Opposed Vietnam War, but TV only covered sound bites
Major-party candidates can speak in short paragraphs of conclusions because what they are saying people have heard again and again within the retread regions of political rhetoric.
I recall MIT professor Noam Chomsky, when asked why he would not go on television during the Vietnam War to convey his pronounced views on that conflict.
Sound bites favor the status quo, he said. A pro-Vietnam person can simply say, "Peace through strength." In contrast, Chomsky would have to lay down some predicates to explain his antiwar position.
Time allotted would be less than 10 seconds on an evening news program, and even a 3-minute segment of question-and-answer would not suffice.
1966: protests against Vietnam met with extreme hostility
Q: Can you describe a little bit about how you became an activist?
A: Things began to heat up again in the early 1960s. By the time the beginnings of the Vietnam War were coming along, it was just impossible not to become involved.
Q: And during
those early years, what was the response to the work that you were doing?
A: Mostly it was total incomprehension. Through the early 1960s, you couldn't get anybody to sign a petition. By 1965 or 1966, Vietnam was becoming a big issue.
But protests were met with extreme hostility. Take Boston, right here. This is a pretty liberal city, but we couldn't have public protests against the war. They would be violently broken up. The speakers would be saved from being murdered only by
hundreds of state police. And the attack on the protesters would be praised in the liberal media. It was considered right. It wasn't until late 1966 that there was enough of a change for you to see substantial public opposition.
Humanitarian intervention in Kosovo is euphemism for war
Q: The 1999 "humanitarian intervention" in Kosovo-- the US never used the word "war"?
A: The bombing of Serbia was called a "humanitarian intervention", by no means a novel usage. That was a standard description of European imperialist ventures in the
19th century. To cite some more recent examples, the major recent scholarly work on "humanitarian intervention" in the immediate pre-WWII period: Japan's invasion of Manchuria, Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, and Hitler's takeover of the Sudetenland.
The author is not suggesting that the term is apt; rather, that the crimes were masked as "humanitarian."
Whether the Kosovo intervention indeed was "humanitarian," possibly the first such case in history, is a matter of fact: passionate declaration
does not suffice, if only because virtually every use of force is justified in these terms. It is quite extraordinary how weak the arguments are to justify the claim of humanitarian intent in the Kosovo case; more accurately, they scarcely exist.
CIA trained Islamist fundamentalists in Afghanistan
Q: Your views on the role of American intelligence service in 9/11?
A: This attack was surely an enormous shock and surprise to the intelligence services of the West, including those of the US. The CIA did have a role, a major one in fact, but that was
in the 1980s, when it joined Pakistani intelligence and others (Saudi Arabia, Britain, etc.) in recruiting, training, and arming the most extreme Islamic fundamentalists it could find to fight a "Holy War" against the Russian invaders of Afghanistan.
There is now, predictably, an effort under way to clean up the record and pretend that the US was an innocent bystander. After that war was over, the "Afghans" (many, like bin Laden, not Afghans), turned their attention elsewhere: for example, to
Chechnya and Bosnia, where they may have received at least tacit US support. Not surprisingly, they were welcomed by the governments; in Bosnia, many Islamic volunteers were granted citizenship in gratitude for their military services.
Use international court system & UN for grievances, not war
[In the 1980s, Nicaragua] went to the World Court, which ruled in their favor, ordering the US to desist [mining their harbors] and pay substantial reparations. The US dismissed the court judgment with contempt, responding with an immediate escalation of
the attack [supporting the Contras]. So Nicaragua then went to the UN Security Council with a resolution calling on states to observe international law. The US alone vetoed it. That's the way a state should proceed. Those are the measures the US could
pursue [instead of a War on Terror, bombing the Mideast]. And nobody's going to block it. That's what they're being asked to do by people throughout the region, including their allies.
That is the course one follows if the intention is to reduce the
probability of further atrocities. There is another course: react with extreme violence, and expect to escalate the cycle of violence, leading to still further atrocities such as the one that is inciting the call for revenge. The dynamic is very familiar
US's low-level conflict is indistinguishable from terrorism
The US is officially committed to what is called "low-intensity warfare." That's the official doctrine. If you read the standard definitions of low-intensity conflict and compare them with official definitions of "terrorism" in army manuals, or the
US Code, you find they're almost the same. Terrorism is the use of coercive means aimed at civilian populations in an effort to achieve political, religious, and other aims. That's what the World Trade Center attack was, a particularly horrifying
Terrorism, according to the official definitions, is simply part of state action, official doctrine, and not just that of the US, of course. It is not, as is often claimed, "the weapon of the weak."
Furthermore, all of these things
should be well known. It's shameful that they're not. These are things people need to know if they want to understand anything about themselves. They are known by the victims, of course, but the perpetrators prefer to look elsewhere.
US pressured allies to join in war against Nicaragua
[Military actions by the US against Nicaragua] were widely approved. Even more dramatically, the idea that Nicaragua should have the right to defend itself was considered outrageous across the mainstream political spectrum in the US. The US pressured
allies to stop providing Nicaragua with arms, hoping that it would turn to Russia, as it did; that provides the right propaganda images. The Reagan administration repeatedly floated rumors that Nicaragua was receiving jet fighters from Russia--to protect
its airspace, as everyone knew, and to prevent US terrorist attacks against "soft targets." The rumors were false, but the reaction was instructive. The doves questioned the rumors, but said that if they are true, of course we must bomb Nicaragua,
because it will be a threat to our security. There was scarcely a hint that Nicaragua had the right to defend itself. That tells us quite a lot about the deep-seated "culture of terrorism" that prevails in Western civilization.
Q: Do you expect [Sept.11] to profoundly change US policy?
A: Bin Laden and others like him are praying for “a great assault on Muslim states,” which will cause “fanatics to flock to his cause.” The escalating cycle of violence is typically welcomed by
the harshest and most brutal elements on both sides.
The initial response was to call for intensifying the policies that led to the terrorist attack: increased militarization, domestic regimentation, attack on social programs. Terror attacks, and the
escalating cycle of violence they often engender, tend to reinforce the authority and prestige of the most harsh and repressive elements of a society.
If the rich and powerful choose to keep to their traditions of hundreds of years and resort to
extreme violence, they will contribute to the escalation of a cycle of violence. Of course, that is by no means inevitable. An aroused public within the more free & democratic societies can direct policies towards a much more humane and honorable course.
Source: Interview on Radio B92, Belgrade
, Sep 18, 2001
Nicaragua: US destroyed Sandanistas & real hope for reform
The hatred that was elicited by the Sandanistas for trying to direct resources to the poor (and even succeeding at it) [was the basis for] the US launching a three-fold attack against Nicaragua.
We exerted extreme pressure to compel the World
Bank to terminate all projects and assistance.
We launched the contra war along with an illegal economic war to terminate what Oxfam rightly called “the threat of a good example.”
We used diplomatic fakery to crush Nicaragua. The US virutally
tripled CIA supply flights to the contras, and within a few months the peace plan and [a fair] election campaign were totally dead.
US achievements in Central America in the past 15 years are a major tragedy, not just because of the appalling human
cost, but because a decade ago there were prospects for real progress toward meaningful democracy and meeting human needs. These efforts might have worked and might have taught useful lessons-which if course was exactly what US planners feared.
Vietnam War about destroying “virus” of independence from US
Ho Chi Minh led the national movement of Vietnam. There was fear in the US that the Viet Minh might succeed, in which case “the rot would spread” and the “virus” would “infect” the region, to adopt the language the planners used year after year.
What do you do when you have a virus? First you destroy it, then you inoculate potential victims, so that the disease does not spread. That’s basically the US strategy in the Third World. If possible, it’s advisable to have the local military destroy the
virus for you. If they can’t, you have to move your own forces in. Vietnam was one of those places where we had to do it.
Right into the late 1960s, the US blocked all attempts at political settlement of the conflict, even those advanced by Saigon
generals. If there were a political settlement, there might be progress toward successful development outside our influence-an unacceptable outcome.
