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.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Washington (bad) Rules - GOOD BOOK
USA global warfare...
Valley Advocate: News - American Chatechism
Thursday, September 02, 2010 by Jake Whitney
Andrew Bacevich, now a professor at Boston University, was a middle-aged Army officer serving in Germany in 1990 when he had an epiphany. The Berlin Wall had just been torn down, and Bacevich was trolling around what had been the communist East, absorbing his first glimpses of life under Soviet rule. Often portrayed as the gem of the Soviet empire, what Bacevich saw before him "more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world." The roads and highways were narrow and crumbling. Shabby-looking men peddled artifacts of the Red Army. Dilapidated buildings and scarred statues dotted the monochrome landscape, and a thin layer of black soot covered everything.
That moment Bacevich began to question what he'd always been told about the Soviet Union: that it was a world power on par with America, to be respected and feared—and fought. What he was seeing, however, was something different. This was a system in obvious decline. So why had he been told such blatant untruths? This question led to others: If the Soviet empire was not the superpower it had been billed as, why did the United States launch so many wars to defend against its influence? Moreover, what did it say about our bloated defense budget? It was then, he says in his new book, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, "my worldview started to crumble."
That worldview consisted of the tenets that every American born after World War II gets hammered into his consciousness, and which Bacevich refers to as the "Washington rules": American globalism is necessary, it is always a force for good, and to withdraw it risked "appeasement, isolation and catastrophe." After Bacevich's epiphany caused him to doubt this catechism, he traded his military career for one as a scholar. After George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, his crumbling worldview collapsed entirely, and his true vocation was born: relentless challenger of the status quo. Washington Rules is Bacevich's latest assault on American foreign policy, and it is a non-partisan, cover-to-cover exercise in contrarianism.
To Bacevich, the "military-industrial complex"—Eisenhower's famous term for the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon and defense contractors—determines U.S. foreign policy, and nothing else. Thus, it is ludicrous to expect any single president to change it, and that includes our current one. In fact, presidents, he says, are in reality not "deciders" at all, but rather "the medium through which power is exercised." Had Truman not been president in 1945, whoever sat in his place just as surely would have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Same goes for Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs invasion, Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War, even Dubya's Iraq invasion. "In each case, the erstwhile commander in chief did little more than ratify a verdict that others had already rendered."
Sound like the stuff of conspiracy theories? Some will see it that way and remain unconvinced. But to Bacevich, that's exactly what the Washington consensus expects. If you question the status quo, you're not to be taken seriously. He points to the 2008 presidential race. The only two major politicians to challenge Washington orthodoxy were Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, and they were dismissed as unelectable oddballs. In a memorable exchange during the South Carolina Republican primary debate, Paul suggested that American globalism played a role in the September 11 attacks, and Rudolph Guiliani promptly came out swinging in defense of the rules. He slammed Paul's comments as "absurd" and demanded that he "tell us he didn't really mean" them. The audience exploded in applause.
The 9/11 attacks, like other American tragedies such as the Vietnam War and Bay of Pigs, could have been—and to Bacevich, should have been—an opportunity for a public dialogue about U.S. interventionism. But no such discussion occurred. That our meddling abroad could have played a role in such disasters is not something the consensus was prepared to consider. Why? Because if Americans saw things as they really were—that Washington has been exaggerating threats for the past 60 years—it could mean a drastic reduction in power and money for hoards of powerful and wealthy people. Instead, better to pretend that tragedies like 9/11 are committed by "evildoers," or to simply "depict the problem as appearing out of the blue, utterly devoid of historical context."
Such arguments are not exactly new. Noam Chomsky, of course, has been making similar ones for 40 years. My issue with Chomsky is that his fecund mind produces such dense works that they can pummel you into a kind of apathy. You walk away from Chomsky believing that the U.S. government has been composed of criminals since its inception. And what can the average person do about that? Bacevich, on the other hand, is easier to digest; not because he's easier on American interventionism—he's nearly as scalding as Chomsky—but because he portrays the problem with Washington as a systemic breakdown that had a clear starting point: the birth of the CIA and Strategic Air Command. This is when our government became truly secretive and war-making was removed from public purview. If the problem is systemic, then the average person can do something about it: change the system.
Bacevich, like Chomsky, is not a partisan critic; he is as lacerating with Democratic administrations as Republican ones. In fact, he points to Jimmy Carter's decision to militarize the Middle East as the spark that lit the fire of Islamic terrorism. And of Obama, who he says he voted for, Bacevich has become increasingly critical. This is because of Obama's escalation of the Afghanistan war. But here is where Bacevich gets confusing. If presidents aren't really deciders, how can he blame Obama? Bacevich's answer comes in the final pages of Washington Rules. Obama's tragic blunder, he asserts, was in surrounding himself with career adherents to the rules—men like Robert Gates, a Bush holdover; Jim Jones, a retired four-star general; and Hillary Clinton, an unabashed hawk. With such people in dominant positions, fundamental change became impossible. The result? An even deeper commitment to the longest running war in American history—which, as Bacevich lamented to Bill Moyers recently, was "the same decision John McCain would have made."
The Glenn Beck sideshow before a large, anxious, and unsuspecting crowd on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Saturday, August 28, which is the anniversary date of MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, has been compared by some to the early rallies of the Nazi party in Germany. A commentator named "Bluetoe2" pointed out in a FDL post written by Jeff Kaye about Glenn Beck's rally that, "Many in Germany thought the man that became the future Fuhrer was a joke and never took him seriously until it was too late." I understand this sentiment, it shows a lack of historical judgment to view Beck as just another loud-mouth TV clown, but it's also a misunderstanding of history to think that what happened in Germany in the 1930s will happen in America. It won't require a Hitler for America to slide into despotism. But, nonetheless, Beck is a malign influence in American politics. As Jeff Kaye writes; "Glenn Beck is one dangerous demagogue. He should not be underestimated."
Beck has successfully hijacked the Tea Party movement that began in Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, and he is profiting tremendously from the breakdown of citizen trust in government leaders, and institutions. His moronic disinformation campaign is beyond belief. In this audio clip from his radio show he bashes Robert Greenwald's Brave New Foundation, the ACLU, Van Jones, Barack Obama, and connects them all together in one conspiratorial puzzle as though he's making a thoughtful, and coherent point about the covert "liberal" takeover of American society. The fact that this man could get thousands of people to join him in a rally in Washington is a truly unnerving development.
Along with the rise of corporate whores and right-wing demagogues like Beck, and Sarah Palin, there is a large-scale economic meltdown occurring in America. The crisis is so big that some economists like Marc Faber have said that there is a high possibility of a Weimar-style collapse in America. I don't know how factual his statement is, but it's worth considering because others have made similar predictions in the past few years. Noam Chomsky also compared Weimar Germany to present-day America in a conversation with Chris Hedges in April:
"It is very similar to late Weimar Germany," Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. "The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over."
"The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen," Chomsky went on. "Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says "I have got an answer, we have an enemy'? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don't think all this is very far away."
Luckily, Glenn Beck is neither honest or charismatic. But that doesn't mean he's not powerful, he is providing a platform for more capable and star-quality leaders who will use his viewers for political gain. Plus, sincerity has never been a feature of Fox News, so it's unlikely that Beck's brainwashed idiots will see through his made-up public persona anytime soon.
It's not surprising that Beck's rally would reignite concerns of a fascist/Christian right-wing takeover. But I believe these fears are being exaggerated by some democratic strategists, and partisan liberals.
I highly doubt that a Hitler will rise amidst the ashes of a ruined American economy principally because of America's unique history, and its brave people. America's revolutionary and enlightened founders that gave birth to an idealistic country at the height of the Enlightenment are significantly better than Germany's early militaristic leaders who formed an aggressive nation that was surrounded by competing European powers. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Washington have served as great models for generations of American political leaders. Compare them with Germany's Frederick the Great and Bismarck, who were the leadership influences of Hitler. Such a difference in political leadership between the two countries should not be overlooked. America has continually produced visionary and independent-minded leaders, from Lincoln to JFK.
