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Goodman writes: "Multiple crises come as voters in the United States prepare to elect a new president."

Noam Chomsky. (photo: Graeme Robertson)
Noam Chomsky. (photo: Graeme Robertson)


Noam Chomsky: Climate Change & Nuclear Proliferation Pose the Worst Threat Ever Faced by Humans

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

16 May 16

 

resident Obama has just passed a little-noticed milestone, according to The New York Times: Obama has now been at war longer than any president in U.S. history—longer than George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Obama has taken military action in at least seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Just last month, President Obama announced the deployment of 250 more Special Operations troops to Syria in a move that nearly doubles the official U.S. presence in the country. As war spreads across the globe, a record 60 million people were driven from their homes last year. Experts warn the refugee crisis may also worsen due to the impacts of global warming. Over the weekend, NASA released data showing 2016 is on pace to be by far the hottest year ever, breaking the 2015 record. Meanwhile, many fear a new nuclear arms race has quietly begun, as the United States, Russia and China race to build arsenals of smaller nuclear weapons. These multiple crises come as voters in the United States prepare to elect a new president. We speak with one of the world’s preeminent intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years. His latest book is titled "Who Rules the World?"


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road here in New York, then on today to [Chicago], to Madison, Wisconsin, and then to Toronto, Canada.

The New York Times is reporting President Obama has just passed a little-noticed milestone: He has now been at war longer than any president in U.S. history—longer than George W. Bush, longer than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, longer than Abraham Lincoln. Obama has taken military action in at least seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Just last month, President Obama announced the deployment of 250 more Special Operations troops to Syria in a move that nearly doubles the official U.S. presence in the country.

As war spreads across the globe, a record 60 million people were driven from their homes last year. Experts warn the refugee crisis may also worsen due to the impacts of global warming. Over the weekend, NASA released data showing 2016 is on pace to be by far the hottest year ever, breaking the 2015 record. April became the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records. Meanwhile, many fear a new nuclear arms race has quietly begun, as the United States, Russia and China race to build arsenals of smaller nuclear weapons. These multiple crises come as voters in the United States prepare to elect a new president.

To make sense of the challenges facing the globe and the state of the U.S. election, we’re joined today by one of the world’s preeminent intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than half a century. His latest book is called Who Rules the World?

Noam Chomsky, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Glad to be with you again.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Noam, who rules the world?

NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s, to a certain extent, up to us. It is possible for populations to rule the world, but they have to struggle to achieve that. And if they don’t, the world will be ruled by concentrations of power—economic power, state power—closely linked with consequences that are of the kind that you describe. But that’s a choice.

AMY GOODMAN: How does the United States set the terms of the global discourse and, overall, what’s happening in the world?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, that’s basically an outcome of the Second World War. At the end of the Second World War, the United States had a level of power and comparative wealth that had never existed in history. It had literally half the world’s wealth. It had an incomparable position of security—controlled the hemisphere, controlled both oceans, controlled the opposite sides of both oceans. In military terms, it was overwhelmingly preeminent. Other industrial societies had been devastated or severely weakened. The war had actually greatly benefited the U.S. economy. It ended the Depression. Industrial production virtually quadrupled. There was a debt, which you could easily grow out of it by growth. So the United States was in fact in a position to pretty much set the terms for virtually the entire global system.

It couldn’t stay that way, of course, and it began to erode pretty quickly, though, with all the changes over the past years, the United States still is in a preeminent position with incomparable advantages and maybe now a quarter of the world’s wealth. In military terms, on that dimension, the United States is completely alone. It’s the only country that has hundreds, maybe a thousand, military bases around the world, troops all over the world. U.S. military spending is almost as great as the rest of the world combined, technologically much more advanced. And within that context of the past 70 years or so, the United States has had a—usually, a pretty dominant role in world affairs and setting the framework within which others operate—not without conflict, of course.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the two major threats facing the world today: nuclear war and climate change. Talk about each.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I might start by referring to the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a clock that’s—since 1947, shortly after the atomic bombing, they established a Doomsday Clock. Every year, a panel of specialists make an estimate of how close we are to midnight. Midnight means termination for the species. It’s moved up and back over the years. Right now, it—just last year, it was moved two minutes closer to midnight because of the two threats that you mentioned, stayed there this year. That’s three minutes to midnight, close as it’s been since the early 1980s, when there was a major war scare. It was recognized then to be serious. Now that Russian archives have been opened, we see that it was far more serious than was assumed. We were at one point literally minutes away, several points in fact, minutes away from nuclear war. That’s where the Doomsday Clock stands now.

