News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Quick Critique of The Resort to Force By Noam Chomsky

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.

Every country? How many sub-Saharan countries have this ability? Mauritania, Senegal, Zambia? How about the Americas? Guatemala, Belize, Surinam? How about Oceania? Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands, Fiji? In other words, probably half the nations of the world don't have the ability.

Intent is in the eye of the beholder? Nope, it's in the eyes of the beholders, i.e. elected officials, representatives of the people who are influenced by everything from political action committees to the press to voter mail.

George W. Bush and his cabinet did not attack Iraq, anymore than George found Jesus. Jesus was already there, and so was the will to hammer Iraq, long before George arrived in the Great White Jail, as Harry Truman called it. The market of ideas, 9-11, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the East African bombings, the Cole bombing, the failed 1995 Al Queda plot to explode fifteen 747's on the same day, US political culture, religion, his party, the right-wing intelligentsia, etc., etc., etc. resulted in a consensus that facilitated the decision to attack Iraq on G.W. Bush's watch. The US is not a person and is only nominally represented by a person. It is a democratic republic of 300 million people; not a sock-puppet nor the Great Satan.

Given the aggressive lunacy of the ruling regime in 1990's Iraq and its US enforced military weakness, someone was going to go in sooner or later. If not W, then another president. If not the US, then Iran, or someone else even. It was going to happen. There was a power vacuum in the region created by the US and fortunately it was filled by a democracy. And whether America or Germany went in, it's all the same to me. With democracy you have greater accountability and efficiency.

Chomsky has little patience for explaining events via impersonal systems when conspiracy theories, i.e. moral combats, have more appeal to his mostly suburban listeners whose primary grounding in reality comes second-hand at best, via the media primarily. Of course G.W. Bush explains reality via moral combats too, but then I would argue that the conspiracy theories of the Bible belt (angels, cherubim, seraphs vs. devils, demons, poltergeists, etc.) are simply the right-wing analogue to left-wing conspiracy theorists like Chomsky and Zinn.

Essentially this form of thinking, whether on the left or right, is primeval and a holdover from before the industrial revolution. Marx in the Communist Manifesto is explicit about the right type of moral values: The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left no other nexus between people than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

"...pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors'" - That's a great line. And who are those natural superiors? Marx, then Lenin, and now Chomsky. Hurrah! Hurrah!

The Luddites and Pennsylvania Dutch, with their prohibition of electricity and most technologies, would applaud. Hitler's Volkisch movement exhorted the same. Just different brands of the same moron millenarian.

This sort of fond reminiscing and daydreaming should have been abandoned generations ago by serious people across the board, and in the economic sphere (at least in the US) it has. But national cultures are inherently conservative (because most people lack curiosity, imagination and drive) and are thus almost always behind the times. A Chomsky of the Middle Ages would have worn a gown and tights, joined an arm of the Inquisition, and gone for a-burning witches and a-blaming minorities for poisoning wells, while shaking down their estates for loose change. The present minority scapegoat are the wealthy, i.e. the competent. In an earlier age, his scapegoat would have been the gypsies, i.e. the incompetent. Either way, in my immodest opinion, he's only interested in the popularity and fame his Nobel Prize failed to garner for him back in the 1960's and he'll advocate practically anything to stay in the limelight. Like Michael Moore he's a publicity hound. This doesn't detract from his arguments, but it does help explain why he advocates solutions that I find hard to believe he himself takes seriously. This is the guy who on the record first defended Pol Pot, then blamed the US for Pol Pot.

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.

But, post-2004, how can the Bush government prevent Iraq from becoming a democracy other than by letting the religious fanatics win? The United States is not Europe, where in several countries, such as France, bribes issued in foreign countries are tax-deductable. Since Watergate and the Church Committee Hearings, the United States polity has become much, much cleaner. I'm unaware of any American public representative found on the payroll of Saddam Hussein, unlike England, for example. While membership in a mafia organization may help one's electoral chances in parts of Taiwan, it hasn't anywhere in the United States since the 1970's. The reason the United States is such an economic and military power is primarily because it has much more effective economic system which renders it capable of having a much cleaner and more transparent democratic system. Socialism doesn't work: the more socialist the polity, the more dirty the politics you get. Starting with the transparency of US, one must take steps down on the trajectory of political hygiene to find England and Canada, farther down to find France and start digging if one wants to reach China.

I find it very hard to believe that the American public would tolerate a puppet regime in Iraq in this day and age. If you read the Guardian, I can imagine you might think otherwise. But if you're really curious, then check out MSNBC, Newsweek, the Washington Post and, most important of all

Here Chomsky paraphrases US foreign policy: "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."

What on earth are moral truisms? Moralities vary from society to society, aged age, economic system to economic system. There's no such thing as a moral truism and never will be. Was human-sacrifice a moral truism when most or all of our ancestors practiced it? Is capital punishment or its inverse a moral truism today? How about sharia, Muslim Law?

Here Chomsky quotes a fellow traveler: "Now it is Americans who live in infamy, he wrote, as their government adopts the policies of imperial Japan."

