This book is a MUST READ. Of course it is old now and the 911 inside job has uncovered a much deeper level of a criminal empire. BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for us to have an understanding of the ways that our democracy is undermined by the ILLEGITEMATE OWNERS of this world. The book is freely availabe from zmag.org website. Blogspot adaptation by u2rh2.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
CIA poisoned Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson, the black actor, singer, and political radical, may have been a victim of CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb.s MK-ULTRA program. In our last issue we noted Gottlieb.s death and outlined his career of infamy. In the spring of 1961, Robeson planned to visit Havana, Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The trip never came off because Robeson fell ill in Moscow, where he had gone to give several lectures and concerts. At the time it was reported that Robeson had suffered a heart attack. But in fact Robeson had slashed his wrists in a suicide attempt after suffering hallucinations and severe depression. The symptoms came on following a suprise party thrown for him at his Moscow hotel.
Robeson.s son, Paul Robeson, Jr., has investigated his father.s illness for more than 30 years. He believes that his father was slipped a synthetic hallucinogen called BZ by US intelligence operatives at the party in Moscow. The party was hosted by anti-Soviet dissidents funded by the CIA.
Robeson Jr. visited his father in the hospital the day after the suicide attempt. Robeson told his son that he felt extreme paranoia and thought that the walls of the room were moving. He said he had locked himself in his bedroom and was overcome by a powerful sense of emptiness and depression before he tried to take his own life.
Robeson left Moscow for London, where he was admitted to Priory Hospital. There he was turned over to psychiatrists who forced him to endure 54 electro-shock treatments. At the time, electro-shock, in combination with psycho-active drugs, was a favored technique of CIA behavior modification. It turned out that the doctors treating Robeson in London and, later, in New York were CIA contractors.
The timing of Robeson.s trip to Cuba was certainly a crucial factor. Three weeks after the Moscow party, the CIA launched its disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. It.s impossible to overstate Robeson.s stature at the time and his threat to the America government as a black radical. Through the 1950s Robson commanded worldwide attention and esteem. He was the Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali of his time. He spoke more than twenty languages, including Russian, Chinese and several African languages. Robeson was also on close terms with Nehru, Jomo Kenyatta and other Third World leaders. His embrace of Castro in Havana would have seriously undermined US efforts to overthrow the new Cuban government.
Another pressing concern for the US government at the time was Robeson.s announced intentions to return to the United States and assume a leading role in the emerging civil rights movement. Like the family of Martin Luther King, Robeson had been under official survelleince for decades. As early as 1935, British intelligence had been looking at Robeson.s activities. In 1943, the Office of Strategic Services, World War II predecessor to the CIA, opened a file on him. In 1947, Robeson was nearly killed in a car crash. It later turned out that the left wheel of the car had been monkey-wrenched. In the 1950s, Robeson was targeted by Senator Joseph McCarthy.s anti-communist hearings. The campaign effectively sabotaged his acting and singing career in the states.
Robeson never recovered from the drugging and the follow-up treatments from CIA-linked doctors and shrinks. He died in 1977. Robeson, Jr. has beem pushing the US to release classified documents regarding his father. He has already unearthed some damning stuff, including an FBI "status of health" report on Robeson created in April of 1961. "The fact that such a file was opened at all is sinister in itself", Robeson recently told the London Sunday Times. "It indicates a degree of prior knowledge that something was about to happen to him."
Robeson.s case has chilling parallels to the fate of another black man who was slipped CIA-concocted hallucinogens, Sgt. James Thornwell. Thornwell was a US Army sergeant working in a NATO office in Orleans, France, in 1961 (the same year Robeson was drugged), when he came under suspicion of having stolen documents. Thornwell, who maintained his innocence, was interrogated, hypnotized and harassed by US intelligence officers.
When he persisted in proclaiming his innocence, Thornwell was secretly given LSD for several days by his interrogators, during which time he was forced to undergo aggressive questioning, replete with racial slurs and threats. At one point, the CIA men threatened "to extend the [hallucinatory ] state indefinitely, even to a point of permanent insanity". The agents apparently consummated their promise. Thornwell experienced a irreversible mental crisis. He eventually committed suicide at his Maryland home. There was never any evidence that he had anything to do with the missing NATO papers.
Secret Service poison murders... if you know more examples please leave a comment
Why do you say the idea of a liberal media is a myth?
I don't. Some of my friends and colleagues do. My own view is that the media, the major media, the New York Times and so on, tend to be what is called liberal. Of course, liberal here implies highly supportive of state power, state violence and state crimes. I, though, don't deny that liberal means, more or less, being in favour of civil rights, social programmes, roughly what's called social democratic in much of the world.
Do you think the so-called liberal media really serves that purpose?
Yes, to some extent, but their major commitment is to the centres of power—state and private. For example, there are major attacks on civil rights today but because those are coming from the Obama administration, the liberal media barely discusses the violations.
You have in mind America's recent wars?
As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally. The media is called liberal because it is liberal in the sense that Obama is. For example, he's considered as the principled critic of the Iraq war. Why? Because, right at the beginning, he said it was a strategic blunder. That's the extent of his liberalism. You could read such comments in Pravda in 1985. The people said that the invasion of Afghanistan was a strategic blunder. Even the German general staff said that Stalingrad was a strategic blunder. But we don't call that principled criticism.
You once said, "Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism." Do you mean that propaganda enables the elite to dull the will of people, depriving them of the capacity to make political choices?
That clearly is its goal, in fact its stated goal. Back in the 1920s, it used to be frankly called propaganda. But the word acquired a bad flavour with Nazism in the 1930s. So now, it's not called propaganda any more. But they were right in the 1920s. The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs. Liberal commentators, like Walter Lippmann, said we have to manufacture consent and keep the rabble away from the decision-making. We are the responsible men, we have to make decisions and we have to be protected—and I quote Lippmann—"from the trampling under the rage of the bewildered herd—the public". In the democratic process, we are the participants, they watch. And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient. That is the view from the liberal end of the spectrum. Yes, I don't doubt that the media is liberal in that sense.
What is the mechanism through which the media becomes the voice of the government and elite?
It is very straightforward. In his introduction to Animal Farm—virtually nobody has read the introduction because it was not published—George Orwell writes that the British (the audience for which he was writing) should not be too complacent about his satire on the crimes of the totalitarian enemy. He said in free England unacceptable ideas could be suppressed voluntarily, without the use of force. He says the reasons are that the press is owned by wealthy men who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed. In the more modern period, generally, the media are either big corporations or parts of mega corporations or closely linked to the government. The other reason—maybe more significant—is just that if you have a good education, you would have instilled into you that there are certain things that it just wouldn't do to say.
For example, you don't say or even think that the invasion of Iraq is a criminal aggression of the kind for which people were hanged in
Nuremberg, that what you say was a strategic blunder was precisely what the Communist party said in the 1980s. They were under coercion. In the West, it is not coercion, it is just voluntary submission to an intellectual culture which remains overwhelmingly within narrow limits that restrict analysis, reporting, and condemnation of government action. Take this morning's (October 5) New York Times. There is an article by a good correspondent, Steven Lee Myers, who says that Iraq is having serious problems with sectarian conflict, with chaos, which are all the results of democracy. I don't think so. I think it is the result of the American invasion. But you can't say or think that.
So, in a sense, the structure of the media is basically reflecting the unequal structure of our society.
Yes, it's reflecting the structure of power, which is not surprising.
In such a scenario, do you think the truth is bound to be elusive?
Take the same New York Times article. Anyone who has paid serious attention to what has been happening in Iraq the last seven years can see, for example, that the sectarian conflict was stirred up not by democracy but by the invasion and atrocities after the invasion. But that's not what you are going to read in papers. When you read day after day and watch television day after day, a certain picture tends to sink into an overwhelming majority of the population. They don't have the time to do research projects.
Do you think the people in the West—and it is now happening in India as well—are giving up newspapers and turning to the internet largely because they do not believe what the newspapers say?
In the US, it's partly true. But that's also part of a much broader phenomenon which you can easily see in polls. A large majority of the population is disillusioned with everything. They are anti-government, anti-business, opposed to the political parties, Republicans even more than the Democrats; they dislike Congress, they don't believe the professions, the scientists. It's as if their lives are falling apart. So, yes, they don't like the media. Then there is also the propaganda—how the media is socialist and so on.
