Sooner Or Later, You’ll Own Generals

That was a popular jingle in my youth, referring to a brand of tire. A Madison Avenue version of the old Jedi mind trick of suggestion. (It didn’t work on me, as I had opted for Dupont radials for my first car, a 1956 Austin Healy.)

Little did I know that a few decades later we’d be treated to a more literal version of the message, as depicted in Sunday’s New York Times expose’ Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand, which documents the role played by former military officers –“message force multipliers”– in selling the Iraq War and the following years of our bloody and costly occupation.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance…

That what’s known in the military PSYOPS biz as “perception management.” (For an analysis of some 50 specific examples of same, see former Army Intelligence officer Colonel Sam Gardiner‘s study “Truth From These Podia”, linked here. Gardiner speculates that these PSYOPs originated in former SEC DEF Donald Rumsfeld‘s Office of Strategic Influence, the subject of a study.

But it gets worse:

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.”

Now that really pisses me off. My own family has a proud tradition of military service. Both of my grandfathers served in World War I. Both my parents in WW II— my mom a nurse at Pearl Harbor and my dad a commander of an LST in the South Pacific (for which he was awarded two bronze stars). And a brother and sister-in-law that each put in 27 years in the Air Force. Makes me physically ill. . .

And what role did our vaunted Fourth Estate play in this Caligastian charade war crime? To say that the war was good for business is to state the obvious. All of the cable news networks profited enormously from the dramatic visuals provided by a ‘shock and awe’ campaign of heavy bombing and nose cone video missile strikes. Each had their own state of the art graphics intros accompanied by stirring martial theme music. CNN even bragged that all its “military experts” — i.e., salespeople– had the Pentagon’s Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, detailed in Normon Solomon‘s ” book/film War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death:

The man who ran CNN’s news operation during the invasion of Iraq is now doing damage control in response to a new documentary’s evidence that he kowtowed to the Pentagon on behalf of the cable network. His current denial says a lot about how “liberal media” outlets remain deeply embedded in the mindsets of pro-military conformity.

Days ago, Eason Jordan, the former CNN executive, publicly defended himself against a portion of the “War Made Easy” film (based on my book of the same name) that has drawn much comment from viewers since the documentary’s release earlier this summer. As Inter Press Service reported, the movie shows Jordan , “who, in an interview with CNN, boasts of the network’s cadre of professional ‘military experts.’ In fact, CNN’s retired military generals turned war analysts were so good, Eason said, that they had all been vetted and approved by the U.S. government.

As The Urantia Book puts it: Militarism is autocratic and cruel— savage.

But, hey— it’s good for business.

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