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Excerpt: "In fact, there hasn't been that much of a change. The worst part of the NDAA is that it codified - or put into law - what had already been a regular practice."

Author, historian and political commentator Noam Chomsky. (photo: Ben Rusk/flickr)
Author, historian and political commentator Noam Chomsky. (photo: Ben Rusk/flickr)

Noam Chomsky: America, Moral Degenerate

By Noam Chomsky and Eric Bailey, Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives

14 December 12


ric Bailey: The last four years have seen significant changes in American federal policy in regards to human rights. One of the few examples of cooperation between the Democratic and Republican parties over the last four years has been the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. This bill has given the United States military the power to arrest American citizens, indefinitely, without charge, trial, or any other form of due process of law and the Obama administration has and continues to fight a legal battle in federal court to prevent that law from being declared unconstitutional. Obama authorized the assassination of three American citizens, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, admittedly all members of Al Qaeda -- all without judicial review.

Additionally, the Guantanamo Bay prison remains open, the Patriot Act has been extended and the TSA has expanded at breakneck speeds. What is your take on America's human rights record over the past four years and can you contrast Obama's policies with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush?

Noam Chomsky: Obama's policies have been approximately the same as Bush's, though there have been some slight differences, but that's not a great surprise. The Democrats supported Bush's policies. There were some objections on mostly partisan grounds, but for the most part, they supported his policies and it's not surprising that they have continued to do so. In some respects Obama has gone even beyond Bush. The NDAA, which you mentioned, was not initiated by Obama (when it passed Congress, he said he didn't approve of it and wouldn't implement it), but he nevertheless did sign it into law and did not veto it. It was pushed through by hawks, including Joe Lieberman and others.

In fact, there hasn't been that much of a change. The worst part of the NDAA is that it codified -- or put into law -- what had already been a regular practice. The practices hadn't been significantly different. The one part that received public attention is what you mentioned, the part that permits the indefinite detention of American citizens, but why permit the indefinite detention of anybody? It's a gross violation of fundamental human rights and civil law, going all the way back to the Magna Carta in the 13th century, so it's a very severe attack on elementary civil rights, both under Bush and under Obama. It's bipartisan!

As for the killings, Obama has sharply increased the global assassination campaign. While it was initiated by Bush, it has expanded under Obama and it has included American citizens, again with bipartisan support and very little criticism other than some minor criticism because it was an American. But then again, why should you have the right to assassinate anybody? For example, suppose Iran was assassinating members of Congress who were calling for an attack on Iran. Would we think that's fine? That would be much more justified, but of course we'd see that as an act of war.

The real question is, why assassinate anyone? The government has made it very clear that the assassinations are personally approved by Obama and the criteria for assassination are very weak. If a group of men are seen somewhere by a drone who are, say, loading something into a truck, and there is some suspicion that maybe they are militants, then it's fine to kill them and they are regarded as guilty unless, subsequently, they are shown to be innocent. That's the wording that the United States used and it is such a gross violation of fundamental human rights that you can hardly talk about it.

The question of due process actually did arise, since the US does have a constitution and it says that no person shall be deprived of their rights without due process of law -- again, this goes back to 13th-century England -- so the question arose, “What about due process?” The Obama Justice Department's Attorney General, Eric Holder, explained that there was due process in these cases because they are discussed first at the Executive Branch. That's not even a bad joke! The British kings from the 13th century would have applauded. “Sure, if we talk about it, that's due process.” And that, again, passed without controversy.

In fact, we might ask the same question about the murder of Osama Bin Laden. Notice I use the term “murder.” When heavily armed elite troops capture a suspect, unarmed and defenseless, accompanied by his wives, and then shoot him, kill him, and dump his body into the ocean without an autopsy, that's sheer assassination. Also notice that I said “suspect.” The reason is because of another principle of law, that also goes back to the 13th century -- that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Before that, he's a suspect. In the case of Osama Bin Laden, the United States had never formally charged him with 9/11 and part of the reason was that they didn't know that he was responsible. In fact, eight months after 9/11 and after the most intensive inquiry in history, the FBI explained that it suspected that the 9/11 plot was hatched in Afghanistan (didn't mention Bin Laden), and was implemented in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and of course, the United States. That's eight months after the attack and there's nothing substantive that they've learned since then that does more than increase the suspicion.

My own assumption is that the suspicion is almost certainly correct, but there's a big difference between having a very confident belief and showing someone to be guilty. And even if he's guilty, he was supposed to be apprehended and brought before a court. That's British and American law going back eight centuries. He's not supposed to be murdered and have his body dumped without an autopsy, but support for this is very nearly universal. Actually, I wrote one of the few critical articles on it and my article was bitterly condemned by commentators across the spectrum, including the Left, because the assassination was so obviously just, since we suspected him of committing a crime against us. And that tells you something about the significant, I would say “moral degeneration,” running throughout the whole intellectual class. And yes, Obama has continued this and in some respects extended it, but it hardly comes as a surprise.

The rot is much deeper than that.

Bailey: It has been just over 10 years since the publication of the Bush administration's “torture memos.” These memos provided a legal justification for the torture of detainees held by the CIA in connection with the “war on terror.” The contents of the memos are chilling and have created new debate on torture internationally. Despite all of the promises given by President Obama to close those illegal detention centers, it seems that “black site” activities still occur. What are your views on these detention centers and CIA torture? Also, what do you think about Obama's promise of CIA reforms in 2008 and how has the reality of his presidency stacked up to those promises?

Chomsky: There have been some presidential orders expressing disapproval of the most extreme forms of torture, but Bagram remains open and uninspected. That's probably the worst in Afghanistan. Guantanamo is still open, but it's unlikely that serious torture is going on at Guantanamo. There is just too much inspection. There are military lawyers present and evidence regularly coming out so I suspect that that's not a torture chamber any more, but it still is an illegal detention chamber, and Bagram and who knows how many others are still functioning. Rendition doesn't seem to be continuing at the level that it did, but it has been until very recently.

