Trump's Straight Talk Angers US Establishment

President Donald Trump has made a habit of telling truths that drive the United States establishment crazy. For example, he told Russian officials in a White House meeting in 2017 that he was not concerned about Russian interference in 2016 US elections because the United States did the same in other countries' elections, according to media reports. In a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview with Trump, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly authoritatively declared Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.” Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump did something similar in 2018 after his Singapore Summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim JongUn. When Fox News' Brett Baier raised the question in an interview about "Kim's oppression of his own people", Trump said: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things.” Trump's straight talk continues to inflame passions in the US establishment.

American Narrative:

Both O'Reilly and Baier were essentially repeating the standard American narrative that wants the world to believe that "we (Americans) are the good guys and those opposing America are the bad guys".

Trump, an unconventional American leader, displayed rare candor in his responses.  The American  media and "research scholars", managed by the "Deep State", sharply criticized Trump and continued to parrot the standard American narrative asserting that "we're the good guys" while vilifying Vladimir Putin, Kim JongUn and other leaders and countries designated as "enemies".

Young and Barbaric:

Trump appears ready to drop all pretenses of US being "the good guys" standing for "freedom, democracy and human rights".  He is not alone in his assertion that "our country (United States) is not so innocent".  George Friedman, the founder of  Stratfor which describes itself as "American geopolitical intelligence platform", is the ultimate "Deep State" insider in America.  Friedman acknowledges that "America, like Europe in sixteenth century, is still barbaric, a description, not a moral judgment. Its culture is unformed. Its will is powerful. Its emotions drive it in different and contradictory directions."

Friedman argues that "perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century."

More recently, the United States' interventions in the Middle East have destabilized and devastated Libya and Syria and created a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have died and millions rendered homeless and trying to flee hunger and violence.

Narrative Promotion:

So how does America create and promote its "good guys" narrative in the world and demonize others? How do American image builders gloss over its past characterized by the genocide of the indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans and a history of assassinations, invasions, atrocities, proxy wars, and coups in the developing world? How do their actions escape the "terrorism" label that is liberally applied to others, particularly Muslims?  What modern image-making and promotional tools and techniques has Uncle Sam borrowed from the world of brand creation, promotion and management?

The first thing in creating a narrative is the basic story supported by effective language and vocabulary. It is fleshed out by writers, poets, musicians and artists.  The basic American narrative  goes like this:  America stands for freedom, democracy and human rights. It is a force for all that is good in the world. Those who oppose America are the "bad guys".

The narrative is then widely disseminated, promoted and incessantly repeated by Washington think tanks, book authors, major newspaper reporters and editors,  mainstream journalists, television channels and popular entertainment platforms.

Talking points are developed and shared to defend against any criticisms. Inconvenient truths are obfuscated.  Those who accept the talking points are rewarded and those who persist in criticisms are isolated and punished. Rewards come in the form of funding and access. Punishments are handed out by orchestrating attacks by peers and by denying funds and access.

Controlling the Narrative:

The United States government funds think tanks, hires consultants and directly and indirectly influences mass media and popular entertainment platforms to control and promote its "good guys" narrative and to vilify those seen as competitors.

1. Think Tanks:  Woodrow Wilson Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, US Institute of Peace (USIP), Rand Corporation and a several others are partially or fully funded by the US government. These are supplemented by dozens of other think tanks funded by major US corporations which have a stake in promoting a positive global image of the United States. These organizations organize conferences, publish books and "research papers" and offer scholarships to promote the American "good guys" narrative globally.  They have both resident and non-resident "scholars", including some from developing countries like Pakistan. Some of the Pakistani "scholars" working for Washington think tanks also work for major media houses in Pakistan. These "scholars" are widely quoted by the media on issues relating to US-Pakistan relations.

2. News Media:  Veteran American journalist Carl Bernstein, famous for his reporting on Watergate along with Bob Woodward, investigated CIA's use of the American media and wrote a piece describing "How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up". Here's what he said:

"Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the Associated Press (AP),  United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune".

