For those readers who may be unfamiliar with the term “Color Revolution”, it refers to what has now become the standard technique for promoting “regime change” in targeted nations.
The term may have its origins in the works of Gene Sharp, who wrote some guidebooks on how to organize popular revolts using Madison Avenue-style marketing techniques. He recommended to the sponsors that rather than confusing or boring the participants with too much political theory, they should motivate their budding revolutionaries with pop culture, using catchy, content-free slogans, logos, and team colors.
Color Revolutions are expensive ($5 billion in the case of Ukraine) and are typically orchestrated by a public-private partnership comprised of government agencies such as the State Department and MI6 and/or CIA, combined with private funding and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The most famous organization of this sort is the National Endowment For Democracy, a curious entity that is funded by the US Government through USAID (as well as by donations from major neocon private foundations), and has two sub-organizations that disseminate the funds to various Regime Change projects: the International Republican Institute, affiliated with the Republican Party, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, affiliated with the Democrats. Both organizations carry out the same activity, which underscores the fact that on matters of subverting and bullying the rest of the world, there is a lot more bipartisanship in the US than people are inclined to think.
Another name associated with funding and orchestration is George Soros, whose various tax-exempt organizations such as the Open Society Foundations invariably pump money into the latest Color Revolutions, for reasons that are often more commercial than strictly political.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the neocons fanned the flames of indignation and xenophobia, and were able to exploit them in order to assume a dominant role in most American institutions, particularly the political parties and the media. Regime Change fever swept the foreign policy establishment, and anyone who looked cross-eyed at a neocon became a target.
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama embraced the neocon ethos and gave them virtual carte blanche to carry out Color Revolutions around the world. The advent of social media, which fosters communication in the form of short, catchy slogans and images that can be made to “go viral,” was particularly conducive to Gene Sharp’s formula of organizing the masses around advertising copy and team colors. The Color Revolution techniques were used on a large scale in the former Soviet Union, such as in the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia or the 2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
If the targeted populations can’t be organized effectively to overthrow their leaders, there is always the fall back option of arming mercenary groups to seize power by violence, or if that fails, out and out military aggression by the US or NATO. The most reliable method seems to be a combination of non-violent and violent action, such as in the case of Ukraine’s second Color Revolution in 2014 (a coup which was comically dubbed the “Revolution of Dignity” by its neocon sponsors, who know that a successful marketing campaign must never be understated.) A similar case was the 2019 protests in Hong Kong, where gang violence was deployed in hopes of provoking a crackdown by the state which could then be exploited for propaganda purposes.
But it was inevitable that these techniques would eventually be used on the US itself. Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of reducing US reliance on Regime Change wars and NATO “out-of-area deployments” as a centerpiece of foreign policy. This was anathema to the neocons. Once in office, Trump vacillated, bringing prominent neocons into his cabinet and allowing them to launch multiple Regime Change operations. However, Trump was not a doctrinaire neocon, and he angered them by advocating better relations with North Korea, Russia and China. And for the neocons, anything short of total allegiance to their ideology is tantamount to betrayal.
The standard methodology was put into play the moment Trump was inaugurated. The team color was pink, in the form of the pink “pussy hats” (these ostensibly called attention to Trump’s sexual vulgarity and libertine lifestyle, which lacked the charm of Bill Clinton’s.) The buzzword was #Resistance, which was intended to conjure up images of the struggle by nations which had been conquered by Nazi aggression during World War II. Oddly enough, however, the aggressive moves by Trump against other nations were not #Resisted. In fact, those were the only instances where he received hearty praise from the corporate media.
But it’s not possible to mobilize a population with hats and hashtags alone. There had to be some minimal political content, and herein lay the dilemma for the organizers of America’s Color Revolution. There was widespread popular discontent with what has become known as the “forever war” policy, as well as the neoliberal economics which have produced an unprecedented income disparity between the 1% and the 99%, and this popular discontent was key in electing Trump. The neocons wanted discontent, but not on those issues, since they had no intention of changing those policies.
Instead, they opted for a revival of the Cold War. Americans seem to have a particular susceptibility to jingoism, and the demonization of the former communist powers, which had already begun in 2014 with the neocon-sponsored coup in Ukraine, was cranked up to full volume in the corporate media, using all the imagery and sloganeering that had proved so effective during the 1950s.
This involved some spectacular feats of cognitive dissonance. Despite Trump’s outbursts of bellicosity toward Russia and other neocon targets, Trump was portrayed as being “soft,” an appeaser, or an outright enemy agent. The Democratic Party, which is considered to be the more liberal of the two parties and had in decades past expressed some nominal opposition to military adventures in Vietnam and elsewhere, swung way to the right of the Republicans in the jingoism derby.
The secret police agencies and their pet journalists concocted what will be admired by historians as one of the most preposterous conspiracy theories in recorded history, the tale of Russia manipulating the 2016 election with a computer hack which somehow cannot be detected by the NSA, and puppy pages on Facebook.
There was also a big focus on Trump’s personality, which is admittedly none too winsome. This is consistent with the neocon “Hitler of the Month Club” formula, where each new nemesis, from Manuel Noriega to Saddam Hussein to Muammar Gaddafi to Vladimir Putin, is depicted as the most brutish, authoritarian dictator ever to walk the face of the planet.
They succeeded in impeaching Trump in December 2019, almost three years into his first term in office. They did not actually charge Trump with an impeachable crime, but rather offered the rationale that he had allegedly used the power of his office in ways that could benefit his re-election campaign (something that no other American president would ever dream of doing.) This was a far cry from the much sexier, hoped-for rationale of “collusion” with the Bolshevik Foe, which had been shot down by the Mueller Report. However, impeachment maven Adam Schiff managed to insinuate that this Collusion was the real basis for impeachment, every time he saw a TV camera. We faced the surreal spectacle of liberals begging John Bolton to testify, as the role of the neocons in orchestrating the #Resistance became ever more explicit.
