FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Propaganda Gift to Trump

by

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign the corporate media, Democratic Party operatives and the pundit class all proclaimed that Donald Trump is a fascist. The fascistic nature of our political, law enforcement and economic systems were conveniently omitted from these warnings, but assertions of Trump’s untrustworthiness were repeatedly endlessly. If that characterization has any validity at all then Barack Obama’s establishment of a de facto Propaganda Department is a terrible blow to democracy.

On December 23, 2016 Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a federal law that is passed every year. NDAA authorizes defense appropriations but it is also used as a Trojan horse to hide attacks on civil liberties. In 2011 the NDAA authorized indefinite detention of anyone deemed a terrorism suspect. Tucked inside this year’s NDAA was the passage of the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act which establishes the little known or discussed Global Engagement Center.

The title seems benign enough until one reads its mission. “The purpose of the Center shall be to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

In plain English, this act establishes an official propaganda arm of the United States government. Of course there has always been governmental coordination used to spread lies about American foreign policy. The government doesn’t even have to work very hard because the corporate media usually march in lock step and repeat their every claim uncritically. But these are dangerous times for the American hegemon. Its ability to continue exercising imperial control has been damaged by foreign governments successfully resisting its efforts and by the election of Donald Trump.

Trump has questioned the need for NATO, pledged to end regime change, and to improve relations with Russia. These are reasonable policy decisions or rather they would be if the world wide neo-liberal regime didn’t feel so threatened. What should be simple disagreements are treated as omens of the end of the world. Perhaps they do signal the end for some members of the ruling classes who believe that their survival depends on America controlling or crushing the rest of the world.

The Global Engagement Center makes real the Democratic Party plan to silence dissent and create a network of propaganda partners. The act provides for grant making appropriations to “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies or academic institutions…”

The recent Washington Post/Jeff Bezos/Democratic Party effort to name websites such as CounterPunch and Black Agenda Report as agents of Moscow will now be official government policy. The anonymous minders of the Is it Propaganda or Not site will no longer have to be invisible. They can come out of the closet and apply for grant money just like a university or an NGO with all the right connections. They can then work hand in hand with the bipartisan war party as it demonizes and silences anyone who refuses to make common cause with their schemes.

The head of this Global Engagement Center will be appointed by the president and that means Donald Trump. On the one hand we are told that Trump’s presence in the White House is a fundamental danger to democracy. But in true presidential fashion Obama has handed off to Trump what he thinks is most important to continue.

That is a consistent pattern from one administration to the next. Despite any differences they may highlight before an election, they all act like made men in the gangster clique after the votes are cast. Presidents pardon one another and their associates, and in so doing let criminals go free. Trump won’t “lock up” Hillary Clinton because he will want his successor to let him off the hook for any crimes he should commit during his term in office. The man whom Obama labeled unfit for the presidency will now be the propaganda commander-in-chief.

While Democrats wait for inauguration day in nervous anticipation of Trump policy changes the rulers continue to ignore them. Obama hasn’t spoken to the concerns of the rank and file since Election Day. He has, however, repeated warnings about “fake news” and Russian influence. His legacy is dead, a sham. His signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, will be repealed. All of his foreign policy machinations have come to nothing. His interference in Ukraine and regime change attempt in Syria succeeded in bringing Russia and China closer together to counter American influence. Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran meet to discuss the future and fortunately do so without an American presence. Vladimir Putin no longer bothers with trying to engage the people he used to call “our American partners.” When Obama expelled Russian diplomats in a fit of impotent pique, Putin declined to do the same. Why bother when he knows he has won.

Progressives are being exhorted to protest Trump on January 20th and fight back against Republican policies. That is a good and worthy goal but it will also mean fighting against Democratic Party treachery. There should be no reason for dismay or consternation when Trump appoints the Global Engagement Center chief propagandist. After all, Barack Obama, the darling of many progressives, will have laid the groundwork for his “fascist” successor.

Margaret Kimberley writes the Freedom Rider column for Black Agenda Report, where this essay originally appeared. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Women’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail