Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The U.S. State Department has called Iran the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism.”

Is Iran really the world's "most active state sponsor of terror"? Or is this just more hype from an administration that aims to protect the dollar and gain control of Iran's resources? Let's take a look at Iran's supposed sponsor of terror:

In November 1979, Iranian student revolutionaries widely thought to be linked to the Khomeini government occupied the American Embassy in Tehran. Iran held fifty-two Americans hostage for 444 days.

Observers say Iran had prior knowledge of Hezbollah attacks, such as the 1988 kidnapping and murder of Colonel William Higgins, a U.S. Marine involved in a U.N. observer mission in
Lebanon, and the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Jewish cultural institutions in Argentina.

Iran still has a price on the head of the Indian-born British
novelist Salman Rushdie for what Iranian leaders call blasphemous writings about Islam in his 1989 novel The Satanic Verses.

U.S. officials say Iran supported the group behind the 1996 truck bombing of Khobar Towers, a U.S. military residence in Saudi Arabia, which killed nineteen U.S. servicemen.

Do you think that maybe we shouldn't have overthrown their burgeoning democracy in 1953? Iran had a smudge of democracy and we cleaned it off with Operation Ajax. Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA successfully overthrew the democratically elected government and prime minister of Iraq and installed the brutal and oppressive Shah. Was their occupation and kidnapping of Americans terrorism? Or was it simply a desperate people trying to wrestle back control of their country from one of the mightiest superpowers the planet had ever seen? Why wasn't it considered terrorism when we overthrew their democracy?

Observers say? Observers say I'm a moon expert. I'm sorry but "observers say" is not convincing me that anything is true. Who are these observers? What are they basing their observation on? And even if true, why are they responsible for what Hezbolla does but people claim we're not responsible for what Israel does? How is it different? How is it different when we supply the Israelis with American made bulldozers so they can destroy Palanstian homes? How is it different when we supply Israel with Appache attack helicopters so they can more brutally attack the Palestinians? Why is one considered defense and the other is considered state sponsored terrorism?

It's not like the Palestinians are occupying Israel. The Palestinians are defending themselves and resisting occupation–the Supreme Crime according to Nuremburg. Thanks to U.S. taxpayers the Palestinains are out-gunned and outspent.

Iran still has a price on the head of Salman Rushdie! That's 17 years, folks. I'm supposed to be afraid of a terrorist organization that hasn't managed to kill one guy in 17 years? If they had any sense they'd be enrolling at the school of the Americas and learn all the dirty tricks we taught Noriega and others. You want to scare me, tell me that within ten minutes of putting a price on Rushdie's head he was killed. Seventeen years and no kill? I'm guessing they really don't give a shit if the guy breathes or not. What am I supposed to believe the Iranians are like Wild E. Coyote? Plan after plan ends in failure?

Finally we have the accusation that Iran supported groups that carried out two bombings against U.S. installations abroad. Again, supported is rather vague. Supported as in they cheered when the bombs went off? Supported as in they paid for the bombs? Or supported as in they paid for the bombs, trained the men, and picked the target? Why don't we question why we have these bases everywhere? Is it really worth it? At what expense do we rule over the world? Are we really prepared to deal with the hostility we are creating?

Friends, if this was an example of the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, we'd be doing great. Imagine the leading terrorist organization has been trying for the past 17 years to kill novelist Salman Rushdie. Apparently Iran's most lethal assassins are no match for a typewriter. They cheered for two attacks against American installations abroad much like we cheered when we overthrew their democratically elected government in 1953 and installed a brutal dictator. Supply arms to Palestinians fighting a brutal and oppressive occupation is state sponsored terrorism. Providing the most technologically advanced weapons of war to the occupiers is a legitimate form of military aid. So it's ok when the U.S. invades Panama, Guatamala, Nicragua, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, China, Russia, Haiti, the Phillipines, Japan, Hawaii, and just about everywhere else. But when Saddam Hussein does it he's a criminal. In a later post we'll look at the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Euro And The Dollar, The Real War

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Euro and the Dollar, the real war

In November 2000 Saddam Hussein committed his gravest crime. No, he didn't gas any Kurds. No he didn't crush any Shiite rebellions. He began trading Iraqi oil for Euros. Economists will point out that by itself Iraq would't be able to harm the U.S. dollar that much, but obviously were dealing with people who see dominoe theories everywhere. If Iraq does it then Iran…actually Iran is setting up to do just that.

