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17 August 2007

Chomsky on CBC's "Hot Talk": On 9/11, April 16, 2002

Answer Me This: Why Won't the ADL Recognize the Armenian Genocide?

Could it have something to do with the uniqueness of the Nazi holocaust -- or, in Norman Finkelstein's useful terminology, the Holocaust, which refers to the ideological use of the real event, for which he reserves the term, "Nazi holocaust"?

Methinks it does. Now, I think the French are wrong to outlaw Armenian genocide-denial -- I'm a free-speech near-absolutist -- but it is rather interesting that Bernard Lewis, neocon extraordinaire, has been found guilty of this genocide denial.

But, according to some hysterics and Stalinist-like agitprop hacks, Finkelstein is a "Holocaust-denier," or, when pushed, "-minimizer." That Finkelstein's parents survived Auschwitz does seem to weaken this charge a tad, but, in the end, the Dershowitzes of the world pushed DePaul into denying Finkelstein tenure.

So, I guess some genocides are more equal than others. Disgusting.

(Note: I lost a good chunk of my family in the Nazi holocaust. My take on this is best explained in a comment I made to Chris Hedges' excellent article on what could be called "ethnic trauma-envy.")

Update: Interesting. First, the regional director of the dissenting chunk of the ADL has been fired. Second, Finkelstein has posted Dershowitz's condemnation of the ADL's refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide on his site (scroll down to bottom), regardless of Dershowitz's having spearheaded Finkelstein's firing at DePaul.

Gee, I guess Finkelstein actually does place honesty higher than most would, huh?

Padilla: A Triumph of American Justice

Video linked in title; transcript here.

I know it's really hard for some people to separate whatever real-world crimes Padilla may be guilty of (who knows, given how the case has been handled) from the rule of law. You know, that little thing. Even Nazis got due process at Nuremberg; why not Padilla?

This is truly horrifying -- the whole story of Padilla's arrest, incarceration, torture, and prosecution.

This is an American citizen, recall. What prevents any American citizen from getting the same treatment? The good will of the federal government? I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you if you believe that -- and please don't claim you're a "conservative."

Responsibility and War Guilt: A Culture-Setting Intelligentsia, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Gabriel Matthew Schivone

The Responsibility of Intellectuals

GMS: Addressing a community of mostly students during a public forum at the steps of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1969, you expressed: "This particular community is a very relevant one to consider at a place like MIT because, of course, you're all free to enter this community -- in fact, you're invited and encouraged to enter it. The community of technical intelligentsia, and weapons designers, and counterinsurgency experts, and pragmatic planners of an American empire is one that you have a great deal of inducement to become associated with. The inducements, in fact, are very real; their rewards in power, and affluence, and prestige and authority are quite significant."

Let's start off talking about the significance of these inducements, on both a university and societal level. How crucial is it, in your view, that students particularly consider and understand this, as you describe, highly technocratic social order of the academic community and its function in society, that is, comparably to the more directly associated professional scholarship considering it?

CHOMSKY: How important it is, to an individual, depends on what that individual's goals in life are. If the goals are to enrich yourself, gain privilege, do technically interesting work -- in brief, if the goals are self-satisfaction -- then these questions are of no particular relevance. If you care about the consequences of your actions, what's happening in the world, what the future will be like for your grandchildren and so on, then they're very crucial. So, it's a question of what choices people make.

GMS: What makes students a natural audience to speak to? And do you think it's worth "speaking truth" to the professional scholarship as well or differently? Are there any short- or long-term possibilities here?

CHOMSKY: I'm always uneasy about the concept of "speaking truth," as if we somehow know the truth and only have to enlighten others who have not risen to our elevated level. The search for truth is a cooperative, unending endeavor. We can, and should, engage in it to the extent we can and encourage others to do so as well, seeking to free ourselves from constraints imposed by coercive institutions, dogma, irrationality, excessive conformity and lack of initiative and imagination, and numerous other obstacles.

As for possibilities, they are limited only by will and choice.

Students are at a stage of their lives where these choices are most urgent and compelling, and when they also enjoy unusual, if not unique, freedom and opportunity to explore the choices available, to evaluate them, and to pursue them.

GMS: In your view, what is it about the privileges within university education and academic scholarship which, as you assert in some of the things you've written, correlate with them a greater responsibility for catastrophic atrocities such as the Vietnam War or those in the Middle East in which the United States is now involved?

CHOMSKY: Well, there are really some moral truisms. One of them is that opportunity confers responsibility. If you have very limited opportunities, then you have limited responsibility for what you do. If you have substantial opportunity you have greater responsibility for what you do. I mean, that's kind of elementary, I don't know how it can be discussed.

And the people who we call "intellectuals" are just those who happen to have substantial opportunity. They have privilege, they have resources, they have training. In our society, they have a high degree of freedom -- not a hundred percent, but quite a lot -- and that gives them a range of choices that they can pursue with a fair degree of freedom, and that hence simply confers responsibility for the predictable consequences of the choices they make.

The Rise of a Technical Intelligentsia

GMS: I think at this point it may do well for us to go over a bit the beginnings and evolution of the ideological currents which now prevail throughout modern social intellectual life in the U.S. Essentially, from where may we trace the development of this strong coterie of technical experts in the schools, and elsewhere, sometimes having been referred to as a "bought" or "secular priesthood?"

CHOMSKY: Well, it really goes back to the latter-part of the nineteenth century, when there was substantial discussion -- not just in the United States but in Europe, too -- of what was then sometimes called "a new class" of scientific intellectuals. In that period of time there was a level of knowledge and technical expertise accumulating that allowed a kind of managerial class of educated, trained people to have a greater share in decision-making and planning. It was thought that they were a new class displacing the aristocracy, the owners, political leaders and so on, and they could have a larger role -- and of course they liked that idea.

Out of this group developed an ideology of technocratic planning. In industry it was called "scientific management." It developed in intellectual life with a concept of what was called a "responsible class" of technocratic, serious intellectuals who could solve the world's problems rationally, and would have to be protected from the "vulgar masses" who might interfere with them. And it goes right up until the present.

Just how realistic this is, is another question, but for the class of technical intellectuals, it's a very attractive conception that, "We are the rational, intelligent people, and management and decision-making should be in our hands."

Actually, as I've pointed out in some of the things I've written, it's very close to Bolshevism. And, in fact, if you put side-by-side, say, statements by people like Robert McNamara and V.I. Lenin, it's strikingly similar. In both cases there's a conception of a vanguard of rational planners who know the direction that society ought to go and can make efficient decisions, and have to be allowed to do so without interference from, what one of them, Walter Lippmann, called the "meddlesome and ignorant outsiders," namely, the population, who just get in the way.

It's not an entirely new conception: it's just a new category of people. Two hundred years ago you didn't have an easily identifiable class of technical intellectuals, just generally educated people. But as scientific and technical progress increased there were people who felt they can appropriate it and become the proper managers of the society, in every domain. That, as I said, goes from scientific management in industry, to social and political control.

There are periods in history, for example, during the Kennedy years, when these ideas really flourished. There were, as they called themselves, "the best and the brightest." The "smart guys" who could run everything if only they were allowed to; who could do things scientifically without people getting in their way.

It's a pretty constant strain, and understandable. And it underlies the fear and dislike of democracy that runs through elite culture always, and very dramatically right now. It often correlates closely with posturing about love of democracy. As any reader of Orwell would expect, these two things tend to correlate. The more you hate democracy, the more you talk about how wonderful it is and how much you're dedicated to it. It's one of the clearer expressions of the visceral fear and dislike of democracy, and of allowing, again, going back to Lippmann, the "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders" to get in our way. They have to be distracted and marginalized somehow while we can take care of the serious questions.

Now, that's the basic strain. And you find it all the time, but increasingly in the modern period when, at least, claims to expertise become somewhat more plausible. Whether they're authentic or not is, again, a different question. But, the claims to expertise are very striking. So, economists tell you, "We know how to run the economy;" the political scientists tell you, "We know how to run the world, and you keep out of it because you don't have special knowledge and training."

When you look at it, the claims tend to erode pretty quickly. It's not quantum physics; there is, at least, a pretense, and sometimes, some justification for the claims. But what matters for human life is, typically, well within the reach of the concerned person who is willing to undertake some effort.

GMS: Given the, albeit, self-proclaimed notion that this new class is entitled to decision-making, how close are they to actual policy, then?

CHOMSKY: My feeling is that they're nowhere near as powerful as they think they are. So, when, say, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote about the technocratic elite which is taking over the running of society -- or when McNamara wrote about it, or others -- there's a lot of illusion there. Meaning, they can gain positions of authority and decision-making when they act in the interests of those who really own and run the society. You can have people that are just as competent, or more competent, and who have conceptions of social and economic order that run counter to, say, corporate power, and they're not going to be in the planning sectors. So, to get into those planning sectors you first of all have to conform to the interests of the real concentrations of power.

And, again, there are a lot of illusions about this -- in the media, too. Tom Wicker is a famous example, one of the "left commentators" of the New York Times. He would get very angry when critics would tell him he's conforming to power interests and that he's keeping within the doctrinal framework of the media, which goes back to their corporate structure and so on. And he would answer, very angrily -- and correctly -- that nobody tells him what to say. He writes anything he wants -- which is absolutely true. But if he wasn't writing the things he did he wouldn't have a column in the New York Times.

That's the kind of thing that is very hard to perceive. People do not want -- or often are not able -- to perceive that they are conforming to external authority. They feel themselves to be very free -- and indeed they are -- as long as they conform. But power lies elsewhere. That's as old as history in the modern period. It's often very explicit.

Adam Smith, for example, discussing England, quite interestingly pointed out that the merchants and manufacturers -- the economic forces of his day -- are the "principal architects of policy," and they make sure that their own interests are "most peculiarly attended to," no matter how grievous the effect on others, including the people in England. And that's a good principle of statecraft, and social and economic planning, which runs pretty much to the present. When you get people with management and decision-making skills, they can enter into that system and they can make the actual decisions -- within a framework that's set within the real concentrations of power. And now it's not the merchants and manufacturers of Adam Smith's day, it's the multinational corporations, financial institutions, and so on. But, stray too far beyond their concerns and you won't be the decision-maker.

It's not a mechanical phenomenon, but it's overwhelmingly true that the people who make it to decision-making positions (that is, what they think of as decision-making positions) are those who conform to the basic framework of the people who fundamentally own and run the society. That's why you have a certain choice of technocratic managers and not some other choice of people equally or better capable of carrying out policies but have different ideas.

