Posted on | August 21, 2014 | No Comments
So it came as no surprise that Paul Wolfowitz, apparently unimpressed by Iraq’s mounting crisis, regaled a recent panel discussion at the U.S.-Africa Summit with the blunt proclamation, “We have won it — in 2009.” Unsurprisingly, that’s when Team Bush left the White House — and approximately 150,000 troops behind in Iraq.
Perhaps also not surprisingly, war-weary Americans didn’t pay much attention to Paul’s pronouncement. No doubt they are as tired of Wolfowitz as they are of the war he helped to start. It probably rang as hollow as the faint echo of his earlier pitch for a quick, all-expenses-paid war against 2003’s Hitler of the Moment — Saddam Hussein.
But it’s not quite as simple as that. The issue got more complicated shortly after the Africa summit when President Barack Obama — who had pinned his legacy on extricating the United States from Iraq — suddenly found himself at a podium to announce limited, but open-ended military action to halt the dreaded march of The Islamic State (often called ISIS or ISIL) through the repeatedly rocked Cradle of Civilization.
Many have explained the organization’s plan for creating a fundamentalist caliphate and its reliance on shockingly brutal tactics that make ISIS something that even al-Qaeda could never be, nor perhaps ever wanted to be. Many others have prodded the dying corpse of Iraq to assign blame here, there and everywhere. But the most basic reason for more bombing is found right there in the self-aggrandizing quip by Paul Wolfowitz.
The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy.
Considering the persistent ubiquity of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, their growing presence around the Horn of Africa and extension into Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolfowitz’s declaration of victory may not be ironic or delusional; it may have some measure of truth – at least from his perspective – but for a reason most would not consider victorious. That “victory” achieved something the neocons could only dream of during a fitful slumber brought on by counting the media’s sheep, i.e. a permanent war in the Middle East.
No Walking Away
The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.
In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.
ISIS’s regional road show took off after Zarqawi was killed in June 2006 and a tenuous stability was literally bought by the U.S. during the Sunni Awakening and the much-ballyhooed Surge. The Sunni Awakening was a cash-incentivized purchase of cooperation from just enough angry Iraqis to force interlopers and internecine adversaries to retreat, retool or retire. And that cash made it safe to hang the trappings of democracy over a vacuum that would eventually suck America back in again. And did it ever suck.
Although Team Obama was content to let ISIS grow in war-torn Syria’s radicalized incubator, ISIS’s unimpeded advance onto the doorstep of Erbil — the shining oil metropolis at the heart of the Kurdish semi-state — could not be tolerated.
While Chevron and ExxonMobil evacuated employees, Obama sent in tactical assistance for the Yazidi religious minority trapped on a mountain. While the humanitarian crisis and looming “genocide” came and went quickly — perhaps a little too quickly for credulity’s sake — the all-too predictable chaos unleashed by the legacy of regime change and left behind by a legacy-minded Obama made this latest action almost inevitable.
Hillary Clinton’s Protests
Alas, the policy of regime change has been replicated — with many thanks to the “stupid stuff” both Obama and Hillary Clinton have done in Libya and Syria. After having wrung the traditional idea of diplomacy out of the State Department – i.e. advancing your country’s interests without warfare – Hillary has climbed atop a growing stack of her unsold books so everyone can hear some classic Clintonian “triangulation” and pre-election posturing. It’s still early. Maybe she can create distance between herself, her former boss and her rumored, if perpetually disproved, ideals.
Since Obama didn’t go as far as Hillary now says she wanted to go in smashing Syria, it’s even more likely that she played a significant role sucking two more secular regimes down the jihadist rabbit hole, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria (although “regime change” has come up a little short in Damascus). True enough, some Syrian rebels were only helped covertly through her State Department’s Conflict Bureau (and the CIA) and, although never officially linked to the U.S., through Libyan weapons transferred to the fight against Assad, another Hitler du jour, reportedly via a little-known port at a place called Benghazi.
