While many are familiar with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech, fewer have read the original drafts which include dire warnings about the future of America and what Eisenhower termed a “military-industrial complex.”
One of the original drafts, penned by speech writer Malcom Moos, reads:
“We must never let power, implicit in this combination, endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert, knowledgeable, and wise citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that both security and liberty may prosper.
In the councils of government, we must jealously guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We can ignore it only at our peril.”
The tone is softened slightly in the speech that Eisenhower delivered, but his message remained intact. Since the Eisenhower presidency, the military-industrial complex has grown and gone through a metamorphosis, the rhetoric changing to match the current threats, real or perceived, to the United States. The Cold War gave way to the War on Terror.
At the forefront of those who shape the rhetoric are often the same retired generals and admirals who staff the boards of directors of America’s largest and most powerful defense companies.
Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney carries three-star clout following an extremely impressive career. Retiring from the Air Force, McInerney served four tours in Vietnam, including hundreds of sorties as a combat aviator. Afterwards, McInerney served in a succession of important military commands. He is a graduate of West Point and also has a master’s degree from Georgetown. Since his retirement in 1994, General McInerney has also served on the board of directors for perhaps a dozen different defense and defense-related companies.
However, General McInerney says some very odd things. To the uninitiated, like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, he sounds “nuts.” When McInerney makes outlandish claims as a paid Fox News contributor, people sometimes describe him as sounding crazy. Yes, the general’s claims, a few of which we will examine here, are bizarre, but McInerney is not crazy. In fact, he is very intelligent, highly rational, and each of his words are very calculated.
The Pentagon’s Military Analyst Program
When the Pentagon established the military analyst program in 2002, they did so largely to help build public support for the invasion of Iraq. Retired generals were recruited into the program by the Pentagon and given exclusive access to classified briefings, as well as tours of Guantanamo and bases in Iraq. While these analysts were presented on network news each night as being objective experts, they were actually being groomed by the Pentagon and fed talking points. Moreover, many of them had ties to major defense contractors with material interests in the war.
Former Green Beret and member of the military analyst program, Robert Bevelacqua, later said of the program that the Pentagon was telling them, “we need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.” When the New York Times sued the DOD to obtain documents about the program, they found that the talking heads we saw on television were referred to as “message force multipliers” and “surrogates.”
When one retired general in the military analyst program received talking points from the Pentagon, he wrote, “good work” and “we will use it.” That general’s name was Thomas McInerney.
Malaysian Flight 370
While McIerney is known for his very hawkish stances on foreign-policy issues, he is perhaps better known for the straight-up outlandish claims he often makes. One of the most curious is the theory he advanced on Fox News multiple times when Malaysian Flight 370 disappeared somewhere over the Pacific.
The theory: Flight 370 was hijacked by terrorists, probably the pilots, who then turned off the aircraft’s transmitters and flew the plane westward. The pilots then shadowed Singaporean Flight 68 in order to hide their aircraft’s radar signature as they flew over Indian airspace. McInerney insists that the Indian radar operators would not necessarily have picked up flight 370’s radar signature as most countries don’t have their “A-team” manning the radar late at night.
If we are to accept this bizarre leap of faith, we then have to invent some way in which Flight 370 then broke away from Flight 68. McInerney insists that the Malaysian passenger plane then landed in Lahore, Pakistan, and the passengers are being held hostage.
Fox News is always quick to point out on air how General McInerney has amazing sources and contacts within the Pentagon and elsewhere—an attempt to backstop his strange claims and theories. In this case, McInerney pointed out that it wasn’t simply his sources that gave him his information, but rather that logic dictated the plane was hijacked and flown to Lahore.
But this isn’t the same type of logic advanced by Plato, Hobbes, or even Machiavelli. McInerney is making inferences based on inferences based on inferences and none of it adds up or can be verified by anyone. Despite McInerney’s incredible sources that Fox News pundits constantly reference, no one that SOFREP has spoken to in the intelligence community lends a bit of credence to this claim.
“Something is happening out there and we are asleep at the switch.”
Another interesting statement made on Fox News by McInerney is that the United States should go to DEFCON 1. Defense Condition One is America’s highest level of alert and means that nuclear war is imminent. McInerney reminds us that America has never gone to this level of alert before.
Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when the United States was on the brink of nuclear armageddon with the Soviet Union, we only made it to DEFCON 2. Why would America need to raise our alert status to DEFCON 1 in September of 2014? McInerney references a variety of nebulous threats. In various interviews he says that this threat could be nuclear, an EMP weapon, or cyber-warfare attacks against our infrastructure.
Where does this threat emerge from? General McInerney said on Fox that, “unchecked, ISIS is an existential threat to the United States…” However, there is no evidence that ISIS is even remotely an existential threat to America. While ISIS can—and gone unchecked, almost certainly will—become a threat to America, the idea that a ragtag group of jihadists could destroy America has no credibility. Even the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center came nowhere close to actually destroying America.
