Mainstream Media, the Anti-War Hypocrites

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The MSM manipulates public opinion on war and empire

By Steve Scroggins

 

Ike with Airborne Troops on D-Day

Some question the lack of leftist anti-war activism seeking to end America’s perpetual wars. They are right to ask why those activists are MIA now that Obama is leading the war charge. It’s simple, really. They are mostly partisan hypocrites.

Stephen Lendman, in his commentary entitled RIP: America’s Anti-War Movement, stands as a case in point.   This is not intended to be a rebuttal of Mr. Lendman’s opinion but rather a different look at the issues he raises.

Average Americans—right, center and left on the political spectrum— have always been anti-war. Unless attacked, the majority has always preferred not to get involved in war where American interests are not obvious—by which I mean where American security is not in obvious peril. 

America has always had its war profiteers as well, and thus always had special interests lobbying for war. But before they were nothing on the scale of the arms industry that formed after WWII.  President Eisenhower warned of them in 1961, but the Second Red Scare held its grip.

In my observation, some or perhaps many of the so-called “war protestors” of the Bush era wereBush bashers from 2006 - it was more about hatred for Bush merely partisan Bush-bashers. To them, their street theatre was fun as long as the target was the hated Bush. Some of them may not like war in general, but that general attitude is NOT their dominant or primary motivator.  

They lack the character and core principle to continue their protests with equal enthusiasm against a Democrat they hailed as a savior, who was going to bring us “hope and change,” yada, yada, yada. They sacrifice their pretended principle on the alter of party and faction and “winning” at all costs.

Some Bush era protestors, perhaps generally sincere, were merely useful idiots who were used and tossed aside. Cindy Sheehan, the media-darling of the Bush years, stands as a case in point. Now she (by her own words) holds Obama in lower esteem than Bush, but… for some reason, the media is no longer interested in her rants or her opinions. 





Apparently, she can’t find a place to pitch her tent near Martha’s Vineyard as she did near Crawford.  She camped out at the Washington monument, but nobody covered it.  

Stephen L. Carter, on The Daily Beast (May 16, 2011), writes,

“We don’t read much about Cindy Sheehan’s antiwar activism these days, perhaps because her political utility has faded. Sheehan has railed against President Barack Obama as she did against Bush. The press, for the most part, has shrugged. She camped out at the Washington Monument and drew little coverage. At an antiwar demonstration last year, she called Obama “that war criminal in the White House.” A handful of media outlets dutifully reported her words, buried deep inside their coverage; whereas under Bush her activism would have been the lead.”

Cindy Sheehan - Camp Casey in 2006

In fact, Sheehan’s split with the Democrats came in 2007 soon after the Democrats resumed control of the Congress with the 2006 elections.  Sheehan quickly decided that Democrats had duped and used her.  Her explanation surfaced in the alternative press, but was ignored by the so-called mainstream media.

Why I am Leaving the Democrats – Counterpunch 5/28/07  || Cindy Sheehan  attacks: Democrats not saviors – WND 7/22/07

Sheehan is now persona non grata in most media and Democrat circles.  Daniel Petry recently asked the question, “Where oh where is Cindy Sheehan? ”  Now you know… she’s NOT in Oregon (too many Democrats!).  She’s “advocating change outside the two party system.”

Now it seems that Sheehan has to go to Japan, or Europe or the blogosphere to get any news ink or air time other than local mention of speaking engagements.

Vietnam era protest rally
Vietnam era protest rally

  She’s still out there with the same message—now directed at Obama and the Congress— we just don’t hear about it unless we dig and search.

In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, those protestors were against “the establishment” whether it was Democrat or Republican.  LBJ and Nixon each had their fill of anti-war demonstrations.  And more importantly, the media covered all those protests more or less equally.  The CBS nightly news always had body counts and casualty counts on the screen behind Walter Cronkite.  Every day!

So the question is, Did anti-war activism go underground?  Or just the coverage of it?  Did some would-be anti-war activists fear being shunned with the “Sheehan treatment?”

