BOOK REVIEW:  Interventions (Noam Chomsky)

Stephen Lendman

Posted Jun 13, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Reviewing Noam Chomsky’s New Book: “Interventions”

by Stephen Lendman

Noam Chomsky is MIT Institute Professor Emeritus of
linguistics and has been a leading political and
social critic of US imperial policy for over 40 years.
He’s also one of the world’s most influential and
widely cited intellectuals on the Left.  He’s the
author of many hundreds of articles and publications
as well as dozens of books including his latest one
and subject of this review - “Interventions.”

The introductory Editor’s Note explains that post-9/11
Chomsky began writing short, roughly 1000 word,
concise articles distributed by The New York Times
Syndicate as op-eds.  They were widely picked up
overseas but rarely in the US and only in smaller
regional or local papers.  They never appeared in the
New York Times that circulated them worldwide but not
to its own readers.  It shows how the Times and all
the corporate media suppress views contrary to
dominant mainstream thinking.  They’re verboten in a
nation where A.J Liebling once said “Freedom of the
press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

Imperfect as the European press is, Chomsky’s essays
appeared in the International Herald Tribune and
London Guardian and Independent among others. Even one
of Mexico’s leading national newspapers, La Jornada in
Mexico City, frequently publishes Chomsky’s articles.

“Interventions” is a collection of 44 op-ed pieces,
post-9/11, from September, 2002 through March, 2007.
Included is one written specifically for the New York
Times in February, 2004 titled “A Wall is a Weapon.”
Chomsky added notes at the end of each one briefly
expanding on and updating what he wrote earlier up to
the book’s recent publication.  In all his political
writings, including the op-eds in “Interventions,”
Chomsky has always been a fierce critic of US foreign
and domestic policy and the dominant US media’s
practice of “manufacturing consent” for it assuring
criticism never exceeds what political elites allow.
It means there’s never enough of it, what’s most
needed, or anything diverging from general consensus
views corporate America and Washington-based rulers of
the world agree on. 

Chomsky confronts these rulers in “Interventions” as
he’s always done in his writings and public
appearances.  As the Editor’s Note says: “Chomsky
believes that the freedom to challenge power is not
just an opportunity, it’s a responsibility.”  He does
it as effectively in concise essays on selected issues
as in expanded versions in more extended articles and
books.  Chomsky is also an optimist believing people
can change things saying “One of the clearest lessons
of history….is that rights are not granted; they are
won” but not by being passive or timid.  On the broad
range of issues in “Interventions,” Chomsky isn’t
timid, and that’s why his views aren’t allowed in the
dominant corporate-controlled media because speaking
truth to power and the public just might catch on.

“Interventions” - 44 Op-Ed Essays Critical of Bush
Administration Foreign and Domestic Policies

This review covers a healthy sampling of Chomsky’s
book dealing mostly with foreign policies but also
some domestic ones in a post-9/11 world. It’s under an
administration former President Jimmy Carter recently
called “the worst in history (because we) endorsed the
concept of pre-emptive (in fact, preventive meaning
illegal aggression) war….even though our own
security is not directly threatened.”  In an interview
with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Carter elaborated
further, like no other former president ever did.  He
almost sounded like Noam Chomsky from what he said
about George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair.  The UK leader’s equally culpable and shortly
leaving office in disgrace with a public approval
rating lower than George Bush’s.

Chomsky’s first essay is titled “9/11: Lessons
Unlearned” in which he addresses George Bush’s
question: “Why do they (Arabs/Muslims) hate us?”
Fifty years ago Dwight Eisenhower’s National Security
Council explained it’s because we support Middle East
despots and “oppos(e) political or economic progress”
wanting only control of the region’s vast oil
reserves.  It’s no different today with people
everywhere respecting our freedoms but hating our
policies, especially toward them.  With good reason,
they view the US as a “terrorist regime,” which it is.

Feelings on the Arab street stem for Washington’s
longtime one-sided support for Israel’s repressive
policies toward Palestinians.  It fueled a six-decade
conflict because Israel, with US backing, wants it
kept unresolved until it achieves the goal noted
Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, and other courageous
observers explain - to ethnically cleanse, by any
means, all parts of Palestine Israelis want for
themselves leaving Palestinians the right to move
elsewhere or live only on cantonized worthless scrub
land Israel doesn’t value.

Twelve horrendous years of harsh Iraqi economic and
political sanctions also fueled extreme Arab and
Muslim anti-US sentiment now far worse since March,
2003.  It boils over daily in the country and around
the world reflected in Canadian General Andrew
Leslie’s comment made in summer, 2005.  Explaining why
the Afghan war will be long, he said: (because) “every
time you kill an angry young man (or his family),
you’re creating 15 more who will come after you.”  He
might have finished his thought that the way to stop
them killing us is stop killing them.

