians, militarists and the fund managers of Wall Street.[v] Now the rank and file knows that it is this same Carlyle that is the parent company for Booz Allen Hamilton the full picture emerges of how private contractors are at the center of a rogue surveillance state in the USA and outside.  Tim Shorrock who worked extensively on the outsourcing of intelligence to private contractors called this new relationship, “The Digital Blackwater.” This is in reference to the role of the private military contractors that have become the mainstay for the US military fighting capabilities since the start of the 21st century. [vi] It should be noted that the outing of Blackwater has forced this military front to change its name more than once. Younger students will not have known the foundations of Blackwater and its linkages to the intelligence community but the shootings at Nisour Square in Iraq had forced this organization to change its name.[vii] Blackwater and other intelligence organs cannot openly recruit on university campuses so the development NGO’s in the SWIFT league now serves the militaristic interests of the United States. Once the agitation over the CIA recruitment on campus reached a high point after the expanded war on terror, the intelligence agencies were defensive about open recruitment on University campuses. [viii]

While the overt actions of the University/ intelligence infrastructure has been exposed by vigilant groups such as Concerned Anthropologists there are now numerous fronts that have been appropriated and one of these is the ‘development and humanitarian front.’ Already on top university campuses engineering, computer science, mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry departments had become increasingly dependent on Pentagon funding. Policy studies centers were among the last to be controlled by the long arm of Pentagon funding and much of this funding goes to centers dealing with security sector reform.

For many idealistic graduates who want to serve their fellow humans it is still not crystal clear how ‘development NGO’s had been integrated into this very large, secretive and unwieldy military/intelligence apparatus. These international ‘development’ NGO’s from the outset must be distinguished from the thousands of local humanitarian organs that do not associate themselves with the intelligence/security apparatus of the United States and Britain.

Where previously it was the belief that private military contractors had become essential to the spying and surveillance operations of the strategic planners, the news that Creative Associates International was involved in the planning of subverting the government of Cuba brought into clear light the reality that there is no real distinction between private military contractors, NSA snooping, development contractors, non-governmental organizations and the US military itself. From the period of the wars against the people Afghanistan and Iraq, academics, non-governmental organizations, development agencies and the military worked hand in glove.

While many of these relationships had been tentative in the years prior to 2001, explicit commandeering of ‘development’ agencies for the projection of US defense capabilities were formalized in 2005 by Donald Rumsfeld who was the Secretary of Defense. It was under the Rumsfeld-Cheney period when there was the refinement of the Top Secret world of spying and militarism in the establishment of the Stability, Security, Transitions and Reconstruction Operations (SSTRO) office in the DoD. Formally, the US Army had integrated the OTI into peacekeeping and operations Institute of the military and this was proudly displayed on the web platforms of the US Army School at Carlyle, Pennsylvania. A decade earlier, Colin Powell had already outlined the integration of NGO’s in the military planning in a speech when he stated that,

“Just as surely as our diplomats and military, American NGOs…are out there serving and sacrificing on the front lines of freedom, NGOs are such a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team.” [ix]

In line with the integration between the US government and the research agenda of the NGO public policy institutes, Journals such as Global Governance carried favorable articles to the idea that NGO’s should act as force multiplier for the US military.

After Colin Powell had served as Secretary of State, in came another person of ‘color’ Condoleezza Rice who proposed new forms of military development cooperation as ‘Transformational diplomacy’ in order to elevate ‘democracy-promotion’ activities inside countries. The democracy –promotion activities in Cuba and Venezuela were at the other side of the coin where in societies such as Kenya, the subcontractors worked to subvert real democratic participation and expression.

OTI and ‘democracy promotion’ in Kenya?

In December 2007 soon after the elections young Kenyans developed a unique networking tool to provide firsthand accounts of the violence that was erupting. Faced with a media blackout from tne state, young Kenyans developed free and open source software for information collection, interactive mapping and data collection.  This new social media site was called Ushahidi. Here was a clever and innovative use of mobile services that bypassed the censorship of the government. In the midst of this innovation, in stepped the SWIFT type operation of the USAID to divert the revolutionary potentialities of the USHAIDI crowdsourcing application. A number of international NGO’s entered the fray to divert the discussions from democratic rights to ‘so-called peace.’ These same NGO’s mobilized the “ Rural Women’s Peace Link (RWPL), to conduct community dialogue and reconciliation meetings,” while those who stole the elections unleashed violence against innocent citizens.