Also, America's value of individualism, and self-reliance, as well as its democratic traditions, are the complete opposite of Germany's dependence on authoritarian leaders in periods of crises. Gordon A. Craig, a historian of German history, writes in his book, "The Germans" that German history is stamped with absolute obedience towards strong authority:
It is not too much to talk of a progressive bureaucratization of Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a concomitant growth among the inhabitants of the German states of habits of deference toward authority that seemed excessive to foreign observers. These last may have had ancient roots--it was a medieval pope who called Germany the terra obedientiae--but there is little doubt that they were encouraged by the traumatic effects of the war. The daily presence of death, the constant Angst of which Gryphius speaks in his poems, made the survivors willing to submit to any authority that seemed strong enough to prevent a recurrence of those terrors, (Craig, The Germans, pg. 22).
When the German people experienced social and economic trauma in the 1920's and 1930s, Hitler won over the people by reminding them of how Germany dealt with past crises, and by touting Germany's cultural and racial supremacy. In the context of German history, Hitler's appearance was an understandable phenomenon. But an American Hitler would be an anomaly.
The majority of the American people wouldn't tolerate a raging dictator because they're less less authoritarian-minded than the people of Germany were in the early 20th century. They're also less warlike. Most Americans didn't want America to get involved in the "European war" in 1914, and they were also against America participating in World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor that the FDR administration allowed to happen, so America has never been a war-mad nation. Americans see the idea of conquering other lands with total disgust, which is why the country's imperial establishment has to speak of "fighting for democracy and freedom" while it currently seeks to gain control of Central Asia.
And if martial law is ever declared in America, it will be more forcefully resisted than it was in Germany because the idea of civilian leaders taking orders from the military is considered perversely anti-American, and it is opposed most forcefully by military leaders, and military veterans, who all took an oath to the constitution of the United States rather than one single man.
Another point to keep in mind is that the main theme that runs through American history is not American exceptionalism or American supremacy, however much it is declared by its arrogant elite, but universalism, and the brotherhood of man. When Germany entered its conquering period, it conquered to spread the "spirit" of Germany throughout Europe, and for more land to be filled with future generations of the Reich. But when America conquers in the Middle East, it conquers for "democracy" and "freedom," which are universal values. The American people had to get tricked and deceived into fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. American leaders that didn't go around triumphing America's supremacy, instead, they paid lip service to America's gift of democracy to the Iraqi people. We should not treat this use of rhetoric lightly. It explains a lot. The neocons and political elite know how much the American people despise aggressive war, and would not stand for a war if America was viewed as the principal instigator.
Even with its ugly arrogance, and record of horrendous crimes, America is still the greatest country ever invented by the minds of men. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are documents that will be read hundreds, and thousands of years from now. Like the words of the Greek, and Roman statesmen, the words of America's founding fathers will be studied by future students, and forever cherished by true statesmen.
An American Hitler is unlikely, but I do have fears about explosive violence in America and other Western countries, as do many other people who see the same disturbing signs. But we can avert social unrest if all members of society become more self-sufficient, start to critically engage with their local governments, and build ties within their community. Depending on centralized authority to save us is a lethal hope. As we saw during Katrina, and other social crises around the world, the police are primarily skilled at killing people, and stripping their freedoms when the normal laws of civilized society break down. They can't provide security, shelter, or food for helpless people in any situation. More than anything, they become a burden on individuals in periods of social unrest, and crises. A healthy distrust of government could save America from either a technocratic, or a right-wing dictatorship; from either a Hitlerian or a Stalinist system of control.
Truth Excavator is an independent blogger and a full-time university student, currently living in Toronto, Canada.
The Danish economist 'solutions' to climate change still don't address the real issue of CO2 warming the planet
For the last 40 years the American scholar and war critic Noam Chomsky has argued that there is a question missing in the perennial debates about whether the US should go to war against its apparently innumerable mortal adversaries. Hawks present claims about the threat of communism and terrorism that must be stopped, militarily, in far-flung lands, while the doves, who go along or not with a given war action in the beginning, ultimately argue on cost-benefit grounds that the (inevitable) escalation is too expensive fiscally or politically to continue. Few ask at the outset, as Chomsky observes, by what moral or legal right does the US bomb, invade or occupy another country, and so many.
In a similar way there is a missing question in the global discussion about human-induced climate change, and Bjørn Lomborg is in the vanguard of ensuring that this key question stays where it belongs . out of sight.
The background: beginning about a decade ago in his first book, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, Lomborg challenged "widely held beliefs that the environmental situation is getting worse and worse" and mocked the "dire" assessments by scientists and environmentalists that global warming was a serious threat. In a more recent book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, he again mocked climate-change "hysteria", advising the world to "chill out" about man-made warming.
While in both books Lomborg conceded (in a few sentences) the fact of human-induced warming, he argued (in hundreds of pages) that it was "no catastrophe" by issuing grotesquely misleading claims . one after the other . in seeking to discredit the scientific basis of current and projected climate impacts. His reasoning was that if global warming isn't so bad, there is no need to reduce CO2 emissions to any significant extent.
Now that the ongoing published science on global warming has veered sharply toward worst-case scenarios across a range of climate impacts, in Smart Solutions to Climate Change, a new volume edited by Lomborg, he writes: "The risks of unchecked global warming are now widely acknowledged" and "we have long moved on from any mainstream disagreements about the science of climate change". This is the lipstick, but the pig is still a pig. This is because Lomborg still argues in this book, as he did in the others, that cost-benefit economics analysis shows that it is prohibitively expensive for the world to sharply reduce CO2 emissions to the extent required by the scientific evidence: "Drastic carbon cuts would be the poorest way to respond to global warming."
Here's where the missing question comes into play, since Lomborg does not seriously address the fundamental problem of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the absence of global greenhouse reductions: what will happen to the earth and human civilisation when atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise . essentially unchecked, if we followed Lomborg's recommendations . to 450 parts per million, 550ppm, 700ppm, 800ppm; and when the average global temperature rises by 2C, 3C, and 4C to 7C?
Climate scientists have set 350ppm and a 2C average temperature rise (from 1750 to 2100) as the upper range targets to prevent a global climate disaster. Since we are already at 390ppm and since a 2C plus rise is a near certainty, how does Lomborg's appeal to forgo sharp reductions in CO2 emissions reflect climate science? He argues that there are "smarter solutions to climate change" than a focus on reducing CO2. This is hardly smart: it's insanity.
If Lomborg were really looking for smart solutions, he would push for an end to perpetual and brutal war, which diverts scarce resources and public focus from what Lomborg accurately says needs more money, including some of the research and policy projects recommended by the contributors to this volume. There might even be a few hundred billion dollars left to invest annually in new energy and mass transit economies, and science-mandated CO2 reductions. We're only two questions short of achieving those goals. Sounds pretty economical to me.
It's been over 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell, yet the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), a military group which was originally created to defend Western Europe from Russia, continues to exist, with 28 member states pledged to collectively defend one another in the face of outside aggression.
MIT linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky thinks it's time to disband the organization, which he believes is now an "international intervention force" that only exists to project U.S. military power on the other side of the globe.
"The official purpose of NATO was to defend Europe from the Russian hordes," Chomsky told Big Think. "With the Russian hordes gone, it should therefore have disbanded. Interestingly, that was not even seriously proposed. Rather, NATO at once expanded to the East, in violation of pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev. ... And since then its mission has expanded worldwide, serving as a U.S. intervention force, and to secure the global energy system on which the West relies."
In a 2009 video interview with Democracy Now!, Chomsky detailed how a succession of U.S. presidents has expanded NATO eastward, despite these assurances to Gorbachev: "Now we have to have a huge military establishment and military budget, and not to protect ourselves from the Russians, who are collapsing, but because—literally, because of the technological sophistication of third world powers," said Chomsky in the interview. He derided the idea that Third World technology could warrant NATO's continuing existence, and worried that the organization's push to expand is part of an energy grab.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), another voice in favor of disbanding NATO, told the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 that the only gains from NATO's expansion would be for the U.S. military industrial complex—which would profit from arms sales to new members. He also warned that providing U.S. military guarantees to Eastern European republics would only further strain our military: "
This NATO expansion may well involve the U.S. military in conflicts as unrelated to our national interest as the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia," said Paul in a statement. "The idea that American troops might be forced to fight and die to prevent a small section of Georgia from seceding is absurd and disturbing. ... NATO should be disbanded, not expanded."
