Perry’s article is a classic slice of right-wing nut roll that falsely accuses Obama of doing everything the Bush/Cheney regime did, most notably ravaging the intelligence community and using the Constitution as a personal hygiene product. In another American century, Perry’s assertions would have been laughable. In the American century of Bill Kristol and the neoconservative movement, we have to take the ravings of Perry’s breed as seriously as the specter of a Sarah Palin presidency.
Perry is part of an ever-expanding media network that seeks to erode America’s cognitive skills and exploit its underlying fear factors. We can’t say that Perry was directly involved with the rest of the velvet coup that’s attempting to force Obama into making Afghanistan the new crown jewel of its “long war.” It’s safe to say, though, that Perry plays an important role in the radical right’s media strategy.
There was once a difference in tone between the high-end and low-end of conservative media. You wouldn’t mistake William F. Buckley for Sean Hannity, or the Wall Street Journal for the Washington Times. Today, the lowest common denominator dominates the spectrum. Some of Glen Beck’s biggest fans are affluent white-collar professionals.
Perry’s article is the latest phase of a campaign that, as best I can tell, began with a Sept. 18 McClatchy article that alleged the military is growing impatient with Obama on Afghanistan and implied that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander in that theater of operations, might resign if Obama doesn’t grant his demand to further escalate the conflict. The media campaign kicked into warp velocity with McChrystal’s blatantly insubordinate infomercial with David Martin on the Sept. 27 episode of 60 Minutes.
Our military problem, however, goes back much further, probably to the end of World War II when the armed services, used to getting their way, teamed up with Congress and industry to keep America in a perpetual wartime economy. President Dwight D. Eisenhower cautioned us about the inherent evil that a robust arms industry would lead to in his 1961 military-industrial complex speech, but his warning did little good. Today, local economies and political careers are wholly dependent on defense spending, and military procurement professionals are well versed in the art of ensuring that big-ticket contracts like the B-2 stealth bomber project distribute Mom and Pop’s tax dollars to every state in the union (and hence trickle back down to Mom and Pop).
Compounding the damage has been the military’s aggressive approach to propaganda. It was around the time of Operation Desert Storm that I began hearing the phrase “We’re losing the public affairs war.” This was a lament among naval aviators that the Air Force was getting all the credit for the air war success in that conflict. The Navy established the Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO) office to catch itself up with its wild blue competitor.
By the time the Kosovo War came around in the late 90s, the Navy had become the bull feather merchant marine corps. The nuclear carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt entertained more members of the press corps than the number of air sorties it contributed to the conflict.
Donald Rumsfeld established the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) after the 9/11 attacks to muster public support for the war on terror. He eliminated OSI after negative publicity about it hit the media, but he didn’t eliminate its function. Propaganda cells are now so rampant within the Department of Defense that it has transformed into an Orwellian ministry of truth.
The “embedded reporter” system employed during the initial phases of the Bush administration’s Iraq invasion was a prime example of how the Pentagon has managed to hammer the mainstream media into promoting its agenda. This led to the sort of access poisoning that turned virtually every military correspondent and pundit into a barracks-load of Pentagon Nancy boys. If you cover the five-sided puzzle palace beat, you better push the company line or your career gets napalmed. There is no discernable difference between the lunatic press and the mainstream media. Sanctioned leakers have total freedom of action to dump crafted, pro-war brainwash into our major news outlets, as they did to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
War is big business, the biggest business America has. Our official defense budget exceeds that of the rest of the world combined. Credible estimates indicate that hidden security spending soaks up more than half of the federal budget. Mammon trumps all other considerations, especially among “values” charlatans who claim to have a monopoly on God’s ear.
The current crop of Pentagon hoodoo says that if Obama doesn’t bow to McChrystal and give him whatever he wants, we will be up to our eyebrows in evildoers, that we’ll be kung fu fighting with them in the streets of Chicago and New York and Los Angeles.
What bosh. Nobody—including the Russians and Chinese combined—could ever invade and occupy America. That the 9/11 attacks, pulled off by 19 Islamo-hooligans (none of whom came from Afghanistan, by the way) occurred at all was a result of the self-pleasuring culture of the homeland defense agencies that should have rounded up the culprits long before they boarded an airplane.
I still have some hope that sanity will prevail in our foreign policy process, but I’m not overly optimistic. The war mafia may, by now, be an invincible phalanx.
Let’s pray otherwise.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.