Why Brookings Institution & The Establishment Love Wars

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

America’s recent (at least since 2003) penchant for invasions of countries that haven’t invaded us (such as Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011) doesn’t come from ‘the masses’ (the public), but from “the classes” — from the billionaires who finance think tanks and other such ‘charities’, and who own (or otherwise control — such as via their companies’ advertising budgets) newsmedia. This is an “I’ll-scratch-your-back;-you’ll-scratch-mine” type of world — a transactional realm — that’s at the very top of American society.

On October 19th, Hillary Clinton’s longtime friend and former Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, who is now the President of the Brookings Institution, co-authored in The New York Times, along with a former Secretary General of NATO, an op-ed titled “The Decline of the West, and How to Stop It”, in which Russia was presented as an enemy of ‘the West’, and the only references that were made to Russia were these extremely hostile ones:

“Donald J. Trump … derided American allies and hailed an authoritarian leader, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who fears and tries to undermine Western solidarity. … Mr. Putin has all too successfully stoked the sense of peril and fear of failure in the West. The Kremlin is backing insurgent euroskeptic parties, bullying Russia’s neighbors and trying to undo sanctions imposed after its illegal annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine. Against such subversion, the NATO alliance needs beefing up to help prevent Europe’s political disintegration — and this must be a major priority for any incoming United States administration.”

In reality, Europe is choking with millions of refugees from America’s bombing of Libya and from America’s and its fundamentalist-Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, bombing and supply of jihadists into Syria, all to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, and yet NATO and Brookings are obsessed with Russia’s ‘subversion’ causing “Europe’s political disintegration,” which has been resulting far more from America’s bombings and support of jihadists, than it does from anything that Russia is doing, or has done.

That anti-Russian fear-mongering puff-piece for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, is The Establishment’s viewpoint, and it is sometimes referred-to as the neoconservative view, but it’s actually one-and-the-same viewpoint, regardless of whether it’s defined according to whom its presenters are, or instead according to their ideology. If you criticize that ideology, they won’t even consider to hire you — and any such aspiring career will be a no-go in both Washington DC and NYC. A person doesn’t become the head of the Brookings Institution, or the head of NATO, who disagrees with that viewpoint. They equate that viewpoint with “The West,” and it’s “our side.” Everybody else is ‘the enemy’, or else inconsequential. Though communism is gone, and the Soviet Union are gone, and its Warsaw Pact military alliance (which was created so as to mirror America’s NATO) is gone, the lands that had led the former communist sphere, Russia and China, are still being viewed by The Establishment to be ‘the enemy’ of ‘The West’, because otherwise America’s enormous military-contracting firms would need to contract themselves. They are, really, the tail that wags the American dog; they are in control of the U.S. federal government, if one is to judge by those results (those incredibly evil invasions, such as of Iraq, and Libya, and Syria — those ‘humanitarian’ invasions of nations that never invaded us).

Washington’s public relations operations for the military contracting firms that surround the U.S. Capitol aren’t by for-profit PR firms, so much as they’re by ‘non-profit’ foundations and think tanks, which present that ‘non-profit’ cover for their sales-promotion campaigns on behalf of the real beneficiaries: owners and top executives of these gigantic ‘defense’ contracting corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, and Booz Allen Hamilton. To be in the pay of such firms, and of their top investors, is to be in the pay of The Establishment, and doing its work, for American conquest.

Among the leading propagandists for invading Iraq back in 2002 were Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon, both with the Brookings Institution; and both propagandists still are frequently interviewed by American ‘news’ media as being ‘experts’ on international relations, when all they ever really have been is salesmen for U.S. invasions, such as that 2003 invasion, which destroyed Iraq and cost U.S. taxpayers $3 trillion+ or $4.4 trillion — benefiting only the few beneficiaries and their agents, such as the top executives of these ‘non-profits,’ which receive a small portion of the take, as servants usually do. 

More recently, Brookings’s Shadi Hamid headlined on 14 September 2013, “The U.S.-Russian Deal on Syria: A Victory for Assad,” and the PR-servant there, Dr. Hamid, argued that “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is effectively being rewarded for the use of chemical weapons, rather than ‘punished’ as originally planned. … Assad and his Russian backers played on Obama’s most evident weakness, exploiting his desire to find a way — any way — out of military action.  … One might be forgiven for thinking that this was Assad’s plan all along, to use chemical weapons as bait, to agree to inspections after using them, and then to return to conventional killing.”

