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Food for Thought: While the plains Indians hunted the buffalo on horseback, fought each other with the white man's guns, and exulted in the wealth and power which they possessed, their brothers in the East had turned their faces to the setting sun, resigned to a hopeless and miserable destiny. Caught in the flood of American expansion, they burnt their homes and left the land of their fathers to move westwards to lands which they dared not hope to retain. Those who stayed to fight fell under the pressure of overwhelming numbers and deadly rifle fire; those who merely stayed succumbed to the degenerating influence of the white man's way of life. . . . So the Indian moved on, just beyond the frontier, until his new lands aroused the cupidity of the restless American pioneers and the process of swindling and bullying began again. . . . The white man's government had offered them a new way of life; missionaries had offered them a new religion, and the Indians had been willing to accept them, only to find that the jealousy of lazy and vicious whites stirred up general resentment against them and deprived them of reasonable protection. Small wonder that the Indian's hatred of the European way of life was so intense, gained as it was from the perverse actions and ideals of frontier Americans, and from that hatred arose much of the mistrust and difficulty which hampered any attempts to solve the problem of white and red men living together. Robin A. Kelly, The Sky Was Their Roof(1)
IRAQ - AND AFTER
Houses Of Liars - Or Puppets?
The War against Iraq inevitably tends to monopolise our attention as events continue to unfold. But we must begin to look further into what we believe have been the real reasons for this conflict. We must also try to penetrate the greater global scenario even to begin to comprehend how, or why, we have been brought to this situation. Moreover where do we continue to go - or to be led, driven, or conned - from here? Whatever the degree of obfuscation, procrastination, prevarication, mutual or diversion-ary smokescreens of accusation and counter-accusation, or the slithery rhetoric and slickly changing domestic and foreign concerns and priorities of Prime Minister Blair, the truth is that the invasion, not least the "evi-dence" to justify it, was knowingly rigged from the very beginning. Cert-ainly the thinking began in the mid-1990s. It is impossible not to believe that this was known in political, diplomatic or intelligence circles, or discussed across the dinner tables of the establishment. We would consider it unseemly to call our leadership on either side of the Atlantic a bunch of liars. We leave that to the dictionary.
Twenty five years ago we were sharply chastised for omitting the "Great" in references to Great Britain in the draft of a railway history. This was just the gentle world of the railway enthusiast. The 2003 invasion of Iraq surely saw the post 1939-45 War image of the "Great" in Great Britain finally vanish for good. In Prime Minister Blair any illusion of a "special" relationship which had lasted from Winston Churchill through the Macmillan-Kennedy and Thatcher-Reagan years finally vanished down the plug-hole of history in downright toadyism. Sheer military power and half a century of American-engineered imperial deconstruction, dollar-oriented global economic integration and consolidation, and ultimate subservience to the United States, brought the virtual death knell of our independence and authority as a Nation - and that of the leading European Nations. So, too, this has ended the already diminishing credibility of the United Nations. We must examine in future the many strands and influences, such as Political Correctness, that have been deliberately employed, or have otherwise functioned to emasculate and degrade the will and involvement of ordinary people, on both sides of the Atlantic. It is this, as well as political duplicity and corruption, that has brought us to a position of growing Orwellian impotence and subservience as Global Power, and its Military "enforcer", have been centralised and consolidated.
Power Hungry, Or Simply Power Mad?
