Thursday, May 24, 2012

Command and control of our national discourse

The DoD’s five regional centers for strategic studies are of critical importance to the US military apparatus, and are a direct intellectual and strategic advisory support to the now six regional unified commands. They regularly produce a wide range of reports and strategy recommendations. NESA staff members, for example, have published a prolific array of materials since the founding of the institute in 2000 (Lawrence 2008). Their academic productions reflect an evidently broad strategy in targeting different audiences, ranging from monographs, book chapters and conference papers, to security journal articles, military briefing papers, and mainstream op-eds and commentaries. This is hardly surprising of course; the DoD, after all, has been fully versed in the power and import of discourse for some time.
--John Morrissey, Department of Geography, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland  (p. 442)
From CENTCOM (motto: We own the oil) to NORTHCOM (motto: Mother of all launch platforms) to AFRICOM (motto: Just when you thought the colonial era was over) to EUCOM (motto: Nice place for a tactical nuclear war) to PACOM (motto: Rule, America, America rule the seas) to SOUTHCOM (motto: Hola, hand over your resources) to STRATCOM (motto: Crear dos, tres, muchos Darth Vaders), the imperialist agenda of US-based corporate culture could not easily sustain itself without a shadow army of intellectuals exerting their expertise first in an honestly imperial manner to each other and to political and military commanders, but then in a different way to the public. It's called propaganda.

The creation and growth of the rightwing militaristic pro-predatory capitalist intelligentsia is well known. Special university chairs--endowed with funds and an ideological agenda--and rightwing think tanks, as well as individual professors and 'independent' researchers, all produce the data and recommendations that help guide imperial actions, but they also reconfigure their rationale into justifications that resonate with the general public.

Thus we have the spread of democracy, humanitarian interventions, right to protect, defense of freedom, war on terror, war on drugs, free trade, human rights, and other laudable goals co-opted to serve an agenda for the owner class, the corporate control elite, also known as the conflict industry. These are the people who get rich off of others' misery and tell us through their academic shills and prostitutes that they are patriots.

Blunting that endowed onslaught isn't easy. We have needed to create alternative media, social media, and our own distribution attempts to mainstream Americans in order to begin to change the national discourse. We are overmatched in every respect. Taxpayers are forced to fund the Pentagon, which spends more on messaging and propaganda than it spends in military aid to Israel--close to $5B per year. That money, added to corporate and wealthy donor support for the military industrial complex, can buy some of the smartest intellectual firepower. It can even sidetrack conscience. Many academics who knew better in the late 2002-early 2003 timeframe said nothing to mainstream Americans about the Big Lies leading to the invasion of Iraq. Many of those peace educators knew they risked getting fired if they spoke out too publicly and they weren't ready for that risk.

So we continue to slide toward war with Iran and we hope US academic smartypants will jump in and say the obvious, describe the stupidity and clearly unjustifiable nature of that idea, and help cause public opinion to shift strongly against such a disastrous policy play. Some spoke up last time about Iraq, just as some spoke out against the US military in Vietnam. Some have spoken for a long time and have kept that flame lit. We hope and we help.


Lawrence J D (2008) Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies: Building
relationships, enhancing security. Joint Force Quarterly 50:105–108.

John Morrissey (2011). Architects of Empire: The Military–Strategic Studies  Complex and the Scripting of US National Security. Antipode, 43(2) 435–470. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2010.00774.x

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