Chomsky: What's happening is something completely new in the history of the hemisphere.
By Bernie Dwyer
For the first time the Indian population is becoming politically quite active. They just won an election in Bolivia which is pretty remarkable. There is a huge Indian population in Ecuador, even in Peru, and some of them are calling for an Indian nation. Now they want to control their own resources.
In fact, many don't even want their resources developed. Many don't see any particular point in having their culture and lifestyle destroyed so that people can sit in traffic jams in New York.
Furthermore, they are beginning to throw out the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In the past, the US could prevent unwelcome developments such as independence in Latin America, by violence; supporting military coups, subversion, invasion and so on. That doesn't work so well any more.
The last time they tried in 2002 in Venezuela, the US had to back down because of enormous protests from Latin America, and of course the coup was overthrown from within. That's very new.
If the United States loses the economic weapons of control, it is very much weakened. Argentina is just essentially ridding itself of the IMF, as they say. They are paying off the debts to the IMF. The IMF rules that they followed had totally disastrous effects. They are being helped in that by Venezuela, which is buying up part of the Argentine debt.
Bolivia will probably do the same. Bolivia's had 25 years of rigorous adherence to IMF rules. Per capita income now is less than it was 25 years ago. They want to get rid of it. The other countries are doing the same.
The IMF is essentially the US Treasury Department. It is the economic weapon that's alongside the military weapon for maintaining control. That's being dismantled.
All of this is happening against the background of very substantial popular movements, which, to the extent that they existed in the past, were crushed by violence, state terror, Operation Condor, one monstrosity after another. That weapon is no longer available.
Furthermore, there is South-South integration going on, so Brazil, and South Africa and India are establishing relations.
And again, the forces below the surface in pressing all of this are international popular organizations of a kind that never existed before; the ones that meet annually in the world social forums. By now several world social forums have spawned lots of regional ones; there's one right here in Boston and many other places.
These are very powerful mass movements of a kind without any precedent in history: the first real internationals. Everyone's always talked about internationals on the left but there's never been one. This is the beginning of one.
These developments are extremely significant. For US planners, they are a nightmare. I mean, the Monroe Doctrine is about 180 years old now, and the US wasn't powerful enough to implement it until after the 2nd World War, except for the nearby region.
After the 2nd World War it was able to kick out the British and the French and implement it, but now it is collapsing. These countries are also diversifying their international relations including commercial relations.
So there's a lot of export to China, and accepting of investment from China. That's particularly true of Venezuela, but also the other big exporters like Brazil and Chile. And China is eager to gain access to other resources of Latin America.
Unlike Europe, China can't be intimidated. Europe backs down if the United States looks at it the wrong way. But China, they've been there for 3,000 years and are paying no attention to the barbarians and don't see any need to.
The United States is afraid of China; it is not a military threat to anyone; and is the least aggressive of all the major military powers. But it's not easy to intimidate it. In fact, you can't intimidate it at all.
So China's interactions with Latin America are frightening the United States. Latin America is also improving economic interactions with Europe. China and Europe now are each other largest trading partners, or pretty close to it.
These developments are eroding the means of domination of the US world system. And the US is pretty naturally playing its strong card which is military and in military force the US is supreme. Military expenditures in the US are about half of the total world expenditures, technologically much more advanced.
In Latin America, just keeping to that, the number of the US military personnel is probably higher than it ever was during the Cold War. The US is sharply increasing training of Latin American officers.
The training of military officers has been shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon, which is not insignificant. The State department is under some weak congressional supervision. I mean, there is legislation requiring human rights conditionalities and so on.
They are not very much enforced, but they are at least there. But the Pentagon is free to do anything they want. Furthermore, the training is shifting to local control. So one of the main targets is what's called radical populism, we know what that means, and the US is establishing military bases throughout the region.
Bernie Dwyer: It appears, from what you are saying, that the US is losing the ideological war and compensating by upping their military presence in the region. Would you see Cuba as being a key player in encouraging and perhaps influencing what's coming out of Latin America right now?
Noam Chomsky: Fidel Castro, whatever people may think of him, is a hero in Latin America, primarily because he stood up to the United States. It's the first time in the history of the hemisphere that anybody stood up to the United States. Nobody likes to be under the jackboot but they may not be able to do anything about it. So for that reason alone, he's a Latin American hero. Chavez: the same.
The ideological issue that you rightly bring up is the impact of neoliberalism. It's pretty striking over the last twenty-five years, overwhelmingly it's true, that the countries that have adhered to the neo-liberal rules have had an economic catastrophe and the countries that didn't pay any intention to the rules grew and developed.
East Asia developed rapidly pretty much by totally ignoring the rules. Chile is claimed as being a market economy but that's highly misleading: its main export is a very efficient state owned copper company nationalized under Allende.
You don't get correlations like this in economics very often. Adherence to the neoliberal rules has been associated with economic failure and violation of them with economic success: it's very hard to miss that. Maybe some economists can miss it but people don't: they live it.
Yes, there is an uprising against it. Cuba is a symbol. Venezuela is another, Argentina, where they recovered from the IMF catastrophe by violating the rules and sharply violating them, and then throwing out the IMF. Well, this is the ideological issue. The IMF is just a name for the economic weapon of domination, which is eroding.
Bernie Dwyer: Why do you think that this present movement is different from the struggle that went before, in Chile for instance where they succeeded in overthrowing the military dictatorship? What gives us more hope about this particular stage of liberation for Latin America?
Noam Chomsky: First of all, there was hope in Latin America in the 1960s but it was crushed by violence. Chile was moving on a path towards some form of democratic socialism but we know what happened. That's the first 9/11 in 1973, which was an utter catastrophe. The dictatorship in Chile, which is a horror story also led to an economic disaster in Chile bringing about its worst recession in its history.
The military then turned over power to civilians. Its still there so Chile didn't yet completely liberate itself. It has partially liberated itself from the military dictatorship; and in the other countries even more so.
So for example, I remember traveling in Argentina and Chile a couple of years ago and the standard joke in both countries was that people said that they wish the Chilean military had been stupid enough to get into a war with France or some major power so they could have been crushed and discredited and then people would be free the way they were in Argentina, where the military was discredited by its military defeat.
But there has been a slow process in every one of the countries, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, all the way through, there's been a process of overthrowing the dominant dictatorships - the military dictatorships which have been almost always supported, and sometimes instituted, by the United States
Now they are supporting one another and the US cannot resort to the same policies.
Take Brazil; if Lula had been running in 1963, the US would have done just what it did when Goulart was president in 1963. The Kennedy administration just planned a military dictatorship. A military coup took place and that got rid of that. And that was happening right through the hemisphere.