Rendition is just sending people abroad to be tortured. Actually, that's barred as well by the Magna Carta – the foundation of Anglo-American law. It's explicitly barred to send somebody across the seas to be punished and tortured. It's not just done by the United States, either. It's done all over Western Europe. Britain has participated in it. Sweden has participated. It's one of the reasons for a lot of the concerns about extraditing Julian Assange to Sweden. Canada has been implicated as was Ireland, but to Ireland's credit it was one of the few places where there were mass popular protests against allowing the Shannon Airport to be used for CIA rendition. In most countries there has been very little protest or not a word. I don't know of any recent cases so maybe that policy is no longer being implemented, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was still in effect.

Bailey: Moving beyond the US, the Middle East has always been rife with human rights abuses, but the turmoil of the Arab Spring has intensified such abuses in many countries.While the dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt were toppled without resorting to civil war, countries like Libya, Syria and Yemen have seen heavy fighting. For America and NATO's part, there has been yet another military intervention with the Libyan cvil war and only the stubbornness of Russia and China have prevented a similar intervention in Syria. In both cases, rebel forces have asked, even begged for American and European help in their war efforts, but have proven to be absolutely uninterested in negotiated settlements with their dictatorial adversaries, even when outside help is not forthcoming.

What is your take on military interventions, both the intervention that did occur in Libya and the one that is being called for in Syria? Is it morally justifiable to send Texans and Louisianans into harm's way to fight in the internal conflicts of Libyans and Syrians? Conversely, can refusing to intervene be justified when entire cities, such as Misrata, Benghazi, Aleppo, and Homs were or are being threatened with utter destruction and tens of thousands of civilians are being killed?

Chomsky: Well, let's start with Syria. The one thing I disagree with in what you said is that I doubt very much that Russia and China had anything to do with the lack of US or Western military intervention in Syria. In fact, my strong suspicion is that the United States, Britain and France welcomed the Russian veto because that gave them a pretext not to do anything. Now they can say, “How can we do anything? The Russians and the Chinese have vetoed it!”

In fact, if they wanted to intervene, they wouldn't have cared one way or the other about a Russian or Chinese veto. That's perfectly obvious from history, but they didn't want to intervene and they don't want to intervene now. The military and intelligence strategic command centers are just strongly opposed to it. Some oppose it for technical, military reasons and others because they don't see anyone they can support in their interests. They don't particularly like Assad, although he was more or less conformed to US and Israeli interests, but they don't like the opposition either, especially their Islamist elements, so they just prefer to stay on the sidelines.

It's kind of interesting that Israel doesn't do anything. They wouldn't have to do much. Israel could easily mobilize forces in the Golan Heights (Syrian territory that Israel illegally annexed). They could mobilize forces there, which are only about 40 miles from Damascus, which would compel Assad to send military forces to the border, drawing them away from areas where the rebels are operating. So that would be direct support for the rebels, but without firing a shot and without moving across the border.

But there is no talk of it and I think what that indicates is that Israel, the United States, and their allies just don't want to take moves that will undermine the regime, just out of self-interest. There is no humanitarian interest involved.

As far as Libya is concerned, we have to be a little cautious, because there were two interventions in Libya. The first one was under the auspices of the United Nations. That's UN Resolution 1973. That resolution called for a no-fly zone, a ceasefire, and the start of negotiations and diplomacy.

Bailey: That was the intervention for which the justification was claimed to be the prevention of the destruction of Benghazi?

Chomsky: Well, we don't know if Benghazi was going to be destroyed, but it was called to prevent a possible attack on Benghazi. You can debate how likely the attack was, but personally, I felt that was legitimate – to try to stop a possible atrocity. However, that intervention lasted about five minutes. Almost immediately, the NATO powers( France and Britain in the lead and the United States following) violated the resolution, radically, and became the air force of the rebels. Nothing in the resolution justified that. It did call for “all necessary steps” to protect civilians, but there's a big difference between protecting civilians and being the air force for the rebels.

Maybe we should have been in favor of the rebelling forces. That's a separate question, but this was pretty clearly in violation of the resolution. It certainly wasn't done for a lack of alternative options. Gaddafi offered a ceasefire. Whether he meant it or not, nobody knows, because it was at once rejected.

Incidentally, this pact was strongly opposed by most of the world. There was virtually no support for it. The African Union (Libya is, after all, an African country) strongly opposed it, right away, called for a ceasefire, and even suggested the introduction of African Union forces to try and reduce the conflict.

The BRICS countries, the most important of the developing countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) happened to be having a conference at the time and they strongly opposed the NATO intervention and called for moves towards diplomacy, negotiations, and a ceasefire. Egypt, next door, didn't participate. Within NATO, Germany refused to participate. Italy refused too, in the beginning, though later they joined the intervention. Turkey held back. Later on they joined, but initially they opposed intervention. Generally speaking, it was almost unilateral. It was the traditional imperial powers (France, Britain and the United States) which intervened.

In fact it did lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe it would have happened anyway, but it certainly led to that, especially in the end with the attacks on Bani Walid and Sirte, the last pro-Gadaffi holdouts. They are the main center of Libya 's largest tribe, the Warfalla tribe. Libya is a highly divided tribal society, they are a major tribe, and this was their home center. Many of them were pretty bitter about that. Could it have been resolved through diplomacy and negotiations the way the African Union and BRICS countries suggested? We don't know.

It's also worthy of note that the International Crisis Group, which is the main, non-state element that deals with continuing conflicts and crises throughout the world, and is very highly respected, opposed intervention too. They strongly supported negotiations and diplomacy. However, the African Union and others' positions were barely reported on in the West. Who cares what they say? In fact, if they were reported on at all, they were disparaged on the grounds that these countries had had close relations with Gaddafi. In fact, they did, but so did Britain and the United States, right to the end.

In any event, the intervention did take place and now one hopes for the best, but it's not a very pretty picture. You can read an account of it in the current issue of the London Review of Books by Hugh Roberts, who was, at the time, the North African director of the International Crisis Group and a specialist on the region. He opposed the intervention and described the outcome as pretty hopeless chaos that is undercutting the hopes for an eventual rise of a sort of sensible, democratic nationalism.

So that wasn't very pretty, but what about the other countries? Well, the countries that are most significant to the United States and the West, generally, are the oil dictatorships and they remain very stable. There were efforts to try and join the Arab Spring, but they were crushed, very harshly, with not a word from the Western powers. Sometimes it was quite violent, as in eastern Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain, which were Shiite areas, mostly, but it resulted in at most a tap on the wrist by the western powers. They clearly wanted the oil dictatorships to remain. That's the center of their power.