The United States now does more or less as it pleases. Nor does it appear to care if we know or not. The extract in "Food For Thought" is taken from a fascinating history of the Wild West. The seeds of American power, culture and attitudes today are very clear. Today, talking heads like Samuel P. Huntingdon in "The Clash of Civilizations", are employed to promote pseudo-academic theories designed to marginalise Islam just as Red Indian traditions and beliefs were being trashed 150 years ago. Today this has the massive force of the United States-dominated Global Econ-omic Model backed by Military Power. The supporting American culture, despite the pretensions and private museums and art collections of American billionaires, remains ignorant and paper-thin. Like the invasion of Afghanistan, the campaign against Iraq, far from being based on any genuine concept of "liberation", is leaving a trail of social, economic and structural disintegration. In Iraq ordinary American servicemen from the backwoods and inner cities, woefully lacking any preparation for, or under-standing of, the country and its complex cultures, die with each passing day of this chaos. That, more than two months after the end of the conven-tional conflict, fellow British servicemen of the Coalition Forces are being used to instruct occupying United States troops on the rudiments of urban policing is a downright disgrace. We have already concluded that, in spite of some twelve years of political build-up, and twelve months of formal military planning time, no proper studies or exercises were undertaken to prepare for the invasion and, essentially, for its aftermath. We were right. That these vital options and the preparations that would have evolved were ignored becomes more obvious as the story unfurls. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney, apparently influenced by the Israel-oriented "neoconservative" sponsors of the Project for the New American Century (P.N.A.C.), behaved like a couple of irresponsible homicidal maniacs.
The United States economy is greater than those of the major European and British producer Nations and that of Japan combined. The Global Economic Model is geared to the United States dollar. The United States mints - "creates" - money at will to sustain its own spiralling proflig-acy in defiance of the Law of Gravity. As this Economic Model is manipu-lated to the advantage of the United States, the rest are dragged up and down accordingly like a ride on a giant fairground big-dipper. The United Kingdom hangs on in there obsequiously bleating its support, behind which lie the oil interests of BP-Amoco and Royal Dutch Shell. The invasion of Iraq was not about oil. Of course not! So why did the Financial Times of 10th July, 2003, slip in a little note that "U.S., U.K. groups win Iraq oil contracts"?
* The second auction of Iraqi oil since the ousting of Saddam Hussein has seen U.S. and U.K. companies winning most of the contracts. Eight million barrels of Basra light crude oil were tendered yesterday, most of which will be destined for U.S. consumption. . . .
How Far And For How Long Must We Acquiesce And Grovel?
Turkey, like Egypt, is heavily dependent on United States economic aid. It is also a member of NATO and a key United States military base. Yet the Turkish Parliament showed remarkable resilience in denying the use of Turkey as a base from which to launch an attack on Iraq from the North. Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian-Kurdish relations in the region are complex due to Kurdish nationalist and separatist ambitions, and the location of the oil reserves. Turkish troops are located there as part of the Coalition, but the United States authorities nevertheless unilaterally arrested 11 members of their compatriot Turkish Special Forces there for an alleged "plot". The United States has applied relentless pressure on Belgium over a local law which permits the trial for war crimes of foreign nationals, such as Dr Henry Kissinger, General "Tommy" Franks or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Attempts have been made to humiliate and marginalise France and Germany, and to split the European Union in which both countries play a leading role, for their perfectly legitimate opposition to the invasion of Iraq. On the other hand the United States has rendered the International Criminal Court a farce by refusing to recognise its jurisdiction over American nationals, and by concluding bilateral agreements for this immunity with individual governments.
* They are the first letters to see the outside world from the 21st century's Devil's Island the United States military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. These ten letters in neat, cramped handwriting from Moazzam Begg to his family back home in suburban Birmingham tell exactly what life is like inside the world's most feared prison Camp X Ray. Begg, who is 35, has been detained without charge since January 2001, has faced gruelling interrogations, been denied access to lawyers, confined in brutal conditions and now awaits a military tribunal which could well result in a short trip to a custom built death house for execution.
MORE UNPRINCIPLED WARFARE - THE CLUSTER BOMB
Profitable "Ethical" And Political Attitudes
One of the most heinously devised weapons in the current military arsenal is the cluster bomb. It simply fragments on impact or in its comm-only unexploded form if later handled. Use is indiscriminate by its very distribution. Countless thousands of innocent men, women and children have been killed or maimed in the Balkans, Afghanistan and the Middle East. The horrendous effects have been graphically described by John Pilger in The New Rulers Of The World(2). This is, of course, only a very small part of the litany of atrocities exposed by Pilger; atrocities committed around the world in countries like Laos, or condoned in Indonesia. It transcends what used to be called national interests. Today, attempts are made to obscure the reality by aligning protest with the political Left. It condemns axiomatically the so-called "Christian" faith professed by Western leaders. It does partly explain the moral dilemma of a society whose economy is "hooked" on the production of the Weapons of Death. It does explain the acquiescence of politicians who are committed to protecting jobs and industries in their constituencies.
