Monday, December 31, 2007

The Press Conference at the United Nations on June 5, 2006

The Press Conference at the United Nations on June 5, 2006

This is an excerpt of a two-hour press conference Chomsky gave at the United Nations about a month before the 2006 US-Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The transcript on its Latin America part is available here.

On Hizbullah

21:18 Q: You seem to talk a lot about international law in this book and in other books. There is a Security Council resolution 1559 on Lebanon, which calls on all militias to be disarmed. You recently visited Hizbullah, can you tell us what you think of Hizbullah in that light, and does it violate the Security Council resolution and international law?

NC: Hizbullah doesn’t violate it but the government of Lebanon does. The government of Lebanon has been unwilling to implement that component of the Security Council resolution. Should they implement it? Well, you know, that’s up to the Lebanese. Hizbullah is a major political party in Lebanon. In the south, it has allegedly about 80% support and the rest of the support is mostly to Amal, which has very similar programs. The polls indicate that a majority of the population does not think that they should disarm. But that’s for them to decide. It’s for the government of Lebanon, not-- (Q: --- international law?) If you think that the government of Lebanon is violating international law, then convince the Security Council to sanction them.

Q: …call on all the militias to be disarmed, (NC: Yeah, that’s right) only Lebanon…[hard to hear because the questioner spoke without a microphone]

NC: Yes, but militias are not responsive to any more than I am. If the Security Council says that-- (Q: renounce …) If the Security Council passes a resolution saying that I should move to some other part of the city, I don’t have to do it. That’s up to… (Q: Isn’t it violating international law?) No, because an individual doesn’t violate international law. International law is imposed on states. OK? And states can observe international law, or like the United States and Britain and others, it can radically violate international law. It’s up to the people of Lebanon and the government of Lebanon to decide whether they want Hizbullah to disarm.

Q: …
(inaudible) Iran and Syria violating international law?

NC: The states might, if you have credible evidence just as the United States radically violates international law by providing massive arms to… (Q: inaudible) Yes, I understand what you want. [note: Chomsky now talking directly to the questioner] You want to concentrate on some minor footnote in the whole story. And I suggest that we look at the whole story.
All right, turning to your minor footnote-yes, which is natural for someone who accepts and adopts and wants to pursue the policies of powerful states-turning to that minor footnote, whether Hizbullah should disarm is a matter for the people of Lebanon to decide. They have a semi-democratic government, very sectarian but it’s got democratic forms. And if they decide that Hizbullah should disarm, yes, then it should disarm.

Why aren’t they doing it? Well, there is a reason. You may not want to think about it, but the Lebanese think about it. The reason is that they know very well that a guerrilla formation in southern Lebanon is the only potential deterrent to yet another US-backed Israeli invasion. There have been four US-backed Israeli invasions since 1978, violent and brutal ones. They were finally driven out after 22 years of occupying southern Lebanon in violation of Security Council resolutions. And they were driven out by guerrilla warfare. And the retaining, remaining potential for guerrilla warfare is the only deterrent for another invasion.
Well, should Lebanon decide that they need a deterrent? Yeah, it’s up to them to decide. It’s up to them to decide. (Q: --- international law?) If they are violating a Security Council resolution, then they should be treated exactly the way the US and Israel are treated when they radically violates Security Council resolutions. So, for example, if you really think that the Security Council resolution should be enforced, then, yeah, I’m with you. But let’s take the big cases first.

So, for example, start with the UN Charter, which is the foundation of modern international law. It calls aggressive war the supreme crime. That’s the Nuremburg principle accepted by the United Nations. Aggression is the supreme international crime. Gross violation of the UN Charter. So fine, let’s..... and remember supreme international crime “encompasses all the evil that follows,” right? That’s the Nuremburg decision accepted by the UN-- so fine, let’s start punishing the serious violators of international law, like the countries, the people sitting in the White House. Yeah, I think that international law should be enforced. And we can go down for a whole series of other violations.

