An interesting spectacle occurred in the northern Virginia countryside a few weeks ago. Hundreds of protesters led by Austin-based talk radio host Alex Jones converged on the Westfields Marriott Hotel in Chantilly, Virginia for a weekend of bull-horning and picketing the Fortune 100 CEOs, high level pundits, global bureaucrats and politicians meeting inside the high fences around the hotel grounds. The Bilderberg group, a collection of high-rollers named for the hotel at which they first gathered in the 1950s in the Netherlands, were having their annual conclave. As the secretive Bilderbergers go well beyond Chatham House rules to keep no authorized records of their deliberations, they’ve been the subject of conspiracy theories dating back to their origins as a club for tycoons and foreign policy ‘wise men’ from both sides of the Atlantic formed nearly sixty years ago. It is now more or less acknowledged on Wikipedia and through numerous participants’ boasting to the press over the years that the group played a key role in catalyzing the formation of the European common market, and perhaps even the now-troubled European common currency, the euro. That made the event even more scrutinized this year as the euro lurches from crisis to crisis with politicians and pundits alike seeing no comprehensive solution in sight.
<b>Bilderberg Breaks Into the Mainstream Media</b>
In a sign of the interesting times in which we live, where theories once safely consigned to the ‘fringe’ have now forced their way into the mainstream media, the event was covered by the <i>UK Guardian</i>, <i>Politico</i>, <i>The Daily Caller</i>, and of course, Mr. Jones’ website Infowars.com and the Jones-friendly sites like <i>World Net Daily</i> and <i>The Drudge Report</i>. Even <i>The Washington Post</i>, whose owners in the Graham family have been on the published list of Bilderberg participants for decades, was forced to cover the event -- after being prodded by their D.C. news junkie-feeding rivals at Politico (oddly enough Mike Allen, one of the co-founders of Politico, also happens to be the son of the author who wrote the one-world-government founding book “None Dare Call it Conspiracy” for the John Birch Society back in the 1960s -- though the views of the son clearly cannot be conflated with those of the father).
Nonetheless, in this 2012 year where apocalyptic fringe ideas finally broke out into the mainstream press to be alternatively debated or mocked, from the mysterious Planet X to the Mayan calendar, not everyone is happy. For it seems certain conspiracy theories - particularly if they support the current crumbling U.S. status quo - are clearly being promoted over others. While some U.S. conservatives are willing to discuss whether the financial crisis in Europe and around the world is being exploited by the likes of billionaire George Soros to call for a common European fiscal policy, some prefer to discuss the dark Kremlin creatures allegedly infiltrating America to exploit the current libertarian/establishmentarian clash on the U.S. Right.
<b>Trotting out the Talking Points</b>
One example of this ‘shoot the messenger’ phenomenon is Accuracy in Media’s Clifford Kincaid, who denounced the Bilderberg protesters in this article (if one can call the less-than-coherent piece that) as <a href=” http://www.usasurvival.org/ck06.04.12.html#axzz1x3ilc423”>Kremlin dupes</a>. If Mr. Kincaid were alone in his Glenn Beck-style connect-the-dots rants (which oddly mirror those of his nemesis, Alex Jones) they could safely be ignored. But there’s plenty of other bloggers and Tweeters, ranging from Mr. Kincaid to the ‘nuclear holocaust is imminent’ theorist <a href=”http://www.jrnyquist.com/”>J.R. Nyquist</a>, who are advancing the same Narrative.
