Lest there be any doubt

Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 10:56 am
I started to put the really awful stuff in bold. I could have bolded the entire article. I stopped.

I wonder how many will read to the end. I wonder how many will acknowledge just how damning this is. I wonder if there will be any greater measure of honesty, of people standing up to the plate and saying, this was wrong, this was so terribly wrong, this was a war crime of horrendous proportions.

This forever puts to rest the seriously misguided notion that the USA is in it for the oppressed of the world.

The Legacy of War

excerpted from the book

Rogue States

The Rule of Force in World Affairs

by Noam Chomsky

South End Press, 2000, paper

The Legacy of War

In February 1965, the United States escalated the war against South Vietnam radically, and also, on the side, began regular bombing of the North at a much lower level. That was a big public issue in the United States: Should we bomb North Vietnam? The bombing of the South was ignored. The same shows up in the internal planning, for which we now have an extremely rich record, not only from the Pentagon Papers, but from tons of declassified documents that have been released in the last couple of years. It turns out-again, one of the very few interesting revelations of the Pentagon Papers-that there was no planning for the escalated bombing of the South.

There was very meticulous planning about the bombing of the North-carefully calibrated, when should we do it, and a lot of agonizing about it. The bombing of the South at triple the scale of the North is barely discussed. There are a few casual decisions here and there. The same shows up in McNamara's recent memoirs. He discusses at great length the bombing of the North. The bombing of the South he literally doesn't mention. He mentions what he did on January 21, 1965, a really important day: there was a big discussion about whether to bomb North Vietnam. He doesn't mention what we know from other documents, that on that same day, he authorized for the first time the use of jet planes to escalate the bombing of South Vietnam over and above the massive bombing that had been going on for years-that's not even mentioned.

I think the reason for that in public consciousness and in internal planning is unpleasantly obvious, but it may be worth paying attention to, if people are willing to look in the mirror. The reason is that the bombing of North Vietnam was costly to the United States. For one thing, it was costly in international opinion because it was a bombing of what was by then regarded as a state, which had embassies and so on. Besides, there was a danger that there could be a retaliation. The United States was bombing an internal Chinese railroad, which went from southwest to southeast China. It was built through the northern part of Vietnam because of the way the French built railroads.

The US was bombing Russian ships; it was bombing Russian embassies. China and Russia might respond. So it was dangerous. There were potential costs to the bombing of North Vietnam. On the other hand, the bombing of South Vietnam on a vastly greater scale was costless. There was nothing the South Vietnamese could do about it. Accordingly, it was not an issue at the time. There were no protests about it. Virtually none. Protests were almost entirely about the bombing of the North, and it has essentially disappeared from history, so that it doesn't have to be mentioned in McNamara's memoirs or in other accounts, and, as I say, there wasn't even any planning for it.

Just a casual decision: it doesn't cost us anything, why not just kill a lot of people? It's an interesting incident that tells you a lot about the thinking that runs from the earliest days right to the present. We're not talking about ancient history as when we talk about Amalek and the Frankish wars and Genghis Khan.

The war then, of course, expanded. The US expanded the war to Laos and Cambodia. As in Vietnam, and Laos and Cambodia, too, the targets were primarily civilian. The main target, however, was always South Vietnam. That included saturation bombing of the densely populated Mekong Delta and air raids south of Saigon that were specifically targeting villages and towns.

They were deciding, "let's put a B-52 raid on this town." Huge terror operations like "Speedy Express" and "Bold Mariner" and others were aimed specifically at destroying the civilian base of the resistance.

You might say that the My Lai massacre was a tiny footnote to one of these operations, insignificant in context. The Quakers had a clinic nearby, and they knew about it immediately because people were coming in wounded and telling stories. They didn't even bother reporting it because it was just standard, it was going on all the time. Nothing special about My Lai.

It gained a lot of prominence later, after a lot of suppression, and I think the reason is clear: it could be blamed on half-crazed, uneducated GIs in the field who didn't know who was going to shoot at them next, and it deflected attention away from the commanders who were directing the atrocities far from the scene-for example, the ones plotting the B-52 raids on villages. And it also deflected attention away from the apologists at home who were promoting and defending all of this. All of them must receive immunity from criticism, but it's okay to say a couple of half-crazed GIs did something awful. I was asked by the New York Review of Books to write an article about My Lai when it was exposed, and I did, but I scarcely mentioned it. I talked about the context, which I think is correct.

By the early 1970s, it was clear enough that the United States had basically won that war. It had achieved its basic war aims, which, as revealed in the documentary record, were to ensure that successful, independent development in Vietnam would not be what's called "a virus" infecting others beyond, leading them to try the same course, perhaps leading ultimately even to a Japanese accommodation with an independent Asia, maybe as the industrial heart of a kind of new order in Asia out of US control. The US had fought World War II in the Pacific largely to prevent that outcome, and was not willing to accept it in the immediate aftermath of the war.

