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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin in talks earlier this year. (Photo: NBC News)

Full Spectrum Dominance: US Policy From Iraq to Ukraine

The co-opting of the western press and the looming suicide of the European Union

Thomas S. Harrington

Last Saturday, Angela Merkel went to Kiev to pledge increased financial and political support for the coup-installed regime's war against separatist forces in the eastern and largely Russian-speaking part of Ukraine.

Seldom in recent history—and that is saying a lot—have we witnessed a more transparently stupid, and in the final analysis, suicidal act of statecraft.

Despite what you might have heard or read over the last six months, the goings on in Ukraine have virtually nothing to do with democracy or Putin's supposed desire to reconstruct the Soviet Union, and everything to do with the US need to eke out a few more years of world hegemony by sowing chaos among the nations, or emerging coalitions of nations, it sees as having any ability to put a check on its now largely unchecked military and financial power.

As Putin's advisor, Sergei Glaziev, said in a wonderfully succinct manner a few days ago, this is all about the US desire to destroy the peaceful, and until now, quite mutually beneficial set of relations between post-Soviet (and post-Yeltsin) Russia and the nations of the EU.

Why would the US want to do that?

Because the idea of an increasingly integrated economic space stretching from Lisbon to the Kamchatka Peninsula, scares the daylights out of the geopolitical strategists in Washington and New York, as well as their friends in the London poodle pound.

They realize that if peace and commerce were to continue to break out in this way, it could lead, in a relatively short period of time, to the end of the dollar's reign as the world's reserve currency, a change that would lead, in turn, to the end of the US's ability to bully others, especially the Chinese, into pumping up our economy by buying our increasingly valueless—on the level of intrinsic economic production—financial instruments.

The answer? Drive a wedge between Putin and the Europeans by instigating a Civil War in Ukraine, a war which, for readily evident historical and cultural reasons, is virtually guaranteed to provoke the vigorous involvement of Russia. With Russia bogged down in this way, the emerging system of Eurasian integration, sketched out briefly above, will be stopped in its tracks, letting the militarily straightjacketed and grossly indebted US ignore the fact of its terminal decline for another day.

One can see how the pack of cocksure and deeply ignorant arrivistes making foreign policy in the Obama administration, entranced by the apparent urbanity of the geriatric and preternaturally Russian-hating Brzezinski, might sign on to such a scheme.

But Merkel?

How could this woman, who spent the first decades of her life in the deeply layered absurdity the Communist East Germany, not see through the ruse, and to the funereal effects it is not only bound, but designed, to have on the 300 million person European social, political and economic project she currently leads in her capacity as German chancellor?

Is she simply dumb? Or could it be, as some have suggested, that the US intelligence agencies had their maws into her neck for a very long time, starting well before they had the ability to read all her email and listen in on all of her phone calls?

As I am ultimately unable to substantiate or deny whether she truly is dim and/or a long-standing asset of the US, I can only speculate about her behavior in this and other crucial matters on the basis of something I do understand: the rapidly changing information environment in Europe, and more specifically, the dramatically increased ability of the US government-media complex to sell its simplistic master narratives regarding “how the world works” to the most educated sectors of continental society.

Over the last thirty years, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Europe. During the first two-thirds of that period, one of the greatest joys of my days there was reading the continental press.

During the eighties, when Michael Deaver, Reagan's image man, was waging his wildly successful battle to neuter the oppositional vocation of US journalists, and with it, their desire and ability to transmit complex problems and ideas to the citizenry, the quality papers of Europe were still refreshingly irreverent, and quite suspicious of established power.

For example, during this time many writers at El País, practically all of whom had grown up under the heavy-handed Catholic moralizing of the Franco regime, delighted in referring to Pope John Paul II, solely by his last name of Wojtyla.

It was their way of declaring themselves free of one of the oldest and most successful controlling techniques of the established political class: insulating themselves from critique by forcing citizens to address them through the always highly protective screens of “decorum” and “protocol”.

They were especially suspicious of US claims to be, as many now like to say, “a unique force of good in the world”. Columns in mainline papers of both the center left and the center-right in countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, and yes even in Great Britain (in the Independent and the Guardian) would regularly and quite frontally take issue with the US foreign policy prescriptions, especially those enacted in Latin American and the Middle East.