NATO's first Secretary General, Lord Ismay famously said after the organization was formed in 1949 that its purpose was to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." In a post-Cold War world, these goals are long gone and the organization's annual budget of over $2.5 billion simply goes toward asserting U.S. military power in Europe and securing our energy interests, says Chomsky.
Why We Should Reject This
Alain Deletroz, the vice president of the International Crisis Group, a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict, calls it a paradox that some in the West should want to disband NATO right at the moment that the organization has become so attractive to former Warsaw Pact members. He says NATO has "splendidly served two very important goals: a) to protect western Europe during the Cold War; b) to help stabilize the continent after it was over."
Deletroz admits that NATO needs to redefine its mission, and suggests the organization should open its doors to Russia, saying "NATO membership has proved a powerful tool for military and political reforms in all new member states and if Russia wants to join the alliance it will have to reform its armed forces and set upon them a system of real democratic control."
He believes NATO can continue to be vital as "a military alliance that can play a crucial role in deploying quickly where needed to prevent conflicts or keep peace, with common criteria of engagements among member states."
David Hirschman on August 27, 2010, 12:00 AM
Nato air strike 'kills nine civilians' 05.03.07. Guardian. Two incidents involving US forces have left around 19 Afghan civilians dead since yesterday, prompting furious protests against the US and Nato. . In the first incident, up to 10 civilians were killed as a convoy of US marines fled after being attacked by a suicide bomber in a minivan in eastern Nangarhar province yesterday. … Then today Afghan officials said nine civilians had been killed after a Nato air strike hit a house during a firefight between US forces and militants, killing nine Afghans who lived there. … A count by the Associated Press, based on reports from Afghan, Nato and coalition officials, puts the overall civilian death toll in 2006 at 834, most from militant attacks. See also NASDAQ. story .
Investigation Into Afghan Deaths 05.03.07. BBC / Truthout. Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances of a militant attack on a US Marine convoy in which eight civilians died. Thousands of local people took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the incident, accusing the Americans of deliberately firing on the civilians.
16 Civilians Killed as U.S. Troops Fire on Afghan Road 05.03.07. C. Gall, NY Times. American troops opened fire on a highway filled with civilian cars and bystanders on Sunday, American and Afghan officials said, in an incident that the Americans said left 16 civilians dead and 24 wounded after a suicide car bombing in eastern Afghanistan. One American was also wounded.
Report: Officers withheld Tillman death details 23.03.07. nfl. A Pentagon investigation will recommend that nine officers, including up to four generals, be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, senior defense officials said.
Statement on the Pentagon Briefing on Investigations of Pat Tillman's Death By Friendly Fire 27.03.07.Tillman family statement, Counterpunch.
Congressman Requests Hearing Into Tillman's Death 27.03.07.WCSH.
Tillman case could bring punishments 28.03.07. AP / local news watch. Two generals singled out for blame in the Pat Tillman case have retired since the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan , but they remain within reach of the military justice system.
Top general tried to warn Bush on Tillman 31.03.07. AP / USA Today/legitgov. General Sought to Warn Bush Not to Say Tillman Died in an Enemy Ambush. Just seven days after Pat Tillman's death, a top general warned there were strong indications that it was friendly fire and President [sic] Bush might embarrass himself if he said the NFL star-turned-soldier died in an ambush, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. It was not until a month afterward that the Pentagon told the public and grieving family members the truth that Tillman was mistakenly killed in Afghanistan by his comrades. The memo reinforces suspicions that the Pentagon was more concerned with sparing officials from embarrassment than with leveling with Tillman's family.
Tillman Probe: No Criminal Negligence 01.04.07. CBS. Army and Defense Department investigators said that officers looking into the incident passed along misleading and inaccurate information and delayed reporting their belief that Tillman was killed by fellow Rangers. The investigators recommended the Army take action against the officers. Among those blamed were the three-star general in charge of Army special operations as well as Tillman's regimental commander.
Iraq To Sue US, Britain Over Depleted Uranium Bombs » Depleted Uranium
Depleted Uranium gholizadeh20100201093422875.jpg
A True Weapon Of Mass Destruction Depleted uranium is a waste obtained from producing fuel for nuclear reactors and atomic bombs. The material used in civil and nuclear military industry is uranium U-235, the isotope which can be fissioned. Since this isotope is found in very low proportions in nature, the uranium ore has to be enriched, i.e., its proportion of the U-235 isotope has to be industrially increased. This pocess produces a large amount of radioactive depleted uranium waste, thus named because it is mainly formed by the other non-fissionable uranium isotope, U-238 and a minimum proportion of U-235. American military industry has been using depleted uranium to coat conventional weaponry (artillery, tanks and aircraft) since 1977, to protect its own tanks, as a counterweight in aircraft and Tomahawk missiles and as a component for navigation instruments. This is due to depleted uranium having characteristics making it highly attractive for military technology: firstly, it is extremely dense and heavy (1 cm3 weighs almost 19 grammes), such that projectiles with a depleted uranium head can penetrate the armoured steel of military vehicles and buildings; secondly, it is a spontaneous pyrophoric material, i.e., it inflames when reaching its target generating such heat that it explodes. After more than 50 years producing atomic weapons and nuclear energy, the USA has 500,000 tonnes of depleted uranium stored, according to official data. Depleted uranium is radioactive also and has an average lifetime of 4.5 thousand million years. This is why such waste has to be stored safely for an indefinite period of time, an extremely costly procedure. In order to save money and empty their tanks, the Department of Defence and Energy assigns depleted uranium free of charge to national and foreign armament companies. Apart from the USA, countries like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, Taiwan, South Korea, Pakistan or Japan purchase or manufacture weapons with depleted uranium. When a projectile hits a target, 70% of its depleted uranium burns and oxidizes, bursting into highly toxic, radioactive micro particles. Being so tiny, these particles can be ingested or inhaled after being deposited on the ground or carried kilometres away by the wind, the food chain or water. A 1995 technical report issued by the American Army indicates that "if depleted uranium enters the body, it has the potentiality of causing serious medical consequences. The associated risk is both chemical and radiological". Deposited in the lungs or kidneys, uranium 238 and products from its decay (thorium 234, protactinium and other uranium isotopes) give off alpha and beta radiations which cause cell death and genetic mutations causing cancer in exposed individuals and genetic abnormalities in their descendents over the years. In its 110,000 air raids against Iraq, the US A-10 Warthog aircraft launched 940,000 depleted uranium projectiles, and in the land offensive, its M60, M1 and M1A1 tanks fired a further 4,000 larger caliber also uranium projectiles.
It is estimated that there are 300 tonnes of radioactive waste in the area which might have already affected 250,000 Iraqis. After the Gulf War, Iraqi and international epidemiological investigations have enabled the environmental pollution due to using this kind of weapon to be associated with the appearance of new, very difficult to diagnose diseases (serious immunodeficiencies, for instance) and the spectacular increase in congenital malformations and cancer, both in the Iraqi population and amongst several thousands of American and British veterans and in their children, a clinical condition known as Gulf War Syndrome. Similar symptoms to those of the Gulf War have been described amongst a thousand children residing in areas of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia) where American aviation also used depleted uranium bombs in 1996, the same as in the NATO intervention against the Yugoslavia in 1999.
6:00pm - Admission 7:00pm - Ceremony for the Conferment of the Honorary Doctorate on Professor Noam Chomsky 7:30pm - Break 7:45pm - Public Lecture by Professor Noam Chomsky Title: Contours of World Order: Continuities and Changes 9:00pm - Question and Answer Session 9:30pm - End of the Ceremony
Noam Chomsky spoke at Peking University on Friday, August 13th. Chomsky, famous for his political activism and his significant contributions to the fields of linguistics, cognitive science and philosophy, is one of the leading public intellectuals of the past century. At 82, the combative professor of linguistics shows no signs of retreating from the limelight. He has published three books in the past year and will undoubtedly publish more in the year to come. Before his talk, Chomsky was presented with an honorary doctorate from Peking University.
