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"Speaking at the 25th anniversary celebration of the national media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky analyzes the US response to the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. 'Across the [Middle East], an overwhelming majority of the population regards the United States as the main threat to their interests,' Chomsky says. 'The reason is very simple ... Plainly, the US and its allies are not going to want governments which are responsive to the will of the people. If that happens, not only will the US not control the region, but it will be thrown out.'"

Portrait, Noam Chomsky, 06/15/09. (photo: Sam Lahoz)
Portrait, Noam Chomsky, 06/15/09. (photo: Sam Lahoz)

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0 # jeenious 2011-05-14 12:21
Professor Chomsky, with all due respect, I don't like you very much. But probably if you knew me well, you wouldn't like me, either. But, if you were as willing as I am to have a two-way dialogue, it would be a lively one. You would find that I agree with many of your conclusions, but believe you blame the U.S. as a people, as if we had the bit in our mouth, and were running U.S. foreign policy, shaping the political parties' rhetoric, writing and approving or disapproving the laws of our land. How devoutly I wish that we did. Even seemingly sound philosophical presumptions must be tested against consequences. Indeed, sudden relief from kingdom or dictatorship in the Middle East today might well result in our having to defend ourselves from the vengeance of those in its population who view of us as satanical infidels who wear our claims of morality and political democracy only to mask our insatiable greed and Machiavellian motive to exploit them in every conceivable way. Suppose we were to encourage the free and uninhibited expression of such sentiments, even to the extent of their pulling out all the stops to wreak revenge upon us. Would you find that a refreshingly proper resolution of our nation's guilt? As for me, I view wise foreign policy as needing first to survive, and then to improve morally.
+5 # Ken Hall 2011-05-14 15:05
j: If you read more of Chomsky, books such as "Manufacturing Consent" and "Class War:...", you will see he doesn't blame the US as a people, except perhaps for not being engaged enough to elect good leaders. He was one of the first writers to clue me in to the lack of democracy here in the US, or, rather, just how bad it is. We're going to have to dig deep and work hard if we are to become a democratic republic once again.
+3 # soularddave 2011-05-14 21:26
Quoting jeenious:
I agree with many of your conclusions, but believe you blame the U.S. as a people,

Remember the part about "instability to achieve stability"? I think he means that we, our government, will destabilize a country or another government to maintain the stability of our own system or populace.

Imagine the USA if we couldn't buy petrol for our cars for a week or so. Or if we were limited to one gallon a day. I think we'd quickly become "unstable".

I leave to you the moral issues to consider, as does Mr. Chomsky, but there are a few. He's just laying bare the S.O.P.s about how the American Empire goes about its *business*.

Indeed, I don't like it, but I have to assert that what we call "freedom" depends heavily on what he refers to as "stability". Not a pretty picture, but Mr. Chomsky didn't make the rules (if there are any), he's just the messenger who's telling us how they seem to be. Nor, OTOH, am I defending the "rules". I also think that there are ways around the onerous effect that the USA is having on the rest of the world, but you see what resistance there is to some of the ideas about alternative energy and mitigation of human effects on climate change, for instance.
+4 # Activista 2011-05-14 13:03
Excellent analysis by Chomsky - we need NO flight Gaza zone - after massacre by IDF (1400 + dead - mostly civilians) - of prison Gaza -
Democracy in the Arab World will do to US empire as did democracy in Eastern Europe did to Soviet Union empire.
+1 # jeenious 2011-05-14 14:32
Activista, I understand what Chomsky wrote, although I asked him (in an open blog way) for his feelings on a specific issue. Your comment shows evidence of a severe deficiency of knowledge about Europe and the failure of the U.S.S.R. Even a cursory grasp of the history of WWII reveals that Europe was destined to end up being dominated by one of two fascist states -- one professing falsely to be about German Nationalism and the other falsely professing to be about Marxist socialism. Some historians are convinced that ultimate victory by the U.S.S.R. was the most probable, but would have taken many more years to reach a terminus. Some also are convinced that the strategic purpose of the atom bomb was not so much to hasten the surrender of Japan as to give Stalin pause in contemplating pushing onward after the German surrender. Economically, the Marshall Plan and U.S. rebuilding in Japan made enormous differences in Europe's economic recovery. And, also, the Cold War between Russia and the West stressed the U.S.S.R. because it constrained them to spend more than they could afford on military defense. The Cold War also played a major role in leading to the current indebtedness of the U.S., although it was not, by far, the only factor. You seem to know just enough to make up own history as you go along.
+1 # George D 2011-05-14 15:57
Well, this is an interesting debate but I don't see a clear "winner" here.