The US did achieve its major objective in Indochina. Our basic goal was to destroy the virus.
Panama: Noriega’s crime was independence, not drugs
The US government knew that Noriega was involved in drug trafficking since 1972. But he stayed on the CIA payroll. Yet, when Noriega was finally indicted in 1988, all the charges except one were related to activities that took place before 1984-
back when he was our boy, helping with the US war against Nicaragua, stealing elections and generally serving US interests.
It’s all predictable. A tyrant crosses the line from friend to villain when he commits the crime of independence.
One mistake is to go beyond robbing the poor and to start interfering with the privileged. By the mid-1980s, Noriega was guilty of these crimes. He seems to have been dragging his feet about helping the US in the contra war.
His independence also threatened our interests in the Panama Canal. Since we could no longer trust Noriega to do our bidding, he had to go.
Take the term peace process. The naive might think that it refers to efforts to seek peace.
Under this meaning, we would say that the peace process in the Middle East includes the offer of a full peace treaty to Israel by Sadat of Egypt, along lines advocated by the entire world, including official US policy;
the Security Council resolution of January, 1976 introduced by major Arab states with the backing of the PLO, which called for a two state-settlement; PLO offers to negotiate with Israel for mutual recognition; and annual votes at the UN General Assembly
calling for an international conference on the problem.
The peace process is restricted to US initiatives, which call for a unilateral US-determined settlement with no recognition of Palestinian rights. That’s the way it works.
No-nuke zone in Middle East would end military aid to Israel
There is a straightforward way to end any imagined Iranian nuclear threat: establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, with adequate inspections. The idea was proposed decades ago by the Arab states. It is strongly supported by Iran,
G-77, and virtually every other country, but is regularly vetoed by the United States. It would mean acknowledging the existence of Israel's huge nuclear weapons arsenal - which would render military aid to Israel illegal under US law.
Source: Harrison Samphir interview in Jacobin magazine
, Jul 12, 2019
Iraq War was first war where massive protest preceded war
The protests against the Iraq War were historically totally unique. I think it's the first war in history where there was massive protest before the war was officially launched. I can't think of a case where that ever happened.
And it's claimed that the protests had no effect, but I don't think that's true. It should have gone on. Unfortunately, it reduced, and that allowed more leeway for aggression.
Source: Occupied Media, by Noam Chomsky, p. 93
, May 1, 2012
Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections
Despite the harsh US-Israeli punishment of Gaza, and flooding the West Bank's Fatah-led government with a diplomatic and economic support to persuade Palestinians in both territories to embrace Fatah and isolate Hamas, the opposite is happening: Hamas's
popularity is increasing in the West Bank. Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006, prompting the Israeli government and the Bush administration to lead a world-wide boycott of the Palestinian Authority. The goal, unconcealed, is to punish the miscreants
who fail to grasp the essential principle of democracy: Do what we say, or else.
It is important not to overlook the fact that the US-Israel operate is tandem. Israel relies crucially on US military, economic, diplomatic, and ideological support.
It will proceed as far as the US allows. Its criminal actions are US crimes.
In response to the unfortunate free elections of Jan. 2006, US-Israeli punishment of the people of Gaza is sharply increased, peaking with many killing in early June.
Iranian nukes are recognized as their right by most of world
The goal of a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone has been endorsed by Iran, and is supported by a large majority of Americans and Iranians. It is, however, dismissed by the US government and both political parties, and it is hard to find even a mentio
in mainstream discussion despite the intense focus on the alleged threat of Iranian nuclear weapons program. The developing countries (G-77, now more than 130), agree that Iran has the "inalienable rights" of all parties to the Non-Proliferation
Treaty "to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination," rights that would also extend to US allies Israel, Pakistan, and India were they to accept the NPT. When Washington and the media assert tha
Iran is defying "the world" by enriching uranium, they are defining "the world" to be Washington and whoever happens to agree with it at the moment. By definition, Washington is part of the world. London too, almost always.
