Amidst revelations about U.S.-led global espionage and cyber warfare and other wrongdoings coming to light during the past year, the Harper government is now using what it calls “digital diplomacy” to expand its own participation in anti-social media and electronic subversion of other states deemed hostile to the interests of the US empire and the NATO bloc.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appointed a new Canadian ambassador to Venezuela at the end of February. Ben Rowswell replaced Paul Gibbard. The appointment followed on the heels of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s expulsion of three US consular officials on Feb.17, accused of conspiracy and meeting students involved in anti-government protests. The Harper government, by juggling with facts, falsifying historic truth and by means of other machinations, has tried to charge the Venezuelan Government with repression and suppression of the counter-revolutionary “opposition.’ Its new ambassador is a counter-insurgency specialist.
A Stanford University profile portrays Rowswell basically as a U.S. fifth columnist cadre inside the Canadian Dept. of Foreign Affairs. Rowswell was educated abroad, at Georgetown University (1993) in Washington, DC, and Oxford (2000). “An alumnus of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), he founded the Democracy Unit of the Canadian foreign ministry.” The NDI is part of the the CIA’s principal façade in the world, the National Endowment for Democracy, which has been condemned for its incessant interventions in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, where it openly financed subversion and destabilization. The Stanford bio continues: “A diplomat for the digital age, he held the title of ‘Director of Innovation’ at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, specializing in the use of social media.’”
Immediately following the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq, Rowswell was appointed Canada’s Chargé d’Affaires in Iraq between 2003 and 2005. He then served as deputy head of mission in Kabul and as Representative of Canada in Kandahar, Afghanistan, thus making him “an expert at representing Canada’s interests in the heat of conflict,” reports Gerard Di Trolio in Venezuelanalysis.com. Between 2009 and 2010, he directed the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. In 2010 the Toronto Star described Rowswell, then a visiting scholar at Stanford University (2010-2011), as a “rising foreign service star.
Di Trolio provides further information on the new ambassador’s background and experience. “At the age of 22 he was baptized into the foreign service by fire, working in Mogadishu during the Somali Civil War of the early 1990s. He went on to work for the Canadian Embassy in Cairo from 1995-98.” He also served in New York and also worked twice in the Privy Council Office under the Canadian Prime Minister.
While overseeing the “democratic transitions” of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Egypt, the fledgling attaché specialized in the harnessing of social media for diplomatic missions, in order to interact directly with non-state actors, in effect bypassing the target nation’s government.
In 2011, Rowswell gave a fascinating TEDx talk at Hayward University in California that outlined his views about the power of social media to shape democracy. He focused on post-Murbarak Egypt, before Mohammed Morsi’s election. He detailed how notions of race, ethnicity and class may be pushed aside when organizing through social media platforms. He theorized that the internet allows for “opensource democracy,” allowing individuals to exchange their ideas as equals.
Di Trolio points out that in Venezuela, Twitter and Facebook have been the choice tools of the opposition in recent months, both to organize protests and to call for international support for the attempts to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro.
“The Canadian government has made it clear that its interests lie outside the decades of organization led by the Venezuelan masses.
“A motion that received unanimous consent from all parties in the House of Commons and sponsored by NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar effectively condemned the Venezuelan government’s attempts at dealing with recent protests.
“The statement was approved by Conservatives and Liberals alike, including MP Jim Karygiannis who has been extremely critical of the Venezuelan government.
“Rowswell also argued that social media can create transparency yet Venezuela’s opposition has provided ample evidence to the contrary. Many photos from Turkey, Ukraine, Brazil, and even Syria have flown around social networks, meant to stir up indignation at the treatment of protestors in Venezuela. During the telecast of the Oscars, the opposition took to Twitter to claim the ceremony had been censored. The truth was that the Oscars was aired on TNT in Venezuela, a satellite channel.
“Canada, too, knows how to wage internet campaigns and will not be left behind.
Within hours of Rowswell’s appointment, a new Embassy account popped up on Twitter (https://twitter.com/CanEmbVenezuela) Adam Goldenberg, liberal partisan and former speechwriter for Michael Ignatieff, tweeted in response: ‘Congratulations, Ben! Excellent choice, Minister, for all sorts of reasons.’
“As always, Canada’s imperial foreign policy is a bipartisan affair.”
With a file from Venezuelanalysis.com
Related reading on this website