By Other Means: Bringing down a government, or keeping one in power, no longer requires tanks.



TOPPLING GOVERNMENTS in the twenty-first century, or installing them, is no longer the business of soldiers. It used to be, back in the days of the Cold War. Just think of Chile in 1973, or Argentina in 1976. Back then nobody much cared about the optics. So there were tanks on the streets. So a few thousand people “disappeared”. So what? They were commies. Nobody cared. Good riddance!

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, things changed. Lacking the Cold War justification of “resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” the United States and its allies were forced to develop a new way of making sure that their friends continued to acquire and/or retain power, while their enemies – unaccountably – suffered one set-back after another.

The first step was to make sure that even if their friends failed the political consequences would be minimal. There were to be no more elections like the Chilean election of 1970, in which the victory of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity coalition resulted in the introduction of genuine left-wing policies. The imposition around the world of the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” (which began with the arrival of the “Chicago Boys” in post-coup Chile) meant that even nominally “left-wing” parties could be relied upon to refrain from introducing measures calculated to inhibit or restrict the free operation of market forces.

The second step was to devise a whole new repertoire of non-military methods for bringing a government down. Essentially this involved using the core freedoms enshrined in all democratic states: freedom of speech; freedom of the press; and the freedom to assemble peacefully for a redress of grievances; not to advance democracy but to create a simulacrum of it. What appeared to the world to be a spontaneous uprising of the people against a corrupt and dictatorial regime, would, in fact, be the culmination of months, even years, of careful planning by teams of operatives (spies?) inserted into the target country by the United States and its allies.

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The classic examples of this new technique of “coup d’état by crowd” were the so-called “colour revolutions” that brought down the democratically elected governments of Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. (In the case of the latter, twice!) The Americans spent millions of dollars in these countries establishing political organisations, founding newspapers, setting up radio and television stations, and creating websites – all of which were then used to recruit thousands of perfectly genuine followers (usually young, middle-class university students) who would then be led onto the streets to confront the government.

These ostensibly peaceful protests were almost always carefully stage-managed to ensure that the authorities, goaded to breaking-point by a tiny, well-trained and well-paid “hard-core” fraction of the crowd, would over-react and start beating the protesters indiscriminately. Graphic examples of this state violence would then be broadcast around the world (often via social media) and, inevitably, the size of the protests would grow and the demands of the protesters would escalate.

The critical demand of these “people’s movements” would be the holding of new elections. This was especially so when the “revolution’s” precipitating event was an election whose result was disputed (as in Serbia in 2000). One of the key methods employed to make the claims of a “stolen” election plausible was the publication of bogus opinion polls. The government’s enemies – both foreign and domestic – would fabricate polls showing massive disapproval of the governing party and correspondingly massive support for its challengers. When the ballot boxes disgorged a radically different result the immediate response of the government’s enemies was that the election had been “stolen”. Gravely concerned, the US, UK and European Union would immediately lend their voices to the call for fresh elections.

Sometimes, of course, these tactics spooked the government under attack into doing the subversives’ work for them. Informed by his own (and the Russian’s) intelligence agencies that the US was active behind the scenes, building and funding his liberal opposition, the Serbian strongman, Slobodan Milosevic, panicked and stole the election for real. Perfect!

Interestingly, the process works just as well in reverse.

If there’s a government the powers that be, domestically and/or internationally, wish to keep in office, then exactly the same funds will be lavished on exactly the same hidden persuaders. Social media will be skilfully and extensively employed, not to attack the incumbent government, but to undermine and smear its political opponents. Opinion polls will consistently demonstrate the government’s overwhelming popularity. Sympathetic journalists will disparage any suggestion of widespread popular discontent with the status quo. Political activists and parties evincing just a little too much passion and/or promising just a little too much in the way of genuine, as opposed to purely cosmetic, reforms will suddenly find all manner of things going wrong. They’ll hear strange clicking sounds on their landlines. Their computers may be hacked or stolen. The controls of their leader’s car may suddenly malfunction, sending him tumbling down a bank.

