The GOP fiddles while America burns
Democracy doesn't die in darkness, but in the GOP platforms and ideology
This will be as purposefully blunt, as I can make it. I do this not for political reasons, but because we are facing the most significant threats to Western Liberal Democracy and US National Security, since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I am that last person to employ hyperbole and today, I will try to weave together a most complicated narrative of how the GOP is the most severe threat to us, bar none.
No, I am not rallying support for any other party or movement. Does this mean that Republicans are all bad? Of course not. They have though, been manipulated by foreign and domestic professional influencers to believe in a Republican ideology that is extremist, not conservative. This means that the party itself, its leadership and the oligarchical enablers are. This and the lemming-like subservience programmed into GOP voters, is what puts American and western democracy on the edge of the dangerously high cliff.
This threat is so dire, that I am even going to dispense with my normally required, political disclaimer. This is not time to panic but it is a time for resolve, based on true US values and the integrity of our system, under attack from adversaries like Putin, Xi, global far-right extremism and yes, the US manifestation of all of these, the MAGA dominated GOP.
While that there are too many specific threats to name and present evidence for, I will focus briefly on the most prominent. Each of these I have written on previously and will include specific links to those pieces, in order to provide deep background.
These most acute threats are, and in order of priority as we begin the New Year:
The GOP which includes the global, far-right movement
A forty-year failure of the US national security community to protect the minds of American citizens from malign influence and worse, a collective inability to project US and NATO values around the world.
There are several subcategories under each but today’s brief outlook, will only highlight these subordinate threats, as necessary.
In the years since Jerry Falwell and the “Immoral Majority,” Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, the GOP has become ever-increasingly an extremist movement, not a political party. It has been a long series of un-American culture wars that FOX News and others have used to “condition” Republican voters to believe that today’s GOP ideology, is actually conservative. It is not.
In the interim, the party itself has not pursued policy that enables a strong, progressing American democracy, but has been consolidating power behind Oligarchs such as big oil, big Pharma, Health Insurance providers, a handful of major airlines, big tech etc. This had led to far more lobbying dollars poured into campaigns that provide tax relief and a variety of other programs that keep a majority of workers living beneath or just above a level of “just making it.” Perhaps, it is time for another Teddy Roosevelt or another “Trust Buster.”
Today’s Republican values are not, conservative values. On January 4th, I wrote a long, detailed comparison of principled conservatism vs today’s GOP extremist ideology. I compared excerpts of Eisenhower’s 1956 platform against the 2022 TX GOP Midterm platform. President Eisenhower was in my opinion the last truly principled conservative with some recognition going to POTUS Bush, 41 as well. I would have used the National GOP platform, but they have declined to write one and still depend on their 2016, culture war version.
The problem with Culture wars for policy, which exists on a steady diet of conspiracy theories and fake patriotism, is that today’s Republicans believe that they are being patriotic due to their psychological “conditioning” by thirty years of FOX News lies and Narrative Warfare against actual US values. This has made their responses to deceitful politicians like the proverbial “sleeper” agents of Cold War movie fame. They are subconsciously triggered to respond to anything coming from their favorite narrators, like FOX, NewsMax, Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, The Daily Caller, Epoch Times, etc.
Articles that support this section:
MAGA is pure blasphemy, pursuing theocracy and the evil adversary of democracy. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Being a Republican today, doesn’t make you a Conservative (truthaboutthreats.com)
US media, please stop calling the MAGA crowd conservatives (truthaboutthreats.com)
MMP: Mapping the Global Far-Right | FSI (stanford.edu)
It’s no longer Liberal vs. Conservative… It’s reality vs detachment from it. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Make no mistake, Putin’s Russia is the most aggressive and dangerous nation on the planet. Putin is increasingly unbalanced and like the proverbial cornered animal, exceptionally dangerous. It’s really difficult to characterize, just how evil Russia’s behavior is at this moment. His grotesquely incompetent military, once considered to be formidable is being beaten into submission by a courageous Ukraine with the support of NATO. This is as unified as NATO has been in decades and a real bright spot in global security. Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine are also genocidal in intent and practice.
Up until the GOP took control of the House of Representatives, the US was living up to our commitments to supply Ukraine with all they need to save themselves, their nation, their democracy. What most do not understand, Ukrainians are also fighting dying to protect Western Liberal Democracy from having to fight this war themselves. With now Speaker Johnson in charge of the House of Representatives, the US is being held hostage by the extremist GOP, who flatly refuse to fund Ukraine.