 

November 2008 Was a Failed Anti-War Demonstration

I think it’s fair to say that Obama was elected as a vote against Bush and his war policies. McCain, you’ll recall, stated that he would essentially continue the Bush foreign policy he had supported for eight years. Obama, on the other hand, stated unequivocally that he would get our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, in a very short time frame. 

The partisans each voted for their man… and the swing “independent” voters, as always, made the margin of victory.  A lot of Americans wanted that “change” and youth more than experience… they took a very large gamble. And they lost BIG.   On the issue of war, they would have lost either way.  The House and Senate went to the Democrats in 2006—- 2008 was just a follow-up rejection of the Bush war policy.

Scarlett O'Bama: Foreign policy?  I'll worry about that tomorrow...
Scarlett O'Bama: Foreign policy? I'll worry about that tomorrow...

When the alleged choice was a continuation of the same old Bush foreign policy (not to mention Republican hypocrisy and BIG spending!!) or Obama’s vague “change”… many Americans gambled on the change and impossible promises.  How could Obama cut the deficits and debt while pushing universal health care and giving tax cuts to 95% of Americans?  Nobody pressed hard enough for a cogent answer.  

Of course, we now know that the promised change, in terms of foreign policy, was all smoke and mirrors. There was and is no plan. Obama’s core Big Plan included an FDR-styled “New! New Deal” piled on top of TARP, ObamaCare and stimulus pork — he wanted and still wants to “transform America” into a new socialist Utopia.

In terms of foreign policy, Obama is more like Scarlett O’Hara:

“Foreign policy? I’ll worry about that tomorrow…”

Obama’s foreign policy strategy seems to be encapsulated in his world apology, appeasement and groveling tour and bowing and kissing the rings of various tyrants and thugs. As much as Obama is clueless with regard to foreign policy, he’s also a hypocrite with regard to how and when military force should be used and who is authorized to wield it.

In 2007, Senator Barack Obama wrote the following in the context of the president’s authority to order military action without Congressional consent:

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation….” —Sen. Barack Obama

Obama’s Constitutional opinion abruptly changed when he decided to involve the U.S. military in Libya.  Though lacking military experience, Obama has that about face move down pat. Though some seem to have missed it, there was plenty written in protest of that Libya decision.

In addition to the partisans from whom we’d expect such criticism, there was fairly good chorus of criticism from those who have consistently opposed military action without proper authority. This is a constitutional issue where party and partisanship should not apply.

The Anti-War & Anti-Empire Movement Hidden in Plain Sight

Perhaps Mr. Lendman has little tolerance for libertarian opinion, but if he read a few websites like www.lewrockwell.com or The Independent Institute or Mises.org, he would know there are some people who maintain a consistent opposition to war on principle (even the so-called “Good War“). Some of them see war as always wasteful. Others point out that the Constitution empowers only Congress to authorize war.

True, they’re not the type who carry signs in the street, or spit on and shout obscenities at anyone.  They’re not on TV calling the president a war criminal.   Instead, they offer cogent and persuasive arguments why the U.S. should pursue alternative policy.

In fact, the left and the media has historically ignored the anti-interventionist conservatives, preferring it seems, to allow the war-hawks to win politically and thereby to maintain ongoing-war as a wedge to use for partisan gain in the future. Rather than leveraging common ground with non-interventionist conservatives, they seemingly prefer to impugn the anti-war conservative’s motives and to paint them as racists or xenophobes or {gasp!!}… isolationists!

Rep. Ron Paul
Rep. Ron Paul (R., Tx)

Rep. Ron Paul (R, Tx) has consistently stated his non-interventionist message throughout his Congressional career and during his presidential candidacy for 2008 and now 2012.

The media (MSM) has consistently ignored Paul or painted him as an extremist on the fringe because he espouses obedience to the Constitution, sound monetary policy and a return to the non-interventionist foreign policy. The enthusiasm of Ron Paul supporters is evident everywhere Paul appears. His message resonates and is popular with many, including many young people.

The status quo establishment is very afraid of Ron Paul’s message which has expanded into the “Tea Party” movement.   Outside the MSM, the Constitution, state sovereignty and nullification are getting more discussion and awareness than they’ve had in decades.  