So, for example, I thought the UN resolutions calling for, Security Council resolutions calling for Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon should have been enforced for 22 years. But they weren’t. And I’m sure you didn’t care about it. Or if you did, let me know. That should have been enforced. They finally did withdraw under guerrilla warfare.

The separation wall, which is part of the annexation program of the West Bank, has been declared illegal by a unanimous judgment of the World Court including the US justice, contrary to what you may believe-- if you read his independent declaration, you’ll say that he agrees with that-- so that’s a unanimous declaration of the World Court. Yeah, that’s binding in international law. That should be enforced. Instead, people like us are helping to violate that law by supporting the annexation program and the US and tacitly European Union support for it.

So sure, I would like to see all international law enforced but if we’re going to be serious about it, we don’t just take some toothpick on a mountain which happens to conform to power interests in the powerful states, and say "OK, let’s focus on that."
What we do is look at the whole picture. Start with the serious cases. Then when we get down to the toothpicks on the mountain, we can pay some attention to them, also paying some attention to the reasons why probably a majority of the population of Lebanon thinks they need a deterrent.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Q and A at University of Sussex part3 ( June, 2007)

3a On Climate Change and water wars in Palestine

Q: I’d like you to comment on the issue of climate change which some people saying is changing very rapidly into climate disaster not in a hundred years but in maybe a few decades. What kind of impact that’s going to have on our capitalism, on our late western capitalism, and all the things that are linked to it, like the war on terror and issues that come out of it, like the terrible competition that will be for dwindling resources and energy as climate change bites? Thank you.

Chomsky: Well, of course, that’s a major issue right now even at the G8 meeting. By now, I think, there is very little doubt that human activity is significantly impacting the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of certain outer particle matter and so on, which is heating the earth probably to dangerous levels, maybe the catastrophic levels. These are called non-renewal processes, a small change can lead to a massive effect.
And it could happen suddenly. It could be delayed but it’s likely to be significant and severe. As usual, the major victims will be the poorest, the poorest people. It’s expected that the worst effects will be in places like sub-Saharan Africa or Bangladesh or arable areas of Pakistan and so on. They are near the-- many small countries might just disappear, go under water.
The richer countries will, as usual, find certain ways to adapt, may even partially benefit. So Canada is looking forward to opening the Northwest Passage, and declaring sovereignty which it never cared about before because it was ice field. But the effects will certainly be significant and one thing we can be confident about is that the longer we delay doing something about it, the worse it is going to be.

Well, right now the US alone is dragging its feet on doing something about it. This is incidentally another one of those cases and there are many, where – when we talk about the US, it’s kind of misleading, the US government is dragging its feet. The US population for years has been strongly in favor of taking aggressive action about this.
For example, the Kyoto Protocol was strongly supported by the population, rejected by the government-- both executive and Congress bipartisan-- rejected by the government, strongly approved by the population. In fact so strongly approved by the population that at the time of the 2004 presidential election, a majority of Bush voters thought that he supported the Kyoto Protocols. The reason, well, such an obvious thing to support that our man, this nice guy who you want to meet in a bar, then he must support them too.

Well, that tells you something about American democracy. For one thing about the elections, the public relations firms that run the elections are very careful to marginalize the issues, keep them off the table and to focus on what are called “qualities.” “Is he a nice guy?” “Would you like to meet him in a bar?” “Is he sort of friendly?“ so on and so forth, “Does he look straight in the eye?” that kind of thing. “Is he religious enough?” but not whether they stand on the issues. That’s too dangerous because the public disagrees on a host of major issues, mentioned a couple, with the elite consensus. So therefore you got to keep the public marginalized, and they are. This is one example.