In the same interview, McInerney then repeats his suggestion that the government raise the alert level to DEFCON 1, and that he believes that multiple American cities are soon going to be attacked because ISIS has slipped through our porous borders and are already staging in American cities to strike. He then pushes for a “massive air campaign in Iraq and Syria.”
“Getting the bombs or the components of bombs into the United States would be simple.” (End Game, 27)
At the New Hampshire Institute for Politics, McInerney commented on one of his favorite topics: nuclear Iran. In this speech, he warns America that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon, possibly hand it off to a third party, and then it could be smuggled into the United States to be detonated in a city. McInerney would have us believe that while intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying a nuclear payload can be traced back to the country that launched them, a nuclear weapon smuggled into America would leave no fingerprints as to who the culprits are.
Of course, this claim is patently false. The science of nuclear forensics would allow us to quickly identify who built a nuclear weapon set off on American soil. Iran knows this. So does General McInerney. Contrary to many alarmists, Iran is a rational state and the Iranian government does realize that, should they launch such an attack against America, the nation of Iran would cease to exist in short order.
To effect a regime change in Iran, and according to McInerney, to prevent this nuclear nightmare, he advocates a 48-hour air campaign over Iran. The goal would be to set the Iranian nuclear program back at least 5 years. This would include the use of bunker busters, 70 stealth aircraft, and 400 non-stealth aircraft to bomb 2,500 targets inside Iran.
America’s Nuclear Deterrent
“It is very safe and it is very secure.”
Considering the dire threats that McInerney insists America is facing on an almost daily basis, he made one curious appearance on television to assure the public that America’s nuclear stockpile is safe and secure. On January 14th, 2014, McInerney appeared on Fox to address reports of missile launch officers being caught up in a drug investigation and cheating on their certification exams.
General McInerney responded to the question of the disposition of our nuclear stockpile by assuring us that it is, “very safe and it is very secure.” He goes on to point out that there have been some human failings in our nuclear command, but that our “nuclear-deterrent force is in very good shape.” The general pushed for modernizing our nuclear forces and said that these weapons needed to be maintained, but when it came to the personnel and overall capabilities of our nuclear deterrent, he was very positive.
For someone who often warns Americans about dire threats against our nation and even insidious conspiracies from within (in a TruNews interview, he warned that Obama is carrying out a well-orchestrated conspiracy to transform America into a communist/socialist state), it is curious how he assures us that everything is fine with our nuclear forces. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The problems plaguing our nuclear command are not just limited to our aging stockpile, a few drug users in the ranks, or cheating on exams. Major General Michael Casey, who was in command of three nuclear wings, was relieved of command in 2013. The reason? Casey was boozing it up in Moscow and hooked up with two local women at a hotel. He was drunk, incoherent, and belligerent during his trip, and went missing for hours at a time. This sounds very much like a “honey trap” engineered by Russian intelligence services.
Vice Admiral Tim Giardina was also relieved from his position as deputy chief of U.S. Strategic Command, ostensibly because he used fake gambling chips at a casino in Iowa. With Giardina and Casey relieved within days of each other there may be a real conspiracy at play here. It seems likely that beyond a few human failings, America’s nuclear forces are heavily targeted, if not penetrated, by foreign intelligence agents. This raises the possibility that U.S. military counter-intelligence decided to clean house in October of 2013.
Again, the implications of these scandals within our nuclear command would not go unnoticed by someone with the depth of experience and knowledge that McInerney has. All of this begs the question as to why he goes on television to tell us everything is fine with our nuclear forces when he is also constantly warning us about foreign threats and the destruction of American cities.
“Syria is a domino waiting to fall.” (End Game, 54)
In 2004, McInerney co-authored a book called End Game with Major General (ret.) Paul Vallely. The two graduated from the same West Point class and became reacquainted when they were both brought into the Pentagon’s Military Analyst Program.
Their book opens with, “Today, America is at war with an enemy every bit as dangerous as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union: We know it as radical Islam” (End Game, 9). In order to counter terrorism, they advocate regime change (“major policy shifts”) using military action in six countries. Afghanistan and Iraq were two that had already been toppled when the book was published. They suggested further military action in Iran, Syria, Libya, and North Korea.
Since 2004, Libya has experienced a regime change while Syria and Iran have both been under serious duress. Interestingly, two other countries were identified for reform rather than military action: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. But, according to the book, if Saudi Arabia can’t shape up, we may have to bomb them, too. End Game tells us that we don’t have time to take these countries out in sequence, but rather we have to attack all of them at the same time (End Game, 38). To what extent McInerney and Vallely have actually influenced the policy decisions to target these countries is unknown, but it is a safe bet that they have been hard at work behind the scenes.
End Game is also filled with predictions that never came to pass. For instance, they said that, if North Korea detonates a nuclear bomb, that Japan, and maybe even South Korea, would develop their own nuclear weapons (End Game, 25). They again assert that if a nuclear bomb was detonated in America that “evidence would vaporize,” making the weapon untraceable (End Game, 29).