In comparison, during WW II, the US was a primary manufacturer for supplying allied nations with weapons, logistics of all kinds and a logistical network to continue fighting fascism. Today, the GOP is enabling Putin’s fascism by denying our allies their needs. This should come as no surprise due to the fact that they voted nearly 95% percent of the time with the traitorous former POTUS, the orange guy.
Trump to this day still praises Putin’s and other authoritarian rogue nations, rather than democratic nations we have treaties with. During his presidency he did all possible to denigrate NATO and there is plenty of evidence that had he been reelected that he would have made every effort to withdraw the US from NATO. I will make this brutally simple for everyone. Withdrawing from NATO only benefits Putin, Xi and other dictators and despots. Yes, it is that simple.
Russia without massive oil reserves, would already be a third-rate nation. Oil is what keeps US and other oil producing nations liked OPEC+ tolerant of Putin. It’s really all about oil markets. Yes, big oil spends overwhelmingly more with GOP campaigns than otherwise.
For rational people, nothing more needs to be said about how evil Putin and his henchmen are.
It is no secret that Xi’s China is a serious, long-term threat. What too many also do not realize is that he’s also now, Putin’s senior partner. Like any Mafia-like organization, the big bosses pull strings to make underlings do as they need. These orders or directions often don’t need to be stated because once you’re “in” the rules are already understood. Think of Xi’s, Putin’s the Terrorist Theocrats in Tehran, the Houthis, Hamas, Hezbollah and others as a large, global crime syndicate. They all know that Xi is the Don and everyone owes him favors.
Putin in particular owes Xi… “yugely.” Trump owed Putin, yugely. Tehran owes both and a large number of extremist groups of all ideologies globally, owe all of them yugely. Hence, Hamas’ barbarian massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th.
Here’s the lineup. Xi needs a stable Middle East as a key element of his BRI/ Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI is the key strategy for Xi’s China Dream Strategy which has as milestones, regional hegemony by 2035 and global domination by 2049.
Key corridors of Xi’s BRI run straight through Ukraine and Russia. One of the key maritime corridors is the NSR/ Northern Sea Route which runs along Russia’s Arctic shoreline. China is heavily invested in this project with Putin, along with Northern oil reserves and extensive commercial fishing routes. To make matters worse, China could have enormous commercial shipping advantages by having exclusive rights to NSR shipping lanes. Yes, Xi needs a cooperative Putin that “owes” him.
Since China is the nation that saved Putin’s hindquarters when his forces fell apart in Ukraine, everyone in the syndicate knows… how much Putin owes Xi. This collaboration could hardly be more dangerous for the RBIO, or Rules-Based, International Order. In other words, the global system of laws, policies, treaties etc. that has kept the world from another major conflict since the end of WW II, is the primary target to completely alter, for Xi and his sycophant/Tributary nations. Or in other words, his China Dream.
When the GOP supports Putin, they are also and even more dangerously, supporting Xi, who is a larger threat.
A thoroughly incompetent US and Western National Security community regarding influence.
I originally had another category called, civics and history but will weave this into the final section that is highly critical of the US national security community in what I consider our most CV or “critical vulnerability.” This term has special significance in military planning but due to this sometimes-unintelligible language of the military, I will simply say this; “a CV is one or more of a handful of issues, deficiencies or weaknesses that an enemy could take advantage of to achieve a substantial victory.” In even simpler terms, a CV is the weakest link that could kill you.”
The CV that I am talking about is influence. During the Cold War, the Soviets and now the Russians used what was called Active Measures (influence campaigns) to weaken their primary adversaries, the US and NATO. One key component is called “reflexive control.” Reflexive control is easier to understand if we all remember from high school science class, Pavlov’s dog. To make this crystal clear, “reflexive control” is a form of “conditioning.” During the Cold War a term that was popular, albeit inaccurate was “brainwashing.”
I hope that Pavlov and his fans will forgive my over-simplified explanation of his ground-breaking work that follows. Pavlov, in order to prove conditioning can repeatedly achieve a predictable response in people, experimented with his dog. He would daily ring a bell when feeding the same dog. He would observe that saliva would appear when the dog was fed. Over time, the dog would also salivate simply when the bell was rung, even without the food in sight.