In this Narrative, the Kremlin is seeking to infiltrate the American Right. <a href=”www.rt.com”>Russia Today</a>, the Kremlin’s evil propaganda channel, has turned libertarians into useful idiots for its propaganda, just as generations of Leftists wittingly or unwittingly serving as dupes for the Communist Party USA -- which historians have learned since the collapse of the USSR was undeniably taking its orders straight from Moscow. This Grand Kremlin Conspiracy to Control the anti-war Libertarian U.S. Right allegedly extends beyond Mr. Jones in Austin or the rabble-rousing, foul-mouthed ex-Marine in suburban D.C. Adam Kokesh to include Emmanuel Goldstein number one: retiring Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
<b>Denouncing the Evil Empire’s Return and its Propaganda Channel</b>
What ties all of these disparate individuals together, allegedly, is the simple fact that they’ve been favorite guests of Russia Today TV in the past few years, including after the channel opened a multi-million dollar RT America studio a few blocks from the White House in Washington D.C. in 2009. The Narrative is in short, a conspiracy theory of guilt by association, despite the fact that as Paul’s presidential campaign reached its high water mark in January 2012 during the Iowa caucuses; the Texas Congressman was curiously absent from RT’s YouTube and cable channel. Perhaps the threat of being labeled a Kremlin plant by proxies of his opponents shifted Team Paul away from RT interviews. But that certainly didn’t stop Paul from spending considerable air time with Alex Jones during the same critical campaigning period. Mr. Jones is perhaps best known for his staunch advocacy for theories that elements of the U.S. government were involved in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in Washington D.C. and New York aka “9/11 Trutherism”.
It’s understandable why RT’s top decision makers, including the channel’s young editor in chief Margarita Simonyan, would like to see the U.S. follow Paul’s foreign policy views implemented. If the 76-year-old were elected President, there likely wouldn’t be U.S. military bases in over 100 countries around the world, including in former Soviet Central Asian republics which Russia regards as within its influence. If Europeans wanted to build the Nabucco pipeline for oil and gas to bypass Russia, they’d have to do it with subsidies from their own taxpayers rather than the U.S. Israel would also have to fend for herself, though as Paul pointed out during the GOP presidential debates, without the strings that come attached with Washington’s aid. The ballistic missile defense system being constructed in Europe, ostensibly to protect from an Iranian missile strike (though one wonders if the system would still be justifiable in the event Iran’s nuclear capabilities are destroyed by a U.S. or Israeli strike), would also be scrapped by a Paul Administration.
But...since Paul only won a handful of states with virtually the entire infrastructure of the Republican Party stacked against his supporters, all of these scenarios are irrelevant. The fact that Paul’s people have since seized the GOP reins in Louisiana doesn’t change the national picture. These small successes did come, however, in spite of incumbent attempts to literally throw Paul supporters out. The change of power at the precinct and local levels won’t change the outcome of this November’s election. But it makes for an interesting 2016 should Mitt Romney and the Republicans fail to unseat Barack Obama from the White House this November. In that case, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul could emerge as an early front runner for the GOP nomination four years from now.
<b>The Paul Insurgency and the GOP’s Fractured Reality</b>
Regardless of Rand’s fate, Paul’s young, fervent supporters along with the Tea Party have revived a GOP brand that had ossified in recent years and become associated with unpopular open-ended Mideast wars and federal bailouts that contradict much of what the Republican Party claims to support. Those Republican positions also contradict Reagan’s foreign policy of projecting U.S. power while minimizing boots on the ground and Eisenhower’s warnings a half century ago against the depredations of a military-industrial complex.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney clearly recognizes the power of Paul’s voters and donors, because he’s trumpeted his endorsement this past week by Senator Paul on the Republican-tuned Fox News Channel. Yet the question remains who will influence who more -- if the ‘Ronulans’, who are clearly hated by the Republican National Committee and Beltway insiders, will turn the GOP back towards genuinely smaller government and the more humble foreign policy; or if the Paul brigades will be seduced to the Dark Side of Big Government Republicanism.
Thus far, it appears Paul’s biggest supporters, including the aforementioned Alex Jones, are not going to quietly go along with the Republican Establishment Borg assimilating Team Paul. That means a fight still looms for the soul of the Republican Party, particularly on thorny foreign policy and monetary issues where previous standard bearers of the GOP consensus such as the <i>Weekly Standard</i> or <i>National Review</i> have lost touch with the Party rank and file. Witness the difficulty Clifford May and other Washington D.C.-based neocons have had in convincing NR’s readership this past week that arming Sunni Islamists to fight the regime of Bashir Assad is in America (or Israel’s) best interests. Witness <i>National Review</i> editor in chief Rich Lowry defending Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing aka money printing policies as necessary in the absence of Congressional spending cuts, while much of NR’s readership wants Bernanke fired yesterday and replaced with a Paul Volcker type who will defend the dollar.
