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Robert Silverman - Salamanca, Spain
The resort to
By Noam Chomsky*
"Bush planners know as well as others that the
resort to force increases
the threat of terror,
and that their militaristic and aggressive
and actions provoke reactions that increase
the risk of
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said while explaining the National
Security Strategy (NSS) of September 2002 to a hostile audience at the
World Economic Forum that Washington has a "cient attention to its most important
consequence: the NSS was in effect revised to lower the bars to
aggression. The need to establish ties to terror was quietly dropped.
More significant, President George W Bush and colleagues declared the
right to resort to force even if a country does not have WMD or even
programs to develop them. It is sufficient that it have the "intent and
ability" to do so.
Just about every country has the ability, and intent is in the eye of
the beholder. The official doctrine, then, is that anyone is subject to
overwhelming attack. Colin Powell carried the revision even a step
further. The president was right to attack Iraq because its president,
Saddam Hussein, not only had "intent and capability" but had "actually
used such horrible weapons against his enemies in Iran and against his
own people" - with continuing support from Powell and his associates,
he failed to add, following the usual convention. National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice gave a similar version. With such reasoning as
this, who is exempt from attack? Small wonder that, as one Reuters
report put it, "if Iraqis ever see Saddam Hussein in the dock, they
want his former American allies shackled beside him".
In the desperate flailing to contrive justifications as one pretext
after another collapsed, the obvious reason for the invasion was
conspicuously evaded by the Bush administration and commentators: to
establish the first secure military bases in a client state right at
the heart of the world's major energy resources, understood since World
War II to be a "stupendous source of strategic power" and expected to
become even more important in the future. There should have been little
surprise at revelations that the administration intended to attack Iraq
before September 11, 2001, and downgraded the "war on terror" in favor
of this objective. In internal discussion, evasion is unnecessary. Long
before they took office, the private club of reactionary statists had
recognized that "the need for a substantial American force presence in
the [Persian] Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam
Hussein". With all the vacillations of policy since the current
incumbents first took office in 1981, one guiding principle remains
stable: the Iraqi people must not rule Iraq.
The 2002 National Security Strategy and its implementation in Iraq are
widely regarded as a watershed in international affairs. "The new
approach is revolutionary," Henry Kissinger wrote, approving of the
doctrine but with tactical reservations and a crucial qualification: it
cannot be "a universal principle available to every nation". The right
of aggression is to be reserved for the United States and perhaps its
chosen clients. We must reject the most elementary of moral truisms,
the principle of universality - a stand usually concealed in
professions of virtuous intent and tortured legalisms.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger agreed that the doctrine and
implementation were "revolutionary", but from a quite different
standpoint. As the first bombs fell on Baghdad, he recalled
then-president Franklin Roosevelt's words after the bombing of Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii: "a date which will live in infamy". Now it is Americans
who live in infamy, he wrote, as their government adopts the policies
of imperial Japan. He added that George W Bush had converted a "global
wave of sympathy" for the US into a "global wave of hatred of American
arrogance and militarism". A year later, "discontent with America and
its policies had intensified rather than diminished". Even in Britain
support for the war had declined by a third.
As predicted, the war increased the threat of terror. Middle East
expert Fawaz Gerges found it "simply unbelievable how the war has
revived the appeal of a global jihadi Islam that was in real decline
after [September 11, 2001]". Recruitment for the al-Qaeda networks
increased, while Iraq itself became a "terrorist haven" for the first
time. Suicide attacks for the year 2003 reached the highest level in
modern times; Iraq suffered its first since the 13th century.
Substantial specialist opinion concluded that the war also led to the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
As the anniversary of the invasion approached, New York's Grand Central
Station was patrolled by police with submachine-guns, a reaction to the
March 11 Madrid train bombings that killed 200 people in Europe's worst
terrorist crime. A few days later, the Spanish electorate voted out the
government that had gone to war despite overwhelming popular
opposition. Spaniards were condemned for appeasing terrorism by voting
for withdrawing troops from Iraq in the absence of United Nations
authorization - that is, for taking a stand rather like that of 70% of
Americans, who called for the UN to take the leading role in Iraq.