GMS: What about degrees of responsibility and shared burdens of guilt on an individual level? What can we learn about how one views oneself often in positions of power or authority?

CHOMSKY: You almost never find anyone, whether it's in a weapons plant, or planning agency, or in corporate management, or almost anywhere, who says, "I'm really a bad guy, and I just want to do things that benefit myself and my friends." Almost invariably you get noble rhetoric like: "We're working for the benefit of the people." The corporate executive who is slaving for the benefit of the workers and community; the friendly banker who just wants to help everybody start their business; the political leader who's trying to bring freedom and justice to the world -- and they probably all believe it. I'm not suggesting that they're lying. There's an array of routine justifications for whatever you're doing. And it's easy to believe them. It's very hard to look into the mirror and say, "Yeah, that guy looking at me is a vicious criminal." It's much easier to say, "That guy looking at me is really very benign, self-sacrificing, and he has to do these things because it's for the benefit of everyone."

Or you get respected moralists like Reinhold Niebuhr, who was once called "the theologian of the establishment." And the reason is because he presented a framework which, essentially, justified just about anything they wanted to do. His thesis is dressed up in long words and so on (it's what you do if you're an intellectual). But what it came down to is that, "Even if you try to do good, evil's going to come out of it; that's the paradox of grace." And that's wonderful for war criminals. "We try to do good but evil necessarily comes out of it." And it's influential. So, I don't think that people in decision-making positions are lying when they describe themselves as benevolent. Or people working on more advanced nuclear weapons. Ask them what they're doing, they'll say: "We're trying to preserve the peace of the world." People who are devising military strategies that are massacring people, they'll say, "Well, that's the cost you have to pay for freedom and justice," and so on.

But, we don't take those sentiments seriously when we hear them from enemies, say, from Stalinist commissars. They'll give you the same answers. But, we don't take that seriously because they can know what they're doing if they choose to. If they choose not to, that's their choice. If they choose to believe self-satisfying propaganda, that's their choice. But it doesn't change the moral responsibility. We understand that perfectly well with regard to others. It's very hard to apply the same reasoning to ourselves.

In fact, one of the -- maybe the most -- elementary of moral principles is that of universality, that is, If something's right for me, it's right for you; if it's wrong for you, it's wrong for me. Any moral code that is even worth looking at has that at its core somehow. But that principle is overwhelmingly disregarded all the time. If you want to run through examples we can easily do it. Take, say, George W. Bush, since he happens to be president. If you apply the standards that we applied to Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, he'd be hanged. Is it an even conceivable possibility? It's not even discussable. Because we don't apply to ourselves the principles we apply to others.

There's a lot of talk about "terror" and how awful it is. Whose terror? Our terror against them? I mean, is that considered reprehensible? No, it's considered highly moral; it's considered self-defense, and so on. Now, their terror against us, that's awful, and terrible, and so on.

But, to try to rise to the level of becoming a minimal moral agent, and just enter in the domain of moral discourse is very difficult. Because that means accepting the principle of universality. And you can experiment for yourself and see how often that's accepted, either in personal or political life. Very rarely.

Looking at Nuremberg and the Culture of Torture

GMS: What about criminal responsibility and intellectuals? Nuremberg is an interesting precedent.

CHOMSKY: The Nuremberg case is a very interesting precedent. First of all, the Nuremberg trials-of all the tribunals that have taken place, from then until today -- it is, I think, the most serious by far. But, nevertheless, it was very seriously flawed. And it was recognized to be. When Telford Taylor, the chief prosecutor, wrote about it, he recognized that it was flawed, and it was so for a number of fundamental reasons. For one thing, the Nazi war criminals were being tried for crimes that had not yet been declared to be crimes. So, it was ex post facto. "We're now declaring these things you did to be crimes." That is already questionable.

Secondly, the choice of what was considered a crime was based on a very explicit criterion, namely, denial of the principle of universality. In other words, something was called a crime at Nuremberg if they did it and we didn't do it.

So, for example, the bombing of urban concentrations was not considered a crime. The bombings of Tokyo, Dresden, and so on -- those aren't crimes. Why? Because we did them. So, therefore, it's not a crime. In fact, Nazi war criminals who were charged were able to escape prosecution when they could show that the Americans and the British did the same thing they did. Admiral Doenitz, a submarine commander who was involved in all kinds of war crimes, called in the defense a high official in the British admiralty and, I think, Admiral Nimitz from the United States, who testified that, "Yeah, that's the kind of thing we did." And, therefore, they weren't sentenced for these crimes. Doenitz was absolved. And that's the way it ran through. Now, that's a very serious flaw. Nevertheless, of all the tribunals, that's the most serious one.

When Chief Justice Jackson, chief counsel for the prosecution, spoke to the tribunal and explained to them the importance of what they were doing, he said, to paraphrase, that: "We are handing these defendants a poisoned chalice, and if we ever sip from it we must be subject to the same punishments, otherwise this whole trial is a farce." Well, you can look at the history from then on, and we've sipped from the poisoned chalice many times, but it's never been considered a crime. So, that means we are saying that trial was a farce.

Interestingly, in Jackson's opening statement he claimed that the defense did not wish to incriminate the whole German populace from whence the defendants came, for the crimes they committed, but only the "planners and designers" of those crimes, "the inciters and leaders without whose evil architecture the world would not have been for so long scourged with the violence and lawlessness of this terrible war."

That's correct. And that's another principle which we flatly reject. So, at Nuremberg, we weren't trying the people who threw Jews into crematoria; we were trying the leaders. When we ever have a trial for crimes it's of some low-level person -- like a torturer from Abu Ghraib -- not the people who were setting up the framework from which they operate. And we certainly don't try political leaders for the crime of aggression. That's out of the question. The invasion of Iraq was about as clear-cut a case of aggression than you can imagine. In fact, by the Nuremberg principles, if you read them carefully, the U.S. war against Nicaragua was a crime of aggression for which Ronald Reagan should have been tried. But, it's inconceivable; you can't even mention it in the West. And the reason is our radical denial of the most elementary moral truisms. We just flatly reject them. We don't even think we reject them, and that's even worse than rejecting them outright.

I mean, if we were able to say to ourselves, "Look, we are totally immoral, we don't accept elementary moral principles," that would be a kind of respectable position in a certain way. But, when we sink to the level where we cannot even perceive that we're violating elementary moral principles and international law, that's pretty bad. But that's the nature of the intellectual culture -- not just in the United States -- but in powerful societies everywhere.

GMS: You mentioned Doenitz escaping culpability for his crimes. Two who didn't escape punishment and were among the most severely punished at Nuremberg were Julius Streicher, an editor of a major newspaper, and -- also an interesting example -- Dr. Wolfram Sievers of the Ahnenerbe Society's Institute of Military Scientific Research, whose own crimes were traced back to the University of Strasbourg. Not the typical people prosecuted for international war crimes, it seems, given their civilian professions.

CHOMSKY: Yeah; and there's a justification for that, namely, those defendants could understand what they were doing. They could understand the consequences of the work that they were carrying out. But, of course, if we were to accept this awful principle of universality, that would have a pretty long reach -- to journalists, university researchers, and so on.

GMS: Let me quote for you the mission statement of the Army Research Office. This "premier extramural" research agency of the Army is grounded upon "developing and exploiting innovative advances to insure the Nation's technological superiority." It executes this mission "through conduct of an aggressive basic science research program on behalf of the Army so that cutting-edge scientific discoveries and the general store of scientific knowledge will be optimally used to develop and improve weapons systems that establish land-force dominance."

CHOMSKY: This is a Pentagon office, and they're doing their job. In our system, the military is under civilian control. Civilians assign a certain task to the military: their job is to obey, and carry the role out, otherwise you quit. That's what it means to have a military under civilian control. So, you can't really blame them for their mission statement. They're doing what they're told to do by the civilian authorities. The civilian authorities are the culpable ones. If we don't like those policies (and I don't, and you don't), then we go back to those civilians who designed the framework and gave the orders.

You can, as the Nuremberg precedents indicated, be charged with obeying illegal orders, but that's often a stretch. If a person is in a position of military command, they are sworn, in fact, to obey civilian orders, even if they don't like them. If you say they're really just criminal orders, then, yes, they can reject them, and get into trouble and so on. But this is just carrying out the function that they're ordered to carry out. So, we go straight back to the civilian authority and then to the general intellectual culture, which regards this as proper and legitimate. And now we're back to universities, newspapers, the centers of the doctrinal system.

GMS: It's just the forthright honesty of the mission statement which is also very striking, I think.

CHOMSKY: Well, it's like going to an armory and finding out they're making better guns. That's what they're supposed to do. Their orders are, "Make this gun work better," and so they're doing it. And, if they're honest, they'll say, "Yeah, that's what we're doing; that's what the civilian authorities told us to do."

At some point, people have to ask, "Do I want to make a better gun?" That's where the Nuremberg issues arise. But, you really can't blame people very severely for carrying out the orders that they're told to carry out when there's nothing in the culture that tells them there's anything wrong with it. I mean, you have to be kind of like a moral hero to perceive it, to break out of the cultural framework and say, "Look, what I'm doing is wrong." Like somebody who deserts from the army because they think the war is wrong. That's not the place to assign guilt, I think. Just as at Nuremberg. As I said, they didn't try the SS guards who threw people into crematoria, at Nuremberg. They might have been tried elsewhere, but not at Nuremberg.

GMS: But, in this case, the results of the ARO's mission statement in harvesting scholarly work for better weapons design, it's professors, scholars, researchers, scientific designers, etc., who have these choices to focus serious intellectual effort and to be so used for such ends, and who aren't acting necessarily from direct orders but are acting more out of free will.

CHOMSKY: It's free will, but don't forget that there's a general intellectual culture that raises no objection to this.

Let's take the Iraq war. There's libraries of material arguing about the war, debating it, asking "What should we do?" -- this and that, and the other thing. Now, try to find a sentence somewhere that says that "carrying out a war of aggression is the supreme international crime, which differs from other war crimes in that it encompasses all the evil that follows" (paraphrasing from Nuremberg). Try to find that somewhere. I mean, you can find it. I've written about it, and you can find a couple other dozen people who have written about it in the world. But is it part of the intellectual culture? Can you find it in a newspaper, or in a journal; in Congress; any public discourse; anything that's part of the general exchange of knowledge and ideas? I mean, do students study it in school? Do they have courses where they teach students that "to carry out a war of aggression is the supreme international crime which encompasses all the evil that follows?"