Disallow Israeli settlements by discontinuing US funding
The Obama-Clinton formulation repeats the Bush administration draft of the 2003 Roadmap: "Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." All sides formally accept the Roadmap, overlooking the fact the Israel, with US
support, at once added 14 "reservations" that render it inoperable.
If Obama were at all serious about opposing settlement expansions, he could easily proceed with concrete measures, for example, by reducing US aid by the amount devoted to this purpose
That would hardly be a radical or courageous move. The Bush I administration did so (reducing loan guarantees), but after the Oslo accord in 1993, Pres. Clinton left calculations to the government of Israel. Unsurprisingly, there was no change in the
expenditures flowing to the settlements.
An Obama administration official informed the press that the Bush I measures are "not under discussion," and the pressures will be "largely symbolic." In short, Obama understands, just as Clinton and Bush II did
We want an obedient Iraq, but democracy might do otherwise
Bush administration planners want Iraqis "to act independently, EXCEPT when doing so would affect US interests adversely." Iraq must therefore be sovereign and democratic, but within limits: an obedient client state. The pattern is familiar. The Kremlin
was able to maintain satellites that were run by domestic political and military forces, with the iron fist poised. Traditional imperial and neocolonial systems illustrate many variations on similar themes.
In Iraq, the dilemma of combining a measure
of independence with firm control arose in a stark form not long after the invasion, as mass nonviolent resistance compelled the invaders to accept far more Iraqi initiative than they had anticipated. The outcome evoked the nightmarish prospect of a more
or less democratic and sovereign Iraq taking its place in a loose Shiite alliance comprising Iran, Shiite Iraq, and possibly the nearby Shiite-dominated regions of Saudi Arabia, controlling most of the world's oil and independent of Washington.
Iraq was necessary first example of preventive war doctrine
The Bush administration’s declaration of the grand strategy of preventive war was rightly understood to be an ominous step in world affairs. It is not enough, however, for a great power to declare an official policy. It must go on to establish the policy
as a new norm of international law by carrying out exemplary actions.
Accordingly, as the new strategy was announced, the war drums began to beat to rouse public enthusiasm for an attack on Iraq. The target of preventive war must have several
It must be virtually defenseless.
It must be important enough to be worth the trouble.
There must be a way to portray it as the ultimate evil and an imminent threat to our survival.
Iraq qualified on all counts. The
first two conditions are obvious. The third is easy to establish. It is only necessary to repeat the impassioned orations of Bush, Blair, and their colleagues, such as Bush’s eloquent denunciation of Saddam in his January 2003 State of the Union address.
Anyone threatened by Iraq can approach UN Security Council
There are legitimate ways to react to the many threats to world peace. If Iraq’s neighbors feel threatened, they can approach the Security Council to authorize a appropriate measures to respond to the threat. If the United States and Britain feel
threatened, they can do the same. But no state has the authority to make its own determinations on these matters and to act as it chooses; the United States and Britain would have no such authority even if their own hands were clean, hardly the case.
Source: Acts Of Aggression, by Noam Chomsky, p. 16
, Jul 2, 2002
UN authorizing US force in Iraq allows Iran to use force
Suppose that the Security Council were to authorize the use of force to punish Iraq for violating the cease-fire UN Resolution 687. That authorization would apply to all states: for example, to Iran, which would therefore be entitled to invade southern
Iraq to sponsor a rebellion.
Iran is a neighbor and victim of U.S.-backed Iraqi aggression and chemical warfare, and could claim, not implausibly, that its invasion would have some local support; the
United States and Britain can make no such claim.
Such Iranian actions, if imaginable, would never be tolerated, but would be far less outrageous than the plans of the self appointed enforcers.
It is hard to imagine such elementary observations entering public discussion in the United States and Britain.
The United States and Britain are now engaged in a deadly form of biological warfare in Iraq. The destruction of infrastructure and banning of imports to repair it has caused disease, malnutrition, and early death on a huge scale, including
567,000 children by 1995, according to U.N. investigations; UNICEF reports 4,500 children dying a month in 1996.
In a bitter condemnation of the sanctions (January 20, 1998), 54 Catholic Bishops quoted the Archbishop of the southern region of
Iraq, who reports that “epidemics rage, taking away infants and the sick by the thousands.”
