I was somewhat surprised to receive an article titled “China’s capitalist gangster” written by Jody Ray Bennett and published by the International Relations and Security Network, otherwise known as ISN Security Watch. The ISN is, in turn, a service of the Centre for Security Studies (CSS) at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich).
For some inexplicable reason Bennett felt the great irresistible desire to not-so-subtly include Executive Outcomes in the body of the article, trying to draw a link/distinction/parallel between the Chinese mafia boss Yang Shukuan and the “adventurous profiteering operations” of EO. (http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?lng=en&id=94172).
This really caught my attention and by doing some internet searches, I discovered that Bennett is also apparently another self-styled expert on EO and especially Simon Mann’s alleged role in establishing and running the company. Apart from discovering that Bennett’s “research” is based on the internet and lies, Bennett is also based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Those of us who served in the South African Defence Force in the 80s are well aware of how that country was supporting terrorism and “armed struggles” in Africa and elsewhere.
Upon further investigation of the ISN’s partners, I discovered that the South African NGO, Institute of Security Studies (ISS) – another vigorous purveyor of disinformation about EO and myself – have a very close tie. Coincidence, I wondered? But then again, NGOs are famous for rebuking anyone who makes a profit – as long as no-one points a finger at their profit margins. Their oft-pronounced claims that they do what they do to make the world a better place are pure fabrication in many cases – they do it because they profit from it. However, Bennett would undoubtedly defend their sponsorships as a mere income, whilst denouncing EO’s income as shameless profiteering.
But then I have often wondered – who sponsors these people and organisations? From the manner in which they target select companies for often inexplicable specific reasons, I wondered if their sponsorship is not perhaps derived from governments and multi-national corporations whose interests EO threatened. Finding out exactly which multi-nationals and governments sponsor these fabricators of disinformation will be an interesting direction to take up for people who take pride in independent research – and who are not using the convenient label of findings to disguise propaganda as research.
The title researcher is undoubtedly meant to convey authority, professionalism and objectivity. That is why so many people believe what they write in their reports. That is why so few people will never realise the extent of the abuse by some of them of the generally accepted notion of research as something objective. They count on the fact that the public at large would be certain to accept as truth the findings of researchers working for an institute or other such body. Even newspapers and magazines who publish these findings don’t usually go to the trouble to first check by whom a particular institute is funded. Thus very few people come to realise that both the topics of so-called research as well as so-called findings often depend on who is doing the funding – and what their agenda is.
Having aired my opinion on this disturbing trend, I have to note that I do know of ethical researchers who double-check the intelligence they get fed by governments and who resist attempts by companies with vested interests to dictate the nature and the outcome of their research.
I responded to Bennett’s disinformation with the following:
I find it amazing how the gross fabrications on Executive Outcomes are continually perpetuated due to poor research and lack of facts and somehow worked into an otherwise good article. However, if your facts on EO are incorrect, how correct can the other facts in the article be?
Simon Mann was NEVER a founder/member/partner or anything else in EO, yet for some reason (again no research) he is continually portrayed as such. What a shame that you abuse your responsibility to inform and instead choose to misinform.
However, I am sure that no attention will be paid by this researcher of the ISN or any other one for that matter.
In my next posting I shall take a look at how the media acts as a source of disinformation.