Questions Linger About Hillah Battle That
Left Hundreds Of Civilian Casualties
The tell-tale evidence is everywhere: in the pattern of blast marks gouged in a schoolyard's concrete, in the yellow metal casings that once held small bombs, in the bomblets themselves. "They're all over. They're even in people's bedrooms," said one bomb disposal specialist. A month after United States cluster munitions fell in a deadly shower on Hillah's teeming slums as United States forces drove toward victory in Baghdad, 55 miles to the north, the most telling evidence may lie in the crowded, fly infested wards of the city hospital, where the toll of dead and wounded still mounts. At least 250 Iraqis were killed and more than 500 wounded during 17 days of fighting in the area, most of them civilians and many the victims of cluster munitions, according to hospital medical staff. Leftover bomblets still kill or maim hapless civilians daily, they said. As the pieces of the story of what happened in Hillah in late March and early April begin to fall together, gaps and uncertainties remain, including the question of whether Iraqi troops were still in Nadr, Amira and other Hillah area districts when they were attacked. On April 3rd, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks at United States Central Command indicated the matter was being investigated. The next day he added that United States targeting in such densely populated areas was "very precise". A month later, the Command's Lieutenant Herb Josey said, "it is correct to assume the investigation is still going on." The Command has received no results yet, he said, without describing what the investigation consisted of. While General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed last month that high flying B 52s dropped cluster bombs during the push to Baghdad, the Pentagon has not acknowledged the use of cluster munitions around Hillah.
With Saddam's regime toppled, the hospital staff
felt freer to talk by late April. What they said tended to justify the
United States attack. "The old regime put military tanks in between
the houses, and so they were bombed," said al Himiri, the hospital
director. "it's the truth. There were military targets." Another
doctor, surgeon Majid al Khafaji, said he had heard similar stories
from wounded people. But the doctors acknowledged they hadn't gone to
the bombed areas themselves. Civil defence workers who went to Nadr
immediately said they saw no sign of the Iraqi military there. That
agrees with what Nadr residents consistently said: The Iraqi military
had set up mortars or artillery in Nadr, apparently in a date palm grove
on the fringe of the slum, but had pulled out. Some believe they left
days before the United States strike with cluster munitions; some think
it was a day before. Nadr is a place of tightly packed mud brick homes,
garbage filled paths, herds of goats wandering along gullied tracks.
A schoolyard a rare stretch of concrete is pocked with an almost regular
pattern of blast marks that appear to have come from cluster bomblets.
But there are none of the burned out tanks, other military vehicles
or destroyed weapons commonly seen in areas where United States forces
struck Iraqi troops. Salem Farhan, 33, a factory worker, said Iraqi
artillery in Nadr fired at distant United States troops and then withdrew
a day before the first cluster bomb attacks. "They left a few soldiers
behind, like neigh-bourhood guards," he said. "Maybe the planes
were attacking them." Repeated United States shelling or bombing
came as late as April 8th, when Farhan's house was hit and a neighbour
woman and child were killed as they took shelter in his yard. His two
younger brothers were badly wou-nded. "There was no reason. There
was no resistance here" , Farhan said.
United States Under Fire for Use of Cluster
Bombs in Iraq
Pentagon spokesman Air Force Major Jay Steuck says cluster bombs were used because they are especially effective in destroying airfields, tanks and enemy convoys. He added that the bomblets, which fail to explode upon impact between 5 per cent and 20 per cent of the time, cause less physical destruction than many bombs. "The (Defense) Department carefully considers the use of any weapon systems," said Steuck. "There is no intent to cause unwanted civilian deaths during or after the fact." However, the use of cluster bombs in the Iraq War figures in a suit filed Wednesday in a Belgian court that accuses United States commander General Tommy Franks and a Marine officer named Colonel Brian P. McCoy of war crimes. Belgian attorney Jan Fermon says he represents 17 Iraqi and 2 Jordanian civilian victims of United States weapons, four of whom were wounded by bombs. His suit is made possible by a unique 1993 Belgian law that claims universal jurisdiction for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, regardless of the nationality of the accused. In an interview by e mail, Fermon conceded that there is no law specifically banning cluster weapons, but argued that the "use of ammunition that causes severe suffering and injury in areas with a civilian population is a violation of international humanitarian rights. I hope that this complaint will contribute to a general ban on cluster bombs." The State Department dismissed the lawsuit as political harassment. "The Belgian Government needs to be diligent in taking steps to prevent abuse of the legal system for political ends," Department spokesman Richard Boucher said last month. But the use of cluster bombs a single fragment of which can rupture the spleen or cause intestines to explode upon impact has long been controversial.