3. Popular Entertainment:  It has been suggested that Hollywood has been working with the United States government for a long time.  Some have said that Hollywood is "the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon".  Information obtained under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) confirms that thousands of Hollywood films have received backing from the CIA and the US Department of Defense and other US agencies to promote America's "good guy" narrative. These include 24, Army Wives, Flight 93, Homeland,  Ice Road Truckers, NCIS,  Transformers, Iron Man, Terminator, etc.

Documents obtained recently under FOIA show that the relationship between the US national security establishment and American entertainment businesses is much deeper and more political than ever acknowledged.

4. Books and Literature:  Starting with the Cold War, the American CIA has infiltrated and influenced books and literature to promote the American official "good guys" narrative. "Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers" by Joel Whitney reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway were recruited as soldiers in Cold War.

Editors of top literary magazines were used as a vehicle for this infiltration.  The first time the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines came to light was in 1966. The CIA used multiple guises to financially support young, promising writers as part of a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world.

Summary:

The United States government has developed and aggressively controls and promotes America's standard narrative that claims "we are the good guys and those opposing us are the bad guys".  This narrative glosses over the history of native American genocide, enslavement of Africans and the CIA sponsored assassinations, coups and proxy wars in the developing world. In a couple of recent interviews, US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the problems with the American narrative. Nevertheless, the American narrative is promoted using a multi-pronged strategy that includes the use of think tanks, popular entertainment, books and literature and the mainstream media.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Gates Straight Talk on Pakistan

Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Trump’s Baffling Plan to Pillage #Syria’s #Oil. Trump: “We may have to fight for the oil. It’s O.K.” #energy #MiddleEast #Arab https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trumps-baffling-plan-to-pillage-syrias-oil

resident Trump dropped a stunner during his rambling press conference, on Sunday, after announcing the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, in a U.S. raid. In a major policy flip-flop, the President said that he is not only keeping American forces in Syria to “secure” its oil fields, he is willing to go to war over them. “We may have to fight for the oil. It’s O.K.,” he said. “Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there’s massive amounts of oil.” The United States, he added, should be able to take some of Syria’s oil. “What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” he said. The goal would be to “spread out the wealth.”

The President was wrong on so many counts. Seizing the oil, after twice ordering all U.S. troops out of Syria, violates a basic international treaty on war. It may amount to pillaging—even piracy, according to legal experts and former senior military commanders. “Bring in US oil companies to modernize the field. WHAT ARE WE BECOMING.... PIRATES?” General Barry McCaffrey (Ret.), who commanded a mechanized Army division in Iraq during the Gulf War, tweeted.

Trump’s new policy may also violate the military authorization from Congress which allowed the United States to enter Syria. It certainly violates Syrian sovereignty. “If ISIS is defeated we lack Congressional authority to stay,” McCaffrey tweeted. “The oil belongs to Syria.”

Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. could expropriate a portion of Syria’s oil “sounds like the international crime of pillage,” Ryan Goodman, a former special legal counsel at the Department of Defense who is now at the New York University School of Law, said. Any such move is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and by the precedents set by the United Nations war-crimes tribunals that the U.S. helped establish in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. “U.S. military commanders who engaged in pillaging Syria’s oil would risk criminal liability under the U.S. War Crimes Act,” Goodman said. The international rules of war, he added, were designed “to deter nations from engaging in predatory wars to seize other countries’ natural resources.”

Most of all, the new policy—which may keep some five hundred American troops in Syria—wasn’t well thought out, U.S. officials and Middle East experts told me. “It was seat-of-the-pants type shit,” a U.S. official said. Another told me, “To say the oil stuff isn’t thought through is an understatement. The N.S.C. is scrambling to build policy around the President’s tweets.” Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, described it as “cockamamie.”

What’s particularly baffling is that Syria now produces a piddling amount of oil—about as much as Utah. “Syrian oil was not significant at all to the world market. It was very small,” Daniel Yergin, an energy expert and vice-chairman of IHS Markit, told me. At its peak, Syria produced less than four hundred thousand barrels a day, which generated about a quarter of government revenues. But, as a result of the eight-year civil war and U.S. air strikes on oil installations seized by isis, production is down ninety per cent, to only about forty-thousand barrels per day, Yergin said. That’s a negligible amount on global markets—inadequate even for Syria’s domestic needs.

