I have been absent from these pages for a while. My new book Disinformation, co-written with Professor Ronald Rychlak, and the documentary movie based on it have monopolized my time. But there is a nauseating glasnost-style operation now being conducted here in the United States that makes me feel as though I were watching a reenactment of the immense glasnost I used to manage during the years when I was an adviser to Romania’s communist president Nicolae Ceausescu.
No, glasnost is not a misprint or a typo. During the years I was at the top of the KGB community, glasnost was the code name for an ultra-secret intelligence tool of the KGB’s ultra-secret black “science” of dezinformatsiya. Its task was to transform the country into a monument to its leader, and to portray that leader as god himself. That brings me back to PJ Media and its readers, for glasnost works only for people who do not know what glasnost really means.
If you think that Gorbachev invented the word glasnost to describe his effort to lead the Soviet Union “out of its totalitarian state and to democracy, to freedom, to openness,” you’re not alone. All of the Western media and most of the Western experts, even those in intelligence and defense establishments, believe that too—as does the committee that gave Gorbachev the Nobel Peace Prize. The venerable Encyclopedia Britannica defines glasnost as: “Soviet policy of open discussion of political and social issues. It was instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s and began the democratization of the Soviet Union.”[i] And the American Heritage Dictionary labels glasnost,
an official policy of the former Soviet government emphasizing candor with regard to discussion of social problems and shortcomings. [ii]
But glasnost is really an old Russian term for polishing the ruler’s image. In the mid 1930s—half a century before Gorbachev’s glasnost—the official Soviet encyclopedia defined the word glasnost as a spin on news released to the public: “Dostupnost obshchestvennomy obsuzhdeniyu, kontrolyu; publichnost,” meaning, the quality of being made available for public discussion or control.[iii] In other words, glasnost meant, literally, publicizing, i.e., self-promotion. Since the 16th century’s Ivan the Terrible, the first ruler to become tsar of all the Russias, all that country’s leaders have used glasnost to promote themselves inside and outside the country. The communist tsars tapped into this time-honored tradition of glasnost. The city of Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad— just as St. Petersburg, first named to glorify Peter the Great, was changed to Leningrad to glorify Lenin. The embalmed body of Russia’s newest saint, Lenin, was put on display in Moscow as a holy relic for adoration by the people.
I first suspected that glasnost had begun infecting the U.S. during the 2008 elections, when the Democratic Party proclaimed Senator Barack Obama an American Messiah. The senator agreed. On June 8, 2008, during an speech in New Hampshire, he stated that the beginning of his presidency would be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet to heal.”[iv] An indiscreet YouTube sequence shown on Fox TV revealed the picture of Communist idol Che Guevara hanging on the wall of Senator Obama’s campaign office in Houston.[v] Soon after that, the Democratic Party’s electoral gatherings began looking like Ceausescu’s revival meetings—over eighty thousand people were assembled in front of the now famous Greek temple resembling the White House that had been erected in Denver, to cheer for America’s new Messiah.
Quite a few Americans regarded this rhetoric as a new expression of democracy. For me, it was a replay of Ceausescu’s glasnost, which had been aimed at transforming Romania into a monument to him. “A man like me is born only once every five hundred years,” he proclaimed over and over.
Was Senator Obama pulling off a Ceausescu-style glasnost? Well, I doubt that he had any idea of what glasnost really meant. He was wearing short pants—in communist Indonesia—when glasnost was all of the rage. But when I juxtaposed some of the things that Senator, and later President, Obama did along with his public pronouncements, against the modus operandi and the history of glasnost, I found myself awfully close to a real glasnost.
Let’s go through the exercise together, so that you can judge for yourselves.
In 2008, the deceased veteran journalist David S. Broder compared Senator Obama’s tactics to hide his socialist past to the tactics of military pilots who need to protect themselves when flying over a target heavily defended by antiaircraft guns: “They release a cloud of fine metal scraps, hoping to confuse the aim of the shells or missiles being fired in their direction.”[vi] That’s a good description of glasnost.