In 2005-2006, The Tehran government has a developed a plan to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-denominated international oil-trading mechanism. This means that without some form of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project for U.S. global domination, Tehran's objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on U.S. dollar supremacy in the international oil market

One of the first things we did when we conquered Iraq was to start trading its oil for U.S. dollars again. Funny how the saber rattling with Iran directly coincides with their decision to go Euro, too.

It's not that this is the only reason we are preparing for war with Iran, but it's a prime consideration. Oil, the dollar, strategic positioning in the heart of the world's energy reserves, these are all key reasons why we are in the Middle East.

Most people understand that the we are dedicated to defeating competing capital forms, like communism, socialism, syndicalism or whatever you want to call it. But most people seem unaware of the fact that we are also dedicated to defeating competing formations of capitalism. The E.U. is just such a formation and the Euro does threaten dollar hegemoney.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

United States of Terrorism

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

United States of Terrorism

If the United States was really waging a Global War on Terror (GWOT) it would be like the Godfather waging a war against organized crime. The very idea is absurd. Nevermind that you can no better fight terrorism than you can ninja-kicks to the head. If my Kung-fu is good, I will block the ninja-kick; but I will never be able to end the possibility of a ninja-kick. You can't fight something you actively participate in.

States sponsor terror the way Nike sponsors basketball players. The prevailing myth is that terrorism is a weapon of the weak, but in reality it is a weapon of the strong. We do not have millitary bases in 136 countries around the world because we like to help; we have them to maintain global hegemoney. One method of maintaining our global dominance is through terrorism.

The FBI defines terrorism as "violent acts intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or affect the conduct of a government." Keep that in mind as you read the following well-known and government-confirmed examples of US acts of terrorism. These examples come from BODY OF SECRETS by James Bamford, Doubleday, 2001 :

Operation Ajax (1953) was an Anglo-American covert operation to overthrow the democratically chosen government of Iran and Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and restore the exiled dictator Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to the throne. This operation was the first time the Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated a plot to overthrow a democratically-elected government. Mossadegh was a socialist who nationalized the oil industry (which was previously controlled by the British). There were also fears Mossadegh was secretly communist or a USSR sympathizer. This operation was successful and inexpensive, and gave the CIA the confidence to do the same thing a year later in Guatemala. The reinstated Shah was widely unpopular and this led to the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Operation PBSUCCESS (1954) was the CIA-organized covert operation that overthrew the democratically-elected President of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. The CIA armed and trained an ad-hoc "Liberation Army" of about 400 fighters in Nicaragua. Under the command of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, the Liberation Army invaded Guatemala via Honduras on June 18, and Arbenz resigned on June 27. The coup ignited decades of repressive government and civil conflict. With factions of the Guatemalan Army and the influential landowning upper class opposed to Arbenz's policies, some have speculated that his left-wing reformist government would not have lasted even if the CIA had not intervened; nonetheless, the event has become a focus of criticism regarding American covert operations during the Cold War."Operation Mongoose" AKA The Cuban ProjectThe Cuban Project, also known as

"Operation Mongoose" (1961) is the general name for CIA covert operations initiated by President Kennedy authorizing aggressive covert assault on Communism in the Cuban Republic. The operation was led by Air Force General Edward Lansdale and came into being after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.Over thirty different plans were considered under The Cuban Project, some of which were carried out. The plans included the use of American Green Berets, destruction of the Cuban sugar crop, mining of harbors and even the possible creation of rumors that Jesus would return to Cuba after the Communist Party of Cuba was overthrown.Operation NorthwoodsThe Joint Chiefs of Staff and the NSA planned to launch terror attacks on American targets, blaming them on the Cubans in 1962.
…the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of anti-Communism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.

