Tuesday, June 28, 2011

German Magazine DIE ZEIT chomsky interview (English AND GERMAN)

"Students Should Become Anarchists": Noam Chomsky
by Noam Chomsky
Monday Jun 27th, 2011 7:05 AM
Anarchists try to identify power structures. Then anarchists work at unmasking and mastering the structures, whether they involve patriarchal families or a Mafia international system in the private tyrannies of the economy, the corporation. Links to videos of Robin Hahnel, Cindy Milstein and Michael Albert

ZEIT Campus interviews a luminary, Noam Chomsky, linguist, political activist and one of the most quoted scholars of the world

[The American linguist-professor Noam Chomsky (82) is known worldwide as a political activist and capitalism-critic, not only for his "universal grammar." This interview published in: ZEIT Online, 6/14/2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.zeit.de/campus/2011/04/sprechstunde-chomsky.]

ZEIT Campus: Professor Chomsky, you are not only one of the most quoted scholars of the world. For 45 years, you have been a political activist. When one looks at politics today, one must ask: Can "public intellectuals" like y8ourself accomplish anything?

Noam Chomsky: How can you ask that question?

ZEIT Campus: There is war in Afghanistan. The world suffers in the consequences of the economic crisis. The social gap grows more and more.

Chomsky: The problem is simple. Most intellectuals are servants of power and counsel governments. They call themselves experts; they have sought prestige for centuries, not only today. However every society has critical intellectuals at its edges. Both types have influence: the servants of power and the dissidents.

ZEIT Campus: We are still skeptical. What have you changed in the past 45 years?

Chomsky: I personally did not change anything. I was part of a movement and this movement accomplished many things. The world today is fundamentally different from the world 45 years ago. The actions for civil rights, human rights, women's rights and environmental protection, resistance against oppression and violence have substantially influenced the world. I cannot understand how you can argue I have not changed anything.

ZEIT Campus: Do you believe the world is better today than 40 or 50 years ago?

Chomsky: Obviously! Walk along the open fields here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Half of the students are women; a third belongs to an ethnic minority. People are dressed more casually and are engaged for all possible things. This place was very different when I came here 50 years ago. Then you saw white men, formally dressed and only interested in their own work. You could see the same development in Germany and all over the world.

Der amerikanische Linguistik-Professor Noam Chomsky (82) ist nicht nur für seine "Universalgrammatik" weltweit bekannt, sondern auch als politischer Aktivist und Kapitalismuskritier

Der amerikanische Linguistik-Professor Noam Chomsky (82) ist nicht nur für seine "Universalgrammatik" weltweit bekannt, sondern auch als politischer Aktivist und Kapitalismuskritier

ZEIT Campus: But are students more political? Today's generation is often reproached for being disinterested in the world.

Chomsky: I think that reproach is false. The period of high politization at the universities was very short – from 1968 to 1970. Before that, students were apolitical. Consider the Vietnam War, one of the greatest crimes since the Second World War. Four or five years went by until some form of visible protest stirred in the US. That quickly ebbed away in the 1970s. The mood was very different before the Iraq war. To my knowledge, the Iraq war was the first war in history where there were demonstrations before it began. My students missed the lectures to demonstrate. That would never have happened 50 years ago. The protests did not prevent the war but limited it. The US was never able to do in Iraq a fraction of what it had done in Vietnam.

ZEIT Campus: Were those protests only a straw fire?

Chomsky: No. The politization today is much greater than in the 1950s. Forms of lasting activism developed that enabled many of our battles to be won. For example, there was a continuous progress in women's rights. If I had asked my grandmother whether she was oppressed, she wouldn't have known what I was talking about. My mother said: "I am oppressed but I don't know what to do!" My daughter would shout to me after such a question: Our world is more human!

ZEIT Campus: Do you believe in historical progress?

Chomsky: Progress is slow but dramatic over long time horizons. Think of the abolition of slavery or the development of freedom of expression. Rights are not simply bestowed. People who joined forces and banded together realized them. Still progress is not a linear development. There are also times of backward steps.

ZEIT Campus: If there are times of progress and times of backward steps, will the world be better in 50 years than today?

Chomsky: What will be in 50 years depends strongly on what the young generation does today. Two great dangers threaten the existence of the world: our relation to the environment and the danger that starts from nuclear weapons. If we do not champion environmental protection more vigorously today, we could be mired in a grave environmental crisis in 50 years, let alone the risks of nuclear weapons. The terrible catastrophe of Fukushima reminds us that the non-military use of nuclear power is fraught with extreme risks. We cannot ignore this under any circumstances!

ZEIT Campus: In 60 years students of today will be as old as you. What must they do to look back on their life with satisfaction?

Chomsky: Naturally they could say they lived contentedly with friends, children and fun. But to really lead a fulfilled and satisfying life, they should recognize problems and contribute to solving them. If they cannot look back at 80 and say "I have accomplished something!," then their life will not have succeeded.

Lob der Anarchie: Noam Chomsky im Gespräch [Seite 30]

ZEIT Campus: At 82, are you satisfied with what you achieved?

Chomsky: Being satisfied is impossible. My life has too many dimensions, family, profession, politics and several others. In some areas I am satisfied but not in others. The problems of this world are quite great. Inequality in the US is at the level of the 1920s and the economy still has tremendous influence in our society. I cannot be satisfied!

ZEIT Campus: Political engagement like yours is rare among scholars. Are you sometimes furious at the "servants of power" as you say or at professor colleagues who only concentrate on their academic work?

Chomsky: I consider it immoral to be a supporter of a power system. However that does not mean that I am furious at anyone. Scholars per se do not have deeper political insights than other persons and are not morally superior to others. But they are obligated to help politicians seek and find the truth.

ZEIT Campus: That sounds like you are becoming mild in old age.

Chomsky: No. My views and attitudes have not changed in the course of the decades. I still believe what I believed as a teenager.

ZEIT Campus: Is that good – to still believe what you believed almost 70 years ago?

Chomsky: Yes, when fundamental principles are involved. Obviously I have changed my opinions in many questions – but my ideals are the same!

ZEIT Campus: You often say you are an anarchist. What do you mean by that?

Chomsky: Anarchists try to identify power structures. They urge those exercising power to justify themselves. This justification does not succeed most of the time. Then anarchists work at unmasking and mastering the structures, whether they involve patriarchal families, a Mafia international system or the private tyrannies of the economy, the corporation.

ZEIT Campus: What was the key experience that made you an anarchist?

Chomsky: There was none. When I was twelve years old, I began to go to secondhand bookshops. Many of them were run by anarchists who came from Spain. Therefore it seemed very natural to me to be an anarchist.

ZEIT Campus: Should all students become anarchists?

Chomsky: Yes. Students should challenge authorities and join a long anarchist tradition.

ZEIT Campus: "Challenge authorities" – a liberal or a moderate leftist could accept that invitation.

Chomsky: As soon as one identifies, challenges and overcomes illegitimate power, he or she is an anarchist. Most people are anarchists. What they call themselves doesn't matter to me.

ZEIT Campus: Who or what must challenge today's student generation?

Chomsky: This world is full of suffering, distress, violence and catastrophes. Students must decide: does something concern you or not? I say: look around, analyze the problems, ask yourself what you can do and set out on the work!


German original

Noam Chomsky "Studenten sollen Anarchisten werden"

In jeder Ausgabe besucht ZEIT CAMPUS eine Koryphäe ihres Fachs. Diesmal: Noam Chomsky, Linguist, politischer Aktivist und einer der meistzitierten Wissenschaftler der Welt. Der amerikanische Linguistik-Professor Noam Chomsky (82) ist nicht nur für seine "Universalgrammatik" weltweit bekannt, sondern auch als politischer Aktivist und Kapitalismuskritier

ZEIT Campus: Herr Professor Chomsky, Sie sind nicht nur einer der meistzitierten Wissenschaftler der Welt, Sie sind seit 45 Jahren politischer Aktivist. Wenn man sich die Politik heute anschaut, muss man sich fragen: Können »public intellectuals« wie Sie überhaupt etwas erreichen?

Noam Chomsky: Wie kommen Sie auf diese Frage?

ZEIT Campus: Es ist Krieg in Afghanistan, die Welt leidet an den Folgen der Wirtschaftskrise, die soziale Schere geht immer weiter auseinander...

Chomsky: Das Problem ist einfach: Die allermeisten Intellektuellen sind Diener der Macht. Sie beraten Regierungen, sie nennen sich Experten, sie streben nach Prestige, übrigens nicht nur heute, sondern seit Jahrhunderten. Doch jede Gesellschaft hat an ihren Rändern kritische Intellektuelle. Beide Typen haben Einfluss: die Diener der Macht und die Dissidenten.