There are lots of discussions about how the media won't be able to survive in the days of internet. I am very sceptical about that. I was in Mexico last week—and Mexico, mind you, is a poor country. The second largest newspaper in Mexico, La Jornada, is a very high quality newspaper, one of the best I know. It gets almost no commercial advertising because the government hates it, business hates it. They survive on readership support. Why can't it happen in a rich country? That's because people in Mexico trust La Jornada. They are doing their job, you can see people reading it on the streets. You learn from it.
I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.
In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don't interfere with it.
The media in India is free, the government doesn't have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things. What I saw was a small sample. There are very good things in the Indian media, specially the Hindu and a couple of others. But this picture (in India) doesn't surprise me. In fact, the media situation is not very different in many other countries. The Mexican situation is unusual. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere.
So what is the solution to all this? Is the internet the only way out?
What has to be done is not really specific to the media. It is to develop a more functional democratic society, a more democratic culture. As far as the elites are concerned they want the public to be disciplined, passive, obedient and directed to other things. Take a look at the history of the huge public relations and advertising industry that we have today. It developed in the freest countries in the world—England and the US—around the time of the First World War. Incidentally, that was the time Lippmann was writing. It was developed very consciously, out of the understanding that enough freedom had been won by popular struggle and the population could not be controlled by force. Therefore, it was thought necessary to control attitudes and beliefs. In the business press of the 1920s, you can read very openly about the need to divert people to what they call the superficial thing in life like fashionable consumption. If we can direct people to that, they will keep out of our hair, we can run things. You see that in India, certainly.
Family-owned concerns dominate the Indian media. Some people believe it is an advantage because you can play upon the vanity of the owners to have them take up important issues. For instance, the way Katherine Graham took risks by featuring the Watergate scandal in The Washington Post.
The Watergate scandal was just a cover-up. It was almost nothing. Right at the same time as the Watergate exposure—and this tells you a lot of about the media and the culture—a state terrorist government operation was exposed in the courts. It was called Cointelpro, it was essentially an fbi programme that ran through the Johnson, Kennedy and Nixon administrations. It began with targeting the Communist party, Puerto Ricans, the anti-war movement, the women's movements, the entire new Left....It was a very serious thing, going all the way to political assassination, literally. That was exposed at the very same time as Watergate. No attention was paid to it; it was too serious. Cointelpro really told you something about the government. Therefore, it was basically suppressed, it is still suppressed so that people don't know anything about it. Watergate, on the other hand, was a minor scandal. The main scandal about the Watergate was that Nixon went after the relatively rich and powerful people.
So Watergate was akin to intra-elite fight?
It was a kind of small intra-elite fight that became huge. The Washington Post did a good thing to write about the Watergate scandal, but I can hardly regard it as requiring great courage.
But are family-owned newspapers better in comparison to the corporatisation?
It is hard to choose. Take Rupert Murdoch. He owns a good part of the press. Is that a good thing? What would be a good thing is democratic control.
How do we bring about this democratic control? Do you have in mind community-based ownerships or community-supported media?
Perhaps the period of greatest real press freedom was in the more free societies of Britain and the US in the late 19th century. There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US. There were efforts, especially in England, to control and censor it. These didn't work. But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn't compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers.
If you look at the New York Times, maybe the world's greatest newspaper, they have the concept of news hole. What that means is that in the afternoon when they plan for the following day's newspaper, the first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that's an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That's a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance.
Of course, these things affect the tenor of the newspaper. Suppose a newspaper started publishing the truth—that the invasion of Iraq was a criminal invasion that destroyed the country. That newspaper or the TV station is not going to get any ads. We, again, come back to Orwell's point—about an intellectual culture in which elites and great universities are inculcated with the understanding that there are things that just wouldn't do to say.
On the 15th anniversary of Outlook, Ajaz Ashraf andAnuradha Ramantalked to Chomsky over the phone on aspects of the crisis plaguing the media. These included the questions you readers have often wondered about: Is the media really free? Or is it the handmaiden of the elites, the state? And how does one distinguish propaganda from news? Speaking with the candour and brilliance typical of his writing, Chomsky says the crisis in the media is not a result of its declining revenues as much as its intellectual dishonesty. He also sprang a few surprises—for instance, he finds the media in Pakistan more vibrant than it is in India. Excerpts:
"You don't say or even think that the invasion of Iraq is a criminal aggression of the kind for which people were hanged in Nuremberg […]. Suppose a newspaper started publishing the truth—that the invasion of Iraq was a criminal invasion that destroyed the country, that newspaper or the TV station is not going to get any ads", said 82-year-old Noam Chomsky in an interview to India's Outlook, Saturday. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, making his most brazen disclosure – 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war, is a hunted man by the world's Establishments, reports The New York Times, Saturday. "You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the rules," Mr. Assange an Australian national was told by an Australian official.
Twelve weeks ago, Wikileaks posted some 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.
In a news conference in London on Saturday, Mr. Assange said that the current release of Iraqi war documents "constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record."
WikiLeaks on Friday said: "The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period."
Sweden rejected residence visa to Assange, Australia signalled cooperation with the US in any possible prosecution against him, and he placed Britain along with Australia among those who are too easily influenced by Washington.
Mr. Assange has become that figure for the Internet era, with as yet unreckoned consequences for himself and for the keepers of the world's secrets, The New York Times article written by John F Burns and Ravi Somaiya said.
Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 exposed a 1000-page secret document known as Pentagon Papers on Vietnam War commented, "I've been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a scale that might really make a difference."
Speaking to Outlook, Chomsky commented on how the media behave supporting state violence in contemporary times:
"Their major commitment is to the centres of power—state and private […]. As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally."
On a question about 'liberal media' put to him: "Do you mean that propaganda enables the elite to dull the will of people, depriving them of the capacity to make political choices," he said:
"The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs…And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient […]. I don't doubt that the media is liberal in that sense."
Chomsky further told the interviewers Ajaz Ashraf and Anuradha Raman: "A large majority of the population is disillusioned with everything. They are anti-government, anti-business, opposed to the political parties, Republicans even more than the Democrats; they dislike Congress, they don't believe the professions, the scientists. It's as if their lives are falling apart. So, yes, they don't like the media.
Overwhelming majority of the population don't have the time to do research projects, in finding out the truth of what the media brings out, Chomsky said, but added that how important the trust of people to a media.
"The second largest newspaper in Mexico, La Jornada, is a very high quality newspaper, one of the best I know. It gets almost no commercial advertising because the government hates it, business hates it. They survive on readership support. Why can't it happen in a rich country? That's because people in Mexico trust La Jornada. They are doing their job, you can see people reading it on the streets. You learn from it […]. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere."
On the media of India and on the attitude of the Indian elite he said the following:
"I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.
"In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don't interfere with it. "The media in India is free, the government doesn't have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things.
"As far as the elites are concerned they want the public to be disciplined, passive, obedient and directed to other things […]. If we can direct people to that, they will keep out of our hair, we can run things. You see that in India, certainly."
To a question whether family-owned newspapers are better in comparison to the corporatisation, he said: "It is hard to choose. Take Rupert Murdoch. He owns a good part of the press. Is that a good thing? What would be a good thing is democratic control."
"In the late 19th century… There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US."
"But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn't compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers."
"The first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that's an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That's a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance."
On the current intellectual culture Chomsky said: "We, again, come back to Orwell's point—about an intellectual culture in which elites and great universities are inculcated with the understanding that there are things that just wouldn't do to say."
us soldier want to see chomsky. bang bang bang - killed by friendly fire, shot three times in the head - bullet holes were tight and neat - wound entrances appeared as though he had been shot with an M16 rifle from fewer than 10 yards (9 m) away # There has never been evidence of enemy fire found on the scene, and no members of Tillman's group had been hit by enemy fire. # The three-star general, who withheld details of Tillman's death from his parents for a number of months, told investigators that he (the general) had a bad memory, and could not recall details of his actions on more than 70 occasions. # Army attorneys congratulated each other in emails for impeding criminal investigation as they concluded Tillman's death was the result of friendly fire, and that only administrative, or non-criminal, punishment was indicated. # Army doctors told the investigators that these wounds suggested murder and urged them to launch a criminal investigation. # It has been revealed that there were never-before-mentioned US snipers in the second group that had encountered Tillman's squad
These are a host of files related to the death of Pat Tillman. This includes:
-Statements from his mother and brother -News articles from ABC News, the AP, Sports Illustrated, and others (a URL is usually supplied at the top of the document) -Army docs (from their "investigations") from the ESPN.com archives -Photos
In brief opening remarks this morning I brought up the crucial fact that rights are typically not granted, but rather won, by dedicated and informed popular struggle. That includes the core principle of freedom of speech. Recognition of this fact should, I think, be taken as a guide when we are considering how we can proceed on many fronts: in countering the current waves of repression worldwide, in carrying forward the gains that have been achieved and that are now under attack, and in the more visionary mode that was suggested by the organizers of the conference, thinking about vistas that lie ahead after that still remote day when proper standards of defense of freedom of speech are established, and once established, observed.
