Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 1: Cold War: Fact and Fancy Segment 3/20
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In public discourse, the same conceptions reigned, and still do. A characteristic expression of the conventional understanding is given by William Hyland, editor of Foreign Affairs, in the lead article of the Spring 1990 issue:

For the past fifty years American foreign policy has been formed in response to the threat posed by this country's opponents and enemies. In virtually every year since Pearl Harbor, the United States has been engaged either in war or in confrontation. Now, for the first time in half a century, the United States has the opportunity to reconstruct its foreign policy free of most of the constraints and pressures of the Cold War... Since 1941 the United States has been fully entangled. Now as we move into a new era, a yearning for American nonentanglement may be returning in various guises... Can America at long last come home?... The United States does in fact enjoy the luxury of some genuine choices for the first time since 1945. America and its allies have won the Cold War...

Thus, we had no "genuine choices" when we invaded South Vietnam, overthrew the democratic capitalist government of Guatemala in 1954 and maintained the rule of murderous gangsters ever since, ran by far the most extensive international terror operations in history against Cuba from the early 1960s and Nicaragua through the 1980s, sought to assassinate Lumumba and installed and maintained the brutal and corrupt Mobutu dictatorship, backed Trujillo, Somoza, Marcos, Duvalier, the generals of the southern cone, Suharto, the racist rulers of southern Africa, and a whole host of other major criminals; and on, and on. We could do nothing else, given the threat to our existence. But now, the enemy has retreated, so we can perhaps satisfy our "yearning for nonentanglement" in the affairs of others; though, as others add, our "yearning for democracy"4 may yet impel us to persist in our noble endeavors in defense of freedom.

With choices available for the first time, we can turn to constructive programs for the Third World (as liberal humanists urge) or leave the undeserving poor to wallow in their misery (the conservative position). Expressing the more caring liberal view, Thomas Schoenbaum, executive director of the Dean Rusk Center of International and Comparative Law at the University of Georgia, calls for "more finely tuned and differentiated policies" in the "complex and heterogenous areas" of the Third World. Constrained by the overwhelming imperative of resisting Soviet aggression throughout the world, we have been unable to develop such policies. But now, perhaps, we have reached "the end of the Cold War -- and the good guys won." We may therefore hope that the Soviets will "mute their longstanding campaign to support communist revolutions and totalitarian regimes in the Third World," so that "the U.S. may be able to abandon its traditional posture -- that priority should be given to stopping communist expansion -- and adopt more positive policies."5

In other respects too the public record conforms to the conventions of NSC 68. In particular, it is widely recognized that the very existence of the Soviet Union constitutes aggression. Diplomatic historian John Lewis Gaddis, one of the most respected figures of liberal scholarship on the Cold War, explains that the allied intervention immediately after the Bolshevik revolution was defensive in nature, and for Woodrow Wilson, was inspired "above all else" by his fervent desire "to secure self-determination in Russia" -- by forceful installation of the rulers we select. The invasion was defensive because it was "in response to a profound and potentially far-reaching intervention by the new Soviet government in the internal affairs, not just of the West, but of virtually every country in the world," namely, "the Revolution's challenge -- which could hardly have been more categorical -- to the very survival of the capitalist order." "The security of the United States" was "in danger" already in 1917, not just in 1950, and intervention was therefore entirely warranted in defense against the change of the social order in Russia and the announcement of revolutionary intentions.6

Gaddis's contemporary evaluation recapitulates the immediate Western reaction to the Bolshevik revolution. It was articulated by DeWitt C. Poole, American counselor of the Embassy in Russia, in a memorandum for Secretary of State Lansing entitled "Concerning the Purposes of the Bolsheviki: Especially with Respect to a World Revolution." Poole wrote that the "vital problem" for the United States was to steer the world "between the Scylla of reaction on the one hand and the Charybdis of Bolshevism on the other." The Charybdis of Bolshevism, however, is the more ominous threat, because "It is the essence of the Bolshevik movement that it is international and not national in character," aimed "directly at the subversion of all Governments."7 In practice, the Scylla of reaction must be preferred -- with regrets, among liberals -- if the passage is too narrow.

Similarly, Oxford historian Norman Stone takes the position that elaborate debate over the origins of the Cold War is beside the point, because the very "character of the Soviet state" was "one of the greatest single causes of the Cold War in the 1940s." The test of Soviet intentions is its withdrawal from Eastern Europe and reduction of armaments to "defensive armaments, proper to its own economic level"; thus far below the West, which, furthermore, need not be limited to "defensive armaments" except in the expansive sense of "defense" that interprets every act of violence as defense of legitimate interests.8 Note that the issue is not the desirability of the break-up of the Soviet internal and foreign empires or of radical reduction of armaments, but rather the conception of the Cold War and the Western "defensive" response to the very character of the Soviet state.

Much the same perception holds at the left extreme of mainstream opinion. Senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Republic, who is at the outer limits, writes that "revisionist quibbles aside, the basic cause of the Cold War was totalitarianism -- more precisely, totalitarian ambition." Internally, Soviet totalitarianism imposed "an all-powerful, all-seeing, perfectly wise state that would answer every human need and would therefore obviate and obliterate every competing human institution." Its "external manifestation" was "a belief that all other social and political systems, judged by the standard of historical inevitability, were inferior and destined to die." In short, the basic cause of the Cold War was the internal nature of the Soviet system and its faith in its ultimate success as history unfolded, an ideological challenge that could not be tolerated.9

The underlying assumption is that the U.S. system of social organization and power, and the ideology that accompanies it, must be universal. Anything short of that is unacceptable. No challenge can be tolerated, even faith in the historical inevitability of something different. That being the case, every action taken by the United States to extend its system and ideology is defensive. We may put aside revisionist quibbles about the events of history, now that their irrelevance has been demonstrated.

Journalism adopts the same stance as a matter of course. Thus, a Washington Post news story on "defense spending" observes that with the fading of the Soviet threat, the world has entered "a new era": "after 40 years of containing an aggressive and expansionist Soviet Union" we must now rethink the doctrine of containment that "organized our Western security strategy to protect the world from an expansionist and hostile Soviet Bloc."10 That we have been laboring to protect the entire world from Soviet aggression is uncontroversial, a truism that requires no evidence or even comment.

Go to the next segment.

4 See chapter 8, section 7.

5 "Rethinking the Third World," Washington Post Book World, Oct. 23, 1988, a dismissive review of Gabriel Kolko's Confronting the Third World (Pantheon, 1988), which, Schoenbaum alleges, is flawed by failure to propose better policies and by omission of facts that do not support the author's thesis (one example is given: that "American lives were in danger" when the U.S. invaded the Dominican Republic, no justification for aggression had it been true, and long discredited).

6 Gaddis, The Long Peace (Oxford, 1987), 43. See Necessary Illusions, appendix II, for further discussion.

7 Cited by Michael Krenn, U.S. Policy toward Economic Nationalism in Latin America, 1917-1929 (Scholarly Resources, 1990), 13f., 52 (emphasis in original). Also David Schmitz, The United States and Fascist Italy (U. of North Carolina, 1988), 10.

8 Stone, "Is the Cold War really over?," Sunday Telegraph (London), Nov. 27, 1988.

9 Hertzberg, contribution to symposium on "The `End' of the Cold War?, The Coming Challenge for Journalism," Deadline, Center for War, Peace, and the News Media, Summer 1989.

10 Patrick Tyler, WP weekly, Aug. 13, 1990. 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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