In an effort to head off such a popular uprising and discredit pro-democracy leaders and their supporters, Iran's reactionary leadership has been making false claims, aired in detail in a series of television broadcasts during the third week of July, that certain Western nongovernmental organizations that have given workshops and offered seminars for Iranian pro-democracy activists on the theory and history of strategic nonviolent struggle are actually plotting with the Bush administration in offering specific instructions on how to overthrow the regime.Just which "Western nongovernmental organizations" does he have in mind, though? And what television broadcasts? Zunes doesn't spell them out, but since he confidently says that "Iran's reactionary leadership has been making false claims" about them, the impression left in the reader's mind is that the nameless Western NGOs are doing either good things or at least harmless things, not at all linked to the US government.
But doesn't Zunes actually mean the NGOs named in In the Name of Democracy, featuring Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbaksh, and Ramin Jahanbaglou, which was indeed aired on Iranian Channel 1 on 18-19 July according to Western media reports? Like the Soros Foundation? Now, Zunes suggests that those who object to the activities of the Soros Foundation and the like are only doing so because they "have actually bought into these claims by Iran's hardline clerics" ("The United States and 'Regime Change' in Iran," 7 August 2007). That is not the case, however. An increasingly prominent role played by Western NGOs such as the Soros Foundation* in the "soft power" varieties of regime change campaigns first came to light regarding Central and Eastern Europe, especially Yugoslavia, and, needless to say, leftists' concerns about them long predate any claim made by any Iranian official and have nothing to do with any Iranian broadcast that few here watched anyway.
* Read, for instance, Gerald Sussman, "The Myths of 'Democracy Assistance': U.S. Political Intervention in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe," Monthly Review 58.7, December 2006:
Today, the U.S. government relies less on the CIA in most cases and more on the relatively transparent initiatives undertaken by such public and private organizations as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Freedom House, George Soros's Open Society, and a network of other well-financed globetrotting public and private professional political organizations, primarily American, operating in the service of the state's parallel neoliberal economic and political objectives.