Years later, McGeorge Bundy, who was national security advisor for Kennedy and Johnson, reflected that the United States should have pulled out of Vietnam in 1966, after the slaughter in Indonesia. It was very much like what just happened in Rwanda. The army either killed or inspired the killing of about half a million to a million people within a few months, with direct US support and encouragement. Crucially, it destroyed the only mass-based political party in the country. The slaughter was mostly of landless peasants. The slaughter was described by the CIA as comparable to those of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. It was greeted with undisguised euphoria here, across the political spectrum, and very much in public.

It has to be read to be believed. It will surely disappear from history. It's just much too embarrassing, although it's available in public. Bundy's point was that with Vietnam already largely destroyed by 1966, and the surrounding territory now inoculated Indonesia-style, there was no longer any serious danger the virus would infect anyone, and the war was basically pointless for the United States.

After War

Well, the war did go on. We left a horrifying legacy: perhaps 4 million killed in Indochina and many millions more orphaned, maimed, and made into refugees, three countries devastated-not just Vietnam. In Laos at this moment people are still dying from unexploded bomblets that are left from the most intense bombing of civilian areas in history, later exceeded by the US bombing of Cambodia.

In Vietnam, one part of the legacy of the war in the present is the continuing impact of the unprecedented campaign of chemical warfare that was initiated under the Kennedy administration. The chemical warfare has indeed received a good deal of coverage here. The reason is that US veterans were affected by it. So, you know about Agent Orange and dioxin and their effect on US soldiers; that did receive coverage. Of course, however much they were affected, that's not a fraction of the effect on Vietnamese, and that receives virtually no attention, though there is occasionally some. I have found very few articles on this. The Wall Street Journal did have a lead story on this in February 1997. It reported that half a million children may have been born with dioxin-related deformities as a result of the millions of tons of chemicals that drenched South Vietnam during the US efforts to destroy crops and ground cover, starting with Kennedy.

It also reported that Japanese scientists working together with Vietnamese scientists have found rates of birth defects four times as high in southern villages as in the north, which was spared this particular horror. That's not to speak of the stacks of jars with aborted, still-born fetuses, sometimes destroyed by rare cancers, that fill rooms in South Vietnamese hospitals and that are occasionally reported in the foreign press or sometimes in the technical literature here, and reproductive disorders that are still very high in the south, though not the north.

The Wall Street Journal report did recognize that the United States is responsible for the atrocities it recounts, which still continue to plague South Vietnam. It also reports that Vietnam has received some European and Japanese aid to try to cope with the disaster, but "the United States, emotionally spent after losing the war, paid no heed." "Losing the war" means not achieving the maximal goal of total conquest, only the basic war aims of destroying the virus and inoculating the region. But the point is that we suffered so from destroying Indochina and are so emotionally spent by this that we cannot be expected to help overcome the legacy of our aggression, let alone express some contrition about it.'

The last article I saw about it before this was a few years earlier, in 1992, in the New York Times science section, by Southeast Asia correspondent Barbara Crossette. She reported that there was a feeling among scientists that our failure to become involved in this particular aspect of the legacy of war isn't a good idea. Our refusal to study the effects of chemical warfare, she wrote, is a mistake, and the reason is that Vietnam "furnishes an extensive control group." The point is that only southerners were sprayed-many of them with substantial exposure- while northerners were not, and, you know, they have the same genes and so on, so it's a kind of controlled experiment, and if we would only accept the Vietnamese offers of cooperation, we might learn a lot about the effects of dioxin from this interesting experiment, and the results might be useful for us. So it's a shame not to explore the opportunity. But nothing is our fault, and no other thoughts come to mind; we're too emotionally spent to offer any help.

I should say that this level of moral cowardice may break some records, but the full story is still more astonishing. In what must be, I think, the most amazing propaganda achievement in history, the United States has succeeded in shifting the blame to the Vietnamese. It turns out that we were the innocent victims when we attacked and destroyed them, but furthermore, we are so saintly that we do not seek retribution for their crimes against us-we only ask that they concede guilt and apologize-that's George Bush in a speech that was featured prominently on the front page of the New York Times. And right next to it there was another column, another one of the many stories condemning the Japanese and wondering what profound cultural inadequacy, or maybe genetic defect, makes it impossible for them to concede the crimes that they have carried out.

The spectacle continues year after year, eliciting no comment. It goes on today, in fact, continually reaching new and almost imaginable heights. It turns out that recently the Vietnamese were finally agreeing to face their guilt a little bit, and to pay us reparations for their crimes against us. There's a front-page New York Times story reporting that Vietnam agreed to pay us the debts that were incurred by the client regime that we installed in South Vietnam as a cover for the US attack, so the Times says we can now "celebrate the end of a raw chapter in American history." At last the criminals have begun to face their guilt, and we will therefore magnanimously forgive them now that they are at least paying for what they did, as well as acknowledging it, although we can never forget what they did to us, as George Bush and others have sternly admonished them.

