Swans Commentary » swans.com June 14, 2010  



In Honour Of Berel Rodal


by Michael Barker





(Swans - June 14, 2010)   It is a rare treat when a dedicated member of the military-industrial complex renounces his past to become a committed peace activist. In the case of Berel Rodal this story of hope is all the more compelling because his personal reorientation was so massive (at the peak of his former career he served as the director general of the policy secretariat for Canada's Department of National Defence). However, having now ditched his dark side, Rodal uses his valuable skills gained within the upper echelons of security and intelligence establishment to leverage peace into the soul of an insatiable war machine.

The scale of Rodal's about face is phenomenal. He now promotes grassroots activism and revolutionary social change as a central means of acting as a "catalyst to stimulate" the creation of a just new world order; activism that, in turn, led Rodal to become the founding vice chair of a pioneering group known as the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict. Sadly, these personal changes did not eventuate without their attendant problems, and as a direct result of his newfound commitment to revolutionary social change Rodal's activities are now closely monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency; the leaders of which were especially enraged when the former Director of the CIA, James Woolsey, was replaced at the head of Freedom House by the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict's founding peacenik, Peter Ackerman. In the hope of raising public awareness of Rodal's unique contribution to social change, this article celebrates his outstanding commitment to peace in the face of massive adversity.

Berel Rodal is an exemplar of the possible, in a world where many activists have understandably become despondent about challenging the inequities of capitalism. However, the intriguing part about Rodal is that he has chosen the most difficult root to affect revolutionary social change. Contrary to his anti-imperialist colleagues at the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, like professor Stephen Zunes, who predominantly works with grassroots activists, Rodal is taking the far more taxing treetops approach to social change -- which involves working directly with members of the ruling class. Rodal is not intent on just preaching to the choir. Instead, by drawing upon his unique access to the powerful, he has chosen the daunting task of persuading the world's leading capitalists of the errors of their ways.

This is not a job for the faint-hearted, for to successfully insinuate peace into the minds of the ruling class one must act as an undercover agent of sorts, and convincingly don the business suit and mindset of the elite. It is, of course, a common practice for intelligence agencies to dress down in order to infiltrate grassroots organizations, but to successfully penetrate the elite is a far more arduous undertaking, especially on the emotional front. Indeed, to maintain a convincing persona, Rodal has pushed himself to the limits of human endurance, especially considering the large number of elite groups he is determined to win over to the side of peace. Regretfully, owing to the sensitive and covert nature of most of his work, this article will not be able to do full justice to the extent of Rodal's peace activism, but, at the very least, it will acknowledge his overt operations in the corporate world.

To begin with, Berel Rodal Associates provides the perfect front for his delicate work, as by owning his own consulting agency he can exert a direct influence on "select clients" in government, the private sector, and strategic and public policy bodies worldwide; like for example, the RAND and MITRE corporations. Yet Rodal's job is a complex one, and groups like RAND are particularly hard (imperial) nuts to crack, which is more than demonstrated by Alex Abella's book Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire (Harcourt, 2008). Thankfully, however, Rodal is not acting alone in his peaceful war against the odds. In the case of RAND he was aided by the co-chair of Human Rights Watch/California, Jane Olson, who is married to former RAND chair (now regular board member) Ronald Olson. Unfortunately, the ongoing nonviolent battle being waged against RAND faces massive difficulties, especially considering that RAND's current chairman, Paul Kaminski, is a trustee of "a venture capital fund that provides technologies to the Central Intelligence Agency," In-Q-It, Inc. Still, such obstacles are no matter for Rodal, whose consultancy work for MITRE Corporation means he can exert his covert revolutionary influence over the former head of the CIA, James Rodney Schlesinger, who conveniently happens to be the current chair of MITRE.