I also mentioned that the United States and Turkey, though differing in many respects, provide clear and instructive illustrations of the ways in which rights are won and once won, protected. With regard to the United States, it is commonly believed that the right to freedom of speech and press was guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution over two centuries ago. That is true only to quite a limited extent, first because of its wording, but more importantly because the law in practice is what the Courts decide – and what the public is willing to defend. I will return to this tomorrow, but would just like to point out now that it was not until the 1960s that the US courts took a strong stand protecting freedom of speech. They did so under the pressure of the civil rights movement and other activism over a wide front. And with the decline of activism, the rights are being eroded, as we heard today, another topic I would like to return to tomorrow.
Such facts as these open a question about freedom of speech that arises when we consider longer-term objectives. The question I have in mind is by no means new. One person who raised it was George Orwell, who is best known for his critique of totalitarian enemies, but was no less acid in addressing the ills of his own society. One pertinent example is an essay on what he called "literary censorship in England." The essay was written as the introduction to Animal Farm, his biting satire of Stalinist crimes. In this introductory essay Orwell instructs his British audience that they should not feel too complacent about his exposure of the crimes of Stalinism. In free England, he writes, ideas can be suppressed without the use of force. He gives some examples, and only a few sentences of explanation, but they capture important truths. "The sinister fact about literary censorship in England," Orwell wrote, "is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without any need for any official ban." One reason is the centralization of the press in the hands of "wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics." Another, and I think more important reason, is a good education and immersion in the dominant intellectual culture, which instills in us a "general tacit agreement that `it wouldn't do' to mention that particular fact."
The introductory essay is not well-known, unlike the book itself, a bitter condemnation of Soviet tyranny that is famous and read everywhere. The reason is that it was not published, perhaps confirming his thesis about literary censorship in free England. It was found many years later in his unpublished writings. The essential point is that even in some future time when rights are established and the rights on paper truly observed, new and crucial questions arise.
A little historical perspective is useful. A century ago, in the more free societies it was becoming more difficult to control the population by force. Labor unions were being formed, along with labor-based parliamentary parties; the franchise was extending; and popular movements were resisting arbitrary authority, not for the first time to be sure, but with a wider base and greater success. In the most free societies, England and the US, dominant sectors were coming to recognize that to maintain their control they would have to shift from force to other means, primarily control of attitudes and opinion. Prominent intellectuals called for the development of effective propaganda to impose on the vulgar masses "necessary illusions" and "emotionally potent oversimplifications." It would be necessary, they urged, to devise means of "manufacture of consent" to ensure that the "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders," the general population, be kept "in their place," as "spectators," not "participants in action," so that the small privileged group of "responsible men" would be able to form policy undisturbed by the "rage and trampling of the bewildered herd." I am quoting from the most respected progressive public intellectuals in the US in the 20th century, Walter Lippmann and Reinhold Niebuhr, both Wilson-Roosevelt-Kennedy liberals, the latter president Obama's favorite philosopher.
At the same time the huge public relations industry began to develop, devoted to the same ends. In the words of its leaders, also from the liberal end of the spectrum, the industry must direct the general population to the "superficial things of life, like fashionable consumption" so that the "intelligent minority" will be free to determine the proper course of policy.
These concerns are persistent. The democratic uprising of the 1960s was frightening to elite opinion. Intellectuals from Europe, the US, and Japan called for an end to the "excess of democracy." The population must be returned to apathy and passivity, and in particular sterner measures must be imposed by the institutions responsible for "the indoctrination of the young": the schools, universities, churches. I am quoting from the liberal internationalist end of the spectrum, those who staffed the Carter administration in the United States and their counterparts elsewhere in the industrial democracies. The right called for far harsher measures. Major efforts were soon undertaken to reduce the threat of democracy, with a certain degree of success. We are now living in that era.
Reflection on such matters should bring us to the realization that beyond the hard task of establishing rights of free expression, and defending their formal establishment of these rights, there are still challenging mountain peaks to climb.
Turning to Turkey, the immediate tasks are much more difficult. Five years ago, I was asked to submit a comment for a conference on freedom of expression here. I would like to reiterate some of what I said, which seems to me important to keep in mind. Turkey has its share of extremely serious human rights violations, including major crimes. There is no need for me to elaborate on that after today's discussion. But Turkey also has a remarkable tradition of resistance to these crimes. That includes, first and and foremost, the victims, who refuse to submit and continue to struggle for their rights, with courage and dedication that can only inspire humility among people who enjoy privilege and security. But beyond that – and here Turkey has an unusual and perhaps unique place in the world -- these struggles are joined by prominent writers, artists, journalists, publishers, academics and others, who not only protest state crimes, but go far beyond to constant acts of resistance, risking and sometimes enduring severe punishment. There is nothing like that in the West.
When I visit Europe, and hear self-righteous charges that Turkey is not yet fit to join the enlightened company of the European Union, I often feel, and say, that it may be the other way around, particularly in defense of freedom of speech, a record of which Turkey should be very proud, and from which we can all learn a great deal.
Chomsky lecture Istanbul Conference on Freedom of Speech
Chomsky.s lecture at the Istanbul Conference on Freedom of Speech
By Noam Chomsky
The title of one of our earlier sessions was Cogito, "I think." That may serve as a useful reminder that even more fundamental than the right of free expression is the right to think. And that has not gone unchallenged. Right here for example. I suppose the most famous case is that of Ismail Besikci, [...]
By Noam Chomsky on Monday, October 18th, 2010 - 5,353 words.
The title of one of our earlier sessions was Cogito, "I think." That may serve as a useful reminder that even more fundamental than the right of free expression is the right to think. And that has not gone unchallenged. Right here for example. I suppose the most famous case is that of Ismail Besikci, who has endured many years in prison on the charge of having committed "thought crimes." And even worse, for having dared to put his thoughts into words, in his documentation of crimes against the Kurds in Syria, Iran, Iraq . and finally Turkey, the unpardonable offense.
I am sure you know the facts better than I do, so I will not review them. If this brave and honorable man had been suffering this ordeal in Russia, or Iran after the overthrow of the Shah, or some other enemy state, he would be internationally known and honored, and outrage about the savagery of his tormentors would know no bounds. But not in this case. One reason is that among his crimes is to have refused a $10,000 prize by the U.S. Fund for Free Expression in protest against Washington.s support for Turkish repression. Respectable people understand that this is a topic that "it wouldn.t do" to mention, to borrow from Orwell.s unpublished introduction to Animal Farm, which I mentioned yesterday. It certainly wouldn.t do to mention the fact that Clinton was supplying 80% of the arms as Turkish state terror in the southeast reached shocking levels through the 1990s, the flow increasing as the atrocities increased, peaking in 1997 when the US sent more arms to Turkey than throughout the entire Cold War period combined up to the onset of the insurgency. It particularly wouldn.t do to mention that in the same year, 1997, Clinton.s foreign policy entered a "noble phase" with a "saintly glow" according to a distinguished correspondent in the New York Times, his contribution to a chorus of self-glorification on the part of Western intellectuals that may well have no parallel in history. This disgraceful episode was a post-cold war contribution by the intellectual classes of the West to provide justification for expansion of NATO, and to provide some new pretext for intervention with the collapse of the traditional claim that the Russians are coming. Under the newly declared mandate, the self-designated "enlightened states," directed by their noble leaders in Washington, must now discard the misguided "old anti-interventionist structure" instituted after World War II. They must be ready to act when they believe the cause to be just, and should not be "daunted by fears of destroying some lofty, imagined temple of law enshrined in the U.N. Charter.s anti-interventionist proscriptions."
