Sunday, March 21, 2010

Militarizing Latin America - USA crimes, as ever

Militarizing Latin America

by Noam Chomsky

The United States was founded as an "infant empire," in George Washington's words. The conquest of the national territory was a grand imperial venture, much like the vast expansion of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. From the earliest days, control over the Western Hemisphere was a critical goal.
Ambitions expanded during World War II, as the US displaced Britain and lesser imperial powers. High-level planners concluded that the US should "hold unquestioned power" in a world system including not only the Western Hemisphere, but also the former British Empire and the Far East, and later, as much of Eurasia as possible. A primary goal of NATO was to block moves towards European independence, along Gaullist lines. That became still more clear when the USSR collapsed, and with it the Russian threat that was the formal justification of NATO. NATO was not disbanded, but rather expanded, in violation of promises to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not even fully extend to East Germany, let alone beyond, and that
"NATO would be transforming itself into a more political organization." By now it is virtually an international intervention force under US command, its self-defined jurisdiction reaching to control energy sources, pipelines, and sea lanes. And Europe is a well-disciplined junior partner.

Throughout the expansion of US Empire, Latin America retained its primacy in global planning. As Washington was considering the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile in 1971, Nixon's National Security Council observed that if the US couldn't control Latin America, how could it expect "to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world?" That policy has become more severe with recent South American moves towards integration, a prerequisite for independence, and establishment of more varied international ties, while also beginning to address severe internal disorders, most importantly, the traditional rule of a rich Europeanized minority over a sea of misery and suffering.

In July 2009, the US and Colombia concluded a secret deal to permit the US to use seven military bases in Colombia. The official purpose is to counter narcotrafficking and terrorism, "but senior Colombian military and civilian officials familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press that the idea is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations." There are reports that the agreement provides Colombia with privileged access to US military supplies. Colombia had already become the leading recipient of US military aid. Colombia has had by far the worst human rights record in the hemisphere since the Central American wars of the 1980s wound down. The correlation between US aid and human rights violations has long been noted by scholarship.

AP also cited an April 2009 document of the US Air Mobility Command, which proposed that the Palanquero base in Colombia could become a "cooperative security location" (CSL) from which "mobility operations could be executed." The report noted that from Palanquero, "Nearly half the continent can be covered by a C-17 (military trans- port) without refueling." This could form part of "a global en route strategy," which "helps achieve the regional engagement strategy and assists with the mobility routing to Africa." For the present, "the strategy to place a CSL at Palanquero should be sufficient for air mobility reach on the South American continent," the document concludes, but it goes on to explore options for extending the routing to Africa with additional bases.

Establishing US military bases in Colombia is only one part of a much broader effort to restore Washington's capacity for military intervention. There has been a sharp increase in US military aid and training of Latin American officers, focusing on light infantry tactics to combat "radical populism" -- a concept that sends shivers up the spine in the Latin American context. Military training is being shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon, eliminating human rights and democracy conditionalities under congressional supervision, which has always been weak, but was at least a deterrent to some of the worst abuses. The US Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, was reactivated in 2008, shortly after Colombia's invasion of Ecuador, with responsibility for the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the surrounding waters.
The official announcement defines its "various operations" to "include counter-illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training."

Militarization of South America is a component of much broader global programs, as the "global en route strategy" indicates. In Iraq, there is virtually no information about the fate of the huge US military bases, so they are presumably being maintained for force projection. The immense city-within-a-city US embassy in Baghdad not only remains but its cost is to rise to $1.8 billion USD this year, from an estimated $1.5 billion USD last year. The Obama administration is also constructing mega embassies that are completely without precedent in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In short, moves towards "a world of peace" do not fall within the "change you can believe in," to borrow Obama's campaign slogan.

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posted by u2r2h at 2:37 PM 0 comments

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chomsky.s optimism of the will

Chomsky.s optimism of the will

Wednesday 17 March 2010 / by Stefan Simanowitz, for the
other afrik

The mood of excited anticipation in the crowd is one
more usually associated with a pop concert than with a
lecture by an octogenarian political philosopher. And
yet the scenes outside London School of Economics. (LSE)
main lecture theatre, repeated days later at Imperial
College, London and Queens University, Belfast, are
testament to the enduring popularity of Professor Noam
Chomsky in Europe at the end of 2009 on what some called
his "final international speaking tour". When tickets
went on sale the LSE computer system crashed under
weight of traffic and, on the night LSE.s 460-seater
lecture theatre as well as two other halls screening a
live video feed, are full to capacity.