Briefing: Cluster Bombs: The Indiscriminate
The war on Iraq has indeed seen the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction: the unleashing of cluster bombs by the United States British forces upon the Iraqi population, massacring and terrorizing the very people whom they purport to liberate. The American and British government leaders and military commanders finally admitted that they are using cluster bombs dropped by high flying bomber squadrons, although there is ample evidence they have also been fired from jet fighters, tanks, artillery and off shore missile launchers. The use of cluster bombs has been reported in Basra, Najaf, Karbala, Hilia and Baghdad itself. The worst incident to date has been the attack last week on Hilia, a region 80 kilometres south of Baghdad. It left at least 61 Iraqi civilians dead and more than 450 seriously injured, mainly children.
Cluster bombs may be delivered by aircraft, rocket. or by artillery projectiles. Each cluster bomb is composed of 200 to 700 of sub-munitions called bomblets or grenades, depending on the method of delivery. They are carried in a large cannister that break open in mid air, dispersing the sub-munitions over a large area. The higher the altitude at which the bomblets are released, the wider the target zone. Each exploding bomblet fragments into hundreds of pieces of jagged steel, in effect creating a blizzard of shrapnel.
The high speed at which the fragments travel means that when they impact humans, they have devastating consequences. Even a single fragment can cause heavy damage to soft tissues and organs. These are not merely unintended side effects but rather intentionally designed to do this. The effects of cluster bombs are deadly, regardless of which type is used. The C.B.U. (Cluster Bomb Unit) 41 carries napalm filled bomblets and the Honest John carries 368 Sarin nerve gas filled bomblets, both having lethal effects. In Indo-China the use of the WDU 4 cluster bomb, meant that the overhead release of 6,000 barbed metal darts, literally had the effect of nailing people to the ground. The CBU 87, one of the United States fav-ourites and widely used by them in the first Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan, consists of a triple action killing device: anti personnel (for people), anti armour (for tanks), and incendiary (setting the target area on fire). The CBU 26, widely used in Laos between 1964 to 1973, is an anti personnel fragmentation bomb that consists of a large bombshell holding 670 tennis ball sized bomblets, each of which contain 300 metal fragments. The detonations of all the bomblets creates a deadly killing zone, propelling 200,000 steel fragments over an area the size of several football fields. It is estimated that some 90,000,000 CBU 26 bomblets were dropped on Laos (and the CBU 26 is just one of 12 different kinds of cluster bombs that have been recovered there to date). Reports indicate that the cluster bombs used in Hilia were a type known as BLU97 AIB. Each canister contains 202 small bomblets BLU97 the size of a soft drink can. These cluster bomblets scatter over a large area approximately the size of two football fields.
Unexploded cluster bombs have had lethal consequences as witnessed in places such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Ethiopia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, where they have been used in past conflicts. In Laos, the effects of cluster bombs are still felt from cluster bombs that were used 30 years ago. People are killed and maimed every day and this is likely to continue indefinitely with an estimated 10,000,000 still remaining unexploded. The first Gulf War saw the dropping of a staggering 30,000,000 cluster bomblets on Kuwait and Iraq in months following the end of the conflict, 1,600 civilians were killed and another 2,500 injured as a result. In Kosovo, it is estimated that 60 per cent of Royal Air Force cluster bombs in the Kosovo conflict missed their targets. The United Nations' Mine Action Co ordination Centre (M.A.C.C.), estimates that 7 11 per cent of bomblets about 20,000 failed to blow up during NATO's air campaign in Kosovo. According to the Red Cross, children in Kosovo are five times more likely to be killed or injured by a NATO dropped unexploded cluster bomb than by a Serbian landmine. According to Human Rights Watch, the United States dropped around 1,230 cluster bombs containing around 248,056 deadly bomblets on Afghanistan between October 2001 and March 2002. They estimate that when taking a conservative estimate of a 5 per cent failure rate, it is likely that there are 12,400 explosive duds that threaten civilians and require clearance.
