by Robert Parry, via Consortium News
A savvy Washington observer once told me that the political reality about the neoconservatives is that they alone couldn’t win you a single precinct in the United States. But both Republicans and Democrats still line up to gain neocon support or at least neocon acceptance.
Part of the reason for this paradox is the degree of dominance that the neoconservatives have established in the national news media – as op-ed writers and TV commentators – and the neocon ties to the Israel Lobby that is famous for showering contributions on favored politicians and on the opponents of those not favored.
Since the neocons’ emergence as big-time foreign policy players in the Reagan administration, they also have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, receiving a steady flow of money often through U.S. government-funded grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and through donations from military contractors to hawkish neocon think tanks.
But neocons’ most astonishing success over the past year may have been how they have pulled liberals and even some progressives into the neocon strategies for war and more war, largely by exploiting the Left’s disgust with President Trump.
People who would normally favor international cooperation toward peaceful resolution of conflicts have joined the neocons in ratcheting up global tensions and making progress toward peace far more difficult.
The provocative “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” which imposes sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea while tying President Trump’s hands in removing those penalties, passed the Congress without a single Democrat voting no.
The only dissenting votes came from three Republican House members – Justin Amash of Michigan, Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky – and from Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Senate.
In other words, every Democrat present for the vote adopted the neocon position of escalating tensions with Russia and Iran. The new sanctions appear to close off hopes for a détente with Russia and may torpedo the nuclear agreement with Iran, which would put the bomb-bomb-bomb option back on the table just where the neocons want it.
The Putin Obstacle
As for Russia, the neocons have viewed President Vladimir Putin as a major obstacle to their plans at least since 2013 when he helped President Obama come up with a compromise with Syria that averted a U.S. military strike over dubious claims that the Syrian military was responsible for a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.
Subsequent evidence indicated that the sarin attack most likely was a provocation by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate to trick the U.S. military into entering the war on Al Qaeda’s side.
While you might wonder why the U.S. government would even think about taking actions that would benefit Al Qaeda, which lured the U.S. into this Mideast quagmire in the first place by attacking on 9/11, the answer is that Israel and the neocons – along with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-governed states – favored an Al Qaeda victory if that was what was needed to shatter the so-called “Shiite crescent,” anchored in Iran and reaching through Syria to Lebanon.
Many neocons are, in effect, America’s Israeli agents and – since Israel is now allied with Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Gulf states versus Iran – the neocons exercise their media/political influence to rationalize U.S. military strikes against Iran’s regional allies, i.e., Syria’s secular government of Bashar al-Assad.
For his part, Putin compounded his offense to the neocons by facilitating Obama’s negotiations with Iran that imposed strict constraints on Iran’s actions toward development of a nuclear bomb and took U.S. war against Iran off the table. The neocons, Israel and Saudi Arabia wanted the U.S. military to lead a bombing campaign against Iran with the hope of crippling their regional adversary and possibly even achieving “regime change” in Tehran.
It was in that time frame that NED’s neocon President Carl Gershman identified Ukraine as the “biggest prize” and an important step toward the even bigger prize of removing Putin in Russia.
Other U.S. government neocons, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, delivered the Ukraine “prize” by supporting the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine and unleashed anti-Russian nationalists (including neo-Nazis) who began killing ethnic Russians in the south and east near Russia’s border.
When Putin responded by allowing Crimeans to vote on secession from Ukraine and reunification with Russia, the West – and especially the neocon-dominated mainstream media – denounced the move as a “Russian invasion.” Covertly, the Russians also helped ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine who defied the coup regime in Kiev and faced annihilation from Ukrainian military forces, including the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which literally displayed Swastikas and SS symbols. Putin’s assistance to these embattled ethnic Russian Ukrainians became “Russian aggression.”