ZEIT Campus: Wir bleiben skeptisch: Was haben Sie denn verändert in den vergangenen 45 Jahren?

Chomsky: Nicht ich persönlich habe etwas verändert. Ich war Teil einer Bewegung, und diese Bewegung hat vieles erreicht. Die Welt heute unterscheidet sich fundamental von der Welt von vor 45 Jahren: Der Einsatz für Bürgerrechte, Menschenrechte, Frauenrechte und Umweltschutz, der Widerstand gegen Unterdrückung und Gewalt haben die Welt substanziell geprägt. Ich kann nicht verstehen, wie Sie behaupten können, es habe sich nichts verändert!

ZEIT Campus: Glauben Sie, dass die Welt heute besser ist als vor 40 oder 50 Jahren?

Chomsky: Selbstverständlich! Gehen Sie nur die Flure hier im Massachusetts Institute of Technology entlang. Die Hälfte der Studenten sind Frauen, ein Drittel gehört einer ethnischen Minderheit an, die Leute sind locker gekleidet, sie engagieren sich für alle möglichen Dinge. Als ich vor 50 Jahren hierherkam, war das ganz anders: Da sahen Sie Männer, weiß, förmlich gekleidet und nur an der eigenen Arbeit interessiert. Dieselbe Entwicklung können Sie auch in Deutschland und sonst wo auf der Welt sehen.

ZEIT Campus: Aber sind auch die Studenten politischer geworden? Der jetzigen Generation wird oft vorgeworfen, sie sei desinteressiert an der Welt.

Chomsky: Ich glaube, der Vorwurf ist falsch. Die Zeitspanne der hohen Politisierung an den Universitäten war nur sehr kurz – von 1968 bis 1970. Davor waren die Studenten unpolitisch. Denken Sie an den Vietnamkrieg, eines der größten Verbrechen seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg; es hat vier oder fünf Jahre gedauert, bis sich in den USA irgendeine Form sichtbaren Protests regte. In den siebziger Jahren ebbte der dann schnell wieder ab. Vor dem Irakkrieg war das ganz anders: Meines Wissens war er der erste Krieg in der Geschichte, gegen den demonstriert wurde, bevor er begonnen hatte. Meine Studenten bestanden darauf, Vorlesungen ausfallen zu lassen, um zu demonstrieren. Vor 50 Jahren wäre das nie passiert. Die Proteste haben den Krieg zwar nicht verhindert, aber sie haben ihn beschränkt – die USA waren nie in der Lage, im Irak auch nur einen Bruchteil dessen zu tun, was sie in Vietnam getan hatten.

ZEIT Campus: Sind solche Proteste nur Strohfeuer?

Chomsky: Nein. Die Politisierung ist heute viel höher als in den fünfziger Jahren. Es haben sich Formen von dauerhaftem Aktivismus entwickelt, ohne die viele unserer Schlachten nicht gewonnen worden wären: Zum Beispiel gab es einen kontinuierlichen Fortschritt bei den Frauenrechten. Hätte ich meine Großmutter gefragt, ob sie unterdrückt sei – sie hätte keine Ahnung gehabt, wovon ich spreche. Meine Mutter hätte gesagt: »Ich bin unterdrückt, aber ich weiß nicht, was ich dagegen tun soll!« Meine Tochter würde mich nach einer solchen Frage rauswerfen. Unsere Welt ist menschlicher geworden!

ZEIT Campus: Glauben Sie an historischen Fortschritt?

Chomsky: Fortschritt ist langsam, aber über lange Zeithorizonte hinweg dramatisch, denken Sie etwa an die Abschaffung der Sklaverei oder die Entwicklung der Meinungsfreiheit. Rechte werden nicht einfach so verliehen. Menschen, die sich zu Bewegungen zusammengeschlossen haben, haben sie durchgesetzt. Doch Fortschritt ist keine lineare Entwicklung, es gibt auch Zeiten des Rückschritts.

ZEIT Campus: Wenn es Zeiten des Fortschritts und Zeiten des Rückschritts gibt – wird die Welt in 50 Jahren eine bessere sein als heute?

Chomsky: Was in 50 Jahren sein wird, hängt stark davon ab, was die junge Generation heute tut. Zwei große Gefahren bedrohen die Existenz unserer Welt: unser Umgang mit der Umwelt und die Gefahr, die von Atomwaffen ausgeht. Wenn wir uns heute nicht stärker für den Umweltschutz einsetzen, können wir in 50 Jahren mitten in einer schweren Umweltkrise stecken, von den Risiken der Atomwaffen ganz zu schweigen. Die schreckliche Katastrophe von Fukushima erinnert uns daran, dass auch die zivile Nutzung von Kernkraft extreme Risiken birgt. Das dürfen wir unter keinen Umständen ignorieren!

ZEIT Campus: In 60 Jahren sind die Studenten von heute so alt wie Sie. Was müssen sie tun, um zufrieden auf ihr Leben blicken zu können?

Chomsky: Natürlich können sie sagen, dass sie gern gelebt haben, weil sie Freunde und Kinder haben und Spaß gehabt haben. Aber um ein wirklich erfülltes und befriedigendes Leben geführt zu haben, sollten sie Probleme erkannt und dazu beigetragen haben, diese zu beseitigen. Wenn sie mit 80 Jahren nicht zurückblicken und sagen können: »Ich habe etwas erreicht!«, dann ist ihnen ihr Leben nicht gelungen.

ZEIT Campus: Sind Sie heute, mit 82 Jahren, zufrieden mit dem, was Sie erreicht haben?

Chomsky: Zufrieden zu sein ist gar nicht möglich. Mein Leben hat zu viele Dimensionen, Familie, Beruf, Politik und einiges andere. In manchen Bereichen bin ich zufrieden, in anderen nicht. Die Probleme dieser Welt sind noch immer ziemlich groß: Die Ungleichheit in den USA ist auf dem Niveau der 1920er Jahre, und die Wirtschaft hat noch immer einen immensen Einfluss in unserer Gesellschaft. Da kann ich doch nicht zufrieden sein!

ZEIT Campus: Politisches Engagement wie Ihres ist unter Wissenschaftlern selten. Sind Sie manchmal wütend auf die »Diener der Macht«, wie Sie sagen, oder auf Professorenkollegen, die sich nur auf ihre wissenschaftliche Arbeit konzentrieren?

Chomsky: Ich finde es unmoralisch, Unterstützer eines Machtsystems zu sein, aber das heißt nicht etwa, dass ich wütend auf jemanden bin. Es ist ja richtig: Wissenschaftler haben nicht per se tiefere politische Einsichten als andere Menschen und sind ihnen auch nicht etwa moralisch überlegen. Aber sie stehen in der Pflicht, den Politikern dabei zu helfen, die Wahrheit zu suchen und zu finden.

ZEIT Campus: Das hört sich an, als ob Sie altersmilde geworden seien.

Chomsky: Nein. Meine Ansichten und Haltungen haben sich im Laufe der Jahrzehnte nicht verändert. Ich glaube immer noch an das, woran ich auch schon als Teenager geglaubt habe.

ZEIT Campus: Ist das denn gut – immer noch an dasselbe zu glauben wie vor fast 70 Jahren?

Chomsky: Wenn es um grundlegende Prinzipien geht, ja. Natürlich habe ich meine Meinungen in vielen Fragen geändert – aber meine Ideale sind dieselben!

ZEIT Campus: Sie sagen häufig, Sie seien Anarchist. Was meinen Sie damit?

Chomsky: Anarchisten versuchen, Machtstrukturen zu erkennen. Sie verlangen, dass sich diejenigen, die Macht ausüben, rechtfertigen. Meistens gelingt diese Rechtfertigung nicht. Dann arbeiten Anarchisten daran, die Strukturen zu enttarnen und sie zu überwinden – ganz egal, ob es sich um patriarchalische Familien, um ein mafiöses internationales System oder um die privaten Tyranneien der Wirtschaft, also die der Unternehmen, handelt.

ZEIT Campus: Was war das Schlüsselerlebnis, das Sie zum Anarchisten machte?

Chomsky: Es gab keins. Als ich zwölf Jahre alt war, habe ich angefangen, in New Yorker Antiquariate zu gehen. Viele von ihnen wurden von Anarchisten betrieben, die aus Spanien stammten. Deshalb erschien es mir damals ganz natürlich, Anarchist zu sein.

ZEIT Campus: Sollen alle Studenten Anarchisten werden?

Chomsky: Ja. Studenten sollen Autoritäten herausfordern und sich damit in eine lange anarchistische Tradition einreihen.

ZEIT Campus: »Autoritäten herausfordern« – auch ein Liberaler oder ein moderater Linker würde diese Aufforderung unterschreiben können.

Chomsky: Sobald jemand illegitime Macht erkennt, herausfordert und überwindet, ist er Anarchist. Die meisten Menschen sind Anarchisten. Mir ist egal, wie sie sich nennen.

