Trump Just Hired an Ignorant Paranoiac Who Invented a Special Bow for the Apocalypse
Jon Perdue is not qualified for government work
by ANDREW DOBBS
It took nearly two months for U.S. president Donald Trump to appoint a deputy secretary of the treasury, a crucial position tasked with day-to-day operations for the backbone of the U.S. financial system. Just three days into his administration, however, Trump hired one special assistant at the agency with a unique security background.
He believes jihadists are working with Latin American leftists and that Russia is still secretly behind a global communist threat. He wants to make Puerto Rico the “Hong Kong of Latin America” and he parlayed a stint in the Georgia National Guard into an expertise in guerilla warfare.
None of this, however, is his real claim to fame. Jon Perdue made a bow and arrow that doubles as a bug-out bag.
Perdue is one of hundreds of Trump campaign supporters, right-wing writers, think-tank figures and industry lobbyists to be hired as a “beachhead” into federal agencies, according to the nonprofit journalism project ProPublica.
Perdue has garnered attention, however, because of his televised turn as the inventor of the Packbow, a survivalist tool that built supply compartments, a signal mirror, paracord, bungee cables, a compass and walking stick into a bow with an internal quiver for its arrows.
Perdue says he invented the tool after studying civilizational collapse, an appropriate topic for anyone serving in the Trump administration. The bow was featured on CNBC’s “Make Me A Millionaire Inventor” in 2015 and nearly two years later its website still only offers the weapon for pre-order.
Promotional copy on the website is not typical for someone in an influential government post.
“The worst has occurred,” the copy reads. “You always knew it was possible, but never dreamed it would happen so soon. The power grid is down, and you are surrounded by chaos. There’s not much time — you can only grab a handful of things, so as you head out the door, you grab the Pack Bow.”
It concludes with potentially sage advice for the next few years. “You never know what’s ahead. With the Pack Bow you have a better chance of surviving it.”
Without any of the bows actually for sale there’s no way to determine its value as a weapon, but testers on the CNBC program noted both its cheap look and surprising performance. Reality T.V. is not known for rigor or integrity, however, and multitaskers such as the Packbow are not known for their operational superiority.
Perdue’s invention is a humorous footnote to his employment, but the rest of his resume raises serious questions. First and foremost — why is he serving in the Treasury Department? It is true that he has an undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of North Georgia and formerly worked as vice president of business development for a small, Pennsylvania-based biotech company called InfecTech until it was acquired by another company in 2003.
Even that gig seems suspiciously paranoid — a 2005 press release from its successor company mentions that their “applications include Biochips embedded in small transportable devices for rapid bacteria identification of disease causing pathogens, and Bio Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (‘BioMEMS’) for rapid environmental microbial monitoring with bio-defense implications.”
Plenty of valuable stuff, but the “biodefense” elements give insight into Perdue’s collapse obsession. The company was worth just under $400,000 when he left in 2003 — modest for someone now carrying water for the White House in the Treasury Department.
Aside from this and other business experience over a decade ago and his graduation without any apparent distinction from the 372nd best business school in the country Perdue’s experience and qualifications are all oriented towards counterterrorism and national security. And even these qualifications are suspect.
Perdue is typically identified as an expert in guerilla warfare, but the source of his expertise is never noted. Perhaps the Georgia National Guard was engaging in expert-level education in guerilla warfare when he served, or maybe there was a little-known certificate program at UNG back in those days, but both seem unlikely.
More likely, he‘’s self-taught and credentialed by a variety of suspect think tanks he has worked with over the years.
Perdue’s primary affiliation just prior to his gig at the Treasury Department was with the Center for a Secure and Free Society. To call them obscure is generous. One of their in-house experts was on one six-and-a-half minute segment on Fox News in February, their only major media reference in nearly a year.
By way of less than major media, a report they released last year about the assassination of Argentine attorney Alberto Nisman — which they tie to Iran — seems to have only been reported on by The Philadelphia Trumpet, named not for the city but for the Philadelphia Church of God, a Christian fundamentalist cult.
The publication “seeks to show how current events are fulfilling the biblically prophesied description of the prevailing state of affairs just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.” This would be an impressive distinction for the report in some circles, though typically not in the Treasury Department.
These stories indicate the sort of angle Perdue has made his niche — the alleged connection between progressive and left-wing Latin American political movements and Islamic terrorism. His work on the topic culminated in the publication of a 2012 book The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radialism and Middle East Terrorism.
The connections Perdue and his comrades make on this topic require some fairly significant leaps of logic. On the one hand they have to conflate very distinctive and in fact antagonistic forms of Middle Eastern militancy, on the other they have to misrepresent the nature of the engagement from the Latin American countries, all while presenting any sort of independence or opposition to U.S. imperialism as inherently terroristic.
As an example of their disingenuity in regards to Middle Eastern politics consider Perdue’s entry in the World Almanac of Islamism — a publication of the right-wing American Foreign Policy Council — regarding Nicaragua.
While the article does admit that the level of jihadist terror in Nicaragua is low, under the heading “Islamism and the State” it claims that “the two main instances of Islamism in Nicaragua are the connection between the revolutionary Sandinista party and the Palestine Liberation Organization and Iran’s growing interest and interference in Nicaraguan affairs.”
Setting aside the claims about Iranian “interference” in the country for now, presenting the PLO as an Islamist organization — especially in the 1980s context the entry details — is either woefully ignorant or maliciously dishonest.
