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Weekend Reading


The resort to force
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 posture
and actions provoke reactions that increase
the risk of catastrophe."

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 Services.

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.





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October 2004


Magazine






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.




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