Now, there's much more hope because that cannot be done and there is also cooperation.
There is also a move towards a degree of independence: political, economic and social policies, access to their own resources, instituting social changes of the kind that could overcome the tremendous internal problems of Latin America, which are awful. And a large part of the problems in Latin America are simply internal. In Latin America, the wealthy have never had any responsibilities. They do what they want.
Bernie Dwyer: Do you think that the recent growth and strength of broad based social movements in several Latin America countries have played a significant role in bringing progressive governments into power in the region?
Noam Chomsky: There can be no serious doubt of this. Latin America has, I think, the most important popular movements anywhere: the MST (Landless Workers Movement) in Brazil, the indigenous movements in Bolivia, others. That accounts for the vibrancy and vitality of democracy in much of Latin America today
-- denounced in the West as "populism," a term that translates as "threat to elite rule with marginalization of the public in systems with democratic forms but with only limited substance," those naturally preferred by concentrated private and state power...Radio Havana Cuba in two parts on March 6 and 7, 2006.
"The fact that an insurgency even developed in Iraq is astonishing - it's an amazing fact that the US has had more trouble controlling Iraq than the Germans had in controlling occupied Europe or the Russians had in controlling eastern Europe. They have turned it into a total catastrophe - it's one of the worst military catastrophes"
Annual Amnesty International Lecture: Noam Chomsky, 'The War on Terror' (utdrag Irak)
18th January 2006
The invasion of Iraq is perhaps the most glaring example of the low priority assigned by US-UK leaders to the threat of terror. Washington planners had been advised, even by their own intelligence agencies, that the invasion was likely to increase the risk of terror. And it did, as their own intelligence agencies confirm.
The National Intelligence Council reported a year ago that “Iraq and other possible conflicts in the future could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are `professionalized’ and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself,” spreading elsewhere to defend Muslim lands from attack by “infidel invaders” in a globalized network of “diffuse Islamic extremist groups,”
with Iraq now replacing the Afghan training grounds for this more extensive network, as a result of the invasion. A high-level government review of the “war on terror” two years after the invasion `focused on how to deal with the rise of a new generation of terrorists, schooled in Iraq over the past couple years.
Top government officials are increasingly turning their attention to anticipate what one called “the bleed out” of hundreds or thousands of Iraq-trained jihadists back to their home countries throughout the Middle East and Western Europe. “It's a new piece of a new equation,” a former senior Bush administration official said. “If you don't know who they are in Iraq, how are you going to locate them in Istanbul or London?”’ (Washington Post)
Last May the CIA reported that “Iraq has become a magnet for Islamic militants similar to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan two decades ago and Bosnia in the 1990s,” according to US officials quoted in the New York Times. The CIA concluded that “Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.”
Shortly after the London bombing last July, Chatham House released a study concluding that “there is `no doubt’ that the invasion of Iraq has `given a boost to the al-Qaida network’ in propaganda, recruitment and fundraising,` while providing an ideal training area for terrorists”;
and that “the UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the United States” and is “a pillion passenger” of American policy” in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is extensive supporting evidence to show that -- as anticipated -- the invasion increased the risk of terror and nuclear proliferation. None of this shows that planners prefer these consequences, of course.
Rather, they are not of much concern in comparison with much higher priorities that are obscure only to those who prefer what human rights researchers sometimes call “intentional ignorance.” Once again we find, very easily, a way to reduce the threat of terror: stop acting in ways that – predictably – enhance the threat.
Though enhancement of the threat of terror and proliferation was anticipated, the invasion did so even in unanticipated ways. It is common to say that no WMD were found in Iraq after exhaustive search. That is not quite accurate, however. There were stores of WMD in Iraq: namely, those produced in the 1980s, thanks to aid provided by the US and Britain, along with others.
These sites had been secured by UN inspectors, who were dismantling the weapons. But the inspectors were dismissed by the invaders and the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors nevertheless continued to carry out their work with satellite imagery. They discovered sophisticated massive looting of these installations in over 100 sites, including equipment for producing solid and liquid propellant missiles, biotoxins and other materials usable for chemical and biological weapons, and high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear and chemical weapons and missiles.
A Jordanian journalist was informed by officials in charge of the Jordanian-Iraqi border that after US-UK forces took over, radioactive materials were detected in one of every eight trucks crossing to Jordan, destination unknown. The ironies are almost inexpressible. The official justification for the US-UK invasion was to prevent the use of WMD that did not exist.
The invasion provided the terrorists who had been mobilized by the US and its allies with the means to develop WMD -- namely, equipment they had provided to Saddam, caring nothing about the terrible crimes they later invoked to whip up support for the invasion.
It is as if Iran were now making nuclear weapons using fissionable materials provided by the US to Iran under the Shah -- which may indeed be happening. Programs to recover and secure such materials were having considerable success in the ‘90s, but like the war on terror, these programs fell victim to Bush administration priorities as they dedicated their energy and resources to invading Iraq.
Elsewhere in the Mideast too terror is regarded as secondary to ensuring that the region is under control. Another illustration is Bush’s imposition of new sanctions on Syria in May 2004, implementing the Syria Accountability Act passed by Congress a few months earlier. Syria is on the official list of states sponsoring terrorism, despite Washington’s acknowledgment that Syria has not been implicated in terrorist acts for many years and has been highly cooperative in providing important intelligence to Washington on al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups.
The gravity of Washington’s concern over Syria’s links to terror was revealed by President Clinton when he offered to remove Syria from the list of states sponsoring terror if it agreed to US-Israeli peace terms. When Syria insisted on recovering its conquered territory, it remained on the list. Implementation of the Syria Accountability Act deprived the US of an important source of information about radical Islamist terrorism in order to achieve the higher goal of establishing in Syria a regime that will accept US-Israeli demands.
Chomsky on what he says to US troops in Iraq:
"I have plenty of correspondence with soldiers in Iraq and all you can do is offer them your sympathy and I hope that they make it safely and that their leaders will get them out of there. It's the same kind of advice you would have given to Russian soldiers in Afghanistan - you have to sympathise with them. It's not their fault, it's the fault of their commanders and I don't mean the military ones, I mean the civilians in the Pentagon and the White House."
Chomsky on torture allegations aimed at the US in war on terror:
"Condoleezza Rice was very careful to say 'we don't send people to countries where we believe they will be tortured,' so we send them to Egypt and Syria, but we don't believe they're going to be tortured there. How can you listen to that without laughing - what are they sending them there for?"
Chomsky on power:
"You don't believe what any governments say, you don't believe what corporate leaders say - the role of people in power is to deceive, it's not just the United States, we all know that. Systems of power are dedicated to deceit and delusion to maintain power and to pursue their interests."