Chomsky delivered a short lecture to an audience of around 2,000 composed of faculty, journalists, and a large contingent of students. The lecture itself offered few new insights. Vaguely titled: Contours of World Order: Continuities and Changes, he began his talk by identifying what he saw as the two dominant threats to human society: "nuclear warfare" and "environmental damage."
On the subject of nuclear proliferation, Chomsky discussed at length Iran's nuclear program and the consolidation of the US as a military and political leader in the twentieth century. On environmental degradation, Chomsky glossed the threat of global warming, and ended with a rather bleak, even ominous assessment of the human condition: universal "consumer prosperity" is ecologically impossible. That is, economic development in China and India must be counterbalanced by a decline in Western wealth if the earth is to survive. What was likely intended to be a condemnation of overconsumption seemed instead a preface to Armageddon.
However, it seemed that most of the students present were familiar with Chomsky's work and few appeared surprised by the content of his talk.
If enthusiasm sometimes ebbed during the speech itself, it was revived during the Q&A.
Particularly memorable was Chomsky's charmingly candid and thoroughly unpretentious account of his own success in the intellectual world. When asked about his experiences as an undergraduate at University of Pennsylvania, Chomsky replied that he spent most of his time "playing handball in the gym and attending graduate courses." He added, with a hint of rebellious pride, "I actually had no credentials...the reason I was at MIT was that MIT didn't require credentials." Chomsky's playful irreverence toward academic institutions was greeted by more than a few smiles in the serious atmosphere of Beijing University.
But the true highlight of the night was a simple but compelling question posed at the beginning of the Q&A: "What can we do to make the world a more peaceful place?" After a brief pause, Chomsky's response was clear and pragmatic: "You can't do very much about the crisis in Congo" but "you can have an impact on your own society."
Chomsky's humanist message appeared to resonate with the student audience. Despite anchoring his discussion in complex theories about world development, Chomsky returned to the core principles of political activism in his answer. Problems are complicated, but the demand for action is simple. Even in an era where "global" has become a nagging, indispensable appendage to every word, social change begins at home, through meaningful action in the community. It is, I think, this confidence in rational, committed activism that has earned him so many young admirers.
By the last few questions, the bleak "contours of the world" had acquired a silver lining. Despite believing that we are teetering on the brink of destruction, Chomsky still believes in the potential of individual agency and the possibility of progress.
Reflecting upon the positive changes in MIT over the past fifty years, he said: "That's how changes take place, helpless individual people who collectively are able to carry it out." As Chomsky reminds us, change is not given, "you have to work for it." And, if we are indeed facing nuclear proliferation and ecological ruin, the work at hand is even more demanding, more urgent than ever.
At the end of the night, a student asked Chomsky what he does when he is "under pressure." Appropriately, Chomsky replied, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, "I go to work."
On 13 August, Noam Chomsky delivered a speech at the Peking University in Beijing. Chomsky, one of the leading public intellectuals of our age, is famous for his political activism and contributions to linguistic and philosophy. The talk, titled Contours of World Order: Continuities and Changes, was mostly about two dominant threats facing humanity: nuclear wars and environmental degradation.
While Chomsky has re-emphasized his criticisms on the United States, he has also expressed his opinions on China. In Chomsky’s view, emerging countries like China and India still have a long way to go to challenge the America. Of particular concern is the environmental cost of China’s development model, and the many internal and social problems that China has to tackle. This week, the Southern Metropolitan Daily publishes an interview with Chomsky. An excerpt of the interview is translated below.
SMD: Most Chinese have accepted globalization. In the past three decades, especially after China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), many Chinese have benefited tremendously. But it seems that you see globalization in poor lights.
Chomsky: China’s economic achievement has little to do with globalization. It is related to trade and export. China has gradually become an export-oriented country. No one, myself included, is opposed to exports. But this is not globalization. In fact, China has become a factory in the Northeast Asian production system. If you look at the whole region, you will find it very dynamic. China’s export volume is enormous. But there is something we have overlooked. China’s export relies heavily on the exports of Japan, Korea and the US. These countries provide China with high-tech components and technologies. China is just doing the assembly, and labelling the final products as ‘Made in China.’
China has developed rapidly by following wise policies. But while millions of people were lifted out of poverty, costs such as environmental degradation are high. They are merely transferred to the next generation. Economists will not worry about them, but these are costs that someone needs to pay for ultimately. It may be your children or grandchildren. These have nothing to do with globalization and the WTO.
Chomsky: I don’t think so; neither do I hope so. Do you really hope to see a China with 800 overseas military bases, invading and overthrowing other governments, or committing terrorist acts? This is what the America is doing now. I think this will not, and cannot, happen on China. I do not wish it to happen neither. China is already changing the world. China and India together account for almost half of the world’s population. They are growing and developing. But relatively speaking, their wealth is only a small part of the world. Both countries still have long ways to go and face very serious domestic problems, which I hope will gradually be solved. It is meaningless to compare their global influences with those of rich countries. My hope is that they will exert some positive influences to the world, but this has to be watched carefully.
China should ask itself what role it wishes to take in the world. Fortunately, China is not assuming the role of an aggressor with a large military budget, etc. But China does have a role to play. It is am enormous consumer of resources, and there are pros and cons. For example, Brazil will benefit economically if it exports to China. On the other hand, its economy will also be damaged. For countries with abundant resources like Brazil and Peru, one problem is their reliance on exports of primary resources, which is not a good development model. To change their mode of development, they first need to solve their domestic problems and transform themselves into producers, not just exporting primary products to other producer countries.
SMD: Is the success of China a challenge to Western democracies?
Let’s make a historical comparison. Was the rise of the United States a threat to democratic Britain? The United States was founded on the slaughtering of indigenous population and the slave system. Is this model suitable for other countries? Do you want China to learn from this model? It is true that the US has developed into a democratic country which is strong in many respects, but its democracy is not developed from this model, which any rational person would not want to imitate.
China is developing, but there is no evidence to prove that its internal development is causing a threat to the West. What is challenging the US is not China’s development, but its independence. That is the real challenge.
You can tell from every day’s headlines that the current focus of US foreign policy is Iran. The year 2010 is called ‘The Year of Iran.’ Iran is portrayed as a threat to US foreign policy and the world order. The US has imposed harsh, unilateral sanctions, but China has not followed suit. China has never followed the US lead. Instead, it supports UN sanctions, which are too weak to matter. A few days before I left for China, the US States Department warned China in a very interesting way. It said China has to bear international responsibilities, i.e. follow US orders. This is China’s international responsibilities.
This is standard imperialism, which is that other countries have to act according to our requests. If not, they are irresponsible. I think officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry must laugh when they hear this. But this is the standard logic of imperialism. In fact, Iran becomes a threat because it does not follow US instructions. China is a bigger threat, as it is a big problem when a major power refuses to obey orders. This is the challenge that the US faces.
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In response to years of invitations and anticipation, Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT has decided to pay a 12-day visit to the mainland of China and Taiwan, giving public lectures and receiving honorary doctorates from two prominent universities.
This will be Chomsky.s first visit to the mainland of China and Taiwan. He will be the most important western intellectual to visit these parts of the world ever since the visits by Bertrand Russell and John Dewey to Beijing some 90 years ago. Thus it is not only an important event for linguists, but one for the entire academic, scholarly, and intellectual communities in these parts of the world.
As a scientist, Chomsky is known for his revolutionary work in establishing a .biolinguistic. approach to language study.taking language as the external manifestation of a genetically endowed structure (termed Universal Grammar), thus a product of nature and nurture, similarly to any other biological .organ.. The sweeping success of this approach since the late 1950s, known as the field of generative linguistics, opened up refreshingly new directions of research for scholars not only in linguistics, but also in psychology, philosophy, semantics, education, computer science and neuroscience. The rapid developments in these fields led to what has been termed .the 2nd cognitive revolution., with him being commonly regarded as the father of the modern cognitive science. Aside from this and related research, Chomsky is also widely (in fact more widely) known to the world for his unrelenting criticism of American foreign policy and mainstream media of the West, his passion for seeking concealed truth, and speaking out for the voiceless in world affairs. He is rated number 1 of the top 100 most influential public intellectuals of the world, and his works were among the top-10 most cited in the humanities and social sciences that include Shakespeare and Marx, with him being the only living one in that list. A most influential scholar of the past 50 years, he is sometimes referred to as Heir of the Enlightenment.
