U.S. Isolation By Noam Chomsky

On 23 December 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334 unanimously, US abstaining.  The Resolution reaffirmed “that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East [and] Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.”

Reaffirmed.  A matter of some import.

It is important to recognize that 2334 is nothing new. The quote above is from UNSC Resolution 446, 12 March 1979, reiterated in essence in Resolution 2334.  Resolution 446 passed 12-0 with the US abstaining, joined by the UK and Norway. The primary differences today are that the US is now alone against the whole world, and that it is a different world.  Israel’s violations of Security Council orders, and of international law, are by now far more extreme than in 1979 and are arousing far greater condemnation in much of the world. The contents of Resolution 446-2334 are therefore taken more seriously. Hence the intense reaction to 2334, both coverage and commentary; and in Israel and the US, considerable hysteria. These are all striking indications of the increasing isolation of the US on the world stage. Under Obama, that is.  Under Trump US isolation will likely increase further, and indeed already has, even before he takes office.

Trump’s most significant step in advancing US isolation was on November 8, when he won two victories. The lesser victory was in the US, where he won the electoral vote. The greater victory was in Marrakech, Morocco, where some 200 nations were meeting to try to put some real content into the December 2015 Paris agreements on climate change, which were left as promises rather than the intended treaty because the Republican Congress would not accept binding commitments.

As the electoral votes came in on November 8, the Marrakech conference shifted from its substantive program to the question whether there could even be any meaningful action to deal with the severe threat of environmental catastrophe now that the most powerful country in world history is calling quits. That was, surely, Trump’s greatest victory on November 8, one of truly momentous import. It also established US isolation on the most severe problem humans have ever faced in their short history on earth. The world rested its hopes for leadership in China, now that the Leader of the Free World has declared that it will not only withdraw from the effort but, with Trump’s election, will move forcefully to accelerate the race to disaster.

An amazing spectacle, which passed with virtually no comment.

The fact that the US is now alone in rejecting the international consensus reaffirmed in UNSC 2334, having lost even Theresa May’s Britain, is another sign of increasing US isolation.

Just why Obama chose abstention rather than veto is an open question: we do not have direct evidence. But there are some plausible guesses. There had been some ripples of surprise (and ridicule) after Obama’s February 2011 veto of a UNSC Resolution calling for implementation of official US policy, and he may have felt that it would be too much to repeat it if he is to salvage anything of his tattered legacy among sectors of the population that have some concern for international law and human rights. It is also worth remembering that among liberal Democrats, if not Congress, and particularly among the young, opinion about Israel-Palestine has been moving towards criticism of Israeli policies in recent years, so much so that the core of support for Israeli policies in the US has shifted to the far right, including the evangelical base of the Republican Party. Perhaps these were factors.

The 2016 abstention aroused furor in Israel and in the US Congress as well, both Republicans and leading Democrats, including proposals to defund the UN in retaliation for the world’s crime. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced Obama for his “underhanded, anti-Israel” actions. His office accused Obama of “colluding” behind the scenes with this “gang-up” by the UNSC, producing particles of “evidence” that hardly rise to the level of sick humor.  A senior Israeli official added that the abstention “revealed the true face of the Obama administration,” adding that “now we can understand what we have been dealing with for the past eight years.”

Reality is rather different. Obama has in fact broken all records in support for Israel, both diplomatic and financial. The reality is described accurately by Middle East specialist of the Financial Times David Gardner: “Mr Obama’s personal dealings with Mr Netanyahu may often have been poisonous, but he has been the most pro-Israel of presidents: the most prodigal with military aid and reliable in wielding the US veto at the Security Council… The election of Donald Trump has so far brought little more than turbo-frothed tweets to bear on this and other geopolitical knots. But the auguries are ominous. An irredentist government in Israel tilted towards the ultra-right is now joined by a national populist administration in Washington fire-breathing Islamophobia.”

In an interesting and revealing comment, Netanyahu denounced the “gang-up” of the world as proof of “old-world bias against Israel,” a phrase reminiscent of Donald Rumsfeld’s Old Europe-New Europe distinction in 2003.

It will be recalled that the states of Old Europe were the bad guys, the major states of Europe, which dared to respect the opinions of the overwhelming majority of their populations and thus refused to join the US in the crime of the century, the invasion of Iraq. The states of New Europe were the good guys, which overruled an even larger majority and obeyed the master. The most honorable of the good guys was Spain’s Jose Maria Aznar, who rejected virtually unanimous opposition to the war in Spain and was rewarded by being invited to join Bush and Blair in announcing the invasion.

This quite illuminating display of utter contempt for democracy, along with others at the same time, passed virtually unnoticed, understandably. The task at the time was to praise Washington for its passionate dedication to democracy, as illustrated by “democracy promotion” in Iraq, which suddenly became the party line after the “single question” (will Saddam give up his WMD?) was answered the wrong way.

