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 6/20
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NSC 68 is also realistic, and conventional, in invoking the U.S. "responsibility of world leadership," and the corresponding need to dominate every corner of the world, however remote, and to exorcise the curse of neutralism. In these respects, it reiterates earlier planning decisions that reflect the recognition that the U.S. had achieved a position of military and economic power with no historical parallel, and could use it to advantage.

Sophisticated sectors of the business community have been aware of the domestic factors that have driven the Cold War system, and the same is true of the better scholarship in the mainstream. In his standard work on containment, John Lewis Gaddis observes that "To a remarkable degree, containment has been the product, not so much of what the Russians have done, or of what has happened elsewhere in the world, but of internal forces operating within the United States." "What is surprising is the primacy that has been accorded economic considerations [namely, state economic management] in shaping strategies of containment, to the exclusion of other considerations" (his emphasis). He also agrees with George Kennan's consistent view -- standard among rational policymakers and analysts -- that "it is not Russian military power which is threatening us, it is Russian political power" (October 1947).21 Despite these insights, Gaddis does not depart from the conventional framework of "deterrence" and "containment of the Soviet threat," though he does recognize -- on the side -- that this is by no means the whole story; or, in fact, the central theme.

The major events and effects of the Cold War fall into the categories just reviewed. There were also more complex effects. Soviet support for targets of U.S. subversion and attack gained it a degree of influence in much of the Third World, though of a tenuous nature. As for the United States, its intervention in the Third World, particularly in the early years, was in part impelled by the goal of securing a hinterland for the state capitalist economies that the U.S. hoped to reconstruct in Western Europe and Japan. At the same time, the Cold War conflict helped to maintain U.S. influence over its industrial allies, and to contain independent politics, labor, and other popular activism within these states, an interest shared by local elites. The U.S. promoted the NATO alliance, one historian observes, "to corral its allies and to head off neutralism, as well as to deter the Russians."22

The persistence of the conventional doctrine, despite its limited relation to the actual facts of the Cold War era, is readily understandable in this light. In the West, it is commonly conceded well after the fact (the fact being some exercise of subversion or aggression in the Third World, or renewed benefits through the Pentagon system at home) that the threat of Soviet aggression was exaggerated, the problems misconstrued, and the idealism that guided the actions misplaced. But the requisite beliefs remained prominently displayed on the shelf. However fanciful, they could be served up to the public when needed -- often with perfect sincerity, in accord with the familiar process by which useful beliefs arise from perceived interests.

Also understandable is the otherwise rather mysterious fact that security policy has been only weakly correlated with realistic security concerns. Threats have regularly been concocted on the flimsiest evidence and with marginal credibility at best. On the other hand, potential threats of some significance have been ignored. Repeatedly, the U.S. has sponsored the development of weapons systems that could pose serious dangers to its welfare or even survival, and has dismissed opportunities to abort such developments. The U.S. government and the media have vociferously demanded "verification" under conditions that they expected the USSR to reject. On the other hand, Washington has been reluctant (along with its allies) to permit Soviet inspection of chemical production and other military and arms production facilities, has rejected Soviet proposals for on-site inspection of submarines to monitor a ban or limitation on sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs; more a threat to the U.S., with its long coastlines, than to the USSR), and has opposed inspection of nuclear warheads for SLCMs on ship or shore. Still more important, the political leadership has undermined possibilities for political settlement and has fostered conflict in regions where such conflict could lead to a devastating nuclear war, and sometimes has come all too close, notably the Middle East. These consistent patterns make no sense on the assumption that security policy is guided by security concerns. Case by case, they fall into place on the assumption that policy is driven by the twin goals of reinforcing the private interests that largely control the state, and maintaining an international environment in which they can prosper.23 The world is sufficiently uncertain and dangerous for alleged reasons of security to be readily devised to justify policies adopted on other grounds, then adopted as articles of faith, familiar features of statecraft and the practice of the intellectual community.

