Over the years regime change projects have taken some bizarre twists and turns. The cast of characters working for Washington in the Obama era is often something off a B movie script. Now we see actors and studio suits at RAND Corporation coaching global political strategy! Alas, the latest Left Coast plan for North Korea just blew up on the launch pad.
The collateral damage is most obvious in Hollywood at Sony Pictures, at Fox, and in Santa Monica at the RAND’s global headquarters. Alas, the Pyongyang putsch was thwarted by D-list hackers. Kim Jung-Un is one of those dyspeptic pot-bellied Third World plutocrats with nuclear ambitions – and the chutzpah to use cyber strikes preemptively.
The “Supreme Leader” of Asian dystopia has burned Barack Obama’s national security Keystone Cops – again. Ironically, the digital sneak attack precedent, the cyber strike, was set by team Obama with STUXNET in Iran. The Beltway brigades should be accustomed to the smell of blowback these days.
Thus North Korea becomes another loss leader on a long list of foreign policy boners. You could say that regime change debacles in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine, and Russia were offensive failures. But like the Arab air raid against New York, the successful strike against California by North Korean operatives is another defensive failure. No offense, or defense, means no game in any political league.
You might think that with all the cash thrown at the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, and RAND since 9/11 that there would have been a zone sanitaire to protect the vitals of commercial cutouts like Hollywood film studios.
Indeed, Sony mandarin Michael Lynton is wired. He sits on the RAND Corporation Board. Lynton commiserates regularly with defense strategists like Bruce Bennett, Santa Monica’s most vocal advocate of regime change by assassination. RAND has recently taken to hosting symposiums about film and politics out in Santa Monica. The girls on the The View could connect those dots.
RAND doesn’t fund squat without a sponsor.
Withal, who might be using who in the Hollywood/Santa Monica/Washington triangle? Is Hollywood a naïve victim or just another hapless Obama era co-conspirator? The virtual script for the Interview may have been written at Sony. The real world scheme, hidden agenda if you will, for toppling Kim may have been hatched in Santa Monica.
Doctor Strangelove rides again! There was a time when film studios mocked strategic forums like RAND. Under Obama, Hollywood seems to have developed an unnatural liaison with the mother of think tanks. Is RAND and the studios turning tricks for the CIA or the DOD? Daniel Ellsberg, former RAND analyst, might have to come out of retirement for this one.
The strong suites at RAND are national security and social science research (yes, Obamacare). Beyond geography, RAND doesn’t appear to have much in common with the entertainment industry.
RAND doesn’t usually host security seminars for free either. If the Sony propaganda flic was sponsored PSYOPS (psychological operations), the studio is not likely to eat the production costs of the Interview. Someone needs to do the math, then follow the cash!
Oh snap! Non-profits like RAND do not have to discuss, disclose, or publish the intimate details of their projects, advice to the government, or corporate finances.
There seem to be two schools of thought on the Pyongyang hack attack and Hollywood’s unconditional surrender. One school seems to believe that the worst could never be enough for the Media moguls of Los Angles. Another school of thought believes that the Supreme Leader of North Korea has scored a direct hit on artistic freedom.
In fact neither argument survives the sunshine test. If and when the Interview is released, it will be the beneficiary of the best state-sponsored PR stunt in history. Indeed, the most famous suppressed flic of the new century. The Interview might also become the most profitable B-movie on record – or the first piece of mediocre art to start a nuclear war.
In any case, the artistic freedom or free speech lament is a crock.
Where was Hollywood when Satanic Verses was suppressed? Where was the Hollywood Left when Salman Rushdie received a death sentence from Islam for writing a book about pernicious religion? When did the Hollywood /Washington axis defend a Danish cartoonist’s right to mock Mohammed, Muslims, and terrorism? And finally, where was Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and their Hollywood bag men when an amateur filmmaker was vilified, prosecuted, and imprisoned for making a video that mocked Muslim misogyny and Mohammed’s pedophilia? Where in all of this is the difference between secular and religious fascism?
On balance, the Washington/Pyeongyang brouhaha is now another standoff. Like the Crimea, Hollywood is already gone. And what Henry said about Putin, surely applies to Kim Jung-Un, demonization and name calling is not policy. Your move Mister President!
The author is a former Senior USAF Intelligence Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica.