You don’t have to buy Chomsky’s ideas wholesale to recognize that his often outrageous critiques of American democracy and capitalism usually hit their targets.
It is a testament to Noam Chomsky’s brilliance and bravery that despite his soft spoken manner and quiet personality, he manages to inspire fiery passion in millions of activists around the world, curiosity and conviction from students on nearly every college campus, and hatred from angry nationalists wearing red, white, and blue blindfolds. (...)
(...) 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.
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.
"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.
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." (...)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?”
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. (...)
I expect that you will continue to frantically dance on command at the sight of my various retorts to your propaganda. Because you can't tolerate an opposing view without a condescending or unprovoked ad hom response. Same like always.
“I don’t usually admire Sarah Palin, but when she was making fun of this ‘hopey-changey’ stuff, she was right,” Chomsky said. “There was nothing there. And it was understood by the people who run the political system.”
Chomsky, author of over 100 books and trenchant critic of mass mainstream media, said that the presidency is a prize awarded to the best campaigner.
“It’s no great secret that the U.S. electoral system is mainly a public relations extravaganza to keep away from issues,” Chomsky continued. “It’s sort of a marketing affair. And the people who run it are the advertisers. … They had their national convention right after the 2008 election and revealed that they understood perfectly what was going on. And they gave Obama the award for best marketing campaign of the year.”
The author dismissed Obama from the beginning — he never expected anything but “smoke and mirrors” from his administration, he said, and has stridently criticized the president’s positions on civil liberties. Back in June, Chomsky said Obama’s drone strike policy terrorized civilians and turned them against the U.S.
“Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history: the drone assassination campaigns, which are just part of it. … All of these operations, they are terror operations,” he said in an interview with GRITtv. “You are generating more terrorist operations.”
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.
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.
For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.
In contrast, Israel is dedicated to the destruction of Palestine, apart from some occasional meaningless words, and is implementing that commitment.
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.
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.
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.” (...)
Good ol' Beaker bringing out the neo-con marching band/brain trust in response to a failing propaganda war...
I'm loving all the familiar faces/names goose-stepping in sync to a familiar tune...
Individual Palestinians also testified to IDF abuses such as looting, beatings, vandalism of property and the use of the local population as human shields. But by far the strongest reverbration in Israel was that created by the Israeli organization "Breaking the Silence", which collected testimony from 26 unnamed IDF soldiers. All of the soldiers had been involved in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, and testified to instances where Gazans were used as human shields, incendiary phosphorous shells were fired over civilian population areas, and other examples of excessive firepower that caused unnecessary fatalities and destruction of property.
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 chaosis 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.