Well, maybe someday a new government in Afghanistan will repay Russia the debts incurred by the Soviet puppet regime in Kabul as a cover for Russia's invasion in Afghanistan in 1979 so that Russia can celebrate the end of a raw chapter in its history, and maybe even overcome the fact that they are so emotionally exhausted; and maybe the Afghans will finally acknowledge their guilt for resisting Russian invasion that cost perhaps a million lives and left the country in ruins, becoming even worse as the US-backed terrorist forces now ravage what is left of the place. However, that is not going to happen. The reason is that Russia lost that war and, shortly afterwards, collapsed, in part as a result of that defeat. In October 1989, the Gorbachev government recognized officially that its attack on Afghanistan was illegal and immoral, and that the 13,000 Russian dead and the many who remained behind in Afghan prisons were engaged in violation of international norms of behavior and law. That acknowledgment in 1989 received front-page headlines in the United States-very self-righteous rhetoric about the evil and godless communists who are at last beginning to rejoin Western civilization, although plainly they have a long way to go.

That the United States might follow suit with regard to its far more outrageous conduct in Indochina is utterly unthinkable. How unthinkable it remains was underscored once again by the furor over McNamara's best-selling memoir. You will recall that he was denounced as a traitor, or else praised for his courage, in admitting that the United States had made mistakes that were costly to us. He was condemned or praised for his apology, one or the other, not for his apology to victims of Indochina - no apology at all to them-but for the apology he made to Americans. He asked whether the "high costs" were justified, referring to the loss of American lives and to the damage to the US economy and the "political unity" of the United States. There were no apologies to the victims, and surely no thought of helping those who continue to suffer and die. On the contrary, it's their responsibility to pay us reparations and to confess their guilt. It's rather striking that among those who praise McNamara for taking this position were some of the moral leaders who strongly opposed the war in Vietnam. They praised McNamara for finally coming around to their position, which, if they're thinking-I suspect they're not-would mean that their position was that it's fine to attack and destroy another country as long as it doesn't cost us too much, no matter what the effects are, and then to make them accept the blame and indeed pay us reparations for the costs that we incurred by destroying them. I doubt if anybody would agree that that's their own position, but it is the position that they are tacitly articulating.

The general lessons of history are clear enough. The legacy of war is faced by the losers. We have thousands of years of pretty consistent records about this. The powerful are too emotionally exhausted, or too overcome with self-adulation, to have any role or responsibility, though for them to portray themselves as suffering victims is an unusual form of moral cowardice. It's a good step beyond the "sacralization of war" and the new forms that it has taken with the rise of the secular religions of the modem era, including our own.

Another lesson of history is that it's very easy to see the other fellow's crimes and to express heartfelt anguish and outrage about them, which may well be justified-it may even lead to help for the victims, which is all to the good, as, for example, when the Soviet tyranny assisted victims of American crimes, as indeed it did. But by the most elementary moral standards, that performance is not very impressive. The very minimum of moral decency would be a willingness to shine the spotlight on oneself with candor and truth. That's the minimum. Proceeding beyond this bare minimum, elementary decency would require action for the benefit of the victims, and for the future victims who doubtless lie ahead if the causes of the crimes are not honestly and effectively addressed. Among these causes are the institutional structures that remain unchanged and from which the policies flow, and also the cultural attitudes and the doctrinal systems that support them and that lead to things of the kind that I have been talking about. These are matters that I think should concern us very deeply, and should be at the core of an educational program in a free society from early childhood and on through adult life.


Is there really any reason to doubt that this same thing hasn't happened, isn't happening in Iraq or Afghanistan?
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Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 11:43 am
My apologies to Failure'sArt for not including more of my own comments, but really, what more could one say?

I'll leave the bolding of the crucial, the important sections to you, FA.

Rogues Gallery,
Rogue States,
Crisis in the Balkans

excerpted from the book

Rogue States

The Rule of Force in World Affairs

by Noam chomsky

South End Press, 2000, paper

Rogues Gallery

Though international norms are not rigidly determined, there is a measure of agreement on general guidelines. In the post-World War II period, these norms are partially codified in the UN Charter, International Court of Justice decisions, and various conventions and treaties., The US regards itself as exempt from these conditions ...

To mention another illustration of contemporary relevance, when Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 it was ordered to withdraw at once by the UN Security Council, but to no avail. The reasons were explained in his 1978 memoirs by UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.

He goes on to report that within two months some 60,000 people had been killed. The numbers reached about 200,000 within a few years, thanks to increasing military support from the US, joined by Britain as atrocities peaked in 1978. Their support continued through 1999, as Kopassus commandoes, armed and trained by the US, organized "Operation Clean Sweep" from January, killing 3,000 to 5,000 people by August, according to credible Church sources, and later expelling 750,000 people-85 percent of the population-and virtually destroying the country.

US support for Indonesian aggression and slaughter was almost reflexive. The murderous and corrupt General Suharto was "our kind of guy," the Clinton administration explained, as he had been ever since he supervised a Rwanda-style massacre in 1965 that elicited unrestrained euphoria in the US. So he remained, while compiling one of the worst human rights records of the modern era ...