Before the March, 2003 invasion alone, the toll on
Iraqis was horrific.  Twelve years of inhumane,
unjustifiable sanctions caused the deaths of as many
as 1.5 million victims of US genocidal policy and
likely close to another million since then.  They were
aimed at removing Saddam it took an illegal aggression
and occupation to achieve.  It proved a recruiting
bonanza for all sorts of resistance evident throughout
Iraq today and around the world targeting America and
our allies.  It won’t stop till repressive policies do
beginning with the illegal occupations of Iraq and
Palestine.  Until then, the worst may be yet to come.

It proves what what former Israeli military
intelligence chief, Yesoshaphat Harkabi, said 25 years
ago on how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It’s as true today in Israel and applies to Iraq and
everywhere else. “To offer an honorable solution to
the Palestinians (or other repressed peoples)
respecting their right to self-determination: That is
the solution of the problem of terrorism.  When the
swamp disappears, there will be no more mosquitos.”
It goes without saying respecting peoples’ human and
civil rights everywhere is a good way to end wars,
too, and justifiable resistance they and illegal
occupations spawn.

The current Iraq war dominates much of the book
including the early March, 2003 article before it
began titled “The Case Against the War in Iraq.”  In
it, Chomsky explained the Bush administration’s
National Security Strategy’s belligerent “imperial
grand strategy” intentions to control the world by
force and reign supreme through a policy of
“preventive war.”  The Nuremberg Tribunal called that
“the supreme international crime” against peace with
guilty Nazis convicted of it hanged.  Warnings this
agenda could lead to terrorist attacks far worse than
9/11 weren’t allowed to interfere with the
administration’s imperial ambitions.  That was their
policy in 2003.  It remains unchanged now, whatever
the consequences.

Chomsky continued his analysis in his late March, 2003
essay “Now That the War Has Begun.”  In it, he
explained what’s evident now - that “There is no
reason to doubt the near-universal judgment that the
war in Iraq will only increase the threat of terror
and development and possible use of weapons of mass
destruction, for revenge or deterrence.”  With the US
now an international pariah, hated and condemned by
ordinary people nearly everywhere, it may only be a
matter of time before the WMD threat, in fact,
happens.  It won’t be pleasant when it does if it
takes the form of a “dirty bomb” making a large US
city uninhabitable forever from radiation

Chomsky continues saying “the stakes of the war and
its aftermath almost couldn’t be higher (with one
possibility being) destabilization in Pakistan
(making) ‘loose nukes’ (available) to the global
network of terrorist groups (and) other possibilities,
no less grim.”  But he notes a promising sign from the

unprecendented world opposition to war in Iraq before
it began that’s continued since but not with enough
intensity to stop the horrific conflict now in its
fifth year.  It’s longer in duration than WW II with
no signs it’s ending after the pathetic Democrat-led
Congress surrendered to the Bush administration’s
demands.  Defying growing public sentiment, it passed
the largest ever supplemental funding bill ($120
billion) in the nation’s history with more assured for
the asking - at least so far.

Chomsky noted in March, 2003 what’s still true today -
that the US is pursuing “new and dangerous paths over
near-unanimous world opposition.”  Instead of
responding to threats by addressing legitimate
grievances, the Bush administration chose permanent
aggressive wars and a policy of constructing “even
more awesome instruments of destruction and
domination.” It guarantees responses to them, if used,
will be unpleasant at least and awesome and horrific
if worst case predictions come true.

In his August, 2003 “Road Map to Nowhere” piece,
Chomsky addresses the long-festering
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He quoted Oxford
University Middle East scholar Hussein Agha and former
Clinton administration Arab-Israeli affairs special
assistant Robert Malley saying “the outlines of a
solution have been basically understood for some time
now” and entail “a territorial divide on the
international border, now with a 1 - 1 land swap.”
Chomsky explains it never happened nor will it because
Israel, with US backing, rejects it even in modest

Rhetoric aside, “road maps” and other past peace
initiatives have all been cruel hoaxes going nowhere
nor will any now barring a huge change in policy only
mass world condemnation and forceful action with teeth
can achieve.  In deference to Chomsky’s contrary view,
it must include boycotts, divestment, political and
economic sanctions, and isolation of Israel from the
community of civilized states.  It’s not a fit member
of them as long as it continues pursuing barbaric
policies best characterized as slow-motion genocide
with the US equally culpable in Iraq and Afghanistan
and for providing Israel unlimited aid.

Chomsky notes “a just peace could come” citing
Northern Ireland as a recent example and South Africa
another, although no one should assume those countries
now resemble paradise as facts on the ground prove
otherwise.  It’s especially true in South Africa where
noted journalist John Pilger’s new book “Freedom Next
Time” explains how life there today is harder than
under apartheid.  It’s because “Thatcherism” and New
World Order Washington Consensus neoliberalism moved
in making things worse.  It happened under Nelson
Mandela’s presidency who signed on to it telling
Pilger “You can put any label on it you like….but,
for this country, privatization (deregulation and free
market capitalism) is the fundamental policy.”