On top of this dangerous consultancy work, Rodal is (or was until very recently) a managing director of a merchant banking firm known as Hillman Capital Corporation, which since 1989 has been headed by Gerald Hillman. From this position of power, Rodal is able to bend the ear of Hillman, who in turn has the ear of his "close business associate" Richard Perle. Hillman's connection to Perle came through a venture capital company called Trireme Partners LLP, where Perle served as company chairman and Hillman as an advisor (along with Henry Kissinger). Although this company closed operations in 2005, no doubt Hillman can still get plenty of mileage out of these elite relations. Furthermore, having such indirect intimacy with the so-called "Prince of Darkness" is not something your everyday anti-imperialist can boast about; thus, with any luck and a lot of work from Rodal, Hillman will be able to move Perle away from the dark side and toward the side of peace. Rodal will also be able to amplify his influence over Hillman by drawing upon the financial wizard and peace activist Peter Ackerman, who "worked" at Drexel Burnham Lambert (from 1978 until it was declared bankrupt in 1990). This experience is significant because Hillman is currently the CEO of Trireme Systems, Ltd., and their chief financial advisor is former Hillman Capital Corporation advisor Richard Robbins, who was a former associate of Drexel Burnham Lambert (1986-9).

No one could say that Rodal does not work intensely hard to milk his elite contacts for all the peace they are worth, and, alongside his finance work, he sits on the advisory board of a technology firm called Matrix Advanced Solutions. Here, Rodal is tackling a vitally important challenge vis-à-vis human rights abuses, as he is throwing himself into a Zionist maelstrom, which he is able to fight more effectively owing to his indirect connections to Perle. I say this because one of the three other members of Matrix's advisory board is Major General (retired) Jacob Amidror, the former commander of the Israel Defense Force's military colleges, and board member of the Israel Corporation (whose most notable former chairman was Baron Edmond de Rothschild). In his key position at Matrix, Rodal has the unique opportunity to undermine Amidror's violent beliefs, which in turn will hopefully percolate up to Amidror's Zionist employers at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs -- a Center that is no stranger to propaganda, as their consultant for internet publications is none other than AIPAC luminary, Lenny Ben-David. One should note that such Zionist-orientated peace work has benefited from Peter Ackerman's subtle pressuring of Zionist elites at the Herzliya Conference in Israel, which Ackerman and Rodal attended in 2008 in order to help spread the good word about nonviolence. (Having eased his way into this conference in 2008, Rodal penetrated it yet again in 2010.)

Finally, Rodal has devised a truly genius way of tackling the US government's democracy-manipulating establishment by wheedling himself into the much sought after position of being one of two senior advisors for the Myrmidon Group -- a New York based consultancy "with a representation in Kyiv that works with investors and corporations seeking entry into the complex but lucrative emerging markets of Ukraine and Eastern Europe." Set up in the wake of Ukraine's 2005 "Orange Revolution, the Myrmidon Group's founder and managing director is Adrian Karatnycky, who is none other than the former long serving president of Freedom House, and co-founder of the non-profit group Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter. Also of significance, Karatnycky presently serves alongside Richard Perle and Henry Kissinger on the advisory board of the New Atlantic Initiative, and resides on the national committee of the right-wing Social Democrats USA -- the group whose former executive director has headed the notorious National Endowment for Democracy since the year of its formation in 1984. Notably, the only other senior advisor for the Myrmidon Group, beside Rodal, is John Hewko, the former vice president of operations at the US government's democracy-manipulating Millennium Challenge Corporation (2004-9).

Under normal circumstances one might wonder at the ability of a mere mortal -- especially one from such a conservative political background -- to resist the temptation of reaping the financial, political, and social rewards of inhabiting so many powerful corporate positions. Yet Berel Rodal is no normal human. Indeed, his superhuman dedication to justice is apparently enough to quench his appetite for success, enabling him to continue undeterred in his difficult peace work with the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict. It's no surprise that progressive scholar-activist Stephen Zunes should, in his capacity as head of the Center's academic advisory board, team up with such a committed peace activist as Rodal. The road to global peace is a difficult road to travel, but ultimately it is the only sane one. Progressive activists all over the world must lend their uncritical support to the activities of Rodal, Ackerman, and Zunes if they are to turn capitalism on its head and succeed in creating a political and economic system that is commensurate with their dedicated activism!


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Michael Barker is an independent researcher who currently resides in the UK. In addition to his work for Swans, which can be found in the 2008, 2009, and 2010 archives, his other articles can be accessed at michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com. Please help fund his work.   (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published June 14, 2010