On this trip to Taiwan and the mainland of China, Chomsky will be giving four talks, and receive honorary doctorates from two prominent institutes. These events include, chronologically:
- August 9, 2010, visit Academia Sinica (Taipei), and give public lecture titled: .Contours of world order: continuities and changes..
- August 10, 2010, visit National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, receive honorary doctorate, and give public lecture titled: .Poverty of stimulus: unfinished business..
- August 12, 2010, visit Beijing Language and Culture University and give his keynote speech, titled .Poverty of stimulus: unfinished business., to the 8th Conference of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (Asia).
- August 13, visit Peking University, receive honorary doctorate, and give public lecture titled: .Contours of world order: continuities and changes..
To commemorate these events and as an aid to the public, a cross-campus organizing committee formed by scholars from the mainland of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan is publishing a special booklet in Chinese to distribute to the audiences of Chomsky.s talks. Selected articles in the booklet are posted on this website, which we hope you will find informative and enjoyable.
Internationally recognised as one of America's most critically-engaged public intellectuals today, Noam Chomsky spoke with me about Israel and its interplay with the United States.
Kathleen Wells: Hi, I'm Kathleen Wells, political correspondent for Race-Talk. I'm speaking with Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned political activist and writer. He has written over a hundred books on linguistics, human rights, economics, and politics. Thank you, Professor Chomsky, for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon.
Noam Chomsky: Very pleased to be with you.
Kathleen Wells: Speak to me about the relation between the United States and Israel. Specifically, address, as you have previously stated, how every crime, violation of international law, that Israel commits is done through the direct participation and authorisation of the United States.
Noam Chomsky: That's a ... As a descriptive statement, that is pretty close to accurate. I mean "all" is a very strong word but it is certainly generally true. And, in fact, the United States has overwhelmingly vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli crimes and atrocities, prevented the Security Council from calling on Israel to terminate aggression, and so on and so forth. The descriptive comment is not really controversial. There are interesting questions about why it's true. There were also interesting questions about the sources of support for this position in the United States, which helps us explain why it is true.
The history is reasonably clear. This was not the case up until 1967. In fact, before 1967, the relationships were not very different from relationships among other powers. There was sympathy and support for Israel, which has many, many sources, including the Christian Zionism, which is a very powerful force that precedes and is numerically far stronger than Jewish Zionism. But for somebody like, say, Harry Truman, raised in a deeply Christian tradition, it was just taken for granted that the Bible instructs us that God gave the land of Palestine to the Jews. So it is kind of like in his bones. And that's true for a very large part of the American population, much more so than -- far more than any other country. So that is one factor, and there are other factors.
But the major change in relationships took place in 1967. Just take a look at USA aid to Israel. You can tell that right off. And in many other respects, it's true, too. Similarly, the attitude towards Israel on the part of the intellectual community -- you know, media, commentary, journals, and so on -- that changed very sharply in 1967, from either lack of interest or sometimes even disdain, to almost passionate support. So what happened in 1967?
Well, in 1967, Israel destroyed the source of secular Arab nationalism -- Nasser's Egypt -- which was considered a major threat and enemy by the West. It is worth remembering that there was a serious conflict at that time between the forces of radical Islamic fundamentalism, centred in Saudi Arabia -- where all the oil is -- and secular Arab nationalism, centred in Nasser's Egypt; in fact, the two countries were at war. They were fighting a kind of a proxy war in Yemen at that time. The United States and Britain were supporting the radical Islamic fundamentalism; in fact, they've rather consistently done that - supporting Saudi Arabia. And Nasserite secular nationalism was considered a serious threat, because it was recognised that it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States and its allies.
So that was a major issue. Well, Israel effectively destroyed Nasserite secular nationalism and the whole Arab nationalist movement that was centred in it. That was considered a major contribution to U.S. geopolitical strategy and also to its Saudi Arabian ally. And, in fact, that's when attitudes toward Israel changed sharply and the U.S. support for Israel -- material, diplomatic, and other -- also increased sharply.
In 1970, there was another turning point. In 1970, the Jordanian army (Jordan was a strong, close U.S. ally) - the Jordanian dictatorship was essentially massacring Palestinians during what's the month that's called Black September. And the U.S. was in favor of that; it supported that. It looked as though Syria might intervene to support the Palestinians against the attack by the Hashemite dictatorship. The U.S. didn't want that to happen. It regarded it as a threat to its Jordanian ally and also a broader threat, ultimately, to Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown.
While the U.S. was mired in Southeast Asia at the time -- it was right at the time, a little after the Cambodia invasion and everything was blowing up -- the U.S. couldn't do a thing about it. So, it asked Israel to mobilise its very substantial military forces and threaten Syria so that Syria would withdraw. Well, Israel did it. Syria withdrew. That was another gift to U.S. power and, in fact, U.S. aid to Israel shot up very sharply -- maybe quadrupled or something like that -- right at that time.
Now at that time, that was the time when the Nixon ... so-called "Nixon Doctrine" was formulated. A part of the Nixon Doctrine was that the U.S., of course, has to control Middle- East oil resources -- that goes much farther back -- but it will do so through local, regional allies, what were called "cops on the beat" by Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense. So there will be local cops on the beat, which will protect the Arab dictatorships from their own populations or any external threat. And then, of course, "police headquarters" is in Washington. Well, the local cops on the beat at the time were Iran, then under the Shah, a U.S. ally; Turkey; to an extent, Pakistan; and Israel was added to that group. It was another cop on the beat. It was one of the local gendarmes that was sometimes called the periphery strategy: non-Arab states protecting the Arab dictatorships from any threat, primarily the threat of what was called radical nationalism -- independent nationalism -- meaning taking over the armed resources for their own purposes. Well, that structure remained through the 1970s.
In 1979, Iran was lost because of the overthrow of the Shah and pretty soon the Khomeini dictatorship -- clerical dictatorship -- and the U.S. once tried to overthrow that and supported Iraq's invasion of Iran, and so on. But, anyway, that "cop" [Iran] was lost and Israel's position became even stronger in the structure that remained. Furthermore, by that time, Israel was performing secondary services to the United States elsewhere in the world. It's worth recalling that through the -- especially through the 80s -- Congress, under public pressure, was imposing constraints on Reagan's support for vicious and brutal dictatorships. The governments around the world -- say Guatemala -- the U.S. could not provide direct aid to Guatemala, because -- which was massacring people in some areas in a genocidal fashion up in the highlands -- Congress blocked it.
Congress was also passing sanctions against aid to South-Africa, which the Reagan administration was strongly supporting South-Africa and continued to do so right through the 1980s. This was under the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared. The African National Congress -- Mandela's ANC -- was designated as one of the more notorious terrorist groups in the world as late as 1988. [So] that it [could] support South-African apartheid and the Guatemalan murderous dictatorship and other murderous regimes, Reagan needed a kind of network of terrorist states to help out, to evade the congressional and other limitations, and he turned to, at that time, Taiwan, but, in particular, Israel. Britain helped out. And that was another major service. And so it continued.
Kathleen Wells: I want to come up to today, because I only have 30 minutes.
Noam Chomsky: So, it basically continues. I mean, if we go right up till this moment ...
Kathleen Wells: Exactly.
Noam Chomsky: - simply ask, where are the strongest sources of support for Israeli actions? Well, pick the newspapers. By far the most rabid pro-Israel newspaper in the country is the Wall Street Journal. That's the journal of the business community, and it reflects the support of the business world for Israel, which is quite strong. There's a lot of high-tech investment in Israel. [Our] military industry is very close to Israeli military industry. There's a whole network of interactions. Intel, for example, is building its next facility for construct development of the next generation of chips in Israel. But, altogether, the relations are very tight, very intimate, quite natural. And it's not surprising that the main business journal in the country would be supporting Israeli expansion and power.
Take a look at the two political parties. Most Jewish money goes to Democrats and most Jews vote Democratic. But the Republican Party is much more strongly supportive of Israeli power and atrocities than the Democrats are. Then again, I think that reflects their closer relations to the business world and to the military system.