... Saddam Hussein, was also supported through his worst atrocities, changing status only when he disobeyed (or misunderstood) orders. There is a long series of similar illustrations: Trujillo, Mobutu, Marcos, Duvalier, Noriega, and many others. Crimes are not of great consequence; disobedience is.

Rendering the UN "utterly ineffective" has been routine procedure since the organization fell out of control with decolonization. One index is Security Council vetoes, covering a wide range of issues: from the 1960s, the US has been far in the lead, Britain second, France a distant third. General Assembly votes are similar. The more general principle is that if an international organization does not serve the interests that govern US policy, there is little reason to allow it to survive.

The reasons for dismissing international norms were elaborated by the Reagan administration when the World Court was considering Nicaragua's charges against the US. Secretary of State George Shultz derided those who advocate "utopian, legalistic means like outside mediation, the United Nations, and the World Court, while ignoring the power element of the equation." State Department legal advisor Abraham Sofaer explained that most of the world cannot "be counted on to share our view," and the "majority often opposes the United States on important international questions." Accordingly, we must "reserve to ourselves the power to determine" how we will act and which matters fall "essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the United States, as determined by the United States"-in this case, the actions that the Court condemned as the "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua.

The Court called on Washington to desist and pay substantial reparations, also ruling that all aid to the mercenary forces attacking Nicaragua was military, not humanitarian. Accordingly, the Court was dismissed as a "hostile forum" (New York Times) that had discredited itself by condemning the US, which reacted by escalating the war and dismissing the call for reparations. The US then vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling on all states to observe international law, and voted in virtual isolation against similar General Assembly resolutions. All of this considered so insignificant that it was barely reported just as the official reactions have been ignored. Aid was called "humanitarian" until the US victory.

The rogue state doctrine remained in force when the Democrats returned to the White House. President Clinton informed the United Nations in 1993 that the US will act "multilaterally when possible, but unilaterally when necessary," a position reiterated a year later by UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright and in 1999 by Secretary of Defense William Cohen, who declared that the US is committed to "unilateral use of military power" to defend vital interests, which include "ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources," and indeed anything that Washington might determine to be thin its "domestic jurisdiction."

The human toll is too vast to try to calculate, but for rogue states with tremendous power, crimes do not matter. They are eliminated from history or transmuted into benign intent that sometimes goes awry. Thus, at the outer limits of admissible critique, the war against South Vietnam, then all of Indochina, began with "blundering efforts to do good," though "by 1969" it had become clear "that the intervention had been a disastrous mistake" because the US "could not impose a solution except at a price too costly to itself." Robert McNamara's apology for the war was addressed to Americans, and was either condemned as treachery (by hawks) or considered highly meritorious and courageous (by doves): If millions of dead litter the ruins of the countries devastated by our assault, and still die from unexploded ordnance and the lingering effects of chemical warfare, that is not our concem, and calls for no apology, let alone reparations or war crimes trials.

Quite the contrary. The US is hailed as the leader of the "enlightened states" that are entitled to resort to violence as they see fit. In the Clinton years its foreign policy has ascended to a "noble phase" with a "saintly glow" (according to the New York Times), as America is "at the height of its glory," with a record unsullied by international crimes, only a few of which have been mentioned.

Rogue states that are internally free-and the US is at the outer limits in this respect-must rely on the willingness of the educated classes to produce accolades and to tolerate or deny terrible crimes.


Rogue States


The British used chemical weapons in their 1919 intervention in North Russia against the Bolsheviks, with great success, according to the British command. As Secretary of State at the War Office in 1919, Winston Churchill was enthusiastic about the prospects of "using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes"-Kurds and Afghans-and authorized the RAF Middle East command to use chemical weapons "against recalcitrant Arabs as [an] experiment," dismissing objections by the India office as "unreasonable" and deploring the "squeamishness about the use of gas": "We cannot in any circumstances acquiesce in the non-utilization of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier," he explained; chemical weapons are merely "the application of western science to modern warfare."

The Kennedy administration pioneered the massive use of chemical weapons against civilians as it launched its attack against South Vietnam in 1961-62. There has been much rightful concern about the effects on US soldiers, but not the incomparably worse effects on civilians. Here, at least. In an Israeli mass-circulation daily, the respected journalist Amnon Kapeliouk reported on his 1988 visit to Vietnam, where he found that "thousands of Vietnamese still die from the effects of American chemical warfare," citing estimates of one-quarter of a million victims in South Vietnam and describing the "terrifying" scenes in hospitals in the South, where children were dying of cancer and hideous birth deformities. It was South Vietnam that was targeted for chemical warfare, not the North, where these consequences are not found, he reports. There is also substantial evidence of US use of biological weapons against Cuba, reported as minor news in 1977, and at worst only a small cotinuing US terror.