In Tunisia, which had mostly French influence, the French supported the dictatorship until the very end. In fact, they were still supporting it after demonstrations were sweeping the country. Finally, at the last second, they conceded that their favorite dictator had to go. In Egypt, where the United States and Britain were the main influences, it was the same. Obama supported the dictator Mubarak until virtually the last minute – until the army turned against him. It became impossible to support him anymore so they urged him to leave and make a transition to a similar system.

All of that is quite routine. That's the standard operating procedure for dealing with a situation where your favorite dictator is getting into trouble. There is case after case like that. What you do in that case is support the dictator to the very end, regardless of how vicious and bloody he is. Then when it becomes impossible, say because the army or the business classes have turned against him, then ease him out somewhere (sometimes with half the government's treasury in his pocket), declare your love for democracy, and try to restore the old system. That's pretty much what's happening in Egypt. your social media marketing partner


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-63 # Rain17 2012-12-14 12:15
Do you want to know Americans reject liberals or hate Democrats? When this article came into my inbox, when I saw "America: Moral Degenerate" in the headlines, I cringed. I didn't want to read it any more.

Here's a hint. The message "America sucks" or the message that implies that "America sucks" is a nonstarter with most people. This message may work well with the already converted, but it's not going to reach most other people. And in fact most people won't go past the headline "America: Moral Degenerate" and not even read the rest of the piece.
+59 # Glen 2012-12-14 13:44
Perhaps the title should have been cleaned up for you, Rain. The U.S. government and all things connected is more than a degenerate organization. AND it has infected the entire populace, one way or another. Violence is increasing among the population, cops are becoming as the military, the actual military continues to attack other countries, killing thousands.

Re-read the article. Then read it again. Don't look at it through your defensive eyes or your own good heart.
+18 # Doubter 2012-12-14 22:51
Ref. Rain17
The only question is: Has "America" (the US) changed OR has its reality simply become visible to anyone with at least one ounce of gray matter.
+8 # charsjcca 2012-12-15 08:52
This is the same place, just more visible. The Newtown incident is the drone syndrome
played out on Main Street. How did 4,600 of our fellow citizens get lynched, 3,400
Black and 1,200 White? Nothing is new.
+11 # cybersleuth58 2012-12-16 14:38
@Glen ...It is the same with 9/11. Americans would rather believe (and hear) something moronic like "they did it bc they hate our freedoms" than ask anything about why it happened. (Remember the furor when certain public figures, including academics, opined that 9/11 didn't come out of nowhere?) The history of our meddlesome foreign policies, even our willingness to sacrifice civilions by the scores in order to install a murderous dictator friendly to US corporate interests, is something Americans do not want to hear. As long as we are unwilling to have that discussion, or perform any kind of self-examinatio n, Americans will be fodder for terrorists like bin Laden. God forbid the American military be forbidden from doing the dirty work for Corporate America. Perhaps one day we will appreciate the rights of non-whites and non-Americans. How would companies like Coca Cola and Union Carbide make their profits if we didn't dehumanize the native people in developing/thir d world countries?
-2 # JSRaleigh 2012-12-17 14:59
Quoting Glen:
Perhaps the title should have been cleaned up for you, Rain. The U.S. government and all things connected is more than a degenerate organization. AND it has infected the entire populace, one way or another. Violence is increasing among the population, cops are becoming as the military, the actual military continues to attack other countries, killing thousands.

Re-read the article. Then read it again. Don't look at it through your defensive eyes or your own good heart.

Glen, I believe you're mistaking cause for effect. The government has become more degenerate as it reflects the will of the people. America has changed and is bringing the government down to it's own level.
+30 # reiverpacific 2012-12-14 14:01
Quoting Rain17:
Do you want to know Americans reject liberals or hate Democrats? When this article came into my inbox, when I saw "America: Moral Degenerate" in the headlines, I cringed. I didn't want to read it any more.

Here's a hint. The message "America sucks" or the message that implies that "America sucks" is a nonstarter with most people. This message may work well with the already converted, but it's not going to reach most other people. And in fact most people won't go past the headline "America: Moral Degenerate" and not even read the rest of the piece.

Worry not: this article will never make it anywhere near the owner-media.
I don't know who y'r friends are, where you live or what circles you move in but ask a cross-section of folks you know if they've even HEARD of Chomsky, or Amy Goodman, or David Barsamean, or Anundhati Roy, or Jim Hightower-or-or-or?!
I'll bet my kilted arse you'll discover that they are practically invisible to all but persistently progressive types in the US like those who read and post on RSN (other than the few reactionary, predictable infesters) and seek more content-rich material than is generally available on the flick'rin' screen or commercial radio.
The whining mantra "It's always America's fault" was frequently used by the ol' Franco-fan Patrick Buchanan who was one of the ultimate apologists for the country's Imperial aspirations and excesses around the world, whatever the evidence.
-20 # Rain17 2012-12-14 16:00
All I'm saying is that, if you want to reach a broader section of Americans with a message that resonates beyond the already converted, "America: Moral Degenerate" isn't going to cut it. It's a nonstarter with most people, even many liberals.

If you want to know why conservatives win the messaging war it's because they know how to package their ideas in terms that resonate with people. "America: Moral Degenerate" is a message that's not going to win you support.

I know some of you don't want to hear that but that's the truth. Bashing America isn't a winning a political message.
+25 # Glen 2012-12-14 16:40
Conservatives win the "messaging war" because they appeal to the lowest (basest) emotions and myths incorporated into the average conservative. However, they don't always win elections. Would you rather the mythology continue just to make folks feel good?