CIA attacks Chile and installs PinochetOn September 11th 1973, terrorists attacked Chile, overthrowing the oldest functioning democracy in Latin America. They installed a military dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet who suppressed opposition, murdered thousands, tortured tens of thousands and employed a former Nazi Colonel Walter Rauff to assist the elimination of dissidents. This coup was the result of a three-year terrorist campaign to destabilize the Chilean government and included assassinations, arson, bombings and economic sabotage.The terrorist organization which carried was none other than the CIA. In 1970 the Chileans had elected a democratic socialist, Salvador Allende, as their president in a free and fair election. Allende increased civil liberties, instituted agrarian reform, and increased spending on health, education, housing and sanitation. Many foreign-owned businesses were nationalized, including copper firms (largely American owned). This threatened US domination over South America, and so the CIA launched the coup that murdered Allende and put Pinochet in power.

US invasion of Grenada. The conflict began on October 25, 1983, when the United States armed forces landed troops on the beaches of Grenada.A Grenadian faction led by the strongly pro-Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard seized power; Coard's forces subsequently executed popular leader Bishop (black power and Marxist-Leninist leanings) in spite of mass protests in Bishop's favor. The OECS appealed to the United States, Barbados, and Jamaica to assist them.The combination of a bloody seizure of power by a hardline Marxist group within the U.S. "sphere of influence" prompted it to act militarily. The U.S. government described the invasion as a "noncombatant evacuation operation" for almost 600 American medical students on the island. There was no indication that the administration tried to evacuate the Americans peacefully.The Invasion was opposed by the British government, as Grenada was part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Margaret Thatcher contacted Ronald Reagan, telling him that "Grenada was part of the British Commonwealth, and the United States had no business interfering in its affairs."After the invasion, Prime Minister Thatcher wrote to Reagan:"This action will be seen as intervention by a western country in the internal affairs of a small independent nation, however unattractive its regime. I ask you to consider this in the context of our wider East-West relations and of the fact that we will be having in the next few days to present to our Parliament and people the siting of cruise missiles in this country. I cannot conceal that I am deeply disturbed by your latest communication."In 1984, Reagan often quipped that Grenada had to be invaded because it was the world's largest producer of nutmeg. He also said, "You can't make eggnog without nutmeg."

Terrorist training camp on US soil? You bet – run by the United States ArmyThe US Army maintains a terrorist training camp in Columbus, Georgia called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. On November 16, 1989, six Salvadoran Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter were murdered at the University of Central America. Of the 27 soldiers cited for that massacre by a 1993 UN Truth Commission, 19 were SOA graduates. The New York Times reported, "Americans can now read for themselves some of the noxious lessons the United States Army taught thousands of Latin Americans… [The SOA manuals] recommended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail and arresting the relatives of those being questioned."


In my last post The United States of Terrorism , I received some interesting comments, ranging from the complimentary to the critical. That's always nice. Sometimes you just get negative comments. Sometimes you just get kudos.
Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  


Thursday, May 04, 2006


In my last post The United States of Terrorism , I received some interesting comments, ranging from the complimentary to the critical. That's always nice. Sometimes you just get negative comments. Sometimes you just get kudos. When you hit the trifecta, it feels good. My fellow Blue Voicer, Neil, had some choice words to say about that post. In particular, he felt that it was "anti-American."

Honestly, I've never quite understood what that means. For instance, how is it that condemnation of terrorist acts that suppressed, destroyed, or otherwise undermined democracy anti-American? Does it then logically follow that such acts are American?

Noam Chomsky claims that anti-Americanism is a term usually found in totalitarian systems like the former Soviet Union where anti-Sovietism was a high crime. He points out that if you were to write a book on anti-Italianism Italians would just laugh; it wouldn't make any sense.