The nuclear threat is the threat of—on the Russian border, which happens to be the invasion route through which Russia was virtually destroyed twice last century by Germany alone—well, Germany as part of a hostile military alliance—on that border, both sides are acting as if a war is thinkable. The U.S. has just sharply increased; it quadrupled military expenses on its side. The Russians are doing something similar. There are constant near collisions, jets coming close to colliding with one another. A Russian jet a couple months ago virtually hit a Danish commercial airliner. U.S. troops are carrying out maneuvers virtually on the Russian border. That threat is escalating and very serious. William Perry, a respected nuclear specialist, a former defense secretary, recently estimated that the threat is higher than it was during the 1980s. There are also confrontations near the Chinese around China, South China Sea and so on. That’s one major threat.

The other is what you just described. The threat of global warming is very serious. Every time one reads a science journal, there’s an even more alarming discovery. Virtually all the ice masses are melting. The Arctic ice mass, which was assumed to be pretty stable, is actually melting very fast, much more than was thought. The glaciers are melting. There’s severe droughts. Right now already, about 300 million people in India are on the edge of starvation from drought, which has been going on for years. The groundwater is depleted as the Himalayan glaciers melt, as they’re doing. It will undermine the water supply for huge areas in South Asia. If people think there’s a migration crisis now, they haven’t seen anything. The sea level is rising. Chances are it could rise three to six feet, maybe more, by the end of the century—some estimate even sooner. It will have a devastating effect, not just on coastal cities, but on coastal plains, like, say, Bangladesh, where hundreds of millions of people will be severely threatened. I mean, this is a—we’re already killing other species at the level of the so-called fifth extinction. Sixty-five million years ago, when an asteroid hit the Earth, devastating consequences ended the age of the dinosaurs, opened the way for small mammals to develop, ultimately evolve, finally evolve into Homo sapiens, which now is acting the same way the asteroid did. That’s the fifth extinction. It’s going to get worse. All of these are—the rate of global warming today is far faster, maybe a hundred or more times as fast as any moderately comparable period that can be estimated in the geological record.

And to make it worse, of these two huge threats, we have an electoral—the quadrennial electoral extravaganza is going on right now, of course. And it’s pretty remarkable to see how the worst threats that the human species has ever faced, the most important decisions it must make—and soon—are virtually absent from the discussions and debates. On the Democratic side, there’s a couple of comments about it here and there, not much. On the Republican side, it’s much worse. Every single candidate either denies global warming altogether or, in one case, Kasich, admits that it’s taking place but says we shouldn’t do anything about it, which is even worse.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam—

NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s 100 percent.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we’re going to go to a break. When we come back, we’ll play the last remaining Republican in the race, Donald Trump’s comment on climate change, and also get your take overall on the 2016 presidential election here in the United States. Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, has a new book out; it’s called Who Rules the World? Stay with us.


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+43 # grandlakeguy 2016-05-16 18:24
And yet Bernie Sanders is the only one running for President who seems to be concerned about the environmental crisis which has already started and is surely going to intensify!

Hillary Clinton has spread the abomination of fracking all over the world and is a proponent of nuclear energy and increased warfare. Her saber rattling with nuclear armed Russia is extremely dangerous!

Donald Trump does not believe in climate change. He has also publicly stated that he would consider the use of Nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Why isn't EVERY American with even half a brain supporting Bernie?

It is clear why young people so overwhelmingly support Bernie, they would like to be able to grow old and live their lives on a planet that is still inhabitable.
 
 
-4 # rocback 2016-05-17 10:46
You misstate Hillarys position on fracking like you have on every occasion. This is what she said in the Flint debate a few days ago:

"I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, No. 1. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it — No. 3 — unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.

So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place. And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated."
 
 
-1 # Caliban 2016-05-17 15:17
A useful clarification, rocback.
 
 
+1 # fletch1165 2016-05-18 19:28
She is for fracking you are the one mistaken. And we in California are all against fracking and off shore oil drilling, yet Democrats have enabled these things. Are you saying Hillary is more for the environment than Jerry Brown who has somehow allowed this escalation of production and environmental contamination in California? Sounds like you would be interested in some Arctic beach front property I have to sell if you buy Hillary is not in bed with frackers 1,000 percent.
 
 
+1 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-05-18 09:52
I think the TPP and its ilk are also grave threats because of the consolidation of power it represents in the hands of un-elected people.

Assuming the global warming and nuclear weapons don't get us, having a constitution and bill of rights that guarantee freedoms to people is right up there.

After all if we happen to survive both and find ourselves enslaved by a global government that deems we have no rights whatsoever because we need protection from terrorism then what do we actually have?
 
 
+1 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-05-18 09:56
Just look to the upcoming Brexit vote?

Why do they need to vote? Because their parliament has been neutered by Brussles. They don't make their own laws anymore.

Imagine if EU started telling us what our laws could be, it is that outrageous.

Brits are very lucky they wisely kept their own currency. This would be much more difficult otherwise.

This is what TPP does in my opinion.
 
 
+12 # janie1893 2016-05-17 00:52
It is really a shame that the whole human species is going to be wiped out by
Nature because western society has so severely abused the planet. It is too late to reverse the oncoming catastrophe.
 