These precedents aside, the US and UK are now engaged in a deadly form of biological warfare in Iraq. The destruction of infrastructure and banning of imports to repair it has caused disease, malnutrition, and early death on a huge scale, including more than 500,000 children, according to UNICEF investigations-an average of 5,000 children dying each month. In a bitter condemnation of the sanctions on January 20, 1998, 54 Catholic bishops quoted the archbishop of the southern region of Iraq, who reports that "epidemics rage, taking away infants and the sick by the thousands," while "those children who survive disease succumb to malnutrition." The bishops' statement, reported in full in Stanley Heller's journal The Struggle, received scant mention in the press. The US and Britain have taken the lead in blocking aid programs-for example, delaying approval for ambulances on the grounds that they could be used to transport troops, and barring insecticides for preventing the spread of disease and spare parts for sanitation systems.


Crisis in the Balkans

Every year thousands of people, mostly children and poor farmers, are killed in the Plain of Jars in Northern Laos, the scene of the heaviest bombing of civilian targets in history, it appears, and arguably the most cruel: Washington's furious assault on a poor peasant society had little to do with its wars in the region. The worst period was after 1968, when Washington was compelled to undertake negotiations (under popular and business pressure), ending the regular bombardment of North Vietnam. Kissinger and Nixon then shifted the planes to the task of bombarding Laos and Cambodia.

The deaths are from "bombies," tiny anti-personnel weapons, far worse than land mines: they are designed specifically to kill and maim, and have no effect on trucks, buildings, etc. The Plain was saturated with hundreds of millions of these criminal devices, which have a failureto-explode rate of 20 30 percent, according to the manufacturer, Honeywell. The numbers suggest either remarkably poor quality control or a rational policy of murdering civilians by delayed action. This was only a fraction of the technology deployed, which also included advanced missiles to penetrate caves where families sought shelter. Current annual casualties from "bombies" are estimated from hundreds a year to "an annual nationwide casualty rate of 20,000," more than half of them deaths, according to the veteran Asia reporter Barry Wain of the, Wall Street Journal-in its Asia edition. A conservative estimate, then, is that the crisis this year is approximately comparable to Kosovo, though deaths are far more highly concentrated among children-over half, according to studies reported by the Mennonite Central Committee, which has been working in Laos since 1977 to alleviate the continuing atrocities.

There have been efforts to publicize and deal with the humanitarian catastrophe. A British-based Mine Advisory Group (MAG) is trying to remove the lethal objects, but the US is "conspicuously missing from the handful of western organizations that have followed MAG," the British press reports, though it has finally agreed to train some Laotian civilians. The British press also reports, with some annoyance, the allegation of MAG specialists that the US refuses to provide them with "render harmless procedures" that would make their work "a lot quicker and a lot safer." These remain a state secret, as does the whole affair in the United States. The Bangkok press reports a very similar situation in Cambodia, particularly the eastern region, where US bombardment after early 1969 was most intense.

In this case, the US reaction is (II): do nothing. And the reaction of the media and commentators is to keep silent, following the norms under which the war against Laos was designated a "secret war"-meaning well-known, but suppressed, as was also in the case of Cambodia from March 1969. The level of self-censorship was extraordinary then, as is ~ the current phase.

The. contempt of the world's leading power for the framework of world order has become so extreme that there is little left to discuss. While the Reaganites broke new ground, under Clinton the defiance of world order has become so extreme as to be of concern even to hawkish policy analysts. In the leading establishment journal Foreign A~airs, Samuel Huntington warns that Washington is treading a dangerous course. In the eyes of much of the world-probably most of the world, he suggests- the US is "becoming the rogue superpower," considered "the single greatest external threat to their societies." Realist "international relations theory," he argues, predicts that coalitions may arise to counterbalance the rogue superpower. On pragmatic grounds, then, the stance should be reconsidered. Americans who prefer a different image of their society might have other grounds for concern over these tendencies, but they are probably of little concern to planners, with their narrower focus and immersion in ideology

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Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 11:54 am
JTT wrote:

This forever puts to rest the seriously misguided notion that the USA is in it for the oppressed of the world.

I've never known anyone and I doubt there is anyone in the history of the world who believed the USA is in it for the oppressed of the world.
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 12:00 pm
I made a similar statement recently and ended up eating my words. They do, in fact, exist. Or, even worse in my not so humble opinion, those who don't care why we're in it at all, but simply feel that we're entitled to take whatever we want. They exist too.
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Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 12:21 pm
I've never known anyone and I doubt there is anyone in the history of the world who believed the USA is in it for the oppressed of the world.

Engineer! It's a constant theme that issues from the mouth of practically any politician that speaks to these issues. It was a major theme when the WMD story started to go south. Hollywood movies are replete with this nonsense.

Perhaps you're so used to it, it doesn't even register.

Regardless, that really isn't the major issue here, is it?
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 12:29 pm
Did you miss this, E?

Quite the contrary. The US is hailed as the leader of the "enlightened states" that are entitled to resort to violence as they see fit. In the Clinton years its foreign policy has ascended to a "noble phase" with a "saintly glow" (according to the New York Times), as America is "at the height of its glory," with a record unsullied by international crimes, only a few of which have been mentioned.

It was in the second post I made. It's hardly an uncommon sentiment and it's often expressed.
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Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 03:58 pm
Kind, benevolent ole Uncle Sam, eh? What a guy!