I am quoting a distinguished liberal professor of international law at the prestigious Fletcher School of Diplomacy, but he was only one of a grand chorus, including many of the most famous and revered figures in the western Pantheon. Clearly, such a mission could not be tainted by mere facts, of which Clinton.s massive support for terrible Turkish atrocities was not even close to the most horrendous.
But even unacceptable thought without the added crime of expression has not gone unchallenged. The tortures of the Inquisition of the Catholic Church, the ordeals of English common law, and similar devices of medieval and early modern Europe were designed to unearth and punish unexpressed thoughts, hidden heresies. And in some respects that remains true of contemporary torture, including the practices of the enlightened states: the torture that has been taking place in Guantanamo, Bagram, and other US bases, and in the countries selected by Bush and Obama for rendition . meaning torture . to be sure, with the soothing words that the torture states to which they are being sent have given assurances that the prisoners will be treated with the utmost humanity. The official claim is that the harsh interrogation procedures . torture, to be honest . are an effort to elicit information, that is, thoughts that are in people.s minds, even if unexpressed. It may be worth nothing that the most respected and successful interrogators, like Matthew Alexander, view these procedures with contempt, charging that they elicit no useful information and in fact create terrorists, and recommending that the US adopt the much more successful practices of more civilized societies like Indonesia.
But the leadership of the enlightened states prefers torture to expose thought crimes. In Guantanamo, so we have learned, the worst torture was demanded by the highest level of the government, by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, in their fanatic pursuit of evidence that would link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and thus provide some shred of justification for their criminal invasion of Iraq.
The same is true of less brutal state actions, such as the significant increase in wiretapping in much of the world. That includes an intensive campaign in the past several years in the Eastern provinces of Turkey, particularly targeting the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the party that is "considered the legal representation of the Kurds in the process for the solution of the Kurdish question," in the words of Emin Aktar, the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. The information collected was the basis for the wave of arrests and severe charges against non-violent activists of the Party shortly after it won a stunning victory in the municipal elections of March 2009. These actions have "destroyed hopes of a peaceful solution" to this long and bitter conflict, Aktar commented.
One outcome is the trial scheduled for next week of 151 of the activists who have been detained, some for long periods. Among them is Muharrem Erbey, vice-chairperson of the Human Rights Association of Turkey, who has been in prison on accusations of "membership of a terrorist organisation" for almost a year, charged with such crimes as speaking on the US government channel Voice of America about abuses against the Kurdish population. In the words of the official indictment, by describing these well-documented abuses he aimed "to put our country in a difficult position in international platforms by asserting that the state ignores the supposed maltreatment of Kurdish people carried out by police and soldiers in eastern provinces" . hardly a well-guarded secret. The charges include as well work that Mr. Erbey has carried out with the Dutch embassy and the Olof Palme International Centre in Sweden. He is also charged with seeking to find doctors to treat people who were wounded during demonstrations. Also coming up for trial is Osman Baydemir, re-elected by a large majority as mayor of Diyarbakir in the elections which seem to have triggered the current wave of repression, which some analysts see as revenge for the DKP electoral victory, a conclusion that seems all too plausible. Baydemir faces 33 years in prison for speech and symbolic actions. The sentence might be considered rather light in comparison, say, to that of Vedat Kursun, the former editor of Turkey.s only Kurdish-language daily newspaper, sentenced to 166 years in prison for "doing propaganda for a terrorist organization." Even that could be taken as a sign of the leniency of the courts; a Prosecutor of the High Criminal Court in Diyarbakir had demanded a 525 year prison sentence, on the charge of "aiding and abetting" an illegal organization and "glorifying crimes and criminals." His successor as editor has been sentenced to 21 years for similar crimes (Kurdish HR Report Legal Review, KHRP 2010 17 KHRP LR). Of special significance to me personally, and to my MIT colleague John Tirman, director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, are the many trials of the owner of Aram publishing House Fatih Tas for "insulting Turkish identity" by publishing translations of our documentation of the massive US support for Turkish crimes against the Kurds, crimes that I am sure I need not review here . 21 court cases as of July 2006, the latest information I have.
Wiretapping and other forms of surveillance are of course not limited to Turkey. They are prevalent in the enlightened West. Many of the constraints imposed in the US years ago have been lifted by presidents Bush and Obama, though the courts have struck down some of their efforts, most recently the attempt of the Obama Justice Department to justify illegal wiretapping by appeal to the need to protect "state secrets" . in this case to protect crimes of the Bush administration from exposure. In this and in other cases Obama is going even beyond Bush in violation of civil rights by illegal means, as several civil libertarians have rightly charged.
In my opening remarks, and again in the Quo Vadis session, I mentioned that rights are won by struggle, not as gifts from above, and must be defended the same way. As the framer of the US Constitution, James Madison, warned, a parchment barrier offers no protection against tyranny. Words on paper are not enough, as history most eloquently informs us. I also suggested that the US and Turkey serve as good illustrations. Perhaps it may be useful to expand on these comments.
The observation that words do not suffice, and that even when rights are won on paper they must be vigilantly defended, applies not only to freedom of speech, but much more generally. One might think, for example, that the basic rights of Americans are guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the US Constitution, passed in 1868 with the primary goal of granting rights to freed slaves, though virtually never used for that purpose. Its wording is quite straightforward. It declares that no state action may "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Clear and unambiguous, but unacceptable. The powerful and privileged at once considered its scope to be both too narrow and too broad. The problem was that the phrase "any person" might be understood to refer to any person, and that is unacceptable. The issues remain very much alive today.
The Courts decided long ago to extend the concept "person" to include collective legal fictions created and supported by state power: corporations, which now dominate the economy and the society, and increasingly the political system. Last January the Bush Supreme Court appointees overturned a century of precedents and sharply extended the right of corporations to buy elections. The grounds for the verdict are that money is speech, and corporations are persons, so to deprive them of the right to buy elections would deprive these fictional persons of their constitutional rights of freedom of speech. These expanded rights of unaccountable state-backed private tyrannies are being quite effectively exercised in the congressional campaigns that are underway right now, in a concerted effort to ensure that Congress is taken over by an extreme wing of business representatives.
The phrase "any person" in the Constitution is considered to be not only too narrow, but also too broad. Taken literally, it includes undocumented aliens, clearly persons, the naive might think. To remedy this defect of the Constitution, the courts have been restricting the notion of person to safeguard the domain of rights from these creatures of human shape and form. Not being persons, thanks to the wisdom of the law, they are not persons, hence do not enjoy the rights of persons. All of this is having much more severe effects today with the anti-immigrant hysteria that is sweeping the Western world, a very ominous development with painful consequences for those excluded from the category of persons by judicial decision.
The same principles apply to the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which on superficial reading seems to protect freedom of speech. Until the 20th century, protection of freedom of speech rarely received authorization from the courts. After the first World War, there were some famous expressions of support for freedom of speech by Supreme Court justices, but these were in dissents to Court rulings, and the dissents were quite weak. Severe violations persisted, backed by the courts, among them the notorious Smith Act, which banned teaching, advocacy, or association that might encourage overthrow of the government, in the judgment of the courts . not unlike the reasoning that the Turkish government is employing today in its repressive actions.
It was only 50 years ago that the Supreme Court began to reach decisions that carried the US over the threshold of serious protection of freedom of speech, in fact to a level beyond anywhere else in the world to my knowledge. From 1959 to 1974 the Supreme Court dealt with more freedom of speech cases than in its entire previous history, a reflection of this new concern for essential human rights. The context was the rising civil rights movement. The first major victory for free speech was in 1964, when the Court struck down the law passed in 1798 that ruled that criticism of the government is a crime, the doctrine of seditious libel. It should be noted that the doctrine remains in force in other Western countries, including Britain and Canada, where it has recently been invoked. The 1964 US Supreme Court decision set a very high standard for the charge of libel. It overturned a libel suit that charged the New York Times with defaming the State of Alabama by publishing an advertisement by Martin Luther King and civil rights leaders that protested the brutality of racist law officers. Again, that should be familiar here.
Under the impact of the activism of the 1960s, the Court later reached an even higher standard, one that I believe is unique in the world. This 1969 decision bars only speech that incites imminent criminal action. So if you and I intend to rob a store, you are carrying a gun, and I say "shoot," that is not protected speech. But short of that circumstance, speech is protected. The doctrine is controversial, but at least in my opinion, it sets a proper standard. Adopting that standard would be one mark of true enlightenment.