So, for example, if sectarian warfare is a horrible atrocity, as it is, who's responsible? By the principles of Nuremberg, Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice -- they're responsible for sectarian warfare because they carried out the supreme international crime which encompasses all the evil that follows. Try and find somebody who points that out. You can't. Because our dominant intellectual culture accepts as legitimate our crushing anybody we like.

And take Iran. Both political parties -- and practically the whole press -- accept it as legitimate and, in fact, honorable, that "all options are on the table," presumably including nuclear weapons, to quote Hilary Clinton and everyone else. "All options are on the table" means we threaten war. Well, there's something called the U.N. Charter, which outlaws "the threat or use of force" in international affairs. Does anybody care? Actually, I saw one op-ed somewhere by Ray Takeyh, an Iran specialist close to the government, who pointed out that threats are serious violations of international law. But that's so rare that when you find it it's like finding a diamond in a pile of hay or something. It's not part of the culture. We're allowed to threaten anyone we want -- and to attack anyone we want. And, when a person grows up and acts in a culture like that, they're culpable in a sense, but the culpability is much broader.

I was just reading a couple days ago a review of a new book by Steven Miles, a medical doctor and bioethicist, who ran through 35,000 pages of documents he got from the Freedom of Information Act on the torture in Abu Ghraib. And the question that concerned him is, "What were the doctors doing during all of this?" All through those torture sessions there were doctors, nurses, behavioral scientists and others who were organizing them. What were they doing when this torture was going on? Well, you go through the detailed record and it turns out that they were designing and improving it. Just like Nazi doctors.

Robert Jay Lifton did a big study on Nazi doctors. He points out in connection with the Nazi doctors that, in a way, it's not those individual doctors who had the final guilt, it was a culture and a society which accepted torture and criminal activities as legitimate. The same is true with the tortures at Abu Ghraib. I mean, just to focus on them as if they're somehow terrible people is just a serious mistake. They're coming out of a culture that regards this as legitimate. Maybe there are some excesses you don't really do but torture in interrogation is considered legitimate.

There's a big debate now on, "Who's an enemy combatant?" -- a big technical debate. Suppose we invade another country and we capture somebody who's defending the country against our invasion: what do you mean to call them an "enemy combatant?" If some country invaded the United States and let's say you were captured throwing a rock at one of the soldiers, would it be legitimate to send you to the equivalent of Guantanamo, and then have a debate about whether you're a "lawful" or "unlawful" combatant? The whole discussion is kind of, like, off in outer space somewhere. But, in a culture which accepts that we own and rule the world, it's reasonable. But, also, we should go back to the roots of the intellectual or moral culture, not just to the individuals directly involved.

GMS: As you mentioned before, whether students are taught serious moral principles: At my school, the University of Arizona, there are courses in bioethics -- required ones, in fact, to hard scientific undergraduates (I took one, out of interest) -- which mostly just discuss scenarios in terms of "slippery slopes" and hypothetical questions within certain bounds, and still none at all in the social sciences or humanities. Do you think there should be? Would that be beneficial?

CHOMSKY: If they were honest, yes. If they're honest they'd be talking about what we're talking about, and doing case studies. There's no point pontificating about high minded principles. That's easy. Nazi doctors could do that, too.

Let's take a look at the cases and ask how the principles apply -- to Vietnam; to El Salvador; to Iraq; to Palestine -- just run through the cases and see how the principles apply to our own actions. That's what is of prime importance, and what is least discussed.

GMS: As a note to end on, there seems to be some very serious aberrations and defects in our society and our level of culture. How, in your view, might they be corrected and a new level of culture be established, say, one in which torture isn't accepted? (After all, slavery and child labor were each accepted for a long period of time and now are not.)

CHOMSKY: Your examples give the answer to the question, the only answer that has ever been known. Slavery and child labor didn't become unacceptable by magic. It took hard, dedicated, courageous work by lots of people. The same is true of torture, which was once completely routine.

If I remember correctly, the renowned Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie wrote somewhere that prisons began to proliferate in Norway in the early 19th century. They weren't much needed before, when the punishment for robbery could be driving a stake through the hand of the accused. Now it's perhaps the most civilized country on earth.

There has been a gradual codification of constraints against torture, and they have had some effect, though only limited, even before the Bush regression to savagery. Alfred McCoy's work reviews that ugly history. Still, there is improvement, and there can be more if enough people are willing to undertake the efforts that led to large-scale rejection of slavery and child labor -- still far from complete.

16 August 2007

Hamas optimism vs. Fatah despair

Something you may not read about in the US...

I, Claudius: A Television Epic, 2002

A BBC documentary on the classic BBC miniseries.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

An Inside Look at How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla

Padilla's psychiatric evaluator talks about what our wonderful government did to an American citizen.

Pure totalitarianism; pure 1984. So proud of our government!

Click the title for video; click here for transcript. If at all possible, you'll want to watch the video.

The HyperZionists Are Getting Nervous...

Dig this article, and this response (PDF) by End the Occupation.

15 August 2007

The Bipartisan Guarantee of More War in Iraq, Chris Floyd

Typically acerbic and excellent analysis from Floyd.

No Light, Just Tunnel

08/15/07 "ICH" -- -- Our text for today is from the New York Times:

"Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years. John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis."

My word, this is certainly a surprise! Who ever would have thought that the most "serious" Democratic candidates would take such a position? Why, I suppose this means that if a "serious" Democrat gets elected president, the war crime in Iraq (which is what the old-timers used to call it when you aggressively invaded a country that hadn't attacked you and occupied their land with your troops) will go on -- just the same as if a "serious" Republican gets elected!

And they say there is no unity in our politics, no bipartisan consensus in Washington!

The NYT article is a hoot and a half -- or it would be, if the farce was not spattered with so much blood. Dig, if you will, this serious knitting of analytical brows:

"Among the challenges the next president could face in Iraq, three seem to be resonating the most: What to do if there is a genocide? What to do if chaos in Iraq threatens to engulf the region in a wider war? And what to do if Iraq descends into further lawlessness and becomes the staging ground for terrorist attacks elsewhere, including in the United States?"

Grave challenges, indeed. But why do they await the next president, when they are happening right now -- when, in fact, they were guaranteed to happen as soon as the criminal action was launched?

The very serious John Edwards says, seriously, that he would keep an unspecified number of troops on hand because "we have to be prepared for the worst possibility that you never hear anyone talking about, which is the possibility that genocide breaks out and the Shi'a try to systematically eliminate the Sunni." But of course, Mr. Edwards himself is noticeably reticent on the subject of the genocide that's going on over there right now: the genocide against the Iraqi people. The number of deaths caused by the war that Bush launched is nearing or has surpassed one million. At least 4 million have fled their homes (an equivalent number in the US would be around 50 million), with most of them living in great hardship in places where they are not wanted. (But not in the United States, of course, which has allowed in the barest trickle of Iraqis since we destroyed their country.)

The nation is nearing a state of collapse as a direct result of the war that was launched by Bush, approved by Congress, countenanced by the American people and set to continue under every "serious" Democratic candidate running for president. Oxfam's recent study of the humanitarian catastrophe put in plainly:

"While horrific violence dominates the lives of millions of ordinary people inside Iraq, another kind of crisis, also due to the impact of war, has been slowly unfolding. Up to eight million people are now in need of emergency assistance. This figure includes:

  • four million people who are 'food-insecure and in dire need of different types of humanitarian assistance'
  • more than two million displaced people inside Iraq
  • over two million Iraqis in neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan, making this the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world....

"Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care, education, and employment. Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 per cent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 per cent in 2004.

"Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from 'absolute poverty'. According to some estimates, over half the population are now without work. Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 per cent now.

"The situation is particularly hard for families driven from their homes by violence. The two million internally displaced people (IDPs) have no incomes to rely on and are running out of coping mechanisms. In 2006, 32 per cent of IDPs had no access to PDS food rations, while 51 per cent reported receiving food rations only sometimes.

"The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003, while 80 per cent lack effective sanitation. The 'brain drain' that Iraq is experiencing is further stretching already inadequate public services, as thousands of medical staff, teachers, water engineers, and other professionals are forced to leave the country. At the end of 2006, perhaps 40 per cent had left already."

What's more, the national power grid is breaking down -- in the midst of summer temperatures that make the US heat wave look like a wintry chill, as the BBC reports:

"Iraq's national power grid is on the brink of collapse, the country's electricity ministry has warned. Water supplies to Baghdad have also been cut off for days at a time, with summertime pressures on key systems said to be more intense than ever. The ministry blamed poor maintenance, fuel shortages, sabotage by insurgents and rising demand for the problems, and said some provinces hold onto supplies."

And what is the answer of the occupying power to this crisis? Not surprisingly, it is an echo of Vice President Cheney's famous remarks to Senator Pat Leahy on the floor of the Senate: GFY.

"The US Army told the BBC that Iraq must now take charge of fixing the problems. The general in charge of helping Iraq rebuild its infrastructure, Michael Walsh, said that although Iraqi authorities only have one-quarter of the money needed for reconstruction, solving the problem was now up to them."

So the Iraqis don't have the money to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the war launched by the Americans -- doubtless because billions upon billions of reconstruction dollars have been looted by the crony conquistadors and their local bagmen. The Pentagon knows the Iraqis don't have the money to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the war launched by the Americans; but they don't care. Bush doesn't care. The Democratic leaders in Congress don't care. The "serious" Democratic candidates don't care. Thousands of innocent Iraqis -- the young, the sick, the injured, the poor, the abandoned -- will be added to the death count this summer from this collapse of basic services. But none of this is an American responsibility. Not the collapse of the state, not the collapse of the society, not the plunge into wholesale sectarian violence by forces being armed on all sides by the Americans. No, it's all the Iraqis' responsibility now.

This unspeakably hideous attitude is not just the stance of the Pentagon, of course; it's also the credo the most serious Democratic candidate of all, the breakaway leader for the nomination, Hillary Clinton. As the Times tells us: "In February, [Clinton] said her message to the Iraqi government would be simple: 'I would say 'I'm sorry, it's over. We are not going to baby-sit a civil war.'"