The debris that normally concerns the ecologically aware is the ever growing mountain of rubbish produced by our throwaway society. But there's another, more immediately lethal kind of litter that also speaks volumes about our lack of responsibility towards the Earth and its inhabitants. That's the litter produced by war the munitions left behind post conflict that continue to damage the land and its people long after the fighting is over. Nothing has sounded more hollow than the so called reassurances given by the United Kingdom and United States Governments as they began the Iraq war that their argument was not with the country of Iraq or its people but with its leader, and that reconstruction not devas-tation was their objective. If that was the case then how could they condone the use of cluster bombs weapons that, like landmines, have a devastating long term effect on communities and go on killing innocent civilians for decades. Most military strategists now accept (even promote) cluster bombs as necessary elements in warfare. They enable armies to inflict maximum initial damage from the air rather than engaging immediately in close ground combat. Because they are meant to be combat weapons they evade United Nations treaties against the use of weapons like landmines that target civilians. But this evasion is sophistry. Cluster bombs are vast containers that after exploding send out a huge number of what the military playfully call "bomblets". These bomblets scatter across areas the size of eight football pitches. Most bomblets are designed to explode on impact or contain devices that trigger on touch. Many do just that, inflicting horrific damage on armies and civilians in war situations. But many fail to explode immediately. In spite of the fact that modern military technology is meant to be so sophisticated that it could extinguish Saddam Hussein's cigar as he sits in his bunker, even official estimates admit a cluster bomb failure rate of 5 10 per cent. Unofficially, the estimated failure rate is much higher. In the last Gulf War, roughly 47,000 cluster bombs were dropped containing 13,000,000 bomblets. Since the end of the war there have been 1,924 recorded deaths from "unexploded remnants of war". In Kosovo, it is estimated that 3,000,000 were dropped, of which 30,000 failed to explode on impact, causing hundreds of deaths. In Afghanistan 14,000 unexploded devices were left behind and there have already been 150 deaths since the war ended there. In many ways cluster bombs are even more devastating than landmines. Most victims are killed outright. Those who survive are horrifically injured. The force of the shra-pnel from these weapons is such that bodies sometimes explode totally. Like landmines, children are most often the victims. The usually bright colours of bomblets are attractive to children and to people in devastated post war societies hunting for valuable scrap metal. Like landmines, too, their legacy is enduring. It's shocking to think that while Vietnam is a remote cultural memory for United States kids, children in Laos are still being injured by cluster bombs and large areas of land are still unusable. The way cluster bombs blight land often goes overlooked. Large areas become no go areas that can't be farmed. This hinders attempts of societ-ies to reconstruct and become self sufficient. The problem is not confined to a few unlucky nations; at least 80 countries are currently affected by landmines and cluster bombs. But while after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, 146 countries rapidly signed the Ottawa Treaty banning the use of anti personnel weapons, cluster bombs are not covered by any conven-tion. Countries that use them are under no obligation to clear land when hostilities cease. In the run up to the current war Landmine Action and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund tried to persuade the United Kingdom Government not to use cluster bombs and to support new inter-national conventions forcing combatants to "clear" areas after military action. Two United Kingdom Ministers refused to rule out the use of cluster bombs in Iraq: Tony Blair and Defence Minister Geoff Hoon. Not only does the government refuse to rule out their use, but INSYS the world's largest producer of the bombs is a United Kingdom based firm. When tackled by Landmine Action, INSYS replied that it was not respon-sible for the weapons' devastating effects, claiming: "It's not the company that uses them." As this equivocation shows, the logic of war dehumanises and desensitises even the most supposedly decent people. These weapons are the deadliest kind of debris and last for decades. They leave behind no man's land and intimidated communities long after the soldiers have gone and governments have changed. In these communities children will not be able to play, it will be impossible to resettle the land and there will be no agriculture. If attempts are made to clear these areas, there will be many deaths. All this happens in poor countries with no resources. And use of these weapons is increasing globally. No longer confined to the big military powers, cluster bombs are increasingly likely to be used in smaller scale conflicts. If we needed more evidence of mankind's disregard for the future it is this readiness to use weapons that inflict damage for decades to come. It is evidence of cowardice and bullying, too. When the armies have gone, it's the innocent members of society those trying to work and play on the land who continue to be targets.
