Caitlin Johnstone: TV War Games Over Taiwan

NBC openly teamed up with a Pentagon-funded think tank to begin normalizing the idea of a U.S. hot war with China.

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article.

NBC’s Meet the Press just aired an absolutely freakish segment in which the influential narrative management firm Center for a New American Security (CNAS) ran war games simulating a direct U.S. hot war with China.

CNAS is funded by the Pentagon and by military-industrial complex corporations Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, as well as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, which as Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp notes is the de facto Taiwanese embassy in the U.S.

The war game simulates a conflict over Taiwan which we are informed is set in the year 2027, in which China launches strikes on the U.S. military in order to open the way to an invasion of the island. We are not told why there needs to be a specific year inserted into mainstream American consciousness about when we can expect such a conflict, but then we are also not told why NBC is platforming a war machine think tank’s simulation of a military conflict with China at all.

It happens that the Center for a New American Security was the home of the man assigned by the Biden administration to lead the Pentagon task force responsible for re-evaluating the administration’s posture toward China. That man, Ely Ratner, is on record saying that the Trump administration was insufficiently hawkish toward China. Ratner is now the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs in the Biden administration.

Ely Ratner in 2018, while he was with the Center for a New American Security, arguing for a change in U.S. policy with China during a debate hosted by the Center for Strategic International Studies. (YouTube still)

It also happens that the Center for a New American Security has openly boasted about the great many of its other “experts and alumni” who have assumed senior leadership positions within the Biden administration.

It also happens that CNAS co-founder Michele Flournoy, who appeared in the Meet the Press war games segment and was at one time a heavy favorite to become Biden’s Pentagon chief, wrote a Foreign Affairs op-ed in 2020 arguing that the U.S. needed to develop “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.”

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It also happens that CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine has been featured all over the mass media pushing empire narratives about Russia and China, telling Bloomberg just the other day that the war in Ukraine could serve the empire’s long-term interests against China.

“The war in Ukraine could end up being bad for the pivot in the short-term, but good in the long-term,” Fontaine said. “If Russia emerges from this conflict as a weakened version of itself and Germany makes good on its defense spending pledges, both trends could allow the U.S. to focus more on the Indo-Pacific in the long run.”

It also happens that CNAS is routinely cited by the mass media as an authoritative source on all things China and Russia, with no mention ever made of the conflict of interest arising from their war machine funding.

Just in the last few days here’s a recent NPR interview about NATO expansion with CNAS senior fellow Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a Washington Post quote from CNAS fellow Jacob Stokes about the Chinese threat to Taiwan, a Financial Times quote from CNAS “Indo-Pacific expert” Lisa Curtis (who I’ve previously noted was cited by the mass media for her “expert” opposition to the U.S. Afghanistan withdrawal), and a Foreign Policy citation of the aforementioned Richard Fontaine saying, “The aim of U.S. policy toward China should be to ensure that Beijing is either unwilling or unable to overturn the regional and global order.”

As we’ve discussed previously, citing war machine-funded think tanks as expert analysis without even disclosing their financial conflict of interest is plainly journalistic malpractice. But it happens all the time in the mass media anyway, because the mass media exist to circulate propaganda, not journalism.

This is getting so, so crazy. That the mass media are now openly teaming up with war machine think tanks to begin seeding the normalization of a hot war with China into the minds of the public indicates that the propaganda campaign to manufacture consent for the U.S.-centralized empire’s final Hail Mary grab at unipolar domination is escalating even further. The mass-scale psychological manipulation is getting more and more overt and more and more shameless.

This is headed somewhere very, very bad. Hopefully humanity wakes up in time to stop these lunatics from driving us off a precipice from which there is no return.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar onPatreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative MatrixRogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone andWoke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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28 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: TV War Games Over Taiwan

  1. Fran Macadam
    May 21, 2022 at 08:52

    Whenever I discuss the realities with most folks I meet, they stalk off angrily at having the propaganda bubble burst.

  2. LeoSun
    May 19, 2022 at 21:01

    “Don’t Look Up”

    Joey “the ULTRA Expan$ionist” Biden “has set into motion military, economic, political and social processes that he cannot control and the outcome of which he cannot foresee.” BUT, the dementia addled, truth challenged, war monger, oldigarch Biden’s “GOT” the Nuclear Codes.

    The Masters’ of Disaster, Biden-Harris’, presidency is so, so, so “ripely symbolic of everything that is unchanging and hopeless about our political system.”