There is, of course, also a Jewish lobby - an Israeli lobby -- APAC, which is a very influential lobby. And so there are many... and there's Christian Zionism, which is a huge element. Well, you know, all of these combined to provide a background for U.S. support for Israel, and they're facing virtually no opposition. Who's calling for support of the Palestinians?
Kathleen Wells: Exactly, and so when you hear statements being made that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and yet you see the occupation and the blockade on Gaza, the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, what shall one think about this fact?
Noam Chomsky: First, let's ask about being the only democracy in the region. First of all, it's not true. There were free elections in Palestine in January 2006. There were free elections in Palestine, carefully monitored, recognised to be free. The victor was Hamas, okay, centred in the Gaza Strip. Israel and the United States instantly, within days, undertook perfectly public policies to try to punish the Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election. I mean, it couldn't have been... you couldn't see a more dramatic illustration of hatred and contempt for democracy unless it comes out the right way.
A year later, July 2007, the U.S. and Israel, together with the Palestinian authority, tried to carry out a military coup to overthrow the elected government. Well, it failed. Hamas won and drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip. Now, here, that's described as a demonstration of Hamas terror or something. What they did was pre-empt and block a U.S.-backed military coup to overthrow the democratically-elected government.
Kathleen Wells: What do you say to the fact that Hamas is listed on the United States State Department terrorist list? So they're characterised as terrorist?
Noam Chomsky: Yeah, they are. Because they do things we don't like. The terrorist list has been a historic joke, in fact, a sick joke. So take a look at the history of the terrorist list. Up until 1982, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- was on the terrorist list.
In 1982, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the terrorist list. Why? Because they were moving to support Iraq, and, in fact, the Reagan administration and, in fact, the first Bush administration strongly supported Iraq right through its worst - Saddam, right through his worst atrocities. In fact, they tried to ... they succeeded, in fact, in preventing even criticism of condemnation of the worst atrocities, like the Halabja massacre -- and others. So they removed Iraq from the terrorist list because they wanted to support one of the worst monsters and terrorists in the region, namely Saddam Hussein. And since there was an empty position on the terrorist list, they had to fill it, so they added Cuba. Cuba's probably the target of more terrorism than any country in the world, back from the Kennedy years. Right? In fact, just at that time, there had been a rash of major terrorist acts against Cuba. So Cuba was added to the terrorist list to replace Saddam Hussein, who was removed because the U.S. wanted to support him.
Now, you take a look through the terrorist list, yeah, that's the way it is. So, for example, Hezbollah is on the terrorist list. Well, you know, probably it's carried out terrorist acts, but by the standards of the U.S. and Israel, they're barely visible. The main reason why Hezbollah is on the terrorist list is because it resisted Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon and, in fact, drove Israel out of Southern Lebanon after twenty-two years of occupation -- that's called terrorism. In fact, Lebanon has a national holiday, May 25th, which is called Liberation Day. That's the national holiday in Lebanon commemorating, celebrating the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in year 2000, and largely under Hezbollah attack.
Kathleen Wells: How would you characterise Hezbollah and Hamas? How would you characterise them?
Noam Chomsky: Hezbollah happens to be the major political grouping in Lebanon. It's the Hezbollah-based coalition, handily won the last election in the year 2009. Now you know it's not a perfect election, but it's one of the ... by the standards of U.S.-backed dictatorships it was an amazing election, and they won it. They didn't happen to win the largest number of representatives because of the way the confessional system works, but they won the popular vote by about the same amount that Obama had won.
So they're the main political grouping in the country. They largely -- almost completely -- control southern Lebanon. They're a national Lebanese organisation. They've ... they're charged with some terrorist acts outside of Lebanon, maybe correctly. But again, if the charges ... we take all the charges and weigh them against U.S./Israeli violence, aggression, and terror, they don't even count. But that's basically what they are. As far as Israel's concerned, Hezbollah's position is they don't recognise Israel. They don't ... they... but they say they're position is, well, they'll accept any agreement with Israel that the Palestinians accept; we're a Lebanese organisation.
What about Hamas? Hamas is a ... its background is it's an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organisation, which would be a major competitor in Egypt's elections, if Egypt permitted democratic elections, which it won't. The Egyptian dictatorship -- which the U.S. strongly backs, Obama personally strongly backs -- doesn't permit anything remotely like elections and is very brutal and harsh. But they don't ... they hate the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas is an offshoot.
In its early days, Israel supported Hamas as a weapon against the secular PLO. Later, when Hamas really crystallised, became a significant organisation, Israel turned against them, and it became bitterly opposed to them in January 2006, as the U.S. did, when they won a free election. That was intolerable and they had to be overthrown.
Hamas's position is that as a political party it does not recognise Israel, but that doesn't mean much: the Democratic Party doesn't recognise countries either. It says that their position is that they're willing to accept a two-state settlement in accordance with the international consensus, which the U.S. and Israel have blocked for 35 years. So they say, "Yes, we'll accept that, but we don't want to recognise Israel." Well, okay, that's their position. Are they a nice organisation? No. I wouldn't ... I certainly wouldn't want to live under their clerical rule. But compared with organisations and states that the United States strongly supports, they don't stand out as particularly harsh, say Egypt, for example.
Kathleen Wells: So respond to those who defend Israel's policy and state that Israel is surrounded by enemies. Their Arab neighbours -- Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Ahmadinejad in Iran -- they pose a threat to Israel. They want to see Israel's destruction, and they feel like these Arab countries are an imminent threat to Israel. Give me your thoughts on those who defend Israel's policies.
Noam Chomsky: Well, the truth of the matter is that Israel and the United States, which act in tandem, are a tremendous threat to the - mainly to the Palestinians. In fact, while we're discussing the potential threat to Israel that might exist, the United States and Israel are crushing and destroying the Palestinians. That's the live reality.
Now what about the threat? Well, yeah, there's a potential threat, and Israel and the United States are substantially responsible for it. I mean, if the U.S. and Israel would accept the overwhelming international consensus on a political settlement, that would very sharply reduce the threat. But Israel and the U.S. prefer Israeli expansion to diplomatic settlement and, therefore, are blocking that settlement -- they're alone. I mean, Europe, the non-aligned countries -- the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic States, which includes Iran -- have all accepted the international consensus on the two-state settlement. I mean, there are details to be worked out, but the basic structure is clear. For 35 years, the U.S. and Israel have been blocking it. There are a few rare and temporary exceptions, but that's basically the story. I don't have time to run through all the details here.
Kathleen Wells: But what's the rationale?
Noam Chomsky: That creates...
Kathleen Wells: But what's the...
Noam Chomsky: The rationale's very simple.
Kathleen Wells: Exactly.
Noam Chomsky: They prefer expansion to security. That's been explicitly true since 1971. I think the most fateful decision that Israel and the U.S. made in this regard was in February 1971 when President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace settlement -- full peace settlement; no conditions -- nothing for the Palestinians, in return for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, and, in fact, he cared only about Sinai. Jordan made the same proposal a year later with regard to the West Bank. Israel had to decide, at that point, whether to accept security -- which would certainly have followed from the withdrawal from the conflict of the major Arab military forces, primarily Egypt, secondly Jordan -- whether to accept security or to insist on expansion. Now expansion at that time was mostly into the Sinai. Israel was developing plans for substantial expansion into the Egyptian Sinai, including a major city, Yamit, supposedly a million people, a lot of settlements, and so on. And that was a very clear choice: do we choose expansion or security? They chose expansion.
The crucial question is what would the United States do? Well, there was an internal bureaucratic battle in the U.S., and Henry Kissinger won out. He was in favor of what he called "stalemate." A stalemate meant no negotiations, just force. So the U.S. and Israel proceeded with expansion. Sadat, for the next... he made gesture after... move after move for the next year or two to try to convince the U.S. to accept the political settlement. It was disregarded. He kept threatening war if Israel continued to develop the northeast Sinai. It was dismissed. Then came the October 1973 war, which was a very close thing for Israel, the worst moment in its history. Well, at that point, Kissinger and the Israeli leaders recognised they can't simply dismiss Egypt, and they moved slowly towards the Camp David Settlement in 1978, which pretty much accepted what Sadat had offered in 1971 -- a diplomatic catastrophe. Meanwhile, Israel has continued its expansion, by then mostly into the West Bank, and the U.S. was supporting it all the way, and so it continues.