We invaded your country. We occupied your country. We wrote your constitution, in which the arbitrary decrees of our colonial viceroy were imposed as fundamental law. We looted your money. We armed your sectarians. And we are going to keep a large number of troops in your country, come what may. But we aren't going to baby-sit you anymore. No, if you don't get your act together -- and sign the goddamned Oil Law already -- we are just going to withdraw to our permanent bases and watch you kill each other. -- That is the sum total of the leading Democratic candidate's position on Iraq.

It is of course an incoherent mish-mash, because it is just a smokescreen to obscure Clinton's true policy: to continue the war, largely as it is being fought now. Such a course is absolutely inevitable if you leave American forces in Iraq, to "fight terrorism," to "keep the civil war from spilling across the border," to "protect American personnel" (including, er, the troops you have left in the country), and so on. How will you "fight terrorism" in Iraq without raiding residential areas where "terrorist units" are located and launching airstrikes on "terrorist targets" and rounding up "suspected terrorists" and subjecting them to "strenuous interrogation" without charges in mass prisons and mounting checkpoints to check for terrorists and wreaking the usual "collateral damage" from "force protection" incidents? In other words, how you will operate any differently than the Bush-led operation in Iraq right now? The only difference under Clinton and her "serious" rivals is that there will be fewer troops -- which will actually mean an increased reliance on airstrikes, and hair-trigger "force protection," and even more mercenaries to fill the gaps.

And if the mission of your "residual force" is to "prevent genocide" (that is, a different genocide from the one going on now), how will you do that without intervening -- with airstrikes, troops, checkpoints, arrests, interrogations, "force protection," the whole schmeer -- on behalf of one side or the other? Or both sides? And again, how will this be different from what's going on now?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: anyone who advocates leaving even a "residual force" of American troops is Iraq is actually supporting the continuation of the war, on largely the same terms as it is being waged now. There is no "middle way," there is no magic, bipartisan compromise. There is only no war, or more war.

American troops were sent into Iraq on a criminal mission, an act of aggression that was the moral and legal equivalent of the Nazi invasion of Poland or the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Their continued presence in Iraq only exacerbates all the evils that the "serious" people say will happen if America withdraws. (As if these things weren't happening in Iraq right now.) The Iraqis will never hammer out any kind of political accommodation as long as American troops are in the country, dividing the nation into "collaborators" and "insurgents" just by their very presence (much less by their alliance with one faction or another). The Iraqis will never come to any kind of fair agreement on the distribution of the nation's oil wealth as long as American troop are in the country, emblems of the nearly universal (and certainly correct) belief among Iraqis that the West is out to steal their oil.

It may be too late for any kind of accommodation or agreement now. The ruination that Bush and his willing executioners in Congress have brought to Iraq may be irreparable. As for "destabilizing the region," the war crime has already done that. (Indeed, it was one of the aims of the invasion, as its architects and champions once boasted. "Creative destruction" was the phrase used by the very serious Michael Leeden, I believe.) There will be an inevitable escalation of the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia that is now going on the country; but that will happen no matter what. Sectarian violence will also continue to spiral no matter what, with one possible exception: if the Americans leave the country and are no longer there arming the factions, stirring them up, setting one against the other, and killing and imprisoning civilians, thereby radicalizing more and more Iraqis every day. The only possible chance Iraq has to see a lessening of sectarian violence lies in the complete withdrawal of American troops.

What would happen next? Well, I think a windfall profits tax on the oil companies and the weapons peddlers -- and the private equity sharks like Carlyle and Wall Street firms and investment banks who have gorged themselves with blood money like big ole ticks on a hand -- would produce a very sizable fund for the massive reparations the United States should pay to the Iraqis for destroying their country and murdering their people. Special prosecutors investigating the origins and conduct of the war would also be in order: a Homeland Nuremberg, on national TV -- bigger and better than the Watergate hearings!

But we all know that none of that is going to happen. Certainly not the reparations, the investigations and prosecutions -- not in a million years, not in the "shining city on a hill." Nor will an American withdrawal -- which, as I said, is the only hope Iraq has of lessening the hell that now rages there. The sainted General Petraeus -- who has been one of the most egregiously mendacious blowhards touting the war's "success" for years -- is now telling U.S. lawmakers that his "surge" strategy will take 9-10 years to work, as The Hill reports.So anyone relying on Petraeus -- as Bush and all the "serious" Republicans are doing -- is buying into at least 10 more years of the present situation. And as we outlined above, anyone touting a "residual force" is essentially doing the same thing.

Moreover, the same strategic and economic concerns that motivated the invasion in the first place will still obtain for the next president. In order to "preserve America's sacred way of life," the United States must have privileged access to the world's oil heartlands. The latter will not only allow America to continue using a vastly disproportionate share of the world's energy resources but also be a vital asset in containing the growth of any potential rivals and putting the squeeze on recalcitrant client states (or allies) who get out of line. No president dedicated to maintaining America's global dominance -- via a worldwide empire of military bases and a gargantuan war machine far surpassing that of any other nation -- can afford to willingly give up control of Iraq to a Shiite majority closely allied with Iran. (Unless of course there is a favorable "regime change" in Tehran.) This is part of the evil genius behind the Bush Regime's invasion of Iraq: it essentially commits any Establishment candidate -- one pledged to the aforesaid military-based global dominance (as all of the "serious" candidates of both parties are) -- to continuing the Bushists' policies. Now that the Rubicon of invading Iraq has been crossed, there is no going back. Saddam Hussein was a neutral in the war for energy supremacy: he could be counted on to sell his oil to anyone -- indeed, the United States was his best customer, even during the sanctions regime, even as Bush was building up his invasion force. But a sectarian-based Iraqi government allied with Iran -- or some other unknown quantity seizing power in the vacuum created by the invasion -- could very well curtail or cut off the flow to America for ideological reasons. If you are committed to American hegemony, American empire, then you will have to stay militarily involved in Iraq, now that Bush has led America into it. What's more, the logic of imperial geopolitics will lead inexorably to an attack on Iran as well, to secure the now-necessary dominion over Iraq.

Most people persist in believing that the Bush Administration has "mishandled" or "bungled" the war in Iraq, when in fact they have achieved almost all of their goals. They have vastly enriched their cronies. They have installed a U.S. military presence in Iraq. They have expanded the size, power and scope of the armed forces and the intelligence services (which now have their own secret armies) beyond the wildest dreams of the most hawkish Cold War militarist. They have not only gutted the Constitution but proved that you can get away with it -- an invaluable lesson for dictators to come. And, as noted, they have committed the American Establishment to continuing the radical course they have set in motion -- because the Establishment will never allow the election of any candidate who would seek to institute the rollback of the empire and the restoration of genuine constitutional government. Especially as the latter would entail bringing justice to the war makers and the war profiteers, all of them honored stalwarts of the Establishment.

Thus turning over ostensible authority to a "sovereign" Iraqi government was another masterstroke by the Bushists, a truly audacious scam. While still occupying the country and controlling its affairs, the United States has divested itself of the legal responsibilities of an occupying power. The leaders of both parties in Washington are now busy washing their hands of the blood they have shed, putting the onus on the occupied, co-opted and controlled nation to "put its own house in order." But of course, the Iraqis don't own their house anymore; the largest and most powerful armed force in the world is squatting there, and will keep squatting there for years to come, if the "serious" leaders of both parties have their way.

And they will.

Chris Floyd is an American journalist based in the UK. He is the author of Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium. He writes the Empire Burlesque blog.

MIDEAST: 'Quiet Transfer' Pushes Palestinians Out, By Peter Hirschberg

More Chomsky Talks...

1. Irish radio interview, 2005

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

2. At the Iowa State University on the topic of Global Justice and Human Rights, April 11, 2006 (The playlist below automatically plays all eleven parts.)

Q&A MassGlobal Action Talk, January 18, 2005

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

New Blog: Support Alex Svoboda

Check it out.

13 August 2007

North Providence Police In Action

Update: Projo coverage: here, here, here, here and here. A video and more here.

This is what autocracy looks like. The Providence IWW, along with workers from the warehouses that supply Jackie's Galaxy restaurants in RI (who work 100 hours/week for subminimum wage, etc.), held a march, picketing the North Providence JG.

Here's what the cops, who were clearly out of their depth, did to a protester, who didn't move back to the sidewalk fast enough, reportedly.

(Click the title of this post for a slideshow of all the photos from this event.) Here's the North Providence Police Department Mission Statement:
The members of the North Providence Police Department are dedicated and committed to providing the highest quality police services to our citizens. We are dedicated to the concept of personal excellence at the highest level, uncompromising integrity, continuous improvement in order to enhance public safety, protection of life and property, and the reduction of crime and the perceptions of crime. We will fulfill this mission by developing a partnership with the community in a manner that inspires confidence and trust.

We acknowledge a community commitment to resolve issues and improve the quality of life for all residents. Members of the North Providence Police Department take pride in our professional accomplishments and abilities.

We are individually accountable for the reflection of the following core values in both our professional and personal lives:

  • Respect for human life;
  • Treating all people with the highest regard and respect;
  • Honesty and integrity through ethical behavior;
  • Professionalism and excellence demonstrated in all areas of duty;
  • Cooperation with all agencies of Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement and government;
  • Strengthen partnerships with the community.
Every citizen contact is an opportunity to demonstrate the mission and the values of the North Providence Police Department.

Touching, no? This is what hypocrisy looks like.

The victim, Alexandra Svoboda, has already had one operation on her broken, dislocated knee, and the affected vascular artery, at Rhode Island Hospital.

Another is scheduled for Wednesday.

Alex has no health insurance. If you can help, send what you can to:
  • Providence IWW GMB, PO Box 5795, Providence, RI 02903.
  • Or contact Mark Frey at 201-669-0714 or Billy Randel at 646-645-6284.
If you'd like to tell the mayor and chief of police of North Providence what you think of their protection of citizens availing themselves of their constitutional right to free speech and assembly, or if you'd just like to compliment them on the top-notch training their officers have obviously received, you can contact them here:

North Providence Mayor:

Charles A. Lombardi
North Providence Town Hall
2000 Smith Street
North Providence, RI 02911
Telephone: (401) 232-0900, ext. 226
Fax: (401) 232-3434

Police Chief:
Ernest C. Spaziano
North Providence Police Department
1967 Mineral Spring Ave.
North Providence, RI 02904
Business line: 401-233-1433
Fax number: 401-233-1438

North Providence Police Department Professional Standards Unit
1967 Mineral Spring Avenue
North Providence, RI 02904
(401) 233-1433 Ext. 114
Confidential Fax (401) 233-1425

Or use this nifty form (PDF).
From the NPPD site: "The Commendation/Complaint form must be submitted to the Police Department. The form can be submitted in person, by mail at the above address, or by Fax at the above number."