Clearly while the Right can rally around tossing President Barack Obama out of office, there is little else to keep the old Reagan coalition of country club (read pro-big business), national security (pro-military industrial complex) and social conservatives together past this November. The three groups are fragmenting as social conservatives fear the military industrial complex wants to fund drones to spy on them for owning guns and homeschooling their children, the big business types fear the gold bug and anti-Federal Reserve enthusiasm of the grassroots tea partiers, and the national security conservatives fear that even the likes of Romney would have no choice but to slash defense spending to keep Medicare or Social Security solvent in the next four years.
And this is where we get to the heart of the problem with the Establishment Right Narrative -- it is based on denying, deflecting, and avoiding at all costs this inevitable showdown for the future of the GOP. Rather than discuss how European Union bureaucrats are seeking to have the American taxpayer and Federal Reserve shore up their Tottering Tower of Babel, a decaying Status Quo Right increasingly wants to talk about “foreign agitprop”. Rather than follow their criticism of the European Central Bank to the logical conclusion that the Federal Reserve has no business doing multi-trillion dollar currency swaps with the ECB, they allege that the top financial blog and Fed critics’ site in the U.S. is a front for a Bulgarian KGB agent and his son, Daniel Ivandjiiski (who denies being the main author behind Zerohedge.com). Rather than discuss the troubling influence Saudi Arabia or Qatar may have over the Obama Administration’s Syria policy and how a post-Assad Syria will look for Syrian Christians, they want to depict all opponents of direct NATO military intervention in that country as apologists for the blood-stained Assad regime. But this won’t work.
<b>Why Romney Needs a New Cold War to Revive the Crumbling Reagan Coalition</b>
Furthermore, the pro-endless war Establishmentarians insist the Obama Administration adopted the Reset policy toward Russia because Obama is allegedly a socialist who wants to see America humiliated. This particular talking point is echoed over and over again on Republican-leaning talk radio, to the extent Russia is discussed at all. Obama didn’t seek better relations with the Kremlin because the Pentagon had lost its supply route through Pakistan to Afghanistan and badly needed help of companies like Russian Railways’ to maintain the ‘Northern Route’ to Kabul. In this deliberately naive view, Obama certainly didn’t seek it because many Fortune 100 corporations from BP and Exxon to Boeing lobbied for Russia to finally be admitted into the WTO. If critics of the Reset were to acknowledge those companies’ quiet support for the Reset, then they’d have to admit a Romney camp that counts many of the same companies among its donors might not end up being as confrontational toward Moscow as they’d like. The neocons might find themselves outmaneuvered by American oil men who’ve decided it’s more profitable to join Putin in drilling the Arctic than it is to seek his removal.
In their visible desperation to label all critics of Washington’s foreign and domestic policies as agitators funded by foreign intelligence services, the D.C. ‘conservative’ Establishmentarians resemble the tired old Communist Party members writing for <i>Pravda</i> or <i>Izvestia</i> cerca 1988 as the USSR began to fall apart from its own internal contradictions. Even if the Reagan Administration’s economic warfare helped to speed up the Soviet collapse that does not mean that Vladimir Putin is hell bent on avenging the Soviet Union’s demise by promoting the break-up of the United States. The total collapse of American demand for imports, after all, would destroy Russia’s top trading partners in Europe and China. But the dying (in some cases, literally) remnants of Washington’s eternal anti-Russia lobby are not about to let such facts get in the way of one more defense spending binge before they’re gone.