I don't know if I agree with that, but it certainly is an odd phrase. Let's say you own a little store and I discover that your top employee–i.e., your most powerful employee–was enlisting your business in some very illegal dealings. If I told you about it, wouldn't that be a good thing? Without that information you would never know what was going on. Similarly, it's apparent that none of the true history of this country ever gets talked about outside a small circle.

How can the average American make an informed opinion about any of these things without historical context? In Kinser's new book Overthrow he details 14 direct military interventions that overthrew governments we didn't like, starting in Hawaii. Authors like Noam Chomsky, William Blum, Howard Zinn, and Michael Parenti have all written extensively on these things.

What I wonder, though, if it's anti-American for me to even discuss, say, Reagan's terrorist war against Nicaragua, what is the good American to do? Should I pretend that we just accidently fell upon the world's most powerful empire? Should I pretend that we didn't overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran for Brittish Petroleum?

Let me make something clear. I don't write about these things to upset anybody other than the terrorist thugs who perpetuate this violence on the world. I write about these things because they are fundamental to understanding the events in the world. With all the talk about terrorist groups in the world the past few years, why isn't the CIA on that list? If Al Quaida and Osama Bin Laden are a horrible group of terrorists–as I think they are–what about the group that trained and funded them? Is that not a reasonable question?

I'll admit that I'm really not sure what is meant when someone says I'm "Anti-American." It baffles me. I believe in freedom and democracy. I believe in self-determination. I believe in the right of workers to organize and form labor unions and agitate for a better deal. Is any of that anti-American? If it is, so be it.

Personally I think it's a cop-out. We like to think we're special. We like to think that we've been blessed with this empire and all the riches that come with it. It makes us uneasy to see the death and destruction we've caused around the world. It hurts us to realize that freedom and democracy aren't things we really believe in as a nation.

I speak truth to power. Call it what you will.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Operation Northwoods

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Operation Northwoods

Code named Operation Northwoods (1962), the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.

This, of course, provides the much needed historical context for the attacks on 9/11. How might the public reacted to the events of 9/11 had such information been more widely known? If you knew that our government had planned such attacks in the past, might you be more receptive of such ideas now?

Originally I was going to use the quote above to delve into the many problems with the official version of events concerning 9/11, but in light of recent comments I've changed my tact. What often gets missed in discussions about clandestine government operations is "who are they being kept secret from and why?"

For instance, if the Cuban revolution was such a horrible and vile thing why the need for so much secrecy? Why must they trick us into invading Cuba? Why must they trick us into invading Iraq? Why must they lie to us again and again for the reasons we go to war? Why did Woodrow Wilson tell the American people we were entering World War I to "make the world safe for democracy" when in reality it was to maintain our preeminant trading status? Why did Kermit Roosevelt have to sneak around inside Iran to overthrow the democratically elected government for Brittish Petroleum? Why did Ronald Reagan have to utilize proxy armies in Nicaragua when he really wanted to invade? A historian sympathetic to Roosevelt, Thomas A. Bailey, has written:

Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor….He was like the physician who must tell the patient lies for the patient's own good…because the masses are notoriously shortsighted and generally cannot see danger until it is at their throats….

Do you believe that? Do you believe that you're just too stupid, too short-sighted to understand world events? And if our leaders and the educated elite believe we are too "shortsighted" then what does that say about our supposed love for democracy which depends upon an informed society?

When you think about it, this speaks very well of the American people. We aren't tyrants and murderers. We aren't terrorists. We actually do believe in freedom and democracy and human rights. We really are a good and gentle people. If we weren't, our government wouldn't have to lie so much; they wouldn't have to hide their true motivations.