And nary a tank in sight.


  1. The same tactics outlined in your final paragraph may also be effectively deployed by one faction of a political party targeting another faction of the same political party. By one contender against another contender. For a much longer game. And democracy, and the notions of ascent to leadership by hard work and merit, and civic service rather than career politiking, is similarly the victim.

  2. “Opinion polls will consistently demonstrate the government’s overwhelming popularity.”

    Latest polls certainly suggest this. If nothing else, it seems from today’s Colmar Brunton that Key’s Teflon coat is still ENTIRELY intact post Dirty Politics, the sacking of Collins etc. Is there nothing that will scour John Key’s slickness? Maybe KDC has something that will stick, but by all accounts Hager’s damning revelations clearly didn’t have enough abrasive power.

      • The polls aren’t necessarily “accurate” (i.e. he won’t get 50% of the popular vote), but you can’t deny that Key has recovered almost all of the lost ground from whatever base level you think is appropriate. i.e. Key’s popularity is factually trending UP, as opposed to the DOWN we all expected post-Dirty Politics.

    • It was unclear whether the last paragraph was meant to be applicable to NZ or not, but whatever the intention, it is hard to see how the opinion polls in this election can remain unmoved without a lot of help from the media.

      • Dennis I suspect that you find it ‘hard to see’ because you and those who dearly wanted to believe that Hager’s book would shift popular opinion live on a different planet than most New Zealanders.

        To blame the media for the fact that the vast majority of NZ’ders didn’t buy the Hager thesis is frankly an insult to most NZders. You presume that they are too dim to make up their own minds without being influenced by the media. Whereas I suspect that you and yours believe that you are far to smart for that to happen.

        An insight into of whats getting most NZder’s energised in this campaign was the furore that raged on talkback radio this week about Cunliffe’s gaffes over capital gains tax re the homes of newly deceased parents.

        But I don’t suppose that talkback radio is part of your milieu.

        • Grantoc…this is also clearly Labour’s problem. I am convinced that Labour knew about the Hager book long before it was published, and I suspect McCarten thought it would be enough t turn the tide. Labour have seriously miscalculated what matters to NZ’ers, and not for the first time. Cunliffe’s ongoing ineptitude hasn’t helped them of course.

          • Or possibly the spin of a ‘Rockstar’ economy , which , by the way…would come from the same spin doctors that developed the ‘attack ‘politics brand in this country.

            Thusly , it would appear…that the polls are in fact erroneous in depicting what matters to ‘most New Zealanders’.

            But if you enjoy speeches by Bill English about ‘being glad we have a low wage economy because it encourages foreign investment’…at about the same time he was siphoning off around $750.00 per week for his little abode…

            Knock yourself out , mate.

            Just remember that when you tuck into that nice , big , juicy steak that it comes at the cost of over 260,000 children in poverty whose parents are either unemployed or on low wages aka the working poor.

            They will be lucky to have any food on the table at the same time.

            But then again…guys like you don’t mind that we are now at $80 billion in debt , that that was excused as designated for welfare , but in reality was the justification for tax cuts to the super rich.

            Yep…its a rockstar economy , all right bud.

            • Actually the term ‘Rock Star Economy’ was an off the cuff one liner coined by an Australian financial analyst earlier this year when the NZ economy was touching around 4% growth.

              It caught on, as slogans do.

              It had nothing to do with so called spin doctors.

    • DO NOT believe the polls or MSM. Only the politically ignorant believe either!

      Spread the word, “Polls and MSM sprouting’s are Bullshit!

      Chris’s article above is spot on and it is what we will face when we swept this this bunch of scumbags out of office!!

    • The Wairarapa Times age conducted their own poll in the Wairarapa – for electorate seat and party vote.

      Last election National got 51.1% of the party vote: this is strong National territory.

      Current poll:
      39% National
      17% Labour
      9% Green
      9% NZ First
      3% Conservative

      26% undecided

      There is a long way to go – best to ignore the polls and focus on battling your corner and focusing on integrity and policy.