Every glasnost I have ever known had the overriding task of concealing a ruler’s past by giving him a new political identity. Stalin’s glasnost concealed his horrific assassination of some 24 million people by portraying him as an earthly god, with his icon prominently displayed all around the country. Khrushchev’s glasnost was aimed at building a peaceful international façade for the man who shifted the KGB’s political assassinations over to the West. That was proved by the West German Supreme Court in October 1962, during the public trial of Bogdan Stashinsky, a KGB officer who had been decorated by Khrushchev himself for having assassinated Soviet enemies living in the West.[vii] Gorbachev, who had been a KGB informant when he was studying at Moscow State University,[viii] tasked his glasnost to lead attention away from his KGB past by portraying him as a magician who displayed a flirtatious “Miss KGB” to Western correspondents and pledged to transform the Soviet Union into a “Marxist society of free people.”[ix]
In 2008, when Senator Obama was running for president, his tax policies and voting records showed him as “the hardest-left candidate ever nominated for president of the United States.”[x] Remember? Running as a socialist, however, meant sailing in uncharted waters, and the senator decided to conceal his socialist image by presenting himself as a contemporary Reagan.[xi] After he was elected, President Obama further portrayed himself either as a present-day Lincoln[xii] or a new Teddy Roosevelt.[xiii]
Self-serving speeches have been another glasnost weapon. Lenin’s glasnost speeches changed Marxism so much that his followers ended up calling it “Leninism.” Stalin put Marxism, Leninism, Hegel’s dialectics and Feuerbach’s materialism into one bowl of glasnost and came up with his own “Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism.”
Ceausescu’s glasnost speeches were a ludicrous mixture of Marxism, nationalism and Byzantine fawning called Ceausism. All his speeches were focused on Ceausescu, and all were so slippery, undefined and ever-changing that he filled 24 volumes of his collected works without being able to describe what his Ceausism really meant. On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed, signaling the end of the Soviet Empire. On November 14, Ceausescu convoked the XIV Congress of the Communist Party where he gave a four-hour glasnost speech that persuaded the participants to reelect him and his illiterate wife as leaders of Romania.
Glasnost speeches work for people who do not know what glasnost really means. They have worked for President Obama as well. In his first 231 days in the White House, he gave 263 speeches.[xiv] All were basically about himself.[xv] His 2010 State of the Union speech contained the word “I” 76 times. In 2011, when he announced that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Ladin, President Obama used the words “I”, “me,” and “my” a combined 13 times in his just 1,300-word speech.[xvi] “I directed the director of the CIA … I met repeatedly with my national security team … I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action … At my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.”[xvii] President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address contained the word I 45 times and the word me 13 times. By that time he had been in the White House for 1080 days, and he had given 726 speeches.[xviii]
In 2011, when S&P downgraded the credit rating of the U.S. for the first time in our country’s history, President Obama gave another speech. It was a good speech, as far as speeches go—he is an outstanding speaker. But that speech was all President Obama did. Therefore the national debt grew bigger, and the cost to insure it against default rose from an average of 25 basis points to 55 points.
Soon after the barbaric assassination of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three of his subordinates inside our diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, carried out on the symbolic date of September 11 by certified Islamic terrorists, President Obama gave another speech. It was another good speech, but speeches alone do not prevent terrorism. The subsequent 2013 terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon was followed by one more presidential speech. “Homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism,” the president proclaimed. All we needed to do was close down Guantanamo and make a slight change in how we used drone airplanes.
A few months ago, when the terrorist government of Syria killed some 1,300 people with chemical weapons, President Obama gave several speeches. But speech-making is all he did, and that allowed Putin’s KGB, now installed in the Kremlin, to take over the handling of our policy toward Syria. A few days ago, when Obamacare’s website collapsed, the president reacted with one more speech, assuring the country that Obamacare “is working just fine. In some cases, actually, it’s exceeding expectations.” The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein said the speech was almost identical to one he could have given if the launch’s rollout had gone smoothly. He was right. It was just another glasnost speech.