Bashing America just might wake up a lot of folks, who would then demand something better. Or SHOULD demand something better.
+27 # PGreen 2012-12-14 19:24
Another thing to keep in mind is that he progressive media is not losing the "messaging war"as badly as it seems. For example, Democracy Now! broadcasts on over 1000 stations, a potential audience of nearly a million on a good night. And there are many others, as you know. But, the spectrum of non-establishme nt leftist opinion is largely set out of bounds by the establishment media; this presents a warped view of both issues and consensus to those who rely on the establishment media for their only source of news.
The Walter Lippmannesque propaganda model for social control is breaking down as the alternative media grows. The result is extreme change happening suddenly, virtually overnight, because more people are sympathetic to the alternatives than is revealed in the establishment press; suddenly something happens and the perspective shifts, must be (unwillingly) acknowledged by the establishment. OWS was the first strong sign that this is happening-- and will happen again, even more strongly.
It is probably why we are seeing more control enacted more on our behavior (civil liberties) since the thought controls are becoming less effective.
I'm sure that this rant sounds like gibberish to those restricted to the national narrative as crafted by the establishment. :)
-17 # Rain17 2012-12-14 20:49
And "bashing America" isn't going to do that. You're not going to convince anyone to change his/her mind.
+7 # PGreen 2012-12-15 09:42
A profound "change of mind" is almost never achieved by a single discussion of any sort, though it may be the proverbial "last straw." Such changes often occurs when contradictions in the existing paradigm become evident. Realizing this, we should note that people are often at different stages in regard to change. Some may be half-inclined to "bash America" already and such a headline may be particularly effective to induce change in that way. Others it may repel as you say. The best argument for using it is believing it is accurate: what do you think?
in addition, you haven't said what you thought of the article itself. I hear you say that the headline disinclines you to read further, but you took the trouble to write about it… did you have any reactions to the content?
I doubt that the phrase "America, Moral Degenerate," was used directly by Chomsky; headlines often are not quotations. I think he is more inclined to criticize US policies, oligarchs, or corporate institutions in some way, and criticize "America" in the context of speaking about these things. But that is my opinion.
+13 # Glen 2012-12-16 07:55
Rain, having been a teacher, I can testify that you are correct in stating that "you're not going to convince anyone to change his/her mind" because kids are brainwashed from an early age with U.S. legend and mythology. Education omits the distasteful in favor of the ideal. It is the fortunate child that has parents to guide them to reality, or that one teacher or professor who can open their eyes and encourage further education in the realities of the U.S.

Otherwise, all that's left is a misguided populace never seeking to learn and highly susceptible to the hogwash floating around out there concerning their country.
0 # noitall 2012-12-31 19:47
Zinn's "The People's History of the United States" should be the public school text of this country's history. The truth hurts but without truth, one continues to do the same disfunctional crap.
+1 # noitall 2012-12-31 19:46
Quoting Rain17:
And "bashing America" isn't going to do that. You're not going to convince anyone to change his/her mind.

Not the mouth breathers anyway but there is a percentage that will believe the accepted faith no matter what the reality.
+17 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-14 16:52
Rain17, I understand your concern for reaching the mainstream. Information-sha ring can only proceed step-by-step in stages because of programmed expectations inherent in such hierarchal societies. Most cannot believe the truth when it is revealed straight-forth. RSN not only provides advanced research articles but as well a community of commenters who provide greater precisions upon the research. Considering the amount of disinformation predominant in the mainstream, the community of commenters provide a honing of knowledge & attitude. There isn't a "preaching to the converted", because each of us living in this 'information-de sert' recognize the need for listening to both sides & synthesizing comprehensive understanding.

In order to better understand RSN & a few other social media, one has to recognize how the mainstream corporate media excludes research by Chomsky & thousands of other academics. Mainstream media doesn't voice the perspectives of foreign government officials. Our CIA, Canadian CSIS & NATO supposed intelligence agencies are actively involved in arming dissidents in over 80 nations for purposes of government destabilization . There's never any debate among our & their officials because our Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Complex really doesn't want us to know the truth. Over 40% of USA, Canada, Israel & NATO's economy is armament & war based.
+16 # Anarchist 23 2012-12-14 17:16
Yes, we really don't want anyone to tell us as a nation that we are anything but right.
+10 # reiverpacific 2012-12-14 18:02
Quoting Rain17:
All I'm saying is that, if you want to reach a broader section of Americans with a message that resonates beyond the already converted, "America: Moral Degenerate" isn't going to cut it. It's a nonstarter with most people, even many liberals.

If you want to know why conservatives win the messaging war it's because they know how to package their ideas in terms that resonate with people. "America: Moral Degenerate" is a message that's not going to win you support.

I know some of you don't want to hear that but that's the truth. Bashing America isn't a winning a political message.

America tends to "Bash" itself with it's actions at home and abroad then work via the owner-media to rationalize it for those drifting along in the wake o' the status-quo; doesn't take much of an insight to figure that out.
The British did the same with the old "Rule Britannia" jingoism aimed at the same types then who suck up the faux-concept of "American exceptionalism" now, and that "Broader section" wouldn't get the message if you served it up to them on a silver platter with parsley garnish and a thesaurus.
Perhaps it's you who doesn't want to hear it.
Just because you don't like the title, respect the messenger. Maximum consumption is hardly the point here.
How about "Rogue State Imperialism" with Israel in tow?"; now THAT w'd really get 'em rushing to their dictionaries (if they had one) for a translation, what?!
+5 # RLF 2012-12-16 07:09
Maybe, just maybe Chomsky doesn't give a s#*t about the messaging wars. He is not a politician. It is their job to make what the intellectuals think palatable to the masses. They are the ones losing the messaging wars. The title certainly made me want to read the article.
+5 # truthrat 2012-12-16 13:07
Quoting Rain17:
All I'm saying is that...