ZEIT Campus: Wen oder was muss die heutige Studentengeneration herausfordern?

Chomsky: Diese Welt ist voller Leiden, Not, Gewalt und Katastrophen. Studenten müssen sich entscheiden: Geht sie das etwas an oder nicht? Ich sage: Schauen Sie sich um, analysieren Sie die Probleme, fragen Sie sich, was Sie tun können, und machen Sie sich an die Arbeit!


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

USA Terrified of Arabic Democracies CHOMSKY INTERVIEW

Interview with Noam Chomsky: 'The West is Terrified of Arabic Democracies'

By Ceyda Nurtsch - June 22, 2011

Noam Chomsky is one of the major intellectuals of our time. The eighty-two-year-old American linguist, philosopher and activist is a severe critic of US foreign and economic policy. Ceyda Nurtsch talked to him about the Arabic spring in its global context

Q: Many people claim that the Arab world is incompatible with democracy. Would you say that the recent developments falsify this thesis?

Noam Chomsky: The thesis never had any basis whatsoever. The Arab-Islamic world has a long history of democracy. It's regularly crushed by western force. In 1953 Iran had a parliamentary system, the US and Britain overthrew it. There was a revolution in Iraq in 1958, we don't know where it would have gone, but it could have been democratic. The US basically organized a coup.

Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh during a visit in the US in 1951, two years before the CIA's coup d'état that ousted him In internal discussions in 1958, which have since been declassified, President Eisenhower spoke about a campaign of hatred against us in the Arab world. Not from the governments, but from the people. The National Security Council's top planning body produced a memorandum – you can pick it up on the web now – in which they explained it. They said that the perception in the Arab world is that the United States blocks democracy and development and supports harsh dictators and we do it to get control over their oil. The memorandum said, this perception is more or less accurate and that's basically what we ought to be doing.

Q: That means that western democracies prevented the emergence of democracies in the Arab world?

Noam Chomsky: I won't run through the details, but yes, it continues that way to the present. There are constant democratic uprisings. They are crushed by the dictators we – mainly the US, Britain, and France – support. So sure, there is no democracy because you crush it all. You could have said the same about Latin America: a long series of dictators, brutal murderers. As long as the US controls the hemisphere, or Europe before it, there is no democracy, because it gets crushed.

Q: So you were not surprised at all by the Arab Spring?

Noam Chomsky: Well, I didn't really expect it. But there is a long background to it. Let's take Egypt for instance. You'll notice that the young people who organized the demonstrations on January 25th called themselves the April 6th movement. There is a reason for that. April 6th 2008 was supposed to be a major labour action in Egypt at the Mahalla textile complex, the big industrial centre: strikes, support demonstrations around the country and so on. It was all crushed by the dictatorship. Well, in the West we don't pay any attention: as long as dictatorships control people, what do we care!

"Efforts to create democracy": On 6 April 2008 Egyptian workers, primarily in the state-run textile industry, striked in response to low wages and rising food costs. Strikes were illegal in Egypt, and the protests were eventually crushed But in Egypt they remember, and that's only one in a long series of militant strike actions. Some of them succeeded. There are some good studies of this. There is one American scholar, Joel Beinen – he is at Stanford – he has done a lot of work on the Egyptian labour movement. And he has recent articles and earlier ones, in which he discusses labour struggles going on for a long time: those are efforts to create democracy.

Q: Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, claimed to cause a domino effect of freedom with his policy of the "New Middle East". Is there a relation between the uprisings in the Arab world to the policy of George W. Bush?

Noam Chomsky: The main theme of modern post-war history is the domino effect: Cuba, Brazil, Vietnam… Henry Kissinger compared it to a virus that might spread contagion. When he and Nixon were planning the overthrow of the democratically elected Allende in Chile – we have all the internal materials now – Kissinger in particular said, the Chilean virus might affect countries as far as Europe. Actually, he and Brezhnev agreed on that, they were both afraid of democracy and Kissinger said, we have to wipe out this virus. And they did, they crushed it.

Today it's similar. Both Bush and Obama are terrified of the Arab spring. And there is a very sensible reason for that. They don't want democracies in the Arab world. If Arab public opinion had any influence on policy, the US and Britain had been tossed out of the Middle East. That's why they are terrified of democracies in the region.

Q: The well-known British Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk recently stated that Obama and his policy is irrelevant for the developments in the region…

I read the article, it's very good. Robert Fisk is a terrific journalist and he really knows the region well. I think what he means is that the activists in the April 6th movement don't care about the United States. They have totally given up on the US. They know the United States is their enemy. In fact in public opinion in Egypt about 90 per cent think that the US is the worst threat that they face. In that sense the USA is of course not irrelevant. It's just too powerful.

Q: Some criticize the Arab intellectuals for being too silent, too passive. What should the role of the Arab intellectual be today?

Noam Chomsky: Intellectuals have a special responsibility. We call them intellectuals because they are privileged and not because they are smarter than anyone else. But if you are privileged and you have some status and you can be articulate and so on we call you an intellectual. And it's the same in the Arab world as anywhere else.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rabbi Lerner & Chomsky: Educate and Organize

substantial organization = move to a pretty radical stage of consciousness, and it could go on and on from there

organizing and educational efforts

public opinion can be organized

Rabbi Michael Lerner (ML): You have made many excellent analyses of the power of global capital and its capacity to undermine ordinary citizens' efforts to transform the global reality toward a more humane and generous world. If there were a serious movement in the U.S. ready to challenge global capital, what should such a movement do? Or is it, as many believe, hopeless, given the power of capital to control the media, undermine democratic movements, and use the police/military power and the co-optive power of mass entertainment, endless spectacle, and financial compensations for many of the smartest people coming up through working-class and middle-income routes? What path is rational for a movement seeking to build a world of environmental sanity, social justice, and peace, yet facing such a sophisticated, powerful, and well-organized social order?

Noam Chomsky (NC): There is no doubt that concentrated private capital closely linked to the state has substantial resources, but on the other hand we shouldn't overlook the fact that quite a bit has been achieved through public struggles in the U.S. over the years. In many respects this remains an unusually free country. The state has limited power to coerce, compared with many other countries, which is a very good thing. Many rights have been won, even in the past generation, and that provides a legacy from which we can move on. Struggling for freedom and justice has never been easy, but it has achieved progress; I don't think we should assume that there are any particular limits.

At the moment we can't realistically talk about challenging global capital, because the movements that might undertake such a task are far too scattered and atomized and focused on particular issues. But we can try to confront directly what global capital is doing right now and, on the basis of that, move on to further achievements. For example, it's no big secret that in the past thirty years there has been enormous concentration of wealth in a very tiny part of the population, 1 percent or even one-tenth of 1 percent, and that has conferred extraordinary political power on a very tiny minority, primarily [those who control] financial capital, but also more broadly on the executive and managerial classes. At the same time, for the majority of the population, incomes have pretty much stagnated, working hours have increased, benefits have declined — they were never very good — and people are angry, hostile, and very upset. Many people distrust institutions, all of them; it's a volatile period, and it's a period which could move in a very dangerous direction — there are analogues, after all — but it could also provide opportunities to educate and organize and carry things forward. One may have a long-term goal of confronting global capital, but there have to be small steps along the way before you could even think of undertaking a challenge of that magnitude in a realistic way.

ML: Do you see any strategy for overcoming the fragmentation that exists among social movements to help people recognize an overriding shared agenda?

NC: One failing of the social movements that I've noticed over many years is that while they are focusing on extremely crucial and important social issues like women's rights, environmental protections, and so on, they have tended to ignore or downplay the economic and social crises faced by working people. It's not that they are completely ignored, but they are downplayed. And that has to be overcome, and there are ways to do it. So, to take a concrete example right near where I live, right now there is a town near Boston where a multinational corporation is closing down a local plant because it's not profitable enough from the point of view of the multinational. Members of the workforce have offered to purchase the plant and the equipment, and the multinational doesn't want to do that; it would rather lose money than offer the opportunity for a worker self-managed plant that might well become successful. And the multinational has the power to do what it wants, of course. But sufficient popular support — community support, activist support, and so on — could swing the balance. Things like that are happening all over the country.

Take Obama's virtual takeover of the auto industry. There were several options at that point. One option, which the Obama administration chose, was to restore the old order, assist in the closing of plants, the shifting of production abroad and so on, and maybe get a functioning auto industry again. Another option would have been to take over those plants — plants that are being dismantled — and convert them to things that are very badly needed in the country, like high-speed rail — it's a scandal that the United States doesn't have this kind of infrastructure, which many other countries have developed. In fact at the very time that Obama was closing down plants in the Midwest, his transportation secretary was in Europe trying to get contracts from Spain for high-speed rail construction, which could have been done in those very plants that were being dismantled.