Bush assured Americans that "the world is safer today because, in Iraq,
our coalition ended a regime that cultivated ties to terror while it
built weapons of mass destruction". The president's handlers know that
every word is false, but they also know that lies can become Truth, if
repeated insistently enough.
There is broad agreement among specialists on how to reduce the threat
of terror - keeping here to the sub-category that is doctrinally
acceptable, their terror against us - and also on how to incite
terrorist atrocities, which may become truly horrendous. The consensus
is well articulated by Jason Burke in his study of the al-Qaeda
phenomenon, the most detailed and informed investigation of this loose
array of radical Islamists for whom Osama bin Laden is hardly more than
a symbol (a more dangerous one after he is killed, perhaps, becoming a
martyr who inspires others to join his cause). The role of Washington's
current incumbents, in their Reaganite phase, in creating the radical
Islamist networks is well known. Less familiar is their tolerance of
Pakistan's slide toward radical Islamist extremism and its development
of nuclear weapons.
As Burke reviews, former president Bill Clinton's 1998 bombings of
Sudan and Afghanistan created bin Laden as a symbol, forged close
relations between him and the Taliban, and led to a sharp increase in
support, recruitment, and financing for al-Qaeda, which until then was
virtually unknown. The next major contribution to the growth of
al-Qaeda and the prominence of bin Laden was Bush's bombing of
Afghanistan after September 11, undertaken without credible pretext as
later quietly conceded. As a result, bin Laden's message "spread among
tens of millions of people, particularly the young and angry, around
the world", Burke writes, reviewing the increase in global terror and
the creation of "a whole new cadre of terrorists" enlisted in what they
see as a "cosmic struggle between good and evil", a vision shared by
bin Laden and Bush. As noted, the invasion of Iraq had the same effect.
Citing many examples, Burke concludes, "Every use of force is another
small victory for bin Laden," who "is winning", whether he lives or
dies. Burke's assessment is widely shared by many analysts, including
former heads of Israeli military intelligence and the General Security
There is also a broad consensus on what the proper reaction to
terrorism should be. It is two-pronged: directed at the terrorists
themselves and at the reservoir of potential support. The appropriate
response to terrorist crimes is police work, which has been successful
worldwide. More important is the broad constituency the terrorists -
who see themselves as a vanguard - seek to mobilize, including many who
hate and fear them but nevertheless see them as fighting for a just
cause. We can help the vanguard mobilize this reservoir of support by
violence, or can address the "myriad grievances", many legitimate, that
are "the root causes of modern Islamic militancy". That can
significantly reduce the threat of terror, and should be undertaken
independently of this goal.
Violence can succeed, as Americans know well from the conquest of the
national territory. But at terrible cost. It can also provoke violence
in response, and often does. Inciting terror is not the only
illustration. Others are even more hazardous.
Last February, Russia carried out its largest military exercises in two
decades, prominently exhibiting advanced WMD. Russian generals and
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that they were responding to
Washington's plans "to make nuclear weapons an instrument of solving
military tasks", including its development of new low-yield nuclear
weapons, "an extremely dangerous tendency that is undermining global
and regional stability ... lowering the threshold for actual use".
Strategic analyst Bruce Blair writes that Russia is well aware that the
new "bunker busters" are designed to target the "high-level nuclear
command bunkers" that control its nuclear arsenal. Ivanov and Russian
generals report that in response to US escalation they are deploying
"the most advanced state-of-the-art missile in the world", perhaps next
to impossible to destroy, something that "would be very alarming to the
Pentagon", says former assistant defense secretary Phil Coyle. US
analysts suspect that Russia may also be duplicating US development of
a hypersonic cruise vehicle that can re-enter the atmosphere from space
and launch devastating attacks without warning, part of US plans to
reduce reliance on overseas bases or negotiated access to air routes.