A few weeks short of his 82nd birthday Chomsky, dubbed
by the New York Times as "the worlds greatest living
thinker" and reputedly one of the ten most cited authors
of all time, has lost little of the intellectual vigour
nor the fire in his belly that has made him one of most
notable political analysts of our time. Over the course
of ten days and speaking on the subject of "human rights
in the new Millennium", Chomsky covers familiar themes -
US abuse of power through foreign policy and its
misrepresentation through a compliant media . but his
analysis remains fresh and relevant with a coherence
that makes one wonder why it is not more mainstream. His
central tenant which has remained intact for decades is
that, rather than being underpinned by ethical
considerations, American foreign policy is instead
driven by a ruthless desire to protect US strategic
interests and ensure the free flow of capital. Even with
Barack Obama in the White House Chomsky believes
American foreign policy will remain essentially the
same. "There is basically no significant change in the
fundamental traditional conception that we if can
control Middle East energy resources, then we can
control the world," he says.

from the same author

* Impossible shoes to fill: Zuma and South Africa.s
post-Mandela leadership crisis

* Harking back to the ghosts of District Six

* Nelson Mandela.s short walk to freedom remembered

* Tony Blair at the Iraq Inquiry

Chomsky describes the way in which the US attempts to
maintain its global dominance as "the Mafia principle"
whereby any challenge is brutally put down. "The
Godfather does not tolerate .successful defiance.. It is
too dangerous. It must therefore be stamped out so that
others understand that disobedience is not an option,"
he explains. Unlike the Mafia which is under constant
threat from the law, the US puts itself outside of legal
norms by exempting itself from international treaties.
Not only does America repeatedly veto efforts at
creating international human-rights regulations but the
few conventions that Washington does ratify are
accompanied by reservations rendering them inapplicable
to the US. The Convention on the Rights of the Child for
example, has been ratified by all countries apart from
the US and Somalia. US reservations to the Genocide
Convention mean that America has reserved the right to
commit genocide and their failure to sign up to the UN
Convention Against Torture has allowed the type of abuse
recently exposed in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram airbase.

Chomsky.s speaking style has never been what could be
described as rabble-rousing. Instead, he speaks in a
croaky monotone that, like his writing-style is
intricately factual and peppered with examples,
quotations and looping digressions. Milica Petrovic, a
twenty-three year old politics post-graduate, found his
LSE speech "factual, impersonal and slightly boring. It
was only when describing his experiences of activism
that he was more engaging." Indeed it is only when
answering questions that Chomsky really comes into his
own, enlivening his answers with reminiscences and
anecdotes. Asked whether humanitarian intervention can
ever be justified, Chomsky pointed out that throughout
history leaders . including Hitler, Hirohito and
Mussolini - have sought to justify the use of force with
talk of responsibility to protect suffering populations.
However, whilst the so-called .right. of humanitarian
intervention has no legal basis in the United Nations
Charter or in the general principles of international
law, the Security Council is nevertheless permitted to
use force under Chapter VII "to end massive human rights
abuses, civil war, and violation of civil liberties".
Forceful action can however, only be carried out under
Security Council authorisation. International law,
Chomsky believes, is by no means perfect, but it is the
best means we have of protecting human rights.

And it is this ability to see the positives combined
with an abiding belief in the possibility of change and
the potential of people to affect that change that
prevents Chomsky.s world-view being depressing. Just as
Chomsky, a professor of linguistics, believes humans
share an innate set of linguistic principles, he also
believes we share a universal moral grammar: a fixed set
of principles that allow us to understand and respond to
situations in a common way. It is this, above all else,
that will save the human race from destroying itself. In
his final lecture, Chomsky quotes Antonio Gramsci.s call
for "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will"
and urges his audience to get involved in activism and
knowledge sharing.

Outside the lecture theatre Simon Shaw, a nineteen-year
old economics undergraduate who describes himself as
"political but not politically active" tells me that
after hearing Chomsky he would like to get more engaged
in activism. "Rather than just study the theory, I.d
like to make a difference," he says with enthusiasm. It
is precisely young people like Simon that persuade
Chomsky to continue his political speaking tours. Rather
than speaking to big meetings in grand venues, he
believes that change lies not with the fusty policy
makers of today but the activists of tomorrow. Back in
1995, I had been just one those impressionable young
activists. As a young graduate working for the human
rights organisation, Liberty, I had volunteered to drive
Chomsky from University College London, where he had an
earlier speaking engagement, to Westminster Central
Hall, where he was due to give the keynote speech at our
conference. I arrived at the UCL, parked illegally
outside the main entrance and hurried inside to look for
the great man. I found him at the front of a lecture
theatre surrounded by throng of eager students. Managing
to push my way through the crowd I introduced myself and
slowly ushered him out. When we finally got outside a
traffic-warden was mid-way through writing me a parking
ticket. "You can.t ticket me" I implored. "I.m picking
up Noam Chomsky." The warden looked at us blankly.
"Professor Noam Chomsky" I explained, "The world.s
greatest living thinker". "Well if so intelligent,"
replied the warden without missing a beat, "How come
he.s parked on a double yellow line?" It was the only
time seen Chomsky lost for words.

