WASHINGTON – As Henry Kissinger predicted soon after the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s “transition from being a campaigner to being a national strategist” has been seamless. Much like the change Barack Obama underwent in 2008, where “anti-establishment” campaign rhetoric and promises became a thing of the past and a “status quo” neoliberal/neoconservative agenda was adopted in its place, Trump’s transition has led to a resurgence of power and influence among Washington’s most notorious neoconservatives and a continuation of many of the policies that he had once railed against.
Trump’s decision to assume the mantle of George W. Bush should have angered his base, as his promises to “drain the swamp” of the nation’s capital ring ever-hollow amid the ascension of the worst of Washington’s cesspool to powerful positions in the Trump administration. However, such anger among Trump’s base has failed to materialize en masse. Instead, the anger has largely been diverted and redirected, thanks to an internet phenomenon known simply as “QAnon.”
QAnon began last October when an anonymous account began posting in the internet forum 4chan – and later the related forum 8chan — and claimed to be a well-positioned source in the Trump administration with “Q” level security clearance. Notably, Q emerged just as war with North Korea seemed imminent, coming just as Trump met with military leaders and warned that it was “the calm before the storm.” Q’s first posts were in direct reference to that statement, placed under a thread titled “Calm before the Storm,” and the mysterious figure’s subsequent posts are collectively known as “the Storm.” Qanon has been promoted by prominent figures on the Trump-supporting right like Sean Hannity, Roseanne Barr and Alex Jones, among others.
Since the phenomenon began, the posts of the anonymous “Q” have engaged in the construction of a parallel reality — one where Robert Mueller is actually investigating Hillary and Bill Clinton; several other high-profile, corrupt Democrats will soon be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay; swamp monster John Bolton is actually “cleaning up” Washington; and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has been “rescued” from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The reality constructed by QAnon has ultimately unfolded much like a fictitious spy novel, one that details a “secret” counter-coup by the Trump administration against the so-called “Deep State” that Trump – in reality — has dutifully served ever since winning the 2016 election. Despite QAnon’s having been proven wrong repeatedly, its following remains large and the phenomenon itself remains influential.
Robert Martin, a documentary filmmaker whose series “A Very Heavy Agenda” delves into the nefarious political influence of the neoconservatives, told MintPress that QAnon is the “perfect wish-fulfillment conspiracy snowball” aimed at conservatives, adding that it has worked to “rehabilitate some of the most tarnished and scary neocons to all of a sudden be heroic figures.” Among the figures who have been promoted by QAnon as heroes resisting the “deep state” include Blackwater founder Erik Prince, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Mayor of New York City turned Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
In fact, Martin asserted that QAnon appears to be an evolution of a proposal once put forth by Cass Sunstein, a close confidant of Barack Obama, who had urged the government infiltration of anti-government and anti-establishment groups and, as Salon noted at the time, would manipulate such groups in order to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of “conspiracists.”
Martin asserted that QAnon has manifested as a means of “purposeful disinformation made to distract or control conspiracy movements,” going so far as to call for “military control” to stop the “deep state” all while being promoted by influential news organizations among Trump supporters at the behest of the White House.
Indeed, the White House specifically asked Alex Jones to have his Infowars Washington bureau chief, Jerome Corsi, report extensively on QAnon postings and interpret them for the Infowars audience. Since late last April, both Jones and Corsi have claimed that the Q account was “seized” by the “deep state” and is no longer credible. The times being what they are, however, QAnon still attracts tens of thousands of followers, many of whom have rejected Infowars in favor of QAnon posts.
Pushing regime change in Iran
However, this past Tuesday, QAnon took a step in a new direction. Instead of past QAnon posts, which have sought to portray Trump’s actions that are clearly in support of the establishment as “anti-establishment,” these posts sought to cultivate support for something that has yet to take place but has loomed on the horizon for months. On Tuesday, QAnon called for regime change in Iran.
Just after midnight, the Q account posted “Free Iran!!! Fight Fight Fight Regime change. People have the power. We stand with you.” The post was not Q’s first reference to Iran, building off previous Q posts that warned simply that Iran was “next.” Those posts first emerged just as Iran hawk Bolton was set to join the Trump administration. However, Tuesday’s post was notable for its explicit call for regime change in the Islamic Republic, just weeks after covert U.S.-brokered regime change in Iran had become official U.S. policy.
QAnon is not 'just making people think'
QAnon is also:
– telling us to trust every action of the current president
– telling us that PNAC neocon John Bolton is 'cleaning house'
– telling us that Michael Flynn who co-wrote a book with PNAC neocon Michael Ledeen is a hero
— Robbie Martin (@FluorescentGrey) May 31, 2018
Given the influence of QAnon, this shift is particularly concerning. One of the reasons it is concerning is that it is based on disinformation often circulated by proponents of war with Iran. Qanon posts assert, for example, that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, was not about nuclear disarmament or preventing a military conflict, but instead a greedy money-motivated plot planned by the Clintons and carried out by Obama. The money given to Iran after the deal by the Obama administration is used as evidence for this assertion, even though that money was the sum of Iranian assets that the U.S. had seized years prior when it imposed sanctions on Iran, something Bolton himself helped to accomplish while serving the George W. Bush administration.