I don't think so. I think that you do not like to hear what Chomsky has to say, and you know that what he says is accurate and thus justified in using the term "moral degenerate" in describing the discussed behavior of the US. So you demonize the messenger, calling his message "bashing." The term "bashing" to me means to unfairly interpret behavior and describe it in non-appropriate ways, and is always wrong. The term was widely used inappropriately in reference to G.W., when his defenders described anything about Bush that they didn't like to hear, regardless of how true it is, as "bashing." It was also used a lot by defenders of Israeli behavior, in response to the truthful and accurate condemnation of Israeli policies. So I think your label of "bashing" is a thinly veiled attempt to say that Chomsky is a nut, without anything meaning to say about US foreign policy.
+2 # noitall 2012-12-31 19:44
You're right in what you say but how do Americans hear the rude truth when they've been fed this B.S. pap about America STILL being the greatest country. Its dangerous thinking you're the greatest when you aren't because it takes away the urgency that neeeds to be there to make you work to become the greatest again. Ignorance is not bliss and freaks like those six or so who own the media are pulling the wool over American's eyes. You are saying that Americans can't stand the truth. I hold that Americans NEED the truth. If it needs to be soft and cuddly, so be it but the reality still has sores, boils, and smells like ass.
+2 # noitall 2012-12-31 19:39
Amen on that reiver. We is "dumb all over, a little ugly on the side". The truth is the enemy of those in charge. Why else would six of these twisted bastards own all the media, the 4th estate, the very important role in any democracy. They're creating the 'reality' and its a sick one that they're hiding behind the wizard's curtain.
0 # Eliza D 2012-12-15 09:09
Has anyone had the experience in the last week that you post a comment along with others, and when you return to the article the next day, the comments are gone and you are directed to the article in another publication without the comments of RSN subscribers? What gives, RSN? I just gave a contribution, and don't have time to subscribe and write responses that are lost in cyberspace. This is the third time this has happened, (the last being Naomi's Klein's article "Fight like Hell against climate change". Is it time to unsubscribe?
0 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-31 20:09
Eliza, I've had an RSN comment disappear but now this is over a year ago. Three times is a pain for all the effort you make. Do you keep copies of the comments which you make so you can repost them easily?
+4 # RLF 2012-12-16 07:03
Out of sight, Out of mind...stay happily ignorant...I most certainly will not!
-5 # George D 2012-12-17 12:25
I have to admit that there are very few opinions I read from Noam Chomsky that I agree with. Once again, I can only shake my head at the foolishness of this man.

First of all, Obama is night and day different from GWB and every Republican sentiment/candi date I have seen. The truth is, there really are "bad people" in this world that devote their lives to the destruction of America. Thanks to the inept "leadership" of GWB and his equally inept clan of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Condi, we all got a wake-up call on 9/11 about that. If you want to know the difference between how we are controlling and destroying that threat today, versus what GWB did, try to remember what GWB said within a few days after that attack. He said we would have a "war on terror" but it "would not be like most wars" and that Americans should go about their lives and only see an occasional headline about an enemy being killed. Then he changed his tune and the rest is history.
Well, Obama is doing EXACTLY what should have been done from the beginning. He is allowing our defense department to fight that "war" in a very "surgical" sort of way. Is it pretty? No; War never is. Are mistakes made? Yes; Mistakes often get made. Are we all safer because of those efforts? ABSOLUTELY!

Americans learned how to conduct a gorilla war from the Indians. Unless our "warriors" are allowed to use better techniques for fighting our foes, we can all be slaughtered or defeated by trying to be "proper".
+1 # noitall 2012-12-31 19:54
George O, better leave the intellectualizi ng to those with some depth, i.e. Chomsky. after 9/11, George told us to go shopping. That should have been the big tip-off and that is what this is all about: keeping this decrepid folly spinning no matter how shakey it might be so that the profits keep flopping out at ANY cost, to our morality, our environment, our habitats, our future. Leave the Indians out of it. They were fighting for their way of life...why are we fighting? Its all a fantasy.
0 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-31 20:25
George D. You don't seem familiar with the term Blow-Back perhaps not familiar with USA, Canadian, NATO, Israel roles as the world's #1 arms providers through CIA, CISS etc arming dissidents in over 80 countries worldwide presently for the purposes of destabilization of governments & finally for our geo-political control, greater Israel, resource acquisition at bargain basement prices etc. Such war profiteering is part of the 40% of our GNP national economies devoted to war.

The transparent alternative if you don't believe in perpetual war as a response to a planet whose biosphere is being lost at an accelerated pace is to facilitate open dialogue in every part of society businesses, institutions, schools, governments, law, media. Mohandas Gandhi's 'Satyagraha' (Hindi 'truth-search') is based in bringing perceived opponents together in dialogue & 'debate' (French 'de' = 'undo' + 'bate' = 'the-fight'). Gandhi would ask, "What are your best intentions & how can we help you fulfill these?" Equal-time recorded & published dialogue can help us sort out human relations point-by-point.
+3 # noitall 2012-12-31 19:34
The truth is that America DOES SUCK, is morally degenerate, kills innocent people including children, steals the future from it's people, etc. That's AMERICA, not necessairly "AMERICANS" but Americans are guilty in being to freekin' lazy to take their Republic, their Democracy serious enough, or value it enough to stand by it. Americans have let a bunch of psychopaths kidnap America and use its name, in front of the rest of the world, to act like a bunch of mobsters and pirates. Ye of all faith, fight any comment against these bastards, grouping them in with the rest of us true Americans who abhore the 'work' being done in our name. This 'work' is even being done to us here in the U.S. in the form of the tar sands, the pipeline, fracking, coal trains, across the country, vote stealing and other meddling w/ our democracy,etc. There are Americans and there is America. America has been pirated by greed, allowed by the cowardice and equal greed of our elected "leaders". they are setting themselves up to be out of the 'kill zone' that this process is inadvertently establishing. Some Americans have become expendable to those driving the 'boat'. We like 'coolies' in the early days of this phenomenon are in danger of being tossed overboard if we are an inconvenience to the corporate lords. to reach their position, they use manipulation of money and programs and they use religion like a weapon of brain control. They're good at what they do and most Americans don't have a clue.
+21 # charsjcca 2012-12-14 12:45
Consigned to the global trash bin-Newtown, Connecticut joins Aurora, Portland and Oak Creek. This is the drone syndrome.
+22 # MindDoc 2012-12-14 13:35
Just saw it too- hours ago - news of the massacre in a Connecticut elementary school). What ironic timing. "When will we ever learn?" Hoping for a far better New Year, without massacres of children or theater-goers as part of "normal daily life".