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posted by u2r2h at 5:39 PM 0 comments

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NOAM chomsky onthe Meaning of LOVE

Big Think is a website devoted to giving some big brains a platform to spout off on topics meaningful to them, and hopefully to other citizens of this planet we call Earth. With a cadre of boldface names like Ricky Gervais, Robert Wright, Stephen Fry and Ray Kurzweil, Big Think aims to put its readers in touch with... well, big thinkers on topics like sustainability, religion, alternate energy sources, artificial intelligence, history, justice, cultural identity, politics and much more. It is what tends to be called a "heady brew"!

Perusing the site this morning, I watched this sincere short video with M.I.T. professor Noam Chomsky -- probably America's single most important intellectual -- discussing the concept of what love is. He admits at the outset that he really doesn't know, but he takes a good stab at it anyway. Big Think does a great job at fulfilling its mission statement with articles and videos quite akin to TED conference speeches. If you like TED talks (and who doesn't?) then Big Think is probably a site you'll want to bookmark, pronto.

Big Think: Noam Chomksy shares his thoughts on the meaning of love

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posted by u2r2h at 6:51 PM 0 comments

USA terror state - stalinism corporatism totalitarian v2.0

Chomsky discusses the American 'culture of imperialism'
By Ben Kotopka
Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Much of American military policy is terrorism, 81-year-old linguist and cultural critic Noam Chomsky argued before a crowd of roughly 450 audience members in McCosh 50 on Monday evening.

In the lecture, “I am Kinda,” Chomsky described a “culture of imperialism” that implicates the United States in political crises from the Russian Civil War to the present-day poverty of Haiti.

In addition to McCosh 50, the two other rooms where the lecture was simulcast in two other rooms that filled to capacity.

“We did have to turn away a lot of people,” Public Safety officer Dorothy Tilghman said.

Chomsky devoted the majority of his hour-long lecture to a scathing critique of American foreign policy. He faulted presidents from Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, to Barack Obama for their foreign policy records and accused the American media of enabling American imperialism.

While covering a century of world history, Chomsky framed his speech around the moments following a lecture he delivered in 2006. After listening to his speech in Beirut, a young Libyan woman â€" who had lost her home and sister in an American bombing raid in 1986 â€" approached Chomsky with the words, “I am Kinda.” Chomsky had heard of Kinda’s name from a letter to then-President Ronald Reagan, which Kinda wrote and left in the ruins of her home, asking why Americans had attacked her family.

“Is it true you want to kill us all because my father is Palestinian and you want to kill [Libyan President Moammar] Kadafi because he wants to help us go back to my father’s home and land?” Chomsky quoted the letter as saying.

Calling educational institutions “responsible for the indoctrination of the young,” Chomsky praised college students who combat cultural imperialism. He cited recent protests against tuition hikes at public universities in California as evidence that the activist streak has continued in today’s youth.

Chomsky said that in reacting to “an excess of democracy” in the 1960s, institutions attempt to control students.

“They try to ensure that students will come out of college with a heavy debt,” he explained.

The noted scholar, who gained prominence in the 1950s for his work on linguistic and psychological theory, has continued to write, speak and publish prolifically ever since, authoring more than 90 books. His reputation for fierce criticism of American foreign policy came later, beginning with his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Audience reactions to the lecture were largely positive.

“I think it’s generally true that America is very imperialist â€" they tend to stick their butts in other countries’ business where they shouldn’t be,” said Jennifer Tang ’13, who said she first encountered Chomsky’s work through her writing seminar on American imperialism.

“I like his viewpoint, but I think I’d have to do more research before I’d change my opinion,” she added.

The lecture was the seventh annual lecture given in memory of Palestinian rights advocate Edward W. Said, and was sponsored by the Department of English and the Princeton Committee on Palestine.

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posted by u2r2h at 6:45 PM 1 comments