AlterNet.org: Noam Chomsky http://www.alternet.org/authors/noam-chomsky en Noam Chomsky's 8-Point Rationale for Voting for the Lesser Evil Presidential Candidate http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/noam-chomskys-8-point-rationale-voting-lesser-evil-presidential-candidate <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Critics of &quot;lesser evil voting&quot; should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/359px-chomsky.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Among the elements of the weak form of democracy enshrined in the constitution, presidential elections continue to pose a dilemma for the left in that any form of participation or non participation appears to impose a significant cost on our capacity to develop a serious opposition to the corporate agenda served by establishment politicians. The position outlined below is that which many regard as the most effective response to this quadrennial Hobson’s choice, namely the so-called “lesser evil” voting strategy or LEV. Simply put, LEV involves, where you can, i.e. in safe states, voting for the losing third party candidate you prefer, or not voting at all. In competitive “swing” states, where you must, one votes for the “lesser evil” Democrat.</p><p>Before fielding objections, it will be useful to make certain background stipulations with respect to the points below. The first is to note that since changes in the relevant facts require changes in tactics, proposals having to do with our relationship to the “electoral extravaganza” should be regarded as provisional. This is most relevant with respect to point 3) which some will challenge by citing the claim that Clinton’s foreign policy could pose a more serious menace than that of Trump.</p><p>In any case, while conceding as an outside possibility that Trump’s foreign policy is preferable, most of us not already convinced that that is so will need more evidence than can be aired in a discussion involving this statement. Furthermore, insofar as this is the fact of the matter, following the logic through seems to require a vote for Trump, though it’s a bit hard to know whether those making this suggestion are intending it seriously.</p><p>Another point of disagreement is not factual but involves the ethical/moral principle addressed in 1), sometimes referred to as the “politics of moral witness.” Generally associated with the religious left, secular leftists implicitly invoke it when they reject LEV on the grounds that “a lesser of two evils is still evil.” Leaving aside the obvious rejoinder that this is exactly the point of lesser evil voting-i.e. to do less evil, what needs to be challenged is the assumption that voting should be seen a form of individual self-expression rather than as an act to be judged on its likely consequences, specifically those outlined in 4). The basic moral principle at stake is simple: not only must we take responsibility for our actions, but the consequences of our actions for others are a far more important consideration than feeling good about ourselves.</p><p>While some would suggest extending the critique by noting that the politics of moral witness can become indistinguishable from narcissistic self-agrandizement, this is substantially more harsh than what was intended and harsher than what is merited. That said, those reflexively denouncing advocates of LEV on a supposed “moral” basis should consider that their footing on the high ground may not be as secure as they often take for granted to be the case.</p><p>A third criticism of LEV equates it with a passive acquiescence to the bipartisan status quo under the guise of pragmatism, usually deriving from those who have lost the appetite for radical change. It is surely the case that some of those endorsing LEV are doing so in bad faith-cynical functionaries whose objective is to promote capitulation to a system which they are invested in protecting. Others supporting LEV, however, can hardly be reasonably accused of having made their peace with the establishment. Their concern, as alluded to in 6) and 7) inheres in the awareness that frivolous and poorly considered electoral decisions impose a cost, their memories extending to the ultra-left faction of the peace movement having minimized the comparative dangers of the Nixon presidency during the 1968 elections. The result was six years of senseless death and destruction in Southeast Asia and also a predictable fracture of the left setting it up for its ultimate collapse during the backlash decades to follow.</p><p>The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the “reasonable” alternative. A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.</p><p>A more general conclusion to be derived from this recognition is that this sort of cost/benefit strategic accounting is fundamental to any politics which is serious about radical change. Those on the left who ignore it, or dismiss it as irrelevant are engaging in political fantasy and are an obstacle to, rather than ally of, the movement which now seems to be materializing.</p><p>Finally, it should be understood that the reigning doctrinal system recognizes the role presidential elections perform in diverting the left from actions which have the potential to be effective in advancing its agenda. These include developing organizations committed to extra-political means, most notably street protest, but also competing for office in potentially winnable races. The left should devote the minimum of time necessary to exercise the LEV choice then immediately return to pursuing goals which are not timed to the national electoral cycle.</p><p>*****</p><p>1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.</p><p>2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.</p><p>3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.</p><p>4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.</p><p>5) 4) should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.</p><p>6) However, the left should also recognize that, should Trump win based on its failure to support Clinton, it will repeatedly face the accusation (based in fact), that it lacks concern for those sure to be most victimized by a Trump administration.</p><p>7) Often this charge will emanate from establishment operatives who will use it as a bad faith justification for defeating challenges to corporate hegemony either in the Democratic Party or outside of it. They will ensure that it will be widely circulated in mainstream media channels with the result that many of those who would otherwise be sympathetic to a left challenge will find it a convincing reason to maintain their ties with the political establishment rather than breaking with it, as they must.</p><p>8) Conclusion: by dismissing a “lesser evil” electoral logic and thereby increasing the potential for Clinton’s defeat the left will undermine what should be at the core of what it claims to be attempting to achieve.</p> Sat, 06 Aug 2016 13:11:00 -0700 John Halle, Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky&#039;s Official Site 1060232 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 2016 elections noam chomsky donald trump hillary clinton Noam Chomsky: We Are Suffering the Major Downside of Corporate Globalization http://www.alternet.org/world/chomsky-downside-corporate-globalization <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;We can be very optimistic. Things like this have happened before and they’ve been overcome.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky_toronto_2011.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>The following is an interview with Noam Chomsky, conducted by James Resnick:</em></p><p><strong>How has the way you understand the world changed over time and what (or who) has prompted the most significant shifts in your thinking?</strong></p><p>For better or worse, I’ve pretty much stayed the same throughout my life. When I was a child in elementary school I was writing articles for the school newspaper on the rise of fascism in Europe and the threats to the world as I saw them from a 10-year-old point of view, and on from there. By the time I was a young teenager, I was very involved in radical politics of all kinds; hanging around anarchist bookstores and offices. A lot concerned what was happening during the Second World War: the British attack on Greece and the atomic bomb I thought was shattering.</p><p>The things I consider inspiring is seeing people struggling: poor suffering people, with limited resources, struggling to really achieve anything. Some of them are very inspiring. For example, a remote very poor village in southern Colombia organising to try to prevent a Canadian gold-mining operation from destroying their water supply and the environment; meanwhile, fending off para-military and military violence and so on. That kind of thing which you see all over the world is very inspiring.</p><p><strong>In your new documentary Requiem for the American Dream, you note that the driving down of tax rates and the outsourcing of lower-skilled jobs has exacerbated inequality in recent years. Both of these phenomena are arguably due to the pressures of globalisation, and so, is this period of rapid globalisation generally bad for workers?</strong></p><p>They could be described as globalisation but it would be a mistake to do so. Globalisation can take all kinds of forms. For example, if there were anybody that believed in free markets they might take Adam Smith seriously. Adam Smith pointed out that the fundamental element of free markets is the free circulation of labour. We don’t have that. We have sharp restrictions on the movement of labour, and so, it not only means that working people can’t come to the United States to work, it means that privileged professionals, such as lawyers or CEOs, can set up protectionist barriers to prevent competition from abroad. Plenty of lawyers and doctors from abroad who are highly skilled could easily meet U.S. professional standards but of course they aren’t allowed in because professionals can protect themselves.</p><p>Globalisation could be designed so that it’s beneficial to the general population or it could be designed so that it functions along the lines of the international trade agreements, including the Uruguay Round, the WTO Agreement, NAFTA, the current Atlantic and Pacific agreements, which are all specifically designed as investor rights agreements, not even trade agreements. Very high protection for major corporations, for big pharmaceuticals, media conglomerates, and so on, and very high barriers through intellectual property rights. Devices that allow corporations, but of course not people, to sue governments action that might potentially harm their profits. That is a particular form of globalisation designed in the interest of the designers. The designers are concentrations of private power, linked closely to state power, so in that system they are consequences of globalisation.</p><p><strong>You refer to the impact of the GI Bill of Rights and how in 1950, higher education was largely free and was seen much more as a public good. The period during the 1980s threatened the foundations of these integral institutions that had been established through the New Deal. How and why did these institutions come under attack?</strong></p><p>The 1950-1960s had very high growth rates, no financial crises because of New Deal regulations that were still in place, and relatively egalitarian growth so every quintile grew roughly at the same level. That is what is called the golden age. It ended with the collapse of the post-War Bretton Woods system when the United States under Nixon blocked the convertibility of the dollar to gold which collapsed the international financial system which had all kinds of consequences. One was a rapid increase in the flow of capital and a rapid increase in speculation rather than serious investment leading to the financialisation of the economy which has been a major phenomenon in recent years. A lot of this had to do with the reduction of the rate of profit for manufacturing which convinced the owners of capital that it would be more profitable to shift towards financial manipulation than to actual production.</p><p>Along with this comes the options that were the extensions of a long process that goes way back to try to move production to places where wages are much lower, where you don’t need to worry about environmental standards. It’s not that business began to try to reverse the policies. They also wanted to reverse the policies as it goes back to the late 1930s. By the late 1930s, the business community was appalled at the gains that were being made by working people and the general population. You read the Business Press in the late ‘30s and it talks about the threat of what they call the rising political power of the masses which is going to threaten the needs of American enterprise.</p><p>Businesses are always involved in a class war; sometimes they can do better and sometimes they can do worse but right after the Second World War, the major attack on labour and New Deal measures begun and took awhile to take off but with the breakdown of the international financial system in the early ‘70s, opportunities arose and class warfare increased. You can see that already in the late Carter years and it took off very strongly during the Reagan/Thatcher period where neoliberal policies were instituted and which had a devastating effect on the weaker societies, including the third world. In the richer societies, the United States and Europe, it has the effect of imposing relative stagnation on the large majority of the population while for a tiny sector a huge increase in wealth, but these are just all aspects of a constant class war that is being carried out. If there’s no reaction to it on the part of public organisations, then the class war succeeds.</p><p>Popular public organisations have been under attack and atomised, and the labour movement has been under severe attack. One aspect of the concentration of private wealth is that it sets off a vicious cycle; private wealth concentrates and it carries with it political power. That political power is used to introduce legislation which increase private wealth and so the cycle goes on. It’s not a law of nature, or a law of economics; these are matters of relative power of various classes of people and the ongoing conflicts over the social and political nature of the system. It right now happens to be a period of regression from the general viewpoint of the population. It’s happened before and it’s been overcome. You see it happening in many ways. One aspect is the decline of democracy which is very visible both in the United States and in Europe and has led to the significant decline of the more-or-less centrist parties. In the United States, the Democrats and the Republicans are both under severe attack from popular-based forces, such as Trump and Sanders. People that have very much the same interests and concerns and if they could get together on those issues it would be a major popular force and in Europe you see the same thing. Recently, in the Austrian elections, the two traditional parties that ran the country were out of the elections. The choice was between a neo-fascist party and a green party.</p><p><strong>You reference Martin Gilens’ study that finds that around 70% cannot affect government policy in any form. How has this alienation among the powerless translated in the discourse seen during the 2016 election primaries?</strong></p><p>Very directly. That’s part of the basis of the support for Trump and Sanders. In some respects, they’re pretty similar reactions. There’s a close correlation between effective disenfranchisement and simply abstention which has been studied for years. Walter Dean Burnham years ago did a study of the socio-economic character of non-voters in the United States and what he found is that they’re pretty similar to the people in Europe who voted for Social Democratic and Labour-based parties. Since they don’t exist in the United States, they just didn’t vote. It’s been around for a long time, but it’s just getting exacerbated as large sectors of the population are just cast by the wayside in the course of neoliberal programs. Either they would organise, be effective and do something about it, such as the 1930s with the militant labour movement or just get angry or frustrated, xenophobic, racist, destructive and so on.</p><p><strong>Inequality in all its forms continues to threaten democracy in the United States. Do you see evidence that positive change to reverse these trends will arise, and is there a case for optimism?</strong></p><p>We can be very optimistic. Things like this have happened before and they’ve been overcome. The 1920s were a period kind of like this in many ways, but the 1930s were a significant revival, things changed and there are forces you can easily identify. A lot of the support for Sanders is promising and could have a lot of promise but it depends how it is developed; the same with Corbyn in England and Podemos in Spain. There are reactions to problems that are not easy to overcome, but I think there are plenty of possibilities.</p> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 09:33:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, E-International Relations 1058952 at http://www.alternet.org World World noam chomsky global capitalism globalization Noam Chomsky: The Doomsday Clock Is on the Verge of Striking 12 http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-breaks-down-our-chances-survival <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Nuclear weapons, climate change, and the prospects for survival.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-06-12_at_12.38.34_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-52ad3354-4571-574a-2955-e40897147173"><em>This piece originally appeared on <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com">TomDispatch</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr">He hadn’t been in office three months when he went to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, and <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-barack-obama-prague-delivered">delivered remarks</a> on the world’s nuclear dilemma.  They proved to be of a sort that might normally have come from an antinuclear activist or someone in the then just-budding climate change movement, not the president of the United States.  While calling for the use of new forms of energy, Barack Obama spoke with rare presidential eloquence of the dangers of a planet in which nuclear weapons were spreading and of how that spread, if unchecked, would make their use “inevitable.”  He called for a “world without nuclear weapons” and said bluntly, “As a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.”  He even promised to take “concrete steps” to begin to build just such a world without such weapons.</p><p dir="ltr">Seven years later, the record of America’s first and possibly only abolitionist president is in. The U.S. nuclear arsenal -- at 4,571 warheads (far below the almost 19,000 in existence in 1991 when the Soviet Union imploded) -- remains large enough to destroy several Earth-sized planets. <a href="http://fas.org/blogs/security/2016/05/hiroshima-stockpile/">According to</a> the Federation of American Scientists, the latest Pentagon figures on that arsenal indicate that “the Obama administration has reduced the U.S. stockpile less than any other post-Cold War administration, and that the number of warheads dismantled in 2015 was [the] lowest since President Obama took office.” To put that in perspective, Obama has done significantly less than George W. Bush when it comes to drawing down the existing American arsenal.</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, our abolitionist president is now presiding over the so-called <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/us/us-ramping-up-major-renewal-in-nuclear-arms.html">modernization</a> of that same arsenal, a massive three-decade project now <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/science/atom-bomb-nuclear-weapons-hgv-arms-race-russia-china.html">estimated</a> to cost at least a <a href="http://billmoyers.com/story/the-trillion-dollar-question-the-media-have-neglected-to-ask-presidential-candidates/">trillion dollars</a> -- before, of course, the usual cost overruns set in.  In the process, new weapons systems will be produced, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/science/as-us-modernizes-nuclear-weapons-smaller-leaves-some-uneasy.html">first “smart” nukes</a> created (think: “precision” weapons with far more minimal “yields,” which means first-use battlefield nukes), and god knows what else.</p><p dir="ltr">He does have one antinuclear success, his agreement with Iran ensuring that country will not produce such a weapon.  Still, such a dismal record from a president seemingly determined to set the U.S. on the abolitionist path tells us something about the nuclear dilemma and the <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175933/tomgram%3A_james_carroll,_the_pentagon_as_president_obama%27s_great_white_whale/">grip</a> the national security state has on his thinking (and assumedly that of any future president).</p><p dir="ltr">It’s no small horror that, on this planet of ours, humanity continues to foster two apocalyptic forces, each of which -- one in a relative instant and the other over many decades -- could cripple or destroy human life as we know it.  That should be sobering indeed for all of us.  It’s the subject that Noam Chomsky takes up in this essay from his remarkable new book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/162779381X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20">Who Rules the World?</a>-Tom Engelhardt</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Doomsday Clock<br />Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and the Prospects for Survival</strong><br />By <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/authors/noamchomsky">Noam Chomsky</a></p><p dir="ltr">[This essay is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/162779381X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20">Who Rules the World?</a> (Metropolitan Books).] </p><p dir="ltr">In January 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its famous Doomsday Clock to three minutes before midnight, a threat level that had not been reached for 30 years. The Bulletin’s statement explaining this advance toward catastrophe invoked the two major threats to survival: nuclear weapons and “unchecked climate change.” The call condemned world leaders, who “have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” endangering “every person on Earth [by] failing to perform their most important duty -- ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”</p><p dir="ltr">Since then, there has been good reason to consider moving the hands even closer to doomsday.</p><p dir="ltr">As 2015 ended, world leaders met in Paris to address the severe problem of “unchecked climate change.” Hardly a day passes without new evidence of how severe the crisis is. To pick almost at random, shortly before the opening of the Paris conference, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab released a study that both surprised and alarmed scientists who have been studying Arctic ice. The study showed that a huge Greenland glacier, Zachariae Isstrom, “broke loose from a glaciologically stable position in 2012 and entered a phase of accelerated retreat,” an unexpected and ominous development. The glacier “holds enough water to raise global sea level by more than 18 inches (46 centimeters) if it were to melt completely. And now it’s on a crash diet, losing 5 billion tons of mass every year. All that ice is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean.”</p><p dir="ltr">Yet there was little expectation that world leaders in Paris would “act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.” And even if by some miracle they had, it would have been of limited value, for reasons that should be deeply disturbing.</p><p dir="ltr">When the agreement was approved in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who hosted the talks, announced that it is “legally binding.” That may be the hope, but there are more than a few obstacles that are worthy of careful attention.</p><p dir="ltr">In all of the extensive media coverage of the Paris conference, perhaps the most important sentences were these, buried near the end of a long New York Times analysis: “Traditionally, negotiators have sought to forge a legally binding treaty that needed ratification by the governments of the participating countries to have force. There is no way to get that in this case, because of the United States. A treaty would be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill without the required two-thirds majority vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. So the voluntary plans are taking the place of mandatory, top-down targets.” And voluntary plans are a guarantee of failure.</p><p dir="ltr">“Because of the United States.” More precisely, because of the Republican Party, which by now is becoming a real danger to decent human survival.</p><p dir="ltr">The conclusions are underscored in another Times piece on the Paris agreement. At the end of a long story lauding the achievement, the article notes that the system created at the conference “depends heavily on the views of the future world leaders who will carry out those policies. In the United States, every Republican candidate running for president in 2016 has publicly questioned or denied the science of climate change, and has voiced opposition to Mr. Obama’s climate change policies. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, who has led the charge against Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, said, ‘Before his international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, and that Congress has already voted to reject.’”</p><p dir="ltr">Both parties have moved to the right during the neoliberal period of the past generation. Mainstream Democrats are now pretty much what used to be called “moderate Republicans.” Meanwhile, the Republican Party has largely drifted off the spectrum, becoming what respected conservative political analyst Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein call a “radical insurgency” that has virtually abandoned normal parliamentary politics. With the rightward drift, the Republican Party’s dedication to wealth and privilege has become so extreme that its actual policies could not attract voters, so it has had to seek a new popular base, mobilized on other grounds: evangelical Christians who await the Second Coming, nativists who fear that “they” are taking our country away from us, unreconstructed racists, people with real grievances who gravely mistake their causes, and others like them who are easy prey to demagogues and can readily become a radical insurgency.</p><p dir="ltr">In recent years, the Republican establishment had managed to suppress the voices of the base that it has mobilized. But no longer. By the end of 2015 the establishment was expressing considerable dismay and desperation over its inability to do so, as the Republican base and its choices fell out of control.</p><p dir="ltr">Republican elected officials and contenders for the next presidential election expressed open contempt for the Paris deliberations, refusing to even attend the proceedings. The three candidates who led in the polls at the time -- Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson -- adopted the stand of the largely evangelical base: humans have no impact on global warming, if it is happening at all.</p><p dir="ltr">The other candidates reject government action to deal with the matter. Immediately after Obama spoke in Paris, pledging that the United States would be in the vanguard seeking global action, the Republican-dominated Congress voted to scuttle his recent Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut carbon emissions. As the press reported, this was “a provocative message to more than 100 [world] leaders that the American president does not have the full support of his government on climate policy” -- a bit of an understatement. Meanwhile Lamar Smith, Republican head of the House’s Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, carried forward his jihad against government scientists who dare to report the facts.</p><p dir="ltr">The message is clear. American citizens face an enormous responsibility right at home.</p><p dir="ltr">A companion story in the New York Times reports that “two-thirds of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions.” And by a five-to-three margin, Americans regard the climate as more important than the economy. But it doesn’t matter. Public opinion is dismissed. That fact, once again, sends a strong message to Americans. It is their task to cure the dysfunctional political system, in which popular opinion is a marginal factor. The disparity between public opinion and policy, in this case, has significant implications for the fate of the world.</p><p dir="ltr">We should, of course, have no illusions about a past “golden age.” Nevertheless, the developments just reviewed constitute significant changes. The undermining of functioning democracy is one of the contributions of the neoliberal assault on the world’s population in the past generation. And this is not happening just in the U.S.; in Europe the impact may be even worse.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Black Swan We Can Never See</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Let us turn to the other (and traditional) concern of the atomic scientists who adjust the Doomsday Clock: nuclear weapons. The current threat of nuclear war amply justifies their January 2015 decision to advance the clock two minutes toward midnight. What has happened since reveals the growing threat even more clearly, a matter that elicits insufficient concern, in my opinion.</p><p dir="ltr">The last time the Doomsday Clock reached three minutes before midnight was in 1983, at the time of the Able Archer exercises of the Reagan administration; these exercises simulated attacks on the Soviet Union to test their defense systems. Recently released Russian archives reveal that the Russians were deeply concerned by the operations and were preparing to respond, which would have meant, simply: The End.</p><p dir="ltr">We have learned more about these rash and reckless exercises, and about how close the world was to disaster, from U.S. military and intelligence analyst Melvin Goodman, who was CIA division chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs at the time. “In addition to the Able Archer mobilization exercise that alarmed the Kremlin,” Goodman writes, “the Reagan administration authorized unusually aggressive military exercises near the Soviet border that, in some cases, violated Soviet territorial sovereignty. The Pentagon’s risky measures included sending U.S. strategic bombers over the North Pole to test Soviet radar, and naval exercises in wartime approaches to the USSR where U.S. warships had previously not entered. Additional secret operations simulated surprise naval attacks on Soviet targets.”</p><p dir="ltr">We now know that the world was saved from likely nuclear destruction in those frightening days by the decision of a Russian officer, Stanislav Petrov, not to transmit to higher authorities the report of automated detection systems that the USSR was under missile attack. Accordingly, Petrov takes his place alongside Russian submarine commander Vasili Arkhipov, who, at a dangerous moment of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, refused to authorize the launching of nuclear torpedoes when the subs were under attack by U.S. destroyers enforcing a quarantine.</p><p dir="ltr">Other recently revealed examples enrich the already frightening record. Nuclear security expert Bruce Blair reports that “the closest the U.S. came to an inadvertent strategic launch decision by the President happened in 1979, when a NORAD early warning training tape depicting a full-scale Soviet strategic strike inadvertently coursed through the actual early warning network. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was called twice in the night and told the U.S. was under attack, and he was just picking up the phone to persuade President Carter that a full-scale response needed to be authorized right away, when a third call told him it was a false alarm.”</p><p dir="ltr">This newly revealed example brings to mind a critical incident of 1995, when the trajectory of a U.S.-Norwegian rocket carrying scientific equipment resembled the path of a nuclear missile. This elicited Russian concerns that quickly reached President Boris Yeltsin, who had to decide whether to launch a nuclear strike.</p><p dir="ltr">Blair adds other examples from his own experience. In one case, at the time of the 1967 Middle East war, “a carrier nuclear-aircraft crew was sent an actual attack order instead of an exercise/training nuclear order.” A few years later, in the early 1970s, the Strategic Air Command in Omaha “retransmitted an exercise... launch order as an actual real-world launch order.” In both cases code checks had failed; human intervention prevented the launch. “But you get the drift here,” Blair adds. “It just wasn’t that rare for these kinds of snafus to occur.”</p><p dir="ltr">Blair made these comments in reaction to a report by airman John Bordne that has only recently been cleared by the U.S. Air Force. Bordne was serving on the U.S. military base in Okinawa in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and a moment of serious tensions in Asia as well. The U.S. nuclear alert system had been raised to DEFCON 2, one level below DEFCON 1, when nuclear missiles can be launched immediately. At the peak of the crisis, on October 28th, a missile crew received authorization to launch its nuclear missiles, in error. They decided not to, averting likely nuclear war and joining Petrov and Arkhipov in the pantheon of men who decided to disobey protocol and thereby saved the world.</p><p dir="ltr">As Blair observed, such incidents are not uncommon. One recent expert study found dozens of false alarms every year during the period reviewed, 1977 to 1983; the study concluded that the range is 43 to 255 per year. The author of the study, Seth Baum, summarizes with appropriate words: “Nuclear war is the black swan we can never see, except in that brief moment when it is killing us. We delay eliminating the risk at our own peril. Now is the time to address the threat, because now we are still alive.”</p><p dir="ltr">These reports, like those in Eric Schlosser’s book Command and Control, keep mostly to U.S. systems. The Russian ones are doubtless much more error-prone. That is not to mention the extreme danger posed by the systems of others, notably Pakistan.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>“A War Is No Longer Unthinkable”</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Sometimes the threat has not been accident, but adventurism, as in the case of Able Archer. The most extreme case was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the threat of disaster was all too real. The way it <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175605/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky,_%22the_most_dangerous_moment,%22_50_years_later/">was handled</a> is shocking; so is the manner in which it is commonly interpreted.</p><p dir="ltr">With this grim record in mind, it is useful to look at strategic debates and planning. One chilling case is the Clinton-era 1995 STRATCOM study “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence.” The study calls for retaining the right of first strike, even against nonnuclear states. It explains that nuclear weapons are constantly used, in the sense that they “cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict.” It also urges a “national persona” of irrationality and vindictiveness to intimidate the world.</p><p dir="ltr">Current doctrine is explored in the lead article in the journal International Security, one of the most authoritative in the domain of strategic doctrine. The authors explain that the United States is committed to “strategic primacy” -- that is, insulation from retaliatory strike. This is the logic behind Obama’s “new triad” (strengthening submarine and land-based missiles and the bomber force), along with missile defense to counter a retaliatory strike. The concern raised by the authors is that the U.S. demand for strategic primacy might induce China to react by abandoning its “no first use” policy and by expanding its limited deterrent. The authors think that they will not, but the prospect remains uncertain. Clearly the doctrine enhances the dangers in a tense and conflicted region.</p><p dir="ltr">The same is true of NATO expansion to the east in violation of verbal promises made to Mikhail Gorbachev when the USSR was collapsing and he agreed to allow a unified Germany to become part of NATO -- quite a remarkable concession when one thinks about the history of the century. Expansion to East Germany took place at once. In the following years, NATO expanded to Russia’s borders; there are now substantial threats even to incorporate Ukraine, in Russia’s geostrategic heartland. One can imagine how the United States would react if the Warsaw Pact were still alive, most of Latin America had joined, and now Mexico and Canada were applying for membership.</p><p dir="ltr">Aside from that, Russia understands as well as China (and U.S. strategists, for that matter) that the U.S. missile defense systems near Russia’s borders are, in effect, a first-strike weapon, aimed to establish strategic primacy -- immunity from retaliation. Perhaps their mission is utterly unfeasible, as some specialists argue. But the targets can never be confident of that. And Russia’s militant reactions are quite naturally interpreted by NATO as a threat to the West.</p><p dir="ltr">One prominent British Ukraine scholar poses what he calls a “fateful geographical paradox”: that NATO “exists to manage the risks created by its existence.”</p><p dir="ltr">The threats are very real right now. Fortunately, the shooting down of a Russian plane by a Turkish F-16 in November 2015 did not lead to an international incident, but it might have, particularly given the circumstances. The plane was on a bombing mission in Syria. It passed for a mere 17 seconds through a fringe of Turkish territory that protrudes into Syria, and evidently was heading for Syria, where it crashed. Shooting it down appears to have been a needlessly reckless and provocative act, and an act with consequences.</p><p dir="ltr">In reaction, Russia announced that its bombers will henceforth be accompanied by jet fighters and that it is deploying sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria. Russia also ordered its missile cruiser Moskva, with its long-range air defense system, to move closer to shore, so that it may be “ready to destroy any aerial target posing a potential danger to our aircraft,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced. All of this sets the stage for confrontations that could be lethal.</p><p dir="ltr">Tensions are also constant at NATO-Russian borders, including military maneuvers on both sides. Shortly after the Doomsday Clock was moved ominously close to midnight, the national press reported that “U.S. military combat vehicles paraded Wednesday through an Estonian city that juts into Russia, a symbolic act that highlighted the stakes for both sides amid the worst tensions between the West and Russia since the Cold War.” Shortly before, a Russian warplane came within seconds of colliding with a Danish civilian airliner. Both sides are practicing rapid mobilization and redeployment of forces to the Russia-NATO border, and “both believe a war is no longer unthinkable.”</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Prospects for Survival</strong></p><p dir="ltr">If that is so, both sides are beyond insanity, since a war might well destroy everything. It has been recognized for decades that a first strike by a major power might destroy the attacker, even without retaliation, simply from the effects of nuclear winter.</p><p dir="ltr">But that is today’s world. And not just today’s -- that is what we have been living with for 70 years. The reasoning throughout is remarkable. As we have seen, security for the population is typically not a leading concern of policymakers. That has been true from the earliest days of the nuclear age, when in the centers of policy formation there were no efforts -- apparently not even expressed thoughts -- to eliminate the one serious potential threat to the United States, as might have been possible. And so matters continue to the present, in ways just briefly sampled.</p><p dir="ltr">That is the world we have been living in, and live in today. Nuclear weapons pose a constant danger of instant destruction, but at least we know in principle how to alleviate the threat, even to eliminate it, an obligation undertaken (and disregarded) by the nuclear powers that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The threat of global warming is not instantaneous, though it is dire in the longer term and might escalate suddenly. That we have the capacity to deal with it is not entirely clear, but there can be no doubt that the longer the delay, the more extreme the calamity.</p><p dir="ltr">Prospects for decent long-term survival are not high unless there is a significant change of course. A large share of the responsibility is in our hands -- the opportunities as well.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">here</a>.</em></p> Sun, 12 Jun 2016 09:27:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch 1058186 at http://www.alternet.org World World chomsky Chomsky: Humanity Has Paid a Bloody Price for America's Mania to Control the World http://www.alternet.org/books/chomsky-humanity-has-paid-bloody-price-americas-mania-control-world <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Noam Chomsky on the true costs of the War on Terror.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/chomsky_5.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bdd4fed4-914c-e837-c065-bd83f6b001aa"><em>This piece originally appeared on <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/">TomDispatch</a>. T</em><em>he second of two parts, it is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, </em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/162779381X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Who Rules the World?</a> <em>(Metro</em><em>politan Books). Part 1 can be found by <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176137/" target="_blank">clicking here</a>.</em></p><p>In brief, the Global War on Terror sledgehammer strategy has spread jihadi terror from a tiny corner of Afghanistan to much of the world, from Africa through the Levant and South Asia to Southeast Asia. It has also incited attacks in Europe and the United States. The invasion of Iraq made a substantial contribution to this process, much as intelligence agencies had predicted. Terrorism specialists Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank estimate that the Iraq War “generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost; even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one-third.” Other exercises have been similarly productive.</p><p>A group of major human rights organizations—Physicians for Social Responsibility (U.S.), Physicians for Global Survival (Canada), and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Germany)—conducted a study that sought "to provide as realistic an estimate as possible of the total body count in the three main war zones [Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan] during 12 years of ‘war on terrorism,'" including an extensive review “of the major studies and data published on the numbers of victims in these countries,” along with additional information on military actions. Their "conservative estimate" is that these wars killed about 1.3 million people, a toll that "could also be in excess of 2 million." A database search by independent researcher David Peterson in the days following the publication of the report found virtually no mention of it. Who cares?</p><p>More generally, studies carried out by the Oslo Peace Research Institute show that two-thirds of the region’s conflict fatalities were produced in originally internal disputes where outsiders imposed their solutions. In such conflicts, 98 percent of fatalities were produced only after outsiders had entered the domestic dispute with their military might. In Syria, the number of direct conflict fatalities more than tripled after the West initiated air strikes against the self-declared Islamic State and the CIA started its indirect military interference in the war—interference which appears to have drawn the Russians in as advanced US antitank missiles were decimating the forces of their ally Bashar al-Assad. Early indications are that Russian bombing is having the usual consequences.</p><p>The evidence reviewed by political scientist Timo Kivimäki indicates that the “protection wars [fought by ‘coalitions of the willing’] have become the main source of violence in the world, occasionally contributing over 50 percent of total conflict fatalities.” Furthermore, in many of these cases, including Syria, as he reviews, there were opportunities for diplomatic settlement that were ignored. That has also been true in other horrific situations, including the Balkans in the early 1990s, the first Gulf War, and of course the Indochina wars, the worst crime since World War II. In the case of Iraq the question does not even arise. There surely are some lessons here.</p><p>The general consequences of resorting to the sledgehammer against vulnerable societies comes as little surprise. William Polk’s careful study of insurgencies, <em>Violent Politics</em>, should be essential reading for those who want to understand today’s conflicts, and surely for planners, assuming that they care about human consequences and not merely power and domination. Polk reveals a pattern that has been replicated over and over. The invaders—perhaps professing the most benign motives—are naturally disliked by the population, who disobey them, at first in small ways, eliciting a forceful response, which increases opposition and support for resistance. The cycle of violence escalates until the invaders withdraw—or gain their ends by something that may approach genocide.</p><p><strong>Playing by the Al-Qaeda Game Plan</strong></p><p>Obama’s global drone assassination campaign, a remarkable innovation in global terrorism, exhibits the same patterns. By most accounts, it is generating terrorists more rapidly than it is murdering those suspected of someday intending to harm us—an impressive contribution by a constitutional lawyer on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which established the basis for the principle of presumption of innocence that is the foundation of civilized law.</p><p>Another characteristic feature of such interventions is the belief that the insurgency will be overcome by eliminating its leaders. But when such an effort succeeds, the reviled leader is regularly replaced by someone younger, more determined, more brutal, and more effective. Polk gives many examples. Military historian Andrew Cockburn has reviewed American campaigns to kill drug and then terror “kingpins” over a long period in his important study <em>Kill Chain</em> and found the same results. And one can expect with fair confidence that the pattern will continue.</p><p>No doubt right now U.S. strategists are seeking ways to murder the “Caliph of the Islamic State” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is a bitter rival of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The likely result of this achievement is forecast by the prominent terrorism scholar Bruce Hoffman, senior fellow at the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. He predicts that “al-Baghdadi’s death would likely pave the way for a rapprochement [with al-Qaeda] producing a combined terrorist force unprecedented in scope, size, ambition and resources.”</p><p>Polk cites a treatise on warfare by Henry Jomini, influenced by Napoleon’s defeat at the hands of Spanish guerrillas, that became a textbook for generations of cadets at the West Point military academy. Jomini observed that such interventions by major powers typically result in “wars of opinion,” and nearly always “national wars,” if not at first then becoming so in the course of the struggle, by the dynamics that Polk describes. Jomini concludes that “commanders of regular armies are ill-advised to engage in such wars because they will lose them,” and even apparent successes will prove short-lived.</p><p>Careful studies of al-Qaeda and ISIS have shown that the United States and its allies are following their game plan with some precision. Their goal is to “draw the West as deeply and actively as possible into the quagmire” and “to perpetually engage and enervate the United States and the West in a series of prolonged overseas ventures” in which they will undermine their own societies, expend their resources, and increase the level of violence, setting off the dynamic that Polk reviews.</p><p>Scott Atran, one of the most insightful researchers on jihadi movements, calculates that “the 9/11 attacks cost between $400,000 and $500,000 to execute, whereas the military and security response by the U.S. and its allies is in the order of 10 million times that figure. On a strictly cost-benefit basis, this violent movement has been wildly successful, beyond even Bin Laden’s original imagination, and is increasingly so. Herein lies the full measure of jujitsu-style asymmetric warfare. After all, who could claim that we are better off than before, or that the overall danger is declining?”</p><p>And if we continue to wield the sledgehammer, tacitly following the jihadi script, the likely effect is even more violent jihadism with broader appeal. The record, Atran advises, “should inspire a radical change in our counter-strategies.”</p><p>Al-Qaeda/ISIS are assisted by Americans who follow their directives: for example, Ted “carpet-bomb ’em” Cruz, a top Republican presidential candidate. Or, at the other end of the mainstream spectrum, the leading Middle East and international affairs columnist of the <em>New York</em> <em>Times</em>, Thomas Friedman, who in 2003 offered Washington advice on<em> </em>how to fight in Iraq on the <em>Charlie Rose</em> show: “There was what I would call the terrorism bubble... And what we needed to do was to go over to that part of the world and burst that bubble. We needed to go over there basically, and, uh, take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world, and burst that bubble. And there was only one way to do it... What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy we’re going to just let it go? Well, suck on this. OK. That, Charlie, was what this war was about.”</p><p>That’ll show the ragheads.</p><p><strong>Looking Forward</strong></p><p>Atran and other close observers generally agree on the prescriptions. We should begin by recognizing what careful research has convincingly shown: those drawn to jihad “are longing for something in their history, in their traditions, with their heroes and their morals; and the Islamic State, however brutal and repugnant to us and even to most in the Arab-Muslim world, is speaking directly to that... What inspires the most lethal assailants today is not so much the Quran but a thrilling cause and a call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends.” In fact, few of the jihadis have much of a background in Islamic texts or theology, if any.</p><p>The best strategy, Polk advises, would be “a multinational, welfare-oriented and psychologically satisfying program... that would make the hatred ISIS relies upon less virulent. The elements have been identified for us: communal needs, compensation for previous transgressions, and calls for a new beginning.” He adds, “A carefully phrased apology for past transgressions would cost little and do much.” Such a project could be carried out in refugee camps or in the “hovels and grim housing projects of the Paris <em>banlieues</em>,” where, Atran writes, his research team “found fairly wide tolerance or support for ISIS’s values.” And even more could be done by true dedication to diplomacy and negotiations instead of reflexive resort to violence.</p><p>Not least in significance would be an honorable response to the “refugee crisis” that was a long time in coming but surged to prominence in Europe in 2015. That would mean, at the very least, sharply increasing humanitarian relief to the camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey where miserable refugees from Syria barely survive. But the issues go well beyond, and provide a picture of the self-described “enlightened states” that is far from attractive and should be an incentive to action.</p><p>There are countries that generate refugees through massive violence, like the United States, secondarily Britain and France. Then there are countries that admit huge numbers of refugees, including those fleeing from Western violence, like Lebanon (easily the champion, per capita), Jordan, and Syria before it imploded, among others in the region. And partially overlapping, there are countries that both generate refugees and refuse to take them in, not only from the Middle East but also from the U.S. “backyard” south of the border. A strange picture, painful to contemplate.</p><p>An honest picture would trace the generation of refugees much further back into history. Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk reports that one of the first videos produced by ISIS “showed a bulldozer pushing down a rampart of sand that had marked the border between Iraq and Syria. As the machine destroyed the dirt revetment, the camera panned down to a handwritten poster lying in the sand. ‘End of Sykes-Picot,’ it said.”</p><p>For the people of the region, the Sykes-Picot agreement is the very symbol of the cynicism and brutality of Western imperialism. Conspiring in secret during World War I, Britain’s Mark Sykes and France’s François Georges-Picot carved up the region into artificial states to satisfy their own imperial goals, with utter disdain for the interests of the people living there and in violation of the wartime promises issued to induce Arabs to join the Allied war effort. The agreement mirrored the practices of the European states that devastated Africa in a similar manner. It “transformed what had been relatively quiet provinces of the Ottoman Empire into some of the least stable and most internationally explosive states in the world.”</p><p>Repeated Western interventions since then in the Middle East and Africa have exacerbated the tensions, conflicts, and disruptions that have shattered the societies. The end result is a “refugee crisis” that the innocent West can scarcely endure. Germany has emerged as the conscience of Europe, at first (but no longer) admitting almost one million refugees—in one of the richest countries in the world with a population of 80 million. In contrast, the poor country of Lebanon has absorbed an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees, now a quarter of its population, on top of half a million Palestinian refugees registered with the U.N. refugee agency UNRWA, mostly victims of Israeli policies.</p><p>Europe is also groaning under the burden of refugees from the countries it has devastated in Africa—not without U.S. aid, as Congolese and Angolans, among others, can testify. Europe is now seeking to bribe Turkey (with over two million Syrian refugees) to distance those fleeing the horrors of Syria from Europe’s borders, just as Obama is pressuring Mexico to keep U.S. borders free from miserable people seeking to escape the aftermath of Reagan’s GWOT along with those seeking to escape more recent disasters, including a military coup in Honduras that Obama almost alone legitimized, which created one of the worst horror chambers in the region.</p><p>Words can hardly capture the U.S. response to the Syrian refugee crisis, at least any words I can think of.</p><p>Returning to the opening question “Who rules the world?” we might also want to pose another question: “What principles and values rule the world?” That question should be foremost in the minds of the citizens of the rich and powerful states, who enjoy an unusual legacy of freedom, privilege, and opportunity thanks to the struggles of those who came before them, and who now face fateful choices as to how to respond to challenges of great human import.</p> Tue, 10 May 2016 07:15:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Tom Dispatch 1056197 at http://www.alternet.org Books Activism Books The Right Wing World noam chomsky books war military terrorism foreign policy Noam Chomsky: Who Rules the World? http://www.alternet.org/books/noam-chomsky-who-rules-world <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">An excerpt from his important new book.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-05-08_at_1.11.04_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bdd4fed4-914c-e837-c065-bd83f6b001aa"><em>This piece originally appeared on <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com">TomDispatch</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Today's TomDispatch is the first of two parts of a remarkable Chomsky essay that caps his new book, Who Rules the World?  Part 2 of the piece will appear at TD on Tuesday morning!  </em></p><p dir="ltr">The other day I pulled a tattered copy of The Chomsky Reader off a bookshelf of mine.  Leafing through some of the Vietnam-era essays collected in that 1987 paperback brought to life a young Tom Engelhardt who, in the mid-to-late 1960s, was undergoing a startling transition: from dreaming of <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175951/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_i.f._stone_and_the_urge_to_serve/">serving his government</a> to opposing it.  Noam Chomsky’s writings played a role in that transformation.  I stopped at his chilling 1970 essay “<a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1970/01/01/after-pinkville/">After Pinkville</a>,” which I remember reading when it came out.  (“Pinkville,” connoting communist influence, was the military slang for the village where the infamous My Lai massacre took place.)  It was not the first Chomsky essay I had read.  That honor may go to “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” which he wrote in 1966. (“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.  This, at least, may seem enough of a truism to pass without comment.  Not so, however.  For the modern intellectual, it is not at all obvious.”)</p><p dir="ltr">“After Pinkville” still remains vividly in my consciousness from that long-gone moment when a growing sense of horror about a distant American war that came to feel ever closer and more brutal swept me into antiwar activism.  Its first sentences still cut to the heart of things: “It is important to understand that the massacre of the rural population of Vietnam and their forced evacuation is not an accidental by-product of the war.  Rather it is of the very essence of American strategy.”  Before he was done, Chomsky would put the massacre of almost 500 Vietnamese men, women, and children into the grim context of the larger crimes of the time: “It is perhaps remarkable that none of this appears to occasion much concern [in the U.S.].  It is only the acts of a company of half-crazed GIs that are regarded as a scandal, a disgrace to America.  It will, indeed, be a still greater national scandal -- if we assume that possible -- if they alone are subjected to criminal prosecution, but not those who have created and accepted the long-term atrocity to which they contributed one detail -- merely a few hundred more murdered Vietnamese.”</p><p dir="ltr">So many decades later, something still seems painfully familiar in all of this.  Thanks in part to the <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176081/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_world_without_context/">nature</a> of <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176129/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_obsession,_addiction,_and_the_news/">our media moment</a>, we remain riveted by acts of horror committed against Europeans and Americans.  Yet “concern” over what the U.S. has done in our distant war zones -- from the killing of civilians at <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175787/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_washington%27s_wedding_album_from_hell/">weddings</a>, <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6279616.stm">funerals</a>, and <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174975/slaughter_lies_and_video_in_afghanistan">memorial services</a> to the evisceration of a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/10/kunduz-afghanistan-attack-medecins-sans-frontieres">hospital</a>, to <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175650/tomgram%3A_greg_grandin,_why_latin_america_didn%27t_join_washington%27s_counterterrorism_posse/">kidnappings</a>, <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176132/tomgram%3A_rebecca_gordon%2C_exhibit_one_in_any_future_american_war_crimes_trial/">torture</a>, and even the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/31/obama-justice-department-immunity-bush-cia-torturer">killing</a> of prisoners, to drone strikes so “surgical” and “precise” that <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147">hundreds</a> below died even though only a relatively few individuals were officially targeted -- seems largely missing in action.  Unlike the Vietnam era, in the present moment, lacking the powerful <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176034/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_what_it_means_when_you_kill_people_on_the_other_side_of_the_planet_and_no_one_notices/">antiwar movement</a> of the Vietnam era, “none of this,” to quote Chomsky, “appears to occasion much concern.”  <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176110/tomgram%3A_mattea_kramer,_the_grief_of_others_and_the_boasts_of_candidates/">Indeed</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">There are, however, <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176131/tomgram%3A_pratap_chatterjee,_inside_the_devastation_of_america%27s_drone_wars/">exceptions</a> to this statement and let me mention one of them.  A half-century later, Noam Chomsky is still writing with the same chilling eloquence about the updated war-on-terror version of this American nightmare.  His “concern” has not lagged, something that can’t be missed in his new book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/162779381X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20">Who Rules the World?</a>, which focuses on, among other things, what in the Vietnam-era might have been <a href="http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/%7Ehst306/documents/fulbright.html">called</a> “the arrogance of power.”  At a moment when the Vietnam bomber of choice, the B-52, is being <a href="http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/04/09/b-52s-arrive-qatar-join-isis-bombing-campaign/82829600/">sent back</a> into action in the war against the Islamic State, he, too, is back in action.  And so here is the first part of an overview essay from his new book on American power and the world. (Expect part 2 on Tuesday.)-Tom Engelhardt</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>American Power Under Challenge<br />Masters of Mankind (Part 1)</strong><br />By <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/authors/noamchomsky">Noam Chomsky </a></p><p dir="ltr">[This piece, the first of two parts, is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/162779381X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20">Who Rules the World?</a> (Metropolitan Books).  Part 2 will be posted on Tuesday morning.]</p><p dir="ltr">When we ask “Who rules the world?” we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading.</p><p dir="ltr">States of course have complex internal structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the “masters of mankind,” as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the like. Still following Smith, it is also wise to attend to the “vile maxim” to which the “masters of mankind” are dedicated: “All for ourselves and nothing for other people” -- a doctrine known otherwise as bitter and incessant class war, often one-sided, much to the detriment of the people of the home country and the world.</p><p dir="ltr">In the contemporary global order, the institutions of the masters hold enormous power, not only in the international arena but also within their home states, on which they rely to protect their power and to provide economic support by a wide variety of means. When we consider the role of the masters of mankind, we turn to such state policy priorities of the moment as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the investor-rights agreements mislabeled “free-trade agreements” in propaganda and commentary. They are negotiated in secret, apart from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists writing the crucial details. The intention is to have them adopted in good Stalinist style with “fast track” procedures designed to block discussion and allow only the choice of yes or no (hence yes). The designers regularly do quite well, not surprisingly. People are incidental, with the consequences one might anticipate.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Second Superpower</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The neoliberal programs of the past generation have concentrated wealth and power in far fewer hands while undermining functioning democracy, but they have aroused opposition as well, most prominently in Latin America but also in the centers of global power. The European Union (EU), one of the more promising developments of the post-World War II period, has been tottering because of the harsh effect of the policies of austerity during recession, condemned even by the economists of the International Monetary Fund (if not the IMF’s political actors). Democracy has been undermined as decision making shifted to the Brussels bureaucracy, with the northern banks casting their shadow over their proceedings.</p><p dir="ltr">Mainstream parties have been rapidly losing members to left and to right. The executive director of the Paris-based research group EuropaNova attributes the general disenchantment to “a mood of angry impotence as the real power to shape events largely shifted from national political leaders [who, in principle at least, are subject to democratic politics] to the market, the institutions of the European Union and corporations,” quite in accord with neoliberal doctrine. Very similar processes are under way in the United States, for somewhat similar reasons, a matter of significance and concern not just for the country but, because of U.S. power, for the world.</p><p dir="ltr">The rising opposition to the neoliberal assault highlights another crucial aspect of the standard convention: it sets aside the public, which often fails to accept the approved role of “spectators” (rather than “participants”) assigned to it in liberal democratic theory. Such disobedience has always been of concern to the dominant classes. Just keeping to American history, George Washington regarded the common people who formed the militias that he was to command as “an exceedingly dirty and nasty people [evincing] an unaccountable kind of stupidity in the lower class of these people.”