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Modern-Day American Imperialism: The Middle East and Beyond part 4

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Well, to learn about what the Cold War was about the obvious place to look is what happened when it ended. So, November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet Union soon collapsed. So what did the United States do? How did it react? I mean, the pretext for everything that had happened in the past was, y’know, the Russian monster— “the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy” attempting to take over the world, as John F. Kennedy called it. Well now the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy was gone so what do we do? Well, it turns out what we do is exactly the same thing but with different pretexts. And that was made clear instantly. A couple of weeks after the Berlin Wall fell, the United States invaded Panama, killing unknown numbers of people. We don’t count our victims. According to Panamanian human rights groups, maybe a couple of thousand people, bombing the slum—the El Chorillo slum. The Panamanians take it seriously. In fact, last December they once again declared a national day of mourning referring to the invasion, but I don’t think it even made the newspapers here. I mean, when you crush ants in your path, you don’t pay much attention to what they may have to say about it. But they invaded Panama and had to veto some Security Council Resolutions. The point of the invasion was to kidnap a kind of a minor thug, Noriega, who was kidnapped, brought to the United States, tried, sentenced to a long sentence—sentenced for crimes that were real. But he had committed them when he was on the CIA payroll, almost without exception—a small footnote. . But for that we had to invade Panama and kill however many people it was (a couple of thousand, probably) and install a government of bankers and narco-traffickers, and drug trafficking shot up, and so on. But it was a successful invasion and applauded here. It was kind of a footnote to history. This kind of thing the US does in its domains all the time, but it was a little different. For one thing, the pretexts were different. This time it wasn’t that we were defending ourselves against the Russians. It was we were defending ourselves against the Hispanic narco-traffickers who were going to come and shoot up our kids and destroy the country and so on. In fact, Noriega was a minor narco-trafficker who had mostly been working for the CIA. But he became unacceptable when he started dragging his feet on following orders. Like he didn’t participate enthusiastically enough in the US terrorist war against Nicaragua, and so on. So he obviously had to go. Well, one difference was that it had different pretexts. Another was that the United States was much freer to act. That was pointed out right away by Elliot Abrams, who is now back in office running Middle East affairs. He pointed out right away that the invasion of Panama was different from what had preceded because we didn’t have to be concerned about the Russians stirring up trouble somewhere in the world. We were free to use force without impediment. And it was a correct observation. It goes on right until today. Many of the violent acts that the US has carried out since then it would have hesitated seriously about if there was a deterrent. But now there are no deterrents anymore, so you do what you like. That was a change. Again, if you want to learn more about what the Cold War was about, have a look at the documents that were produced right afterwards. This is George Bush the First. In early 1990, he gave his new budget request. There was a new National Security Strategy, and they described what the post Cold War world would be. Turns out, exactly as before. We still have to have a huge, massive military force, and we have to maintain what they called the Defense Industrial Base. That’s a euphemism for high-tech industry. For the public and so on, you talk about our belief in free trade and free enterprise and so on, but anyone who knows anything about the US economy knows it’s based extensively on the state sector. High-tech industry is very largely created within the state sector, and it’s typically under a Pentagon cover as long as it’s electronics based. And that’s called the defense industrial base. So we have to maintain the huge public subsidy to high-tech industry called the Defense Industrial Base. We have to have a massive military. But it has different targets. As they pointed out, before this, we were aimed at a weapons-rich target: namely, Russia. Now we are aiming at a target-rich region: namely, the Third World. There aren’t many weapons, but there are a lot of rich targets there. So, that’s what we need the major military forces for. In fact, that’s pretty much what it was in the past, too, but now it’s openly conceded. With regard to the Middle East specifically, we have to maintain intervention forces directed at the Middle East. And then comes this interesting comment. We need the same intervention forces directed at the Middle East where the problems that we faced “could not have been laid at the Kremlin’s door.” Okay, so, sorry folks, we’ve been lying to you for the last 50 years claiming we’re defending ourselves against the Russians. But now that the Russians aren’t there, it turns out the problems couldn’t have been laid at the Kremlin’s door, which is correct. The problems were independent nationalism and they continue to be so. But now it’s said open and clear because the pretext is gone. We have to also be concerned now about what they call the “technological sophistication” of Third World powers. It’s a really overwhelming threat. Kind of like Hillary Clinton a year or two ago saying that if Iran attacks Israel with nuclear weapons, we’ll obliterate Iran. The chance of Iran attacking Israel with nuclear weapons is somewhere below an asteroid hitting Israel. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a nice throwaway line. But that’s the kind of threat we have to worry about. It’s kind of like Ronald Reagan in 1985 strapping on his cowboy boots and declaring a state of national emergency because of the threat posed to the national security of the United States by the government of Nicaragua, which was only two days away from Harlingen, Texas. So we really had to tremble in terror. Well, that’s standard. It had to increase after the Cold War with the main pretexts gone, and it has. This is all consistent with a conception of aggression that has developed through the period and right up to today—it’s very lively today. Aggression has a meaning, but that meaning doesn’t apply to us. For US leaders, aggression means resistance. So, anyone who resists the United States is guilty of aggression. And that makes sense if we own the world. So any active resistance is aggression against us. So when the US invaded South Vietnam in the early 1960s under Kennedy, Kennedy said we were defending ourselves from what he called “the assault from within.” The leading liberal light Adlai Stevenson described it as “internal aggression”— so, internal aggression by South Vietnamese against us, and of course we were there by right because we own the world. And that continues right to the present, so we’ll skip a lot of time, because nothing much changed, and come right up till today. So the big problem in the Middle East now, if you read the Washington Post a couple of days ago, is “the growing aggressiveness of Iran.” That’s what’s causing the problems of the Middle East. Well, y’know, aggression has a meaning. It means sending your armed forces into the territory of some other state. The latest case of Iranian aggression is a couple of centuries ago, unless we count Iranian aggression carried out under the Shah, which we approved of. A tyrant who we imposed conquered a couple of Arab islands, but that was okay. But, nevertheless, we have to defend ourselves against Iranian aggression in Iraq, in Lebanon, and in Gaza, where Iran is carrying out aggression— meaning people there are doing things we don’t like. And Russia isn’t around, so we’ll blame it on Iran. That’s aggression. And there’s even a lot of discussion about aggression inside Iraq carried out by the renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. If you read the press, you might get the idea that Muqtada’s first name is renegade. There’s hardly a reference to him that doesn’t talk about “the renegade Muqtada al-Sadr.” Why is he a renegade? Well, he opposes the US invasion of his country. Okay, that makes him a renegade or a radical—obviously. And that’s routine. Nobody questions that. It’s kind of a reflexive description.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 55 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 56
Posted by: sgentile on Apr 20, 2010

Discours énoncé par Noam Chomsky à l’Université de Boston le 17 mars 2009. Transcription par Steve Lyne

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