June 25, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.
Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.
How Neocons Push for War by Cooking the Books
Posted on Apr 25, 2017
By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
Square, Story page, 2nd paragraph, mobile
Editor’s note: This article is the second part of a four-part series on Truthdig called “Universal Empire”—an examination of the current stage of the neocon takeover of American policy that began after World War ll. Read Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.
Most Americans outside Washington policy circles don’t know about Team B, where it came from or what it did, nor are they aware of its roots in the Fourth International, the Trotskyist branch of the Communist International. Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1985, attributed the intelligence failure represented by 9/11 to Team B and had this to say about it in a 2004 article for the Los Angeles Times.
Now long forgotten, the origins of the Team B “problem” actually stretched back to the radical political views and biases of political theorist James Burnham, his association with the Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky and the creation of powerful Eastern establishment ad hoc groups: the Committee on the Present Danger and the American Security Council.
From the outset of the Cold War in the late 1940s, an odd coalition of ex-Trotskyist radicals and right-wing business associations had lobbied heavily for big military budgets, advanced weapons systems and aggressive action to confront Soviet Communism. Vietnam was intended to prove the brilliance of their theories, but as described by author Fred Kaplan in “The Wizards of Armageddon” (page 336): “Vietnam brought out the dark side of nearly everyone inside America’s national security machine. And it exposed something seamy and disturbing about the very enterprise of the defense intellectuals. It revealed that the concept of force underlying all their formulations and scenarios was an abstraction, practically useless as a guide to action.”
Kaplan ended by writing: “The disillusionment for some became nearly total.” Vietnam represented more than just a strategic defeat for America’s defense intellectuals; it represented a conceptual failure in the half-century battle to contain Soviet-style Communism, but for Team B, that disillusionment represented the opportunity of a lifetime.
Trotskyist Intellectuals Become the New York Intellectuals Become Defense Intellectuals
Rooted in what can only be described as cult thinking, the Team B experiment tore down what was left of the CIA’s pre-Vietnam professional objectivity by subjecting it to politicization. Earlier in the decade, the CIA’s Office of Strategic Research (OSR) had been pressured by Nixon and Kissinger to corrupt its analysis to justify increased defense spending, but the Team B’s ideological focus and partisan makeup so exaggerated the threat that the process could never return to normal.
The campaign was driven by the Russophobic neoconservative cabal that included Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pipes, Richard Perle and a handful of old anti-Soviet hardliners such as Paul Nitze and Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham. It began with a 1974 article in The Wall Street Journal by famed nuclear strategist and former Trotskyist Albert Wohlstetter decrying America’s supposed nuclear vulnerability. It ended two years later with a ritualistic bloodletting at the CIA, signaling that ideology and not fact-based analysis had gained an exclusive hold on America’s bureaucracy.
The ideology referred to as neoconservatism can claim many godfathers, if not godmothers. Roberta Wohlstetter’s reputation as one of the pre-eminent Cold Warriors of RAND Corp. was equal to her husband’s. The couple’s infamous parties at their Santa Monica home acted as a kind of initiation rite for the rising class of “defense intellectual.”
But the title of founding father might best be applied to James Burnham. A convert from Trotsky’s inner circle, Burnham championed the anti-democratic takeover then occurring in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in his 1941 “The Managerial Revolution” and his 1943 “The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom,” while in his 1945 “Lenin’s Heir,” he switched his admiration, if only tongue in cheek, from Trotsky to Stalin.
George Orwell criticized Burnham’s cynical elitist vision in his 1946 essay “Second Thoughts on James Burnham,” writing: “What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in “The Machiavellians”] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. … Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud.”
Banner, End of Story, Desktop
Banner, End of Story, Mobile
Watch a selection of Wibbitz videos based on Truthdig stories:
New and Improved Comments
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide