Committee for the Free World
Interhemispheric Resource Center: GroupWatch Profiles | Published: January 07, 1989
Background: The Committee for the Free World (CFW) was founded in 1981 by Midge Decter who is the executive director. CFW has tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) and began with funding of $125,000 from individuals and ultra-conservative foundations. Among the original funders were three of the major right-wing foundations: Scaife, John M. Olin, and Smith Richardson. (2)
In its initial press conference, the CFW said it planned to work for freedom "in the world of ideas," and planned to concentrate its efforts on books, newspapers, broadcasting networks, and in classrooms. (2) It envisioned itself as an organization committed to the defense of the non-communist world "against the rising menace of totalitarianism."(2) The group's intellectualism, democratic emphasis, and strident anticommunism places the CFW in the arena of the numerous neoconservative groups formed preceeding and following the election of former President Ronald Reagan.
According to its brochure, the CFW has three purposes: to promote democracy; to keep the public aware of all threats to democracy; and to oppose the influence of those inside and outside of the U.S."who have made themselves the enemies of the democratic order."(1) CFW has a speakers bureau and has a monthly publication,"Contentions."(1) It claims to have 400 members and to focus its activities in the UK and the U.S. (2,3)
Funding: The Scaife Family Charitable Trusts and the Smith Richardson Fdns put up at least $25,000 each in 1981. (3)
The Adolph Coors Fdn gave CWF a $15,000 grant in 1985 for projects advocating democracy and a free society. (17) The John M. Olin Fdn granted $35,000 in 1985 and $50,000 in 1986 for support of publications and for other educational purposes. (17,18)
The Smith Richardson Fdn awarded four grants in 1985: $35,000 for general support, $35,000 for Women and Families for Defense, $25,000 for a film project on the American Communist Party, and $10,000 for the Campus Coalition for Democracy. (17) In 1986, Smith Richardson gave $42,500 for general support. (18)
In 1985, The Sarah Scaife Fdn gave $35,000 for operating support. (17) The Lynde and Harry Bradley Fdn gave $100,000 in 1986 in support of a conference in Milwaukee and general activities. (18)
Activities: Director Midge Decter and deputy director Micah Morrison regularly write columns for the national press, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. (4,5) CFW activities and policies are often covered in the Unification Church-owned Washington Times. (6,7) The articles generally attack politicians or legislation under consideration that proposes cooperation with communist nations or arms reduction. (4,5,7)
Over the past few years, the CFW along with the Smith Richardson Fdn have provided $100,000 to an ad hoc task force headed by three Phoenix lawyers who are opposing the connection of the American Bar Association with the Association of Soviet Lawyers. (5) The Phoenix task force represents Soviet Jewry and Ukranian and Baltic nationalists. (5)
The CFW has taken a number of full-page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post. (8,9,10,11) One printed in the Times in 1988 opposed the cease-fire in Nicaragua proposed at the Sapoa meeting by five Central American Nations. The ad claimed that,"peace accords that are not backed by military force are nothing more than surrender."(8)
A 1981 ad called for armed opposition to the guerrilla groups in El Salvador, stating they are dominated by the Salvadoran communist party and Marxist-Leninist factions. It declared that the U.S. has a vital stake in holding back "Soviet advancement" in El Salvador. (9)
An ad from 1982 supported Solidarity in Poland. It called for a ban of Western loans, Western goods and Western technology to both the "Quisling government" set up by the Soviet Union and to the USSR. These actions, the ad stated, would "further the processes of disintegration from within that may mark the beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire."(10)
The CFW and the American Fdn for Resistance Intl cosponsored an appeal for "economic blackmail"--or play it our way and you will be rewarded--with an ad in June 1988 in the Washington Post. This ad supported the McClure amendment which would provide a Most Favored Nation trade status to certain nations. (11) The trade "perk" would be given to nations signing some non-governmental document--no details are given on the content of the document. (11) A second ad in June of 1988 shows a huge bear crushing a man in a suit and carries the caption,"Have We Forgotten That Every Time We've Hugged The Bear, Somebody Else Has Suffered?"(14) The message clearly is not to trust the Soviet Union, not to believe in glasnost, and not to negotiate any arms reductions. (14)
All of the ads are signed by the board of directors and other neoconservative luminaries. All include a coupon requesting donations to support the work of the CFW. Those endorsing the ads and the work of CFW include a widespectrum of the right wing. Among them are: Richard V. Allen, Edwin J. Feulner, Jr, Burton Pines, Robert Bork, Ray Cline, Ellen C. Garwood, Joshua Muravchik, William Rusher, William E. Simon, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Leo Cherne, Thomas W. Gleason, Roy Godson, Penn Kemble, Michael Ledeen, R. Bruce McColm, Norman Podhoretz, Bayard Rustin, Ben J. Wattenberg, Lewis Tambs, Max Singer, and Eugene V. Wigner. (8,9,10,11,14)