So, sure, if Israel continues to settle in the occupied territories -- illegally, incidentally, as Israel recognised in 1967 (it's all illegal; they recognised it) -- it's undermining the possibilities for the viable existence of any small Palestinian entity. And as long as the United States and Israel continue with that, yes, there will be insecurity.
Kathleen Wells: This is essentially an issue of land; it's not a religious issue. It's an issue of land, and it's economics that's motivating Israel to expand. Is that what you are saying?
Noam Chomsky: Primarily. In fact, the President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, shortly before he became President after 1967, pointed out, (he was then chief of the Air Force) -- he said, "Look we could withdraw from the occupied territories, but then we couldn't live at the scale and style and grandeur that we would prefer." That's not an exact quote; words were approximately to that effect. And, you know, that's basically true.
The expansion into the West Bank is, you know, it's kind of understandable. I mean, the parts of the West Bank that Israel is taking over are, first of all, a good part of the arable land: the pleasant suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which happen to be in the West Bank; the major water resources, which are in the area that Israel is taking over; the Jordan Valley, which is arable land, of course, and essentially imprisons what's left. And then Israel has been sending corridors through the occupied territories. The most important one -- one of several -- is east of what's called Jerusalem. Jerusalem is now a vastly-expanded area which Israel has annexed in violation of Security Council orders, as well as in violation of international law. And expanding east from there is a corridor, started in the 1970s under Yitzhak Rabin, now includes the town of Ma'ale Adumim. It basically bisects the West Bank. There are two other corridors to the north. It breaks up the remaining areas of the West Bank into what Ariel Sharon -- the architect, one of the main architects of the policy -- called Bantustans.
And, sure, as long as they do that, there is going to be continuing ... it's understandable why they do it: sure, they want that land, and they want the resources. And it does, as Ezer Weizman said, it allows them to live in a scale and character beyond what would happen if they lived peacefully within their own territories. And the U.S. backs them, so they can do it, and it's continuing to back them under Obama. So, sure, their position is: well, okay, let's just go ahead and do it. And it does lead to insecurity, but that's the decision they made in 1971.
Kathleen Wells: And you have stated that this expansion is dangerous for Israel. Can you elaborate on that?
Noam Chomsky: Well, you already elaborated on it at the beginning, when you said that they are facing threats. When you expand into somebody else's territory and you refuse to allow ... and you destroy the national - the legitimate national aspirations of the indigenous inhabitants, now restricted to about 22% of Palestine, even in the international arrangements ... when you do that, sure, you're going to lead to insecurity. Remember also that Israel has invaded its northern neighbour, Lebanon, five times -- brutally, harshly, plenty of terror, plenty of violence and no credible pretext.* I don't have time to go through the details, but I've done so in print. Well, yes, so Lebanon is hostile, too. Lebanon happens to be a weak state; they can't do much, but that leads to plenty of hostility in the region.
With regard to Iran, Iran was a very close ally of Israel's as long as it was under the Shah. Ahmadinejad has issued what we call "threats against Israel." They're not actually threats, and if you look at the exact wording, he's repeating statements by Khomeini at a time when Israel was pretty close to Iran and didn't care about them. He's saying, "Yes, in the end of days Israel should disappear." Okay, not nice -- does a lot of other rotten things; it's a horrible regime. But to say that it's a threat to Israel is a bit extreme. I mean, it's a ... and, in fact, to the extent that there is a potential Iranian threat it would be ... it's claimed that the Iranian nuclear program is a threat.
Well, okay, if you believe that, there are clear steps to take: move towards a nuclear-weapons- free zone in the region. Now, that would not terminate any potential threat, but it would certainly mitigate it. Nuclear-weapons-free zones are very important steps towards reducing the threat of nuclear weapons and of proliferation. And, in fact, the U.S. is committed to that. It agreed to it in 1995 and in the Nuclear Review Conference just last May. A couple of weeks ago, Egypt, which leads the Non-Aligned Movement at the moment [of] 118 countries, pressed very hard for moving towards establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. The U.S. was pressed into a corner and couldn't disagree, so said, "Sure, we agree in principle." But Hillary Clinton said, "Yes, but the time is not right". And the U.S. -- Obama -- hid behind the Israeli position, which said, sure, let's do it but after this comprehensive peace settlement, in which the U.S. and Israel can delay indefinitely, as they've been doing. So there are no steps toward a nuclear-weapons-free zone, to which, incidentally, the United States is very strongly committed.
The U.S. and Britain, when they invaded Iraq, tried to provide a kind of a thin, legal cover for it. And the legal cover was Security Council Resolution 687 from 1991, which called on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction program. And, as you recall, the U.S. and Israel and the U.K. claimed that they had not done so. Well, it turned out to be false, but they claimed that they had not done so. But if you look at that resolution, Article 14, it calls on the signers to move to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in their region. So the U.S. and U.K., above everyone else, are committed to this. But it isn't even discussed here.
So to talk about the Iranian nuclear threat, while we're refusing to take the most elementary steps towards eliminating any potential threat that might arise sometime, is kind of ludicrous. In fact, if you look [at] the ... there is now a declassified study from last April from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon, assessing the military balance in the region, the Iranian threat included, in particular; and they point out that Iran's military doctrine is essentially defensive, it's an attempt to deter attacks, that Iran's military expenditures are relatively low compared to the region and, of course, minuscule as compared to the U.S. and that, if they're developing nuclear weapons, it would be as a deterrent.
So whatever threat Iran poses, it's not a military threat; it's a threat of independence. Well, Israel doesn't like that, the U.S. doesn't like that, but to call that a threat -- while, Israel has a huge nuclear capacity, has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is rejecting calls from the international agency -- International Atomic Energy Agency -- to open up it's facilities to inspection, backed by the U.S. and is, in fact, proceeding to crush Palestinians. I mean, anybody watching this from Mars would break down in hysterical laughter.
Kathleen Wells: Well, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East which has nuclear weapons, but it has not officially acknowledged that they have them.
Noam Chomsky: That's correct. And it is one of three countries -- three nuclear states -- that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Israel, India, and Pakistan, all of which are protected by the United States in their nuclear weapons programs, to which the U.S., in fact, contributes and has contributed. Those are the three non-signers.
Kathleen Wells: And so...
Noam Chomsky: And that continues to this moment. I mean, in this context, how can we even listen to Obama saying he wants to get rid of nuclear weapons?
Kathleen Wells: And so, I mean, there is some cynicism I hear in your voice so ... and it's understandable, I would say. But so what do ... what can we expect to happen, if there's not going to be ... the international community is calling on the Middle East to be a nuclear-free- zone and yet Israel and the United States are not moving in that direction?
Noam Chomsky: Not only are they not moving in that direction, but blocking it. Kathleen Wells: So ...
Noam Chomsky: And remember that the U.S. has a specific commitment, over and above other countries, because of the Iraq invasion.
Kathleen Wells: So where do we go from here?
Noam Chomsky: That's up to people like you, the citizens of the United States. If we have ... if we care about what our country is doing, we should proceed to do something about it.
Kathleen Wells: So when you say we should proceed to do something, get me some specifics. What should we do?
Noam Chomsky: We should be organising and acting to get Congress to compel the administration to move towards reducing the dire threat of nuclear weapons. And there are many ways to do it. One is by establishing nuclear-weapons-free zones. The Middle East is one case, but it's not the only case. So, to mention another, relevant here, the African Union did finally agree to a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but it can't implement it, and the reason it can't implement it is because of the United States and Britain.
There is an island in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia, which is claimed by the African Union; its part of Africa. Britain and the U.S. -- it has bases for U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines, and so on. The population was kicked out by Britain so that the United States could establish a major military base there. That base is used -- it's a major military base -- it's used for bombing of Middle East and Central Asia. Obama is beefing it up very sharply -- both its nuclear weapons capacity and its massive ordinance. In fact, he's just sent there a couple of hundred so-called bunker busters, the biggest weapons in the arsenal, short of nuclear weapons, aimed at Iran. All of that's going on right now. Diego Garcia is excluded by the U.S. and Britain from the African Union nuclear-weapons-free zone, which means they can't implement it.