US analysts estimate that Russian military expenditures have tripled
during the Bush-Putin years, in large measure a predicted reaction to
the Bush administration's militancy and aggressiveness. Russian
President Vladimir Putin and Ivanov cited the Bush doctrine of
"preemptive strike" - the "revolutionary" new doctrine of the National
Security Strategy - but also "added a key detail, saying that military
force can be used if there is an attempt to limit Russia's access to
regions that are essential to its survival", thus adapting for Russia
the Clinton doctrine that the US is entitled to resort to "unilateral
use of military power" to ensure "uninhibited access to key markets,
energy supplies, and strategic resources". The world "is a much more
insecure place" now that Russia has decided to follow the US lead, said
Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution, adding that other countries
presumably "will follow suit".
In the past, Russian automated response systems have come within a few
minutes of launching a nuclear strike, barely aborted by human
intervention. By now the systems have deteriorated. US systems, which
are much more reliable, are nevertheless extremely hazardous. They
allow three minutes for human judgment after computers warn of a
missile attack, as they frequently do. The Pentagon has also found
serious flaws in its computer security systems that might allow
terrorist hackers to seize control and simulate a launch - "an accident
waiting to happen", Bruce Blair writes. The dangers are being
consciously escalated by the threat and use of violence.
Concern is not eased by the recent discovery that US presidents have
been "systematically misinformed" about the effects of nuclear war. The
level of destruction has been "severely underestimated" because of lack
of systematic oversight of the "insulated bureaucracies" that provide
analyses of "limited and 'winnable' nuclear war"; the resulting
"institutional myopia can be catastrophic", far more so than the
manipulation of intelligence on Iraq.
The Bush administration slated the initial deployment of a missile
defense system for this summer, a move criticized as "completely
political", employing untested technology at great expense. A more
appropriate criticism is that the system might seem workable; in the
logic of nuclear war, what counts is perception. Both US planners and
potential targets regard missile defense as a first-strike weapon,
intended to provide more freedom for aggression, including nuclear
attack. And they know how the US responded to Russia's deployment of a
very limited anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) system in 1968: by targeting
the system with nuclear weapons to ensure that it would be instantly
overwhelmed. Analysts warn that current US plans will also provoke a
Chinese reaction. History and the logic of deterrence "remind us that
missile defense systems are potent drivers of offensive nuclear
planning", and the Bush initiative will again raise the threat to
Americans and to the world.
China's reaction may set off a ripple effect through India, Pakistan,
and beyond. In West Asia, Washington is increasing the threat posed by
Israel's nuclear weapons and other WMD by providing Israel with more
than 100 of its most advanced jet bombers, accompanied by prominent
announcements that the bombers can reach Iran and return and are an
advanced version of the US planes Israel used to destroy an Iraqi
reactor in 1981. The Israeli press adds that the US is providing the
Israeli air force with "'special' weaponry". There can be little doubt
that Iranian and other intelligence services are watching closely and
perhaps giving a worst-case analysis: that these may be nuclear
weapons. The leaks and dispatch of the aircraft may be intended to
rattle the Iranian leadership, perhaps to provoke some action that can
be used as a pretext for an attack.
Immediately after the National Security Strategy was announced in
September 2002, the US moved to terminate negotiations on an
enforceable bioweapons treaty and to block international efforts to ban
biowarfare and the militarization of space. A year later, at the UN
General Assembly, the US voted alone against implementation of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and alone with its new ally India against
steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. The US voted alone
against "observance of environmental norms" in disarmament and
arms-control agreements and alone with Israel and Micronesia against
steps to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East - the pretext
for invading Iraq. A resolution to prevent militarization of space
passed 174-0, with four abstentions: the US, Israel, Micronesia, and
the Marshall Islands. As discussed earlier, a negative US vote or
abstention amounts to a double veto: the resolution is blocked and is
eliminated from reporting and history.