In 1985, the CFW had a 2-day conference around the subject of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting in Geneva. The conference presented the usual neoconservative complaint that the Reagan administration failed to translate its anticommunist rhetoric into a hardline strategy to rollback the influence of communism in the world. Speakers at the conference strongly promoted the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and were critical of any attempt to negotiate with the Soviets. (15) Among those present at the conference were Harvard Sovietologist Richard Pipes, Michael Ledeen, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, and Asst. Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, and conservative critics Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. (15)
CFW markets, and presumably has made two films,"Agents of Deception" and "The KGB Connections." The former covers the Soviet Union's use of "disinformation," and how it is used against Western democracies."The KGB Connections" examines Soviet espionage activities in North America. (19) Also offered for sale are pro-SDI publications and the proceedings of two CFW conferences. (20)
Government Connections: Michael Ledeen was involved with Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra affair. Their work together involved the development and dissemination of disinformation. (16) Ledeen has been described by the Israeli press as an American agent who got Israel involved as a broker in another Iran-Contra related deal between the U.S. and Iran. (16) Ledeen became an editor at the Center for Strategic and Intl Studies in the late 1970s. He later joined the Reagan administration where he served as an adviser to North on the National Security Council and was on the planning group that led to the creation of the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy. (16)
Richard Perle served as Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson's chief aide on military affairs. In that capacity he toured the country speaking on behalf of the anti-Soviet agenda of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). (21) Perle went on to join the Reagan administration as Asst Sec of Defense for Intl Security Policy. (21)
Richard V. Allen became President Reagan's first foreign policy advisor and in that position was a core member of the neoconservative group that shaped the foreign policy for the administration. Allen went on to become National Security Adviser to President Reagan. (21)
Another important figure in foreign policy development was CWF endorser, Richard Pipes. Pipes is considered the preeminent Sovietologist in the country--it was the "Pipes Report" from Team B that provided the intelligence and strategy for antiSoviet groups such as the CPD. The report advocated an immediate tripling of the military budget, a strong defense, and an international policy of containment militarism. (21) Pipes was a prominent member of the CPD. He served on the National Security Council during the Reagan administration. (21)
Elliott Abrams was deeply implicated in all aspects of the Iran-Contra Affair. He first served in the Reagan administration
as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs and later as the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. (21,47) In the latter position, he was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra affair. Abrams is Midge Decter's son-in-law. (47)
Roy Godson served as the U.S. representative to the Intl Youth Year conference, an event funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. He also served as a consultant to the U.S. Information Agency in the early 1980s and was a member of the CIA transition team in 1980. (25)
Lewis Tambs was a member of the World Anti-Communist League. He served as ambassador to Costa Rica until 1986. (27,28) Tambs is also a member of the Council for Inter-American Security. The Council produced the first so-called "Santa Fe Document" which laid out much of the interventionist policy implemented in Central America during President Reagan's first term in office. (37)
William Simon was Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard Nixon. (37)
Ray Cline was a deputy director of the CIA from 1964 through 1967. (26)
Jeane Kirkpatrick served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations during the Reagan administration. (47)
Private Connections:Max Singer, an endorser of the CFW, is president of the conservative business strategy consulting firm the Potomac Organization. He went to Honduras in 1983 where he offered advice on how to improve the image of the contras. Of high priority, Singer obsrved, was the avoidance of the image of the contras as a U.S. -run army. (12) Singer also noted that he was planning to return to Washington to write a book promoting the contras. (12) Singer was on the board of Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (PRODEMCA). (12) PRODEMCA was founded to support incipient democratic processes in Central America. (45) It has a controversial history because of its advocacy of the Nicaraguan contras and involvement in the IranContra affair.