    • People are dumb. If you don’t believe it, talk to some of them.

      The views posted on Kiwiblog might well appear to you as originating from within a lunatic asylum, but there are more of them than there are of us.

  3. Thankfully that will never happen in Niu Zillind, unless it’s a left-wing conspiracy, of course. (Tongue so firmly in my cheek it’s coming out my ear ).

  4. My father started a Farmers Union Movement with surprising success initially . Machiavellian confederates killed it off , of course , but one event still sticks in my feeble mind .
    I was sitting in the back of Dads old car when a reporter for an NZBC radio show oriented to farming came up to the passenger window while we were parked outside and told Dad , somewhat ominously , that he’d had a call from Wellington telling him [ The reporter ] that if the interview he and dad had undertaken aired , he’d lose his job . That was in 1964-ish .

    • The only difference between now and then Countryboy is that journalists no longer need to be told what to air and what not to air, they’re training so much better these days.

      I keep telling people that we are living in the midst of a PR war – except at the moment it’s very one-sided. We really need to put our heads together to figure out a way to combat it because PR is where things are being won and lost at the moment. Of course sometimes the right over reaches itself and gets too cocky, I can’t tell yet if they’ve done that here but the election should answer my question.

    • The government used to maintain an incredible amount of control over broadcasting in NZ. The aspect that most people don’t realise is that privatisation of the broadcast media doesn’t stop that type of thing happening – it just shifts it from one point of authoritarian control to another point.

      If we want a truly free press then it needs to be fully government funded with no advertising and no profit motive. The articles that get published decided by the journalists themselves with the editors there solely to ensure that they’re well written and sourced.

  5. Considering the devious nature of how the neoliberal economic order established globally, if history had followed another path, in Allende’s Chile it would have been fascinating to see what could have come of Project Cybersyn; a system to manage the economy on cybernetic principles.

    Considering the meagre computing resources available then, imagine the possibilities with the extensive and colossal computing resources available now.

    • Gee memories there, I was in computer two year institute training to be a customer engineer between 1972 to 74 in Canada then training up on those systems. Wow that takes me back, thanks for that.

  6. Chris, not only phoney opinion polls are used but so are Election polls is has been found.

    NZ polls are manipulated.

    Corruption case to answer and a police investigation must be ordered by the opposition, here are some facts.

    A simple search last night of “Polls can be manipulated” – Google
    found about 1,400,000 results.
    Below leaves us all now with the knowledge of what in New Zealand is actually going on, it is more corruption of our MSM conducting manipulated polling results, and opposition now must call this as it is, corruption of the MSM and manipulation of all polls.

    We were contacted Friday 22nd of August at 4pm by Herald Digipoll by a lady who first said we are conducting a poll and could we participate?
    We said yes, then she said my supervisor is listening in, is that o/k?

    I hesitated but agreed and she went through a ten minute questioning, and then abruptly said we don’t need your input thanks, and hung up!

    This left us so disturbed we searched the web and found all 1.4 million cases of poll manipulations globally on Goggle, which include what is called “selective polling”

    We believe we were a victim of a Herald Digipoll selective polling strategy.

    NZ pols are corrupted, is this a crime?

    This is just one case of the 1.4 million sites on Goggle in India which may show what is happening here in NZ.

    New Delhi: Public opinion gathered by leading opinion poll agencies is often tweaked to give misleading results, Operation Prime Minister, a sting operation by a private news network, News Express, has revealed Tuesday. Well-known faces from leading opinion poll agencies have been caught on hidden camera agreeing to such malpractices.

    Operation Prime Minister shows how opinion polls are conducted and manipulated at the instance of political parties, their results traded to show a particular party in a favourable position, for a price. Presenting snippets from the sting operation at a press conference, Editor-in-chief of News Express, Vinod Kapri said, “Our motivation behind conducting the sting operation was a letter written by the Election Commission of India to all regional and national parties inviting their views on the publication of opinion polls.