But now there is little doubt Clinton was present at the creation of yet more reasons for Muslim radicals to organize and arm themselves against U.S. aims, allies and proxies — from drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan to Muslim persecution after the “foreign policy success” of Myanmar.
However, the Mother of All Sucking Sounds is still the powerful vacuum created by destroying an entire country under false pretenses. That Iraq vacuum sucked trillions of dollars out of the U.S. Treasury, sucked hundreds of thousands of Americans into a vortex of deployments and redeployments, and created the impetus for millions of Muslims around the world to quite rightly think that they were being targeted by America.
As if decades of dances with dictators and America’s oil-slicked machinations weren’t enough evidence, the neocon agenda for Rebuilding America’s Defenses established once and for all through facts on their sandy ground, through pictures from Abu Ghraib and with extrajudicial imprisonment at Gitmo that Muslims make easy targets (in more ways than one).
Perhaps by taking out a contract on Saddam’s uncooperative regime, they were, in effect, taking out a “bridge loan” for their corporate sponsors until another wave of neocon-men and con-women could breathe life into the long-since dead Cold War with their chess moves in Ukraine. But the real action was and is still at the “other” Ground Zero — in Iraq and around the oil-enriched Persian Gulf.
The bait-and-switch of 9/11 for Saddam, of Colin Powell’s show-stopping vial of fake anthrax for actual evidence of chemical weapons, of aluminum tubes as proof for non-existent nuclear centrifuges — it all set a trap that, in the final analysis, America cannot really free itself from, no matter how rabidly Uncle Sam gnaws at the exposed bone of his blood-soaked leg.
Unbloodied and Unbowed
And somehow, the planners of the Great Remaking of the Middle East have been surprisingly unbowed in spite of the colossal failures and the supposed “blunder” of a strategy gone wrong. Their lack of penance has made them the butt of jokes, but the joke may be on us.
These were not stupid men. They knew that the only way to keep their version of “the peace” was to keep America trapped in Middle East wars in perpetuity. They planned on it. Sure, Obama’s pull-out provided momentary relief from the trap, but with each passing month the death and destruction and body count mounted in a “free” and “democratic” Iraq until it predictably collapsed upon itself, unable to make whole what American indifference to facts, law and human life tore asunder.
Now that vacuum has sucked in the detritus of Obama’s own failed policy of regime change. In Syria and in Libya and, somewhere outside the news media’s bubble, in Yemen, a supposedly feckless Obama has played the same damnable game with the targeted “smashing” of drones, airstrikes and anti-terrorism initiatives.
Meanwhile, the result of illegally smashing Iraq still speaks for itself. So maybe, just maybe, Wolfowitz is, technically speaking, correct when he said “we won.” The problem is that the “we” is not America or even most Americans. The “we” is the quirky cabal of desk jockeys, chicken-hawks and Sunday showmen who, through their interconnected web of think tanks and political appointments and corporate connections, ensnared the United States into a conflagration that is beginning its second act.
And if the U.S. somehow avoids getting sucked into a long-term battle against disaffected, dislocated and disenfranchised Muslims? Cold War 2.0 ensures that the perpetual machine designed to continually “rebuild” America’s defenses has a never-ending supply of financial fuel and antagonistic grist for its multi-generational mill.
Either way, the neocon mission has truly been accomplished.
>>originally published on consortiumnews.comTweet
Posted on | June 16, 2014 | 4 Comments
No, not that “Boss,” the other “Boss”—as in the Bruce Springsteen of Neo-Con crooners, the silver-tongued frontman of the rockin’-shockin’-awe-inspiring band that gave America and the world some of the greatest hits on Iraq. Folks, put your hands together for Bill “The Boss” Kristol.
That’s right, America. If you’re planning early for the upcoming holiday season, the travel bugs over at the Weekly Standard invite you to “…study with the boss in Jerusalem this winter at a weeklong seminar” appealingly titled “The Case for Nationalism.”
And what a dream vacation it will be, with up to three daily seminars featuring the historical and political stylings of a man touted by the week’s host—The Tikvah Advanced Institutes—as “one of the leading public intellectuals in America.”
