Saturday, November 14, 2015

Power and Terror: Conflict, Hegemony and the Rule of Force, Noam Chomsky

Dick Cheney, in an interview with ABC news, correspondent Martha Raddatz pointed out that a majority of citizens opposed the war in Iraq. Cheney replied, “So?” Martha asked, “You don't care what the American people think?” He said, “NO.” He then goes on to say that we can't be subject to fluctuations in opinion polls. A White House speaker was asked later if this meant the government didn't think the public should have input. The speaker remarked that the public has input every four years. Since they fund, so pretty much own the candidates in those 4 year elections (but not Bernie), that sums up the oligarchic attitude towards democracy. By the way, other damage that administration did to democracy was stack the federal courts with corporate conservatives and the news out of Paris this weekend is called blowback... violence begets violence.

Chomsky points out in this book a number of issues on which the citizenry holds an opinion, according to polls, in contrast to government ie, a large majority support a single payer health care system, a significant majority would prefer less military-focused budget priorities, strong human rights policies and real democracy... the government and mainstream media declare these positions not politically feasible. Since the majority supports them there must be some other criterion for politically feasible and of course that brings us to the disproportionate influence of the 1%... what the 1% wants the 1% usually gets.

Another related, revealing and disturbing factoid Chomsky cites is a worldwide study by Edward Herman looking at the relationship between U.S. aid and torture. The study showed a high correlation. A second study concluded that the key factor was “investment climate”. U.S. aid increased as investment climate improved, ie, a favorable investment situation for U.S. corporations = higher U.S. aid levels. How is a favorable investment climate created and maintained? Well, “One of the best ways is to murder union organizers and peasant leaders, to torture priests, to massacre peasants, to undermine social programs etc;” Not that the U.S. prefers human rights violations, that is just what accompanies the favorable business climate created by client governments.

In government and media discussion of the
terrible threat to the U.S. from Iran, the regime is described as dictatorial (though elected) and dangerous, no argument with the former, no evidence needed for the latter. No mention of course of the inconvenient fact that the U.S. and Britain in 1954 overthrew a parliamentary democracy in the country, installing the Shah's ruthless regime characterized by the usual offensive attributes. The U.S. has boots on the ground, as the saying goes, in Afghanistan and Iraq but Iran is “destabilizing” the area. Stabilization is when everyone is following orders and a favorable investment climate is created. This in fact is what is usually at the root of U.S. aggression - from Clinton's bombing of Kosovo/Serbia to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, the embargo of Cuba and support for right wing dictators across the planet. Risking the sensibility of the blind patriot, Chomsky compares U.S. operations to the Mafia... the Don cannot allow one storekeeper to refuse “protection” payments. Total obediance is required or the system of domination is threatened.

Chomsky ventures where few will follow, or even comprehend, given the indoctrination system, conflicting as it does, too mightily with received wisdom – U.S. allegiance to Israel unfettered by human rights considerations. Israel is described as playing the role of a U.S. aircraft carrier, a military base in the midst of an oil-drenched prize sure to lure the attention of the consumption addict. Israel is allowed wide lattitude in its barbaric behavior around land grabs and oppression of Palestinians so long as they play out their proper military role. Anyone dependent on mainstream media for their notion of what's going on in the mideast would be flabbergasted to hear that it is the U.S. and Israel who have blocked a two-state peace settlement for 35 years. And it is these same players who block proposals for a nuclear-free middle east, something one would think highly desirable but since the
aircraft carrier has them, and U.S. ships in the area probably have them, then the ol' what's good for the goose is good for the gander cannot apply. The Don's dominance cannot be questioned.

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