In January 2008, the future of Kenya had hung in balance and what was necessary was for US strategic planners to intervene to divert attention from the fraudulent elections. [x] Any mass mobilization to win in the streets – that which was stolen at the ballot box – threatened the more than decade infrastructure that had been established in Kenya as the beachhead for Western NGO’s in Africa. Slowly after the intervention of the USAID and the State Department, those diplomats from the EU and Canada who had stood on the steps of the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC) to condemn the theft of the elections fell in line as Condi Rice flew to Nairobi to give coherence to the Transition activities of the USAID operators on the ground. Once the dust settled and the architects of election violence were back in power, the USAID organized a US$55 billion dollar project to demobilize the Kenyan youths in all parts of the country. [xi] This project mimicked the Obama slogan of Yes I Can with the slogan Yes Youth Can. Dubbed as a project to empower Kenyan youth, the materials of this USAID initiative was meant to turn young Kenyans away from the heritages of Dedan Kimathi, Pio Gama Pinto,  Markham Singh, Wangaari Mathai and those who wanted a new social system in Kenya. There were over 4,000 NGO’s in Kenya and top of the line Development contractors all had their base in Kenya to divert the energies of the youths and workers of Africa into paths of ’sustainable development.’  Kenya was a prime base for the work of USAID because of the clever mobile applications that had developed in Kenya such as M-Pesa and Ushaidi. [xii]

Kenya and Uganda have been prime targets for the USAID because of the fear that once progressive social movements take root, the repercussions would be felt all across eastern and central Africa. NGO’s such as Creative Associates Casals and the International Resources Group function at the top of the OTI front.  Since the establishment of the OTI overt military contractors such as Dyncorp, Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications and others have established their own development NGO’s in so far as all activities of the US foreign policy engagement, (especially in Africa) falls under the military.

Under the rubric of full spectrum dominance, the strategic planners also came up with an information warfare program dubbed Operation Objective Voice to harness and orient all information operations and influence the media internationally. Douglas Feith (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for United States President George W. Bush from July 2001 until August 2005 ) had given a clear account of how much Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, himself and Cheney worked to shape the domination of the US government by the Pentagon. [xiii] At the height of the debacle of the US military occupation of Iraq, Secretary of State Secretary Rice outlined her vision for diplomacy changes that she referred to as “transformational diplomacy” to meet this 21st Century world. Rice was concerned that the bureaucracy of the State Department and the training of public service officers needed to be realigned for the military requirements of the George W.  Bush Administration. [xiv]  General Keith Alexander was an appointee of Rumsfeld at the National Security Agency replacing Michael Hayden. Slowly after the Snowden revelations ordinary citizens began to hear of the names of senior military personnel such as Keith Alexander, Michael Hayden, James Clapper, Michael McConnell and the other cyber warriors who saw themselves above the law. More importantly, was the revolving door that was established between the National Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and entities such as Booz Allen. [xv]

While the revelations of Edward Snowden has brought the questionable activities of the cyber warriors into an ongoing debate with weak efforts at reforming this behemoth,[xvi]  there has been less attention paid to the Office of Transition Initiatives. OTI was taken to a new level during the Hilary Clinton years when the OTI intensified its work to dominate social media platforms, using NGO’s such as Creative Associates as fronts. Regime change in Cuba and Venezuela fits into the OTI pattern of subversion because as long as there are societies committed to an alternative to neo-liberal capitalism, those in the revolving doors between intelligence gathering and private equity are threatened.

Diplomacy, Development, and Defense – The Pentagon as a ‘Development Agency.’

The new ‘strategic framework for foreign assistance’ that had been refined by the State Department under Condi Rice at the State Department and Donald Rumsfeld at (DoD)  operated outside of Congressional Oversight and the details of the restructuring were first brought to the US public by WikiLeaks in February of 2009.  At the height of the NATO bombing of Libya on 26 July 2011, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vicki Huddleston testified before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa and declared that the Department of Defense was now a ‘Development Agency’ and was taking the lead in coordinating the foreign policy objectives of the United States to promote Development, Diplomacy and Defence. The very next day on July 27, Ambassador Yamamoto of the State Department testified to underscore how the work of development in Africa was being coordinated by the US Africa Command. Yamamoto was shedding light on the organizational changes within the bureaucracy to support the military missions of the USA. Inside the USAID there had been the new coordination of three entities, (I ) Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (USAID/CMM)  (!!)  Office of Transition initiatives (USAID/OTI), and (III) the US Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS).

In their testimony we learnt that:

First, AFRICOM provides greater unity of command on a continent that DOD previously split between three geographic combatant commands, and multiple functional commands.

Further, AFRICOM provides a command structure capable of coordinating and commanding a multitude of U.S. military components engaged in programs in Africa, enhancing DOD’s operational effectiveness, in cooperation with our embassies, ambassadors and USAID mission directors.  In the past several years, DOD components have grown to become the largest non-State Department presence in several of our missions.

Second, AFRICOM is an important partner for USAID and State as we seek to tackle problems, pursue solutions, and expand partnerships in Africa

AFRICOM has a civilian Department of State official as its deputy commander, as well as other State and USAID officers directly integrated into its headquarter structures, which improves coordination between agencies, which is a unique organizational arrangement not commonly found in military formations.