Cuba and U.S. government

excerpted from the book

Rogue States

The Rule of Force in World Affairs

by Noam chomsky

South End Press, 2000, paper

Cuba and US government

Cuba and the United States have quite a curious-in fact, unique- status in international relations. There is no similar case of such a sustained assault by one power against another-in this case the greatest superpower against a poor, Third World country-for 40 years of terror and economic warfare

In fact, the fanaticism of this attack goes back a long, long time. From the first days of the American Revolution the eyes of the founding fathers were on Cuba. They were quite open about it. It was John Quincy Adams, when he was secretary of state, who said our taking Cuba is "of transcendent importance" to the political and commercial future of the United States. Others said that the future of the world depended on our taking Cuba. It was a matter "of transcendent importance" from the beginning of US history, and it remains so. The need to possess Cuba is the oldest issue in US foreign policy.

The US sanctions against Cuba are the harshest in the world, much harsher than the sanctions against Iraq, for example. There was a small item in the New York Times recently that said that Congress is passing legislation to allow US exporters to send food and medicine to Cuba. It explained that this was at the urging of US farmers. "Farmers" is a euphemism that means "US agribusiness"-it sounds better when you call them "farmers." And it's true that US agribusiness wants to get back into this market. The article didn't point out that the restriction against the sale and export of food and medicines is in gross violation of international humanitarian law. It's been condemned by almost every relevant body. Even the normally quite compliant Organization of American States, which rarely stands up against the boss, did condemn this as illegal and unacceptable.

US policy towards Cuba is unique in a variety of respects, first of all because of the sustained attacks, and secondly because the US is totally isolated in the world-in fact, 100 percent isolated, because the one state that reflexively has to vote with the United States at the UN, Israel, also openly violates the embargo, contrary to its vote.

The United States government is also isolated from its own population. According to the most recent poll I've seen, about two-thirds of the population in the United States is opposed to the embargo. They don't take polls in the business world, but there's pretty strong evidence that major sectors of the business world, major corporations, are strongly opposed to the embargo. So the isolation of the US government is another unusual element. The US government is isolated from its own population, from the major decisionmakers in this society, which largely control the government, and from international opinion, but is still fanatically committed to this policy, which goes right back to the roots of the American republic.

Cuba has brought out real hysteria among planners. This was particularly striking during the Kennedy years. The internal records from the Kennedy administration, many of which are available now, describe an atmosphere of what was called "savagery" and "fanaticism" over the failure of the US to reconquer Cuba. Kennedy's own public statements were wild enough. He said publicly that the United States would be swept away in the debris of history unless it reincorporated Cuba under its control.

In 1997 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the European Union brought charges against the United States for blatant, flagrant violation of WTO rules in the embargo, the US rejected its jurisdiction, which is not surprising, because it rejects the jurisdiction of international bodies generally. But the reasons were interesting. It rejected its jurisdiction on the grounds of a national security reservation. The national security of the United States was threatened by the existence of Cuba, and therefore the US had to reject WTO jurisdiction. Actually, the US did not make that position official, because it would have subjected itself to international ridicule, but that was the position, and it was publicly stated, repeatedly. It's a national security issue; we therefore cannot consider WTO jurisdiction.

You'll be pleased to know that the Pentagon recently downgraded the threat of Cuban conquest of the United States. It's still there, but it's not as serious as it was. The reason, they explained, is the deterioration of the awesome Cuban military forces after the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union stopped supplying them. So we can rest a little bit easier; we don't have to hide under tables the way we were taught to do in first grade. This elicited no ridicule when it was publicly announced, at least here. I'm sure it did elsewhere; you might recall the response of the Mexican ambassador when John F. Kennedy was trying to organize collective security in defense against Cuba back in the early '60s in Mexico: the ambassador said he would regretfully have to decline because if he were to tell Mexicans that Cuba was a threat to their national security, 40 million Mexicans would die laughing.

This hysteria and fanaticism is indeed unusual and interesting, and it deserves inquiry and thought. Where does it come from? The historical depth partly explains it, but there's more to it than that in the current world. A good framework within which to think of it is what has now become the leading thesis in intellectual discourse, in serious journals especially. It's what's called the "new humanism," which was proclaimed by Clinton and Blair and various acolytes with great awe and solemnity. According to this thesis, which you read over and over, we're entering a glorious new era, a new millennium. It actually began 10 years ago when the two enlightened countries, as they call themselves, were freed from the shackles of the Cold War and were therefore able to rededicate themselves with full vigor to their historic mission of bringing justice and freedom to the suffering people of the world and protecting human rights everywhere, by force if necessary-something they were prevented from doing during the Cold War interruption.

That renewal of the saintly mission is quite explicit; it's not left to the imagination. Clinton gave a major speech at the Norfolk Air Station on April I, 1999, explaining why we have to bomb everybody in sight in the Balkans. He was introduced by the secretary of defense, William Cohen, who opened his remarks by reminding the audience of some of the dramatic words that had opened the last century. He cited Theodore Roosevelt, later to be president, who said that "unless you're willing to fight for great ideals, those ideals will vanish." And just as Theodore Roosevelt opened the century with those stirring words, William Clinton, his successor, was closing the century with the same stand.