</p><p dir="ltr">In Violent Politics, his masterful review of insurgencies from “the American insurgency” to contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq, William Polk concludes that General Washington “was so anxious to sideline [the fighters he despised] that he came close to losing the Revolution.” Indeed, he “might have actually done so” had France not massively intervened and “saved the Revolution,” which until then had been won by guerrillas -- whom we would now call “terrorists” -- while Washington’s British-style army “was defeated time after time and almost lost the war.”</p><p dir="ltr">A common feature of successful insurgencies, Polk records, is that once popular support dissolves after victory, the leadership suppresses the “dirty and nasty people” who actually won the war with guerrilla tactics and terror, for fear that they might challenge class privilege. The elites’ contempt for “the lower class of these people” has taken various forms throughout the years. In recent times one expression of this contempt is the call for passivity and obedience (“moderation in democracy”) by liberal internationalists reacting to the dangerous democratizing effects of the popular movements of the 1960s.</p><p dir="ltr">Sometimes states do choose to follow public opinion, eliciting much fury in centers of power. One dramatic case was in 2003, when the Bush administration called on Turkey to join its invasion of Iraq. Ninety-five percent of Turks opposed that course of action and, to the amazement and horror of Washington, the Turkish government adhered to their views. Turkey was bitterly condemned for this departure from responsible behavior. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, designated by the press as the “idealist-in-chief” of the administration, berated the Turkish military for permitting the malfeasance of the government and demanded an apology. Unperturbed by these and innumerable other illustrations of our fabled “yearning for democracy,” respectable commentary continued to laud President George W. Bush for his dedication to “democracy promotion,” or sometimes criticized him for his naïveté in thinking that an outside power could impose its democratic yearnings on others.</p><p dir="ltr">The Turkish public was not alone. Global opposition to U.S.-UK aggression was overwhelming. Support for Washington’s war plans scarcely reached 10% almost anywhere, according to international polls. Opposition sparked huge worldwide protests, in the United States as well, probably the first time in history that imperial aggression was strongly protested even before it was officially launched. On the front page of the New York Times, journalist Patrick Tyler reported that “there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.”</p><p dir="ltr">Unprecedented protest in the United States was a manifestation of the opposition to aggression that began decades earlier in the condemnation of the U.S. wars in Indochina, reaching a scale that was substantial and influential, even if far too late. By 1967, when the antiwar movement was becoming a significant force, military historian and Vietnam specialist Bernard Fall warned that “Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity... is threatened with extinction... [as] the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size.”</p><p dir="ltr">But the antiwar movement did become a force that could not be ignored. Nor could it be ignored when Ronald Reagan came into office determined to launch an assault on Central America. His administration mimicked closely the steps John F. Kennedy had taken 20 years earlier in launching the war against South Vietnam, but had to back off because of the kind of vigorous public protest that had been lacking in the early 1960s. The assault was awful enough. The victims have yet to recover. But what happened to South Vietnam and later all of Indochina, where “the second superpower” imposed its impediments only much later in the conflict, was incomparably worse.</p><p dir="ltr">It is often argued that the enormous public opposition to the invasion of Iraq had no effect. That seems incorrect to me. Again, the invasion was horrifying enough, and its aftermath is utterly grotesque. Nevertheless, it could have been far worse. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of Bush’s top officials could never even contemplate the sort of measures that President Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson adopted 40 years earlier largely without protest.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Western Power Under Pressure</strong></p><p dir="ltr">There is far more to say, of course, about the factors in determining state policy that are put to the side when we adopt the standard convention that states are the actors in international affairs. But with such nontrivial caveats as these, let us nevertheless adopt the convention, at least as a first approximation to reality. Then the question of who rules the world leads at once to such concerns as China’s rise to power and its challenge to the United States and “world order,” the new cold war simmering in eastern Europe, the Global War on Terror, American hegemony and American decline, and a range of similar considerations.</p><p dir="ltr">The challenges faced by Western power at the outset of 2016 are usefully summarized within the conventional framework by Gideon Rachman, chief foreign-affairs columnist for the London Financial Times. He begins by reviewing the Western picture of world order: “Ever since the end of the Cold War, the overwhelming power of the U.S. military has been the central fact of international politics.” This is particularly crucial in three regions: East Asia, where “the U.S. Navy has become used to treating the Pacific as an ‘American lake’”; Europe, where NATO -- meaning the United States, which “accounts for a staggering three-quarters of NATO’s military spending” -- “guarantees the territorial integrity of its member states”; and the Middle East, where giant U.S. naval and air bases “exist to reassure friends and to intimidate rivals.”</p><p dir="ltr">The problem of world order today, Rachman continues, is that “these security orders are now under challenge in all three regions” because of Russian intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and because of China turning its nearby seas from an American lake to “clearly contested water.” The fundamental question of international relations, then, is whether the United States should “accept that other major powers should have some kind of zone of influence in their neighborhoods.” Rachman thinks it should, for reasons of “diffusion of economic power around the world -- combined with simple common sense.”</p><p dir="ltr">There are, to be sure, ways of looking at the world from different standpoints. But let us keep to these three regions, surely critically important ones.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Challenges Today: East Asia</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Beginning with the “American lake,” some eyebrows might be raised over the report in mid-December 2015 that “an American B-52 bomber on a routine mission over the South China Sea unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China, senior defense officials said, exacerbating a hotly divisive issue for Washington and Beijing.” Those familiar with the grim record of the 70 years of the nuclear weapons era will be all too aware that this is the kind of incident that has often come perilously close to igniting terminal nuclear war. One need not be a supporter of China’s provocative and aggressive actions in the South China Sea to notice that the incident did not involve a Chinese nuclear-capable bomber in the Caribbean, or off the coast of California, where China has no pretensions of establishing a “Chinese lake.” Luckily for the world.</p><p dir="ltr">Chinese leaders understand very well that their country’s maritime trade routes are ringed with hostile powers from Japan through the Malacca Straits and beyond, backed by overwhelming U.S. military force. Accordingly, China is proceeding to expand westward with extensive investments and careful moves toward integration. In part, these developments are within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which includes the Central Asian states and Russia, and soon India and Pakistan with Iran as one of the observers -- a status that was denied to the United States, which was also called on to close all military bases in the region. China is constructing a modernized version of the old silk roads, with the intent not only of integrating the region under Chinese influence, but also of reaching Europe and the Middle Eastern oil-producing regions. It is pouring huge sums into creating an integrated Asian energy and commercial system, with extensive high-speed rail lines and pipelines.</p><p dir="ltr">One element of the program is a highway through some of the world’s tallest mountains to the new Chinese-developed port of Gwadar in Pakistan, which will protect oil shipments from potential U.S. interference. The program may also, China and Pakistan hope, spur industrial development in Pakistan, which the United States has not undertaken despite massive military aid, and might also provide an incentive for Pakistan to clamp down on domestic terrorism, a serious issue for China in western Xinjiang Province. Gwadar will be part of China’s “string of pearls,” bases being constructed in the Indian Ocean for commercial purposes but potentially also for military use, with the expectation that China might someday be able to project power as far as the Persian Gulf for the first time in the modern era.</p><p dir="ltr">All of these moves remain immune to Washington’s overwhelming military power, short of annihilation by nuclear war, which would destroy the United States as well.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2015, China also established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with itself as the main shareholder. Fifty-six nations participated in the opening in Beijing in June, including U.S. allies Australia, Britain, and others which joined in defiance of Washington’s wishes. The United States and Japan were absent. Some analysts believe that the new bank might turn out to be a competitor to the Bretton Woods institutions (the IMF and the World Bank), in which the United States holds veto power. There are also some expectations that the SCO might eventually become a counterpart to NATO.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Challenges Today: Eastern Europe</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Turning to the second region, Eastern Europe, there is a crisis brewing at the NATO-Russian border. It is no small matter. In his illuminating and judicious scholarly study of the region, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, Richard Sakwa writes -- all too plausibly -- that the “Russo-Georgian war of August 2008 was in effect the first of the ‘wars to stop NATO enlargement’; the Ukraine crisis of 2014 is the second. It is not clear whether humanity would survive a third.”</p><p dir="ltr">The West sees NATO enlargement as benign. Not surprisingly, Russia, along with much of the Global South, has a different opinion, as do some prominent Western voices. George Kennan warned early on that NATO enlargement is a “tragic mistake,” and he was joined by senior American statesmen in an open letter to the White House describing it as a “policy error of historic proportions.”</p><p dir="ltr">The present crisis has its origins in 1991, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were then two contrasting visions of a new security system and political economy in Eurasia. In Sakwa’s words, one vision was of a “‘Wider Europe,’ with the EU at its heart but increasingly coterminous with the Euro-Atlantic security and political community; and on the other side there [was] the idea of ‘Greater Europe,’ a vision of a continental Europe, stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, that has multiple centers, including Brussels, Moscow and Ankara, but with a common purpose in overcoming the divisions that have traditionally plagued the continent.”</p><p dir="ltr">Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was the major proponent of Greater Europe, a concept that also had European roots in Gaullism and other initiatives. However, as Russia collapsed under the devastating market reforms of the 1990s, the vision faded, only to be renewed as Russia began to recover and seek a place on the world stage under Vladimir Putin who, along with his associate Dmitry Medvedev, has repeatedly “called for the geopolitical unification of all of ‘Greater Europe’ from Lisbon to Vladivostok, to create a genuine ‘strategic partnership.’”</p><p dir="ltr">These initiatives were “greeted with polite contempt,” Sakwa writes, regarded as “little more than a cover for the establishment of a ‘Greater Russia’ by stealth” and an effort to “drive a wedge” between North America and Western Europe. Such concerns trace back to earlier Cold War fears that Europe might become a “third force” independent of both the great and minor superpowers and moving toward closer links to the latter (as can be seen in Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik and other initiatives).</p><p dir="ltr">The Western response to Russia’s collapse was triumphalist. It was hailed as signaling “the end of history,” the final victory of Western capitalist democracy, almost as if Russia were being instructed to revert to its pre-World War I status as a virtual economic colony of the West. NATO enlargement began at once, in violation of verbal assurances to Gorbachev that NATO forces would not move “one inch to the east” after he agreed that a unified Germany could become a NATO member -- a remarkable concession, in the light of history. That discussion kept to East Germany. The possibility that NATO might expand beyond Germany was not discussed with Gorbachev, even if privately considered.</p><p dir="ltr">Soon, NATO did begin to move beyond, right to the borders of Russia. The general mission of NATO was officially changed to a mandate to protect “crucial infrastructure” of the global energy system, sea lanes and pipelines, giving it a global area of operations. Furthermore, under a crucial Western revision of the now widely heralded doctrine of “responsibility to protect,” sharply different from the official U.N. version, NATO may now also serve as an intervention force under U.S. command.</p><p dir="ltr">Of particular concern to Russia are plans to expand NATO to Ukraine. These plans were articulated explicitly at the Bucharest NATO summit of April 2008, when Georgia and Ukraine were promised eventual membership in NATO. The wording was unambiguous: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” With the “Orange Revolution” victory of pro-Western candidates in Ukraine in 2004, State Department representative Daniel Fried rushed there and “emphasized U.S. support for Ukraine’s NATO and Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” as a WikiLeaks report revealed.</p><p dir="ltr">Russia’s concerns are easily understandable. They are outlined by international relations scholar John Mearsheimer in the leading U.S. establishment journal, Foreign Affairs. He writes that “the taproot of the current crisis [over Ukraine] is NATO expansion and Washington’s commitment to move Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit and integrate it into the West,” which Putin viewed as “a direct threat to Russia’s core interests.”</p><p dir="ltr">“Who can blame him?” Mearsheimer asks, pointing out that “Washington may not like Moscow’s position, but it should understand the logic behind it.” That should not be too difficult. After all, as everyone knows, “The United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western hemisphere, much less on its borders.”</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, the U.S. stand is far stronger. It does not tolerate what is officially called “successful defiance” of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which declared (but could not yet implement) U.S. control of the hemisphere. And a small country that carries out such successful defiance may be subjected to “the terrors of the earth” and a crushing embargo -- as happened to Cuba. We need not ask how the United States would have reacted had the countries of Latin America joined the Warsaw Pact, with plans for Mexico and Canada to join as well. The merest hint of the first tentative steps in that direction would have been “terminated with extreme prejudice,” to adopt CIA lingo.</p><p dir="ltr">As in the case of China, one does not have to regard Putin’s moves and motives favorably to understand the logic behind them, nor to grasp the importance of understanding that logic instead of issuing imprecations against it. As in the case of China, a great deal is at stake, reaching as far -- literally -- as questions of survival.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The Challenges Today: The Islamic World</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Let us turn to the third region of major concern, the (largely) Islamic world, also the scene of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) that George W. Bush declared in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack. To be more accurate, re-declared. The GWOT was declared by the Reagan administration when it took office, with fevered rhetoric about a “plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization itself” (as Reagan put it) and a “return to barbarism in the modern age” (the words of George Shultz, his secretary of state). The original GWOT has been quietly removed from history. It very quickly turned into a murderous and destructive terrorist war afflicting Central America, southern Africa, and the Middle East, with grim repercussions to the present, even leading to condemnation of the United States by the World Court (which Washington dismissed). In any event, it is not the right story for history, so it is gone.</p><p dir="ltr">The success of the Bush-Obama version of GWOT can readily be evaluated on direct inspection. When the war was declared, the terrorist targets were confined to a small corner of tribal Afghanistan. They were protected by Afghans, who mostly disliked or despised them, under the tribal code of hospitality -- which baffled Americans when poor peasants refused “to turn over Osama bin Laden for the, to them, astronomical sum of $25 million.”</p><p dir="ltr">There are good reasons to believe that a well-constructed police action, or even serious diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, might have placed those suspected of the 9/11 crimes in American hands for trial and sentencing. But such options were off the table. Instead, the reflexive choice was large-scale violence -- not with the goal of overthrowing the Taliban (that came later) but to make clear U.S. contempt for tentative Taliban offers of the possible extradition of bin Laden. How serious these offers were we do not know, since the possibility of exploring them was never entertained. Or perhaps the United States was just intent on “trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don’t care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose.”</p><p dir="ltr">That was the judgment of the highly respected anti-Taliban leader Abdul Haq, one of the many oppositionists who condemned the American bombing campaign launched in October 2001 as "a big setback" for their efforts to overthrow the Taliban from within, a goal they considered within their reach. His judgment is confirmed by Richard A. Clarke, who was chairman of the Counterterrorism Security Group at the White House under President George W. Bush when the plans to attack Afghanistan were made. As Clarke describes the meeting, when informed that the attack would violate international law, "the President yelled in the narrow conference room, ‘I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.'" The attack was also bitterly opposed by the major aid organizations working in Afghanistan, who warned that millions were on the verge of starvation and that the consequences might be horrendous.</p><p dir="ltr">The consequences for poor Afghanistan years later need hardly be reviewed.</p><p dir="ltr">The next target of the sledgehammer was Iraq. The U.S.-UK invasion, utterly without credible pretext, is the major crime of the twenty-first century. The invasion led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people in a country where the civilian society had already been devastated by American and British sanctions that were regarded as “genocidal” by the two distinguished international diplomats who administered them, and resigned in protest for this reason. The invasion also generated millions of refugees, largely destroyed the country, and instigated a sectarian conflict that is now tearing apart Iraq and the entire region. It is an astonishing fact about our intellectual and moral culture that in informed and enlightened circles it can be called, blandly, “the liberation of Iraq.”</p><p dir="ltr">Pentagon and British Ministry of Defense polls found that only 3% of Iraqis regarded the U.S. security role in their neighborhood as legitimate, less than 1% believed that “coalition” (U.S.-UK) forces were good for their security, 80% opposed the presence of coalition forces in the country, and a majority supported attacks on coalition troops. Afghanistan has been destroyed beyond the possibility of reliable polling, but there are indications that something similar may be true there as well. Particularly in Iraq the United States suffered a severe defeat, abandoning its official war aims, and leaving the country under the influence of the sole victor, Iran.</p><p dir="ltr">The sledgehammer was also wielded elsewhere, notably in Libya, where the three traditional imperial powers (Britain, France, and the United States) procured Security Council resolution 1973 and instantly violated it, becoming the air force of the rebels. The effect was to undercut the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated settlement; sharply increase casualties (by at least a factor of 10, according to political scientist Alan Kuperman); leave Libya in ruins, in the hands of warring militias; and, more recently, to provide the Islamic State with a base that it can use to spread terror beyond. Quite sensible diplomatic proposals by the African Union, accepted in principle by Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, were ignored by the imperial triumvirate, as Africa specialist Alex de Waal reviews. A huge flow of weapons and jihadis has spread terror and violence from West Africa (now the champion for terrorist murders) to the Levant, while the NATO attack also sent a flood of refugees from Africa to Europe.</p><p dir="ltr">Yet another triumph of “humanitarian intervention,” and, as the long and often ghastly record reveals, not an unusual one, going back to its modern origins four centuries ago.</p><p dir="ltr"> </p><p dir="ltr"><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">here</a></em>.</p> Sun, 08 May 2016 09:54:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Tom Dispatch 1056093 at http://www.alternet.org Books Books chomsky world power nations america american us Noam Chomsky: There's a Huge Desire to Revamp Our Exploitive Economy, Bubbling in the Collective Unconscious http://www.alternet.org/activism/noam-chomsky-theres-huge-desire-revamp-our-exploitive-economy-bubbling-collective <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Next System is closer than you think. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/storyimages_screenshot20101130at8.57.09am_0.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Philosopher, linguist, and social critic Noam Chomsky recently spoke about his experiences in campus activism and his vision of a just society to help inaugurate the Next System Project’s ambitious new <a href="http://teachins.thenextsystem.org/">teach-ins initiative</a> taking place across the country. An initial signatory to <a href="http://thenextsystem.org/#signon">the Next System statement</a>, Chomsky explores the connections between culture, mass movements, and economic experiments—which in “mutually reinforcing” interaction, may build toward a next system more quickly than you may think. </p><p>Next System Project: As the Next System Project engages in dozens of university campus-based teach-ins across the country, what do you think of such approaches to engaging campus communities in deep, critical inquiry—can they help transform our society?</p><p>Noam Chomsky: Maybe I can just give a taste of my own personal experience. I’ve been at MIT, where I still am, for 65 years. When I got here it was a very quiet, passive campus: all white males, well-dressed and deferential, doing their homework, and so on. It remained that way right through most of the 1960s, through all the campus turmoil. There were some people involved, but not much. There was faculty peace and justice activity but not much on the part of students.</p><p>In fact, the campus was so passive that in 1968 when the Lyndon Johnson administration was beginning to try to slowly pull out of the Vietnam War, they had an idea that they would make peace with the students. They decided to send around the worst possible choice—the former Harvard dean, McGeorge Bundy—who they thought would know how to talk to students. He would come to campuses and we’d all make friends. They started off by picking very safe campuses. MIT was the second on the list, but they made a mistake. It turned out that there’d been a couple of students who had been actively organizing on campus. When Bundy showed up, he was surrounded by angry masses of students demanding that he explain and justify the terrible things he’d been involved in, and that essentially ended that effort.</p><p>By that time, really a handful of students had succeeded in substantially organizing the campus on a whole variety of issues that were very much alive. The Vietnam War, racism, the beginnings of the women’s movement were just starting and taking off then. In fact, within a couple of years, MIT became probably the most active and radical campus in the country. <a href="http://www.thenextsystem.org/whats-next-parecon-or-participatory-economics/">Mike Albert</a>, who was one of the leaders of this group, was elected student body president with a set of positions so radical you could hardly believe them. Without going into the details, it had a major change, a major impact on the culture, the community.</p><p>For the first time, there began to be serious discussion of the questions of the ethical elements in technological development. That all goes right to the present. In fact, just a few minutes ago, I was on a Reddit-style interchange with students on a whole variety of questions. They were bringing up all kinds of issues. This would’ve been utterly unthinkable back in the early 1960s. And similar things have been happening on all campuses. That’s had a big effect. It’s changed the culture, it’s changed the society. If you look over the developments in recent years, there’s been severe retrogression on economic and political issues, but considerable progress on cultural and social issues. The class nature of the society and its basic institutions have not only not changed, they’ve gotten worse. In other respects, there’s been major changes and it matters: attitudes towards women’s rights and civil rights, opposition to aggression, concern over the environment, these are all major things that have changed. Student activism has been critical all the way through and continues to be.</p><p>There’s a reason for that. Not just here, historically. Students typically are at a period of their lives when they’re more free than at any other time. They’re out of parental control. They’re not yet burdened by the needs of trying to put food on the table in a pretty repressive environment, often, and they’re free to explore, to create, to invent, to act, and to organize. Over and over through the years, student activism has been extremely significant in initiating and galvanizing major changes. I don’t see any reason for that to change.</p><p>Next System Project: Why do you think that right now, a deeper conversation on the retrogression in the political and the economic structures of our society is something that’s worth doing, and where do you think that might lead?</p><p>Noam Chomsky: Let’s take a look at a longer stretch. The Great Depression in the 1930s, if you compare it with today, was quite different in important ways. I’m old enough to remember. It was objectively much worse than today, much more severe. Subjectively, it was much better. It was a period of hopefulness of my own extended family, mostly unemployed working class, very little education—not even high school, often. They were active, organized, hopeful. There was militant labor action—the CIO at the early years was smashed by force, but by the mid-1930s it was becoming very significant. The CIO was organized. The sit-down strikes were really threatening capitalist control of the productive institutions, and they understood it. There was a relatively sympathetic administration, and though there were political parties that were functioning in a variety of ways, the unions offered not only activism, but solidarity, mutual support, cultural interchange. It was a way of life that gave people hope that we’re gonna get out of this soon though, no matter how bad it is.</p><p>There was plenty of activism in the ‘60s, which led to concern and backlash, which took off in the ‘70s and especially under Reagan and since with the neoliberal programs, which have been pretty much a disaster wherever they’ve been applied, all over the world, in different forms. In the United States typically what they’ve done is undermine the welfare and opportunities for the majority of the population and also undermined functioning democracy. That’s consistent everywhere. If you look at, let’s say, real male wages, they’re about what they were in the 1960s. There’s been growth—not as strong as in earlier years, but substantial—but going into very few pockets.</p><p>There were significant gains. The New Deal gains were not trivial—there were a lot of problems with them, but major gains. By the late 1930s, there was already a backlash beginning from the business classes that were used to running the show. It was kind of held off during the war, but launched strongly with real dedication after the war. There were major campaigns to roll back the kind of radical democracy that had developed during the Great Depression and the war not just in the United States, but throughout the world. That continues right up to the present.</p><p>There was plenty of activism in the ‘60s, which led to concern and backlash, which took off in the ‘70s and especially under Reagan and since with the neoliberal programs, which have been pretty much a disaster wherever they’ve been applied, all over the world, in different forms. In the United States typically what they’ve done is undermine the welfare and opportunities for the majority of the population and also undermined functioning democracy. That’s consistent everywhere. If you look at, let’s say, real male wages, they’re about what they were in the 1960s. There’s been growth—not as strong as in earlier years, but substantial—but going into very few pockets.</p><p>For example, since the last great crash, 2008, probably 90% of growth has gone to maybe 1% of the population. The political system was never really responsive to the mass of the population, but it’s now changed to the point where it’s a virtual plutocracy. If you look at academic, political science, it shows that maybe 70% of the population is just underrepresented. Their representatives pay no attention to their attitudes.</p><p>Years ago, it was pointed out that if you look at the socioeconomic profile of abstention in the United States—non-voting—it’s pretty much the same bloc of people as those in comparable societies, like, say, in Europe, where these blocs vote for labor-oriented or social democratic parties, which don’t exist here. We have geographic parties, which actually come straight out of the Civil War—just business-run parties, no class-based parties. And all of this has gotten much worse. It’s led to a very dangerous potential of people who are angry, isolated. It’s very different from the ‘30s in that the hopefulness is gone. The hopefulness and the solidarity has been replaced by isolation, anger, fear, hatred, easy target for demagogues as we see right in front of us constantly. It’s a dangerous situation that can be countered and students are in a really good position to counter it—and to address the fundamental institutions, economic and political institutions of this society, which are closely related.</p><p>There are major threats that are related to this that just can’t be discounted. The human species is now at a point where it has to make choices that are going to determine whether decent survival is even possible. Environmental catastrophe, including war, maybe pandemics, these are very serious issues and they can’t be addressed within the current structure of institutions. That’s almost given. There have to be real significant changes, and only really effective popular mass-based movements can introduce and carry forward such initiatives, as indeed did happen during the 1930s.</p><p>Next System Project: A recent poll of 18-to-26-year-olds found that they believe by 58% that socialism “is the most compassionate political system” with an extra 6% saying “communism.” There seems to be a groundswell within this younger generation for an interest in socialism, but it seems at this point very inchoate. Is this a moment to delve into questions of ownership, control, and the design principles that would produce institutions that generate community, sustainability, and peace? Or is it too academic a pursuit given how distant a powerful, mass-based political project is at the moment?</p><p>Noam Chomsky: I’m not sure how far away we are, frankly. Just take the last crash. One of the consequences was the government basically took over the auto industry. They had some choices. One choice was the one that was taken: tax payroll, bailout the owners and managers, and then restore the system to what it was. Maybe new names, but essentially the same structure, and have them continue to do the same thing: produce automobiles. That was one choice. That was what was taken. There was another choice. The other choice was to hand the system over to the workforce, have it democratically controlled and managed, and have the production oriented toward what the community needs. We don’t need more cars. We need effective mass transportation for lots of reasons. You can take high speed trains from Beijing to Kazakhstan, but not from Boston to New York. Infrastructure’s collapsing, it has a horrible effect on the environment. It means that spending half your life in traffic jams. This is implicit in market systems. A market gives you choice among consumer goods, say a Ford and a Toyota. It doesn’t give you a choice between an automobile and a decent mass transportation system.</p><p>Those are choices that involve communities, solidarity, popular democracy, popular organizations and so on. That was a choice just a couple of years ago with a different constellation of popular forces. I think the choice could have been an alternative one. That’s happened right near where I live in a suburb of Boston. There was a pretty successful manufacturing plant producing parts for aircraft and so on. The multinational that owned it decided they weren’t making enough profit, so they decided to put them out of business. The progressive union offered to buy it from them, which would have been profitable for the multinational, but I think mainly for class interests they refused. If there had been popular support for that right here, I think the workers could have taken it over and they would have a successful worker-owned and -managed enterprise. Those things can proliferate.</p><p>My feeling is it’s not really remote. I think most of these things are right below the surface in people’s consciousness. It has to be brought forward. This is true of many issues incidentally. It’s very important to recognize how unresponsive the political economic system is to people’s attitudes. You see this all the time. Take, say, Bernie Sanders. His positions are regarded as radical and extremist. In fact if you look at them, they’re very much in accord with the popular will over long periods. Take, say, national healthcare. Right now about 60% of the population are in favor of it, which is pretty remarkable since nobody speaks for it and it’s constantly demonized. If you look back, that’s consistent. In the late Reagan years about 70% of the population thought it should be in the Constitution, such a natural right, and in fact about 40% of the population thought it already was in the Constitution.</p><p>That’s consistent right through. It’s called politically impossible, meaning the financial institutions and the pharmaceutical corporations won’t accept it. But that tells you something about the society, not the popular will. Same is true for other things: free tuition, higher taxes on the rich, all consistent over long periods, but the policy goes in the opposite direction. If popular opinion can be organized, mobilized, with institutions of interaction and solidarity, like unions, then I think what’s right below the surface can become quite active and implemented as policy.</p><p>Next System Project: What’s your approach in terms of the principles or the models by which we can really engage the questions of ownership and democracy in the economy? Is it a worker-centered vision? A community vision? Would the economy function on principles of subsidiarity? And what do you do about large industry? Do you mix and match some of the principles, competing interests, and goals that are inherent to different institutions to create a national-level strategy?</p><p>Noam Chomsky: My feeling is that all of those initiatives should be pursued, not just in parallel, but in interaction, because they’re mutually reinforcing. If you have, say, worker-owned and -managed production facilities in communities which have popular budgeting and true democratic functioning, those support each other, and they can spread. In fact they might spread very fast. The example that I just mentioned of the Boston suburb for example, can be duplicated all over the place. People like David Ellerman were working on efforts like this for years. Over and over, you get situations where some multinational will decide to put out of business a profit-making subsidiary, which isn’t profitable enough for their bottom line, but works fine for the workers. Frequently, the workforce has tried to take it from them and take it over. Often they refuse even though they would make more profit than just giving it up—I think for good reason: they comprehend that this can proliferate. If some things work, others will follow.</p><p>There are some, in fact, pretty substantial ones in the world like Mondragon—not perfect by any means, but a model that can be developed and extended here. I think it does appeal to people. We might just consider the matter of wage labor. It’s pretty hard to remember maybe, but if you go back to the early industrial revolutions, the late 19th century, wage labor was considered essentially the same as slavery. The only difference was that it was supposed to be temporary. That was a slogan of the Republican party: opposition to wage slavery. Why should some people give orders and others take them? That’s essentially the relation of a master and a slave, even if it could be temporary.</p><p>If you look back at the labor movement in the late 19th century, you see it had a rich array of worker-owned, worker-directed media: worker-written newspapers all over the place, and many of them by women—the so-called “factory girls” in textile plants. Attack on wage labor was constant. The slogan was, “Those who work in the mills should own them.” They opposed the degradation and undermining of culture that was part of the forced industrialization of the society. They began to link up with the radical agrarian movement. It was mostly still an agrarian society, the farmers groups that wanted to get rid of the northeastern bankers and merchants and run their own affairs. It was a really radical democratic moment. There were worker-run cities, like Homestead, Pennsylvania, a main industrial center. A lot of that was destroyed by force, but I again think it’s just below the surface, can rise easily again.</p><p>Next System Project: One of your overriding concerns has been imperialism. What do you see as the design principles that should be animating the internal features of a society that is no longer oriented towards militarism and imperialism? What might be some institutional characteristics for our communities, our economy and our national politics?</p><p>Noam Chomsky: Fundamentally, I think it again reduces to solidarity. In this case, international solidarity. Take something concrete: what’s called the immigrant crisis. People in Central America and Mexico, people are fleeing to the United States. Why? Because we destroyed their societies. They don’t want to live in the United States. They want to live at home. We should be acting in solidarity with them, first of all to certainly permit them to be here if that’s the way they can save themselves from the conditions that we’ve imposed, but also to help them reconstruct their own societies. Same is true in Europe. People are flooding Europe from Africa. Why? There’s a couple of centuries of history that explain that. It’s a European responsibility, both to absorb and integrate them, and to contribute to rebuilding the societies that Europe destroyed and that its wealth depends on.</p><p>That’s true domestically as well. Take our own wealth and privilege: to a very large extent it derives from slavery—the most intensive, brutal slavery in history. Cotton was the oil of the 19th century. It’s what fueled the early industrial revolution—and the wealth and privilege of the United States, England, and others, depended very extensively on the horrifying slave labor camps in the United States that were imposing brutal torture to increase productivity of the commodity which enriched manufacturers. The main manufacturing plants were textiles plants originally. Textile merchants and commerce helped develop the financial system. The residue of it has never disappeared. Those are internal questions, which have the same character as imperial conquest and destruction.</p><p>Take, say, Africa. Parts of West Africa in the late 19th century were about in the same state as Japan. There was one difference. Japan wasn’t colonized, so it could follow the model of the industrial societies and become a major industrial society itself. That was blocked in the case of West Africa by imperial conquest. It may seem strange to think about it, but if you go back to say, 1820, Egypt and the United States were in pretty similar conditions. They were both rich agricultural societies. They had plenty of cotton, the crucial resource of that period. Egypt had a developmentally oriented government, pretty similar to the Hamiltonian system here, the developmental state. The difference was that the United States had liberated itself from imperial control. Egypt hadn’t. The British made it very clear that they were never going to permit an independent competitor in the eastern Mediterranean. Over time, Egypt became Egypt. The United States became the United States. That’s a lot of modern history; not all of it, quite a lot.</p><p>Those are things we should really think about.</p><p>The reaction to imperialist crimes should be recognition of them and compensation for them and solidarity with the victims. And this is not ancient history either. Take a look at the refugee crisis in Europe. Afghans and Iraqis are under horrible duress in Greek concentration camps. Why Afghans and Iraqis? Did something happen in Afghanistan and Iraq?</p> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 15:08:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, The Next System 1054464 at http://www.alternet.org Activism Activism Economy Labor Local Peace Economy The Right Wing World noam chomsky activism organizing college activism Murder, Theft, Exploitation: How American Imperialism and Neoliberal Economics Conquered Latin America http://www.alternet.org/books/murder-theft-exploitation-how-american-neoliberal-economics-and-imperialism-conquered-latin <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The effrontery of the powerful often leaves one virtually speechless. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5060838078_8064a04229_b.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>The following is an excerpt from the book</em> <a href="http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Year-501">Year 501</a> <em>by Noam Chomsky, part of a series of <a href="http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/The-Noam-Chomsky-Collection">twelve new editions</a> of Chomsky's classic works recently published by Haymarket Books: </em></p><p>A novel idea was implemented in Colombia, where security guards of a medical school murdered poor people and sold the bodies to the school for student research; reports indicate that before they were killed, organs that could be sold on the black market were removed. These practices, however, scarcely make a dent in one of the worst human rights records in the continent, compiled by security forces that have long benefited from US training and supply and have now become one of the hemisphere's top recipients of US military funding. As elsewhere, the main targets for mutilation, torture, and murder are priests, union activists, political leaders and others who try to defend the poor, form cooperatives, or otherwise qualify as "subversives" by interfering with the neoliberal economic model implemented under instructions from the US and the World Bank.</p><p>These development programs have other features, among them, an epidemic of pesticide poisoning that has reached the few corners of our little region over here that, for a time, escaped the deadly impact of the neoliberal doctrines. In Costa Rica, "legal pesticides -- many of them imported from the United States -- are making people sick, injuring them, even killing them," Christopher Scanlan reports in the Miami Herald from Pitahaya, where a 15-year-old farm worker had just died of poisoning by a highly toxic American Cyanamid product. The village cemetery of Pitahaya, he continues, "is a stark symbol of a global death toll from pesticides estimated at 220,000 a year by the World Health Organization," along with 25 million incidents a year of illness, including chronic neurological damage; the Guaymí Indians who die from pesticide poisoning cleaning drainage ditches at US-owned plantations in Costa Rica and Panama are unlikely to make it to a village cemetery. More than 99 percent of deaths from acute pesticide poisoning occur in Third World countries, which use 20 percent of agricultural chemicals.</p><p>With "markets closed at home" by regulations to protect the population and the environment, "chemical companies shifted sales of these banned chemicals to the Third World where government regulations are weak." The corporations have also devised new "nonpersistent" pesticides that "are generally much more acutely toxic" to farm workers and their families, including some "first developed as nerve gas by the Germans before World War II." Physicians in Costa Rica are calling for removal of killer chemicals from the Third World market, but "the Bush administration sides with the industry," Scanlan reports. Its position is that the solution does not lie in interference with the market -- to translate to English: profits for the rich. Rather, in "educating people about the risk," William Jordan of the Environmental Protection Agency explains. Progress has its problems, he concedes, but "you cannot simply ignore progress." An American Cyanamid executive says "I sleep at night very comfortably." So do leaders and ideologists generally, except when their rest is disturbed by the faults of official enemies and their retrograde doctrines.</p><p>The United States has never been very happy with Costa Rica, despite its almost total subordination to the wishes of US corporations and Washington. Costa Rican social democracy and successes in state-guided development, unique in Central America, were a constant irritant. Concerns were relieved in the 1980s, as the huge debt and other problems gave the US government leverage to move Costa Rica closer to the "Central American mode" lauded by the press, but the Ticos still don't know their place. One problem arose in November 1991, when Costa Rica renewed its request to the US to extradite US rancher John Hull, who was charged with murder in the La Penca bombing in which six people were killed, as well as drug running and other crimes. This renewed call for extradition was particularly irritating because of the timing -- just as the US was orchestrating a vociferous PR campaign against Libya for its insistence on keeping to international law and arranging for trial of two Libyans accused of air terrorism either in its own courts or by a neutral country or agency, instead of handing them over to the US. The unfortunate coincidence did not disrupt the Washington-media campaign against Libya, thanks to the scrupulous suppression of the Costa Rican request.</p><p>Yet another Costa Rican crime was its expropriation of property of US citizens, for which it was duly punished by the freezing of promised economic assistance. The most serious case was the confiscation of the property of a US businessman by President Oscar Arias, who incorporated it into a national park. Costa Rica offered compensation, but not enough, Washington determined. The land was expropriated when it was found that it had been used by the CIA for an illegal air strip for resupplying US terrorist forces in Nicaragua. Arias's expropriation without adequate compensation is a crime that naturally calls for retribution by Washington -- and silence by the media, particularly as they are railing against Libyan terrorism.</p><p>The effrontery of the powerful often leaves one virtually speechless. </p><p> </p> Sat, 12 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, Haymarket Books 1047115 at http://www.alternet.org Books Books Environment World noam chomsky foreign affairs Noam Chomsky: How the West's Response to Paris Attacks Will Backfire http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-how-wests-response-paris-attacks-will-backfire <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Bombing begets more terror.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/2014.12.9.chomsky.main_.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yS7zD8nnjsg" width="560"></iframe></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 09:21:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, The Real News Network 1047109 at http://www.alternet.org World News & Politics Video World terrorism paris attack west noam chomsky Noam Chomsky: The Country Where Journalism Is Being Murdered http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-country-where-journalism-being-murdered <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Imagine facing prison for doing journalism. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/0c3aaa9b8cf7563a3c0e59cbe8d99f4361a07693.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p id="U980963093222w8G">Journalists are the “<a href="http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2007/7/article1.en.html" title="merlin.obs.coe.int">watchdogs</a>” of democracy, according to the European Court of Human Rights. Anyone who wants to control a country without being troubled by criticism tries to muzzle reporters, and unfortunately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a past master at stifling the cries of freedom. As journalists from around the world converge on Antalya to cover this weekend’s <a href="https://g20.org/turkey-2015/2015-event-schedule/" title="g20.org">Group of 20 summit</a>, many of their Turkish colleagues are being denied accreditation.</p><p>Sidelining opposition media has become a bad habit in Turkey, which is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the latest <a href="https://index.rsf.org/#%21/">Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index</a>. Four days before the Nov. 1 parliamentary elections, the police <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34656901">stormed Ipek Media Group headquarters</a> and shut down its two opposition dailies and two opposition TV stations. After control of management had been secured and <a href="http://www.todayszaman.com/anasayfa_trustees-dismiss-71-journalists-after-unlawful-i-pek-media-group-seizure_403227.html" title="www.todayszaman.com">71 journalists fired</a>, these outlets resumed operations with a <a href="http://mobile.reuters.com/article/rbssPublishing/idUSL8N12U4BN20151030" title="mobile.reuters.com">new editorial line</a> verging on caricature. The dailies, Bugun and Millet, ran Erdogan’s photo on the front page along with the headlines “The president among the people” and “Turkey united.”</p><p>Journalism is being murdered. The fact that the AKP, the ruling party for the past 13 years, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34694420">recovered an absolute majority</a> in parliament has not sufficed to halt the oppression. Two days after the elections, two journalists were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/03/turkey-arrests-35-people-with-links-to-erdogan-critic" title="www.theguardian.com">jailed</a> on charges of “inciting an armed revolt against the state” in a story. Since then, some 30 other journalists have been placed under investigation for “terrorist propaganda” or “insulting the president” — the two most common charges.</p><p>On Nov. 17, <a href="http://www.todayszaman.com/anasayfa_18-turkish-journalists-face-75-years-in-prison-for-publishing-photo-of-prosecutor-at-gunpoint_395569.html">18 editors and publishers</a> will go on trial for “terrorist propaganda” because of a photograph. They face up to 7½ years in prison. One of these journalists, Cumhuriyet editor <a href="http://en.rsf.org/turkey-rsf-backs-newspaper-under-attack-01-06-2015,47953.html">Can Dundar</a>, already stood accused of “spying” by Erdogan, who has vowed that Dundar “won’t get away with it.” His paper published evidence that Syria-bound trucks leased by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization had, as suspected, been carrying arms.</p><p>For years, the growing concentration of media ownership in the hands of government allies has eroded pluralism and encouraged self-censorship. The authorities have also reined in the Internet. Following draconian reforms, the blocking of Web sites has become systematic. Turkey is responsible for <a href="https://transparency.twitter.com/removal-requests/2015/jan-jun">more than two-thirds</a> of the requests to Twitter to remove content. The government does not hesitate to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/03/27/by-banning-youtube-has-turkey-revealed-just-how-damning-todays-leaked-recording-is/" title="www.washingtonpost.com">block the entire YouTube platform</a>.</p><p>These practices compound problems inherited from the years of military rule: laws restricting freedom of expression, a judicial culture centered on defense of the state and impunity for police violence. The metastasizing Syrian conflict and the resumption of fighting with Kurdish rebels have accentuated governmental paranoia about critical journalists. Far from defusing political and communal tension, the accelerating censorship and aggressive government rhetoric have sharpened it. Demonstrators egged on by the government’s discourse <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/world/europe/opposition-journalists-in-turkey-increasingly-face-violent-attacks.html?_r=0">attacked</a> the Istanbul headquarters of the daily Hurriyet twice in early September.</p><p>The G-20’s leaders must take stock of the course on which their host has embarked. They need a stable Turkey to help limit the spread of the Syrian chaos and to guarantee its people’s security and prosperity. The Turkish government must stop fueling tension and, for this, it is essential that the truth can be told. Reopening the space for democratic debate is essential for stabilizing the country. Freedom of information is part of the solution.</p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:05:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, Christophe Deloire, The Washington Post 1045975 at http://www.alternet.org World News & Politics World turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan democracy g20 Noam Chomsky: Why Powerful Factions in America Are Hellbent on Spreading Mideast Chaos http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/noam-chomsky-why-powerful-factions-america-are-hellbent-spreading-mideast-chaos <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Republican Party isn&#039;t even functioning as a real party anymore, says Chomsky. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky-democracy_now_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>On Saturday, Chomsky spoke before a sold-out audience of nearly 1,000 people at The New School in New York City. In a speech titled “On Power and Ideology,” he addressed the Republican efforts to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal. </em><em>Below is an excerpted video of Chomsky's speech first broadcast by <a href="http://democracynow.org">Democracy Now!</a>, followed by a transcript of that segment. </em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2015/9/22/noam_chomsky_on_the_myth_of" width="640"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><strong><span class="caps">NOAM</span> <span class="caps">CHOMSKY</span>:</strong> The role of concentrated power in shaping the ideological framework that dominates perception, interpretation, discussion, choice of action, all of that is too familiar to require much comment. Tonight I’d like to discuss a critically important example, but first a couple of words on one of the most perceptive analysts of this process, George Orwell.</p></blockquote><blockquote class="collapsed-hide"><p>Orwell is famous for his searching and sardonic critique of the way thought is controlled by force under totalitarian dystopia. But much less known is his discussion of how similar outcomes are achieved in free societies. He’s speaking, of course, of England. And he wrote that although the country is quite free, nevertheless unpopular ideas can be suppressed without the use of force. Gave a couple of examples, provided a few words of explanation, which were to the point. One particularly pertinent comment was his observation on a quality education in the best schools, where it is instilled into you that there are certain things that it simply wouldn’t do to say—or, we may add, even to think. One reason why not much attention is paid to this essay is that it wasn’t published. It was found decades later in his unpublished papers. It was intended as the introduction to his famous <em>Animal Farm</em>, bitter satire of Stalinist totalitarianism. Why it wasn’t published is apparently unknown, but I think perhaps you can speculate.</p></blockquote><blockquote class="collapsed-hide"><p>Orwell’s observations on thought control under freedom come to mind in considering the raging debate today about the Iran nuclear deal, which currently occupies center stage. I should say it’s a raging debate in the United States, virtually alone. In almost everywhere else, the deal has been greeted with relief and optimism and without even a parliamentary review. This is one of the many striking examples of the famous concept of American exceptionalism.</p></blockquote><blockquote class="collapsed-hide"><p>The fact that America is an exceptional nation is regularly intoned by virtually every political figure, and, I think more revealingly, the same is true of prominent academic and public intellectuals. Can select almost at random. Take, for example, the professor of the science of government at Harvard. He’s a distinguished liberal scholar, government adviser. He’s writing in Harvard’s prestigious journal, <em>International Security</em>, and there he explains that unlike other countries, the "national identity" of the United States is "defined by a set of universal political and economic values," namely "liberty, democracy, equality, private property, and markets." So the U.S. has a solemn duty to maintain its "international primacy" for the benefit of the world. And since this is a matter of definition, we can dispense with the tedious work of empirical verification, so I won’t spend any time on that.</p></blockquote><blockquote class="collapsed-hide"><p>Or let’s turn to the leading left-liberal intellectual journal, <em>The New York Review of Books</em>. There, a couple of months ago, we read from the former chair of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that "American contributions to international security, global economic growth, freedom, and human well-being have been so self-evidently unique and have been so clearly directed to others’ benefit that Americans have long believed that the [United States] amounts to a different kind of country." While others push their national interest, the United States "tries to advance universal principles." No evidence is given because it’s again a matter of definition. And it’s very easy to continue.</p></blockquote><blockquote class="collapsed-hide"><p>It’s only fair to add that there’s nothing at all exceptional about this. American exceptionalism was standard for every great power, very familiar from other imperial states in their days in the sun—Britain, France, others. And this is true, interestingly, even from very honorable figures from whom one might have expected better—so, John Stuart Mill, for example, in England, to mention a significant case—which raises interesting questions about intellectual life and intellectual standards.</p></blockquote><blockquote class="collapsed-hide"><p>Well, in some respects, American exceptionalism is not in doubt. I just mentioned one example: the current Iran nuclear deal. Now, here the exceptionalism of the United States, its isolation, is dramatic and stark. There are actually many other cases, but this is the one I’d like to think about this evening. And in fact, U.S. isolation might soon increase. The Republican organization—I hesitate to say "party"—is dedicated to undermining the deal, in interesting ways, with the kind of unanimity that one doesn’t find in political parties, though it’s familiar in such former organizations as the old Communist Party—democratic centralism, everyone has to say the same thing. That’s one of many indications that the Republicans are no longer a political party in the normal sense, despite pretensions, commentary and so on.</p></blockquote> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 11:36:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky&#039;s Official Site 1042838 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Video noam chomsky american exceptionalism cuba iran nuclear deal george orwell Noam Chomsky: Why America Is the Gravest Threat to World Peace http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-why-america-gravest-threat-world-peace <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">What, exactly, is the alleged Iranian threat?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-08-20_at_9.31.28_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com  <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">here</a>.</em></p><p>Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”</p><p>There are, however, striking exceptions to the general enthusiasm: the United States and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. One consequence of this is that U.S. corporations, much to their chagrin, are prevented from flocking to Tehran along with their European counterparts. Prominent sectors of U.S. power and opinion share the stand of the two regional allies and so are in a state of virtual hysteria over “the Iranian threat.” Sober commentary in the United States, pretty much across the spectrum, declares that country to be “the gravest threat to world peace.” Even supporters of the agreement here are wary, given the exceptional gravity of that threat.  After all, how can we trust the Iranians with their terrible record of aggression, violence, disruption, and deceit?</p><p>Opposition within the political class is so strong that public opinion has shifted quickly from <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/poll-2-to-1-support-for-nuclear-deal-with-iran/2015/03/30/9a5a5ac8-d720-11e4-ba28-f2a685dc7f89_story.html" target="_blank">significant support</a> for the deal to an <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/08/03/american-public-split-on-iran-nuclear-deal-wsjnbc-poll/" target="_blank">even split</a>. Republicans are almost unanimously opposed to the agreement. The current Republican primaries illustrate the proclaimed reasons. Senator Ted Cruz, considered one of the intellectuals among the crowded field of presidential candidates, <a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/threatens-resulting-genocide" target="_blank">warns</a> that Iran may still be able to produce nuclear weapons and could someday use one to set off an Electro Magnetic Pulse that “would take down the electrical grid of the entire eastern seaboard” of the United States, killing “tens of millions of Americans.”</p><p>The two most likely winners, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, are battling over whether to bomb Iran <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/07/20/scott_walkers_deranged_hawkishness_hes_ready_to_bomb_iran_during_his_inauguration_speech/" target="_blank">immediately after</a> being elected or after the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-walker-iran-deal_55acfd69e4b0d2ded39f57c2" target="_blank">first Cabinet meeting</a>.  The one candidate with some foreign policy experience, Lindsey Graham, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/03/broken" target="_blank">describes</a>the deal as “a death sentence for the state of Israel,” which will certainly come as a <a href="http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/08/israeli-military-brass-support-iran-deal.html" target="_blank">surprise</a> to Israeli <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/07/31/427990359/ex-mossad-chief-supports-iran-nuclear-deal" target="_blank">intelligence</a> and strategic analysts -- and which Graham knows to be utter nonsense, raising immediate questions about actual motives.</p><p>Keep in mind that the Republicans long ago abandoned the pretense of functioning as a normal congressional party.  They have, as respected conservative political commentator Norman Ornstein of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute <a href="https://www.amacad.org/content/publications/pubContent.aspx?d=1057" target="_blank">observed</a>, become a “radical insurgency” that scarcely seeks to participate in normal congressional politics. </p><p>Since the days of President Ronald Reagan, the party leadership has plunged so far into the pockets of the very rich and the corporate sector that they can attract votes only by mobilizing parts of the population that have not previously been an organized political force.  Among them are extremist evangelical Christians, now probably a majority of Republican voters; remnants of the former slave-holding states; nativists who are terrified that “they” are taking our white Christian Anglo-Saxon country away from us; and others who turn the Republican primaries into spectacles remote from the mainstream of modern society -- though not from the mainstream of the most powerful country in world history.