Duplicating in other commands, AFRICOM’s unique approach is directly relevant to Secretary Clinton’s launching of the QDDR Process, through which we are rethinking how we do business and integrate the interagency in achieving our common national goals and objectives. [xvii]

This double-speak about reconstruction and stabilization had taken a new turn at the height of the war against the peoples of Iraq when the Pentagon justified its war as ‘nation building.’ Academics and NGO’s were mobilized and it was in 2004 when Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) was created. Political Scientists and other policy wonks were drafted to be part of this destruction project called ‘nation building.’ Larry Diamond has written for posterity the role of such academics in the Office of Transition Initiatives and the Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DART) that supplemented the military actions against civilians in Iraq. [xviii] Trillions of dollars were expended on this project of division and destruction in Iraq which was soon taken off the front pages by the establishment of the Iraq Study Group. However, after the disaster in Libya where the NATO forces destroyed the society, the US military have ducked spouting about the US Africa Command and have embarked on the ideational plane to promote ‘development’ and humanitarian assistance. After the prolonged NATO bombardment of Libya, the US laid out a ‘transition’ plan for Libya. The people of Libya are currently reaping the results of the military humanitarianism where the West invoked the principle ‘Responsibility to Protect’ in order to carry out regime change. After the regime change, the US laid out a ‘transition program’ to bring democracy and good governance to Libya. [xix] The world has seen clearly the results of the Transition Initiatives” in Libya where more than 50,000 have perished after the regime change.

OTI Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance

The business model of the USA in the twenty first century not only depends on financial speculators, hedge fund managers,  oil majors, pharmaceuticals, born again religious entrepreneurs  and Agribusiness, this model seeks to cover the more than US $18 billion humanitarian industry. Part of the mandate of this industry is to shift the focus of intellectual work from exploitation to so called ‘aid.’ From the time when Henry Kissinger had been challenged by the Group of 77, the US establishment derided international organizations not under the thumb of the US as being bureaucratic.

The attacks against the ‘bureaucratic’ UNESCO and UNCTAD were then supplemented by the deployment of US consulting firms that paved the way for the IMF and the World Bank to promote neo-liberal forms of external domination. Up to the time of the financial meltdown in 2008, the core ideas of neoliberalism that are propounded by the IMF and the World Bank were disseminated through training and conversion of technocrats who go on to occupy key decision making positions in finance ministries of developing countries. After the financial crisis, this kind of training was not enough since the USA was facing stiff competition from their allies in Europe and even stiffer competition from the so called ’emerging states.’ The Libyan intervention, the direct influences of US agribusiness and pharmaceuticals on the ground paved a new path for international competition in Africa. Africa is a base for intense activities in so far as in Latin America the rise of democratic forces have placed US AID activities in its proper perspective. [xx]

Office of Transition Initiatives in Cuba and Venezuela

The role of international non-governmental organizations as fronts for the western military agencies has grown rapidly since the start of the 21st century. During the period of the so called Alliance for Progress in Latin America under John F Kennedy, the work of the USAID went hand in glove with the education of anti-communist military leaders at the School of the Americas and the training of Torturers. The Orwellian approach to diplomacy was very clear in the fact that the training of torturers was carried out through the Office of Public Safety, a U.S.A.I.D. police training program. The pressures of the peace and justice forces forced the US military to reorganize their activities and closed the School of the Americas. Afterwards, the Pentagon set up Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. This Western Hemisphere Institute was the overt military arm while the National Endowment for Democracy became the ‘civilian’ arm of the counterinsurgency work of the US political class.


The reported information of the Office for Transition Initiatives supplements the work of other ‘democracy’ promotion centers such as the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela and Bolivia. The demonstrations that are ongoing in Caracas Venezuela have all of the footprints of the US anti-communist footprints. Poor Venezuelans and most of the people of Latin America know that  the DAI/USAID has given more than US$11,575,509 to more than 360 groups and projects in Venezuela, under the program “Venezuela: Initiatives for the Construction of Trust” (VICC). The majority of the programs funded by DAI (according to their materials) focus on “political dialogue, public debate, citizen’s participation and the training and capacitation of democratic leaders.” Garry Leech further expanded on the attempts to ensnare Venezuelan youths into the web of US subversion,

“Between 2006 and 2010, USAID spent some $15 million in Venezuela with a significant portion of the money used to fund university programs and workshops for youth, no doubt with the objective of “pulling them slowly away from Chavismo.” The prominent role of university students in the current protests suggests that the US strategy has paid off. “[xxi]

Eva Golinger expanded on the role of the OTI in Venezuela stating that, “At the beginning of 2011, after being publically exposed for its grave violations of Venezuelan law and sovereignty, the OTI closed its doors in Venezuela and USAID operations were transferred to its offices in the US.”[xxii] The work of USAID and its OTI in the planning for destabilization and subversion had its parallel in Africa where governments that were independent of the United States were targeted for subversion.