In October, 2003, Chomsky wrote about “The United
States and the United Nations,” that’s little more
than a wholly-owned subsidiary of the nation where
it’s been headquartered on Manhattan’s east side since
1952.  Whenever the US can’t bully or co-opt the world
body, it just ignores it doing what it wants like
waging illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Only the
Security Council can authorize them or Article 51 of
the UN Charter allowing the “right of individual or
collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs
against a Member….until the Security Council (acts)
to maintain international peace and security.” 

The Bush administration has contempt for international
law using it only when it serves its imperial
interests and condemning or ignoring it otherwise as
“quaint and obsolete.”  At an early March, 2003 news
conference, George Bush made his position clear saying
“when it comes to security (meaning US imperial
interests) we really don’t need anyone’s permission.”
So when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington’s
position is unbending - “The United States must end up
in effective control (of these countries using) some
facade of democracy if that proves feasible.” It means
“democratic” elections can go ahead as long as the
lord and master of the universe controls things no
matter how they turn out. 

And that’s exactly how it is now in Iraq and
Afghanistan from US-orchestrated “demonstration
elections.” They installed puppet governments having
no say over their own affairs except what Washington
allows.  As Chomsky puts it: “Washington must be in
charge, not the United Nations, not the Iraqi (or
Afghan) people,” and that’s the way, in fact, it is
today in both countries.

Indeed, it will be in Iraq if the puppet parliament
passes the US-drafted new “Hydrocarbon Law.”  It’s a
blueprint for plunder, giving foreign investors (US
and UK Big Oil mainly) a bonanza of resources, leaving
Iraqis a sliver for themselves.  Oil giants, like
Exxon-Mobil and BP Amoco, will get exclusive control
of 63 of the country’s 80 known oil fields plus all
newly discovered deposits.  Even worse, Big Oil will
get long-term contracts up to 35 years and be free to
expropriate all revenues, investing none of them in
Iraq’s economy.  Foreign investors will also have no
obligation to partner with Iraqi companies, hire local
workers, respect union rights, or share new
technologies.  Iraqis only get the right to take it,
or else.

Iraqi oil workers aren’t taking it. They went on
strike for three days over a range of issues.  Prime
Minister al-Maliki then shamelessly issued arrest
warrants for Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)
leaders sending his military to surround the workers.
He then had to back down June 8 when an Iraqi general
in charge disobeyed his orders, demanded his
government “sort it all out,” or he’d resign and join
the strikers.  In response, IFOU suspended the strike
saying it will be resumed and expanded in a week
unless an agreement is reached.  Washington and Big
Oil aren’t happy, but this issue is far from resolved.

In November, 2003, Chomsky wrote about “Dilemmas of
Dominance” noting in George Bush’s “axis of evil”
North Korea and Iran (unlike Iraq since 1991) aren’t
defenseless.  It’s a lesson to all other potential
US-targeted nations.  “If you want to defend yourself
from us, you had better mimic North Korea and pose a
credible military threat” because the Kim Jong-il
regime may have nuclear weapons while Iran does not,
claims no intent to develop them, but no one in the
West knows for sure. 

Iran’s importance, however, lies in its having the
world’s third or fourth largest proved oil reserves
(depending on who’s measuring what reserves) while
North Korea is “one of the poorest and most miserable
countries in the world,” except for one other thing.
It has great geostrategic importance within Northeast
Asia (including China, Japan, South Korea and
resource-rich Siberia in Russia’s East).  It’s now
“the world’s most dynamic economic region, with close
to 30% of global gross domestic product,” compared to
19% for the US, plus “half of global foreign exchange

“The US and Europe now trade more with Northeast Asia
than with one another,” and Washington’s concern is
that integrated regions like Europe and Northeast Asia
may choose an independent course from Washington.
Today, that may be more likely given the state of
things under George Bush with worldwide alienation
growing in the face of aggressive US policies getting
harder to accept or endorse.

Chomsky also wrote about “Saddam Hussein Before the
Tribunal” in December, 2003 before this writer did it
in November, 2006 in an article called “A Trial Giving
Kangaroos A Bad Name.” It covered the 11 month
travesty of justice ending November 5 with his
conviction already decided before proceedings began. 

He then addressed “Saddam Hussein and Crimes of State”
in January, 2004 citing the “long, tortuous
association between (Saddam) and the West” and how
embarrassing it would be for that relationship to come
out at trial, so it didn’t.  Even at Nuremberg
(Chomsky calls “the least defective” post-conflict
tribunal), war or other crimes were only what losing
sides did, never winning ones under a long-standing
policy of victor’s justice meaning none at all. 

So voices of UN humanitarian coordinators Denis
Halliday and Hans von Sponek could never be publicly
heard explaining why they resigned in protest.  In
1998, Halliday said he “had been instructed to
implement a policy that satisfies the definition of
genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively
killed well over one million individuals, children and
adults,” and that 5000 Iraqi children were dying
needlessly every month.  That’s inconsequential to the
Bush administration in its openly stated National
Security Strategy (NSS) policy.  It’s a scheme to
“dismantle much of what remained of the system of
world order” and rule by force “with Iraq as a
demonstration project.” It tells the world we mean
business, so stand aside or you’re next.

