Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 6: Nefarious Aggression Segment 14/14
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The general contours of a possible diplomatic settlement were evident by August, involving arrangements concerning Iraqi access to the Gulf, perhaps by lease of two uninhabited islands; a settlement of the dispute over the Rumailah oil field; the opening of steps towards a regional security settlement; perhaps some mode for determination of public opinion within Kuwait. The U.S. adamantly opposed all such steps from the first moment, arguing that "aggression cannot be rewarded," that "linkage" is in conflict with our high moral stand, and that we cannot enter into lengthy negotiations. Rather, Iraq must at once capitulate to the U.S. show of force, after which maybe -- maybe -- Washington will permit discussion of other issues. The rejection of "linkage" derives from the unspeakable truth that the U.S. is opposed to a diplomatic settlement of all of the "linked" issues. In particular, it has long been opposed to an international conference on the Arab-Israel conflict, because such efforts could only lead to pressures to achieve the kind of peaceful diplomatic settlement that the U.S. has successfully barred by means of what is called "the peace process" in conventional ideology.

In numerous similar cases, the U.S. has been quite happy to reward aggression, conduct lengthy negotiations, and pursue "linkage" (even putting aside those cases in which the criminal acts are approved). In the case of Namibia, for example, the U.N. condemned South Africa's occupation of the territory in the 1960s, followed by a World Court judgment calling for South Africa's exit. The U.S. pursued "quiet diplomacy" and "constructive engagement" while South Africa looted and terrorized Namibia and used it as a base for its murderous attacks against its neighbors (on the estimated human and material cost, see p. 239, below). Secretary of State George Shultz's "peace plan" for Lebanon in 1983 cheerfully "rewarded the aggressors." The plan in effect established a "Greater Israel," as the passionately pro-Israel New York Times conceded, while Syria was simply ordered to conform to the U.S.-Israeli dictates (as, predictably, it refused to do); an extreme form of linkage.62 Israel was also "rewarded" for its invasion of Egypt in 1956. U.S. clients or the master himself are not expected to slink away from aggression and terror without satisfaction of their "needs" and "wants." The pattern is general, as Third World commentators commonly observe, with little effect on the well-disciplined Western political culture.

It is entirely reasonable to take the position that Iraq should withdraw forthwith, unconditionally, with no "linkage" to anything, and that it should pay reparations and even be subjected to war crimes trials; that is a tenable position for people who uphold the principles that yield these conclusions. But as a point of logic, principles cannot be selectively upheld. As a point of fact, among those who publicly espouse the standard position, very few can claim to do so on grounds of principle, as the most elementary inquiry will quickly show.

The rejection of "linkage," accepted with striking unanimity by elite opinion, is particularly noteworthy in this case because it is combined with the demand that the security problems of the region must be settled as part of the Iraqi withdrawal. Now that Iraq has shown itself to be an enemy, not a reliable client as was supposed, it cannot be left with its ominous military capacities intact. But the "long-term balance of power in the region" requires that it remain as a barrier to Iran, as General Schwartzkopf indicated. And it is hardly realistic to expect the Arab world to observe passively while the major U.S. client in the region not only occupies Arab territory and subjects the population to harsh repression, but also expands its nuclear arsenals and other military advantages. Clearly, the questions of "security" and "stability" require consideration of regional issues, the dread "linkage." Being opposed to diplomatic settlements generally, for reasons of its political weakness, the U.S. (and educated opinion) must, however, oppose "linkage" on the grand principle that "aggressors cannot be rewarded" -- in this case.

Three days after reporting and justifying U.S. fears that others might be tempted by the "diplomatic track," the Times editors, outraged that Saddam Hussein had surrounded foreign Embassies with troops, denounced him for "lash[ing] out at diplomacy itself."63 As noted earlier, this extreme defiance of international law impelled the Times editors to demand that Hussein be treated as a war criminal under the Nuremberg principles.

The editors charged Hussein with such crimes as "initiating a war of aggression in violation of international treaties," citing the invasion of Iran in 1980; "the ill treatment of civilian populations in occupied territories"; stripping people of their citizenship and abusing innocent civilians; and this new outrage against "diplomats whose special status is protected by the Vienna Conventions." The charges are all accurate, and the Nuremberg Principles do indeed apply. The worst crimes, by far, are from the period when the editors pretended not to see U.S. government support for its Iraqi friends. And one can think of some other countries that have recently been engaged in similar crimes, including one regularly hailed by the Times as the noble guardian of world order and human rights, and another that it praises as the very "symbol of human decency," "a society in which moral sensitivity is a principle of political life."64 But the editors did not see fit to lead their readers through the byways of historical irrelevance.

8. Safeguarding our Needs

By any standards, Saddam Hussein is a monstrous figure, surely in comparison to the minor criminal Manuel Noriega. But his villainy is not the reason for his assumption of the role of Great Satan in August 1990. It was apparent long before, and did not impede Washington's efforts to lend him aid and support. And few words need be wasted on our traditional commitment to resist aggression and uphold the rule of law. Hussein became a demon in the usual fashion: when it was finally understood, beyond any doubt, that his independent nationalism threatens U.S. interests. His record of hideous atrocities then becomes available for propaganda needs, but beyond that, it has essentially nothing to do with his sudden transition in August 1990 from cherished friend to new incarnation of Genghis Khan and Hitler.

The military occupation of Kuwait -- which, if successfully maintained, would make the Iraqi dictator a major player on the world scene -- does not raise the threat of superpower confrontation and nuclear war, as did earlier conflicts in the region. That not insignificant fact reflects, of course, the collapse of the Soviet system, which leaves the U.S. unchallenged in military force and under strong temptation to demonstrate the efficacy of the instrument that it alone wields. That strategic conception is by no means unchallenged, even in elite circles, where a conflict began to emerge within several months, along familiar lines.65 The global strategy of world control through the threat or use of force runs into conflict with the goals of maintaining economic health and international business interests, by now very serious problems, and hard to address without significant changes in social policy at home. The shape of the New World Order will depend, to no small degree, on which of these conceptions prevails, not only in this case.

Go to the next chapter.

62 See Fateful Triangle, 425f.

63 Editorial, NYT, Aug. 25, 1990. See above, p. 160.

64 NYT, Aug. 25, 1990. For these and numerous other examples of Times gushing over Israel, see Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle, and Necessary Illusions.

65 For some other examples, see chapter 12, section 5; also introduction. 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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