What would the effects be? You know, we can’t predict in detail but we can anticipate that they will be severe. Will this lead to wars? Well, it’s already happening so we don’t have to predict that. The struggle and the conflict in Darfur for example, which is horrendous, is in certain respects, a global warming war. Regions that had been shared by farmers and nomadic groups are now declining, disappearing. There is struggle over territories and that’s leading to a lot of issues of atrocities. It’s not the only factor, others are, but it’s exacerbating the conflict in significant ways.

Take resources wars. One of them, we’re now-- right now in fact, it happens to be the 40th anniversary of one major resource war, namely Israel-Palestine. That’s a pretty arid area.
In one of the major water resources is the Jordan River, or what used to be the Jordan River. There isn’t much of Jordan River left anymore, it’s kind of a trickle, but it used to be a river. What happened? Israel intentionally hijacked the river. It took the weather waters fall down in a big rift into the river. They are simply picked up by the Israeli- which is called the National water carrier, a big pipeline goes down into Negev, and if you want to find the waters in Jordan, you look into the pipeline.
The 1967 war, to significant extent, had to do with control of water resources. That includes both the headwaters to the Jordan, and also the aquifer, a big aquifer which is under the West Bank and it’s sort of near the official border and Israel wants to use the aquifer. It had already been tapping into it before the 67 war. But after the 67 war, it controlled it. By now Israel controls the West Bank aquifer and you look at figures, I don’t have them in my head right now but the overwhelming majority of that water goes to Israeli Jews, not Palestinians.
In West Bank settlements, you find illegal settlements in the West Bank, you find nice long swimming pools, so on and so forth, plenty of water. In a neighboring Arab village, people may have to either get the water brought in in trucks which is prohibitively expensive or walk through three hours to a well somewhere up on the hills where you can get some water to bring it back home, is right next door. The same is going on in Gaza.

The current Israeli plans, and I should really be, to be accurate, they are US-Israeli plans. Israel can do nothing without the massive, diplomatic, military, economic and ideological support from the United States and the tacit agreement, silence of Europe, which goes along more or less, apart from a couple of words.

So the US-Israeli plans, the current ones, are to annex the regions which happen to control the West Bank aquifer. What’s called the separation wall, which is now an annexation wall officially, is intended to annex regions behind the wall which include much of the arable land in the West Bank and also are the kind of nice suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but also happen to control the water, the West Bank aquifer. You know, essentially, that’s only one piece of the annexation proposals. Israel is also planning to annex the Jordan Valley, in arable land in what’s left the water. So yeah, there was a water war 40 years ago, it’s now the 40th anniversary. We can expect a good deal more of such things.

Take the invasion of Iraq for example. Except for fanatics like Tony Blair and a lot of the press, it’s pretty obvious that A major goal, if not THE major goal was to control, to increase US control over the oil resources of the region. I mean that’s transparent.
But it’s more than that. Iraq also has water resources which are scarce in the region. That’s why Iraq was the great root of western civilization, Mesopotamia. It had ample water resources. And they are precious resource, are going to become even more precious resource in the future. Some of the things that are happening in Indian-Pakistan and elsewhere, it’s worldwide phenomena and that’s a serious problem.

3b On Jimmy Carter's book

The problem of utilization of water resources in the future is going to be very serious. And one of the anticipated environmental effects of global warming is to heighten these dangers to reduce them so we can expect, we already have had the water wars in addition to other resource wars. These things in -- exactly how avoidable this is, we don’t know. I mean some scientists argue that we’ve maybe even passed the critical point where there’s not too much we can do about it. But we can once again be confident that the longer the delay, the worse the effects are going to be primarily for the poor, as usual.

Q: Professor Chomsky, following up on what you said about Israel/Palestine, now Jimmy Carter, the former USA president recently in his book, he described this situation in Palestine as “Apartheid” system. To what extent do you agree on that?