Really, who better to re-mix and remake the idea of nationalism than DJ Kristol?
Although one hundred and fifty years of jingoism, racialism, ethnic cleansing, genocide and the attendant civilian carnage of modern, total warfare have eliminated nationalism from the playlists of many disillusioned deejays, DJ Kristol (a.k.a The Boss, a.k.a. the Artist Formerly Known as Prince Machiavelli) will take the stage of history this coming December 8th through the 12th to make the case that nationalism really isn’t the tired song-and-dance of a bygone era. By juxtaposing the post-national cosmopolitanism of Europe with the hard nationalism of Israel, American attendees should expect a predictable answer to the seminar’s question: “Does American power serve the interests of world order?”
With Jerusalem’s simmering, nationalistic strife and the ethnic divisions of the Israeli Occupation serving as the ideal backdrop, Kristol will ask the other question on the tip of everybody’s tongue: “Do Americans believe in their own exceptionalism, or do they seek to become a nation among the nations?” Of course, we all know the words to that song. No doubt the crowd will gleefully sing along with the “Other Boss” when he belts out one of the Neo-Cons’ all-time greatest hits—Born to Run (Away From Serving In The Wars We Are Advocating).
But wait, there’s more.
The travel agents at the Weekly Standard have other exciting destinations for more budget-minded travelers who’d like to stay a bit closer to home. How about “a weeklong study of the Iraq War” in New York City led by none other than Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz? Beginning this October 27th let Paul be your guide through the minefield of decisions that led to the destruction of a sovereign nation under false pretenses. He’ll be accompanied by his loveable sidekick and convicted felon, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, as attendees fly by the human catastrophe left behind in Iraq to a safe redoubt where they can rest assured than no one in American politics or governance has the cojones to bring him or his band of Neo-Cons to justice for the crime of this young century.
Not for you? Don’t fret, the Weekly Standard’s travel agency is here to help.
They know that times are tough for the working and middle classes. Obama’s “Recovery” has done wonders for Wall Street, but the folks on Main Street still struggle to make ends meet. That’s why Bill “The Boss” Kristol and Frederick Kagan (younger brother of Project for a New American Century co-founder Robert Kagan, brother-in-law to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, and son of Donald Kagan—the founder of the Kagan Brothers Band) have come up with a bargain travel alternative for those who cannot afford to take a vacation on their own. Bill and Fred’s Excellent Adventure Travel is featuring an all-expenses paid trip to Iraq!
Their new brochure in the Weekly Standard proposes a whirlwind itinerary for “special operators” and “perhaps regular U.S. military units” along the path from Baghdad all the way to the Syrian border. This exciting chance is a once in a lifetime…well…twice in a lifetime…or…maybe for some troops it could end up being a fifth or sixth in a lifetime opportunity to see a real, live nation in free-fall.
Of course, Kristol and Kagan go to great lengths to point out that this is a limited time offer. Act now, before their nightmare of wider Iranian intervention or, even worse, cooperation with the United States renders their personally re-drawn map of the Middle East irrelevant. Nothing is worse for a travel agent or touring band than a map that doesn’t fit their itinerary.
And don’t worry if the last trip to Iraq wasn’t all caviar wishes and champagne dreams—unless, of course, you held stock in Halliburton, or had a piece of the $138 billion private contractors made off the Neo-Cons’ greatest hit, or invested on any of the top ten defense contractors making bank off of Kristol’s beloved American Exceptionalism. And if you still have a little buyer’s remorse from the Neo-Cons’ last great getaway offer, Kristol and Kagan want you to know that “…now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011.”
No, now is the time to make plans, hop on a plane and see the world the Neo-Cons remade. And if you don’t like their map, their itinerary or you sympathize with the plight of the people they’ve displaced with their armchair approach to American foreign policy, maybe you need to take that trip to Jerusalem and get right with your inner nationalist.
