Anyone wondering why war propaganda always carries the day and always succeeds? Anyone wondering why Afghanistan is such a disaster?
As the Washington Post reports, neo-conservative warmongers supreme Fred Kagan and his wife Kim — members of the famed “think tank brigade” — were granted unprecedented access and authority to manage the Afghan war by General David Petraeus, including being granted the highest level security clearances and bypassing the general’s team of military advisers — and even the White House.
From the article’s description of the Kagan’s obsession with reading “SCI” level classified material, which can only be accessed in specially designed rooms:
“They’d spend hours in there,” said one former senior civilian official at the headquarters. “They talked about how much they loved reading intel.”
No doubt they loved to share, as well.
Hailing from, respectively, the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (as in how to get us in more of them), the Kagans’ prescription for success in Afghanistan was predictable: more. More surges, more troops, expand the war. If you withdraw troops we will trash you and the war. Fred Kagan played a similar role for President Bush: he was the biggest cheerleader for the Iraq “surge.” We all know how that is going.
The neo-cons are a resilient bunch, however. They are never discouraged by their failures. In fact, even though their every foreign policy prescription has been an utter disaster they continue to claim the right to direct US foreign policy. When the Iraq war was wound down — at least in terms of the US troop presence — over Fred’s objection, onward to Afghanistan!
When Petraeus’s predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, got uppity about allowing these neo-cons special access and influence on Afghanistan, Fred fired off a threatening e-mail hinting that he would go to the press to trash McChrystal’s efforts if the Kagans were not allowed to maintain their exalted positions. Some might call it blackmail, the Kagans likely preferred call it “soft power.” McChrystal relented on that occasion, but considering the ignominy that eventually befell the General, perhaps Kagan had the final word after all…
The Kagans nobly refused compensation from the US government for their “services” to Petraeus (though they still collected their enormous think tank salaries). Said Fred, with a scrape and a flourish, “There are actual patriots in the world. It was very important to me not to be seen to be profiting from the war.”
But profit they did.
As the Post article explains:
For Kim Kagan, spending so many months away from research and advocacy work in Washington could have annoyed many donors to the Institute for the Study of War. But her major backers appear to have been pleased that she cultivated such close ties with Petraeus, who went from Kabul to head the CIA before resigning this fall over his affair with Broadwell.
At the August 2011 dinner honoring Petraeus, Kagan thanked executives from two defense contractors who sit on her institute’s corporate council, DynCorp International and CACI International. The event was sponsored by General Dynamics. All three firms have business interests in the Afghan war.
In 2012, General Petraeus generously agreed to speak to a high-dollar donor dinner at Kim Kagan’s pro-war think tank — reinforcing to her military contractor donor base that she could deliver the goods. Said Petraeus at the dinner, perhaps tongue only partly in cheek: “There’s some suspicion that there’s a hand up my back, and it makes my lips talk, and it’s operated by one of the Doctors Kagan.” Creepy — and dangerous.
The Kagans’ additional compensation in return for their demand for more troops and more war, was provided, no doubt lavishly, by the very military industrial complex that profits from the wars. It is a game similar to foreign aid: the military industrial complex provides millions of dollars in donations to the think tank brigade, which agitates for more wars that bring in billions for the military contractors.
Petraeus got what he wanted from the relationship with the Kagans as well. Each time Petraeus descended on Capitol Hill he was treated like a god by lawmakers. That was the Kagans’ doing. They rushed home from their extended stints “running” the war in Afghanistan to pen saccharine pieces on the glories of Patraeus, just the kind of hero the pro-war faction in Congress (as in the entire Congress minus a handful) needed. The Kagans courted Members of Congress assiduously, dropping this or that bit of self-serving but mutually-reassuring intel picked up while pouring over the classified data.
The Kagan warmongering is in fact a family business. Brother Robert is at pro-war Brookings Institute and once made his name at the Project for a New American Century (PNAC)(which produced for its favorite politician, Benjamin Netanyahu, the famed “Clean Break” policy paper in the late 1990s demanding that Iraq and Syria and Iran, etc be invaded and overthrown). Robert Kagan’s wife is Victoria Nuland, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman — that’s handy. Fred and Robert’s father, Donald, was also an early PNAC supporter. He is a full member of the think tank brigades as well, enjoying a no-doubt well compensated do-little position at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute.
This, in a nutshel, is why the desperate race to solve the “fiscal cliff” is in reality a desperate race by Congress and the president to avoid any cuts in the military budget. Otherwise the Fred Kagans of the world will sic their think tank brigades on you.
PS: Don’t miss Phil Giraldi’s excellent piece on the Kagans here.8:07 am on December 19, 2012 Email Daniel McAdams