Chomsky - pulls no punches in critique of US
"After 9/11, I didn't hear a word in the American media about the real causes of the attack. Nobody dared to criticize US foreign policy, for instance, the support to Islamic fundamentalists during the 80s, the American support to corrupt dictatorships in the Middle East, the blind support to Israel, etc.
They just said: 'they hate us because we're a free society.' Isn't this silence the best evidence that there's no real freedom of press in the USA?"
"Caspian Sea area oil is clearly going to transported via pipeline, perhaps from Baku to Turkey, perhaps via Afghanistan... given geopolitical concerns, what is most likely outcome of multi-polar struggle here?"
"Can the people of this country believe anything that the US says about torture not being committed on their behalf in EU countries.
"No one is talking anymore about oil. Isn't that still the main reason the US invaded Iraq and are Iraq's large reserves now under control of US corporations?"
Globalization, Iraq and Middle East Studies
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Danilo Mandic
What do the elections mean for Iraq?
Actually I agree that the elections were a success ...of opposition to the United States. What is being suppressed - except for Middle East specialists, who know about it perfectly well and are writing about it, or people who in fact have read the newspapers in the last couple of years - what's being suppressed is the fact that the United States had to be brought kicking and screaming into accepting elections.
The U.S.was strongly opposed to them. I wrote about the early stages of this in a book that came out a year ago, which only discussed the early stages of U.S. opposition. But it increased.
The U.S. wanted to write a constitution, it wanted to impose some kind of caucus system that the U.S. could control, and it tried to impose extremely harsh neo-liberal rules, like you mentioned, which even Iraqi businessmen were strongly opposed to.
But there has been a very powerful nonviolent resistance in Iraq - far more significant than suicide bombers and so on. And it simply compelled the United States step by step to back down. That's the popular movement of nonviolent resistance that was symbolized by Ayatollah Sistani, but it's far broader than that.
The population simply would not accept the rules that the occupation authorities were imposing, and finally Washington was compelled, very reluctantly, to accept elections It tried in every way to undermine them. So for example, the independent press was kicked out of the country. Al Jazeera, which is by far the most popular media in the country and most of the region, was simply kicked out on spurious grounds.
The U.S. candidate (the U.S. had a candidate: Iyad Allawi) was given every possible advantage: full state resources, access to any television, and so on and so forth. He got creamed. Every party, including even the U.S. government's party, was compelled to put in a plank, just by pressure of popular opinion, calling for U.S. withdrawal, withdrawal of the occupying forces. Even U.S.-run polls show that that's a very strong majority opinion, among Shiites as well. They were forced to put it in.
Even thought they didn't want it, they just had to. The U.S. announced at once after the election - in Britain, Blair, Bush and Rice announced at once - that there would be no timetable for withdrawal. It doesn't matter what the Iraqis want. The U.S. announced right away that the troops would stay there at least until 2007, in fact as far as building military bases to try to keep them there indefinitely.
Not to occupy the country, because for that they would much rather have Iraqi mercenary forces. Just like Britain ran India or Russia ran Eastern Europe, not with their own forces. But they have to be there to make sure things stay under control.
Then right now there's a struggle going on, as towhether the United States will be able to subvert the elections that itreluctantly accepted. I think you'll have a hard time finding a serious Middle Eastern scholar or anyone who pays attention who won't agree with this.
In fact it's quite obvious just from reading the serious pressreports on this. Of course once the United States was forced into accepting elections, the government and the media immediately pronounced that it was a great achievement of the United States. But it was quite the opposite.
But it's a good thing that it happened, in opposition to the U.S. In fact it's a major triumph of nonviolent resistance, and itshould be understood as such. And maybe it's a basis - now comes the question of whether Iraqis can succeed, in reaching, moving towards a stage where they will actually be able to run their own country,
which the U.S. is certainly going to oppose. There is no doubt of this. The last thing the United States wants is a democratic, sovereign Iraq.
To see why, it's enough to think for five minutes about what its policies are likely to be. Let's suppose there were a democratic Iraq with some degree of sovereignty. The first thing it'll do is try to improve relations with Iran.
It's not that they love Iran particularly, but they'd rather have friendly relations with the neighboring Shiite state than hostile relations. So, they'll move towards improving relations with Iran, especially because it has a Shiite majority.
If they're democratic enough, so the Shiite majority has a significant part. Thenext thing that will happen - and it's already beginning to happen - is that the victory of the Iraqis against the United States has begun to stir up similar sentiments in the Shiite areas (mostly Shiite areas) of Saudi Arabia, which is a neighbor. DM: ...and a US ally.
Yeah, but that's inside Saudi Arabia, and that happens to be where most of the oil is. They have been excluded by the US and Saudi leadership, but they're not going to be likely to accept that if there is a sovereign, democratic Iraq next door.
It's really a Shiite-dominated Iraq. And it's already beginning to happen. Well, you know, that'll lead towards a situation in which most of the world's oil would be under the control of a relatively autonomous Shiite alliance. The US won't tolerate that for a moment.
The next thing that would happen in a sovereign Iraq is that they would try to resume their very natural position as a leading state in the Arab world. They're the most educated country, the most advanced and so on. In many ways, it should be the leader in the Arab world.
Actually, those are factors that go back to Biblical times. And they'll try to resume that position, which means they'll try to rearm. They will confront the regional enemy, namely Israel, which has virtually turned into a US military outpost.
They may even develop weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent against Israel's overwhelming advantage, both militarily and in weapons of mass destruction. Those are very natural developments to be expected. Can you see the US accepting any of this? I mean, those are the likely consequences
- not certain, but likely consequences - of a relatively sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. It's a nightmare for the United States. It's no wonder it tried to prevent elections in any possible way, and is now trying to undermine the results.
What happens is gonnabe on a terrain of plenty of struggle, and we have a role in it. US public opinion can be highly influential during the outcome. We don't live in a dictatorship; we have plenty of freedom if we want to use it. Itcan be used to help the Iraqis regain control of their own society.
DM: Specifically, on that, our readers are especially interested in the role of the university in this development that you are discussing. Let me give you one example that is of concern: you have been writing political works for more than four decades.
Yet, I have been unable to find a single undergraduate course in recent years here at Princeton that has had any of your political works on its reading list. Does that surprise you?
NC: It would surprise me if it were any different. In fact, if you were to mention my name to most of the faculty in the relevant areas, they would probably react with screams of horror. I mean, we have a very doctrinary intellectual class. They do not like deviation from a very narrow party line.