It is precisely within this then still extant ideological frame that the French center-right politician, Dominique de Villepin, made his impassioned plea for peace—and against US war-mongering—at the he UN in March of 2003.

Shortly thereafter, however, all this began to change. Just as intelligent people in the US were figuring out just how corrupted by their relationship to power our mainstream media—with its pompous and hollow invocations of “neutrality” and “balance”—truly were, the prestigious European papers began to ape the New York Times and its ever more aggressive efforts to narrow the parameters of “responsible” opinion in accord with the desires of the financial and military elites in New York and Washington.

Put another way, just as the more critically engaged readers here were coming to understand the need for truth-seeking, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may, “opinion Journalism” of the type perhaps best exemplified by Glenn Greenwald, Europeans began a headlong rush to abandon their long and quite fruitful adherence to the very same tradition.

Returning to Spain and El País, this change was symbolized the rise of people like Moisés Naim, a one time minister in the kleptocratic government of Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela who has recast himself as a great and wise international strategist, and the enforced marginalization, at the same time, of people like Maruja Torres, a fervent iconoclast who, not coincidentally perhaps, also happens to have a long and passionate attachment to the Arab world and to Arab culture.

This transformation was capped off last May when the paper named Antonio Caño to be its managing editor. In the ten years spent as El País’s Washington bureau chief prior to this appointment, he never met a day-old New York Times, trope, cliché or story line that he did not think was worthy of being retransmitted without modification to the good folks back in Spain.

At the outset of the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld and his closest advisors used to talk a lot about their desire to achieve “full spectrum dominance.” I think it is fair to say that most people hearing about this idea then envisaged its application terms of advanced military hardware and/or the strategic basing of US troops around the world. Few, I think, thought of the term primarily in the context of information warfare.

However if we recall a famous anonymous quote (widely believed to have been uttered by Karl Rove) from an article by Ron Susskind in the October 17th, 2004 issue of the NYT Sunday magazine, we would perhaps be well-advised to begin viewing Rumsfeld’s stated aspirations through this prism.

In that piece, the unnamed White House aide said: “'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

“We create our own reality.” Is there any phrase more apt to describe what is going on in Ukraine?

There, the US engineered a coup with the help of self-professed Nazis and then openly supported the same Nazi-infested coalition in its efforts to provoke a bloody civil war on the doorstep of one of its two remaining strategic rivals in the world.

And this has been widely and successfully sold in to European progressives—in a way that would have been flatly unthinkable as recently as ten years ago—as a case of brutal Russian aggression!

The European press has always had it pro-American stooges, or as they are called in polite language, fervent Atlanticists, ready to spread the core postulates of the US (and by extension, Israeli) worldview to their readers. I am thinking here of the people like Joseph Joffe and the ever-ridiculous ball of vanity and intellectual superficiality known as Bernard-Henri Lévy.

But for much of the last three decades, they constituted but one current among many other competing strains in the European press.

Since approximately 2004, however, their specific gravity within European opinion-making apparatus—as evidenced by the changes at El País and other similar “liberal” media outlets—has increased dramatically. Now simplistic American assumptions about who is bad and who is good once chuckled at on the continent, are the new normal in the editorial boards Europe’s “prestige press”.

And because of this, the US can now impose its invented “imperial realities” upon Europe’s citizenry with relative ease.

In such an environment, only the most intellectually confident and morally steadfast politicians (a minuscule class in today’s Europe) can resist the need address the pressing “truths” invented in Washington.

Hence, the recent pledges of love and support from Chancellor Merkel to the US puppet in Kiev, Petro Poroshenko.

I cannot explain exactly how this dramatic transformation in the European opinion-making system was effected. But in light of what we now know from the Snowden revelations, I would not be at all surprised if, at some time in the not too distant future, we find that the US poured enormous clandestine resources into a concerted drive to make this crucial change in “consensus management” take place.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Thomas S. Harrington

Thomas S. Harrington

Thomas S. Harrington is professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of Public Intellectuals and Nation Building in the Iberian Peninsula, 1900–1925: The Alchemy of Identity (Bucknell University Press, 2014).

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