Chomsky: There was a huge furor about Carter’s use of the word “Apartheid,” which is again pure cynicism. The term is used regularly in Israel. You can read it in the editorials of Israel’s leading newspapers and commentary by leading analysts and so on, referring to the West Bank. Actually there are things to be said about “Israel proper” but put that aside. The occupied territories are commonly described as a system of Apartheid. In fact some described it as much worse than Apartheid. Including Ronnie Kasrils, one of the leading, Jewish incidentally, south African opponents of Apartheid, a courageous man, minister of the government traveling in the West Bank and he says it was worse than Apartheid ever was. The use of the word Apartheid for the West Bank is at least appropriate and not controversial. And the hysterical reaction to it in the United States is a sign of the decline of democracy. In a functioning democratic society people ought to know that but it’s the kind of part of ideological sign of it.

What about the rest of the book? Actually he gave pretty an accurate description of what it’s like in the occupied territories, which is rare, that’s sometimes done but rare. The book actually had, there were hordes of people trying to find some error in the book to discredit it. There was article after article finding some trivial phrase you can misinterpret. There is actually one serious error in the book. But that’s been totally ignored. One serious error in the book is Carter’s reference to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. What he says is the invasion was taken in response to Palestinian terrorism in the north of Israel. Well, that’s the conventional line and it’s a total fabrication. All the documentation is fully available, was available in 1982 and 1983. There was a ceasefire, initiated by the United States incidentally. The Palestinians lived up to it. Israel didn’t. They continued regular attacks in Lebanon often killing lots of people in an obvious effort to elicit some PLO response, Palestinian response which could be used as a pretext for the invasion. If you want precision, there were two very light and symbolic retaliations, period. The rest of it was all Israeli attacks. Lots of it were reported in fact. Again, killing people, bombing and so on.

While they couldn’t get pretext for the invasion, they just invaded anyway with US support, killed maybe 15, 20 thousand people, destroyed a large part of southern Lebanon, all way up to parts of Beirut. Well, Carter repeats the conventional falsification about this, and that’s the one serious error in the book. But nobody has ever mentioned it because it’s considered appropriate to fabricate in support of state policy. So it’s very important principle, it has to be preserved, you have to have right to lie in support of state crimes. So that error is ignored.

There is also one major contribution of the book, which is also ignored. Carter I think is the first person in the mainstream, it’s been discussed in dissident circles, but the first person in the mainstream to report and give the evidence for the fact that Israel instantly rejected The Road Map of the Quartet. The Quartet is US, UN, European Union and Soviet Union, who established the so called Road Map, which is politely described as George Bush’s vision, as to how to proceed to resolve the conflict.

The standard line is that terrible Arab didn’t live up to the Road Map. In fact Israel instantly rejected the Road Map. And that’s quite important. One of the pretexts for strangling Palestinians, Britain and West Europe were involved in this too, punishing them for voting the wrong way in a free election in January 2006, severely punished them. One of the pretexts is that the party with a plurarity of votes, Hamas, doesn’t accept the Road Map. Well, it’s rather important that was Israel that rejected it instantly. How did they reject it? By… in a usual deceitful way that the government use, formally accepted it and it immediately added 14 reservations which completely eviscerated it. You can read them in the appendix to Carter’s book.
Actually they have been available for years, and people like me talk about it but never entered in the mainstream. Ok, it entered the mainstream with Carter’s book, that’s very significant. Right for today, I haven’t seen it mentioned of that. So the two the most important parts of this book, as far as I’m aware, aren’t mentioned.
One, what it revealed about this crucial matter of the Road Map-- when I say Israel rejected it, I again, mean the United States and Israel rejected it—Israel’s rejection was approved by the United States. So yes, the US undermined the Road Map that’s supposed to be Bush’s vision.

Those two, the most important contribution of the book and one serious error in the book passed without comment, which tell us something about our own intellectual culture, about our universities for example where intellectual culture is formed and developed.

There’s a principle which says it’s appropriate and in fact even noble to lie in support of state crimes. It’s criminal to tell the truth that would reveal the nature of state crimes. I’m purposefully exaggerating but not too much. And this is a clear example of it.