Chomsky also covered Israel’s Annexation/Apartheid
wall in an article called “A Wall as a Weapon” with
Israel (with US financial and political backing)
continuing to build it in defiance of international
law.  The World Court in the Hague ruled 14 - 1
construction must end at once, the existing portion
already built must be dismantled, and affected
Palestinians must be compensated for their losses.
Israel flouts the decision.

He also wrote about “The United States: Terrorist
Sanctuary” with Washington notorious for granting safe
haven to ousted tinpot despots and “a rogues’ gallery
of people whose actions qualify them as terrorists.”
That’s never a problem, however, when their crimes
aided this country’s imperial agenda.  Two noted
examples Chomsky cites are Orlando Bosch, and Bosch
accomplish Luis Posada Carriles.  They masterminded
the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 (among their
many terrorist acts) killing 73 on it, but never
answered for it and now live freely in the US.

Chomsky also wrote on “Iraq: The Roots of Resistance”
explaining US intelligence knew well in advance
“Washington’s most formidable foe (would be) the
resentment of ordinary Iraqis….hostile to the
American occupation.”  The Bush administration ignored
the warning feeling that price was minor compared to
its greater goal to establish permanent military bases
in a client state “at the heart of the world’s major
energy sources.”

Chomsky addressed “Who Is to Run the World and How” in
June, 2004 noting former Carter administration
National Security Advisor Zbiigniew Brzezinski writing
“America’s security role in the (Middle East) region
(meaning military dominance) gives it indirect but
politically critical leverage on the European and
Asian economies” (also dependent on) energy exports
from the region.”  That would keep those regions from
opting for a course independent from us, so
controlling Iraq’s oil and reorganizing the Middle
East under US control prevents that from happening.
Uppermost for US policy makers is preventing
successful defiance of US policy. Costly wars spawning
terrorist fallout is of lesser importance and a price
worth paying for unchallengeable imperial dominance,
provided we can get and keep it.  That’s very much in
doubt today, however, with things falling apart in the
Middle East and Central Asia.

Chomsky addresses a crucial domestic issue in
“Democracy Building Must Begin at Home” in August,
2004 and in October in “The Disconnect in American
Democracy.”  He did it with the presidential elections
approaching and things in disarray on the ground in
Iraq and soon to be in Afghanistan as well.  He
observed the campaign pointed up “the severe
democratic deficit in the world’s most powerful
(nominally democratic) state” where true democracy is
more illusion than reality.  He noted how detached the
candidates were in their common agenda from issues
mattering most to ordinary people.  They pay little
more than lip service to vital concerns like health
care ranking at the top with costs exploding and 47
million people having no insurance because they can’t
afford any.

Bush and Kerry got to run with enough funding by
“similar concentrations of private power” controlling
everything.  That includes picking the candidates and,
practically openly since 2000, which one wins, decided
in advance making a mockery of the whole system.
Investigative journalist, Greg Palast, covered it in
his 2006 book, “Armed Madhouse,” and his 2003 one,
“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.”  In them, he
showed how elections today are more like auctions than
a serious exercise of democracy.  He documented how
the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen and 2008 is
already shaping up for more of the same.

Chomsky explains changing things when they’re not
right is the way it’s always been.  It has to be from
the grassroots that against long odds ended slavery,
and won rights for labor, women and minorities.  It
also helped end the Vietnam war through mass energized
opposition on the streets to it. So even though
Chomsky urges voters to make “sensible choices” at the
polls (limited as they are), the “main task is to
create a genuinely responsive democratic culture, and
that effort goes on before and after electoral
extravaganzas, whatever their outcome.”

Two articles in November and December, 2004 help
unmask the benevolent facade we present to the world,
no longer needing Chomsky to do it two and half years
later.  The first is titled “We Are Good” and the
second the “Imperial Presidency and Its Consequences.”
The first essay observes “the fundamental principle
(in international relations) that ‘we are good’ - ‘we’
being the government….benevolent, seeking peace and
justice” even though, in practice, the opposite is
true.  However, the Bush agenda of permanent war
“carr(ies) an appreciable risk of ultimate doom”
according to some straregic analysts like John D.
Steinbruner and Nancy Gallagher.  They wrote in the
summer 2004 issue of “Daedalus,” the journal of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Chomsky says
isn’t given to hyperbole. 

The administration’s contempt for international law,
scorched earth war agenda, and future intent to use
nuclear weapons, like they’re just king-sized hand
grenades, means the fate of the human species and most
everything else some day may be up for grabs.  Chomsky
observes that “the world is in awful shape today”
although better off for an “unwillingness to tolerate
aggression.”  It’s because the Bush administration’s
“conception of presidential sovereignty (the imperial
presidency) is so extreme (it’s drawn) unprecendented
criticism from the most sober and respected journals.”