</p><p>The departure from global standards, however, goes far beyond the bounds of the Republican radical insurgency.  Across the spectrum, there is, for instance, general agreement with the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/world/middleeast/nuclear-deal-reduces-risk-of-conflict-with-iran-top-us-general-says.html" target="_blank">“pragmatic” conclusion</a> of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the Vienna deal does not “prevent the United States from striking Iranian facilities if officials decide that it is cheating on the agreement,” even though a unilateral military strike is “far less likely” if Iran behaves. </p><p>Former Clinton and Obama Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross typically recommends that “Iran must have no doubts that if we see it moving towards a weapon, that would trigger the use of force” even after the termination of the deal, when Iran is theoretically free to do what it wants.  In fact, the existence of a termination point 15 years hence is, he adds, "the greatest single problem with the agreement." He also suggests that the U.S. provide Israel with <a href="http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/policy/2015/07/16/former-obama-aide-bolster-israel--b52s/30252579/" target="_blank">specially outfitted B-52 bombers</a> and bunker-busting bombs to protect itself before that terrifying date arrives.</p><p>“The Greatest Threat”</p><p>Opponents of the nuclear deal charge that it does not go far enough. Some supporters agree, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/31/iran-nuclear-deal-israel-vienna-treaty-middle-east-wmd" target="_blank">holding that</a> “if the Vienna deal is to mean anything, the whole of the Middle East must rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.” The author of those words, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif, added that “Iran, in its national capacity and as current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement [the governments of the large majority of the world’s population], is prepared to work with the international community to achieve these goals, knowing full well that, along the way, it will probably run into many hurdles raised by the skeptics of peace and diplomacy.” Iran has signed “a historic nuclear deal,” he continues, and now it is the turn of Israel, “the holdout.”</p><p>Israel, of course, is one of the three nuclear powers, along with India and Pakistan, whose weapons programs have been abetted by the United States and that refuse to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).</p><p>Zarif was referring to the regular five-year NPT review conference, which ended in failure in April when the U.S. (joined by Canada and Great Britain) once again blocked efforts to move toward a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East. Such efforts have been led by Egypt and other Arab states for 20 years.  As Jayantha Dhanapala and Sergio Duarte, leading figures in the promotion of such efforts at the NPT and other U.N. agencies, <a href="http://www.armscontrol.org/ACT/2015_0708/Features/Is-There-a-Future-for-the-NPT" target="_blank">observe</a> in “Is There a Future for the NPT?,” an article in the journal of the Arms Control Association: “The successful adoption in 1995 of the resolution on the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East was the main element of a package that permitted the indefinite extension of the NPT.”  The NPT, in turn, is the most important arms control treaty of all.  If it were adhered to, it could end the scourge of nuclear weapons.</p><p>Repeatedly, implementation of the resolution has been blocked by the U.S., most recently by President Obama in 2010 and again in 2015, as Dhanapala and Duarte point out, “on behalf of a state that is not a party to the NPT and is widely believed to be the only one in the region possessing nuclear weapons” -- a polite and understated reference to Israel. This failure, they hope, “will not be the coup de grâce to the two longstanding NPT objectives of accelerated progress on nuclear disarmament and establishing a Middle Eastern WMD-free zone.”</p><p>A nuclear-weapons-free Middle East would be a straightforward way to address whatever threat Iran allegedly poses, but a great deal more is at stake in Washington’s continuing sabotage of the effort in order to protect its Israeli client.  After all, this is not the only case in which opportunities to end the alleged Iranian threat have been undermined by Washington, raising further questions about just what is actually at stake.</p><p>In considering this matter, it is instructive to examine both the unspoken assumptions in the situation and the questions that are rarely asked.  Let us consider a few of these assumptions, beginning with the most serious: that Iran is the gravest threat to world peace.</p><p>In the U.S., it is a virtual cliché among high officials and commentators that Iran wins that grim prize.  There is also a world outside the U.S. and although its views are not reported in the mainstream here, perhaps they are of some interest.  According to the leading western polling agencies (WIN/Gallup International), the prize for “greatest threat” is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/02/greatest-threat-world-peace-country_n_4531824.html" target="_blank">won by</a> the United States.  The rest of the world regards it as the gravest threat to world peace by a large margin.  In second place, far below, is Pakistan, its ranking probably inflated by the Indian vote.  Iran is ranked below those two, along with China, Israel, North Korea, and Afghanistan.</p><p>“The World’s Leading Supporter of Terrorism”</p><p>Turning to the next obvious question, what in fact is the Iranian threat?  Why, for example, are Israel and Saudi Arabia trembling in fear over that country?  Whatever the threat is, it can hardly be military.  Years ago, U.S. intelligence informed Congress that Iran has very low military expenditures by the standards of the region and that its strategic doctrines are defensive -- designed, that is, to deter aggression. The U.S. intelligence community has also <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/04/21/176017/dod-report-iran%E2%80%99s-ideological-goals-have-taken-a-back-seat-to-pragmatic-considerations/" target="_blank">reported</a> that it has no evidence Iran is pursuing an actual nuclear weapons program and that “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.”</p><p>The authoritative <a href="http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex_database" target="_blank">SIPRI review</a> of global armaments ranks the U.S., as usual, way <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/07/12/countries-spending-most-on-military/12491639/" target="_blank">in the lead</a> in military expenditures.  China comes in second with about one-third of U.S. expenditures.  Far below are Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are nonetheless well above any western European state.  Iran is <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/10/the-myth-of-the-iranian-military-giant/" target="_blank">scarcely mentioned</a>.  Full details are provided in an <a href="http://csis.org/publication/military-spending-and-arms-sales-gulf" target="_blank">April report</a> from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which finds “a conclusive case that the Arab Gulf states have... an overwhelming advantage of Iran in both military spending and access to modern arms.”</p><p>Iran’s military spending, for instance, is a fraction of Saudi Arabia’s and far below even the spending of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  Altogether, the Gulf Cooperation Council states -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE -- <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/10/the-myth-of-the-iranian-military-giant/" target="_blank">outspend</a> Iran on arms by a factor of eight, an imbalance that goes back decades.  The CSIS report adds: “The Arab Gulf states have acquired and are acquiring some of the most advanced and effective weapons in the world [while] Iran has essentially been forced to live in the past, often relying on systems originally delivered at the time of the Shah.”  In other words, they are virtually obsolete.  When it comes to Israel, of course, the imbalance is even greater.  Possessing the most advanced U.S. weaponry and a virtual offshore military base for the global superpower, it also has a huge stock of nuclear weapons. </p><p>To be sure, Israel faces the “existential threat” of Iranian pronouncements: Supreme Leader Khamenei and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously threatened it with destruction.  <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html" target="_blank">Except</a> that <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1628920076/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">they didn’t</a> -- and if they had, it would be of little moment.  Ahmadinejad, for instance, predicted that “under God’s grace [the Zionist regime] will be wiped off the map.”  In other words, he hoped that regime change would someday take place.  Even that falls far short of the direct calls in both Washington and Tel Aviv for regime change in Iran, not to speak of the actions taken to implement regime change.  These, of course, go back to the actual “regime change” of 1953, when the U.S. and Britain organized a military coup to overthrow Iran’s parliamentary government and install the dictatorship of the Shah, who proceeded to amass one of the worst human rights records on the planet.</p><p>These crimes were certainly known to readers of the reports of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, but not to readers of the U.S. press, which has devoted plenty of space to Iranian human rights violations -- but only since 1979 when the Shah’s regime was overthrown.  (To check the facts on this, read <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0520064720/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">The U.S. Press and Iran</a>, a carefully documented study by Mansour Farhang and William Dorman.)</p><p>None of this is a departure from the norm.  The United States, as is well known, holds the world championship title in regime change and Israel is no laggard either.  The most destructive of its invasions of Lebanon in 1982 was explicitly aimed at regime change, as well as at securing its hold on the occupied territories.  The pretexts offered were thin indeed and collapsed at once.  That, too, is not unusual and pretty much independent of the nature of the society -- from the laments in the Declaration of Independence about the “merciless Indian savages” to Hitler’s defense of Germany from the “wild terror” of the Poles.</p><p>No serious analyst believes that Iran would ever use, or even threaten to use, a nuclear weapon if it had one, and so face instant destruction.  There is, however, real concern that a nuclear weapon might fall into jihadi hands -- not thanks to Iran, but via U.S. ally Pakistan.  In the journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, two leading Pakistani nuclear scientists, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian, <a href="http://www.princeton.edu/sgs/faculty-staff/zia-mian/Hoodbhoy-Mian-Changing-Nuclear-Thinking.pdf" target="_blank">write</a> that increasing fears of “militants seizing nuclear weapons or materials and unleashing nuclear terrorism [have led to]... the creation of a dedicated force of over 20,000 troops to guard nuclear facilities.  There is no reason to assume, however, that this force would be immune to the problems associated with the units guarding regular military facilities,” which have frequently suffered attacks with “insider help.” In brief, the problem is real, just displaced to Iran thanks to fantasies concocted for other reasons.</p><p>Other concerns about the Iranian threat include its role as “the world’s leading supporter of terrorism,” which primarily refers to its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.  Both of those movements emerged in resistance to U.S.-backed Israeli violence and aggression, which vastly exceeds anything attributed to these villains, let alone the normal practice of the hegemonic power whose <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175551/tomgram%3A_engelhardt,_assassin-in-chief/" target="_blank">global drone assassination campaign</a> alone dominates (and helps to foster) international terrorism. </p><p>Those two villainous Iranian clients also share the crime of winning the popular vote in the only free elections in the Arab world.  Hezbollah is guilty of the even more heinous crime of compelling Israel to withdraw from its occupation of southern Lebanon, which took place in violation of U.N. Security Council orders dating back decades and involved an illegal regime of terror and sometimes extreme violence.  Whatever one thinks of Hezbollah, Hamas, or other beneficiaries of Iranian support, Iran hardly ranks high in support of terror worldwide.</p><p>“Fueling Instability”</p><p>Another concern, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/world/middleeast/security-council-following-iran-nuclear-pact-votes-to-lift-sanctions.html" target="_blank">voiced</a> at the U.N. by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, is the “instability that Iran fuels beyond its nuclear program.” The U.S. will continue to scrutinize this misbehavior, she declared.  In that, she echoed the assurance Defense Secretary Ashton Carter <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/world/middleeast/in-visit-to-israel-defense-secretary-vows-vigilance-in-fighting-irans-influence.html" target="_blank">offered</a> while standing on Israel’s northern border that “we will continue to help Israel counter Iran’s malign influence” in supporting Hezbollah, and that the U.S. reserves the right to use military force against Iran as it deems appropriate. </p><p>The way Iran “fuels instability” can be seen particularly dramatically in Iraq where, among other crimes, it alone at once came to the aid of Kurds defending themselves from the invasion of Islamic State militants, even as it is building a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/world/middleeast/iraqis-protest-electricity-shortage-during-heat-wave.html" target="_blank">$2.5 billion power plant</a> in the southern port city of Basra to try to bring electrical power back to the level reached before the 2003 invasion.  Ambassador Power’s usage is, however, standard: Thanks to that invasion, hundreds of thousands were killed and millions of refugees generated, barbarous acts of torture were committed -- Iraqis have compared the destruction to the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century -- leaving Iraq the unhappiest country in the world according to WIN/Gallup polls.  Meanwhile, sectarian conflict was ignited, tearing the region to shreds and laying the basis for the creation of the monstrosity that is ISIS.  And all of that is called “stabilization.”</p><p>Only Iran’s shameful actions, however, “fuel instability.” The standard usage sometimes reaches levels that are almost surreal, as when liberal commentator James Chace, former editor of Foreign Affairs, <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B0CE5DD163BE73ABC4A51DFB366838C669EDE" target="_blank">explained</a> that the U.S. sought to “destabilize a freely elected Marxist government in Chile” because “we were determined to seek stability” under the Pinochet dictatorship.</p><p>Others are outraged that Washington should negotiate at all with a “contemptible” regime like Iran’s with its horrifying human rights record and urge instead that we pursue “an American-sponsored alliance between Israel and the Sunni states.”  So <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/07/iran-deal-history/399644/" target="_blank">writes</a> Leon Wieseltier, contributing editor to the venerable liberal journal the Atlantic, who can barely conceal his visceral hatred for all things Iranian.  With a straight face, this respected liberal intellectual recommends that Saudi Arabia, which makes Iran look like a virtual paradise, and Israel, with its vicious crimes in Gaza and elsewhere, should ally to teach that country good behavior.  Perhaps the recommendation is not entirely unreasonable when we consider the human rights records of the regimes the U.S. has imposed and supported throughout the world.</p><p>Though the Iranian government is no doubt a threat to its own people, it regrettably breaks no records in this regard, not descending to the level of favored U.S. allies.  That, however, cannot be the concern of Washington, and surely not Tel Aviv or Riyadh.</p><p>It might also be useful to recall -- surely Iranians do -- that not a day has passed since 1953 in which the U.S. was not harming Iranians. After all, as soon as they overthrew the hated U.S.-imposed regime of the Shah in 1979, Washington put its support behind Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who would, in 1980, launch a murderous assault on their country.  President Reagan went so far as to deny Saddam’s major crime, his chemical warfare assault on Iraq’s Kurdish population, which he blamed on Iran instead.  When Saddam was tried for crimes under U.S. auspices, that horrendous crime, as well as others in which the U.S. was complicit, was carefully excluded from the charges, which were restricted to one of his minor crimes, the murder of 148 Shi’ites in 1982, a footnote to his gruesome record.</p><p>Saddam was such a valued friend of Washington that he was even granted a privilege otherwise accorded only to Israel.  In 1987, his forces were allowed to attack a U.S. naval vessel, the USS Stark, with impunity, killing 37 crewmen.  (Israel had acted similarly in its 1967 attack on the USS Liberty.)  Iran pretty much conceded defeat shortly after, when the U.S. launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iranian ships and oil platforms in Iranian territorial waters.  That operation culminated when the USS Vincennes, under no credible threat, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in Iranian airspace, with 290 killed -- and the subsequent granting of a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1990/04/23/2-vincennes-officers-get-medals/cf383f02-05ce-435b-9086-5d61de569ed8/" target="_blank">Legion of Merit award</a> to the commander of the Vincennes for “exceptionally meritorious conduct” and for maintaining a “calm and professional atmosphere” during the period when the attack on the airliner took place. <a href="http://chomskyiteperspectives.com/2015/07/31/iran-air-655-commander-carlsons-testimony/" target="_blank">Comments</a> philosopher Thill Raghu, “We can only stand in awe of such display of American exceptionalism!”</p><p>After the war ended, the U.S. continued to support Saddam Hussein, Iran’s primary enemy.  President George H.W. Bush even invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in weapons production, an extremely serious threat to Iran.  Sanctions against that country were intensified, including against foreign firms dealing with it, and actions were initiated to bar it from the international financial system.</p><p>In recent years the hostility has extended to sabotage, the murder of nuclear scientists (presumably by <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-pushing-israel-to-stop-assassinating-iranian-nuclear-scientists/" target="_blank">Israel</a>), and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html" target="_blank">cyberwar</a>, openly proclaimed with pride.  The Pentagon regards cyberwar as an act of war, justifying a military response, as does NATO, which affirmed in September 2014 that cyber attacks may trigger the collective defense obligations of the NATO powers -- when we are the target that is, not the perpetrators.</p><p>“The Prime Rogue State”</p><p>It is only fair to add that there have been breaks in this pattern. President George W. Bush, for example, offered several significant gifts to Iran by destroying its major enemies, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.  He even placed Iran’s Iraqi enemy under its influence after the U.S. defeat, which was so severe that Washington had to abandon its officially declared goals of establishing permanent military bases (“<a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174807/tom_engelhardt_how_permanent_are_those_bases" target="_blank">enduring camps</a>”) and <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/01/30/bush_asserts_authority_to_bypass_defense_act/?page=full" target="_blank">ensuring</a> that U.S. corporations would have privileged access to Iraq’s vast oil resources.</p><p>Do Iranian leaders intend to develop nuclear weapons today?  We can decide for ourselves how credible their denials are, but that they had such intentions in the past is beyond question.  After all, it was asserted openly on the highest authority and foreign journalists were informed that Iran would develop nuclear weapons “certainly, and sooner than one thinks.” The father of Iran’s nuclear energy program and former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization was confident that the leadership’s plan “was to build a nuclear bomb.” The CIA also reported that it had “no doubt” Iran would develop nuclear weapons if neighboring countries did (as they have). </p><p>All of this was, of course, under the Shah, the “highest authority” just quoted and at a time when top U.S. officials -- Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Henry Kissinger, among others -- were urging him to proceed with his nuclear programs and pressuring universities to accommodate these efforts.  Under such pressures, my own university, MIT, made a deal with the Shah to admit Iranian students to the nuclear engineering program in return for grants he offered and over the strong objections of the student body, but with comparably strong faculty support (in a meeting that older faculty will doubtless remember well).</p><p>Asked later why he supported such programs under the Shah but opposed them more recently, Kissinger responded honestly that Iran was an ally then.</p><p>Putting aside absurdities, what is the real threat of Iran that inspires such fear and fury? A natural place to turn for an answer is, again, U.S. intelligence.  Recall its analysis that Iran poses no military threat, that its strategic doctrines are defensive, and that its nuclear programs (with no effort to produce bombs, as far as can be determined) are “a central part of its deterrent strategy.”</p><p>Who, then, would be concerned by an Iranian deterrent?  The answer is plain: the rogue states that rampage in the region and do not want to tolerate any impediment to their reliance on aggression and violence.  In the lead in this regard are the U.S. and Israel, with Saudi Arabia trying its best to join the club with its invasion of Bahrain (to support the crushing of a reform movement there) and now its murderous assault on Yemen, accelerating a growing humanitarian catastrophe in that country. </p><p>For the United States, the characterization is familiar.  Fifteen years ago, the prominent political analyst Samuel Huntington, professor of the science of government at Harvard, warned in the establishment journal Foreign Affairsthat for much of the world the U.S. was “becoming the rogue superpower... the single greatest external threat to their societies.” Shortly after, his words were <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2001-07-01/weapons-without-purpose-nuclear-strategy-post-cold-war-era" target="_blank">echoed</a> by Robert Jervis, the president of the American Political Science Association: “In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States.” As we have seen, global opinion supports this judgment by a substantial margin.</p><p>Furthermore, the mantle is worn with pride.  That is the clear meaning of the insistence of the political class that the U.S. reserves the right to resort to force if it unilaterally determines that Iran is violating some commitment.  This policy is of long standing, especially for liberal Democrats, and by no means restricted to Iran.  The Clinton Doctrine, for instance, confirmed that the U.S. was entitled to resort to the “unilateral use of military power” even to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources,” let alone alleged “security” or “humanitarian” concerns.  Adherence to various versions of this doctrine has been well confirmed in practice, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history.</p><p>These are among the critical matters that should be the focus of attention in analyzing the nuclear deal at Vienna, whether it stands or is sabotaged by Congress, as it may well be.</p><p>Noam Chomsky is institute professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175877/" target="_blank">TomDispatch regular</a>, among his recent books are Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Power Systems, Hopes and Prospects, and Masters of Mankind. Haymarket Books recently reissued <a href="http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/The-Noam-Chomsky-Collection" target="_blank">twelve of his classic books</a> in new editions. His website is <a href="http://www.chomsky.info/" target="_blank">www.chomsky.info</a>. </p><p>Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/tomdispatch" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608464636/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa</a>, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608463656/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World</a>.</p><p>Copyright 2015 Noam Chomsky</p><p> </p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 06:21:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch 1041192 at http://www.alternet.org iran america Noam Chomsky: How America's Way of Thinking About the World Naturally Produces Human Catastrophes http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/noam-chomsky-how-americas-way-thinking-about-world-naturally-produces-human <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The scholar talks about the seemingly innocuous elements of our socialization that promote one-world view over another. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky-tavis_smiley.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="376" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" seamless="" src="http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365466479" width="512"></iframe></p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: Noam Chomsky is, of course, internationally recognized as one of the world’s most critically engaged public intellectuals. The MIT professor of linguistics has long been an unapologetic critic of both American foreign policy and the ideological role of the mainstream media.</p><p>He joins us now from MIT to talk about the seemingly innocuous elements of our socialization that promote one-world view over another. Before we start our conversation, a clip from “The West Wing” that I think will set this conversation up quite nicely.</p><p>[Clip]</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: Professor Chomsky, good to have you on this program. Thank you for your time, sir.</p><p><strong>Noam</strong> <strong>Chomsky</strong>: Glad to be with you.</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: I think that clip, again, sets up our conversation nicely. Let me just jump right in. Why all these years later is the west better than the east, the north better than the south, Europe better than Africa? These notions continue to persist. Tell me why.</p><p><strong>Chomsky</strong>: There’s a generalization. We are better than they, whoever we are. So if you look through the whole history of China, one of the most ancient, most developed, civilizations which, in fact, was one of the centers of the world economy as late as the 18th century, China was better than everyone else.</p><p>It’s unfortunately a natural way of thinking, very ugly and destructive one, but it’s true. We are the west, the north, Europe and its offshoots, not Africa. So, of course, we’re better than them.</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: When you say it’s a natural way of thinking, unpack that for me. What do you mean by a natural way of thinking?</p><p><strong>Chomsky</strong>: It’s not unusual for people to think that our group, whatever it is, has special traits that make it better than others. So, for example, I happen to be Jewish. If you look at the Jewish tradition, the leading rabbis and so on, many of them held the position that Jews are a special race above ordinary mankind.</p><p>China had similar views. The north and the west had the same views and, of course, it’s enhanced by the imperialist history which ended up with Europe and its offshoots conquering and controlling most of the world.</p><p>Actually, this world view about, you know, the north somehow being on top and the south being on the bottom goes way back to the origins of what’s called western civilization.</p><p>So, for example, it was believed in classical times that nobody could live south of the equator because their heads would be pointed downward. I think even St. Augustine held that view, if I remember correctly.</p><p>And it carries over up to the present when Henry Kissinger says, “Nothing important ever came from the south.” He’s essentially expressing a modern version of the same racist conception.</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: Since you mentioned Henry Kissinger, I was just about to ask, so I will now, Professor Chomsky, how our socialization–or as you might put it–how this natural way of thinking ultimately impacts and affects our foreign policy. If we think that we are better than everybody else, how does that impact and affect our foreign policy?</p><p><strong>Chomsky</strong>: Oh, very definitely. You see it very clearly if you study internal documents, you know, declassified documents discussing how leaders plan things among themselves.</p><p>So go back to, say, 1945 when the U.S. pretty much took over domination of the world. It was incredibly powerful without any counterpart in history, half the world’s wealth, incomparable security, military powers.</p><p>So, of course, it planned detailed plans as to how to run the world. Now a lot of it was laid out by the State Department policy planning staff. It’s head was George Kennan, one of the highly respected diplomats, one of the framers of the modern world.</p><p>And he and his staff parceled out different areas of the world and described what they called their function within the U.S.-dominated system. So, for example, the function of southeast Asia was to provide resources and raw materials for the industrial countries of Europe and the United States and so on.</p><p>When he got to Africa, he said, well, we’re not that much interested in Africa, so we will hand Africa over to Europe for them to exploit–his word–for them to exploit for their reconstruction. If you look at the history of relations between Europe and Africa, some slightly different conception might come to mind, but it never entered the thought of the planners.</p><p>So the idea that Europe should exploit Africa for Europe’s reconstruction passed without comment. This is just deeply imbedded in the consciousness of what’s sometimes called white supremacy which is an extraordinary doctrine.</p><p>Comparative scholarly studies, George Frederickson, for example, one of the main scholars who dealt with it, concludes that in the United States, white supremacy was even more extreme than in apartheid South Africa. It’s a very powerful concept here. It’s buttressed by imperial domination.</p><p>The more powerful you are, the more you dominate others, the more you create justifications for that in ideology and education and media and so on. If you’ve got your boot on someone else’s neck, it’s typical to provide a justification for it. We’re doing it because we’re right, they deserve it, we’re better and so on.</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: I want to come back to how we change that thinking before our conversation ends. Let me go back one more time, though, to your Kissinger reference when Henry Kissinger said that, “Nothing good ever came out of the south”.</p><p>If the earth is a sphere–think about this–if the earth is a sphere and we’re constantly in motion, what is to be gained by drawing consistently certain countries on the top half and other countries on the bottom half? What is to be gained by that?</p><p><strong>Chomsky</strong>: What’s to be gained by that is a graphic representation of the fact that we are more important and better than them. We’re the north, they’re the south. We dominate because of our essential superiority of character, qualities, righteousness and so on.</p><p>It’s a graphic manifestation of the we are better than them conception that, as I said, is unfortunately pretty natural and is greatly enhanced by when it’s associated with power. So when you actually dominate others, that enhances the natural we are better than them conceptions.</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: Speaking of conceptions, it seems that every other day now someone else is announcing that he or she is running for president. And I suspect, between now and November 2016, we will hear the term “American exceptionalism” over and over and over again.</p><p>By any other definition or espoused any other way, is this notion again that we’ve been talking about tonight that the USA is all that and then some, what do you say to the American people about how we challenge our own thinking, how we reexamine our assumptions, how we expand our inventory of ideas, as it were, about this notion that we hold onto so dearly?</p><p><strong>Chomsky</strong>: Well, the best way to do it is to look carefully at the facts that are easily available to us. So take the phrase, “American exceptionalism”, which is supposed to express our unique superiority to other countries, the unique benevolence of our intention with regard to others. You get this across the spectrum.</p><p>So a recent issue of the New York review of books, the kind of ideological journal of the left liberal intelligentsia, has an article by the former head of the Carnegie Institute for Peace saying that it’s just obvious beyond discussion that the United States is unique. Other countries work for their own interests. We work for the interests of mankind.</p><p>That’s American exceptionalism. There are two problems with it. For one thing, it’s flatly false. As soon as you look at the record, you see nothing like that is true.</p><p>The second problem is it’s not uniquely American. Take other great powers in their day in the sun, they had the same doctrine. England was British exceptionalism. France was France’s civilizing mission. Anywhere you look, you find the same thing.</p><p>We happen to be the world dominant power for a long time, certainly since the Second World War economically, even before that. Sure, American exceptionalism is our version of the same disgraceful conception of history that’s concocted by the powerful. And how do you combat it? With the facts.</p><p><strong>Tavis</strong>: Easily said, not easily done. Always pleased to be in conversation with this brilliant thinker, Noam Chomsky, challenging us tonight to reconsider our world view. Professor Chomsky, thanks for your time. Never enough time with you, but I’m honored to have had you on this program tonight, sir.</p><p><strong>Chomsky</strong>: Thank you.</p> Tue, 11 Aug 2015 06:35:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Tavis Smiley 1040724 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Video tavis smiley noam chomsky Noam Chomsky: Why the Internet Hasn't Freed Our Minds—Propaganda Continues to Dominate http://www.alternet.org/media/noam-chomsky-why-internet-hasnt-freed-our-minds-propaganda-continues-dominate <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The noted scholar offers his thoughts on the current media landscape in the era of the World Wide Web and Edward Snowden.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky-democracy_now_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This article originally appeared in <a href="https://www.byline.com/column/3/article/7">Byline.com</a> and is reposted here with permission.</em></p><p>Three decades ago, Professor Noam Chomsky, who is seen by some as the most brilliant and courageous intellectual alive and by others as an anti-US conspiracy theorist, penned his powerful critique of the Western corporate media in his seminal book Manufacturing Consent, with co-author Edward S Herman. The book had a profound impact on my perception of the mainstream media in my teenage years, and was crucial in some ways to my decision to start Byline with my co-founder Daniel Tudor. By cutting out the advertiser and political bias of the proprietor, we believed that crowdfunding had the potential to democratise the media landscape and support independent journalism.</p><p>In “Manufacturing Consent,” Noam Chomsky posits that Western corporate media is structurally bound to “manufacture consent” in the interests of dominant, elite groups in society. With “filters” which determine what gets to become ‘news’ – including media ownership, advertising, and “flak”, he shows how propaganda can pervade the “free” media in an ostensibly democratic Western society through self-censorship. However, lot has changed since then. We now have the Internet. The so-called legacy media organisations which have been “manufacturing consent” according to Chomsky are in massive financial trouble. Has any of his analysis changed? I recently interviewed Noam Chomsky at his MIT office, to find out his views on the current media landscape.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: Twenty-seven years ago, you wrote in ‘Manufacturing Consent’ that the primary role of the mass media in Western democratic societies is to mobilise public support for the elite interests that lead the government and the private sector. However, a lot has happened since then. Most notably, one could argue that the Internet has radically decentralised power and eroded the power of traditional media, and has also given rise to citizen journalism. News from Ferguson, for instance, emerged on Twitter before it was picked up by media organisations. Has the internet made your ‘Propaganda Model’ irrelevant?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: Actually, we have an updated version of the book which appeared about 10 years ago with a preface in which we discuss this question. And I think I can speak for my co-author, you can read the introduction, but we felt that if there have been changes, then this is one of them. There are other [changes], such as the decline in the number of independent print media, which is quite striking.</p><p>As far as we can see, the basic analysis is essentially unchanged. It’s true that the internet does provide opportunities that were not easily available before, so instead of having to go to the library to do research, you can just open up your computer. You can certainly release information more easily and also distribute different information from many sources, and that offers opportunities and deficiencies. But fundamentally, the system hasn’t changed very much.</p><p><strong>Seuny-yoon Lee</strong>: Emily Bell, Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, said the following in her recent speech at Oxford: “News spaces are no longer owned by newsmakers. The press is no longer in charge of the free press and has lost control of the main conduits through which stories reach audiences. The public sphere is now operated by a small number of private companies, based in Silicon Valley.” Nearly all content now is published on social platforms, and it’s not Rupert Murdoch but Google’s Larry Page and Sergei Brin and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who have much more say in how news is created and disseminated. Are they “manufacturing consent” like their counterparts in so-called ‘legacy’ media?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: Well, first of all, I don’t agree with the general statement. Say, right now, if I want to find out what’s going on in Ukraine or Syria or Washington, I read The New York Times, other national newspapers, I look at the Associated Press wires, I read the British press, and so on. I don’t look at Twitter because it doesn’t tell me anything. It tells me people’s opinions about lots of things, but very briefly and necessarily superficially, and it doesn’t have the core news. And I think it’s the opposite of what you quoted - the sources of news have become narrower. So for example, take where we are now, Boston. Boston used to have a very good newspaper, The Boston Globe. It still exists but it’s a pale shadow of what it was twenty or thirty years ago. It used to have bureaus around the world, fine correspondents, and some of the best journalism on Central America during the Central American wars, and good critical journalism on domestic events and on many other topics. Go to a newsstand and have a look now. What you see is local news, pieces from the wire services, some pieces from The New York Times, and very little else.</p><p>Now that’s happened around the country, and in fact, around the world. And it’s a narrowing of these sources of journalism about what’s happening on the ground. That doesn’t mean that reports in the NYT have to be read uncritically, or those in The Guardian or The Independent or anywhere else. Sure, they have to be read critically, but at least they’re there. There are journalists there on the scene where major events are taking place and, now there are fewer of them than before, so that’s a narrowing of the sources of news. On the other hand, there is a compensating factor. It’s easier now to read the press from other countries than it was twenty years ago because of instead having to go to the library or the Harvard Square International Newsstand, I can look it up on the Internet. So you have multiple effects. As far as Silicon Valley is concerned, say Google, I’m sure they’re trying to manufacture consent. If you want to buy something, let’s say, you look it up on Google. We know how it works. The first things on the list are the ones that advertise. That doesn’t mean that they’re the most important ones. But it’s a reflection of their business model, which is of course based on advertising, which is one of the filters [in our model], in fact.</p><p>I use Google all the time, I’m happy it’s there. But just as when I read The New York Times or the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal knowing that they have ways of selecting and shaping the material that reaches you, you have to compensate for it. With Google, and others of course, there is an immense amount of surveillance to try to obtain personal data about individuals and their habits and interactions and so on, to shape the way information is presented to them. They do more [surveillance] than the NSA.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: In his essay “Bad News about News,” Robert G. Kaiser, former Editor of the Washington Post says, “News as we know it is at risk. So is democratic governance, which depends on an effective watchdog news media. Both have been undermined by changes in society wrought by digital technologies—among the most powerful forces ever unleashed by mankind.” Not only are the biggest news organisations like the New York Times, and the Washington Post (which was sold to the founder of Amazon for US$250 million, a small fraction of its worth just a few years before), and others are financially suffering and lack a clear roadmap for survival, but also numerous local newspapers across the United States and United Kingdom are shutting down every week. I know you see some of these organisations as “manufacturers of consent,” but how can we fund quality journalism in this new digital age?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: How is the BBC funded?</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: By the public.</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: And take the United States. When the United States was founded, there was an understanding of the first amendment that it has a double function: it frees the producer of information from state control, but it also offers people the right to information. As a result, if you look at postwar laws, they were designed to yield an effective public subsidy to journals in an effort to try to provide the widest range of opinion, information, and so on. And that’s a pretty sensible model. And it goes back to the conception of negative and positive liberty. You have only negative liberty, that is, freedom from external control, or you have positive liberty to fulfill your legitimate goals in life - in this case, gaining information. And that’s a battle that’s been fought for centuries. Right after the Second World War, in the United States, there was major debate and controversy about whether the media should serve this double function of giving both freedom from x amount of control – that was accepted across the board - and additionally, the function of providing the population with fulfilling its right to access a wide range of information or opinion. The first model, which is sometimes called corporate libertarianism, won out. The second model was abandoned. It’s one of the reasons why the US only has extremely marginal national radio businesses compared to other countries. It relates to what you’re asking--an alternative model is public support for the widest possible range of information and analysis and that should, I think, be a core part of a functioning democracy.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: In the absence of a good business model, new media organisations from Buzzfeed to Vice have pioneered so-called “native advertising,” a form of online advertising that seeks to fool the consumer into believing that they are reading "editorial" content rather than paid advertisements. Basically, they are advertorials. Ironically, even a progressive newspaper like The Guardian publishes sponsored content from Goldman Sachs. What’s your view on native advertising?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: This [native advertising] is exaggerating and intensifying a problem that is serious and shouldn’t even exist in the first place. The reliance of a journal on advertisers shapes and controls and substantially determines what is presented to the public. Again, if you go back to our book, it’s one of the filters. And if you look back, the very idea of advertiser reliance radically distorts the concept of free media. If you think about what the commercial media are, no matter what, they are businesses. And a business produces something for a market. The producers in this case, almost without exception, are major corporations. The market is other businesses - advertisers. The product that is presented to the market is readers (or viewers), so these are basically major corporations providing audiences to other businesses, and that significantly shapes the nature of the institution. You can determine by common sense that it would, but if you investigate it up front as well, it does [bear out], so what you’re now talking about is an intensification of something which shouldn’t exist in the first place.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: I was shocked to see that the global PR firm Edelman did some research on whether readers can actually tell whether what they are reading is an advertisement or an article... and 60% of readers didn’t notice that they were reading adverts.</p><p><strong>Noam Chosmky</strong>: And that’s always been true. The effect of advertiser reliance and public relations firms is noticeable in the nature of what the media produce, both in their news and commentary. And how could it be otherwise, that’s the market.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: Recently, The Guardian and The Washington Post revealed widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency through Edward Snowden. Such reporting surely undermines the idea of what you would call the ‘elite interest’ that dominates the government and private sector. Does this case undermine your propaganda model or is it an exception to the rule?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: For the propaganda model, notice what we explain there very explicitly is that this is a first approximation - and a good first approximation - for the way the media functions. We also mention that there are many other factors. In fact, if you take a look at the book ‘Manufacturing Consent’, about practically a third of the book, which nobody seems to have read, is a defence of the media from criticism by what are called civil rights organisations - Freedom House in this case. It’s a defence of the professionalism and accuracy of the media in their reporting, from a harsh critique which claimed that they were virtually traitors undermining government policy. We should have known, on the other hand, that they were quite professional.</p><p>The media didn’t like that defence because what we said is – and this was about the Tet Offensive - that the reporters were very honest, courageous, accurate, and professional, but their work was done within a framework of tacit acquiescence to a propaganda system that was simply unconscious. The propaganda system was ‘what we’re doing in Vietnam is obviously right and just’. And that passively supports the doctrinal system. But on the other hand, it was also undermining the government. It was showing that government claims are false. And take, say, the exposure of Watergate, or the exposure of business corruption. One of the best sources of information on business corruption is the businessperson. The media do quite a lot of very good exposes on this, but the business world is quite willing to tolerate the exposure of corruption. The business world is also quite willing to tolerate exposure of governments intervening in personal life and business life in a way that they don’t like, as they don’t want a powerful and intrusive state. That’s not to criticise The Guardian and The Post for providing an outlet for the Snowden/Greenwald material - of course they should have, they’re professional journalists. There are a lot of factors, but we picked out factors we think are very significant but not all-inclusive, and as a matter of fact, we gave counter-examples.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: And do you think this is a counter-example, in some sense</p><p><strong>Noam Chomksy</strong>: It’s not a counter example, it’s a demonstration that there are other things. That in addition to the major factors, there are also minor factors which we discussed, like professionalism and professional integrity, which is also a factor.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: Do you think that crowdfunding can help make journalism more independent? Noam Chomsky: I think it’s a good general principle that almost anything that increases the variety and range of available media is beneficial. Of course, this particular approach will have its own problems. Every approach does. There’s no ideal type with no problems connected with it, but in general the wider the range of variety of what’s available, the better off you are.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: Can I ask your opinion on Charlie Hebdo? What do you think of this ‘freedom of speech no matter what’ principle?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: Well, I think we should strongly support freedom of speech. I think one of the good things about the United States, incidentally, as distinct from England, is that there is much higher protection of freedom of speech. But freedom of speech does not mean a lack of responsibility. So for example, I’m in favour of freedom of speech, but if somebody decided to put up a big advertisement in Times Square, New York, glorifying the sending of Jews to gas chambers, I don’t think it should be stopped by the state, but I’m not in favour of it.</p><p><strong>Seung-yoon Lee</strong>: Also, regarding the specific incident of Charlie Hebdo, do you think the cartoonists lacked responsibility?</p><p><strong>Noam Chomsky</strong>: Yes, I think they were kind of acting in this case like spoiled adolescents, but that doesn’t justify killing them. I mean, I could say the same about a great deal that appears in the press. I think it’s quite irresponsible often. For example, when the press in the United States and England supported the worst crime of this century, the invasion of Iraq, that was way more irresponsible than what Charlie Hebdo did. It led to the destruction of Iraq and the spread of the sectarian conflict that’s tearing the region to shreds. It was a really major crime. Aggression is the supreme international crime under international law. Insofar as the press supported that, that was deeply irresponsible, but I don’t think the press should be shut down.</p> Thu, 21 May 2015 07:04:00 -0700 Seung-yoon Lee , Noam Chomsky, Byline.com 1036670 at http://www.alternet.org Media Media News & Politics noam chomsky internet World Wide Web media charlie hebdo Edward Snowden Manufacturing Consent google Noam Chomsky Reads the New York Times -- Explains Why 'Paper of Record' Is Pure Propaganda http://www.alternet.org/media/noam-chomsky-reads-new-york-times-explains-why-paper-record-pure-propaganda <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">From Laos to the Middle East, a roundup of Times stories that piqued the interest of the esteemed scholar. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky_2_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A front-page article is devoted to a flawed story about a campus rape in the journal Rolling Stone, exposed in the leading academic journal of media critique. So severe is this departure from journalistic integrity that it is also the subject of the lead story in the business section, with a full inside page devoted to the continuation of the two reports. The shocked reports refer to several past crimes of the press: a few cases of fabrication, quickly exposed, and cases of plagiarism (“too numerous to list”). The specific crime of Rolling Stone is “lack of skepticism,” which is “in many ways the most insidious” of the three categories.</p><p>It is refreshing to see the commitment of the Times to the integrity of journalism.</p><p>On page 7 of the same issue, there is an important story by Thomas Fuller headlined “One Woman’s Mission to free Laos from Unexploded Bombs.” It reports the “single-minded effort” of a Lao-American woman, Channapha Khamvongsa, “to rid her native land of millions of bombs still buried there, the legacy of a nine-year American air campaign that made Laos one of the most heavily bombed places on earth” – soon to be outstripped by rural Cambodia, following the orders of Henry Kissinger to the US air force: “A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.” A comparable call for virtual genocide would be very hard to find in the archival record. It was mentioned in the Times in an article on released tapes of President Nixon, and elicited little notice.</p><p>The Fuller story on Laos reports that as a result of Ms. Khamvongsa’s lobbying, the US increased its annual spending on removal of unexploded bombs by a munificent $12 million. The most lethal are cluster bombs, which are designed to “cause maximum casualties to troops” by spraying “hundreds of bomblets onto the ground.” About 30 percent remain unexploded, so that they kill and maim children who pick up the pieces, farmers who strike them while working, and other unfortunates. An accompanying map features Xieng Khouang province in northern Laos, better known as the Plain of Jars, the primary target of the intensive bombing, which reached its peak of fury in 1969.</p><p>Fuller reports that Ms. Khamvongsa “was spurred into action when she came across a collection of drawings of the bombings made by refugees and collected by Fred Branfman, an antiwar activist who helped expose the Secret War.” The drawings appear in the late Fred Branfman’s remarkable book Voices from the Plain of Jars, published in 1972, republished by the U. of Wisconsin press in 2013 with a new introduction. The drawings vividly display the torment of the victims, poor peasants in a remote area that had virtually nothing to do with the Vietnam war, as officially conceded. One typical report by a 26 year-old nurse captures the nature of the air war: “There wasn't a night when we thought we'd live until morning, never a morning we thought we'd sur¬vive until night. Did our children cry? Oh, yes, and we did also. I just stayed in my cave. I didn't see the sunlight for two years. What did I think about? Oh, I used to repeat, `please don't let the planes come, please don't let the planes come, please don't let the planes come.'"</p><p>Branfman’s valiant efforts did indeed bring some awareness of this hideous atrocity. His assiduous researches also unearthed the reasons for the savage destruction of a helpless peasant society. He exposes the reasons once again in the introduction to the new edition of Voices. In his words:</p><p>“One of the most shattering revelations about the bombing was discovering why it had so vastly increased in 1969, as described by the refugees. I learned that after President Lyndon Johnson had declared a bombing halt over North Vietnam in November 1968, he had simply diverted the planes into northern Laos. There was no military reason for doing so. It was simply because, as U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Monteagle Stearns testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in October 1969, `Well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn't just let them stay there with nothing to do’.”</p><p>Therefore the unused planes were unleashed on poor peasants, devastating the peaceful Plain of Jars, far from the ravages of Washington’s murderous wars of aggression in Indochina.</p><p>Let us now see how these revelations are transmuted into New York Times Newspeak: “The targets were North Vietnamese troops — especially along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a large part of which passed through Laos — as well as North Vietnam’s Laotian Communist allies.”</p><p>Compare the words of the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, and the heart-rending drawings and testimony in Fred Branfman’s cited collection.</p><p>True, the reporter has a source: U.S. propaganda. That surely suffices to overwhelm mere fact about one of the major crimes of the post-World War II era, as detailed in the very source he cites: Fred Branfman’s crucial revelations.</p><p>We can be confident that this colossal lie in the service of the state will not merit lengthy exposure and denunciation of disgraceful misdeeds of the Free Press, such as plagiarism and lack of skepticism.</p><p>The same issue of the New York Times treats us to a report by the inimitable Thomas Friedman, earnestly relaying the words of President Obama presenting what Friedman labels “the Obama Doctrine” – every President has to have a Doctrine. The profound Doctrine is “’engagement,’ combined with meeting core strategic needs.”</p><p>The President illustrated with a crucial case: “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies.”</p><p>Here the Nobel Peace laureate expands on his reasons for undertaking what the leading US left-liberal intellectual journal, the New York Review, hails as the “brave” and “truly historic step” of reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is a move undertaken in order to “more effectively empower the Cuban people,” the hero explained, our earlier efforts to bring them freedom and democracy having failed to achieve our noble goals. The earlier efforts included a crushing embargo condemned by the entire world (Israel excepted) and a brutal terrorist war. The latter is as usual wiped out of history, apart from failed attempts to assassinate Castro, a very minor feature, acceptable because it can be dismissed with scorn as ridiculous CIA shenanigans. Turning to the declassified internal record, we learn that these crimes were undertaken because of Cuba’s “successful defiance” of US policy going back to the Monroe Doctrine, which declared Washington’s intent to rule the hemisphere. All unmentionable, along with too much else to recount here.</p><p>Searching further we find other gems, for example, the front-page think piece on the Iran deal by Peter Baker a few days earlier, warning about the Iranian crimes regularly listed by Washington’s propaganda system. All prove to be quite revealing on analysis, though none more so than the ultimate Iranian crime: “destabilizing” the region by supporting “Shiite militias that killed American soldiers in Iraq.” Here again is the standard picture. When the US invades Iraq, virtually destroying it and inciting sectarian conflicts that are tearing the country and now the whole region apart, that counts as “stabilization” in official and hence media rhetoric. When Iran supports militias resisting the aggression, that is “destabilization.” And there could hardly be a more heinous crime than killing American soldiers attacking one’s homes.</p><p>All of this, and far, far more, makes perfect sense if we show due obedience and uncritically accept approved doctrine: The US owns the world, and it does so by right, for reasons also explained lucidly in the New York Review, in a March 2015 article by Jessica Matthews, former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “American contributions to international security, global economic growth, freedom, and human well-being have been so self-evidently unique and have been so clearly directed to others’ benefit that Americans have long believed that the US amounts to a different kind of country. Where others push their national interests, the US tries to advance universal principles.” Defense rests.</p><p> </p> Wed, 20 May 2015 12:24:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1036642 at http://www.alternet.org Media Media News & Politics noam chomsky new york times Noam Chomsky: A Brief History of America's Cold-Blooded, Terroristic Treatment of Cuba http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-brief-history-americas-cold-blooded-terroristic-treatment-cuba <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;The Cuban threat was the familiar one that runs through Cold War history, with many predecessors.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_112613711-edited.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The establishment of diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba has been widely hailed as an event of historic importance. Correspondent John Lee Anderson, who has written perceptively about the region, sums up a general reaction among liberal intellectuals when he writes, in the New Yorker, that:</p><p>"Barack Obama has shown that he can act as a statesman of historic heft. And so, at this moment, has Raúl Castro. For Cubans, this moment will be emotionally cathartic as well as historically transformational. Their relationship with their wealthy, powerful northern American neighbor has remained frozen in the nineteen-sixties for fifty years. To a surreal degree, their destinies have been frozen as well. For Americans, this is important, too. Peace with Cuba takes us momentarily back to that golden time when the United States was a beloved nation throughout the world, when a young and handsome J.F.K. was in office -- before Vietnam, before Allende, before Iraq and all the other miseries -- and allows us to feel proud about ourselves for finally doing the right thing."</p><p>The past is not quite as idyllic as it is portrayed in the persisting Camelot image. JFK was not "before Vietnam" – or even before Allende and Iraq, but let us put that aside. In Vietnam, when JFK entered office the brutality of the Diem regime that the US had imposed had finally elicited domestic resistance that it could not control. Kennedy was therefore confronted by what he called an "assault from the inside," "internal aggression" in the interesting phrase favored by his UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson.</p><p>Kennedy therefore at once escalated the US intervention to outright aggression, ordering the US Air Force to bomb South Vietnam (under South Vietnamese markings, which deceived no one), authorizing napalm and chemical warfare to destroy crops and livestock, and launching programs to drive peasants into virtual concentration camps to "protect them" from the guerrillas whom Washington knew they were mostly supporting.</p><p>By 1963, reports from the ground seemed to indicate that Kennedy's war was succeeding, but a serious problem arose. In August, the administration learned that the Diem government was seeking negotiations with the North to end the conflict.</p><p>If JFK had had the slightest intention to withdraw, that would have been a perfect opportunity to do so gracefully, with no political cost, even claiming, in the usual style, that it was American fortitude and principled defense of freedom that compelled the North Vietnamese to surrender. Instead, Washington backed a military coup to install hawkish generals more attuned to JFK's actual commitments; President Diem and his brother were murdered in the process. With victory apparently within sight, Kennedy reluctantly accepted a proposal by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to begin withdrawing troops (NSAM 263), but only with a crucial proviso: After Victory. Kennedy maintained that demand insistently until his assassination a few weeks later. Many illusions have been concocted about these events, but they collapse quickly under the weight of the rich documentary record.</p><p>The story elsewhere was also not quite as idyllic as in the Camelot legends. One of the most consequential of Kennedy's decisions was in 1962, when he effectively shifted the mission of the Latin American military from "hemispheric defense" -- a holdover from World War II -- to "internal security," a euphemism for war against the domestic enemy, the population. The results were described by Charles Maechling, who led US counterinsurgency and internal defense planning from 1961 to 1966. Kennedy's decision, he wrote, shifted US policy from toleration "of the rapacity and cruelty of the Latin American military" to "direct complicity" in their crimes, to US support for "the methods of Heinrich Himmler's extermination squads." Those who do not prefer what international relations specialist Michael Glennon called "intentional ignorance" can easily fill in the details.</p><p>In Cuba, Kennedy inherited Eisenhower's policy of embargo and formal plans to overthrow the regime, and quickly escalated them with the Bay of Pigs invasion. The failure of the invasion caused near hysteria in Washington. At the first cabinet meeting after the failed invasion, the atmosphere was "almost savage," Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles noted privately: "there was an almost frantic reaction for an action program." Kennedy articulated the hysteria in his public pronouncements: "The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong ... can possibly survive," he told the country, though was aware, as he said privately, that allies "think that we're slightly demented" on the subject of Cuba. Not without reason.</p><p>Kennedy's actions were true to his words. He launched a murderous terrorist campaign designed to bring "the terrors of the earth" to Cuba -- historian and Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger's phrase, referring to the project assigned by the president to his brother Robert Kennedy as his highest priority. Apart from killing thousands of people along with large-scale destruction, the terrors of the earth were a major factor in bringing the world to the brink of a terminal nuclear war, as recent scholarship reveals. The administration resumed the terrorist attacks as soon as the missile crisis subsided.