    Biden’s-Harris’ Domestic & Foreign agenda; &, everything thereafter, Polls, has collapsed. Confirming, the Democrats’ Party is “NOT a vehicle for social reform, but in fact a graveyard.”

    When campaigning, outta his basement, did Biden say “Biden-Harris” is all about going nuclear war with Russia, China?

    “Based on intelligence information provided them by Pentagon and CIA advisers, how many hundreds of millions, or billions of people, do they expect will die in the United States, Europe and throughout the world in a nuclear exchange with Russia/China?”

    Protest & Survive.

  3. lester
    May 19, 2022 at 20:37

    What happened to rebuilding our highways and infrastructure? I remember joyful Dems telling me about how great the Biden national healthcare system would be. I asked why the leopard would change it’s spots and give us national health care, they told me “You got to have hope!”

    Well, I expected more of the same, and sure enough, we now have a proxy war, not better roads or national health care. :-(

  4. gary
    May 19, 2022 at 19:37

    How about letting the people of Taiwan decide their own destiny and form of government?

  5. elkojohn
    May 19, 2022 at 16:10

    Their plan is to avoid the catastrophe of a climate crisis by having a preventative nuclear war first.

  6. Robert Emmett
    May 19, 2022 at 16:00

    What could be next? Let your imaginations run wild! How about an ongoing, televised drawing of lots to see who will get to push buttons to send hypersonic missiles cruising to mow down red commies? The send-off & touchdown could be viewed in real time as well (behind a pay-wall, natch).

    Or how about a lottery to see whose date & time of birth falls closest to that of the invasion to win a shift in a high target drone simulator? (You could visualize & vaporize your worst enemy or just some random dude on the street! Invite friends to the viewing!!) Or better yet, since the projected war would be some years off, what about a contest to time births to come closest to actual invasion, with the winning parents to get a lifetime supply of paxlovid and the baby, a fully-paid college tuition? (White babies only need apply.) Plus, it would be an effective way to drive home the subtext of whose babies matter most, those coming into the world or those on their way out?

    This whole arena is redolent with nearly limitless possibilities, a damn bonanza for authorities to mine for deeper public buy-in of their agenda, dontcha think? A whole new marketing/infotainment extravaganza, I tell ya.

    p.s. trick question: what do you call a guy who looks like a rat, talks like a rat & smells like a rat? (could be more than one answer in the accompanying photo sweepstakes)

    • Mark Stanley
      May 19, 2022 at 20:22

      Yeah..he’s a rat, but I want a guy in an orange suit coat to decide on the fate of humanity.
      It’s almost like a really hideous, tongue & cheek dark comedy.

    • Wolfram Beta
      May 21, 2022 at 22:13

      The CDC recommends wearing two masks indoors to survive a hypersonic missile attack.

      A DemocRat or a RepugnicRat? It’s not known which species is more invasive, but each is working towards the destruction of the planet at a rabid pace.

  7. Jeff B
    May 19, 2022 at 15:20

    Now that’s entertainment!

  8. Bob Dobbs
    May 19, 2022 at 11:57

    What happened to the Democrat party that was pro civil rights like speech, anti-war, and pro-labor class?

    Now they want to ban speech they hate, want war with Russia and China, and abandoned class-based pro-labor politics in favor of divisive race-based politics that not only doesn’t help the working class but brands them as deplorables.

  9. Jeff Harrison
    May 19, 2022 at 10:06

    The bad news for the US is that we haven’t won a war in so long it’s amazing for a country with a military the size and power of the US military. Truly demonstrating the maxim that war is an extension of diplomacy. No successful diplomacy, no successful war effort.

  10. Vera Gottlieb
    May 19, 2022 at 04:30

    No doubt in my mind…It is the US/NATO that need containment.

  11. David F., N.A.
    May 19, 2022 at 01:25

    “neocon think tank CNAS”

    I immediately thought of PNAC when I first read “Center for a New American Security”.

    So, if this Russia/Ukraine war is actually a proxy war for the US and Russia, and this proxy US/Russia war is actually a proxy war for the US and China, then how on Earth is the US media ever going to figure this out in time in order to save a lot of innocent lives? Sort of makes you wish that China and Russia would have stayed out of Iran/ISIS war, which was a proxy war for…damn those neocons.