Three weeks after that Brookings ‘expert’ had issued it, the great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann, on 7 October 2014, headlined and offered facts to the exact contrary at his nsnbc news site, “Top US and Saudi Officials Responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria,” and he opened by summarizing his extensive case: “Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry.” Then, on 14 January 2014, the MIT professor Theodore Postal and the former U.N. weapons-inspector Richard Lloyd performed a detailed analysis of the rocket that had delivered the sarin, and found that it had been fired from territory controlled by the anti-Assad rebels, not by Assad’s forces. Then, yet another great investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, bannered in the London Review of Books, on 17 April 2014, “The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels,” and he reported that what had actually stopped Obama from invading Syria was Obama’s embarrassment at British intelligence having discovered that Obama’s case against Assad regarding the gas attack was fake. Obama suddenly needed a face-saving way to cancel his pre-announced American bombing campaign to bring down the Assad government, since he wouldn’t have even the UK as an ally in it: 

“Obama’s change of mind [weakening his ardor against Assad] had its origins at Porton Down, the [British] defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff.”

Did Dr. Hamid or any other Brookings ‘expert’ ever issue a correction and make note of of their earlier falsehoods (which alleged Assad to have been the source of that gas-attack), or did they all instead hide this crucially important reality — that not only was the rocket fired from rebel territory but its sarin formula was different from that in Syria’s arsenals, and the actual suppliers were the U.S., Sauds, Qataris, and Turks — did they not correct their prior war-mongering misrepresentations, but instead hide the fact that the Obama allegations had been exposed to have been  frauds and that Obama himself had been one of the planners behind the sarin gas attack? They hid the truth.

Back on 14 June 2013, a Brookings team of Dr. Hamid, with Bruce Riedel, Daniel L. Byman, Michael Doran, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, had headlined, “Syria, the U.S., and Arming the Rebels: Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons and Obama’s Red Line,” and they alleged that, although “President Obama has been extremely reluctant to get involved in Syria,” “Regime change is the only way to end this conflict,” and they applauded the “confirmation that the Assad regime used chemical weapons in Syria,” but doubted that Obama would bomb Syria hard enough and often enough. None of them ever subsequently acknowledged that, in fact, they had misstated (been suckered by a U.S. government fraud, if even they had believed it), and that Obama actually drove this hoax harder than his Joint Chiefs of Staff had advised him to.

These are the U.S. aristocracy’s ‘experts’: basically Ph.D’d crass ‘non-profit’ (or at least tax-exempt, regarding Brookings and most of the other PR-fronts) war-mongers —  stenographers to power, who hide the truth, instead of report the truth.

And then, of course, there’s the secretive but proudly profit-making, part of this operation, where the really big money is made, and billionaires become multibillionaires:

Public Integrity’s report, “Investing in War: The Carlyle Group profits from government and conflict,” observes that, “From its founding in 1987, the Carlyle Group has pioneered investing in the defense and national security markets, and through its takeover of companies with billions of dollars in defense contracts became one of the U.S. military’s top vendors.” Carlyle Group is now “the largest private equity firm in the world,” as a result of such things as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the burgeoning terrorism and military responses to that — also profitable — which have followed in its wake. For example, ISIS started in Iraq in 2006, and has been a boon to Carlyle Group, as the U.S. drops bombs to address that problem. 

The military conflicts in Ukraine are also profitable to them, because that’s now yet another place where the U.S. sends weapons and advisors, after Obama’s February 2014 coup in Ukraine turned that country into a U.S. satellite against its neighbor Russia — which it hadn’t previously been — thus extending the U.S. aristocracy’s control even further.