The news of the role of Creative Associates in their work in Cuba has brought back focus on the role of Allan Gross of the USAID who was arrested in Cuba by the Cuban government in December 2009 for attempting to set up satellite communications networks on the island, as part of the USAID program. After his arrest it was revealed in court documents that his employer, the ‘development NGO’ Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) was one component of the USAID-sponsored “Democracy” program aimed at the subverting social peace in Cuba. Peter Kornbluh wrote at the time of the discussion about Allan Gross that the USAID had orchestrated “between five to seven different transition plans” for Cuba.[xxiii]

USAID Failure in Cuba

Even though the Office of Transition Initiatives had been criticized as being spread too thin in its first ten years,  [xxiv] when Hillary Clinton took over as the Secretary of State in 2009 the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review prepared under her stewardship singled out OTI as “an example of the kind of flexible and adaptive programming other offices at the State Department and USAID could emulate as they increasingly seek to work in the world’s most challenging environments.” Within the State Department OTI was regarded by “some as being somewhat audacious and overly proud, according to its own director’s admission.” This audacity took numerous forms and we now know that the audacity took the form of “Support youth-led independent media initiatives.” Translated in laypersons terms, the establishment of support for Youth Led initiatives in Cuba took the form of an operation, dubbed ZunZuneo. This operation reported extensively by investigative reporters of the Associated Press  exposed how the organization Creative Associates was a front for a covert operation that was aimed at promoting political upheavals in Cuba. Starting in 2007 the ostensive plan was to build a subscriber base of twitter followers in Cuba which was to build up to the critical number of 200,000. By the time this Operation was shut down because they found out that the Cubans were on to them, ZunZuneo had ensnared up to 40,000 subscribers in Cuba.

US intelligence and military strategists were more than embarrassed when the mainstream pro-military Washington Post flashed the headlines, “U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest.”[xxv]  “Creative Associates envisioned using the list to create a social networking system that would be called “Proyecto ZZ,” or “Project ZZ.” The service would start cautiously and be marketed chiefly to young Cubans, who USAID saw as the most open to political change.” These young Cubans were dubbed as “smart mobs” capable of inciting unrest.

“We should gradually increase the risk,” USAID proposed in a document. It advocated using “smart mobs” only in “critical/opportunistic situations and not at the detriment of our core platform-based network.”

We learnt of the layers of subcontractors, shell companies, and offshore bank accounts and multinational locations that were formed and refined to place a distance between the USAID and the planners of ZunZuneo.  This kind of planning followed the same kind of front companies that had been established by Project Coast in South Africa when the South Africans and the US were collaborating in biological warfare and bioterrorism. Then as now, the US militarists with fake organizations as the front routed funds through layers of dummy companies and foreign computer servers located in Spain, Costa Rica, Ireland and the UK, and an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands. Plausible deniability was the objective in order to conceal the US government’s responsibility for ZunZuneo’s creation and operation, not merely from the Cuban government, but from the tens of thousands of Cubans who were signed up as subscribers.

The vigilance of the Cuban leadership and people meant that this line of subversion never had any chance of success.

OTI in Angola

After the military defeat of the South African army at Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 the USAID intensified its support for Jonas Savimbi of UNITA via the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). The principal subcontractors for the USAID funding were reliable and trusted cold war ‘humanitarian’ agencies such as the International Rescue Committee. [xxvi] I remember travelling to Northern Angola in 1996 when the NGO workers of the International Rescue Committee were working closely with UNITA at a moment when UNITA had carried out massive atrocities. USAID funded projects in Angola provided crucial links between the Pentagon and UNITA at a time when the Clinton Administration for the first time recognized the government of the MPLA. It was then not by accident that when in 1994 the USAID created the Office for Transition Initiatives, Angola was one of the first places that it worked to intensify its work in support of Jonas Savimbi and UNITA.

In the Congressional Report on the start of OFI in Angola and Haiti in 1994 there is no mention of the linkages between the Pentagon and Jonas Savimbi. Instead the report stated,

“Angola, the first country where OTI operated, was selected in 1994 for several reasons: its oil and other natural resources represented a security and commercial interest to the United States; a peace process was underway; and there was evidence that significant gains could be made through targeted programs related to land mine awareness, demining, and reintegration of ex-combatants.”[xxvii]

The role of the OTI then was to subvert the government of Angola just as how today we have learnt that one of the contractors for OTI was working to subvert the government of Cuba. The exposure of Creative Associates will give new assignments for those who want to fully understand when the OTI calls itself the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance. In their official statements, the USAID states that The Office of Transitions Initiatives (OTI) was created in 1994 to “provide short-term assistance in post-conflict situations or crises in order to support peaceful and democratic transitions. By promoting reconciliation, jumpstarting economies and helping democracy take hold, the intent is to lay the foundations for long term successful development.”

Integrating international non-governmental organizations as Force Multipliers for the USA

During the nineties military Journals such as Parameters honed the discussion of the  planning for the increased engagement of international NGO’s and by the end of the 20th century the big  international NGO’s  Care, Catholic Relief Services , Save The Children, World Vision, and Medicins  Sans Frontieres (MSF ) were acting like major international corporations doing subcontracting work for the US military. At the time when the book The Road to Hell: the Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity  was written by Michael Maren to expose the role of humanitarian agencies in Somalia, there was already enough information to expose the militarization of humanitarian work. [xxviii] This kind of Humanitarian intervention as a front for military operations is not new. It has been the standard fare in Africa since King Leopold II of Belgium and the partitioning of Africa.  At all moments of external military interventions, the imperial occupation of Africa was spurred by noble motives such as ‘feeding’ starving children. USAID perfectly represented the continuity of the militarization of humanitarian work.