Maybe that’s the Neo-Con solution to a lagging economy? Nationalism is a long-term employment program for the working and middle classes with a special travel benefit…as roadies for Bill “The Boss” Kristol and the K Street Band as they plan yet another leg of their tiresome world tour.Tweet
Posted on | June 5, 2014 | 10 Comments
On May 23, 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) trade show in Tampa, Florida to share her vision of “smart power” and to explain the State Department’s crucial role in extending the reach and efficacy of America’s growing “international counterterrorism network.”
First, there is such a thing as a “Special Operations Forces Industry Conference trade show.” Without some keen reporting by David Axe of Wired, that peculiar get-together might’ve flown completely under the radar—much like the shadowy “industry” it both supports and feeds off of like a sleek, camouflaged lamprey attached to a taxpayer-fattened shark.
Second, “special operations” have officially metastasized into a full-fledged industry. United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and, therefore, conveniently located near the special operations trade show, which happened again this year at the Tampa Convention Center. The theme was “Strengthening the Global SOF Network” and the 600,000-square-foot facility was filled with targets of opportunity for well-connected and well-heeled defense contractors.
According to the SOFIC website, this year’s conference afforded attendees “the opportunity to engage with USSOCOM Program Executive Officers, Science and Technology Managers, Office of Small Business Programs and Technology & Industry Liaison Office representatives, and other acquisition experts who will identify top priorities, business opportunities, and interests as they relate to USSOCOM acquisition programs.”
Third, Hillary’s widely-ignored speech marked a radical departure from the widely-held perception that the State Department’s diplomatic mission endures as an institutional alternative to the Pentagon’s military planning. Instead, Secretary Clinton celebrated the transformation of Foggy Bottom into a full partner with the Pentagon’s ever-widening efforts around the globe, touting both the role of diplomats in paving the way for shadowy special ops in so-called “hot spots” and the State Department’s “hand-in-glove” coordination with Special Forces in places like Pakistan and Yemen.
Finally, with little fanfare or coverage, America’s lead diplomat stood before the shadow war industry and itemized the integration of the State Department’s planning and personnel with the Pentagon’s global counter-terrorism campaign which, she told the special operations industry, happen “in one form or another in more than 100 countries around the world.”
If this isn’t entirely unexpected, consider the fact that under then-Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the State Department fought attempts by the Pentagon to trump its authority around the globe and, as reported by Washington Post, “repeatedly blocked Pentagon efforts to send Special Operations forces into countries surreptitiously and without ambassadors’ formal approval.”
But that was before Hillary brought her “fast and flexible” doctrine of “smart power” to Foggy Bottom and, according to her remarks, before she applied lessons learned from her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee to launch the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which she modeled on the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review. That Pentagon-style review spurred the creation of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations to “advance the U.S. government’s foreign policy goals in conflict areas.”
According to a Congressional Research Service analysis, the initial intent of the Conflict Bureau was to replace the ineffectual Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization, which was created in 2004 to help manage “stabilization” efforts in two nations the U.S. was actively destabilizing—Afghanistan and Iraq.
But the new, improved bureau does more than just react to messes made by unlawful invasions or direct costly remediation efforts in war zones—it also collaborates with “relevant partners” in the Department of Defense and NATO “to harmonize civilian and military plans and operations pertaining to conflict prevention, crisis response, and stabilization.”
This integrated relationship between State and Defense was confirmed by U.S. Special Operations chief Admiral William McRaven shortly after Hillary’s speech. When asked about the “unlikely partnership,” McRaven assured DefenseNews that SOCOM has “an absolutely magnificent relationship with the State Department” and that SOCOM doesn’t “do anything that isn’t absolutely fully coordinated and approved by the U.S. ambassador and the geographic combatant commander.”
As David Axe aptly described it in Wired, “Together, Special Operations Forces and State’s new Conflict Bureau are the twin arms of an expanding institution for waging small, low-intensity shadow wars all over the world.”
In fact, during Hillary’s time as America’s chief diplomat, the State Department embraced the shadowy edge of U.S. foreign policy where decision-makers engage in activities that look like war, sound like war and, if you were to ask civilians in places like Yemen and Pakistan, feel a lot like war, but never quite have to meet the Constitutional requirement of being officially declared as war.