Now, in regional studies, it's very hard to control. That's one of the reasons why Middle East departments are coming under extreme attack from the more totalitarian forces in the country (like Horowitz, Pipes and others,
who can't stand the idea that there's some independent - or partially independent - sector of the society that isn't under tight...that isn't a wholly owned subsidiary of the business world and the right wing. So, they're going berserk. And it's happened in other areas. For example, in the 1980's, the main US preoccupation was its wars in Central America - brutal, vicious, terrorist wars, and
NC: Sure. Let me just take MIT, because I know it best, but it's the same everywhere. At the time I was writing, in the 1960's, if you walked through the halls of MIT, you would see white males, well-dressed, disciplined, respectful to their elders, and so on. You walk down those halls today: half women, about third minorities, casual relations among people show up in everything from clothes to personal relations.
Andthat's all over the country; I presume it's same at Princeton. Those are indications of very significant changes in the society, which becamemuch more civilized, including the universities.
Chomsky On Fake News and Other Societal Woes
Well there was a period, in the mid-19th century, that's the period of the freest press, both in England and in the US. And it's quite interesting to look back at it. Over the years, that's declined. It declined for two basic reasons.
One reason is the increased capital that was required to run a competitive press. And as capital requirements increased, that of course lead to a more corporatized media.
The other effect is advertisement. In the 19th century, the United States had something kind of approximating a market system. Now we have nothing like a market--And one of the signs of the decline of the market is advertisement. So if you have a real market you don't advertise: you just give information.
For example, there are corners of the economy that do run like markets--for example stock markets. If you have ten shares of General Motors that you want to sell, you don't put up an ad on television with a sexy model holding up the ten shares saying "ask your broker if this is good for you; it's good for me," or something like that.
What you do is you sell it at the market price. If you had a market for cars, toothpaste, or whatever, lifestyle drugs, you would do the same thing. GM would put up a brief notice saying here's the information about our models. Well, you've seen television ads, so I don't have to tell you how it works. The idea is to delude and deceive people with imagery. And the same has happened to the print media.
Take the New York Times for example. They have something called the news hole. When the editors lay out tomorrow's newspapers, the first thing they do is the important things - they put the ads around. Then they have a little bit left that's called the news hole, and they stick little things there.
Quite apart from that the media are just big corporations and of course represent the interests of their owners, their markets, which are advertisers,
and for the elite newspapers, more or less the managerial class, the educated population they deal with. The end result is that you get a very narrow perspective of what the world is like.
The alternative would be a free press. It's not hard to imagine, there actually was one in the mid-nineteenth century.
So that would mean a press that isn't reliant on massive capital concentration, corporate ownership, that is not reliant on advertising for its revenue, and would involve engaged people who are interested in understanding the world and participating in a reasoned discussion about what it should be like. I mean that's not inconceivable.
The PRindustry is very open. Take say television. In the industry when they have an hour of program, whatever it is, a comedy, a cop show, or whatever. In the industry there's what's called content and fill.
The content is the advertising. The fill is the car chase or the sex scene or something, that's supposed to keep you going between ads.
And if you look at a television program, actually I do it some times because I'm intrigued, the creativity and the imagination and the expenses and so on are for the ads; the car chase you can pull off the shelf. And in fact this has led to a serious deterioration of the political system.
I mean we don't have anything resembling a democracy anymore. Take a look at the last campaign. The campaign is run by the same people who sell toothpaste, exactly the same PR agencies. And when they sell a candidate they do it the exact same way they sell a lifestyle drug.
You don't put up information about the candidate, what you do is create delusional images that delude and deceive. The population knows it. A very small number of the population, about 10% of the voters, literally, knew the stands of the candidates on the issues. And it's not because they are stupid or uninterested. It's just like you don't know the characteristics of toothpaste.
There's really two separate questions about the media which are usually muddled. One is what they're trying to do and the second one is what's the affect on the public.
The affect on the public isn't very much studied but to the extent that it has been it seems as though among the more educated sectors the indoctrination works more effectively. Among the less educated sectors people are just more skeptical and cynical.
Well look I think it's a very optimistic future, frankly.
Yes very much so. There's something we know about the country, this country, more than any other. We know a lot about public opinion, it's studied very intensively. The results are very rarely reported but you can find them.
It's an open society and you can find them. What they show is remarkable. What they show first of all is that both political parties and the media are far to the right of the general population on a whole host of issues
and the population is just disorganized, atomized and so on. This country ought be an organizers paradise.And that's why the media and the campaigns keep away from issues.
They know that on issues they're going to lose people. So therefore you have to portray George Bush as a - look he's a pampered kid from a rich family who went to prep school and elite university, and you have to present him as an ordinary guy,
who makes grammatical errors, which I'm sure he's trained to make, he didn't talk that way at Yale, fake Texas twang, and he's off to his ranch to, you know, cut brush or something.
That's like a toothpaste ad and i think a lot of people know it. Given the facts about public opinion, it means what's needed is something not very radical. Let's become as democratic as say the second largest country in the hemisphere, Brazil.
I mean there last election was not between two rich kids who went to the same elite university and joined the same secret society where they're trained to be members of the upper class. And they can get into politics because they have rich families with a lot of connections. I mean people were actually able to elect a president from their own ranks.
A man who was a peasant union leader, never had a higher education, and comes from the population. They could do it because it's a functioning democratic society. I mean there were tremendous obstacles, repressive state, huge concentration of wealth, much worse obstacles than we have.
But they have mass popular movements. They have actually actual political parties, which we don't have.
There's nothing to stop us from doing that. I mean we have a legacy of freedom which is unparalleled. It's been won by struggle over centuries, it was never given, and you can use it, or you can abandon it. It's a choice.
I think people are very discontented and their attitudes towards the media are very cynical and skeptical.
They don't know where to get angry or who to band with. But that's again the lack of democratic structures.
I mean if you have popular movements. Well why are unions so detested by elites? Because Unions are one of the few ways in which people without great privilege, working people, can actually get together - for workers education, for interaction, for participation in political arena and so on.
So therefore they have to be destroyed. It's true that it's a very atomized society, and there are a lot of reasons for that. The last 25 years things have gotten much worse. The US has gone through a unique period of economic history.
Real wages for the majority of the population have stagnated or declined. Working hours have gone way up - they're now the highest in the highest in the industrial world, wages are the lowest.
And people are deluged from infancy. You know I watch children's television with my grandchildren sometimes. From practically infancy you are deluged with propaganda that says your life depends, your value as a human being depends on how many useless commodities you consume.
So you have a working family, you know, husband and wife, working to keep food on the table, their kids want to buy everything there is even though they don't need it or want it. Then you go deeply in debt and then you're trapped. You don't have time to talk to people - you don't know what your neighbors think. Popular attitudes are just not reported. Sometimes it's fantastic.
