The Generals and CDI

A critical element of the 'General's Revolt' that has not received enough attention is the involvement of the Center for Defense Information (CDI). 

The CDI is a Washington—based advocacy group that, like the Institute of Policy Studies or the National Resources Defense Council, is usually described with a bland, harmless—sounding tagline that hides more than it reveals. The CDI claims to be an organization

making available continuing, objective information and analyses of our national defense

when in fact for the past three decades it has been the Left's point organization for attacking military and defense policy.

The CDI was founded in 1972 by Stewart Mott, a General Motors heir who used his unearned largesse to fund Left—wing policy organizations in hopes of keeping alive and if possible expanding the influence of the New Left in the post—Vietnam period.

Mott's umbrella organization was the Fund for Peace, and the CDI's sister organizations included the Center for National Security Studies run by Robert Borosage (later advisor to Jesse Jackson) and the Twentieth Century Fund's National Security Study, run by Friend—of—Bill Morton Halperin.

(To show how tightly wound these networks can be, a later addition to Mott's stable was the Center for International Policy, today run by William Goodfellow, husband of Dana Priest, the Washington Post reporter at the center of the CIA leak scandal.) Others involved included arms—control advocate Paul Warnke, Ramsey Clark, lawyer to dictators, and none other than Paul Newman, who sat on the board.

The CDI's driving force was Gene R. LaRoque, who billed himself as a 'retired rear admiral'. In fact, LaRoque was a destroyer and cruiser captain with a record not quite adequate for promotion. He never actually served as a rear admiral, being raised to that rank in his final days in the Navy to qualify for a higher pension. Some critics claim that La Roque's pique at being passed over for acting flag rank was a major reason behind his collaboration with Mott. But speculation on motives is unnecessary in light of LaRoque's record: for nearly thirty years, he acted as gray eminence of the Left's assault on all aspects of American defense.

During the 1970s, according to the Heritage Foundation, the CDI opposed the B—1 bomber, the cruise missile, the MX ICBM, nuclear weapons modernization, and U.S. bases in the Indian Ocean and the Philippines. No Pentagon budget, not even the anemic amounts of the 70s, was low enough for the CDI. Fears of growing Soviet strength were dismissed, particularly involving Soviet naval expansion.

The CDI relentlessly opposed all aspects of the Reagan military buildup, including the 600—ship Navy, emplacement of Pershing and Tomahawk missiles in Europe, and the Strategic Defense Initiative. The organization was a key player in the mid—80s Nuclear Freeze Movement, carrying on that crusade far longer than most — ten years later, the CDI was accusing the U.S. of 'targeting Third—World nations' with nuclear weapons after the close of the Cold War. Today, the CDI's concerns include the F—22 Raptor and Ballistic Missile Defense. They're agin 'em.

Despite losing most of its battles, the CDI grew in influence, becoming one of the behind—the—Beltway—scenes organizations that not so much as sets the agenda as creates the context for policy debates. The organization's newsletter Defense Monitor is sent to every ranking military officer and Congressional office. LaRoque, and other retired officers he talked into joining, lecture at military war colleges and at the State Department Foreign Service Institute. 'Special Studies' consisting of occasional papers, monographs, and analyses are published, along with a series of books on defense topics, several of which became required reading for college courses. Other efforts include radio, film, and TV programs for national distribution. The CDI has become the go—to source for military topics. Most reporters never bother to quote any other. 

One of the major selling points of the CDI message is that it comes from ex—military men. All the same, it's a shock to see a man of Anthony Zinni's stature listed on the organization's website as 'distinguished military fellow'. There were a lot of paths for Zinni to take, a lot of ways for him to get his message across. That he chose an organization with the CDI's history is surprising, not to say disturbing. The reason could be naiveté, ignorance, or even conviction. (Military men who assent to Leftist beliefs are rarities, but are not unknown — e.g., David Hackworth.) Whatever the case, it can't be argued that Zinni has not adapted some of the organization's ideas as his own.

Readers of this site will realize that little is new in Zinni's recent charges. In fact, Zinni retailed the entire package at a CDI banquet in 2004, minus only the demand that Donald Rumsfeld resign. The only other novel point is that a half—dozen other officers have joined him.

(A strange element of the CDI's animus toward Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lies in the fact that the organization claims to advocate a number of policies the secretary has carried out, such as canceling useless big—ticket programs, e.g., the Crusader artillery system, and the necessity of force transformation — the term is actually utilized on the CDI's website — based on the principles of the Revolution in Military Affairs. This contradiction is not easy to explain, but there it is.)
 
The CDI hasn't yet so much as commented on the current revolt of the retired generals. But the fact that the organization is involved, even peripherally, makes it impossible to believe the 'revolt' is what it's presented as being — the spontaneous, unrehearsed action of concerned ex—military officers. Whether they were persuaded by Zinni, as LaRoque persuaded many others before him, or whether they've been manipulated without even knowing it, is beside the point.

A group of veteran officers are being effectively used as fronts for a powerful and secretive Leftist organization during time of war. The voice may be Jacob's, but the hands are the hands of Esau. That's where we stand in the fifth year of the Long War.