Update: Projo coverage: here, here, here, here and here. A video and more here.

Elliott Abrams on Chomsky on the US Media on Israel in Index of Censorship

For real.

This is funny if you have a dark sense of humor; if you don't, you best acquire one soon. I came across this priceless story about the Felonious Skunk himself (favorite composition, in re Iran-Contra conviction: "Evidence?") in the Nashua, NH, library, reading Pirates and Emperors: International Terrorism in the Real World, a slim classic by the Chomster.

Elliott Abrams is now on the National Security Council, much concerned with "democracy promotion." This is a man who holds Demos close to his bosom.

Here's a PDF of Abrams' letter mentioned in the post linked in the title above. Actually, I'll repost the info below, fixing the reverse-chronological order of the e-mails that comprise it. I'll excise the e-mail address (!) and fix some spelling.

From: [e-mail removed]
To: PRETEXT Listserv
Sent: 9/14/2004 7:08 PM

Dear Noam:

Although the letter below (at the very end of the message) appears at the beginning of chapter 4 of your Pirates and Emperors Old and New, I think it has some relevance for discussions about H & S and some of the questions that have arisen over the last week about intellectual intervention and affairs of state. Elliot Abrams, now head of Middle East Affairs for the National Security Council, wrote this letter in 1986 (when he was head of Central American affairs at the State Dept.) to the editor of The Index on Censorship, a journal devoted to exposing censorship throughout the world. Abrams was indicted for lying to Congress in 1986, but was pardoned by Bush I. What’s remarkable about the letter is that it was written on State Dept. letterhead, suggesting that the Index on Censorship had not done an effective enough job in censoring your views on the Middle East and that Abrams was, in fact, speaking as a U.S. government official. Abrams wrote his letter in response to your “American Thought Control: The Case of the Middle East,” an article that questioned the very vocabulary framing discussions of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In this article, you discussed in detail how the phrase “peace process”– through a form of Newspeak–has been completely evacuated of meaning. Within the Newspeak lexicon, the whole world waits for the Palestinians to climb aboard the peace process. It’s not necessary, of course, to ask whether U.S. or Israel are aboard because the peace will be fashioned on their terms.

You suggest that there is a doctrinally enforced unwillingness among the American intelligentsia to critically probe some of the propositions that govern the U.S.-Israeli occupation of the Palestinians. This Newspeak: 1) leaves out mention of the rights of the indigenous Palestinian population (can’t be mentioned); 2) can’t articulate, much less fathom, that the U.S. and Israel have been actually blocking a comprehensive diplomatic settlement in the region for over thirty years (bombing of Lebanon occurred in 1982 because of the prospect of peace); 3) won’t recognize the racist assumptions that govern the “rejectionist” stance, (Palestinians are portrayed as rejecting the territorial rights of Israel, but the converse can’t be articulated) which if stated openly, would not be tolerated by the American general public, e.g., that Arabs are somehow civilizationally deficient; and 4) assures that the “security threats” will be those that Israel faces; no one ever asks whether or not Israel and the U.S. pose a security threat to the Palestinians. As a thought experiment, notice how when a “six-week cessation in violence” or a “new outbreak of violence” is reported by the U.S. press, it’s when Palestinians commit violence. However, when Palestinians are murdered it’s not considered murder or violence. All in all, your article highlighted the degree of discipline and level of commitment that can be maintained within a well-functioning propaganda system. Why do you cherish Abrams’ letter so much and what does it mean that your article caught the attention of a state department official?

For a state department official to write to an English journal, devoted to examining censorship, is perhaps comparable to a Soviet commisar [sic] writing to _In These Times_ here in the U.S. because it published the views of a Soviet dissident. What does the controversy that ensued, when the article was published, tells us about the intellectual communities within which we all travel?

Thanks, Matthew A. [took out his full last name, just on principle]


From: Noam Chomsky
To: Pretext Listserv
Sent: 9/15/2004 5:16 PM
Subject: Re: ma>nc: index on censorship

The story is in fact more interesting and complex. Some of it is mentioned in chapter 4, and considerably more in the article by Alexander Cockburn cited in the footnote, based on material leaked to journalists in England. There’s more, in fact, not uninteresting. Perhaps it will be told one day.

On the significance of the letter itself, my own view is as expressed in the chapter: “What the letter reveals is the deep totalitarian streak in the mentality of leading figures in the Reagan administration: not even the tiniest opening must be allowed to unacceptable thought.” And as I
go on to say, they are not alone, though they were at an extreme end of the spectrum, and their current inheritors are clustered even more at that extreme. We can add more about the significance today: Abrams was appointed by Bush II to the top position on Middle East Policy in the National Security Council.

Turning to your question — “What does the controversy that ensued, when the article was published, tells us about the intellectual communities within which we all travel” — I think it might be rephrased: “What does the lack of controversy that ensued tell us about the intellectual communities within which we all travel.” In England, the tremendous and unprecedented attack on the journal and its editor for daring to step out of line did elicit some controversy, mostly denials from thosen [sic] implicated. In the US, I don’t recall anything beyond the Cockburn article. I don’t recall anything in print about the Abrams letter. Perhaps — probably — I’ve forgotten some reactions, but I’m pretty sure they were slight at most. That presumably means that the events are considered quite normal and appropriate within the dominant intellectual culture.

Turning to your analogy, the reaction would no doubt have been dramatically different. Which also tells us something, perhaps.

Noam Chomsky

Update: Part 4. The U.S. Role in the Middle East (November 15, 1986)

It would only be proper for me to begin by presenting my credentials to talk to you on this topic, and since it would be unfair to present my own version, or even to rely on the very kind introductory remarks, let me read a letter of recommendation for me that was sent to a small journal in England, Index on Censorship, where I had a brief article on some aspects of our present topic. [1]

Dear Dan:

Forgive me for writing to you again in your capacity as a Director and Member of the Editorial Board of Index on Censorship, but I can't resist. In the latest issue which I have, July/August 1986, there appears a truly astonishing article, beginning on p. 2 and continuing at great length. This article is an attack on the United States, the United States Government, and the United States press by Noam Chomsky.

You probably know about Chomsky: he is a fanatical defender of the PLO who has set new standards for intellectual dishonesty and personal vindictiveness in his writings about the Middle East. There really isn't anyone left in the U.S. -- without regard to politics -- who takes Chomsky seriously in view of his astonishing record. I therefore find it inexplicable that he is given fully three pages to go on with his attack on one of the freest presses in the world. Clearly giving him this much space lends a certain respectability to his disreputable efforts. Can it be that your editors simply do not know who Chomsky is and are unfamiliar with his record? Can it be that, fully familiar with him, they nevertheless decided to give him this platform? If so, why?

Signed "Elliott," that is, Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, July 29, 1986, on official State Department stationery, and therefore counts, I presume, as a public document (some personal remarks omitted).

I cite this letter for two reasons. One, because I naturally treasure it, just as I treasure, for precisely the same reasons, the efforts of Soviet advisors in the Third World to have my books banned (as they have been for years in the USSR) [2] and the rejection of my only visa application to Eastern Europe. The reactions of the commissars often indicate that one is probably on the right course. But beyond that, the letter is germane to our topic. It gives a revealing (and not untypical) insight into the mentality of the Reagan Administration and also of the Israeli lobby -- I should mention that Abrams's letter was only one part of an impressive barrage launched against the journal for daring to publish remarks on the U.S. and Israel that were deemed improper by the guardians of the faith. [3] These are phenomena with which many of you have personal familiarity, a fact also germane to our topic, for obvious reasons.

Let me put aside the remarkable lack of a sense of irony; recall that this is a journal devoted to censorship, now under attack because it permitted brief expression of fact and analysis that is not to the taste of the commissars. What the letter reveals is the deep totalitarian streak in the mentality of leading figures in the Reagan Administration: not even the tiniest opening must be allowed to unacceptable thought. I do not want to suggest that it is outside the spectrum of American politics. Unfortunately, it is not. But in its practices, its style and its commitments, the Reagan Administration does represent an extreme position within this spectrum, an extreme of reactionary jingoism -- which has misappropriated the honorable term "conservative" -- marked by dedicated lying, lawlessness, enhancement of state power and violence, attacks on personal freedom and civil liberties, all developments that are ominous in character and important for the future of American politics and society, hence for the Middle East, and for the world, given the awesome scale of American power.

These features of the Reagan Administration have not gone unnoticed, and have naturally aroused concern among genuine conservatives here -- of whom there are very few in government or the media -- and abroad. Three years ago, David Watt, Director of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, writing in Foreign Affairs, commented on the chasm that lies between current American perceptions of the world and the world's perception of America ... [W]ith the possible exceptions of the Israelis, the South Africans, President Marcos of the Philippines and a few right-wing governments in Central and South America, [most of the world believes] that the Reagan administration has vastly overreacted to the Soviet threat, thereby distorting the American (and hence the world) economy, quickening the arms race, warping its own judgment about events in the Third World, and further debasing the language of international intercourse with feverish rhetoric. He adds that "it is in my experience almost impossible to convey even to the most experienced Americans just how deeply rooted and widely spread the critical view has become" -- also an important fact. As if to confirm this judgment, in a companion article on the current international scene, Foreign Affairs editor William Bundy
writes that with regard to the "degree of threat from the Soviet Union . . . the Reagan administration's broad view seems to this observer nearer to reality than the often excessively sanguine and parochial stated positions of other major nations." [4]

Watt in fact exaggerates the "chasm." European elites are not so removed from Reaganite hysteria as he indicates, and the "exceptions" go beyond those he mentioned, including particularly France, where many Paris intellectuals have adopted Reaganite fanaticism as their current fad. Furthermore, as Bundy's comment indicates, what Watt is describing represents elite opinion in the U.S. well beyond the Reagan Administration; Bundy writes from near the opposite end of the elite spectrum. Watt is describing the extreme version of a general elite reaction to the problems caused by the Vietnam war, including the harm caused to the U.S. economy and the benefits to its industrial rivals, and the breakdown of discipline both in the Third World and at home, factors that require stern state action and thus an appeal to the ever-useful Russian threat, regularly invoked in such situations. But Watts's essential point is accurate enough.