More, I'd say, a symptom of the "see no evil" syndrome!
+26 # wantrealdemocracy 2012-12-14 15:51
Exactly correct. We, the people of the United States are unable to see the evil that our government is sinking into. We seem to have lost any moral compass to see a difference between good and evil. It is all just a matter of opinion and the opinion is usually if it makes a profit it is just fine. And the result of this is a serious decline in morals and ethics in our nation and the total lack of any empathy and compassion. We have so internalized the concept that individual rights trump the rights of the society that people go insane and lash out in deadly anger. The great gap in our nation between the top 1% and the rest of us lead to disaster. Our mantra, to our decline is, "I got mine! Screw you!"
+18 # MHAS 2012-12-14 16:22
Of course, the individual rights that trump all else are property rights-- corporate personhood rights-- not civil rights, not basic human rights, which are in jeopardy, as Chomsky notes....Rain does not like the title and finds it off-putting. I understand. But it's the reality of the situation that he/she should find most concerning. That a Constitutional law prof (Obama) should be a party to the destruction of basic legal principles should raise the alarm...don't blame the messenger.
+8 # MindDoc 2012-12-14 16:27
Maybe true about moral decline, blinders as to "real people", etc. But I wouldn't pin it only on government. It's "culture", too. This was no agent of any party or government doing the shooting. And what of prevention? Seeing warning signs? Complex subject.
+10 # in deo veritas 2012-12-14 16:56
How anyone with a brain can expect God to bless a country that has gone so far down the road to perdition is beyond belief. Better for individuals to worry about their own justifaction for such consideration. If enough were truly worried there might be a chance for us.
+26 # Madmedic 2012-12-14 13:35

No, I don't for a minute beleve this, but you can bet some lobbyist or schill for the gunmakers and/or the NRA will come out with this stupid, Archie bunker type statement.

What is it going to take before we as a nation say "enough is enough" and demand the end to the wholesale arming of our population? As a multiple gun owner,I say,"enough." Since I only purchased my firearms as a potential self defense measure against the increasing numbers of wing nut neo-fascist gun owners here in Florida (as the FLA Dept. of Agriculture proudly pointed out yesterday just crossed the one million mark), I would readily get rid of those arms I possess, if the government, state, federal or local, could assure me that they would diaarm the the fools out there bleating about how they will give up their guns "only when they pry it from my cold, dead hands."

I find it particularly on point that today is the very day that Michigan Governor "Rick the Rat" Snyder was supposed to sign a new bill passed by the neo fascist Michigan legislature allowing the carrying of concealed weapons in schools, day care centers and other facilities where they were formerly prohibited. No doubt his Goebbels award worthy newspeak linguistic abilities would allow him to come up with a bill signing statement very similar to the starting words of this post.
-18 # in deo veritas 2012-12-14 17:03
Only when we reinstate capital punishment nationwide and expand the category to include rape, sex offenses, and ALL crimes against children will there be a start to dealing with these degenerates. There is no justice in the "justice system" any more. Keeping these vermin imprisoned for life at taxpayer expense merely increases the number of victims-the taxpayers.BTW as a responsible gun-owner I refused to rejoin the NRA because of their ludricous politcs.
+4 # Doubter 2012-12-14 23:03
Self Proclaimed Medievalist!
+6 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-14 13:41
There is tremendous confusion about what 'Democracy' (Greek 'power-of-the-p eople') actually means. Chomsky seems to be justifying as does the Finance-Media-M ilitary-Industr ial-Complex', invasion based upon one's own diverse definitions. When we invade various nations of the world, its important to recognize cultural concepts of democracy, far more profound than our own McDonald's version.

Humanity's worldwide 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') ancestors place emphasis on 'Economic' (Gk 'oikos' = 'home' + 'namein' = 'management') Democracy involving progressive ownership within specialized Production-Soci eties. We can understand each national variation as stemming from their own indigenous versions. In any case, 'dialectic' ('both-sides')
resolution enables each nation to develop its own improvement.

Women or domestic work joined together through the proximity of Longhouse, Pueblo & village architecture are fully accounted for & empowered. Youth, mentored by older-members, coming into P-S increasingly develop ownership votes over the course of their lifetime, joined together with similar specialties. Complementary intergeneration al collaboration is facilitated. Considering one's area of expertise & ability in each profession, P-S enable individuals to express a major part of their decision-making , community contribution & unique authority.
+4 # RobertMStahl 2012-12-14 13:42
Moral Relativity is the problem. The solution is to be a step in time, albeit time is, probably, half the problem. When time is nothing we can be aware of in collective agreement, then the system is corrupt. The Nation-State is being co-opted by money changers, applying laws of redistribution, not distributive measures. The Nation-State is completely caving in, the Dollar turning into a Chinese gold-backed SDR and this war is taking place in the derivative markets, being a 'monopoly' on puts, and having gold delivered to the vaults directly from the mining operation at the incredible discount that has occurred over the last 14 months or more. We 'belong' to something larger, in any event. That would take a society that considered intelligence more important than just IQ, for what does it take, really, to help make things work? What is desire if it isn't to participate? How does our set of needs turn out so small vying for bird food if the answer is not tribal, but formal, having arrived in some sense?
-36 # MidwestTom 2012-12-14 14:11
The United States used to be considered a Christian nation, The Christian and Jewish faiths teach respect for life, and basic riles by which lifr is to be lived. Thanks to the ACLU any moral teaching has been removed from public schools. Television is filled with violence, and wealthy gangsters (bankers) are above the law. When we left the restraining Gold Standard in 1972 it welcomed in the good life for everyone, and the liberated people of the 60's took command. No need for a family made up of a man and a women, the Bible is a book of stories, do your own thing, all resulting in a society with no morals, no guideposts. Then add to the mix 4 million Muslims who potentially believe that death is preferable to life and one gets what we now have. A Mess.
+6 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-14 16:06
Midwest, Its not 'what' but 'how' we're taught, which determines each person's experience & the culture we live in. Teaching 'religion' (Latin 'religio' = 'to relate') inside: churches, cathedrals, mosques or temples doesn't impart peace, love or respect of life because the process contradicts the messages. The process of wealthy nations appropriating wealth from 3rd world countries so that a privileged few can build symbolic places of worship towards 'their' god only, is the undoing of many great messages since the beginning of colonialism.
Humanity's 'indigenous' (Latin = 'self-generatin g') ancestors cultured peace through a constellation of complementary practices. Multi-home dwellings with privacy but as well the opportunity for inter-generatio nal interaction cultivated relations of lasting peace which typified the pre-colonial era.
+5 # PGreen 2012-12-14 19:46
The question is whether (since the industrial revolution, at least) the Judaeo-Christia n tradition has been a force for good. This is impossible to say because if one defines good in terms of the said tradition, then the answer has to be yes. However it is true that as ethical humanists measure good, the West, largely Judaeo-Christia n, has often failed to be good. In many cases, as judged (thus) ethically, the process appears to "contradict the message." Though perhaps not always, since the practice is diverse and the message subject to various interpretations .
+4 # in deo veritas 2012-12-14 17:10
Seems like the Muslim situation is coming around to finish off the national suicide that we have been working on for decades. All the issues you mention are indeed factors in our demise-likely anyone of them would be enough. Unfortunately the main one is the faiths you mentioned betraying their essential tenets and worhipping wealth.
0 # noitall 2012-12-31 20:01
Quoting MidwestTom:
The United States used to be considered a Christian nation, The Christian and Jewish faiths teach respect for life, and basic riles by which lifr is to be lived. Thanks to the ACLU any moral teaching has been removed from public schools. Television is filled with violence, and wealthy gangsters (bankers) are above the law. When we left the restraining Gold Standard in 1972 it welcomed in the good life for everyone, and the liberated people of the 60's took command. No need for a family made up of a man and a women, the Bible is a book of stories, do your own thing, all resulting in a society with no morals, no guideposts. Then add to the mix 4 million Muslims who potentially believe that death is preferable to life and one gets what we now have. A Mess.

