by Noam Chomsky
from AlterNet Website
If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and
Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in
Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in
Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard
struggles and are now under severe attack.
There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called,
...in the words of the State Department in the
1940s, a prize that the U.S. intended to keep for itself and its allies in
the unfolding New World Order of that day.
And correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project
of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II, and
that has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order since
High-level State Department officials and foreign policy specialists met through the wartime years to lay out plans for the postwar world. They delineated a "Grand Area" that the U.S. was to dominate, including,
As Russia began to grind down Nazi armies after Stalingrad, Grand Area goals extended to as much of Eurasia as possible, at least its economic core in Western Europe.
Within the Grand Area, the U.S. would maintain "unquestioned power," with "military and economic supremacy," while ensuring the "limitation of any exercise of sovereignty" by states that might interfere with its global designs.
The careful wartime plans were soon implemented.
It has since become a U.S.-run intervention force, with far-ranging scope, spelled out by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who informed a NATO conference that,
...and more generally to protect sea routes used by tankers and other "crucial
infrastructure" of the energy system.
That conclusion was articulated clearly by the Clinton administration, which declared that the U.S. has the right to use military force to ensure,
The same principles governed the invasion of Iraq.
As the U.S. failure to impose its will in Iraq was becoming unmistakable, the actual goals of the invasion could no longer be concealed behind pretty rhetoric. In November 2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that U.S. forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to privilege American investors.
Two months later, President
Congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent
stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or "United States control of the oil
resources of Iraq" - demands that the U.S. had to abandon shortly after in
the face of Iraqi resistance.
The report discusses internal barriers to
democracy, but ignores the external ones, which as always are significant.
They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the U.S. and Israel as the major threats they face:
If public opinion were to influence policy, the
U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it,
along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global
The evidence is overwhelming that democracy is
supported insofar as it contributes to social and economic objectives, a
conclusion reluctantly conceded by the more serious scholarship.
The guiding principle was articulated clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high official of the Jordanian government:
In short, if the dictators support us, what else
The National Security Council (NSC) explained that there is a perception in the Arab world that the U.S. supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and development so as to ensure control over the resources of the region. Furthermore, the perception is basically accurate, the NSC concluded, and that is what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher doctrine.
Pentagon studies conducted after
that the same holds today.
Both had rich agriculture, including cotton, the
fuel of the early industrial revolution - though unlike Egypt, the U.S. had
to develop cotton production and a work force by conquest, extermination,
and slavery, with consequences that are evident right now in the
reservations for the survivors and the prisons that have rapidly expanded
since the Reagan years to house the superfluous population left by
Smith urged the liberated colonies to produce primary products for export and to import superior British manufactures, and certainly not to attempt to monopolize crucial goods, particularly cotton.
Any other path, Smith warned,
Having gained their independence, the colonies were free to ignore his advice and to follow England's course of independent state-guided development, with high tariffs to protect industry from British exports, first textiles, later steel and others, and to adopt numerous other devices to accelerate industrial development.
The independent Republic also sought to gain a
monopoly of cotton so as to "place all other nations at our feet,"
particularly the British enemy, as the Jacksonian presidents announced when
conquering Texas and half of Mexico.
Lord Palmerston declared that,
...of Britain as preserving its economic and political
hegemony, expressing his "hate" for the "ignorant barbarian" Muhammed Ali
who dared to seek an independent course, and deploying Britain's fleet and
financial power to terminate Egypt's quest for independence and economic
The usual interpretation of market principles.
The other leading founder of classical economics, David Ricardo, drew similar conclusions, hoping that home bias would lead men of property to,
Their predictions aside, the instincts of the
classical economists were sound.
In 1989, the democracy uprising was tolerated by the Russians, and supported by western power in accord with standard doctrine:
There was no Gorbachev in the West throughout
these horrendous years, and there is none today. And Western power remains
hostile to democracy in the Arab world for good reasons.
An authoritative answer is provided by the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence. Reporting on global security last year, they make it clear that the threat is not military.
Iran's military spending is,
Iran has only,
With regard to the nuclear option,
Whether they are doing so remains an open
question, but perhaps so.
Iran's efforts to extend its influence to them are "destabilization," hence plainly illegitimate. Such usage is routine.
Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James Chace was properly using the term "stability" in its technical sense when he explained that in order to achieve "stability" in Chile it was necessary to "destabilize" the country (by overthrowing the elected government of Salvador Allende and installing the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet).
Other concerns about Iran are equally
interesting to explore, but perhaps this is enough to reveal the guiding
principles and their status in imperial culture. As Franklin Delano
Roosevelt’s planners emphasized at the dawn of the contemporary world
system, the U.S. cannot tolerate "any exercise of sovereignty" that
interferes with its global designs.
Their disobedience led to sharp censure, not for the first time:
After its Security Council misdeed last year, Turkey was warned by Obama's top diplomat on European affairs, Philip Gordon, that it must,
A scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations asked,
Brazil's Lula was admonished in a New York Times headline that his effort with Turkey to provide a solution to the uranium enrichment issue outside of the framework of U.S. power was a "Spot on Brazilian Leader's Legacy."
In brief, do what we say, or else.
When it succeeded, the approval turned to
censure, and Washington rammed through a Security Council resolution so weak
that China readily signed - and is now chastised for living up to the letter
of the resolution but not Washington's unilateral directives - in the
current issue of Foreign Affairs, for example.
