05 January 2014

The Role of Conservative Think Tanks (1/3)

Think tank policy and influence is pretty public. It's just slightly out of the mainstream. The influence easy to find but you'll have to turn to articles and books. You're not going to find the mainstream media explaining the system. They never do that. But for example just listening to a more serious news outlet like NPR you will constantly hear references to groups like Heritage and of course the liberal Brookings Institution (which Colson famously wanted to bomb). Many scholars from Heritage, Hudson, Hoover, AEI, CATO and other groups are regularly interviewed and consulted. The think tanks are in many ways the voice for policy and ideology. They tend to be more candid than politically minded officeholders.

What's far more difficult to discover is the nexus of funding and support. As Hal Holbrook famously said in 'All the President's Men,' "Follow the Money."

Much is hidden and protected by law but there are some investigative reporters who have done some good work. The best way to sift through it is when you find something of interest...keep looking and find some more sources. Be careful. There are a lot of disreputable sources. I'm disreputable too, but what I mean is, watch out for unreliable people like Alex Jones who like Glenn Beck mix some truth with a lot of error and wild supposition. In the end they do a lot of harm because they end up discrediting the tidbits of truth they have picked up on. Sometimes you're dealing with circumstantial evidence which is problematic and often inconclusive, but there are indeed times it becomes overwhelming.

But beware of leaps of logic, the error in most conspiracy theories. I don't believe there's a conspiracy here per se. The conspiracies in our society are mostly open. Most of the time they're not secret, they're just quiet and far too complicated for the average person to see. They're too busy stuffing their faces, listening to degenerates like Toby Keith or Miley Cyrus, shopping and watching the idiot box. The handful of people that read history or current events are often doing it with political motivation and are more interested propaganda. Our culture has erected a pretty impressive mental and spiritual wall that prohibits people from getting through and understanding what really make it all work and the nature of the power that dominates it. It's really a spiritual problem. The Bible has been twisted. As a former Christian Rightist I can testify to this. But the Holy Spirit can open our eyes and soften our hearts....

There are those who see more organization than what actually exists and there are also those who are very naive concerning human nature. Many people foolishly believe that people are generally good at heart. The Bible teaches the exact opposite. When power is involved there are quite literally no limits to what man is capable of.

We know what people are after, namely power. That's all money is in the end. It's simply the means. In American society how do many powerful business sectors and Right-wing ideologues go about acquiring it? What's in their toolbox? What's their blueprint? How do they find allies? How can they build their political power and make money at the same time? Political victories will enable them to make even more money at which point they can go after bigger political victories. And on it goes....

The Think Tanks are one of the most powerful tools available to those who would accumulate and expand power.

Heritage played a key role in shaping the Reagan foreign policy. Their 'Mandate for Leadership' was something of a blueprint for his administration. While not slavishly followed the main ideas were acted on and implemented. And a lot of people grew very rich through the implementation of these plans. The War Machine cashed in and many Americans who invested in it expanded and enriched their portfolios.

Though he denied knowledge of Iran-Contra, Reagan was on the record wanting to support the Contras in Nicaragua. In addition he was active in backing the government of El Salvador. This is undisputed and this uptick and escalation in the Cold War was orchestrated by Heritage. If you watch their promo videos on YouTube you can see they're quite proud of it. They believe the implementation of their policies led to the end of the Cold War.

Of course I don't accept the narrative that the Reagan-Thatcher-John Paul triad won the Cold War. Not for a second. I don't accept that SDI (also floated at least in part by Heritage) made the Soviets tremble and the arms race broke their economy. This is fantasy.

Nor do I believe the United States 'defeated' the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union collapsed on its own and in all actuality would have imploded even sooner if it were not for Reagan. When Brezhnev died they were ready to put in someone like Gorbachev but a saber-rattling cowboy had taken over the US presidency and they felt they had to protect themselves. So instead of a reformer they appointed the ex-KGB Andropov. The following year, 1983 was one of the most dangerous of the entire Cold War. There were three 'warm' points to the Cold War where it almost turned hot, '62, '73, and 1983. This was the year of the Evil Empire speech, SDI, KAL 007 and Able Archer.

In addition to a battlefield of spies and technology the Cold War was a series of endless and very destructive proxy wars. Heritage formally encouraged this and their policies did much to foment and expand these conflicts. That's not controversial. That was their policy. It's on the record in their documents. Many of these proxy wars were barely noticed by the American public, were certainly misunderstood, and today are largely forgotten. One terrible episode was taking place in Southern Africa and was generated by the Portuguese coup in the 1970's. The Fascist government backed by the United States collapsed and the African colonies entered an open civil war. In Angola there were three factions, two backed by American interests, one by the Soviets.

Michael Johns represented the Heritage Foundation in Angola and was very tight with the militia leader Jonas Savimbi. Heritage actively supported his UNITA and advocated for them in the White House.

At one point Citizens for America (a Heritage affiliated group) held a big internationalist gathering at UNITA's HQ in Jamba, Angola. Jack Abramoff, Oliver North, Calero the leader of the Contras, Mujahideen leaders, some investment bankers and other Reagan allies were all in attendance. Later in addition to Heritage's Michael Johns, Savimbi would be visited by the not yet famous Grover Norquist. This gathering also spawned Abramoff's IFF group which acted as a pro-South African lobbyist in the United States and worked to discredit Mandela's ANC.

If you're not familiar with Savimbi you nevertheless know the type. We're talking nasty stuff....blood diamonds, child soldiers....lovely Christian causes right? Pat Robertson thought so. He thought Savimbi was great, Mobutu and Charles Taylor as well. These folks were coming to Washington in the 80's to shake hands with our great cowboy president. In previous writings I've mentioned a couple times I saw Mobutu of Zaire/Congo in a hotel on one his Washington visits in the 80's. It's not every day you get to see an African dictator in the flesh.

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