To move in the direction that I suggest would take substantial organization, community support, national support, and recognition that worker self-managed production aimed at real social needs is an option that can be pursued; if it is pursued, you move to a pretty radical stage of consciousness, and it could go on and on from there. Unfortunately, that was not even discussed.

ML: Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives have proposed the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the Constitution or ESRA [read it at spiritualprogressives.org/ESRA], which we think could potentially unite many segments of the liberal and progressive forces in this country. It starts with a first clause that essentially takes money out of national elections by forbidding private money in elections and requiring that they be funded by public sources. It overturns Citizens United, it requires the mass media to give equal and free time to all major candidates, and it bans any private advertising in the months before an election. It then goes on to the issues of corporate environmental and social responsibility and requires that any corporation with income above $100 million per year would have to get a new corporate charter once every five years; to get the charter, a corporation would have to prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens so as to avoid the control of regulatory agencies by the people they are supposed to be regulating.

I wonder if this kind of idea makes sense to you, not as something that is likely to pass but as something that is likely to frame an agenda that is potentially unifying and that does give people a concrete vision of what it might look like to get significant advances toward democratic control of the society and some semblance of responsibility from corporations.

NC: I think those are ideas that I would endorse. I'm sure that they can be used for organizing and education, but until those organizing and educational efforts reach a much higher plateau than anyone can envision today, the proposals are impossible to implement. So yes, as a platform for organizing and bringing people together, ideas of that kind make good sense, as do the kind I mentioned, and many others, but work has to be done.

ML: Dennis Kucinich has promised to introduce this into Congress. It's not something that we're expecting to have passed in this current Congress, but something that — if we can get them endorsed by local city councils and state legislatures — might raise the kinds of issues that right now are not even in the public sphere at all.

NC: It's a reasonable tactic, especially trying to implement it at the local level. There are things you can do with local councils, communities, and maybe someday state legislatures that aren't really feasible at the congressional level, and that is a way of building popular organizations.

Run a Progressive Candidate against Obama in 2012?

ML: Now in trying to find a way to bring together some of the forces that responded to what they believed to be a progressive candidacy in the Obama campaign of 2008, I wonder what you think of the notion of trying to create a progressive candidacy to oppose Obama in the 2012 Democratic primaries, and to use that effort to build a public face for a progressive opposition that could then split the Democrats and create a third party with a greater mass base than the Greens.

NC: You know, that's sort of a difficult tactical question. My own guess is that efforts that are undertaken at the national level make sense if they're connected to a program of local organizing. I think we're very far from being able to carry out large-scale changes at the national level.

You could see the limitations of a national campaign in the 2008 election. A tremendous amount of energy and excitement was generated, but it was clear from the beginning that it was going to head toward severe disillusionment because there was nothing real there — it was based on illusion. And when people dedicate themselves and work hard to try to bring about something that is illusory, there's going to be a negative effect, which in fact happened, so there's been tremendous disillusionment, apathy, pulling away, and so on.

Organize Locally, Defend Public Sector Unions

I think we should be careful to set realistic goals — they don't have to succeed, but if they fail, the failure itself can be used as a basis to go on, and that's not the case when you get involved in national electoral politics. So the kind of suggestion you make, I think it can be developed in such a way that would be constructive. But making clear that the real goal is the development of the kind of organization that can change things on the ground; it may ultimately have a national impact, but only when it's developed far beyond what it is right now.

It's not a great secret that the business classes in the United States, which are always fighting a bitter class war and are highly class-conscious, have been dedicated to destroying unions ever since the 1930s. And they've succeeded considerably in the private sphere, but not yet as successfully in the public sphere, and that's what's being targeted now: a major effort, a propaganda effort — the media are participating, both parties are involved — to try and undermine public unions. And that's one of the points on this attack on public working people, turning them into the criminals that were responsible for the fiscal crisis. Not Goldman Sachs, but the teachers and policemen and so on.

We just saw that take place in Washington a couple of months ago. There was a big issue — the great achievement of the lame-duck Congress was supposed to have been a bipartisan agreement on taxes. Well, the crucial issue there was whether to extend Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy. The population was strongly opposed to that, maybe two to one, but the Democrats and Obama, instead of making use of that fact to try to eliminate that huge tax break for the rich, went along with it.

At the same time, both parties were trying to outdo each other and screaming about the danger of the federal deficit, when the fact of the matter is that we ought to be having a deficit in a time of recession. It's an incredible propaganda achievement, for the Republicans particularly, to advocate a tax cut for the very wealthy that is extremely unpopular and that will of course substantially increase the deficit, and at the very same time present themselves as deficit hawks who are trying to protect future generations. But that's only part of it, because at the very same time, Obama declared a tax increase for federal workers — it was called a pay freeze, but a pay freeze for workers in the public sector is the same as a tax increase on those workers. So here, a lot of shouting about how we're cutting taxes and overcoming the deficit, and at the same time we're raising taxes on public-sector workers.

This is part of the large propaganda campaign to try to undermine the public sector: demonizing teachers, police, and firemen with all kinds of fabrications about how they are overpaid, when in fact they're underpaid relative to the skill levels in the private sector — denouncing their pensions and so on. These are major propaganda efforts, a kind of class war, and that ought to be combated, and I think that public opinion can be organized to combat it. Those are very concrete things that are happening right now, like the possibility of ending the closing down of factories and the mass suffering that it leads to, and turning that into something really radical: mainly worker self-managed production for human needs.

ML: Now, let's imagine that the things that you're saying, which right now are heard by a tiny percentage of the population, could be heard by virtue of somebody articulating them in a presidential primary against Obama — wouldn't that, in and of itself, be of value? Particularly if that person were going to simultaneously be saying, "and we can't expect to get the changes we want simply through the Democratic Party, so we need to use this campaign also to bring together people who are willing to continue this struggle as part of an organization that works both inside and outside the Democratic Party."

NC: I think that should be done. I don't know that one should necessarily take a strong stand on whether it should be a third party or change the Democratic Party — both are options. After all, the New Deal did succeed in changing the Democratic Party through the mechanism of popular activism.

ML: So you're not one of those on the left who say it's simply a poison to continue working inside the Democratic Party?

NC: I'm not coming out in favor of working inside the Democratic Party or opposing working inside the Democratic Party, I'm just saying I don't see a point in taking a strong stand on that question. If it can be done [inside the party], fine; if it can't be done, do it outside. In fact, it's a little bit like a standard progressive approach to reformist goals — the goal is to press institutional structures to their limits. If in fact they can't be pressed any further, and people understand that, then you have the basis for going onto something more far-reaching.

You Run. No, You Run.

ML: So knowing no one that has a better understanding of these dynamics than you, would you be willing to be a candidate for the presidency?

NC: I'm not the proper person to be a candidate. So personally, no, it's not the kind of thing I can do.

ML: Since you have the analysis and can articulate it so clearly, why would you not be a good candidate?

NC: In our system, a candidate has to be someone who is an orator, or someone with some charisma, someone who tries to arouse emotions. I don't do that, and, if I could do it, I wouldn't. I'm not the right kind of person.

ML: That might be just why you're the right person. The right kind of person is precisely the person who wouldn't want to do it.

NC: Well, you do it. Your writing is very, very good.

ML: Okay, thanks Noam.

[I've already stated publicly that I'll run the moment some group of wealthy people donate a billion dollars to that campaign so that we can hire organizers that would work on building a movement that grows out of the campaign and focuses on the environment, peace, social justice, economic democracy, human rights, and the New Bottom Line proposed by the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Until then, I'll continue to edit Tikkun; work on building the Network of Spiritual Progressives' campaigns for the ESRA and for a Global Marshall Plan; write books on theology, psychology, and social transformation; and spend time in prayer and meditation and celebration of the grandeur and mystery of the universe. And while Tikkun and the NSP don't participate in electoral politics (they are nonprofits banned from doing so), I personally have been reaching out to better-known figures like Bill Moyers, Marian Wright Edelman, Senator Bernie Sanders, Rachel Maddow, and former Congressman Joe Sestak in the hopes that they and others might join together in an effort to build that kind of electoral campaign in 2012.]

ML: Do you have any other strategic advice for those of us who are seeking a transformation of our system?

The Urgent Threats of Climate Change and Nuclear War

NC: I don't think there are any deep, dark secrets about this. There are many specific goals that we ought to be working hard to achieve; some of them are those that you've formulated in ESRA, others are the kind that I've mentioned.

