Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 6: Nefarious Aggression Segment 5/14
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But respectable commentators at home never flinched. The parallels to the Panama invasion were ignored with near unanimity, while the more audacious, recognizing that attack is the best defense, went so far as to compare George Bush's actions in Panama with his dispatch of troops to Saudi Arabia, not to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Grenada, Vietnam, and Lebanon were also regularly invoked as precedents for our defense of the principle of nonintervention.18

With comparable unanimity, responsible commentators failed to recall Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, with the goal of establishing a puppet regime in a "New Order" subordinated to Israel's interests and bringing to a halt the increasingly irritating PLO initiatives for a peaceful diplomatic settlement -- all of this frankly discussed within Israel from the first moments, though kept from the American audience. That act of aggression, conducted by a client state, qualifies as benign. It therefore benefitted from the active support of the Reagan administration, which was condemned by Democratic liberals, and others farther to the left, for not exhibiting proper enthusiasm for this merciless assault, which left over 20,000 dead, overwhelmingly civilians. Also notably lacking was a comparison to Israel's continued occupation of territories conquered in 1967 and annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, and the U.S. reaction. Syria's bloody intervention in Lebanon (with U.S. backing in the early stages, when it was aimed at the Palestinians and their Lebanese allies) was also overlooked. Also forgotten was Turkey's conquest of northern Cyprus, with thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of refugees after an orgy of killing, torture, rape and pillage to extirpate the last remnants of Greek culture back to classical antiquity; George Bush praised Turkey for serving "as a protector of peace" as it joined those who "stand up for civilized values around the world." Few could recall the U.S.-backed Moroccan invasion of the Western Sahara of 1976, justified by Moroccan authorities on the grounds that "one Kuwait in the Arab world is enough"; it is unjust for such vast resources to be in the hands of a tiny population.19 Outside the region, the decisive U.S. (also French, British, Dutch, etc.) support for Indonesia's near-genocidal invasion of East Timor, still underway, was also easily overlooked, among many other obvious parallels.

The missing comparisons were drawn by Arabs and other Third World observers sampled in the press. But the matter was left at that, without further analysis, or they were chided for their visceral anti-Americanism, emotionalism, or simple naiveté. In a New York Times report on Arab-American reactions, Felicity Barringer reminds the Arab spokesmen she interviews that the comparison they draw with Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon "does not take into account a crucial difference: that Kuwait had not attacked Iraq, while southern Lebanon was home to Palestinian bases that had repeatedly shelled Israeli territory."

Barringer's gentle admonition suffers from only one flaw: the facts. In brief, Israel had subjected southern Lebanon to violent and murderous attacks from the early 1970s, often without even a pretense of provocation, killing thousands of people and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes. The purpose, as formulated by Israeli diplomat Abba Eban, was to hold the whole population hostage under the threat of terror, with the "rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled" that "affected populations" would bend to Israel's demands. After its 1978 invasion of Lebanon, which left the southern sector under Israeli control, Israel carried out extensive bombardment of civilian targets. A rash of unprovoked Israeli attacks in 1981 led to an exchange in which six Israelis and hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese were killed when Israel bombed densely populated areas. A U.S.-initiated cease-fire was observed by the PLO, but repeatedly violated with many civilian casualties by Israel, which was desperately seeking to provoke some PLO action that could serve as a pretext for the long-planned invasion. After the 1982 invasion, Israel returned to the traditional practice of bombing Lebanon at its pleasure, with ample terror in its southern "security zone."

It would be unfair, however, to fault Barringer for turning the facts on their head. The fairy tales she recounts are the standard version offered in the New York Times and elsewhere, and few would think to question established dogma. Inversion of the facts in this case is, in any event, only a minor triumph when compared to really significant achievements of the propaganda system, such as the conversion of the U.S. attack against South Vietnam into a noble effort to defend it from aggression.20

We may say the same about other irate commentators who bitterly denounce Arabs for drawing a parallel to the 1967 war, condemning as well the "gullibility and ignorance" of TV anchormen and journalists who allow them to speak such nonsense (Henry Siegman, Executive Director, American Jewish Congress); in both cases, Siegman explains to these gullible fools, "Arab countries invaded a peaceful neighbor without provocation," though "the primary aggressors" in 1967 "were Egypt, Syria and Jordan," not Iraq. The Times editors added their endorsement, denouncing Moscow and other miscreants for trying to "legitimize Baghdad's argument that its takeover of Kuwait is in any way comparable to Israel's occupation of the West Bank," a gambit that is "absurdly wrong and diversionary" because the occupation of the West Bank "began only after Arab armies attacked Israel." It is not even controversial that in 1967 Israel attacked Egypt. Jordan and Syria entered the conflict much as England and France went to war when Germany attacked their ally Poland in 1939. One might argue that the Israeli attack was legitimate, but to convert it into an Arab invasion is rather audacious -- or would be, if the practice were not routine.21

The Times editorial is carefully crafted. It refers to the West Bank, not Gaza and the Golan Heights. Gaza is best overlooked because, uncontroversially, Israel attacked Egypt, taking over Gaza. The case of the Golan Heights is also difficult, not only because Israel annexed this Syrian territory (and was unanimously condemned by the U.N. Security Council for doing so, though a U.S. veto blocked sanctions), but because Israel attacked and conquered it in violation of the cease-fire. In the case of the West Bank, the editors could claim in their defense that Israeli troops took it over after Jordan had entered the war -- honoring its alliance with Egypt, already attacked by Israel.

Throughout, we see how important it is to take possession of history and to shape it to the purposes required by the powerful, and how valuable is the contribution of the loyal servants who do their bidding.

Go to the next segment.

18 By November, a division among elites began to develop with much clarity. Discussion broadened in the usual manner to include this spectrum of tactical judgment.

19 Christopher Hitchens, Cyprus (Quartet, 1984); Bush, Reuters, Sept. 26, 1990; for a rare exception to the general evasion of the Turkish invasion, see Walter Robinson, BG, Oct. 7, 1990. Thomas Franck, "The Stealing of the Sahara," American J. of International Law, vol. 70, 1976, 694f.

20 Barringer, NYT, Aug. 16, 1990. On the facts, and the version of them crafted by the propaganda system, see Fateful Triangle, chapter 5, secs. 3,4; Pirates and Emperors, chapter 2; Necessary Illusions, 275-7 and Appendix III. For a recent update on Israeli terror in Lebanon, see my "Letter from Lexington," Lies of Our Times, August, 1990. For a knowledgeable though apologetic Israeli perspective, see Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari, Israel's Lebanon War (Simon & Schuster, 1984).

21 Siegman, letter, NYT, Aug. 26, 1990; editorial, NYT, Sept. 7, 1990. On the 1967 war, see, among others, Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem (Simon & Schuster, 1984). 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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