The impeachment passed the House on purely partisan lines, and Senate voted not to convict on purely partisan lines as well. Meanwhile, with the massively FUBAR Iowa caucuses of February 2020, questions were once again raised once again about the Democratic nominating process. Bernie Sanders was emerging as a new threat to neocon dominance, this time from within the Democratic Party.
During the days leading up to Super Tuesday, there was a remarkable development. Every prominent neocon, from Bill Kristol to Max Boot to David Frum to Susan Rice, acted with synchronized, military precision to endorse Joe Biden. Several neocon-friendly Democratic presidential candidates abruptly withdrew from the race to endorse him as well. There was an immediate Pavlovian response from cable news pundits and other putative journalists. Russiagate was dusted off and started up again, this time for use against Sanders. On April 8, Sanders capitulated and withdrew from the race.
No one in their right mind believed that the confused and incoherent Biden could defeat the also incoherent, but clever and confident Trump. But at this point, it was more important to the neocons that they keep control over at least one of the two parties, and a decision was made that it were better to throw the election to Trump rather than to allow Sanders’ brand of left-populism to become ascendant in the Democratic Party.
But then the neocons saw a fresh opportunity, following the May 25 murder of African-American George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Protest demonstrations by the Black community intersected the anxieties of a population frightened and frustrated by the one-two punch of economic collapse combined with public health isolation to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Violent groups from the Antifa milieiu, predominately white and possibly assets of the FBI’s COINTELPRO progam, initiated vandalism and looting. Neocons were salivating at the prospect of Maidan-style chaos.
The beleaguered Trump had already been showing signs of psychological fatigue, and there had been significant lapses in his already questionable judgement. In addition to mishandling the public health measures and the economic crisis, he had capitulated once more to the neocons and went on an anti-China tirade. Then, when the social unrest began in the wake of the George Floyd killing, all of Trump’s political flaws came into play.
The neocons triumphantly hit the airwaves and the digital arena. Their great oracle, The Atlantic, published an article that serendipitously confirms the central theme of the article you are presently reading. Neocon high priestess Susan Rice suggested that the Russians were to blame for the rioting. Trump’s every misstep was amplified by neocon pundits. Suddenly the idea of electing Biden was no longer so implausible, as long as he could be kept away from live microphones.
It’s important to bear in mind that the neocons are not in the least concerned with Trump’s mishandling of COVID-19 pandemic or civil unrest. They were delighted when he ranted against China. But when he advocated reducing U.S. troop deployments in Germany and Afghanistan, they were livid. On June 26, the New York Times published yet another story based on anonymous leaks from the “intelligence community”. This one claimed that the Taliban needed some incentives after being occupied by a foreign power after 20 years and was now accepting “bounties” from Russia in exchange for fighting the US military. In mid-September, General Frank McKenzie, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News that no evidence had been found to support this claim. Neocons continued to speak of it as established fact.
Although the corporate press continued to depict Trump as a fanatical right-winger in coverage intended for the rubes, within the citadels of neoconservatism he was regarded as something entirely different. On September 30, 2020, the Atlantic published another revelatory article entitled “What a Second Trump Term Would Mean for the World.” Author Thomas Wright drops a few bombshells like this one, likening Trump to the great Progressive leader Henry Wallace (who is regarded by neocons as a close relative of Satan):
Looking back on U.S. diplomatic history, one of the great counterfactuals is what would have happened if Franklin D. Roosevelt had not replaced his vice president Henry Wallace with Harry Truman in 1944. Wallace was sympathetic to the Soviet Union and became an ardent opponent of the Cold War. If he had become president when FDR died, in April 1945, the next half century could have gone very differently — likely no NATO, no Marshall Plan, no alliance with Japan, no overseas troop presence, and no European Union.
The U.S. is now teetering on another historically important moment. With Trump, we would not only be deprived of our Truman. We would be saddled with our Wallace — a leader whose instincts and actions are diametrically opposed to what the moment requires.
The good news is that the neocons are not omnipotent. They are adept at conning the public and they have the full cooperation of the corporate media, but the public is volatile and increasingly skeptical of the official “narratives.” This is why the neocons are growing more and more hysterical in their public proclamations about “conspiracy theories” and “disinformation.” They are in fact strongly in favor of conspiracy theories and disinformation, provided that it is their own conspiracy theories and not someone else’s.
Neocons are demanding censorship of social media, to drive everyone into the arms of CNN and The Atlantic. As the election approaches, these demands have become increasingly more vociferous, leading to a major controversy with the decision by both Facebook and Twitter to censor the New York Post coverage of leaked email correspondence between Joe Biden’s son and executives of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma (which employed him at a rather remarkable salary). The rationale offered by the two social media giants, that the sourcing of the emails was unclear, did not impress media critics, who pointed out that if that policy were applied in an even-handed fashion, Russiagate could never have happened.
As long as the option is open, follow alternative news sources online. I recommend the Grayzone and Consortium News, both of which I have found to be quiet reliable. The neocons are frightened; they worry about what John Durham’s investigation, or the declassification of documents ordered by Trump, may reveal about their methods of manipulation. Frightened people make tactical errors. We must keep our wits about us and find ways to turn those errors to our advantage.
Nota Bene: the author of this article was subsequently suspended from Twitter without explanation. Contact @TwitterSupport and ask them why.