kagan, nuland and the new administration

The Kagans Are Back & Wars Are Sure To Follow
Robert Parry, Consortium News, Mar 15 2017

The Kagan family, Pindostan’s neocon aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency. Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded Pindo military invasion of Syria, and baiting the Thugs for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump. In a WaPo op-ed on Mar 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of PNAC and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at the Thugs for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively. Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon AEI, and his wife Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger Pindo invasion of Syria in a WSJ op-ed on Mar 15. Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in official Faschingstein’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open. Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Thug presidential contenders or like Robert Kagan they could support the establishment Demagog candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose liberal interventionism matched closely with neocondom, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying more and more wars. There was also hope that Pres Clinton 45 would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan’s neocon wife Toria Nuland, from Asst Sec State for European Affairs to Sec State. Then there would have been a powerful momentum for both increasing military intervention in Syria and escalating the New Cold War with Russia, putting “regime change” back on the agenda for those two countries. So, early last year, the possibilities seemed endless for the Family Kagan to flex their muscles and make lots of money. As I noted two years ago in an article entitled A Family Business of Perpetual War:

Neocon pundit Robert Kagan and his wife Asst Sec State Toria Nuland run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia, and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so thast Pindostan can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the MIC, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Faschingstein think-tanks. Not only does the broader community of neocons stand to benefit, but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Bob’s brother Fred at the AEI and his wife, Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.

But things didn’t quite turn out as the Kagans had drawn them up. The neocon Thugs stumbled through the GOP primaries, losing out to Donald Trump. Then, after Hillary Clinton muscled aside Bernie Sanders to claim the Demagog nomination, she fumbled away the general election to Trump. After his surprising victory, for all his many shortcomings, Trump recognized that the neocons were not his friends and mostly left them out in the cold. Nuland not only lost her politically-appointed job as Asst Sec, but resigned from the Foreign Service too. With Trump in the White House, official Faschingstein’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment was down but far from out. The neocons were tossed a lifeline by Demagogs and liberals who detested Trump so much that they were happy to pick up Nuland’s fallen banner of the New Cold War with Russia. As part of a dubious scheme to drive Trump from office, Demagogs and liberals hyped evidence-free allegations that Russia had colluded with Trump’s team to rig the election. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman spoke for many of this group when he compared Russia’s alleged “meddling” to Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and AQ’s 9/11 terror attacks. On MSNBC Morning Joe, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli:

That was a 9/11-scale event! They attacked the core of our democracy! That was a Pearl Harbor scale event!

Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars. So, with many liberals blinded by their hatred of Trump, the path was open for neocons to reassert themselves. Robert Kagan took to the high-profile op-ed page of the WaPo to bait key Thugs such as Rep Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who was pictured above the WaPo article and its headline, “Running interference for Russia.” Kagan wrote:

It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Thug Party’s leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country’s political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Thug Party is playing.

Kagan then reprised official Faschingstein’s groupthink that accepted without skepticism the claims from Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs that Russia had “hacked” DNC + Podesta emails and released them via WikiLeaks to embarrass the Clinton campaign. Though Obama’s intelligence officials offered no verifiable evidence to support the claims, and WikiLeaks denied getting the two batches of emails from the Russians, the allegations were widely accepted across official Faschingstein as grounds for discrediting Trump and possibly seeking his removal from office. Ignoring the political conflict of interest for Obama’s appointees, Kagan must have recognized the potential for the neocons to claw their way back to power behind the smokescreen of a New Cold War with Russia. He wrote:

Given the significance of this particular finding, the evidence must be compelling and justifies a serious, wide-ranging and open investigation. The most important question concerns Russia’s ability to manipulate Pindosi elections. That is not a political issue. It is a national security issue. If the Russian government did interfere in Pindostan’s electoral processes last year, then it has the capacity to do so in every election going forward. This is a powerful and dangerous weapon, more than warships or tanks or bombers. Neither Russia nor any potential adversary has the power to damage the Pindosi political system with weapons of war, but by creating doubts about the validity, integrity and reliability of Pindosi elections, it can shake that system to its foundations.

As alarmist as Kagan’s op-ed was, the reality was far different. Even if the Russians did hack the DNC + Podesta emails and somehow slipped the information to WikiLeaks, which is an unsubstantiated and disputed contention, those two rounds of email disclosures were not that significant to the election’s outcome. Hillary Clinton blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as Sec State. Further, by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the DNC’s tilting of the primaries against Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The Podesta emails disclosed the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation. In other words, the WikiLeaks’ releases helped inform Pindo voters about abuses to the Pindo democratic process. The emails were not disinformation or fake news. They were real news. A similar disclosure occurred both before the election and this week, when someone leaked details about Trump’s tax returns, which are protected by law. However, except for the Trump camp, almost no one thought that this illegal act of releasing a citizen’s tax returns was somehow a threat to Pindo democracy. The general feeling was that Pindosis have a right to know such details about someone seeking the White House. I agree, but doesn’t it equally follow that we had a right to know about the DNC abusing its power to grease the skids for Clinton’s nomination, about the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers, and about foreign governments seeking pay-to-play influence by contributing to the Clinton Foundation? Yet because Obama’s political appointees in the intelligence community “assess” that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks emails, the assault on Pindosi democracy is a reason for WW3. But Kagan was not satisfied with unsubstantiated accusations regarding Russia undermining Pindosi democracy. He asserted as fact, although again without presenting evidence:

Russia is interfering in the coming elections in France and Germany, and it has already interfered in Italy’s recent referendum and in numerous other elections across Europe. Russia is deploying this weapon against as many democracies as it can to sap public confidence in democratic institutions.

There’s been a lot of handwringing in official Faschingstein and across the MSM about the “post-truth” era, but these supposed avatars for truth are as guilty as anyone, acting as if constantly repeating a fact-free claim is the same as proving it. But it’s clear what Kagan and other neocons have in mind, an escalation of hostilities with Russia and a substantial increase in spending on military hardware and on Western propaganda to “counter” what is deemed “Russian propaganda.” Kagan recognizes that he already has many key Demagogs and liberals on his side. So he is taking aim at the Thugs to force them to join in the full-throated Russia-bashing, writing:

But it is the Republicans who are covering up. The party’s current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community’s findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by the two intelligence committees. Yet the Republican chairman of the committee in the House has indicated that he sees no great urgency to the investigation and has even questioned the seriousness and validity of the accusations. The Republican chairman of the committee in the Senate has approached the task grudgingly. The result is that the investigations seem destined to move slowly, produce little information and provide even less to the public. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the Republican Party’s leadership, both in the White House and Congress. … When Republicans stand in the way of thorough, open and immediate investigations, they become Russia’s accomplices after the fact.

Many Demagogs and liberals may find it encouraging that a leading neocon who helped pave the road to war in Iraq is now by their side in running down the Thugs for not enthusiastically joining the latest Russian witch-hunt, but they also might pause to ask themselves how they let their hatred of Trump get them into an alliance with the neocons. On Wednesday in the WSJ, Robert Kagan’s brother Fred and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons’ long-held dream of a full-scale invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of military reversals in Iraq. The neocons have long lusted for “regime change” in Syria, and were not satisfied with Obama’s arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of Pindo SOF into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of Raqqa. In the WSJ op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in south-eastern Syria, writing:

Pindo military forces will be necessary. But Pindostan can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against Daesh, because it controls the last areas in Syria where Pindostan can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of AQ, but the aim after evicting Daesh must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat AQ and help negotiate a settlement of the war. Pindostan will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. … Pres Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming Pindostan’s approach to it.

In other words, the neocons are back to their clever word games and their strategic maneuverings to entice the Pentagon into a “regime change” project in Syria. The neocons thought they had almost pulled off that goal by pinning a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug 21 2013, on the Syrian government and mousetrapping Obama into launching a major air assault on the Syrian military. Putin’s interference in thwarting the neocons’ dream of a Syrian “regime change” war moved Putin to the top of their enemies’ list. Soon key neocons such as NED president Carl Gershman were taking aim at Ukraine, which Gershman deemed “the biggest prize” and a stepping stone toward eventually ousting Putin in Moscow. But the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Dept and the mainstream Western media deemed “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion,” so by the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a “regime change” in Syria. All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks. Yet the so-called “#Resistance” to Trump’s presidency, and Obama’s unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian Manchurian Candidate, gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup, but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action, batter Thugs into joining the all-out Russia-bashing, and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Demagogs and liberals as their foot-soldiers.

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