</p><p>A standard way to evade the unpleasant topic is to keep to the CIA assassination plots against Castro, ridiculing their absurdity. They did exist, but were a minor footnote to the terrorist war launched by the Kennedy brothers after the failure of their Bay of Pigs invasion, a war that is hard to match in the annals of international terrorism.</p><p>There is now much debate about whether Cuba should be removed from the list of states supporting terrorism. It can only bring to mind the words of Tacitus that "crime once exposed had no refuge but in audacity." Except that it is not exposed, thanks to the "treason of the intellectuals."</p><p>On taking office after the assassination, President Johnson relaxed the terrorism, which however continued through the 1990s. But he was not about to allow Cuba to survive in peace. He explained to Senator Fulbright that though "I'm not getting into any Bay of Pigs deal," he wanted advice about "what we ought to do to pinch their nuts more than we're doing." Commenting, Latin America historian Lars Schoultz observes that "Nut-pinching has been U.S. policy ever since."</p><p>Some, to be sure, have felt that such delicate means are not enough, for example, Nixon cabinet member Alexander Haig, who asked the president to "just give me the word and I'll turn that f--- island into a parking lot." His eloquence captured vividly the long-standing frustration of US leaders about "That infernal little Cuban republic," Theodore Roosevelt's phrase as he ranted in fury over Cuban unwillingness to accept graciously the US invasion of 1898 to block their liberation from Spain and turn them into a virtual colony. Surely his courageous ride up San Juan Hill had been in a noble cause (overlooked, commonly, is that African-American battalions were largely responsible for conquering the hill).</p><p>Cuba historian Louis Pérez writes that the US intervention, hailed at home as a humanitarian intervention to liberate Cuba, achieved its actual objectives: "A Cuban war of liberation was transformed into a U.S. war of conquest," the "Spanish-American war" in imperial nomenclature, designed to obscure the Cuban victory that was quickly aborted by the invasion. The outcome relieved American anxieties about "what was anathema to all North American policymakers since Thomas Jefferson -- Cuban independence."</p><p>How things have changed in two centuries.</p><p>There have been tentative efforts to improve relations in the past 50 years, reviewed in detail by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh in their recent comprehensive study, Back Channel to Cuba. Whether we should feel "proud about ourselves" for the steps that Obama has taken may be debated, but they are "the right thing," even though the crushing embargo remains in place in defiance of the entire world (Israel excepted) and tourism is still barred. In his address to the nation announcing the new policy, the president made it clear that in other respects too, the punishment of Cuba for refusing to bend to US will and violence will continue, repeating pretexts that are too ludicrous for comment.</p><p>Worthy of attention, however, are the president's words, such as the following:</p><p>"Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these five decades. We've done so primarily through policies that aim to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that Americans can enjoy anyplace else. And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people ... Today, I'm being honest with you. We can never erase the history between us."</p><p>One has to admire the stunning audacity of this pronouncement, which again recalls the words of Tacitus. Obama is surely not unaware of the actual history, which includes not only the murderous terrorist war and scandalous economic embargo, but also military occupation of Southeastern Cuba for over a century, including its major port, despite requests by the government since independence to return what was stolen at gunpoint -- a policy justified only by the fanatic commitment to block Cuba's economic development. By comparison, Putin's illegal takeover of Crimea looks almost benign. Dedication to revenge against the impudent Cubans who resist US domination has been so extreme that it has even overruled the wishes of powerful segments of the business community for normalization -- pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, energy – an unusual development in US foreign policy. Washington's cruel and vindictive policies have virtually isolated the US in the hemisphere and elicited contempt and ridicule throughout the world. Washington and its acolytes like to pretend that they have been "isolating" Cuba, as Obama intoned, but the record shows clearly that it is the US that is being isolated, probably the primary reason for the partial change of course.</p><p>Domestic opinion no doubt is also a factor in Obama's "historic move" -- though the public has, irrelevantly, been in favor of normalization for a long time. A CNN poll in 2014 showed that only a quarter of Americans now regard Cuba as a serious threat to the United States, as compared with over two-thirds thirty years earlier, when President Reagan was warning about the grave threat to our lives posed by the nutmeg capital of the world (Grenada) and by the Nicaraguan army, only two days march from Texas. With fears now having somewhat abated, perhaps we can slightly relax our vigilance.</p><p>In the extensive commentary on Obama's decision, a leading theme has been that Washington's benign efforts to bring democracy and human rights to suffering Cubans, sullied only by childish CIA shenanigans, have been a failure. Our lofty goals were not achieved, so a reluctant change of course is in order.</p><p>Were the policies a failure? That depends on what the goal was. The answer is quite clear in the documentary record. The Cuban threat was the familiar one that runs through Cold War history, with many predecessors. It was spelled out clearly by the incoming Kennedy administration. The primary concern was that Cuba might be a "virus" that would "spread contagion," to borrow Kissinger's terms for the standard theme, referring to Allende's Chile. That was recognized at once.</p><p>Intending to focus attention on Latin America, before taking office Kennedy established a Latin American Mission, headed by Arthur Schlesinger, who reported its conclusions to the incoming president. The Mission warned of the susceptibility of Latin Americans to "the Castro idea of taking matters into one's own hands," a serious danger, as Schlesinger later elaborated, when "The distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes … [and] The poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living."</p><p>Schlesinger was reiterating the laments of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who complained to President Eisenhower about the dangers posed by domestic "Communists," who are able "to get control of mass movements," an unfair advantage that we "have no capacity to duplicate." The reason is that "the poor people are the ones they appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich." It is hard to convince backward and ignorant people to follow our principle that the rich should plunder the poor.</p><p>Others elaborated on Schlesinger's warnings. In July 1961, the CIA reported that "The extensive influence of 'Castroism' is not a function of Cuban power ... Castro's shadow looms large because social and economic conditions throughout Latin America invite opposition to ruling authority and encourage agitation for radical change," for which Castro's Cuba provides a model. The State Department Policy Planning Council explained further that "the primary danger we face in Castro is…in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the US, a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half," ever since the Monroe Doctrine declared the US intention to dominate the hemisphere. To put it simply, historian Thomas Paterson observes, "Cuba, as symbol and reality, challenged U.S. hegemony in Latin America."</p><p>The way to deal with a virus that might spread contagion is to kill the virus and inoculate potential victims. That sensible policy is just what Washington pursued, and in terms of its primary goals, the policy has been quite successful. Cuba has survived, but without the ability to achieve the feared potential. And the region was "inoculated" with vicious military dictatorships to prevent contagion, beginning with the Kennedy-inspired military coup that established a National Security terror and torture regime in Brazil shortly after Kennedy's assassination, greeted with much enthusiasm in Washington. The Generals had carried out a "democratic rebellion," Ambassador Lincoln Gordon cabled home. The revolution was "a great victory for free world," which prevented a "total loss to West of all South American Republics" and should "create a greatly improved climate for private investments." This democratic revolution was "the single most decisive victory of freedom in the mid-twentieth century," Gordon held, "one of the major turning points in world history" in this period, which removed what Washington saw as a Castro clone.</p><p>The plague then spread throughout the continent, culminating in Reagan's terrorist wars in Central America and finally the assassination of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, by an elite Salvadoran battalion, fresh from renewed training at the JFK Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, following the orders of the High Command to murder them along with any witnesses, their housekeeper and her daughter. The 25th anniversary of the assassination has just passed, commemorated with the usual silence considered appropriate for our crimes.</p><p>Much the same was true of the Vietnam war, also considered a failure and a defeat. Vietnam itself was of no particular concern, but as the documentary record reveals, Washington was concerned that successful independent development there might spread contagion throughout the region, reaching Indonesia, with its rich resources, and perhaps even as far as Japan -- the "superdomino" as it was described by Asia historian John Dower -- which might accommodate to an independent East Asia, becoming its industrial and technological center, independent of US control, in effect constructing a New Order in Asia. The US was not prepared to lose the Pacific phase of World War II in the early 1950s, so it turned quickly to support for France's war to reconquer its former colony, and then on to the horrors that ensued, sharply escalated when Kennedy took office, later by his successors.</p><p>Vietnam was virtually destroyed: it would be a model for no one. And the region was protected by installing murderous dictatorships, much as in Latin America in the same years -- it is not unnatural that imperial policy should follow similar lines in different parts of the world. The most important case was Indonesia, protected from contagion by the 1965 Suharto coup, a "staggering mass slaughter" as the New York Times described it accurately, while joining in the general euphoria about "a gleam of light in Asia" (liberal columnist James Reston). In retrospect, Kennedy-Johnson National Security advisor McGeorge Bundy recognized that "our effort" in Vietnam was "excessive" after 1965, with Indonesia safely inoculated.</p><p>The Vietnam war is described as a failure, an American defeat. In reality it was a partial victory. The US did not achieve its maximal goal of turning Vietnam into the Philippines, but the major concerns were overcome, much as in the case of Cuba. Such outcomes therefore count as defeat, failure, terrible decisions.</p><p>The imperial mentality is wondrous to behold.</p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:40:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1031428 at http://www.alternet.org World News & Politics World noam chomsky barack obama cuba Noam Chomsky: Can Civilization Survive Capitalism? http://www.alternet.org/economy/noam-chomsky-can-civilization-survive-capitalism <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Could a functioning democracy make a difference?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.”</p><p>The term “capitalism” is commonly used to refer to the U.S. economic system, with substantial state intervention ranging from subsidies for creative innovation to the “too-big-to-fail” government insurance policy for banks.</p><p>The system is highly monopolized, further limiting reliance on the market, and increasingly so: In the past 20 years the share of profits of the 200 largest enterprises has risen sharply, reports scholar Robert W. McChesney in his new book “Digital Disconnect.”</p><p>“Capitalism” is a term now commonly used to describe systems in which there are no capitalists: for example, the worker-owned Mondragon conglomerate in the Basque region of Spain, or the worker-owned enterprises expanding in northern Ohio, often with conservative support – both are discussed in important work by the scholar Gar Alperovitz.</p><p>Some might even use the term “capitalism” to refer to the industrial democracy advocated by John Dewey, America’s leading social philosopher, in the late 19th century and early 20th century.</p><p>Dewey called for workers to be “masters of their own industrial fate” and for all institutions to be brought under public control, including the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Short of this, Dewey argued, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business.”</p><p>The truncated democracy that Dewey condemned has been left in tatters in recent years. Now control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority “down below” has been virtually disenfranchised. The current political-economic system is a form of plutocracy, diverging sharply from democracy, if by that concept we mean political arrangements in which policy is significantly influenced by the public will.</p><p>There have been serious debates over the years about whether capitalism is compatible with democracy. If we keep to really existing capitalist democracy – RECD for short – the question is effectively answered: They are radically incompatible.</p><p>It seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive RECD and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it. But could functioning democracy make a difference?</p><p>Let’s keep to the most critical immediate problem that civilization faces: environmental catastrophe. Policies and public attitudes diverge sharply, as is often the case under RECD. The nature of the gap is examined in several articles in the current issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.</p><p>Researcher Kelly Sims Gallagher finds that “One hundred and nine countries have enacted some form of policy regarding renewable power, and 118 countries have set targets for renewable energy. In contrast, the United States has not adopted any consistent and stable set of policies at the national level to foster the use of renewable energy.”</p><p>It is not public opinion that drives American policy off the international spectrum. Quite the opposite. Opinion is much closer to the global norm than the U.S. government’s policies reflect, and much more supportive of actions needed to confront the likely environmental disaster predicted by an overwhelming scientific consensus – and one that’s not too far off; affecting the lives of our grandchildren, very likely.</p><p>As Jon A. Krosnick and Bo MacInnis report in Daedalus: “Huge majorities have favored steps by the federal government to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated when utilities produce electricity. In 2006, 86 percent of respondents favored requiring utilities, or encouraging them with tax breaks, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. Also in that year, 87 percent favored tax breaks for utilities that produce more electricity from water, wind or sunlight  [ These majorities were maintained between 2006 and 2010 and shrank somewhat after that.</p><p>The fact that the public is influenced by science is deeply troubling to those who dominate the economy and state policy.</p><p>Media reports commonly present a controversy between two sides on climate change. One side consists of the overwhelming majority of scientists, the world’s major national academies of science, the professional science journals and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p><p>They agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human component, that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon, maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with severe social and economic effects. It is rare to find such consensus on complex scientific issues.</p><p>The other side consists of skeptics, including a few respected scientists who caution that much is unknown – which means that things might not be as bad as thought, or they might be worse.</p><p>Omitted from the contrived debate is a much larger group of skeptics: highly regarded climate scientists who see the IPCC’s regular reports as much too conservative. And these scientists have repeatedly been proven correct, unfortunately.</p><p>The propaganda campaign has apparently had some effect on U.S. public opinion, which is more skeptical than the global norm. But the effect is not significant enough to satisfy the masters. That is presumably why sectors of the corporate world are launching their attack on the educational system, in an effort to counter the public’s dangerous tendency to pay attention to the conclusions of scientific research.</p><p>At the 2013 Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned the leadership that “We must stop being the stupid party ... We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters.”</p><p>Within the RECD system it is of extreme importance that we become the stupid nation, not misled by science and rationality, in the interests of the short-term gains of the masters of the economy and political system, and damn the consequences.</p><p>These commitments are deeply rooted in the fundamentalist market doctrines that are preached within RECD, though observed in a highly selective manner, so as to sustain a powerful state that serves wealth and power.</p><p>The official doctrines suffer from a number of familiar “market inefficiencies,” among them the failure to take into account the effects on others in market transactions. The consequences of these “externalities” can be substantial. The current financial crisis is an illustration. It is partly traceable to the major banks and investment firms’ ignoring “systemic risk” – the possibility that the whole system would collapse – when they undertook risky transactions.</p><p>Environmental catastrophe is far more serious: The externality that is being ignored is the fate of the species. And there is nowhere to run, cap in hand, for a bailout.</p><p>In future, historians (if there are any) will look back on this curious spectacle taking shape in the early 21st century. For the first time in human history, humans are facing the significant prospect of severe calamity as a result of their actions – actions that are battering our prospects of decent survival.</p><p>Those historians will observe that the richest and most powerful country in history, which enjoys incomparable advantages, is leading the effort to intensify the likely disaster. Leading the effort to preserve conditions in which our immediate descendants might have a decent life are the so-called “primitive” societies: First Nations, tribal, indigenous, aboriginal.</p><p>The countries with large and influential indigenous populations are well in the lead in seeking to preserve the planet. The countries that have driven indigenous populations to extinction or extreme marginalization are racing toward destruction.</p><p>Thus Ecuador, with its large indigenous population, is seeking aid from the rich countries to allow it to keep its substantial oil reserves underground, where they should be.</p><p>Meanwhile the U.S. and Canada are seeking to burn fossil fuels, including the extremely dangerous Canadian tar sands, and to do so as quickly and fully as possible, while they hail the wonders of a century of (largely meaningless) energy independence without a side glance at what the world might look like after this extravagant commitment to self-destruction.</p><p>This observation generalizes: Throughout the world, indigenous societies are struggling to protect what they sometimes call “the rights of nature,” while the civilized and sophisticated scoff at this silliness.</p><p>This is all exactly the opposite of what rationality would predict – unless it is the skewed form of reason that passes through the filter of RECD.</p> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 17:15:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1031280 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy noam chomsky capitalism economy democracy Noam Chomsky Slams West's Charlie Hebdo Outrage: 'Many Journalists Were Killed by Israel in Gaza Too' http://www.alternet.org/media/noam-chomsky-slams-wests-charlie-hebdo-outrage-many-journalists-were-killed-israel-gaza-too <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times—Obama&#039;s global assassination campaign—has been ignored in the &quot;war against terrorism.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky_2.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>After the terrorist attack on <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/19/europe/europe-terror-threat/index.html" target="_blank">Charlie Hebdo</a>, which killed 12 people including the editor and four other cartoonists, and the murder of four Jews at a kosher supermarket shortly after, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared "a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity."</p><p>Millions of people demonstrated in condemnation of the atrocities, amplified by a chorus of horror under the banner "I am Charlie." There were eloquent pronouncements of outrage, captured well by the head of Israel's Labor Party and the main challenger for the upcoming elections, Isaac Herzog, who declared that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it," and that "All the nations that seek peace and freedom [face] an enormous challenge" from brutal violence.</p><p>The crimes also elicited a flood of commentary, inquiring into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values. The New York Times described the assault as a "clash of civilizations," but was corrected by Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, <a href="https://twitter.com/AnandWrites/status/552825021878771713" target="_blank">who tweeted</a> that it was "Not &amp; never a war of civilizations or between them. But a war FOR civilization against groups on the other side of that line. #CharlieHebdo."</p><p>The scene in Paris <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/world/days-of-sirens-fear-and-blood-france-is-turned-upside-down.html?_r=0" target="_blank">was described vividly in the New York Times</a> by veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger: "a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around Paris."</p><p>Erlanger also quoted a surviving journalist who said that "Everything crashed. There was no way out. There was smoke everywhere. It was terrible. People were screaming. It was like a nightmare." Another reported a "huge detonation, and everything went completely dark." The scene, Erlanger reported, "was an increasingly familiar one of smashed glass, broken walls, twisted timbers, scorched paint and emotional devastation."</p>These last quotes, however -- as independent journalist David Peterson reminds us -- are not from January 2015. Rather, they are from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/24/world/crisis-balkans-belgrade-survivors-nato-attack-serb-tv-headquarters-luck-pluck.html" target="_blank">a report by Erlanger on April 24 1999,</a> which received far less attention. Erlanger was reporting on the NATO "missile attack on Serbian state television headquarters" that "knocked Radio Television Serbia off the air," killing 16 journalists.<p>"NATO and American officials defended the attack," <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/24/world/crisis-balkans-belgrade-survivors-nato-attack-serb-tv-headquarters-luck-pluck.html" target="_blank">Erlanger reported</a>, "as an effort to undermine the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia." Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told a briefing in Washington that "Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic's murder machine as his military is," hence a legitimate target of attack.</p><p>There were no demonstrations or cries of outrage, no chants of "We are RTV," no inquiries into the roots of the attack in Christian culture and history. On the contrary, the attack on the press was lauded. The highly regarded U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, then envoy to Yugoslavia, described the successful attack on RTV as "an enormously important and, I think, positive development," a sentiment echoed by others.</p><p>There are many other events that call for no inquiry into western culture and history -- for example, the worst single terrorist atrocity in Europe in recent years, in July 2011, when Anders Breivik, a Christian ultra-Zionist extremist and Islamophobe, slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers.</p><p>Also ignored in the "war against terrorism" is the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times -- Barack Obama's global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby. Other unfortunates are also not lacking, such as the <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/01/11/252671/us-airstrike-in-syria-may-have.html" target="_blank">50 civilians reportedly killed in a U.S.-led bombing raid in Syria</a> in December, which was barely reported.</p><p>One person was indeed punished in connection with the NATO attack on RTV -- Dragoljub Milanović, the general manager of the station, who was sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights to 10 years in prison for failing to evacuate the building, <a href="https://cpj.org/2002/06/former-rts-director-convicted-for-failing-to-prote.php" target="_blank">according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. </a>The<a href="http://www.icty.org/sid/10052#IVB4" target="_blank">International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia </a>considered the NATO attack, concluding that it was not a crime, and although civilian casualties were "unfortunately high, they do not appear to be clearly disproportionate."</p><p>The comparison between these cases helps us understand the condemnation of the New York Times by civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams, famous for his forceful defense of freedom of expression. "There are times for self-restraint,"<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/opinion/after-the-terrorist-attack-in-paris.html" target="_blank">Abrams wrote</a>, "but in the immediate wake of the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory, [the Times editors] would have served the cause of free expression best by engaging in it" by publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons ridiculing Mohammed that elicited the assault.</p><p>Abrams is right in describing the Charlie Hebdo attack as "the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory." The reason has to do with the concept "living memory," a category carefully constructed to include Theircrimes against us while scrupulously excluding Our crimes against them -- the latter not crimes but noble defense of the highest values, sometimes inadvertently flawed.</p><p>This is not the place to inquire into just what was being "defended" when RTV was attacked, but such an inquiry is quite informative (see my A New Generation Draws the Line).</p><p>There are many other illustrations of the interesting category "living memory." One is provided by the <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/11/08/iraq.main/index.html?_s=PM:WORLD" target="_blank">Marine assault against Fallujah</a> in November 2004, one of the worst crimes of the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq.</p><p>The assault opened with <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/11/08/iraq.main/index.html?_s=PM:WORLD" target="_blank">occupation of Fallujah General Hospital</a>, a major war crime quite apart from how it was carried out. The crime was reported prominently on the front page of the New York Times, accompanied with a photograph depicting how "Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs." The occupation of the hospital was considered meritorious and justified: it "shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Fallujah General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties."</p><p>Evidently, this is no assault on free expression, and does not qualify for entry into "living memory."</p><p>There are other questions. One would naturally ask how France upholds freedom of expression and the sacred principles of "fraternity, freedom, solidarity." For example, is it through the Gayssot Law, repeatedly implemented, which effectively grants the state the right to determine Historical Truth and punish deviation from its edicts? By expelling miserable descendants of Holocaust survivors (Roma) to bitter persecution in Eastern Europe? By the deplorable treatment of North African immigrants in the banlieues of Paris where the Charlie Hebdo terrorists became jihadis? When the courageous journal Charlie Hebdo fired the cartoonist Siné on grounds that a comment of his was deemed to have anti-Semitic connotations? Many more questions quickly arise.</p><p>Anyone with eyes open will quickly notice other rather striking omissions. Thus, prominent among those who face an "enormous challenge" from brutal violence are Palestinians, once again during Israel's vicious <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/17/middleeast/palestinians-icc-inquiry/index.html" target="_blank">assault on Gaza </a>in the summer of 2014, in which many journalists were murdered, sometimes in well-marked press cars, along with thousands of others, while the Israeli-run outdoor prison was again reduced to rubble on pretexts that collapse instantly on examination.</p><p>Also ignored was the assassination of three more journalists in Latin America in December, bringing the number for the year to 31. There have been <a href="https://cpj.org/americas/honduras/" target="_blank">more than a dozen journalists killed in Honduras</a> alone since the military coup of 2009 that was effectively recognized by the U.S. (but few others), probably according post-coup Honduras the per capita championship for murder of journalists. But again, not an assault on freedom of press within living memory.</p><p>It is not difficult to elaborate. These few examples illustrate a very general principle that is observed with impressive dedication and consistency: The more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes -- and hence the more we can do to end them -- the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial.</p><p>Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements, it is not the case that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it." There definitely are two ways about it: theirs versus ours. And not just terrorism.</p> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 20:47:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky&#039;s Official Site 1030542 at http://www.alternet.org Media Media World chomsky Noam Chomsky: Are We on the Verge of Total Self-Destruction? http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/noam-chomsky-are-we-verge-total-self-destruction <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">If you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam-chomsky-on-tea-party-800x430.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p class="p1"><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">TomDispatch.com here</a>.</em></p><p>What is the future likely to bring?  A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the human species from the outside.  So imagine that you’re an extraterrestrial observer who is trying to figure out what’s happening here or, for that matter, imagine you’re an historian 100 years from now -- assuming there are any historians 100 years from now, which is not obvious -- and you’re looking back at what’s happening today.  You’d see something quite remarkable.</p><p>For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves.  That’s been true since 1945.  It’s now being finally recognized that there are more long-term processes like environmental destruction leading in the same direction, maybe not to total destruction, but at least to the destruction of the capacity for a decent existence.</p><p>And there are other dangers like pandemics, which have to do with globalization and interaction.  So there are processes underway and institutions right in place, like nuclear weapons systems, which could lead to a serious blow to, or maybe the termination of, an organized existence.</p><p><strong>How to Destroy a Planet Without Really Trying</strong></p><p>The question is: What are people doing about it?  None of this is a secret.  It’s all perfectly open.  In fact, you have to make an effort not to see it.</p><p>There have been a range of reactions.  There are those who are trying hard to do something about these threats, and others who are acting to escalate them.  If you look at who they are, this future historian or extraterrestrial observer would see something strange indeed.  Trying to mitigate or overcome these threats are the least developed societies, the indigenous populations, or the remnants of them, tribal societies and first nations in Canada.  They’re not talking about nuclear war but environmental disaster, and they’re really trying to do something about it.</p><p>In fact, all over the world -- Australia, India, South America -- there are battles going on, sometimes wars.  In India, it’s a major war over direct environmental destruction, with tribal societies trying to resist resource extraction operations that are extremely harmful locally, but also in their general consequences.  In societies where indigenous populations have an influence, many are taking a strong stand.  The strongest of any country with regard to global warming is in Bolivia, which has an indigenous majority and constitutional requirements that protect the “rights of nature.” </p><p>Ecuador, which also has a large indigenous population, is the only oil exporter I know of where the government is seeking aid to help keep that oil in the ground, instead of producing and exporting it -- and the ground is where it ought to be.</p><p>Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died recently and was the object of mockery, insult, and hatred throughout the Western world, attended a session of the U.N. General Assembly a few years ago where he elicited all sorts of ridicule for calling George W. Bush a devil.  He also gave a speech there that was quite interesting.  Of course, Venezuela is a major oil producer.  Oil is practically their whole gross domestic product.  In that speech, he warned of the dangers of the overuse of fossil fuels and urged producer and consumer countries to get together and try to work out ways to reduce fossil fuel use.  That was pretty amazing on the part of an oil producer.  You know, he was part Indian, of indigenous background.  Unlike the funny things he did, this aspect of his actions at the U.N. was never even reported.</p><p>So, at one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster.  At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible.  Unlike Ecuador, and indigenous societies throughout the world, they want to extract every drop of hydrocarbons from the ground with all possible speed. </p><p>Both political parties, President Obama, the media, and the international press seem to be looking forward with great enthusiasm to what they call “a century of energy independence” for the United States.  Energy independence is an almost meaningless concept, but put that aside.  What they mean is: we’ll have a century in which to maximize the use of fossil fuels and contribute to destroying the world.</p><p>And that’s pretty much the case everywhere.  Admittedly, when it comes to alternative energy development, Europe is doing something.  Meanwhile, the United States, the richest and most powerful country in world history, is the only nation among perhaps 100 relevant ones that doesn’t have a national policy for restricting the use of fossil fuels, that doesn’t even have renewable energy targets.  It’s not because the population doesn’t want it.  Americans are pretty close to the international norm in their concern about global warming.  It’s institutional structures that block change.  Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one.</p><p>So that’s what the future historian -- if there is one -- would see.  He might also read today’s scientific journals.  Just about every one you open has a more dire prediction than the last.</p><p><strong>“The Most Dangerous Moment in History”</strong></p><p>The other issue is nuclear war.  It’s been known for a long time that if there were to be a first strike by a major power, even with no retaliation, it would probably destroy civilization just because of the nuclear-winter consequences that would follow.  You can read about it in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.  It’s well understood.  So the danger has always been a lot worse than we thought it was.</p><p>We’ve just passed the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was called “the most dangerous moment in history” by historian Arthur Schlesinger, President John F. Kennedy’s advisor.  Which it was.  It was a very close call, and not the only time either.  In some ways, however, the worst aspect of these grim events is that the lessons haven’t been learned.</p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805096159/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank"></a></p><p>What happened in the missile crisis in October 1962 has been prettified to make it look as if acts of courage and thoughtfulness abounded.  The truth is that the whole episode was almost insane.  There was a point, as the missile crisis was reaching its peak, when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy offering to settle it by a public announcement of a withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba and U.S. missiles from Turkey.  Actually, Kennedy hadn’t even known that the U.S. had missiles in Turkey at the time.  They were being withdrawn anyway, because they were being replaced by more lethal Polaris nuclear submarines, which were invulnerable.</p><p>So that was the offer.  Kennedy and his advisors considered it -- and rejected it.  At the time, Kennedy himself was estimating the likelihood of nuclear war at a third to a half.  So Kennedy was willing to accept a very high risk of massive destruction in order to establish the principle that we -- and only we -- have the right to offensive missiles beyond our borders, in fact anywhere we like, no matter what the risk to others -- and to ourselves, if matters fall out of control. We have that right, but no one else does.</p><p>Kennedy did, however, accept a secret agreement to withdraw the missiles the U.S. was already withdrawing, as long as it was never made public.  Khrushchev, in other words, had to openly withdraw the Russian missiles while the U.S. secretly withdrew its obsolete ones; that is, Khrushchev had to be humiliated and Kennedy had to maintain his macho image.  He’s greatly praised for this: courage and coolness under threat, and so on.  The horror of his decisions is not even mentioned -- try to find it on the record.</p><p>And to add a little more, a couple of months before the crisis blew up the United States had sent missiles with nuclear warheads to Okinawa.  These were aimed at China during a period of great regional tension.</p><p>Well, who cares?  We have the right to do anything we want anywhere in the world.  That was one grim lesson from that era, but there were others to come.</p><p>Ten years after that, in 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a high-level nuclear alert.  It was his way of warning the Russians not to interfere in the ongoing Israel-Arab war and, in particular, not to interfere after he had informed the Israelis that they could violate a ceasefire the U.S. and Russia had just agreed upon.  Fortunately, nothing happened.</p><p>Ten years later, President Ronald Reagan was in office.  Soon after he entered the White House, he and his advisors had the Air Force start penetrating Russian air space to try to elicit information about Russian warning systems, Operation Able Archer.  Essentially, these were mock attacks.  The Russians were uncertain, some high-level officials fearing that this was a step towards a real first strike.  Fortunately, they didn’t react, though it was a close call.  And it goes on like that.</p><p><strong>What to Make of the Iranian and North Korean Nuclear Crises</strong></p><p>At the moment, the nuclear issue is regularly on front pages in the cases of North Korea and Iran.  There are ways to deal with these ongoing crises.  Maybe they wouldn’t work, but at least you could try.  They are, however, not even being considered, not even reported.</p><p>Take the case of Iran, which is considered in the West -- not in the Arab world, not in Asia -- the gravest threat to world peace.  It’s a Western obsession, and it’s interesting to look into the reasons for it, but I’ll put that aside here.  Is there a way to deal with the supposed gravest threat to world peace?  Actually there are quite a few.  One way, a pretty sensible one, was proposed a couple of months ago at a meeting of the non-aligned countries in Tehran.  In fact, they were just reiterating a proposal that’s been around for decades, pressed particularly by Egypt, and has been approved by the U.N. General Assembly.</p><p>The proposal is to move toward establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region.  That wouldn’t be the answer to everything, but it would be a pretty significant step forward.  And there were ways to proceed.  Under U.N. auspices, there was to be an international conference in Finland last December to try to implement plans to move toward this.  What happened? </p><p>You won’t read about it in the newspapers because it wasn’t reported -- only in specialist journals.  In early November, Iran agreed to attend the meeting.  A couple of days later Obama cancelled the meeting, saying the time wasn’t right.  The European Parliament issued a statement calling for it to continue, as did the Arab states.  Nothing resulted.  So we’ll move toward ever-harsher sanctions against the Iranian population -- it doesn’t hurt the regime -- and maybe war. Who knows what will happen?</p><p>In Northeast Asia, it’s the same sort of thing.  North Korea may be the craziest country in the world.  It’s certainly a good competitor for that title.  But it does make sense to try to figure out what’s in the minds of people when they’re acting in crazy ways.  Why would they behave the way they do?  Just imagine ourselves in their situation.  Imagine what it meant in the Korean War years of the early 1950s for your country to be totally leveled, everything destroyed by a huge superpower, which furthermore was gloating about what it was doing.  Imagine the imprint that would leave behind.</p><p>Bear in mind that the North Korean leadership is likely to have read the public military journals of this superpower at that time explaining that, since everything else in North Korea had been destroyed, the air force was sent to destroy North Korea’s dams, huge dams that controlled the water supply -- a war crime, by the way, for which people were hanged in Nuremberg.   And these official journals were talking excitedly about how wonderful it was to see the water pouring down, digging out the valleys, and the Asians scurrying around trying to survive.  The journals were exulting in what this meant to those “Asians,” horrors beyond our imagination.  It meant the destruction of their rice crop, which in turn meant starvation and death.  How magnificent!  It’s not in our memory, but it’s in their memory.</p><p>Let’s turn to the present.  There’s an interesting recent history.  In 1993, Israel and North Korea were moving towards an agreement in which North Korea would stop sending any missiles or military technology to the Middle East and Israel would recognize that country.  President Clinton intervened and blocked it.  Shortly after that, in retaliation, North Korea carried out a minor missile test.  The U.S. and North Korea did then reach a framework agreement in 1994 that halted its nuclear work and was more or less honored by both sides.  When George W. Bush came into office, North Korea had maybe one nuclear weapon and verifiably wasn’t producing any more. </p><p>Bush immediately launched his aggressive militarism, threatening North Korea -- “axis of evil” and all that -- so North Korea got back to work on its nuclear program.  By the time Bush left office, they had eight to 10 nuclear weapons and a missile system, another great neocon achievement.  In between, other things happened.  In 2005, the U.S. and North Korea actually reached an agreement in which North Korea was to end all nuclear weapons and missile development.  In return, the West, but mainly the United States, was to provide a light-water reactor for its medical needs and end aggressive statements.  They would then form a nonaggression pact and move toward accommodation.</p><p>It was pretty promising, but almost immediately Bush undermined it.  He withdrew the offer of the light-water reactor and initiated programs to compel banks to stop handling any North Korean transactions, even perfectly legal ones.  The North Koreans reacted by reviving their nuclear weapons program.  And that’s the way it’s been going.</p><p>It’s well known.  You can read it in straight, mainstream American scholarship.  What they say is: it’s a pretty crazy regime, but it’s also following a kind of tit-for-tat policy.  You make a hostile gesture and we’ll respond with some crazy gesture of our own.  You make an accommodating gesture and we’ll reciprocate in some way.</p><p>Lately, for instance, there have been South Korean-U.S. military exercises on the Korean peninsula which, from the North’s point of view, have got to look threatening.  We’d think they were threatening if they were going on in Canada and aimed at us.  In the course of these, the most advanced bombers in history, Stealth B-2s and B-52s, are carrying out simulated nuclear bombing attacks right on North Korea’s borders. </p><p>This surely sets off alarm bells from the past.  They remember that past, so they’re reacting in a very aggressive, extreme way.  Well, what comes to the West from all this is how crazy and how awful the North Korean leaders are.  Yes, they are.  But that’s hardly the whole story, and this is the way the world is going.</p><p>It’s not that there are no alternatives.  The alternatives just aren’t being taken. That’s dangerous.  So if you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture.  Unless people do something about it.  We always can.</p><p><em>Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor Emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.  A <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175645/noam_chomsky_the_paranoia_of_the_superrich_and_superpowerful" target="_blank">TomDispatch regular</a>, he is the author of numerous best-selling political works, including <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1931859965/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Hopes and Prospects</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0872865371/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Making the Future</a>, and most recently (with interviewer David Barsamian), <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805096159/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire</a> (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).</em></p><p><em>[Note: This piece was adapted (with the help of Noam Chomsky) from an<a href="http://whatonline.org/en/s/what-about-the-future-noam-chomsky/" target="_blank">online video interview</a> that Javier Naranjo, a Colombian poet and professor, did for the website <a href="http://whatonline.org/en/" target="_blank">What</a>, which is dedicated to integrating knowledge from different fields with the aim of encouraging the balance between the individual, society, and the environment.]</em></p><p><em>Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/tomdispatch" target="_blank">Facebook</a> or <a href="http://tomdispatch.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Changing-Face-Empire-Cyberwarfare/dp/1608463109/" target="_blank">The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.</a></em></p><p><em>Copyright 2013 Noam Chomsky</em></p> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 05:55:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch 1030507 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics noam chomsky society civilization environment destruction Chomsky: Elites Have Forced America into a National Psychosis to Keep Us Embroiled in Imperial Wars http://www.alternet.org/world/chomsky-elites-have-forced-america-national-psychosis-keep-us-embroiled-imperial-wars <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">And most of our intellectuals are only too happy to participate in the propaganda.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>"War is the health of the State," wrote social critic Randolph Bourne in a classic essay as America entered World War I:</p><blockquote><p>"It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. ... Other values such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them."</p></blockquote><p>And at the service of society's "significant classes" were the intelligentsia, "trained up in the pragmatic dispensation, immensely ready for the executive ordering of events, pitifully unprepared for the intellectual interpretation or the idealistic focusing of ends."</p><p>They are "lined up in service of the war-technique. There seems to have been a peculiar congeniality between the war and these men. It is as if the war and they had been waiting for each other."</p><p>The role of the technical intelligentsia in decision-making is predominant in those parts of the economy that are "in the service of the war technique" and closely linked to the government, which underwrites their security and growth.</p><p>It is little wonder, then, that the technical intelligentsia is, typically, committed to what sociologist Barrington Moore in 1968 called "the predatory solution of token reform at home and counterrevolutionary imperialism abroad."</p><p>Moore offers the following summary of the "predominant voice of America at home and abroad" - an ideology that expresses the needs of the American socioeconomic elite, that is propounded with various gradations of subtlety by many American intellectuals, and that gains substantial adherence on the part of the majority that has obtained "some share in the affluent society":</p><blockquote><p>"You may protest in words as much as you like. There is but one condition attached to the freedom we would very much like to encourage: Your protests may be as loud as possible as long as they remain ineffective. ... Any attempt by you to remove your oppressors by force is a threat to civilized society and the democratic process. ... As you resort to force, we will, if need be, wipe you from the face of the earth by the measured response that rains down flame from the skies."</p></blockquote><p>A society in which this is the predominant voice can be maintained only through some form of national mobilization, which may range in its extent from, at the minimum, a commitment of substantial resources to a credible threat of force and violence.</p><p>Given the realities of international politics, this commitment can be maintained in the United States only by a form of national psychosis - a war against an enemy who appears in many guises: Kremlin bureaucrat, Asian peasant, Latin American student, and, no doubt, "urban guerrilla" at home.</p><p>The intellectual has, traditionally, been caught between the conflicting demands of truth and power. He would like to see himself as the man who seeks to discern the truth, to tell the truth as he sees it, to act - collectively where he can, alone where he must - to oppose injustice and oppression, to help bring a better social order into being.</p><p>If he chooses this path, he can expect to be a lonely creature, disregarded or reviled. If, on the other hand, he brings his talents to the service of power, he can achieve prestige and affluence.</p><p>He may also succeed in persuading himself - perhaps, on occasion, with justice - that he can humanize the exercise of power by the "significant classes." He may hope to join with them or even replace them in the role of social management, in the ultimate interest of efficiency and freedom.</p><p>The intellectual who aspires to this role may use the rhetoric of revolutionary socialism or of welfare-state social engineering in pursuit of his vision of a "meritocracy" in which knowledge and technical ability confer power.</p><p>He may represent himself as part of a "revolutionary vanguard" leading the way to a new society or as a technical expert applying "piecemeal technology" to the management of a society that can meet its problems without fundamental changes.</p><p>For some, the choice may depend on little more than an assessment of the relative strength of competing social forces. It comes as no surprise, then, that quite commonly the roles shift; the student radical becomes the counterinsurgency expert.</p><p>His claims must, in either case, be viewed with suspicion: He is propounding the self-serving ideology of a "meritocratic elite" that, in Karl Marx's phrase (applied, in this case, to the petty bourgeoisie), defines "the special conditions of its emancipation [as] the general conditions through which alone modern society can be saved."</p><p>The role of intellectuals and radical activists, then, must be to assess and evaluate, to attempt to persuade, to organize, but not to seize power and rule. In 1904, Rosa Luxemburg wrote, "Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee."</p><p>These remarks are a useful guide for the radical intellectual. They also provide a refreshing antidote to the dogmatism so typical of discourse on the left, with its arid certainties and religious fervor regarding matters that are barely understood - the self-destructive left-wing counterpart to the smug superficiality of the defenders of the status quo who can perceive their own ideological commitments no more than a fish can perceive that it swims in the sea.</p><p>It has always been taken for granted by radical thinkers, and quite rightly so, that effective political action that threatens entrenched social interests will lead to "confrontation" and repression. It is, correspondingly, a sign of intellectual bankruptcy for the left to seek to construct "confrontations"; it is a clear indication that the efforts to organize significant social action have failed.</p><p>Particularly objectionable is the idea of designing confrontations so as to manipulate the unwitting participants into accepting a point of view that does not grow out of meaningful experience, out of real understanding. This is not only a testimony to political irrelevance, but also, precisely because it is manipulative and coercive, a proper tactic only for a movement that aims to maintain an elitist, authoritarian form of organization.</p><p>The opportunities for intellectuals to take part in a genuine movement for social change are many and varied, and I think that certain general principles are clear. Intellectuals must be willing to face facts and refrain from erecting convenient fantasies.</p><p>They must be willing to undertake the hard and serious intellectual work that is required for a real contribution to understanding. They must avoid the temptation to join a repressive elite and must help create the mass politics that will counteract - and ultimately control and replace - the strong tendencies toward centralization and authoritarianism that are deeply rooted but not inescapable.</p><p>They must be prepared to face repression and to act in defense of the values they profess. In an advanced industrial society, many possibilities exist for active popular participation in the control of major institutions and the reconstruction of social life.</p><p>To some extent, we can create the future rather than merely observing the flow of events. Given the stakes, it would be criminal to let real opportunities pass unexplored.</p><p><em>This article is adapted from the essay, "Knowledge and Power: Intellectuals and the Welfare-Warfare State," which appeared in the 1970 book The New Left, edited by Priscilla Long. The essay is reprinted in Masters of Mankind: Essays and Lectures, 1969-2013 by Noam Chomsky.</em></p><p><em>© 2014 Noam Chomsky<br />Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate</em></p> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:21:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1028017 at http://www.alternet.org World Visions World chomsky Chomsky: How the Young Are Indoctrinated to Obey http://www.alternet.org/education/chomsky-how-young-are-indoctrinated-obey <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience. Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_153421007-edited.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere.</p><p>California is also a battleground. <em>The Los Angeles Times</em> reports on another chapter in the campaign to destroy what had been the greatest public higher education system in the world: "California State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment at most campuses."</p><p>Similar defunding is under way nationwide. "In most states," The New York Times reports, "it is now tuition payments, not state appropriations, that cover most of the budget," so that "the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the state, may be over."</p><p>Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.</p><p>"There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it's the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill," concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.</p><p>A more accurate description, I think, is "Failure by Design," the title of a study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the state of the economy.</p><p>The EPI study reviews the consequences of the transformation of the economy a generation ago from domestic production to financialization and offshoring. By design; there have always been alternatives.</p><p>One primary justification for the design is what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz called the "religion" that "markets lead to efficient outcomes," which was recently dealt yet another crushing blow by the collapse of the housing bubble that was ignored on doctrinal grounds, triggering the current financial crisis.</p><p>Claims are also made about the alleged benefits of the radical expansion of financial institutions since the 1970s. A more convincing description was provided by Martin Wolf, senior economic correspondent for <em>The Financial Times</em>: "An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid."</p><p>The EPI study observes that the "Failure of Design" is class-based. For the designers, it has been a stunning success, as revealed by the astonishing concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent, in fact the top 0.1 percent, while the majority has been reduced to virtual stagnation or decline.</p><p>In short, when they have the opportunity, "the Masters of Mankind" pursue their "vile maxim" all for ourselves and nothing for other people," as Adam Smith explained long ago.</p><p>Mass public education is one of the great achievements of American society. It has had many dimensions. One purpose was to prepare independent farmers for life as wage laborers who would tolerate what they regarded as virtual slavery.</p><p>The coercive element did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders call for popular education because they fear that "This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats." But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and train them for obedience.</p><p>The "vile maxim" and its implementation have regularly called forth resistance, which in turn evokes the same fears among the elite. Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience.</p><p>At the liberal internationalist extreme, the Trilateral Commission – the nongovernmental policy group from which the Carter Administration was largely drawn – issued stern warnings in 1975 that there is too much democracy, in part due to the failures of the institutions responsible for "the indoctrination of the young." On the right, an important 1971 memorandum by Lewis Powell, directed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, wailed that radicals were taking over everything – universities, media, government, etc. – and called on the business community to use its economic power to reverse the attack on our prized way of life – which he knew well. As a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, he was quite familiar with the workings of the nanny state for the rich that he called "the free market."</p><p>Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline. One is the crusade for privatization – placing control in reliable hands.</p><p>Another is sharp increases in tuition, up nearly 600 percent since 1980. These produce a higher education system with "far more economic stratification than is true of any other country," according to Jane Wellman, former director of the Delta Cost Project, which monitors these issues. Tuition increases trap students into long-term debt and hence subordination to private power.</p><p>Justifications are offered on economic grounds, but are singularly unconvincing. In countries rich to poor, including Mexico next-door, tuition remains free or nominal. That was true as well in the United States itself when it was a much poorer country after World War II and huge numbers of students were able to enter college under the GI bill – a factor in uniquely high economic growth, even putting aside the significance in improving lives.</p><p>Another device is the corporatization of the universities. That has led to a dramatic increase in layers of administration, often professional instead of drawn from the faculty as before; and to imposition of a business culture of "efficiency" – an ideological notion, not just an economic one.</p><p>One illustration is the decision of state colleges to eliminate programs in nursing, engineering and computer science, because they are costly – and happen to be the professions where there is a labor shortage, as <em>The New York Times</em> reports. The decision harms the society but conforms to the business ideology of short-term gain without regard for human consequences, in accord with the vile maxim.</p><p>Some of the most insidious effects are on teaching and monitoring. The Enlightenment ideal of education was captured in the image of education as laying down a string that students follow in their own ways, developing their creativity and independence of mind.</p><p>The alternative, to be rejected, is the image of pouring water into a vessel – and a very leaky one, as all of us know from experience. The latter approach includes teaching to test and other mechanisms that destroy students' interest and seek to fit them into a mold, easily controlled. All too familiar today.</p><p>© 2012 Noam Chomsky</p><p>Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate</p> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 08:13:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1027924 at http://www.alternet.org Education Education capitalism education chomsky market noam chomsky Noam Chomsky: America, the World's Leading #1 Terrorist State http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-america-worlds-leading-1-terrorist-state <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">U.S. covert operations routinely resemble acts of terrorism. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky_2_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>"It's official: The U.S. is the world's leading terrorist state, and proud of it."</p><p>That should have been the headline for the lead story in The New York Times on Oct. 15, which was more politely titled "CIA Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels."</p><p>The article reports on a CIA review of recent U.S. covert operations to determine their effectiveness. The White House concluded that unfortunately successes were so rare that some rethinking of the policy was in order.</p><p>The article quoted President Barack Obama as saying that he had asked the CIA to conduct the review to find cases of "financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn't come up with much." So Obama has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.</p><p>The first paragraph of the Times article cites three major examples of "covert aid": Angola, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, each case was a major terrorist operation conducted by the U.S.</p><p>Angola was invaded by South Africa, which, according to Washington, was defending itself from one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups" - Nelson Mandela's African National Congress. That was 1988.</p><p>By then the Reagan administration was virtually alone in its support for the apartheid regime, even violating congressional sanctions to increase trade with its South African ally.</p><p>Meanwhile Washington joined South Africa in providing crucial support for Jonas Savimbi's terrorist Unita army in Angola. Washington continued to do so even after Savimbi had been roundly defeated in a carefully monitored free election, and South Africa had withdrawn its support. Savimbi was a "monster whose lust for power had brought appalling misery to his people," in the words of Marrack Goulding, British ambassador to Angola.</p><p>The consequences were horrendous. A 1989 U.N. inquiry estimated that South African depredations led to 1.5 million deaths in neighboring countries, let alone what was happening within South Africa itself. Cuban forces finally beat back the South African aggressors and compelled them to withdraw from illegally occupied Namibia. The U.S. alone continued to support the monster Savimbi.</p><p>In Cuba, after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched a murderous and destructive campaign to bring "the terrors of the earth" to Cuba - the words of Kennedy's close associate, the historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his semiofficial biography of Robert Kennedy, who was assigned responsibility for the terrorist war.</p><p>The atrocities against Cuba were severe. The plans were for the terrorism to culminate in an uprising in October 1962, which would lead to a U.S. invasion. By now, scholarship recognizes that this was one reason why Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev placed missiles in Cuba, initiating a crisis that came perilously close to nuclear war. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later conceded that if he had been a Cuban leader, he "might have expected a U.S. invasion."</p><p>American terrorist attacks against Cuba continued for more than 30 years. The cost to Cubans was of course harsh. The accounts of the victims, hardly ever heard in the U.S., were reported in detail for the first time in a study by Canadian scholar Keith Bolender, "Voices From the Other Side: an Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba," in 2010.