After isis seized a third of Syrian territory, in 2014, oil became the financial lifeblood for the isis caliphate. “Syrian oil took on global interest when it became a machine for generating revenue for isis,” Yergin said. As the caliphate collapsed, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces took over running the fields. Oil revenues supported its military and civilian programs.

Riaz Haq said…
Donald #Trump is eyeing #Afghanistan's $1 trillion #mineral #wealth. Experts say getting hold of them is 'a pipe dream' https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/afghanistan-donald-trump-1-trillion-mineral-reserves-deposits-war-rebuilding-reconstruction-gold-a7904301.html

Country's rich deposits of gold, silver, platinum, iron ore and copper could represent path to economic independence but experts call plan to tap into them 'a pipe dream'

US President Donald Trump is eyeing Afghanistan's mineral wealth to help pay for a 16-year war and reconstruction efforts that have already cost $117 billion. Investors who have studied the country, one of the world's most dangerous, say that is a pipe dream.

Ever since a United States Geological Survey study a decade ago identified deposits later estimated to have a potential value of as much as $1 trillion, both Afghan and foreign officials have trumpeted the reserves as a likely key to economic independence for Afghanistan.

As well as deposits of gold, silver and platinum, Afghanistan has significant quantities of iron ore, uranium, zinc, tantalum, bauxite, coal, natural gas and significant copper - a particular draw given the dearth of rich new copper mines globally.

Afghanistan, some reports say, even has the potential to become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”, thanks to deposits of the raw material used in phone and electric car batteries.

But a lack of basic logistics - paved roads and rail links needed to export copper concentrate or iron ore - pervasive corruption, a messy bureaucracy and a growing insurgency that has left much of the country beyond the writ of the Kabul government have stifled attempts to a build a legitimate mining sector.

Much of the basic data dates back to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. And the cost of having foreign geologists and engineers visit remote sites to carry out new surveys is prohibitive when nothing is yet being produced to pay for it.
Riaz Haq said…
#Tech Giants #Facebook, #Google and #Apple As New #Landlords Eye Lucrative #Rent Market With End to Eviction Moratorium Could Leave Millions Homeless. A “tsunami” of evictions is about to sweep across the #UnitedStates when 120-day moratorium ends today https://www.mintpressnews.com/tech-giants-position-themselves-as-landlords-as-end-of-eviction-moratorium-could-leave-millions-homeless/269744/#.Xx429Sa3WWc.twitter

In a ‘normal’, pre-pandemic economy, a number roughly equal to the population of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania – or about 3.7 million people – are evicted every month in the United States, according to Matthew Desmond, principal investigator of Princeton University’s “Eviction Lab” project, which tracks evictions throughout the country and produces the first nationwide eviction database.

But, come Friday, July 24, those numbers could rise precipitously should the moratorium on evictions, included in the CARES Act be allowed to expire. The legislation afforded renters with a 120 days’ grace period from “fees, penalties, or charges in relation to nonpayment of rent” and barred landlords from filing eviction notices of any kind during that period.

The situation facing low-income communities is exceedingly harsh when considering the endemic economic disparity that characterizes cash-poor communities with scant access to any sort of financial resources or affordable credit. Studies on wealth inequality have shown time and again how excessive rent burdens can leave families on the brink of homelessness over relatively minor, unexpected emergencies like a simple car repair or a doctor’s visit.

A “semi-permanent renter class” has developed among poor African Americans, in particular. 1 in 11 people who fall into this demographic face eviction every year. For the rest of the United States, the rate is 1 in 20. African American communities and other communities of color are the most vulnerable to the approaching deadline, which not only opens the door for the resumption of eviction filings but also brings potentially large bills of fees and penalties, which the CARES Act allowed to accrue for 120 days.



A broad crisis
So far, few lawmakers have come out against the end of the moratorium despite the uncertainty and great potential for popular unrest this is likely to cause. Some cities like Houston have already lifted the eviction freeze leading many in the legal profession to expect a “tsunami” of eviction filings. The prospect of homelessness looms large over working families living on incomes under $40K a year; 40 percent of which lost a source of employment in March, according to Shamus Roller of the National Housing Law Project.

