Pentagon Propaganda Machine

The very best thing that could happen for America is for the Super Committee to fail. To understand why I say that you need a little history.

In my new book, Outlaw Blues;Adventures in the Counter-culture Wars, I write about Walter Lippman helping President Woodrow Wilson “manufacture public consent” for the U.S. to enter World War I, “to make the world safe for democracy.”

Eric Alterman wrote about Lippmann as the precursor of much of our media manipulation of today: “Lippmann likened the average American-or ‘outsider,’ as he tellingly named him-to a ‘deaf spectator in the back row’ at a sporting event: ‘He does not know what is happening, why it is happening, what ought to happen,’ and ‘he lives in a world which he cannot see, does not understand and is unable to direct.’ In a description that may strike a familiar chord with anyone who watches cable news or listens to talk radio today, Lippmann assumed a public that ‘is slow to be aroused and quickly diverted . . . and is interested only when events have been melodramatized as a conflict’.” Thus began the culture war.

We are about to endure a Pentagon inspired propaganda campaign in the next month that will be an echo of Lippmann’s campaign of 1916. It will be triggered by the brilliant position, negotiated by Democrats during the debt ceiling crisis, that if the “Super Committee” was unable to reach a compromise by Thanksgiving, then an automatic “Sequester” would take place, cutting the Defense Budget by $600 Billion in the next ten years. Leon Panetta will be leading the charge against the Sequester for the Military Industrial Complex that views it as Armageddon for the gravy train they have been on since the Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb in 1949. Here is Panetta with the first big lie of this campaign.

“After every major conflict — World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the fall of the Soviet Union — what happened was that we ultimately hollowed out the force, largely by doing deep, across-the-board cuts that impacted on equipment, impacted on training, impacted on capability,” he said. “Whatever we do in confronting the challenges we face now on the fiscal side, we must not make that mistake.”

Here is the reality of defense spending.

The only time defense spending ever declined in real dollars (blue Line) was during the Clinton Administration, after the Soviet Union had dissolved. So as the economy got less “security oriented”in the 1990’s, a huge amount of innovation blossomed, seeded by government spending (the Internet, the microprocessor) from the 1970’s. This meant that as a percentage of GDP (red line) defense spending fell even more as the digital consumer economy boomed. Although the fall of military spending helped Clinton balance the budget for the first time in years, as soon as 9-11 happened, spending went through the roof

So here is the deal I want to make with all my Libertarian friends. Let’s make sure the Sequester goes through. If  the latest polls are right 27% of Americans have a positive view of the Tea Party and 32% have a positive view of Occupy Wall Street. Since I doubt there is much overlap in these two cohorts, that would mean that almost 60% of the people are against the “establishment”–military, financial or political. Here is a place to man the barricades. Let Ron Paul and Barney Frank join forces to defeat any efforts by the Military Industrial puppets in the Congress to weasel out of the Sequester.

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8 Responses to Pentagon Propaganda Machine

  1. Terence Winkless says:

    Excellent insight. I’m with you, Jon.

  2. len says:

    Good one, jon. It means my job but I can live with that better than I can watching this charade much longer. On the other hand, we could cut US spending on weapons systems and training and the sales to our clients would easily make up the difference particularly if the MIC response to US reductions in spending were met with weakening export restrictions.

    I have to wonder if the test of the US-wide EBS is a scare tactic or prudence. It seems they are cranking up to smack Iran or so the tale goes.

  3. John Papola says:

    AGREED. War is a government program, which means it’s fair to assume epic inefficiency and waste. The cries of “hollowed out” defense are nonsense. The notion that defense spending needs to keep pace with our GDP is ludicrous. Since when is the level of total output relevant to the requirements of protecting the country from invasion? Give me a break. It’s just a racket. Libertarian and Progressive collaboration surely must be possible on this one.

  4. Morgan Warstler says:

    +1 I just want the $1.2T in cuts, no new taxes.

    it is perfect, leave it be.

  5. JTMcPhee says:

    What does the Paul family say on this one?

    Too bad, also, that there’s not a simple little graph that would show all the worthless, useless, featherbedded, mindless, wasteful, potentially suicidal, Brass-indulgent shit that “we” pay for and do not even get to fun around with for our MICmoney. One tiny couple of examples, just try to drive aboard one of those Military Sanctuaries, tee up on one of the scads of golf courses on all those Bases, or plop down for a drink in an officers’ club. Wonder what that would get you.

    I also wonder if the Occupiers are wondering the same thing, and maybe want to ratchet up the game a little by Occupying a couple of Forts and Reserves and such… Or if that’s courting another Bonus March Solution. One wonders how many GIs, top to bottom, are so addicted to their adrenaline rushes and socialist lifestyles that they would follow a new MacArthur’s orders — and how hard the Brass are working to re-indoctrinate all those GIs many of whom apparently have taken too much to heart the core notion of that oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” to sell them the notion that obedience to orders is the real martial virtue, and that other stuff is just froth and window dressing.

  6. len says:

    As it reads on their FB page, the next big push is OWSers are marching from NYC to Washington for a protest. People along the way are invited to join them. Sort of the Gandhi march to the sea to make salt ploy. Should be an interesting event if it gathers moss along the way because a) perfect media event, goes on for a couple of months b) gets every town involved from there to there. These people have studied their protest instruction manuals.

    As far as the former GIs, the ones around me right now are mostly cynical and looking for a new deal to make their lives richer. IOW, they are on the fence and mostly want the American dream and feel like it isn’t going to be as given or easy as they hoped. When asked if they would consider firing on their fellow citizens, they say “no f**kin’ way”. They are not the NYPD or the Oakland PD. After a lot of Koch-ed up initiatives failed last night, the PTB should start considering an exit strategy that calms down the voters. They had to do that at the end of the Sixties too. Can you sing “I’d like to teach the world to sing…”. If they behaviorists-in-residence are at their usual tasks, they should be working out a training schedule for that right about now.

  7. len says:!/NYCmarch2DC

    In case you want to keep up with the OWSers walking to Washington from NYC. People are coming out to feed them, shelter them, and making sure they stay vertical.

    They also have a web site for artists who want to contribute. If you’ve a hand and heart for that, get cracking. Hold the line. The police are not going to be any kinder and the billy clubs are coming out faster and harder.

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