  12. Curious
    May 18, 2022 at 22:40

    Perhaps it’s time to wonder about the end result of the war mentality in the minds of these psychologically deranged humans (?) in such think tanks as CNAS. Remember PNAC was also NEW. All these new-fangled think tanks are a joke, although certainly not funny to the attacked countries.
    If this is indeed a rush to preserve the petrodollar and/or unipolarity of US economic hegemony in the world, which country do they think will be left after such wars? No Russia, no China, and that analysis doesn’t take into account weapons of any magnitude never stays within the country attacked, which countries will be left over to use the petrodollar at all anymore? Have they researched how wind carries all types of pollutants? Will the MIC be able to enrich itself on selling paranoia and weapons to countries fearing attack by great powers. It’s not likely, so the MIC is also putting itself out of business and then they’d have to do something more productive than killing? I can’t imagine since killing is in their DNA.
    So, how can the USofA enrich itself, or even sustain its $30T debt after taking on Russia and China? We would like to know their endgame if they themselves even have a clue. The bogus ‘allies’ will likely be bankrupt or have no food or raw materials, so they will be no help.

    • May 19, 2022 at 10:44

      You have to look back to the last 300-400 years. They don’t intend to honour the debt since they control all financial institutions for now. They intend to rob everyone that is not “west”. Same concept as to what British, French and Spainards did to most of the civilised world. Barbarians are at the door. This will not change because American culture, as you can see all around us, is war like.

      • Curious
        May 19, 2022 at 15:30

        Good point AA,

        Perpetual war for economic reasons or a distraction from bad policies to begin with, has to lose its momentum at some point. I can’t wait for that outcome.

  13. lester
    May 18, 2022 at 21:42

    Has no one noticed how closely Taiwan’s economy is linked with the mainlands?

  14. JonnyJames
    May 18, 2022 at 18:37

    Sociopaths in charge: The word kakistocracy comes to mind. Is there a word for the most immoral, dysfunctional, delusional, and destructive people in charge? I guess we need to have one.

    The Mass Media, MIC, and so-called intelligence services are incestuous bedfellows. The flagrant War Propaganda is off the charts lately and getting worse. The “think tanks” are nothing but warmongering propaganda mills filled with overpaid, bald-faced liars and pathetic cowards. Ratner, for example, has likely lived a very sheltered and privileged life. He would promptly soil himself if confronted with the slightest danger. Send him to The Russian Front! Anybody who advocates for war should be the first ones to go to the front lines.

    Rhetorical question: even short of a military confrontation with China, what if there was economic blockades, embargoes etc. between the US/China? What would happen to the US economy? Would there be any products on the shelves, since most things are made in China? What would happen to the value of the US dollar?

  15. Realist
    May 18, 2022 at 17:31

    Clearly the American public is being groomed for nuclear war with both Russia and China. It gets nothing but false narratives, distortions of reality and dead air where memory-holed facts should be broadcast. “Russiagate” was a previous example of the clueless American audience being conned into believing that Russia was subverting American interests, that President Trump was that country’s marionette, and that together he and Vladimir Putin stole the presidency from Hilary Clinton. Of course, none of this was supported by a shred of evidence as made clear in the Mueller Report headed by a member of the same intel agencies conspicuously supporting the Clinton faction. The facts didn’t matter. The American people largely still believed the slanders.

    This is what the Saker means every time he says that although Russia may be winning the war in Ukraine on the battlefield, they are being routed in the entire Western media. And, what the media says the American people believe as though it were the gospel truth. Finally, in this confected string of reality, what the people profess to believe in the opinion polls is what Washington takes as consent for and a license to make war against any target of its choosing, whether Congress weighs in with a formal vote or not. Often Washington will act to make war even in the absence of a public consensus on deployment of its military. It’s a stone cold fact that the Congress has never formalized any war with an actual “declaration of war” as is its sole responsibility under the US Constitution since 1941. I guess we have not been operating under that document for the past 77 years, when that war officially ended on 2 September 1945.

    Fifty billion dollars and more is serious walking-around money that Washington has gifted (our of your pocket, without ever asking you) to Ukraine to fight its proxy war against Russia. So, Washington is quite serious about continuing to stoke the flames of this war they started back in the Maidan in February of 2014. And that traunch of money is just the first installment on the blank check Zelensky has been promised to fight till the last Ukrainian. Soon Ukraine’s military budget will vastly outstrip that of Russia itself. None of the billions in intel, training and advisory services that the US and Nato provide to Ukraine are even considered in this budget.