Well, that's one case. The Middle East is another case, there actually are others. But if we are interested in non-proliferation, we should be compelling the U.S. government to take concrete steps that are available towards reducing the threat of war -- for example, dismantling the military base in Diego Garcia and terminating the threats of aggression against Iran and moving towards mitigating the threat of use of nuclear weapons or development of nuclear weapons. It can be done in many ways, nuclear-weapons-free zones being the most obvious. Kathleen Wells: But this is ...
Noam Chomsky: There is a lot we could do.
Kathleen Wells: But this isn't widely covered in the U.S. media.
Noam Chomsky: That's a little bit of an understatement. It isn't covered, period. Try to find some references.
Kathleen Wells: So how do American citizens get informed on this issue? It's not covered ... Why is it that we ...
Noam Chomsky: By people like you writing about it and organising and educating: that's our job. We are not thrust in jail for telling the truth about these things. I'm afraid I have to take off. I have another interview.
Kathleen Wells: Okay. I really appreciate you ... Can I ask you one last question?
Noam Chomsky: Yeah.
Kathleen Wells: Okay. As a Jewish American, what would you like to say to other Jewish Americans regarding Israel?
Noam Chomsky: Pretty much what I said in the 1970's. I mean, I wrote at that time -- and I think it's even more true today -- that those who call themselves supporters of Israel are, in fact, supporters of Israel's moral degeneration, increased isolation, and possible ultimate destruction. I hate to say it, and I hate to see it, but it's coming true.
Kathleen Wells: Okay. On that note, I think it went well. Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time with me, Professor Chomsky. Have a great afternoon.
Noam Chomsky: Good to talk to you.
Kathleen Wells: Okay, bye-bye.
*On August 3, 2010, Hareetz reported that Israel and Lebanon entered into a border clash that was spurred by Israel's attempt to uproot a tree on Lebanon's soil. The incident amounted to a thirty-minute firefight that left three Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist, and an Israeli officer dead.
On August 7, 2010, tensions between Israel and Lebanon escalated when the Israeli Navy opened fire on a Lebanese fishing boat. This clash marked the worst confrontation between the two sides since Israel's 2006 incursion into Lebanon, during which about 1,200 Lebanese -- mostly civilians -- were killed.
On August 10, 2010, American lawmakers said that because of the clash/firefight on August 3, U.S. funding for Lebanon's military would be blocked/cut.
It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there's no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.
I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I've been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.
The articles these stickers are attached to are used strictly as an illustration: I'm not passing judgment on the specific articles or journalists. Hopefully that'll stop anyone claiming I've libelled them.
Let's start with the obvious one. It seems like half the content of the tabloids are made up of this: bits of 'research' put out by a PR team with the questionable backing of a cash-strapped university somewhere. Ben Goldacre talks about this much more competently than I ever could.
I'm not sure how these newspapers would fill their pages without these.
Oh yeah, that's what they use. I forgot.
The Daily Mail's attempt to classify everything as either 'causing' and 'curing' cancer is already well documented, but there's plenty of wacky medical claims in all the newspapers. Ooh, look, some healing crystals.
This sticker's mainly for celebrity articles: Starsuckers did a good job of showing just how little verification is frequently done.
To be fair, newspaper journalists have far too little time to do far too much, particularly with the steady collapse of print circulations. If a story breaks just before the deadline, they may just copy it: but it seems only fair to require labelling in a case like this.
Now this'd be fine, if journalists were willing or able to call upon expert sources to verify claims, and then to quote their responses. Otherwise you get front-page headlines about cures for cancer based on small irrelevant studies on mice.
More common among pundits and comment writers than newshounds, but still worth flagging.
Is there some celebrity with a wacky religion they're really touchy about? Don't worry: no-one on the gossip pages will dare ask them about it. They can't risk being blackballed.
Enough said, really.
Make your own!
If you'd like your own set, grab an A4 13-by-5 sheet of stickers (they're labelled as '65 per sheet' or Avery L7651), and print out this PDF template. If you're in America, then Scott has kindly put together a US version that fits on Avery's Letter-size 5160 labels or equivalent.
KABUL, Aug. 16, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Afghanistan has discovered an oil field containing an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude oil, local media reported Monday.
The resource would be more than 10 times the size of the country's discovered oil reserves, according to Outlook Afghanistan, the leading newspaper of the country.
The huge oil resource has been discovered by Afghan geologists in cooperation with international geologists in the area between the country's northern provinces of Balkh and Sheberghan, Jawad Omar, spokesman for the Ministry for Mines and Industries, was quoted as saying.
Agence France-Presse First Posted 19:33:00 08/15/2010
Filed Under: Oil & Gas - Upstream activities
KABUL . Afghanistan's mining ministry announced Sunday that a new oil deposit with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude had been discovered in the relatively peaceful north of the war-torn country.
"It's a totally new oil deposit, which extends in a triangle between Balkh, Hairatan and Shuburghan", ministry spokesman Jawad Omar told AFP.
"The reserves of the new deposit are estimated at 1.8 billion barrels of crude," he added.
Geologists are not expected to complete further assessments on the ground until January and then the deposit will be opened to tender, Omar said.
It is the sixth oil deposit discovery in Afghanistan. The largest are found in the Amu Daria river basin marking the border between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan.
There are others in Herat, in the west, Helmand in the south and Paktia in the southeast.
In late June, Afghanistan's mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani said he had been in talks with oil giants Total and ENI as well as Canadian firm Heritage Oil about exploration deals in Afghanistan.
Afghan president to eliminate private security within 4 months
The move appears to trump actions by NATO to rein in the contractors, which have incited public fury with incidents that have left civilians dead and injured. The guards are used extensively by the Western community.
By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
August 16, 2010|6:28 a.m.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan .
President Hamid Karzai will shut down all private security firms operating in Afghanistan within four months, his spokesman announced Monday, sending ripples of alarm through a Western community that relied heavily on such protection.
The Afghan leader had said for months that he intended to call a halt to the operations of private security firms, which are not regulated by the Afghan government and have long been a source of friction between Karzai's administration and the West.
However, in announcing a fairly near-term deadline for the shutdown, the president appeared to preempt efforts by NATO's International Security Assistance Force to register private security contractors and set standards for their behavior.
The deadline could be used as a bargaining chip by Karzai in an ongoing dispute over corruption in his government. Those tensions escalated when the president recently moved to assert control over two Afghan bodies tasked with tackling fraud and graft, after the home of a senior Karzai aide suspected of bribery was raided.
Dozens of private security companies, some foreign and some Afghan, are thought to have a workforce numbering around 40,000 people. They vie for billions of dollars in contracts, many handed out by the U.S. military.
Western officials have expressed agreement in principle with Karzai's demand to rein in the security contractors, but the timetable could cause serious problems for foreign firms, diplomatic missions, the NATO force and others.
All over the capital, international organizations, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses are surrounded by high concrete blast barriers and . almost invariably . private guards.
Karzai has said Afghan security forces would take up the slack, but few here consider the Afghan police and army ready to shoulder the burden of providing general security. And even with the troop buildup ordered by President Obama, which is nearing completion, Western military forces are already spread thin.
The U.S. Embassy, which makes use of private security, has had no immediate comment on Karzai's decision, which is expected to be formalized with a decree later Monday.
Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, told reporters in Kabul on Monday that "within four months, all private security companies will be disbanded." Nine days earlier, Karzai had made a speech pledging to scrap private security firms but did not set a deadline at that time.
As also happened in Iraq, security contractors in Afghanistan periodically have stirred public fury with incidents that have left civilians dead and injured. In theory, they are subject to Afghan law but, at times, have been whisked out of the country when prosecution looms.
At the end of July, a traffic accident involving contractors from DynCorp that killed four Afghans fueled furious anti-American protests in Kabul.
Karzai's move appears to have taken Western officials by surprise.
Hours before Omar's announcement, a Western military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, offered an update on actions of a military task force set up in June to provide oversight of private security firms.
Blotz told reporters the transition away from contractors and to the Afghan army and police would "happen over time."