Bye, Bye, John Bolton. The NY Times Already Misses You.

Bolton’s ouster provides insight into the true loyalties of The New York Times as well as the current quandaries of the military-industrial complex.
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John Bolton at the White House on 5/1/2019 © The White House

John Bolton, famous for wanting to invade, bomb or nuke every nation whose policies he didn’t approve of, and known for wishing to spare the United Nations only because its headquarters is located in Manhattan, has left the White House. He is no longer Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Did he resign? Was he fired? No one really knows, but we now know that The New York Times really cares. The Times has designated Bolton as the latest “adult in the room” to be rejected by Donald Trump.

Here is the very first sentence of the Gray Lady’s report on Bolton’s ouster: “On one foreign policy issue after another, John R. Bolton was the in-house skeptic who checked President Trump’s most unorthodox instincts.”

Here is today’s 3D definition:

Unorthodox:

Deviating from the overarching strategy of US military and economic dominance of the world order, ensured thanks to the rational management policies of the military-industrial complex, identified as the true government of the United States by outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1960, but since banished from political vocabulary and, at best, given the status of a conspiracy theory

Contextual Note

The Times clarifies its perception of the importance of Bolton’s role in the White House: “Mr. Bolton’s exit from the West Wing on Tuesday removes one of the last constraints on Mr. Trump’s sense of the possible in world affairs.” This provides much-needed insight into the guiding principles of what the vast majority of members of the political club usually referred to as the “federal government” would call “sane policy,” a term that is virtually synonymous with the “status quo.” It’s all about having “a sense of the possible.” The lesson is clear: What is, is possible. What a citizen dreams — even a presidential candidate promising “hope” and “change” — is almost certainly impossible, at best an illusion, but more likely simply a PR slogan to get elected.

After 70 years of the military-industrial complex’s tranquil rule over Washington politics, administered by a succession of Democrat and Republican presidents, any lucid observer should by now have realized that what is “possible” is what is dictated, not by some authoritative voice with an identifiable position, but by the interests of the behemoth that President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. For convenience sake, let us refer to the state of affairs of the last seven decades that was created and managed by the behemoth as MICWO, an abbreviation of military-industrial complex world order.

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As many have noticed, the military-industrial complex now prominently includes a component that Eisenhower quite logically failed to mention: the financial sector, whose full integration as a key operational component of the complex required a long series of deregulations in favor of banks and financial institutions. The deregulations were somewhat timidly initiated by John F. Kennedy and powerfully accelerated by Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The decades-long historical trend fatally led to the financial crisis of 2007-08.

Thanks to Donald Trump’s “unorthodox” presidency that clearly grates on the sensibility of all “responsible” exponents of MICWO, the outside world has managed for the first time to peek inside the system’s works and may begin to understand some of its serious contradictions. The Times informs us that “Trump has cycled through more senior foreign policy and national security advisers than any other president, leaving him without the men who once were considered the adults in the room: Jim Mattis, Rex W. Tillerson, H. R. McMaster, John F. Kelly and more.” The “adults” are all either high-ranking military officers, the CEO of an oil company (Tillerson) and, now, a fanatical neocon (Bolton).

In its article on Bolton’s dismissal, The Times cites approvingly the comments of “Eliot A. Cohen, who worked for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the administration of President George W. Bush.” The Bush administration apparently represents for The NY Times the voice of sanity and political wisdom. This is the same administration that initiated, for the sake of MICWO, the disastrous forever wars in the Middle East. These conflicts helped precipitate the financial crisis from which the global economy and geopolitical order still haven’t recovered (growing inequality, the rise of populist nationalism, constitutional crises and negative interest rates, as sure a sign as any that normalcy is not yet on the horizon).

Reminding its readers that it is still a “liberal” newspaper, The Times takes the trouble to signal, with some slight regret, that “Bolton followed the Cold War model of foreign policy, but to an extent that Democrats and some moderate Republicans found to be extreme.” But true to its identity as the voice of MICWO, The Times immediately readjusts its appreciation to identify Bolton as one of the good guys, one of “our team,” the establishment: “Still, he was firmly tied to the Republican foreign policy establishment,” meaning not Trump’s lunatic anti-deep state fringe.

This is the precious point to take away from the article. The Times clearly admits it identifies with the “establishment.” Equally comfortable with Republicans and Democrats — it mentions “50 years of bipartisan American foreign policy” — The NYT makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that it owes its faith and undying loyalty to the establishment. 

Historical Note

For decades, the American extreme right has complained about the tyranny of the “liberal media,” claiming that the great majority of news outlets are controlled by the Democratic Party. Fox News took upon itself the responsibility for redressing the balance and providing a refreshing contrarian voice to the news industry as the journalistic mouthpiece of the Republican Party, the party of “real Americans.” It has continually promoted the myth — originally launched by the extreme right John Birch Society in the 1950s — of a monolithic liberal mainstream media, dominated by socialistic Democrats intent on defending “big government” to oppress the people and restrict their freedom.

Fox News continues to use Sarah Palin’s favorite term “the lamestream media” to perpetuate the idea that outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN are organs of the radical left, systematically undermining what true believers understand are the only established American values. This includes freedom from both taxes and laws (deregulation of everything) and, of course, their sacred “gun rights” that allow every individual to be the defender of their castle, Bible and Christmas tree, all of which the Democrats and their media want to remove from the communal landscape. The fact that these “radical left-wing” organs of the press are in fact solidly establishment institutions, not very different from Fox News itself, is a truth that Fox couldn’t allow its audience to appreciate.

Bolton’s ouster illustrates just how little distance there is between The NY Times and Fox News. The Times article quotes, with unqualified approval, one of the Fox News’s favorite Republican politicians, Senator Lindsey Graham: “Mr. Bolton ‘understands the world for what it is and the dangers that threaten America’s national security interests.’” The Times, like Fox News, is clearly committed to an establishment that not only senses those same dangers and threats, but it also needs to exaggerate their importance to maintain the climate of fear that draws the public to their news stories and justifies the huge ever-expanding defense and surveillance budgets that underpin MICWO.

That Fox News fails to see The New York Times as a clearly anti-liberal and fellow right-wing establishment paper is hardly surprising. Just as US military policy needs a designated enemy — if it’s no longer communism, then let’s run with Islamic terrorism and maybe China as well — Fox News needs to designate an enemy in its own field. The deliberately reasoned and “intellectual” tone of The Times conveniently brands it as part of the elite. Everyone should know that all intellectuals are fanatical left-wing radicals seeking to destroy “real” American values. 

More surprising is the fact that many people who consider themselves to be more or less on the left, espousing any number of progressive values, continue to see The New York Times as the voice of enlightened liberalism rather than as what it really is: the megaphone of MICWO.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

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