So after the federal budget came out last february, the major public opinion institute in the country did a careful poll of people's attitudes toward the budget. It was just like a mirror image of what the budget was.
Where federal spending is going up - military, Iraq, Afghanistan - people wanted it to go down, large majorities, where it was going down, same large majorities, people wanted it to go up: social spending, education, renewable energy, support for the united nations, so on. A huge majority wants Bush to rescind tax cuts for the rich, people with over $200,000 income and so on.
Well how was that reported? Well a friend of mine did a database search and nothing. Zero. Only one newspaper in the country - some small town newspaper in Iowa.
Look they've just internalized the values. They'll tell you, and they're correct, that nobody is ordering them to do anything. That's right. Nobody is ordering them to do anything.
The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they're being objective. Actually this is a point that Orwell made.
You and everybody else has read Animal Farm, I'm sure, but you and everybody else hasn't read the introduction to Animal Farm. There's a good reason for that: because it was suppressed. The introduction was found 30 years later in Orwell's own published papers.
The introduction to Animal Farm says look this book is a satire on a totalitarian state but I'm going to talk about England, Free England. In Free England it's not that different. Without state coercion unpopular ideas can be suppressed and are. And then he described how.
He didn't go in much details but Orwell said partly it's because the press is owned by wealthy men who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed. But the more important reason, he said, was because of a good education.
By the time you've gone through, you know, Oxford and Cambridge and here you could say Harvard and Princeton and so on, and even less fancy places, you have instilled into you the understanding that there are certain things that just wouldn't do to say, and that's what a good deal of education is.
So the people who come out of it - and there are many filters, if people go off and try to be too critical there are many ways of discouraging them or eliminating them one way or the other. Some get through, it's not a uniform story.
There are plenty of journalists with integrity and honesty. And many of them, some personal friends, will give a much harsher picture of the media than I do, because they have to live with it. But the basic points that Orwell made are fundamentally correct.
The more educated you are the more indoctrinated you are. And you believe you are being free and objective, whereas in fact you're just repeating state propaganda.
Well for example you could trace the source of what I just told you about popular attitudes about the budget. But the point is that you have to do an individual research project, and who's going to do that?
So some guy comes home from his 50 hour week, his wife is working 50 hours, the kids are demanding this and that, does he have time to do an individual research project? That's what popular associations are for.
When you have unions, political parties, women's groups, whatever it may be, people can get together and do those sorts of things. Individuals can't do them.
NC: The truth of the problems with the media is NPR [National Public Radio] is not that different. So I listen to NPR when I'm driving for as long as I can stand it, that's supposed to be the liberal media, just take a look at their reporting.
So last night I was listening to the reporting on Bush's speech about how to get victory in Iraq. Just imagine - just do a thought experiment. Suppose you were in Russia under Brezhnev or let's say in the early 80s and you heard reports about the war in Afghanistan.
Well, I'm sure it would have been the same thing. They would have discussed how can we get victory, how can we destroy the terrorists, will this tactic work, will that tactic work, we're losing too many soldiers and so on. Well, just like the most liberal journal in the US.
Did anybody ask the question in Russia: do we have a right to invade another country? Can you imagine anyone asking that question here? But in Russia there's a difference. That was totalitarian control, if you said the wrong thing you'd go off to the gulag. Here it's just willing subordination to power.
It's indoctrination so profound that educated people can't even understand the question that I just raised. Try it with journalists.
Ask them: can there be journalism on the Iraq war that can be something different from the college newspaper cheering for the home team.
Ask. There can't be because they can't think of it. It's like Orwell said: it's just inculcated into you that there are certain things that it wouldn't do to think.
Interw: But there are ways, that's what's so exciting about the Internet. Chomsky: And there are plenty of opportunities.
On the Iraq Election (längre version)
When Bush and Blair invaded Iraq, the reason was what they insistently called a 'single question.'Will Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction?' That was the single question
Then very quickly it turned out that that wasn't the reason of the invasion. The reason was what the President's liberal press calls his 'Messianic Mission' to bring democracy to Iraq.
Well, anyone with a particle of sense would know that you can't take that seriously and, in fact, if you look at the events that followed, it just demonstrated that. The US tried, in every possible way, to prevent elections in Iraq.
Finally, they were compelled to accept elections by mass non-violent resistance, for which the Ayatollah Sistani [moderate Shi'ite leader] was a kind of a symbol.Finally, Bush and Blair had to agree to elections.
Elections mean you pay some - in a democracy at least - you pay some attention to the will of the population. Well, the crucial question for an invading army is: 'do they want us to be here?'
Well, we know the answer to that. The British Ministry of Defence carried out a poll a couple of months ago, it was secret, but it leaked to the British Press - I don't think it's been reported in the US. They found that 82 percent of the population wanted the coalition forces, British and US forces to leave. One percent of the population said that they were increasing security.
(We've seen an awful lot of Iraqis taking part in the elections, two thirds, we're told. The turnout was quite high...)
The US and Britain announced at once, at once, we will not have a timetable to withdraw - standard procedure - you want the local forces to run their own countries. So Poland under the Russians, the Polish army runs it, the Polish civilians are the bureaucrats, Russians are in the background. The same in say, El Salvador.
However, it is as clear as a bell that the US, and Britain behind it, are doing everything they can to prevent a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. And they are being dragged into it step by step.
Now the truth of the matter, obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, is that Iraq has huge oil resources, maybe the second in the world, mostly untapped, that it's right in the middle of the main energy-producing region of the world
And that taking control of Iraq will strengthen enormously the US's control over the major energy resources of the world. It will, in fact, give the US critical leverage over its competitors, Europe and Asia, that's Zbigniew Brzezsinski's [Carter's national Security Adviser] accurate observation.
(People from the Iraqi community were expressing similar sentiments that they felt they were in some way having their destiny in their own hands for the first time)
NC: That's exactly what I've been saying for the last three years and I just said it again here. The victory of the non-violent resistance in Iraq, which compelled the occupying forces to allow elections, that's a major victory. That's one of the major triumphs of non-violent resistance that I know of.
It wasn't the insurgents that did it - the US doesn't care about violence, they have more violence. What it can't control is non-violence and the non-violent movements in Iraq..The question is what Westerners will do about it. Will we be on the side of the occupying forces or will we be on the side of the Iraqi people, who want democracy and sovereignty?
NC: That's like saying the Russians invaded Afghanistan and they can't just leave it to the Jihadis so therefore they have to stay there. An invading army has no right whatsoever, none. It has responsibilities. Its primary responsibility is to act in a way that the population of the country demands.
