Inventing the Right’s ‘Metanarrative’

Oil billionaires David and Charles Koch.

For decades, the Koch Brothers have funded a massive propaganda operation to disparage what democracy can do when a society pulls together and to glorify a “greed is good” narrative promising great benefits if capitalism reigns free. But the results have been good only for a privileged few, as Michael Winship describes.

In Case You Missed…

Some of our special stories in January focused on the worsening crisis in relations between the United States and Russia, the danger of a wider war around Syria, the triumph of propaganda over reason in American foreign policy, and developments in Campaign 2016.

How Washington’s New Rich Live

A McMansion in McLean, Virginia, offered for $12.5 million in 2014. [Photo credit: MRIS]

The twin explosions of post-9/11 national security extravagance and Citizens United political spending bonanza have reshaped Washington — not only in its political outlook but physically, with this New Class preferring lavish McMansions to show off their newfound wealth, as Mike Lofgren describes.

The Meaning Behind the Sanders Surge

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

What is most startling about the excited response to Sen. Sanders’s campaign is that millions of Americans seem to be saying that free-market capitalism is failing them and that there must be something better than accepting vast income inequality, as economist Richard Wolff explained to Dennis J Bernstein.

Rightists Sell Anti-Government Message

Neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.

Since Ronald Reagan, the Republicans have rallied many Americans around the notion that “government is the problem.” And, despite disasters for the middle and working classes, right-wing intellectuals like Charles Krauthammer continue to sell the same message, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

Ted Cruz’s Religious Play

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican candidate for U.S. President.

Sen. Ted Cruz – known for his brash, boastful and brutal proclamations – is remaking himself in the image of the Lord Savior as he appeals to the Republican Religious Right to pave his way to the GOP nomination and the White House, as Bill Moyers and Gail Ablow describe.

A Look at Ukraine’s Dark Side

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

Exclusive: Americans have been carefully shielded from the ugly underbelly of Ukraine’s Maidan uprising in 2014 that overthrew the elected president and installed a U.S.-backed, fiercely anti-Russian regime which has unleashed armed neo-Nazis. But a French documentary has dared to expose this grim reality, as Gilbert Doctorow describes.

Still Sabotaging the Iran-Nuke Deal

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013. (UN Photo)

Since Israel and the influential U.S. neocons never wanted the Iranian nuclear deal, many U.S. politicians – including presidential candidates – are lining up to sabotage the agreement by finding new excuses to sanction Iran. This trick is a dangerous game, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Risking World War III in Syria

Saudi King Salman meets with President Barack Obama at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: After Saudi-backed Syrian rebels balked at peace talks and the Russian-backed Syrian army cut off Turkish supply lines to jihadists and other Syrian rebels, the U.S. and its Mideast Sunni “allies” appear poised to invade Syria and force “regime change” even at the risk of fighting Russia, a gamble with nuclear war, writes Joe Lauria.

Behind the North Korean Nuke Crisis

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Exclusive: One fallout from the Hillary Clinton-led “regime change” in Libya – after Muammar Gaddafi gave up his WMD deterrence – is that North Korea keeps building up its nuclear-weapon program. Its leaders don’t want to suffer Gaddafi’s grisly fate, another case of how war can exacerbate other tensions, notes Jonathan Marshall.

Giving Peace Very Little Chance

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

Exclusive: What the next U.S. president can do to bring endless warfare to an end is one of the most important issues of Campaign 2016, but it is getting only a cursory treatment in debates as politicians seem to fear neocon wrath if they seek peace, writes Robert Parry.

How Fox News Undercut Trump

Fox News President Roger Ailes.

The Republican Establishment, led by powerful media boss Fox News’ Roger Ailes, undercut Donald Trump’s anti-Establishment campaign with some last-minute maneuvers in Iowa, including baiting Trump to boycott a Fox debate, as JP Sottile explains.

The Reality of Robert Gates

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Official Washington hails Robert Gates as one of its Wise Men – and the former CIA director and defense secretary clearly concurs as he shows in his new book – but the reality is far less complimentary, as ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman describes.

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Progressive’ Persona

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.

Desperate to blunt Bernie Sanders’s surge of support especially among young Democrats, Hillary Clinton is pitching herself as a “progressive,” but many of her policies were anything but – from supporting military coups to favoring corporate interests, writes Jeff Cohen.

Shaking Up the Democratic Party

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

By demanding a “revolution” to shift power away from Wall Street, Sen. Sanders is attracting millions of young Americans who want fundamental change. He’s also upsetting the Democratic establishment which favors only incremental “reforms” acceptable to corporate interests, as Norman Solomon notes.

Seeking More Cold War with Cuba

Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2003. (Photo credit: Antonio Milena - ABr)

The neocons who dominate Official Washington speak most loudly through their flagship newspaper, The Washington Post, almost always seeking confrontation rather than cooperation in addressing the world’s problems, such as Cold War-era hostility toward Cuba, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Hillary Clinton’s Hawkish Record

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Surviving Iowa in a dead heat with Sen. Bernie Sanders, ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now hopes her establishment-backed campaign will grind down her opposition and pave the way for her presidential nomination. But many Democrats remain leery of her hawkish foreign policy, writes Marjorie Cohn.