The secret terrorist campaigns of our government are no secret to, say, the people of Nicaragua or Iran. They were no secret to people like Kermit Roosevelt, Saddam Hussein, and Manuel Noriega who carry them out. They are no secret to people like Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld who plan them. They are secret to us because if the American people truly understood what their government was doing and for whom, they'd be out on their asses in two seconds.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Energy Problem

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Energy Problem

I've recently started watching Real Time with Bill Maher. Aside from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now it's one of the only shows on television where I've seen Noam Chomsky. The premise of the show is pretty simple, if you haven't seen it. A handful of guests get together to discuss the issues of the day. I actually have a post in the works regarding the episode with Noam Chomsky. But tonights post is about the episode that aired April 26 of this year with guests: actor/director George Clooney, Sir Ian McKellen, Rep. Barney Frank, correspondent Michel Martin, and historian Victor Davis Hanson. Bruce would have been quite pleased with the handling old Victor David Hanson got.

It is an interesting show and you're bound to hear perspectives you won't hear in many other places on television. The guest who most impressed me on this program was the actor Sir Ian McKellen. I also enjoyed Representative Barney Frank. I'll begin with a quote from Frank questioning the sacred capitalist system:

Part of the problem is this: these are the people who think the answer to everything is the free market. The notion that we, the people of the United States, could ever come together in a united way pool our resources, pool our energies and try to accomplish something for the public sector is a terrible idea. So there answer was the market the market the market.

It's a beautiful thing to see the sacred dogma of capitalism–the market–called into question and the idea that we are all in this together espoused. This energy problem is a global problem. If we want to emerge from it, we should tackle it together.

Barney Frank also stressed the fact that much of what we are facing has been caused by our way of life, something he admits was pushed on us. We were encouraged, he said, to live forty miles from work for the sake of our families. And now that lifestyle is hurting us. It is not a sustainable lifestyle. We need to live closer to where we work and closer to where our food is grown. We need to live in walkable communites that make automobiles an option not a necessity.

Ian McKellan was a joy to listen to. He misspeaks a little here. Gas isn't running out; cheap gas is running out. A small difference, but a difference to be sure.

"The problem isn't that the petrol gas prices are so high, but gas is running out. That's the news… everybody has an individual responsibility to that, including from the president down. But in this very small quote below Mr. McKellan manages to touch on the problems of Peak Oil, alternative ideas for energy, and the destructive side of car culture:

I just put solar panels on my house in London. You wouldn't think there was enough sunshine would you? But there is enough sunshine to provide my house with electricity. I sell electricity back to the national grid that I get for free from my roof. Now shouldn't everybody be doing that? All new houses in the UK are fitted with these tiles which provide them with free electricity. Why isn't the government persuading us as individuals that we can do something? What's a matter with going on your bike? I worked along Sunset Blvd. today for lunch from one hotel to another. There were only two of us walking along the busies street in L.A. We walked faster than the cars and faster than the bus…

You meet people on the streets. Cars are dreadfull things. You get inside them and you think that that's the world. It's not the world, and you don't own that bit of space you're in. People who live in cars go and do dreadful things to other people because they stop seeing them as human beings whom they might fall in love with or greet or shake hands with.

I mentioned a similar problem with our car culture in my post on Lack of a Civil Society. Cars separate us. This is all the more evident during demonstrations for peace and justice. Fellow citizens drive by at high speed and offer a honk or a middle finger, and that's our discourse. No town squares to meet in. The union halls are small places. And we're all relegated to our empty mobile cubicles as we motor down the road.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

We Don’t Want War

Saturday, May 06, 2006

We don't want War

I've been talking a lot about the United States Empire in recent posts. This makes people uneasy. Many of us tend to identify with our nation. We hear criticism of our country as criticism of ourselves. When I tell you that Kermit Roosevelt and the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 it sounds like I'm saying you're a bad guy.

But as the above quote so clearly illustrates is that we are easy to lead to war. Time and time again we have been coerced, tricked, and fooled into supporting one military adventure after another. Today on Democracy Now it was said that our terrorist training camp, The School of the Americas, has turned out over 60,000 military personel from Latin America. I don't think the average American would be proud to know we operate one of the largest training camps in the world right here at home.