So, yes apart from this, Carter’s book was good, reporting things that ought to be known but that aren’t known. So it was therefore contribution. Speaking about public opinion again, it’s notable that though the book was bitterly lambasted in commentary in the press and editorials and so on, it was the top of best sellers.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Q and A at University of Sussex part2 ( June, 2007)

2 On Iran



2a Q: Just to refer back to your “Iran effect,” there’s been recent speculation both politically and in the media about Iran. Given its status in the Middle East and the power that it yields compared to Afghanistan or Iraq for example, how honestly realistic do you think a military strike against Iran by the US is likely to happen?

Chomsky: Well, we have no idea what planning is going on within the small one--by now pretty desperate--clique that is barely holing onto power in Washington. And if history is any guide, they have not informed British intelligence or their favorite allies about what they’re planning if they even know. We really don’t know. I mean one of the reasons for government-- its main reasons for government secrecy: you look through studied declassified documents and you do learn that there is a security interest all the way through. But primarily, it’s security against the domestic enemy. They don’t want their own population to know what they are up to because if people did know what they were up to, the chances are that they’d act and act in a dedicated fashion to prevent it. So, therefore you have to keep planning secret from the population, the domestic enemy. And that’s what’s happening now: we do not know the plans.

They are certainly issuing threats very publicly and openly, not only the words but even the actions. So, for example, the last couple of years, the United States has provided to Israel over a hundred advanced jet bombers openly advertised as capable of bombing Iran and returning. I don’t think a word about that has been published in the United States. But it’s public information, you can read it in the Israeli press and you can read it in military journals. Certainly Iranian intelligence knows it. Israel already has, according to its own estimate, air and armored forces that are larger and technologically more advanced than any NATO power other than the United States. It’s not because Israel is capable of doing that but it’s because by now it’s virtually the offshoot of the United States, particularly a military and high tech offshoot. That’s a serious warning to Iran. Furthermore, deploying major naval forces in the Gulf, right off shore from Iran is an obvious threat. I mean if Iran was deploying major naval forces in the English Channel or the Caribbean, you can bet that the United States and London would be pretty upset about it. In fact they’d go to war.

Capturing Iranian officials in northern Iraq, now that’s provocation. The United States is almost certainly --- we can’t prove it but the evidence is pretty strong --- carrying out, is supporting secessionist groups, the terrorist groups, in fact. In Iran recently, there was an attack from Baluchi based, Pakistani-based terrorists (…) groups are being supported and others, all that is very provocative. That’s all over and above the overt threat. I should say, if anyone cares, the overt threats to Iran are a crime. They are a major violation of the United Nations Charter, which outlaws the threat or use of force in international affairs. Threat of force is a violation of the Charter. It’s a violation of law. In outlaw states, like the United States and Britain where law doesn’t matter much. There is very little comment on that but definitely the threats are there and all of this could lead to just an accidental war.

The case of the captured British sailors is an example. There are no territorial boundaries in the Gulf that mean anything. You have naval forces there right next door to Iran. Yeah, you are likely to have an accident. And an accident can easily escalate and explode. So yes, there is a threat of war.
The question that we really should be asking, I think is “Is there a way to avert it?” Actually there is, a very simple way. You can’t prove that it will work but it’s certainly a good start: turn the United States and Iran into functioning democratic societies. You can tell me about Britain where I don’t know the details but I know them about the United States and Iran. You can find them out too.