Suppose that the parliament, instead of being an elite force, dominating the population, suppose the parliament represents popular will, say the popular will of 80 percent of Iraqis who want the occupying forces to withdraw, according to the British Ministry of Defence. Suppose that happens? Well then the occupying forces should immediately initiate withdrawal and leave it to the Iraqis. Just think for a minute.
What would an independent Iraq be likely to do, an independent, more or less democratic Iraq? Think. I mean if you're going to have a Shi'ite majority. Therefore the Shi'ites will have a lot of influence in policy, probably a dominant influence. The Shi'ite population in the south, which is where most of the oil is, would much prefer warm relations to Iran over hostile relations to Iran.
Furthermore they are very close relations already, the Badr Brigade, which is the militia that mostly controls the south, was trained in Iran. The clerics have long-standing relations with Iran; the Ayatollah Sistani actually grew up there. Chances are pretty strong, they'll move towards a some sort of a loose Shi'ite alliance, with Iraq and Iran.
Furthermore right across the border in Saudi Arabia, there's a substantial Shi'ite population, which has been bitterly oppressed by the US-backed tyranny in Saudi Arabia, the fundamentalist tyranny. Any move towards independence in Iraq is likely to increase the efforts to gain a degree of autonomy and justice. That happens to be where most of Saudi Arabia's oil is. So you can see not far in the future a loose Shi'ite alliance controlling most of the world's oil, independent of the US.
Furthermore, it´s beginning to turn toward the East. Iran has pretty much given up on Western Europe, it assumes that Western Europe is too cowardly to act independently of the US, well it has options. It can turn to the East. China can't be intimidated. That's why the US is so frightened of China. It cannot be intimidated. In fact, they're already establishing relations with Iran and in fact even with Saudi Arabia, both military and economic.
There is an Asian energy security grid based on Asia and Russia but bringing in India, Korea and others. If Iran moves in that direction, having abandoned any hope in Europe, it can become the lynchpin of the Asian energy security grid.
(And say that this may be part of an attraction for the Shi'ite groups in Iraq as well to sort of join this movement away from the Western world influence as it were?)
Yes, they have every reason to. In fact it might even happen in Saudi Arabia. From the point of view of Washington planners, that is the ultimate nightmare. That is why they're fighting tooth and nail to prevent democracy and sovereignty in Iraq.
The Iraqi people have resisted and it's a very impressive resistance. I'm not talking about insurgency. I'm talking about popular, non-violent resistance under bitter conditions. There's a labour movement forming, which is a very important one. The US insists on keeping Saddam's bitter anti-labour laws, but the labour movement doesn't like it.
Their activists are being killed. Nobody knows by whom, maybe by insurgents, maybe by former Baathists, maybe by somebody else. But they're working. There's the basis of a popular democracy being developed there, much to the horror of the occupying forces, but it's going on and it could have very long term consequences in their national affairs, which is why Bush and Blair have so desperately been trying to prevent democracy and any form of sovereignty and have been forced to back off step by step.
This is also going on with the economic arrangements. The US moved in and immediately tried to open up the economy to foreign take-over by imposing outrageous and in fact illegal laws for privatisation. You know, Iraqis don't want that, they want to take control of their own economy and resources. There's a battle going on about that.
The violence in Iraq is a serious problem for the Iraqis and I tend to agree with, apparently the majority of Iraqis, that it's the occupation forces that are stimulating the violence. The fact that an insurgency even developed in Iraq is astonishing. I mean it's an amazing fact that the US has had more trouble controlling Iraq than the Germans had in controlling occupied Europe or the Russians in
controlling Eastern Europe. After all, the countries under Nazi or Russian occupation were run by domestic forces, domestic police, domestic armies, and domestic civilian forces. The Nazis and the Kremlin were in the background and if needed, they came in, but mostly it was domestically run. There were partisans in Western Europe and they were very courageous, but they would've been wiped out very quickly if it hadn't been for enormous foreign support and, of course, Germany was at war.
Well, in Iraq none of these circumstances prevailed, there was no outside support for the resistance. The little support that has arisen, and it is very slight, is mostly engendered by the invasion. But there's no outside support. The country had been devastated by sanctions. The US was coming in with enormous resources to rebuild it and they have turned it into a total catastrophe.
It's one of the worst military catastrophes in history. You look at figures for something like, say malnutrition; is way up since the US took over, that's unbelievable. It's one of the few wars that can't be reported, not because reporters are cowards, but because it's too dangerous.
Reporters are mostly in the Green Zone or else they go out with a platoon of marines. There are some, like Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and a couple of others who are independent and brave, but not many. This is an incredible catastrophe.
But it's very likely, and I tend to agree with apparent opinion of most Iraqis on this, that it's the invading armies themselves that are engendering the violence. Well, they're carrying out plenty of it, but the violence of the insurgents would probably recline if they left and allowed Iraqis to be on their own.
I have plenty of correspondence with soldiers in Iraq and all you can do is offer them your sympathy. You hope that they make it safely and that their leaders will get them out of there. The same kind of advice you would've given to Russian soldiers in Afghanistan. You have to sympathize with them;
it's not their fault. It's the fault of their commanders. I don't mean their military commanders, I mean the civilians in the Pentagon, in the White House and their counterparts in England.
Nobody was talking about oil all along if you look. It was considered outrageous to talk about oil. Protesters did, but take a look at the mainstream. It was considered a conspiracy theory, Marxist, delusional and so on to talk about oil. Although every sane person knows that that was the reason.
Furthermore the Iraqis know that. Right after the president gave his dramatic speech at the National Endowment for Democracy, announcing his 'Messianic Mission' to bring democracy to Iraq, after the collapse of the 'single question,' right after that a poll was reported.
Gallup took a poll in Baghdad and asked people why they think the US invaded. About one percent agreed with 100 percent of educated Western´s opinion, to bring democracy Five percent said to help Iraqis. Most of the rest said the obvious: to take control of Iraq's resources and to strengthen the US strategic position in the region.
And incidentally, going back to the writer, it's not so much a matter of gaining access to Iraq's resources, you can get access even if you don't control a country. I mean the oil market is something of a market. What matters is to control, not access. It's a very big difference. The main theme of US policy since the Second World War has been to control the resources of the Middle East, the energy resources.
That would give what George Cannon, one of the early planners, called 'veto power' over their allies, they wouldn't get out of line because we'd have our hand on the spicket. Now at that time, for about 30 years, North America was the major oil exporter. The US wasn't using any Middle East oil, but it nevertheless was dedicated and it was the main theme of US policy to maintain control over it.
If you look at US intelligence projections for the future, they project that the US must control Middle East oil, but that it itself will rely on more stable Atlantic Basin resources, Western Africa, Western Hemisphere resources.