<b>Establishment Types Have No One to Blame But Themselves</b>
If Mesrs. Jones or the ‘birthers’ of <i>World Net Daily</i> are filling the gap by injecting their conspiracy theories on top of reporting about important meetings such as Bilderberg, mainstream media decision makers only have themselves to blame for failing to cover these issues in a non-conspiratorial way (for example, by asking Mr. Obama to produce his birth certificate in mid-2008, far before he cynically deployed it as a prop to make his opponents look nuts). If the mainstream Right wants to take back the question of transnationalism and whether it’s subversive toward liberal democracy from the likes of Alex Jones, why not promote the work of Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte or the late Samuel P. Huntington? The latter addressed the issue of the neo-feudal ‘Davos Man’ in his final book, <i>Who Are We?</i>, suggesting America’s highest flyers increasingly are alienated from their countrymen and don’t care. The former published a book in 2011 that in many ways anticipates attempts to transfer supranational EU model to America, titled <i>“Sovereignty or Submission? Will Americans Rule Themselves or Be Ruled by Others?”</i>
The popularity of Mr. Jones (his YouTube videos often get tens if not hundreds of thousands of hits) and his more <i>X-Files</i>-inclined friends at shows like Coast to Coast AM should teach self-satisfied members of the ‘mainstream’ and ‘conservative talk radio’ that nature abhors a vacuum. And as the recent example of Greece electing a parliament with a large number of quasi-fascists and Communists in it shows, polarization and conspiracy theories are a symptom of a larger moral and socio-economic decline, not the disease itself. That brings us back to the subject of Russia Today and the Kremlin’s alleged ‘infiltration’ of American opposition movements.
<b>Russia Today Exploits an Opening</b>
When state-funded Russia Today was first founded in 2005 to present a more favorable image of Russia to the world, hardly anyone in the West had heard of it, and hardly anyone in Washington D.C. commented on it except to dismiss RT’s young, mostly British on-air talent and production values as second-rate. As with China’s English-language television efforts, it was only the potential for Congressional budget cuts to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2010 that prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Broadcasting Board of Governors boss Walter Isaacson to complain that “America must not be out-communicated by her enemies.” (Isaacson, who’s recently published a bestselling biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs, would quickly backtrack from these remarks after being contacted by RT).
It was only after the economic crisis came into full bloom and long term unemployment exploded in the U.S. that RT began to hammer away at these issues, promoting both leftist and libertarian critics of the U.S. government. Once RT shattered all records for views on a single YouTube channel, suddenly its content was worth attacking by official -- and, in the case of Beltway conservatives like Kincaid, unofficial Washington propaganda. Ironically, in 2007 and 2008 Clifford Kincaid was defending Ron Paul from attacks by Fox News and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Dr. Paul’s anti-war and anti-establishment views didn’t change in between 2007 and 2012, but apparently Mr. Kincaid in the interim apparently decided that Paul is a Kremlin dupe and must be attacked as such, along with many of his supporters. One wonders if the views of Kincaid and others who’ve been attacking Paul will soften now that Ron’s son Rand has endorsed the establishment candidate Mitt Romney for President, severely disappointing the majority of the Pauls’ most fervent fans. One also wonders if Mitt Romney’s advisors’ recall how well making opposition to “Russian aggression” worked out for the McCain campaign in 2008. Hint: most Americans didn’t embrace McCain and his former Georgian lobbyist advisors’ slogan that “we are all Georgians now”.
That’s not to say that Russia Today does not have its faults. If it were merged with the excellent <a href=”http://www.rtgtv.com/about/”>Russian Travel Guide Channel</a>, it would boast superb production values and encourage more (single) Westerners to visit if not emigrate to a natural resource-rich economy that’s increasingly welcoming foreign skilled workers and technologists. Thanks to the economic crisis in Spain and Greece there will be plenty of highly qualified but jobless young men from Europe who may be willing to seek their fortunes and possibly their mates in the former USSR. By positively profiling Russian marriages to foreigners, particularly by beautiful Russian and Ukrainian women to “mail order husbands”, RT might even do a great part to eliminate Russia’s demographic problem.
Instead, RT has chosen to focus its coverage outward on the international scene, and given the powerful anti-Russia lobby that still exists in the U.S and UK that inevitably means reporting on conflict, dissidents, and the war of words between Moscow and those who would claim the mantle of “the West”.
