Yellow Think Tanks and Yellow Journalism
By Ahmed Amr
On any given day, anti-war bloggers vent their frustrations by tallying the inventory of damages from this war of choice. Their articles invariably begin by critiquing the bogus WMD rationale for the war and lamenting the escalating cost in blood and treasure.
There is no arguing with these peace activists - if only because they have all the facts on their side. To get an idea of the state of this enterprise, consider that Condi Rice is now owning up to "thousands of tactical errors" in what General William Odom has more precisely described as the "greatest strategic disaster in United States history."
The evidence keeps piling up to back up Lawrence Wilkerson's contention that pre-war intelligence was a 'hoax on the American People.' Every few weeks, another memo surfaces to confirm that Bush and Blair paved their path to war by fabricating mass delusions about 'nuclear mushroom clouds.'
Among the ranks of the peace movement one finds many card-carrying conservatives like Pat Buchanan, ex-Pentagon heavyweights like Gen. Anthony Zinni, pro-military congressmen like John Murtha and now - war boosters like Bill Buckley and Andrew Sullivan. It is hard to think of another war - even Vietnam - where a vast majority of the population from the far left to the far right have rallied behind the troops and demanded that they be repatriated to American shores.
Regardless, the elaborate WMD scam still resonates with an unhealthy minority of Americans who continue to believe the fairy tale about Iraq's phantom chemical warheads. Even this late in the game, a majority of the grunts in Iraq are fighting, killing and dying under the false assumption that their assignment in Iraq was designed to settle accounts with Saddam for his fictional role in 9/11.
What else could they possibly think? Stranded out in the air-conditioned Green Zone and the 'enduring' bases of Mesopotamia, they are serving their time as a captive audience held hostage by CNN and FOX. Their meager nightly news rations are carefully tailored to confuse one and all about the nature of their mission and the non-existent rationales for the war.
The conduct of our current crew of mass media charlatans has often been compared to the yellow journalism that ignited the Spanish/American war of 1898. But with the Iraq conflict we have a new combustible ingredient - yellow think tanks. When the pundits of the American Enterprise Institute speak, the New York Times listens and then proceeds to report their opinions as gospel truth. Every time the Brookings Institute sneezes, FOX catches a cold.
If we were to depend on New York Times narratives, we would be left with the impression that think tanks come in two flavors - liberal and conservative - red and blue. That is an incredible exaggeration. Because, in the case of Iraq, think tanks only offer a single blended choice with the telltale yellow coloring of the war party.
The chores of marketing the war were equally distributed between the likes of Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Richard Perle. While Likudniks from the Brookings Institute were busy promoting the war on the Democratic side of the isle, their fellow travelers from the 'conservative' American Enterprise Institute where drawing up battle plans under the able guidance of Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.
One of the untold stories behind the Iraq debacle involves the Democratic Leadership Committee - the neocon cabal planted deep in the heart of the blue party. The DLC is the home of Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman, both stalwart supporters of unilateral war mongering. To date, their only criticism of Bush is his unwillingness to escalate the conflict by throwing more troops into this quagmire. They like the war but hate the 'wimpy' tactics.
Who are these Democratic Leadership Council people? The DLC promotes a philosophy they call 'progressive internationalism' - a slight variation of neo-con ideology.
In the run up to the Iraq war, the DLC launched a campaign to enlist Democrats in Bush's march to war. Leading the charge, was none other than Will Marshall, The President of the Progressive Policy Institute, the DLC's in-house think tank. This outfit is a mirror image of the American Enterprise Institute - the Likudnik bastion that served as a launching pad for Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and other veterans of the 'weapons of mass deception' campaign.
Blueprint Magazine, the official publication of the DLC, is essentially a plagiarized edition of Commentary and the Murdoch's Weekly Standard. On its pages, one can find the stale neo-con mantras from war party hawks like Kenneth Pollack, the author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq". That bit of Pollack fiction was credited with lining up many reluctant Democrats behind Bush's unilateral venture in Iraq.
To back up Pollack's arguments, Will Marshall wrote an essay titled 'Making the Case on Iraq.' As can be seen from the titles, imitation was more than just a form of flattery. Rather, it was a full subscription to the same war mongering agenda.
Even after things started going to hell in Iraq, Marshall and the DLC were unrepentant. Here is a sample from a pre-election Blueprint Magazine article:
"What the United States needs now is not an exit strategy but a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. The key elements of such a strategy are more supple military tactics, more money, and more allies. But that requires more troops, not fewer, and it means deploying them in ways that could raise the risk of U.S. casualties. The administration has rightly made the democratic transformation of the greater Middle East the grand American project of the 21st century. That job starts in Iraq. If we fail here, our hopes for liberalizing the region will be stillborn."
Does that sound like Bush Lite or Bush Heavy?
If the DLC's in-house think tank is the Progressive Policy Institute, their offshore operations are sub-contracted to Martin Indyk, The former AIPAC president who later served as Clinton's ambassador to Israel. Indyk is currently employed as the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The center's name honors Haim Saban, the Israeli/American media tycoon, who finances Indyk's 'brain trust'. Saban was the largest Democratic Party donor in 2002. After dropping $5 million into the party's coffers, Haim had enough change left over to pony up another $7 million for the new Democratic National Committee building.
