The Permanent War Party

Over the summer, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign offered little more than a political Rorschach test. The defining conclusion: Joe Biden was not Donald Trump. 

The campaign talked ceaselessly of “character,” of a battle for America’s soul. A vote for Biden, a vote to restore the White House to an office of decency and decorum. Democrats countered pallid enthusiasm for Biden in primitive detail: a return to “normalcy.”

President Trump’s history of tattooing ruinous monikers to the foreheads of foes ran out of ink. “Sleepy” Joe offered 80 million Americans what they desired most: the end of the tumultuous Trump Show, and a somnambulant Biden presidency. 

Americans played political Netflix, unbundling the full package of a Democratic blue wave by withering the Democratic House majority and damning Democrats in the Senate. 

For 80 million Americans—a figure gerrymandered by Democratic mail-in larceny—the rage-addicted media’s four-year doom-loop had its desired effect. Throughout his first term, President Trump, despite manifest and unreported successes, seldom broke above 50 percent approval. 

On January 20, half of Americans are set to receive their first installment of “normalcy.” At his inauguration, a President Biden will talk of bringing the nation together, of restoring the American Dream. The alphabet media will swoon in the confirmation of its diluted yet still potent power to counterfeit the future.

To counterfeit that future, Biden hot-plates the failed past. His Cabinet picks herald a return to the Obama-Biden Administration and, as he said himself, a clean break from President Trump’s “America First.”

What Is WestExec?

Two of the most powerful people on Earth could emerge from a shadowy consultancy firm called WestExec Advisors. 

The “strategic consultancy” is a government-in-waiting for the Biden Administration. Founded in 2017 by Tony Blinken, Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state, and Michèle Flournoy, frontrunner for secretary of defense. 

WestExec chokes with the names of top Democratic national-security and foreign-policy wonks. Every name has either raised money for Biden, advised the campaign, or joined his transition team.

Twenty-one of the 38 employees listed on the website donated to the Biden campaign, while Flournoy raised more than $100,000. Five staffers—all Obama-Biden émigrés—are on leave, helping Biden stock the Pentagon, Treasury, Council of Economic Advisers, and other agencies.

They’re an “unrivaled bipartisan team” of advisers and wonks. In reality, WestExec is a semi-permanent Biden Administration, one waiting since its 2017 founding to take the reins of the White House.  

WestExec cloaks itself in the garbage language of America’s corporate elite. Promising to “bring the Situation Room to the Boardroom,” the firm makes no bones of its direct links to the White House. 

A map on the WestExec website highlights the straight line between West Executive Avenue, which runs between the West Wing of the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Building. 

Those visitors unaware of the visual boast, WestExec helps them along: “It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequence.” 

A true parody of the lobbying influence endemic in American politics, it might be, yet WestExec is not officially a lobbying firm. They’re “strategic advisers.” No need to disclose their highly secretive client lists, whom they work for, or from where those dollars seep. 

Online, the firm touts its White House connections: “Bringing the full power of our network to bear in helping clients navigate rapidly emerging challenges and opportunities.”

A Spiritual Opposite of America First

WestExec slinks and slides beneath the Biden transition’s rules on not hiring past-year lobbyists, with Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick to run the State Department, free to pull up a seat in the White House.

Cloying profiles of Blinken paint a spiritual and cultural opposite of America First, circling his fluent French and strident cosmopolitanism. 

As secretary of state, Blinken would be one of the world’s most powerful men. A Clinton White House graduate, Blinken held Biden’s hand throughout the modern history of American political disaster, pushing him to support the Iraq misadventure in 2003, lobbying in 2011 for more catastrophe in Libya, and wishing for more robust American meddling in Syria. 

As deputy secretary of state in 2015, Blinken gushed over U.S. antagonism of the Saudi conflict in Yemen. 

American-authored disaster in the Middle East hasn’t diluted his hawkishness. In January 2019, Blinken co-authored an essay lamenting President Trump’s America First retreat from global guardianship. 

The “challenge,” Blinken says, is to find a middle-ground foreign policy Americans support, and one that doesn’t shy from the pre-emptive meddling he regards as American destiny and duty. 

Blinken typifies this triangulation in his remarks on Syria, assuring the United States rightly avoided another Iraq-style war by “not doing too much” then lamenting “we made the opposite error by doing too little.” Retreating from Syria, he says, will restore the Islamic State. 

Blinken peppers the essay with the same garbage language of corporate America that typifies WestExec communiques. U.S. foreign policy should be both diplomatic and deterrent, resting on: “a combination of active diplomacy and military deterrence.”

“Words alone will not dissuade the Vladimir Putins and Xi Jinpings of this world.”

Despite veritable carnage in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Blinken is nominally confessional in blaming poor intelligence, misguided strategy, and a lack of post-war foresight for draining public support. 

Blinken attests he will correct those misgivings, ensuring Americans that future conflict is “carefully thought out.”

Deep State Triumphant

WestExec’s brio portends the return to “normalcy” is actually a return to the quagmire preceding President Trump. 

When founders Tony Blinken and Michèle Flournoy in 2017 opened their office three blocks from the White House, they brokered a clause allowing for their lease to end without penalty if a new president won the White House in 2020. 

Flournoy, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama Administrations, is Biden’s likely pick for defense secretary. After leaving the administration, Flournoy flourished across multiple defense consultancies. A Pentagon stalwart, Flournoy co-founded the Center for a New American Security, one of the top-three drains of defense-contractor dollars. 

Flournoy crafted President Obama’s Iraq and Afghanistan strategies, and is celebrated for the 2010 Afghanistan “surge” planting 100,000 troops on the ground. That surge, which then-vice president Biden opposed, achieved little for hundreds more American lives. 

A Biden Administration will inherit President Trump’s settlement with the Taliban. Flournoy will help to decide the fate of that deal, and whether America’s longest war breaks 19 years. 

Yet, the Democratic Party’s progressive wing has concerns with the likely appointment of Flournoy, citing her support of conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, and her super-hawk vibration within defense circles.

For every projection progressives plastered onto President Trump, one unpeeled when he broke a 39-year streak of American presidents either starting or entering a war—the first not to do so since Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Jimmy Carter. 

Are they sensing an ominous tickle of déjà vu? 

From the stage at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, Joe Biden earlier this week hailed his foreign-policy and national security brains, promising to end President Trump’s retreat from global intervention.  

“It’s a team that reflects that America is back,” said Biden. “Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.” 

About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist and a founding member of the Gentlemen of the Swig. Subscribe to his Substack, "Oxford Sour."

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

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