</p><p>The toll of the long terrorist war was amplified by a crushing embargo, which continues even today in defiance of the world. On Oct. 28, the U.N., for the 23rd time, endorsed "the necessity of ending the economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba." The vote was 188 to 2 (U.S., Israel), with three U.S. Pacific Island dependencies abstaining.</p><p>There is by now some opposition to the embargo in high places in the U.S., reports ABC News, because "it is no longer useful" (citing Hillary Clinton's new book "Hard Choices"). French scholar Salim Lamrani reviews the bitter costs to Cubans in his 2013 book "The Economic War Against Cuba."</p><p>Nicaragua need hardly be mentioned. President Ronald Reagan's terrorist war was condemned by the World Court, which ordered the U.S. to terminate its "unlawful use of force" and to pay substantial reparations.</p><p>Washington responded by escalating the war and vetoing a 1986 U.N. Security Council resolution calling on all states - meaning the U.S. - to observe international law.</p><p>Another example of terrorism will be commemorated on Nov. 16, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of six Jesuit priests in San Salvador by a terrorist unit of the Salvadoran army, armed and trained by the U.S. On the orders of the military high command, the soldiers broke into the Jesuit university to murder the priests and any witnesses - including their housekeeper and her daughter.</p><p>This event culminated the U.S. terrorist wars in Central America in the 1980s, though the effects are still on the front pages today in the reports of "illegal immigrants," fleeing in no small measure from the consequences of that carnage, and being deported from the U.S. to survive, if they can, in the ruins of their home countries.</p><p>Washington has also emerged as the world champion in generating terror. Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar warns of the "resentment-generating impact of the U.S. strikes" in Syria, which may further induce the jihadi organizations Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State toward "repairing their breach from last year and campaigning in tandem against the U.S. intervention by portraying it as a war against Islam."</p><p>That is by now a familiar consequence of U.S. operations that have helped to spread jihadism from a corner of Afghanistan to a large part of the world.</p><p>Jihadism's most fearsome current manifestation is the Islamic State, or ISIS, which has established its murderous caliphate in large areas of Iraq and Syria.</p><p>"I think the United States is one of the key creators of this organization," reports former CIA analyst Graham Fuller, a prominent commentator on the region. "The United States did not plan the formation of ISIS," he adds, "but its destructive interventions in the Middle East and the War in Iraq were the basic causes of the birth of ISIS."</p><p>To this we may add the world's greatest terrorist campaign: Obama's global project of assassination of "terrorists." The "resentment-generating impact" of those drone and special-forces strikes should be too well known to require further comment.</p><p>This is a record to be contemplated with some awe.</p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 08:25:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1025705 at http://www.alternet.org noam chomsky cia covert operations aid terrorism Chomsky: A World in Crisis, from Isil to Ukraine http://www.alternet.org/world/chomsky-world-crisis-isil-ukraine <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A Q&amp;A with Noam Chomsky. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_125767211_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Plymouth Institute for Peace Research (PIPR): This year commemorates the centenary of the so-called Great War. What are your reflections?</p><p>Noam Chomsky (NC): There is much debate about assignment of responsibility/blame for the outbreak of this horrendous conflict, along with general agreement about one point: There was a high level of accident and contingency; decisions could easily have been different, avoiding catastrophe. There are ominous parallels to nuclear catastrophe.</p><p>An investigation of the history of near-confrontations with nuclear weapons reveals how close the world has come to virtual self-annihilation, numerous times, so much so that escape has been a near miracle, one unlikely to be perpetuated for too long. The record underscores the warning of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in 1955 that we face a choice that is "stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?"</p><p>A second no less chilling observation is the alacrity of the rush to war on all sides, in particular the instant dedication of intellectuals to the cause of their own states, with a small fringe of notable exceptions, almost all of whom were punished for their sanity and integrity -- a microcosm of the history of the cultivated and educated sectors of society, and the mass hysteria that they often articulate.</p><p>PIPR: The commemorations began around the same time as Operation Protective Edge. It is a tragic irony that Gaza is home to WWI memorial graves. What were the real -- as opposed to rhetorical reasons -- for Israel's latest assault on Gaza?</p><p>NC: It is critically important to recognize that a pattern was established almost a decade ago and has been followed regularly since: A ceasefire agreement is reached, Israel makes it clear that it will not observe it and continues its assault on Gaza (and illegal takeover of what it wants elsewhere in the occupied territories), while Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, until some Israeli escalation elicits a Hamas response, offering Israel a pretext for another episode of "mowing the lawn" (in Israel's elegant parlance). I have reviewed the record elsewhere; it is unusually clear for historical events. The same pattern holds for Operation Protective Edge. Another of the series of ceasefires had been reached in November 2012. Israel ignored it as usual, Hamas observed it nevertheless. In April 2014, Gaza-based Hamas and the Palestine Authority in the West Bank established a unity government, which at once adopted all of the demands of the Quartet (the US, EU, UN, Russia) and included no Hamas members. Israel was infuriated, and launched a brutal operation in the West Bank, extending to Gaza, targeting mainly Hamas. As always there was a pretext, but it quickly dissolves on inspection. Finally killings in Gaza elicited a Hamas response, followed by Protective Edge. The reasons for Israel's fury are not obscure. For 20 years, Israel has sought to separate Gaza from the West Bank, with full US support and in strict violation of the Oslo Accords that both had signed, which declare the two to be a single indivisible territorial entity. A look at the map explains the reasons. Gaza offers the only access for Palestine to the outside world; without free access to Gaza, any autonomy that might be granted to some fragmented Palestinian entity in the West Bank will be effectively imprisoned.</p><p>PIPR: The Governments of Israel, Britain, and the US are surely thrilled with the appearance of ISIS; a new 'threat' providing them with new excuses for war and internal repression. What are your thoughts about ISIS and the latest bombing of Iraq?</p><p>NC: Reporting is limited, so what we can conclude is necessarily a construction from scattered evidence. To me it looks like this: ISIS is a real monstrosity, one of the many horrifying consequences of the US sledgehammer, which among other crimes, incited sectarian conflicts that may by now have destroyed Iraq finally and are tearing the region to shreds. The almost instantaneous defeat of the Iraqi army was quite an astonishing event. This was an army of 350,000 men, heavily armed, trained by the US for over a decade. The Iraqi army had fought a long and bitter war against Iran through the 1980s. As soon as it was confronted by a few thousand lightly armed militants, the commanding officers fled and the demoralized troops either fled with them or deserted or were massacred. By now ISIS controls almost all of Anbar province and is not far from Baghdad. With the Iraqi army virtually gone, the fighting in Iraq is in the hands of Shiite militias organized by the sectarian government, which are carrying out crimes against Sunnis that mirror those of ISIS. With crucial assistance from the military wing of the Turkish Kurds, the PKK, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga has apparently held off ISIS. It seems that the PKK are also the most significant force that rescued the Yazidi from extermination and are holding off ISIS in Syria, including the crucial defense of Kobane. Meanwhile Turkey has escalated its attacks against the PKK, with US tolerance if not support. It appears that Turkey is satisfied to watch its enemies -- ISIS and the Kurds -- killing one another within eyesight of the border, with awful consequences likely if the Kurds cannot withstand the ISIS assault on Kobane and beyond.</p><p>Another major opponent of ISIS, Iran, is excluded from the US "coalition" for policy and ideological reasons, as of course is their ally Assad. The US-led coalition includes a few of the Arab oil dictatorships that are themselves supporting competing jihadi groups. The major one, Saudi Arabia, has long been the major source of funding for ISIS as well as providing its ideological roots—no small matter. ISIS is an extremist offshoot of Saudi Wahabi/Salafi doctrines, themselves an extremist version of Islam; and a missionary version, using huge Saudi oil resources to spread their teachings throughout much of the Muslim world. The US, like Britain before it, has tended to support radical fundamentalist Islam in opposition to secular nationalism, and Saudi Arabia has been a primary US ally since the family dictatorship was consolidated and vast oil resources were discovered there.</p><p>The best informed journalist and analyst of the region right now, Patrick Cockburn, describes US strategy, such as it is, as an Alice-in-Wonderland construction, opposing both ISIS and its main enemies, and loosely incorporating dubious Arab allies with limited European support. An alternative would be to adhere to domestic and international law: appealing to the UN Security Council and then following its lead, and seeking political and diplomatic avenues to escape from the morass or at least mitigate its horrors. But that is almost unthinkable in US political culture.</p><p>PIPR: As military operations in Iraq grow, NATO further destabilizes Ukraine. What are your thoughts about the US-Russia proxy conflict and its potential for nuclear war?</p><p>NC: It is an extremely dangerous development, which has been brewing ever since Washington violated its verbal promises to Gorbachev and began expanding NATO to the East, right to Russia's borders, and threatening to incorporate Ukraine, which is of great strategic significance to Russia and of course has close historical and cultural links. There is a sensible analysis of the situation in the leading establishment journal, Foreign Affairs, by international relations specialist John Mearsheimer, entitled "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault." The Russian autocracy is far from blameless, but we are now back to earlier comments: we have come perilously close to disaster before, and are toying with catastrophe again. It is not that possible peaceful solutions are lacking.</p><p>One final thought, about a dark and menacing cloud that looms over everything we discuss: like the proverbial lemmings, we are marching resolutely towards an environmental crisis that may well displace other concerns, in the not too distant future.</p> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 12:15:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky&#039;s Official Site 1025541 at http://www.alternet.org World World noam chomsky World War I Isis ukraine gaza war peace Noam Chomsky: The Dimming Prospects for Human Survival http://www.alternet.org/visions/noam-chomsky-dimming-prospects-human-survival-0 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">From nuclear war to the destruction of the environment, humanity is steering the wrong course. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_125767211.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><a href="http://www.alternet.org/chomsky-staggering-differences-between-how-people-and-powerful-define-security">A previous article I wrote explored</a> how security is a high priority for government planners: security, that is, for state power and its primary constituency, concentrated private power - all of which entails that official policy must be protected from public scrutiny.</p><p>In these terms, government actions fall in place as quite rational, including the rationality of collective suicide. Even instant destruction by nuclear weapons has never ranked high among the concerns of state authorities.</p><p>To cite an example from the late Cold War: In November 1983 the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization launched a military exercise designed to probe Russian air defenses, simulating air and naval attacks and even a nuclear alert.</p><p>These actions were undertaken at a very tense moment. Pershing II strategic missiles were being deployed in Europe. President Reagan, fresh from the "Evil Empire" speech, had announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, dubbed "Star Wars," which the Russians understood to be effectively a first-strike weapon - a standard interpretation of missile defense on all sides.</p><p>Naturally these actions caused great alarm in Russia, which, unlike the U.S., was quite vulnerable and had repeatedly been invaded.</p><p>Newly released archives reveal that the danger was even more severe than historians had previously assumed. The NATO exercise "almost became a prelude to a preventative (Russian) nuclear strike," according to an account last year by Dmitry Adamsky in the Journal of Strategic Studies .</p><p>Nor was this the only close call. In September 1983, Russia's early-warning systems registered an incoming missile strike from the United States and sent the highest-level alert. The Soviet military protocol was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own.</p><p>The Soviet officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, intuiting a false alarm, decided not to report the warnings to his superiors. Thanks to his dereliction of duty, we're alive to talk about the incident.</p><p>Security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan planners than for their predecessors. Such heedlessness continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic accidents, reviewed in a chilling new book, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," by Eric Schlosser.</p><p>It's hard to contest the conclusion of the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, Gen . Lee Butler, that humanity has so far survived the nuclear age "by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion."</p><p>The government's regular, easy acceptance of threats to survival is almost too extraordinary to capture in words.</p><p>In 1995, well after the Soviet Union had collapsed, the U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, which is in charge of nuclear weapons, published a study, "Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence."</p><p>A central conclusion is that the U.S. must maintain the right of a nuclear first strike, even against non-nuclear states. Furthermore, nuclear weapons must always be available, because they "cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict."</p><p>Thus nuclear weapons are always used, just as you use a gun if you aim it but don't fire when robbing a store - a point that Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, has repeatedly stressed.</p><p>Stratcom goes on to advise that "planners should not be too rational about determining ... what an adversary values," all of which must be targeted. "[I]t hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed. That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries."</p><p>It is "beneficial [for ...our strategic posture] that some elements may appear to be potentially'out of control'" - and thus posing a constant threat of nuclear attack.</p><p>Not much in this document pertains to the obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to make "good faith" efforts to eliminate the nuclear-weapon scourge from the earth. What resounds, rather, is an adaptation of Hilaire Belloc's famous 1898 couplet about the Maxim gun: "Whatever happens we have got,/The Atom Bomb and they have not."</p><p>Plans for the future are hardly promising. In December the Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. nuclear arsenal will cost $355 billion over the next decade. In January the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimated that the U.S. would spend $1 trillion on the nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years.</p><p>And of course the United States is not alone in the arms race. As Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far. The longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle.</p><p>In the case of nuclear weapons, at least we know in principle how to overcome the threat of apocalypse: Eliminate them.</p><p>But another dire peril casts its shadow over any contemplation of the future - environmental disaster. It's not clear that there even is an escape, though the longer we delay, the more severe the threat becomes - and not in the distant future. The commitment of governments to the security of their populations is therefore clearly exhibited by how they address this issue.</p><p>Today the United States is crowing about "100 years of energy independence" as the country becomes "the Saudi Arabia of the next century" - very likely the final century of human civilization if current policies persist.</p><p>One might even take a speech of President Obama's two years ago in the oil town of Cushing, Okla., to be an eloquent death-knell for the species.</p><p>He proclaimed with pride, to ample applause, that "Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We've quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some."</p><p>The applause also reveals something about government commitment to security. Industry profits are sure to be secured as "producing more oil and gas here at home" will continue to be "a critical part" of energy strategy, as the president promised.</p><p>The corporate sector is carrying out major propaganda campaigns to convince the public that climate change, if happening at all, does not result from human activity. These efforts are aimed at overcoming the excessive rationality of the public, which continues to be concerned about the threats that scientists overwhelmingly regard as near-certain and ominous.</p><p>To put it bluntly, in the moral calculus of today's capitalism, a bigger bonus tomorrow outweighs the fate of one's grandchildren.</p><p>What are the prospects for survival then? They are not bright. But the achievements of those who have struggled for centuries for greater freedom and justice leave a legacy that can be taken up and carried forward - and must be, and soon, if hopes for decent survival are to be sustained. And nothing can tell us more eloquently what kind of creatures we are.</p><p><em>This is Part II of an article adapted from a lecture by Noam Chomsky on Feb. 28, sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif. <a href="http://www.alternet.org/chomsky-staggering-differences-between-how-people-and-powerful-define-security">Read Part 1 here</a>.</em></p><p>© 2014 Noam Chomsky -- Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate</p> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 05:36:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1024004 at http://www.alternet.org Visions Visions World noam chomsky nuclear war global warming human survival Chomsky: Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America http://www.alternet.org/economy/chomsky-business-elites-are-waging-brutal-class-war-america-0 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The business classes are constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5598988355_ac3c6afb04_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>This is an excerpt from the 2nd edition of Noam Chomsky’s</em> <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Occupy-Reflections-Rebellion-Repression-Occupied/dp/1884519253/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1382457829&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=Chomsky+class+war">OCCUPY: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity</a>, <em>edited by Greg Ruggiero and published by </em><em><a href="http://www.zuccottiparkpress.com/">Zuccotti Park Press.</a> Chris Steele interviews Chomsky.</em></p><p><strong>Journalist Matt Taibbi has suggested that the government is afraid to prosecute powerful bankers, referring to “an arrestable class and an unarrestable class.” What is your view on the current state of class war in the U.S.?</strong></p><p>Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.</p><p>We don’t use the term “working class” here because it’s a taboo term. You’re supposed to say “middle class,” because it helps diminish the understanding that there’s a class war going on.</p><p>It’s true that there was a one-sided class war, and that’s because the other side hadn’t chosen to participate, so the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers—would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn’t engage the general class structure. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Canada has a national health program and the United States doesn’t. The same unions on the other side of the border were calling for health care for everybody. Here they were calling for health care for themselves and they got it. Of course, it’s a compact with corporations that the corporations can break anytime they want, and by the 1970s they were planning to break it and we’ve seen what has happened since.</p><p>This is just one part of a long and continuing class war against working people and the poor. It’s a war that is conducted by a highly class-conscious business leadership, and it’s one of the reasons for the unusual history of the U.S. labor movement. In the U.S., organized labor has been repeatedly and extensively crushed, and has endured a very violent history as compared with other countries.</p><p>In the late 19th century there was a major union organization, Knights of Labor, and also a radical populist movement based on farmers. It’s hard to believe, but it was based in Texas, and it was quite radical. They wanted their own banks, their own cooperatives, their own control over sales and commerce. It became a huge movement that spread over major farming areas.</p><p>The Farmers’ Alliance did try to link up with the Knights of Labor, which would have been a major class-based organization if it had succeeded. But the Knights of Labor were crushed by violence, and the Farmers’ Alliance was dismantled in other ways. As a result, one of the major popular democratic forces in American history was essentially dismantled. There are a lot of reasons for it, one of which was that the Civil War has never really ended. One effect of the Civil War was that the political parties that came out of it were sectarian parties, so the slogan was, “You vote where you shoot,” and that remains the case.</p><p>Take a look at the red states and the blue states in the last election: It’s the Civil War. They’ve changed party labels, but other than that, it’s the same: sectarian parties that are not class-based because divisions are along different lines. There are a lot of reasons for it.</p><p>The enormous benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries. CEOs are no more productive or brilliant here than they are in Europe, but the pay, bonuses, and enormous power they get here are out of sight. They’re probably a drain on the economy, and they become even more powerful when they are able to gain control of policy decisions.</p><p>That’s why we have a sequester over the deficit and not over jobs, which is what really matters to the population. But it doesn’t matter to the banks, so the heck with it. It also illustrates the consider- able shredding of the whole system of democracy. So, by now, they rank people by income level or wages roughly the same: The bottom 70 percent or so are virtually disenfranchised; they have almost no influence on policy, and as you move up the scale you get more influence. At the very top, you basically run the show.</p><p>A good topic to research, if possible, would be “why people don’t vote.” Nonvoting is very high, roughly 50 percent, even in presidential elections—much higher in others. The attitudes of people who don’t vote are studied. First of all, they mostly identify themselves as Democrats. And if you look at their attitudes, they are mostly Social Democratic. They want jobs, they want benefits, they want the government to be involved in social services and so on, but they don’t vote, partly, I suppose, because of the impediments to voting. It’s not a big secret. Republicans try really hard to prevent people from voting, because the more that people vote, the more trouble they are in. There are other reasons why people don’t vote. I suspect, but don’t know how to prove, that part of the reason people don’t vote is they just know their votes don’t make any difference, so why make the effort? So you end up with a kind of plutocracy in which the public opinion doesn’t matter much. It is not unlike other countries in this respect, but more extreme. All along, it’s more extreme. So yes, there is a constant class war going on.</p><p>The case of labor is crucial, because it is the base of organization of any popular opposition to the rule of capital, and so it has to be dismantled. There’s a tax on labor all the time. During the 1920s, the labor movement was virtually smashed by Wilson’s Red Scare and other things. In the 1930s, it reconstituted and was the driving force of the New Deal, with the CIO organizing and so on. By the late 1930s, the business classes were organizing to try to react to this. They began, but couldn’t do much during the war, because things were on hold, but immediately after the war it picked up with the Taft-Hartley Act and huge propaganda campaigns, which had massive effect. Over the years, the effort to undermine the unions and labor generally succeeded. By now, private-sector unionization is very low, partly because, since Reagan, government has pretty much told employers, “You know you can violate the laws, and we’re not going to do anything about it.” Under Clinton, NAFTA offered a method for employers to illegally undermine labor organizing by threatening to move enterprises to Mexico. A number of illegal operations by employers shot up at that time. What’s left are private-sector unions, and they’re under bipartisan attack.</p><p>They’ve been protected somewhat because the federal laws did function for the public-sector unions, but now they’re under bipartisan attack. When Obama declares a pay freeze for federal workers, that’s actually a tax on federal workers. It comes to the same thing, and, of course, this is right at the time we say that we can’t raise taxes on the very rich. Take the last tax agreement where the Republicans claimed, “We already gave up tax increases.” Take a look at what happened. Raising the payroll tax, which is a tax on working people, is much more of a tax increase than raising taxes on the super-rich, but that passed quietly because we don’t look at those things.</p><p>The same is happening across the board. There are major efforts being made to dismantle Social Security, the public schools, the post office—anything that benefits the population has to be dismantled. Efforts against the U.S. Postal Service are particularly surreal. I’m old enough to remember the Great Depression, a time when the country was quite poor but there were still postal deliveries. Today, post offices, Social Security, and public schools all have to be dismantled because they are seen as being based on a principle that is regarded as extremely dangerous.</p><p>If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.</p><p>That’s why unions had the slogan, “solidarity,” even though they may not have lived up to it. And that’s what really counts: solidarity, mutual aid, care for one another and so on. And it’s really important for power systems to undermine that ideologically, so huge efforts go into it. Even trying to stimulate consumerism is an effort to undermine it. Having a market society automatically carries with it an undermining of solidarity. For example, in the market system you have a choice: You can buy a Toyota or you can buy a Ford, but you can’t buy a subway because that’s not offered. Market systems don’t offer common goods; they offer private consumption. If you want a subway, you’re going to have to get together with other people and make a collective decision. Otherwise, it’s simply not an option within the market system, and as democracy is increasingly undermined, it’s less and less of an option within the public system. All of these things converge, and they’re all part of general class war.</p><p><strong>Can you give some insight on how the labor movement could rebuild in the United States?</strong></p><p>Well, it’s been done before. Each time labor has been attacked—and as I said, in the 1920s the labor movement was practically destroyed—popular efforts were able to reconstitute it. That can happen again. It’s not going to be easy. There are institutional barriers, ideological barriers, cultural barriers. One big problem is that the white working class has been pretty much abandoned by the political system. The Democrats don’t even try to organize them anymore. The Republicans claim to do it; they get most of the vote, but they do it on non-economic issues, on non-labor issues. They often try to mobilize them on the grounds of issues steeped in racism and sexism and so on, and here the liberal policies of the 1960s had a harmful effect because of some of the ways in which they were carried out. There are some pretty good studies of this. Take busing to integrate schools. In principle, it made some sense, if you wanted to try to overcome segregated schools. Obviously, it didn’t work. Schools are probably more segregated now for all kinds of reasons, but the way it was originally done undermined class solidarity.</p><p>For example, in Boston there was a program for integrating the schools through busing, but the way it worked was restricted to urban Boston, downtown Boston. So black kids were sent to the Irish neighborhoods and conversely, but the suburbs were left out. The suburbs are more affluent, professional and so on, so they were kind of out of it. Well, what happens when you send black kids into an Irish neighborhood? What happens when some Irish telephone linemen who have worked all their lives finally got enough money to buy small houses in a neighborhood where they want to send their kids to the local school and cheer for the local football team and have a community, and so on? All of a sudden, some of their kids are being sent out, and black kids are coming in. How do you think at least some of these guys will feel? At least some end up being racists. The suburbs are out of it, so they can cluck their tongues about how racist everyone is elsewhere, and that kind of pattern was carried out all over the country.</p><p>The same has been true of women’s rights. But when you have a working class that’s under real pressure, you know, people are going to say that rights are being undermined, that jobs are being under- mined. Maybe the one thing that the white working man can hang onto is that he runs his home? Now that that’s being taken away and nothing is being offered, he’s not part of the program of advancing women’s rights. That’s fine for college professors, but it has a different effect in working-class areas. It doesn’t have to be that way. It depends on how it’s done, and it was done in a way that simply undermined natural solidarity. There are a lot of factors that play into it, but by this point it’s going to be pretty hard to organize the working class on the grounds that should really concern them: common solidarity, common welfare.</p><p>In some ways, it shouldn’t be too hard, because these attitudes are really prized by most of the population. If you look at Tea Party members, the kind that say, “Get the government off my back, I want a small government” and so on, when their attitudes are studied, it turns out that they’re mostly social democratic. You know, people are human after all. So yes, you want more money for health, for help, for people who need it and so on and so forth, but “I don’t want the government, get that off my back” and related attitudes are tricky to overcome.</p><p>Some polls are pretty amazing. There was one conducted in the South right before the presidential elections. Just Southern whites, I think, were asked about the economic plans of the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Southern whites said they preferred Romney’s plan, but when asked about its particular components, they opposed every one. Well, that’s the effect of good propaganda: getting people not to think in terms of their own interests, let alone the interest of communities and the class they’re part of. Overcoming that takes a lot of work. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s not going to happen easily.</p><p><strong>As far as a free, democracy-centered society, self-organization seems possible on small scales. Do you think it is possible on a larger scale and with human rights and quality of life as a standard, and if so, what community have you visited that seems closest to an example to what is possible?</strong></p><p>Well, there are a lot of things that are possible. I have visited some examples that are pretty large scale, in fact, very large scale. Take Spain, which is in a huge economic crisis. But one part of Spain is doing okay—that’s the Mondragón collective. It’s a big conglomerate involving banks, industry, housing, all sorts of things. It’s worker-owned, not worker-managed, so partial industrial democracy, but it exists in a capitalist economy, so it’s doing all kinds of ugly things like exploiting foreign labor and so on. But economically and socially, it’s flourishing as compared with the rest of the society and other societies. It is very large, and that can be done anywhere. It certainly can be done here. In fact, there are tentative explorations of contacts between the Mondragón and the United Steelworkers, one of the more progressive unions, to think about developing comparable structures here, and it’s being done to an extent.</p><p>The one person who has written very well about this is Gar Alperovitz, who is involved in organizing work around enterprises in parts of the old Rust Belt, which are pretty successful and could be spread just as a cooperative could be spread. There are really no limits to it other than willingness to participate, and that is, as always, the problem. If you’re willing to adhere to the task and gauge yourself, there’s no limit.</p><p>Actually, there’s a famous sort of paradox posed by David Hume centuries ago. Hume is one of the founders of classical liberalism. He’s an important philosopher and a political philoso- pher. He said that if you take a look at societies around the world—any of them—power is in the hands of the governed, those who are being ruled. Hume asked, why don’t they use that power and overthrow the masters and take control? He says, the answer has to be that, in all societies, the most brutal, the most free, the governed can be controlled by control of opinion. If you can con trol their attitudes and beliefs and separate them from one another and so on, then they won’t rise up and overthrow you.</p><p>That does require a qualification. In the more brutal and repressive societies, controlling opinion is less important, because you can beat people with a stick. But as societies become more free, it becomes more of a problem, and we see that historically. The societies that develop the most expansive propaganda systems are also the most free societies.</p><p>The most extensive propaganda system in the world is the public relations industry, which developed in Britain and the United States. A century ago, dominant sectors recognized that enough freedom had been won by the population. They reasoned that it’s hard to control people by force, so they had to do it by turning the attitudes and opinions of the population with propaganda and other devices of separation and marginalization, and so on. Western powers have become highly skilled in this.</p><p>In the United States, the advertising and public relations industry is huge. Back in the more honest days, they called it propaganda. Now the term doesn’t sound nice, so it’s not used anymore, but it’s basically a huge propaganda system which is designed very extensively for quite specific purposes.</p><p>First of all, it has to undermine markets by trying to create irrational, uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. That’s what advertising is about, the opposite of what a market is supposed to be, and anybody who turns on a television set can see that for themselves. It has to do with monopolization and product differentiation, all sorts of things, but the point is that you have to drive the population to irrational consumption, which does separate them from one another.</p><p>As I said, consumption is individual, so it’s not done as an act of solidarity—so you don’t have ads on television saying, “Let’s get together and build a mass transportation system.” Who’s going to fund that? The other thing they need to do is undermine democracy the same way, so they run campaigns, political campaigns mostly run by PR agents. It’s very clear what they have to do. They have to create uninformed voters who will make irrational decisions, and that’s what the campaigns are about. Billions of dollars go into it, and the idea is to shred democracy, restrict markets to service the rich, and make sure the power gets concentrated, that capital gets concentrated and the people are driven to irrational and self-destructive behavior. And it is self-destructive, often dramatically so. For example, one of the first achievements of the U.S. public relations system back in the 1920s was led, incidentally, by a figure honored by Wilson, Roosevelt and Kennedy—liberal progressive Edward Bernays.</p><p>His first great success was to induce women to smoke. In the 1920s, women didn’t smoke. So here’s this big population which was not buying cigarettes, so he paid young models to march down New York City’s Fifth Avenue holding cigarettes. His message to women was, “You want to be cool like a model? You should smoke a cigarette.” How many millions of corpses did that create? I’d hate to calculate it. But it was considered an enormous success. The same is true of the murderous character of corporate propaganda with tobacco, asbestos, lead, chemicals, vinyl chloride, across the board. It is just shocking, but PR is a very honored profession, and it does control people and undermine their options of working together. And so that’s Hume’s paradox, but people don’t have to submit to it. You can see through it and struggle against it.</p> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 10:25:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Zuccotti Park Press 1022974 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy noam chomsky wealth class class war poverty rich poor economy Chomsky: Thinking Like Corporations is Harming American Universities http://www.alternet.org/education/chomsky-thinking-corporations-harming-american-universities <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There’s been a very sharp increase in the proportion of administrators to faculty and students in the last 30-40 years.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/media_noam.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>The following is an edited transcript (prepared by Robin J. Sowards) of remarks given by Noam Chomsky last month to a gathering of members and allies of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, Penn.</em></p><strong>On hiring faculty off the tenure track</strong><p>That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Walmart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line.</p><p>The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities.</p><p>The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were <a href="http://www.correntewire.com/sites/default/files/Citibank_Plutonomy_2.pdf" target="_blank">advising their investors</a> on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.</p><p>This idea is sometimes made quite overt. So when Alan Greenspan was <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/hh/1997/february/testimony.htm" target="_blank">testifying before Congress</a> in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health.</p><p>At the time, everyone regarded Greenspan’s comment as very reasonable, judging by the lack of reaction and the great acclaim he enjoyed. Well, transfer that to the universities: how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more.</p><p>That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations. And as universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is exactly what is being imposed. And we’ll see more and more of it.</p><p>That’s one aspect, but there are other aspects which are also quite familiar from private industry, namely a large increase in layers of administration and bureaucracy. If you have to control people, you have to have an administrative force that does it. So in US industry even more than elsewhere, there’s layer after layer of management — a kind of economic waste, but useful for control and domination.</p><p>And the same is true in universities. In the past thirty or forty years, there’s been a very sharp increase in the proportion of administrators to faculty and students; faculty and students levels have stayed fairly level relative to one another, but the proportion of administrators have gone way up.</p><p>There’s a very good book on it by a well-known sociologist, Benjamin Ginsberg, called <em><a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-fall-of-the-faculty-9780199782444?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;" target="_blank">The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters</a></em>, which describes in detail the business style of massive administration and levels of administration — and of course, very highly-paid administrators. This includes professional administrators like deans, for example, who used to be faculty members who took off for a couple of years to serve in an administrative capacity and then go back to the faculty; now they’re mostly professionals, who then have to hire sub-deans, and secretaries, and so on and so forth, a whole proliferation of structure that goes along with administrators. All of that is another aspect of the business model.</p><p>But using cheap and vulnerable labor is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education.</p><p>The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations. But it’s a standard feature of a business-run society to transfer costs to the people. In fact, economists tacitly cooperate in this. So, for example, suppose you find a mistake in your checking account and you call the bank to try to fix it. Well, you know what happens. You call them up, and you get a recorded message saying “We love you, here’s a menu.” Maybe the menu has what you’re looking for, maybe it doesn’t. If you happen to find the right option, you listen to some music, and every once and a while a voice comes in and says “Please stand by, we really appreciate your business,” and so on.</p><p>Finally, after some period of time, you may get a human being, who you can ask a short question to. That’s what economists call “efficiency.” By economic measures, that system reduces labor costs to the bank; of course, it imposes costs on you, and those costs are multiplied by the number of users, which can be enormous — but that’s not counted as a cost in economic calculation. And if you look over the way the society works, you find this everywhere.</p><p>So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.</p><p>In fact, if you look back farther, it goes even deeper than that. If you go back to the early 1970s when a lot of this began, there was a lot of concern pretty much across the political spectrum over the activism of the 1960s; it’s commonly called “the time of troubles.” It was a “time of troubles” because the country was getting civilized, and that’s dangerous. People were becoming politically engaged and were trying to gain rights for groups that are called “special interests,” like women, working people, farmers, the young, the old, and so on. That led to a serious backlash, which was pretty overt.</p><p>At the liberal end of the spectrum, there’s a book called <em><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crisis_of_Democracy" target="_blank">The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies</a> </em>to the Trilateral Commission, Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, Joji Watanuki , produced by the Trilateral Commission, an organization of liberal internationalists. The Carter administration was drawn almost entirely from their ranks. They were concerned with what they called “the crisis of democracy” — namely, that there’s too much democracy.</p><p>In the 1960s, there were pressures from the population, these “special interests,” to try to gain rights within the political arena, and that put too much pressure on the state. You can’t do that. There was one “special interest” that they left out, namely the corporate sector, because its interests are the “national interest”; the corporate sector is supposed to control the state, so we don’t talk about them. But the “special interests” were causing problems and they said “we have to have more moderation in democracy,” the public has to go back to being passive and apathetic.</p><p>And they were particularly concerned with schools and universities, which they said were not properly doing their job of “indoctrinating the young.” You can see from student activism (the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movements) that the young are just not being indoctrinated properly.</p><p>Well, how do you indoctrinate the young? There are a number of ways. One way is to burden them with hopelessly heavy tuition debt. Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy. They can even garnish social security if you default. That’s a disciplinary technique.</p><p>I don’t say that it was consciously introduced for the purpose, but it certainly has that effect. And it’s hard to argue that there’s any economic basis for it. Just take a look around the world: higher education is mostly free. In the countries with the highest education standards, let’s say Finland, which is at the top all the time, higher education is free. And in a rich, successful capitalist country like Germany, it’s free. In Mexico, a poor country, which has pretty decent education standards, considering the economic difficulties they face, it’s free.</p><p>In fact, look at the United States: if you go back to the 1940s and 1950s, higher education was pretty close to free. The GI Bill gave free education to vast numbers of people who would never have been able to go to college. It was very good for them and it was very good for the economy and the society; it was part of the reason for the high economic growth rate. Even in private colleges, education was pretty close to free.</p><p>Take me: I went to college in 1945 at an Ivy League university, University of Pennsylvania, and tuition was $100. That would be maybe $800 in today’s dollars. And it was very easy to get a scholarship, so you could live at home, work, and go to school and it didn’t cost you anything. Now it’s outrageous. I have grandchildren in college, who have to pay for their tuition and work and it’s almost impossible. For the students. that is a disciplinary technique.</p><p>And another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security, you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control.</p><p>And it’s very similar to what you’d expect in a factory, where factory workers have to be disciplined, to be obedient; they’re not supposed to play a role in, say, organizing production or determining how the workplace functions-that’s the job of management. This is now carried over to the universities. And I think it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has any experience in private enterprise, in industry; that’s the way they work.</p><strong>On how higher education ought to be</strong><p>First of all, we should put aside any idea that there was once a “golden age.” Things were different and in some ways better in the past, but far from perfect. The traditional universities were, for example, extremely hierarchical, with very little democratic participation in decision-making. One part of the activism of the 1960s was to try to democratize the universities, to bring in, say, student representatives to faculty committees, to bring in staff to participate.</p><p>These efforts were carried forward under student initiatives, with some degree of success. Most universities now have some degree of student participation in faculty decisions. And I think those are the kinds of things we should be moving towards: a democratic institution, in which the people involved in the institution, whoever they may be (faculty, students, staff), participate in determining the nature of the institution and how it runs; and the same should go for a factory.</p><p>These are not radical ideas, I should say. They come straight out of classical liberalism. So if you read, for example, John Stuart Mill, a major figure in the classical liberal tradition, he took it for granted that workplaces<a href="http://www.efm.bris.ac.uk/het/mill/book4/bk4ch07" target="_blank">ought to be</a> managed and controlled by the people who work in them — that’s freedom and democracy. We see the same ideas in the United States. Let’s say you go back to the Knights of Labor; one of their <a href="http://www.gompers.umd.edu/KOL%20ritual.pdf" target="_blank">stated aims</a> was “To establish co-operative institutions such as will tend to supersede the wage-system, by the introduction of a co-operative industrial system.”</p><p>Or take someone like John Dewey, a mainstream twentieth-century social philosopher, who called not only for education directed at creative independence in schools, but also worker control in industry, what he called “industrial democracy.” <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/magazine/104638/the-need-new-party" target="_blank">He says</a> that as long as the crucial institutions of the society (like production, commerce, transportation, media) are not under democratic control, then “politics [will be] the shadow cast on society by big business.”</p><p>This idea is almost elementary, it has deep roots in American history and in classical liberalism. It should be second nature to working people, and it should apply the same way to universities. There are some decisions in a university where you don’t want to have [democratic transparency because] you have to preserve student privacy, say, and there are various kinds of sensitive issues, but on much of the normal activity of the university, there is no reason why direct participation can’t be not only legitimate but helpful. In my department, for example, for forty years we’ve had student representatives helpfully participating in department meetings.</p>On “shared governance” and worker control<p>The university is probably the social institution in our society that comes closest to democratic worker control. Within a department, for example, it’s pretty normal for at least the tenured faculty to be able to determine a substantial amount of what their work is like: what they’re going to teach, when they’re going to teach, what the curriculum will be. And most of the decisions about the actual work that the faculty is doing are pretty much under tenured faculty control.</p><p>Now, of course, there is a higher level of administrators that you can’t overrule or control. The faculty can recommend somebody for tenure, let’s say, and be turned down by the deans, or the president, or even the trustees or legislators. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it can happen and it does. And that’s always a part of the background structure, which, although it always existed, was much less of a problem in the days when the administration was drawn from the faculty and in principle recallable.</p><p>Under representative systems, you have to have someone doing administrative work, but they should be recallable at some point under the authority of the people they administer. That’s less and less true. There are more and more professional administrators, layer after layer of them, with more and more positions being taken remote from the faculty controls. I mentioned before <em>The Fall of the Faculty</em> by Benjamin Ginsberg, which goes into a lot of detail as to how this works in the several universities he looks at closely: Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and a couple of others.</p><p>Meanwhile, the faculty are increasingly reduced to a category of temporary workers who are assured a precarious existence with no path to the tenure track. I have personal acquaintances who are effectively permanent lecturers; they’re not given real faculty status; they have to apply every year so that they can get appointed again. These things shouldn’t be allowed to happen.</p><p>And in the case of adjuncts, it’s been institutionalized: they’re not permitted to be a part of the decision-making apparatus, and they’re excluded from job security, which merely amplifies the problem. I think staff ought to also be integrated into decision-making, since they’re also a part of the university.</p><p>So there’s plenty to do, but I think we can easily understand why these tendencies are developing. They are all part of imposing a business model on just about every aspect of life. That’s the neoliberal ideology that most of the world has been living under for forty years. It’s very harmful to people, and there has been resistance to it. And it’s worth noticing that two parts of the world, at least, have pretty much escaped from it, namely East Asia, where they never really accepted it, and South America in the past fifteen years.</p>On the alleged need for “flexibility”<p>“Flexibility” is a term that’s very familiar to workers in industry. Part of what’s called “labor reform” is to make labor more “flexible,” make it easier to hire and fire people. That’s, again, a way to ensure maximization of profit and control. “Flexibility” is supposed to be a good thing, like “greater worker insecurity.” Putting aside industry where the same is true, in universities there’s no justification.</p><p>So take a case where there’s under-enrollment somewhere. That’s not a big problem. One of my daughters teaches at a university; she just called me the other night and told me that her teaching load is being shifted because one of the courses that was being offered was under-enrolled. Okay, the world didn’t come to an end, they just shifted around the teaching arrangements-you teach a different course, or an extra section, or something like that. People don’t have to be thrown out or be insecure because of the variation in the number of students enrolling in courses. There are all sorts of ways of adjusting for that variation.</p><p>The idea that labor should meet the conditions of “flexibility” is just another standard technique of control and domination. Why not say that administrators should be thrown out if there’s nothing for them to do that semester, or trustees-what do they have to be there for? The situation is the same with top management in industry: if labor has to be flexible, how about management? Most of them are pretty useless or even harmful anyway, so let’s get rid of them.</p><p>And you can go on like this. Just to take the news from the last couple of days, take, say, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase bank: he just got a pretty <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/24/news/companies/dimon-pay/" target="_blank">substantial raise</a>, almost double his salary, out of gratitude because he had saved the bank from criminal charges that would have sent the management to jail; he got away with only $20 billion in fines for criminal activities. Well, I can imagine that getting rid of somebody like that might be helpful to the economy. But that’s not what people are talking about when they talk about “labor reform.” It’s the working people who have to suffer, and they have to suffer by insecurity, by not knowing where tomorrow’s piece of bread is going to come from, and therefore be disciplined and obedient and not raise questions or ask for their rights.</p><p>That’s the way that tyrannical systems operate. And the business world is a tyrannical system. When it’s imposed on the universities, you find it reflects the same ideas. This shouldn’t be any secret.</p>On the purpose of education<p>These are debates that go back to the Enlightenment, when issues of higher education and mass education were really being raised, not just education for the clergy and aristocracy. And there were basically two models discussed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.</p><p>They were discussed with pretty evocative imagery. One image of education was that it should be like a vessel that is filled with, say, water. That’s what we call these days “teaching to test”: you pour water into the vessel and then the vessel returns the water. But it’s a pretty leaky vessel, as all of us who went through school experienced, since you could memorize something for an exam that you had no interest in to pass an exam and a week later you forgot what the course was about. The vessel model these days is called “no child left behind,” “teaching to test,” “race to top,” whatever the name may be, and similar things in universities. Enlightenment thinkers opposed that model.</p><p>The other model was described as laying out a string along which the student progresses in his or her own way under his or her own initiative, maybe moving the string, maybe deciding to go somewhere else, maybe raising questions. Laying out the string means imposing some degree of structure. So an educational program, whatever it may be, a course on physics or something, isn’t going to be just anything goes; it has a certain structure.</p><p>But the goal of it is for the student to acquire the capacity to inquire, to create, to innovate, to challenge-that’s education. One world-famous physicist, in his freshman courses if he was asked “what are we going to cover this semester?” his answer was “it doesn’t matter what we cover, it matters what you discover.” You have gain the capacity and the self-confidence for that matter to challenge and create and innovate, and that way you learn; that way you’ve internalized the material and you can go on. It’s not a matter of accumulating some fixed array of facts which then you can write down on a test and forget about tomorrow.</p><p>These are two quite distinct models of education. The Enlightenment ideal was the second one, and I think that’s the one that we ought to be striving towards. That’s what real education is, from kindergarten to graduate school. In fact there are programs of that kind for kindergarten, pretty good ones.</p>On the love of teaching<p>We certainly want people, both faculty and students, to be engaged in activity that’s satisfying, enjoyable, challenging, exciting-and I don’t really think that’s hard. Even young children are creative, inquisitive, they want to know things, they want to understand things, and unless that’s beaten out of your head it stays with you the rest of your life. If you have opportunities to pursue those commitments and concerns, it’s one of the most satisfying things in life.</p><p>That’s true if you’re a research physicist, it’s true if you’re a carpenter; you’re trying to create something of value and deal with a difficult problem and solve it. I think that’s what makes work the kind of thing you want to do; you do it even if you don’t have to do it. In a reasonably functioning university, you find people working all the time because they love it; that’s what they want to do; they’re given the opportunity, they have the resources, they’re encouraged to be free and independent and creative-what’s better? That’s what they love to do. And that, again, can be done at any level.</p><p>It’s worth thinking about some of the imaginative and creative educational programs that are being developed at different levels. So, for example, somebody just described to me the other day a program they’re using in high schools, a science program where the students are asked an interesting question: “How can a mosquito fly in the rain?”</p><p>That’s a hard question when you think about it. If something hit a human being with the force of a raindrop hitting a mosquito it would absolutely flatten them immediately. So how come the mosquito isn’t crushed instantly? And how can the mosquito keep flying? If you pursue that question — and it’s a pretty hard question — you get into questions of mathematics, physics, and biology, questions that are challenging enough that you want to find an answer to them.</p><p>That’s what education should be like at every level, all the way down to kindergarten, literally. There are kindergarten programs in which, say, each child is given a collection of little items: pebbles, shells, seeds, and things like that. Then the class is given the task of finding out which ones are the seeds. It begins with what they call a “scientific conference”: the kids talk to each other and they try to figure out which ones are seeds. And of course, there’s some teacher guidance, but the idea is to have the children think it through.</p><p>After a while, they try various experiments and they figure out which ones are the seeds. At that point, each child is given a magnifying glass and, with the teacher’s help, cracks a seed and looks inside and finds the embryo that makes the seed grow. These children learn something-really, not only something about seeds and what makes things grow; but also about how to discover. They’re learning the joy of discovery and creation, and that’s what carries you on independently, outside the classroom, outside the course.</p><p>The same goes for all education up through graduate school. In a reasonable graduate seminar, you don’t expect students to copy it down and repeat whatever you say; you expect them to tell you when you’re wrong or to come up with new ideas, to challenge, to pursue some direction that hadn’t been thought of before. That’s what real education is at every level, and that’s what ought to be encouraged. That ought to be the purpose of education. It’s not to pour information into somebody’s head which will then leak out but to enable them to become creative, independent people who can find excitement in discovery and creation and creativity at whatever level or in whatever domain their interests carry them.</p>Advice for adjunct faculty organizing unions<p>You know better than I do what has to be done, the kind of problems you face. Just go ahead and do what has to be done. Don’t be intimidated, don’t be frightened, and recognize that the future can be in our hands if we’re willing to grasp it.</p> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:30:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky&#039;s Official Site 1022371 at http://www.alternet.org Education Education college universities corporatization noam chomsky faculty tenure Chomsky: The Crass and Brutal Approach Used to Keep Gaza Mired in Misery http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-israels-endless-punishment-people-palestine <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">For those concerned with the rights of the brutalized Palestinians, there can be no higher priority than working to change U.S. policies</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>On Aug. 26, Israel and the Palestinian Authority both accepted a cease-fire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind.</p><p>The agreement calls for an end to military action by Israel and Hamas as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.</p><p>This is, however, just the most recent of a series of cease-fire agreements reached after each of Israel's periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza.</p><p>Since November 2005 the terms of these agreements have remained essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it - as Israel has conceded - until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality.</p><p>These escalations are called "mowing the lawn" in Israeli parlance. The most recent was more accurately described as "removing the topsoil" by a senior U.S. military officer, quoted in Al-Jazeera America.</p><p>The first of this series was the Agreement on Movement and Access between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005.</p><p>It called for a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah for the export of goods and the transit of people; crossings between Israel and Gaza for goods and people; the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank; bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza; the building of a seaport in Gaza; and the reopening of the airport in Gaza that Israeli bombing had demolished.</p><p>That agreement was reached shortly after Israel withdrew its settlers and military forces from Gaza. The motive for the disengagement was explained by Dov Weisglass, a confidant of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was in charge of negotiating and implementing it.</p><p>"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," Weisglass told Haaretz. "And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a [U.S.] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."</p><p>"The disengagement is actually formaldehyde," Weisglass added. "It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."</p><p>This pattern has continued to the present: through Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 to Pillar of Defense in 2012 to this summer's Protective Edge, the most extreme exercise in mowing the lawn - so far.</p><p>For more than 20 years, Israel has been committed to separating Gaza from the West Bank in violation of the Oslo Accords it signed in 1993, which declare Gaza and the West Bank to be an inseparable territorial unity.</p><p>A look at a map explains the rationale. Separated from Gaza, any West Bank enclaves left to Palestinians have no access to the outside world. They are contained by two hostile powers, Israel and Jordan, both close U.S. allies - and contrary to illusions, the U.S. is very far from a neutral "honest broker."</p><p>Furthermore, Israel has been systematically taking over the Jordan Valley, driving out Palestinians, establishing settlements, sinking wells and otherwise ensuring that the region - about one-third of the West Bank, with much of its arable land - will ultimately be integrated into Israel along with the other regions being taken over.</p><p>The remaining Palestinian cantons will be completely imprisoned. Unification with Gaza would interfere with these plans, which trace back to the early days of the occupation and have had steady support from the major Israeli political blocs.