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Citations Needed

Sep 9, 2020

"U.S. military tactics falling behind those of adversaries, Pentagon official warns," The Guardian proclaims. "Russian Propaganda Is Pervasive, and America Is Behind the Power Curve in Countering It," reads a report from the RAND Corporation. "U.S. falling behind in new space race, says CIA's former head of science and tech," cautions CBS News.

U.S. media consistently characterize the United States – a country with nearly 800 military bases worldwide and an ever-climbing annual defense budget that's already more than a trillion dollars – as the world's eternal underdog. Somehow, the United States military is always "lagging" or "falling behind" perennial enemies Russia, China and evil Muslim terrorists in everything from nuclear weapons, PSYOPs, Internet security and surveillance, Arctic ice cutters, intercontinental ballistic missiles, drones, dominating outer space, and the always reliable and extremely vague "military readiness."

The scam goes something like this: A weapons contractor and military-funded think tank publishes a supposedly neutral "report" or a handful "U.S. officials" run to a media outlet insisting the United States is "lagging behind" in a sector that incidentally coincides with said think tank's funders or government entity's interests. Credulous American media mindlessly repeats the claims, everyone acts panicked, treating the warning like a work of good faith, sober and objective analysis. Congress then reacts and uses media coverage to rationalize even more contracts to the very funders of the think tank that raised the warning, further bloating the Pentagon, State Department and CIA budgets. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, all the while portraying the U.S.'s gargantuan defense expenditures as paltry and insufficient.

On this episode, we parse the trope of the always “lagging” United States, who pushes and funds it, who benefits from it, and ask why the inverse question – "what if the U.S. is too powerful and dominant over the rest of the world" – is never broached by American media, much less honestly debated.

Our guest is FAIR's Jim Naureckas.