Samuel Johnson's saying that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels has some truth in it, but not nearly enough. Patriotism, in truth, is the great nursery of scoundrels, and its annual output is probably greater than that of even religion. Its chief glories are the demagogue, the military bully, and the spreaders of libels and false history. Its philosophy rests firmly on the doctrine that the end justifies the means--that any blow, whether above or below the belt, is fair against dissenters from its wholesale denial of plain facts.
H.L. Mencken, Minority Report
Listening to Donald Trump read his National Security Strategy speech was painful because he sounded like a third-grader performing for an audience of adults. If was obvious that he did not write or even input into the speech's composition. It also was quite plain that a choke chain had been placed on his neck so that he could not deviate from its contents or script. Known in international circles for his lack of intellect and diplomacy, and his adherence to the principles that Steve Bannon instilled in his election campaign, it is easy for an astute person to read between the paragraphs and parse out what was meant for his sponsors and the propaganda meant for the his sponsors and supports: The Kochtopus and the Christian Right-wing.
As for the Kochtopus, Ronald P. Formisano in The Tea Party: A Brief History (2012) emphasizes the importance of the Koctopus. Formisano posits that the only men in America richer than the Kochs are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison. For decades Charles and David Koch operated under the radar, funding astroturf lobbying fronts, right-wing think tanks, books, magazines, and what must candidly be called propaganda efforts to advance a libertarian vision that relentlessly promotes their own economic interests.
The Kochs' relative invisibility as political activists and ideological warriors came to an end, however, with an investigative essay by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker (August 30, 2010). "Indeed," Mayer wrote, "the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies--from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program--that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus."
Formisano declares that the Kochs are hardly alone as generous donors to right-wing think tanks, astroturf organizations, political campaigns and Tea Party activities. Other prominent sponsors include the Coors beer family; the Walton of Walmart; the Olin foundation (one of the pioneers in creating a climate hostile to taxes, government, and all things progressive); Richard Mellon Scaife banker, publisher, and heir to the Mellon fortune; Rupert Murdoch of News corporation; and Phillip Morris and Exxon-Mobil. Scaife, it should be noted, became well known in the 1990s when he funded any and all efforts to find damaging material on Bill Clinton's business dealing or personal life; [Robert Mercer, co-chair of Renaissance Technology and believer that the Clintons are murderers; and more importantly, Sheldon Adelson].
However, for me, the most important member of this cabal of the American "ruling class" is Rupert and his Fox News Corporation. Formisano points out that Conservatives and reactionaries "wrongly assume that rolling back the power of the national government would liberate individuals to pursue their own ends instead of leaving them at the mercy of economic forces beyond their control. Through their analysis of the problem may differ, the sense of lacking control over one's destiny engulfs Tea Partiers [that now controls Congress] and other Americans alike. Similarly, the dysfunction of the national government dismays both the liberals and conservatives. The impact of money on policy is all too evident, as is the power of lobbyists and special interest groups whose policy goals take precedence over those of majorities of citizens.
Among the multiple sources of dysfunction one must count the impact of politically inspired--to be frank, biased--media. A large majority of Tea Party supporters [are Trump supporters]--63 percent--have said they get most of their political information and news from Fox News. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created it precisely to frame news and information from a right-wing point of view. While Fox News is hardly alone in contributing to the hyper-partisan political climate that so many Americans lament, surveys have often shown that its viewers hold more misconceptions about important issues than any other comparable group. Many fox News viewers, for example, kept believing in the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq long after a majority had been convinced otherwise. The Fox News engrossment in the Tea Parties as well as the Republican Party sets it apart because of the degree to which it contributes to ideological polarization. [The late] Roger Ailes' network cannot claim uniqueness in blurring the lines between cannot claim uniqueness in blurring the line between "news" and entertainment or in failing to take the trouble to pursue deep-background, avowedly impartial news reporting or investigative journalism. "Sensationalism," comments media critic Eric Alterman, "not substance, is what drive ratings."
It is nevertheless difficult to discount the influence of right-wing talk radio and the Fox Network's propaganda machine. These media constitute a new and powerful weapon benefiting both corporate America and the Republican Party. They materially help to create rage at government and progressive political policies.