The Whole-of-Government Shift
Once upon a time, “low-intensity shadow wars” were the Congressionally-regulated bailiwick of the Central Intelligence Agency. But 9/11 changed everything. However, the excesses of the Bush Administration led many to hope that Obama could and would change everything back or, at least, relax America’s tense embrace of “the dark side.”
Although the new administration did officially re-brand “The War on Terror” as “Overseas Contingency Operations,” Team Obama employed an increasingly elastic interpretation of the 9/11-inspired Authorization for Use of Military Force and expanded covert ops, special ops, drone strikes and regime change to peoples and places well-beyond the law’s original intent, and certainly beyond the limited scope of CIA covert action.
Obama’s growing counter-terrorism campaign—involving, as Secretary Clinton said, “more than 100 countries”—took flight with a new, ecumenical approach called the “Whole-of-Government” strategy. Advanced by then-Secretary of Defense Bill Gates and quickly adopted by the new administration in early 2009, this strategy catalyzed an institutional shift toward interagency cooperation, particularly in the case of “state-building” (a.k.a. “nation building”).
During remarks to the Brookings Institution in 2010, Secretary Clinton explained the shift: “One of our goals coming into the administration was…to begin to make the case that defense, diplomacy and development were not separate entities, either in substance or process, but that indeed they had to be viewed as part of an integrated whole and that the whole of government then had to be enlisted in their pursuit.”
Essentially, the Whole-of-Government approach is a re-branded and expanded version of Pentagon’s doctrine of “Full-Spectrum Dominance.” Coincidentally, that strategy was featured in the Clinton Administration’s final Annual Report to the President and Congress in 2001. It defined “Full-Spectrum Dominance” as “an ability to conduct prompt, sustained, and synchronized operations with forces tailored to specific situations and possessing freedom to operate in all domains—space, sea, land, air, and information.”
In 2001, Full-Spectrum Dominance referred specifically to 20th Century notions of battlefield-style conflicts. But the “dark side” of the War on Terror stretched the idea of the battlefield well-beyond symmetrical military engagements. “Irregular warfare” became the catchphrase du jour, particularly as grinding campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq exposed the reality that the full spectrum still wasn’t enough.
An assessment by the Congressional Research Service identified the primary impetus for the Whole-of-Government “reforms” embraced by Team Obama as the “perceived deficiencies of previous interagency missions” during the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those missions failed to address a myriad of problems created—culturally, economically and politically—by the wholesale bombing and occupation of those countries. The Full-Spectrum was half-baked. Lesson learned.
But the lesson wasn’t that the U.S. should avoid intervention, regime change or unleashing nascent civil, ethnic or religious conflicts. Instead, the lesson was that the “Whole-of-Government” must be marshaled to fight a worldwide array of Overseas Contingency Operations in “more than 100 countries.”
This Whole-of-Government shift signaled a renewed willingness to engage on variety of new fronts—particularly in Africa—but in a “fast and flexible” way. With other agencies—like the State Department—integrated and, in effect, fronting the counter-terrorism campaign, the military footprint becomes smaller and, therefore, easier to manage locally, domestically and internationally.
In some ways, the Whole-of-Government national security strategy is plausible deniability writ-large through the cover of interagency integration. By merging harder-to-justify military and covert actions into a larger, civilian-themed command structure, the impact of the national security policy overseas is hidden—or at least obfuscated—by the diplomatic “stabilization” efforts run through the State Department—whether it’s the Conflict Bureau working against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, “stabilizing” post-Gaddafi Libya or spending $27 million to organize the opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime.
The Pass Key
The cover of diplomacy has traditionally been an effective way to slip covert operators into countries and the State Department’s vast network of embassies and consulates still offers an unparalleled “pass-key” into sovereign nations, emerging hot spots and potential targets for regime change. In 2001, the Annual Report to the President and Congress foresaw the need for more access: “Given the global nature of our interests and obligations, the United States must maintain the ability to rapidly project power worldwide in order to achieve full-spectrum dominance.”