Finally, there is the current tendency to change the U.S. into a glasnost-style monument to its leader. Below i republish a partial list of institutions and places already named after President Obama:
California: President Barack Obama Parkway, Orlando; Obama Way, Seaside; Barack Obama Charter School, Compton; Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy, Los Angeles; Barack Obama Academy, Oakland.
Florida: Barack Obama Avenue, Opa-loka; Barack Obama Boulevard, West Park.
Maryland: Barack Obama Elementary School, Upper Marlboro.
Missouri: Barack Obama Elementary School, Pine Lawn.
Minnesota: Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary, Saint Paul.
New Jersey: Barack Obama Academy, Plainfield; Barack Obama Green Charter High School, Plainfield.
New York: Barack Obama Elementary School, Hempstead.
Pennsylvania: Obama High School, Pittsburgh.
Texas: Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas.
I do not intend to suggest that President Obama might be a Putin or a Ceausescu. The president is certainly his own man—well educated, well-spoken, charismatic and charming. He belongs to a minority, just as I belong to another minority. But he has apparently bought into the siren call of socialism and glasnost, as I myself and millions of others like me around the world also did at that age in life.
The United States won the Cold War because Ronald Reagan was elected president long after he had purged himself of his youthful infatuation with socialism. He was then able to identify Gorbachev’s glasnost as the political swindle it really was, and to subdue it. Let’s hope that President Obama will do the same.
In November 2014, we will face what I believe to be the most important elections in American history. On the surface, the voters will decide which of our two main political parties will control the U.S. Congress. In fact, the voter will decide between keeping our country the leader of the free world, or transforming it into a glasnost irrelevance.
PJ Media is joining forces with WND (the publisher of Disinformation) to help its readers get the knowledge to call a spade a spade—it is socialism and glasnost we should defeat.
[i] Glasnost, Britannica Concise, as published on http://concise.britanica.com/ebc/article-9365668/glasnost.
[iii] Tolkovyy SlovarRusskogo Yazyka (Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language), ed. D.N. Ushakov (Moscow: “Soviet Encyclopedia” State Institute, 1935), Vol. I, p. 570.
[v] James Joyner, “Obama Che Guevara Flag Scandal,” Outside the Beltway, February 12, 2008, as posted at www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/2008/02/obama_che_guevara_flag_scandal/.
[vi] David S. Broder, “Obama’s Enigma,” The Washington Post, July 13, 2008, p. B7.
[vii] John Barron, KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents (New York: Reader’s Digest Books, 1974, reprinted by Bantam Books), p. 429.
[viii] Zhores Medvedev, Gorbachev. New York: Norton, 1987, p. 37.
[ix] Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), passim.
[x] Peter Kinder, “Missourians Reject Obama
[xi] Jonathon M. Seidl, Obama Compares Himself Tom Reagan: Republicans Aren’t Accusing Him Of ‘Being Socialist’”, The Blaze, October 5, 2011.
[xii] Alexandra`Petri, Obama is up there with Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Johnson,” The Washington Post, December 12, 2011, PostOpinions.
[xiiii] David Nakamura, “Obama invokes Teddy Roosevelt in speech attacking GOP policies, The Washington Post, December 6, 2011.
[xiv] “How Many Speeches Did Obama Give,” newswine.com, July 16, 2010, as posted on http://joysteele.newswine.com/_news/2010/07/16/4691800-how-many-speeches-did-obama-give.
[xv] Thomas Lifson, “Obama’s troop withdrawal speech: when politics triumphs victory,” American Thinker, June 23, 2011.
[xvi] “Right-Wing Media Fixated On Obama’s “Shamless” Bin Laden Speech,” MEDIAMATTERS, May 3, 2011(http://mediamatters.org/research/201105030031).
[xvii] George Landrith, “The ‘it’s all about me’ president,” The Daily Caller, May 5, 2011, as posted on http://dailycaller.com/2011/05/03/the-its-all-about-me-president/
[xviii] http://wiki.answer.com/Q/How_many_speeches_did_Obama_give (as searched in January.)