It’s based on the “unitary executive theory of the
presidency.” Lawyer, academic and author Jennifer Van
Bergen wrote about it at length in her January 9, 2006
FindLaw Legal News and Commentary article titled “The
Unitary Executive: Is the Doctrine Behind the Bush
Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?”  Her
conclusion is unequivocally no.  The “doctrine
violates the separation of powers” fundamental to our
system.  It puts the chief executive above the law, in
effect, making him a dictator.

George Bush usurped this power claiming the law is
what he says it is and proved it around 800 times
(more than all past presidents combined) attaching
“signing statements” to congressional legislation.  In
doing so, he illegally annulled provisions in them
because nothing in the Constitution allows such
practice.  Chomsky asks how can we best respond to a
situation so dire?  He notes our “legacy of great
privilege and freedom” saying we have a choice -
abandon all hope or “further a democratic culture in
which the culture plays some role in (political and
economic) policies.”  Saying these are hardly radical
ideas, he stresses history shows “rights are not
granted; they are won” by going for them from the

In April, 2005, Chomsky addressed “The Universality of
Human Rights.”  He cited the 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights as the “modern standard”
including Article 25 in it stating - “Everyone has the
right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and of his family, including
food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary
social services, and the right to security in the
event of unemployment, sickness, disability,
widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in
circumstances beyond his control (with) Motherhood
(and children born in or out of wedlock)....entitled
to special care and assistance.” 

Needless to say, the Bush administration rejects these
rights by its policies alone.  Earlier, undersecretary
of state for democracy and global affairs, Paula
Dobriansky, while serving under Ronald Reagan and
G.H.W. Bush, refuted what she called the “myth (that)
economic and social rights constitute human rights,”
even though the majority population feels otherwise.
Surveys clearly show popular preferences favor sharp
cuts in military spending along with large increases
for education, health care, medical research, job
training, conservation, renewable energy and other
essential social programs enhancing life.  The current
power structure wants no public involvement in policy
choices pointing to what Chomsky calls a “growing
democratic deficit.” 

In 1973, banker David Rockefeller (grandson of oil
tycoon and mega-corporate predator John D.), Zbigniew
Brzezinski and others founded the Trilateral
Commission that included notable members like Jimmy
Carter and Bill Clinton.  It’s purpose was to counter
a “crisis of democracy” from the 1960s.  That meant
too much of it as sectors of the population (called
“special interests”) became active politically while
these rulers of the world expect them to remain inert.
So action was needed to restore them to their proper
status - quiescent, letting “the people who own the
country….run it” (for their own benefit).  Those
were Founding Father John Jay’s words, our first
Supreme Court Chief Justice, showing his contempt for
ordinary people.  Today, things are so extreme under
George Bush even Jay might be shocked enough to think
we went too far and say change is needed to soften

He and the other Founders would likely be alarmed by
Chomsky’s April, 2005 essay called “Dr. Strangelove
Meets the Age of Terror” with the title alone pretty
scary.  The subject addressed is a real nuclear threat
with the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
“never….weaker or its future less certain” according
to Thomas Graham, former US special representative for
arms control, nonproliferation and armament.  He
warned in the April, 2005 issue of “Current History”
if the treaty fails, a “nuclear nightmare world” may
become reality. His concern is that Bush
administration policy is the main threat.  It
effectively renounced NPT and its crucial Article VI
pledging nuclear nations make “good faith” efforts to
eliminate these weapons because having them heightens
the risk they’ll be used endangering the planet.
However, it’s even worse than that as the Bush

—claims the right to develop new type nuclear
weapons, not work to eliminate ones we have;

—ignores NPT intending to test new weapons

—ended the protection of the Anti-Ballistic Missile

—rescinded and subverted the Biological and Toxic
Weapons Convention;

—spends more on the military than the rest of the
world combined with large future increases planned;

—refuses to consider a Fissile Material Cutoff
Treaty preventing more nuclear bombs being added to
present stockpiles already dangerously too high; and

—claims the right to wage preventive wars under the
doctrine of “anticipatory self-defense” using first
strike nuclear weapons.

As a result, former NATO planner, Michael McGuire,
thinks a “nuclear exchange is ultimately inevitable,”
and Harvard international relations specialist, Graham
Allison agrees with a “consensus in the national
security community (that a) dirty bomb (attack is)
near-certain” given current policy and the fact that
fissionable materials aren’t secured.

Chomsky also wrote about “The Social Security
Non-Crisis.”  It was about the Bush administration
concocting a propaganda blitz in 2005 (no longer heard
lately) of an impending phony Social Security “fiscal
crisis” to convince the public to let Wall Street
sharks control their financial future.  Meanwhile, he
noted, a real Medicare crisis looms with medical costs
spiraling out of control and the US having the most
unfair, inefficient system in the industrialized
world.  Reforming it through more efficient, lower
cost national health care is off the table because
insurers and Big Pharma won’t tolerate any public
benefit harming their right to run the system their
way earning huge profits from it.