    We wanted to investigate the concerns of the Commission.” In its letter dated 4 Oct, 2013, the Election Commission had said, “The Commission has been suggesting to the government that there should be a similar prohibition or restriction on opinion polls also as there could be several manipulated opinion polls which could impact the voting pattern.”

    Another motivation behind the sting operation was the mushrooming of opinion polls. “There used to be one or two opinion polls every election. But now, one sees an opinion poll almost every week. Which leads us to the question- how is the data generated so quickly and processed,” said Kapri.

    “Operation Prime Minister has exposed eleven opinion poll agencies, whose surveys are published in leading newspapers and magazines besides being broadcast by leading news channels”, it was claimed in the sting opertaion.

    It demonstrates how the 810 million voters of our country are duped into believing trends or waves that are manipulated. – See more at:

    “Opinion polls seem to have become the latest weapon in the poll campaign.

    For a price, the prediction of seats tally can be changed to suit the interests of political parties.

    The agencies have no qualms accepting even black money for this purpose”,

    News Express claimed. The influence of opinion poll agencies goes beyond mere opinion polls. In some cases, the poll agencies have claimed they can even prop up dummy candidates in the constituencies where the rival candidate is on a strong wicket.

    It has also been claimed that some leading editors are hand in glove with these poll agencies.

    This is just a few of the 1.4 million sites on Goggle. – See more at:

  7. Many years ago when the anti-Green leaflets arrived in my mailbox, I thought they were too crazy to have much impact. But I saved them all out of curiosity, because they reeked of the American extreme right wing: subject matter, presentation style, and textual tells all said “Totally un-Kiwi in every way”.

    When Nicky’s “Hollow Men” came out I sent him one that his collection lacked.

    When it appeared that a very obscure and publicity-shy cult was responsible, I marveled – and still do – that nobody seemed to doubt that such people might have decided to spend so much of their own money in this way. I’d still like to know where their financing came from. I sure have my suspicions.

    Now, according to one report (that was news to me) it seems that Jason Ede’s presence in the halls of power dates back to those times. I wonder afresh how many connections are just waiting to be noticed, and where money trails might lead.

  8. Coincidentally (?) I just happened across a blog from a member of the Reagan administration who was and remains extremely well connected in US power circles, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. He decided years ago that the neo-whatevers had gone too far, and has been worth paying attention to. While this particular blog ( is worth reading in its entirety, the following claim was what struck me in terms of New Zealand’s predicament of the moment.

    “My Ph.D. dissertation chairman, who became a high Pentagon official assigned to wind down the Vietnam war, in answer to my question about how Washington gets Europeans to always do what Washington wants replied: “Money, we give them money.” “Foreign aid?” I asked. “No, we give the European political leaders bagfuls of money. They are for sale, We bought them. They report to us.” Perhaps this explains Tony Blair’s $50 million fortune one year out of office.”

    • And there you have the inflation rate over the last 2000 years: 30 pieces of silver are now worth $50,000,000US.

    • Thanks for the link, MADTOM. It is nice to discover that there are people closer to the centre of things in a position to know what they are talking about and can confirm pretty much what I have figured out for myself. I think Dr Roberts’s latest prognosis might not be so sound, though. It is my belief Russia, its wealth and assets, are already in the US crosshairs, and has been for some considerable time. The Ukraine was spare changing lying in the footpath to be picked up.

      Incidentally, the US has long since ceased even a pretence at any kind of honest dealing. Somehow, Washington has thought itself justified in some sort of law to thieve $9,000,000,000 from a French Bank on account of that bank’s dealing with a country Washington disapproves of. Washington has seen fit to refuse Germany’s request to return Germany’s gold that is being held in the US (probably because the US no longer holds it).

      On the latter issue, a German commentator was asked why he supposed the German government wore this without much demur. The guy grinned and said, “Germany is still under US occupation.”

  9. MadTom, asked,

    “I’d still like to know where their financing came from. I sure have my suspicions.”