Sections of the USAID – Office of Food for Peace (FFP) work assiduously to pressure UN Organizations to accept genetically modified food for distribution.  Whether it was food, medicine or education, the OTI had identified a cluster of international NGO’s that would be integrated into the missions of subversion. After the launch of the War on Terror and the restructuring of the State Department for ‘transformational diplomacy,’ the US government identified a number of ‘development partners who were supposed to be us pre-qualified contractors who were able to quickly establish offices and begin approving activities and disbursing grants. These prequalified contractors would be labeled Swift Partners – (Support Which Implements Fast Transitions).  This cluster would be labeled partner firms for Awards and these firms covered the gambit of everything that could fall under the rubric of development, diplomacy and defense.

It was precisely in the midst of the Iraq debacle when military humanitarianism was to reach new levels of desperation. Andrew Naistos who became the head of UASID under Bush symbolized the revolving door between the military, the State Department, Congress, Development Agencies and religious zealots of World Vision. Rumsfeld and the planners of psychological and information warfare took this integration of the military, born again zealots and humanitarianism to all sections of the bureaucracy.”[xxix]

An illuminating study from American University drew attention to 45 interventions in 36 countries by OTI and how the Transition Initiatives were focused on Iraq and Afghanistan during the George W. Bush years. [xxx] USAID’s Office of Military Affairs was tasked to coordinate stabilization and reconstruction in the war on terrorism.

OTI in practice: Lessons from Creative Associates.

Once USAID became subsumed under the military and intelligence arms of the US capital equity forces, it was necessary to restructure the bureaucracy to create the USAID Office of Military Affairs (OMA). This restructuring was slow from the time of Iraq and with every exposure, USAID changed the nomenclature. Hence, at the time of the Libyan war when negative attention was brought to the role of the US military in the destruction of Libya, in November 2011, the State Department changed the name of the Office of Military Affairs (OMA) to the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation (CMC).  This office of civilian military cooperation served as USAID’s primary point of contact with the Department of Defense (DoD). In their own words, “CMC works to align defense and development policies, plans and programs to leverage the unique capabilities of each agency to achieve better development outcomes.  The office responds to the National Security Strategy’s demand that development be a strong and equal partner with diplomacy and defense in the achievement of national security.”

The government admits that the Office of Civilian Military Cooperation works as a force multiplier for the military and outlined three core functions.

1. Support to the Force. Any activity designed to create support for the military force from within the indigenous population.

2. Civil-Military Liaison. Coordination and joint planning with civilian agencies in support of the mission.

3. Support to the Civil Environment. The provision of any of a variety of forms of assistance (expertise, information, security, infrastructure, capacity-building, etc.) to the local population in support of the military mission.

CMC is tasked with working with non-governmental organizations and local governments.

These tasks of subverting societies to serve the geo-political interests of the USA are labelled as Coordinating Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). “The Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) was established in 2003 within USAID’s Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA), and works to integrate conflict management into the implementation of USG ‘development’ aid. The office provides support and resources, such as analytical tools, conflict resolution training, and policy recommendations, to existing USAID missions and other government agencies.” It is where academics and the myriad number of Conflict Resolution Centers sponsored by USAID and US foundations get fed into the entire Office of Civilian Military Cooperation.

While the head of USAID was quibbling before Congress over whether the ZunZuneo operation was a discreet operation rather than a ‘covert’ operation, this exposure forced serious researchers on US subversion in Africa to follow the evolution of the other nine firms that are currently working under the framework of the USAID OTI Swift Award scheme. Inside the US establishment itself Senator Patrick Leahy pointed out how these programs exposed US imperialism and the youths who were working as aid suppliers. At the hearings in April 2014 Leahy noted, “We’re already getting emails from USAID employees all over the world saying, and ‘How could they do this to put us in danger.’

Who are the forces putting the youth in danger?

We have learnt from the OTI own records that there were eight other ‘development contractors other than Creative Associates who were at the top of the line, meaning that they were prequalified to do this kind of work that had been done in Cuba and Kenya.  These were the partner firms that are at the top of the food chain in ‘development’ work. The firms won this fourth iteration of the SWIFT award. They were listed as: AECOM, Casals and Associates, Chemonics International, Creative Associates International, DAI, International Relief and Development, International Resources Group/Engility, Management Systems International, and RTI International.

From this list it is possible to discern two important facts. There is not one area of so called ‘development’ work that is not covered by these contractors. For example, AECOM says of itself that is “a global provider of architecture, design, engineering, and construction services for public and private clients across a broad range. AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government.  With approximately 45,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves.  AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural, and social environments.  A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 150 countries and had revenue of $8.1 billion during 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2013.”

Casals and Dyncorp

Many US private military companies are subsidiaries of some Fortune 500 companies. They are indispensable to US military. The clear linkages between the ‘development ‘agencies and Wall Street are best exemplified by the place of Casals- as a subsidiary of Dyncorp. In 2010 it was reported by the New York Times that DynCorp International, the private military contractor was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management for $1.5 billion. In this press report, we were also informed that Cerberus received financing commitments from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Barclays, and Deutsche Bank.[xxxi] This information placed the direct link between finance capital, the Department of Defense and private military contractors.