The PLO was founded in 1964 and initially led by Ahmad Shuqayri, a close ally of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser — champion of Arab nationalism and anathema to the Muslim Brotherhood and its more militant successors.
To this day the PLO is composed of a coalition of political factions, all of them secular, including the communist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a variety of socialist parties, Ba’athists and old school Arab nationalists.
They have paid lip service to Islam as the official religion of Palestine and sharia law, but this was clearly a ploy to try and undermine their primary political opponents in the Palestinian struggle — actual Islamists, most notably Hamas.
Perdue and others like him likewise misrepresent the nature of Hamas, their one-time allies Hezbollah and their shared patron, Iran, by implicitly and explicitly presenting them as identical to or in league with ISIS or Al Qaeda.
Think tanks such as the Center for a Secure and Free Society justify their existence to their shadowy right-wing patrons by generating questionable research reports for right-wing media to present as scientific fact. These media sources want sensational, fear-driven stories about foreign bogey men and nothing gets their audience going like the looming specter of 9/11-style jihadi terrorism.
Hamas and Hezbollah are armed militant organizations that often use terrorist tactics. Hezbollah was responsible for their deadliest foreign terrorist attack against the United States before 9/11 — the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.
Iran sponsors these groups as well as other irregular militant formations responsible for terrorist bombings in Iraq, Syria and a number of other countries.
That said, not only is there no known collaboration between these groups and ISIS or Al Qaeda, they are all hated by those factions. Iran and Hezbollah are Shi’a, and both ISIS and Al Qaeda see all Shi’a as heretics — ISIS has been accused of pursuing a genocide against Shi’a Muslims in the areas they control.
Hamas is Sunni, but was for some time part of a strange bedfellows coalition with Hezbollah and Iran — making them traitors in fundamentalist eyes — and have since alienated those actors by coming out against Assad in the Syrian Civil War. Even if they are now technically on the same side as ISIS and Al Qaeda in that conflict, so is the United States.
In fact, the primary exponents of international terrorism against the West have not been Iran or its clients — all of whom are engaged in combat limited to the region, deploying tactics no different from those adopted by the United States and our allies when we arm so-called “moderate rebels.”
The most important allies of Al Qaeda-style terror have been powerful elements of the Saudi Arabian government — our closest Muslim ally in the region — Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan, among other. All still close American allies.
Perdue and other dilettantes at right-wing think tanks muddle all of this and claim that the PLO aligning with the Sandinistas is the same thing as letting Islamic Jihad set up shop on our doorstep. It’s dishonest and willfully ignores the real source of the West’s terrorist threat — imperialist foreign policy.
The other half of their deception is in their misrepresentation of the international anti-imperialist left. One of Perdue’s other major publications was his foreword to the 2013 book Rethinking the Reset Button: Understanding Contemporary Russian Foreign Policy by Center for Secure and Free Society fellow Evgueni Novikov.
Novikov was a Soviet defector to the United States and apparently all of his understanding of Russian politics is fed through the lens of his communist-era experience. The book is anti-Vladimir Putin — ironic for a work now associated with a Trump confederate — but claims that Putin and contemporary Russia “builds alliances with anti-American nations and has long-standing relationships with Islamic terrorist organizations and communist movements around the world.”
The Center’s summary of the book refers to Russia as “the former Soviet Republic” twice in two successive sentences, suggesting that there is some sort of ongoing relationship between the international left and Russia.
The country’s recent alleged extralegal boosting of right-wing nationalist projects in Europe — and, of course, the United States — would seem to belie that, but the point is a deeper one. Perdue et al. don’t get that whatever left remains around the world is isolated, disjointed and essentially powerless.
It is true that the handful of countries struggling against U.S. imperialism around the world have tried to get each others’ backs and work around the functional U.S. blockades against those that would dare to challenge our power.
It’s also true that Iran and Venezuela’s economies combined — and Perdue is obsessed with an alleged plot by these two countries to gang up on the United States — are just a little bit bigger than that of the state of Illinois. The White House just announced a $54 billion increase in U.S. military spending. The combined total military spending of Iran and Venezuela is just about a quarter of this amount.
The bottom line is that unqualified fearmongers such as Perdue don’t really care — any nation pursuing any alternative to the United States’ dominance is by definition a “security threat.” They perceive any resistance to U.S. policy as an actual existential threat to the United States — a pretty nifty way to justify aggression against these countries and movements.
Perdue has advocated for a counterterrorism policy he calls “preclusionary engagement,” defined as “a combination of aggressive diplomacy and economic engagement as a first and necessary step, along with a capability for small-unit operations that can be conducted with a much smaller footprint when necessary.”
One would assume that if Iran were to attempt a “small-unit operation” in the United States we’d call that by a franker term — terrorism.
This, in the end, is why Perdue’s assignment to the Treasury Department is so important. His position there is actually relatively modest — his pay grade is the upper-end of federal middle management. But he didn’t get the job because he knows what he’s doing — he doesn’t seem to have gotten a job that way in nearly 15 years.
He got it the way he got all those other gigs — because he’s willing to carry water for intensely wrong, paranoid, imperialist politics.
He’s gotten attention because it’s funny that he tried to sell a shitty bow and arrow survivalist gimmick on basic cable. He’s significant because he symbolizes the spirit of the times. Unqualified incompetence meets reactionary politics meets fear meets insults to legitimate public service.
The worst part? The longer he’s busy at Treasury the longer we have to wait for our Packbows, and the longer he’s there the more likely we are to need them.