In a review of "the history and reality of free speech in the United States," legal historian David Kairys points out that "no right of free speech, either in law or practice, existed until the transformations of law" between the two great 20th century wars. "Before that time, one spoke publicly only at the discretion of local, and sometimes federal, authorities, who often prohibited what they, the local business establishment, or other powerful segments of the community did not want to hear." He stresses the important point that "the periods of stringent protection and enlargement of civil rights and civil liberties correspond to the periods in which mass movements posing a credible challenge to the existing order have demanded such rights," including the right of free expression. The major agents of defense of civil rights have been the left, labor, and other popular movements, forcefully in the 1960s.
More generally, to quote the anarchist writer Rudolf Rocker in a classic study 80 years ago, "Political rights do not originate in parliaments; they are rather forced upon them from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. They do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace." A stronger and sharper version of Madison.s principle.
In conformity with these principles, the highest level of protection for freedom of speech in the US was achieved at the peak of activism, 40 years ago. As activism declined, the courts began to chip away at these protections. The most extreme attack on freedom of speech was just this year, under Obama, the case that Judith Chomsky discussed yesterday: Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. Supporting the Obama administration, the far-right Court justices granted the government rights of repression that carry us back many decades. The decisions criminalize speech, or any other action, which the government claims may lend support and encouragement to organizations on the government.s terrorist list, a legal doctrine quite familiar here. By the lax standards on which Obama insisted, even former president Jimmy Carter could be charged. Certainly Judith and I could be, along with many others. I was rather surprised that the defense did not even ask the Court to consider the strong rulings of the 1960s, which are apparently taken to be too extreme by now. The case passed with little notice, apart from a few civil libertarians who condemned it.
But even their criticisms were for the most part too narrow. They rarely addressed the validity of the terrorist list itself. The list is proclaimed by the government, virtually without independent review or any need for supporting argument. As should be expected under such circumstances, the list is quite arbitrary, reflecting current political demands. Just to take one illustration, in 1982 the Reagan administration decided to provide direct support for Saddam Hussein.s invasion of Iran. In order to do so, they had to remove Iraq from the list of states supporting terror. Then followed Donald Rumsfeld.s visit to Baghdad to arrange badly needed aid to the murderous tyrant, who, as you know, went on to use WMD, slaughtering 100s of thousands of Iranians, then turning the weapons against Iraqi Kurds with lethal effect, always with the support of Washington; the Reagan administration barred protests, and even sought to blame the crimes on Iran. The US finally entered the war directly, compelling Iran to capitulate. That did not end the love affair with Saddam. In 1989, President George Bush #1 not only expanded the aid, but also invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the US for advanced training in nuclear weapons development. In April 1990, Bush sent a high-level senatorial delegation to Iraq, headed by Senator Robert Dole, Republican candidate for president six years later. Their mission was to convey the President.s warm regards to his good friend Saddam, and to assure him that he should disregard critical comments by some US journalists, who cannot be silenced because of the annoying protections for freedom of speech. A few months later, Saddam made his first mistake, disobeying orders, or perhaps misunderstanding them, and invaded Kuwait. Instantly he made the sharp transition from favored friend and ally to the new Hitler. There is no need to carry the story forward from there.
When Saddam was tried and convicted under US military occupation, his major crimes were completely ignored, perhaps because too many doors would have opened. He was charged with indirect involvement in killings that were quite minor by his standards, in 1982, the year in which Washington adopted him as a favored friend, removing him from the terrorist list.
When Saddam was removed from the list in 1982, there was a gap to be filled. The Reagan administration added Cuba to the list, perhaps in recognition of the fact that the large-scale state terrorist operations that the Kennedy administration had launched against Cuba were again peaking, including the shooting down of a Cuban airliner, killing 76 people. The perpetrator is now living happily in Florida, along with other leading terrorists.
All of this is politely suppressed in the media and commentary, in the West generally as far as I can determine, confirming Orwell.s judgment about the suppression of unpopular ideas in free societies, by voluntary subordination to power.
Such "intentional ignorance," as it is sometimes called, is routine, a matter that bears quite directly on the practical meaning of freedom of speech. Crimes of one.s own state are typically suppressed or ignored, while those of enemies arouse a great show of anguish, and wonder that humans can be so evil. This appears to be close to a universal principle of intellectual history, though there are some exceptions. Turkey is perhaps the most striking recent exception, as I mentioned yesterday. The pathology is rampant in the free democratic western societies, as has been documented to the skies. And the moral burden is clearly far higher when there is virtually no punishment for telling the truth, certainly nothing like what is faced by honest people in much more repressive societies.
It is misleading to give illustrations, because the pattern is so close to uniform. But I will mention just one to illustrate standard practice. For many years, economist and media critic Edward Herman has been investigating media coverage of what he calls "worthy" and "unworthy" victims, the former those abused by enemies, the latter our victims, therefore unworthy of concern. As he and others have demonstrated to a level of confidence rarely found outside the hard sciences, the worthy victims elicit enormous coverage and a great show of anguish, and their suffering is used as justification for increasing our own resort to violence. The unworthy ones, in contrast, are unnoticed and quietly forgotten. Ismail Besikci is one of innumerable examples of an unworthy victim. The Czech dissident Vaclav Havel is a worthy victim, famous almost to the level of reverence because of his courageous defense of freedom of expression under Communist rule, for which he suffered several years of imprisonment. Among the many unworthy victims at the same time are six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, whose heads were blown off by a elite battalion in El Salvador, fresh from renewed training at the John F. Kennedy special warfare school. The assassinations were authorized by the high command, which was in very close contact with the US Embassy. The facts were at first denied by the Embassy, then quickly forgotten. With some justice, one might say, because this was only one short chapter in Reagan.s murderous terrorist wars in the 1980s.
In a forthcoming study, Herman continues this work, providing such examples as the following recent pair: Neda Agha-Soltan, aged 27, shot dead while participating in a peaceful street demonstration in Tehran last June; and Isis Obed Murillo, aged 19, shot dead while participating in a peaceful demonstration in Honduras shortly after. Agha-Soltan was the victim of an enemy state. She merited 736 newspaper articles and 231 reports on TV, radio, and other sources. Murrillo was the victim of a government installed by a military coup and recognized by the Obama administration, though few others. She merited 8 newspaper articles and one other report. The 100-1 ratio is not in the least unusual.
In further support of the distinction between worthy and unworthy victims, exposure of standard practice, however massive, however grotesque, has almost no impact. It is consigned to that category of things that "it wouldn.t do to say" . or even to think. Such measures of voluntary suppression operate with quite impressive effectiveness. They cast a bright light on how far we have to go in the self-declared enlightened states for true realization of the right of freedom of thought and of speech. Even in these states, which have indeed registered considerable progress over the past centuries, much more is needed than formal laws and court decisions. What is needed is a culture of freedom and intellectual independence, a culture of functioning democracy.
One might think that this should not be a problem in Western countries, notably the United States, where political leaders and commentators passionately proclaim Washington.s dedication to extending the blessings of democracy worldwide. So the official story holds. But again, it useful to remember Orwell.s warnings. Does the story have any validity? Has US policy really been guided by the dedication to advance a democratic culture in which freedom of speech and other rights can thrive?
There has been serious scholarly study of the matter. The most extensive scholarly work is by Thomas Carothers, former head of the Law and Democracy Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Carothers describes himself as a neo-Reaganite and is a very strong advocate of democracy promotion. He served in the Reagan State Department, working on democracy promotion. He regards these programs as "sincere," though a "failure," and a systematic failure. He explains that where US influence was least, in the southern cone of Latin America, progress towards democracy was greatest, despite Reagan.s attempts to impede it by embracing right-wing dictators. Where US influence was strongest, in the regions nearby, progress was least. The reason, Carothers explains, is that Washington sought to maintain "the basic order of what, historically at least, are quite undemocratic societies" and to avoid "populist-based change in Latin America . with all its implications for upsetting economic and political orders and heading off in a leftist direction." Therefore the US would tolerate only "limited, top-down forms of democratic change that did not risk upsetting the traditional structures of power with which the United States has long been allied."