Milwaukee and Cleveland are two of the cities most at risk, with a 40 percent jump in eviction rates from their typical level at this time of year. The American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Evictions revealed that a staggering 28 million homes are at risk of coming under eviction orders due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emily Benfer, who chairs the ABA committee is also the co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard put out by the Eviction Lab.

In an editorial published Wednesday by NBC News, Benfer called for a “long-term solution to housing precarity and its disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx families” and warned that without “robust government intervention” the “avalanche of evictions” will take a heavy toll on entire communities. She predicts renters will suffer increasing levels of distress as unemployment benefits are cut off and reopened courts begin hearing thousands of pending evictions.

Benfer decried the Trump administration’s attempts to eliminate fair housing rules, that were set up to push back against “longstanding discriminatory housing practices,” echoing her partner at Eviction Lab, Matt Desmond, who contrasted the plight of African American and Latino renters with white American families who are “buffered” from the looming eviction crisis by virtue of most of them owning their own home.
Riaz Haq said…
Liberal Power: Liberals see #political authoritarianism in #Republicans clinging to power via the Senate’s rural bias, conservatives increasingly see #GOP as the only bulwark against the #cultural authoritarianism inherent in #tech & #media consolidation. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/17/opinion/where-liberal-power-lies.html?smid=tw-share

A striking thing about the current moment is that if you switch back and forth between reading conservatives and liberals, you see mirror-image anxieties about authoritarianism and totalitarianism, which each side believes are developing across the partisan divide.

Last Sunday I wrote in response to liberals who fear a postelection coup or a second-term slide toward autocracy, arguing (not for the first time) that Donald Trump’s authoritarian tendencies are overwhelmed by his incapacities, his distinct lack of will-to-power, and the countervailing power of liberalism in American institutions.

But then the ensuing week brought a wave of conservative anxieties about creeping authoritarianism. The source of the right’s agita was Twitter and Facebook, which decided to completely block a New York Post story featuring a cache of alleged Hunter Biden emails (with a very strange chain-of-custody back story) on the suspicion that they were the fruit of hacking, and in Twitter’s case to suspend some media accounts that shared the Post story even in critique.

“This is what totalitarianism looks like in our century,” the Post’s Op-Ed editor, Sohrab Ahmari, wrote in response: “Not men in darkened cells driving screws under the fingernails of dissidents, but Silicon Valley dweebs removing from vast swaths of the internet a damaging exposé on their preferred presidential candidate.”

Ahmari’s diagnosis is common among my friends on the right. In his new book “Live Not By Lies,” for instance, Rod Dreher warns against the rise of a “soft totalitarianism,” distinguished not by formal police-state tactics but by pressure from the heights of big media, big tech and the education system, which are forging “powerful mechanisms for controlling thought and discourse.”

Dreher is a religious conservative, but many right-of-center writers who are more culturally liberal (at least under pre-2016 definitions of the term) share a version of his fears. Indeed, what we call the American “right” increasingly just consists of anyone, whether traditionalist or secularist or somewhere in between, who feels alarmed by growing ideological conformity within the media and educational and corporate establishments.

Let me try to elaborate on what this right is seeing. The initial promise of the internet era was radical decentralization, but instead over the last 20 years, America’s major cultural institutions have become consolidated, with more influence in the hands of fewer institutions. The decline of newsprint has made a few national newspapers ever more influential, the most-trafficked portions of the internet have fallen under the effective control of a small group of giant tech companies, and the patterns of meritocracy have ensured that the people staffing these institutions are drawn from the same self-reproducing professional class. (A similar trend may be playing out with vertical integration in the entertainment business, while in academia, a declining student population promises to close smaller colleges and solidify the power of the biggest, most prestigious schools.)


----------
“This is what totalitarianism looks like in our century”by Sohrab Ahmari https://nypost.com/2020/10/14/if-unreliable-is-the-issue-why-did-social-media-never-block-anti-trump-stories/
Riaz Haq said…
Andrew Bacevich: If you want to go bomb somebody, there’s remarkably little discussion about cost....But when you have a discussion about whether or not we can assist people who are suffering, then suddenly we come very, you know, cost-conscious.” #US https://www.bu.edu/pardeeschool/2014/06/28/bacevich-on-iraq-isis-and-more/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1412591753165565956?s=20


Riaz Haq said…
Destiny of CPEC depends on regional peace, while potential Afghan civil war serves US interests
By Aasma Wadud
Published: Jul 09, 2021 03:12 PM

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202107/1228255.shtml


War is not an event. It is an economy. Countries like the US have reaped fortunes from it, leaving both destruction and devastation behind. With US troops leaving Afghanistan, the future of the country remains uncertain. It symbolizes that Afghanistan will be abandoned and left alone to an inevitable defeat at the hands of the Taliban. Critics are forecasting a civil war, but there is another perspective that many fail to recognize: The US failed to link its evacuation of troops to sustainable peace, but was it circumstantial or intentional?