So the establishment is doing everything it can (using their media lapdogs) to smear his ideas by smearing him as a “kook” in the same way that Barry Goldwater was smeared in 1964.  They even loosed their Zombie Journalists.  The elite of both major parties fear Paul’s constitutional platform as a threat to their gravy train and the status quo.

I say, “Good riddance” to the “Anti-War Movement” of the left that is mainly a front for partisan sniping and which includes persecution and ridicule for veterans (that should be directed to the so-called “leadership” in Washington). If only it truly would “Rest In Peace.”  

But since they are for the most part hypocrites and partisans, I expect them to re-emerge from under their rocks as soon as Democrats lose the White House.  To the sincere and truly principled anti-war activists of any political stripe, I say, “Carry on!”  By definition, they will regardless of what anyone says of them.  And the MSM will promote those activists’  importance only when it suits the MSM’s agenda.

If Mr. Lendman truly wants a president who would pursue a non-interventionist foreign policy and who would insist that Congress authorize any new wars, then he should study Ron Paul’s consistent record and consistent rhetoric. Somehow, I don’t see Mr. Lendman carrying a Ron Paul sign.

The Welfare/Warfare State robs us of our liberty

In a recent commentary entitled With Slavery, Injustice For All, I asserted that the size and scope of our government holds all of us in a state of tax slavery and debt slavery.  The Founders rightly feared standing armies not only because they are historically used as a tool of oppression, but because their cost is a loss of liberty and taxpayer property.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the AmericanHeadline: Eisenhower's Farewell Sees Threat to Liberties in Vast Defense Machine experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.  —President Dwight D. Eisenhower, from Farewell Address, Jan. 17, 1961

The Founders couldn’t imagine the size and power of the military industrial complex of which Eisenhower warned Americans in his 1961 Farewell Address.  That force that Eisenhower distrusted back in 1961 is but a shadow of the current monster.

“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.” –James Madison

During the Cold War, one could argue that we had justification ( or thought we did) to grow our military, remembering Washington’s maxim to prepare for war in order to have peace.  Since the end of the Cold War, the military industrial complex has, with the help of the politicians they own and operate, promoted freedom-hating  “evil-doers” and shadowy terrorists as the new bogeymen and hobgoblins  to fear in order to keep the spending spigot flowing. 

The expected Peace Dividend never materialized but rather was stiff-armed by the convenient events of 9/11 and the ensuing world wide “war on terror.”  U.S. military spending has increased 81% since 2001 [Source: SIPRI].  Who benefited most from 9/11 ?

The Opportunism of Politicians and Special Interests slowly crushes liberty

Just as “Dirty Dubya” Bush demonstated opportunism to expand government (e.g., the Patriot Act, the War on Terror) in response to the 9/11 crisis, Obama and his advisors, such as Rahm Emanuel, demonstrate a similar awareness that a perceived crisis is an opportunity to expand government. Crisis and Leviathan - Critical Episodes in the growth of American government by Robert HiggsYou never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel,  Obama’s then new chief of staff, told a Wall Street Journal conference of top corporate chief executives the week of Nov. 21, 2008. 

He added, “This crisis [the economic nose-dive of 2008 ]  provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”  Opportunism dwells in both major parties and in politicians historically (see FDR).  As H. L. Mencken famously quipped, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

We were told by Obama’s adminstration and their media parrots that unless we passed a massive stimulus, we were doomed to another Great Depression.  The stampede of bovine dupes clamored for rescue!  Economist Robert Higgs’ intelligent recommendation was that government should do nothing in response to the economic crisis of 2008-2009 (a natural correction), but of course, politicians ignored his advice in favor of “the government Must-Do-Something” school of thought.  Would D.C. politicians pass up a huge Pork stimulus opportunity?  Don’t be silly.

In his book entitled Crisis & Leviathan, economist and author Robert Higgs explains perpetual government growth as the Ratchet Effect.  With each war or economic crisis, government size and power expands.  As each war or crisis ends, government size and power contracts, but never to its pre-war/crisis size.  Thus, with each war or crisis, the government Leviathan ratchets itself to a larger and larger size.  In the process, as government expands, liberty recedes.