Netanyahu is adopting much the same stance. The old world that is biased against Israel is the entire UN Security Council; more specifically, anyone in the world who has some lingering commitment to international law and human rights.  Luckily for the Israeli far right, that excludes the US Congress and – very outspokenly – the President-elect and his associates.

The Israeli government is of course cognizant of these developments.  It is therefore seeking to shift its base of support to authoritarian states such as Singapore, China and Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist India, now becoming a very natural ally with its drift towards ultranationalism, reactionary internal policies, and hatred of Islam. The reasons for Israel’s looking in this direction for support are outlined by Mark Heller, principal research associate at Tel Aviv’s Institution for National Security Studies. “Over the long term,” he explains, “there are problems for Israel in its relations with western Europe and with the U.S.,” while in contrast, the important Asian countries “don’t seem to indicate much interest about how Israel gets along with the Palestinians, Arabs, or anyone else.” In short, China, India, Singapore and other favored allies are less influenced by the kinds of liberal and humane concerns that pose increasing threats to Israel.

The tendencies developing in world order merit some attention. As noted, the US is becoming even more isolated than it has been in recent years, when US-run polls – unreported in the US but surely known in Washington – revealed that world opinion regarded the US as by far the leading threat to world peace, no one else even close. Under Obama, the US is now alone in abstention on the illegal Israel settlements, against a unanimous UNSC. With Trump and his bipartisan congressional supporters, the US will be even more isolated in the world in support of Israeli crimes.  Since November 8, the US is isolated on the much more crucial matter of global warming. If Trump makes good on his promise to exit from the Iran deal, it is likely that the other participants will persist, leaving the US still more isolated from Europe. The US is also much more isolated from its Latin American “backyard” than in the past, and will be even more isolated if Trump backs off from Obama’s halting steps to normalize relations with Cuba, undertaken to ward off the likelihood that the US would be pretty much excluded from hemispheric organizations because of its continuing assault on Cuba, in international isolation.

Much the same is happening in Asia, as even close US allies (apart from Japan), even the UK, flock to the China-based Asian Infrastructure Development Bank and the China-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, in this case including Japan. The China-based Shanghai Cooperation Organization incorporates the Central Asian states, Siberia with its rich resources, India, Pakistan, and soon probably Iran and perhaps Turkey. The SCO has rejected the US request for observer status and demanded that the US remove all military bases from the region.

Immediately after the Trump election, we witnessed the interesting spectacle of German chancellor Angela Merkel taking the lead in lecturing Washington on liberal values and human rights. Meanwhile, since November 8, the world looks to China for leadership in saving the world from environmental catastrophe, while the US, in splendid isolation once again, devotes itself to undermining these efforts.

US isolation is not complete, of course. As was made very clear in the reaction to Trump’s electoral victory, the US has the enthusiastic support of the xenophobic ultra-right in Europe, including its neo-fascist elements. And the return of the ultra-right in parts of Latin America offers the US opportunities for alliances there as well. And of course the US retains its close alliance with Gulf dictatorships and with Israel, which is also separating itself from more liberal and democratic sectors in Europe and linking with authoritarian regimes that are not concerned with Israel’s violations of international law and harsh attacks on elementary human rights.

The developing picture suggests the emergence of a New World Order, one that is rather different from the usual portrayals within the doctrinal system.

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In First TV Interview, President Trump Says Torture “Absolutely” Works

During his first televised interview as president, Donald Trump openly embraced torture and waterboarding. “I have spoken, as recently as 24 hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question: Does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely,'” Trump said. We speak to Vincent Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Faiza Patel of the Brennan Center.
capture
TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: During the ABC interview on Wednesday that Donald Trump did with David Muir, he asked Trump about torture.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you told me during one of the debates that you would bring back waterboarding—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yeah.

DAVID MUIR: —”and a hell of a lot worse,” in your words.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would do—what I would do—I want to keep our country safe. I want to keep our country safe.

DAVID MUIR: What does that mean?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: When they’re shooting—when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I’m concerned, we have to fight fire with fire.

Now, with that being said, I’m going with General Mattis. I’m going with my secretary, because I think Pompeo is going to be phenomenal. I’m going to go with what they say. But I have spoken, as recently as 24 hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question: Does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was “Yes, absolutely.”

AMY GOODMAN: Vince Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights?

VINCENT WARREN: Do not believe a word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, particularly with respect to this issue. There is zero chance that he spoke to high-level officials and they said torture works, because everybody knows that torture doesn’t work, particularly if you’re trying to get actionable, good, reliable information. Now, it might make the president feel better. It might make an angry president that is manufacturing an angry world feel better about his role in it. But it does not work.