With China emerging as an economic superpower, the war economy is now obsolete. China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has given the world generally and the region precisely a new dimension where growth, development, stability, and peace are inevitable for every nation. Afghanistan has been burning like fuel for decades with the past's war economy. Sometimes directly and sometimes through proxies, the past's superpowers have manipulated its geopolitical location, culture, political and social dynamics. Sadly, in the past, war was a commodity that was bought and sold conveniently; Afghan war complemented the needs of those nations with power. With the situation still unfolding, is Afghanistan on the verge of another civil war, or will things change for the better this time?

The last G7 meeting in June 2021 aimed to develop strategies to counter China's BRI, which signifies its importance. The US has invested in India to counter China's influence in the region. But to America's surprise, India has failed to deliver what it was expected to achieve. Because of this, the US needed to find another more spontaneous and swift solution to the loss of its hegemony. With rapid US troop evacuation, Afghan civil war seems to be the apparent outcome, especially for war-dependent economies like the US and its allies. A civil war can serve the US multiple purposes, including some form of instability in the region to counter the BRI. It could sabotage the CPEC and maximize pressure on Pakistan's economy, which is essential to potentially winning the country's most-needed cooperation. Moreover, it could offer the US' struggling economy new support. In the past, time and again, Afghanistan has fallen prey to war economy ventures, but times have changed. With US troops leaving Afghanistan, Indian investment in the country is going to fall off. It has limited alternatives to defending its strategic interests in Afghanistan. Additionally, it fears a new wave of terrorism, and is concerned about the Taliban's growing presence. Finally, as the region stabilizes, Kashmir will see more prominence and limelight.

With the BRI and CPEC, peace has become the hottest commodity in the region. In many ways, the world's future economic growth depends on peace in Afghanistan. It is a fact that Afghanistan's internal dynamics remain the same, where domestic warlords are still significant. The Taliban has evolved from the roadside fighting group to a more flexible and accepting political entity. They are more diverse, with Afghan, Tajik and Uzbek representation. Furthermore, geopolitical transformation will have an impact on the whole situation. In the past, stakeholders were manipulated for war; but this time, "peace" will be the product offered and bought.

The destiny of the BRI and CPEC depend on peace in Afghanistan. China is known for positively contributing to other countries' economies, development, and growth. China will go the extra mile to ensure peace in the region, and will look to ensure a new chapter of growth and prosperity is achieved in Afghanistan.


Riaz Haq said…
Lyrics by Prince

Land of the free, home of the brave
Oops, I mean
Land of the free, home of the slave
Get down on your knees, hit me