The isolation of the U.S. has since increased, as revealed for example by votes in the United Nations on a wide range of issues. Within just the last few weeks, the General Assembly voted 124 to 1 in favor of a South Atlantic zone of peace and 94 to 3 calling on the U.S. to comply with the World Court ruling ordering cessation of the U.S. attack against Nicaragua; in the latter case, the U.S. was joined by two client-states, El Salvador (which is "independent" in the sense in which Poland is independent of the USSR) and Israel, which has chosen to become an armed mercenary of the United States. U.S. isolation on Middle East votes is notorious, but the
phenomenon is much more general. In 1980-85 alone the U.S. resorted to 27 vetoes in the Security Council, as compared to 15 in the earlier history of the UN (all since 1966) and four vetoes for the USSR in the 1980s. [5]

The reaction is interesting. In the early days of the UN, when it was firmly under U.S. control and could be used for Cold War purposes, the general attitude towards the organization was highly favorable and there was much earnest debate over what caused the USSR, then almost isolated, to be so negative; perhaps this resulted from the use of swaddling clothes for infants, which reinforced "negativism," some suggested -- a doctrine that a few skeptics called "diaperology." As U.S. global dominance declined from its quite phenomenal postwar peak and the relative independence of members of the UN increased, attitudes towards the UN became more critical, and by now are extremely hostile. We no longer read disquisitions on the curious negativism of the Russians, but rather on the equally curious fact that the world is out of step, as New York Times UN correspondent Richard Bernstein thoughtfully explains. [6]

Opinion polls in Europe show similar results. A recent classified USIA poll shows that outside of France, European opinion trusts Mikhail Gorbachev on arms control far more than Reagan, by four to one in England and seven to one in Germany.[7]

The international isolation is of little concern to the Reagan Administration. They have shown a shrewd understanding of the efficacy of violence and intimidation. Like some of their predecessors and models elsewhere in the world, they are well aware that cheap victories over weak and defenseless enemies can be manipulated to arouse jingoist sentiments and popular enthusiasm at home, if the population can be properly terrified by grave threats to its existence; among earlier examples that come to mind are Hitler's warnings of the encirclement of Germany by hostile states bent on its destruction, the Czech "dagger pointed at the heart of Germany," the aggressiveness and terror of the Czechs and Poles, and above all, the threat of the international Jewish conspiracy. The Reaganites understand very well what H. L. Mencken called "the whole aim of practical politics": "to keep the public alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." As for the rest of the world, U.S. cultural hegemony is sufficiently great so that doctrines contrived for domestic purposes will be adopted or taken seriously, however ludicrous they may be; and if not, the threat of escalated violence if U.S. allies prove intransigent, and its potential costs to them, remain credible and have been effectively exploited.

The propaganda campaign about international terrorism is one example of the skillful use of these techniques, both at home and abroad. Policy-makers of the Reagan Administration know that liberal elements in Congress and the media can easily be cowed by the charge that they are soft and insufficiently militant in the face of whatever hobgoblin happens to be the monster of the day, and hence will line up obediently in the "crusade against terrorism." They also understand that the overwhelming resources of violence at their command allow disdain for world opinion. In fact, they regularly exploit concerns over their violence, as in the Tokyo summit after the Libya bombings, when the Reaganites rallied Western elites by warning them that unless they fell in line, there is no telling what the "crazy Americans" might do next.[8]

The disdainful attitude towards Congress as well is revealed at every turn. For example, last month, in the military authorization bill, both houses of Congress insisted upon wording that called upon the Executive to comply with SALT II, in the interest of national security. A few weeks later, the Administration announced that it was proceeding to exceed the SALT II limits. An Administration spokesman explained that "Congress is out of town and the summit in Iceland is past. [Gorbachev] is not expected to come here for some time. So what's holding us back?"9 In other words, the cop is looking the other way, so why not rob the store? In actual fact, Congress has been out of town even when it is in town, as the Administration knows very well, and it has not proven too difficult for a gang of street toughs to ride roughshod over the generally pathetic opposition.

The attitude towards the public is revealed by what one Reagan official called "a vast psychological warfare operation" designed to set the agenda for debate over Nicaragua -- a disinformation campaign called "Operation Truth"; Goebbels and Stalin would have been amused.[10]

Disinformation has been an Administration specialty since the earliest days, though the media and Congress always profess to be shocked when a new example is exposed, recently during the 1986 disinformation campaign concerning Libya (see chapter 3). In this case, the display of outraged surprise necessitated a slight case of amnesia; as early as August 1981, Newsweek had
reported a government "disinformation program designed to embarrass Qaddafi and his government" along with assorted acts of U.S. terrorism within Libya to try to "demonstrate that Qaddafi was opposed by an indigenous political force." There have also been extensive disinformation campaigns, quite successful thanks to media cooperation, on the arms race and numerous other matters.[11]

We derive further insights from current revelations about the sophisticated program to evade Congressional restrictions on military aid to the terrorist proxy army attacking Nicaragua -- or the "resistance," as it is termed by the government and the loyal press, a "resistance" organized by the Hemispheric Enforcer to attack Nicaragua from bases established outside its borders (the term "proxy army," in contrast, is used in internal White House documents, and its terrorism is also not concealed in secret reports). To mention one illustration of the careful planning that lies behind the terrorist operations, consider the decision of the Reagan Administration to sell (probably quite useless) AWACs to Saudi Arabia in 1981. This was a politically unpopular move, and it was not clear at the time why the Administration was so determined to pursue it.

Some likely reasons have since emerged. The Reagan planners evidently anticipated potential difficulties in funding their proxy army, and when Congress, responding to public pressure, later sought to limit the terrorist war against Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia was called upon to repay its debt and to fund shipments of arms to the contras, apparently Soviet arms that Israel had captured during its Reagan-backed aggression in Lebanon. [12]

These are the machinations of sophisticated international terrorists, with a global vision. Now that they have finally surpassed the point where they can be easily suppressed, the partial exposures will elicit the pretense that the Reagan policy-makers are incompetent bunglers; the invariable elite response to failure of state plans is to focus attention on alleged personal inadequacies, so as to avert the threat that the public may come to understand the systematic nature of policy, the general support for it within elite circles (tactics aside), and the
institutional roots of these commitments. But no one should be deluded into believing that we are witnessing the operations of fools and bunglers; their achievements in organizing efficient international terrorism are impressive, from the Middle East to Central America, and beyond.
Another crucial fact should also be kept in mind: the current scandals are a great tribute to the popular movements of the 1960s and since, which forced the state to resort to clandestine operations to conceal its terrorism and violence, operations so complex that finally they could not be entirely kept from public view. Had the public been apathetic and quiescent, as in earlier years, Reagan could have emulated the practices of John F. Kennedy when he simply sent the U.S. Air Force to carry out large- scale bombing and initiated defoliation and crop destruction missions in South Vietnam from 1961-62, or Lyndon Johnson when he escalated the aggression against South Vietnam by land and air, extending it to the north as well, and sent 23,000 Marines to the Dominican Republic to avert the threat of democracy there, all in early 1965, with very little protest at the time.

Clandestine operations carry the risk of exposure, and of undermining the rhetorical pose of the government (for example, "combating terrorism"). This may inhibit the terrorist commanders, for a time at least. These facts serve to show that even in a generally depoliticized society like the United States, with no political parties or major media outside of the narrow business-based elite consensus, significant public action is quite possible and may influence policy, though indirectly, as during the Vietnam years and since. These are important facts to bear in mind in connection with the Middle East as well.

One element of the U.S.- organized international terror network is the World Anti-Communist League, a collection of Nazis, anti-Semites, death squad assassins, and some of the worst killers and thugs around the world, mobilized by the Reagan Administration into an effective network of murderers and torturers, worldwide in scope. Last month, the League attracted some attention in the course of the Hasenfus affair in Nicaragua. The New York Times, as usual reporting government propaganda as fact, claimed that the League had been purged of its more nefarious elements when General Singlaub took it over in the 1980s. The World Anti-Communist League had just then completed its annual conference in Europe (not reported in the media here to my knowledge). The leading Nazis were present, given respectful applause when their leaders -- Nazi killers from the days of Hitler -- mounted the podium to address the audience. The Latin American death squad leaders, allegedly expelled in 1984, reappeared at once in 1984-85 conferences sponsored by the U.S. affiliate -- a tax-exempt "educational" organization. The League continues to include Nazis, racists of various assortments and killers from around the world. It is supported by the U.S. and several of its client-states, particularly Taiwan and South Korea, but also reportedly by Syria and other Arab states; and its workings are concealed by the Israeli lobby here. In the introduction to their recent book on the League, Scott Anderson and John Anderson comment that the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, a leading component of the domestic Israeli lobby, refused to provide them with information on this notorious collection of anti-Semites, who now serve a useful purpose within the Reaganite international terror network that they generally support. [13]

All of this, and much more, reveals a sophisticated understanding of how to conduct international terrorism, on a scale with few historical precedents. The sordid record of the World Anti-Communist League should remind us that while Reaganite thuggery is unusual, it is not unique in U.S. history. Immediately after World War II, the U.S. turned to the task of
suppressing the anti-fascist resistance throughout much of the world, often in favor of fascists and collaborators. One component of this global program was the recruitment of Nazi gangsters such as Klaus Barbie, "the Butcher of Lyons," who had been responsible for horrendous atrocities in France and was duly placed in charge of spying on the French for American intelligence. A far more important example was Reinhard Gehlen, in charge of Hitler's East European intelligence operations and quickly assigned the same tasks under the CIA, in West German intelligence. His organization was responsible for U.S. support for military actions within the USSR and Eastern Europe, in conjunction with armies that had been encouraged by Hitler. These operations were run out of George Kennan's office in the State Department according to John Loftus, who investigated these matters for the U.S. Justice department. Later, when many of these useful folk could no longer be protected in Europe, the U.S. authorities brought them here or to Latin America with the aid of the Vatican and fascist priests. They have continued to serve U.S. government interests, training torturers in methods devised by the Gestapo, helping establish the neo-Nazi National Security states in Latin America and the Central American death squad apparatus within the framework of the U.S.- trained security forces, and so on. [14]

We will understand very little about the world if we neglect the relevant historical context, commonly ignored or suppressed in official doctrine. The same is true when we turn directly to the Middle East. Consider U.S. relations with Iran, now in the news, but with the historical context largely excised, as is usually the case when it teaches inconvenient lessons. The Reagan Administration argues that the recently reported arms shipments to Iran via an Israeli connection are part of an effort to establish contacts with "moderate" elements in Iran. There is a sense in which this claim is true; namely, if we enter the domain of conventional Newspeak, in which the term "moderate" is used to refer to elements that are properly obedient to U.S. orders and demands; it is counterpoised to "radical," used to refer to those who do not follow orders properly. Notice that the terminology has nothing to do with the commitment to violence and terror of these groups, or even their social and political goals, apart from the crucial defining feature; thus the mass murderer Suharto in Indonesia is a respected "moderate," but a peasant self-help group organized by the Church in El Salvador is "radical," and must be exterminated by Pol Pot- style terror conducted by the U.S. mercenary forces.