<b>RT and Cognitive Dissonance on the Road to Damascus</b>
After years of watching U.S. taxpayer-funded outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty cover marginal dissidents and discontent with the Kremlin, RT is taking advantage of the U.S. economic crisis to pay back Washington in spades with its own “Colored Revolution” in the guise of lavish coverage for the Occupy and Wikileaks movements. RT’s coverage, combined with firm Russian and Chinese opposition thus far blocking a NATO invasion of Syria enrages many Washington insiders. Adding to the fury of many neoconservatives is the fact that several tea party Republicans are not supportive of another U.S.-led regime change intervention without Congressional authorization. Congressman Walter Jones in particular has threatened to impeach President Obama if he acts without Congress as he did in Libya. Topping it all off is the skepticism pro-Syria interventionists are facing from those who point out that a post-Assad Muslim Brotherhood regime in Damascus would be neither tolerant towards Syria’s Christians nor Israel, and you have a recipe for shooting the messenger rather than reconsidering deeply entrenched positions. All of this of course is just the beginning of the cognitive dissonance on the Right. Moscow could shrewdly seek to expand ties with Israel and publicize its warming relations with Jerusalem to further divide D.C.’s pro-Israel lobby from its anti-Russia lobby, which always overlapped during the Cold War years.
<b>The March of Misdirection</b>
As for critics’ charges that RT promotes conspiracy theorists, RFE/RL-spread theories that Russian security services planted bombs in apartment blocs in 1999 shortly before Putin took office to justify a ground invasion of Chechnya in 2000 are eerily mirror-images of “9/11 was an inside job” theories popular on the Internet and routinely spread on Alex Jones site. Insulting libels that the Russian Orthodox Church is nothing more than an arm of the old KGB are not unlike Mr. Jones’ claims that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is preparing to keep Americans docile under martial law by recruiting mega church “Clergy Response Teams” that will tell Americans to surrender their guns and gold to the federal government.
Ultimately, the pointless propaganda war between the Kremlin and the Anglo-American establishment has become so transparently tit for tat it’s getting comical. It was hard to tell last week what was worse, <a href=”http://www.theblaze.com/stories/alex-jones-believes-bilderberg-attendees-ship-in-gold-covered-roasted-babies-to-eat/”>Alex Jones screaming in Virginia that Bilderbergers dine on gold-leafed aborted babies</a>, or the <i>Daily Caller</i> reporter dispatched by Tucker Carlson who walked around <a href=”http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/302053/battle-syria-clifford-d-may”>asking protesters if they’d seen Chuck Norris</a> as limos carrying Bill Gates and other Fortune 100 CEOs drove past them. Clearly some so-called ‘conservative’ news sites are more interested in attacking certain individuals like Mr. Jones than doing serious journalism and asking serious questions about the power brokers who shape American policy.
<b>Conclusions: the Center Cannot Hold, but a Better Consensus is Coming</b>
The bottom line is this -- the U.S. remains a center-right country. Arguably the crack up of the conservative coalition that ushered in the ‘Reagan Revolution’ and stayed alive just long enough to re-elect George W. Bush matters more than anything that happens to the Democratic Party after Obama. That means all the efforts of strategists and online propagandists to keep the Right’s Big Tent from collapsing along with American power are worthy of examination and further discussion. It becomes particularly imperative to examine these efforts when they sputter out and fail, much like the propaganda for maintaining the European Union on the other side of the Atlantic.
To those who insist that the U.S. must suppress foreign ‘agitprop’ and restrict freedom of speech to prevent the likes of the Kremlin or Beijing from exploiting the current season of American discontent, I say you’re wrong. If the U.S. maintains its Constitutional republic, greater freedoms for Russia and the rest of the world will naturally follow. But if the U.S. loses those freedoms, all the printed money and favorable press in the world won’t save Russians from their country getting dragged down in the global authoritarian undertow of a second Great Depression.
Perhaps one day in the not-so-distant future, Americans will have to endure the indignity of being evangelized with the virtues of free markets and traditional morality by the Chinese. The God of the Bible that American conservatives claim was instrumental in the founding of the American Republic, after all, is no respecter of persons or of nations. American conservatives should remember that before they go abroad seeking monsters to slay when there are beasts of debt and corruption threatening to eat America at home.
<i>Publius is a former member of the conservative movement and a journalist who’s previously lived and worked in Washington D.C. The views expressed here are solely his own.</i>
... written by Publius X89 , June 16, 2012
As a follow on to this article, the author of this piece has become so fed up with the libelous pro-war fake conservatives on Twitter inciting Syrians to violence against particular foreigners including Russia that I have reported them to Twitter for abuse/possible threats.