In broader studies, Carothers shows that the conclusions generalize. The US consistently supports democracy when doing so conforms to strategic and economic objectives, typically in enemy domains; and the US consistently opposes democracy when it would conflict with such overriding interests, typically within its own domains, where the opposition can be extremely brutal. Carothers regards this as a kind of strange pathology: leaders are "schizophrenic." Other commentators take this to show that leaders are acting inconsistently, observing a double standard. Another way to describe the facts is that they are acting quite consistently, observing the single standard of protecting power and privilege. But that conclusion passes beyond legitimate bounds.
All of this should be quite familiar in Turkey. You will recall, no doubt, that when the US was planning to invade Iraq, it sought to mobilize support among its allies. Some agreed, some refused. That led Donald Rumsfeld to enunciate his famous distinction between "old Europe," the bad guys, and "New Europe," the hope for democracy. Old Europe included Germany and France, where the governments demonstrated their contempt for democracy by adopting the position of the large majority of the population. Washington was so incensed that in the Senate Cafeteria, fried potatoes were no longer called "French fries"; rather "freedom fries." The most stellar representatives of New Europe were Italy.s Berlusconi and Spain.s Aznar, who demonstrated their love for democracy by overruling an even larger majority of the population. Berlusconi was invited to the White House and Aznar was invited to join the summit where Bush and Blair declared war. At the time he enjoyed the support of 2% of the population.
The most dramatic example was Turkey, where the government adopted the position of 95% of the population and rejected Washington.s demands. Turkey was bitterly condemned in the national press for lacking "democratic credentials." Colin Powell, the official moderate of the Bush administration, announced harsh punishment for this act of disobedience. Paul Wolfowitz took the most extreme position. He denounced the Turkish military for not compelling the government to follow Washington.s orders, and demanded that military leaders apologize, and say "We made a mistake" by overruling virtually unanimous public opinion. "Let.s figure out how we can be as helpful as possible to the Americans," they should say, thus demonstrating their understanding of democracy. The most prominent leading liberal commentator for the Washington Post, former editor of the International Herald Tribune, declared Wolfowitz to be the "idealist in chief" of the Bush administration, whose sole flaw might be that he is "too idealistic . that his passion for the noble goals of the Iraq war might overwhelm the prudence and pragmatism that normally guide war planners." The rest of the elite press in the US and Britain chimed in as well, declaring that his "passion is the advance of democracy," that "promotion of democracy has been one of the most consistent themes of his career." They scrupulously avoided reviewing his career, which is one of brutal contempt for democracy, much as he revealed in the case of Turkey.s democratic deviation.
Bush and Blair went to war because Saddam had not ended his non-existent programs of developing WMD. That was the "single question," both leaders forcefully reiterated. When the "single question" was answered the wrong way, the state propaganda systems instantly devised a new reason: the goal was to promote democracy. With very rare exceptions, the media and scholarship instantly adopted the new Party Line, hailing Bush for his Reaganite dedication to democracy. Enthusiasm was not entirely uniform, however. In Iraq, 1% of the population accepted the claim, 5% felt that the US intended to help Iraqis, and most of the rest believed the unspeakable obvious: that the US invaded for economic and strategic reasons, as was finally conceded, quietly but clearly, after years of violence and destruction.
From such events as these, we learn again that the task of achieving authentic freedom of expression remains a very difficult one, despite many achievements. I have spoken of the US and Turkey, but to keep to them is misleading. In free and democratic Europe there are many serious barriers to freedom of speech. To illustrate with a recent example, I had an interview a few months ago with the New Statesman in England, an old and respected journal of the left. I was asked what I thought about Obama.s winning the Nobel Prize for peace. I responded that it was not the worst choice: the prize had been given to outright war criminals, like Henry Kissinger. The editors informed me that the reference to Kissinger must be deleted, in fear of England.s onerous libel laws, which are an international scandal. In the US, if you accuse me of libeling you, you have to demonstrate my malicious intent. In Britain the burden is reversed: I have to prove that I had no malicious intent, an almost impossible burden. I refused to withdraw the statement and instead suggested that they include some of the obvious evidence, for example, Kissinger.s orders to the US military calling for "a massive bombing of Cambodia; anything that flies on anything that moves." It would be hard to find a comparable call for genocide in the archival record. The orders were carried out. Rural Cambodia was subjected to more bombing than the entire Pacific theater during World War II, with consequences that we do not know, because we do not investigate our own crimes, though one consequence is known: the bombing changed the Khmer Rouge from a marginal force to a huge army of enraged peasants, bent on taking revenge. Adding that evidence was not enough to satisfy the editors, and on the advice of their lawyer, the statements were eliminated. That is far from the worst case. Britain.s disgraceful laws have even been used to put a small newspaper out of business for daring to challenge the claims of major media. Lacking the resources to confront the power of a great corporation, the small journal capitulated. All of this proceeded with to the applause of the left-liberal press.
France is much worse. It has laws on the books that effectively grant the state the right to determine Historical Truth and to punish deviation from it, laws that Stalin and Goebbels would have admired. These laws are used regularly though selectively. Primarily they are used, with much cynical posturing, to punish questioning of the Nazi Holocaust. The term "cynical" is entirely appropriate. Right at the same time the intellectual classes remain silent about France.s own participation in monstrous slaughters, which we would certainly call genocide if perpetrated by enemies. We are, in fact, witnessing the cynicism right at this moment. Far worse than denying the Holocaust would be punishing the victims, exactly what France is now doing, by illegally expelling Roma . Gypsies . to misery in Romania. They too were victims of the Holocaust, much in the manner of Jews. This too passes without comment.
I have only skimmed the surface. It is unfortunately all too easy to continue. The lesson is stark and clear. Everywhere in the world there are serious impediments to freedom of expression, and they often lead to severe punishment. And even where substantial victories have been won by popular struggle, constant vigilance and dedication is needed to defend them. Beyond that, we are very far from having reached the stage of a genuine democratic culture in which thought and expression are truly free. That remains a major task for the future, one with tremendous implications.
How is it that people got the idea you were soft on Khmer Rouge atrocities as a result of your 1988 book with Edward S Herman, Manufacturing Consent? In our 1988 book, Herman and I reviewed the way the horrors in Cambodia had been treated through three distinct phases: the US war before the Khmer Rouge takeover in April 1975; the Khmer Rouge period; the period after Vietnam invaded and drove out the Khmer Rouge and the US and Britain turned at once to direct military and diplomatic support for the Khmer Rouge ("Democratic Kampuchea"). By the time we wrote, it was known that the pre-1975 US war was horrendous, but it is only in the past few years that more extensive documents have been released.
We now know that the most brutal phase began in 1970, when Henry Kissinger transmitted President Nixon's orders for "massive bombing of Cambodia, anything that flies on anything that moves" (Kissinger's words, to General Haig). It is hard to find a declaration with such clear genocidal intent in the archival record of any state. And the orders were carried out. Bombing of rural Cambodia was at the level of total Allied bombing in the Pacific theatre during World War II. The
Khmer Rouge, as we now know, expanded to about 200,000, largely recruited by the bombing.
During the first and third period there was quite a lot that Americans – more generally Westerners – could do. During the second period no one even had a suggestion as to what to do. The coverage is exactly the opposite of what elementary moral considerations would dictate. During the first period, there was some protest, but coverage was slight and it was quickly forgotten. The new revelations have been almost entirely suppressed. During the third period, coverage again was very slight and the history has also been almost entirely forgotten.
Our accurate review of these facts did lead to considerable outrage, and massive lies, such as what you mention. That was even more true of our 1979 two-volume study, Political Economy of Human Rights, which provides extensive documentation to show that this pattern was (and is) quite generally, extending all over the world. Most of the study concerned US crimes, so it was therefore unreviewed and unread, confirming our thesis.
One chapter was about Cambodia. In it, we harshly condemned Pol Pot's crimes, and also revealed extraordinary fabrication and deceit. We wrote that the crimes were horrible enough, but commentators ought to keep to the truth, and to the most reliable sources, like State Department intelligence, by all accounts the most knowledgeable source at the time – and also largely suppressed, apart from our review, because it did not conform to the image that was manufactured. That image was important.
