Robert Caruso and the grey tribe: The tweets his future employers, editors, and clients should know about

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It was with great interest that I watched one of the security state’s more aggressive propagandists get dragged into the #GamerGate maelstrom last month. I don’t have strong feelings about the movement, but anything that gives Gawker a taste of its own medicine is probably not all bad. This is the first point of contact in the national security realm in what Pax Dickinson calls the grey tribe’s rebellion against the blue tribe.

Meet Robert Caruso, a consultant, columnist seen at the Daily Beast, The HillHuffington PostThe Guardian, and elsewhere, former spokesman for the Afghan reconstruction, and is a frequent source for anti-Snowden perspectives for Business Insider’s Michael Kelley. He hasn’t written a word that doesn’t argue for more war. Since surfacing as a columnist he’s argued the best way to stop ISIS is to go after Iran and arm the Syrian opposition, obscured the administration’s denials of NSA spying in a quote at Buzzfeed, said we should arm the Kurds and put boots on the ground in Iraq, thinks the man who thought we could bomb Libya into liberal democracy is a “consummate realist,” and also at Buzzfeed, written a listicle on why the NSA is a-OK. There’s this one:

Once again, the United States finds itself embroiled in a debate over whether or not to “go to war.” It’s a choice the country shouldn’t have to make, and it wouldn’t with a bigger, more lethal clandestine service like France or Israel has. …

In remarks offered right here in Massachusetts, the CIA’s own deputy director once observed dryly, “People in the 1950s and early 1960s concluded that the United States was facing a ruthless and implacable enemy. Our only hope of survival was to match their dedication with our dedication and their ruthlessness with our ruthlessness.” That ruthlessness is sorely needed again.

More humorously, he was published in a Tufts publication, but misspelled the school in a column he wrote quoting a graduate.

Here’s another revealing one, in which he actually says we should insert ourselves between some of the craziest killers killin’:

The military gains of both Iran’s proxies and ISIL should be blunted to curb the sectarian bloodshed outside Irbil sure to follow. The international coalition Secretary Kerry and President Obama cobbled together, acting in concert with the United States, should take more aggressive actions to prevent advances by Shi’a militia.

The primary objective in Iraq should be to secure Irbil, pull back all American diplomatic and military presence to behind Iraqi Kurdistan’s borders, and pit ISIL and Iran against each other.

Naturally, this is all is great for his career, and he seems to have gotten his first MSNBC hit recently off of a column that argued we need airstrikes in addition to drone strikes in Syria. Interestingly, the column was published the day after airstrikes began.

There’s a not-very-reassuring quality of question-begging in his work, like the first line of this piece for the Fletcher School; ‘To actively shape a new Middle East, the U.S. must invest in our partners on the ground.” The part A, why we should be shaping a new Middle East, must have been lost on the cutting room floor.

Or here, in which he picks up a dog whistle from Dick Cheney:

“It’s now a jihadist wonderland in Iraq,” he said on Sunday, “precisely because we got over-involved.” Which led Dick Cheney, on another Sunday show, to say this: “Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist.”

But Dick Cheney is actually right on this one: isolationism is not a responsible foreign policy. [Cheney obviously thinks it is, but did he say it?]

​In uniform, I was responsible for outsmarting the adversary. Right now, America’s adversaries are watching us flounder in Iraq closely – and they’re laughing at us​. ​Anyone who​ has​ fought for Iraq – or studied the sectarian fallout of that fighting – knows air strikes ​will only be the beginning, but the consequences of inaction could be worse. I​f the US wants to keep influence in the region, it needs to ​​​launch truly covert action with Kurdish and Syrian ​groups.

The punch line of all of this is Caruso is indisputably a leftist, as you can tell from this column where he whines about how oppressed he is as a former employee of the most powerful navy on the planet Puerto Rican:

Caucasians have no standing in these debates, nor do Americans of African descent. Latinos have a responsibility to encourage the free exchange of ideas. This is especially true in the 21st century.