I don't think the Cold War played as big a part in the "current indebtedness" of the U.S. but it certainly put a strain on the U.S.S.R. while they were busy bankrupting themselves in Afghanistan. Now, if you want to point to the similarities in that endeavor and it's consequences, and our current foreign policy, I'm sure we would be nodding in agreement. And if 9/11 hadn't occurred, Condi's plan to revitalize the Cold War and taunt the Soviets with a restart of "Star Wars" and ICBM build-up, may have had the same affect.

I think what's absent in Noam's "analysis" is the idea that people actually do change. If they didn't, we would have been in perpetual wars with Japan, China, and the Soviet Union today. Instead we have peace and parallel interests, centered around, of all things, Capitalism.

I know we will never force human rights on any other country; It could be argued that we have our own problems in that area. But, as many have already seen, when people get even the tiniest sliver of the pie, they respond favorably.

I just wish the spread of "peace through International commerce" didn't cost Americans so much.
+2 # Activista 2011-05-14 16:50
"it constrained them to spend more than they could afford on military defense"
we are fighting USraeli wars on Chinese credit card? This more stupid than Breznev ..
As for understanding Europe - I was born in Europe on 1 May 1945 as for ..
"You seem to know just enough to make up own history as you go along."
+3 # Activista 2011-05-14 16:36
"NATO's murderous policy continues in Libya as, against every fibre of international law, its leaders continue to target civilians, civilian structures and Colonel Gaddafi himself without the slightest iota of respect for human life. The news of the death of Gaddafi's grandchildren was met with a derisory sniff by Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy.
The one who is murdering children is NATO. One wonders how these three would react to the news that their children or grandchildren had been targeted by terrorists, blasted to pieces by a bomb. Would they scoff and say "Well they shouldn't have been in a command and control centre"? If civilian residences are military targets for NATO, what then would Downing Street be? Or the White House? Or the Elysée Palace?
-3 # jeenious 2011-05-14 17:33
George, in a blog such as this we are forced to sacrifice a lot of detail for sake of space. Let me cut Activista a little slack. I sense he has a lot of baggage; but he may have come by that honestly in his life.

U.S. foreign policy has been in some ways empirical, yet in some ways helpful.

Where to start??? The U.S. did not win WWII but DID help by tipping the scale against a complete takeover of Europe by the U.S.S.R.

The U.S. did (through many, many billions spent on defense and defense-related R & D) make the U.S.S.R. overspend. We (not democracy) helped the Afghans drive out the Russians by supplying them with arms.

The U.S. did, by way of the Marshall Plan seed rebuilding in Europe at a very crucial time.

Jumping back in time, the U.S. once saved millions of Russians from starving by shipping them grain.

The U.S. made it possible for Germany and Japan to build back bigger and better than ever after WWII.

The U.S. prevented the massacre of many MUSLIMS in Bosnia.

I don't agree that we "changed." We've done things bad countries do, and we've done things on the good side that no other country can match. Running out of space here. But, in a nutshell, there are two sides worth telling... and just a dissident side alone would War and Peace look like a short story.
+5 # Glen 2011-05-15 09:22
Jeenious, we all have a lot of baggage, especially U.S. citizens who have been carefully spoon fed myths and legends beginning in elementary school. Those early myths about the U.S., the government, and historical events are rarely shed easily if at all.

The list you presented, of U.S. activities, have many sides to each event, but much of it is not taught in school. That's a great deal to learn for many Americans, as adults, so most do not make the effort. Add to that your comments on commercial influence and propaganda and you have an American public that are reluctant to even read Noam Chomsky.

Activista continues to remind us of U.S. failings, as many of are trying to do. We are headed for a fall and I stated in another thread it could quit likely be world war.
+2 # jeenious 2011-05-14 17:51
To Ken Hall,

Point well taken.

Much that has been wrong with U.S. policy has been commercially influenced. For that matter, much that has been wrong with a lot of nations has been commercially driven.