</p><p>Israel might feel that its takeover of Palestinian territory in the West Bank has proceeded so far that there is little to fear from some limited form of autonomy for the enclaves that remain to Palestinians.</p><p>There is also some truth to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's observation: "Many elements in the region understand today that, in the struggle in which they are threatened, Israel is not an enemy but a partner." Presumably he was alluding to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates.</p><p>Israel's leading diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar adds, however, that "all those 'many elements in the region' also understand that there is no brave and comprehensive diplomatic move on the horizon without an agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a just, agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem."</p><p>That is not on Israel's agenda, he points out, and is in fact in direct conflict with the 1999 electoral program of the governing Likud coalition, never rescinded, which "flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River."</p><p>Some knowledgeable Israeli commentators, notably columnist Danny Rubinstein, believe that Israel is poised to reverse course and relax its stranglehold on Gaza.</p><p>We'll see.</p><p>The record of these past years suggests otherwise and the first signs are not auspicious. As Operation Protective Edge ended, Israel announced its largest appropriation of West Bank land in 30 years, almost 1,000 acres.</p><p>It is commonly claimed on all sides that, if the two-state settlement is dead as a result of Israel's takeover of Palestinian lands, then the outcome will be one state west of the Jordan.</p><p>Some Palestinians welcome this outcome, anticipating that they can then engage in a fight for equal rights modeled on the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Many Israeli commentators warn that the resulting "demographic problem" of more Arab than Jewish births and diminishing Jewish immigration will undermine their hope for a "democratic Jewish state."</p><p>But these widespread beliefs are dubious.</p><p>The realistic alternative to a two-state settlement is that Israel will continue to carry forward the plans it has been implementing for years: taking over whatever is of value to it in the West Bank, while avoiding Palestinian population concentrations and removing Palestinians from the areas that it is absorbing. That should avoid the dreaded "demographic problem."</p><p>The areas being taken over include a vastly expanded Greater Jerusalem, the area within the illegal separation wall, corridors cutting through the regions to the east and probably the Jordan Valley.</p><p>Gaza will likely remain under its usual harsh siege, separated from the West Bank. And the Syrian Golan Heights - like Jerusalem, annexed in violation of Security Council orders - will quietly become part of Greater Israel. In the meantime, West Bank Palestinians will be contained in unviable cantons, with special accommodation for elites in standard neocolonial style.</p><p>For a century, the Zionist colonization of Palestine has proceeded primarily on the pragmatic principle of the quiet establishment of facts on the ground, which the world was to ultimately come to accept. It has been a highly successful policy. There is every reason to expect it to persist as long as the United States provides the necessary military, economic, diplomatic and ideological support.</p><p>For those concerned with the rights of the brutalized Palestinians, there can be no higher priority than working to change U.S. policies, not an idle dream by any means.</p><p><em>© 2014 Noam Chomsky</em></p> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:10:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1021667 at http://www.alternet.org World noam chomsky Chomsky: Corporations and the Richest Americans Viscerally Oppose the Common Good http://www.alternet.org/visions/chomsky-corporations-and-richest-americans-viscerally-oppose-common-good-0 <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Masters of Mankind want us to become the &quot;stupid nation&quot; in the interests of their short-term gain. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>The following is Part I of the transcript of a speech delivered by Noam Chomsky in February 2013. Read <a href="http://www.alternet.org/education/chomsky-corporate-assault-public-education">Part II</a>.</em></p><p>Whether public education contributes to the Common Good depends, of course, on what kind of education it is, to whom it is available, and what we take to be the Common Good. There’s no need to tarry on the fact that these are highly contested matters, have been throughout history, and continue to be so today.</p><div>One of the great achievements of American democracy has been the introduction of mass public education, from children to advanced research universities. And in some respects that leadership position has been maintained. Unfortunately, not all. Public education is under serious attack, one component of the attack on any rational and humane concept of the Common Good, sometimes in ways that are not only shocking, but also spell disaster for the species.</div><div> </div><div>All of this falls within the general assault on the population in the past generation, the so-called “neoliberal era.” I’ll return to these matters, of great significance and import.</div><div> </div><div>Sometimes the attacks on education and on the Common Good are very closely linked. One current illustration is the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” that is being proposed to legislatures by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-funded lobby that designs legislation to serve the needs of the corporate sector and extreme wealth. This act mandates "balanced teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms.”</div><div> </div><div>“Balanced teaching” is a code phrase that refers to teaching climate change denial, to “balance” authentic climate science – what you read in science journals. It is analogous to the “balanced teaching” advocated by creationists to enable the teaching of “creation science” in public schools. Legislation based on ALEC models has already been introduced in several states.</div><div> </div><div>The ALEC legislation is based on a project of the Heartland Institute, a corporate-funded Institute dedicated to rejection of the scientific consensus on the climate. The Institute project calls for a “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms,” which aims to teach that there is “a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather.” Of course, all of this is dressed up in rhetoric about teaching critical thinking, and so on. It is much like the current assault on teaching children about evolution and science quite generally.</div><div> </div><div>There is indeed a controversy: on one side, the overwhelming majority of scientists, all of the world’s major National Academies of Science, the professional science journals, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): all agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human component, and that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon, maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with very severe effects on the  possibility of decent human survival.</div><div> </div><div>It is rare to find such consensus on complex scientific issues.</div><div> </div><div>True, it is not unanimous. Media reports commonly present a controversy between the overwhelming scientific consensus on one side, and skeptics on the other, including some quite respected scientists who caution that much is unknown – which means that things might not be as bad as thought or they might be worse: only the first alternative is brought up. Omitted from the contrived debate is a much larger group of skeptics: highly regarded climate scientists who regard the regular reports of the IPCC as much too conservative: the Climate Change group at my own university, MIT, for example. And they have repeatedly been proven correct, unfortunately. But they are scarcely part of the public debate, though very prominent in the scientific literature.</div><div> </div><div>The Heartland Institute and ALEC are part of a huge campaign by corporate lobbies to try to sow doubt about the near-unanimous consensus of scientists that human activities are having a major impact on global warming with truly ominous implications. The campaign was openly announced, including the lobbying organizations of the fossil fuel industry, the American Chamber of Commerce (the main business lobby) and others. It has had an effect on public opinion, though careful studies show that public opinion remains much closer to the scientific consensus than policy is. That is undoubtedly why major sectors of the corporate world are launching their attack on the educational system, to try to counter the dangerous tendency of the public to pay attention to the conclusions of scientific research.</div><div> </div><div>You probably heard that at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting recently, Gov. Bobby Jindal warned the leadership that “We must stop being the stupid party…We must stop insulting the intelligence of voters.” ALEC and its corporate backers, in contrast, want the country to be "the stupid nation” – which may encourage them to join the stupid party that Jindal warned about.</div><div> </div><div>The major science journals give a sense of how surreal all of this is. Take Science, the major US scientific weekly. A few weeks ago it had three news items side by side. One reported that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the US, continuing a long trend. The second reported a new study by the US Global Climate Change Research Program providing additional evidence for rapid climate change as the result of human activities, and discussing likely severe impacts. The third reported the new appointments to chair the committees on science policy chosen by the House of Representatives, where a minority of voters elected a large majority of Republicans thanks to the shredding of the political system.</div><div> </div><div>In Pennsylvania, for example, a considerably majority voted for Democrats but they won just over one-third of House seats. All three of the new chairs deny that humans contribute to climate change, two deny that it is even taken place, one is a longtime advocate for the fossil fuel industry. The same issue of the journal has a technical article with new evidence that the irreversible tipping point may be ominously close.</div><div> </div><div>For those whom Adam Smith called the "Masters of Mankind,” it is important that we must become the stupid nation in the interests of their short-term gain, damn the consequences. These are essential properties of contemporary market fundamentalist doctrines. ALEC and its corporate sponsors understand the importance of ensuring that public education train children to belong to the stupid nation, and not be misled by science and rationality.</div><div> </div><div>This is far from the only case of sharp divergence between public opinion and public policy. That tells us a lot about the current state of American democracy, and what that means for us and the world. The corporate assault on education and independent thought, of which this is only one striking illustration, tells us a good deal more.</div><div> </div><div>In climate policy, the US lags behind other countries. Quotes a current scientific review: “109 countries have enacted some form of policy regarding renewable power, and 118 countries have set targets for renewable energy. In contrast, the United States has not adopted any consistent and stable set of policies at the national level to foster the use of renewable energy” or adopted other means that are being pursued by countries that do have national policies. Some things are being done in the US, but sporadically, and with no organized national commitment. That’s no slight problem for us, and for the world, in the light of the great predominance of American power – declining to be sure as power is diversified internationally, but still unchallenged.</div><div> </div><div>There are other respects in which the concept of Common Good that has come to dominate policy – but not opinion -- in the US is diverging from the affluent developed societies of the OECD, and many others. A recent OECD study shows that the US ranks 27th out of 31 countries in measures of social justice, barely above Mexico. It ranks 21st in inequality, poverty, life expectancy, infant mortality, maternity leave, environmental performance, 18th in mental health and 19th in welfare of children. Also ranks toward the bottom in high-school dropout rates and poor student performance in math.</div><div> </div><div>Figures like these are signs of very severe systemic disorders; particularly striking because the US is the richest country in the world, with incomparable advantages.</div><div> </div><div>Another crucial case is healthcare. US costs are about twice the per capita costs of comparable countries, and outcomes are relatively poor. Studied by economist Dean Baker reveal that the deficit that obsesses the financial sector and Washington, but not the more realistic public, would be eliminated if we had healthcare systems similar to other developed societies, hardly a utopian idea. The US healthcare system deviates from others in that it is largely privatized and lightly regulated, and – not surprisingly – is highly inefficient and costly. There is an exception in the US healthcare system: the Veterans Administration, a government system, much less costly.</div><div> </div><div>Another partial exception is Medicare, a government-run system, hence with far lower administrative costs and other waste, but still more costly than it should be because it has to work through the privatized system and is trapped by the extraordinary political power of the pharmaceutical industry, which prevents the government from negotiating drug prices so that they are far higher than in other countries. </div><div> </div><div>Current policy ideas include proposals to increase age eligibility to cut costs: actually it increases costs (along with penalizing mostly working people) by shifting from a relatively efficient system to a highly inefficient privatized one. But the costs are transferred to individuals and away from collective action through taxes. And the concept of the Common Good that is being relentlessly driven into our heads demands that we focus on our own private gain, and suppress normal human emotions of solidarity, mutual support and concern for others. That I think is also an important part of what lies behind the assault on public education and on Social Security that has been waged by sectors of corporate wealth for years, on pretexts of cost that cannot be sustained, and against strong public opposition. </div><div> </div><div>What lies behind these campaigns, I suspect, is that public education and Social Security, like national healthcare, are based on the conception that we care for other people: we care that the disabled widow across town has food to eat, or that the kids down the street have schooling ("why should I pay taxes for schools? I don’t have kids there"). And beyond that, that we care about the tens of millions are dying every year because they cannot obtain medical care, or about dying infants, and others who are vulnerable.</div><div> </div><div>These conflicts go far back in American history. It’s particularly useful to look back to the origins of the industrial revolution, in the mid-19th century, when the country was undergoing enormous social changes as the population was being driven into the industrial system, which working people bitterly condemned, because it deprived them of their basic rights as free men and women – not the least women, the so-called factory girls, who were leaving the farms to the mills.</div><div> </div><div>It is worth reading the contributions in the press of the time by factory girls, artisans from Boston, and others. It's also important to note that working-class culture of the time was alive and flourishing. There’s a great book about the topic by Jonathan Rose, called The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class. It’s a monumental study of the reading habits of the working class of the day. He contrasts “the passionate pursuit of knowledge by proletarian autodidacts” with the “pervasive philistinism of the British aristocracy.”</div><div> </div><div>Pretty much the same was true in the new working-class towns here, like eastern Massachusetts, where an Irish blacksmith might hire a young boy to read the classics to him while he was working. On the farms, the factory girls were reading the best contemporary literature of the day, what we study as classics. They condemned the industrial system for depriving them of their freedom and culture.</div><div> </div><div>This went on for a long time. I am old enough to remember the atmosphere of the 1930s. A large part of my family came from the unemployed working-class. Many had barely gone to school. But they participated in the high culture of the day. They would discuss the latest Shakespeare plays, concerts of the Budapest String Quartet, different varieties of psychoanalysis and every conceivable political movement. There was also a very lively workers' education system with which leading scientists and mathematicians were directly involved. A lot of this has been lost under the relentless assault of the Masters, but it can be recovered and it is not lost forever.</div><div> </div><div>The labor press of the early industrial revolution took strong positions on many issues that should have a resonance today. They took for granted that, as they put it, those who work in the mills should own them. They condemned wage labor, which to them was akin to slavery, the only difference being that it was supposedly temporary.</div><div> </div><div>This was such a popular view that it was even part of the program of the Republican Party. It was also a main theme of the huge organized labor movement that was taking shape, the Knights of Labor, which began to establish links with the most important popular democratic party in the country’s history, the Farmers Alliance, later called the Populist movement, which originated with radical farmers in Texas and then spread through much of the country, forming collective enterprises, banks and marketing cooperatives and much more, movements that could have driven the country toward more authentic democracy if they had not been destroyed, largely by violence – though, interestingly, similar developments are underway today in the old Rust Belt and elsewhere, very important for the future, I think.</div><div> </div><div>The prime target of condemnation in the labor press was what they called “The New Spirit of the Age: Gain Wealth, Forgetting All But Self.” No efforts have been spared since then to drive this spirit into people's heads. People must come to believe that suffering and deprivation result from the failure of individuals, not the reigning socioeconomic system. There are huge industries devoted to this task. About one-sixth of the entire US economy is devoted to what's called "marketing," which is mostly propaganda. Advertising is described by analysts and the business literature as a process of fabricating wants – a campaign to drive people to the superficial things in life, like fashionable consumption, so that they will remain passive and obedient.</div><div> </div><div>The schools are also a target. As I mentioned, public mass education was a major achievement, in which the US was a pioneer. But it had complex characteristics, rooted in the sharp class conflicts of the day. One goal was to induce farmers to give up their independence and submit themselves to industrial discipline and accept what they regarded as wage slavery. That did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders of his day were calling for popular education. He concluded that their motivation was fear. The country was filling up with millions of voters and the Masters realized that one had to therefore “educate them, to keep them from (our) throats.”</div><div> </div><div>In other words: educate them the “right way” -- to be obediently passive and accept their fate as right and just, conforming to the New Spirit of the Age. Keep their perspectives narrow, their understanding limited, discourage free and independent thought, instill docility and obedience to keep them from the Masters' throats.</div><div> </div><div>This common theme from 150 years ago is inhuman and savage. It also meets with resistance. And there have been victories. There were many in the struggles of the 1930s, carried further in the 1960s. But systems of power never walk away politely. They prepare a new assault. This has in fact been happening since the early 1970s, based on major changes in the design of the economic system. </div><div> </div><div>Two crucial changes were financialization, with a huge explosion of speculative financial flows, and deindustrialization. Production didn't cease. It just began to be offshored anywhere where you could get terrible working conditions and no environmental constraints, with huge profits for the Masters. Within the US, that set off a vicious cycle, leading to sharp concentration of wealth, which translates at once to concentration of political power, increasingly in the financial sector. That in turn leads to legislation that carries the vicious cycle forward, including sharp tax reduction for the rich and deregulation, with repeated financial crises from the ‘80s, each worse than the last. The current one is so far the worst of all. And others are likely in what a director of the Bank of England calls a “doom loop.” </div><div> </div><div>There are solutions, but they do not fit the needs of the Masters, for whom the crises are no problem. They are bailed out by the Nanny State. Today corporate profits are breaking new records and the financial managers who created the current crisis are enjoying huge bonuses. Meanwhile, for the large majority, wages and income have practically stagnated in the last 30-odd years. By today, it has reached the point that 400 individuals have more wealth than the bottom 180 million Americans.</div><div> </div><div>In parallel, the cost of elections has skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into the pockets of those with the money, corporations and the super-rich. Political representatives become even more beholden to those who paid for their victories. One consequence is that by now, the poorest 70% have literally no influence over policy. As you move up the income/wealth ladder influence increases, and at the very top, a tiny percent, the Masters get what they want.</div><div> </div><div><a href="http://www.alternet.org/education/chomsky-corporate-assault-public-education">Read Part II of Chomsky's speech, The Corporate Assault on Public Education, here.</a></div><div> </div><div>Copyright Noam Chomsky, 2013. All rights reserved. Permission to republish this text must be granted by the author.</div> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:47:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1021222 at http://www.alternet.org Visions Economy Education Visions common good noam chomsky Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-why-americans-know-so-much-about-sports-so-little-about-world-affairs <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The way the system is set up, there is virtually nothing people can do anyway to influence the real world.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><em>The following is a short excerpt from a classic, <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Chomsky-Reader-Noam/dp/1852421177" target="_blank">The Chomsky Reader</a>, which offers a unique insight on a question worth asking -- how is it that we as a people can be so knowledgable about the intricacies of various sports teams, yet be colossally ignorant about our various undertakings abroad? </em></p><p>QUESTION: You've written about the way that professional ideologists and the mandarins obfuscate reality. And you have spoken -- in some places you call it a "Cartesian common sense" -- of the commonsense capacities of people. Indeed, you place a significant emphasis on this common sense when you reveal the ideological aspects of arguments, especially in contemporary social science. What do you mean by common sense? What does it mean in a society like ours? For example, you've written that within a highly competitive, fragmented society, it's very difficult for people to become aware of what their interests are. If you are not able to participate in the political system in meaningful ways, if you are reduced to the role of a passive spectator, then what kind of knowledge do you have? How can common sense emerge in this context?</p><p>CHOMSKY: Well, let me give an example. When I'm driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I'm listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it's plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it's at a level of superficiality that's beyond belief.</p><p>In part, this reaction may be due to my own areas of interest, but I think it's quite accurate, basically. And I think that this concentration on such topics as sports makes a certain degree of sense. The way the system is set up, there is virtually nothing people can do anyway, without a degree of organization that's far beyond anything that exists now, to influence the real world. They might as well live in a fantasy world, and that's in fact what they do. I'm sure they are using their common sense and intellectual skills, but in an area which has no meaning and probably thrives because it has no meaning, as a displacement from the serious problems which one cannot influence and affect because the power happens to lie elsewhere.</p><p>Now it seems to me that the same intellectual skill and capacity for understanding and for accumulating evidence and gaining information and thinking through problems could be used -- would be used -- under different systems of governance which involve popular participation in important decision-making, in areas that really matter to human life.</p><p>There are questions that are hard. There are areas where you need specialized knowledge. I'm not suggesting a kind of anti-intellectualism. But the point is that many things can be understood quite well without a very far-reaching, specialized knowledge. And in fact even a specialized knowledge in these areas is not beyond the reach of people who happen to be interested.</p><p>...</p><p>QUESTION: Do you think people are inhibited by expertise?</p><p>CHOMSKY: There are also experts about football, but these people don't defer to them. The people who call in talk with complete confidence. They don't care if they disagree with the coach or whoever the local expert is. They have their own opinion and they conduct intelligent discussions. I think it's an interesting phenomenon. Now I don't think that international or domestic affairs are much more complicated. And what passes for serious intellectual discourse on these matters does not reflect any deeper level of understanding or knowledge.</p><p>One finds something similar in the case of so-called primitive cultures. What you find very often is that certain intellectual systems have been constructed of considerable intricacy, with specialized experts who know all about it and other people who don't quite understand and so on. For example, kinship systems are elaborated to enormous complexity. Many anthropologists have tried to show that this has some functional utility in the society. But one function may just be intellectual. It's a kind of mathematics. These are areas where you can use your intelligence to create complex and intricate systems and elaborate their properties pretty much the way we do mathematics. They don't have mathematics and technology; they have other systems of cultural richness and complexity. I don't want to overdraw the analogy, but something similar may be happening here.</p><p>The gas station attendant who wants to use his mind isn't going to waste his time on international affairs, because that's useless; he can't do anything about it anyhow, and he might learn unpleasant things and even get into trouble. So he might as well do it where it's fun, and not threatening -- professional football or basketball or something like that. But the skills are being used and the understanding is there and the intelligence is there. One of the functions that things like professional sports play, in our society and others, is to offer an area to deflect people's attention from things that matter, so that the people in power can do what matters without public interference.</p><p>QUESTION: I asked a while ago whether people are inhibited by the aura of expertise. Can one turn this around -- are experts and intellectuals afraid of people who could apply the intelligence of sport to their own areas of competency in foreign affairs, social sciences, and so on?</p><p>CHOMSKY: I suspect that this is rather common. Those areas of inquiry that have to do with problems of immediate human concern do not happen to be particularly profound or inaccessible to the ordinary person lacking any special training who takes the trouble to learn something about them. Commentary on public affairs in the mainstream literature is often shallow and uninformed. Everyone who writes and speaks about these matters knows how much you can get away with as long as you keep close to received doctrine. I'm sure just about everyone exploits these privileges. I know I do. When I refer to Nazi crimes or Soviet atrocities, for example, I know that I will not be called upon to back up what I say, but a detailed scholarly apparatus is necessary if I say anything critical about the practice of one of the Holy States: the United States itself, or Israel, since it was enshrined by the intelligentsia after its 1967 victory. This freedom from the requirements of evidence or even rationality is quite a convenience, as any informed reader of the journals of public opinion, or even much of the scholarly literature, will quickly discover. It makes life easy, and permits expression of a good deal of nonsense or ignorant bias with impunity, also sheer slander. Evidence is unnecessary, argument beside the point. Thus a standard charge against American dissidents or even American liberals -- I've cited quite a few cases in print and have collected many others -- is that they claim that the United States is the sole source of evil in the world or other similar idiocies; the convention is that such charges are entirely legitimate when the target is someone who does not march in the appropriate parades, and they are therefore produced without even a pretense of evidence. Adherence to the party line confers the right to act in ways that would properly be regarded as scandalous on the part of any critic of received orthodoxies. Too much public awareness might lead to a demand that standards of integrity should be met, which would certainly save a lot of forests from destruction, and would send many a reputation tumbling.</p><p>The right to lie in the service of power is guarded with considerable vigor and passion. This becomes evident whenever anyone takes the trouble to demonstrate that charges against some official enemy are inaccurate or, sometimes, pure invention. The immediate reaction among the commissars is that the person is an apologist for the real crimes of official enemies. The case of Cambodia is a striking example. That the Khmer Rouge were guilty of gruesome atrocities was doubted by no one, apart from a few marginal Maoist sects. It is also true, and easily documented, that Western propaganda seized upon these crimes with great relish, exploiting them to provide a retrospective justification for Western atrocities, and since standards are nonexistent in such a noble cause, they also produced a record of fabrication and deceit that is quite remarkable. Demonstration of this fact, and fact it is, elicited enormous outrage, along with a stream of new and quite spectacular lies, as Edward Herman and I, among others, have documented. The point is that the right to lie in the service of the state was being challenged, and that is an unspeakable crime. Similarly, anyone who points out that some charge against Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, or some other official enemy is dubious or false will immediately be labeled an apologist for real or alleged crimes, a useful technique to ensure that rational standards will not be imposed on the commissars and that there will be no impediment to their loyal service to power. The critic typically has little access to the media, and the personal consequences for the critic are sufficiently annoying to deter many from taking this course, particularly because some journals -- the New Republic, for example -- sink to the ultimate level of dishonesty and cowardice, regularly refusing to permit even the right of response to slanders they publish. Hence the sacred right to lie is likely to be preserved without too serious a threat. But matters might be different if unreliable sectors of the public were admitted into the arena of discussion and debate.</p><p>The aura of alleged expertise also provides a way for the indoctrination system to provide its services to power while maintaining a useful image of indifference and objectivity. The media, for example, can turn to academic experts to provide the perspective that is required by the centers of power, and the university system is sufficiently obedient to external power so that appropriate experts will generally be available to lend the prestige of scholarship to the narrow range of opinion permitted broad expression. Or when this method fails -- as in the current case of Latin America, for example, or in the emerging discipline of terrorology -- a new category of "experts" can be established who can be trusted to provide the approved opinions that the media cannot express directly without abandoning the pretense of objectivity that serves to legitimate their propaganda function. I've documented many examples, as have others.</p><p>The guild structure of the professions concerned with public affairs also helps to preserve doctrinal purity. In fact, it is guarded with much diligence. My own personal experience is perhaps relevant. As I mentioned earlier, I do not have the usual professional credentials in any field, and my own work has ranged fairly widely. Some years ago, for example, I did some work in mathematical linguistics and automata theory, and occasionally gave invited lectures at mathematics or engineering colloquia. No one would have dreamed of challenging my credentials to speak on these topics -- which were zero, as everyone knew; that would have been laughable. The participants were concerned with what I had to say, not my right to say it. But when I speak, say, about international affairs, I'm constantly challenged to present the credentials that authorize me to enter this august arena, in the United States, at least -- elsewhere not. It's a fair generalization, I think, that the more a discipline has intellectual substance, the less it has to protect itself from scrutiny, by means of a guild structure. The consequences with regard to your question are pretty obvious.</p><p>QUESTION: You have said that most intellectuals end up obfuscating reality. Do they understand the reality they are obfuscating? Do they understand the social processes they mystify?</p><p>CHOMSKY: Most people are not liars. They can't tolerate too much cognitive dissonance. I don't want to deny that there are outright liars, just brazen propagandists. You can find them in journalism and in the academic professions as well. But I don't think that's the norm. The norm is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception. I think there's also a selective process in the academic professions and journalism. That is, people who are independent minded and cannot be trusted to be obedient don't make it, by and large. They're often filtered out along the way. [...]</p><p><em>From</em>The Chomsky Reader,<em>as published on Noam Chomsky's personal site. (Serpents Tail Publishing, 1988). </em></p> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:15:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Noam Chomsky&#039;s Official Site 1019420 at http://www.alternet.org expertise World Affairs sports noam chomsky Noam Chomsky: The Real Reason Israel "Mows the Lawn" in Gaza http://www.alternet.org/noam-chomsky-real-reason-israel-mows-lawn-gaza <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Like other states, Israel pleads &quot;security&quot; as justification for its aggressive and violent actions. But knowledgeable Israelis know better. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/267f5266d4987b3d77c2d123519f2a7d5cc94ca3.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">her</a>e. </em></p><p>On August 26th, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both accepted a ceasefire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind. The agreement calls for an end to military action by both Israel and Hamas, as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.</p><p>This is, however, just the most recent of a series of ceasefire agreements reached after each of Israel's periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza. Throughout this period, the terms of these agreements remain essentially the same.  The regular pattern is for Israel, then, to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it -- as Israel has officially recognized -- until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality. These escalations, which amount to shooting fish in a pond, are called "mowing the lawn" in Israeli parlance. The most recent was more accurately described as "removing the topsoil" by a senior U.S. military officer, appalled by the practices of the self-described "most moral army in the world."</p><p><a name="more" style="color: rgb(153, 51, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman', helvetica, arial; font-size: medium; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" id="more"></a></p><p>The first of this series was the Agreement on Movement and Access Between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005.  It called for "a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah for the export of goods and the transit of people, continuous operation of crossings between Israel and Gaza for the import/export of goods, and the transit of people, reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank, bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza, the building of a seaport in Gaza, [and the] re-opening of the airport in Gaza" that Israeli bombing had demolished.</p><p>That agreement was reached shortly after Israel withdrew its settlers and military forces from Gaza.  The motive for the disengagement was explained by Dov Weissglass, a confidant of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was in charge of negotiating and implementing it. "The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," Weissglass informed the Israeli press. "And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders, and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a [U.S.] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress." True enough.</p><p>"The disengagement is actually formaldehyde," Weissglass added. "It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."  Israeli hawks also recognized that instead of investing substantial resources in maintaining a few thousand settlers in illegal communities in devastated Gaza, it made more sense to transfer them to illegal subsidized communities in areas of the West Bank that Israel intended to keep.</p><p>The disengagement was depicted as a noble effort to pursue peace, but the reality was quite different.  Israel never relinquished control of Gaza and is, accordingly, recognized as the occupying power by the United Nations, the U.S., and other states (Israel apart, of course).  In their comprehensive history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Israeli scholars Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar describe what actually happened when that country disengaged: the ruined territory was not released "for even a single day from Israel's military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day." After the disengagement, "Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future.  The settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its formidable military might."</p><p><strong>Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense </strong></p><p>Israel soon had a pretext for violating the November Agreement more severely. In January 2006, the Palestinians committed a serious crime.  They voted "the wrong way" in carefully monitored free elections, placing the parliament in the hands of Hamas.  Israel and the United States immediately imposed harsh sanctions, telling the world very clearly what they mean by "democracy promotion." Europe, to its shame, went along as well.</p><p>The U.S. and Israel soon began planning a military coup to overthrow the unacceptable elected government, a familiar procedure. When Hamas pre-empted the coup in 2007, the siege of Gaza became far more severe, along with regular Israeli military attacks.  Voting the wrong way in a free election was bad enough, but preempting a U.S.-planned military coup proved to be an unpardonable offense.</p><p>A new ceasefire agreement was reached in June 2008.  It again called for opening the border crossings to "allow the transfer of all goods that were banned and restricted to go into Gaza." Israel formally agreed to this, but immediately announced that it would not abide by the agreement and open the borders until Hamas released Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas.</p><p>Israel itself has a long history of kidnapping civilians in Lebanon and on the high seas and holding them for lengthy periods without credible charge, sometimes as hostages.  Of course, imprisoning civilians on dubious charges, or none, is a regular practice in the territories Israel controls.  But the standard western distinction between people and "unpeople" (in Orwell's useful phrase) renders all this insignificant.</p><p>Israel not only maintained the siege in violation of the June 2008 ceasefire agreement but did so with extreme rigor, even preventing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which cares for the huge number of official refugees in Gaza, from replenishing its stocks.</p><p>On November 4th, while the media were focused on the U.S. presidential election, Israeli troops entered Gaza and killed half a dozen Hamas militants.  That elicited a Hamas missile response and an exchange of fire.  (All the deaths were Palestinian.)  In late December, Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire.  Israel considered the offer, but rejected it, preferring instead to launch Operation Cast Lead, a three-week incursion of the full power of the Israeli military into the Gaza strip, resulting in shocking atrocities well documented by international and Israeli human rights organizations.</p><p>On January 8, 2009, while Cast Lead was in full fury, the U.N. Security Council passed a unanimous resolution (with the U.S. abstaining) calling for "an immediate ceasefire leading to a full Israeli withdrawal, unimpeded provision through Gaza of food, fuel, and medical treatment, and intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling."</p><p>A new ceasefire agreement was indeed reached, but the terms, similar to the previous ones, were again never observed and broke down completely with the next major mowing-the-lawn episode in November 2012, Operation Pillar of Defense.  What happened in the interim can be illustrated by the casualty figures from January 2012 to the launching of that operation: one Israeli was killed by fire from Gaza while 78 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire.</p><p>The first act of Operation Pillar of Defense was the murder of Ahmed Jabari, a high official of the military wing of Hamas.  Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief of Israel's leading newspaper Haaretz, described Jabari as Israel's "subcontractor" in Gaza, who enforced relative quiet there for more than five years.  As always, there was a pretext for the assassination, but the likely reason was provided by Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin.  He had been involved in direct negotiations with Jabari for years and reported that, hours before he was assassinated, Jabari "received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip."</p><p>There is a long record of Israeli actions designed to deter the threat of a diplomatic settlement.  After this exercise of mowing the lawn, a ceasefire agreement was reached yet again.  Repeating the now-standard terms, it called for a cessation of military action by both sides and the effective ending of the siege of Gaza with Israel "opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents' free movements and targeting residents in border areas."</p><p>What happened next was reviewed by Nathan Thrall, senior Middle East analyst of the International Crisis Group.  Israeli intelligence recognized that Hamas was observing the terms of the ceasefire. "Israel,” Thrall wrote, “therefore saw little incentive in upholding its end of the deal. In the three months following the ceasefire, its forces made regular incursions into Gaza, strafed Palestinian farmers and those collecting scrap and rubble across the border, and fired at boats, preventing fishermen from accessing the majority of Gaza's waters." In other words, the siege never ended. "Crossings were repeatedly shut.  So-called buffer zones inside Gaza [from which Palestinians are barred, and which include a third or more of the strip’s limited arable land] were reinstated.  Imports declined, exports were blocked, and fewer Gazans were given exit permits to Israel and the West Bank."</p><p><strong>Operation Protective Edge </strong></p><p>So matters continued until April 2014, when an important event took place.  The two major Palestinian groupings, Gaza-based Hamas and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank signed a unity agreement.  Hamas made major concessions. The unity government contained none of its members or allies.  In substantial measure, as Nathan Thrall observes, Hamas turned over governance of Gaza to the PA.  Several thousand PA security forces were sent there and the PA placed its guards at borders and crossings, with no reciprocal positions for Hamas in the West Bank security apparatus.  Finally, the unity government accepted the three conditions that Washington and the European Union had long demanded: non-violence, adherence to past agreements, and the recognition of Israel.</p><p>Israel was infuriated.  Its government declared at once that it would refuse to deal with the unity government and cancelled negotiations.  Its fury mounted when the U.S., along with most of the world, signaled support for the unity government.</p><p>There are good reasons why Israel opposes the unification of Palestinians.  One is that the Hamas-Fatah conflict has provided a useful pretext for refusing to engage in serious negotiations.  How can one negotiate with a divided entity?  More significantly, for more than 20 years, Israel has been committed to separating Gaza from the West Bank in violation of the Oslo Accords it signed in 1993, which declare Gaza and the West Bank to be an inseparable territorial unity.</p><p>A look at a map explains the rationale.  Separated from Gaza, any West Bank enclaves left to Palestinians have no access to the outside world. They are contained by two hostile powers, Israel and Jordan, both close U.S. allies -- and contrary to illusions, the U.S. is very far from a neutral "honest broker."</p><p>Furthermore, Israel has been systematically taking over the Jordan Valley, driving out Palestinians, establishing settlements, sinking wells, and otherwise ensuring that the region -- about one-third of the West Bank, with much of its arable land -- will ultimately be integrated into Israel along with the other regions that country is taking over.  Hence remaining Palestinian cantons will be completely imprisoned.  Unification with Gaza would interfere with these plans, which trace back to the early days of the occupation and have had steady support from the major political blocs, including figures usually portrayed as doves like former president Shimon Peres, who was one of the architects of settlement deep in the West Bank.</p><p>As usual, a pretext was needed to move on to the next escalation.  Such an occasion arose when three Israeli boys from the settler community in the West Bank were brutally murdered.  The Israeli government evidently quickly realized that they were dead, but pretended otherwise, which provided the opportunity to launch a "rescue operation" -- actually a rampage primarily targeting Hamas.  The Netanyahu government has claimed from the start that it knew Hamas was responsible, but has made no effort to present evidence.</p><p>One of Israel's leading authorities on Hamas, Shlomi Eldar, reported almost at once that the killers very likely came from a dissident clan in Hebron that has long been a thorn in the side of the Hamas leadership.  He added, "I'm sure they didn't get any green light from the leadership of Hamas, they just thought it was the right time to act."</p><p>The Israeli police have since been searching for and arresting members of the clan, still claiming, without evidence, that they are "Hamas terrorists." On September 2nd, Haaretz reported that, after very intensive interrogations, the Israeli security services concluded the abduction of the teenagers "was carried out by an independent cell" with no known direct links to Hamas.</p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/160846363X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="http://www.tomdispatch.com/images/managed/chomskymankindreissue.jpg" /></a>The 18-day rampage by the Israeli Defense Forces succeeded in undermining the feared unity government.  According to Israeli military sources, its soldiers arrested 419 Palestinians, including 335 affiliated with Hamas, and killed six, while searching thousands of locations and confiscating $350,000.  Israel also conducted dozens of attacks in Gaza, killing five Hamas members on July 7th.</p><p>Hamas finally reacted with its first rockets in 18 months, Israeli officials reported, providing Israel with the pretext to launch Operation Protective Edge on July 8th.  The 50-day assault proved the most extreme exercise in mowing the lawn -- so far.</p><p><strong>Operation [Still to Be Named]</strong></p><p>Israel is in a fine position today to reverse its decades-old policy of separating Gaza from the West Bank in violation of its solemn agreements and to observe a major ceasefire agreement for the first time.  At least temporarily, the threat of democracy in neighboring Egypt has been diminished, and the brutal Egyptian military dictatorship of General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is a welcome ally for Israel in maintaining control over Gaza.</p><p>The Palestinian unity government, as noted earlier, is placing the U.S.-trained forces of the Palestinian Authority in control of Gaza’s borders, and governance may be shifting into the hands of the PA, which depends on Israel for its survival, as well as for its finances.  Israel might feel that its takeover of Palestinian territory in the West Bank has proceeded so far that there is little to fear from some limited form of autonomy for the enclaves that remain to Palestinians.</p><p>There is also some truth to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's observation: "Many elements in the region understand today that, in the struggle in which they are threatened, Israel is not an enemy but a partner." Akiva Eldar, Israel's leading diplomatic correspondent, adds, however, that "all those ‘many elements in the region’ also understand that there is no brave and comprehensive diplomatic move on the horizon without an agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a just, agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem." That is not on Israel's agenda, he points out, and is in fact in direct conflict with the 1999 electoral program of the governing Likud coalition, never rescinded, which "flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river."</p><p>Some knowledgeable Israeli commentators, notably columnist Danny Rubinstein, believe that Israel is poised to reverse course and relax its stranglehold on Gaza.</p><p>We'll see.</p><p>The record of these past years suggests otherwise and the first signs are not auspicious.  As Operation Protective Edge ended, Israel announced its largest appropriation of West Bank land in 30 years, almost 1,000 acres.  Israel Radio reported that the takeover was in response to the killing of the three Jewish teenagers by "Hamas militants." A Palestinian boy was burned to death in retaliation for the murder, but no Israeli land was handed to Palestinians, nor was there any reaction when an Israeli soldier murdered 10-year-old Khalil Anati on a quiet street in a refugee camp near Hebron on August 10th, while the most moral army in the world was smashing Gaza to bits, and then drove away in his jeep as the child bled to death.</p><p>Anati was one the 23 Palestinians (including three children) killed by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank during the Gaza onslaught, according to U.N. statistics, along with more than 2,000 wounded, 38% by live fire. "None of those killed were endangering soldiers' lives," Israeli journalist Gideon Levy reported.  To none of this is there any reaction, just as there was no reaction while Israel killed, on average, more than two Palestinian children a week for the past 14 years.  Unpeople, after all.</p><p>It is commonly claimed on all sides that, if the two-state settlement is dead as a result of Israel's takeover of Palestinian lands, then the outcome will be one state West of the Jordan.  Some Palestinians welcome this outcome, anticipating that they can then conduct a civil rights struggle for equal rights on the model of South Africa under apartheid.  Many Israeli commentators warn that the resulting "demographic problem" of more Arab than Jewish births and diminishing Jewish immigration will undermine their hope for a "democratic Jewish state."</p><p>But these widespread beliefs are dubious.</p><p>The realistic alternative to a two-state settlement is that Israel will continue to carry forward the plans it has been implementing for years, taking over whatever is of value to it in the West Bank, while avoiding Palestinian population concentrations and removing Palestinians from the areas it is integrating into Israel.  That should avoid the dreaded "demographic problem."</p><p>The areas being integrated into Israel include a vastly expanded Greater Jerusalem, the area within the illegal "Separation Wall," corridors cutting through the regions to the East, and will probably also encompass the Jordan Valley.  Gaza will likely remain under its usual harsh siege, separated from the West Bank.  And the Syrian Golan Heights -- like Jerusalem, annexed in violation of Security Council orders -- will quietly become part of Greater Israel.  In the meantime, West Bank Palestinians will be contained in unviable cantons, with special accommodation for elites in standard neocolonial style.</p><p>These basic policies have been underway since the 1967 conquest, following a principle enunciated by then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, one of the Israeli leaders most sympathetic to the Palestinians.  He informed his cabinet colleagues that they should tell Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, "We have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads."</p><p>The suggestion was natural within the overriding conception articulated in 1972 by future president Haim Herzog: "I do not deny the Palestinians a place or stand or opinion on every matter... But certainly I am not prepared to consider them as partners in any respect in a land that has been consecrated in the hands of our nation for thousands of years.  For the Jews of this land there cannot be any partner." Dayan also called for Israel’s "permanent rule" ("memshelet keva") over the occupied territories.  When Netanyahu expresses the same stand today, he is not breaking new ground.</p><p>Like other states, Israel pleads "security" as justification for its aggressive and violent actions.  But knowledgeable Israelis know better.  Their recognition of reality was articulated clearly in 1972 by Air Force Commander (and later president) Ezer Weizmann.  He explained that there would be no security problem if Israel were to accept the international call to withdraw from the territories it conquered in 1967, but the country would not then be able to "exist according to the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies."</p><p>For a century, the Zionist colonization of Palestine has proceeded primarily on the pragmatic principle of the quiet establishment of facts on the ground, which the world was to ultimately come to accept.  It has been a highly successful policy.  There is every reason to expect it to persist as long as the United States provides the necessary military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological support.  For those concerned with the rights of the brutalized Palestinians, there can be no higher priority than working to change U.S. policies, not an idle dream by any means.</p><p>Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his recent books are Hegemony or Survival, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805082840/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Failed States</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805096159/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Power Systems</a>,Occupy, and Hopes and Prospects. His latest book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/160846363X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Masters of Mankind</a>, will be published this week by Harmarket Books, which is also reissuing 12 of his classic books in new editions over the coming year. His work is regularly posted at <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175863/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky,_america%27s_real_foreign_policy/" target="_blank">TomDispatch.com</a>.  His website is <a href="http://www.chomsky.info/" target="_blank">www.chomsky.info</a>.</p><p>Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/tomdispatch" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://tomdispatch.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608463869/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Men Explain Things to Me</a>.</p><p>Copyright 2014 Noam Chomsky</p> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 06:18:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch.org 1018620 at http://www.alternet.org Israel Chomsky: U.S. Plunges the Cradle of Civilization into Disaster, While Its Oil-Based Empire Destroys the Earth's Climate http://www.alternet.org/world/chomsky-americas-obsession-destroys-earths-climate <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Humanity has the effect of an immense asteroid hitting the planet.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/1024px-noam_chomsky_speaking_to_occupy_harvard_february_12_2012.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div>It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.</div><div> </div><div>The era opened almost 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, stretching from the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, through Phoenicia on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to the Nile Valley, and from there to Greece and beyond. What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend.</div><div> </div><div>The land of the Tigris and Euphrates has been the scene of unspeakable horrors in recent years. The George W. Bush-Tony Blair aggression in 2003, which many Iraqis compared to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, was yet another lethal blow. It destroyed much of what survived the Bill Clinton-driven UN sanctions on Iraq, condemned as "genocidal" by the distinguished diplomats Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who administered them before resigning in protest. Halliday and von Sponeck's devastating reports received the usual treatment accorded to unwanted facts.</div><div> </div><div>One dreadful consequence of the US-UK invasion is depicted in a<em>New York Times</em> "visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria": the radical change of Baghdad from mixed neighborhoods in 2003 to today's sectarian enclaves trapped in bitter hatred. The conflicts ignited by the invasion have spread beyond and are now tearing the entire region to shreds.</div><div> </div><div>Much of the Tigris-Euphrates area is in the hands of ISIS and its self-proclaimed Islamic State, a grim caricature of the extremist form of radical Islam that has its home in Saudi Arabia. Patrick Cockburn, a Middle East correspondent for The Independent and one of the best-informed analysts of ISIS, describes it as "a very horrible, in many ways fascist organization, very sectarian, kills anybody who doesn't believe in their particular rigorous brand of Islam."</div><div> </div><div>Cockburn also points out the contradiction in the Western reaction to the emergence of ISIS: efforts to stem its advance in Iraq along with others to undermine the group's major opponent in Syria, the brutal Bashar Assad regime. Meanwhile a major barrier to the spread of the ISIS plague to Lebanon is Hezbollah, a hated enemy of the US and its Israeli ally. And to complicate the situation further, the US and Iran now share a justified concern about the rise of the Islamic State, as do others in this highly conflicted region.</div><div> </div><div>Egypt has plunged into some of its darkest days under a military dictatorship that continues to receive US support. Egypt's fate was not written in the stars. For centuries, alternative paths have been quite feasible, and not infrequently, a heavy imperial hand has barred the way.</div><div><p>After the renewed horrors of the past few weeks it should be unnecessary to comment on what emanates from Jerusalem, in remote history considered a moral center.</p><p>Eighty years ago, Martin Heidegger extolled Nazi Germany as providing the best hope for rescuing the glorious civilization of the Greeks from the barbarians of the East and West. Today, German bankers are crushing Greece under an economic regime designed to maintain their wealth and power.</p><p>The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.</p><p>The report concludes that increasing greenhouse gas emissions risk "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems" over the coming decades. The world is nearing the temperature when loss of the vast ice sheet over Greenland will be unstoppable. Along with melting Antarctic ice, that could raise sea levels to inundate major cities as well as coastal plains.</p><p>The era of civilization coincides closely with the geological epoch of the Holocene, beginning over 11,000 years ago. The previous Pleistocene epoch lasted 2.5 million years. Scientists now suggest that a new epoch began about 250 years ago, the Anthropocene, the period when human activity has had a dramatic impact on the physical world. The rate of change of geological epochs is hard to ignore.</p><p>One index of human impact is the extinction of species, now estimated to be at about the same rate as it was 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the Earth. That is the presumed cause for the ending of the age of the dinosaurs, which opened the way for small mammals to proliferate, and ultimately modern humans. Today, it is humans who are the asteroid, condemning much of life to extinction.</p><p>The IPCC report reaffirms that the "vast majority" of known fuel reserves must be left in the ground to avert intolerable risks to future generations. Meanwhile the major energy corporations make no secret of their goal of exploiting these reserves and discovering new ones.</p><p>A day before its summary of the IPCC conclusions, <em>The New York Times</em> reported that huge Midwestern grain stocks are rotting so that the products of the North Dakota oil boom can be shipped by rail to Asia and Europe.</p><p>One of the most feared consequences of anthropogenic global warming is the thawing of permafrost regions. A study in Science magazine warns that "even slightly warmer temperatures [less than anticipated in coming years] could start melting permafrost, which in turn threatens to trigger the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped in ice," with possible "fatal consequences" for the global climate.</p><p>Arundhati Roy suggests that the "most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times" is the Siachen Glacier, where Indian and Pakistani soldiers have killed each other on the highest battlefield in the world. The glacier is now melting and revealing "thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate" in meaningless conflict. And as the glaciers melt, India and Pakistan face indescribable disaster.</p><p>Sad species. Poor Owl.</p></div><p> </p> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:18:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1018189 at http://www.alternet.org World Economy Environment World chomsky climate change middle east oil environment Noam Chomsky: The Nightmare in Gaza http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-nightmare-gaza <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;There is no place in the prison of Gaza safe from Israeli sadism.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/chomsky_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm.</p><p>For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence.</p><p>For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.</p><p>The latest Israeli rampage was set off by the brutal murder of three Israeli boys from a settler community in the occupied West Bank. A month before, two Palestinian boys were shot dead in the West Bank city of Ramallah. That elicited little attention, which is understandable, since it is routine.</p><p>“The institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence,” Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani reports, “but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip.”</p><p>In an interview, human rights lawyer Raji Sourani, who has remained in Gaza through years of Israeli brutality and terror, said, “The most common sentence I heard when people began to talk about cease-fire: Everybody says it’s better for all of us to die and not go back to the situation we used to have before this war. We don’t want that again. We have no dignity, no pride; we are just soft targets, and we are very cheap. Either this situation really improves or it is better to just die. I am talking about intellectuals, academics, ordinary people: Everybody is saying that.”</p><p>In January 2006, Palestinians committed a major crime: They voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election, handing control of Parliament to Hamas.</p><p>The media constantly intone that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In reality, Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus that has been blocked by the U.S. and Israel for 40 years.</p><p>In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.</p><p>The crime of the Palestinians in January 2006 was punished at once. The U.S. and Israel, with Europe shamefully trailing behind, imposed harsh sanctions on the errant population and Israel stepped up its violence.