Having the way “pre-paved” is, based on Hillary’s doctrinal shift at State, a key part of the new, fuller-spectrum, Whole-of-Government, mission-integrated version of diplomacy. At the SOFIC’s Special Operations Gala Dinner in 2012, Hillary celebrated the integration of diplomatic personnel and Special Operations military units at the State Department’s recently created Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications—a “nerve center in Washington” that coordinates “military and civilian teams around the world” and serves “as a force multiplier for our embassies’ communications efforts.”
As with most doors in Washington, that relationship swings both ways and mission-integrated embassies have served as an effective force multiplier for the Pentagon’s full spectrum of activities, particularly around Africa.
In his 2011 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Africa, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Don Yamamoto noted the “significantly expanded the number of DoD personnel who are integrated into embassies across the continent over the past three years,” and read a surprisingly long laundry list of collaborative efforts between State and the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), including: “reduction of excess and poorly secured man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS); Defense Sector Reform in Liberia, DRC, and South Sudan; counterpiracy activities off the Somali coast; maritime safety and security capacity building; and civil-military cooperation.”
It seems that “civil-military cooperation” is a primary focus of the State Department in Africa. Most notably, Yamamoto told Congress that “embassies implement Department of State-funded Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, which further U.S. interests in Africa by helping to professionalize African militaries, while also assisting our African partners to be more equipped and trained to work toward common security goals.”
As the ever-vigilant Nick Turse recently reported, U.S. presence on the continent has only grown since that testimony was given in 2011. On TomDispatch.com, Turse identified the infamous attack on Benghazi on September 11, 2012 as the catalyst for “Operation New Normal”—the continent-wide response to, quite ironically, the political potboiler still simmering around Secretary Clinton. Whether or not Congressional Republicans find anything more than incompetence at the root of Benghazi, the U.S. military certainly finds itself in a “new normal” of increased activity in response to the forces—and the weaponry—unleashed by U.S.-led regime change in Libya. According to Turse, the U.S. is “now conducting operations alongside almost every African military in almost every African country and averaging more than a mission a day.”
Those missions are, of course, integrated with and augmented by the State Department’s Conflict Bureau which has used a variety of state-building programs and its diplomatic “pass key” in places like Libya, Nigeria, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and six other African nations, all to develop a growing roster of “host country partners.”
Establishing “host country partners” is the nexus where the State Department, its Conflict Bureau and the AFRICOM meet—implementing the Whole-of-Government strategy in emerging or current conflict zones to fuse a mounting counter-terrorism campaign with stabilization, modernization and state-building initiatives, particularly in oil and resource-rich areas like the Niger River Delta, Central Africa and around AFRICOM’s military foothold on the Horn of Africa.
As Richard J. Wilhelm, a Senior Vice President with defense and intelligence contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, pointed out in a video talk about “mission integration,” AFRICOM’s coordination with the Departments of State and Commerce, USAID is the “most striking example of the Whole-of-Government approach.”
And this is exactly the type of “hand-in-glove” relationship Secretary Clinton fostered throughout her tenure at State, leveraging the resources of the department in a growing list of conflict areas where insurgents, terrorists, al-Qaeda affiliates, suspected militants or uncooperative regimes threaten to run afoul of so-called “U.S. interests”.
Ultimately, it became a hand-in-pocket relationship when Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates developed the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) to “incentivize joint planning and to pool the resources of the Departments of State and Defense, along with the expertise of other departments, to provide security sector assistance for partner countries so they can address emergent challenges and opportunities important to U.S. national security.”
Although he’s been criticized as feckless and deemed less hawkish than Secretary Clinton, President Obama’s newly-proposed Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF) is the logical extension of the Clinton-Gates Global Security Contingency Fund and epitomizes the Whole-of-Government shift.
The $5 billion Obama wants will dwarf the $250 million pooled into the GSCF and will, the President said at West Point, “give us flexibility to fulfill different missions including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali.”