Regarding Afghanistan, they write that, “The force level that NATO needs to maintain in Afghanistan is relatively small, the duties in the long term, relatively easy.” (End Game, 40). When it comes to Iraq, they write, “We are confident that the Iraqi people are up to the task, based on how enthusiastically they have embraced the opportunities to vote in meaningful elections.” (End Game, 44)
Considering the author’s failed predictions for post-war Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps we should scale back from attacking the rest of these “rogue” nations all at once with massive American air power as they suggest.
Maddow Gets it Wrong
“We report, you freak out.” -Rachel Maddow
Interestingly, journalists and media commentators have never really put McInerney in the spotlight for his many irregularities. On the rare exception in which a critique is offered, it always portrays McInerney as a far-out-there right-winger. Four years ago, Rachel Maddow did a story on McInerney for her show on MSNBC.
The reason for her coverage was because McInerney was supporting an Army doctor who refused to deploy on the grounds that he suspected President Obama was not born in the United States, and therefore was not a valid President. In an affidavit written by McInerney, he praises the doctor’s courage and bravery for standing by his beliefs. Yes, apparently McInerney is a birther as well.
Rachel goes on to say, “what is news is that someone with General McInerney’s qualifications is saying that maybe the President is secretly foreign.” While Rachel is correct in pointing out how preposterous it is that a three-star general would endorse such a zanny conspiracy theory, she is ignorant of the calculated intent behind his carefully worded and pre-rehearsed statements.
She then wraps up the segment with, “the real story, it seems to me, is that a guy this nuts gets paid to comment on foreign policy and wars. The birther general is on Fox New’s payroll…” Rachel is directionally correct in pointing out the strange disconnect between the fact that McInerney is a retired three-star general and that his statements don’t make any sense. However, she misses the fact that, while his statements are off-the-wall, they are never off-the-cuff.
In short, McInerney does not actually believe the bizarre things that he says on air, but rather, these are carefully worded statements fed to the public for political purposes.
The Military-Industrial Complex
Thomas McIerney is constantly on television beating his war drums and warning Americans about amorphous threats to our nation. According to him, we are just days away from a horrendous terrorist attack. But McInerney is not simply a television military analyst, rather, he is an active participant in the military-industrial complex via the various boards of directors upon which he sits. What he does is not analysis, but advocacy. He is an advocate for nuclear weapons, long-range bombers, UAVs (specifically Global Hawk), and he is an advocate of going to war with a half dozen countries simultaneously.
This is not conjecture or secret information from anonymous sources, but rather McInerney’s own words. In his book End Game, he claims to have plotted the liberation of Iraq in 2002 on a cocktail napkin with Paul Vallely. They then pitched this plan to Bill O’Reilly at a party hosted by the Fox News network, who agreed to have them on his show to talk about it. In End Game, the generals write, “We knew appearing on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss the plan was something of a risk. In the past, we had acted solely as military analysts. Presenting our plan came close to advocacy.” (End Game, 85)
General McIerney chose not to simply be a passive analyst, but to instead become an active participant in shaping history. He believed we could take down Iraq in 30 days, and that the rest would basically be a cake walk. The U.S. military invaded in 2003 and our soldiers fought, bled, and died in the streets fighting terrorists, Baath-party loyalists, foreign fighters, and run-of-the-mill gangsters in places like Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra for an additional nine years.
Mcinerney is not to blame for the failures of the war in Iraq, but his rhetoric is suspect when the companies he works with have a material interest in the United States going to war—wars in which the products endorsed by McInerney, such as air power and UAVs, would be employed. In order for those products to be used, the American public has to be kept in a constant state of fear. That fear can then be channeled and used as a vehicle to support war. The vehicle of choice for McInerney is radical Islam.
He isn’t a right-wing nut as people like Rachel Maddow would have you believe. If we were to take McInerney’s word’s at face value, the politics he endorses are actually divorced from any ideology in contemporary mainstream politics. Like Lyndon LaRouche, Thomas McInerney’s politics are so far out there that it is disingenuous to describe them as right-wing, Republican, or conservative. But it is highly unlikely that McInerney actually believes silly stories about Flight 370, Iranian nuclear weapons, and birther conspiracies.
Far more likely, he says these things cynically for purely political purposes.
McInerney honorably served his country for many years, but contrary to the lapel pin on his collar, what he does today is far from patriotic. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Misleading Americans with alarmism and hyperbolic statements is deconstructing our political process. An informed public is an absolute necessity for a democracy to function. When retired generals leverage their credibility to mislead the public like a pied piper for political purposes, we are in serious trouble.
When they lend their name to conspiracy theories, it only contributes to polarizing American politics and driving wedges between the American people. When politicians see that the talking heads on television are saying something that does not match up with what our intelligence professionals are telling them, it is then seen as an intelligence failure.
Thomas McInerney is not alone. He is one member of a clique of retired generals, admirals, and CIA officers who have created an echo chamber in which they cite each other as sources and stir up the political fringe of America. They do this intentionally, knowing that their alarmist messages will be diluted by the time they make their way down to more reasonable people. But in the meantime, the damage done to American politics is impossible to calculate.
This is one facet of the modern military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us of.