Those hoping the non-interventionist cause would be given some real muscle if a couple of oligarchs who’ve made fortunes from global interventionism team up and pump millions into Washington think tanks will be sorely disappointed by the train wreck that is the Koch/Soros alliance.
The result thus far has not been a tectonic shift in favor of a new direction, with new faces and new ideas, but rather an opportunity for these same old Washington think tanks, now flush with even more money, to re-brand their pet interventionisms as “restraint.”
The flagship of this new alliance, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, was sold as an earth-shattering breakthrough – an “odd couple” of “left-wing” Soros and “right-wing” Koch boldly tossing differences aside to join together and “end the endless wars.”
That organization is now up and running and it isn’t pretty.
To begin with, the whole premise is deeply flawed. George Soros is no “left-winger” and Koch is no “right-winger.” It’s false marketing, like the claim that drinking Diet Coke will make you skinny. Both are globalist oligarchs who continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to create the kind of world where the elites govern with no accountability except to themselves, and “the interagency,” rather than an elected President of the US, makes US foreign policy.
As libertarian intellectual Tom Woods once famously quipped, “No matter whom you vote for, you always wind up getting John McCain.” That is exactly the world Koch and Soros want. It’s a world of Davos with fangs, not Mainstreet, USA.
A ‘New Vision’?
Anyone doubting that Quincy is just a mass re-branding effort for the same failed foreign policies of the past two decades need look no further than that organization’s first big public event, a February 26th conference with Foreign Policy Magazine, to explore “A New Vision for America in the World.”
Like pouring old wine into new bottles, this “new vision” is being presented by the very same people and institutions who gave us the “old vision” – you know, the one they pretend to oppose.
How should anyone interested in restraining foreign policy – let alone actual non-interventionism – react to the kick-off presentation of the Quincy Institute’s conference, “Perspective on U.S. Global Leadership in the 21st Century,” going to disgraced US General David Petraeus?
Petraeus is, among many other things, an architect of the disastrous and failed “surge” policy in Iraq. He is still convinced (at least as of a few years ago) that “we won” in Iraq…but that we dare not end the occupation lest we lose what we “won.” How’s that for “restraint”?
While head of the CIA, he teamed up with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to develop and push the brilliant idea of directly and overtly training and equipping al-Qaeda and other jihadists to overthrow the secular government of Bashar Assad. How’s that for “restraint”?
When a tape leaked of Fox News contributor Kathleen T. McFarland meeting with Petraeus at the behest of then-Fox Chairman Roger Ailes to convince him to run for US president, Petraeus told her that the CIA in his view is “a national asset…a treasure.” He then went on to speak favorably of the CIA’s role in Libya.
But the absurdity of leading the conference with such an unreconstructed warmongering interventionist is only the beginning of the trip down the Quincy conference rabbit hole.
Rogues’ Gallery of Washington’s Worst
Shortly following the disgraced general is a senior official from the German Marshal Fund, Julianne Smith, to give us “A New Vision for America’s Role in the World.” Her organization, readers will recall, is responsible for some of the most egregious warmongering propaganda.
The German Marshal Fund launched and funds the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization led by such notable proponents of “restraint” as neoconservative icon William Kristol, John McCain Institute head David Kramer, Michael “Trump is an agent of Putin” Morell, and, among others, the guy who made millions out of scaring the hell out of Americans, former Homeland-Security-chief-turned-airport-scanner-salesman Michael Chertoff.
The Alliance for Securing Democracy was responsible for the discredited “Hamilton 68 Dashboard,” a magic tool they claimed would seek and destroy “Russian bots” in the social media. After the propaganda value of such a farce had been reaped, Alliance fellow Clint Watts admitted the whole thing was bogus.
Moving along, so as not to cherry pick the atrocities in this conference, moderating the section on the Middle East is one “scholar,” Mehdi Hasan, who actually sent a letter to Facebook demanding that the social media company censor more political speech! He has attacked what he calls “free speech fundamentalists.”
Joining the “Regional Spotlight: Asia-Pacific” is Patrick Cronin of the thoroughly – and proudly – neoconservative Hudson Institute. Cronin’s entire professional career consists of position after position at the center of Washington’s various “regime change” factories. From a directorial position at the mis-named US Institute for Peace to “third-ranking position” at the US Agency for International Development to “senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the [neoconservative] Center for a New American Security.” This is a voice of “restraint”?
Later, the segment on “Ending Endless War” features at least two speakers who absolutely oppose the idea. Rosa Brooks, Senior Fellow at the “liberal interventionist” New America Foundation, wrote not long ago that, “There’s No Such Thing as Peacetime.” In the article she argued the benefits of “abandon[ing] the effort to draw increasingly arbitrary lines between peacetime and wartime and instead focus[ing] on developing institutions and norms capable of protecting rights and rule-of-law values at all times.” In other words, war is endless so man up and get used to it.
This may be the key for how you end endless war. Just stop calling it “war.”
Brooks’ fellow panelist, Tom Wright, hails from the epicenter of liberal interventionism, the Brookings Institution, where he is director of the “Center on the United States and Europe.” Brookings loves “humanitarian interventions” and has published pieces attempting to convince us that the attack on Libya was not a mistake.
