Washington DC

Presidents and Demons, Demons and Presidents

By David Stockman  |  August 3, 2018

And has it really been so long since religions persecuted people, burning them as heretics, drowning them as witches, that you can’t recognize religious persecution when you see it?

– Salman Rushdie, 1,000 Days Trapped Inside a Metaphor (Address at Columbia University, December 11, 1991)

Of course, the phrase “witch hunt” has its distinct American flavor.

They still tell the story of the hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 as early as elementary school. And students continue to study it in graduate programs across the country.

There’s still some wonder that so many adults could be so susceptible to the prepubescent imaginings of Betty Parris and Abigail Williams.

But all it took to believe these girls more than capable of detecting the doings of witches in their community was a population hopped up with Calvinist fervor.

From there, it’s actually a pretty short hop to a spell of collective madness.

That, apparently, is the lesson the grizzled veterans and cynical racketeers who run Imperial Washington have learned.

They’ve turned “demonization” into their craft. That’s why they so easily crank up another momentary but widespread lapse of reason.

They know what they’re doing. They know how to play.

And they count on you knowing neither what they’re doing nor how to play.

But that’s OK. We’ve got you covered.

It’s hard to remember now, of course. But, back in 2012, Vladimir Putin was just a secondary character in the presidential debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

In fact, the incumbent appropriately schooled the GOP nominee on the fact that Russia was no longer America’s principal national security threat.

Indeed, the Mainstream Media was shocked, shocked! to hear Mitt’s “gaffe.”

Indeed, it’s the same MSMers today shocked, shocked! by the Donald’s rapprochement with Putin.

So, what’s going on?

How did we get to Salem-style Cold War 2.0 hysteria in just 69 months? Well, two pivotal events plus the recurrence of a longer-term malady turned things upside down.

Barry lost his nerve over the “red line” in Syria in August 2013. And the Donald carried the red zones of Flyover America and won the November 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Imperial Washington renewed its “Indispensable Nation” adventure.

That meant new interventions in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and Yemen.

And it included Iraq, of course, for the third time, because why not? we’re basically “in country” there, too, already anyway…

This “Indispensable Nation” conceit is the ultimate cover story for the Warfare State.

It’s the “missionary zeal” in wait of some crafty exploitation.

It flourished when the neocons and liberal interventionists took power during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

They ran the policy tables after September 11, 2001, for the Global War on Terror.

These acolytes of empire nearly lost their political lunch when “shock and awe” in Iraq turned into another bloody quagmire.

And it didn’t help that quick revenge against the Taliban turned into a trillion-dollar trip into a Hindu Kush cul-de-sac.

That’s why the peace candidate won in 2008. But Barry, too much the quick study, didn’t really want to dismantle the Warfare State.

He just wanted to make it “smarter.”

So, he populated his national security team with moderate neocons like Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, and Victoria Nuland.

He included a posse of liberal interventionists like Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power.

The ultimate point is not simply that peace never had a chance with that crowd.

It’s that the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring in early 2011 triggered a surge of interventionist enthusiasm.

But it quickly metastasized into “responsibility to protect” madness in Libya and Syria.

The details are important, but suffice to say that’s where the current chapter of our long story with Vladimir Putin picks up again…

All of this is completely opposite of the “America First” notions that roused the Donald’s base and won him the GOP nomination.

And it’s exactly the kind of stuff he rode into Imperial Washington to expose and kill.

The Deep State knows “demonization,” though.

And the Donald is getting a most sophisticated treatment.

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David Stockman

David Stockman is the ultimate Washington insider turned iconoclast. He began his career in Washington as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks of the Republican Party to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan.MORE FROM AUTHOR