THE ASSESSMENTS OF PROFESSOR NOAM CHOMSKY
Atilio A. Boron: Looking at the recent United States policies in Iraq, what do you think was the real goal behind this war?
Noam Chomsky: Well, we can be quite confident on one thing. The reasons we are given can't possibly be the reasons. And we know that, because they are internally contradictory. So one day, Bush and Powell would claim that "the single question," as they put it, is whether Iraq would disarm and the next day they would say it doesn't matter whether Iraq disarms because they will go on and invade anyway. And the next day would be that if Saddam and his group get out then the problem will be solved; and then, the next day for example, at the Azores, at the summit when they made an ultimatum to the United Nations, they said that even if Saddam and his group get out they would go on and invade anyway. And they went on like that. When people give you contradictory reasons every time they speak, all they are saying is: "don't believe a word 1 say." So we can dismiss the official reasons.
And the actual reasons I think are not very obscure. First of all, there's a long standing interest. That does not account for the timing but it does account for the interest. And that is that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the World and controlling Iraqi oil and even ending up probably with military bases in Iraq will place the United States in an extremely strong position to dominate the global energy system even more than it does today. That's a very powerful lever of world control, quite apart from the profits that comes from it. And the United States probably doesn't intend to access the oil of Iraq; it intends to use primarily safer Atlantic basin resources for itself (Western Hemisphere, West Africa). But to control the oil has been a leading principle of United States foreign policies since the Second World War, and Iraq is particularly significant in this respect. So that's a long-standing interest. On the other hand it doesn't explain the timing.
No one in the World believes anything like this. In Kuwait and Iran people hate Saddam Hussein, but they are not afraid of him, they know they're the weakest country in the region. In any event the govern-ment media propaganda campaign worked brilliantly as the population was frightened and to a large extent it was willing to support the war despite the fact that there was a lot of opposition. And that's the second factor.
And there was a third factor which was even more important. In September the Government announced the National Security Strategy. That is not completely without precedent, but it is quite new as a formu-lation of state policy. What is stated is that we are tearing the entire system of the International Law to shreds, the end of United Nations Charter, and that we are going to carry out an aggressive war which we will call "preventive" and at any time we choose and that we will rule the world by force. In addition, we will assure that there is never any challenge to our domination because we are so overwhelmingly powerful in military force that we will simply crush any potential challenge.
Well, you know, that caused shudders around the world, including the foreign policy elite at home which was appalled by this. I mean it is not that things like that haven't been heard in the past. Of course they had, but it had never been formulated as an official national policy. I suspect you will have to go back to Hitler to find an analogy to that. Now, when you propose new norms in the international behaviour and new policies you have to illustrate it, you have to get people to understand that you mean it. Also you have to have what a Harvard historian called an "exemplary war", a war of example, which shows that we really mean what we say.
And secondly, it has to be important. So there will be no point invading Burundi, you know, for example, it has to be a country worthwhile controlling, owning, and Iraq has that property too. It's, as mentioned, the second largest oil producer in the world. So it's perfect example and a perfect case for this exemplary war, intending to put the world on notice saying that this is what we're going do, any time we choose. We have the power. We have declared that our goal is domination by force and that no challenge will be accepted. We've showed you what we are intending to do and be ready for the next. We will proceed on to the next operation. Those various conditions fold together and they make a war a very reasonable choice in taking to a test some principles.
Atilio A. Boron: According to your analysis then the question is: who is next? Because you don't believe that they are going to stop in Iraq, wouldn't you?