Central to Trump's neo-nationalism, is Formisano insight that the Tea Partiers, finally are routinely referred to in the media as conservatives. But their blend of astroturf and grassroots populism is more accurately labeled right-wing or reactionary populism. Besides wholesale reaction against government, the movement also expresses a "heartland" ethos of ethnocentrism among older white Americans experiencing rapid change in the kinds of people who make up the nation.
"We the people" are changing, and the evidence suggest that Tea Partiers are in part reacting to increasing racial and ethnic diversity. "Diversity" is a dirty word in the Trump administration.
Max Hastings in The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, And Guerrillas 1939-1945 (2016) inadvertently discusses how closely Trump's behavior as a leader resembles Adolf Hitler's when receiving secret data or intelligence. Hastings writes that Donald McLachlan, a British naval practitioner, observed: 'Intelligence has much in common with scholarship, and the standards which are demanded in scholarship are those which should be applied to intelligence." after the war, the surviving German commanders blamed all their intelligence failures on Hitler's refusal to countenance objective assessment of evidence. Signals supremo Albert Praun said: 'Unfortunately throughout the war Hitler showed a lack of confidence in communications intelligence, especially if the reports were unfavorable to his own view.'
Good news for the Axis cause--for instance, interceptions revealing heavy Allied losses--were given the highest priority for transmission to Berlin, because the Fuhrer welcomed them. Meanwhile bad tidings received short shrift. Before the June 1941 invasion of Russia, General Georg Thomas of the Wehrmacht's economics department--produced estimates of soviet weapons production which approached the reality, though still short of it, an argued that the loss of European Russia would not necessarily precipitate the collapse of Stalin's industrial base. Hitler dismissed Thomas' numbers out of hand, because he could not reconcile their magnitude with his contempt for all things Slavonic. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel eventually instructed the WiRuAmt to stop submitting intelligence that might upset the Fuhrer.
Hastings writes that the Germans had made themselves masters of Europe, and shown the Wehrmacht to be the most formidable fighting force in the world. Yet, historian Michael Handel has written: 'Leaders in a democratic system are generally more inclined to consider a wide variety of options than those who have always functioned within authoritarian or totalitarian political systems. In authoritarian countries, where the climb to the top is an unrelenting struggle for power, habits of cooperation and openness are usually less developed. Tolerance for ideas that deviate from the "party line" are seen as personal criticism.' These features of almost all dictatorships crippled German intelligence activities beyond the battlefield, and sometimes also within it. Himmler's deputy Reinhardt Heydrich, for instance, was far more interested in using the RSHA (Himmler's own domestic security service) as a weapon against the Nazi empire's internal enemies than as a means of securing information about its foreign foes. Hitler never wished to use intelligence as a planning or policy-making tool. He recognized its utility only as a tactical level: the Nazis were strikingly incurious about Abroad.
In the first phase of the war until 1942, while the Wehrmacht was triumphant on the battlefields across Europe, these sources sufficed to tell its commanders all that they felt they needed to know about the world, and about their enemies. Victories masked the abject hummint failures of the Abwerhr (German security agency). As long as Germany was winning, why should anyone make trouble about imperfections in the war machine? It was only when Hitler's armies started losing that hard questions began to ask about the Reich's abysmal political and strategic intelligence. Hitler himself was, of course, much to blame, but Admiral Wilhelm Canaris exercised operational responsibility.
Nazi self-deception had become institutionalized. In the summer of 1943, Himmler and Goebbels agreed that Hitler should no longer be shown the SD's monthly reports on the German public's mood, morale and responses to press and radio broadcasts. Thereafter, these went no further than their own desks. Meanwhile many neutral states, seeing Allied victory looming, adopted harsher policies towards Nazi residents and visitors.
READING BETWEEN THE PARAGRAPHS
ALJAZEERA NEWS published a Donald Trump transcript: 'America First' on National Security Strategy delivered at the Ronald Reagan Building on Monday, December 12, 2017. The following is a White House transcript of US President Donald Trump's speech on Monday on his administration's national security strategy:
We're here today to discuss matters of vital importance to us all: America's security, prosperity, and standing in the world. I want to talk about where we've been, where we are now, and, finally, our strategy for where we are going in the years ahead.