Europe and Japan will rely on the less stable Middle East resources, but the US will control them. That's the way you prevent independence from developing. That's why the Asian Energy Security Grid and the Shanghai Cooperation Council are regarded as such a threat by the US.
The meetings right now, the Malaysian meetings, East Asian meetings, that's a threat. It's a coalescence of power moving independently of the US. You look back through the history of the Cold War, and it was the same with regard to Europe.
A major concern throughout the Cold War was what was called European Third Force, which might find a way independent of the US in Europe, and there was every effort made to prevent that. A long story, and that makes sense if you want to run the world, you want to make sure there are not independent forces out of your control.
My own guess frankly, was that the invasion of Iraq would be over in about three days and that the US would install a stable client regime. It should have been one of the easiest military victories in history. But they did turn it into a catastrophe.
My guess back at that time was that the next place the US would move would be the Andes in the Western Hemisphere. This is a traditional region of US domination, but from Venezuela down to Argentina, the region is pretty much out of control and that's a very serious worry for US planners. They expect the Western Hemisphere to be obedient and placid.
And if you look at modern history the US has intervened violently and brutally throughout the Western Hemisphere for a long time to ensure obedience, overthrowing democratic governments, installing murderous military dictatorships, carrying out large-scale terror and it goes on pretty much to the present. It is somewhat out of control.
Venezuela is increasingly going on an independent path and Venezuela is very important, the US took it from the British in 1921, kicked the British out at the time of the beginning of the oil-based economy because it was recognized that Venezuela had enormous oil resources, also others. And it has been one of the main oil suppliers under US control ever since, but it's moving towards independence.
Chavez is enormously popular in Venezuela; in fact, support for the elected government is higher in Venezuela than in any other Latin American country. Venezuela is beginning to diversify its international relations; it's starting to export oil to China and may do so even more soon. The same is true of the other raw materials exporters, Brazil and Chile, not to the extent of Venezuela, but increasing.
Furthermore, the region has left of centre governments. All through the regions, a few exceptions but almost all of them, and some of them are defying the IMF. Argentina simply defied IMF orders, told them to get lost, and did very well as a result.
Furthermore, there's a large Indian population in Latin America from Bolivia up to Ecuador, very large, and they're beginning to organise and become independent. The left wing leader Evo Morales has now won that election. They've overthrown a couple of governments in Ecuador. They're also calling for an Indian nation throughout this region.
Now, they do not want their resources taken from them, they have plenty of resources, a lot of oil. They want either to control their own resources, rather than having it taken over by foreigners, or - many of them - don't even want resources to be developed, so there are plenty of indigenous people in Ecuador who don't particularly want their lifestyle disrupted so that people drive SUVs in New York City. It's an area of deep concern the US. There are more US military in Latin America today than at the height of the Cold War.
Incidentally, we should stop talking about the free market,that's another ideological trick. The US does not believe in a free market. The US itself is a largely state- based economy. You use computers and the Internet and telecommunications and lasers and aeroplanes and so on, most of it comes out of the dynamic state sector. The economy is handed over to private businesses if they make some profit out of it, but mostly state-based and same is true of pharmaceuticals and biology-based industries..
The US then moved into the next step, which is subversion; if you can't carry out a military coup, try to subvert the government. So the US had been pouring in aid into what are called officially 'anti-Chavez, pro-democracy elements.' That's where the money is going. The fact is that Venezuela leads Latin America in support for democracy. And support for the elected government is going up very sharply since Chavez took over in 1998.
There is a very standard tactic. The US used the same standard tactic in Haiti a couple of years ago. It was clear that Aristide, who they didn't like, was going to easily win the election, so they got together with the opposition and got the opposition, which was quite small, to pull out and then they could say, well look it's not legitimate, he's a tyrant. The most striking example of this was an election in Nicaragua 1984.
About torture. Condoleezza Rice was very careful to say we don't send people to countries where we believe they're going to be tortured, so we send them to Egypt and Syria, but we don't believe they're going to be tortured there. How can you listen to that without laughing? What are they sending them there for? The reason they're sent to Guantanamo is elementary, any child can understand it. Guantanamo is not under US judicial jurisdiction, so therefore they can do to people whatever they want, without habeas corpus, without judges and so on.
If they weren't torturing them, they would put them in New York, where they'd be under the legal system and the rendition, which is a shocking crime, is obviously to send people to places where they can be tortured. What Condoleezza Rice actually said is ´we take the word of the countries to which we're sending them that they're not going to torture them,' meaning we know they torture everybody, but we're going to take their word they're not going to torture these people. How can we even listen to these words?
Well, talking about the elite sectors, the reason they don't protest is they more or less agree. The general population doesn't agree. The question: can you believe what the US says? Of course not, you don't believe what any government say, you don't believe what corporate leaders say. The role of people in power is to deceive, it's not just the US, I mean, we all know that.
The clear point of view is what I said before: let the people of Iraq decide. An invasion is a crime, in fact it's the supreme crime, a supreme international crime which contains within it all the evil that follows. I'm not saying we should hang the criminals who carried out the crimes, as it was done at Nuremberg, rather we should get rid of them. The invaders have no rights.
They have responsibilities. There is the prime responsibility to pay huge reparations to the people invaded for all the destruction they caused and that would include the sanctions, which were monstrous. The second one, as much as you can, is to keep to their will.
Yes, of course Syria should have been out of Lebanon in 1976, when we helped bring them in. The immediate impetus for getting Syria out was a car bombing of Rafik Hariri. Unless the CIA was involved in that bombing, the US has nothing to do with getting Syria out.
There was a very important development in Lebanon of democratic forces, complex. One of the strongest forces in Lebanon is Hezbollah, which has a strong Shi'ite support. The US, of course, is opposed to it. But yes, we should permit for the first time democracy to function in Lebanon, meaning getting our dirty hands out of their affairs.
You could say the same about Iraq. Iraq has a long democratic tradition, goes back a century. It was crushed by the British invasion, but it continued to function in many different ways. There was some hope for it with the 1958 revolution, which was a kind of populist revolution which threw out the British and began to introduce social measures and so on and so forth. It introduced the constitution, which is far more liberal than the current one.
Well the US and Britain couldn't stand that, so they backed and maybe initiated a coup, a military coup to put the Baath party in. That crushed Iraqi democracy for years. We should let Iraqi democratic forces, which go way back, to flourish and develop internally. We can say the same thing right throughout the region.
What makes things better is popular movements. That is what effects policy, that's how we've gained the freedoms that we have and we have a lot of freedom, but it didn't come from above and it didn't come from intellectuals. It came from organised popular movements, which demanded more freedom, like the non-violent resistance in Iraq, which forced the US and Britain to permit elections.
