Monday, March 31, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Afterword Segment 14/14
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9. The Prospects

For Washington's purposes, it is not of great moment that the "peace process" succeed. If it does, the US will have imposed its traditional rejectionist program, demonstrating anew our high-minded benevolence and virtue and the grandeur of our leaders. If the "peace process" fails, we will read of "a classic cultural clash between American and Middle Eastern instincts," a conflict between Middle Eastern fanaticism and Baker's "quintessentially American view of the world: that with just a little bit of reasonableness these people should be able to see that they have a shared interest in peace that overrides their historical antipathies."45 In the short term, it's a win-win situation for US power.

As already discussed, US diplomacy is guided by a strategic conception that has changed little over the years (pp. 53f., 179-85, above). The primary concern is the energy resources of the region, to be managed by the "Arab façade" in the interests of the US and its British lieutenant. The family dictatorships must be protected from indigenous nationalism by regional enforcers, with US-British muscle in reserve. There has long been a tacit alliance between the Arab façade and the regional gendarmes.46 It is coming closer to the surface now that Arab nationalism has been dealt another crushing blow, thanks to the murderous gangster who disobeyed orders and PLO tactics of more than the usual incompetence. The family dictatorships therefore have less need than before to make pro-Palestinian gestures. Accordingly, the prospects for US rejectionism have improved.

Regional actors are granted rights insofar as they contribute to "stability," in the technical sense. Israel has been considered a barrier to Arab nationalism since the 1960s, and has also served US interests worldwide, carrying out tasks that the US had to delegate to others because of domestic opposition or for other reasons, and cooperating in intelligence matters and weapons production and testing. The Palestinians offer neither wealth nor power. Accordingly, they have no rights, by the most elementary principles of statecraft. The Israeli lobby, with its political clout and its finely-honed techniques of slander and intimidation, has helped to contain discussion largely within the framework of US-Israeli rejectionism. No significant domestic force calls for Palestinian rights.

Basic assumptions have hardly changed since 1948 (pp. 55-7, above). The operative principles were well expressed by New Republic editor Martin Peretz, just as Israel was about to invade Lebanon in 1982. He advised Israel to administer to the PLO a "lasting military defeat" that "will clarify to the Palestinians in the West Bank that their struggle for an independent state has suffered a setback of many years." Then "the Palestinians will be turned into just another crushed nation, like the Kurds or the Afghans," and the Palestinian problem -- which "is beginning to be boring" -- will be resolved.47 His timing may have been off, but basic principles are resilient in states with unchallenged power. From Chaim Weizmann to Yitzhak Rabin today, it is assumed that with sufficient force and resolve, the "insignificant Negroes" will be "crushed" and "broken"; they will "die" or "turn into human dust and the waste of society." Peretz's attitude towards the Kurds also captures US policy succinctly, as we have recently seen once again.

Control over Middle East energy provides leverage in world affairs and guarantees a substantial flow of capital to the economies of the United States and Britain. The system of regional management has changed over time, but the operative principles have not. The course of diplomacy is understandable in these terms.

From the US perspective, a preferred outcome of the current diplomatic maneuvers would include an agreement enabling Israel to extend its control over the territories ("autonomy"); extension of commercial and diplomatic relations between Israel and the Gulf rulers; moves towards a Golan Heights settlement that would ensure Israeli control of the water resources while satisfying Syrian nationalism, at least symbolically. If its rejectionist program is not advanced, the US will win a propaganda victory by placing the blame on Middle East fanatics who have again disrupted Washington's noble intentions. Traditional policies can then be pursued in other ways.

If US interests are reassessed and Washington decides to permit a genuine political settlement, Israel does have options, despite its dependency on the United States. In the 1950s, Prime Minister Moshe Sharett privately deplored the "preaching" of high-level Labor party officials "in favor of acts of madness" and "the diabolical lesson of how to set the Middle East on fire" with "acts of despair and suicide" that will terrify the world as "we go crazy," if crossed, an early expression of the "Samson complex." After the Lebanon invasion, Aryeh (Lova) Eliav, one of Israel's best-known doves, deplored the attitude of "those who brought the `Samson complex' here, according to which we shall kill and bury all the Gentiles around us while we ourselves shall die with them." Others too have regarded the greatest danger facing Israel as the "collective version" of Samson's revenge against the Philistines. Israel's nuclear armaments, well-known to US authorities for many years, render such thinking more than empty threats. Writing in 1982, three Israeli strategic analysts observed that Israel's nuclear-armed missiles were able to reach "many targets in southern USSR," a threat -- real or pretended -- that may well have been aimed at the United States, putting US planners on notice that pressures on Israel to accept a political settlement could lead to an international conflagration. The reasoning was explained further in the Labor party journal Davar, reporting Israel's reaction to the Saudi peace plan of August 1981, with its "signs of open-mindedness and moderation" that the government of Israel regarded as a serious threat. Israel's response was to send jets over the oil fields, a warning to the West of Israel's capacity to cause immense destruction to the world's major energy reserves if pressed towards an unwanted peace, Davar reported.48 The world has changed since, but Israel's "Samson option," as Seymour Hersh calls it in a recent book, remains alive.

Israeli analysts today express much concern over what may lie ahead. Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Ben-Yishai, a leading military commentator, observed on the eve of the Madrid conference that "This might be the last chance we have to make peace." He expected the current diplomatic efforts to fail, a broad consensus. The result will be a war that will last "a minimum of three to four weeks," a "conventional war" with some surface-to-surface missiles, with uncertain prospects and surely grim consequences.49 There have been a rash of similar predictions, referring to a war with Syria, perhaps Iran, that Israel might initiate with a preemptive strike, with use of nuclear weapons not unlikely. The US will surely do what it can to prevent that, but even US power reaches only so far.

If the US keeps to its rejectionist stand, Israel will continue to integrate the territories, the core local conflict will remain unresolved, turbulence and antagonisms will fester and intermittently explode, and a stable regional settlement -- let alone a just one -- is most unlikely.

Meanwhile, new and more imaginative ways will have to be found to "put the public in its place," and to deter the dread threat of democracy and freedom.

Go to the archive.

45 Thomas Friedman, NYT, May 19, 17, 1991.

46 See Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle; Cockburn & Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison.

47 Interview in Ha'aretz, June 4, 1982; see Fateful Triangle, 199. On the racist effusions of Peretz and others, see Necessary Illusions, 315.

48 See Fateful Triangle, 464ff.

49 "Elazar," Jerusalem Post Magazine. Oct. 4; Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 15, 1991. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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