Then there are others that are overwhelming in importance. For example, the looming global environmental crisis, which raises questions of species survival. It's very urgent right now. Even some in the business press over at Business Week are nervous about the fact that the new Republicans that were elected are almost entirely climate-change deniers. In fact they quoted one recently who may be gaining the chair of an important committee, who is so off-the-wall he said, "We don't have to worry about global warming because God wouldn't allow it to happen." I don't think there's another country in the world where a political figure can get away with that. Yet here there has been a major corporate propaganda offensive, quite openly announced, to try to convince people that the environmental crisis is a liberal hoax. And it's had some success, according to the latest polls. The percentage of Americans who believe in anthropogenic global warming, human effects on climate change, is down to about a third. This is an extremely dangerous situation: it's imminent; we have to do something about it right now.

There are other issues that deserve our immediate attention. The threat of nuclear war is very serious, and in fact is being increased by government policy. Right now one of the more interesting revelations from the WikiLeaks cables has to do with Pakistan: it's obvious from the cables that the U.S. ambassador is well aware that the actions that the Obama administration is taking with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasing a very serious threat to the stability of Pakistan itself, and are raising the possibility, not trivial, that the country might fall apart, and that its huge store of nuclear weapons might end up in the hands of radical Islamists. I know there's not a high probability, but it's conceivable, and what we're doing is accelerating that threat. Also, supporting India's huge nuclear weapons buildup and blocking efforts supported by almost the entire world to move toward a nuclear weapons-free zone in the extremely volatile Middle East region — those are issues of great importance.

So there are plenty of urgent tasks, they just require always the same thing: efforts to educate, to organize, to bring together the forces that are concerned and develop strategy and tactics and implement them. So supporting, say, gay rights in the military is important, but it has to be linked to other efforts if it is to have a significant effect on the society.

What Do We Do about Religiophobia?

ML: As a side question, we in the NSP and Tikkun have found that our positions and analyses — which are in some ways more radical (going to the root) than many of the programs that you hear coming out of the Left, because we do have a class analysis and we do have an analysis of global capitalism — are nevertheless not paid much attention by the rest of the Left because of what we've experienced as a pervasive religiophobia. And that has also been experienced by people like Jim Wallis and those involved with Sojourners, and people around the Christian Century, and other progressive religious organizations. And I'm wondering if you have any advice to us on how to overcome that religiophobia, since it seems ludicrous to us that a secular left would not understand that, in a country where you have 80 percent of the population believing in God and 60 percent going to church at least once a month, it would be in their interest to have a unification with people who have a spiritual or religious consciousness.

NC: I think you should approach them, not just on the pragmatic grounds that it's in their interest, but also on the grounds that it's the right thing to do. I mean, personally, I'm completely secular, but I certainly recognize the right of people to have personal religious beliefs and the significance that it may have in their lives, though not for me. Though we can certainly understand each other at least that well, quite apart from pragmatic considerations. I mean, say if a mother is praying that she might see her dying child in heaven, it's not my right to give her lectures on epistemology.

ML: But it's not just issues of epistemology, because there we could have a good debate; it's that there is a climate or a culture in the Left and the liberal arenas that simply assumes that anybody who would have a religious position must be intellectually underdeveloped or psychologically stuck, needing a father figure or scared of the unknown, or some other psychologically reductive analysis. That approach — a kind of ridicule of anybody who could possibly think that there was a spiritual dimension of reality, when it's pervasive, pushes people away even if they agree with much of the rest of what the Left is saying. How does one raise that issue? How does one deal with that issue among lefties who are simply unaware of the elitism and offensiveness of these suppositions? There was a time when it was extremely difficult to raise the issue of patriarchy, sexism, or homophobia, because people thought, "well that's ridiculous, it's just not true, it's not happening" — there was a huge level of denial. Do you have any advice for us on how to deal with that level of denial that exists in the culture of the Left? In my own study of this — I've done a rather extensive study of the psychodynamics of American society, which involved over 10,000 people — we found that this was a central issue for a lot of middle-income working people, who agreed with much of the Left's positions, but felt dissed by the Left.

NC: Well, the way you approach people is to explain to them that not only is it not in their interest to diss other people, but it's also morally and intellectually wrong. For example, one of the greatest dangers is secular religion — state worship. That's a far more destructive factor in world affairs than religious belief, and it's common on the Left. So you take a look at the very people who are passionately advocating struggling for atheism and repeating arguments that most of us understood when we were teenagers — those very same people are involved in highly destructive and murderous state worship, not all of them but some. Does that mean we should diss them? No, it means we should try to explain it to them.

Israel: U.S. Public Opinion Is Changing

ML: Let me ask you a little bit about Israel. Our standpoint is that Israel is headed for perpetual domination of the Palestinian people — a position that you recently articulated, that neither two-state nor one-state is likely to occur, but instead continuing domination. So, I'm asking you what strategies you suggest for those who are not satisfied with the organizations that advocate for peace, but do so in a way that frames the issues solely in terms of Israel's interests. Tikkun would have a much bigger impact in the Jewish world if, for example, we had been willing to denounce the Palestinians more, particularly during the second intifada, and if we were to frame our issues solely in terms of why it's irrational and self-destructive for Israel. But since we are committed to a different view — since we come from a religious perspective that every human being is created in the image of God and is equally deserving of care and support — we find it unconscionable to be quiet about the human pain and destructiveness that the Occupation of the West Bank and the transformation of Gaza into a huge prison camp has generated. Yet the Washington-based peace people and many (not all) among the secular Left in the Jewish world think that the smartest strategy is to downplay that issue and to play up only Israel's interest. Do you have any advice for us on how to champion the end of the Occupation and the end of the oppression of Palestinians, when weTikkun and the NSP — are unable to frame the issues solely in terms of self-interest for Israel but are morally obliged to raise those issues in terms of the suffering of Palestinians and the ethical dimensions, even though doing so seems to be counterproductive to building support in the Jewish world?

NC: Well, first of all I'm not at all convinced that it's counterproductive to building support — maybe among the existing Jewish institutions it is, but you're not going to influence the Zionist organizations. But especially among younger Jews, yours is a position that has growing appeal. I'm coming not from a religious perspective but from a secular one and doing exactly the same thing, and the changes I've experienced over the last couple of years are enormous. Critical analysis of Israeli policies is one of the most popular issues on campus now.

However, my own view is that the real issue for us is not what Israel is doing but what the United States is doing — it's in our hands to determine how this turns out. If the United States continues to lend completely uncritical support to the Israeli policies of expanding their control and domination, as is in fact happening, that's what will eventuate. But that can change. And it can change by bringing the American population — Jewish and non-Jewish — to recognize that these U.S. government policies are unacceptable and have to be reversed. If the U.S. were induced or compelled by popular opinion to join the world on this issue, and I thoroughly mean that, then there could be a short-term resolution — not the end of the story, but at least significant improvement — by at least moving to a two-state settlement stage and an ongoing longer process. I think that's quite realistic.

ML: And how do you imagine that change taking place? Given the constellation of forces right now in which this seems to be the only issue in which Democrats and Republicans are totally united, producing votes of 415 to 20 in support of crazy resolutions…

NC: You're speaking of Congress, but I think we should look at the population, which is by no means unified on this. In fact, the majority of the population favors the formation of a Palestinian state, and our goal should be to organize the population so that the popular will is expressed in state actions. This has happened in the past: it happened on South Africa. I mean, the Reagan administration was strongly supporting apartheid, condemning the ANC as a major terrorist organization, and within a couple of years it shifted. The same thing happened with East Timor — as major atrocities continued through 1999, the Clinton administration continued supporting the Indonesian atrocities strongly, and then, rather suddenly, under international and domestic pressure it shifted position.

ML: Yes, but neither of those countries had a significant section of this population here in the U.S. supporting the existing repressive regimes and committed to them on a deep personal and emotional level. Whereas here, while I agree that there is a growing split in the Jewish community on these issues and Tikkun reflects the perspective of a very large section of Jews under the age of fifty, I don't see a similar split among Christian Zionists, who represent a very large part of the population — much larger than the Jewish population, anyway.

NC: The Christian Right also supported apartheid. There are all kinds of differences, on the other hand, in the case of Israel-Palestine. By now there is a growing section inside the military and inside intelligence that is pulling for an end to U.S. support for Israeli intransigence because it's harming U.S. operations in the field. If that spreads to the population, it could lead to a major wave of anti-Semitism. There are lots of differences among the cases, but the point is that policies can change, and my own sense is that even within the Jewish community, younger Jews are drifting away because what Israel is doing is just intolerable to their general liberal attitudes; I think we should welcome that move and try to direct it toward changing U.S. policy.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Download 'The War You Don't See' PILGER documentary


John Pilger film banned by liberal US Lannan Foundation
Santa Fe : NM : USA | Jun 11, 2011

Pilger says in an open letter to Noam ChomskyNoam Chomsky:I am writing to you and a number of other friends mostly in the US to alert you to the extraordinary banning of my film on war and media, 'The War You Don't See', and the abrupt cancellation of a major event at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe in which David Barsamian and I were to discuss free speech, US foreign policy and censorship in the media.