J.R. Dunn is a frequent contributor

A critical element of the 'General's Revolt' that has not received enough attention is the involvement of the Center for Defense Information (CDI). 

The CDI is a Washington—based advocacy group that, like the Institute of Policy Studies or the National Resources Defense Council, is usually described with a bland, harmless—sounding tagline that hides more than it reveals. The CDI claims to be an organization

making available continuing, objective information and analyses of our national defense

when in fact for the past three decades it has been the Left's point organization for attacking military and defense policy.

The CDI was founded in 1972 by Stewart Mott, a General Motors heir who used his unearned largesse to fund Left—wing policy organizations in hopes of keeping alive and if possible expanding the influence of the New Left in the post—Vietnam period.

Mott's umbrella organization was the Fund for Peace, and the CDI's sister organizations included the Center for National Security Studies run by Robert Borosage (later advisor to Jesse Jackson) and the Twentieth Century Fund's National Security Study, run by Friend—of—Bill Morton Halperin.

(To show how tightly wound these networks can be, a later addition to Mott's stable was the Center for International Policy, today run by William Goodfellow, husband of Dana Priest, the Washington Post reporter at the center of the CIA leak scandal.) Others involved included arms—control advocate Paul Warnke, Ramsey Clark, lawyer to dictators, and none other than Paul Newman, who sat on the board.

The CDI's driving force was Gene R. LaRoque, who billed himself as a 'retired rear admiral'. In fact, LaRoque was a destroyer and cruiser captain with a record not quite adequate for promotion. He never actually served as a rear admiral, being raised to that rank in his final days in the Navy to qualify for a higher pension. Some critics claim that La Roque's pique at being passed over for acting flag rank was a major reason behind his collaboration with Mott. But speculation on motives is unnecessary in light of LaRoque's record: for nearly thirty years, he acted as gray eminence of the Left's assault on all aspects of American defense.

During the 1970s, according to the Heritage Foundation, the CDI opposed the B—1 bomber, the cruise missile, the MX ICBM, nuclear weapons modernization, and U.S. bases in the Indian Ocean and the Philippines. No Pentagon budget, not even the anemic amounts of the 70s, was low enough for the CDI. Fears of growing Soviet strength were dismissed, particularly involving Soviet naval expansion.

The CDI relentlessly opposed all aspects of the Reagan military buildup, including the 600—ship Navy, emplacement of Pershing and Tomahawk missiles in Europe, and the Strategic Defense Initiative. The organization was a key player in the mid—80s Nuclear Freeze Movement, carrying on that crusade far longer than most — ten years later, the CDI was accusing the U.S. of 'targeting Third—World nations' with nuclear weapons after the close of the Cold War. Today, the CDI's concerns include the F—22 Raptor and Ballistic Missile Defense. They're agin 'em.

Despite losing most of its battles, the CDI grew in influence, becoming one of the behind—the—Beltway—scenes organizations that not so much as sets the agenda as creates the context for policy debates. The organization's newsletter Defense Monitor is sent to every ranking military officer and Congressional office. LaRoque, and other retired officers he talked into joining, lecture at military war colleges and at the State Department Foreign Service Institute. 'Special Studies' consisting of occasional papers, monographs, and analyses are published, along with a series of books on defense topics, several of which became required reading for college courses. Other efforts include radio, film, and TV programs for national distribution. The CDI has become the go—to source for military topics. Most reporters never bother to quote any other. 

One of the major selling points of the CDI message is that it comes from ex—military men. All the same, it's a shock to see a man of Anthony Zinni's stature listed on the organization's website as 'distinguished military fellow'. There were a lot of paths for Zinni to take, a lot of ways for him to get his message across. That he chose an organization with the CDI's history is surprising, not to say disturbing. The reason could be naiveté, ignorance, or even conviction. (Military men who assent to Leftist beliefs are rarities, but are not unknown — e.g., David Hackworth.) Whatever the case, it can't be argued that Zinni has not adapted some of the organization's ideas as his own.

Readers of this site will realize that little is new in Zinni's recent charges. In fact, Zinni retailed the entire package at a CDI banquet in 2004, minus only the demand that Donald Rumsfeld resign. The only other novel point is that a half—dozen other officers have joined him.

(A strange element of the CDI's animus toward Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lies in the fact that the organization claims to advocate a number of policies the secretary has carried out, such as canceling useless big—ticket programs, e.g., the Crusader artillery system, and the necessity of force transformation — the term is actually utilized on the CDI's website — based on the principles of the Revolution in Military Affairs. This contradiction is not easy to explain, but there it is.)
 
The CDI hasn't yet so much as commented on the current revolt of the retired generals. But the fact that the organization is involved, even peripherally, makes it impossible to believe the 'revolt' is what it's presented as being — the spontaneous, unrehearsed action of concerned ex—military officers. Whether they were persuaded by Zinni, as LaRoque persuaded many others before him, or whether they've been manipulated without even knowing it, is beside the point.

A group of veteran officers are being effectively used as fronts for a powerful and secretive Leftist organization during time of war. The voice may be Jacob's, but the hands are the hands of Esau. That's where we stand in the fifth year of the Long War.

J.R. Dunn is a frequent contributor