“It follows directly that up to this point the continued prosecution of the [Iraq] war has served the leaders’ interests. They may say they are trying to end the war. They may have secured their election or reelection, as many of the Democrats now serving in Congress have, by promising to do whatever they can to end the war. Yet the truth is that they’ve sold the public a bill of goods. …  [ending the war] does not serve their interest…”  —Robert Higgs, Los Angeles Chronicle, 2/5/2008, from “The War in Iraq: 1,760 Days and Counting” [bold emphasis added by the author]

A harsh critic of the Iraq War, Higgs predicted (before Obama’s election) Democrat inaction to end the war.  He stated that only extremely high casualties or extreme economic hardship would end that war.  Perhaps that latter hardship has finally arrived.

Can a Debt Crisis really restore sanity and shrink government/military spending?

The Debt Ceiling Deal: Tied to Spending CutsThe 2010 election and the recent Debt Ceiling circus finally kick-started a Washington discussion of where to make spending cuts deep enough to trim down the trillion dollar plus annual deficits as far as the budget eye can see.

Fiddling with the pensions and benefits of our veterans, the equivalent of a manicure and a haircut, won’t help.  To get the required cuts to prevent the so-called “Doomsday budget cuts,”  we can’t remove a few warts and do a chin tuck.   We must have some radical amputations on our empire and associated miltary support structure. 

The Catch-22, of course, is that the jobs associated with the military industry are a political football — a rail as dangerous to any politician as cutting social security and Medicare benefits.  It is the fodder for countless backroom political deals.   As Ike said in 1961, the defense machine’s influence “is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.”

According to USAspending.gov, the top five states for “defense” contracts are VA, CA, TX, CT and MA.  The money involved, though, is enough to purchase and own Congressmen and Senators from any other states that occupy key seats on relevant committees…. not to mention campaign cash to buy other votes as needed.  Acknowledging the bloat is easy; forcing Congress to make sensible and intelligent cuts is a political nightmare. 

Global Defense Spending: The U.S. spends 43% of world total, more than the next ten nations combined
U.S. spends 43% of world total, six times China, the nearest contender

“Our Navy exceeds in firepower the next 13 navies combined. We have 100,000 troops in Iraq, 100,000 in Afghanistan or headed there, 28,000 in Korea, over 35,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany. By the Department of Defense’s “Base Structure Report,” there are 716 U.S. bases in 38 countries. …US troops are stationed in 148 countries and 11 territories.”–Patrick Buchanan, from Liquidating the Empire

U.S. military spending has increased 81% since 2001 [Source: SIPRI].  The U.S. spends more than the next ten nations combined and six times more (2010) than China, the nearest contender.

Regardless of who the next president is, he or she will have to deal seriously with the question of our world wide empire and bloated military—and, more importantly, all the lobbyists and Congressmen guarding it. Can we really maintain troops in 150 countries around the world and call that “defense?” 

US Defense spending FY 1960 - FY 2021 (USgovernmentspending.com)Can “defense” spending  remain a Sacred Cow?  Given other pressing needs, can we afford to remake the world in our image?  Can we afford a world wide empire while we’re $15 Trillion deep in debt and the interest on that debt snowballs?

What would the Romans do? More bread and circus, anyone?

One thing is certain.  The MSM won’t acknowledge persuasive anti-war and anti-empire analysis from the right or even the theatrical, emotion-based anti-war activism  of the left (television always prefers the dramatic and the visual) unless, and until, it suits their political agenda. 

Rest assured that the media spin on any reduction of government or military, spending cuts and fiscal sanity will be emotional ploys and painting the average American as incapable of thriving without constant government oversight and benevolence.   There will be real economic displacement and pain.  Rather than supporting the life and liberty of the American citizenry in pursuit of its civic purpose, the MSM puts bias, ideology and politics above the truth. 

Eisenhower knew, as did the Founders, that a “knowledgeable citizenry” was required to maintain “security and liberty.” Americans who care enough to want to be informed certainly can’t and don’t rely on the MSM as a sole source of reliable information.


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