</p><p>The U.S. and Israel quickly initiated plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government. When Hamas had the effrontery to foil the plans, the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe.</p><p>There should be no need to review again the dismal record since. The relentless siege and savage attacks are punctuated by episodes of “mowing the lawn,” to borrow Israel’s cheery expression for its periodic exercises in shooting fish in a pond as part of what it calls a “war of defense.”</p><p>Once the lawn is mowed and the desperate population seeks to rebuild somehow from the devastation and the murders, there is a cease-fire agreement. The most recent cease-fire was established after Israel’s October 2012 assault, called Operation Pillar of Defense<strong>.</strong></p><p>Though Israel maintained its siege, Hamas observed the cease-fire, as Israel concedes. Matters changed in April of this year when Fatah and Hamas forged a unity agreement that established a new government of technocrats unaffiliated with either party.</p><p>Israel was naturally furious, all the more so when even the Obama administration joined the West in signaling approval. The unity agreement not only undercuts Israel’s claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine but also threatens the long-term goal of dividing Gaza from the West Bank and pursuing its destructive policies in both regions.</p><p>Something had to be done, and an occasion arose on June 12, when the three Israeli boys were murdered in the West Bank. Early on, the Netanyahu government knew that they were dead, but pretended otherwise, which provided the opportunity to launch a rampage in the West Bank, targeting Hamas.</p><p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to have certain knowledge that Hamas was responsible. That too was a lie.</p><p>One of Israel’s leading authorities on Hamas, Shlomi Eldar, reported almost at once that the killers very likely came from a dissident clan in Hebron that has long been a thorn in the side of Hamas. Eldar added that “I’m sure they didn’t get any green light from the leadership of Hamas, they just thought it was the right time to act.”</p><p>The 18-day rampage after the kidnapping, however, succeeded in undermining the feared unity government, and sharply increasing Israeli repression. Israel also conducted dozens of attacks in Gaza, killing five Hamas members on July 7.</p><p>Hamas finally reacted with its first rockets in 19 months, providing Israel with the pretext for Operation Protective Edge on July 8.</p><p>By July 31, around 1,400 Palestinians had been killed, mostly civilians, including hundreds of women and children. And three Israeli civilians. Large areas of Gaza had been turned into rubble. Four hospitals had been attacked, each another war crime.</p><p>Israeli officials laud the humanity of what it calls “the most moral army in the world,” which informs residents that their homes will be bombed. The practice is “sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy,” in the words of Israeli journalist Amira Hass: “A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away.”</p><p>In fact, there is no place in the prison of Gaza safe from Israeli sadism, which may even exceed the terrible crimes of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.</p><p>The hideous revelations elicited the usual reaction from the most moral president in the world, Barack Obama: great sympathy for Israelis, bitter condemnation of Hamas and calls for moderation on both sides.</p><p>When the current attacks are called off, Israel hopes to be free to pursue its criminal policies in the occupied territories without interference, and with the U.S. support it has enjoyed in the past.</p><p>Gazans will be free to return to the norm in their Israeli-run prison, while in the West Bank, Palestinians can watch in peace as Israel dismantles what remains of their possessions.</p><p>That is the likely outcome if the U.S. maintains its decisive and virtually unilateral support for Israeli crimes and its rejection of the long-standing international consensus on diplomatic settlement. But the future will be quite different if the U.S. withdraws that support.</p><p>In that case it would be possible to move toward the “enduring solution” in Gaza that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for, eliciting hysterical condemnation in Israel because the phrase could be interpreted as calling for an end to Israel’s siege and regular attacks. And — horror of horrors — the phrase might even be interpreted as calling for implementation of international law in the rest of the occupied territories.</p><p>Forty years ago Israel made the fateful decision to choose expansion over security, rejecting a full peace treaty offered by Egypt in return for evacuation from the occupied Egyptian Sinai, where Israel was initiating extensive settlement and development projects. Israel has adhered to that policy ever since.</p><p>If the U.S. decided to join the world, the impact would be great. Over and over, Israel has abandoned cherished plans when Washington has so demanded. Such are the relations of power between them.</p><p>Furthermore, Israel by now has little recourse, after having adopted policies that turned it from a country that was greatly admired to one that is feared and despised, policies it is pursuing with blind determination today in its march toward moral deterioration and possible ultimate destruction.</p><p>Could U.S. policy change? It’s not impossible. Public opinion has shifted considerably in recent years, particularly among the young, and it cannot be completely ignored.</p><p>For some years there has been a good basis for public demands that Washington observe its own laws and cut off military aid to Israel. U.S. law requires that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”</p><p>Israel most certainly is guilty of this consistent pattern, and has been for many years.</p><p>Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, author of this provision of the law, has brought up its potential applicability to Israel in specific cases, and with a well-conducted educational, organizational and activist effort such initiatives could be pursued successively.</p><p>That could have a very significant impact in itself, while also providing a springboard for further actions to compel Washington to become part of “the international community” and to observe international law and norms.</p><p>Nothing could be more significant for the tragic Palestinian victims of many years of violence and repression.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.</em></p> </div></div></div> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:47:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1014570 at http://www.alternet.org World World chomsky Noam Chomsky: How the Bin Laden Raid Could Have Led to Nuclear Annihilation of Humanity http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-how-bin-laden-raid-could-have-led-nuclear-annihilation-humanity <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Ever since the first nuclear weapon was deployed, we have been playing with fire. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2014-08-05_at_9.56.27_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">here</a>.</em></p><p>If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era).  The latter era, of course, opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but -- so the evidence suggests -- not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.</p><p>Day one of the NWE was marked by the “success” of Little Boy, a simple atomic bomb.  On day four, Nagasaki experienced the technological triumph of Fat Man, a more sophisticated design.  Five days later came what the official Air Force history calls the “grand finale,” a 1,000-plane raid -- no mean logistical achievement -- attacking Japan’s cities and killing many thousands of people, with leaflets falling among the bombs reading “Japan has surrendered.” Truman announced that surrender before the last B-29 returned to its base.</p><p>Those were the auspicious opening days of the NWE.  As we now enter its 70th year, we should be contemplating with wonder that we have survived.  We can only guess how many years remain.</p><p>Some reflections on these grim prospects were offered by General Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which controls nuclear weapons and strategy.  Twenty years ago, he wrote that we had so far survived the NWE “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”</p><p>Reflecting on his long career in developing nuclear weapons strategies and organizing the forces to implement them efficiently, he described himself ruefully as having been “among the most avid of these keepers of the faith in nuclear weapons.” But, he continued, he had come to realize that it was now his “burden to declare with all of the conviction I can muster that in my judgment they served us extremely ill.” And he asked, “By what authority do succeeding generations of leaders in the nuclear-weapons states usurp the power to dictate the odds of continued life on our planet? Most urgently, why does such breathtaking audacity persist at a moment when we should stand trembling in the face of our folly and united in our commitment to abolish its most deadly manifestations?”</p><p>He termed the U.S. strategic plan of 1960 that called for an automated all-out strike on the Communist world “the single most absurd and irresponsible document I have ever reviewed in my life.” Its Soviet counterpart was probably even more insane.  But it is important to bear in mind that there are competitors, not least among them the easy acceptance of extraordinary threats to survival.</p><p><strong>Survival in the Early Cold War Years</strong></p><p>According to received doctrine in scholarship and general intellectual discourse, the prime goal of state policy is “national security.”   There is ample evidence, however, that the doctrine of national security does not encompass the security of the population.  The record reveals that, for instance, the threat of instant destruction by nuclear weapons has not ranked high among the concerns of planners.  That much was demonstrated early on, and remains true to the present moment.</p><p>In the early days of the NWE, the U.S. was overwhelmingly powerful and enjoyed remarkable security: it controlled the hemisphere, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the opposite sides of those oceans as well.  Long before World War II, it had already become by far the richest country in the world, with incomparable advantages.  Its economy boomed during the war, while other industrial societies were devastated or severely weakened.  By the opening of the new era, the U.S. possessed about half of total world wealth and an even greater percentage of its manufacturing capacity. </p><p>There was, however, a potential threat: intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.  That threat was discussed in the standard scholarly study of nuclear policies, carried out with access to high-level sources -- Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years by McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser during the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies.</p><p>Bundy wrote that “the timely development of ballistic missiles during the Eisenhower administration is one of the best achievements of those eight years.  Yet it is well to begin with a recognition that both the United States and the Soviet Union might be in much less nuclear danger today if [those] missiles had never been developed.” He then added an instructive comment: “I am aware of no serious contemporary proposal, in or out of either government, that ballistic missiles should somehow be banned by agreement.”  In short, there was apparently no thought of trying to prevent the sole serious threat to the U.S., the threat of utter destruction in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.</p><p>Could that threat have been taken off the table?  We cannot, of course, be sure, but it was hardly inconceivable.  The Russians, far behind in industrial development and technological sophistication, were in a far more threatening environment.  Hence, they were significantly more vulnerable to such weapons systems than the U.S.  There might have been opportunities to explore these possibilities, but in the extraordinary hysteria of the day they could hardly have even been perceived.  And that hysteria was indeed extraordinary.  An examination of the rhetoric of central official documents of that moment like National Security Council Paper NSC-68 remains quite shocking, even discounting Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s injunction that it is necessary to be “clearer than truth.”</p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/160846363X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="http://www.tomdispatch.com/images/managed/mastersmankind.jpg" /></a>One indication of possible opportunities to blunt the threat was a remarkable proposal by Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin in 1952, offering to allow Germany to be unified with free elections on the condition that it would not then join a hostile military alliance.  That was hardly an extreme condition in light of the history of the past half-century during which Germany alone had practically destroyed Russia twice, exacting a terrible toll.</p><p>Stalin’s proposal was taken seriously by the respected political commentator James Warburg, but otherwise mostly ignored or ridiculed at the time.  Recent scholarship has begun to take a different view.  The bitterly anti-Communist Soviet scholar Adam Ulam has taken the status of Stalin’s proposal to be an “unresolved mystery.” Washington “wasted little effort in flatly rejecting Moscow's initiative,” he has written, on grounds that “were embarrassingly unconvincing.” The political, scholarly, and general intellectual failure left open “the basic question,” Ulam added: “Was Stalin genuinely ready to sacrifice the newly created German Democratic Republic (GDR) on the altar of real democracy,” with consequences for world peace and for American security that could have been enormous?</p><p>Reviewing recent research in Soviet archives, one of the most respected Cold War scholars, Melvyn Leffler, has observed that many scholars were surprised to discover “[Lavrenti] Beria -- the sinister, brutal head of the [Russian] secret police -- propos[ed] that the Kremlin offer the West a deal on the unification and neutralization of Germany,” agreeing “to sacrifice the East German communist regime to reduce East-West tensions” and improve internal political and economic conditions in Russia -- opportunities that were squandered in favor of securing German participation in NATO.</p><p>Under the circumstances, it is not impossible that agreements might then have been reached that would have protected the security of the American population from the gravest threat on the horizon.  But that possibility apparently was not considered, a striking indication of how slight a role authentic security plays in state policy.</p><p><strong>The Cuban Missile Crisis and Beyond</strong></p><p>That conclusion was underscored repeatedly in the years that followed.  When Nikita Khrushchev took control in Russia in 1953 after Stalin’s death, he recognized that the USSR could not compete militarily with the U.S., the richest and most powerful country in history, with incomparable advantages.  If it ever hoped to escape its economic backwardness and the devastating effect of the last world war, it would need to reverse the arms race.</p><p>Accordingly, Khrushchev proposed sharp mutual reductions in offensive weapons.  The incoming Kennedy administration considered the offer and rejected it, instead turning to rapid military expansion, even though it was already far in the lead.  The late Kenneth Waltz, supported by other strategic analysts with close connections to U.S. intelligence, wrote then that the Kennedy administration “undertook the largest strategic and conventional peace-time military build-up the world has yet seen... even as Khrushchev was trying at once to carry through a major reduction in the conventional forces and to follow a strategy of minimum deterrence, and we did so even though the balance of strategic weapons greatly favored the United States.” Again, harming national security while enhancing state power.</p><p>U.S. intelligence verified that huge cuts had indeed been made in active Soviet military forces, both in terms of aircraft and manpower.  In 1963, Khrushchev again called for new reductions.  As a gesture, he withdrew troops from East Germany and called on Washington to reciprocate.  That call, too, was rejected. William Kaufmann, a former top Pentagon aide and leading analyst of security issues, described the U.S. failure to respond to Khrushchev's initiatives as, in career terms, “the one regret I have.”</p><p>The Soviet reaction to the U.S. build-up of those years was to place nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962 to try to redress the balance at least slightly.  The move was also motivated in part by Kennedy’s terrorist campaign against Fidel Castro’s Cuba, which was scheduled to lead to invasion that very month, as Russia and Cuba may have known.  The ensuing “missile crisis” was “the most dangerous moment in history,” in the words of historian Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy’s adviser and confidant.</p><p>As the crisis peaked in late October, Kennedy received a secret letter from Khrushchev offering to end it by simultaneous public withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba and U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey.  The latter were obsolete missiles, already ordered withdrawn by the Kennedy administration because they were being replaced by far more lethal Polaris submarines to be stationed in the Mediterranean.</p><p>Kennedy’s subjective estimate at that moment was that if he refused the Soviet premier’s offer, there was a 33% to 50% probability of nuclear war -- a war that, as President Eisenhower had warned, would have destroyed the northern hemisphere.  Kennedy nonetheless refused Khrushchev’s proposal for public withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba and Turkey; only the withdrawal from Cuba could be public, so as to protect the U.S. right to place missiles on Russia’s borders or anywhere else it chose.</p><p>It is hard to think of a more horrendous decision in history -- and for this, he is still highly praised for his cool courage and statesmanship.</p><p>Ten years later, in the last days of the 1973 Israel-Arab war, Henry Kissinger, then national security adviser to President Nixon, called a nuclear alert.  The purpose was to warn the Russians not to interfere with his delicate diplomatic maneuvers designed to ensure an Israeli victory, but of a limited sort so that the U.S. would still be in control of the region unilaterally.  And the maneuvers were indeed delicate.  The U.S. and Russia had jointly imposed a cease-fire, but Kissinger secretly informed the Israelis that they could ignore it.  Hence the need for the nuclear alert to frighten the Russians away.  The security of Americans had its usual status.</p><p>Ten years later, the Reagan administration launched operations to probe Russian air defenses by simulating air and naval attacks and a high-level nuclear alert that the Russians were intended to detect.  These actions were undertaken at a very tense moment.  Washington was deploying Pershing II strategic missiles in Europe with a five-minute flight time to Moscow.  President Reagan had also announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) program, which the Russians understood to be effectively a first-strike weapon, a standard interpretation of missile defense on all sides.  And other tensions were rising.</p><p>Naturally, these actions caused great alarm in Russia, which, unlike the U.S., was quite vulnerable and had repeatedly been invaded and virtually destroyed. That led to a major war scare in 1983.   Newly released archives reveal that the danger was even more severe than historians had previously assumed.  A CIA study entitled “The War Scare Was for Real” concluded that U.S. intelligence may have underestimated Russian concerns and the threat of a Russian preventative nuclear strike.  The exercises “almost became a prelude to a preventative nuclear strike,” according to an account in theJournal of Strategic Studies.</p><p>It was even more dangerous than that, as we learned last September, when the BBC reported that right in the midst of these world-threatening developments, Russia’s early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States, sending its nuclear system onto the highest-level alert.  The protocol for the Soviet military was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own.  Fortunately, the officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, decided to disobey orders and not report the warnings to his superiors.  He received an official reprimand.  And thanks to his dereliction of duty, we’re still alive to talk about it.</p><p>The security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan administration planners than for their predecessors.  And so it continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic nuclear accidents that occurred over the years, many reviewed in Eric Schlosser’s chilling studyCommand and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. In other words, it is hard to contest General Butler’s conclusions.</p><p>Survival in the Post-Cold War Era</p><p>The record of post-Cold War actions and doctrines is hardly reassuring either.   Every self-respecting president has to have a doctrine.  The Clinton Doctrine was encapsulated in the slogan “multilateral when we can, unilateral when we must.” In congressional testimony, the phrase “when we must” was explained more fully: the U.S. is entitled to resort to “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.” Meanwhile, STRATCOM in the Clinton era produced an important study entitled “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence,” issued well after the Soviet Union had collapsed and Clinton was extending President George H.W. Bush’s program of expanding NATO to the east in violation of promises to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev -- with reverberations to the present.</p><p>That STRATCOM study was concerned with “the role of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War era.” A central conclusion: that the U.S. must maintain the right to launch a first strike, even against non-nuclear states.  Furthermore, nuclear weapons must always be at the ready because they “cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict.” They were, that is, constantly being used, just as you’re using a gun if you aim but don’t fire one while robbing a store (a point that Daniel Ellsberg has repeatedly stressed).  STRATCOM went on to advise that “planners should not be too rational about determining... what the opponent values the most.”  Everything should simply be targeted. “[I]t hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed… That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project.” It is “beneficial [for our strategic posture] if some elements may appear to be potentially ‘out of control,’” thus posing a constant threat of nuclear attack -- a severe violation of the U.N. Charter, if anyone cares.</p><p>Not much here about the noble goals constantly proclaimed -- or for that matter the obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to make “good faith” efforts to eliminate this scourge of the earth.  What resounds, rather, is an adaptation of Hilaire Belloc’s famous couplet about the Maxim gun (to quote the great African historian Chinweizu):</p><p>“Whatever happens, we have got,</p><p>The Atom Bomb, and they have not.”</p><p>After Clinton came, of course, George W. Bush, whose broad endorsement of preventative war easily encompassed Japan’s attack in December 1941 on military bases in two U.S. overseas possessions, at a time when Japanese militarists were well aware that B-29 Flying Fortresses were being rushed off assembly lines and deployed to those bases with the intent “to burn out the industrial heart of the Empire with fire-bomb attacks on the teeming bamboo ant heaps of Honshu and Kyushu.” That was how the prewar plans were described by their architect, Air Force General Claire Chennault, with the enthusiastic approval of President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall.</p><p>Then comes Barack Obama, with pleasant words about working to abolish nuclear weapons -- combined with plans to spend $1 trillion on the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years, a percentage of the military budget “comparable to spending for procurement of new strategic systems in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan,” according to a study by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.</p><p>Obama has also not hesitated to play with fire for political gain.  Take for example the capture and assassination of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs. Obama brought it up with pride in an important speech on national security in May 2013.  It was widely covered, but one crucial paragraph was ignored.</p><p>Obama hailed the operation but added that it could not be the norm.  The reason, he said, was that the risks "were immense." The SEALs might have been "embroiled in an extended firefight."  Even though, by luck, that didn’t happen, "the cost to our relationship with Pakistan and the backlash among the Pakistani public over encroachment on their territory was… severe."</p><p>Let us now add a few details. The SEALs were ordered to fight their way out if apprehended.  They would not have been left to their fate if “embroiled in an extended firefight.”  The full force of the U.S. military would have been used to extricate them.  Pakistan has a powerful, well-trained military, highly protective of state sovereignty.  It also has nuclear weapons, and Pakistani specialists are concerned about the possible penetration of their nuclear security system by jihadi elements.  It is also no secret that the population has been embittered and radicalized by Washington’s drone terror campaign and other policies.</p><p>While the SEALs were still in the bin Laden compound, Pakistani Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was informed of the raid and ordered the military “to confront any unidentified aircraft,” which he assumed would be from India.  Meanwhile in Kabul, U.S. war commander General David Petraeus ordered “warplanes to respond” if the Pakistanis “scrambled their fighter jets.” As Obama said, by luck the worst didn’t happen, though it could have been quite ugly.  But the risks were faced without noticeable concern.  Or subsequent comment.</p><p>As General Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far, and the longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle.</p><p>Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his recent books are Hegemony or Survival, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805082840/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Failed States</a>, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0805096159/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Power Systems</a>,Occupy, and Hopes and Prospects. His latest book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/160846363X/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Masters of Mankind</a>, will be published soon by Haymarket Books, which is also reissuing twelve of his classic books in new editions over the coming year. His website is<a href="http://www.chomsky.info/" target="_blank">www.chomsky.info</a>.</p><p>Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/tomdispatch" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://tomdispatch.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1608463869/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20" target="_blank">Men Explain Things to Me</a>.</p><p>Copyright 2014 Noam Chomsky</p> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:30:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch 1014249 at http://www.alternet.org World World nuclear Noam Chomsky: America Is the World Leader at Committing 'Supreme International Crimes' http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-americas-sledgehammer-worldview-destroys-countless-lives-and-future-generations <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The U.S.&#039;s sledgehammer worldview is destroying countless lives and future generations. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The front page of The New York Times on June 26 featured a photo of women mourning a murdered Iraqi.</p><p>He is one of the innumerable victims of the ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) campaign in which the Iraqi army, armed and trained by the U.S. for many years, quickly melted away, abandoning much of Iraq to a few thousand militants, hardly a new experience in imperial history.</p><p>Right above the picture is the newspaper's famous motto: "All the News That's Fit to Print."</p><p>There is a crucial omission. The front page should display the words of the Nuremberg judgment of prominent Nazis - words that must be repeated until they penetrate general consciousness: Aggression is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."</p><p>And alongside these words should be the admonition of the chief prosecutor for the United States, Robert Jackson: "The record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well."</p><p>The U.S.-U.K. invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression. Apologists invoke noble intentions, which would be irrelevant even if the pleas were sustainable.</p><p>For the World War II tribunals, it mattered not a jot that Japanese imperialists were intent on bringing an "earthly paradise" to the Chinese they were slaughtering, or that Hitler sent troops into Poland in 1939 in self-defense against the "wild terror" of the Poles. The same holds when we sip from the poisoned chalice.</p><p>Those at the wrong end of the club have few illusions. Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a Pan-Arab website, observes that "the main factor responsible for the current chaos [in Iraq] is the U.S./Western occupation and the Arab backing for it. Any other claim is misleading and aims to divert attention [away] from this truth."</p><p>In a recent interview with Moyers &amp; Company, Iraq specialist Raed Jarrar outlines what we in the West should know. Like many Iraqis, he is half-Shiite, half-Sunni, and in preinvasion Iraq he barely knew the religious identities of his relatives because "sect wasn't really a part of the national consciousness."</p><p>Jarrar reminds us that "this sectarian strife that is destroying the country ... clearly began with the U.S. invasion and occupation."</p><p>The aggressors destroyed "Iraqi national identity and replaced it with sectarian and ethnic identities," beginning immediately when the U.S. imposed a Governing Council based on sectarian identity, a novelty for Iraq.</p><p>By now, Shiites and Sunnis are the bitterest enemies, thanks to the sledgehammer wielded by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney (respectively the former U.S. Secretary of Defense and vice president during the George W. Bush administration) and others like them who understand nothing beyond violence and terror and have helped to create conflicts that are now tearing the region to shreds.</p><p>Other headlines report the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Journalist Anand Gopal explains the reasons in his remarkable book, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.</p><p>In 2001-02, when the U.S. sledgehammer struck Afghanistan, the al-Qaida outsiders there soon disappeared and the Taliban melted away, many choosing in traditional style to accommodate to the latest conquerors.</p><p>But Washington was desperate to find terrorists to crush. The strongmen they imposed as rulers quickly discovered that they could exploit Washington's blind ignorance and attack their enemies, including those eagerly collaborating with the American invaders.</p><p>Soon the country was ruled by ruthless warlords, while many former Taliban who sought to join the new order recreated the insurgency.</p><p>The sledgehammer was later picked up by President Obama as he "led from behind" in smashing Libya.</p><p>In March 2011, amid an Arab Spring uprising against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1973, calling for "a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians."</p><p>The imperial triumvirate - France, England, the U.S. - instantly chose to violate the Resolution, becoming the air force of the rebels and sharply enhancing violence.</p><p>Their campaign culminated in the assault on Gadhafi's refuge in Sirte, which they left "utterly ravaged," "reminiscent of the grimmest scenes from Grozny, towards the end of Russia's bloody Chechen war," according to eyewitness reports in the British press. At a bloody cost, the triumvirate accomplished its goal of regime change in violation of pious pronouncements to the contrary.</p><p>The African Union strongly opposed the triumvirate assault. As reported by Africa specialist Alex de Waal in the British journal International Affairs, the AU established a "road map" calling for cease-fire, humanitarian assistance, protection of African migrants (who were largely slaughtered or expelled) and other foreign nationals, and political reforms to eliminate "the causes of the current crisis," with further steps to establish "an inclusive, consensual interim government, leading to democratic elections."</p><p>The AU framework was accepted in principle by Gadhafi but dismissed by the triumvirate, who "were uninterested in real negotiations," de Waal observes.</p><p>The outcome is that Libya is now torn by warring militias, while jihadi terror has been unleashed in much of Africa along with a flood of weapons, reaching also to Syria.</p><p>There is plenty of evidence of the consequences of resort to the sledgehammer. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo, a huge country rich in resources - and one of the worst contemporary horror stories. It had a chance for successful development after independence in 1960, under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.</p><p>But the West would have none of that. CIA head Allen Dulles determined that Lumumba's "removal must be an urgent and prime objective" of covert action, not least because U.S. investments might have been endangered by what internal documents refer to as "radical nationalists."</p><p>Under the supervision of Belgian officers, Lumumba was murdered, realizing President Eisenhower's wish that he "would fall into a river full of crocodiles." Congo was handed over to the U.S. favorite, the murderous and corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and on to today's wreckage of Africa's hopes.</p><p>Closer to home it is harder to ignore the consequences of U.S. state terror. There is now great concern about the flood of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central America.</p><p>The Washington Post reports that the surge is "mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras" - but not Nicaragua. Why? Could it be that when Washington's sledgehammer was battering the region in the 1980s, Nicaragua was the one country that had an army to defend the population from U.S.-run terrorists, while in the other three countries the terrorists devastating the countries were the armies equipped and trained by Washington?</p><p>Obama has proposed a humanitarian response to the tragic influx: more efficient deportation. Do alternatives come to mind?</p><p>It is unfair to omit exercises of "soft power" and the role of the private sector. A good example is Chevron's decision to abandon its widely touted renewable energy programs, because fossil fuels are far more profitable.</p><p>Exxon Mobil in turn announced "that its laserlike focus on fossil fuels is a sound strategy, regardless of climate change," Bloomberg Businessweek reports, "because the world needs vastly more energy and the likelihood of significant carbon reductions is 'highly unlikely.'"</p><p>It is therefore a mistake to remind readers daily of the Nuremberg judgment. Aggression is no longer the "supreme international crime." It cannot compare with destruction of the lives of future generations to ensure bigger bonuses tomorrow.</p><p>© 2014 Noam Chomsky -- Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate</p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 13:29:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 1009977 at http://www.alternet.org World World chomsky Noam Chomsky: Our Govt. Is Capable of Creating Total Catastrophe for Humankind http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-our-govt-capable-creating-total-catastrophe-humankind <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">America&#039;s real foreign policy exposed.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/chomsky.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com <a href="http://tomdispatch.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6cb39ff0b1f670c349f828c73&amp;id=1e41682ade">here</a>.</em></p><p>The question of how foreign policy is determined is a crucial one in world affairs.  In these comments, I can only provide a few hints as to how I think the subject can be productively explored, keeping to the United States for several reasons.  First, the U.S. is unmatched in its global significance and impact.  Second, it is an unusually open society, possibly uniquely so, which means we know more about it.  Finally, it is plainly the most important case for Americans, who are able to influence policy choices in the U.S. -- and indeed for others, insofar as their actions can influence such choices.  The general principles, however, extend to the other major powers, and well beyond.</p><p>There is a “received standard version,” common to academic scholarship, government pronouncements, and public discourse.  It holds that the prime commitment of governments is to ensure security, and that the primary concern of the U.S. and its allies since 1945 was the Russian threat.</p><p>There are a number of ways to evaluate the doctrine.  One obvious question to ask is: What happened when the Russian threat disappeared in 1989?  Answer: everything continued much as before.</p><div>The U.S. immediately invaded Panama, killing probably thousands of people and installing a client regime. This was routine practice in U.S.-dominated domains -- but in this case not quite as routine. For first time, a major foreign policy act was not justified by an alleged Russian threat. </div><p>Instead, a series of fraudulent pretexts for the invasion were concocted that collapse instantly on examination. The media chimed in enthusiastically, lauding the magnificent achievement of defeating Panama, unconcerned that the pretexts were ludicrous, that the act itself was a radical violation of international law, and that it was bitterly condemned elsewhere, most harshly in Latin America.  Also ignored was the U.S. veto of a unanimous Security Council resolution condemning crimes by U.S. troops during the invasion, with Britain alone abstaining. </p><p>All routine.  And all forgotten (which is also routine).</p><p><strong>From El Salvador to the Russian Border</strong></p><p>The administration of George H.W. Bush issued a new national security policy and defense budget in reaction to the collapse of the global enemy.  It was pretty much the same as before, although with new pretexts.  It was, it turned out, necessary to maintain a military establishment almost as great as the rest of the world combined and far more advanced in technological sophistication -- but not for defense against the now-nonexistent Soviet Union.  Rather, the excuse now was the growing “technological sophistication” of Third World powers.  Disciplined intellectuals understood that it would have been improper to collapse in ridicule, so they maintained a proper silence.</p><p>The U.S., the new programs insisted, must maintain its “defense industrial base.” The phrase is a euphemism, referring to high-tech industry generally, which relies heavily on extensive state intervention for research and development, often under Pentagon cover, in what economists continue to call the U.S. “free-market economy.” </p><p>One of the most interesting provisions of the new plans had to do with the Middle East.  There, it was declared, Washington must maintain intervention forces targeting a crucial region where the major problems “could not have been laid at the Kremlin’s door.”  Contrary to 50 years of deceit, it was quietly conceded that the main concern was not the Russians, but rather what is called “radical nationalism,” meaning independent nationalism not under U.S. control.</p><p>All of this has evident bearing on the standard version, but it passed unnoticed -- or perhaps, therefore it passed unnoticed.</p><p>Other important events took place immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ending the Cold War.  One was in El Salvador, the leading recipient of U.S. military aid -- apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category -- and with one of the worst human rights records anywhere.  That is a familiar and very close correlation. </p><p>The Salvadoran high command ordered the Atlacatl Brigade to invade the Jesuit University and murder six leading Latin American intellectuals, all Jesuit priests, including the rector, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría, and any witnesses, meaning their housekeeper and her daughter.  The Brigade had just returned from advanced counterinsurgency training at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and had already left a bloody trail of thousands of the usual victims in the course of the U.S.-run state terror campaign in El Salvador, one part of a broader terror and torture campaign throughout the region.  All routine.  Ignored and virtually forgotten in the United States and by its allies, again routine.  But it tells us a lot about the factors that drive policy, if we care to look at the real world.</p><p>Another important event took place in Europe.  Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to allow the unification of Germany and its membership in NATO, a hostile military alliance.  In the light of recent history, this was a most astonishing concession.  There was a quid pro quo.  President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker agreed that NATO would not expand “one inch to the East,” meaning into East Germany.  Instantly, they expanded NATO to East Germany. </p><p>Gorbachev was naturally outraged, but when he complained, he was instructed by Washington that this had only been a verbal promise, a gentleman’s agreement, hence without force.  If he was naïve enough to accept the word of American leaders, it was his problem.</p><p>All of this, too, was routine, as was the silent acceptance and approval of the expansion of NATO in the U.S. and the West generally.  President Bill Clinton then expanded NATO further, right up to Russia’s borders.  Today, the world faces a serious crisis that is in no small measure a result of these policies.</p><p><strong>The Appeal of Plundering the Poor</strong></p><p>Another source of evidence is the declassified historical record.  It contains revealing accounts of the actual motives of state policy.  The story is rich and complex, but a few persistent themes play a dominant role.  One was articulated clearly at a western hemispheric conference called by the U.S. in Mexico in February 1945 where Washington imposed “An Economic Charter of the Americas” designed to eliminate economic nationalism “in all its forms.” There was one unspoken condition.  Economic nationalism would be fine for the U.S. whose economy relies heavily on massive state intervention.</p><p>The elimination of economic nationalism for others stood in sharp conflict with the Latin American stand of that moment, which State Department officials described as “the philosophy of the New Nationalism [that] embraces policies designed to bring about a broader distribution of wealth and to raise the standard of living of the masses.” As U.S. policy analysts added, “Latin Americans are convinced that the first beneficiaries of the development of a country's resources should be the people of that country.”</p><p>That, of course, will not do.  Washington understands that the “first beneficiaries” should be U.S. investors, while Latin America fulfills its service function.  It should not, as both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations would make clear, undergo “excessive industrial development” that might infringe on U.S. interests.  Thus Brazil could produce low-quality steel that U.S. corporations did not want to bother with, but it would be “excessive,” were it to compete with U.S. firms.</p><p>Similar concerns resonate throughout the post-World War II period.  The global system that was to be dominated by the U.S. was threatened by what internal documents call “radical and nationalistic regimes” that respond to popular pressures for independent development.  That was the concern that motivated the overthrow of the parliamentary governments of Iran and Guatemala in 1953 and 1954, as well as numerous others.  In the case of Iran, a major concern was the potential impact of Iranian independence on Egypt, then in turmoil over British colonial practice.  In Guatemala, apart from the crime of the new democracy in empowering the peasant majority and infringing on possessions of the United Fruit Company -- already offensive enough -- Washington’s concern was labor unrest and popular mobilization in neighboring U.S.-backed dictatorships.</p><p>In both cases the consequences reach to the present.  Literally not a day has passed since 1953 when the U.S. has not been torturing the people of Iran.  Guatemala remains one of the world’s worst horror chambers.  To this day, Mayans are fleeing from the effects of near-genocidal government military campaigns in the highlands backed by President Ronald Reagan and his top officials.  As the country director of Oxfam, a Guatemalan doctor, reported recently,</p><p>“There is a dramatic deterioration of the political, social, and economic context.  Attacks against Human Rights defenders have increased 300% during the last year.  There is a clear evidence of a very well organized strategy by the private sector and Army. Both have captured the government in order to keep the status quo and to impose the extraction economic model, pushing away dramatically indigenous peoples from their own land, due to the mining industry, African Palm and sugar cane plantations.  In addition the social movement defending their land and rights has been criminalized, many leaders are in jail, and many others have been killed.”</p><p>Nothing is known about this in the United States and the very obvious cause of it remains suppressed.</p><p>In the 1950s, President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles explained quite clearly the dilemma that the U.S. faced.  They complained that the Communists had an unfair advantage.  They were able to “appeal directly to the masses” and “get control of mass movements, something we have no capacity to duplicate.  The poor people are the ones they appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich.”</p><p>That causes problems.  The U.S. somehow finds it difficult to appeal to the poor with its doctrine that the rich should plunder the poor.</p><p><strong>The Cuban Example</strong></p><p>A clear illustration of the general pattern was Cuba, when it finally gained independence in 1959.  Within months, military attacks on the island began.  Shortly after, the Eisenhower administration made a secret decision to overthrow the government.  John F. Kennedy then became president.  He intended to devote more attention to Latin America and so, on taking office, he created a study group to develop policies headed by the historian Arthur Schlesinger, who summarized its conclusions for the incoming president.</p><p>As Schlesinger explained, threatening in an independent Cuba was “the Castro idea of taking matters into one's own hands.”  It was an idea that unfortunately appealed to the mass of the population in Latin America where “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes, and the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” Again, Washington’s usual dilemma.</p><p>As the CIA explained, “The extensive influence of 'Castroism' is not a function of Cuban power... Castro’s shadow looms large because social and economic conditions throughout Latin America invite opposition to ruling authority and encourage agitation for radical change,” for which his Cuba provides a model.  Kennedy feared that Russian aid might make Cuba a “showcase” for development, giving the Soviets the upper hand throughout Latin America.</p><p>The State Department Policy Planning Council warned that “the primary danger we face in Castro is... in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the U.S., a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half” -- that is, since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, when the U.S. declared its intention of dominating the hemisphere.</p><p>The immediate goal at the time was to conquer Cuba, but that could not be achieved because of the power of the British enemy.  Still, that grand strategist John Quincy Adams, the intellectual father of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, informed his colleagues that over time Cuba would fall into our hands by “the laws of political gravitation,” as an apple falls from the tree.  In brief, U.S. power would increase and Britain’s would decline.</p><p>In 1898, Adams’s prognosis was realized. The U.S. invaded Cuba in the guise of liberating it.  In fact, it prevented the island’s liberation from Spain and turned it into a “virtual colony” to quote historians Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.  Cuba remained so until January 1959, when it gained independence.  Since that time it has been subjected to major U.S. terrorist wars, primarily during the Kennedy years, and economic strangulation.  Not because of the Russians.</p><p>The pretense all along was that we were defending ourselves from the Russian threat -- an absurd explanation that generally went unchallenged.  A simple test of the thesis is what happened when any conceivable Russian threat disappeared.  U.S. policy toward Cuba became even harsher, spearheaded by liberal Democrats, including Bill Clinton, who outflanked Bush from the right in the 1992 election.  On the face of it, these events should have considerable bearing on the validity of the doctrinal framework for discussion of foreign policy and the factors that drive it.  Once again, however, the impact was slight.</p><p><strong>The Virus of Nationalism</strong></p><p>To borrow Henry Kissinger’s terminology, independent nationalism is a “virus” that might “spread contagion.” Kissinger was referring to Salvador Allende’s Chile.  The virus was the idea that there might be a parliamentary path towards some kind of socialist democracy.  The way to deal with such a threat is to destroy the virus and to inoculate those who might be infected, typically by imposing murderous national security states.  That was achieved in the case of Chile, but it is important to recognize that the thinking holds worldwide. </p><p>It was, for example, the reasoning behind the decision to oppose Vietnamese nationalism in the early 1950s and support France’s effort to reconquer its former colony.  It was feared that independent Vietnamese nationalism might be a virus that would spread contagion to the surrounding regions, including resource-rich Indonesia.  That might even have led Japan -- called the “superdomino” by Asia scholar John Dower -- to become the industrial and commercial center of an independent new order of the kind imperial Japan had so recently fought to establish.  That, in turn, would have meant that the U.S. had lost the Pacific war, not an option to be considered in 1950.  The remedy was clear -- and largely achieved.  Vietnam was virtually destroyed and ringed by military dictatorships that kept the “virus” from spreading contagion.</p><p>In retrospect, Kennedy-Johnson National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy reflected that Washington should have ended the Vietnam War in 1965, when the Suharto dictatorship was installed in Indonesia, with enormous massacres that the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.  These were, however, greeted with unconstrained euphoria in the U.S. and the West generally because the “staggering bloodbath,” as the press cheerfully described it, ended any threat of contagion and opened Indonesia’s rich resources to western exploitation.  After that, the war to destroy Vietnam was superfluous, as Bundy recognized in retrospect.</p><p>The same was true in Latin America in the same years: one virus after another was viciously attacked and either destroyed or weakened to the point of bare survival.  From the early 1960s, a plague of repression was imposed on the continent that had no precedent in the violent history of the hemisphere, extending to Central America in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan, a matter that there should be no need to review.</p><p>Much the same was true in the Middle East.  The unique U.S. relations with Israel were established in their current form in 1967, when Israel delivered a smashing blow to Egypt, the center of secular Arab nationalism.  By doing so, it protected U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, then engaged in military conflict with Egypt in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia, of course, is the most extreme radical fundamentalist Islamic state, and also a missionary state, expending huge sums to establish its Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines beyond its borders.  It is worth remembering that the U.S., like England before it, has tended to support radical fundamentalist Islam in opposition to secular nationalism, which has usually been perceived as posing more of a threat of independence and contagion.</p><p><strong>The Value of Secrecy</strong></p><p>There is much more to say, but the historical record demonstrates very clearly that the standard doctrine has little merit.  Security in the normal sense is not a prominent factor in policy formation.</p><p>To repeat, in the normal sense.  But in evaluating the standard doctrine we have to ask what is actually meant by “security”: security for whom?</p><p>One answer is: security for state power.  There are many illustrations.  Take a current one.  In May, the U.S. agreed to support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria, but with a proviso: there could be no inquiry into possible war crimes by Israel.  Or by Washington, though it was really unnecessary to add that last condition.  The U.S. is uniquely self-immunized from the international legal system.  In fact, there is even congressional legislation authorizing the president to use armed force to “rescue” any American brought to the Hague for trial -- the “Netherlands Invasion Act,” as it is sometimes called in Europe.  That once again illustrates the importance of protecting the security of state power.</p><p>But protecting it from whom? There is, in fact, a strong case to be made that a prime concern of government is the security of state power from the population.  As those who have spent time rummaging through archives should be aware, government secrecy is rarely motivated by a genuine need for security, but it definitely does serve to keep the population in the dark.  And for good reasons, which were lucidly explained by the prominent liberal scholar and government adviser Samuel Huntington, the professor of the science of government at Harvard University.  In his words: “The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen.  Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”</p><p>He wrote that in 1981, when the Cold War was again heating up, and he explained further that “you may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine.”</p><p>These simple truths are rarely acknowledged, but they provide insight into state power and policy, with reverberations to the present moment.</p><p>State power has to be protected from its domestic enemy; in sharp contrast, the population is not secure from state power.  A striking current illustration is the radical attack on the Constitution by the Obama administration’s massive surveillance program.  It is, of course, justified by “national security.” That is routine for virtually all actions of all states and so carries little information. </p><p>When the NSA’s surveillance program was exposed by Edward Snowden’s revelations, high officials claimed that it had prevented 54 terrorist acts.  On inquiry, that was whittled down to a dozen.  A high-level government panel then discovered that there was actually only one case: someone had sent $8,500 to Somalia.  That was the total yield of the huge assault on the Constitution and, of course, on others throughout the world.</p><p>Britain’s attitude is interesting.  In 2007, the British government called on Washington’s colossal spy agency “to analyze and retain any British citizens’ mobile phone and fax numbers, emails, and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet,” the Guardian reported.  That is a useful indication of the relative significance, in government eyes, of the privacy of its own citizens and of Washington’s demands.</p><p>Another concern is security for private power.  One current illustration is the huge trade agreements now being negotiated, the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic pacts.  These are being negotiated in secret -- but not completely in secret.  They are not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers who are drawing up the detailed provisions.  It is not hard to guess what the results will be, and the few leaks about them suggest that the expectations are accurate.  Like NAFTA and other such pacts, these are not free trade agreements.  In fact, they are not even trade agreements, but primarily investor rights agreements.</p><p>Again, secrecy is critically important to protect the primary domestic constituency of the governments involved, the corporate sector.</p><p><strong>The Final Century of Human Civilization?</strong></p><p>There are other examples too numerous to mention, facts that are well-established and would be taught in elementary schools in free societies.</p><p>There is, in other words, ample evidence that securing state power from the domestic population and securing concentrated private power are driving forces in policy formation.  Of course, it is not quite that simple.  There are interesting cases, some quite current, where these commitments conflict, but consider this a good first approximation and radically opposed to the received standard doctrine.</p><p>Let us turn to another question: What about the security of the population? It is easy to demonstrate that this is a marginal concern of policy planners.  Take two prominent current examples, global warming and nuclear weapons.  As any literate person is doubtless aware, these are dire threats to the security of the population.  Turning to state policy, we find that it is committed to accelerating each of those threats -- in the interests of the primary concerns, protection of state power and of the concentrated private power that largely determines state policy.</p><p>Consider global warming.  There is now much exuberance in the United States about “100 years of energy independence” as we become “the Saudi Arabia of the next century” -- perhaps the final century of human civilization if current policies persist. </p><p>That illustrates very clearly the nature of the concern for security, certainly not for the population.  It also illustrates the moral calculus of contemporary Anglo-American state capitalism: the fate of our grandchildren counts as nothing when compared with the imperative of higher profits tomorrow.</p><p>These conclusions are fortified by a closer look at the propaganda system.  There is a huge public relations campaign in the U.S., organized quite openly by Big Energy and the business world, to try to convince the public that global warming is either unreal or not a result of human activity.  And it has had some impact.  The U.S. ranks lower than other countries in public concern about global warming and the results are stratified: among Republicans, the party more fully dedicated to the interests of wealth and corporate power, it ranks far lower than the global norm.</p><p>The current issue of the premier journal of media criticism, the Columbia Journalism Review, has an interesting article on this subject, attributing this outcome to the media doctrine of “fair and balanced.” In other words, if a journal publishes an opinion piece reflecting the conclusions of 97% of scientists, it must also run a counter-piece expressing the viewpoint of the energy corporations.</p><p>That indeed is what happens, but there certainly is no “fair and balanced” doctrine. Thus, if a journal runs an opinion piece denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin for the criminal act of taking over the Crimea, it surely does not have to run a piece pointing out that, while the act is indeed criminal, Russia has a far stronger case today than the U.S. did more than a century ago in taking over southeastern Cuba, including the country’s major port -- and rejecting the Cuban demand since independence to have it returned.  And the same is true of many other cases.  The actual media doctrine is “fair and balanced” when the concerns of concentrated private power are involved, but surely not elsewhere.</p><p>On the issue of nuclear weapons, the record is similarly interesting -- and frightening.  It reveals very clearly that, from the earliest days, the security of the population was a non-issue, and remains so.  There is no time here to run through the shocking record, but there is little doubt that it strongly supports the lament of General Lee Butler, the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, which was armed with nuclear weapons.  In his words, we have so far survived the nuclear age “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” And we can hardly count on continued divine intervention as policymakers play roulette with the fate of the species in pursuit of the driving factors in policy formation.</p><p>As we are all surely aware, we now face the most ominous decisions in human history.  There are many problems that must be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance: environmental destruction and nuclear war.  For the first time in history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent existence -- and not in the distant future.  For this reason alone, it is imperative to sweep away the ideological clouds and face honestly and realistically the question of how policy decisions are made, and what we can do to alter them before it is too late.</p><blockquote><div> </div></blockquote> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 07:01:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, Tom Dispatch 1008474 at http://www.alternet.org World News & Politics World noam chomsky Noam Chomsky: A Surveillance State Beyond Imagination Is Being Created in One of the World's Freest Countries http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/noam-chomsky-surveillance-state-beyond-imagination-being-created-one-freest <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A White House lawyer seems determined to demolish our civil liberties.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive state policy. And on a closely related matter: the subtle, differentiated concept of transparency.</p><p>The source of the instruction, of course, is the trove of documents about the National Security Agency surveillance system released by the courageous fighter for freedom Edward J. Snowden, expertly summarized and analyzed by his collaborator Glenn Greenwald in his new book, "<em>No Place to Hide</em>."</p><p>The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus - in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society.</p><p>Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.</p><p>It is of no slight import that the project is being executed in one of the freest countries in the world, and in radical violation of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, which protects citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures," and guarantees the privacy of their "persons, houses, papers and effects."</p><p>Much as government lawyers may try, there is no way to reconcile these principles with the assault on the population revealed in the Snowden documents.</p><p>It is also well to remember that defense of the fundamental right to privacy helped to spark the American Revolution. In the 18th century, the tyrant was the British government, which claimed the right to intrude freely into the homes and personal lives of American colonists. Today it is American citizens' own government that arrogates to itself this authority.</p><p>Britain retains the stance that drove the colonists to rebellion, though on a more restricted scale, as power has shifted in world affairs. The British government has called on the NSA "to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses, swept up by its dragnet," The Guardian reports, working from documents provided by Snowden.</p><p>British citizens (like other international customers) will also doubtless be pleased to learn that the NSA routinely receives or intercepts routers, servers and other computer network devices exported from the United States so that it can implant surveillance tools, as Greenwald reports in his book.</p><p>As the colossus fulfills its visions, in principle every keystroke might be sent to President Obama's huge and expanding databases in Utah.</p><p>In other ways too, the constitutional lawyer in the White House seems determined to demolish the foundations of our civil liberties. The principle of the presumption of innocence, which dates back to Magna Carta 800 years ago, has long been dismissed to oblivion.</p><p>Recently <em>The New York Times</em> reported the "anguish" of a federal judge who had to decide whether to allow the force-feeding of a Syrian prisoner who is on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.</p><p>No "anguish" was expressed over the fact that he has been held without trial for 12 years in Guantanamo, one of many victims of the leader of the Free World, who claims the right to hold prisoners without charges and to subject them to torture.</p><p>These exposures lead us to inquire into state policy more generally and the factors that drive it. The received standard version is that the primary goal of policy is security and defense against enemies.</p><p>The doctrine at once suggests a few questions: security for whom, and defense against which enemies? The answers are highlighted dramatically by the Snowden revelations.</p><p>Policy must assure the security of state authority and concentrations of domestic power, defending them from a frightening enemy: the domestic population, which can become a great danger if not controlled.</p><p>It has long been understood that information about the enemy makes a critical contribution to controlling it. In that regard, Obama has a series of distinguished predecessors, though his contributions have reached unprecedented levels, as we have learned from the work of Snowden, Greenwald and a few others.</p><p>To defend state power and private economic power from the domestic enemy, those two entities must be concealed - while in sharp contrast, the enemy must be fully exposed to state authority.