Feeding the Military-Industrial Complex

The U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in a test flight over the Chesapeake Bay. [Defense Department photoe]

Exclusive: Because he had commanded Allied forces in World War II, President Eisenhower understood the excesses of the war industry and warned Americans about the dangers of the military-industrial complex, a force that continues to siphon off tens of billions of tax dollars, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

Letting US ‘Lead’ Against Islamic State

syria-map

America’s Mideast “allies” are less eager to take on Islamic State terrorists themselves than to urge the U.S. military to do so, raising questions about whether much of today’s campaign-trail tough-guy/gal talk about Washington taking the lead really means doing the dirty work for Saudi Arabia, Israel and others, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

‘Cut-out’ Anti-Drone Protest Brings Arrests

Life-size cut-outs of Jerry Berrigan arrayed to blockade at Hancock  airbase in upstate New York on Jan. 28, 2016. (Screen grab from YouTube video)

The U.S. government’s lethal drone program continues to spark protests from anti-war activists, including a novel “blockade” outside upstate New York’s Hancock air base where a dozen protesters arrayed life-size cut-outs of the late anti-war activist Jerry Berrigan and faced arrest.

Hillary Clinton’s Iraq War Albatross

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

George W. Bush’s Iraq invasion may rank as the worst foreign policy disaster in U.S. history – spreading chaos across the Mideast and now into Europe, yet polls show Democrats nationwide favor nominating Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war and backed it even after Bush’s WMD claims were debunked, recalls Stephen Zunes.

The Dangerous Ideology of Religion

An image of a Crusader killing a Muslim.

Ideology, in the hands of true-believers, tends to reject facts in favor of some grander “truth,” an especially dangerous tendency when mixed with religious conviction and certainty, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

Lobbying’s Mile-High Plateau

Mr. Moneybags from the "Monopoly" game

Special-interest money in Washington may have peaked but it looks more like it has plateaued at mile-high altitudes, with hundreds of millions of dollars continuing to fill the coffers of lobbying firms each year as they sign up ex-members of Congress and other well-connected “public servants,” as Michael Winship reports.

A Russian Diplomat’s Take on the World

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

As the West’s mainstream media portrays Russia as a crazy rogue state, Moscow’s thoughtful critiques of world affairs are ignored, not fitting the propaganda theme. Such was the case when Foreign Minister Lavrov explained why there would be no more “business as usual” with the West, as Gilbert Doctorow describes.

Hillary Clinton’s Own Petard

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

In 2008, Hillary Clinton sought to exploit Barack Obama’s limited foreign policy experience by claiming she was more fit to answer a 3 a.m. phone call announcing some crisis, but her national security judgments continue to demonstrate serious weaknesses and fail to meet her own standard, writes Bart Gruzalski.

A Step Toward Campaign Transparency

President Barack Obama walks with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on the South Drive of the White House, Jan. 25, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has called government “transparency” vital for a democracy. But, in practice, he has favored secrecy, keeping key foreign-policy facts away from Americans (all the better to manipulate them) and even balking at a rule requiring government contractors to disclose campaign spending, the latter only requiring a stroke of his pen, says Bill Moyers.

Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists

The insignia of the Azov battalion, using the neo-Nazi symbol of the Wolfsangel.

From the Archive: Many defenders of Ukraine’s post-coup government dismiss reports about neo-Nazis playing key roles in the U.S.-backed regime, but even the most enthusiastic Western propagandists have occasionally glimpsed that reality – and worse, as Robert Parry reported last July.

Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

Exclusive: Few Americans understand the ugly history behind the Nazi-affiliated movements that have gained substantial power in today’s U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime. Western propaganda has made these right-wing extremists the “good guys” versus the Russian “bad guys,” as Jonathan Marshall explains.

Cheering a ‘Democratic’ Coup in Ukraine

The neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol on a banner in Ukraine.

From the Archive: After the 2014 coup ousting Ukraine’s elected President Yanukovych, the mainstream U.S. media hailed this unconstitutional move as a victory for “democracy” while ignoring the darker side, neo-Nazis coddled by the U.S. government since the Cold War, as Robert Parry wrote four days after the putsch.

Is Obama’s Drug Clemency a Mirage?

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in the Oval Office, March 1, 2013. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken listen at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama once promised hope and that is what some non-violent drug offenders have left as they serve draconian “drug war” sentences. But Obama’s offer of clemency may be more mirage than reality, says ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou, who himself was imprisoned for telling the truth about illegal torture.

A Crazy Establishment Demands ‘Sanity’

David Brooks, conservative columnist at The New York Times.

Exclusive: As support grows for anti-Establishment candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, a frantic Establishment is demanding that Americans “stay sane” and vote for one of its approved candidates. But is it sane to follow advice that has led to endless wars and a disappearing middle class, asks Robert Parry.