Latinos have unarguably been oppressed and discriminated against by all facets of society, especially the media, for an inordinate amount of time. … Oppression is real and it is everywhere. This is not in contention and when it comes from within the culture, it is unforgivable. And it must be confronted. … All inequality, inside and outside of Latino culture, should be met with force. Namely, the force of wisdom, force of equality, and force of words.

Sure, Bobby, “force of wisdom.” Whatever you say.

Seriously, read the whole thing, it’s like a mash-up of Peggy McIntosh and George W. Bush. This is what I mean about U.S. foreign policy standing up for left-wing goals, not right-wing ones.

*****

Since Caruso is a leftist, he obviously doesn’t like #Gamergate.

He got dragged into a conversation with an admittedly nasty pro-Assad activist, calling her a “bitch” and “one of the dumbest people I’ve ever encountered” and ended up tweeting this:

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He’s deleted this one, and claims he was hacked, but also denied he was hacked. And if you think this was an opinion offered in the heat of argument, he tweeted the same sentiment a month earlier (image at top). There are other things too.

Whether or not he said those things, he isn’t sorry:

OK, so you don’t like this lady, and you don’t like Gamergate. I hold no brief for these people either. But, who acts like this? He’s voicing his opposition to a supposedly misogynistic movement of internet harassers by… harassing a woman on the internet.

Should it concern us that that person is on MSNBC, taken seriously as a foreign policy analyst? Is it a problem that he feels like he can get away with it?

It’s people like Caruso who really make the case for Joe McCarthy. They undermine the confidence that our leaders are acting in a level-headed, non-ideological way. And he comes from the civil service, after all, America’s true sovereign, unchallenged since the Senator from Wisconsin’s doomed purge. Do you think he got the Huffington Post oppression column skills from the Navy’s diversity training?

*****

This past week, Washington’s journalistic elite gathered for a backyard tent party to mourn the death of Ben Bradlee, a journalist who sat on knowledge of JFK’s illegal wiretaps. 50 years later the NSA does it more or less freely.

Whether or not you adhere to the theory of the great coup by the “double government,” as Michael J. Glennon, also of the Fletcher School, calls it in a recent article, a thorough lustration may be the cure for what ails us. And Caruso is part of an elite that, if given its way, would never let America have peace. The least we can do is make sure they don’t have any either.

Since Caruso is prone to taking anything as a threat, I should be perfectly clear. Someone who says things like this, let alone believes them, has no business shaping the conversation on American foreign policy. I don’t think they should be given a forum either as a columnist or source, no matter how many Twitter followers they have. Editors and reporters should find it discrediting to do so after remarks like this, but the ones who don’t will be noted by this blog.

It would also be interesting to see whether what residual liberal pro-civil liberties/anti-war inclinations may remain at the publications Caruso occasionally graces with his wisdom trump their reluctance to be seen as caving to the “subhuman” Gamergaters. Because, as you can see, it’s not really about that. I’ve contacted Huffington Post to make them aware of all of this, and will update this post if they reply. If there are any enterprising trolls out there who’d like to contact his other editors, I’d be curious as to what they have to say.

Every incentive, from a media standpoint, points toward more war. War juices ratings and drives clicks. Moreover, very few of those who supported the catastrophic second Iraq invasion have seen any professional or personal repercussions. The message this sends is that it’s OK to recklessly advocate intervention under any circumstances for professional and personal gain, no matter how insane. I doubt Rick Perry could find Damascus on a map, but you can bet he’ll hit Rand Paul for being an isolationist. To trust the elite consensus on foreign policy, one must believe that they are capable of making rational decisions in the national interest in the presence of these incentives. Do you?

The perpetual, unbounded war will continue, and get worse, unless we change the incentives at work. So here’s hoping the grey tribe takes more of the war party’s scalps. We’re going to need them.

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