Bush planners know as well as others that the resort to force increases
the threat of terror, and that their militaristic and aggressive
posture and actions provoke reactions that increase the risk of
catastrophe. They do not desire these outcomes, but assign them low
priority in comparison to the international and domestic agendas they
make little attempt to conceal. AsiaTimes - 22 September 2004
This article is an edited version of the afterword in the
paperback edition of Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival,
America's Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project,
Metropolitan Books). Chomsky is a professor of linguistics and
philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the
author of numerous books on linguistics and on US foreign policy.
REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org
(815) 366-0800 Email: MER@MiddleEast.Org
2004 Mid-East Realities, All rights reserved
Iran Next - Part 1
(October 31, 2004)
In a few days the American election itself will be history. The likelihood is the Bush/Cheney/neocon regime will remain in power; hard as that still is for so many to imagine and understand. Should the Democrats win the White House Middle East policies will be largely in the hands of the neoliberals and the super money-men like Haim Saban who when it comes to the Middle East and Israel have far more in common with the neocons than has yet been realized by many who will vote for them. Whatever happens on Tuesday next the build-up to attacking and if at all possible regime changing Iran is well underway and the showdown increasingly imminent.
Osama, Bush, Kerry - Past, Present, Future
(October 30, 2004)
Few Middle East realities have been heard during this long grueling American election campaign. Most of the rhetoric has been extraordinarily self-righteous and self-serving, disingenuous and dishonest. Sad and tragic as it is to have to say, for many in the Middle East and around the world beyond American shores, tactics aside, the words of Osama Bin Laden ring more true to their experience and perspective regarding U.S. foreign policy than those of either George Bush or John Kerry.
Fahrenheit 9/11 - Watch It On Your Computer This Weekend
(October 30, 2004)
Who would have imagined on 9/11 more than three years ago now that the top front-page story in the Washington Post Saturday before the 2004 election would be a picture of Osama Bin Laden addressing the American people! Reality keeps trumping fiction time after time in our era!
Escalating War Against the World after November 2nd?
(October 29, 2004)
Whether the Americans are lead by Bush and the neocons, or by Kerry and the neoliberals, the reality is that both of the great American political parties are today dominated by their super-hawkish Israeli-connected elements and that both are heavily mortgaged to major, however competing, segments of the Israeli-Jewish lobby in Washington.
ARAFAT - Pathetic Symbolism for the 'Grand Old Man' of the Palestinians
(October 29, 2004)
There is often such pathetic symbolism surrounding Yasser Arafat even as many of his people cling to his legacy as the 'symbol of Palestinian nationalism' -- itself nearly as tattered and frail as the Grand Old Man has himself become.
Bush Uncensored; Cheney Unauthorized
(October 28, 2004)
MAKE SURE TO WATCH THESE TWO VIDEOS
ABOUT GEORGE BUSH and DICK CHENEY
Gaza Scam + Dem Party Emails American Jews
(October 27, 2004)
The price for the past political trickery has already been very high. The poison of the Israeli-Arab conflict has spread continually for decades now and played a substantial role in bringing about today's 'Clash of Civilizations' whose end is yet in sight. The eventual future price for what is happening these days threatens to be higher yet, potentially catastrophic.
IRAN Attack Imminent?
(October 24, 2004)
Though few in the world may fully realize it, international society is now at a historic moment and the future, even a potential World War III, is in the balance. Hence the leaks coming from Washington from those trying to warn, and to prevent, what the top neocons and Israeli operatives are pushing hard to bring about. Hence last month's extremely unusual 'Israeli Spy Scandal' which had officials in the FBI charging people working on the Iranian attack in coordination with the Israeli-Jewish lobby with espionage for Israel. Hence, as this article by a former National Security Council operative suggests: "Intelligence circles report that both intelligence agencies (CIA and Pentagon) are in open revolt against the Bush White House." It appears to have been quickly written and then quickly internet published using LebanonWire in the Middle East.