Pilger went on: ""Lannan invited me and David over a year ago and welcomed my proposal that they also host the US premiere of 'The War You Don't See', in which US and British broadcasters describe the often hidden part played by the media in the promotion of war, notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film has been widely acclaimed in the UK and Australia; the trailer and reviews are on my website www.johnpilger.com ""

The banning and cancellation was on the personal orders of Patrick Lannan. It is his wealth that funds the foundation. The ban happened just 48 hours beofre Pilger and David Barsamian were to leave for Santa Fe. Just a few days before an official from the foundation said what a great honor it was to have Pilger attend. Neither Pilger nor Barsamian have had any explanation of why the event was cancelled.


Pilger concludes:""There is a compelling symbol of our extraordinary times in all of this. A rich and powerful individual and organisation, espousing freedom of speech, has moved ruthlessly and unaccountably to crush it.""

For more see the article linked at the top. There still is no explanation apprently as to why Pilger's film showing and talk were cancelled. The situatiion is most puzzling because Lannan is not known as someone who attempts to censor events. There must have been pressure from somewhere that was effective and at the last minute. The film certainly could be very embarassing to several governments including that of the U.S.

NOTE: I have uploaded part of the documentary that is on You Tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jmtMOr9oGo   first 10 minutes

with portuguese subtitles in seven parts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8t-2894rPU   part 5 of 7

full movie
other formats avi xvid divx qt mov etc please leave a comment

Palestine 1946 bis 2005

Palestine Is Still the Issue is a BAFTA-nominated 2002 Carlton Television documentary film, written and reported by John Pilger, and directed by Tony Stark, inspired by the book Drinking The Sea at Gaza by Amira Haas, in which John Pilger returns to the Middle East and questions why there has been no progress towards peace.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

BIN LADEN -- Chomsky responds (Full Article) version 22 May2011

There is Much More to Say
Noam Chomsky
ZNet, May 2011
After the assassination of bin Laden I received such a deluge of requests for comment that I was unable to respond individually, and on May 4 and later I sent an unedited form response instead, not intending for it to be posted, and expecting to write it up more fully and carefully later on. But it was posted, then circulated. -- see


That was followed but a deluge of reactions from all over the world. It is far from a scientific sample of course, but nevertheless, the tendencies may be of some interest. Overwhelmingly, those from the "third world" were on the order of "thanks for saying what we think." There were similar ones from the US, but many others were infuriated, often virtually hysterical, with almost no relation to the actual content of the posted form letter. That was true in particular of the posted or published responses brought to my attention. I have received a few requests to comment on several of these. Frankly, it seems to me superfluous. If there is any interest, I'll nevertheless find some time to do so.

The original letter ends with the comment that "There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about." Here I will fill in some of the gaps, leaving the original otherwise unchanged in all essentials.

Noam Chomsky

May 2011

On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in his virtually unprotected compound by a raiding mission of 79 Navy Seals, who entered Pakistan by helicopter. After many lurid stories were provided by the government and withdrawn, official reports made it increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion itself.

There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 79 commandos facing no opposition - except, they report, from his wife, also unarmed, who they shot in self-defense when she "lunged" at them (according to the White House).

A plausible reconstruction of the events is provided by veteran Middle East correspondent Yochi Dreazen and colleagues in the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/05/goal-was-never-to-capture-bin-laden/238330/). Dreazen, formerly the military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is senior correspondent for the National Journal Group covering military affairs and national security. According to their investigation, White House planning appears not to have considered the option of capturing OBL alive: "The administration had made clear to the military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive."

The authors add: "For many at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency who had spent nearly a decade hunting bin Laden, killing the militant was a necessary and justified act of vengeance." Furthermore, "Capturing bin Laden alive would have also presented the administration with an array of nettlesome legal and political challenges." Better, then, to assassinate him, dumping his body into the sea without the autopsy considered essential after a killing, whether considered justified or not – an act that predictably provoked both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.

As the Atlantic inquiry observes, "The decision to kill bin Laden outright was the clearest illustration to date of a little-noticed aspect of the Obama administration's counterterror policy. The Bush administration captured thousands of suspected militants and sent them to detention camps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration, by contrast, has focused on eliminating individual terrorists rather than attempting to take them alive." That is one significant difference between Bush and Obama. The authors quote former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who "told German TV that the U.S. raid was 'quite clearly a violation of international law' and that bin Laden should have been detained and put on trial," contrasting Schmidt with US Attorney General Eric Holder, who "defended the decision to kill bin Laden although he didn't pose an immediate threat to the Navy SEALs, telling a House panel on Tuesday that the assault had been 'lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way'."

The disposal of the body without autopsy was also criticized by allies. The highly regarded British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who supported the intervention and opposed the execution largely on pragmatic grounds, nevertheless described Obama's claim that "justice was done" as an "absurdity" that should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law ( http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-03/osama-bin-laden-death-why-he-should-have-been-captured-not-killed/ ). Pakistan law "requires a colonial inquest on violent death, and international human rights law insists that the 'right to life' mandates an inquiry whenever violent death occurs from government or police action. The U.S. is therefore under a duty to hold an inquiry that will satisfy the world as to the true circumstances of this killing." Robertson adds that "The law permits criminals to be shot in self-defense if they (or their accomplices) resist arrest in ways that endanger those striving to apprehend them. They should, if possible, be given the opportunity to surrender, but even if they do not come out with their hands up, they must be taken alive if that can be achieved without risk. Exactly how bin Laden came to be 'shot in the head' (especially if it was the back of his head, execution-style) therefore requires explanation. Why a hasty 'burial at sea' without a post mortem, as the law requires?"

Robertson attributes the murder to "America's obsessive belief in capital punishment—alone among advanced nations—[which] is reflected in its rejoicing at the manner of bin Laden's demise." For example, Nation columnist Eric Alterman writes that "The killing of Osama bin Laden was a just and necessary undertaking."

Robertson usefully reminds us that "It was not always thus. When the time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness than Osama bin Laden -- namely the Nazi leadership -- the British government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture. President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert Jackson that summary execution 'would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride…the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear'."

The editors of the Daily Beast comment that "The joy is understandable, but to many outsiders, unattractive. It endorses what looks increasingly like a cold-blooded assassination as the White House is now forced to admit that Osama bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot twice in the head."

In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress "suspects." In June 2002, FBI head Robert Mueller, in what the Washington Post described as "among his most detailed public comments on the origins of the attacks," could say only that "investigators believe the idea of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon came from al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, the actual plotting was done in Germany, and the financing came through the United Arab Emirates from sources in Afghanistan…. We think the masterminds of it were in Afghanistan, high in the al Qaeda leadership." What the FBI believed and thought in June 2002 they didn't know eight months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence. Thus it is not true, as the President claimed in his White House statement, that "We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda."

There has never been any reason to doubt what the FBI believed in mid-2002, but that leaves us far from the proof of guilt required in civilized societies – and whatever the evidence might be, it does not warrant murdering a suspect who could, it seems, have been easily apprehended and brought to trial. Much the same is true of evidence provided since. Thus the 9/11 Commission provided extensive circumstantial evidence of bin Laden's role in 9/11, based primarily on what it had been told about confessions by prisoners in Guantanamo. It is doubtful that much of that would hold up in an independent court, considering the ways confessions were elicited. But in any event, the conclusions of a congressionally authorized investigation, however convincing one finds them, plainly fall short of a sentence by a credible court, which is what shifts the category of the accused from suspect to convicted. There is much talk of bin Laden's "confession," but that was a boast, not a confession, with as much credibility as my "confession" that I won the Boston marathon. The boast tells us a lot about his character, but nothing about his responsibility for what he regarded as a great achievement, for which he wanted to take credit.

Again, all of this is, transparently, quite independent of one's judgments about his responsibility, which seemed clear immediately, even before the FBI inquiry, and still does.

It is worth adding that bin Laden's responsibility was recognized in much of the Muslim world, and condemned. One significant example is the distinguished Lebanese cleric Sheikh Fadlallah, greatly respected by Hizbollah and Shia groups generally, outside Lebanon as well. He too had been targeted for assassination: by a truck bomb outside a mosque, in a CIA-organized operation in 1985. He escaped, but 80 others were killed, mostly women and girls, as they left the mosque – one of those innumerable crimes that do not enter the annals of terror because of the fallacy of "wrong agency." Sheikh Fadlallah sharply condemned the 9/11 attacks, as did many other leading figures in the Muslim world, within the Jihadi movement as well. Among others, the head of Hizbollah, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, sharply condemned bin Laden and Jihadi ideology.