Dyncorp is further subdivided into three specialized areas such as Dyncorp Aviation, Dyn Logistics and Dyn Globalcorp Intelligence training and solutions and the Development arm called Casals. In order to better present itself as humanitarian, in line with competing for contracts with the Office of Transition Initiatives, DynCorp International made several acquisitions in 2009 and 2010 to adapt to the shift towards diplomacy and development work, in particular, acquiring Casals, then an international development firm in order to enter the international aid community

With the full knowledge that the State Department was moving in the direction of the 3Ds, in January 2010 DynCorp International acquired Casals & Associates in 2010.  In its self-description, Casals says of itself “Casals & Associates, Inc. (Casals) is an international development firm delivering groundbreaking solutions to social, institutional and political challenges. “We work globally addressing democracy solutions to social, institutional and political challenges. We work globally addressing democracy and governance, rule of law and justice, local governance, conflict management and recovery, health and other urgent issues facing societies today.”

In over 25 countries, Casals & Associates has completed projects advancing good governance, transparency, peace, justice, health and other sustainable development challenges. Some of our successes include helping the citizens of Malawi roll back government corruption; youths from Bolivia’s impoverished rural regions find jobs; support the drafting and passing of the Access to Information and the Government Ethics Laws in El Salvador; communities in Central America develop solutions to gang violence; business leaders in Kazakhstan develop robust corporate ethics programs; and women in Albania increase their involvement in democratic, legal and judicial reforms.”

In Africa, Casals prides itself in:

Work in Uganda— USAID/OTI funded project in Uganda

Building Anticorruption Institutions in Madagascar

Nigeria – Promoting Transparent Government

Strengthening Government Financial Management in Ghana

Helping Malawi to achieve MDG goals.

What was significant was that while Casals was working to build anticorruption institutions in Africa, right within the stable of the USAID subcontractors was one of the most well-known Academy for Educational Development (AED) where in 2007 the President and CEO of this NGO was paid over US$900,000.

This author will encourage students and activists to dig deep into the background of the other contractor worth mentioning in this explicit web of military/development contractors is the group called Engility’ which was launched in 2012 as a subsidiary of the military contractor L3 Communications.

Militarization, Regime Change and subversion

Revelations about Creative Associates and OTI will assist the recruiters in Ivy league schools of Public Policies of the dangers to which they are exposing naive youths who want to ’assist’ the ‘underdeveloped.’ There are many idealistic youths who have now been caught unawares that they have been working for front companies for the 3ds of the security establishment. These are the youths now sending e mails to Senator Patrick Leahy complaining that they have been placed in danger. It is the task of the progressive and anti-militarist community to continue to expose outfits such as Creative Associates or Bancroft Global Development in order to fully call for the dismantling of the OTI’s infrastructure for subversion. The United States has lost credibility and from time to time there are new outfits such as Invisible Children that are presented to build up the profile of the US Military. The experimentation with the Video Kony 2012 that signed up 100 million young persons (mostly students) in 2012 revealed the experimentation with social media that was being carried out by NGO’s who were in league with the military.  In Uganda where the form of constitutional dictatorship has taken new and offensive forms, the engagement of the US military and these NGO’s can be called into question.

In Africa in the so called field of ‘development’ the United States has been compromised whether the programs are presented under the rubric of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), Police Training, OTI or the Pentagon’s office for Social Science Research.   From Uganda to Kenya and from Malawi to Nigeria, even the partners of the USA have to cover themselves in anti-imperialist rhetoric. It is for this reason that those commentators who go on about the increased US military activities in Africa and focus on the press releases of the US Africa Command are off the mark. They would be on the mark if they were including the work of Casals, Creative Associates, Bancroft Global Development and those SWIFT partners who have been pre-qualified to do subversive work in Africa. In order to distance the US military even further, there is now subcontracting of US covert activities through the British Department of International Development (Difid). Since the start of OFI there has been the launch of the USAID/DFID Humanitarian Innovation Initiative.

 Global awareness and the changed situation

At the time of the start of OTI and the destabilization of Angola and Haiti, the United States was already on the defensive intellectually and diplomatically. In Haiti where militarism and dictatorship had bled the country, the USAID  Initiatives supported the destabilization of the society and undermining the Aristide government.  [xxxii] Where the NGO’s succeeded in Haiti, they failed in Angola, Cuba, Venezuela and South Africa. In particular, it was difficult for the USA to convince Africans that the USA was fighting communism in Southern Africa. In the transition after apartheid, the USA and the supporting foundations expended more than US$1 billion to motivate the youths to join ‘conflict management’ fronts and to move from grasping the social contradictions within South Africa.  [xxxiii] However, the contradictions of exploitation and impoverishment in South Africa could not be papered over and while the NGO’s were working in the “conflict resolution centers’, the conditions of oppression  were clear and brought to international headlines after the shooting of unarmed workers at the Marikana mines in 2012.

