Friday, March 21, 2008

dd-c08-s02

Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 8: The Agenda of the Doves: 1988 Segment 2/11
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2. The Common Interests: 1988

As the Reagan term drew to an end, the common interests were perceived somewhat differently. It was clearly necessary to face the costs of Reaganite military Keynesianism and refrain from writing "hot checks for $200 billion a year" to create the illusion of prosperity, as vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen phrased the perception of conservative business elements in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. State-directed international terrorism (the celebrated "Reagan doctrine") is also perceived as too costly to us, hence dubious practice. Correspondingly, there was a tendency in the later Reagan years to favor diplomacy over confrontation, economic and ideological warfare over outright terror. Inflammatory rhetoric also, predictably, gave way to more statesmanlike tones.

Still, it is understood that we must keep up our guard. Editor H.D.S. Greenway of the liberal Boston Globe cites a Cavafy poem portraying "a classical kingdom incapacitated by the imminent arrival of barbarians who, of course, threaten civilization itself."4 We are in the same position: "For more than 40 years, the United States has braced its walls to keep barbarians at bay." A critic of Reaganite excesses, Greenway warns that we should beware "lest the buttresses become a substitute for strategy." "The perceived necessity of standing up to communism in Indochina did more damage to our domestic tranquility than anything since World War II" -- also harming the "tranquility" of others, as the former Saigon bureau chief of Time-Life is well aware, but does not remind us. "The deficit we incurred in order to build our defenses in the 1980s may have similar repercussions in the 1990s"; repercussions of this defensive stance in Central America and elsewhere likewise pass unnoticed. Today, thanks to Gorbachev's initiatives and the success of the Reagan administration in "keeping up the pressure and making it hot for Soviet adventurism," new opportunities are open to us. While "the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev may not be exactly suing for peace," nevertheless the INF treaty was signed, "the Soviet fleet is assuming a more defensive and less aggressive posture than before," and Gorbachev is "now talking about reducing Soviet troops in Eastern Europe." But "letting down our guard is not the answer and might tempt the Soviets into seeking advantages instead of accommodations with us." Greenway noted approvingly that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was "moving right" on these issues, taking the position that these new opportunities "require a tough, pragmatic step-by-step effort" to test the possibility that the barbarians at the walls might at last agree to limit their onslaught against civilization itself, thanks to our steadfast defense of virtue.

That is the liberal view. The conservative stance is expressed in an accompanying report by columnist David Wilson from South Africa under the headline "Despite the odds, South Africa survives." The South African white community, he writes, "have built a society of authentic grandeur in a country of great comfort and physical beauty and long-term potential for the creation of even more wealth. They know this and are proud of it. And they cannot see why they should commit cultural and economic suicide and bring all this down just to appease the fantasies of drug-drenched American undergraduates and mendacious politicians."

Across the spectrum, it is agreed that the task of keeping the barbarians at bay falls on our shoulders. The world economy may be tripolar, but there is only one tough guy on the street to keep order when trouble brews, a stance only reinforced by the later Gulf crisis, with its more explicit call for the U.S. to be "the world's cop" -- or more accurately, the gunman who makes sure that people know their place -- while others pay for the service.

Within the foreign domains defended by American power, the common interests also regularly "elude public opinion entirely," so that disciplinary action is required, as in Central America in the past decade. But in 1988 the measures employed seemed only partially successful. Though tens of thousands were slaughtered and this traditional domain of U.S. influence was plunged still more deeply into misery and suffering, deluded natives persist in their resistance, leading to fears that U.S. efforts may have failed. In the case of Nicaragua, the hawks feared that we might abandon the cause, while doves responded that our efforts "to force the Sandinista revolution into the American democratic mold" may not be worth "the risk" (John Oakes) and that Nicaragua may be "beyond the reach of our good intentions" (Jefferson Morley).5 And in El Salvador, the "moderate center," marching towards reform and democracy under our tutelage while seeking to stem the terrorism of the left and ultra-right, was facing collapse, though ARENA, the party of the death squads, still offers prospects for our benevolence, as do the "fledgling democracies" of Guatemala and Honduras. These too are doctrinal truths.

Through the Reagan years, the general public at home also proved unmanageable, sufficiently so as to drive the government underground to clandestine terror. Although the specialized class performed their function, the ignorant masses were never adequately tamed.


Go to the next segment.

4 BG, July 24, 1988.

5 Oakes, "The Wrong Risk in Nicaragua," NYT, Feb. 10, 1987; Morley, "Beyond the Reach of Our Good Intentions," NYT Book Review, April 12, 1987. 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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