Parts I, II and III of the “Ministry of Truth and Peace” series discussed how Pentagon propaganda operations represent the confluence of Big Oil, Big War, Big Bucks, Big Brother and the Big Schmooze in the new American century. Part IV examines how General David Petraeus and his followers are waging unrestricted information warfare on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy mandate.
Pentagon correspondent Thomas E. Ricks has become the center of gravity in the U.S. military’s information war on the American public.
On February 2, policy analyst Gareth Porter reported that General David Petreus, General Ray Odierno, retired Army general Jack Keane and others were preparing a campaign to mobilize public opinion against President Barack Obama’s pledge to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months. Keane co-authored, with fellow American Enterprise Institute neoconservative Frederick Kagan, “Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq,” the January 2007 study that outlined the Iraq surge strategy.
The onset of the information campaign came close behind Porter’s forecast. On Sunday, February 8, Tom Ricks captured the airways and the headlines, appearing on Meet the Press as the first of his two part series on the stratagem behind the surge strategy appeared in the Washington Post. Ricks’s new book on the surge hits the shelves, not surprisingly, on Tuesday February 10.
Ricks gives us an astonishing insider’s look at the machinations behind the campaign to force a “long war” of indefinite occupation on Mr. Obama. Some of Ricks’s narrative sounds wholly credible, some reeks of Orwellian fabrication, and none of it constitutes objective reporting.
In his Sunday piece, “The Dissenter Who Changed the War,” Ricks paints a doubtful portrait of Ray Odierno as the “true father” of the surge strategy. It was Odierno taking all the risks, Ricks assures us, “bypassing his superiors” like General George Casey “to talk through Keane to White House staff members and key figures in the military” to make the case for escalating the Iraq war.
Odierno may well have gone around his chain of command; that was standard operating procedure in the Bush years. But given the cast of Machiavellians in this three-ring kabuki, it’s unlikely that big Ray was the kingpin. Odierno more suitably fits the profile of fall guy; he’s been the one making public statements about how the military will stay in Iraq longer than 16 months whether the commander in chief likes it or not, something that would earn a less politically connected officer administrative punishment at the very least. Petraeus has been, as always, circumspect on this subject. You’ll have to look very hard to find a written record of an insubordinate syllable passing Petraeus’s lips at any moment in his career. If Petraeus wants to trash a superior, he’s the type to have somebody like his pet ox Odierno do it for him.
The most telling part of Ricks’s version of the surge genesis is what it omits. Ricks makes no mention of the American Enterprise Institute, or of Fred Kagan, or of the neoconservative movement’s role in selling the surge to the public, an effort spearheaded by Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, FOX News, the New York Times, AEI and the Project for the New American Century.
On Sunday’s Meet the Press and in his Monday Post article, Ricks describes with often horrifying candor how Petraeus set out to pave the way for a “long war” that would last well beyond the Bush presidency. Petraeus needed time “not to bring the war to a close, but simply to show enough genuine progress that the American people would be willing to stick with it even longer.” That the surge has, as Ricks acknowledges, “failed politically,” is of little consequence.
The generals’ gambit, as Ricks explained it to David Gregory on Meet the Press, is “they feel they have made huge sacrifices, that they have had friends die and sons bleed, and that they don't want to throw that all away on the—you know, because some guy said on the campaign trail, ‘We're going to get all these guys out.’”
Thus did Ricks, wearing the beard of an impartial journalist, deliver the ultimatum for Petraeus, Odierno, Keane, Kristol, and the rest of the warmongery. Obama can either accede to the their goal, which is and always has been a permanent military occupation of Iraq, or be vilified as the wimp who betrayed the troops because of a campaign promise he made to get the peace pansy vote.
Ricks saved the punch line for the end of his interview with Gregory. “Iran has…its fingers throughout the Iraqi government. This is something that General Odierno mentioned several months ago and got in some trouble for, for talking about so publicly. Iran really does worry me in, in this situation.”
The Petraeus gang has been stacking the deck around the Iran card since the surge was unveiled in January 2007, leveling one accusation after the next against the Shiite Persian state to frame it as the point defense rationale for staying in Iraq. They haven’t proven a single allegation in all that time, but most Americans, numb by now from the constant bombardment of messages demonizing Iran, have accepted them as gospel truth. And, hey, if Tom Ricks is worried about Iran, shouldn’t the rest of us be worried about it too?
I knew Ricks had fallen like a schoolgirl for Petraeus when, in an April 2007 interview for NPR, he described the general as “a force of nature” and gushed, “He’s famous, for example, for his one-armed push-up contest against privates. You know—challenging a guy half his age to one-arm push-ups. But basically Petraeus [is determined] he’ll do one more than the other guy will, no matter how many the other guy does.”
Ricks was once the respected dean of the Pentagon beat. As of Sunday, he displaced Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times as chief echo chamberlain of the neoconservative junta. One can’t help suspect Ricks is at the top of the list to become Minister of Truth and Peace in the Petraeus administration. He has all the qualifications.