In Iran, the U.S. restored "moderates" to power with a CIA coup in what the New York Times (August6, 1954) described as an "object lesson" to "underdeveloped countries with rich resources," an "object lesson in the cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism" and tries to take control of their own resources, thus becoming "radical." Iran remained "moderate" until the fall of the Shah in 1979 while compiling one of the worst human rights records in the world, as Amnesty International and other
human rights groups regularly documented, not affecting the classification of the Shah as a "moderate" or the applause for him among U.S. elites. The Shah was supported by the Carter Administration to the very end of his bloody rule. The U.S. then apparently looked into the possibility of a military coup, but without success. Since that time, a flow of arms to Iran has been maintained, in part via Israel, which had very close relations with the Shah and his military.

Notice that very much the same was true in the case of Somoza in Nicaragua, who fell at about the same time. The Carter Administration also backed him until the end, with Israel providing the arms, surely with tacit U.S. backing, while he was killing tens of thousands in a last paroxysm of fury. Carter attempted to impose the rule of the National Guard when Somoza could no longer be maintained. Shortly after, remnants of the Guard were reestablished in Honduras and Costa Rica with the aid of U.S. proxies such as Argentina (then under the neo-Nazi generals, and thus a useful "moderate" client-state), and were then taken over directly by the U.S. and organized as a terrorist proxy army dedicated to preventing the threat of social reform in Nicaragua.

Meanwhile, U.S. elites underwent a magical conversion; they became profoundly concerned, for the first time, with human rights and "democracy" in Nicaragua and Iran, a sudden moral awakening that failed to elicit the contempt it richly merits.[15]

Returning to Iran, according to Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Moshe Arens, in October 1982, Israel's supply of arms to Iran after the fall of the Shah was carried out "in coordination with the U.S. government... at almost the highest of levels." The objective "was to see if we could not find some areas of contact with the Iranian military, to bring down the Khomeini regime," or at least "to make contact with some military officers who some day might be in a position of power in Iran." Yaakov Nimrodi, the Israeli arms salesman and intelligence official who was under cover as military attache in Iran during the Shah's reign, described this plan in a BBC broadcast in 1982. Former Israeli de facto Ambassador to Iran Uri Lubrani of the Labor Party added further details, in the same program:

I very strongly believe that Tehran can be taken over by a very relatively small force, determined, ruthless, cruel. I mean the men who would lead that force will have to be emotionally geared to the possibility that they'd have to kill ten thousand people.

-- demonstrating that they are "moderates," in the technical sense. Similar ideas were expressed by David Kimche, head of Israel's Foreign Office and former deputy director of the Mossad. Kimche and Nimrodi are now identified in the media as among those who initiated the mid-1980s program of U.S. military aid to Iran via Israel in connection with U.S. hostages and the "search for moderates."

The publicized views of the Israelis concerned with these programs -- long before there were any hostages -- are suppressed, however. At the same time -- early 1982 -- these plans
were generally endorsed, with varying degrees of skepticism as to their feasibility, by Richard Helms (ex-director of the CIA and former Ambassador to Iran), Robert Komer (a leading candidate for war crimes trials in the late 1960s and a high Pentagon official under Carter, one of the architects of the Rapid Deployment Force which, he suggested, could be used to support "moderates" after a military coup), and others.[16] All this too is now suppressed.

Essentially the same facts were also reported more recently, though ignored, well before the scandals erupted, for example, by Israeli senior Foreign Ministry spokesman Avi Pazner, who confirmed in an interview that in 1982 Israel had sent Iran military supplies with the approval of the U.S., including spare parts for U.S.-made jet fighters.[17]

The arms flow to Iran through Israel (and probably other avenues) has very likely continued at a level sufficient to keep contacts with the proper elements of the Iranian military, though the U.S. is opposed to sending sufficient arms to enable Iran to win the Iran-Iraq war, which would be a disaster for the U.S. policy of support for Saddam Hussein. Thus the U.S. blocked a major Iranian arms deal with Israel last April, arresting an Israeli ex-general, among others.[18]

None of this is a discovery of late 1986, as these earlier references indicate. In 1982, a front-page story by current New York Times editor Leslie Gelb reported that half of the arms to Iran were "being supplied or arranged by Israel" -- surely with U.S. knowledge and at least tacit authorization -- "and the rest by free-lance arms merchants, some of whom may also have connections with Israeli intelligence," while the CIA was carrying out covert actions against the Khomeini regime from its bases in eastern Turkey.[19] And Arens's disclosures were prominently reported in the Boston Globe on successive days, among other cases. In more recent months, well before the "scandals," additional information surfaced. Thus in May, Patrick Seale reported that "Israeli and European arms dealers are rushing war supplies to Iran" as Israel now dispenses with "the usual roundabout arms routes"; "for example, a ship now at sea, carrying more than 25,000 tonnes of Israeli artillery, ammunition, gun barrels, aircraft parts and other war supplies" was ordered to proceed directly to Iran instead of transshipping through Zaire.[20] It is hard to take very seriously the current show of surprise on these matters.

Note again the continuing similarity between U.S. policy towards Iran and towards Nicaragua. There too, it is difficult to take seriously the current show of surprise over the fact that the Reagan Administration has been actively engaged in arranging military support for its proxy army, circumventing Congressional legislation, not to speak of the World Court ruling, irrelevant to a terrorist state, and laws going back to the eighteenth-century Neutrality Act. We can learn more about these matters by attending to recent history. Notice first that the pattern of arms sales to Iran is a classic one, another crucial fact evaded in current commentary. For example, relations between the U.S. and Indonesia became bitterly hostile 30 years ago, so much so that the CIA sponsored a failed military rebellion in Indonesia in 1958. During the period of hostility, the U.S. continued to provide arms to the Sukarno regime. In late 1965, the pro- American General Suharto carried out a military coup, leading to the slaughter of several hundred thousand people, mostly landless peasants, and the destruction of the only mass-based political
organization in Indonesia, the Indonesian Communist Party. Indonesia was thus restored to the Free World, opened to robbery and exploitation by U.S., Canadian, European and Japanese corporations, impeded only by the rapacity of the ruling generals, who imposed a corrupt and brutal dictatorship.

These developments were warmly welcomed by enlightened opinion in the West, and regarded as a vindication of U.S. aggression against South Vietnam (called "defense of South Vietnam" within the propaganda system), which provided a "shield" that encouraged the generals to carry out the necessary purge of their society. In Senate testimony after the slaughter, Defense Secretary McNamara was asked to explain the supply of arms to Indonesia during the period of intense hostility between the two countries. He was asked whether this arms supply had "paid dividends" and agreed that it had -- including some 700,000 corpses at that point according to his Indonesian friends. A Congressional report held that training and maintaining communication with military officers paid "enormous dividends" in overthrowing Sukarno.

Similarly, according to Pentagon sources, "United States military influence on local commanders was widely considered as an element in the coup d'etat that deposed Brazil's leftist President Joao Goulart in 1964,"21 installing a National Security State complete with torture, repression, and profits for the foreign investor, also greeted with acclaim by Kennedy liberals. The story was reenacted in Chile a few years later. During the Allende regime, the U.S. continued to supply arms while doing its best to bring down the regime, and was rewarded with the Pinochet coup, which again it welcomed.

The Iranian operations conform to a familiar pattern of policy planning, which is understandable and sometimes realistic. One can understand easily why it was publicly endorsed by Richard Helms and others in 1982. The nature of U.S.-Iran relations under the Shah must also be recalled, in this connection. Iran was assigned a central role in controlling the Middle East under the Nixon doctrine, which was based upon the recognition that the U.S. did not have the capacity to enforce its will everywhere and must therefore rely on local "cops on the beat" (as Defense Secretary Melvin Laird put it), local proxies that would carry out their "regional responsibilities" within the "overall framework of order" maintained by the United States, in Henry Kissinger's
phrase at the time. A (partially tacit) tripartite alliance was constructed linking Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel under the U.S. aegis, committed to "defending" U.S. domination of the world's major energy reserves and protecting them from the primary enemy, the indigenous population, which might be infected with the "radical" idea that they should have a share in controlling our resources which happen to be in their lands. This is, incidentally, only one example of a worldwide pattern.[22]

It is in this context that the "special relationship" with Israel developed as well. In 1958, the National Security Council noted that a "logical corollary" of opposition to radical Arab nationalism (in the technical sense of the term) "would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-West power left in the Near East." According to David Ben-Gurion's biographer, Michael Bar-Zohar, at that time Israel concluded a "periphery pact," which was "long-lasting," with Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia, encouraged by U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.

Through the 1960s, U.S. intelligence regarded Israel as a barrier to "radical nationalist" pressures against Saudi Arabia, and the conception of Israel as a "strategic asset" became institutionalized in U.S. policy after the U.S.-backed Israeli victory in 1967, and particularly after Israel's moves to block Syrian support for Palestinians being massacred in Jordan in 1970 at a time when the U.S. was unable to intervene directly for domestic reasons. The fall of the Shah enhanced Israel's role as a "strategic asset" serving as a base for enforcing U.S. interests in the region. Meanwhile, Israel increasingly provided subsidiary services to the U.S. in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America. [23]

About 1970, a split developed among U.S. elites over U.S. policy in the region. This was symbolized by the controversy between Secretary of State William Rogers, who advanced a plan for a political settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict along the lines of the international consensus of the time, and Henry Kissinger, who argued that we must maintain a "stalemate," his reason for backing Israel's rejection of Sadat's February 1971 offer of a full peace settlement along the general lines of official U.S. policy. Kissinger's views prevailed. Since that time his confrontationist, hard- line opposition to a genuine political settlement has dominated U.S. policy, which has preferred to see an Israeli "strategic asset" playing its role in U.S. control of the region by the threat or use of force. This explains the continued U.S. commitment to block a political settlement, that would probably lead to Israel's integration into the region.[24]

The U.S. has consistently sought to maintain the military confrontation and to ensure that Israel remains a "strategic asset." In this conception, Israel is to be highly militarized, technologically advanced, a pariah state with little in the way of an independent economy apart from high tech production (often in coordination with the U.S.), utterly dependent on the United States and hence dependable, serving U.S. needs as a local "cop on the beat" and as a mercenary state employed for U.S. purposes elsewhere, for example, in support of near genocide in Guatemala when domestic factors prevented Washington from participating as fully as it would have liked in this enterprise.[25]

What about U.S. relations with the Arab world? First, the U.S. will act to ensure that it controls the major energy resources of the Arabian peninsula: this is a central principle of U.S. foreign policy, as it has been throughout the post-World War II period. The U.S. will therefore support "moderate nationalists," such as the ruling elites in Saudi Arabia, well known for their "moderation." Saudi Arabia too is called upon to enlist in support of U.S. international terrorism, as already noted, and there should be little surprise at the revelation that it is deeply involved in the supply of arms to Iran along with its tacit Israeli ally and in U.S. terrorist activities in Central America, and probably elsewhere as well: southern Africa, for example. At the same time, the U.S. will consistently oppose "radical nationalists" who stand in the way of U.S. objectives. Libya is a case in point.