That's why it's so important to know these things, to hear dissenting views, and better understand our history so that we can better change the future. If you think the entire problem is just George W. Bush and his cronies, you'll never change anything. Bush is a symptom of a much larger problem.

I really believe in democracy and self-determination. I believe in the mythic America we all learned about in history class, the one that only went to war for the most noble of reasons. The country that used its wealth to help the poor of the world. The great nation that freed the oppressed and fought for freedom and democracy around the world. The country that believes in human rights. Sure it's a myth, but together we can make that myth a reality. Join the peace movement and make a difference!

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Loose Change

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Loose Change

Finally alternate theories regarding what really happened on 9/11 have reached the mainstream media. William Welch of USA Today has written a piece on the film Loose Change: Conspiracy Film Rewrites Sept. 11. As expected, the report is quite dismissive of Loose Change and other alternative theories out there.

The official story is so unbelievable we must believe it:

Craig Smith, director of the Center for First Amendment Studies at California State University, Long Beach, cites the unusual nature of 9/11: four airliners simultaneously hijacked and no defenses stop them.
"You would say, come on, I can't even buy that as a movie script," Smith says. "All of this feeds this readiness for paranoia."

It's kinda like Santa Claus, right? As a child you're sold this incredibly hard to swallow lie and convinced to believe despite your misgivings. The fact that the official 9/11 story is so convuluted doesn't undermine its truthfulness but rather fuels our baseless paranoia.

But Mr. Welch wants to make sure we are getting the right message:

'They Aren't Truth-Tellers'

Most of what the film alleges is refuted by the evidence at hand. Anything not answered definitively by the government is interpreted by the film as proof of a coverup.

The strategy up til now has been to ignore these theories. Put your faith in a government that lies to you again and again to go to war. Put your faith in a commission headed by people loyal to George W. Bush and his cronies. Ignore what your gut tells you. Ignore the real evidence. You're on the good team, the winning team and it's not your job to question what our leaders do.

But most of what the film alleges is not easily refuted. It is a fact that 9/11 marked the first time in our history that a steel framed building collapsed due to fire. On that historic day, not one but three buildings collapsed due to fire, collapsing in approximately 10 seconds: the time it would take a ball to drop from the top of one of the towers to the ground.

To accept the official version you have to believe that those 343 firefighters and paramedics were simply too stupid to know that the building might collapse. They weren't stupid. And they weren't ignoring any forseeable threat when they entered the buildings on that fateful day. In the normal world steel framed buildings don't collapse due to fire.

This raging inferno that supposedly brought down the towers was so fierce that Fire Chief Palmer was able to reach the 78th floor of the South Tower and decided he could knock the fire down with two hoses.

The piece in USA Today ends with a few nice quotes from the nut David Horowitz and a sociologist who attempt to explain away the popularity of such alternative views. Interestingly they could have gotten a quote from Noam Chomsky–someone Horowitz despises–that also would have dismissed these theories. But a quote from Chomsky would have probably carried a lot more weight with those, like myself, who find these theories to be credible. Chomsky, like Horowitz, dismisses them as an "internet thing."

One thing to keep in mind is that there are different factions within this movement. It's not a monolithic entity. Watch the films. Read the many wonderful books out there, like Crossing the Rubicon by Michael C. Rupert. Join the internet discussions. Do your own research. I think you'll be surprised by what you find.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chomsky vs. Everyone

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Chomsky Vs Everyone

Did you see the episode of Bill Maher's show with Noam Chomsky? I didn't. I only recently began watching television again. But I do remember a number of friends calling and asking me about Chomsky after seeing him on this program with Bill Maher. As a result, most of my Chomsky books have been lent out.

This was over two years ago, but for some reason I was trying to think of what show it was so that I could TIVO it, figuring if Bill Maher had Chomsky on his show it must not be half bad. The show is called Real Time with Bill Maher. It's on HBO, and apparently much like his older show Politically Incorrect with a few changes. I'm guessing most people out there are familiar with it. I've never seen it.

