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Noam Chomsky: America, Moral Degenerate

Democrats and Republicans alike embrace torture and assassination policies that are an attack on 800 years of civil rights law.

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In any event, the intervention did take place and now one hopes for the best, but it's not a very pretty picture. You can read an account of it in the current issue of the London Review of Books by Hugh Roberts, who was, at the time, the North African director of the International Crisis Group and a specialist on the region. He opposed the intervention and described the outcome as pretty hopeless chaos that is undercutting the hopes for an eventual rise of a sort of sensible, democratic nationalism.

So that wasn't very pretty, but what about the other countries? Well, the countries that are most significant to the United States and the West, generally, are the oil dictatorships and they remain very stable. There were efforts to try and join the Arab Spring, but they were crushed, very harshly, with not a word from the Western powers. Sometimes it was quite violent, as in eastern Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain, which were Shiite areas, mostly, but it resulted in at most a tap on the wrist by the western powers. They clearly wanted the oil dictatorships to remain. That's the center of their power.

In Tunisia, which had mostly French influence, the French supported the dictatorship until the very end. In fact, they were still supporting it after demonstrations were sweeping the country. Finally, at the last second, they conceded that their favorite dictator had to go. In Egypt, where the United States and Britain were the main influences, it was the same. Obama supported the dictator Mubarak until virtually the last minute – until the army turned against him. It became impossible to support him anymore so they urged him to leave and make a transition to a similar system.

All of that is quite routine. That's the standard operating procedure for dealing with a situation where your favorite dictator is getting into trouble. There is case after case like that. What you do in that case is support the dictator to the very end, regardless of how vicious and bloody he is. Then when it becomes impossible, say because the army or the business classes have turned against him, then ease him out somewhere (sometimes with half the government's treasury in his pocket), declare your love for democracy, and try to restore the old system. That's pretty much what's happening in Egypt.

Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives is a print and online magazine published by the Asian Human Rights Commission based in Hong Kong and the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) in Denmark. Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives is a new initiative which focuses on torture and its related issues globally. Writers interested in having their research on this subject published may submit their articles to:  torturemag@ahrc.asia.

Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT.

 
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