Many U.S. pundits and journalists – in the conservative, centrist and liberal media – were swept up by the various hysterias over Syria, Iran and Russia – much as they had been a decade earlier around the Iraq-WMD frenzy and the “responsibility to protect” (or R2P) argument for the violent “regime change” in Libya in 2011. In all these cases, the public debate was saturated with U.S. government and neocon propaganda, much of it false.
But it worked. For instance, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks achieved extraordinary success in seducing many American “peace activists” to support the “regime change” war in Syria by sending sympathetic victims of the Syrian government on speaking tours.
Meanwhile, the major U.S. media essentially flacked for “moderate” Syrian rebels who just happened to be fighting alongside Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and sharing their powerful U.S.-supplied weapons with the jihadists, all the better to kill Syrian soldiers trying to protect the secular government in Damascus.
As part of this propaganda process, the jihadists’ P.R. adjunct, known as the White Helmets, phoned in anti-government atrocity stories to eager and credulous Western journalists who didn’t dare visit the Al Qaeda-controlled zones for fear of being beheaded.
Still, whenever the White Helmets or other “activists” accused the Syrian government of some unlikely chemical attack, the information was treated as gospel. When United Nations investigators, who were under enormous pressure to confirm the propaganda tales beloved in the West, uncovered evidence that one of the alleged chlorine attacks was staged by the jihadists, the mainstream U.S. media politely looked the other way and continued to treat the chemical-weapons stories as credible.
Historian and journalist Stephen Kinzer has said, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.”
But all these successes in the neocons’ “perception management” operations pale when compared to what the neocons have accomplished since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton last November.
Fueled by the shock and disgust over the egotistical self-proclaimed pussy-grabber ascending to the highest office in the land, many Americans looked for both an excuse for explaining the outcome and a strategy for removing Trump as quickly as possible. The answer to both concerns became: blame Russia.
The evidence that Russia had “hacked our democracy” was very thin – some private outfit called Crowdstrike found Cyrillic lettering and a reference to the founder of the Soviet KGB in some of the metadata – but that “incriminating evidence” contradicted Crowdstrike’s own notion of a crack Russian hacking operation that was almost impossible to trace.
So, even though the FBI failed to secure the Democratic National Committee’s computers so the government could do its own forensic analysis, President Obama assigned his intelligence chiefs, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, to come up with an assessment that could be used to blame Trump’s victory on “Russian meddling.” Obama, of course, shared the revulsion over Trump’s victory, since the real-estate mogul/reality-TV star had famously launched his own political career by spreading the lie that Obama was born in Kenya.
According to Clapper’s later congressional testimony, the analysts for this job were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency and assigned to produce an “assessment” before Obama left office. Their Jan. 6 report was remarkable in its lack of evidence and the analysts themselves admitted that it fell far short of establishing anything as fact. It amounted to a continuation of the “trust us” approach that had dominated the anti-Russia themes for years.
Much of the thin report focused on complaints about Russia’s RT network for covering the Occupy Wall Street protests and sponsoring a 2012 debate for third-party presidential candidates who had been excluded from the Democratic-Republican debates between President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney.
The absurdity of citing such examples in which RT contributed to the public debate in America as proof of Russia attacking American democracy should have been apparent to everyone, but the Russia-gate stampede had begun and so instead of ridiculing the Jan. 6 report as an insult to reason, its shaky Russia-did-it conclusions were embraced as unassailable Truth, buttressed by the false claim that the assessment represented the consensus view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies.
So, for instance, we get the internal contradictions of a Friday column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius who starts off by making a legitimate point about Washington groupthink.
“When all right-thinking people in the nation’s capital seem to agree on something – as has been the case recently with legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia – that may be a warning that the debate has veered into an unthinking herd mentality,” Ignatius wrote as he questioned the wisdom of overusing sanctions and tying the President’s hands on when to remove sanctions.
But Ignatius failed to follow his own logic when it came to the core groupthink about Russia “meddling” in the U.S. election. Despite the thinness of the evidence, the certainty about Russia’s guilt is now shared by “all right-thinking people” in Washington, who agree that this point is beyond dispute despite the denials from both WikiLeaks, which published the purloined Democratic emails, and the Russian government.