Then, there’s Chomsky’s take on “The Bush
Administration during Hurricane Season.”  In it, he
noted “a long-gathering storm of misguided policies
and priorities preceded the tragedy, citing a pre-9/11
FEMA report.  It listed the three most likely
catastrophes to strike the country - a terrorist
attack in New York, an earthquake in San Francisco,
and a major hurricane striking New Orleans with the
latter becoming an urgent FEMA priority in 2005.
Elaborate plans and a successful simulated hurricane
drill were conducted, but the war, budget cuts, other
preventive measures and overall Bush administration
indifference meant the Katrina disaster was

Four Chomsky essays deal with Latin America, the first
in December, 2005 called “South America at the Tipping
Point.”  In it, he says “From Venezuela to Argentina,
the hemisphere is falling out of control, with
left-center governments almost all the way through.
Even in Central America….the lid is barely on.”

The view from mid-2007 looks different with only
Venezuela and hopefully Ecuador (still a work in
progress under new President Rafeal Correa, barely six
months in office) very much embracing a left-center
social democratic agenda.  In contrast, Brazil,
Argentina and Bolivia have mostly followed Washington
Consensus neoliberal dictates.  That’s in spite of
their distancing themselves from US one-way FTAA trade
deals and IMF and World Bank crushing debt slavery
from their Faustian-imposed rules assuring debtor
nations always get a raw deal.

But Chomsky noted in 2005 indigenous populations were
more active and influential, especially in Ecuador and
Bolivia.  Today they’re still active there and in
other Latin countries but have modest influence, at
best.  He also observed internal integration was
strengthening, including South-South interaction with
Venezuela in the lead responsible for most positive
results in how it deals with its neighbors and other
world trading partners like China. 

In March, 2006, Chomsky’s op-ed piece was called
“Asia, the Americas, and the Reigning Superpower.” In
September he wrote “Latin America Declares its
Independence,” and in December his article was titled
“Alternatives for the Americas.”  In these, he noted
Washington’s concern that Europe, Asia and Latin
America might move toward more independence away from
US dominance, and, to a degree, there are some hopeful
signs, it’s happening.  Middle East misadventurism
consumes the Bush administration, unable to admit what
every sensible political analyst knows - the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan are lost.  In addition, the
longer we stay embroiled, the worse things get and
more likely US world influence will wane encouraging
other nations to become more independent, less fearful
of the consequences.

Central to policy everywhere is energy, and aims to
control it create the possibility of shifting
alliances and more potential nightmares for
Washington.  Crucially ahead is who lines up with
whom, and one relationship Washington fears is greater
India-China cooperation.  Add Venezuela, Russia and
Iran to the mix and Washington’s fears will be huge if
those ties become strong and solidified enough to
counter US dominance.  Throw in a couple of other
Middle East and Central Asia producers, and it spells
potential big trouble for Washington planners.

Another Washington fear is if Latin states ever, in
fact, unite in a “continent community similar to the
European Union.”  It would give them far more clout
together than any single regional state could have on
its own, even one as large and important as Brazil.
Washington has long dominated Latin America it
dismissively calls its “backyard.”  It’s done it
through “violence….economic strangulation,” and
brutal exploitation through installed or co-opted
governments profiting as junior partners in the savage
exploitation of their own populations for profit, the
way it’s been for 500 years going back to conquistador

Today, Hugo Chavez is a symbol of change and courage
standing up to the ruling hegemon.  That makes him the
single greatest threat Washington faces - a good
example that’s spreading enough to cause alarm in the
Capitol.  Since taking office in February, 1999, the
US tried and failed three times to oust him by
different means.  The current Washington-orchestrated
made-for-media street protests over the RCTV Channel 2
shuttering may indicate a fourth attempt is now
underway.  Chavez apparently thinks so accusing the
Bush administration and internal opposition of
planning a “soft coup with a slow fuse.” He compares
it to the same US scheme used in Ukraine’s 2004-05
Orange Revolution and Georgia’s Rose one in 2003.
Both times, leaders allied with Russia were deposed
and replaced with ones favoring the West.

Chavez is standing firm and is actively moving ahead
with his socially democratic agenda while solidifying
ties with regional neighbors and other states.  He
seeks integrated alliances (a “prerequisite for
genuine independence” from Washington) and relations
with other countries based on cooperation, solidarity,
complementarity and respect for each nation’s
sovereignty.  He wants it to be free from the
strangling control Washington imposes in its relations
with the Global South, especially in Latin America it
feels it owns.  The confrontational lines are drawn
with the spirit of democracy alive in Latin America,
headquartered in Venezuela, and the Bush
administration determined to crush it. 