It was exploited quite explicitly to whitewash past US crimes in Indochina, and to lay the groundwork for new and quite awful crimes in Central America, justified on grounds that the US had to stop the "Pol Pot left", We compared Cambodia to East Timor, accurately: two huge atrocities in the same time period and same area of the world, differing in one crucial respect: in East Timor the US and its allies had primary responsibility for the atrocities, and could have easily brought them to an end; in Cambodia they could do little or nothing – as noted, there was scarcely even a suggestion – and the enemy's atrocities could be and were exploited to justify our own.
We showed that in both cases there was massive deceit in the US and the West, but in opposite directions: In the case of East Timor, where the crimes could have easily been terminated, they were suppressed or denied; in the case of Cambodia, where nothing could be done, the fabrication and lies would, literally, have impressed Stalin.
What we wrote about East Timor was entirely ignored (except in Australia), along with the rest of what we wrote about US crimes and how they were covered up. What we wrote about Cambodia, in contrast, elicited huge outrage and a new flood of lies, as we discussed in our 1988 book. And it continues. In general, it is extremely important to suppress our own crimes and to defend the right to lie at will about the crimes of enemies. Those are major tasks of the educated classes, as we documented at length, in these books and elsewhere.
It is a rare study that does not contain errors, but our chapter on Cambodia seems to be an exception. Despite massive effort, no one has found even a misplaced comma, let alone any substantive error. We would be more than happy to concede and correct any error, but despite Herculean efforts, none have been found. Please don't take my word for it, of course. Check and see for yourself.
When you look at the genocide under the Khmer Rouge that occurred in Cambodia, do you put the blame on the American bombing of Cambodia for creating the conditions that brought Pol Pot to power, or is it more complex than that? Two leading Cambodia scholars, Owen Taylor and Ben Kiernan, point out that when the intense US bombing of rural Cambodia began, the Khmer Rouge were a small group of perhaps 10,000. Within a few years, the KR had grown to a huge army of some 200,000, deeply embittered and seeking revenge. Their recruitment propaganda successfully highlighted the US bombing. Pentagon records reveal that the tonnage of bombs released on rural Cambodia was about the same as total US bombing in the Pacific during World War II, and of course far more intense. But that was surely not the only factor.
In your reading of history, why do leaders of states go so terribly wrong as to slaughter anyone who had ever been to school or who wore glasses? Can you imagine the intellectual or emotional basis for how perpetrators of mass killings are able to blithely live with themselves as instruments of mass killing? It's a good question. We can also ask similar questions about our own society, which we should be able to understand better. Just keep to Cambodia. The intense bombing began under President Nixon's orders, which Kissinger loyally transmitted to the US military with these words: "Massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves." That's the kind of call for genocide that one rarely finds in the archival record of any state. The statement was published in The New York Times, and there was no reaction among its mostly liberal intellectual readers, few of whom even remember it.
Should the perpetrators of genocide in Cambodia be tried and executed or imprisoned? Why? I am opposed to the death penalty, but I think they should receive fair trials and imprisonment. No one asks that question about Nixon and Kissinger, or about the rich and powerful generally.
The historic enmity between Vietnam and China goes back a millennium. In 1978-79, Cambodia was a Chinese ally and Vietnam was linked to the Russians..
Noam Chomsky maintains the rage Tuesday, 05 October 2010 13:00 Stuart Alan Becker
PHILOSOPHER and linguist Noam Chomsky says the United States owes Cambodia not only an apology but massive reparations for the B-52 bombing campaign called Operation Menu that killed up to a million people.
The campaign lasted from March 18, 1969, to May 26, 1970, destroyed an estimated 1,000 towns and villages, displaced 2 million people and, Chomsky says, and helped bring the Khmer Rouge to power.
Chomsky's comments come after the US last week ruled out a plea from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to forgive a US$317 million debt to the US accrued by the Lon Nol regime during the 1970s.
In the interview, Chomsky said: "Henry Kissinger would certainly be brought to trial for his role in the bombing, if the world were governed by justice, not forces."
Considered a father of modern linguistics, Chomsky is the author of more than 100 books about language and international affairs.
He's also one of the world's most-quoted living scholars. Much of what he says in speeches, interviews and scholarly works is quickly translated into scores of languages.
As Chomsky approaches his 83rd year, he is still a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, considered one of the best technical universities in the world.
Chomsky has taught there for more than 50 years.
His work on how the brain deals with language changed how the world's professors think about psychology, behaviour and a whole range of studies of the human mind. Chomsky has at least 36 honorary doctor's degrees, two of the most recent of which were given by universities in China, where he travelled earlier this year to acknowledge the accolades.
The Chomsky approach to science and mind studies takes the view that humans are given remarkable genetic endowments by their parents – systems so complex they are impossible to duplicate even with a room full of computers – and that's what makes people so precious.
Chomsky's theories of universal grammar and generative grammar are now accepted by scholars around the world and encompass the idea that all human languages are based on underlying rules that every human baby is born with, which explains why children, wherever they are, quickly acquire the language that is spoken to them.
Chomsky says that if an alien visited Earth, he would observe that all humans speak the same language with only slight variation. Chomsky's approach to understanding language at MIT has enabled computer scientists and researchers in many others fields to apply mathematical-style rules to language.
British professor Dr Niels Jerne won a Nobel Prize in 1964 by applying Chomskyan theories to the human body's immune system with a paper called The Generative Grammar of the Immune System.
In addition to his linguistic and philosophical pioneering, Chomsky was an early opponent of the Vietnam War, dating back to France's reappearance in Indochina following the conclusion of the second world war in 1945.
He was one of the intellectual forces behind the antiwar movement in the US during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Chomsky is also famous for his criticism of the foreign policies of states, especially the US, where he lives and has nationality.
He helps people practise what he calls "intellectual self-defence" by pointing out the difference between words spoken and deeds done by politicians, governments, religious or corporate officials – so that the average citizen can look at the world more accurately as it applies to him or her – rather than as part of the agenda of a state, a religion, a corporation or some other power centre, as Chomsky calls them.
Just as in his reasoning that the Vietnam War was not in the interest of the American people, so does Chomsky reason that Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza are not in the interest of the Israeli people.
Though Chomsky is a Jew and a Hebrew scholar, he nevertheless criticises Israel's military actions, which he says are more dangerous to the population of Israel than they are helpful.
You could say Chomsky is an equal-opportunity critic of all groups with power, regardless of ethnicity and national origin – which is probably what makes him so popular and welcome in so many places – and so controversial.
Chomsky has been watching the events that have occurred in Cambodia since the end of the second world war.
He took time to answer some questions about significant events in the Kingdom's history that have helped shape Cambodia today.
American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein
THE BROWSER'S ECSTACY
Radicalism in an unprepared world
I am still haunted by a film I saw some six months ago.
It's about an embattled and beleaguered academic, scholar and political scientist called Norman Finkelstein who lost one teaching job after another for his radical views, who continues to be attacked from different sides, but who will not stop writing and speaking as an independent scholar.
American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein is a compelling and moving film that offers us a true radical in a world mostly depleted of them. I mean, how many genuine radicals are there left in the world anymore? Arundhati Roy is a radical. Here is someone whose radicalism often costs her.
Finkelstein's radicalism cost him dearly. Directed by David Ridgen and Nicholas Rossier, the film does a fine job of presenting Finkelstein without pushing only his side of things. And yet remains sympathetic and fair to Finkelstein.
A majority of critics reviewing the film dismiss Norman as a perfect example of a radical who loses the very cause he is fighting for by his radicalism. And yet, I ask you, what else is the radical voice? Why is Norman Finkelstein such a figure of controversy?
Finkelstein, an American Jew who lost his family in the Holocaust, is deeply shamed and angered by Israel and its right wing supporters, and their treatment of Palestinians. Finkelstein has called Israel a terrorist state, and for this he becomes the first Jew to be banned from entering Israel.
In several books over the years Finkelstein has written about right wing Jewish organisations that exploit the Holocaust and Jewish suffering by claiming that anti-Semitism is still a widespread and burning issue threatening the existence and safety of Jews.
Norman does not see evidence of this. Wonders this scholar, some of these Jewish organisations also raise huge funds in the name of the Holocaust but where is the money going?
Not just conservative, fundamentalist Jews revile Finkelstein but even liberals. He finds some supporters in anti-Zionist, leftist Jews who are also committed to a Palestinian state. But while leftist Jews are accepted, Norman is not. He is often described as not just anti-Zionist but as a self-hating Jew.