 
+1 # fletch1165 2016-05-18 19:31
So Kasich is the right one? Doubtful. There is still time since its only a small minority doing it. Had we risen up earlier we would have alternate energy by now. It will take a monumental movement however, like when Franz Fanon freed all the French imperialist colonies one by one.
 
 
-4 # poetmarinerray 2016-05-17 04:44
Noam Chomsky doesn' t give a balanced assessment of the world order situation .Let's look at the positives achieved by the Obama Administration in the last 7 years. Obama successes include a new round of nuclear weapons reductions treaty with Russia that includes a shared commitment to dismantle the older ,decaying ICBM arsenals and safe disposal of nuclear fuel,keeping U S limited military engagement minimized compared to the Bush/Cheney war on terror Crusade years, humanitarian aid and open peace negotiations co-sponsor by Russia over ending the Syria civil war, the U S / Iran nuclear deal that pushed back the Doomsday clock a few precious seconds,the U S/ Assad deal to take his chemical weapons out of his military calculus and hand them over to the U N for safe disposal, U S talks with China, ,the Sudan' s main client state for their oil, to play a larger role in persuading the Muslim regime in Khartoum to act more moderately towards the farming and hunter&gatherer people in the South where the country' s oil is, and the U S/ China mutual carbon reductions pledge that made possible the success of the Paris Global Climate Change Treaty of 2015 and the World Sustainable Development Goals. So ,this new moderate liberal internationalis m of the Obama Administration have kept the U S and Russia nuclear balance from spiraling into a out of control nuclear arms race.
 
 
+11 # Texas Aggie 2016-05-17 07:25
While those things you mention are all very nice, they are also minor and in many cases beside the point. In relation to Russia, we have instigated a coup in an important country right on its border and Hillary has demanded that we send military equipment there; we have rattled lots of sabers in NATO and pushed its influence right to the Russian border; we are supporting the intransigence of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; we are upgrading our nuclear weapons; we are doing nothing serious about reducing the use of fossil fuels and have supported industry campaigns against the use of solar energy (See NV, AZ, FL, TX ...); we are still pumping oil and gas out of the Gulf in ever increasing amounts with the inevitable spills that are destroying the livelihoods of the people living there; we are imposing fracking on communities that don't want it (see TX, OK, NC, and other states that have made it illegal for communities to put in regulations that conflict with industry bottom lines); and it just keeps going and going.
 
 
+5 # elkingo 2016-05-17 10:26
poetmarinerray,
Yeah, but is it enough? And is it in time? Noam is pointing at the Quadrennial American Asshole Festival - the ultimate fiddling while Rome burns, hoping the Donald doesn't throw gasoline on it.

I think Obomber is a well intentioned guy, but no standard regime can save the world, which needs global structural revision. When Bernie talks revolution, he ain't whistlin' Dixie, though I don't suppose he knows the extent needed.
 
 
-1 # fletch1165 2016-05-18 19:35
How genuine can you be when your campaign manager is the son of a self-avowed far right terrorist and bears zero apologies about it?
 
 
+4 # elkingo 2016-05-17 10:28
Furthermore, the (visible) ruling echelon of the world, all of them are saber rattling idiots with a pre-WWI mentality in the age of nukes. 'Nuff said?
 
 
+2 # Douglas Jack 2016-05-17 11:23
In order to understand Who rules such as in the Middle-east, Noam has to make mention of greater Israel's ODED-YINON-PLAN & its US daughters Project-for-a-N ew-American-Cen tury or New-World-Order . 3 trillionaire oligarch families including: Britain's Windsor, Vatican aristocrats & Rothschild family fortunes own the Finance-Media-E ducation-Milita ry-Industrial-L egislative-Comp lex & trickle-down networks of billionaires & millionaires. Divide, Conquer, Colonize, War Is Realizing the Israelizing of the World, Dan Sanchez, 22Dec’15 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43789.htm

US MILITARY SPECIAL FORCES MANUAL ON UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE is directed by glorification of US & Israeli colonial heritage.
"The intent of US Unconventional Warfare is to exploit a hostile power's political, military, economic & psychological vulnerabilities by developing & sustaining resistance forces to accomplish US Forces strategic objectives. For the forceable, US forces will predominately engage in irregular warfare operations." Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare. Field Manual No. 3-05.130 Headquarters Department of the Army Washington, DC, 30Sep'08 Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-05-130.pdf

The way forward is to understand the peace, prosperity, culture, laws & customs of humanity's worldwide 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') heritage. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy
 
 
-1 # fletch1165 2016-05-18 19:42
And lest we forget Lord Balfour's declaration. Who was he addressing the letter in the declaration one should ask? It was the Baron Walter Rothschild, a top corporatist, royalty and leader of the British banking community, also with European Jewish heritage. One of the Western inventors of WW II in effect, who intentionally assisted in the set up and scapegoating of all European Jews, effectively his own people, to ensure Israel would be a successful and profitable venture from day one.
 

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