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Posts Tagged ‘Quincy Institute’

David Petraeus and the Art of Staying the Same | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 28, 2020

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/david-petraeus-and-the-art-of-staying-the-same/

David Petraeus hasn’t changed a bit.

There was some vexation over his invitation to speak at today’s Quincy Institute/Foreign Policy conference, considering the event, entitled, “A New Vision for America in the World” was widely seen as a coming out of sorts for the ascendent restrainers and non-interventionist movement in Washington. Quincy, having brought together the powerhouse backers of both the Koch and Soros orbits, is in a way a manifestation of this moment, and a real Left-Right alignment against the old world order.

In response to some of the negative Petraeus buzz, some suggested that his presence might indicate that he is “coming around” to the new foreign policy approach, that the place to be right now is among a growing consensus against endless, expeditionary wars, and for rethinking our role in the world.

His remarks Wednesday, however, put that rosy notion to rest, quick.

In short, the “sycophant savior” believes the U.S. still needs to be deployed abroad (including Afghanistan) to control terrorism; we “almost always have to lead,” and yes, this “campaign” can be forever, as long as we are willing to spend the blood and treasure to sustain it.

And he really, really doesn’t like the word “interventionism.”

“Are we ‘intervening’ by having 30,000 troops in Korea? What do you mean by intervention?” he quipped to Jonathan Tepperman, editor of Foreign Policy, who had gently raised the idea that the American public was ripe for new non-interventionist approaches. It was Petraeus’s first flash of real personality in the 30-minute exchange, but it came off a bit testy. He ticked off a few other “endless” (and ultimately positive) U.S. occupations, including Germany and Japan. The usual jive, and a non-starter with this crowd—they’d heard that tune before.

Plus, wasn’t this supposed to be about a “new vision for America in the world”? The problem with Petraeus, a former general and CIA director who spent years around yes-men and failed up into a lucrative consulting career for the military industrial complex, is that he hasn’t had to be “new” at anything. Like Wednesday, he sprinkles a few anecdotes about being “downrange” in the last six years of his military career, and how “nobody wants to end endless wars more than those who have been fighting endless wars,” before offering assessments and solutions that are barely distinguishable from what he has prescribed for audiences over the last decade. More importantly, there is no sense of enlightenment or growth. Just a stubborn adherence to the status quo.

His “big ideas” amount to the same old dogma. If we leave Afghanistan it will create a haven for terrorists. Like Iraq. Then we’ll have to do something about it. “The problems just don’t go away.”

“Generally the U.S. has to lead,” he said, because we spend more and have superior capability than anyone else in the world. He talked about global drone surveillance, like a paternalistic watchman in the sky. “Having said that, we have to have allies, coalitions… And we want Muslim coalitions. This is a fight for the heart of the Muslim world, this is an existential struggle.”

And, “you cannot counter terrorists with just counterterrorism operations.” There has to be a “comprehensive civilian-military campaign,” although “host nations” will be doing all the fighting and negotiating. In other words, we’ll continue to put our troops and contractors in vulnerable positions in places where really angry people want to kill us, begetting more angry people who want to kill us the longer we have a presence there, while pouring all of our resources down an interminable black hole. But if we don’t lose a lot of guys and no one feels the pinch in the pocketbook, “then people will regard it like the long commitment we’ve had in Korea.”

Was he so elevated at the end of his career, so disconnected that he did not see the devastating toll the multiple deployments had taken on our armed forces? Does he not acknowledge the PTSD, the toxic exposures, the brain injuries? The painful family separations? Sure the military has “sustained” its tempo over the years, but at what cost to the rank-and-file?

“I was wondering when he was going to say something ‘new,’ something we haven’t heard in the last 20 years,” charged Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spoke after Petraeus had made a beeline for the door, no time for questions from the audience. Khanna, unlike the man once referred to as “King David,” has only grown in stature as he has found common ground with other restrainers across the spectrum over the last two years. He even spoke at TAC’s foreign policy conference in 2018. And he stayed for questions.