The United States and
Britain have taken the lead in blocking aid programs--for example, delaying approval for ambulances on the grounds that they could be used to transport troops, barring insecticides to prevent spread of disease and spare parts for sanitation systems.
US declared independent Iran as evil in 1953 & in 1979
In 1953, Iran was evil, the epitome of evil. Why? Because it had a conservative nationalist elected government that was trying to take control of its own resources, which had been run by the British up until then. So it was the epitome of evil.
The government had to be overthrown by a military coup carried out by the US and Britain. The Shah was reinstated.
Then for the next 26 years it was good. The Shah compiled one of the worst human rights records in the world.
President Carter particularly admired the Shah. Just a couple of months before he was overthrown, he said how impressed he was by the Shah's "progressive administration," and so on.
In 1979, Iran became evil again. They pulled out of the imperial system. And since then they have been evil. They haven't been following orders.
US opposes Iraqi democracy because they get closer to Iran
We know [Saddam's] crimes are not the reason for the intended conquest. Nor is it his development of weapons of mass destruction. The real problem is that a new regime must be imposed, and the new regime must be completely undemocratic.
There is a reason for that. If there is any element of democracy in the new regime, the population will have some voice in what is happening. That is what the democracy is.
But the problem is that the majority of the population is Shiite, which means that to the extent that the majority of the population has any voice, it is going to move toward relations with Iran, which is the last thing the US government wants.
Furthermore, the Kurds in the northern part of Iraq, who are another big part of the population, are on a quest for some kind of autonomy, and Turkey will go berserk if that happens, as will the US.
Fight terrorism by arresting criminals, not bombing Mideast
Q: Is the nation's so-called war on terrorism winnable? If yes, how? If no, then what should the Bush administration do to prevent attacks like the ones that struck NY and Washington?
A: When a federal building was blown up in Oklahoma City,
there were calls for bombing the Middle East, and it probably would have happened if the source turned out to be there. When it was found to be domestic, with links to the ultra-right militias, there was no call to obliterate Montana and Idaho.
Rather, there was a search for the perpetrator, who was found, brought to court, and sentenced, and there were efforts to understand the grievances that lie behind such crimes and to address the problems.
Just about every crime--whether a robbery in the streets or colossal atrocities--has reasons, and commonly we find that some of them are serious and should be addressed.
Bin Laden's goal: Drive westerners out of Muslim lands
Bin Laden is quite clear about what he wants. The prime target is Saudi Arabia and other corrupt and repressive regimes of the region, none of which are truly "Islamic." And he and his network are intent on supporting Muslims defending themselves
against "infidels" wherever it may be: Chechnya, Bosnia, Kashmir, Western China, Southeast Asia, North Africa, maybe elsewhere. They fought and won a Holy War to drive the Russians (Europeans who are presumably not relevantly different from British or
American in their view) out of Muslim Afghanistan, and they are even more intent on driving the Americans out of Saudi Arabia, a far more important country to them, as it is the home of the holiest
"Blowback" from the radical Islamic forces organized, armed, and trained by the US, Egypt, France, Pakistan, and others began almost at once, with the 1981 assassination of President Sadat of Egypt.
9-11 is indirect consequence of US building Islamist army
Q: Did the US "ask for" these attacks? Are they consequences of American politics?
A: The attacks are not "consequences" of US policies in any direct sense. But indirectly, of course there are consequences. There seems little doubt that the perpetrator
come from the terrorist network that has its roots in the mercenary armies that were organized, trained, and armed by the CIA, Egypt, Pakistan, French intelligence, Saudi Arabian funding, and others. The backgrounds of all of this remain somewhat murky.
The US, along with its allies, assembled a huge mercenary army, maybe 100,000 or more, and they drew from the most militant sectors they could find, which happened to be radical Islamists, what are called here Islamic fundamentalists, from all over,
most of them not from Afghanistan. They're called "Afghanis," but like bin Laden, many come from elsewhere.