Wright himself is featured in the current edition of the Council on Foreign Relations’ publication Foreign Affairs arguing that old interventionist shibboleth that the disaster in Iraq was not caused by the US invasion, but rather by Obama’s withdrawal.
This Quincy Institute champion of “restraint” concludes his latest piece arguing that:
Now is not the time for a revolution in U.S. strategy. The United States should continue to play a leading role as a security provider in global affairs.
The moderator of that final panel in the upcoming Quincy Institute first conference is Loren DeJonge Schulman, a deputy director at the above-named Center for a New American Security. Before joining that neoconservative think tank, Schulman served as Senior Advisor to National Security Advisor Susan Rice! Among her other international crimes, readers will recall that Rice was a chief architect of the US attack on Libya.
Schulman’s entire career is, again, in the service of, alternatively, the war machine and the regime change machine.
The Quincy Institute’s first big event, which it bills as a showcase for a new foreign policy of “restraint,” is in fact just another gathering of Washington’s usual warmongers, neocons, and “humanitarian” interventionists.
Quincy has been received with gushing praise from people who should know better. Any of those gushers who look at this first Quincy conference and continue to maintain that a revolution in foreign policy is afoot are either lying to us or lying to themselves.
But Wait…There’s More!
Sadly, the fallout extends beyond just this particular new institute and this particular event.
Those who continue to push the claim that Koch and Soros are changing their spots and now supporting restraint and non-interventionism should be made to explain why the most egregiously warmongering and interventionist organizations are finding themselves on the receiving end of oligarch largese.
Just days ago a glowing article in Politico detailed the recipients of millions of Koch dollars to promote “restraint.” Who is leading the Koch brigades in the battle for a non-interventionist, “restrained” foreign policy?
Libertarian business tycoon Charles Koch is handing out $10 million in new grants to promote voices of military restraint at American think tanks, part of a growing effort by Koch to change the U.S. foreign policy conversation.
The grants, details of which were shared exclusively with POLITICO, are being split among four institutions: the Atlantic Council; the Center for the National Interest; the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and the RAND Corporation.
The Atlantic Council has been pushing US foreign policy toward war with Russia for years, pumping endless false propaganda and neocon lies to fuel the idea that Russia is engaged in an “asymmetric battle” against the US, that the mess in Ukraine was the result of a Russian out-of-the-blue invasion rather than an Obama Administration coup d’etat, that Russia threw the elections to Putin’s agent Trump, and that Moscow is seeking to to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
The Atlantic Council’s “Disinfo Portal,” a self-described “one-stop interactive online portal and guide to the Kremlin’s information war,” is raw, overt war propaganda. It is precisely the kind of war propaganda that has fueled three years of mass hysteria called “Russiagate,” which though proven definitively to be an utter fraud, continues to animate most of Washington’s thinking on the Left and Right to this day.
The Atlantic Council, through something it calls a “Digital Forensic Research Lab,” works with giant social media outlets to identify and ban any independent or alternative news outlets who deviate from the view that the US is besieged by enemies, from Syria to Iran to Russia to China and beyond, and that therefore it must continue spending a trillion dollars per year to maintain its role as the unipolar hyperpower. Thus, the Atlantic Council – a US government funded entity – colludes with social media to silence any deviation from US government approved foreign policy positions.
And these are the kinds of organizations that Koch and Soros claim are going to save us from Washington’s interventionist foreign policy?
Equally upsetting is the “collateral damage” that the Koch/Soros alliance and its love child Quincy hath wrought. To see once-vibrant and reliably non-interventionist upstarts like The American Conservative Magazine (TAC) lured away from the vision of its founders, Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, to slip into the warm Hegelian embrace of well-funded compromise is truly heartbreaking. It is to witness the soiling of that once-brave publication’s vindication for being right about Iraq War 2.0 while virtually all of Washington was wrong.
Incidentally, and to add insult to injury, it is precisely these kinds of Washington institutions who most viciously attacked TAC in those days who now find themselves trusted partners and even “expert” sources!
TAC! Beware! It’s not too late to wake up and smell the deception!
If a Soros-Koch alliance was actually interested in ending endless US wars and re-orienting our currently hyper-interventionist foreign policy toward “restraint,” it would simply announce that not another penny in campaign contributions would go to any candidate for House, Senate, or President who did not vow publicly in writing to vote against or veto any legislation that did not reduce military spending, that imposed sanctions overseas, that threatened governments overseas, that appropriated funds in secret or overtly to destabilize or overthrow governments overseas, or that sent foreign “aid” to any government overseas.
It would cost pennies to make such an announcement and stick to it, and the result would be a massive shift in the American body politic toward what the current alliance advertises itself as promoting.
But Koch/Soros don’t really want to end endless US interventions overseas. They want to fund the same old think tanks who are responsible for the disaster that is US foreign policy, re-brand interventionism as non-interventionism, and hope none of us rubes in flyover country notices.
To paraphrase what Pat Buchanan said about Democrats in his historic 1992 convention speech, the whitewashing of Washington’s most egregiously interventionist institutions and experts as “restrained” non-interventionists is “the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history.”