-----------------

Welcome to America
Where you can fail at your job, get fired, rehired
And get a seven hundred billion dollar tip
Come on in, sit right down
And fill up your pockets, yeah
Mass media, information overload
Welcome to America
(The following message is brought to you by Viacom)
Distracted by the features of the iPhone
(Got an application for each of situation)
In other words, taken by a pretty face
Somebody's watching you (I see you, I see you)
Welcome to America
Hook up later at the iPad
And we can meet at my place (welcome to America)
Welcome (welcome to America)
To America
Where everything and nothing that Google says is hip
(The sales tax for the following items)
(Will be raised immediately, cigarettes)
We will not raise your taxes
Read our lips
Welcome to America (America)
Welcome to the big show (to America)
Everybody's looking for something
When there ain't no place to go (welcome to America)
Except inside America (America)
That's the only place I know (to America)
Transformation happens deep within, yes or no?
Yes
Welcome to America
One of our greatest exports was a thing called jazz
You think today's music will last?
(Dismantle all monopolies)
(Dismantle all monopolies)
Welcome to America
Welcome
Hope and change, everything takes forever
And truth is a new minority (truth)
Oh, welcome to America
Welcome to America
Today we'd like to discuss America's plan to fix the educational system
The pledge of allegiance will now read as follows
I pledge allegiance to the earth of the United States of the Universe
Welcome to America
There is no arguing with the book (when am I gonna learn something new?)
There is no arguing with the book (who's gonna teach it to me, you?)
There is no arguing with the book (what's that outside my windowsill)
There is no (could it be?) Arguing (our free will?)
You say yes, I say no, yet love flows
America can provide many opportunities
For the young female who wishes to work (for the state)
For her own advancement up from the underclass to become one
Welcome to America
Go to school to become a celebrity
(F-A-M-O-U-S) but don't be late
And everybody and they mama got a sex tape
Welcome to America
We snatch bass players, not purses
Keep playing, it gets worse
Land of the free, home of the brave
Oops, I mean
Land of the free, home of the slave
Get down on your knees, hit me
Welcome to America
Welcome to the big show
Everybody's looking for something
When there ain't no place to go (that's it y'all)
Except inside America
That's the only place I know (Chinese)
Transformation happens deep within, yes or no? (Or get down on your knees)
Source: LyricFind

Riaz Haq said…
George W. Bush's Freudian Slip on #Ukraine: "Brutal Invasion of #Iraq". Ex #US president condemned #Putin's "brutal, unjustified invasion of Iraq" and then blamed the slip on age. #Russia https://youtu.be/bZKWn3RcPZU
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpts of McNamara, Craig. Because Our Fathers Lied (pp. 195-196). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

We sat in the front row. My kids were on either side of me. As crazy as it seems, I was prepared to climb up on the stage and tackle anyone who came near him. I wasn’t in the same condition that I’d been in as the MVP of my high school football team, but I’d been farming for the past quarter century. I felt I was strong enough. When Dad came out onstage, the auditorium fell silent. The possibility of confrontation—the awkwardness and the silent threat—was in the air like electricity before a thunderstorm. The moderator showed selected clips from The Fog of War. The clips focused on my father’s “Eleven Lessons,” first enumerated in his memoir, In Retrospect, and later used by Errol Morris as a through line for the film. The lessons are: Empathize with your enemy. Rationality alone will not save us. There’s something beyond one’s self. Maximize efficiency. Proportionality should be a guideline in war. Get the data. Belief and seeing are both often wrong. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil. Never say never. You can’t change human nature. During the conversation that followed, Mark Danner pushed my father on these lessons, attempting to draw out a comparison with Iraq. At one point, Danner asked specifically whether the lessons from the Vietnam War should be applied to America’s impending adventure in 2003. My father steadfastly refused to comment. He gave various reasons—among them that it could pose a risk to American soldiers in the field. He also said that ex-cabinet members shouldn’t comment on the jobs current cabinet members are doing. He would repeat these nonanswers to the Iraq question in numerous other interviews. For those of us who despised Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and felt the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, it was frustrating that Robert McNamara wouldn’t comment directly. It brought back painful memories of his silence after 1968. There had been such hope and such disappointment. “We human beings killed a hundred and sixty million other human beings in the twentieth century,” he said. He was almost shouting, jabbing his finger at Mark Danner. “Is that what we want in this century?” In classic fashion, Dad answered his own question. “I don’t think so!” At one point, Danner asked Dad how he dealt with reporters during difficult press conferences as secretary of defense. Dad said, “Don’t answer the question they asked. Answer the question you wish they’d asked.” Does this mean tell a lie? Growing up in his house, with his rules, I considered him to be an honest person. I’m sure I can remember him saying “Don’t tell lies” when I was a little kid. I’m sure that I passed on to my own children the same lesson. How could someone as intelligent as Dad fail to see the contradiction? Maybe his hypocrisy has to do with Lesson Number Three. That’s the one that matters most to me. I think it’s the one he most failed to live up to.