Ignatius seemed nervous that his mild deviation from the conventional wisdom about the sanctions bill might risk his standing with the Establishment, so he added:
“Don’t misunderstand me. In questioning congressional review of sanctions, I’m not excusing Trump’s behavior. His non-response to Russia’s well-documented meddling in the 2016 presidential election has been outrageous.”
However, as usual for the U.S. mainstream media, Ignatius doesn’t cite any of those documents. Presumably, he’s referring to the Jan. 6 assessment, which itself contained no real evidence to support its opinion that Russia hacked into Democratic emails and gave them to WikiLeaks for distribution.
Just because a lot of Important People keep repeating the same allegation doesn’t make the allegation true or “well-documented.” And skepticism should be raised even higher when there is a clear political motive for pushing a falsehood as truth, as we should have learned from President George W. Bush’s Iraq-WMD fallacies and from President Barack Obama’s wild exaggerations about the need to intervene in Libya to prevent a massacre of civilians.
But Washington neocons always start with a leg up because of their easy access to the editorial pages of The New York Times and Washington Post as well as their speed-dial relationships with producers at CNN and other cable outlets.
Yet, the neocons have achieved perhaps their greatest success by merging Cold War Russo-phobia with the Trump Derangement Syndrome to enlist liberals and even progressives into the neocon drive for more “regime change” wars.
There can be no doubt that the escalation of sanctions against Russia and Iran will have the effect of escalating geopolitical tensions with those two important countries and making war, even nuclear war, more likely.
In Iran, hardliners are already telling President Hassan Rouhani, “We told you so” that the U.S. government can’t be trusted in its promise to remove – not increase – sanctions in compliance with the nuclear agreement.
And, Putin, who is actually one of the more pro-Western leaders in Russia, faces attacks from his own hardliners who view him as naïve in thinking that Russia would ever be accepted by the West.
Even relative Kremlin moderates such as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, are citing Trump’s tail-between-his-legs signing of the sanctions bill as proof that the U.S. establishment has blocked any hope for a détente between Washington and Moscow.
In other words, the prospects for advancing the neocon agenda of more “regime change” wars and coups have grown – and the neocons can claim as their allies virtually the entire Democratic Party hierarchy which is so eager to appease its angry #Resistance base that even the heightened risk of nuclear war is being ignored.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
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To say it clearly: the Neocons lead the US to Fascism!
“A Reminder: Neocon Think Tanks and Fascism – Zur Erinnerung: Neocon Think Tanks und Faschismus”: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/a-reminder-neocon-think-tanks-and-fascism-zur-erinnerung-neocon-think-tanks-und-faschismus/
Liberals and progressives aren’t in principle against wars, what they don’t like is ‘bad’ ones. So the trick is to successfully label what amounts to imperialist aggression for strategic and economic advantage as something else, something pure and even noble; a succession of crusades for freedom, human rights, decency and to protect the weak from bloody tyrants who, in contrast to our own leaders, actually enjoy killing defenceless civilians. This type of propaganda model is something we’ve perfected over the last century and even longer.
What’s disturbing is how willingly the liberal press, typified by the Guardian, has swallowed the ‘crusade for freedom’ narrative, virtually without question, so the platform were one would have supposed critical and antiwar voices and alternative perspectives would find space and expression has been denied.
The left have become obsessed with and deliberately steered towards the politics of narcissim, a massive over-concentration on issues relating to sexuality, gender, identity and individualized issues, which whilst valid in themselves pale into insignificance when compared to drowning entire countries in rivers of blood for freedom.