While the U.S. appears to have supported Qaddafi's effort to raise oil prices in the early 1970s "in order to strengthen the position of the 'moderates/ such as Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia,"[26] Libya has increasingly been an obstacle to U.S. objectives, and was designated as a prime target from the earliest days of the Reagan Administration under the pretext of a "war against international terrorism." [27]

In this connection, we should bear in mind that the Reagan Administration faced a rather serious problem, from the outset. Contrary to many illusions, its major policies have quite generally been unpopular. The population continues, as before, to support social rather than military spending and to oppose the program of enhancing state power and converting the state, even more than before, into a welfare state for the rich -- one major function of the Pentagon system, which provides a forced public subsidy to high technology industry in the system of public subsidy and private profit called "free enterprise." The public has also generally opposed the "activist" foreign policy of subversion, intervention, international terrorism and aggression hailed as "the
Reagan doctrine." There is a classic means to deal with the problem of bringing a reluctant population to accept policies to which it is opposed: induce fear, in accord with Mencken's dictum, quoted earlier.

Therefore, we must have confrontations with the Evil Empire bent on our destruction, "the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy" committed to thwart our global benevolence and to destroy us, in John F. Kennedy's phrase during a rather similar period of U.S. history. But a problem arises: confrontations with the Evil Empire are too dangerous. They might be costly to us, and therefore cannot be undertaken. The solution to the dilemma is to create "proxies" of the Evil Empire, which can be attacked with impunity, since they are weak and defenseless.

Libya is perfect for the role, particularly against the background of rampant anti-Arab racism in the United States, and within the general context of the "campaign against international terrorism" -- that plague of the modern age from which the terrorist commanders in Washington must defend us, according to various "Operation Truths" conducted by the ideological institutions. It is quite easy to kill many Libyans without cost to ourselves -- indeed with many cheers at home, including enlightened liberal opinion -- as we defend ourselves against the "evil scourge of terrorism."

The next two years could be dangerous. The Reaganites want to leave a permanent stamp on American politics, whatever the outcome of the next elections. They want to prove that violence pays. They want to overcome "the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force" (Norman Podhoretz). The propaganda system has constructed a series of demons: the Sandinistas, who are a "cancer" that must be destroyed (George Shultz); Qaddafi, the "mad dog of the Middle East"; Arafat, "the father of modern terrorism"; Castro, who threatens to take over the Western Hemisphere in the service of the USSR; etc. If they can be destroyed by violence, the long-term effects on American culture will be profound. There will be no more "wimps" making treaties and entering into negotiations, no concern for political settlement, international law and similar tommy rot. Rather, the political system will be dominated by men lacking "sickly inhibitions" who get their kicks out of sending their client military forces and goon squads to torture people who cannot fight back -- what is called "conservatism" in contemporary Newspeak.

1. See introductory notes.

2. That includes even books and technical papers on linguistics, because of sins of the kind that so offend Abrams, though with different targets.

3. On the facts as leaked in England, see Alexander Cockburn, Nation, November 22, 1986. Some of those involved claim that they were not objecting to the contents of the article but only to the inappropriateness of allowing a discussion of "thought control" in a society that "is unusual if not unique in the lack of restraints on freedom of expression" (my opening words). That claim is
transparently untenable, even if one accepts the remarkable principle that lies behind it. The journal has published articles of this nature without evoking a hysterical response, threats to cancel subscriptions, letters from the State Department, etc.; see, e.g., Carole and Paul Bass, "Censorship American-style," dealing with how controversial stories are killed by
"market forces and weak-kneed publishers" (Index on Censorship, 3/85). The difference is that in the present case, the article dealt with media treatment of states that are to be worshipped, not critically discussed by standards applicable to others.

4. America and the World 1983, Foreign Affairs, Winter 1983. In later years, the tendencies Watts described became a matter of elite concern in the U.S. as well. The prominent political analyst Samuel Huntington warned that for much of the world -- most, he suggests -- the U.S. is "becoming the rogue superpower," considered "the single greatest external threat to their societies." The dominant "realist" version of international relations theory predicts that coalitions may arise to counterbalance the rogue superpower, so the stance should be reconsidered, he argues, on pragmatic grounds. He was writing before the U.S.-UK bombing of Serbia, which aroused great fear and concern in much of the world. Commenting later on the unilateralism of the Clinton and (George W.) Bush Administrations, another distinguished political scientist, Robert Jervis (President of the American Political Science Association), reiterated
Huntington's conclusion, writing that "In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States." Foreign Affairs, March/April 1999; July/August 2001.

5. Boston Globe, October 28, 1986; November 4, 1986. Robert C. Johansen, "The Reagan Administration and the U.N.: The Costs of Unilateralism," World Policy Journal, Fall 1986.

6. Richard Bernstein, "The UN versus the United States," New York Times Magazine, January 22, 1984. Not "the U.S. versus the UN," on the assumptions he takes for granted.

7. Michael White, Guardian Weekly, November 9, 1986. This is not evidence that the world is being "Finlandized" or "taken over by Communists," as the U.S right-wing fantasizes; the same poll shows that the European population is very critical of the USSR, of course.

8. See chapter 3, note 45.

9. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post, November 9, 1986.

10. The plan was apparently activated in a secret National Security directive of January 14,1983 (No. 77, Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security). Alfonso Chardy, "Secrets Leaked to Harm Nicaragua, Sources Say," Miami Herald, October 13, 1986.

11. Newsweek, August 3, 1981. On the disinformation program concerning Libya, see chapter 3. On other disinformation programs and media cooperation, see my Turning the Tide; Edward S. Herman and Frank Brodhead, The Bulgarian Connection (Sheridan Square, 1986).

12. Alfonso Chardy, Knight-Ridder Service, Boston Globe, October 28, 1986.

13. Robert Reinhold, "Ex-General Hints at Big Role as U.S. Champion of Contras," New York Times, October 14, 1986. Chris Horrie, New Statesman, October 31, 1986, reporting on the Annual Conference of the WACL, noting in particular the prominence of RENAMO (the South African-backed guerrillas terrorizing Mozambique) and their cozy relations with Singlaub, and probably the U.S. administration. Scott Anderson and John Lee Anderson, Inside the League (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1986); only the ADL and the U.S. government concealed documentation and refused to cooperate with their research, they report. See Necessary Illusions, App. V.4, for more on connections between Reagan-Bush (No. 1) and neo-Nazis and related elements, who are guilty of only "antique and anemic" anti-Semitism as compared with the real anti-Semitism of those who support the international consensus on a two-state settlement (New Republic).

14. On these matters, see [unintelligible; coding error] and sources cited. See Michael McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft (Pantheon, 1992), on the reliance on Nazi manuals in developing postwar U.S. counterinsurgency documents, with the assistance of Wehrmacht generals. Also Jeffrey Burds, "The Early Cold War in Soviet West Ukraine, 1944-1948," The Carl Beck Papers No. 1505, January 2001, Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh, on Western support for Hitler's partisan armies during the war, in an effort to delay Russia's defeat of the Nazis.

15. On the ebb and flow of human rights concerns regarding Iran, closely tracking Iran's service to U.S. interests or defiance of them, see Mansour Farhang and William Dorman, The U.S. Press and Iran (University of California, 1987); and for further discussion, Necessary Illusions, chapter 5 and app. 5.2-3.

16. On these matters, see my FT, 457f.

17. Michael Widlanski, "The Israel/U.S.-Iran Connection," Tel Aviv, Austin American Statesman, May 2, 1986.

18. See William C. Rempel and Dan Fisher, "Arms Sales Case Putting Focus on Israel's Policies," Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1986, noting that "veteran American investigators" say that "Israel has long been regarded as a conduit for secret arms sales," and that "there is little question that the flow to Iran of Israeli arms, at least, has continued" during the past five years, citing a West German estimate of half a billion dollars of military equipment. Douglas Frantz, "Israel Tied to Iranian Arms Plot," Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1986; Reuven Padhatzur, Ha'aretz, April 28, 1986. Much material of this nature has been circulated by Jane Hunter, editor of the excellent journal Israeli Foreign Affairs.

19. Leslie H. Gelb, "Iran Said to Get Large-Scale Arms from Israel, Soviet and Europeans," New York Times, March 8, 1982.

20. Patrick Seale, "Arms Dealers Cash in on Iran's Despair," Observer (London), May 4, 1986.

21. Miles Wolpin, Military Aid and Counterrevolution in the Third World (Lexington Books, 1972), 8, 128, citing Congressional Hearings; on Brazil, New York Times, November 1, 1970. For more on the euphoric public response to the Indonesian massacre, and the background, see
my Year 501 (South End Press, 1993); and on 1958, Audrey and George Kahin, Subversion as Foreign Policy (New Press, 1995).

22. For further discussion, see Towards a New Cold War, Laird cited by Thomas Ferguson and Joel Rogers, Right Turn (Hill & Wang, 1986), 97, an important discussion of factors in domestic affairs.

23. For more on these matters, see Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle, and references of chapter 3, note 6.

24. See chapter 1.

25. See my books cited earlier; also Allan Nairn, Progressive, May, September 1986.

26. Haley, Qaddafi and the U.S., 31.

27. See chapter 3.