Having long forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and after a tragic repeat in Iraq that the highly respected Gen. William Odom considered “equivalent to the Germans at Stalingrad,” the crazies are at it again. With no one to stop them, they have kicked off an updated version of the Cold War against Russia as if nothing had changed since the last one ended in 1992. The original Cold War was immensely expensive to the United States and was conducted at the height of America’s military and financial power. The United States is no longer that country. Since the Cold War was supposedly about the ideological “threat” of Communism, Americans need to ask before it’s too late exactly what kind of threat does a capitalist/Christian Russia pose to the leader of the “Free World” this time?
Muddying the waters in a way not seen since Sen. Joe McCarthy and the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” signed into law without fanfare by President Obama in December 2016 officially authorizes a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell’s fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel “1984.” Referred to as the Global Engagement Center, the official purpose of the new bureaucracy will be to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”
But the real purpose of this totally Orwellian center will be to manage, eliminate or censor any dissenting views that challenge Washington’s newly manufactured version of the truth and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries. Criminalizing dissent is nothing new in time of war, but after 16 years of ceaseless warfare in Afghanistan, a Stalingrad–like defeat in Iraq and with Henry Kissinger advising President Trump on foreign policy, the Global Engagement Center has already assumed the characteristics of a dangerous farce.
The brilliant American satirical songwriter of the 1950s and ’60s Tom Lehrer once attributed his early retirement to Henry Kissinger, saying, “Political satire became obsolete [in 1973] when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Kissinger’s duplicitous attempts at securing an “honorable peace” in America’s war in Vietnam deserved at least ridicule. His long, drawn-out negotiations extended the war for four years at the cost of 22,000 American lives and countless Vietnamese. According to University of California researcher Larry Berman, author of 2001’s “No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam,” the Paris Peace Accords negotiated by Kissinger were never even expected to work, but were only to serve as a justification for a brutal and permanent air war once they were violated. Berman writes, “Nixon recognized that winning the peace, like the war, would be impossible to achieve, but he planned for indefinite stalemate by using the B-52s to prop up the government of South Vietnam until the end of his presidency. … [But] Watergate derailed the plan.”
The Vietnam War had broken the Eastern establishment’s hold over foreign policy long before Nixon and Kissinger’s entry onto the scene. Détente with the Soviet Union had come about during the Johnson administration in an effort to bring some order out of the chaos, and Kissinger had carried it through Nixon and Ford. But while dampening one crisis, détente created an even worse one by breaking open the longstanding internal-deep-state-struggle for control of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. Vietnam represented more than just a strategic defeat; it represented a conceptual failure in the half-century battle to contain Soviet-style Communism. The Pentagon Papers revealed the extent of the U.S. government’s deceit and incompetence, but rather than concede that defeat and chart a new course, its proponents fought back with a Machiavellian ideological campaign known as the “experiment in competitive analysis” or, for short, Team B.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times in August 2004 in an article titled “It’s Time to Bench ‘Team B,’ ” Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1985, came forward on what he knew to be the real tragedy represented by 9/11. “The reports of the Sept. 11 commission and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence missed the real problem facing the intelligence community, which is not organization or culture but something known as the ‘Team B’ concept. And the real villains are the hard-liners who created the concept out of an unwillingness to accept the unbiased and balanced judgments of intelligence professionals.”
Part 2, to be published on Truthdig on Tuesday, traces Team B’s hard-liners back to their roots in the Fourth International, the Trotskyist branch of the Communist International and the Machiavellian culture of American philosopher and political theorist James Burnham, whose present-day disciples threaten to ignite a third world war.
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of “Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story,” “Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire” and “The Voice.” Visit their websites at invisiblehistory.com and grailwerk.com.