During the Soviet and now Russian influence operations against the US and NATO nations, Putin’s thugs would use this process to make certain elements of western society react to controlled stimuli. FOX News in the US has been the primary feeder of this stimuli over thirty years. This in conjunction with their strategy to create schisms in western society, in order to pit them against themselves they have used a variety of methods, but none paid off more than allying themselves in the Newt Gingrich/ Jerry Falwell era to exploit the culture wars that are so common today.
In 2016, Russia did the same to Britain as the US, and created a massive schism over Brexit while simultaneously supporting and helping to create and disseminate the culture wars that they had seeded over decades. Those culture wars divided and still divide our nation dangerously. In fact, 2016 was the first time that a foreign adversary attacked the US that we did not rally together and fight to save democracy. Russia, in conjunction with the MAGA GOP worked side by side with Russian narratives, themes and messages. Yes, as most of you know, these influence operations are the very core of my professional experience.
What Russia and the power-hungry GOP sycophant politicians achieved, was “reflexive control” over half of US voters, the GOP. This still exists and in fact, has now worsened because the US national security community refuses to succeed in the profession of influence. On a more professional note, all this talk of reflexive control and Active Measures, is what is actually called, Narrative Warfare and the primary expertise of our Think/ Do Tank, Narrative Strategies.
I won’t beat this issue to death here because I have written extensively on it before. The links to several aspects of this critical vulnerability can be found after my short summary of the issue.
The US national security community, since the end of the Cold War and somewhat before has given up on influence operations. Sure, they say they are capable but outside of niche areas within the community, this is utterly false. To make matters worse, there are damn few actual operators left to ask and especially who are partnered with cutting edge academic expertise. At risk of a shameless plug for Narrative Strategies, we are the only Think/ Do Tank that is cutting edge in both Academic rigor and operational experience.
The community, after forty years of failure still rehashes antiquated concepts and doesn’t campaign. They sell useless gibberish called doctrine for high-paying contracts within the defense community and still, achieve nothing. Their obsession with technology is important but nearly useless in its current form. This is because they fail to acknowledge that influence is a human, not machine endeavor. Together it could be powerful but still, even coupled, there is zero operational mechanism with the defense architecture that could effectively campaign.
We throw hundreds of millions at this CV regularly, maybe more and still get almost nothing in return. The problem with paying for failure is that we are now at least two generations behind our worst adversaries like Russia and China, who actually campaign. Under the category of “even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes,” they will figure this out before us.
Western Liberal Democracy has shrunk precipitously in the past four decades. The primary reason is that we have zero idea how to ethically influence in support of democracy and morality. Do we really want to have to leave control of the world to thugs like Putin and Xi or in the future worse? This of course is a rhetorical question.
The situation is dire my friends and with the GOP predictably triggered by adversarial narratives, conspiracy theories plain ole lies. I would even say that righting the ship of democracy is harder than ever. Domestically, it is the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI who have the job of protecting the nation from outside adversaries. Neither have clue about what to do. The State Department has the reins for what the US says to the outside world and they have no budget. The Pentagon has the budget but are the most dysfunctional of all.
The men and women within the fields that support what should be campaigning in ethical influence, are brilliant, motivated and ready to get in the game. Sadly, decision-makers are the ones hobbling them with antiquated training, concepts, authorities and most of all, gross incompetence in sorting out an operational architecture that permits our courageous forces to operate with agility and excellence.
In one last thought, sadly, it is the GOP that has preempted any effort to protect the US from mis and disinformation. Professionally, this would be more accurately called false narratives and the messaging that supports them but then again, national defense leadership, is the problem, not part of the solution.
If we cannot do anything else, it is up to US citizens to act like the Minutemen at the beginning of our War of Independence, and just do the job ourselves. That’s how we shut down Russian exploitation of US voters by the party that represents Russian and oligarchical interests, not US. Yes, the GOP.
For further reading on this topic:
Combat ineffective, the rusted, broken hulk of US Influence Operations (truthaboutthreats.com)
The US National Security Community has left us a critical vulnerability in US national security. (truthaboutthreats.com)
A Five Point Strategy to Oppose Russian Narrative Warfare (truthaboutthreats.com)
Protecting our nation from Mis and Disinformation, requires true expertise at Ethical Influence (truthaboutthreats.com)
Well, this is a lot to digest but our future as a functioning democracy, requires that we all invest in righting our ship and based on the intentions of our founders, not Russia’s.
My very best for the rest of your week,