This is a rather unfortunate choice of descriptions for those of us living in Asia and having a knowledge of its history. Imperial Japan gave law and order, economic infrastracture, social welfare, and rising living standards to the people of Taiwan, Manchuria, South Korea, and so forth. It's military wing was often barbarous, as was Englands, as were the indigenous regimes they overcame; but both Japan's and Englands colonial administrations did often excellent work, work which far outdid that of the original indigenous regimes. If imperial Japan had succeeded in China, China's standard of living would have taken an astronomical leap upward beginning in the 1940s, as opposed to taking an astronomical leap downward as it did with its indigenous regime (i.e. Mickey Mao) in the 1950s and 1960s. In the end, the Japanese imperial regime would have slowly reinvented itself with Chinese characteristics. As history has shown again and again, China incorporates her conquerors and turns them into facsimiles of herself. Whether the Chinese spoke Mandarin, Cantonese, Fujienese or Japanese, they would have remained Chinese, just as the Taiwanese and Okinawans continued to resist Japanese influence. Just as American culture resisted England's, Hollands, and France's.

"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."

Surely the reason for the patrolling police had to do with September 11 and not March 11. And surely, September 11 and the bombing of embassies in Africa made the patrolling police an inevitability regardless of whether there was a bombing in Madrid or not. And does Noam Chomsky really believe that establishing a second democratic state in the heartland of Islam will encourage terrorism? Perhaps what he really believes is that establishing a second democratic state will rob him of talking points and weaken his application for beatification.

"Suicide attacks for the year 2003 reached the highest level in modern times; Iraq suffered its first since the 13th century."

First of all, I doubt this claim very, very much. Secondly, the United States is probably establishing the first democracy that Iraq has enjoyed in its history. Suicide attacks are no more acceptable as a method of political participation in a democracy in Iraq than they are in the United States. If suicide attacks broke out in the US to protest gay marriages, abortion-on-demand, or whatever, would this be acceptable to Noam Chomsky under the (dis)guise of multiculturalism?

"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."

In 1940, a similar widely held assessment would have been found amongst Allied military intelligence, etc. Likewise for Northern generals and military intelligence during the American Civil War as late as 1864 when Congress was discussing the drawing up of terms for an armistice with the South. This sort of thing means nothing because it is a war being fought and not a battle.

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.

Ahem, but Noam surely knows the statistics per American knowledge of national history. Most Americans are quite unaware of the violence that accompanied the conquest of national territory (i.e. the slaughter of Indians, Mexicans, British, Dutch, Spanish). Just as most Chinese cannot find China on a map of the world, most Americans don't know their history or geography either. Both are big countries, not threatened by anybody at the moment, and thus national history is simply not important to most people. Thus, there's no sense of the terrible cost nor any knowledge that violence may be provoked in response, because there's no legend of Indians defeating Europeans with the minor exception of General Custer, and which is most often viewed as comedy rather than a sensational defeat, as it was at the time.

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"

But all this does is put into words what is already taken for granted. Of course if you limit Russia's access to regions that are essential to its survival you are going to provoke some kind of military response (and not necessarily war, but simply a show of force or saber rattling or what have you). That goes for any country surely. The statement of the obvious in bold and astounding terms. A feather from Marx's cap?

A resolution to prevent militarization of space passed 174-0, with four abstentions: the US, Israel, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

Of course the US and Israel were opposed. After all, if a resolution was passed making democracy a right for the citizens of all countries, would this make it a reality? If you tried to deter a mugger by exclaiming that he was infracting your civil rights, would he cease and desist?
The problem is that eventually one or more non-democractic nations would pay lip service to the resolution while doing whatever they pleased on the side. Why on earth would it be in US interest to hobble itself in the development of space weaponry when it is no secret that other regimes will sooner or later move into this field and thus be in a position to threaten US interests. And what does a creepy term like US interests imply? You and I, muggins, because we live in democratic Taiwan courtesy of Taiwan being a US interest. How does it feel living in a puppet state? But where are the puppets? In Chomsky's conspiracy closet, under the skeletons.

Lunatics like Chomsky say there's one type of justice for the rich and one type of justice for the poor. And when you point out the 10 years of litigation that cost Microsoft and Bill Gates millions and millions in legal fees and resource down-time, they tell you that the case was politically motivated. And when you yourself, Joe Blow, become the object of a state lawsuit, the explanation is that you're being oppressed by an unfair legal system owned and operated by the elite. Perhaps you see the pattern: these clowns have a conspiracy theory to explain every event in the known universe. It's all so mysterious, so hush-hush: you're being oppressed, you just don't know it, yet...

If AsiaTimes is going to print Chomsky, why not go whole hog and print other wingnut political celebrities from America such as perennial US presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche who is endorsed by Ramsey Clarke and appears from time to time on CNN. I'm sure he'd be happy to provide exerpts from his master trilogy, Children of Satan: The Sexual Congress for Cultural Fascism. Or, if this is too hot for the family-format of, perhaps they could use some of the sophisticated forensic reportage of the legendary Sherman Skolnick, the Chicago justice-busting hero who's latest must-read report is entitled: GREENSPAN REPORTEDLY BRIBES AND AIDS BUSH IN GOLD SWINDLES, Part One

Biff Cappuccino

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