The Left appears to be brain-dead and extraordinarily arrogant and condecending at the same time. They have brazen contempt for Trump and his supporters even when their ideas are correct, like Trump’s opposition to going to war with Russia and his followers desires to stop interfering militarily overseas and employ these resources at home to ‘fix America first’ rather than the world. That the left and progressives and liberals don’t see the grass-roots conservative/nationalist exhaustion with war as an opportunity rather than a threat is astonishing. Why aren’t the anti-war left trying to form alliances with the anti-war right in the United States? People say, ‘no alliances with fascists’. I don’t agree. That’s mindless rhetoric. War is the greatest evil out there, so I’d embrace the Devil to stop war.
It isn’t just the neocons control and influence in the media that’s a problem, it’s the left’s chronic lack of intelligence and ideas in relation to foreign policy and the wars that’s a problem. The left’s leaders are really poor intellectually in my opinion. Not all of them, but a lot of them. I’m particularly distressed by a towering figure like Chomsky who seems so dogmatic and blinded by his hatred of Trump, to what’s actually happening in the US. There’s a marvelous opportunity to educate people here. A democratically elected president a figure outside both parties, is being systematically destroyed by a conspiracy manufactured inside the ruling elite who are determined to destroy both Trump and Russia by any means necessary up to and including war. By any standards this is something important and serious, regardless of what one thinks of Trump as a person or a leader, yet the leaders of the left are strangely silent about what’s going on and the consequences of standing by and watching these events unfold.
“Liberals and progressives aren’t in principle against wars, what they don’t like is ‘bad’ ones.”
True, as is your next sentence. We might say liberals and progressives (including pacifists) are against war in general, but always for whatever particular war it suits their ruling class to wage.
Reblogged this on Worldtruth.
“……While you might wonder why the U.S. government would even think about taking actions that would benefit Al Qaeda, which lured the U.S. into this Mideast quagmire in the first place by attacking on 9/11,…..”
Sorry but this claim is a tad misleading. Who organised the 9/11 attack? Who lured whom. War Hawks, big money, the Zionist Empire and yes, the Sunni Monarchies, all had a vested interests in destroying pro Russian economic deal states like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria and therefore, all had a reason to commit a “false flag” operation. It would be more accurate to say that an excuse to destroy certain states was required in order to falsely justify war and the aid of AQ and Mossad was required to achieve the desired “War OF Terror” – which of course, it did. Semantics on my part? Possibly.
“…..Putin compounded his offense to the neocons by facilitating Obama’s negotiations with Iran that imposed strict constraints on Iran’s actions toward development of a nuclear bomb….”
Parry asserts, yet again, that Iran had intentions towards the development of the nuclear bomb. Where is the evidence, if any ever existed, that Iran, who for religious reasons, is against the use of WMD’s ever contemplated developing nuclear bombs? Because NetTheNut held up a placard with a childish representation of a bomb denoting Iran’s intentions?(Risible, given the fact that Israel probably has enough nukes to wipe out half the ME and the whole of the US Eastern Seaboard).
This is not the first time that Parry – whom I like for the most part – has stated these claims as though they were a given truth, when in fact they are hotly debated subjects. Eric Zeusse does the same thing with Syria’s “civil war” claims.
I wish they wouldn’t.
Other than these exclusions, Robert has, once again, penned intelligent observation and pretty much nailed it.
Notwithstanding my small objections, a good article.
If you tell a big lie often enough, it becomes
truthpolitik. Banksy’s reinterpretation of Goebells. Ignatius would agree so far, but It pays to finish the quote though:
Or, as Orwell put it:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Judging by the move to block, on this site and others – the truth is getting out.
Plus the cumulative effect of lie on lie, each new one given legitimacy by those that came before. As in the Idlib April 4 headlines: “The Syrian regime has again used chemical weapons …”
Another timely and coherent piece. Thanks.
I always thought these Americans who are more loyal to Israel than the US – should be called ZIOCONSERVATIVES. In 2008, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the majority of the so-called Neoconservatives are Zionist Jews.
Victoria Nuland is not the only one who has Ukrainian blood on her hand. Sen. John McCain also helped her to pull a regime change in Ukraine.
“…every Democrat present for the vote adopted the neocon position of escalating tensions with Russia and Iran. ..”