That was an interesting introduction for anyone who had taken a course in American history, that is, a real course. Theodore Roosevelt, as they would have learned, was one of the most extraordinary racist, raving lunatics of contemporary history. He was greatly admired by Hitler, and for good reason. His writings are shocking to read. He won his fame through participation in the US invasion of Cuba. By 1898 Cuba had essentially liberated itself from Spain after a long struggle, but the US wasn't having any of that, so it invaded to prevent the independence struggle from succeeding. Cuba was quickly turned into what two Harvard professors, the editors of the recent Kennedy Tapes, call "a virtual colony" of the United States, as it remained up until 1959. It's an accurate description. Cuba was turned into a "virtual colony" after the invasion, which was described as a humanitarian intervention, incidentally.

At that time, too, the United States was quite isolated. The United States government was isolated, of course, from the Cuban people, but it was also isolated from the American population, who were foolish enough to believe the propaganda and were overwhelmingly in favor of Cuba libre, not understanding that that was the last thing in the minds of their leaders-or, from another point of view, the first thing in their minds, because they had to prevent it.

The noble ideals that Roosevelt was fighting for were in fact those, in part: to prevent independence through humanitarian intervention. However, at the time he actually spoke, in 1901 or so, the values that we had to uphold by force were being demonstrated far more dramatically elsewhere than in Cuba, namely in the conquest of the Philippines. That was one of the most murderous colonial wars in history, in which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were slaughtered. The press recognized that it was a massive slaughter, but advised that we must continue to kill "the natives in English fashion," until they come to "respect our arms" and ultimately to respect our good intentions. This was also a so-called humanitarian intervention.

Every one of these 1898 actions and what followed was connected in some fashion or another, usually quite explicitly, to this long-term objective. This includes the so-called Theodore Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which formally established the US right to rule the Caribbean. The repeated invasions of Nicaragua, Woodrow Wilson's very bloody invasions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti-particularly ugly in Haiti because it was also suffused by extreme racism (Haiti will never recover from that and in fact may not be habitable in a couple of decades)-and many other actions in that region were all part of the new humanism, which we're now reviving.

Probably the major achievement was in Venezuela, where in 1920 Woodrow Wilson succeeded in kicking out the British enemy, at that time weakened by the First World War. Venezuela was extremely important. The world was shifting to an oil-based economy at the time. North America, mainly the US, was by far the major producer of oil, and remained so until about 1970, but Venezuela was an important oil resource, one of the biggest in the world-in fact, the biggest single exporter until 1970, and still the biggest exporter to the United States. So kicking the British out of there was very important. Venezuela also had other resources, such as iron, and US corporations enriched themselves in Venezuela for decades-and still do-while the US supported a series of murderous dictators to keep the people in line.

The "Kennedy tapes," the secret tapes of the Cuban missile crisis, are not all that revealing since almost everything in there had already come out in one way or another, but they do reveal a few new things. One of the new things is an explanation of one of the reasons the Kennedy brothers, Robert and John F., were concerned about missiles in Cuba. They were concerned that they might be a deterrent to a US invasion of Venezuela, which they thought might be necessary because the situation there was getting out of hand. Missiles in Cuba might deter an invasion. Noting that, John F. Kennedy said that the Bay of Pigs was right. We're going to have to make sure we win; we can't face any such deterrent to our benevolence in the region. After the missile crisis, contrary to what's often said, the US made no pledge not to invade Cuba. It stepped up the terrorism, and of course the embargo was already in place and imposed more harshly, and so matters have essentially remained.

The Castro Threat

... Cuba was a virtual colony of the United States until January 1959; it didn't take long before the wheels started turning again. By mid- 1959-we now have a lot of declassified records from that period, so the picture's pretty complete-the Eisenhower administration had determined informally to reconquer Cuba. By October 1959 planes based in Florida were already bombing Cuba. The US claimed not to be able to do anything about it, and has remained "helpless" throughout the most recent acts of terrorism, which are traceable to CIA-trained operatives, as usual.

In March 1960 the Eisenhower administration secretly made a formal decision to conquer Cuba, but with a proviso: it had to be done in such a way that the US hand would not be evident. The reason for that was because they knew it would blow up Latin America if it were obvious that the US had retaken Cuba. Furthermore, they had polls indicating that in Cuba itself there was a high level of optimism and strong support for the revolution; there would obviously be plenty of resistance. They had to overthrow the government, but in such a way that the US hand would not be evident.