There have been numerous changes since this century, but the most important has been the emergence of a more engaged youthful population who has taken new steps for political intervention in societies such as the Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt. After spending billions of dollars to suborn the Egyptian military,  the removal of Mubarak in 2011 shook the USAID and their ‘development partners’ in Egypt., USAID ramped up its ‘transition to democracy in Egypt’ calling this a top priority. Yet, after the military coup in 2013, the US government did not call the military intervention a coup d etat.  Hilary Clinton and the State Department were afraid of the positive examples that we set by the mobilized youth in Egypt and the potentialities for new forms of organization among the youth.

The OTI and USAID now have great difficulty managing the changed situation in Bolivia, Venezuela and Angola.  Gone are the days when the USA could intervene and support UNITA and intervene to support a Mobutu sese Seko. The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance had morphed into OTI but the US was unsuccessful in Angola and can only be successful in states such as Equatorial Guinea and Uganda where the leaders lack credibility. In a situation such as the South Sudan where there was one of the largest concentrations of the USAID projects, once the divisions in the political leadership exploded into violence, the OTI operatives had to flee Juba. Even in that situation, the much vaunted US military had to take a back seat while the Ugandan military assisted in the evacuation of US personnel.

This is not to downplay the role of the US military, but to state clearly that since the clear opposition of the peace movement  to the Libyan intervention, the Office of Transition Initiatives had to develop caution in propagating their work. Initially, after NATO declared the NATO intervention a success, The USAID Office of Transition worked out an elaborate scheme “to construct functional media outlets and civil society organizations, as well as build links between the government and its citizen and support education and reconstruction programming.”   [xxxiv] The real dynamics of ‘these transition efforts’ were exposed after the death of the US ambassador Christopher Stevens. The strategists have had to downplay their transition work in Libya and divert attention from the call for the UN to fully evaluate the results of the NATO intervention in Libya.

Whether it is on the ideational plane of supporting the neo-liberal policies of the IMF and World Bank or in the day to day work of defense, diplomacy and development, the United States is on the defensive in all parts of the world.  Mobilizing computer scientists, engineers, and technical professionals to serve the interests of the military and private equity forces cannot resolve the deep-seated contradictions of the accumulation of wealth by a few.  What the actions of OTI and Creative Associates did in Cuba was to reawaken the history of the US attempts to reverse the Cuba revolution and the exposures of the US support for dictators and torturers through the USAID. Those staffers of Congress who are receiving the e mails about putting NGO’ workers in danger will also have to examine what is taught in those centers that are the main recruiting grounds for the SWIFT partners.

No amount of military, intelligence, Special Forces or drones can conceal the contradictions of the quality of the lives of the peoples of the South. In Africa and Latin America, the success of the US military is directly related to the underdevelopment of the political forces. For fifty years the USA has sought to implement regime change in Cuba and the attempts to mobilize the youths of Cuba was one more desperate effort at regime change. The idea of security sector reform is also another front for the marketing of weapons supplied by the USA. Even in this area, the USA is now facing competition from Brazil, Russia, India and China.  In face of these reversals on multiple fronts, the USA is falling back on the pull of the prestigious Universities to recruit idealistic young people into ‘development’ work. Many of these bright youths accumulate huge debts in paying tuition and are therefore desperate for jobs after graduation. The SWIFT contractors go after the brightest of these idealistic youths. Within the public policy institutes there are neo-liberal Professors who prepare these idealistic youths for this market. Just as how there was an intense debate on campus about the role of CIA recruitment, there should be a spirited discussion of the role of SWIFT organizations such as Creative Associates and their work to ensnare unsuspecting youths.

Today, the major dangers lay in the role of the private military contractors that are acting without any kind of legal basis. Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has been calling for more control over these PMC’s and the progressive scholars need to give more publicity to the work of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. Those international NGO’s that are not working to subvert Africa and Latin America need to take a hold of NGO platforms such as InterAction so that those who are integrated into the SWIFT pre-qualified subversive forces can be disbanded. The same goes for those peace and humanitarian organizations that need to separate themselves from the private military contractors who have formed the International Peace Association. We need to draw attention to the need for the USA to support peacekeeping and for a re-engagement with UNESCO and those platforms of international solidarity that breaks the choke hold of the surveillance state.

Horace G. Campbella veteran Pan Africanist is a Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013. 

[ii][ii] Alberto Arce, Desmond Butler and Jack Gillum, “U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest,” Washington Post, April 3, 2014.

[iii] When General David Petraeus former head of the US Central Command and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was recruited to become chairman of the new Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR ) Global Institute , some of the more enlightened began to pay closer  attention  to these entities that are called capital equity groups. Petraeus was hired to focus on ‘economic forecasts, communications, public policy and emerging markets’ and he sought an academic cover at City College in New York city for legitimacy.