Noam Chomsky: No, they already made this clear. For one thing they need something for the next presidential election. And that will continue. Through their first twelve years in office this continued year after year; and it will continue until they manage to institutionalize the domestic policies to which they are committed and to ensure the global system they want. So what's the next choice? Well the next choice has to meet similar condi-tions. It has to be valuable enough to attack, and it has to be weak enough to be defenceless. And there are choices, Syria is a possible choice. There Israel will be delighted to participate. Israel alone is a small country, but it's an offshore United States military base, so it has an enormous military force, apart from having hundreds of nuclear weapons (and probably kinds of chemical and biological weapons), its air and armed forces are larger and more advanced that those in any NATO Power, and the United States is behind it overwhelmingly.
Atilio A. Boron: This is really frightening. Now the question is, do you think that this situation in Iraq, the invasion and the aftermath would affect in a non reparable manner the political stability of the region? What are likely to be the side effects of this invasion in countries with a very fragile political constitution like South Arabia or even Syria, Iran or even the Kurds? What may be the future of the Palestine question, which still is of paramount importance in the area?
Noam Chomsky: Well, what's going to happen in the Arab world is extremely hard to predict. It's a disorganized and chaotic world dominated by highly authoritarian and brutal regimes. We know what the attitudes are. The United States is very concerned with attitudes in the region so they have pretty good studies made by United States Middle East scholars on the attitudes in the region, and the results are pretty dramatic. One of the more recent ones, a University of Maryland study covering from Morocco to the Gulf to Lebanon, the entire area, shows that a very large majority of the population wants religious leaders to have a greater role in government. It also shows that approximately another 95 per cent believe that the sole United States interest in the region is taking its oil, streng-hening Israel and humiliating the Arabs. That means near unanimity. If there is any popular voice allowed in the region, any moves toward democracy, it could become sort of like Algeria ten years ago, not necessarily radical Islamists but a government with some stronger Islamist currents. This is the last thing the United States wants, so chances of any kind of democratic opening very likely will be immediately opposed.
They don't say anything significant. The most
they say is that we have a "vision" or something equally meaningless.
Meanwhile the actions have been taken and the United States had continued
to support the more extremist positions within Israel. So what the press
describes as George Bush's most significant recent statements, then
later reiterated by Colin Powell, was the statement that said that settlement
in the occupied territ-ories can continue until the United States determines
that the conditions for peace have been established, and you can move
forward on this mythical "Road Map." The statement that was
hailed as "significant" in fact amou-nts to a shift in policy,
to a more extremist form. Up until now the official position has been
that there should be no more settlements. Of course, that's hypocritical
of the United States because meanwhile it continues to provide the military,
and economic, and diplomatic support for more settle-ments, but the
official position has been opposed to it. Now the official position
is in favour of it, until such time as the United States determines
unilaterally that the "peace process" has made enough progress,
which means, basically indefinitely. Also it wasn't very well noticed
that last December, at the United Nations General Assembly, the Bush
Administra-tion shifted the United States policy crucially on an important
issue. Up until that time, until last December, the United States has
always officially endorsed the Security Council Resolutions of 1968
opposing Israel's annexation of Jerusalem, and ordering Israel to withdraw
the moves to take over East Jerusalem and to expand Jerusalem, which
is now a huge area.
Atilio A. Boron: I have two more questions to go. One is about the future of the United Nations system. An article by Henry Kissinger recently reproduced in Argentina argued that multilateralism is over and that the world has to come to terms with the absolute superiority of the American Armed Forces and that we've better go alone with that because the old system is dead. What is your reflection on the international arena?
Noam Chomsky: Well you know, it's a little bit like financial and industrial strategy. It is a more brazen formulation of policies which have always been carried out. The unilateralism with regard to the United Nations, as Henry Kissinger knows perfectly well, goes far back. Was there any United Nations authorization for the United States invasion of Vietnam 40 years ago? In fact, the issue could not even come up at the United Nations. The United Nations and all the countries were in overwhelming opposition to the United States operations in Vietnam, but the issue could literally never arise and it was never discussed because everyone understood that if the issues were discussed the United Nations would simply be dismantled.