Cheney Uncovered - An Unauthorized Documentary by the CBC
(October 23, 2004)
Reporter Jean Heller presented Soviet satellite photos which did not show Iraqi troops amassed on the Saudi border to the Pentagon.
"It's what it (the photos) didn't show that's more important. What you expected to see were tanks on the border. There was none that we could see.
I said, look, if you can prove to me that our story isn't true, we won't run it. And they just ignored it.
They have never shown those (U.S. satellite images) photos. Not then and not since."
New CIA 'Shocking' Cover-Up
(October 22, 2004)
Completed in June, mandated by Congress nearly
two years ago, the CIA Report that names names
is being suppressed until after the election.
"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found very senior-level officials responsible."
Talk about American Imperialism and Chutzpah!
(October 22, 2004)
The reaction in many quarters must be 'Oh My God'. Bill, Hillary, and Tenet all seek higher office! Talk about American Imperialism and Chutzpah!
The WARLORDS of AMERICA
(October 21, 2004)
Regardless of what happens on 2 November in the U.S. election, one group or another of "the Warlords of America" will be in power in Washington. And the years now immediately ahead, regardless if the President is named Kerry or Bush, are quickly shaping up as likely to be the most dangerous in modern history.
America on the Edge
(October 20, 2004)
The amazing thing about this American election is that in view of what has happened in the U.S. and in the world the Democrats should be running away with it -- and yet they are struggling everywhere and likely to go down to defeat.
Israel on Road to being Pariah State
(October 15, 2004)
Indeed Israeli policies and attitudes have for some time now seriously poisoned political relations throughout the Middle East, substantially helped bring about the era of the 'Clash of Civilizations', and through the powerful Israeli/Jewish lobby in Washington pushed the United States into the invasion of Iraq and other militarist isolated policies whose dangerous and destructive ramifications will be felt for many years to come
The Next Generation of Palestinians
(October 13, 2004)
If what has happened in Gaza in recent years would have happened in the USA (adjusted for population size) more than 100,000 Americans would have been killed and more than a quarter million homes destroyed by a foreign occupying army using battle tanks and attack helicopters against small resistance groups in cities and towns.
AMERICAN SECRET GULAG EXPANDING
(October 14, 2004)
THE CIA has greatly expanded its activities throughout the Middle East including in Jordan and Egypt as well as Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries throughout the region. Of course the CIA and the Mossad are working more closely together than ever to control the region and enforce what is now essentially the militarily imposed 'new world order' first announced during the current President father's days in the White House. Before President Bush I became President he was in fact the Director of the CIA, whose main headquarters is now named after him.
AOL Censors MER
(October 20, 2004)
AOL -- one of the largest internet service providers -- is blocking and censoring MER. Persons who subscribe to MER using an AOL email address can not receive MER -- it is being secretly censored from their mailboxes by AOL without notice of any kind. It is believed persons working for AOL may be censoring MER in coordination with Jewish Zionist groups. It may be that AOL has a special relationship with Jewish.com and other Israeli-connected groups in some way. It is all being done in secret with no notice of any kind to either AOL users or MER.
A few of the messages we have received from AOL subscribers to MER follow:
Major Iraq Attacks on Hold Until After U.S. Vote
(October 11, 2004)
The Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Iraq in recent days. And soon after the American election the superpower military will be much more fully unleashed throughout the country preparing to push the U.S.-appointed strong-man Iyad Allawai forward in the carefully staged 'election' that will proceed if 'conditions are right'. In other words, just as Hamid Karzai was U.S. -installed and then essentially U.S.-elected in Afghanistan, the same template is now planned for Iraq.
U.S. Forces IMF into secret Iraqi debt 'forgiveness' scheme
(October 11, 2004)
But maybe most of all in the longer run, and unspoken now for all of these reasons by the powers that be, once Iraq's prior debt to other countries is 'off the books', the new U.S.-installed and CIA-controlled government in Baghdad is free to sign agreements with the Americans -- secret or otherwise -- that will essentially mortgage Iraq's future oil revenues to the U.S.A. and those it approves.