    I offer this scenario that I posted on another string.
    Can we ask Martyn if he can pass these two emails I posted to a Investigative Journalist for investigation please?

    JK has apparently been to Bilderberg, as is seen here in the list of attendance.

    Opposition should be asking why he in 2011 attended as Prime Minister of New Zealand it was recorded.

    Yet JK failed, as did the MSM, to tell his country that he was friendly with a NAZI founded (1943) organisation among the most powerful dark op’s clandestine and secretive group of global elite in the world.

    That’s probably a good guess as to who is lining all of JK propagandists for their own agenda to take over this country.

    That is why the MSM is totally corrupted and has no moral fibre as part of a plan to subvert this country by any means possible, and this is what an honest public media would be investigating.

    Can we ask Martyn if he can pass these two emails I posted to a Investigative Journalist for investigation please

    • Hehehe…in a running battle with Ansell the other day on another post I gibbed about him answering to his overseas bankers ,….pretty much went straight over his head and compelled him to retort in a lame joke…

      He obviously didn’t get that I wasn’t necessarily meaning him either (he’s not high enough up the food chain ) ,..but rather …the nameless , faceless characters that swirl in the background around those in high places finance it, and it gets disseminated right down to the ‘messenger boys’ such as himself and others such as MSM…

      These types are more than happy to take the crumbs of that process.

  10. “These ostensibly peaceful protests were almost always carefully stage-managed to ensure that the authorities, goaded to breaking-point by a tiny, well-trained and well-paid “hard-core” fraction of the crowd, would over-react and start beating the protesters indiscriminately.”

    And if that doesn’t work, organise a few snipers from your extreme elements to indiscriminantly fire into the crowds then blame it on the police………

  11. 50 years ago this year Marshall McLuhan’s book “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” was published.

    The phenomenon of John Key brings this to my mind. To a large extent his qualities are a media construct, a media phenomenon. To a large extent his foibles and failings are written in invisible ink. That’s why he can use expressions like “smear campaign’ and expect to be believed.

    His retention of power is dependent on those tanks that have been carefully arrayed over years. The contribution of “Dirty politics” clearly goes far beyond the minutiae of the exposed emails.

  12. No doubt Warner is in there with Bilderberg as puppeteer Key has visited both and bankrolled Warner to the tune of $40m of our taxpayer money.

    Corruption of our God zone NZ, so sad,

    Do the judiciary or police care?

  13. The shambles in the Ukraine has been described as an asset grab by United States corporates. But it is my belief that the Ukraine is simply a cat’s paw. The US is after Russian assets.

    In the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent dismemberment of the old Soviet infrastructure to private interests, presided over, planned and executed by Chicago School ‘advisers’ from the US, Russia had the effrontery to do the one thing that other, similarly placed nations, failed to do.

    Oh, the Public Weal was looted, all right, make no mistake about that. But the Russians pretty much succeeded in keeping it ‘in house.’ That, of course, was not part of the US programme at all. Those formerly State assets were meant to fetch up in US corporate hands. Well: that had to change.

    It gets worse, of course. Along with China, Brazil, and South Africa (with other counties possibly in the sidelines hoping to join), Russia is threatening to by-pass the global dollar economy. An that were allowed to happen, the US dollar would lose a great deal of its global power; its value would shrink alarmingly; and the US economy itself would tank so fast there would be riots in the streets. But that is as nothing to the losses the big corporates would face.

    It was their own attempts to bring about something similar that led to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Col. Muammar Qaddafi, and to the demonising of Iran. To quash any attempt to supersede, bypass or overreach the almighty US dollar has been a major objective in these US promulgated criminal wars by the US. The theft of oil, state assets and other treasure is merely to ‘finance’ these so-called wars (“War should pay for war” – I can’t recall who said that).

    So Russia is to be picked off: its treasures rifled, its assets stolen, its people enslaved by Western (i.e. US) corporate interests. You wait and see. The Ukraine was simply low hanging fruit to be plucked on the way.

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