On the same grounds, we can understand why the political leadership has often failed to pursue apparent opportunities to reduce the threat of superpower confrontation, and thus to enhance national security. One early example was in 1952, when the Kremlin put forth a proposal for reunification and neutralization of Germany, with no conditions on economic policies and with guarantees for "the rights of man and basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, religious persuasion, political conviction, and assembly" and the free activity of democratic parties and organizations. In reply, the U.S. and its allies objected that the West did not recognize the Oder-Neisse frontier between Germany and Poland, and insisted that a reunified Germany be free to join NATO, a demand that the Russians could hardly accept a few years after Germany alone had virtually destroyed the Soviet Union. The Western reply also referred, more plausibly, to lack of clarity about free elections; but instead of seeking further clarification, the proposal was rejected with quite unreasonable demands. Commenting at the time, James Warburg, one of the few to have argued that the opportunity should be pursued, notes that neither the text of the March 10 Kremlin proposal "nor even the fact of its arrival was disclosed by Washington until after the Western reply had been sent on March 25." He suggests that the delay may have been related to the Administration desire "to present its case for the Mutual Security Act of 1952 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, without having that committee's deliberations prejudiced by knowledge of the Soviet proposal"; the Act called for about $7.5 billion for Western rearmament, and was "based upon the assumption that an All-German settlement could not possibly be achieved."24

Had the Kremlin proposal been implemented, it would have eliminated whatever military threat the Soviet Union might have posed to Western Europe. It is likely that there would have been no Soviet tanks in East Berlin in 1953, no Berlin wall, no invasion of Hungary or Czechoslovakia -- but crucially, no ready justification for U.S. intervention and subversion worldwide, for state policies of economic management in the service of advanced industry, or for a system of world order in which U.S. hegemony was founded in large part on military might. The basic reason for rejecting the proposal seems to have been the U.S. interest in integrating a rearmed Western Germany in the NATO military alliance, whatever the security risks or the consequences for the Soviet satellites. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 28, Warburg observed that the Soviet proposal, offering a possible means for a peaceful negotiated resolution of European security issues, might be a bluff. But, he speculated, it seemed "that our Government is afraid to call the bluff for fear that it may not be a bluff at all" and might lead to "a free, neutral, democratic, and demilitarized Germany," which might be "subverted into the Soviet orbit"; and short of that, would bar the plans for rearming Germany within the NATO alliance. The rejection of these opportunities to end the Cold War followed directly from the principles of NSC 68, which ruled coexistence illegitimate.

For years, these matters were off the agenda; even to mention the facts was to risk being castigated as an apologist for Stalin. By 1989-90, however, Stalin's proposal could be cited quite freely in the press and journals. In the triumphalism of the moment, it was hoped that that the USSR would be compelled to agree to incorporation of a united Germany within a U.S.-dominated military alliance. Hence Gorbachev's proposal for neutralization of a reunified Germany must be dismissed as more "Old Thinking," the rehashing of discarded ideas, not to be taken seriously. In this context it becomes permissible, even useful, to refer to facts that were suppressed when they would serve only as a reminder of inconvenient realities.

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21 Strategies of Containment (Oxford, 1982), 356-57. Kennan quote from speech to the National War College, ibid., 40.

22 Frank Costigliola, in Thomas Paterson, ed., Kennedy's Quest for Victory (Oxford, 1989).

23 For discussion, see Turning the Tide, chapter 4; On Power and Ideology, lecture 4; Schwartz and Derber, Nuclear Seduction. On the Middle East particularly, see Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle, Necessary Illusions. Remarks on verification taken from Raymond L. Garthoff, "Estimating Soviet Military Force Levels," International Security 14:4, Spring 1990. Garthoff suggests that the "main problems with verification" in the "new era" may come not from the USSR "but from our own reticence and that of some of our allies."}

24 James P. Warburg, Germany: Key to Peace (Harvard, 1953), 188ff. 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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