Chomsky on American Force and Pre-emption
(October 10, 2004)
"Bush planners know as well as others that the
resort to force increases the threat of terror,
and that their militaristic and aggressive posture
and actions provoke reactions that increase
the risk of catastrophe."
IRAN - Targeted by U.S. and Israel
(October 9, 2004)
You would think after the Iraq debacle that the ability of the U.S. to blackball, sanction, and then attack, occupy and regime-change another country would be considerable reduced. Not so however as this article in Z Magazine helps explain with regard to Iran. Indeed, soon after the American election the situation will quickly escalate.
The Debates - Fixed and Controlled
(October 8, 2004)
The moderators -- both from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) -- could have, and should have, asked hard, probing, unexpected questions like this:
Israeli AIPAC Spy Scandal - Update
(October 7, 2004)
It was just a month ago that the latest Washington spy scandal involving the very heart of the Israeli-Jewish Lobby had everyone buzzing. Then it faded from view as the corporate media moved on, as CBS News which originally broke the story found itself under assault, and as the election campaign and debates took center stage. Interesting, not one question from the PBS moderators about Israeli spying, nor even about the U.S. veto of the Security Council resolution condemning Israel, nor the International Court of Justice decision doing the same. Here's an update -- however inadequate -- from yesterday's L.A.Times. Though the real heart of the story should be AIPAC and the influence, tactics, and status of the Israeli-Jewish lobby; instead they focus on just the individual and not as they should on the large group of support persons and organizations. This should especially include, of course, the current cabal of largely Jewish neocons in top positions...including the one who hired Larry Franklin (Douglas Feith), and the ones who hired him (Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle).
AOL Blocks and Censors MER Articles
(October 6, 2004)
AOL is blocking and censoring MER articles because of pressures originating with Jewish and Israeli groups.
Emergency U.N. Security Council Meeting on Israel
(October 4, 2004)
The Springsteen 'Vote For Change' Concerts
(October 5, 2004)
"The press has let the country down. It's taken a very amoral stand, in that essential issues are often portrayed as simply one side says this and the other side says that. I think that Fox News and the Republican right have intimidated the press into an incredible self-consciousness
about appearing objective and backed them into a corner of sorts where they have ceded some of their responsibility and righteous power." - Bruce Springsteen
Israel's Peacenik - Uri Avneri: Realities
(October 5, 2004)
"Uri Avneri, along with many Israelis and Jews, rightly fears that at some point Israel will be the direct target of blame for it's major contribution to having brought about such terrorism in the world and pushing the U.S.
into invading Iraq. It is an understandable fear;
for it is to a significant degree true."
Iraq is a "disaster...that will haunt the U.S. for decades" - Wall Street Journal Reporter
(October 2, 2004)
Iraq is a "disaster" that has deteriorated "into a
raging barbaric guerilla war" that will haunt the
United States for decades.
The Passion of the Bush
(October 2, 2004)
As the modern-day American-Israeli led Christian-Jewish crusade to remake the Middle East in the name of 'democracy and freedom' proceeds, this new documentary is telling indeed. It was first shown at the Republican Convention in New York a few weeks ago; and now, as a kind of Bush-loving counter to Fahrenhite 9/11, the DVD is being rushed out in advance of the upcoming election.
U.S. and Israel Prepare for Iran +
(October 1, 2004)
Even as the two branches of the American political establishment semi-debated last night who would fight the new wars better than the other, even as U.S. and Israeli battle tanks and attack aircraft bombed and killed in Iraq and Palestine worse than ever, preparations to either force compliance or attack Iran, Syria, Hezbollah (Lebanon), Hamas (Palestine), and North Korea soon after the American election are fast proceeding at the Pentagon and the CIA.