There seems to be no other explanation for Petraeus’s presence here other than he provided a good foil for the non-interventionists who followed—Khanna, Will Ruger, Mark Perry, and others. We suppose someone thought he added a sheen to the proceedings, though there was really no opportunity for a “debate” as suggested. His appearance took place in a carefully controlled format—a “conversation” opposite a sympathetic host (Tepperman) who actually spent time afterwards “clarifying” some the ex-general’s comments for the audience (he’s a general, “not a politician”). Cue laugh track.

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here. He knew what we wanted to hear, and he couldn’t say it. It will take a very long time for someone like him to come over to our way of thinking (if ever) because his very identity, his livelihood, is tied to the old order and any new approach that would cut off lifeblood to his world is a threat.

There are countless men and women just like Petraeus in Washington. Quincy will have a hard time winning them over. And maybe that doesn’t matter, just as long as they know, at some point, that a new vision, is winning. His hasty exit today suggests that at some level, he knows that already.

UPDATE 2/27 : This Free Beacon article notes that Petraeus’s remarks drew serious fire from members of the Quincy Institute as well, and appears to confirm my own suspicions, that the ex-general was brought in by the Foreign Policy magazine partner, not Quincy.

Be seeing you

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Soros and Koch funding new ‘anti-war’ think tank— and we should probably be a little bit suspicious — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on July 6, 2019

…but given that organizations funded by Soros and Koch have spouted war-promoting propaganda to serve the US imperialist agenda for years, it’s a little difficult to see this sudden change of heart as entirely genuine. 

Very hard to believe. The game is afoot as the famous detective said.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/463405-soros-koch-anti-war/

Danielle Ryan

There’s a new “anti-war” think tank coming to town. It will promote a new US foreign policy — one based on diplomacy instead of sanctions and war. Sounds great, until you hear it’s being funded by Soros and Koch.

The ‘Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’ will oppose Washington’s “endless wars” and will “challenge the basis of American foreign policy in a way that has not been done in at least the last quarter-century,” according to co-founder Trita Parsi.

With financier George Soros coming from the left (though he’s hardly a real leftist) and industrialist Charles Koch coming from the right, everyone is supposed to applaud the bipartisan nature of the initiative. The Boston Globe called it “one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history” as though the two billionaire businessmen come from alternate universes.

The Globe notes that promoting an anti-war message is “radical notion,” given that nearly every major think tank in Washington currently promotes “some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism.”

To give credit where it’s due, this really is a radical notion — and the more the anti-war narrative begins to trickle into the mainstream, the better. If the Quincy Institute does what it says on the tin, most genuine anti-war activists and readers won’t quibble too much about where the think tank got its start-up cash. Soros and Koch have thrown $500,000 each into the pot…

In 2017, the Soros-funded ‘European Values’ think tank smeared 2,327 people as “useful idiots” for Russia for merely appearing on RT, in a McCarthyist-style attack on anyone deemed not to be sufficiently compliant with prevailing Western narratives.

Koch too has been linked to havoc-wreaking policies everywhere from Iraq to Venezuela. Despite supposedly opposing the Iraq war, independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone notes that Koch has been a major donor to the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, whose members are considered leading architects of the invasion.

The Quincy Institute is slated to launch in September and until it gets off the ground, it will be impossible to declare a final judgement on its work — but given that organizations funded by Soros and Koch have spouted war-promoting propaganda to serve the US imperialist agenda for years, it’s a little difficult to see this sudden change of heart as entirely genuine.

 

Be seeing you

war-is-peace

 

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New Soros/Koch-Funded Think Tank Claims To Oppose US Forever War – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on July 2, 2019

Just make a mental note of the information you have about it now, and pay attention to what’s happening when you see the words “Quincy Institute” in reports from the political/media class going forward.

 

Good news. Too good to be true.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/07/01/new-soroskoch-funded-think-tank-claims-to-oppose-us-forever-war/

If you were to have asked me what news reports I definitely did not expect to see when checking my news feed this morning, “Malignant plutocrats join hands across partisan divide to end America’s forever war” would probably have been among my first guesses. And yet, weirdly, here we are.

