In Washington, War Is Peace

The Intercept has an article on the “U.S. Institute of Peace,” a government agency founded in 1984 supposedly dedicated to promoting “nonviolent resolution of conflicts”: author Lee Fang is shocked – shocked! – that USIP chairman Stephen J. Hadley, a former national security advisor to George W. Bush, wants to arm Ukraine so as to impress Putin with the sight of “body bags of Russian soldiers who have been killed.” Yet the USIP has long been a site of neoconservative infection inside the national security bureaucracy.

Established by a national lobbying effort led by lefty-sounding “peace activists,” the National Peace Academy Campaign was originally a project of goody-two-shoes liberalism, and was supported by Sens. Mark Hatfield and Vance Hartke, among others. Writing in Z Magazine, Sara Diamond averred that

“Scores of reputable peace groups supported the idea of a ‘federally-funded training center for peace’ studies. But the peace movement was inattentive to the support coming from the less-than-reputable.”

Which is a nice way of saying that the very idea of the US government – the most warlike government on the face of the earth – sponsoring a “peace academy” would be laughable if it wasn’t so downright sinister. In a 2003 column remarking on the appointment of crazed Islamophobe Daniel Pipes to the USIP Board of Directors, I wrote:

“The USIP has so far escaped such critical scrutiny. Who, after all, can come out against it without seeming to be against peace, per se? Perhaps the takeover of this phony government-funded thinktank by the War Party will clarify the matter in the minds of befuddled liberals and assorted lefties, formerly fooled into believing in the inherent beneficence of the State – provided the right people are in charge.”

The USIP’s first chairman was Robert F. Turner, once a captain in the US Army attached to the American embassy in Saigon during the Vietnam war. Turner was a vigorous promoter of the Nicaraguan contra movement during the Reagan administration. His most recent contributions to the cause of “peace” include this Weekly Standard piece published a few months after the 9/11 attacks, in which he bemoaned the fact that the antiwar movement had arisen once again, noting:

“Fortunately, to date they have been totally ineffective. The American people fully understand what happened on September 11 and why our government must respond decisively in self-defense after years of empty threats to hunt down and punish terrorists. Even within the academic community, criticism of the war effort is thus far subdued. But things can change.”

Yes, things certainly can change, and they have, at least to some extent: but the USIP is determined that they’ll change back again.

Current USIP chairman of the board Stephen Hadley is also a member of the board of Raytheon, one of the biggest military contractors in the United States. He is also an advisor to Jeb Bush. As an example of the advice he proffers the GOP presidential aspirant, Hadley signed a letter circulated by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – a thinktank closely aligned with AIPAC – and co-signed by several fellow neoconservatives, expressing discontent with the then-preliminary Lausanne agreement with Iran. The letter demanded that “the United States must go on record now that it is committed to using all means necessary, including military force” in order to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

As a key official in the top echelons of the George W. Bush administration, Hadley was part of the neoconservative clique that lied us into the Iraq war. He assiduously pushed the false allegation that Iraq had sought uranium in the African country of Niger – a charge backed up by a crude forgery. Hadley was also instrumental in the Bush administration’s efforts to link Iraq to the 9/11 attacks: it was Hadley, in coordination with Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, who continuously inserted the story that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer at the Prague airport into the administration’s case for war.

Hadley has long been associated with the neoconservatives: as well as being a longtime Cheney confidante, he worked for Paul Wolfowitz from 1989 to 1993, the period when Wolfowitz, in collaboration with Libby and Zalmay Khalilzad, drew up the doctrinal “Draft Defense Planning Guidance,” which called for US global hegemony, a huge hike in military spending, and preemptive war against any possible competitors. Originally classified “secret,” the DPG was leaked and caused an uproar: it was almost immediately disavowed by the Bush Sr. White House and hurriedly rewritten.

Like the National Endowment for Democracy, the USIP is today a neoconservative stronghold, a permanent niche for this secretive and powerful clique to push its agenda of perpetual war in the name of “peace.” It provides millions in taxpayer dollars, legitimacy and an official cover for well-connected neocons to push for the very same failed policies that have embroiled this country in far-flung – and failed – wars, from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

When the House voted to eliminate all funding for the USIP in 2011, the usual suspects turned up in support, and the agency was saved by an intense lobbying effort by well-intentioned-yet-idiotic liberal peace groups and academics on the take. The USIP’s current budget is $39.5 million, “which is quite small compared to most federal offices,” as the USIP web site puts it.

In reality – as opposed to in Washington, D.C. – this is a huge sum that is being placed at the disposal of those whose agenda is the complete opposite of “peace.” At a time when bankruptcy is staring the US government in the face, the foreign policy elite is feeding itself at the federal trough via an agency headed up by a board member of Raytheon, which is itself feeding at that very same trough. Conservative opponents of crony capitalism are right to oppose corporate giveaways like the Export-Import Bank: but why isn’t the USIP getting the same kind of scrutiny?

The USIP is an institution that could only exist in the Washington of 2015: a federal agency supposed devoted to “peace” that spends its resources pushing for US intervention on a global scale. It’s high time for this scam to be eliminated. Hadley, for his part, will have no problem finding new employment: there are any number of neocon thinktanks out there who would be more than happy to take him under their well-funded wing. Let them pay his salary, rather than the US taxpayers – who have already been stuck with the bill for the wars he and his neoconservative comrades have foisted on the rest of us.