That's how we got the right to vote here. That's how we got women's rights, that's how we got freedom of speech and so on. Constant struggle. That's why there are such efforts to break up popular movements.
And yes, that's the way to make things better as in the past, plenty of concrete ways to do it. We're much more able to it than in the past because of the freedoms that have been won. We have a legacy of freedom, which has been won.We can use it, improve it, carry it forward or we can abandon it.
Palestine-Israel-USA, Politics, 12/26/2005
MIT professor Noam Chomsky recently gave an interesting background on the Palestinian -Israeli issue
"Where we go from here" is largely up to us. Transparently, it requires some understanding of how we got here.
Israel's leading specialist on Jerusalem and the West Bank, Meron Benvenisti, writes: The Separation wall snaking through the West Bank will create "three Bantustans," north, central and south, all virtually separated from East Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian commercial, cultural and political life.
..The "human disaster" being planned, he continues, will also "turn hundreds of thousands of people into a sullen community, hostile and nurturing a desire for revenge,"
Another example of the sacrifice of security to expansion that has being going on for a long time. A European Union report concludes that US-backed Israeli programs will virtually end the prospects for a viable Palestinian state by cantonization and by breaking the organic links between East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
There was no effort to conceal the fact that Gaza disengagement was, in reality, West Bank expansion. The official plan stated that Israel will permanently take over major "population centers, cities, towns and villages, security areas and other places of special interest to Israel." That was endorsed by the US Ambassador, as it had been by the President, breaking sharply with US policy.
Along with the disengagement plan, Israel announced investment of tens of millions of dollars in West Bank settlements. Prime Minister Sharon approved new housing units in the town of Ma'aleh Adumim to the East of Jerusalem, the core of the salient that divides the southern from the central Bantustan, along with other expansion plans.
Ha'aretz political commentator Aluf Benn added that the timing was "no coincidence." Rather, it underscores Sharon's determination that Gaza disengagement is a component of the plan to expand permanent control over the West Bank.
There is near unanimity that all of this violates international law. The consensus was expressed by US Judge Buergenthal, in his separate declaration attached to the World Court judgment ruling the Separation wall illegal. In his words, "the Fourth Geneva Convention, and international human rights law, are applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and must [therefore] be faithfully complied with by Israel."
Accordingly, "the segments of the wall being built by Israel to protect the settlements are ipso facto in violation of international humanitarian law" – which means 80% of the wall. Two months later Israel's High Court rejected that judgment ruling that the Separation Wall "must take into account the need to provide security for...Israelis living" in the West Bank, including their "property" rights.
This is consistent with Chief Justice Barak's doctrine that Israeli law supersedes international law, particularly in East Jerusalem, annexed in violation of Security Council orders. Practically speaking, he is correct, as long as the US continues to provide the required economic, military, and diplomatic support, as it has been doing for 30 years, in violation of the international consensus on a two-state settlement.
You can find documentation about all of this in work of mine and others who have supported the international consensus for 30 years. In Israeli literature, like Benny Morris's histories, you can find ample evidence about the nature of the occupation – in his words, "founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation," along with stealing of valuable lands and resources.
Like other Israeli political and legal commentators, Morris reserve special criticism for the Supreme Court, whose record "will surely go down as a dark day in the annals of Israel's judicial system."
Keeping to the diplomatic record, the first important step forward was in 1971, when President Sadat of Egypt offered a full peace treaty to Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. That would have ended the international conflict. Israel rejected the offer, choosing expansion over security – in this case, expansion into the Sinai, where General Sharon's forces had driven thousands of farmers into the desert to clear the land for the all-Jewish city of Yamit.
The US backed Israel's stand. Those decisions led to the 1973 war, a near disaster for Israel. The US and Israel recognized that Egypt could not be dismissed, and finally accepted Sadat's 1971 offer at Camp David in 1979. But by then, the agreement included the demand for a Palestinian state, which had reached the international agenda.
In 1976, the major Arab states introduced a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for a peace settlement on the international border, based on UN 242, the basic document as all agree, but now adding a call for a Palestinian state in the occupied territories.
The US vetoed the resolution, again in 1980. The General Assembly passed similar resolutions year after year, with the US and Israel opposed. The matter reached a head in 1988, when the PLO moved from tacit approval to formal acceptance of the two-state consensus.
Israel responded with the declaration that there can be no "additional" Palestinian state between the Jordan and the sea – Jordan already being a Palestinian state -- and that the status of the territories must be settled according to Israeli guidelines.
The US endorsed Israel's stand. I can only add what I wrote at the time: it's as if someone were to argue that Jews don't need a "second homeland" in Israel because they already have New York.
In May 1997, Israel's Labor Party at last agreed not to rule out "the establishment of a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty (in areas excluding) major Jewish settlement blocs," that is, in the three cantons that were being constructed with US support. The highest rate of post-Oslo settlement was in 2000, the final year of Clinton's term, and Prime Minister Barak's.
Maps of the US-Israel proposals at Camp David in 2000 show a salient east of Jerusalem virtually bisecting the West Bank, and a northern one virtually dividing the northern from the central canton. The current map considerably extends these salients and the isolation of East Jerusalem. The crucial issue at Camp David was territorial; not the refugee issue, for which Arafat agreed to a "pragmatic" solution, Israeli scholarship reveals.
No Palestinian could accept the cantonization, including the US favorite Mahmoud Abbas. Clinton recognized that Palestinian objections had validity, and in December 2000 proposed his "parameters," which went some way towards satisfying Palestinian rights. Clinton reported that Barak and Arafat had both "accepted these parameters as the basis for further efforts. Both have expressed some reservations."
The reservations were addressed at a high-level meeting in Taba, which made considerable progress, and might have led to a settlement. But Israel called it off. That one week at Taba was the only break in 30 years of US-Israeli rejectionism.
High-level informal negotiations continued, leading to the Geneva Accord of December 2002, welcomed by virtually the entire world, rejected by Israel, dismissed by Washington. That could have been the basis for a just peace. It still can be. However, by then, Bush-Sharon bulldozers were demolishing any basis for it.
Every sane Israel hawk understood that it is absurd for Israel to leave 8000 settlers in Gaza, protected by a large part of the army while taking over scarce water resources and arable land. The sane conclusion was to withdraw from Gaza while expanding through the West Bank.
That will continue as long as Washington insists on marching "on the road to catastrophe" by rejecting minimal Palestinian rights, to quote the warning of the four former heads of Israel's Shin Bet Security Service. There are clear alternatives, and if that march to catastrophe continues, we will have only ourselves to blame.