In 2003, Dan Briody’s exposé The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group, described how the former Wall Street lawyer and advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, David L. Rubenstein, teamed up briefly with Stephen L. Norris, a senior executive of the Republican firm, Marriott Corporation, to create Carlyle Group, and to bring in as its leader the Republican Frank Carlucci, who had been U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s last Secretary of Defense and who privatized much of the Pentagon’s operation to Booze Allen Hamilton and other large firms. Carlucci brought in Reagan-Bush friend Fred Malek, and then George Herbert Walker Bush, George W. Bush, James Baker, Richard Darman, Fidel Ramos, John Major, and other believers in privatizing government and whose friends included many of the people to whom it became privatized. These people all live by their networking, and by the revolving door between private contractors and ‘public servants.’  

The “Annual Report 2015” from the Brookings Institution, opens with the “Co-Chairs’ Message,” on page 2, which is signed by Brookings’s co-chairmen, David L. Rubenstein and John L. Thornton. Thornton is a former Chairman of Goldman Sachs. Cheng Li is the Director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, and he attended the super-secretive Bilderberg meetings both in 2012 and in 2014, and so might have been Thornton’s agent there. Peter Sutherland, the Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, was also there. The main topic at the 2014 meeting was the war in Ukraine, but other wars were also on the agenda, such as Syria, and so were President Obama’s ’trade’ treaties: TPP, TTIP, and TISA. Other luminaries present at those secret discussions were Timothy Geithner, Eric Schmidt, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Charles Murray, etc., and Europeans such as Christine Lagarde and Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Perhaps some sales were made. In 2013, Jeff Bezos and Donald Graham met at the Bilderberg conference, and two months later, Bezos agreed to buy the Washington Post  from Graham. Less than a year after that, Bezos’s Amazon won the CIA-NSA cloud computing contract, vital to the U.S. military. Bezos’s most profitable operation has allegedly been that military contract, and the money-losing Washington Post  is a longstanding supporter of U.S. armed invasions, which require lots of cloud computing. For example: the WP was gung-ho for regime-change in Iraq in 2002, as well as, more recently, for bombing Libya, Syria, and the bombing in Ukraine’s civil war after the coup.

That Annual Report lists ten donors who gave “$2,000,000 and Above” during the prior year; and one of them was David M. Rubenstein, and another was John L. Thornton. Another was “Embassy of the State of Qatar,” Qatar being the fundamentalist Sunni chief financial backer of the fundamentalist Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, and also one of the two chief funders of the jihadist groups that are trying to take over the non-sectarian but mainly Shiite-ruled Syrian government. The Thani family that own Qatar want to run a pipeline through Syria, but they can’t do that unless a fundamentalist Sunni government takes over Syria. Also, the U.S. takeover of Ukraine disrupts Russia’s pipelining gas to Europe, which pipelines run mainly through Ukraine. So, Brookings is a major PR agency for that goal of boosting gas-sales by the Thanis, and cutting gas-sales by Russia.

During February 2015, Brookings issued a report from their team of Ivo Daalder, Michele Flournoy, John Herbst, Jan Lodal, Steven Pifer, James Stavridis, Strobe Talbott, and Charles Wald, titled, Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression, and it urged President Obama to increase the supply of U.S. weapons to the civil war in Ukraine. Strobe Talbott is a lifelong hater of Russia and of Russians; so, maybe he actually enjoys this shoddy shilling for mass-killing. But, anyway, their unstated shared assumption is false, that what overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 was a ‘democratic revolution’ and no U.S. coup that had been in preparation for a full year inside the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and inside the U.S. White House. Their basic underlying assumptions about what happened in 2014 in Ukraine and regarding Crimea’s separation from Ukraine, are all lies. So too, then, is the Strobe Talbott statement about Putin’s “bullying Russia’s neighbors and trying to undo sanctions imposed after its illegal annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine.” It’s The Establishment’s view; it’s the neoconservatives’ view; and it is a fraudulent view. (In fact: Putin told the independence fighters in “eastern Ukraine” that Russia rejected their application to become a part of Russia; so, The Establishment’s propaganda that Putin was trying to ‘conquer’ this region of Ukraine is totally fraudulent, even on that elementary basis.) But some people find it a very profitable view to present.