It’s one reason Washington seeks bilateral deals in
the region and elsewhere and just signed one last
December with India.  It’s called the United
States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act,
the name itself reeking in Orwellian Newspeak.  The
act is another blow to NPT effectively authorizing
India’s nuclear weapons development along with other
nuclear-related assistance enough to cause nuclear
weapons specialist Gary Milhollin alarm.  The deal
violates “cardinal principle(s)” established to reduce
nuclear weapons proliferation and delivery systems for
them.  They undermine the barriers to nuclear war and
“may hasten the day when a nuclear explosion destroys
a US city.”

Hedging its bets to “become equidistant between the US
and China,” India agreed to a similar deal with the
Asian giant the US fears most as a future challenger
to its supremacy.  It’s because of China’s size and
fact it’s unintimidated by US dominance.  But while
Washington gambles with our future, the potential
threat from an eventual nuclear holocaust get greater.
The Bush administration is giving India “a free pass
around nuclear controls,” says nuclear threat expert
Michael Krepon.  It means “other states will be lining
up to profit from proliferation,” export controls are
now off the table, and the safety of NPT enforcement
is null and void.  It points to a potential
frightening future ahead thanks to reckless US policy
putting geopolitics and corporate profits ahead of
common sense security.

In June, 2006 Chomsky wrote on “Disarming the Iran
Nuclear Showdown.”  He observed “The urgency of
halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and
moving toward their elimination, could hardly be
greater.  Failure to do so is very likely to lead to
grim consequences (and) a near meltdown (a year ago
and now) seems….imminent over Iran(‘s)” commercial
nuclear enrichment program.  It conforms to NPT
standards while countries like India, Pakistan and
Israel are nuclear outlaws.  Under George Bush, so is
the US, by far the worst one of all.

Washington, with help from the West it bullies,
demands Iran stop its program in contrast to its
strong support for it under the Shah before 1979.
Today, it’s different with Washington wanting NPT’s
Article IV strengthened.  It grants non-nuclear states
the right to produce fuel for commercial nuclear
energy use.  Chomsky believes that because of today’s
technological advances, tightening Article IV “would
have to ensure unimpeded access for nonmilitary use”
but prevent it from being for weapons.  That’s not
easy as nuclear expert Helen Caldicott explains. She
calls operating commercial nuclear reactors atom bomb
factories as a single 1000 megawatt reactor produces
500 pounds of plutonium annually, while a mere 10
pounds can produce a bomb powerful enough to devastate
a large city.

Despite the heated Western rhetoric targeting Iran’s
nuclear program and its claimed interference in Iraq,
only one country poses a real threat to what Chomsky
calls “the end of biology’s only experiment with
higher intelligence” and most everything else.  He
means the US, especially in the age of George Bush. So
Washington is in the lead pointing fingers at phony
nuclear threats from other countries while never
admitting it’s the greatest one of all. It’s the only
country with a publicly stated policy to freely use
these first strike weapons under its doctrine of
“anticipatory self-defense” meaning preventive illegal
aggression international law bans.

Chomsky revisted Iran in March, 2007 in his essay
titled “The Cold War Between Washington and Tehran.”
He noted Iran and Syria are enemies because they
“failed to subordinate themselves to Washington’s
basic demands.  Iran by far (is) the most important”
because of its vast oil reserves we want control over
the way things were after the CIA-led coup ousted
democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed
Mossadegh in 1953.  It reinstated the US-backed Shah
Reza Pahlavi’s generation-long fascist reign of
terror.  It lasted until the 1979 Iranian revolution
deposed him, setting up a confrontation between Iran
and this country ever since.  It now threatens to
erupt in open war, possibly a nuclear one.

Iran’s importance goes beyond oil as its “influence in
the ‘crescent’ challenges US control” there.  Chomsky
notes “By an accident of geography, the world’s major
oil resources are in largely Shiite areas of the
Middle East: southern Iraq, adjacent regions of Saudi
Arabia and Iran, with some of the major reserves of
natural gas as well.”  He continues explaining
“Washington’s worst nightmare would be a loose Shiite
alliance controlling most of the world’s oil”
independent of the US.  If such a bloc ever emerges
and links with the Asian Energy Security Grid and
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in China, US
power in the world will be seriously and potentially
permanently undermined. 

The Bush administration will do everything possible to
prevent this, but Chomsky doubts it will attack Iran.
World leaders and three-fourths of the US public are
strongly opposed.  So is the Baker Commission
representing a more conciliatory position, but no less
hard line on controlling the world’s energy resources.

While not able to withstand overwhelming US power,
Iran is three times the size of Iraq and no pushover.
It would be crushed in a head-to-head confrontation
with Washington but could put up a fight and inflict
some heavy damage in the process not likely to go down
well at home.  It would also inflame the Middle East
far more than already.  Iran can also “respond in
other ways,” Chomsky notes, “inciting even more havoc
in Iraq” and throughout the region.  The public is
already fed up with endless wars, demands they end, so
anything is possible on US streets and the next
election if George Bush starts another one with his
toughest opponent so far.