One of the leading specialists on the Jihadi movement, Fawaz Gerges, suggests that the movement might have been split at that time had the US exploited the opportunity instead of mobilizing the movement, particularly by the attack on Iraq, a great boon to bin Laden, which led to a sharp increase in terror, as intelligence agencies had anticipated. That conclusion was confirmed by the former head of Britain's domestic intelligence agency MI5 at the Chilcot hearings investigating the background for the war. Confirming other analyses, she testified that both British and US intelligence were aware that Saddam posed no serious threat and that the invasion was likely to increase terror; and that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had radicalized parts of a generation of Muslims who saw the military actions as an "attack on Islam." As is often the case, security was not a high priority for state action.

It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he is not a "suspect" but the "decider" who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the "supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: in Iraq, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and the national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.

To say that all of this is uncontroversial, as it is, is not to imply that it is not denied. The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat. Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Stalin and Hitler were responsible for horrendous crimes, though loyalists deny it. All of this should, again, be too obvious for comment, and would be, except in an atmosphere of hysteria so extreme that it blocks rational thought.

Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Bush and associates did commit the "supreme international crime," the crime of aggression, at least if we take the Nuremberg Tribunal seriously. The crime of aggression was defined clearly enough by Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States at Nuremberg, reiterated in an authoritative General Assembly resolution. An "aggressor," Jackson proposed to the Tribunal in his opening statement, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as "Invasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State…." No one, even the most extreme supporter of the aggression, denies that Bush and associates did just that.

We might also do well to recall Jackson's eloquent words at Nuremberg on the principle of universality: "If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us." And elsewhere: "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well."

It is also clear that alleged intentions are irrelevant. Japanese fascists apparently did believe that by ravaging China they were laboring to turn it into an "earthly paradise." We don't know whether Hitler believed that he was defending Germany from the "wild terror" of the Poles, or was taking over Czechoslovakia to protect its population from ethnic conflict and provide them with the benefits of a superior culture, or was saving the glories of the civilization of the Greeks from barbarians of East and West, as his acolytes claimed (Martin Heidegger). And it's even conceivable that Bush and company believed that they were protecting the world from destruction by Saddam's nuclear weapons. All irrelevant, though ardent loyalists on all sides may try to convince themselves otherwise.

We are left with two choices: either Bush and associates are guilty of the "supreme international crime" including all the evils that follow, crimes that go vastly beyond anything attributed to bin Laden; or else we declare that the Nuremberg proceedings were a farce and that the allies were guilty of judicial murder. Again, that is entirely independent of the question of the guilt of those charged: established by the Nuremberg Tribunal in the case of the Nazi criminals, plausibly surmised from the outset in the case of bin Laden.

A few days before the bin Laden assassination, Orlando Bosch died peacefully in Florida, where he resided along with his terrorist accomplice Luis Posada Carilles, and many others. After he was accused of dozens of terrorist crimes by the FBI, Bosch was granted a presidential pardon by Bush I over the objections of the Justice Department, which found the conclusion "inescapable that it would be prejudicial to the public interest for the United States to provide a safe haven for Bosch. "The coincidence of deaths at once calls to mind the Bush II doctrine, which has "already become a de facto rule of international relations," according to the noted Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison. The doctrine revokes "the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists," Allison writes, referring to the pronouncement of Bush II that "those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves," directed to the Taliban. Such states, therefore, have lost their sovereignty and are fit targets for bombing and terror; for example, the state that harbored Bosch and his associate -- not to mention some rather more significant candidates. When Bush issued this new "de facto rule of international relations," no one seemed to notice that he was calling for invasion and destruction of the US and murder of its criminal presidents.

None of this is problematic, of course, if we reject Justice Jackson's principle of universality, and adopt instead the principle that the US is self-immunized against international law and conventions -- as, in fact, the government has frequently made very clear, an important fact, much too little understood.

It is also worth thinking about the name given to the operation: Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound that few seem able to perceive that the White House is glorifying bin Laden by calling him "Geronimo" -- the leader of courageous resistance to the invaders who sought to consign his people to the fate of "that hapless race of native Americans, which we are exterminating with such merciless and perfidious cruelty, among the heinous sins of this nation, for which I believe God will one day bring [it] to judgement," in the words of the great grand strategist John Quincy Adams, the intellectual architect of manifest destiny, long after his own contributions to these sins had passed. Some did comprehend, not surprisingly. The remnants of that hapless race protested vigorously. Choice of the name is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Blackhawk. Tomahawk,… We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes "Jew" and "Gypsy".

The examples mentioned would fall under the category "American exceptionalism," were it not for the fact that easy suppression of one's own crimes is virtually ubiquitous among powerful states, at least those that are not defeated and forced to acknowledge reality. Other current illustrations are too numerous to mention. To take just one, of great current significance, consider Obama's terror weapons (drones) in Pakistan. Suppose that during the 1980s, when they were occupying Afghanistan, the Russians had carried out targeted assassinations in Pakistan aimed at those who were financing, arming and training the insurgents – quite proudly and openly. For example, targeting the CIA station chief in Islamabad, who explained that he "loved" the "noble goal" of his mission: to "kill Soviet Soldiers…not to liberate Afghanistan." There is no need to imagine the reaction, but there is a crucial distinction: that was them, this is us.

What are the likely consequences of the killing of bin Laden? For the Arab world, it will probably mean little. He had long been a fading presence, and in the past few months was eclipsed by the Arab Spring. His significance in the Arab world is captured by the headline in the New York Times for an op-ed by Middle East/al Qaeda specialist Gilles Kepel; "Bin Laden was Dead Already." Kepel writes that few in the Arab world are likely to care. That headline might have been dated far earlier, had the US not mobilized the Jihadi movement by the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, as suggested by the intelligence agencies and scholarship. As for the Jihadi movement, within it bin Laden was doubtless a venerated symbol, but apparently did not play much more of a role for this "network of networks," as analysts call it, which undertake mostly independent operations.

The most immediate and significant consequences are likely to be in Pakistan. There is much discussion of Washington's anger that Pakistan didn't turn over bin Laden. Less is said about the fury in Pakistan that the US invaded their territory to carry out a political assassination. Anti-American fervor had already reached a very high peak in Pakistan, and these events are likely to exacerbate it.

Pakistan is the most dangerous country on earth, also the world's fastest growing nuclear power, with a huge arsenal. It is held together by one stable institution, the military. One of the leading specialists on Pakistan and its military, Anatol Lieven, writes that "if the US ever put Pakistani soldiers in a position where they felt that honour and patriotism required them to fight America, many would be very glad to do so." And if Pakistan collapsed, an "absolutely inevitable result would be the flow of large numbers of highly trained ex-soldiers, including explosive experts and engineers, to extremist groups." That is the primary threat he sees of leakage of fissile materials to Jihadi hands, a horrendous eventuality.

The Pakistani military have already been pushed to the edge by US attacks on Pakistani sovereignty. One factor is the drone attacks in Pakistan that Obama escalated immediately after the killing of bin Laden, rubbing salt in the wounds. But there is much more, including the demand that the Pakistani military cooperate in the US war against the Afghan Taliban, whom the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, the military included, see as fighting a just war of resistance against an invading army, according to Lieven.

The bin Laden operation could have been the spark that set off a conflagration, with dire consequences, particularly if the invading force had been compelled to fight its way out, as was anticipated. Perhaps the assassination was perceived as an "act of vengeance," as Robertson concludes. Whatever the motive was, it could hardly have been security. As in the case of the "supreme international crime" in Iraq, the bin Laden assassination illustrates that security is often not a high priority for state action, contrary to received doctrine.

There is much more to say, but even the most obvious and elementary facts should provide us with a good deal to think about.

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Chomsky and linkks to real info about Sri Lanka

Paradigm hub is Sri Lanka: Jaffna academic responds to Chomsky

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 June 2011, 00:23 GMT]

"The U.S. and its allies are not going to want governments which are
responsive to the will of the people. If that happens, not only will
the U.S. not control the region, but it will be thrown out," said
renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky, addressing 25th anniversary of
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), last month and commenting
on the US response to popular uprisings in West Asia and North Africa.
Responding, a Political Science academic in Jaffna said that even the
progressive Western intellectuals, in their preoccupation with the
Islamic World, pay little attention to more dangerous happenings in
the island of Sri Lanka, where not only the US and its allies but all
the powers in their greed to grab the island as a whole, set a new
world record in collectively upholding genocide and extermination of a
nation as means of 'stability' of their interests.

Prof Noam Chomsky

"The U.S. and its allies will do anything they can to prevent
authentic democracy in the Arab world. The reason is very simple.
Across the region, an overwhelming majority of the population regards
the United States as the main threat to their interests," Chomsky said
at the FAIR silver jubilee, reported Amy Goodman in Democracy Now, May

"Stability is—it's kind of like democracy. Stability means conformity
to our interests. […] Instability is when anyone gets in the way," is
what stability of a state means to the powers, Chomsky said.