-------------
I once asked Errol what it was like to spend so much time with my father. He responded that he felt my father was thoughtful and self-doubting: a decent and magnificent man, a person he deeply respected and learned a lot from. He liked him. However, he also told me that he felt conflicted about the decisions my father made as secretary of defense. He said that he considered Dad a war criminal. I wondered, How could you feel even the most remote affection for a war criminal? In maybe the same conversation, I expressed to Errol my dismay over the run-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I told him that I considered men like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz to be evil. I felt hatred for these men—the last of whom had a career very similar to my father’s, because it also included a tenure at the World Bank.

McNamara, Craig. Because Our Fathers Lied (pp. 197-198). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
NY Times's Review of "Legacy of Ashes" by Time Weiner:

https://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/books/review/Thomas-t.html

The C.I.A. never did have much luck operating inside Communist China, and it failed to predict the Iranian revolution of 1979. “We were just plain asleep,” said the former C.I.A. director Adm. Stansfield Turner. The agency also did not foresee the explosion of an atom bomb by the Soviet Union in 1949, the invasion of South Korea in 1950, the popular uprisings in Eastern Europe in the 1950s, the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the explosion of an atom bomb by India in 1998 — the list goes on and on, culminating in the agency’s wrong call on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in 2002-3.


Tim Weiner’s engrossing, comprehensive “Legacy of Ashes” is a litany of failure, from the C.I.A.’s early days, when hundreds of agents were dropped behind the Iron Curtain to be killed or doubled (almost without exception), to more recent humiliations, like George Tenet’s now infamous “slam dunk” line. Over the years, the agency threw around a lot of money and adopted a certain swagger. “We went all over the world and we did what we wanted,” said Al Ulmer, the C.I.A.’s Far East division chief in the 1950s. “God, we had fun.” But even their successes turned out to be failures. In 1963, the C.I.A. backed a coup to install the Baath Party in Iraq. “We came to power on a C.I.A. train,” said Ali Saleh Saadi, the Baath Party interior minister. One of the train’s passengers, Weiner notes, was a young assassin named Saddam Hussein. Weiner quotes Donald Gregg, a former C.I.A. station chief in South Korea, later the national security adviser to Vice President George H. W. Bush: “The record in Europe was bad. The record in Asia was bad. The agency had a terrible record in its early days — a great reputation and a terrible record.”

And yet the myth of the C.I.A. as an all-knowing, all-powerful spy agency persisted for years, not just in the minds of America’s enemies but in the imagination of many American television-watchers and moviegoers. Among those fooled, at least initially, were most modern presidents of the United States. The promise of a secret intelligence organization that could not only spy on America’s enemies but also influence events abroad, by sleight of hand and at relatively low cost, was just too alluring.

When presidents finally faced the reality that the agency was bumbling, they could be bitter. Reviewing the C.I.A.’s record after his two terms in office, Dwight Eisenhower told the director, Allen Dulles, “I have suffered an eight-year defeat on this.” He would “leave a legacy of ashes” for his successor. A fan of Ian Fleming’s spy stories, John F. Kennedy was shocked to be introduced to the man described by C.I.A. higher-ups as their James Bond — the fat, alcoholic, unstable William Harvey, who ran a botched attempt to eliminate Fidel Castro by hiring the Mafia. Ronald Reagan went along with the desire of his C.I.A. director, William Casey, to bring back the mythical glory days by “unleashing” the agency — and his presidency was badly undermined by the Iran-contra affair.


Riaz Haq said…
NY Times's Review of "Legacy of Ashes" by Time Weiner:

https://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/books/review/Thomas-t.html