But a little snooping around got me to the transcript of the show with Chomsky and I dove right in, wondering what kinds of questions Bill Maher might have asked the world's most renowned linguistic scholar and arguably the world's most important intellectual. Maher starts by asking a rather odd question:

It seems to me that the most religious people are also, at least in this country, the most super-patriotic. Isn’t there an inherent conflict there? I mean, if you’re truly religious and you believe in God – I mean, Jesus is not an American, I assume—[laughter]

Ignore the fact that he assumes religion equals Christianity, as revealed in his follow up question. Why would Maher ask Chomsky a question about Christianity? I'm not saying Chomsky isn't up to answering the question, but it seems an odd starting point, specially when you condsider that Chomsky is Jewish.

Apparently the interview with Chomsky was via satelite and taped prior to the show. According to the transcript while the clip was airing one of Maher's other guests, Andrew Sullivan, couldn't quit grimmacing. I guess it's painful for some people to hear Chomsky speak. Bill Maher asked him about it and this is what Sullivan said:

SULLIVAN: What?! He thinks that in discussion of Saddam Hussein he should raise the issue of Nuremberg trials for the United States? [audience reacts] Well, yes. Welcome to the world view of the far left, in which the United States is the source of evil and Saddam Hussein is actually a source of good.

What Chomsky actually said was:

CHOMSKY: The invasion of Iraq was simply a war crime, straight out war crime. [applause] [cheers] If we are not – if we don’t want to be hypocrites in the sense condemned in the Bible, we’ll apply to ourselves the judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal, for example, which said that aggression,
invasion is the supreme international crime, which includes within it all subsequent crimes, including all of those that are taking place now. So when the invade Fallujah, as I suppose they will, after having driven out most of the population, probably smash the place up, it will add to the enormous casualty
lists which may be in the range of 100,000 by now, maybe more, maybe less. And there’s more to come.

Does Chomsky really think that Saddam Hussein is a source of good?

CHOMSKY: In fact, the U.S. support for – remember, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein. And that means the people now in office or their immediate mentors, supported him in ways that had absolutely nothing to with Cold War or with the war with Iran. The support went on after the war with Iran was over, went off after the Berlin Wall fell. In fact, it even went on after the first Gulf War, when the first Bush Administration authorized Saddam to crush a Shiite uprising which probably would have overthrown him.

It’s certainly true that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein, and also
without the people who supported him through his worst atrocities, and are now telling us about them. [applause]
The fact of the matter is that if it hadn’t been for the sanctions which devastated the society and killed hundreds of thousands of people, it’s very likely that the Iraqis themselves would have sent
Saddam Hussein to the same fate as other brutal monsters also supported by the people now in Washington, like Ceausescu in Romania or Suharto in Indonesia, or Marcos and a whole string of others. Quite a rogues’ gallery. And probably Saddam would have gone the same way.

So Mr. Sullivan has been wrong on all counts thus far, but he's not done! He goes on to claim that Chomsky thinks the United States is as bad as Hussein's regime (the give in take of conversation makes it a bit messy to quote). And then he goes on to say:

SULLIVAN: For example: he claimed 100,000 dead in Iraq. No one believes that.

For some reason this 100,000 figure really gets people bent out of shape. I've seen it jusr drive people up the wall. Doesn't everybody know we have smart bombs that don't kill people unless their enemy combatants? Gosh! But the funny thing is Chomsky didn't flatly say 100,000 Iraqis have been killed. This is how he put it:

So when the invade Fallujah, as I suppose they will, after having driven out most of the population, probably smash the place up, it will add to the enormous casualty lists which may be in the range of 100,000 by now, maybe more, maybe less. And there’s more to come.

Chomsky is honest enough to admit that the number of Iraqi dead is not known. Perhaps if we cared more about human life more accurate numbers might be kept. As it stands there are no official numbers of Iraqi dead.