Indians got a good taste of your christian "respect for life and basic 'riles' for which 'lifr' is to be lived". Thanks to Reagan, Civics classes, and any understanding of Civics has been removed from the teachings, much more of a deficit than the hypocritical 'pledge of allegiance'-typ e spew that gives our kids a synical view of who we (and our morality) are.
+13 # Vardoz 2012-12-14 14:17
I belive what he says is true but things feel so out of control now and people appear to be overwhlemed as we descend down this slippery slope. It's a dangerous time and when you connect the dots the NADD combined with a corporatized police state make it feel like a real horrow show. The powers out there seem hell bent on crushing us and controlling us any way they can. And I ask myself what is the agenda here? Is it to impoverish us and then suck the economic marrow from our bones as they proceed with their corporate anarchy plan? What an awful world it will be for us.
+11 # in deo veritas 2012-12-14 17:12
Could the Roman Enpire possible have been any more corrupt or degenerate than what we have allowed to exist today? Try to think of any of its evils that is not being practiced here today in some form or another. Good luck!
+8 # Teresa Knudsen 2012-12-14 23:11
Good description of the present situation. Except for "corporate anarchy." Can we say "corporate chaos"?
Anarchy is order, with people taking responsibility for their actions, often with a general framework such as the Constitution and Bill of Rights. What we are seeing is corporate chaos, breaking rules, and killing people.
+2 # truthrat 2012-12-16 13:30
Excellent point, Teresa. Here's where an understanding of Biological Evolution can be very instructive. I suggest "The meaning of Evolution," by Gaylord Simpson, a book that has given me a much deeper an wider understanding of society, governments, nations - and myself.
+10 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-12-14 14:49
" humanitarian interest involved." Just about says it all re. life today in our U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction).

Sad and then some, particularly with a U.S. Pres. (Andrew Jackson) and the U.K.'s first Prime Minister (Sir Robt. Walpole) hanging in my family tree (they must be rolling in their graves), but it's true...

+14 # WallStWallFlowerGirl 2012-12-14 14:55
"It's the End of the World- AS WE KNOW IT." The title of REM's song has been playing in my head for days!

Thoughts on how the Bush administration is guilty in the tragedy of 2001: they knew danger was imminent- and allowed it to happen; we are where we are today because of that day. Yet what part the Obama administration runs with in that relay will not cease upon a new administration, it will only intensify; its degree according to the integrity (or lack thereof) on the next team of runners.

I'm not a pessimist but I am a realist and honestly, I don't think we'll over "go back"... Technology has advanced too far and events around the world will suffer Newton's theory of "to every action, there is reaction" according to the force by which a human being can impose. I do believe there are many, many good people fighting the "good fight" which, at best, will keep complete assimilation at bay... but for how long is anybody's guess.

When you think about it, we've always been at the mercy of the "powers that be" but because of technology, citizens have the ability to find out about it sooner. Because as sanguine as the town of Mayberry was- there were some pretty severe abuses going on back then, right outside Sheriff Andy's jurisdiction.
+21 # Madmedic 2012-12-14 15:16
Midwest Tom. Just ask the Palestinians about the supposed Christian and Jewish traditions of "respect for life and basic rules by which life is to be lived." I don't want to get into the whole Jewish/Christia n/Muslim debate, besides I'm mostly on the Chritiam/Muslim side in that one, but I point this out because it's a prime example of the "right" and "wrong" sides of an issue being almost totally relative to which side of a border or religion you live on. As for Noam Chomsky's work, I have respected him since the days of his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Vardoz, I think you are absolutely correct wth your last two sentences. I, for one, don't plan to go quietly into the cold, cruel dark night the corporate Gods (for that's how they view themselves ... and our current administration is doing little to nothing to disabuse them of this notion) have planned for us. We must continue to network, communicate and educate if any of us are to avoid the grim future the corporate oligarchs have planned for us.

RSN is a great place to come to realize that we are not alone in this fight. MSNBC is another. My future looked bleak, to non-existent many times when I served in combat in Vietnam, but I survived to come back and enjoy a good life (so far). I'm not about to let a bunch of draft dodging, fat, jowly, pasty faced old white men ruin MY HAPPY FUTURE. To Hell with them! Write back, Fight back! Don't let the bast*rds keep you down!!! Good Day
+8 # in deo veritas 2012-12-14 17:18
RIGHT ON! You have described the rulers of our country very accurately. The best revenge is to outlive your enemies. That means to concentrate on your own well-being and never turn your back on them. Smarter men than them have gone the way of the damned. So will they.
+13 # Legion 2012-12-14 15:38
Chomsky is right to call the killing of Bin Laden a murder and an assassination. Adolf Eichmann got a trial before he was put to death. And Eric Holder is, in my view, an authentically evil man. Don't forget that this same Eric Holder is the man who orchestrated and conducted the Elian Gonzalez fiasco when he was Janet Reno's deputy.
+13 # MainStreetMentor 2012-12-14 16:14
I don’t know if EVERY commercial news service did this – but three of the major ones that I viewed DID: I wanted to learn facts of the tragedy in Connecticut’s elementary school shooting, and when I went to three of the major news networks to view videos the very first thing I viewed – on ALL three of them – was a friggin’ commercial! A COMMERCIAL!!! When parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers and other kin of students, staff and teachers at/of that school were frantic to learn of their loved ones … THESE "PROFIT FIRST" NEWS NETWORKS RAN COMMERCIALS FIRST! I CONDEMN THESE NETWORKS, AND CONDEMN THE GREED MONGERS WHO RUN AND FINANCE THEM! Nothing would make me happier right now than to learn each of these networks went bankrupt!
+6 # CandH 2012-12-14 22:06
I can't believe that Chomsky is that uninformed about Syria as to believe, "...they (US/UK/IS) just prefer to stay on the sidelines."

