By Danny Schechter
At what point does an organization “rot?”
“Rot” seems to be a new phrase du jure being used by the military in the case of several offices charged with mishandling the highly sensitive and uber-responsible job of operating our top-secret nuclear weapons systems. They are the people who literally have their fingers on the big boom button.
According to a Guardian report, here’s how this rot came to public attention. “The US Air Force has stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to oversee nuclear missiles, after a string of failings that the group’s deputy commander said stemmed from ‘rot’ within the ranks.”
“Rot within the ranks!” That’s a neat way of putting it. Is that rot just confined to the underground silos on the lonely plains below their “amber waves of grain?”
Could there be mental “rot” in the intelligence world that we know is usually anything but intelligent?
How about in its assessment of the threat posed by Iran which has triggered a vast escalation of military spending and adventurism with and without the ‘bomb first, justify later’ practices of our Israeli ally whose stockpiles we fund?
Unfortunately, that good old “Washington consensus” seems to assure that the Republicans on the Right and the Democrats in the Middle share worldviews even when they disagree on tactics.
So to get another view, certainly a less partisan and ideological one, we need to travel overseas, to, say, Lund. Sweden where a think tank called the Transnational Foundation dissects the rot in our thinking. (Lund is near Copenhagen, in the country the bard once implied was riddled with rot.)
“Scores of Western politicians state that Iran is a threat to its neighbors or even the world. But before we end up in yet another cruel war based on wrong assumptions and delusion, somebody should ask them the simple question: How do you know?
– There is little, in fact, to back up these claims. Each time Iran spends 7 US$ on its military, the U.S. spends 700 US$, Israel 15,60 US$, Saudi-Arabia 44 US$ and the Arab Emirates 16 US$. Therefore, if Iran were to start a war, it would have to ignore the “balance of forces” of 1:110 with its basic opponents!
– “To construct Iran as a threat, one must assume that its leaders are lunatics or suicidal. There’s no evidence they are,” says Jan Oberg, director of TFF, The Transnational Foundation in Sweden.
– False or exaggerated threat assertions are necessary to build up legitimacy among citizens before wars are started. Experts call it “fearology“: Instill fear in peoples’ minds and they accept, from left to right, their own governments’ taxpayer-funded wars.
– Iran’s military expenditure is roughly the size of Norway’s. It has not invaded any country since 1738 but has repeatedly been invaded. Its population is 10 times larger than Israel’s and its military costs half as much. Contrary to Israel, it has no nukes, it’s party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and accepts inspections. Facts like these would be part of professional threat analysis.
Unfortunately, the fact-based analysis plays a much smaller role in today’s security debate than it did, say, 20-30 years ago. In its place we have witnessed, since the 1990s, a rampant growth in government-funded PR companies and think tanks as well as ministry spin doctors/spokespersons who churn out deceptive messages to the public.
“This simply increases the risk of war and must, therefore, be challenged,” ends Jan Oberg.”
Thank you Mr. Oberg for your most interesting views but, unfortunately, we have no time to explore them in our media, much less even report on them, what with the sensational Cleveland Kidnap story dominating the news and very few outlets willing, even now after the documented debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, to challenge the rot in the official thinking that seems to have seeped seamlessly from Bush to Obama.
That may be because what looks like thinking isn’t: it’s a veiled rationale for increasing military spending which at a time of Austerity and effective Tea Party vetoes over Congressional spending on domestic spending that might create jobs or growth.
Instead, driven by the “fearology” you speak of, we can only use the Pentagon to prime the profit pump into that ever dependable military-industrial complex.
Note how enthusiastically, the new Defense Secretary Mr. Hagel who was presented to us as a fierce independent and skeptic, has not only towed the line on Israel but is working to undo any and all cuts mandated by the Sequester or even common sense. He has a new drone armada in the air and no doubt will get some new ideas when he sees “Iron Man 3.”
What with new planes to order and high-tech cyber-wars to fight, the military must be fed—and fed well.
So what if we exaggerate a few threats here or there, from Boston to Benghazi where we of course worked with and subsidized the very Jihadis who later attacked our office there. It was never an Embassy but the weapons procurement and distribution business despite all the yammer about “security.”
Consider the “rot” at the heart of all the breathless exposes and media thumping about how Hillary did not adequately defend what had earlier been our covert op.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Politicians love few things better than a scandal to trip up their opponents, and Republicans hope last year’s fatal attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya will do exactly that to Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats.
Still, Republicans and conservative talk hosts are hammering away at Clinton’s and the Obama administration’s handling of the 8-month-old tragedy. A daylong House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday starred three State Department officials invited by Republicans. Security was poorly handled in Benghazi, Libya, they said, and administration officials later tried to obscure what happened.
But the three men offered little that has not been aired in previous congressional hearings. Afterward, Republicans all but acknowledged they’re still seeking a knockout punch.”
The reason they can’t find the smoking gun is because of what’s not being said about the real game plan in Libya and Syria. Namely, most of the smoking guns are ours.
It is we who are using our supposed terrorist enemies to undermine one of Iran’s few allies while using our allies, the Saudis and Qataris, who have become filthy rich supplying us energy, with Israel—gang up– on Syria before taking on Tehran. Yes, Syria is a human rights abuser but is not Al Qaeda? Why is it that the UN has only found chemical weapons in the ranks of the “rebels?”
That’s the game, and yes, it is rotten, but like so much else in the shadow wars we are fighting, they can get away with it because we the people for the most part don’t know about it.
And why is that?
Media “rot”—but that’s another story.
News Dissector Danny Schechter edits mediachannel.org and blogs at NewsDissector.net. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org