That “flexibility” is exactly what Hillary Clinton instituted at State and touted at the SOFIC conference in 2012. It also portends a long-term shift to less invasive forms of regime change like those in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, and an increased mission flexibility that will make the Authorization for the Use of Military Force functionally irrelevant.
Normalizing the War on Terror
The ultimate outcome of this shift is, to borrow from Nick Turse, yet another “new normal”—the new normalization of the War on Terror. What the adoption of the Whole-of-Government/mission integration approach has done is to normalize the implementation of the re-branded War on Terror (a.k.a. Overseas Contingency Operations) across key agencies of the government and masked it, for lack of the better term, under the rubric of stabilization, development and democracy building.
It is, in effect, the return of a key Cold War policy of “regime support” for clients and “regime change” for non-client states, particularly in strategically-located areas and resource-rich regions. Regimes—whether or not they actually “reflect American values”—can count on U.S. financial, military and mission-integrated diplomatic support so long as they can claim to be endangered…not by communists, but by terrorists.
And because terrorism is a tactic—not a political system or a regime—the shadowy, State Department-assisted Special Ops industry that fights them will, unlike the sullen enthusiasts of the Cold War, never be bereft of an enemy.Tweet
Posted on | April 24, 2014 | No Comments
Newsvandal has a new story on Consortiumnews: America’s Surge Toward Oligarchy. It details the “cradle to grave” control of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and how the plutocracy pays off its members in so-called “public service.”
In fact, the banks have been buying off regulators to help them comply with the reforms they’ve already watered down. It’s a practice rife in Washington and it amounts to a fast-track to the plutocracy leading from the nation’s capital to Wall Street and vice-versa.
Thus far, the biggest banks have held on to their “too big to fail” position, but the more important question is whether the American plutocracy also “too big too fail?”
While the elite of the elites get richer and richer and, therefore, can afford to exercise more and more influence over elections, another new study shows that nearly “one-third of American households — 38 million of them — are living a paycheck-to-paycheck existence.” And a new Gallup poll shows an increasing number of households teetering on the brink of “hardship” due to a lack of savings.
This rise in economic insecurity reinforces the plutocracy’s political strength by diminishing ability of non-plutocrats to exercise power or force their policy preferences through the machinery. Most Americans simply cannot afford to lobby lawmakers, attend rulemaking meetings or hire people away from agencies to guide them through the system.
Read the full article HERE.Tweet
Posted on | April 3, 2014 | 2 Comments
Apparently, he’s been secretly harboring this dream since his formative days at a small liberal arts college in Adrian, Michigan. This dream stayed with him through his time in the U.S. Army, his years as a Special Agent in the FBI and his tenure in the Michigan State Senate.
Nothing can hold back Mike’s dream, not even his safe Congressional seat in Michigan’s 8th District, nor his chairmanship of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.
Mike wants to be a radio talk-show host.
Luckily for Mike, the second largest radio system in America—Cumulus—couldn’t wait to make his long-simmering dream come true. Beginning in January of 2015, the NSA’s devout defender and Congress’ loudest advocate for keeping whistleblowers quiet will be on the air nationally, using his gift of gab to reinforce the idea that Americans should feel insecure about national security.
According to The Detroit News, DJ Mike will reignite his “college passion” by bringing “former intelligence officials and ex-spies on his show.” And what an entertaining show that promises to be! If his incessant appearances on the Sunday Show circuit are any indication, his radio show promises to be just slightly less entertaining than running your pinkie toe into the leg of a coffee table. But hope springs eternal. DJ Mike “joked” to the Detroit News, “I did one radio show when I was in college that was a disaster — let’s give it a whirl — maybe I’ve gotten better at it.”
If nothing else, he’s repeatedly shown the folks at Cumulus that he can read from a script.
Since Edward Snowden broke the NSA’s monopoly on the truth, Rogers has dutifully repeated Big Brother’s talking points—touting foiled plots that were never really foiled, accusing Snowden of spying for Russia without a shred of evidence and asserting that privacy that can only be violated if the person violated somehow finds out about the secret violation.