Another related lie recently propagated by QAnon is that Bolton is fighting the “deep state” — by helping “clean” the White House and rid it of “disloyal” staff that are obstructing Trump’s mythical fight to free the country from the yoke of its shadow government — urging Trump supporters to “follow Bolton.” Since then, some Q enthusiasts have even taken Bolton’s frequent readjustment of his large glasses as a “sign” that he is part of the supposed counter-coup.
#QAnon posted last night JOHN BOLTON is cleaning out of WH all Deep State loyal to HRC + Obama (ultimate targets of treason investigations) to STOP LEAKS. Q assures us WH will be safe for @realDonaldTrump IMPORTANT to plan revealed in KILLING THE DEEP STATE – counterattack begins pic.twitter.com/aNpIhjXRDg
— Jerome Corsi (@jerome_corsi) April 3, 2018
As MintPress has reported at length, there is perhaps no figure in the Trump administration who embodies the “swamp” more than staunch neoconservative Bolton, who is well-known for distorting intelligence and information in his pursuit of regime change and the destruction of “rogue” states. Bolton’s top target for regime change is Iran, which he recently promised would see its government fall before the year was over. Bolton openly supports and has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Iranian terror group Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK), which has next to no domestic support in Iran. Most concerning of all perhaps is that Bolton’s current regime-change policy calls for military action to effect regime change if all else fails, a policy that could well lead to another disastrous war that will make the 2003 invasion of Iraq seem insignificant by comparison.
Regime change in Iran is diametrically opposed to the “Make America Great Again” mantra that espoused ending foreign entanglements abroad in order to improve the country’s domestic situation. A war in Iran would not only waste vast amounts of American taxpayer money, it would do nothing to help the situation of the average American worker, instead enriching the weapons manufacturers – including those in which Trump personally owns stock. However, QAnon’s increasingly insidious influence is linking the myth of a heroic counter-coup with the myth that regime change in Iran is what the “people” want and is good for the Iranian people and the world.
Martin asserted that the recent QAnon posts seem to be aimed at preparing Trump’s base for a war they would normally not accept. He told MintPress:
QAnon appears to be slowly grooming millions of people on the internet who had normally been skeptical of pro-government narratives in the past to ‘trust the plan’ — aka trust everything Donald Trump is doing including hiring dangerous neocons who want to overthrow the government of Iran.”
Given QAnon’s foray into fostering support for regime change abroad, the recognition of the phenomenon as a psyop that preys on the wishes and emotions that Trump as a candidate cultivated in his supporters seems inevitable, particularly as it has begun claiming that all concerns over a looming war should be ignored. Instead, Q urges followers to “trust the plan.”
Allowing long-standing neo-conservative policies and posturing for war to masquerade as an uprising against the “deep state” and “a draining of the swamp,” QAnon has turned reality on its head by manipulating a desire among many Americans for an end to Washington corruption. It is arguably a modern psyop like no other.
“Trust the plan”: Getting folks to support policies they hate
It may seem odd that an anonymous account with claims of top security clearance – but no evidence to support that claim – has convinced thousands of Trump supporters to continue to back the president and even praise him for neocon-inspired policies, U.S.-backed regime change among them, that they would have reviled not long ago. This narrative twisting, however, is hardly unprecedented.
Under Obama, many of those on the left, who had placed their hopes for reform on the charismatic senator promising “change,” willfully ignored Obama’s continuation and expansion of Bush-era policies such as torture, the prosecution of whistleblowers, drone strikes and imperial wars abroad. Those who rejected the reality of Obama’s policy instead asserted that the only way to ensure that the long-promised “change” could manifest was if more corporate-funded, establishment Democrats were elected.
For many of those supporters, Obama himself was never to blame for – as Cornel West famously asserted – being a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface.” Even now, many on the left have placed Obama on an even higher pedestal — as Trump seems, superficially, to be his polar opposite, despite expanding many of Obama’s worst policies. As was the case with many on the left under Obama, it is now easier for MAGA enthusiasts to assert – with Q as “proof” — that Trump is still the candidate of 2016 instead of admitting that they have been had.
The same ignorance as benighted the Obama-rationalizing left can now be seen among Trump’s supporters, with calls to elect even more Republicans to Congress, despite their current majority in both houses, as the way to manifest Trump’s “populist” manifesto he touted as a candidate.
Elect more Republicans in November and we will pass the finest, fairest and most comprehensive Immigration Bills anywhere in the world. Right now we have the dumbest and the worst. Dems are doing nothing but Obstructing. Remember their motto, RESIST! Ours is PRODUCE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
Thanks to QAnon, Trump will continue to remain blameless in the minds and hearts of many of his supporters, as those who blindly follow the “Gospel of Q” will continue to “trust the plan” no matter what Trump does, even if it results in a devastating war with Iran that kills millions of innocent people.
“Trust the plan” is the sequel to “Hope and change.”
Top Photo | A QAnon meme posted on the 8chan forum.
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.