"Photographer John Cantile, kidnapped by“rebels” on July 19, later escaped and said that some of his captors were “young men with south London accents….Not a Syrian in sight. This wasn’t what I had expected…..Two of them were so anglicized they couldn’t speak Arabic.”"

"UN-Backed Rogue States Plan Syria’s Slaughter: Terrorism as an Instrument of US Foreign Policy"
(Pgs 1 & 15) -
+1 # Douglas Jack 2012-12-15 11:06
CandH's e-link goes much deeper into what is actually happening in the world of war, finance, armament, munitions, security & espionage. 'Syria Girl' is also an excellent source for the truth about 'our' (US, UK, FR, Can, Isr,) latest war. Our financiers are providing the soldiers & everything else to create hell as we've done since the beginning of colonialism. Follow the money! Instead we should be engaging the complementary strengths of our differences in order to restore the earth's biosphere.
+5 # aljoschu 2012-12-16 08:29
During the administrations of Bush and Obama, the USA have finally emerged as the unique imperial power on this planet, with its president above the US constitution - in fact, above all international law.

With the self-invested right to detain, torture, murder or kill anyone anywhwere on this planet at any time who is deemed to be a political opponent, terrorist or insurgent - in the well-known propaganda wording of that empire.

At the same time all these violations of national and international law are whitewashed and gilded with trite rhetoric of defending demogratic values and similar propaganda. The Nazi-propaganda invented by the former German Reichspropagand leiter, Joseph Goebbels, although comparatively primitive, used to apply the same techniques of disinformation.

The allies of this empire only act as degenerate opportunistic lackey states who shit their pants from fear of disfavor as a consequence of putative disloyalty.

All other nations are declared unfriendly or rogue states, failed states or involved in imaginary axes of evil at will and ad libitum of this omnipotent, omnipresent, omnivore empire. ...
+1 # Activista 2012-12-17 00:22
Agree - but the trend is collapse of the empire.
CCCP collapsed exactly for the reasons above - propaganda with censorship - militarism.
USA is bankrupt - both economically and morally.
+4 # aljoschu 2012-12-16 08:30

Its Attorney General, Eric Holder, is anything else than the highest and foremost defender of civil rights and the independence of jurisdiction from the executive power. In fact, very much like Roland Freisler, the president of the infamous Nazi-German "Volksgerichtsh of", he has degenerated into a key promoter of turning legislature and jurisdiction into a political instrument paving the way for torture and murder sanctioned from the top.

All this happens and takes place while most of the leading US press has been instrumentalize d - as in Nazi-Germany "gleichgeschaltet".

Mr. Chomsky has been a singular writer in the past calling these malign conditions by name, clear and outright. Who will come after him? What will come after him?
+1 # Sully747 2012-12-17 01:02
I remember what was happening 52 years ago when deployed in the Caribbean… …

Operation Northwoods,… Operation Mongoose … Look it up.. It’s all on line thanks to the Freedom of Information Act…

Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer ,.. Gen Edward Lansdale
+2 # anarchitek 2012-12-17 16:53
The problem is, we ordinary Americans are held hostage for the actions of idiots, pinheads and bozos who go to other countries and behave as if they are somehow the most important people on the planet. They bring in profane oil drillers, who live on virgins and rotgut whiskey, ignoring local protocols, and further eroding the image of Americans as profane, hard-drinking virgin-defilers !

When the time comes to renegotiate whatever contracts were in force, the smarmy idiots, pinheads, and bozos send in squads of sharp-dressed lawyers, who parse every sentence and squeeze every particle of profit out of the negotiations, leaving the host country feeling as if they'd been raped, without being kissed, so to speak. Again, American's are held accountable, for the IP&B, the sharkskin-suite d sharks, and the profane, hard-drinking oil drilling virgin-defilers .

It's a lose-lose proposition, for us ordinary Americans, who only want to fill up the gas tank of the family gas guzzler, and watch the games over the weekend. The only winners are the putzes at the top, the Romneys and others, who skim hundred million dollar profits off the top, and whine about having to pay ANY wages, or taxes! Poor things, all they did was ruin our reputation, leave a bad taste in every small country's mouth, and profit hugely by their efforts, none of which required the least little bit of actual effort or sweat!
+2 # Hasmenés fiú 2012-12-17 17:51
Noam Chomsky is one of the foremost political analists of America. When he steaks, he KNOWS what he is talking about! What he has stated in this article like it or not is the absolute TRUTH! American mentality and policy internationaly HAS indeed become very 'degenerate' hence demoralised and backard! The magna Carta was not some little fiction novel that was written back in the 13. Century, it has MEANING! It is the actual FOUNDATION of civilised society in the West (especially for the US and UK)!

Rain 17, to demean that is simply to scoff of the very basic human rights thae West has enjoyed for centuries (at least as best as to the adherence to its principles). Evidently you must be a fascist, an autocrat,or even a supporter of the Nazi/corporate cause! That is a real shame! PLEASE wake up!
+2 # Hasmenés fiú 2012-12-18 02:57
'Noam Chomsky is one of the foremost political analists of America. When he steaks, he KNOWS what he is talking about!' is an error. It should read as such:

Noam Chomsky is one of the foremost political analists of America. When he speaks, he KNOWS what he is talking about!...

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