Right after the Missile Crisis, which practically brought the world to a terminal nuclear war, a major crisis, the Kennedy Administration resumed its terrorist activities against Cuba and its economic warfare which was the background for the crisis and Dean Acheson, a respected statesman and Kennedy advisor at the liberal end of the spectrum, gave an important address to the American Society of International Law in which he essentially stated the Bush Doctrine of September 2002. What he said is that no "legal issue" arises in the case of a United States response to a challenge to its "power, position, and prestige." Can't be more extreme than that. The difference with September 2002 is that instead of being operative policy now it became official policy. That is the difference The United Nations has been irrelevant to the extent that the United States refused to allow it to function. So, since the mid 1960s when the United Nations had become somewhat more independent, because of decoloniza-tion and the recovery of other countries of the world from the ravages of the war, since 1965 the United States is far in the lead in vetoing Security Council Resolutions on a wide range of issues Britain is second and no one else is even close. All that renders the United Nations ineffective. It means, you do as we say or else we will kick you in the pants. Now it is more brazen.
The only correct statement that Kissinger is making is that now we will not conceal the policies that we are carrying out.
Atilio A. Boron: Okay, here is my last question: What has been the impact of the Iraqi War on the freedoms and public liberties of the American public? We have heard horrific stories about librarians been forced to indicate the names of people checking out books regarded as suspicious or subversives. What has been the real impact of the war in the domestic politics of the United States?
The New Rulers Of The World by John Pilger. Verso, 2002.
John Pilger could very well have begun this book by citing the over-hasty impetus given to post World War II decolonisation substantially as a result of Roosevelt's abhorrence of colonialism and imperialism. Yet, in their place, by 1948, and as colonial empires began to crumble, George Kennan, America's strategic planner, was already advocating that America, with only 6.3 per cent of the world's population, and yet already owning 50 per cent of the world's wealth, should seek to maintain this disparity. This process, according to Pilger, could be termed civilising, rather than imperialistic.
Pilger cites President Suharto of Indonesia as America's "model pupil" and indeed one of his chapters is called just that - "The Model Pupil". Pilger describes how Suharto was manipulated by the C.I.A. and Britain to oust his predecessor Sukarno in the 1965-66 coup. An illustrative experience, for Sukarno, whilst not himself blameless, fell foul of American global ambitions when he first engineered the Bandung principles, appeared to permit the growth of political parties including the influential Communist Party the P.K.I. and finally when he expressed distaste for the American economic model for Indonesia. The years of Suharto's pitiless rule of Indonesia ended in 1998 taking with him a severance pay estimated at $15,000,000,000, taken out of an economy heavily indebted to the World Bank. During the period of Suharto's dictatorship, Pilger shows how the Americans controlled the I.M.F. (International Monetary Fund), and the World Bank, pillaged Indonesia's riches and reduced major sections of its working population to nothing short of global servitude in the interests of multinational profits.
In Pilger's last chapter, Pilger, an Australian, as if to remind us that Australia, loyal supporter of America and hence her new rulers has herself a far from lily-white background in her treatment of her own racial minority - the Aborigines but what is of greater importance, if one can put it like that, is Pilger's more analytical chapter "The Great Game" in which he demolishes almost sentence by sentence the lack of compassion shown by the developed World for the Underdeveloped World as its new rulers sought to maintain Kennan's disparity. There is the box-bombing by B52s, the use of cluster bombs, the unprincipled support and then the rejection of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the mouthings of political guru Brzezinski, the record of hidden wars, the scandal of Noriega's imprisonment, the fact that Britain is second only to America as a supplier of arms world-wide which makes Robin Cook's "ethical foreign policy" laughable, but as Pilger hints it all ends up in the same multi-corporate board room, the New York bankers' offices or amongst the weasel word of James Rubin when tackled by Pilger about American policy and dutifully recorded by him on pages 83 - 88.
Finally let me go back to page 98 of this very important book and I am sure Pilger would be pleased to see this repeated. The following comes from Lord Curzon when he was Viceroy of India:
To me, I confess that (countries) are pieces in a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.
This was in 1898!
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