Finkelstein is often amused by this because he feels he is being more Jewish than most Jews - it is because he cares for his race that he feels so much shame and indignation at how the Holocaust has been exploited by the right wingers.
In book after book, he points out that Israel's human rights record is poorer than the Palestinian side. His scholarship seems impeccable, his integrity unflinching and whole. There is a scene in the movie that leaves you shaken and roused. Finkelstein is speaking to university students (as he often does) in Toronto.
In the audience are both, supporters and detractors. At the end of his impassioned talk, one student, a girl, is sobbing as she picks up the microphone to address him. How could you, she asks, call some people in the audience as Nazis?
Finkelstein who is seldom provoked, explodes here with barely controlled anger. 'I will not be anymore browbeaten by such crocodile tears,' he shouts back. 'If you have a heart at all, you will be crying for the Palestinians.'
While the girl looks shocked, there are cheers in the audience from Palestinian students and other supporters of the Palestinian cause. For Norman Finkelstein the lesson of the Holocaust was how to learn to love, not hate. His mother, Maryla, taught him that. A truly remarkable person, you see her briefly in the film, talking about the meaning of the Holocaust, which she survived, as being compassion. Norman grew up hearing that from her all the time. And then made a radical commitment to it, stunning even his mother who says jokingly that she 'created a Finkelstein's monster.'
It was while he was a graduate student at Princeton that Norman first began questioning the political beliefs and views of right wing Jews, both in Israel and America. Preparing for his thesis he came across a book called From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters which claimed a different demographics for Palestine: that there really wasn't a Palestinian majority as believed widely.
That there were as many Zionist immigrants at the end of the 19th century as there were Palestinians. The book instantly became a deeply influential bestseller, praised by several writers and intellectual such as Saul Bellow, Barbara Tuckman and Elie Wiesel.
Reading it closely, Finkelstein found error after error in her scholarship, and ended by concluding that the book was "a monumental hoax."
His findings drew the attention of Noam Chomsky who already held similar views, and who warned him of the consequences of exposing the book's dubious scholarship: "I warned him, if you follow this, you're going to get in trouble-because you're going to expose the American intellectual community as a gang of frauds, and they are not going to like it, and they're going to destroy you.'
Finkelstein published the thesis anyway. And as Chomsky had predicted, all hell broke loose in academic circles. His graduate research was his first expose of what he terms the "the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict."
Finkelstein followed it with other books, two of the best known being: "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering" (Verso, 2000) and "Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history" (University of California Press, 2005). Even though Chomsky himself didn't go as far as Finkelstein in the way he challenged academia, for Finkelstein he remains an inspiration. It is from Noam Chomsky, Finkelstein has said, he learnt that it was "possible to unite exacting scholarly rigor with scathing moral outrage."
Because of his radical politics, Finkelstein, who had been teaching political theory in Hunter College for many years without tenure and on a small salary, was pushed into resigning. Later, he was denied tenure everywhere he went, and eventually any teaching position. Today he is an independent scholar, committed to meticulous, forensic scholarship that examines the Israeli-Palestine debate.
The filmmakers hold up Finkelstein's complex firebrandism as one example of radical advocacy, asking the question: When radicals collide, does it create understanding or self destruction? While the audience can decide for themselves, few will fail to be moved by Norman Finkelstein's courage, compassion and sense of justice. Like Arundhati Roy, surely a hero for our times.
Chomsky, Falk in I.stanbul to press for free speech
Renowned linguist and political thinker Noam Chomsky and international law professor Richard Falk will be among participants of an international gathering convening in I.stanbul this weekend to promote freedom of expression.
Participants of the event, the 7th Gathering for Freedom of Expression, will also attend today the first hearing of a court trial where two journalists face criminal charges for a two-volume book they wrote on the Ergenekon case.
Journalists Ertug(rul Maviog(lu and Ahmet S,?k are charged with violating a gag order on the Ergenekon case, which is investigating the shadowy Ergenekon group that is accused of plotting to overthrow the government and creating favorable circumstances for a military coup. The journalists say the investigation into them was initiated on the very same day as the book, which totals 1,128 pages with both volumes combined, was launched. .The reading speed of the public prosecutors really surprised us, and I asked them to teach me how to read that fast,. Maviog(lu told Today.s Zaman in an earlier interview.
Two days of academic panel discussions will be held at I.stanbul Bilgi University on Saturday and Sunday as part of the 7th Gathering for Freedom of Expression, which is being hosted by the Greater I.stanbul Municipality and backed by I.stanbul Bilgi University. Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will speak at the opening session on Saturday and give a more lengthy address on democracy and rights in the new world order on Sunday.
China’s Growing Independence and the New World Order
China's Growing Independence and the New World Order
By Noam Chomsky
Of all the "threats" to world order, the most consistent is democracy, unless it is under imperial control, and more generally, the assertion of independence. These fears have guided imperial power throughout history.
In South America, Washington's traditional backyard, the subjects are increasingly disobedient. Their steps toward independence advanced further in February with the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which includes all states in the hemisphere apart from the U.S. and Canada.
For the first time since the Spanish and Portuguese conquests 500 years ago, South America is moving toward integration, a prerequisite to independence. It is also beginning to address the internal scandal of a continent that is endowed with rich resources but dominated by tiny islands of wealthy elites in a sea of misery.
Furthermore, South-South relations are developing, with China playing a leading role, both as a consumer of raw materials and as an investor. Its influence is growing rapidly and has surpassed the United States' in some resource-rich countries.
More significant still are changes in Middle Eastern arena. Sixty years ago, the influential planner A. A. Berle advised that controlling the region's incomparable energy resources would yield "substantial control of the world."
Correspondingly, loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance. By the 1970s, the major producers nationalized their hydrocarbon reserves, but the West retained substantial influence. In 1979, Iran was "lost" with the overthrow of the shah's dictatorship, which had been imposed by a U.S.-U.K. military coup in 1953 to ensure that this prize would remain in the proper hands.
By now, however, control is slipping away even among the traditional U.S. clients.
The largest hydrocarbon reserves are in Saudi Arabia, a U.S. dependency ever since the U.S. displaced Britain there in a mini-war conducted during World War II. The U.S. remains by far the largest investor in Saudi Arabia and its major trading partner, and Saudi Arabia helps support the U.S. economy via investments.
However, more than half of Saudi oil exports now go to Asia, and its plans for growth face east. The same may be turn out to be true of Iraq, the country with the second-largest reserves, if it can rebuild from the massive destruction of the murderous U.S.-U.K. sanctions and the invasion. And U.S. policies are driving Iran, the third major producer, in the same direction.
China is now the largest importer of Middle Eastern oil and the largest exporter to the region, replacing the United States. Trade relations are growing fast, doubling in the past five years.
The implications for world order are significant, as is the quiet rise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes much of Asia but has banned the U.S.—potentially "a new energy cartel involving both producers and consumers," observes economist Stephen King, author of Losing Control: The Emerging Threats to Western Prosperity.
In Western policy-making circles and among political commentators, 2010 is called "the year of Iran." The Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world order and to be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy, with Europe trailing along politely as usual. It is officially recognized that the threat is not military: Rather, it is the threat of independence.
To maintain "stability" the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, but outside of Europe, few are paying attention. The nonaligned countries—most of the world—have strongly opposed U.S. policy toward Iran for years.
Nearby Turkey and Pakistan are constructing new pipelines to Iran, and trade is increasing. Arab public opinion is so enraged by Western policies that a majority even favor Iran's development of nuclear weapons.
The conflict benefits China. "China's investors and traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in Europe, pull out," Clayton Jones reports in The Christian Science Monitor. In particular, China is expanding its dominant role in Iran's energy industries.
Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation. In August, the State Department warned that "If China wants to do business around the world it will also have to protect its own reputation, and if you acquire a reputation as a country that is willing to skirt and evade international responsibilities that will have a long-term impact … their international responsibilities are clear"—namely, to follow U.S. orders.
Chinese leaders are unlikely to be impressed by such talk, the language of an imperial power desperately trying to cling to authority it no longer has. A far greater threat to imperial dominance than Iran is China's refusing to obey orders—and indeed, as a major and growing power, dismissing them with contempt.
This is the second of two columns by Noam Chomsky about China. In These Times published the first, "China and the New World Order," in September.