And what—but I think what’s the most important piece here is that we are seeing what we saw just after 9/11, where folks will come out and paint this bleak world. They will manufacture facts that will then be the backdrop for what is essentially regressive policies. Torture is illegal under U.S. law. It’s illegal under international law. It does not matter how the president feels about it. It does not matter whether the president is interpreting his generals and his nominees to say, “Yeah, it’s probably a good idea, or at least we should think about it.” There is a blanket prohibition on it, and this country needs to abide by that. So, don’t believe that there is anyone, really, that is rational and sane and has anything to do with intelligence or has any knowledge of the law, that would say torture is a good thing that we should do, because it isn’t.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. On Tuesday, he tweeted, “@POTUS can sign whatever executive orders he likes, but the law is the law–we’re not bringing back torture.” McCain further addressed the issue Wednesday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: The executive order is circumscribed by the law that we passed prohibiting the use of torture. And even though the Army Field Manual can be reviewed, it still does not allow to return to the use of torture, including waterboarding. … I’m happy that General Mattis has spoken out against it, as has every—General Petraeus, you name them. Any military leader you respect have said we should not torture people. And I’m very confident that it wouldn’t stand a day in court if they try to restore that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, the group expressing its, well, deep concern over Donald Trump’s agenda.

KENNETH ROTH: Because Guantánamo is now there as an ongoing detention facility, it is an invitation for Trump to start refilling it, which I’m afraid Trump is determined to do. And it’s worth noting that, you know, one thing we expect, either today or later in this week, is an order from Trump to begin exploring or considering—or some kind of word like that—the resumption of CIA dark sites. Now, it’s interesting that this is going to be in an executive order, because these dark sites are supposedly super secret, you know, even though we all know about them. But the order that we’ve—you know, has been reported on, has the kind of obligatory caveat that, of course, we won’t use torture. But, you know, what’s the point of these black sites other than to use torture? That’s why they were created in the first place.

AMY GOODMAN: And speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, addressed the issue of the possible executive orders to re-establish black sites, CIA prisons.

MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI: Well, I think that this would be a step backward. And I’m not alone in thinking that, that what he—the path he’s going down is wrong. It is not about our values as a country. And don’t ask me; just ask John McCain and others. Any reverting to that, again, does not support our values, but also endangers our people who are there, whether it’s, from a security standpoint, intelligence community or in the military. So, I just think that it’s wrong, and I hope that he will rethink it, and I hope he will listen to even some Republican leaders on this subject.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. Vince Warren, should the Obama administration—should President Obama have gone after Bush administration officials involved with torture, actually had people tried, as CCR has tried to do over and over again? Would that have sent a stronger message?

VINCENT WARREN: It would have sent a much stronger message. And yes, President Obama absolutely should have done that. And there is some controversy around the question of should we be pursuing criminal prosecution for high-level Bush officials. But this is an example—one of the things we were saying at the time is that if we just do these things by executive order, if we just do these things by sort of a consensus-based discussion in a particular administration, it doesn’t deter future administrations from bringing torture back. And so that’s what we’re seeing.

Had President Obama sought to hold high-level Bush officials accountable, we would probably—or we might be in a different situation, at least that there would be a broader consensus that what was happening was wrong. And the question was—would be: What role did each individual have in it? It would make a stronger case to push back against President Trump. It’s similar to what we were—what Center for Constitutional Rights has done in the Supreme Court just recently. We had a case earlier in January where we were challenging Bush-level officials for rounding up Muslims in New York right after 9/11. The idea there is that if we can’t rely on the federal government to hold its own lawbreakers accountable, then it really falls to civil society groups, like the Brennan Center and CCR, to try to hold them accountable through any legal means that we can.

AMY GOODMAN: Last comment, Faiza Patel, on where you see this administration going and where you see the possibility, even with these executive orders, presidential memo, as just being a kind of arrows to a roadmap of what the president wants to do, but them being turned back by Congress?

FAIZA PATEL: So I think the president is doing pretty much exactly what he said he would do. I mean, you’ve got to give him credit for that. If you go back and you look at his campaign plan and you look at his campaign pledges, I mean, he’s delivering on what he said he would do. And that’s what makes me really scared, because a lot of people were saying, “Oh, well, he’s not really going to go that far. It’s not going to be that—as bad as you think it is.” And it is as bad as we think it is or as we thought it was going to be.

In terms of congressional action, I have to say, while I’m an optimistic person, I’m not too optimistic on that particular point. Much of what we expect from President Trump is being done under the immigration laws, where the executive traditionally does have fairly broad authority. You know, the other sort of basis for his actions seems to be national security, again another area where the executive is generally granted a fair amount of latitude. So I think we’re going to have to fall back on the courts and civil society together to be pushing back against these very extreme and very unproductive ways of addressing what is a genuine security threat. And I think that we will undoubtedly see litigation—hopefully Vince is ready with the papers soon—to be challenging some of these laws.