Sullivan also tries to make a distinction between his view that Hussein had to be removed and the standard cliche that those opposed to the must, by default, have wanted Hussein to remain in power. This is one of the saddest arguments I've heard for three some years now. What's funny is that Chomsky actually outlines what he thought would have happened to Hussein had the US not stepped in:

The fact of the matter is that if it hadn’t been for the sanctions which devastated the society and killed hundreds of thousands of people, it’s very likely that the Iraqis themselves would have sent Saddam Hussein to the same fate as other brutal monsters also supported by the people now in Washington, like Ceausescu in Romania or Suharto in Indonesia, or Marcos and a whole string of others. Quite a rogues’ gallery. And probably Saddam would have gone the same way.

Gosh, imagine that. Maybe, just maybe, the people of Iraq could have taken care of their own problem. Before you dismiss such a notion, don't forget that Saddam Hussein was a CIA assett and that the Baathists rose to power largely due to help from the United States.

What's sad is Chomsky wasn't able to defend himself. Bill Maher stepped up a few times in the exchange but for the most part tried to distance himself from Chomsky, which is fine.

Perhaps the funniest statement made by Sullivan was that Chomsky was a supporter of the Soviet Union:

SULLIVAN: There are some views – there are some views – people who support the Soviet Union, as Chomsky did for so long, who’ve supported tyranny in all sorts of places, like Chomsky has done, who have lied consistently, as Chomsky has done, who do not deserve fundamental respect in this sense.

What's funny about it is Chomsky was a huge critic of the former Soviet Union. In his own words:

“I don’t know if you are aware of how funny the line about my supporting Russia is. Two minutes research would have shown him that I've been strongly anti-Leninist throughout my life, in fact from childhood. He may not know it, but the Kremlin surely did. I was utter anathema there, so much so that my entire professional field [linguistics] was banned. I couldn’t even send technical papers to colleagues and friends in Eastern Europe because it would get them into trouble. It wasn’t until the mid-80s that there were any openings. One of the favorite weeks of my life was in about 1980, when I received two dailies denouncing me furiously for my work on transformational grammar: One was Izvestia, denouncing it as counterrevolutionary, and the other was Argentina’s La Prensa (at the peak of the neo-Nazi military dictatorship), denouncing it as dangerously revolutionary. They’re all basically alike, and Sullivan fits in probably better than he knows.”

This is like beating a dead horse but I just had to comment. From what little research I've done it appears that Sullivan has not had much of a response to critics of his ridiculous comments. According to Bill Maher, Noam Chomsky was the most requested guest for over 12 years. Hopefully Chomsky will get another chance to share his views with a wider audience.

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thought Experiment

Thought Experiment

While the majority of Americans are against the war in Iraq, that's not the case with the war in Afghanistan. Many on the Left believe in the justifications for our bombardment of the people of Afghanistan. The predominant view it seems is that Afghanistan was harboring terrorists and terrorist training camps that were preparing attacks on us. Therefore we must attack them to keep the danger from reaching our shores. That's a good approximation of the prevailing view. If you agree with that view or something close to that, I'd like you to consider the case of many Latin American countries.

The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American security personnel in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. SOA graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians. (See Grads in the News).

That is 60,000 U.S. trained terrorists. These people are trained to oppress popular movements. Does anyone believe for a second that Al Qaida has trained 60,000 terrorists for a war against the United States? And yet we've waged a proxy war against the people of Latin America for over fifty years. Invasion, occupation, intervention, military coups, funding of opposition parties to the tunes of millions to fix elections, all for the purpose of keeping Latin America our little sweatshop.

Does Nicaragua have the right to set off bombs in Washington? Do they have the right to arrest George Bush and his cast of characters that were largely in power when the terrorist war was waged against Nicaragua? Do the people of Latin American have the right to bomb us in retaliation of our terrorism against them?

Published in: on May 19, 2006 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment