We are nestled in for the evening here near Glenorchy, NZ, in a comfortable lodge on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. It is snowing in nearby peaks, and rain has been a constant. The room I am in smells of fireplace. We have a couple of hours before dinner. Tomorrow we hit the trail again, doing a small part of the Routeburn Track. A flat part, I hope.
I’ve been reading some of Oglesby as we flew over, and old book from 1976, and some old names batted about that I’ve not thought about in years. Howard Hughes … murdered? Did the Mormons abscond with his fortune? (Oglesby makes no mention of this, a suspicion I pick up on from Mae Brussell.) Meyer Lanksy was the essential key between mafia underworld and so-called legitimate politics? German General Reinhard Gehlen brought in by Allen Dulles along with so many other Nazis after the war because they had essential knowledge about the Soviets that the U.S., newly crowned world champion, lacked? (Oglesby calls Dulles’ capitulation to Gehlen’s demands an essential surrender.) A plane crashed in Chicago in 1972 with 44 innocent people murdered to get one, Dorothy Hunt, wife of CIA/Dallas/Watergate veteran E. Howard Hunt? Three presidents brought down in succession by palace intrigue, JFK, LBJ, RMN?
Of course, there’s Dallas. Oglesby reminds us in 1976 that we really ought to solve that crime (and its less bloody sister, Watergate) if we care at all about democratic governance. Waaaaaay too late for that now. There was even one more palace coup to follow, 1981, but removal of Reagan from power seemed perfunctory as he was not up to the job anyway. He was apparently merely the vehicle to get George H.W. Bush in place.
All of this, and we still seem to function, more or less, as a country. We’ve still got the bombers going, murdering innocents abroad. We still have a president who still gives a SOTU address every year. The office of president still has power even if the occupant is a mere captive, an actor.
But the office matters to a lot of people, and that confuses me. The impotence of the occupant of the White House and the power of the office itself offer an interesting contrast. It is 2015 now, and next year we’ll vote again, and the next occupant of the White House will be shown to us in the coming months. He or she has already been selected. It might be a fresh face, it might be Hillary. It might be some governor, or some aristocrat like Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney. Or someone yet to be revealed.
Obama was selected for office long before 2008. His 2004 convention speech was a non-event, but by power of suggestion we learned it was a just a remarkable speech by an up-and-comer. We then learned that This guy had presidential timbre, again by power of suggestion. Given a few hundred million to pretty him up, by the time he walked on stage in Grant Park in Chicago, we really thought we had something new and different. I thought that too.
He was Bush III, as it turns out, and the brilliance of his strategists’ scheming was this: He was able to carry forward with the Bush agenda because he was black. Democrats were so caught up in the moral superiority game (they had, after all, elected a black president for the first time in history!) that they forgot to pay attention to what the man was actually doing. Any criticism likely brought scrutiny under our hoods – are we harboring racist thoughts? It was simply brilliant.
But again, my confusion. Obama does not matter. He’s just a tool, a puppet on a string, like those before and yet to come. He no more makes policy decisions than I do, nor does he ride herd on cabinet or send out Seals to kill bad guys. He is the point man for a powerful faction. One of many.
And it appears to me that faction also brought us George W. Bush and 9/11, all the new and ongoing wars, and that they’ve been at the reins now for at least fourteen years.
But here is something interesting that may have passed without notice:
Coming out of his silence, the honorary chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie H. Gelb, sounded the alarm. He said that “the Obama team lacked basic instincts and judgment to lead the national security policy in the next two years.” And he continued, on behalf of the US ruling class as a whole: “President Obama needs to replace his team with strong personalities and experienced strategists. He should also place new people as Senior Advisors to the Secretaries of Defense and State. And he must finally implement regular consultations with Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
The CFR is a powerful group having far more impact on who holds power in Washington than any election, and Gelb speaking up has to be seen as loss of patience. I want to read good intentions into this move, perhaps frustration at attempts by the current faction in power to trigger a new Cold War or drive the world economy into the ditch via oil prices. Whatever it is, Chicago is stirring, and ramifications will begin to appear in the near future. It bears watching.
Gelb has in mind the following people:
Thomas Pickering (former ambassador to the United Nations), Winston Lord (former assistant to Henry Kissinger), Frank Wisner (unofficially one of the bosses of the CIA and incidentally Nicolas Sarkozy’s stepfather) and Michèle Flournoy (the President of the Center for a New American Security. Then, Republicans Robert Zoellick (former head of the World Bank), Richard Armitage (former assistant to Colin Powell), Robert Kimmitt (probable next boss of the World Bank), and Richard Burt (former negotiator on the reduction of nuclear weapons).
For Secretary of Defense, Mr. Gelb offers Rabbi Dov Zakheim to manage budget cuts, Admiral Mike Mullen (former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Jack Keane (former Chief of Staff of the Army).
Finally, Mr. Gelb proposes that the national security strategy be developed in consultation with the four “wise men”: Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and James Baker.
Familiar names all, old wine in old bottles, the ruling class without pretense of new faces and ideas. And, as Thierry Meyssan notes in closing, it’s a fine mix of WASPs and Ashkenazi to replace some blacks who’ve been messing up.
Democrats, get out your moral superiority scripts again. Your house is under attack.