Shortly after that, the Kennedy administration came in. They were very much oriented towards Latin America; just before taking office Kennedy had established a Latin American mission to review the affairs of the continent. It was headed by historian Arthur Schlesinger. His report is now declassified. He informed President Kennedy of the results of the mission with regard to Cuba. The problem in Cuba, he said, is "the spread of the Castro idea of taking matters into one's own hands." He said, that is an idea that has a great deal of appeal throughout Latin America, where "the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes . . . [and] the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now I demanding opportunities for a decent living." That's the threat of Castro. That's correct. In fact, if you read through the record of internal planning over the years, that has always been the threat. The Cold War is a public pretext. Take a look at the record; in case after case, it's exactly this. Cuba is what was called a "virus" that might infect others who might be stimulated by "the Castro idea of taking matters into [their] own hands" and believing that they too might have a decent living.

The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. That ended the Cold War as far as any sane person was concerned.

... A month after the fall of the Berlin Wall the US invaded Panama, killing a couple of hundred or maybe a couple of thousand people, destroying poor neighborhoods, reinstating a regime of bankers and narco-traffickers-drug peddling and money laundering shot way up, as congressional research bureaus soon advised-and so on. That's normal, a footnote to history, but there were two differences: one difference is that the pretexts were different. This was the first intervention since the beginning of the Cold War that was not undertaken to defend ourselves from the Russians. This time, it was to defend ourselves from Hispanic narco-traffickers. Secondly, the US recognized right away that it was much freer to invade without any concern that somebody, the Russians, might react somewhere in the world, as former Undersecretary of State Abrams happily pointed out.

The same was true with regard to the Third World generally. The Third World could now be disregarded. There's no more room for non-alignment. So forget about the Third World and their interests; you don't have to make a pretense of concern for them. That's been very evident in policy since.

With regard to Cuba, it's about the same. Right after the fall of the Soviet Union, the embargo against Cuba became far harsher, under a liberal initiative, incidentally: it was a Torricelli-Clinton initiative. And the pretexts were now different. Before, it was that the Cubans were a tentacle of the Soviet beast about to strangle us; now it was suddenly our love of democracy that made us oppose Cuba.

The US does support a certain kind of democracy. The kind of democracy it supports was described rather frankly by a leading scholar who dealt with the democratic initiatives of the Reagan administration in the 1980s and who writes from an insider's point of view because he was in the State Department working on "democracy enhancement" projects: Thomas Carothers. He points out that though the Reagan administration, which he thinks was very sincere, undermined democracy everywhere, it nevertheless was interested in a certain kind of democracy-what he calls "top-down" forms of democracy that leave "traditional structures of power" in place, namely those with which the US has long had good relations. As long as democracy has that form, it's no problem.

The real problem of Cuba remains what it has always been. It remains the threat of "the Castro idea of taking matters into [your] own hands," which continues to be a stimulus to poor and underprivileged people who can't get it driven into their heads that they have no right to seek opportunities for a decent living. And Cuba, unfortunately, keeps making that clear, for example, by sending doctors all over the world at a rate way beyond any other country despite its current straits, which are severe, and by maintaining, unimaginably, a health system that is a deep embarrassment to the United States. Because of concerns such as these, and because of the fanaticism that goes way back in American history, the US government, for the moment, at least, is continuing the hysterical attack, and will do so until it is deterred.

And though foreign deterrents, which weren't that effective, don't exist anymore, the ultimate deterrent is where it always was, right at home. Two-thirds of the population oppose the embargo even without any discussion. Imagine what would happen if the issues were discussed in a serious and honest way-that leaves enormous opportunities for that deterrent to be exercised.


Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 04:06 pm
The United States government is also isolated from its own population. According to the most recent poll I've seen, about two-thirds of the population in the United States is opposed to the embargo.

I found this interesting in a number of ways. First, it warms one's heart to the possibility that there are more American who care about others than just Foofie.

Second, is there no one at A2K that is to be found within that 2/3s?

Just kiddin', JPB, CI, ... .

Third, why do you suppose that this has gone on for forty years with these kinds of numbers against that government policy? Is democracy that useless, ..., what's the word I want ... oh you know what I mean.


Fourth, I wonder how many of that 2/3s would support the prosecution of those who have engaged in terrorist actions against Cuba, including their offspring?
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 05:35 pm
And this, Engineer? How is it possible that you didn't recognize the existence of such a commonplace idea in American thought and action.

It's what's called the "new humanism," which was proclaimed by Clinton and Blair and various acolytes with great awe and solemnity. According to this thesis, which you read over and over, we're entering a glorious new era, a new millennium.

It actually began 10 years ago when the two enlightened countries, as they call themselves, were freed from the shackles of the Cold War and were therefore able to rededicate themselves with full vigor to their historic mission of bringing justice and freedom to the suffering people of the world and protecting human rights everywhere, by force if necessary-something they were prevented from doing during the Cold War interruption.

And yes, FailuresArt, the UK is just as bad as the US, but it just isn't anywhere close to being as lethal, or dare I say, uncaring about what its troops do.

Perhaps if it had remained the toughest kid on the block, the US would have been spared its opportunity for carnage.

0 Replies
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 07:44 pm
I know you wouldn't want to miss this, JTT.
Reply Fri 22 Oct, 2010 10:15 pm
Thanks, FF.

I think I mentioned that given past behavior, there was little reason to not suspect that it was also happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

0 Replies

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