In fact, the aggression was altogether by the U.S. (and some of its allies), and all of the aggression in Ukraine was directed against Russia; so much so, for example, that on 3 February 2015, I headlined “Brookings Wants More Villages Firebombed in Ukraine’s ‘Anti Terrorist Operation’.” Firebombing villages is a rather aggressive action, and The Establishment wanted there to be more of it done than President Obama was willing to do. (After all: Obama had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. In ‘The West’, he’s too much ‘a man of peace’ — too much so for The Establishment, anyway.) Furthermore, some of Obama’s top generals were even more “hawkish” than Obama was, and were willing and eager to risk a war against Russia. (America’s NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Philip Breedlove there is quoted as telling Congress that Russia is “a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies.”) On the other hand, some of them (such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey) were terrified at how far this President was willing to go in a direction that they were convinced was likely to provoke Russia into responses that might provoke the U.S. and produce an uncontrollable downward spiral into World War III. (Dempsey’s successor, Joseph Dunford, says, much as NATO’s Breedlove does, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia.” Obama is now surrounded with the “hawkish” generals that he wants (Dempsey and other “doves” are gone), though Obama is not quite as “hawkish” (otherwise called “neoconservative”) as is his likely successor Hillary Clinton (who insists upon there being a “no-fly zone” imposed by the U.S. in Syria.) Brookings, like the rest of The Establishment, is with the “hawkish” generals, very much against the ones who are “doves.” Obama views himself to be a ‘centrist’, but that’s really a farther-right ‘center’ than the U.S. has known, perhaps ever. Anyway, The Establishment (and Hillary Clinton) are, indeed, to the right of Obama — wherever that is (perhaps off the cliff, falling into WW III, in order to avoid the “existential threat to the United States”). (Destroying the world in order to save it — or at least threatening to do that — is the ‘logic’ of their words, but a more strictly pecuniary logic might be the actual and true explanation behind their actions, since The Establishment really does control, through their agent-institutions.)

Saddam Hussein was friendly toward Russia. Muammar Gaddafi was friendly toward Russia. Bashar al-Assad was and is actually allied with Russia. Iran, and Shiite groups generally, are friendly toward Russia. Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected progressive President of Honduras, who was overthrown in a coup on 28 June 2009 that was supported and empowered by Hillary Clinton, was friendly toward Russia. But now The Establishment is going after Russia’s Vladimir Putin himself, whose Russian job-approval rating in even Western-generated polls taken throughout Russia is over 80%. To understand why they are doing this, see my “Understanding The Power-Contest Between Aristocracies”, and especially the earlier article I wrote that’s importantly linked-to there, “How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed the West”. In short: All U.S. Presidents after George Herbert Walker Bush’s Presidency have been following through with the operation that was begun by President Bush on the night of 24 February 1990, for the U.S. aristocracy ultimately to conquer Russia.

On October 18th, NBC News bannered “Team Clinton Has Spent 70% of Total Ad Money in ’16 Race”.

On October 22nd, Britain’s Guardian headlined “Russian bid for election observers is a stunt, says US state department”, and reported that, “Russia is welcome to send observers to the US presidential election, even if the requests smack of a propaganda stunt, the state department has said.” If there is to be rigging of the U.S. election, it has already happened. To observe the voting, or the vote-count, won’t expose that rigging (even if some of the vote-counts on paperless electronic voting machines might be switched in some crucial districts). But Putin is no fool: he already knows this.

Things are still at the political stage. Only in the subordinate lands (such as Iraq and Syria) is there massive bloodshed yet. And The Establishment has already eliminated most of Russia’s friends and allies. Perhaps the low-hanging fruit has thus already been taken. This is the likely reason why things are now gearing up for the military stage of the conflict between aristocracies: almost every important aristocracy has by now aligned itself with America’s. The expectation seems to be that Hillary Clinton will finish the job, even if some of The Establishment’s vassal-aristocracies will go neutral before WW III starts in earnest. And The Establishment have been betting heavily on her. They know the contestants very well, and prefer her overwhelmingly, even by perhaps the biggest ratio ever in American history, near unanimity — far more than 70%. After all, she has a much larger proportion of her take coming from donors above $200 than does her opponent. The 30% that’s paying for her opponent’s ads is coming mainly from small donors. The big-dollar donors know what they’re buying; the small-dollar ones generally do not. And at least some of the biggest-dollar donors have already purchased super-luxury deep-underground bomb-shelters (nuclear bunkers), an increasingly popular form of ‘insurance policy’ to enable them to control the world after The War is over.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.