[iv] Thomas Heath and Marjorie Censer, “NSA revelations put Booz Allen Hamilton, Carlyle Group in uncomfortable limelight,” Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2013,

[v] Dan Briody, The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group, John Wiley & Sons, 2003. See also Geoffrey Colvin and Ram Charan,”Private Equity: Private lives, CNN Money, November 27, 2006,

From their own platforms we have learnt that Carlyle’s private equity business has been one of the largest investors in leveraged buyout transactions over the last decade, while its real estate business has actively acquired commercial real estate. Since its inception, Carlyle has completed investments in such notable companies as Booz Allen Hamilton, Dex Media, Dunkin’ Brands, Freescale Semiconductor, Getty Images, HCR Manor Care, Hertz, Kinder Morgan, Nielsen, and United Defense.  The Carlyle Group operates in four business areas: private equity, real assets, market strategies, and fund of funds, through its AlpInvest subsidiary.


[vi] Tim Shorrock, “Meet the contractors analyzing your private data,” Salon, June 10, 2013, also his book, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing,  Simon & Schuster, 2009

[vii] Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,

[viii] David Wise, “Campus Recruiting and the CIA,” New York Times, June 8, 1986. See also Phillip Zwerling, The CIA on Campus: Essays on Academic Freedom and the National Security State, Macfarland 2011

[ix] Colin Powell, ‘Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to the National Foreign Policy Conference For Leaders of Non-Governmental Organizations’, 26 October 2001, See also Abby Stoddard, “With us or against us? NGO neutrality on the line,”Humanitarian Practice Network, Issue No 25, December 2003,

[x] Shashank Bengali, “How Kenya’s election was rigged,” McClatchy News, January 31, 2008, See also Horace Campbell, “Drama of the popular struggle for democracy in Kenya,” Pambazuka News, January 3, 2008,

[xi] For the description of this project from USAID see Yes Youth Can,

[xii] Ushaidi means testimony or witness in the Kiswahili language. For an analysis see Meier, Patrick and Kate Brodock (2008). “Crisis Mapping Kenya’s Election Violence: Comparing Mainstream News, Citizen Journalism and Ushahidi.” (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, HHI, Harvard University: Boston).

[xiii] Douglas Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, Harper Books, 2008

[xiv] Kennon H. Nakamura and Susan B. Epstein, “Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Transformational Diplomacy,” CRS Report For Congress, RL34141, August 2007.  See also Connie Veillette “Restructuring U.S. Foreign Aid: The Role of the Director of Foreign Assistance in Transformational Development,” Congressional Research Service, January 2007

[xv] Pratap Chatterjee, “The National Security Industrial Complex and NSA Spying: The Revolving Doors Between State Agencies and Private Contractors,” Global Research, June 18, 2013,

[xvi] Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, “Liberty and Security in a Changing World,” December 12, 2013, file:///C:/Users/horace-user/Downloads/addb723d-ae06-4a3f-a4bf-ca220fe3062d.pdf

[xviii] Larry Diamond, Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq (New York, Times Books 2005

[xix] Christopher M. Blanchard, “Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, “Congressional Research Service, October 18, 2012,

[xx] Jenny Pearce,  “Is social change fundable? NGOs and theories and practices of social change.” Development in Practice, Vol. 20, No. 6 (August 2010), pp. 621-635. See also James Petras, “Imperialism and NGO’s in Latin America,” Monthly Review 49, 1997

[xxi] Garry Leech, “Washington Seeks Regime Change in Venezuela: Agents of Destabilization,” Counterpunch, March 4, 2014

[xxii] Eva Golinger,”Agents of Destabilization: the Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela, Counterpunch, April 24, 2014,

[xxiii] Marian Lawson, “USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives After 15 Years: Issues for Congress,” Federation of American Scientists, May 27, 2009, done for the Congressional Research Office. Report 7-5700

[xxiv] Rotberg, Robert. “The First Ten Years: An Assessment of the Office of Transition Initiatives.” Cambridge, MA, Program on Intrastate Conflict, Belfer Center, J. F. Kennedy School, Harvard University, 2005

[xxv] Associated Press, “U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest,” Washington Post, April 2, 2014.The name ZunZuneo was chosen  for the sound made by a Cuban hummingbird.

[xxvi] Chester, Eric. 1995 . Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA (Armonk: M.E.Sharpe

[xxvii] Marian Lawson, “USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives After 15 Years: Issues for Congress,” page 2

[xxviii] Sara Kenyon Lischer, “Military Intervention and the Humanitarian “Force Multiplier” Global Governance, Volume 13, No 1, 2007

[xxix] Andrew Naistos, “Foreign assistance in the Age of Terror.” 2004

[xxx] Sarah Beller, Graig Klein, and Ronald Fisher, “US Government Innovations in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution,” International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program , American University, 2009 ,

[xxxi] New York Times, “Cerberus to Buy DynCorp for $1.5 Billion,” April 10, 2010,

[xxxii] Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment, Verso Books, London 2010. See especially  Chapter 13 on the role of  international NGO’s

[xxxiii] Julie Hearn, “Aiding Democracy? Donors and Civil Society in South Africa,”  Third World Quarterly, Vol 21, No 5, 2000

[xxxiv] Christopher M. Blanchard,” Libya, Transition and US Policy, Congressional Research Service. 2012

Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse University. He is the author of Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya, Monthly Review Press, 2013.  Notes.