And I think that—you know, we are not in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and I think that’s something to remember. The president painted a scary picture of the world. And yes, in some senses, the world is a scary place. But if you look at the United States, you know, the number of terrorist attacks we have in this country, while each one is horrific, is really—does not result—do not result in huge numbers of fatalities. The numbers are quite low, especially compared to when you look at the number of deaths through gun violence. And we have a—we don’t have a terrorism emergency in the homeland that would warrant such an extreme reaction. And I’m hoping that the courts will also be receptive to the fact that this is not—this is not September 12th, OK? This is a long time after September 12th. And that they will see through some of the fluff that’s been put around these executive actions, to get at their true intent, which is nefarious.

AMY GOODMAN: Faiza Patel, I want to thank you for being with us, co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center. And Vincent Warren, thanks for joining us, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

When we come back, we will look at the immigration executive orders that President Trump has just issued in the last day. Stay with us.

 

  • JANUARY 26, 2017
  • democracynow.org

 

Populism and Terror: An Interview with Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is a philosopher, social critic, political activist, and pioneering linguist. Having served as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955, Chomsky is the author of dozens of books, with his most recent book, Who Rules the World?, published in 2016. Chomsky spoke with HIR editors Kenneth Palmer and Richard Yarrow about his reflections on politics in the West, and what issues he thinks it has failed to
What would you consider the origin of the rise in populist sentiments, illustrated by the referenda in the United Kingdom and Colombia and the ascent of Trump in the United States? Do you see a common thread between these developments?

Colombia is quite different, but what’s happening in Europe and the United States has certain similarities. It fundamentally traces back, I think, to the new liberal programs of the past generation which have just cast a huge number of people to the side. These programs have improved corporate profit, kept wages stagnant, and highly concentrated wealth and power. They’ve undermined democracy. People have no faith or trust in institutions in Europe— it’s actually worse than [in the United States]. Decisions are basically made in Brussels; people can elect whoever they like, but [the EU elections] have almost no implications for policy. As [economist and Columbia University professor] Joe Stiglitz pointed out, it’s basically one dollar, one vote, and one of the reactions is just anger at everything.

So for example, Brexit interacts with the Thatcherite programs of de-industrializing England. Financial manipulations enriched southeast England and left the rest to wither on the vine. People are angry about that, but they picked, in my view, an irrational answer, since leaving Europe doesn’t help— Europe didn’t elect Thatcher, Major, Blair, or Cameron. My guess is that Brexit will even make it worse, but you can see what the source of the anger is. On the continent it’s pretty similar: the austerity programs have severely harmed the economy, but they’ve also essentially undermined democratic functioning: the centrist parties are collapsing, and there’s no faith in institutions. You see it in both the Trump and the Sanders phenomena—different ways of reacting to this collapse of functioning policies that [once existed] for the benefit of the population.

Trump supporters are not necessarily very poor—some of them are moderately well-off, they have jobs, but then, the image that’s been used, which is not a bad one, I think, is that they are people who see themselves as standing in line trying to get ahead. That they’ve worked hard, they’ve “done” their place in line, and they’re stuck there. The people ahead of them are shooting off into the stratosphere, and the people behind them, in their view, are being pushed ahead in the line by the federal government. That’s what the federal government does [in their view]—it takes people who are behind them and who haven’t worked hard enough they way they have, and pushes them ahead by some supportive programs. They listen to talk radio, for example, and hear laments about how Syrian immigrants are treated like kings while “I can’t get my kids my college.”

Recently, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton identified a marked decrease in life expectancies or increase in mortality rates among white, middle-aged Americans, often due to drug abuse or suicide. How would you say that change in mortality rates has been affecting American culture or society?

It’s the other way around, I think: the changes in American culture and society have led to the mortality rates. This is a sector of exactly the kind of people I was describing, mostly white and mostly male, in the sort of working age period of their lives, who are apparently suffering from depression, loss of face, lack of sense of any self-worth, and turning to drugs and alcoholism. Something similar happened in Russia during the market reforms of the 1990s. There was a huge increase in the death rate, and probably millions of people died. And a lot of it was the same sense that “everything’s falling apart, we have nothing, I’ll just drink myself to death.”

Do you think that the changes in mortality rates are necessarily connected with the changes in politics—that it’s all part of a similar phenomenon?

I think it’s a reflection of it. Very much like, in another way, the Brexit vote is. That is, “I have no way out, so I’ll scream.” It would be quite different if, say, there was an organized labor movement, which could mobilize people. In the 1930s the situation was objectively far worse, but there was a sense of hopefulness. I am old enough to remember—there was militant labor action, CIO organizing, left-wing parties, and a relatively sympathetic administration, and so somehow we were going to get out of this. And now people don’t have that. It’s a striking difference.

You’ve talked a lot about the use of drones and, especially during the Obama administration, have criticized their use. Do you think there are ever conditions under which drone strikes are justified? What would be necessary to meet a moral threshold?

