Interviewed Wednesday on The Critical Hour, I took issue with the prevailing conventional view that George Stephanopoulos’s mousetrapping President Biden into calling Putin a "killer" and Secretary of State Blinken’s boorish attempt to get China to kowtow in Alaska were "disastrous".
One must always ask cui bono? Who profits from those two "disasters". Were they not a boon to the people with inordinate influence over those we elect (at least nominally) to run the country? I refer, of course, to those of the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex who profiteer from tension.
The MICIMATT needs credible foreign enemies to "justify" obscene levels of military spending and to line the pockets of the wealthy "one percent" – whom the Russians still call "the ruling classes". As for the rest of us, as comedian George Carlin might put it, the ruling classes with their bastard-child MICIMATT make up a big club, and we’re not in it. It has grown like Topsy since President Eisenhower warned us of its disastrous potential 60 years ago. In his farewell address he labeled it the "military-industrial complex":
We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Ike noted that the conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry was in those days new to the American experience. He added that "the total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. … Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society."
Eisenhower stressed that the only way to prevent the military-industrial complex from endangering our democracy was "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry". That’s the rub. The corporate-owned media has become the linchpin of the MICIMATT. Consumers of that media today are in no way knowledgeable. In such case, as Ike predicted, it becomes impossible to "compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together".
Whom Do You Hate More: Russians or Chinese?
The most recent Gallup poll shows that 77 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Russia, while 79 percent view China unfavorably. For Russia that was a 6-percentage point increase in unfavorability over that of last year; for China a 13-percentage point increase. I am reminded of Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey’s input at the first cabinet meeting at the White House in February 1981, according to Barbara Honegger, who was there:
We’ll know when our disinformation program is complete, when everything the American public believes is false.
Note that MICIMATT acronym places Intelligence right next to Media; suffice it to say that, these days, the two could not be closer.
I am not saying that George Stephanopoulos is working for the CIA, but he might as well be. MICIMATT is a seamless garment. If his objective was to "remind" TV watchers of the dubious charge that Putin poisons his enemies, what better way than to raise it with a gaffe-prone president and hope he will rise to the bait. Success might well prompt ABC to raise his current salary of $18 million a year.
Nor am I saying he does it just for the money. But Stephanopoulos is not stupid. Did he learn nothing from his cheerleading for the U.S./UK attack on Iraq 18 years ago? In September 2002, for example, when Bush and Cheney, with the indispensable help of a senator named Biden and his main staffer Blinken were pushing Congress to authorize war, Stephanopoulos did his best to put Rep. Jim McDermott on the spot and hold him up to ridicule. McDermott and other Democratic congressmen were visiting Baghdad and insisting that UN inspectors should be permitted to determine whether there really were weapons of mass destruction there before Congress approved military action.
A rare politician who did not mince his words, McDermott suggested to the media, before he left for Baghdad, that Bush was so eager to go to war in Iraq that he would lie about whether military action was needed. Interviewing McDermott in Baghdad via satellite on Sept. 29, 2002, Stephanopoulos asked McDermott if he still thought Bush would mislead the American people. McDermott replied Yes and faced into the fury all war hawks – Democrats as well as Republicans.
The following day columnist George Will wrote,"Saddam Hussein finds American collaborators among senior congressional Democrats." McDermott was right, of course. But he had to bear the moniker "Baghdad Jim" for years thereafter. It does not pay to be right in such circumstances.
The Best and Brightest: Alarming Redux
A quick look at the advanced degrees and pedigrees of ivy-green officials like Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan (not to mention Stephanopoulos) brings a painful flashback to the paper qualifications of officials like McGeorge Bundy, his brother William, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara whose blithe overconfidence, hubris, and – let us say it – racism were largely responsible for the war in Vietnam.
Added to that, the current elite crop of policymakers – like many of the Whizz Kids six decades ago – lack any military experience. It seems extremely doubtful that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin can make up for that significant deficit. Do the new hoi aristoi really think they can take on both Russia and China? If so, we are all headed for what the Chinese used to call "a no-good end".
WANTED: An Experienced Practitioner
Wisdom comes from experience, not from Phi Beta Kappa keys. Former Ambassador Chas Freeman has more such wisdom than you can shake a stick at. He is widely recognized as one of the most astute observers of China, and his recent comments on the likelihood of a U.S.-China war are indeed alarming. Below is an excerpt from his remarks during a recent interview:
There is no framework for keeping the peace in the Taiwan area anymore. And I think it’s pretty clear that we’re heading into a war. We seem to be heading toward a bloody rendezvous with Chinese nationalism – and I don’t think that’s too smart. We’re talking about contesting the territory of a nuclear power. Does anybody think about that? There is an underlying assumption, probably born from the thirty years since the end of the Cold War, that we’re invulnerable and omnipotent. …
Freeman was asked if the young Whizz Kids in town have sought his counsel. He said no.
A combination of inexperience, entitlement, hubris, and racism can get a lot of people killed. Some of us are old enough to have seen it happen.
Really? An unnecessary and completely avoidable war with nuclear-armed China? Cui bono, the MICIMATT?
I remember being reluctant to believe that Bush and Cheney would start a war of choice with an Iraq they knew was WMD-less (as Jim McDermott had suggested). And they did. Fool me once. …
Biden has brought in the clowns; he needs to bring in some adults before it is too late.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).