The press warns that,
...and in particular, is expanding its dominant role in Iran's energy industries.
Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation.
The State Department warned China that if it wants to be accepted in the international community - a technical term referring to the U.S. and whoever happens to agree with it - then it must not,
China is unlikely to be impressed. There is also much concern about the growing Chinese military threat.
A recent Pentagon study warned that China's military budget is approaching,
Off the coast of China, that is; it has yet to be proposed that the U.S. should eliminate military forces that deny the Caribbean to Chinese warships.
China's lack of understanding of rules of
international civility is illustrated further by its objections to plans for
the advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington to join
naval exercises a few miles off China's coast, with alleged capacity to
The liberal New Republic expresses its concern that,
That is indeed a provocation - unlike the fact,
unmentioned, that Washington has converted the island into a major military
base in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa. That is not
a provocation, on the standard principle that we own the world.
One obvious way is rarely discussed: work to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the region.
The issue arose
(again) at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference at United Nations
headquarters last May. Egypt, as chair of the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned
Movement, called for negotiations on a Middle East NWFZ, as had been agreed
by the West, including the U.S., at the 1995 review conference on the NPT.
Furthermore, the U.S. made clear that Israel must be exempted: no proposal can call for Israel's nuclear program to be placed under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency or for the release of information about,
So much for this method of dealing with the
Iranian nuclear threat.
The peak of U.S. power was after World War II, when it had literally half the world's wealth. But that naturally declined, as other industrial economies recovered from the devastation of the war and decolonization took its agonizing course.
By the early 1970s, the U.S. share of global wealth had declined to about 25%, and the industrial world had become tripolar:
There was also a sharp change in the U.S. economy in the 1970s, towards financialization and export of production.
A variety of factors converged to create a vicious cycle of radical concentration of wealth, primarily in the top fraction of 1% of the population - mostly CEOs, hedge-fund managers, and the like. That leads to the concentration of political power, hence state policies to increase economic concentration: fiscal policies, rules of corporate governance, deregulation, and much more.
Meanwhile the costs of electoral campaigns
skyrocketed, driving the parties into the pockets of concentrated capital,
increasingly financial: the Republicans reflexively, the Democrats - by now
what used to be moderate Republicans - not far behind.
In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2 billion, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions.
The public is angry and frustrated, but as long
as the Muasher principle prevails, that doesn't matter.
Right now, real unemployment is at Depression
levels for much of the population, while Goldman Sachs, one of the main
architects of the current crisis, is richer than ever. It has just quietly
announced $17.5 billion in compensation for last year, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein receiving a $12.6 million bonus while his base salary more than
That has been true throughout
U.S. history, even more so at times of economic crisis, exacerbated now by a
sense that our country is being taken away from us: the white population
will soon become a minority. One can understand the anger of aggrieved
individuals, but the cruelty of the policy is shocking.
In Eastern Massachusetts, where I live, many are Mayans fleeing genocide in the Guatemalan highlands carried out by Reagan's favorite killers. Others are Mexican victims of Clinton's NAFTA, one of those rare government agreements that managed to harm working people in all three of the participating countries.
As NAFTA was rammed through Congress over popular objection in 1994, Clinton also initiated the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border, previously fairly open. It was understood that Mexican campesinos cannot compete with highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses would not survive competition with U.S. multinationals, which must be granted "national treatment" under the mislabeled free trade agreements, a privilege granted only to corporate persons, not those of flesh and blood.
Not surprisingly, these measures led to a flood
of desperate refugees, and to rising anti-immigrant hysteria by the victims
of state-corporate policies at home.
Or when France, still today the main protector of the brutal dictatorships in its former colonies, manages to overlook its hideous atrocities in Africa, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy warns grimly of the "flood of immigrants" and Marine Le Pen objects that he is doing nothing to prevent it.
I need not mention Belgium, which may win the prize for what Adam Smith called,
The rise of neo-fascist parties in much of Europe would be a frightening phenomenon even if we were not to recall what happened on the continent in the recent past.
Just imagine the reaction if Jews were being expelled from France to misery and oppression, and then witness the non-reaction when that is happening to Roma, also victims of the Holocaust and Europe's most brutalized population.
Those with a sense of irony may recall that Benjamin Franklin, one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment, warned that the newly liberated colonies should be wary of allowing Germans to immigrate, because they were too swarthy; Swedes as well.
Into the twentieth century, ludicrous myths of Anglo-Saxon purity were common in the U.S., including among presidents and other leading figures.
Racism in the literary culture has been a rank
obscenity; far worse in practice, needless to say. It is much easier to
eradicate polio than this horrifying plague, which regularly becomes more
virulent in times of economic distress.
Systemic risk in the financial system can be
remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to the rescue if the
environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is close to an
institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting propaganda
campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global warming is a
liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the threat, but they must
maximize short-term profit and market share. If they don't, someone else
Worse, some are true believers; for example, the
new head of a subcommittee on the environment who explained that global
warming cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that there will not be
And before we laugh, we might also bear in mind
that the current economic crisis is traceable in no small measure to the
fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market hypothesis, and in
general to what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, 15 years ago, called
the "religion" that markets know best - which prevented the central bank and
the economics profession from taking notice of an $8 trillion housing bubble
that had no basis at all in economic fundamentals, and that devastated the
economy when it burst.
As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.