For example, just recently, ISIS was blocked with a drone that had an explosive in it. Would that be legitimate? It’s wartime, [the launchers of the drone were] under attack, they’re using a weapon for self-defense. I don’t approve of it because I don’t approve of them, but in that kind of situation I guess you could argue that it’s like any other kind of weapon. On the other hand, when it’s a technique of assassination of suspects, it’s a different story. I mean, it’s not a question of drones. Suppose we sent killers to assassinate people who we think are planning attacks on us. Would that be legitimate? Suppose they did it to us—would that be legitimate?  The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other major newspapers have published op-eds saying we should bomb Iran now, not wait. So would Iran be justified in sending somebody to assassinate the editors? How would we react?

Do you think that US politics has been changing in its attitude toward humanitarian issues, or toward using drones in a better way?

Take a look at US history. We’ve been at war for five hundred years without a break. The people who lived here were driven out or exterminated. Up until the twentieth century it was clearing what we now call the national territory, with constant war and vicious, brutal war. Immediately after that it expanded to other parts of the world. It’s five hundred years, virtually without a break, and the policies really haven’t changed much.

Do you see potential for greater change, and by what means? How do you think the attitude towards humanitarian issues could change?

It has in some respects. Take, say, torture again. The popular negative reaction was sufficient, so that it’s now apparently not being used like the way it was being used under Bush. On the other hand, we shouldn’t exaggerate. Take maximum security prisons in the United States: they’re torture chambers. I mean, prisoners are subjected to solitary confinement, which is torture, for long periods, maybe a large part of their life, so torture still goes on all the time.

Psychologist Steven Pinker argues that over time we’ve been able to use reason and the “better angels of our nature” to make improvements in reducing violence. Would you agree with his analysis?

There’s something to that, but the story that he presents is pretty shaky. I mean, ninety-five percent, roughly, of human history is in hunter-gatherer societies. He claims that they were very violent and brutal, but the specialists on the topic don’t agree with him. There’s work by some of the leading people who work on indigenous societies—Brian Ferguson, Douglas Fry, Stephen Cory—they just claim [that Pinker’s notion about hunter-gatherers is] completely false. The large-scale killings are pretty much associated with the origin of cities and the state system. One [of Pinker’s] strongest arguments is in what’s called the “democratic peace,” that democracies don’t fight each other. Almost all the evidence for that comes from the post-Second World War period, but during this period non-democracies don’t fight each other either. Russia and China have been virtually at war, but never broke out into a war. They’re not democracies, but the United States and Russia also didn’t go to war, and Russia’s certainly not a democracy. What happened in 1945 is that great powers, or powers of some scale, recognized that you just can’t go to war anymore. If you do, everything’s destroyed. So Europe had centuries of murders and internal wars, but not after 1945 because the next one’s the end. I don’t think that shows anything about the better angels of our nature. In fact, most of the wars since 1945 have been exported, and if you take a look at the way Pinker handles these, he mostly blames the victims. The wars, he says, are in Southeast Asia and Muslim areas. I mean, is that because of the Iraqis and the Vietnamese?

What do you think is the most important issue in international politics that is not being adequately discussed today?

Well, there are two huge issues, neither of them being adequately discussed. One is an increasing and very serious threat of possible nuclear war, especially at the Russian border. The other’s an environmental catastrophe, which is coming at us very fast, and there’s nothing much being done about it. These are issues of species survival, really, beyond anything that’s ever been written about in human history. Take, say, the [last US presidential] election campaign. [These two problems were] barely mentioned, which is just astounding. Here we have an election campaign in the most powerful state in human history, which is going to have a major effect on determining what happens in the future, and the most crucial issues that have ever arisen in human history are just not being discussed. What we’re discussing is Trump’s 3 a.m. tweets and things like “did Hillary lie in her emails?”

Why do you think those issues are not being discussed more broadly?

I think there’s a kind of a tacit recognition that people should be kept out of the democratic system. It’s not their area, so divert them with something else.

I think there’s a kind of a tacit recognition that people should be kept out of the democratic system. It’s not their area, so divert them with something else. That can be consumerism, that can be obscene remarks about women, anything, but not the major issues. I don’t think that’s a conscious choice, but it’s just kind of implicit in a subconscious, elite recognition of the way the world is supposed to work.

Does that apply for these issues as well— the nuclear threat and the environmental threat?

If you start looking at the nuclear threat, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions that maybe are best kept under the rug. Like, for example, why did NATO expand to the East? In fact, why does NATO exist? NATO was supposed to be a defense against the Russians. No Russians after 1991, so why NATO? A lot of questions like that are quite serious, and of course, it’s not that they’re not discussed at all. There’s scholarship, but they’re not in part of the mainstream. The way we talk about it is demonizing Russia, and they’re doing plenty of rotten things, but there are other questions.

