If you follow me on Twitter, you already know my position on Neo-McCarthyism. I don’t like it. Furthermore, the idea that Russia is to blame for everything, in particular the lousy state of American democracy, is sheer nonsense and obscures real problems we need to address.
So naturally I from time to time call out perverse and hysterical forms of Russophobia, and especially when the source is a lobbyist. I recently had in my cross hairs the neoconservative Molly McKew, whose voice is currently being amplified by a lot of liberals because they find that her deranged — and, it turns out, purchased — hot takes on Russia are pleasing to the ear as they cluelessly try to figure out why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump.
Prior to becoming a lobbyist, McKew headed the foreign and defense policy studies program at the American Enterprise Institute, the neocon think tank that was one of the main architects of the Iraq War. AEI is a strong promoter of “democracy” abroad, anti-Communist (with all the sophistication of Invasion of the Body Snatchers), and, not un-relatedly, ardent in protecting American corporate interests by any means necessary, including war. During the Iraq War, McKew oversaw AEI’s public outreach and continued to pump out propaganda during the catastrophic occupation and “reconstruction.”
Molly has had quite the stellar career as a consultant and PR hack. In 2007 she worked at KLR international, where she pushed through more than $1 million in Pentagon cash for the Iraq Memory Foundation.
Now, I generally support the arts and humanities, but the Iraq Memory Foundation was essentially a U.S.-funded front that helped promote the 2003 invasion and was later accused — by Saad Eskander, director of the Iraq National Library and Archives, among others — of looting documents that ended up in the hands of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
McKew went to work at the Podesta Group in 2010, where her clients included the biotech giant Genzyme. She currently heads her own firm, Fianna Strategies, where she lobbies for a number of foreign governments.
McKew has placed “articles” in Politico, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera, NPR and Washington Free Beacon, in which she crafts clients’ messages to their target audience. Lobbyists routinely plant stories as part of their campaigns, and one can only wonder why “news” organizations publish their claptrap without fully disclosing the authors’ clear conflicts of interest.
One of my favorite examples of McKew’s unsubstantiated Russia hysteria surrounds the “Gerasimov Doctrine.” Last October, she penned a barely lucid piece in Politico that posited that this allegedly all-important doctrine by Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s equivalent of the Joint Chiefs, was driving the country’s current policy and that it was “considered by many to be the most useful articulation of Russia’s modern strategy.”
Of course, she never identified any of the “many”; we’re simply to believe that there is a collective consensus of experts on this issue, when there is none. A superficial online search for this allegedly super-important doctrine returns pages and pages of bizarre Kremlin conspiracy-mongering, but no one of note citing it.
In the piece, McKew writes, “Gerasimov took tactics developed by the Soviets, blended them with strategic military thinking about total war, and laid out a new theory of modern warfare — one that looks more like hacking an enemy’s society than attacking it head-on.”
Reality check. This “doctrine” is apparently based on a short and straightforward article that appeared in a military magazine, and that could easily have been written by an American general discussing the realities of modern warfare. The tactics cited weren’t developed by the Soviets, and indeed the U.S. government makes liberal use of them. Moreover, many items McKew cites in her article refer to General Gerasimov ruminating on how the West, not Russia, conducts itself. He specifically references Libya and regime change efforts connected to the so-called “Arab Spring.”
I’m linking to the entire article here so that you can decide for yourself. But the claim that this is a Soviet military strategy doctrine is pretty farfetched in my opinion.
So McKew is what I refer to as The War Lobbyist. Earlier this year, she declared in another unhinged Politico piece that “fighting a new Cold War would be in America’s best interest.” That’s an astonishing claim on its face and highly controversial, to put it mildly. She further argues that ISIS’s emergence is, as usual, all Russia’s fault, while ignoring the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a key contributing factor.
She goes on to add that the U.S. must confront Vladimir Putin or he’ll invade Georgia again. Never mind that Putin acted after Georgia first invaded the Russian protectorate of Ossetia and that the U.N. deployed peacekeepers there at the request of inhabitants.
That’s not to say that Russia is entirely innocent, but the situation is more complicated than McKew admits. Moreover, the notion that Russia is anything more than a waning global power with a weak economy and highly dependent on natural resource extraction is ludicrous. As a nation, the U.S. faces far larger problems and threats.
So what does McKew have to gain with her paranoid scaremongering? Quite a bit, it turns out.
She was registered as a foreign agent lobbying for the National Security Council and presidency of Georgia between 2008 and 2013, during the authoritarian, corrupt regime of the neocons’ beloved Mikheil Saakashvili. She remained on the payroll of his United National Movement party until early this year.
In 2014, McKew registered to lobby for the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, which was founded by Vlad Filat, a businessman caught up in a huge 2015 banking scandal when he was prime minister. Suffice it to say, Filat’s party is not pro-Russian. In an October 2015 story, McKew told BuzzFeed that she was run out of Moldova by the pro-Russian opposition because of her work as a lobbyist for Filat. However, there’s no way of evaluating the story because it was written by neocon reporter Rosie Gray, now with The Atlantic.
I’ve often argued that neoliberals and neoconservatives are essentially two sides of the same coin, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Neoliberals are not liberal, and neoconservatives are not conservative; both are elitists that serve empire and seek control of natural resources for the United States, and wars are fought for that reason, if not in that name. That’s why I call the whole bunch of them “Neoists.”
This is all pretty obvious, but if you need more evidence, consider the number of Bush-era neoconservatives — i.e., the Twin Towers of Terror Robert Kagan, a self-described “liberal interventionist,” and John Negroponte, a Reagan and Bush Jr. administration veteran — who rallied around Hillary Clinton. They didn’t hate Trump for any principled reason, of which there were plenty, but merely because he rhetorically opposed neocon calls for wars on five of the seven continents.
Which brings us to McKew’s Twitter feed, which reads like an endless screed out of the HUAC, or House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Let’s superficially dissect this bizarre claim and its two underlying premises. The first is that green causes are inherently bad because Russia, a petro state, is said to be for them. The second is that Native Americans fighting for clean water on their land at Standing Rock are part of a greater Russian PSYOPS effort aimed at undermining American democracy and interests.
Neither of these positions is remotely tenable. Environmental causes are always good, no matter who’s behind them, and we all benefit from them. [Editor’s note: I don’t like the outdoors, especially if the temperature is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but I generally share this perspective.] Her second claim is just plain stupid. Russia’s economy is largely driven by natural resource extraction and oil, and it has no inherent interest in promoting green causes.
So, if you’re Molly McKew, a lobbyist for a neocon agenda and anti-Russian foreign nations, what’s your game? Do you care if the Democratic Party keeps losing elections, or do you favor cuts to the military budget? Clearly not.
Maybe you’re just a greedy grifter out to land more shitty, bloodsucking foreign clients. On the other hand, maybe in your Twitter feed we’re just seeing one more example of Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman’s theory about the manufacture of consent.
Either way, we all need to know that lobbyists like McKew, with their ability to twist the media and politicians, are central players in our ongoing and accelerating decline. And she’s no isolated example. There are countless more like her who take money to promote positions that hurt average Americans and benefit the military-industrial complex.
If environmental warriors and their causes need to be undermined, that’s just fine for Molly, as long as she’s making piles of greenbacks.