Ike Eisenhower warned against the newly acquired affluence of American industry (what he called the "military industrial complex" at the end of WWII.

The ONLY HOPE U.S. citizens have of wresting back from the (formerly American but now global mega corporations) is if the citizens put aside differences over less dangerous things and band together against what is fast turning into a CORPORATOCRACY.

The U.S. citizens have been conned by experts, Ken, who have divided us among ourselves over issues that distract us while our power to influence policy has been stolen away. Hopefully blogs like this one are beginning to find articulation for what the problem is, and how important, and how hard the citizens will have to put aside lesser issues and join to get back any balance of power...
+6 # Farusi 2011-05-14 17:52
Great thinker, rare integrity and humanity in a strange bad world of lies, manipulation, hypocrisy and deceit we live in..

The biggest lie always come from the USA and EUROPE who have much to lose if the status quo they live on by selling weapons and means of death were to change. Why is Nato attacking Libya only!
+1 # jeenious 2011-05-14 18:59

I do not discern President Obama as being a man lacking in empathy for the innocent children or other non-combatants. The nature of warfare today is far less murderous than the warfare of earlier times when incendiary bombs or nuclear bombs were dropped on entire cities. Military technology has advanced in ways that have drastically reduced what the military calls "collateral damage."

My heart aches for any child or innocent who suffers in a war. But war is hell. And if there is war, and combatants of one side bomb buses, and restaurants, and public squares, and then hide among non-combatants, they play a role in exposing those non-combatants.

There is more to all this than you or I can witness.

All the wrong-doing is not on one side, only.

Many of us have been sent to war and never knew anything but what we saw and heard. We wonder. We doubt. We hope. We wish to know who to believe. We see the harm the enemy does to our side. We shoot back. And if we are lucky, we survive.

I have just put Chomsky's books on my must read list, behind more than two dozen. The list grows, but the books on it also get read.

So much to learn. So little time...
+3 # Activista 2011-05-14 19:47
Libyans bury 9 civilians after NATO air strike ... today ..
+3 # Activista 2011-05-15 08:27
"Sarkozy, Clinton and Britain's David Cameron lied to the world about wanting to "rescue Libyan civilians" --even though in France, Sarkozy's own party promotes anti-African policies-- to secure United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. It was much in the same way that Colin Powell used fake "evidence" to get the United Nations to okay war on Iraq."
+3 # Activista 2011-05-14 20:11
Thousands of Egyptians gather at Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egyptian uprising, during a protest against Israel’s closure of Gaza in Cairo, Egypt Friday, May 13, 2011.
+3 # Activista 2011-05-15 08:30
"Israeli forces killed four Syrian citizens who had been taking part in an anti-Israeli rally on the Syrian side of the occupied Golan Heights border on Sunday "
+2 # Activista 2011-05-16 09:21
MAROUN AL-RASS, Lebanon: Israeli forces fired on pro-Palestinian protesters on the border with Lebanon Sunday, killing at least 10 and ....
Unarmed protesters ... where is Obama, Clinton, NATO?
Supplying terrorist state with $3 billions of arms per year ....
+4 # Ramon Dapena 2011-05-15 05:51
It's unbelievable how the inmense USian population rejects the truth by people like Noam Chomsky. The situation in the US begins by having a fictional Democracay; the will of the majority cannot exist in a country that does not vote. When a Pres. is elected with 5i% of the 60% electoral participation, he does not represent more than 31% of the will of the total population. The USians are totally manipulated; they talk about Liberty and Freedom while denying it to Puerto Rico and the over half a million natives who want the independece and freedom of their country. The foundation of the US on lies and manipulations is what will bring it down sooner than spected.
+3 # williamofthetrees 2011-05-15 09:04
Interesting that even in these progressive sites people think that the issues are about nations or nationalities without the consciousness of our selves as human beings with One Earth, One life and One chance to share it.

The illusion that some Arabs are more extremist than right wing Americans is the illusion that right wing Americans wants Americans to have. As long as they can control people with FEAR it is wonderful to have a scapegoat. The same patterns work for those in power in any other "nation" and they are all aspects of unconsciousness .
+2 # williamofthetrees 2011-05-15 09:05
"Love" needs to encompass not only one's self, one's family and one's nation but also one's "human beings", one's "world". Globalization is not just an economic outburst but the opportunity to become conscious of our selves as one people on one planet. If we cannot move beyond the horrors that every nation has done to its own people and others then we cannot move into a sphere of an objective humanity working for its well being everywhere. Our problems are no longer local but global.