  • January 18, 2017
  • the Harvard International Review

Noam Chomsky : Facts on the Ground

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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; 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.

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.

“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.”

“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.”

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

Some knowledgeable Israeli commentators, notably columnist Danny Rubinstein, believe that Israel is poised to reverse course and relax its stranglehold on Gaza.

We’ll see.

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.

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 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.”

But these widespread beliefs are dubious.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

  • © 2014 Noam Chomsky
  • Truthout
  •  October 2, 2014

Noam Chomsky on the Long History of US Meddling in Foreign Elections

A wide range of politicians and media outlets have described the alleged Russian interference in the last US presidential election (by way of hacking) as representing a direct threat to American democracy and even to national security itself. Of course, the irony behind these concerns about the interference of foreign nations in the domestic political affairs of the United States is that the US has blatantly interfered in the elections of many other nations, with methods that include not only financial support to preferred parties and the circulation of propaganda but also assassinations and overthrows of even democratically elected regimes. Indeed, the US has a long criminal history of meddling into the political affairs of other nations — a history that spans at least a century and, since the end of World War II, extends into all regions of the globe, including western parliamentary polities. This interview with Noam Chomsky reminds us that the United States is no stranger to election interference; in fact, it is an expert in this arena.

C. J. Polychroniou: Noam, the US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of interference in the US presidential election in order to boost Trump’s chances, and some leading Democrats have actually gone on record saying that the Kremlin’s canny operatives changed the election outcome. What’s your reaction to all this talk in Washington and among media pundits about Russian cyber and propaganda efforts to influence the outcome of the presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor?

Noam Chomsky: Much of the world must be astonished — if they are not collapsing in laughter — while watching the performances in high places and in media concerning Russian efforts to influence an American election, a familiar US government specialty as far back as we choose to trace the practice. There is, however, merit in the claim that this case is different in character: By US standards, the Russian efforts are so meager as to barely elicit notice.

Let’s talk about the long history of US meddling in foreign political affairs, which has always been morally and politically justified as the spread of American style-democracy throughout the world.

The history of US foreign policy, especially after World War II, is pretty much defined by the subversion and overthrow of foreign regimes, including parliamentary regimes, and the resort to violence to destroy popular organizations that might offer the majority of the population an opportunity to enter the political arena.

Following the Second World War, the United States was committed to restoring the traditional conservative order. To achieve this aim, it was necessary to destroy the anti-fascist resistance, often in favor of Nazi and fascist collaborators, to weaken unions and other popular organizations, and to block the threat of radical democracy and social reform, which were live options under the conditions of the time. These policies were pursued worldwide: in Asia, including South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Indochina and crucially, Japan; in Europe, including Greece, Italy, France and crucially, Germany; in Latin America, including what the CIA took to be the most severe threats at the time, “radical nationalism” in Guatemala and Bolivia.

Sometimes the task required considerable brutality. In South Korea, about 100,000 people were killed in the late 1940s by security forces installed and directed by the United States. This was before the Korean war, which Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings describe as “in essence” a phase — marked by massive outside intervention — in “a civil war fought between two domestic forces: a revolutionary nationalist movement, which had its roots in tough anti-colonial struggle, and a conservative movement tied to the status quo, especially to an unequal land system,” restored to power under the US occupation. In Greece in the same years, hundreds of thousands were killed, tortured, imprisoned or expelled in the course of a counterinsurgency operation, organized and directed by the United States, which restored traditional elites to power, including Nazi collaborators, and suppressed the peasant- and worker-based communist-led forces that had fought the Nazis. In the industrial societies, the same essential goals were realized, but by less violent means.

Yet it is true that there have been cases where the US was directly involved in organizing coups even in advanced industrial democracies, such as in Australia and Italy in the mid-1970s. Correct?

Yes, there is evidence of CIA involvement in a virtual coup that overturned the Whitlam Labor government in Australia in 1975, when it was feared that Whitlam might interfere with Washington’s military and intelligence bases in Australia. Large-scale CIA interference in Italian politics has been public knowledge since the congressional Pike Report was leaked in 1976, citing a figure of over $65 million to approved political parties and affiliates from 1948 through the early 1970s. In 1976, the Aldo Moro government fell in Italy after revelations that the CIA had spent $6 million to support anti-communist candidates. At the time, the European communist parties were moving towards independence of action with pluralistic and democratic tendencies (Eurocommunism), a development that in fact pleased neither Washington nor Moscow. For such reasons, both superpowers opposed the legalization of the Communist Party of Spain and the rising influence of the Communist Party in Italy, and both preferred center-right governments in France. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger described the “major problem” in the Western alliance as “the domestic evolution in many European countries,” which might make Western communist parties more attractive to the public, nurturing moves towards independence and threatening the NATO alliance.”