"You check history, virtually every resort to force, by whoever it is,
is accompanied by the most noble rhetoric. It's all completely
humanitarian. That includes Hitler taking over Czechoslovakia, the
Japanese fascists rampaging in northeast China. In fact, it's
Mussolini in Ethiopia. There's hardly any exception. So you produce
that, and the media and commentators present—pretend they don't notice
that it has no—carries no information, because it's reflexive," he
further said.

On the US and allies promoting dictators, Chomsky said: "When there's
a favoured dictator and he's getting into trouble, support him as long
as possible, full support as long as possible. When it becomes
impossible to support him—like, say, maybe the army turns against him,
business class turns against him—then send him off somewhere, issue
ringing declarations about your love of democracy, and then try to
restore the old regime, maybe with new names. And that's done over and
over again."

"If the dictators support us, and the population is under control,
then what's the problem? This is like imperialism. What's the problem
if it works? As long as they can control their populations, fine. They
can have campaigns of hatred; our friendly dictators will keep them
under control. That's the reaction not just of the diplomatic service
in the [US] State Department or of the media who reported this, but
also of the general intellectual community," Chomsky said commenting
on US media's zero coverage of polls and democratic opinion in West
Asia, adding that "There's a few comments in England, but very little.
It just doesn't matter what the population thinks, as long as they're
under control."

Precisely this was the language of India's extra-parliamentary policy
maker and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who implied
sometimes back that why should the people of Tamil Nadu make any
qualms if the 'home-made solutions' of Rajapaksa could succeed in
silencing the Eezham Tamils, commented the academic in Jaffna.

The people of Tamil Nadu came out with extraordinary mass response in
the polls. But media and state in India down play it. Now there is
also disappointment in grass-root political circles of Tamil Nadu that
the Governor's Speech in Tamil Nadu didn't reflect the expectations of
the masses on the core issue, the Jaffna academic said, adding that
the trend was set when the world intelligentsia was hardly moved when
the entire Eezham Tamil diaspora went to streets, during the genocidal

Chomsky in his speech, while listing examples of the US manoeuvrings,
covered not only West Asia and North Africa, but also touched
Nicaragua, Philippines, Haiti, South Korea, Romania and Indonesia.

But he had no reference to what the US did and is doing in the island
of Sri Lanka, from setting the stage for a world-mobilised genocide to
adamantly upholding militarization and 'genocidal unity' of the
island, the Tamil academic pointed out.

Last month, while giving an interview to Norwegian Council of Eezham
Tamils, and advising Tamils to press the USA, UK and France to
negotiate with China and Russia to find a solution for their national
question, Vidar Helgesen of the Stockholm-based International
Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance said that "a dilemma
for Tamils is that Sri Lanka is not always on the top of the agenda as
the world is full of burning issues."

Mr. Helgesen was the highest ranking Norwegian diplomat who headed the
Norwegian facilitated peace process in its initial years.

The world intelligentsia is making a grave mistake in failing to
recognize the island of Sri Lanka as a hub, and this failure is
effectively made use of by the powers to imperceptibly set a dangerous
paradigm to be implemented in densely populated Asia and elsewhere.
The backbone of this all-power conspiracy conceived by some
individuals behind the establishments has to be broken in the specific
case of Sri Lanka, if the world has to be relived of such dangerous
paradigms, commented the Jaffna academic.

Unfortunately the Eezham Tamils in the USA itself don't raise the
issues where they have to be raised, even when an Asst. Secretary of
State who misled his government over the course of the war in Vanni
continues to handle the affairs and a US defence attaché makes a
mockery of the US boycott of genocidal Sri Lanka's military conference
by participating the conference, the Jaffna academic further said.

more about sri lanka








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posted by u2r2h at 3:17 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bin Laden PsyOp - Chomsky reflects on his country's motives

The Revenge Killing of Osama bin Laden

By Noam Chomsky

The May 1 U.S. attack on Osama bin Laden's compound violated multiple
elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion of
Pakistani territory.

There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim,
as presumably could have been done by the 79 commandos facing almost
no opposition.

President Obama announced that "justice has been done." Many did not
agree -- even close allies.

British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who generally supported the
operation, nevertheless described Obama's claim as an "absurdity" that
should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law.

Pakistani and international law require inquiry "whenever violent
death occurs from government or police action," Robertson points out.
Obama undercut that possibility with a "hasty `burial at sea' without
a post mortem, as the law requires."

"It was not always thus," Robertson usefully reminds us, "When the
time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness
than Osama bin Laden -- namely the Nazi leadership -- the British
government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture.

"President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert
Jackson (chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial) that summary
execution `would not sit easily on the American conscience or be
remembered by our children with pride … the only course is to
determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as
dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will
leave our reasons and motives clear."'

Another perspective on the attack comes in a report in The Atlantic by
veteran Middle East and military correspondent Yochi Dreazen and
colleagues. Citing a "senior U.S. official," they conclude that the
bin Laden killing was a planned assassination.

"For many at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency who had
spent nearly a decade hunting bin Laden, killing the militant was a
necessary and justified act of vengeance," they write.

Furthermore, "capturing bin Laden alive would have also presented the
administration with an array of nettlesome legal and political

They quote former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who commented
that "the U.S. raid was `quite clearly a violation of international
law' and that bin Laden should have been detained and put on trial."

They contrast Schmidt with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who
"defended the decision to kill bin Laden although he didn't pose an
immediate threat to the Navy SEALs," and testified to Congress that
the assault had been "lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every

They observe further that the assassination is "the clearest
illustration to date" of a crucial distinction between the Bush and
Obama counterterror policies. Bush captured suspects and sent them to
Guantanamo and other camps, with consequences now well known. Obama's
policy is to kill suspects (along with "collateral damage").

The roots of the revenge killing are deep. In the immediate aftermath
of 9/11, the American desire for vengeance displaced concern for law
or security.

In his book, "The Far Enemy," Fawaz Gerges, a leading academic
specialist on the jihadi movement, found that "the dominant response
by jihadis to Sept. 11 is an explicit rejection of al-Qaida and total
opposition to the internationalization of jihad … Al-Qaida united all
social forces (in the Muslim world) against its global jihad."

The influential Lebanese cleric Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah
sharply condemned al-Qaida's 9/11 atrocities on principled grounds.
"We must not punish individuals who have no relationship with the
American administration or even those who have an indirect role," he

Fadlallah was the target of a CIA-organized assassination operation in
1985, a huge truck bomb placed outside a mosque. He escaped, but 80
others were killed, mostly women and girls, as they left the mosque
-- one of those innumerable crimes that don't enter the annals of

Subsequent U.S. actions, particularly the invasion of Iraq, gave new
life to al-Qaida.

What are the likely consequences of the killing of bin Laden? For the
Arab world, it will probably mean little. He had long been a fading
presence, and in the past few months was eclipsed by the Arab Spring.

A fairly general perception in the Arab world is captured by the
headline in a Lebanese newspaper: "The execution of bin Laden: A
settling of accounts between killers."

The most immediate and significant consequences are likely to be seen
in Pakistan. There is much discussion of Washington's anger that
Pakistan didn't turn over bin Laden. Less is said about the fury in
Pakistan that the U.S. invaded their territory to carry out a
political assassination.

Pakistan is the most dangerous country on Earth, with the
fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. The revenge killing on Pakistani soil
only stoked the anti-American fervor that had long been building.

In his new book, Pakistan: A Hard Country, Anatol Lieven writes that
"if the U.S. ever put Pakistani soldiers in a position where they felt
that honor and patriotism required them to fight America, many would
be very glad to do so."

And if Pakistan collapsed, an "absolutely inevitable result would be
the flow of large numbers of highly trained ex-soldiers, including
explosive experts and engineers, to extremist groups."

The primary threat is leakage of fissile materials to jihadi hands, a
horrendous eventuality.

The Pakistani military has already been pushed to the edge by U.S.
attacks on Pakistani sovereignty. One factor is the drone attacks in
Pakistan that Obama escalated immediately after the killing of bin
Laden, rubbing salt in the wounds.

But there is much more, including the demand that the Pakistani
military cooperate in the U.S. war against the Afghan Taliban. The
overwhelming majority of Pakistanis see the Taliban as fighting a just
war of resistance against an invading army, according to Lieven.

The killing of bin Laden could have been the spark that set off a
conflagration, with dire consequences, particularly if the invading
force had been compelled to fight its way out, as was anticipated.

Perhaps the assassination was perceived as an "act of vengeance," as
Robertson concludes. Whatever the motive, it could hardly have been

© New York Times News Service/Syndicate

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posted by u2r2h at 5:08 AM 0 comments