PRODEMCA received $88,000 from Spitz Channell, head of the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty, a major actor in Lt. Col Oliver North's private aid network for the contras. (32,37) PRODEMCA terminated its own operations and merged with Freedom House in late 1988. (45)
Eugene Wigner, a physicist by profession, was on the board of the Committee on the Present Danger. (21) Wigner has also served on the board of right-wing Accuracy in Media, a group that promotes conservative causes by monitoring and criticizing the mainstream media. (22,23) He has served on the board of trustees of Freedom House, another neoconservative group working internationally in support of the "institutions of democracy."(24) In 1982, Wigner received a $200,000 "Founders Award" from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon--head of the Unification Church. (41)
Ellen Garwood is a Dallas heiress, perhaps best known for her generous donations to the U.S. Council for World Freedom, the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League. (26) She is also a member of the Council for National Policy (CNP), an elite foreign policy planning group composed mostly of conservative millionaires. (39) CNP aspires to be the policymaking body for the New Right. (46)
Ben J. Wattenberg and Irving Kristol were co-directors of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM), a group that was formed by the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in 1972. CDM was an advocate of a strong military and the theory of "peace through strength." Many of its members went on to join the Committee on the Present Danger. (21) In 1988 Wattenberg was a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a rightwing think tank that develops and provides supporting documents for the policies of the New Right. (21,29)
Irving Kristol is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, the publisher of the National Interest magazine, and co-editor of the Public Interest magazine. Formerly, Kristol was exec vice pres of Basic Books and managing editor of Commentary magazine. (47) All of the above publication present are conservative. Commentary is edited by Norman Podhoretz, husband of Midge Decter. Jeane Kirkpatrick and Elliott Abrams are contributors to the magazine, and Midge Decter was formerly a managing editor. (47)
Penn Kemble is chairman of the executive committee of CDM. (30) He was a member of the Natl Committee of Social Democrats, USA (SD/USA), a coalition of intellectual, anticommunist neoconservatives who believe that labor is the "cutting edge" for social change. (33,47) He was founder and president of Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (PRODEMCA). (31,47) Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Former Treasury Secretary William Simon were also on the PRODEMCA board. Jeane Kirkpatrick was a prominent member of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and a member of the Committee on the Present Danger. Both groups are strongly anticommunist and in the 1970s developed and promoted the strategy of containment militarism. (21) She is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and is or was on the faculty of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another policydeveloping think tank that was closely tied to the Reagan administration. (50) Kirkpatrick is also a syndicated columnist for the New York Times. (47)
Midge Decter is another major player in the neoconservative network that came to the political forefront after Reagan's election to the Presidency. Decter was a founding member of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and a member of the Committee on the Present Danger. (47) She was on the board of the Heritage Fdn and a former senior editor at Basic Books. (47)
William Simon is or was a trustee of the conservative think tank, the Heritage Fdn. (40) He is president of the Olin Fdn, a major funder of right-wing groups. (22) He is or was on the board of governors of the Council for National Policy. (39) Simon is also a member of the right-wing lay Catholic group, the Knights of Malta--a group very active in Central America. (36) Simon headed a major fund for private support to the Nicaraguan contras, the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund. (37) He also served on the advisory committee for AmeriCares, a group that received funds from the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund. AmeriCares not only supported the contras, but has been implicated in manipulation of the internal politics in Nicaragua. (42,43) Simon was a board member of PRODEMCA. (37) He also has been connected with the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank, and the conservative media watchdog group, Accuracy in Media. (37)
Bayard Rustin was on the original board of the CPD. (21) He was chairman of the exec committee of Freedom House and of SD/USA. Rustin was vice pres of the League for Industrial Democracy, a group that works closely with SD/USA, and was on the board of the CDM. (34,35)
Ray Cline was on the board of the U.S. Council for World Freedom, the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). Cline was also involved with the activities of WACL. (26) He is the head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). (43)
Arnaud de Borchgrave is the editor of the Unification Church-owned Washington Times newspaper. He is also a senior associate at CSIS. (26)
Joshua Muravchik is currently on the board of CDM. (30) He is the son of Emanuel Muravchik and nephew of Midge Decter. (21)
Edwin Feulner is president of The Heritage Fdn, a group that played an important part in developing policy for the Reagan administration. (38) He was on the 1984 board of governors of the Council for National Policy. (39) Burton Yale Pines is a senior vice pres for Research at the Heritage Fdn. (38)
Roy Godson is on the boards of the Committee for a Democratic Majority and the League for Industrial Democracy. (48,49) Godson heads the Washington DC office of the National Strategy Information Center (NSIC), a right-wing think tank for military strategy. (21)
Misc: According to an article in the April 18, 1981 edition of The Nation, The Smith Richardson Fdn not only has CIA agents reviewing grants, but also provides management training to the CIA and the Defense Department through an affiliate organization. (3)
In 1988, Midge Decter was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as writing that,"Congress's recent cut-off of aid to the Contras was 'a day that will live in infamy' like the day of Pearl Harbor."(13)
Principals: Officers in 1989 are: Donald H. Rumsfeld, chairman; Midge Decter, exec dir; Neal Kozodoy, sec; Robert B. Glynn, tres. (1)
Board of Directors, 1989 are: William Barrett, author and philosopher; Alain Bensancon, Ecole des Hautes Etudes, France; Enzo Bettiza, journalist, Italy; Gerd Bucerius, Die Zeit, Germany; Jean-Claude Casanova, Commentaire, France; Lord Chalfont, author, UK ; Carl Gershman, pres of the National Endowment for Democracy; Sir James Goldsmith, publisher, France; Johannes Gross, author, W. Germany; Paul Johnson, author, UK ; Jeane Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations; Leszek Kolakowski, U. of Chicago; Hilton Kramer, The New Criterion; Irving Kristol, The Public Interest; Leopold Labedz, Survey, UK; Melvin J. Lasky, Encounter, UK ; Seymour Martin Lipset, Stanford U. ; Nicholas Lobkowixz, Catholic U. , W. Germany; Golo Mann; historian, W. Germany; Indro Montanelli, journalist, Italy; Erwin Scheuch, U. of Cologne, W. Germany; Edward Shils, U. of Chicago; Tom Stoppard, playwright, UK ; Lord Thomas, Centre for Policy Studies, UK ; George Urban, historian, UK; Jacqueline Wheldon, author, UK ; and George F. Will, columnist. (1)
Columnist Micah Morrison is a deputy director of CFW. (4)
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