US interventions in the political affairs of other nations have always been morally and politically justified as part of the faith in the doctrine of spreading American-style democracy, but the actual reason was of course the spread of capitalism and the dominance of business rule. Was faith in the spread of democracy ever tenable?

No belief concerning US foreign policy is more deeply entrenched than the one regarding the spread of American-style democracy. The thesis is commonly not even expressed, merely presupposed as the basis for reasonable discourse on the US role in the world.

The faith in this doctrine may seem surprising. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which the conventional doctrine is tenable. If by “American-style democracy,” we mean a political system with regular elections but no serious challenge to business rule, then US policymakers doubtless yearn to see it established throughout the world. The doctrine is therefore not undermined by the fact that it is consistently violated under a different interpretation of the concept of democracy: as a system in which citizens may play some meaningful part in the management of public affairs.

So, what lessons can be drawn from all this about the concept of democracy as understood by US policy planners in their effort to create a new world order?

One problem that arose as areas were liberated from fascism [after World War II] was that traditional elites had been discredited, while prestige and influence had been gained by the resistance movement, based largely on groups responsive to the working class and poor, and often committed to some version of radical democracy. The basic quandary was articulated by Churchill’s trusted adviser, South African Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts, in 1943, with regard to southern Europe: “With politics let loose among those peoples,” he said, “we might have a wave of disorder and wholesale Communism.” Here the term “disorder” is understood as threat to the interests of the privileged, and “Communism,” in accordance with usual convention, refers to failure to interpret “democracy” as elite dominance, whatever the other commitments of the “Communists” may be. With politics let loose, we face a “crisis of democracy,” as privileged sectors have always understood.

In brief, at that moment in history, the United States faced the classic dilemma of Third World intervention in large parts of the industrial world as well. The US position was “politically weak” though militarily and economically strong. Tactical choices are determined by an assessment of strengths and weaknesses. The preference has, quite naturally, been for the arena of force and for measures of economic warfare and strangulation, where the US has ruled supreme.

Wasn’t the Marshall Plan a tool for consolidating capitalism and spreading business rule throughout Europe after World War II?

Very much so. For example, the extension of Marshall Plan aid in countries like France and Italy was strictly contingent on exclusion of communists — including major elements of the anti-fascist resistance and labor — from the government; “democracy,” in the usual sense. US aid was critically important in early years for suffering people in Europe and was therefore a powerful lever of control, a matter of much significance for US business interests and longer term planning. The fear in Washington was that the communist left would emerge victorious in Italy and France without massive financial assistance.

On the eve of the announcement of the Marshall Plan, Ambassador to France Jefferson Caffery warned Secretary of State Marshall of grim consequences if the communists won the elections in France: “Soviet penetration of Western Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East would be greatly facilitated” (May 12, 1947). The dominoes were ready to fall. During May, the US pressured political leaders in France and Italy to form coalition governments excluding the communists. It was made clear and explicit that aid was contingent on preventing an open political competition, in which left and labor might dominate. Through 1948, Secretary of State Marshall and others publicly emphasized that if communists were voted into power, US aid would be terminated; no small threat, given the state of Europe at the time.

In France, the postwar destitution was exploited to undermine the French labor movement, along with direct violence. Desperately needed food supplies were withheld to coerce obedience, and gangsters were organized to provide goon squads and strike breakers, a matter that is described with some pride in semi-official US labor histories, which praise the AFL [American Federation of Labor] for its achievements in helping to save Europe by splitting and weakening the labor movement (thus frustrating alleged Soviet designs) and safeguarding the flow of arms to Indochina for the French war of re-conquest, another prime goal of the US labor bureaucracy. The CIA reconstituted the mafia for these purposes, in one of its early operations. The quid pro quo was restoration of the heroin trade. The US government connection to the drug boom continued for many decades.

US policies toward Italy basically picked up where they had been broken off by World War II. The United States had supported Mussolini’s Fascism from the 1922 takeover through the 1930s. Mussolini’s wartime alliance with Hitler terminated these friendly relations, but they were reconstituted as US forces liberated southern Italy in 1943, establishing the rule of Field Marshall [Pietro] Badoglio and the royal family that had collaborated with the Fascist government. As Allied forces drove towards the north, they dispersed the anti-fascist resistance along with local governing bodies it had formed in its attempt to establish a new democratic state in the zones it had liberated from Germany. Eventually, a center-right government was established with neo-fascist participation and the left soon excluded.

