The manic preoccupation of the right-wing media for war is a persistent component of coverage of the Middle East and the rise of ISIL. There is so much sophomoric and useless debate over whether President Obama uses the word “war” or not, that the television punditry seem to have abandoned reporting on what’s actually taking place. New Corpse covered this retreat to surface-level theatrics and partisan politics last week, but an article by Lee Fang in The Nation brings to light another critical element that is dangerously absent from the media presentation.
Fang’s “Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?” reports that the proliferation of former Pentagon and other government officials who comprise much of the commentator class on TV are not disinterested analysts expressing their opinions and showing off their patriotism. In fact, many are self-serving lobbyists and corporate insiders whose war fever will have a direct and positive effect on their bank accounts. For example, Fang cites the frequent appearances of former General Jack Keane, whose advice is invariably supportive of escalating the military conflict. Among Keane’s business interests is the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank he runs with Fox News contributors Liz Cheney and William Kristol. Fang writes…
“Left unsaid during his media appearances (and left unmentioned on his congressional witness disclosure form) are Keane’s other gigs: as special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; as a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a ‘venture partner’ to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an ‘operations management decision support system’ company used in Air Force drone training; and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC.
“To portray Keane as simply a think tank leader and a former military official, as the media have done, obscures a fairly lucrative career in the contracting world. For the General Dynamics role alone, Keane has been paid a six-figure salary in cash and stock options since he joined the firm in 2004; last year, General Dynamics paid him $258,006.”
The Nation’s article contains several more disturbing examples of this conflict of interest in armed conflict. The presence of so many people with a profit motive advocating a full-scale, boots-on-the-ground war, is cause for concern. The American people need to be informed when news networks serve up lobbyists and corporate executives from the defense industry, but fail to disclose their affiliations. The question we must ask ourselves is: Are we being seduced into another quagmire in order to line the pockets of the military-industrial-media complex?
This is not a war, should not be called a war, and should definitely not become a war. Despite the panicky blatherings of media Chicken Littles, ISIL is not the biggest, most fearsome enemy we’ve ever faced. Al Qaeda had both more fighters and more money. The army of Saddam Hussein was bigger, richer, better armed, and better trained. And much of their wealth, armory, and training came straight from the United States. Remember this when you hear the partisans and profiteers in the media declaring that the fate of the planet rests on defeating this puny brigade of impotent crackpots.