In Weiner’s telling, a president trying to use the C.I.A. resembles Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. The role of Lucy is played by scheming or inept directors. Dulles is particularly egregious, a lazy, vain con artist who watches baseball games on television while half-listening to top-secret briefings (he assesses written briefings by their weight). Casey mumbles and lies and may have been almost mad from a brain tumor by the end. Even the more honorable directors, like Richard Helms, can’t resist telling presidents what they want to hear. To fit the policy needs of the Nixon White House in 1969, Helms doctored a C.I.A. estimate of Soviet nuclear forces. In a draft of the report, analysts had doubted the Soviet will or capacity to launch a nuclear strike. Helms erased this crucial passage — and for years thereafter, until the end of the cold war, the C.I.A. overstated the rate at which the Soviets were modernizing their arsenal. The C.I.A.’s bogus intelligence on Iraq in 2002-3, based on the deceits of dubious sources like the one known as Curveball, was hardly unprecedented. To justify the Johnson administration’s desire for a pro-war Congressional resolution on Vietnam in 1964, the intelligence community manufactured evidence of a Communist attack on American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Weiner, a reporter for The Times who has covered intelligence for many years, has a good eye for embarrassing detail. High-ranking officials, it appears, were often the last to know. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Robert M. Gates, who is now the secretary of defense but at the time was the first President Bush’s deputy national security adviser, was at a family picnic. A friend of his wife’s joined the picnic and asked him, “What are you doing here?” Gates asked, “What are you talking about?” “The invasion,” she said. “What invasion?” he asked. A year earlier, when the Berlin Wall fell, Milt Bearden, the leader of the C.I.A.’s Soviet division, was reduced to watching CNN and deflecting urgent calls from White House officials who wanted to know what the agency’s spies were saying. “It was hard to confess that there were no Soviet spies worth a damn — they all had been rounded up and killed, and no one at the C.I.A. knew why,” Weiner writes. (The American agents in Moscow had been betrayed by the C.I.A. mole Aldrich Ames.)


Weiner is not the first reporter to see that the C.I.A.’s golden era was an illusion. After the 1975 Church Committee hearings exposed the agency as “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” various authors began to deconstruct the myth of the C.I.A., most notably Thomas Powers in “The Man Who Kept the Secrets.” But by using tens of thousands of declassified documents and on-the-record recollections of dozens of chagrined spymasters, Weiner paints what may be the most disturbing picture yet of C.I.A. ineptitude. After following along Weiner’s march of folly, readers may wonder: Is an open democracy capable of building and sustaining an effective secret intelligence service? Maybe not. But with Islamic terrorists vowing to set off a nuclear device in an American city, there isn’t much choice but to keep on trying.
Riaz Haq said…
Ben Norton
@BenjaminNorton
The US military launched at least 251 foreign interventions from 1991 to 2022.
This is according to a report from the US government's own Congressional Research Service.
I went through the data and created a map showing just how vast the meddling is: https://multipolarista.com/2022/09/13/us-251-military-interventions-1991/ https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1569800676678696960?s=20&t=YnIgUPmGWNRNOFxTpqKvCQ
Riaz Haq said…
Pentagon Orders Review of Its Overseas Social Media Campaigns
The move comes after Twitter and Facebook shut down misleading accounts that they determined were sending messages to promote U.S. foreign policy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/us/politics/pentagon-social-media.html

WASHINGTON — White House officials told the military that they were concerned about its efforts to spread pro-American messaging on social media, prompting the Pentagon to order a review of secretive operations to influence populations overseas, U.S. officials said.

The review follows a decision by Twitter and Facebook over the summer to shut down misleading accounts that they determined were sending messages about U.S. foreign policy interests abroad.

The Pentagon audit and White House concerns were first reported by The Washington Post.

Disinformation researchers said the campaigns largely fell into two camps. Most of the campaigns spread pro-American messages, including memes and slogans that praised the United States. Those programs were similar to how Beijing often spreads disinformation by seeding positive messages about life in China.

One campaign targeting Iran, however, spread divisive messages about life there. The accounts involved pushed out views that both supported and opposed the Iranian government. That disinformation effort resembled the methods used by Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For years U.S. military commands have promoted pro-American news and messages for audiences overseas, sometimes earning the scrutiny of Congress. But the decision by the social media companies to shut down some accounts associated with the military suggested that the activity had gone further.

Twitter and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, removed accounts that they said violated their terms of service by taking part in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

A report in August by Stanford University’s Internet Observatory and the social media analytics firm Graphika said those accounts were pushing pro-American messages in the Middle East and Central Asia. The two groups attributed some of the accounts taken down by Facebook and Twitter to the Trans-Regional Web Initiative, a more than 10-year-old Pentagon initiative that sends out information in support of the United States in areas where the U.S. military operates.

The postings varied widely in sophistication. Some of the more polished work was aimed at Twitter and Telegram users in Iran and pushed a wide variety of views. While most of the messages were critical of the Iranian government, researchers said others were supportive of it, the kind of activity that could potentially be designed to inflame debate and sow divisions in the country.

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