Instead of war, Chomsky thinks Washington may try
destabilizing Iran from within stirring up trouble and
“secessionist tendencies” from much of the population
that isn’t Persian, including in oil-rich areas like
Khuzestan on the Gulf that’s largely Arab.  It’s also
urging harsher sanctions wanting to isolate and
“strangle Iran economically” that won’t likely work
because China and Russia won’t buy it and Europe only
will part way.  For years, Iran sought a negotiated
settlement to long-standing differences, but
Washington always rebuffed diplomatic efforts because
it demands unconditional surrender to its agenda.
Iran, under its present leadership won’t ever buy
that, and why should it, or any other nation.

Following Israel’s brutal, illegal assault on Lebanon
last summer (planned months in advance with US
backing), Chomsky wrote about “Viewing Lebanon as if
through a Bombsight.”  He noted in August, 2006 “a
fragile truce remains in effect,” but it may be near a
tipping point now in the wake of days of savage
fighting pitting the US-backed Fouad Sinora’s Lebanese
army against non-Palestinian Fath al-Islam fighters
holed up in the northern Lebanese Nahr al-Bared
Palestinian refugee camp.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of
soldiers, fighters and innocent civilians have been
killed and many thousands displaced risking this will
spread to other parts of the country reigniting a
civil war like the one that raged from 1975 - 1990.
It tore apart a country tormented as well by repeated
Israeli assaults and invasions including the infamous
1982 one killing 18,000 or more Lebanese and many
Palestinians living there.

A year ago Chomsky wrote about the “US-Israeli
invasion of Lebanon, with only a cynical pretense to
legitimacy” because there was none.  The reason for it
had nothing to do with the phony one given about the
capture of two Israeli soldiers.  Never mentioned was
that for decades Israel made a practice of “kidnapping
and killing civilians in Lebanon or on the high seas,
Lebanese and Palestinians, holding them in Israel for
long periods, sometimes as hostages, sometimes in
secret torture chambers like Camp 1391.”

Israel’s summer, 2006 assault on Gaza was also planned
well in advance just waiting for a convenient pretext
to unleash that happened to be the capture of one
Israeli corporal, hardly reason to declare war.  Just
like in Lebanon, Israel’s reaction was unjustifiable
and savagely extreme, but as long as the US backed and
funded it, Western and Arab world complaints were
barely audible before ending altogether.  It left
targeted Lebanese and Palestinians devastated to this
day and now victims of new fighting.

Israel and the US want to destroy Hezbollah and Hamas,
but it’s no secret they helped create them both to use
against other past enemies like Yasser Arafat and the
PLO in the 1980s until he was co-opted by the Oslo
Accords in 1993 to become Israel’s enforcer.  Today,
conflict continues in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories (OPT), Lebanon is teetering on the edge of
the unknown, and Chomsky notes “new generations of
bitter and angry jihadis” likely are being created the
way Israeli Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz’s said they
would be.  What else could warrior states like the US
or Israel expect, “view(ing) the world through a

But Saad-Ghorayeb warned a year ago what’s as true
today, stated in slightly different terms.  US and
Israel’s unending wars on Iraqis, Afghans,
Palestinians, Lebanese and any other designated Arab
or Muslim targets may cause “all hell (to) be let
loose (from) the Shiite community….seething with
resentment” and determined to get revenge violently.
And Sunnis may join them if the Muslim world unites
against the US, Israel, and the West.  As Chomsky puts
it: “viewing the world through a bombsight will bring
further misery and suffering, perhaps even in
‘apocalyptic terms.’ “

The book’s final essay was written in July, 2006
called “The Great Soul of Power.”  In it, Chomsky
deals with two themes borrowed from the life and work
of the late Palestinian American scholar and activist
Edward Said - the “culture of empire (and)
responsibility of intellectuals.”  He condemns
“obedient intellectuals” for what Hans Morgenthau
called “conformist subservience to those in power.”
He notes a “clear doctrine….reign(ing) in Western
journalism and almost all scholarship, even among
critics of policies - ‘American exceptionalism’ (or)
the thesis that the United States is unlike other
great powers, past and present, because it has a
‘transcendent purpose:’ ‘the establishment of equality
and freedom in America’ and….throughout the world.”

Policy must then conform to “interests,” but not those
of the population.  It means the “national interest”
or those of the privileged who dominate society
running things.  In America and the West, the major
influence is “internationally oriented business
corporations,” no surprise.  In contrast, public
opinion has “little or no significant effect on
government officials” beholden solely to wealth and

“Interventions” ends with Chomsky explaining how hard
it is striking “a proper balance between citizenship
and common purpose, on the one hand, and communal
autonomy and cultural variety on the other.”  These
questions should be “high on the agenda of people who
do not worship at the shrine….of power.”  These are
people, including Chomsky’s readers, wanting to “save
the world from the destructive forces” threatening our
survival.  They want to change it believing “a more
civilized society can be envisioned and even brought
into existence.”  Why not, if enough committed people
become dedicated to achieving it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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