Here too, the plan was for the working classes and the poor to bear the burden of reconstruction, with lowered wages and extensive firing. Aid was contingent on removing communists and left socialists from office, because they defended workers’ interests and thus posed a barrier to the intended style of recovery, in the view of the State Department. The Communist Party was collaborationist; its position “fundamentally meant the subordination of all reforms to the liberation of Italy and effectively discouraged any attempt in northern areas to introduce irreversible political changes as well as changes in the ownership of the industrial companies … disavowing and discouraging those workers’ groups that wanted to expropriate some factories,” as Gianfranco Pasquino put it. But the Party did try to defend jobs, wages and living standards for the poor and thus “constituted a political and psychological barrier to a potential European recovery program,” historian John Harper comments, reviewing the insistence of Kennan and others that communists be excluded from government though agreeing that it would be “desirable” to include representatives of what Harper calls “the democratic working class.” The recovery, it was understood, was to be at the expense of the working class and the poor.

Because of its responsiveness to the needs of these social sectors, the Communist Party was labelled “extremist” and “undemocratic” by US propaganda, which also skillfully manipulated the alleged Soviet threat. Under US pressure, the Christian Democrats abandoned wartime promises about workplace democracy and the police, sometimes under the control of ex-fascists, were encouraged to suppress labor activities. The Vatican announced that anyone who voted for the communists in the 1948 election would be denied sacraments, and backed the conservative Christian Democrats under the slogan: “O con Cristo o contro Cristo” (“Either with Christ or against Christ”). A year later, Pope Pius excommunicated all Italian communists.

A combination of violence, manipulation of aid and other threats, and a huge propaganda campaign sufficed to determine the outcome of the critical 1948 election, essentially bought by US intervention and pressures.

The CIA operations to control the Italian elections, authorized by the National Security Council in December 1947, were the first major clandestine operation of the newly formed agency. CIA operations to subvert Italian democracy continued into the 1970s at a substantial scale.

In Italy, as well as elsewhere, US labor leaders, primarily from the AFL, played an active role in splitting and weakening the labor movement, and inducing workers to accept austerity measures while employers reaped rich profits. In France, the AFL had broken dock strikes by importing Italian scab labor paid by US businesses. The State Department called on the Federation’s leadership to exercise their talents in union-busting in Italy as well, and they were happy to oblige. The business sector, formerly discredited by its association with Italian fascism, undertook a vigorous class war with renewed confidence. The end result was the subordination of the working class and the poor to the traditional rulers.

Later commentators tend to see the US subversion of democracy in France and Italy as a defense of democracy. In a highly-regarded study of the CIA and American democracy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones describes “the CIA’s Italian venture,” along with its similar efforts in France, as “a democracy-propping operation,” though he concedes that “the selection of Italy for special attention … was by no means a matter of democratic principle alone;” our passion for democracy was reinforced by the strategic importance of the country. But it was a commitment to “democratic principle” that inspired the US government to impose the social and political regimes of its choice, using the enormous power at its command and exploiting the privation and distress of the victims of the war, who must be taught not to raise their heads if we are to have true democracy.

A more nuanced position is taken by James Miller in his monograph on US policies towards Italy. Summarizing the record, he concludes that “in retrospect, American involvement in the stabilization of Italy was a significant, if troubling, achievement. American power assured Italians the right to choose their future form of government and also was employed to ensure that they chose democracy. In defense of that democracy against real but probably overestimated foreign and domestic threats, the United States used undemocratic tactics that tended to undermine the legitimacy of the Italian state.”

The “foreign threats,” as he had already discussed, were hardly real; the Soviet Union watched from a distance as the US subverted the 1948 election and restored the traditional conservative order, keeping to its wartime agreement with Churchill that left Italy in the Western zone. The “domestic threat” was the threat of democracy.

The idea that US intervention provided Italians with freedom of choice while ensuring that they chose “democracy” (in our special sense of the term) is reminiscent of the attitude of the extreme doves towards Latin America: that its people should choose freely and independently — as long as doing so did not impact US interests adversely.

The democratic ideal, at home and abroad, is simple and straightforward: You are free to do what you want, as long as it is what we want you to do.

Note: Some of the material for this interview was adapted from excerpts from Deterring Democracy (Verso).

  • Thursday, January 19, 2017
  • By C.J. Polychroniou,
  • Truthout | Interview

Noam Chomsky: America Is the World Leader at Committing ‘Supreme International Crimes’

The front page of The New York Times on June 26 featured a photo of women mourning a murdered Iraqi.

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.

Right above the picture is the newspaper’s famous motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

In a recent interview with Moyers & 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.”

Jarrar reminds us that “this sectarian strife that is destroying the country … clearly began with the U.S. invasion and occupation.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Soon the country was ruled by ruthless warlords, while many former Taliban who sought to join the new order recreated the insurgency.

The sledgehammer was later picked up by President Obama as he “led from behind” in smashing Libya.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

The AU framework was accepted in principle by Gadhafi but dismissed by the triumvirate, who “were uninterested in real negotiations,” de Waal observes.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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?

Obama has proposed a humanitarian response to the tragic influx: more efficient deportation. Do alternatives come to mind?

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.

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.'”

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.

  • © 2014 Noam Chomsky
  • Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate
  • source: AlterNet