In DJ Mike’s America, secrets are not lies if the lies remain secret.
It’s a logic echoed in his forked-tongue support for the newly-announced reforms of the NSA’s bulk data collection regime—a regime that Rep. Rogers doesn’t really think needs reforming, but he’s sponsored reform legislation anyway. What desperately does need to be reformed—according to Rogers, his well-funded co-sponsor Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and President Obama—is the public’s perception of the NSA’s spying machine.
And what better place to reform perceptions than in front of a nationally broadcast microphone that will reach 4,500 affiliate radio stations and 140 million listeners?
His dream notwithstanding, the timing of Rogers’ announcement has some observers looking for clues or insights into the shrouded machinations of America’s Spook State. No doubt, this seemingly sudden decision wasn’t just the whimsical fancy of a capricious free spirit with a heretofore hidden talent. Rogers notified the House Ethics Committee of his negotiations with Cumulus on January 6th of this year, so this has been in the works for months—just like the newly-proposed reforms that Obama promised in his speech on January 17th.
We may never know if Rogers somehow transgressed the intel community and perhaps became a liability, or if he’s resigning in quiet protest of these “reforms,” or if he is being “placed” in the media to do what President Obama is trying to do with the reforms—which is to manage perceptions.
And nothing makes perception management—the au courant national security euphemism for good old-fashioned “propaganda”—easier than the relentless media consolidation that spawned Rogers’ new employer.
Founded in 1997, the creation of Cumulus Media Inc. was a direct response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its radical relaxation of media ownership rules. Cumulus CEO Lewis Dickey, Jr. quickly took advantage of the new rules (or lack thereof) to assemble a radio titan second only to the infamously ubiquitous media giant known as Clear Channel. Thanks to the efforts of the Clinton Administration and a majority of Congress, a company like Cumulus could quickly rise from non-existence to near-domination, reaching listeners in 89 media markets in less than 20 years.
When Cumulus bought Susquehanna Radio for $1.2 billion in 2006, it did so with backing from heavyweights like Bain Capital Partners LLC and The Blackstone Group. The deal signaled Dickey’s status as a major, well-connected player in broadcast media and, by extension, in the media’s bread and butter—partisan politics. Indeed, Cumulus radio specializes in a type of partisan blather and cacophonous fear-mongering that sounds more like “Afraidio” than it does radio.
Among its loudest mouths are Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage (who recently replaced a disgruntled Sean Hannity) and Mark Levin—the very first winner of CPAC’s “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment” award. When it comes to reflexive support for the national security state, fits of Islamophobia and “We’re Number One” jingoism, Cumulus has tri-cornered the market.
Cumulus has also positioned itself as a premier distributor of red meat to the hungry masses during the increasingly lucrative election cycles that make America’s post-Telecom Act media a self-interested partner in political partisanship. It’s a perfect system. Listening to their Afraidio stokes the partisan hunger of its listeners and, on its webpage for the last election, it touts advertising on its massive network as a cost-effective way to “Win more than your fair share of hearts, minds, and votes” by distributing red meat directly to an audience whose hunger is stoked by their hosts in-between the commercial breaks.
And now Cumulus is giving the Spook State’s favorite mouthpiece a chance to spread the dread to its inflamed audience. As CEO Lew Dickey said, “We are thrilled to have Chairman Rogers join our team. He has been instrumental in helping to shape many of the most important issues and events of our time and will play a significant role in our expanding content platform.”
It’s also a perfect platform for DJ Mike to spin tales of shadowy plots, sing the praises of the NSA and, if he is so inclined, to beat his own drum in anticipation of a possible Presidential run. But that may just be Mike dreaming an impossible dream.
The reality is that the Spook State now has a well-practiced mockingbird with access to millions of willing ears. As the soon-to-be former Representative said of his new mega-microphone, “It gives me a chance to talk to people in their cars, in their living rooms, in their kitchens about these issues — about American exceptionalism, about national security.”
And Lord knows, America needs more of that on the airwaves.Tweet
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