    This is the kind of wild spending that governments engage in when they see no escape or off ramp from the predicament they’ve gotten themselves into. This also bodes really bad when a government contemplates the use of nuclear weapons to cut themselves out of the tangled mess into which they’ve entrapped themselves. Russia finds itself in the same predicament–an inability to extricate itself from an existential threat, though this was not a war of CHOICE for them as it was for the US. In fact, insane war games such as depicted in this television propaganda piece suggest that the Americans consider such nuclear madness among their first options to end the crisis and pretend they’ve won when, in fact, they will have just engineered the extinction of civilisation and perhaps of the entire human species, whether they know it or not. Clearly this is psychopathic thinking, yet the American government, the mass media and the indoctrinated audience will all vociferously consider YOU to be the crazy one if you should dissent from their mad consensus.

    • JNF
      May 19, 2022 at 11:01

      How do such morons as those employed by CNAS manage to have any influence whatsoever? One might as well hire braying donkeys. At least their braying will not lead to disaster.

  16. Geral
    May 18, 2022 at 17:26

    another war for America to start and never finish or better still to lose like all those since 1946.

    • Brian Bixby
      May 24, 2022 at 01:31

      We didn’t lose them all, remember Grenada! :-)

  17. Vincent ANDERSON
    May 18, 2022 at 17:21

    Meanwhile, back at the Aussie ranch…, another interesting CNAS link, vis-a-vis the bidding war between beam-me-up Scotty and a ‘potential reset’ via election of his Labor contender:

    But Lisa Curtis, head of the Indo-Pacific programme at the Center for a New American Security, said: “While some conservative Australian groups may try to scare Australian voters into equating a vote for Labor as a vote for a softer China policy, I don’t think that is necessarily going to be the case.” So, Ms. Curtis knows more than the average bloke, right? Quite symbolically, their link to the original Financial Times article invokes a paywall.

    At any rate, a rush to the China war front is on, led by none other than ‘western, defense’ NATO head Jens Stoltenberg. It does seem that ASEAN as well as other area nations are quite comfortably engaged, economically and diplomatically, with the real China, while the sole new belligerent, ‘liberal democrat’ Japan, remains isolated from the friendlier bloc.

  18. May 18, 2022 at 17:13

    Coming soon to your television screens and mobile communications devices, not one but two productions inviting participants to engage in nuclear power confrontations. Buy your armament industry stocks now while you (or at least some of you) can still afford them but stock up on basic necessities as prices will be going through the roof. Brought to you by your friends at the Democratic Party, with a little help from a few friends in the GOP.

  19. jaycee
    May 18, 2022 at 17:12

    Should it be presumed the U.S. is preparing to fight China down to the last Taiwanese? It is not well understood that it is the Americans who are proposing to overturn the current “regional order” by undermining the One China policy. It is also difficult to fathom a “defence” of Taiwan as it is an island very close to the mainland – how are supply lines maintained? How conceivable or realistic is reliance on stand-off missiles from Okinawa or Guam, and how far into a hot conflict do these planners imagine these bases to survive? Is the purpose simply one of provocation – to induce the Chinese to act, and then be condemned/sanctioned/isolated same as the Russians? In general, the military-political complex in the West is a bit more clever than it is smart, and a bit more hubristic than it is clear-thinking.

    • Brian Bixby
      May 24, 2022 at 01:40

      “to induce the Chinese to act, and then be condemned/sanctioned/isolated same as the Russians?”

      Here is where China’s ‘Belt And Road’ initiative shows how far ahead they’ve been thinking. They NATO countries can try to sanction or boycott China (and crash their economies in the process), but the Third World knows which side its bread is buttered on.

  20. Hegesias Cyrene
    May 18, 2022 at 15:03

    It also happens that CNAS is where Ukraine war criminal Victoria Nuland was employed and paid by the MIC and the DoD when she was temporarily ousted from the State Dept by Trump.

  21. George Philby
    May 18, 2022 at 14:43


    Let’s have a war with China.
    That will be really fun.
    Everything will be finer
    When the nuke war is done.
    China will just be ocean.
    All the Red Commies dead.
    Biden will get promotion.
    Rushmore will get his head.

    Trouble is, though, Mount Rushmore
    Is in the Arctic now.
    Nobody can find Bush or
    Clinton or that Maddow.
    They wanted war: they got it –
    Atom bomb up the ass.
    Putin’s the one who shot it –
    Now he controls the gas.

    What happened to malicious
    Britain? Is Boris boss?
    Hell, no. He sleeps with fishes.
    Oh, well, that’s no great loss.

Comments are closed.