When I was growing up the Cold War against the Soviet Union was driven by conservatives, who were convinced that communism was an existential threat to capitalism and indeed the American way of life.
These days the Cold War 2.0 has been supercharged by liberals who believe that their bête noire–Donald Trump–was installed via Russian machinations.
There’s a reason for that. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, much of the Democratic Party, (which has largely become the political party of wealthy, liberal professionals), has become dangerously suffused with the kind of unthinking Russophobia that throughout earlier decades had characterized the GOP.
And since 2016, the Russophobia has gone into hyperdrive along with a liberal bellicosity that if wasn’t so tragic it would be darkly comedic. These days liberals oppose any foreign policy decision simply because Trump proposes it. Withdraw from Syria? Seek a peace settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan or a deal with North Korea? Most liberals look at these quite sensible proposals not on their merits, but simply on the basis that Trump has made them–and instantly rail against them, usually with some sort of reference to the evil Putin’s malign intention.
Even worse is that liberals have bought into the narrative that the military/intelligence bureaucrats who make up the national security establishment, know best. Though President Trump’s promises to end wars and question expensive alliances were quite popular with the electorate, in the view of many in the national security establishment, elections do not bestow constitutional legitimacy, and that “the adults” will make foreign policy, thank-you-very-much.
The impeachment hearings over Ukraine are a case in point. Witness after witness has made the bizarre claim that Ukraine is a “frontline-state” crucial in the struggle against Russian aggression and that Trump, by withholding anti-tank missiles, was threatening US national security. Here’s just a small taste of the cray-cray from Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor. We need to arm Ukraine “so they fight the Russians there and we don’t have to fight them here” and we remain “that shining city on the hill.”
Delusional doesn’t even quite capture this mindset.
In a different time, a liberal opposition movement might be raising concerns of its own about war-profiteering phone calls; or the merits of fueling a war on the borders of the world’s other top nuclear power; or doing so in a way that arms and empowers far-right forces incorporated within the Ukrainian military. Instead, Democrats have been enlisted to champion that proxy war and the coffers of the military firms that profit from it.
I think it’s a feature rather that a bug but the first Cold War and now Cold War 2.0 allows the military/industrial/complex (MIC) to organize the US economy in ways that are detrimental to the vast majority of Americans. The Raytheons, Boeings, Lockheed Martins, Northrup Grumman’s? They just love the prospects of the profits that Washington’s forever wars can keep on bringing.
I wonder, in fact, if MIC profits aren’t truly the reason for the impeachment proceedings?
In closed-door testimony, Pentagon official Laura Cooper revealed that concern about the frozen military funding arose after the defense department heard complaints from the funding’s prime beneficiaries: weapons manufacturers. After mid-August, Cooper said, “various folks in the Department started to get phone calls from industry”—the military industry that wanted its weapons purchased. “All of these US firms that were implementing [the weapons sales to Ukraine]—they were getting concerned,” Cooper added. So was the US Chamber of Commerce, which called her as well.
The corporate media has played a huge role in fueling the Russophobia. They’ve told us repeatedly that it’s important to avoid “fake news”, Russian media or conspiracy theorists. We must only trust those reputable news outlets who tell us that neoliberalism is working fine, that US foreign policy is perfectly sane, and that Donald Trump is a secret Manchurian-candidate controlled personally by Vladimir Putin.
Fake news, indeed.
The difference between the old Soviet or East German state media and our modern corporate media is that in state media the government controls what information the public is given about what’s going on in the world in order to prevent political dissent, whereas in the corporate media this is instead done by 6 media corporations that are owned by billionaires. Any attempt to understand the world which fails to take into account the fact that extremely powerful people are pouring massive amounts of money and resources into manipulating your understanding of the world will necessarily result in a distorted worldview.
In my opinion, it’s been a vast open-air experiment in social manipulation.
Human experience is dominated by mental narratives, so if you can control the dominant narratives in human society, you control human society itself. And, it’s not like our narrative managers are not skilled. They’ve deployed a toxic mix of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World, with an all- encompassing surveillance state, a populace amused to death by their electronic gadgets and oligarchs implementing every propaganda technique ever conceived by Edward Bernays and the Creel Commission.
During the first Cold War they trained conservative rats to run through the Red-Scare maze, while with the Cold War 2.o, it’s the liberal rats turn to navigate the Russian “fake news” labyrinth. The new narrative is–be a good little liberal rat and embrace the worldview of the MIC, worship the CIA and FBI, and we’ll see what we can do about deposing the evil Orange-One.