Bin Laden joined sometime in the 1980s. He was involved in the funding networks. They fought a holy war against the Russian occupiers.
A: To answer your question a sensible person would try to ascertain Bin Laden’s views, and the sentiments of the large reservoir of supporters he has throughout the region.
Bin Laden became a militant Islamic leader in the war to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. He was one of the many religious fundamentalist extremists recruited, armed, and financed by the CIA and their allies in Pakistani intelligence to cause
maximal harm to the Russians-quite possibly delaying their withdrawal-though whether he personally happened to have direct contact with the CIA is unclear, and not particularly important. Not surprisingly, the CIA preferred the most fanatic
and cruel fighters they could mobilize. The end result was to “destroy a moderate regime and create a fanatical one, from groups recklessly financed by the Americans” (according to London Times correspondent Simon Jenkins).
Source: Interview on Radio B92, Belgrade
, Sep 18, 2001
Islamic hatred based on US support for repressive regimes
Q: [Why did bin Laden pick the US as a target?]
A: Bin Laden is bitterly opposed to the corrupt and repressive regimes of the region, which he regards as “un-Islamic,” including the Saudi Arabian regime, a close US ally since its origins. Bin Laden
despises the US for its support of these regimes. Like others in the region, he is also outraged by long-standing US support for Israel’s brutal military occupation, now in its 35th year: And like others, he contrasts Washington’s dedicated support for
these crimes with the decade-long US-British assault against the civilian population of Iraq, which has devastated the society and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths while strengthening Saddam Hussein. These sentiments are very widely shared,
[even among] wealthy and privileged Muslims in the Gulf region. Among the great majority of people suffering deep poverty and oppression, similar sentiments are far more bitter, and are the source of the fury and despair that has led to suicide bombings.
Source: Interview on Radio B92, Belgrade
, Sep 18, 2001
US chartered UN & must follow UN decisions on Iraq
The debate over the Iraq crisis kept within rigid bounds that excluded the obvious answer: the US and UK should act in accord with their laws and treaty obligations. The relevant legal framework is formulated in the Charter of the United Nations,
which is recognized as the foundation of international law and world order, and which under the US Constitution is “the supreme law of the land.” The Charter states that “The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace,
breach of peace, or act of aggression, and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken.“
There are legitimate ways to react to the many threats to world peace. If Iraq’s neighbors feel threatened, they can approach the
Security Council to authorize appropriate measures to respond to the threat. If the US and Britain feel threatened, they can do the same. But no state has the authority to make its own determinations on these matters and to act as it chooses.
Israel is the only country in the Mideast with nuclear weapons. But “Israeli nuclear weapons” is a phrase that can’t be written or uttered by an official US government source.
That phrase would raise the question of why all aid to Israel is not illegal, since foreign aid legislation from 1977 bars funds to any country that secretly develops nuclear weapons.
Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 65
, Jan 13, 1991
Gulf War: US refused diplomacy & forced violence in Iraq
The US was concerned that the energy resources of the Middle East remain under our control, and that the enormous profits they produce help support the US.
The US also reinforced its dominant position, and taught the lesson that the world is to be
ruled by force. Washington proceeded to maintain “stability,” barring any threat of democratic change in the Gulf tyrannies and lending tacit support to Saddam Hussein as he crushed the popular uprising of the Shi’ites in the South.
Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 67-68
, Jan 13, 1991
Gulf War had nothing to do with principles
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the US government-media told us that Iraq’s aggression was a unique crime and merited a harsh reaction. “America stands against aggression, against those who would use force to replace the rule of law”-
so we were informed by President Bush. The media and the educated classes repeated the lines.
Second, these same authorities proclaimed in a litany that the UN was now at last functioning as it was designed to.
They claimed this was impossible before the end of the Cold War.
The US wasn’t upholding any high principle in the Gulf. The reason for the response to Saddam Hussein was because he stepped on the wrong toes. Hussein is a murderous gangster-
exactly as he was before the war, when he was our friend and trading partner. His invasion of Kuwait was an atrocity, but well within the range of many similar crimes conducted by the US and allies and nowhere near as terrible as some.