In an article titled 'A Squandered Opportunity' that appeared in Blueprint Magazine in November 2003, Martin Indyk opined that "There is nothing in itself wrong with promoting a little instability" in the region. Within neo-con circles, they refer to this process as "creative destruction" - and there is no limit to the amount of mayhem these charlatans are willing to unleash to indulge their creativity.
No one should be surprised that Indyk, the DLC guru, has effusive praise for Bush. "The president argued correctly that if we achieved regime change in Iraq, it could help our efforts to make Israeli-Palestinian peace, reform the Arab world, and pressure the rogue states to end their evil ways."
At their core, think tanks are nothing more than lobbies attired in pseudo-academic garbs. The Brookings Institute is not Harvard and the American Enterprise Institute is not Yale. It's a mistake to confuse neo-con think tank 'experts' with serious academics. Invariably, they tend to be infatuated with all things Israeli and enraged by all things Arab.
On both sides of the political divide, the neo-con actors involved in this charade have a long and disgraceful history of being apologists for Israel's bloody repression of the Palestinians. So, it seems improbable that they are now possessed with a sudden passion to spread the blessings of liberty to Mesopotamia. More likely, their goal is to give Israel a free hand in shaping the future of the whole region. The confiscation of native land to establish exclusive Jewish settlements is the kind of 'progress' Indyk is promoting. Or as Hillary Clinton would put it "it takes a destroyed Palestinian village to raise a new Jewish settlement."
These 'neo-imperialists' are not interested in American Empire; they are motivated by an obsession to fulfill their Likudnik real estate fantasies. Their one item agenda is to create a Greater Israel - not a Greater Middle East. If in the process, we end up with a lesser America, it will not disturb their sleep patterns.
The influence of the DLC helps explain why the 'wimps' of the Democratic Party are such reliable foot soldiers in Bush's war party. The only thing that is really baffling is the failure of the peace movement to grasp the full extent of the Democratic Party's institutional commitment to the neo-con agenda.
How many Democrats are aware that a neo-con think tank resides in the inner sanctums of their sacred blue party temples? And how many party activists have any clue that Haim Saban and Martin Indyk play a crucial role in shaping their party's foreign policy agenda? Rank and file Democrats incensed with this fiasco should consider calling up their Senators and asking them point blank if they are charter members of the DLC. It's politically healthy to know that sort of thing before you start getting enthusiastic about Hillary's presidential prospects.
Moving on the yellow journalists who collaborated with the war party. If the neo-con architects of this debacle were to be accurately graded on their foul produce - they would get a 'W' for being 'wildly off the mark.' Only a fool can fail to see that the current state of chaos is light years away from their promised 'cake-walk.' So, why are these Likudnik wizards regularly paraded on CNN and FOX to entertain us with their latest analysis of the situation in the Middle East? How many more tactical and strategic errors do they have to make before losing every shred of credibility?
Next time you watch Wolf Blitzer's 'Situation Room' on CNN, try to notice how many of his guests are neo-con holdovers from Blitzer's "War Room." And always keep in mind the Judith Miller saga. She didn't do her Likudnik chores without Sulzberger's enthusiastic support. It's hard to imagine that the publisher of the New York Times was AWOL while his paper was being systematically converted into a conveyor belt for spreading WMD canards to an unsuspecting audience.
Why, after their abysmal failure in Iraq, are these Likudnik cranks still allowed to tinker with the super power equipment at the Pentagon and the foreign policy machinery in the State Department?
What we are witnessing in Iraq is just a sample of what you get when you permanently imbed yellow journalists in yellow think tanks and deploy a few yellow tank commanders at the heart of the Democratic Party.
A lot of this goes a long way in explaining what I call anti-war fatigue. The peace movement keeps winning the argument but when it comes to mass delivery of the score - only the neo-cons are allowed access to the bully pulpits of the cable giants. A handful of 'think tank' ideologues still manage to control the debate and drown out the voices of the multitudes. As a nation, the same cable wires that lured us into this disastrous war of choice are systematically gagging us.
The British peace movement has come to understand the nature of this new political beast - the think tank and media controlled unilateral war mongering state. They are now taking the fight to the front doors of the BBC - accusing their management of promoting the war in Iraq and marginalizing anti-war voices.
Iraq is not Vietnam. Mass demonstrations in front of an empty White House will not work. Waiting for the Democratic Party to grow a spine is an exercise in futility. The DLC and its in-house neo-conservative think tank have the final say on the party's foreign policy agenda - end of story.
We can never hope to neutralize the yellow think tanks and their neo-con 'experts' without first derailing the main weapon in their arsenal - the mass media titans. If yellow journalism is the disease, cable TV provides the facilities to spread the infection. To take out the neo-con 'cabal' - disable your cable. Boycott CNN, FOX and the corporations that advertise on them. Follow the example of the British and move the anti-war demonstrations to CNN's studios in Atlanta.
In the meantime, be scared - be very scared - whenever you see the foot soldiers of the yellow think tank brigades mixing it up with the yellow journalists on CNN and FOX.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com
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