The American people are responsible for their leaders as much as the leaders are responsible for the American people and imperialism is an aggressive destructive mode that needs to be stopped. But everyone in every nation is equally responsible for the American people and its leaders as much as their own. Every individual is responsible for everything and each must speak out and protect it.
+2 # jeenious 2011-05-15 19:23

Human nature has not changed in all recorded history,and there is no evidence it changed prior to that. There are some very, very gentle, kind, creative, neighbor-friend ly individuals among us humans and some sociopaths who not only are capable of atrocities and mayhem but DELIGHT in it. The ideal government would be a government of, by and for ideal citizens, which never has been, is not, and never shall be on this earth.

I totally empathize and sympathize with the solution you proffer, but at the same time shake my head to think that you might think it to be of any use or wisdom. It suggests your heart is in the right place.

Here is a joke you will love: An old man who had retired from holding the same job and living in the same house all his life, was called for jury duty.

He appeared and stated that he would not serve, because he objected to trials on grounds of conscience.

The judge said, "And just what do you think would happen, sir, if everyone who was called to jury duty to try an accused murderer refused to serve."

The kindly, gentle old man replied, "Your honor, if everybody was like me, there wouldn't be any murderers to accuse."
+2 # williamofthetrees 2011-05-16 21:03
Hi Jeenious,

Thanks for the joke, I did enjoy it and yet you didn't really address the issues presented and buffered them with the idea that human nature has not changed in all recorded history which is as false a statement as you dare to make it.

Tell me, what hasn't changed in the short span of your life? Do you not dare change? Everything is changing without the approval of those who are unwilling to change because the only truly unchangeable aspect of the human being is that each generation we renew our selves and reinstate human values that had gotten stepped over by the instinctive forces of the previous generation.

It is not with friendly, kind individuals unwilling to take a firm step towards freedom from abuse that we'll step into the consciousness of our humaneness but with courageous strong individuals willing to stand up for what is necessary: No more waste of money and lives in the military; redistribution of everything where it is most needed. Human life above every other interest. Call criminals by their name when life is abused anywhere.

Stop the hierarchization of the human being in academic, social, national and economic strata. Everyone is equally human and has equal rights.
+3 # rm 2011-05-17 08:50
Chomsky is right -- the US will do anything to prevent democracy in the middle east. And it is doing everything. The revolts in Syria and Libya are run by the CIA. There is no democratic uprising there. In Egypt the military is a US puppet military and is doing just what the US wants. In the rest of the countries, the democratic spring is being crushed with brutal force -- as usual.

There is no Arab Spring. Only the same old winter of US colonialism.

The ICC has indicted Qaddafi, but it has not indicted the NATO leaders who are bombing, killing, and destroying far more than Qaddafi's forces. At least Qaddafi is fighting a defensive and justified battle. NATO and the US are on the offense and are clearly criminal. But they are not indicted. The ICC is as it was designed to be -- an instrument of US/European imperialism. Imagine a court in Belgium that indicts only leaders of the colonized world! King Leopold would be happy.
+1 # williamofthetrees 2011-05-18 06:40

Did you hear about this? Literally in a midnight session last week, the House Armed Services Committee tucked a dangerous provision into the huge Defense authorization bill. With it, Congress took one more step towards passing a law for endless worldwide war. The new law would use American military forces against terrorism suspects everywhere and anywhere.

If you didn't hear about this provision, you're not alone.

It was added to the bill by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and it could become the single biggest ceding of unchecked war authority to the executive branch in modern American history.

Outrageously, there have been no hearings on the worldwide war legislation, nor has its necessity been explained by Rep. Buck McKeon or anyone else in Congress.

A House vote could come as early as next week. Tell your representative: Oppose any law for a new worldwide war without end. (Do not forward: This link will open a page with your information already filled in.)

Unlike the legislation that authorized the Afghanistan War and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, the proposed new and expanded law to go to war does not even require a specific threat of harm to the United States.

Laura Murphy

Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

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