</p><p>The principle was lucidly explained by the policy intellectual Samuel P. Huntington, who instructed us that "Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate."</p><p>Huntington added a crucial illustration. In his words, "you may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine" at the outset of the Cold War.</p><p>Huntington's insight into state power and policy was both accurate and prescient. As he wrote these words in 1981, the Reagan administration was launching its war on terror - which quickly became a murderous and brutal terrorist war, primarily in Central America, but extending well beyond to southern Africa, Asia and the Middle East.</p><p>From that day forward, in order to carry out violence and subversion abroad, or repression and violation of fundamental rights at home, state power has regularly sought to create the misimpression that it is terrorists that we are fighting, though there are other options: drug lords, mad mullahs seeking nuclear weapons, and other ogres said to be seeking to attack and destroy us.</p><p>Throughout, the basic principle remains: Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim.</p><p>In brief, there must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy.</p><p><em>© 2014 Noam Chomsky, distributed by the New York Times Syndicate</em></p> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 07:04:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 998657 at http://www.alternet.org Civil Liberties Civil Liberties noam chomsky Edward Snowden national security agency constitution bill of rights Chomsky: US Leaders' Panic Over Crimea Is About Fear of Losing Global Dominance http://www.alternet.org/putins-takeover-crimea-scares-us-leaders-because-it-challenges-americas-global-dominance <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">American red line are firmly placed at Russia&#039;s borders...and the annexation of Crimea crossed them. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/nchomsky.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The current Ukraine crisis is serious and threatening, so much so that some commentators even compare it to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.</p><p>Columnist Thanassis Cambanis <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/2014/03/29/intlist-putin/98YckIxm3BAREdSsb6F7nM/story.html">summarizes the core issue</a> succinctly in The Boston Globe: “[President Vladimir V.] Putin's annexation of the Crimea is a break in the order that America and its allies have come to rely on since the end of the Cold War—namely, one in which major powers only intervene militarily when they have an international consensus on their side, or failing that, when they're not crossing a rival power's red lines.”</p><p>This era's most extreme international crime, the United States-United Kingdom invasion of Iraq, was therefore not a break in world order—because, after failing to gain international support, the aggressors didn't cross Russian or Chinese red lines.</p><p>In contrast, Putin's takeover of the Crimea and his ambitions in Ukraine cross American red lines.</p><p>Therefore “Obama is focused on isolating Putin's Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state,” Peter Baker reports in <em>The New York Times</em>.</p><p>American red lines, in short, are firmly placed at Russia's borders. Therefore Russian ambitions “in its own neighborhood” violate world order and create crises.</p><p>The point generalizes. Other countries are sometimes allowed to have red lines—at their borders (where the United States' red lines are also located). But not Iraq, for example. Or Iran, which the U.S. continually threatens with attack (“no options are off the table”).</p><p>Such threats violate not only the United Nations Charter but also the General Assembly resolution condemning Russia that the United States just signed. The resolution opened by stressing the U.N. Charter ban on “the threat or use of force” in international affairs.</p><p>The Cuban missile crisis also sharply revealed the great powers' red lines. The world came perilously close to nuclear war when President Kennedy rejected Premier Khrushchev's offer to end the crisis by simultaneous public withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba and American missiles from Turkey. (The U.S. missiles were already scheduled to be replaced by far more lethal Polaris submarines, part of the massive system threatening Russia's destruction.)</p><p>In this case too, the United States' red lines were at Russia's borders, and that was accepted on all sides.</p><p>The U.S. invasion of Indochina, like the invasion of Iraq, crossed no red lines, nor have many other U.S. depredations worldwide. To repeat the crucial point: Adversaries are sometimes permitted to have red lines, but at their borders, where America's red lines are also located. If an adversary has “expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood,” crossing U.S. red lines, the world faces a crisis.</p><p>In the current issue of the Harvard-MIT journal International Security, Oxford University professor Yuen Foong Khong explains that there is a “long (and bipartisan) tradition in American strategic thinking: Successive administrations have emphasized that a vital interest of the United States is to prevent a hostile hegemon from dominating any of the major regions of the world.”</p><p>Furthermore, it is generally agreed that the United States must “maintain its predominance,” because “it is U.S. hegemony that has upheld regional peace and stability”—the latter a term of art referring to subordination to U.S. demands.</p><p>As it happens, the world thinks differently and regards the United States as a “pariah state” and “the greatest threat to world peace,” <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/gallup-poll-biggest-threat-world-peace-america-1525008">with no competitor</a> even close in the polls. But what does the world know?</p><p>Khong's article concerns the crisis in Asia, caused by the rise of China, which is moving toward “economic primacy in Asia” and, like Russia, has “expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood,” thus crossing American red lines.</p><p>President Obama's recent Asia trip was to affirm the “long (and bipartisan) tradition,” in diplomatic language.</p><p>The near-universal Western condemnation of Putin includes citing the “emotional address” in which he complained bitterly that the U.S. and its allies had “cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts with the expansion of NATO in the East, with the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They always told us the same thing: 'Well, this doesn't involve you.' “</p><p>Putin's complaints are factually accurate. When President Gorbachev accepted the unification of Germany as part of NATO—an astonishing concession in the light of history—there was a quid pro quo. Washington agreed that NATO would not move “one inch eastward,” referring to East Germany.</p><p>The promise was immediately broken, and when Gorbachev complained, he was instructed that it was only a verbal promise, so without force.</p><p>President Clinton proceeded to expand NATO much farther to the east, to Russia's borders. Today there are calls to extend NATO even to Ukraine, deep into the historic Russian “neighborhood.” But it “doesn't involve” the Russians, because its responsibility to “uphold peace and stability” requires that American red lines are at Russia's borders.</p><p>Russia's annexation of Crimea was an illegal act, in violation of international law and specific treaties. It's not easy to find anything comparable in recent years—the Iraq invasion is a vastly greater crime.</p><p>But one comparable example comes to mind: U.S. control of Guantanamo Bay in southeastern Cuba. Guantanamo was wrested from Cuba at gunpoint in 1903 and not relinquished despite Cuba's demands ever since it attained independence in 1959.</p><p>To be sure, Russia has a far stronger case. Even apart from strong internal support for the annexation, Crimea is historically Russian; it has Russia's only warm-water port, the home of Russia's fleet; and has enormous strategic significance. The United States has no claim at all to Guantanamo, other than its monopoly of force.</p><p>One reason why the United States refuses to return Guantanamo to Cuba, presumably, is that this is a major harbor and American control of the region severely hampers Cuban development. That has been a major U.S. policy goal for 50 years, including large-scale terror and <a href="http://www.chomsky.info/books/hegemony02.htm">economic warfare</a>.</p><p>The United States claims that it is shocked by Cuban human rights violations, overlooking the fact that the worst such violations are in Guantanamo; that valid charges against Cuba do not begin to compare with regular practices among Washington's Latin American clients; and that Cuba has been under severe, unremitting U.S. attack since its independence.</p><p>But none of this crosses anyone's red lines or causes a crisis. It falls into the category of the U.S. invasions of Indochina and Iraq, the regular overthrow of parliamentary regimes and installation of vicious dictatorships, and our hideous record of other exercises of “upholding peace and stability.”</p><p><em>© 2014 Noam Chomsky Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate</em></p> Sat, 03 May 2014 08:07:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 988592 at http://www.alternet.org World ukraine Noam Chomsky: The Dimming Prospects for Human Survival http://www.alternet.org/visions/noam-chomsky-dimming-prospects-human-survival <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">From nuclear war to the destruction of the environment, humanity is steering the wrong course. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><a href="http://www.alternet.org/chomsky-staggering-differences-between-how-people-and-powerful-define-security">A previous article I wrote explored</a> how security is a high priority for government planners: security, that is, for state power and its primary constituency, concentrated private power - all of which entails that official policy must be protected from public scrutiny.</p><p>In these terms, government actions fall in place as quite rational, including the rationality of collective suicide. Even instant destruction by nuclear weapons has never ranked high among the concerns of state authorities.</p><p>To cite an example from the late Cold War: In November 1983 the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization launched a military exercise designed to probe Russian air defenses, simulating air and naval attacks and even a nuclear alert.</p><p>These actions were undertaken at a very tense moment. Pershing II strategic missiles were being deployed in Europe. President Reagan, fresh from the "Evil Empire" speech, had announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, dubbed "Star Wars," which the Russians understood to be effectively a first-strike weapon - a standard interpretation of missile defense on all sides.</p><p>Naturally these actions caused great alarm in Russia, which, unlike the U.S., was quite vulnerable and had repeatedly been invaded.</p><p>Newly released archives reveal that the danger was even more severe than historians had previously assumed. The NATO exercise "almost became a prelude to a preventative (Russian) nuclear strike," according to an account last year by Dmitry Adamsky in the Journal of Strategic Studies .</p><p>Nor was this the only close call. In September 1983, Russia's early-warning systems registered an incoming missile strike from the United States and sent the highest-level alert. The Soviet military protocol was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own.</p><p>The Soviet officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, intuiting a false alarm, decided not to report the warnings to his superiors. Thanks to his dereliction of duty, we're alive to talk about the incident.</p><p>Security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan planners than for their predecessors. Such heedlessness continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic accidents, reviewed in a chilling new book, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," by Eric Schlosser.</p><p>It's hard to contest the conclusion of the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, Gen . Lee Butler, that humanity has so far survived the nuclear age "by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion."</p><p>The government's regular, easy acceptance of threats to survival is almost too extraordinary to capture in words.</p><p>In 1995, well after the Soviet Union had collapsed, the U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, which is in charge of nuclear weapons, published a study, "Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence."</p><p>A central conclusion is that the U.S. must maintain the right of a nuclear first strike, even against non-nuclear states. Furthermore, nuclear weapons must always be available, because they "cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict."</p><p>Thus nuclear weapons are always used, just as you use a gun if you aim it but don't fire when robbing a store - a point that Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, has repeatedly stressed.</p><p>Stratcom goes on to advise that "planners should not be too rational about determining ... what an adversary values," all of which must be targeted. "[I]t hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed. . That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries."</p><p>It is "beneficial [for ...our strategic posture] that some elements may appear to be potentially'out of control'" - and thus posing a constant threat of nuclear attack.</p><p>Not much in this document pertains to the obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to make "good faith" efforts to eliminate the nuclear-weapon scourge from the earth. What resounds, rather, is an adaptation of Hilaire Belloc's famous 1898 couplet about the Maxim gun:</p><blockquote><p>Whatever happens we have got,</p><p>The Atom Bomb and they have not.</p></blockquote><p>Plans for the future are hardly promising. In December the Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. nuclear arsenal will cost $355 billion over the next decade. In January the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimated that the U.S. would spend $1 trillion on the nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years.</p><p>And of course the United States is not alone in the arms race. As Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far. The longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle.</p><p>In the case of nuclear weapons, at least we know in principle how to overcome the threat of apocalypse: Eliminate them.</p><p>But another dire peril casts its shadow over any contemplation of the future - environmental disaster. It's not clear that there even is an escape, though the longer we delay, the more severe the threat becomes - and not in the distant future. The commitment of governments to the security of their populations is therefore clearly exhibited by how they address this issue.</p><p>Today the United States is crowing about "100 years of energy independence" as the country becomes "the Saudi Arabia of the next century" - very likely the final century of human civilization if current policies persist.</p><p>One might even take a speech of President Obama's two years ago in the oil town of Cushing, Okla., to be an eloquent death-knell for the species.</p><p>He proclaimed with pride, to ample applause, that "Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's important to know. Over the last three years, I've directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We're opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We've quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We've added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some."</p><p>The applause also reveals something about government commitment to security. Industry profits are sure to be secured as "producing more oil and gas here at home" will continue to be "a critical part" of energy strategy, as the president promised.</p><p>The corporate sector is carrying out major propaganda campaigns to convince the public that climate change, if happening at all, does not result from human activity. These efforts are aimed at overcoming the excessive rationality of the public, which continues to be concerned about the threats that scientists overwhelmingly regard as near-certain and ominous.</p><p>To put it bluntly, in the moral calculus of today's capitalism, a bigger bonus tomorrow outweighs the fate of one's grandchildren.</p><p>What are the prospects for survival then? They are not bright. But the achievements of those who have struggled for centuries for greater freedom and justice leave a legacy that can be taken up and carried forward - and must be, and soon, if hopes for decent survival are to be sustained. And nothing can tell us more eloquently what kind of creatures we are.</p><p>This is Part II of an article adapted from a lecture by Noam Chomsky on Feb. 28, sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif (R<a href="http://www.alternet.org/chomsky-staggering-differences-between-how-people-and-powerful-define-security">ead part 1 here</a>).</p><p>© 2014 Noam Chomsky -- Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate</p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:49:00 -0700 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 977526 at http://www.alternet.org Visions Visions World chomsky Chomsky: How the US Is Playing with Fire in Asia http://www.alternet.org/chomsky-how-us-playing-fire-asia <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A shifting balance of power in Asia has the potential for regional conflicts if it&#039;s not managed, warns Chomsky. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div><aside role="contentinfo"><div><span style="font-size: 12px;">Often dubbed one of the world’s most important intellectuals and its leading public dissident, Noam Chomsky was for years among the top 10 most quoted academics on the planet, edged out only by William Shakespeare, Karl Marx, Aristotle.</span></div></aside></div><div><p>An unrelenting critic of U.S. foreign policy since the 1960s, much of his intellectual life has been spent stripping away what he calls America’s “flattering self-image” and the layers of self-justification and propaganda he says it uses to mask its naked pursuit of power and profit around the world.</p><p>Now aged 85, Chomsky is still in demand across the world as a public speaker. He maintains a punishing work schedule that requires him to write, lecture and personally answer thousands of emails that flood into his account every week. He is professor emeritus of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, where he has been based for nearly 60 years.</p><p>Chomsky will make a rare trip to Tokyo in March, where he is scheduled to give two lectures at Sophia University. Among the themes he will discuss are conceptions of the common good, one deriving from classical liberalism, the other from neoliberal globalization that he predicts will lead to disaster very soon if not radically modified.</p><p>“That gives the answer to the question posed in the title of the talk: ‘Capitalist Democracy and the Prospects for Survival,’ ” he says. “The quick answer is ‘dim.’ ”</p><p><strong>Tell us about your connections to Japan.</strong></p><p>I’ve been interested in Japan since the 1930s, when I read about Japan’s vicious crimes in Manchuria and China. In the early 1940s, as a young teenager, I was utterly appalled by the racist and jingoist hysteria of the anti-Japanese propaganda. The Germans were evil, but treated with some respect: They were, after all, blond Aryan types, just like our imaginary self-image. Japanese were mere vermin, to be crushed like ants. Enough was reported about the firebombing of cities in Japan to recognize that major war crimes were underway, worse in many ways than the atom bombs.</p><p><strong>I heard a story once that you were so appalled by the bombing of Hiroshima and the reaction of Americans that you had to go off and mourn alone . . .</strong></p><p>Yes. On Aug. 6, 1945, I was at a summer camp for children when the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was announced over the public address system. Everyone listened, and then at once went on to their next activity: baseball, swimming, et cetera. Not a comment. I was practically speechless with shock, both at the horrifying events and at the null reaction. So what? More Japs incinerated. And since we have the bomb and no one else does, great; we can rule the world and everyone will be happy.</p><p>I followed the postwar settlement with considerable disgust as well. I didn’t know then what I do now, of course, but enough information was available to undermine the patriotic fairy tale.</p><p>My first trip to Japan was with my wife and children 50 years ago. It was linguistics, purely, though on my own I met with people from Beheiren (Citizen’s League for Peace in Vietnam). I’ve returned a number of times since, always to study linguistics. I was quite struck by the fact that Japan is the only country I visited — and there were many — where talks and interviews focused solely on linguistics and related matters, even while the world was burning.</p><p><strong>You arrive in Japan at a possibly defining moment: the government is preparing to launch a major challenge to the nation’s six-decade pacifist stance, arguing that it must be “more flexible” in responding to external threats; relations with China and Korea have turned toxic; and there is even talk of war. Should we be concerned?</strong></p><p>We should most definitely be concerned. Instead of abandoning its pacifist stance, Japan should take pride in it as an inspiring model for the world, and should take the lead in upholding the goals of the United Nations “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The challenges in the region are real, but what is needed is steps toward political accommodation and establishing peaceful relations, not a return to policies that proved disastrous not so long ago.</p><p><strong>How in concrete terms, though, can political accommodation be achieved? The historical precedents for the kind of situation we face in Asia — competing nationalisms; a rising undemocratic power with opaque military spending and something to prove in tandem with a declining power, increasingly fearful about what this means — are not good.</strong></p><p>There is a real issue, but I think the question should be formulated a bit differently. Chinese military spending is carefully monitored by the United States. It is indeed growing, but it is a small fraction of U.S. expenditures, which are amplified by U.S. allies (China has none). China is indeed seeking to break out of the arc of containment in the Pacific that limits its control over the waters essential to its commerce and open access to the Pacific. That does set up possible conflicts, partly with regional powers that have their own interests, but mainly with the U.S., which of course would never even consider anything remotely comparable for itself and, furthermore, insists upon global control.</p><p>Although the U.S. is a “declining power,” and has been since the late 1940s, it still has no remote competitor as a hegemonic power. Its military spending virtually matches the rest of the world combined, and it is far more technologically advanced. No other country could dream of having a network of hundreds of military bases all over the world, nor of carrying out the world’s most expansive campaign of terror — and that is exactly what (President Barack) Obama’s drone assassination campaign is. And the U.S., of course, has a brutal record of aggression and subversion.</p><p>These are the essential conditions within which political accommodation should be sought. In concrete terms, China’s interests should be recognized along with those of others in the region. But there is no justification for accepting the domination of a global hegemon.</p><p><strong>One of the perceived problems with Japan’s “pacifist” Constitution is that it is so at odds with the facts. Japan operates under the U.S. nuclear umbrella and is host to dozens of bases and thousands of American soldiers. Is that an embodiment of the pacifist ideals of Article 9?</strong></p><p>Insofar as Japan’s behavior is inconsistent with the legitimate constitutional ideals, the behavior should be changed — not the ideals.</p><p><strong>Are you following the political return of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? His critics call him an ultranationalist. Supporters say he is merely trying to update Japan’s three outdated charters — education, the 1947 pacifist Constitution and the security treaty with Washington — all products of the U.S. postwar occupation. What’s your view?</strong></p><p>It makes sense for Japan to pursue a more independent role in the world, following Latin America and others in freeing itself from U.S. domination. But it should do so in a manner that is virtually the opposite of Abe’s ultranationalism, a term that seems to me accurate. The pacifist Constitution, in particular, is one legacy of the occupation that should be vigorously defended.</p><p><strong>What do you make of comparisons between the rise of Nazi Germany and China? We hear such comparisons frequently from nationalists in Japan, and also recently from Benigno Aquino, the Philippine president. China’s rise is often cited as a reason for Japan to stop pulling in its horns.</strong></p><p>China is a rising power, casting off its “century of humiliation” in a bid to become a force in regional and world affairs. As always, there are negative and sometimes threatening aspects to such a development. But a comparison to Nazi Germany is absurd. We might note that in an international poll released at the end of 2013 on the question which country is “the greatest threat to world peace,” the U.S. was ranked far higher than any other, receiving four times the votes of China. There are quite solid reasons for this judgment, some mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, to compare the U.S. to Nazi Germany would be completely absurd, and a fortiori that holds for China’s far lesser resort to violence, subversion and other forms of intervention.</p><p>The comparison between China and Nazi Germany really is hysteria. I wonder whether Japanese readers have even the slightest idea of what the U.S. is doing throughout the world, and has been since it took over Britain’s role of global dominance — and greatly expanded it — after World War II.</p><p><strong>Some see the possible emergence of an Asian regionalism building on the dynamic of intertwined trade centered on China, Japan and South Korea but extending throughout Asia. Under what conditions could such an approach trump both U.S. hegemony and nationalism?</strong></p><p>It is not just possible, it already exists. China’s recent growth spurt is based very heavily on advanced parts, components, design and other high-tech contributions from the surrounding industrial powers. And the rest of Asia is becoming linked to this system, too. The U.S. is a crucial part of the system — Western Europe, too. The U.S. exports production, including high technology, to China, and imports finished goods, all on an enormous scale. The value added in China remains small, although it will increase as China moves up the technology ladder. These developments, if handled properly, can contribute to the general political accommodation that is imperative if serious conflict is to be avoided.</p><p><strong>The recent tension over the Senkaku Islands has raised the threat of military conflict between China and Japan. Most commenters still think war is unlikely, given the enormous consequences and the deep finance and trade links that bind the two economies together. What’s your view?</strong></p><p>The confrontations taking place are extremely hazardous. The same is true of China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone in a contested region, and Washington’s immediate violation of it. History has certainly taught us that playing with fire is not a wise course, particularly for states with an awesome capacity to destroy. Small incidents can rapidly escalate, overwhelming economic links.</p><p><strong>What’s the U.S. role in all this? It seems clear that Washington does not want to be pulled into a conflict with Beijing. We also understand that the Obama administration is upset at Abe’s views on history, and his visits to Yasukuni Shrine, the linchpin of historical revisionism in Japan. However we can hardly call the U.S. an honest broker .</strong> . .</p><p>Hardly. The U.S. is surrounding China with military bases, not conversely. U.S. strategic analysts describe a “classic security dilemma” in the region, as the U.S. and China each perceive the other’s stance as a threat to their basic interests. The issue is control of the seas off China’s coasts, not the Caribbean or the waters off California. For the U.S., global control is a “vital interest.”</p><p>We might also recall the fate of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama when he followed the will of the large majority of Okinawans, defying Washington. As The New York Times reported, “Apologizing for failing to fulfill a prominent campaign promise, Hatoyama told outraged residents of Okinawa on Sunday that he has decided to relocate an American air base to the north side of the island as originally agreed upon with the United States.” His “capitulation,” as it was correctly described, resulted from strong U.S. pressure.</p><p>China is now embroiled in territorial conflicts with Japan and the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea as well as the air defense identification zone on its contested borders. In all of these cases, the U.S. is directly or indirectly involved. Should these be understood as cases of Chinese expansionism?</p><p>China is seeking to expand its regional influence, which conflicts with the traditional U.S. demand to be recognized as the global hegemon, and conflicts as well with local interests of regional powers. The phrase “Chinese expansionism” is accurate, but rather misleading, in the light of overwhelming U.S. global dominance.</p><p>It is useful to think back to the early post-World War II period. U.S. global planning took for granted that Asia would be under U.S. control. China’s independence was a serious blow to these intentions. In U.S. discourse, it is called “the loss of China,” and the issue of who was responsible for “the loss of China” became a major domestic issue, including the rise of McCarthyism. The terminology itself is revealing. I can lose my wallet, but I cannot lose yours. The tacit assumption of U.S. discourse is that China was ours by right. One should be cautious about using the phrase “expansionism” without due attention to this hegemonic conception and its ugly history.</p><p><strong>On Okinawa, the scene seems set for a major confrontation between the mainland and prefectural governments, which support the construction of a new U.S. military base in Henoko, and the local population, which last month overwhelmingly re-elected an anti-base mayor. Do you have any thoughts on how this will play out?</strong></p><p>One can only admire the courage of the people of Nago city and Mayor Inamine Susumu in rejecting the deplorable efforts of the Abe government to coerce them into accepting a military base to which the population was overwhelmingly opposed. And it was no less disgraceful that the central government instantly overrode their democratic decision. What the outcome will be, I cannot predict. It will, however, have considerable import for the fate of democracy and the prospects for peace.</p><p>The Abe government is trying to rekindle nuclear power and restart Japan’s idling reactors. Supporters say the cost of keeping those reactors offline is a massive increase in energy costs and use of fossil fuels. Opponents say it is too dangerous . . .</p><p>The general question of nuclear power is not a simple one. It is hardly necessary to stress how dangerous it is after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which has far from ended. Continued use of fossil fuels threatens global disaster, and not in the distant future. The sensible course would be to move as quickly as possible to sustainable energy sources, as Germany is now doing. The alternatives are too disastrous to contemplate.</p><p><strong>You’ll have followed the work of committed environmentalists such as James Lovelock and George Monbiot, who say nuclear power is the only way to save the planet from cooking. In the short term, that analysis seems to have some merit: One of the immediate consequences of Japan’s nuclear disaster has been a massive expansion in imports of coal, gas and oil. They say there is no way for us to produce enough renewables in time to stop runaway climate change.</strong></p><p>As I said, there is some merit in these views. More accurately, there would be if limited and short-term reliance on nuclear energy, with all of its extreme hazards and unsolved problems — like waste disposal — was taken as an opportunity for rapid and extensive development of sustainable energy. That should be the highest priority, and very quickly, because severe threats of environmental catastrophe are not remote.</p></div><p> </p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 10:38:00 -0800 David McNeill, Noam Chomsky, Japan Times 967431 at http://www.alternet.org World chomsky Chomsky: An Ignorant Public Is the Real Kind of Security Our Govt. Is After http://www.alternet.org/chomsky-staggering-differences-between-how-people-and-powerful-define-security <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Keeping the public in the dark is the name of the game.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1347493558902-1-0_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A leading principle of international relations theory is that the state's highest priority is to ensure security. As Cold War strategist George F. Kennan formulated the standard view, government is created "to assure order and justice internally and to provide for the common defense."</p><p>The proposition seems plausible, almost self-evident, until we look more closely and ask: Security for whom? For the general population? For state power itself? For dominant domestic constituencies?</p><p>Depending on what we mean, the credibility of the proposition ranges from negligible to very high.</p><p>Security for state power is at the high extreme, as illustrated by the efforts that states exert to protect themselves from the scrutiny of their own populations.</p><p>In an interview on German TV, Edward J. Snowden said that his "breaking point" was "seeing Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress" by denying the existence of a domestic spying program conducted by the National Security Agency.</p><p>Snowden elaborated that "The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public."</p><p>The same could be justly said by Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and other courageous figures who acted on the same democratic principle.</p><p>The government stance is quite different: The public doesn't have the right to know because security thus is undermined - severely so, as officials assert.</p><p>There are several good reasons to be skeptical about such a response. The first is that it's almost completely predictable: When a government's act is exposed, the government reflexively pleads security. The predictable response therefore carries little information.</p><p>A second reason for skepticism is the nature of the evidence presented. International relations scholar John Mearsheimer writes that "The Obama administration, not surprisingly, initially claimed that the NSA's spying played a key role in thwarting 54 terrorist plots against the United States, implying it violated the Fourth Amendment for good reason.</p><p>"This was a lie, however. Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, eventually admitted to Congress that he could claim only one success, and that involved catching a Somali immigrant and three cohorts living in San Diego who had sent $8,500 to a terrorist group in Somalia."</p><p>A similar conclusion was reached by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, established by the government to investigate the NSA programs and therefore granted extensive access to classified materials and to security officials.</p><p>There is, of course, a sense in which security is threatened by public awareness - namely, security of state power from exposure.</p><p>The basic insight was expressed well by the Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington: "The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate."</p><p>In the United States as elsewhere, the architects of power understand that very well. Those who have worked through the huge mass of declassified documents in, for example, the official State Department history "Foreign Relations of the United States," can hardly fail to notice how frequently it is security of state power from the domestic public that is a prime concern, not national security in any meaningful sense.</p><p>Often the attempt to maintain secrecy is motivated by the need to guarantee the security of powerful domestic sectors. One persistent example is the mislabeled "free trade agreements" - mislabeled because they radically violate free trade principles and are substantially not about trade at all, but rather about investor rights.</p><p>These instruments are regularly negotiated in secret, like the current Trans-Pacific Partnership - not entirely in secret, of course. They aren't secret from the hundreds of corporate lobbyists and lawyers who are writing the detailed provisions, with an impact revealed by the few parts that have reached the public through WikiLeaks.</p><p>As the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz reasonably concludes, with the U.S. Trade Representative's office "representing corporate interests," not those of the public, "The likelihood that what emerges from the coming talks will serve ordinary Americans' interests is low; the outlook for ordinary citizens in other countries is even bleaker."</p><p>Corporate-sector security is a regular concern of government policies - which is hardly surprising, given their role in formulating the policies in the first place.</p><p>In contrast, there is substantial evidence that the security of the domestic population - "national security" as the term is supposed to be understood - is not a high priority for state policy.</p><p>For example, President Obama's drone-driven global assassination program, by far the world's greatest terrorist campaign, is also a terror-generating campaign. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan until he was relieved of duty, spoke of "insurgent math": For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.</p><p>This concept of "innocent person" tells us how far we've progressed in the last 800 years, since the Magna Carta, which established the principle of presumption of innocence that was once thought to be the foundation of Anglo-American law.</p><p>Today, the word "guilty" means "targeted for assassination by Obama," and "innocent" means "not yet accorded that status."</p><p>The Brookings Institution just published "The Thistle and the Drone," a highly praised anthropological study of tribal societies by Akbar Ahmed, subtitled "How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam."</p><p>This global war pressures repressive central governments to undertake assaults against Washington's tribal enemies. The war, Ahmed warns, may drive some tribes "to extinction" - with severe costs to the societies themselves, as seen now in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. And ultimately to Americans.</p><p>Tribal cultures, Ahmed points out, are based on honor and revenge: "Every act of violence in these tribal societies provokes a counterattack: the harder the attacks on the tribesmen, the more vicious and bloody the counterattacks."</p><p>The terror targeting may hit home. In the British journal International Affairs, David Hastings Dunn outlines how increasingly sophisticated drones are a perfect weapon for terrorist groups. Drones are cheap, easily acquired and "possess many qualities which, when combined, make them potentially the ideal means for terrorist attack in the 21st century," Dunn explains.</p><p>Sen. Adlai Stevenson III, referring to his many years of service on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, writes that "Cyber surveillance and meta data collection are part of the continuing reaction to 9/11, with few if any terrorists to show for it and near universal condemnation. The U.S. is widely perceived as waging war against Islam, against Shiites as well as Sunnis, on the ground, with drones, and by proxy in Palestine, from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia. Germany and Brazil resent our intrusions, and what have they wrought?"</p><p>The answer is that they have wrought a growing terror threat as well as international isolation.</p><p>The drone assassination campaigns are one device by which state policy knowingly endangers security. The same is true of murderous special-forces operations. And of the invasion of Iraq, which sharply increased terror in the West, confirming the predictions of British and American intelligence.</p><p>These acts of aggression were, again, a matter of little concern to planners, who are guided by altogether different concepts of security. Even instant destruction by nuclear weapons has never ranked high for state authorities - a topic for discussion in the next column.</p><p><em>This article, the first of two parts, is adapted from a lecture by Noam Chomsky on Feb. 28 sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, Calif.</em></p>© 2014 Noam ChomskyDistributed by The New York Times Syndicate Mon, 03 Mar 2014 13:08:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, AlterNet 965417 at http://www.alternet.org Visions World chomsky Chomsky: How America's Great University System Is Being Destroyed http://www.alternet.org/corporate-accountability-and-workplace/chomsky-how-americas-great-university-system-getting <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Faculty are increasingly hired on the Walmart model as temps. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/noam_chomsky_2.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <em>The following is an edited transcript of remarks given by Noam Chomsky via Skype on 4 February 2014 to a gathering of members and allies of the <a href="http://www.adjunctfacultyassoc.org/">Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers</a> in Pittsburgh, PA. The transcript was prepared by Robin J. Sowards and edited by Prof. Chomsky.</em><p><strong>On hiring faculty off the tenure track</strong></p><p>That’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Wal-Mart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a  corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line. The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities. The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were <a href="http://www.correntewire.com/sites/default/files/Citibank_Plutonomy_2.pdf">advising their investors</a> on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.</p><p>This idea is sometimes made quite overt. So when Alan Greenspan was <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/hh/1997/february/testimony.htm">testifying before Congress</a> in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health. At the time, everyone regarded Greenspan’s comment as very reasonable, judging by the lack of reaction and the great acclaim he enjoyed. Well, transfer that to the universities: how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more. That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations. And as universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is exactly what is being imposed. And we’ll see more and more of it.</p><p>That’s one aspect, but there are other aspects which are also quite familiar from private industry, namely a large increase in layers of administration and bureaucracy. If you have to control people, you have to have an administrative force that does it. So in US industry even more than elsewhere, there’s layer after layer of management—a kind of economic waste, but useful for control and domination. And the same is true in universities. In the past 30 or 40 years, there’s been a very sharp increase in the proportion of administrators to faculty and students; faculty and students levels have stayed fairly level relative to one another, but the proportion of administrators have gone way up. There’s a very good book on it by a well-known sociologist, Benjamin Ginsberg, called <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-fall-of-the-faculty-9780199782444?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;">The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters</a> (Oxford University Press, 2011), which describes in detail the business style of massive administration and levels of administration—and of course, very highly-paid administrators. This includes professional administrators like deans, for example, who used to be faculty members who took off for a couple of years to serve in an administrative capacity and then go back to the faculty; now they’re mostly professionals, who then have to hire sub-deans, and secretaries, and so on and so forth, a whole proliferation of structure that goes along with administrators. All of that is another aspect of the business model.</p><p>But using cheap labor—and vulnerable labor—is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education. The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations. But it’s a standard feature of a business-run society to transfer costs to the people. In fact, economists tacitly cooperate in this. So, for example, suppose you find a mistake in your checking account and you call the bank to try to fix it. Well, you know what happens. You call them up, and you get a recorded message saying “We love you, here’s a menu.” Maybe the menu has what you’re looking for, maybe it doesn’t. If you happen to find the right option, you listen to some music, and every once and a while a voice comes in and says “Please stand by, we really appreciate your business,” and so on. Finally, after some period of time, you may get a human being, who you can ask a short question to. That’s what economists call “efficiency.” By economic measures, that system reduces labor costs to the bank; of course it imposes costs on you, and those costs are multiplied by the number of users, which can be enormous—but that’s not counted as a cost in economic calculation. And if you look over the way the society works, you find this everywhere. So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.</p><p>In fact, if you look back farther, it goes even deeper than that. If you go back to the early 1970s when a lot of this began, there was a lot of concern pretty much across the political spectrum over the activism of the 1960s; it’s commonly called “the time of troubles.” It was a “time of troubles” because the country was getting civilized, and that’s dangerous. People were becoming politically engaged and were trying to gain rights for groups that are called “special interests,” like women, working people, farmers, the young, the old, and so on. That led to a serious backlash, which was pretty overt. At the liberal end of the spectrum, there’s a book called <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crisis_of_Democracy">The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the </a>Trilateral Commission, Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, Joji Watanuki (New York University Press, 1975), produced by the Trilateral Commission, an organization of liberal internationalists. The Carter administration was drawn almost entirely from their ranks. They were concerned with what they called “the crisis of democracy,” namely that there’s too much democracy. In the 1960s there were pressures from the population, these “special interests,” to try to gain rights within the political arena, and that put too much pressure on the state—you can’t do that. There was one special interest that they left out, namely the corporate sector, because its interests are the “national interest”; the corporate sector is supposed to control the state, so we don’t talk about them. But the “special interests” were causing problems and they said “we have to have more moderation in democracy,” the public has to go back to being passive and apathetic. And they were particularly concerned with schools and universities, which they said were not properly doing their job of “indoctrinating the young.” You can see from student activism (the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movements) that the young are just not being indoctrinated properly.</p><p>Well how do you indoctrinate the young? There are a number of ways. One way is to burden them with hopelessly heavy tuition debt. Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy. They can even garnish social security if you default. That’s a disciplinary technique. I don’t say that it was consciously introduced for the purpose, but it certainly has that effect. And it’s hard to argue that there’s any economic basis for it. Just take a look around the world: higher education is mostly free. In the countries with the highest education standards, let’s say Finland, which is at the top all the time, higher education is free. And in a rich, successful capitalist country like Germany, it’s free. In Mexico, a poor country, which has pretty decent education standards, considering the economic difficulties they face, it’s free. In fact, look at the United States: if you go back to the 1940s and 50s, higher education was pretty close to free. The GI Bill gave free education to vast numbers of people who would never have been able to go to college. It was very good for them and it was very good for the economy and the society; it was part of the reason for the high economic growth rate. Even in private colleges, education was pretty close to free. Take me: I went to college in 1945 at an Ivy League university, University of Pennsylvania, and tuition was $100. That would be maybe $800 in today’s dollars. And it was very easy to get a scholarship, so you could live at home, work, and go to school and it didn’t cost you anything. Now it’s outrageous. I have grandchildren in college, who have to pay for their tuition and work and it’s almost impossible. For the students that is a disciplinary technique.</p><p>And another technique of indoctrination is to cut back faculty-student contact: large classes, temporary teachers who are overburdened, who can barely survive on an adjunct salary. And since you don’t have any job security you can’t build up a career, you can’t move on and get more. These are all techniques of discipline, indoctrination, and control. And it’s very similar to what you’d expect in a factory, where factory workers have to be disciplined, to be obedient; they’re not supposed to play a role in, say, organizing production or determining how the workplace functions—that’s the job of management. This is now carried over to the universities. And I think it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has any experience in private enterprise, in industry; that’s the way they work.</p><p><strong>On how higher education ought to be</strong></p><p>First of all, we should put aside any idea that there was once a “golden age.” Things were different and in some ways better in the past, but far from perfect. The traditional universities were, for example, extremely hierarchical, with very little democratic participation in decision-making. One part of the activism of the 1960s was to try to democratize the universities, to bring in, say, student representatives to faculty committees, to bring in staff to participate. These efforts were carried forward under student initiatives, with some degree of success. Most universities now have some degree of student participation in faculty decisions. And I think those are the kinds of things we should be moving towards: a democratic institution, in which the people involved in the institution, whoever they may be (faculty, students, staff), participate in determining the nature of the institution and how it runs; and the same should go for a factory.</p><p>These are not radical ideas, I should say. They come straight out of classical liberalism. So if you read, for example, John Stuart Mill, a major figure in the classical liberal tradition, he took it for granted that workplaces ought to be managed and controlled by the people who work in them—that’s freedom and democracy (see, e.g., John Stuart Mill, <a href="http://www.efm.bris.ac.uk/het/mill/book4/bk4ch07">Principles of Political Economy, book 4, ch. 7</a>). We see the same ideas in the United States. Let’s say you go back to the Knights of Labor; one of their stated aims was “To establish co-operative institutions such as will tend to supersede the wage-system, by the introduction of a co-operative industrial system” (<a href="http://www.gompers.umd.edu/KOL%20ritual.pdf">“Founding Ceremony”</a> for newly-organized Local Associations). Or take someone like, John Dewey, a mainstream 20th-century social philosopher, who called not only for education directed at creative independence in schools, but also worker control in industry, what he called “industrial democracy.” He says that as long as the crucial institutions of the society (like production, commerce, transportation, media) are not under democratic control, then “politics [will be] the shadow cast on society by big business” (John Dewey, <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/magazine/104638/the-need-new-party">“The Need for a New Party”</a>[1931]). This idea is almost elementary, it has deep roots in American history and in classical liberalism, it should be second nature to working people, and it should apply the same way to universities. There are some decisions in a university where you don’t want to have [democratic transparency because] you have to preserve student privacy, say, and there are various kinds of sensitive issues, but on much of the normal activity of the university, there is no reason why direct participation can’t be not only legitimate but helpful. In my department, for example, for 40 years we’ve had student representatives helpfully participating in department meetings.</p><p><strong>On “shared governance” and worker control</strong></p><p>The university is probably the social institution in our society that comes closest to democratic worker control. Within a department, for example, it’s pretty normal for at least the tenured faculty to be able to determine a substantial amount of what their work is like: what they’re going to teach, when they’re going to teach, what the curriculum will be. And most of the decisions about the actual work that the faculty is doing are pretty much under tenured faculty control. Now of course there is a higher level of administrators that you can’t overrule or control. The faculty can recommend somebody for tenure, let’s say, and be turned down by the deans, or the president, or even the trustees or legislators. It doesn’t happen all that often, but it can happen and it does. And that’s always a part of the background structure, which, although it always existed, was much less of a problem in the days when the administration was drawn from the faculty and in principle recallable. Under representative systems, you have to have someone doing administrative work but they should be recallable at some point under the authority of the people they administer. That’s less and less true. There are more and more professional administrators, layer after layer of them, with more and more positions being taken remote from the faculty controls. I mentioned before The Fall of the Faculty by Benjamin Ginsberg, which goes into a lot of detail as to how this works in the several universities he looks at closely: Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and a couple of others.</p><p>Meanwhile, the faculty are increasingly reduced to a category of temporary workers who are assured a precarious existence with no path to the tenure track. I have personal acquaintances who are effectively permanent lecturers; they’re not given real faculty status; they have to apply every year so that they can get appointed again. These things shouldn’t be allowed to happen. And in the case of adjuncts, it’s been institutionalized: they’re not permitted to be a part of the decision-making apparatus, and they’re excluded from job security, which merely amplifies the problem. I think staff ought to also be integrated into decision-making, since they’re also a part of the university. So there’s plenty to do, but I think we can easily understand why these tendencies are developing. They are all part of imposing a business model on just about every aspect of life. That’s the neoliberal ideology that most of the world has been living under for 40 years. It’s very harmful to people, and there has been resistance to it. And it’s worth noticing that two parts of the world, at least, have pretty much escaped from it, namely East Asia, where they never really accepted it, and South America in the past 15 years.</p><p><strong>On the alleged need for “flexibility”</strong></p><p>“Flexibility” is a term that’s very familiar to workers in industry. Part of what’s called “labor reform” is to make labor more “flexible,” make it easier to hire and fire people. That’s, again, a way to ensure maximization of profit and control. “Flexibility” is supposed to be a good thing, like “greater worker insecurity.” Putting aside industry where the same is true, in universities there’s no justification. So take a case where there’s under-enrollment somewhere. That’s not a big problem. One of my daughters teaches at a university; she just called me the other night and told me that her teaching load is being shifted because one of the courses that was being offered was under-enrolled. Okay, the world didn’t come to an end, they just shifted around the teaching arrangements—you teach a different course, or an extra section, or something like that. People don’t have to be thrown out or be insecure because of the variation in the number of students enrolling in courses. There are all sorts of ways of adjusting for that variation. The idea that labor should meet the conditions of “flexibility” is just another standard technique of control and domination. Why not say that administrators should be thrown out if there’s nothing for them to do that semester, or trustees—what do they have to be there for? The situation is the same with top management in industry: if labor has to be flexible, how about management? Most of them are pretty useless or even harmful anyway, so let’s get rid of them. And you can go on like this. Just to take the news from the last couple of days, take, say, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase bank: he just got a pretty<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/24/news/companies/dimon-pay/">substantial raise</a>, almost double his salary, out of gratitude because he had saved the bank from criminal charges that would have sent the management to jail; he got away with only $20 billion in fines for criminal activities. Well I can imagine that getting rid of somebody like that might be helpful to the economy. But that’s not what people are talking about when they talk about “labor reform.” It’s the working people who have to suffer, and they have to suffer by insecurity, by not knowing where tomorrow’s piece of bread is going to come from, and therefore be disciplined and obedient and not raise questions or ask for their rights. That’s the way that tyrannical systems operate. And the business world is a tyrannical system. When it’s imposed on the universities, you find it reflects the same ideas. This shouldn’t be any secret.</p><p><strong>On the purpose of education</strong></p><p>These are debates that go back to the Enlightenment, when issues of higher education and mass education were really being raised, not just education for the clergy and aristocracy. And there were basically two models discussed in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were discussed with pretty evocative imagery. One image of education was that it should be like a vessel that is filled with, say, water. That’s what we call these days “teaching to test”: you pour water into the vessel and then the vessel returns the water. But it’s a pretty leaky vessel, as all of us who went through school experienced, since you could memorize something for an exam that you had no interest in to pass an exam and a week later you forgot what the course was about. The vessel model these days is called “no child left behind,” “teaching to test,” “race to top,” whatever the name may be, and similar things in universities. Enlightenment thinkers opposed that model.</p><p>The other model was described as laying out a string along which the student progresses in his or her own way under his or her own initiative, maybe moving the string, maybe deciding to go somewhere else, maybe raising questions. Laying out the string means imposing some degree of structure. So an educational program, whatever it may be, a course on physics or something, isn’t going to be just anything goes; it has a certain structure. But the goal of it is for the student to acquire the capacity to inquire, to create, to innovate, to challenge—that’s education. One world-famous physicist, in his freshman courses if he was asked “what are we going to cover this semester?”, his answer was “it doesn’t matter what we cover, it matters what you discover.” You have gain the capacity and the self-confidence for that matter to challenge and create and innovate, and that way you learn; that way you’ve internalized the material and you can go on. It’s not a matter of accumulating some fixed array of facts which then you can write down on a test and forget about tomorrow.</p><p>These are two quite distinct models of education. The Enlightenment ideal was the second one, and I think that’s the one that we ought to be striving towards. That’s what real education is, from kindergarten to graduate school. In fact there are programs of that kind for kindergarten, pretty good ones.</p><p><strong>On the love of teaching</strong></p><p>We certainly want people, both faculty and students, to be engaged in activity that’s satisfying, enjoyable, challenging, exciting—and I don’t really think that’s hard. Even young children are creative, inquisitive, they want to know things, they want to understand things, and unless that’s beaten out of your head it stays with you the rest of your life. If you have opportunities to pursue those commitments and concerns, it’s one of the most satisfying things in life. That’s true if you’re a research physicist, it’s true if you’re a carpenter; you’re trying to create something of value and deal with a difficult problem and solve it. I think that’s what makes work the kind of thing you want to do; you do it even if you don’t have to do it. In a reasonably functioning university, you find people working all the time because they love it; that’s what they want to do; they’re given the opportunity, they have the resources, they’re encouraged to be free and independent and creative—what’s better? That’s what they love to do. And that, again, can be done at any level.</p><p>It’s worth thinking about some of the imaginative and creative educational programs that are being developed at different levels. So, for example, somebody just described to me the other day a program they’re using in high schools, a science program where the students are asked an interesting question: “How can a mosquito fly in the rain?” That’s a hard question when you think about it. If something hit a human being with the force of a raindrop hitting a mosquito it would absolutely flatten them immediately. So how come the mosquito isn’t crushed instantly? And how can the mosquito keep flying? If you pursue that question—and it’s a pretty hard question—you get into questions of mathematics, physics, and biology, questions that are challenging enough that you want to find an answer to them.</p><p>That’s what education should be like at every level, all the way down to kindergarten, literally. There are kindergarten programs in which, say, each child is given a collection of little items: pebbles, shells, seeds, and things like that. Then the class is given the task of finding out which ones are the seeds. It begins with what they call a “scientific conference”: the kids talk to each other and they try to figure out which ones are seeds. And of course there’s some teacher guidance, but the idea is to have the children think it through. After a while, they try various experiments and they figure out which ones are the seeds. At that point, each child is given a magnifying glass and, with the teacher’s help, cracks a seed and looks inside and finds the embryo that makes the seed grow. These children learn something—really, not only something about seeds and what makes things grow; but also about how to discover. They’re learning the joy of discovery and creation, and that’s what carries you on independently, outside the classroom, outside the course.</p><p>The same goes for all education up through graduate school. In a reasonable graduate seminar, you don’t expect students to copy it down and repeat whatever you say; you expect them to tell you when you’re wrong or to come up with new ideas, to challenge, to pursue some direction that hadn’t been thought of before. That’s what real education is at every level, and that’s what ought to be encouraged. That ought to be the purpose of education. It’s not to pour information into somebody’s head which will then leak out but to enable them to become creative, independent people who can find excitement in discovery and creation and creativity at whatever level or in whatever domain their interests carry them.</p><p><strong>On using corporate rhetoric against corporatization</strong></p><p>This is kind of like asking how you should justify to the slave owner that people shouldn’t be slaves. You’re at a level of moral inquiry where it’s probably pretty hard to find answers. We are human beings with human rights. It’s good for the individual, it’s good for the society, it’s even good for the economy, in the narrow sense, if people are creative and independent and free. Everyone benefits if people are able to participate, to control their fate, to work with each other—that may not maximize profit and domination, but why should we take those to be values to be concerned about?</p><p><strong>Advice for adjunct faculty organizing unions</strong></p><p>You know better than I do what has to be done, the kind of problems you face. Just go ahead and do what has to be done. Don’t be intimidated, don’t be frightened, and recognize that the future can be in our hands if we’re willing to grasp it.</p><p><em>Prof. Chomsky’s remarks in this transcript were elicited by questions from Robin Clarke, Adam Davis, David Hoinski, Maria Somma, Robin J. Sowards, Matthew Ussia, and Joshua Zelesnick. Noam Chomsky’s <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1884519253/counterpunchmaga">Occupy: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity</a> is published by <a href="http://www.zuccottiparkpress.com/">Zuccotti Park Press.</a> </em></p><p> </p> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 06:48:00 -0800 Noam Chomsky, CounterPunch 964240 at http://www.alternet.org Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace Education chomsky