A new Boston Globe article titled “In an astonishing turn, George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US ‘forever war’ policy” reports that the two influential billionaires have chipped in a half a million dollars apiece to start a new DC think tank with the goal of doing the exact opposite of the sort of thing that billionaire-funded DC think tanks normally do.

“Besides being billionaires and spending much of their fortunes to promote pet causes, the leftist financier George Soros and the right-wing Koch brothers have little in common,” the report begins. “They could be seen as polar opposites. Soros is an old-fashioned New Deal liberal. The Koch brothers are fire-breathing right-wingers who dream of cutting taxes and dismantling government. Now they have found something to agree on: the United States must end its ‘forever war’ and adopt an entirely new foreign policy.”

“In concrete terms, this means the Quincy Institute will likely advocate a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and Syria; a return to the nuclear deal with Iran; less confrontational approaches to Russia and China; an end to regime-change campaigns against Venezuela and Cuba; and sharp reductions in the defense budget,” the article reads.

Responses to this news from Twitter’s blue-ticked commentariat have been largely supportive.

“Great to see that avoiding really stupid, costly wars has support across party lines,” tweeted author and professor Max Abrahms.

“Certainly understand skepticism of Soros and Koch money but with a platform of ending endless war and Trita Parsi at the helm, this sounds very promising and is sorely needed as we inch towards catastrophic nuclear war,” said journalist Dan Cohen.

“A new foreign policy think tank that will ‘promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing.’ YES PLEASE,” tweeted In The Now‘s Rania Khalek.

“Finally. A think tank that aims to fight the blob and endless war. Hope Stephen Walt will be involved,” tweeted foreign policy analyst Joshua Landis.

Others have been a touch more skeptical.

“Hi Joshua, I’ve got a bridge on sale. You seem very interested in buying such. Gimme a call,” Moon of Alabama tweeted at Landis.

Such skepticism is warranted. It is true that the Quincy Institute’s co-fouder Trita Parsi has been a vocal opponent of US imperialism towards Iran and elsewhere, but it is also true that the Kochs and Soros have both acted as toxic facilitators of US imperialism.

The report claims that the new think tank seeks an end to America’s regime change agenda in Venezuela, for example, yet investigative journalist Greg Palast reports that the Koch brothers have been a major driving force behind that very agenda. The group claims to seek a de-escalation against Syria, yet investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley and alternative media outlet Mintpress News have documented extensive ties between George Soros and the various NGOs and narrative management operations which have been facilitating the agenda of toppling Syria’s government.

In 2014 journalist Mark Ames observed that Soros “funded many of the NGOs involved in ‘color revolutions’ including small donations to the same Ukraine NGOs that Omidyar backed. (Like Omidyar Network does today, Soros’ charity arms—Open Society and Renaissance Foundation—publicly preached transparency and good government in places like Russia during the Yeltsin years, while Soros’ financial arm speculated on Russian debt and participated in scandal-plagued auctions of state assets.)”

Charles Koch has been a major donor to the Iraq-raping think tank American Enterprise Institute, which has returned the favor by aggressively churning out narrative management on the public image of the Koch brothers. George Soros is a major funder of the NATO narrative management firm Atlantic Council, which has been a driving force behind the campaign manufacturing consent for escalations against Russia, something the Quincy Institute claims to oppose.

So if you’re interested in viewing world events through a lens that is untainted by corrupt narrative management, some skepticism of this new Quincy Institute is not just appropriate, but absolutely required.

The term “think tank” almost always refers to a group of academics hired by plutocrats to come up with reasons why it is very good and smart to do something very evil and stupid, and then to market those reasons at key points of influence. They are key tools of narrative management for the billionaire class, and the interests of the billionaire class are rarely in alignment with those of ordinary people. This is especially true when said billionaires are operating in a bipartisan manner.

But the good news is that all we have to do to know the truth about this new group’s purposes is watch its behavior over time, and pay attention to who benefits from the narratives it ends up pushing. Just make a mental note of the information you have about it now, and pay attention to what’s happening when you see the words “Quincy Institute” in reports from the political/media class going forward. If this think tank is what it claims to be, we will see this proven over time in the effects it has on dominant narratives and government policy. If it isn’t, we’ll see that, too.

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