Public opinion in the United States and Iran is very carefully monitored by the leading institution in the world that monitors public opinion: Program on International Policy Attitudes at University of Maryland. Find it on the Internet.
They did a careful study of Iranian and US opinion on nuclear issues. And very interestingly, they’re virtually identical.
In both countries, there’s the overwhelming majority --- in the United States, it’s 82% --- that think that all nuclear weapons should be abolished. What that means is that the nuclear states, like the United States and Britain, should observe their legal responsibility. And it is a legal responsibility determined by the World Court to take good faith efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and not to increase their nuclear capacities as the US and Britain are now doing but to move to eliminate them.
Well, that’s supported by 82% of the population in the United States and comparable figures in Iran. If that can’t be achieved, very large majorities in both countries think that the Middle East, the entire Middle East should be turned into a nuclear weapons free zone. That means Iran, Israel and US and perhaps British forces deployed in the region should not have any nuclear weapons capacity whatsoever. OK, that would be a step forward. 75% of the Americans think that all threats against Iran should be dropped and the United States should enter into diplomatic relations with Iran.

Incidentally, they think the same thing about Cuba. Again an overwhelming majority of the Iranians and the Americans think that Iran should have the right to produce nuclear energy just as every signer of the Non Proliferation Treaty does, but should not have nuclear weapons.
Well, you know, that’s the framework for an agreement. All that would be necessary is to turn these countries and I suspect the same is to Britain, you can figure that out, change these two countries so that they become functioning democracies. That is societies in which an overwhelming majority of public opinion can have an influence on policy.
Well, let’s even take something weaker: countries in which an overwhelming majority of public opinion can be reported in the media. So far as I’m aware none of this has even been reported though it’s obviously highly pertinent. In real democratic societies, it would be very significant. It’s there. You can find it on the Internet. You can find it in dissident – I’ve written about it, I give talks about it and other people do, but that’s kind of on the margins. Try to find it in the mainstream press. Do internet search. I don’t think you will, but try to find it. We certainly ought to be able to do something to make our own societies functioning democracies. The claim that we can’t do that is absurd.
Can we do anything to help Iran become a functioning democracy? The answer is yes, we can. We could listen to the pleas of the very courageous Iranian reformers and democracy activists who are pleading with the United States to call off the threats. That’s people like Akbar Ganji or Shirin Ebadi and the labor activists, people you don’t hear about, but some of the most important and courageous of them. They are saying drop the threats for a good reason which we can all figure out.
When you threaten a government, it’s going to react. If you threaten a government with attack and destruction, which is called politely “regime change,” what are they going to do? Especially when the threat is credible, I mean it’s not like say, Luxembourg issuing the threat. This is the world’s super superpower acting to make the threat very visible, like the naval deployments in the Gulf. How did they react? We know. We know how our own governments react when there are much more mild threats. You react with repression. And in the reactionary theocracy that dominates Iran they react with severer repression.

That’s why people are recently being jailed. I mean the West bitterly protests the imprisonment. Rightly I protested too, but I wish we recognized it as complete hypocrisy. Imprisonment is a predictable result of the actions that the US is taking with the approval of its allies to threaten Iran. It’s a predictable result and they keep telling us, if we want to hear. So yes, they reacted in the way and that’s the predictable consequence of our threats, illegal threats.

We can improve the circumstances for democracy promotion in Iran by doing what the overwhelming majority of Americans want: withdraw the threats. That will all leave some space for reformists and activists in Iran. And that’s what they are pleading for and that’s what we can do. No better source. So yes, we can act to improve the prospects for democracy in Iran so the Iranian public opinion will have an influence on public policy and we can certainly do in our own countries. OK, that leads out our steps towards alleviation of this crisis which could be a very severe one. If war breaks out either planned or accidental, it could be extremely severe.

Just recently, one well-known British military historian, Corelli Barnett said simply it’s going to be World War Three. Well, maybe, certainly it could have an enormous “Iran effect.” It could lead to indescribable consequences in Iraq and in the region. We might incidentally ask how people in the region feel. That’s also being studied.
In the Sunni states near Iran, the polls were taken, I think in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where they don’t like Iran very much. Nevertheless, a large majority of the population favors a nuclear armed Iran over any military action. Certainly we can know what Iranians think. So if public opinion made any difference to policy, whether in the region, in the United States, anywhere, there would be no steps towards war, no threats of war. Rather there would be steps towards improving the possibilities for peace. I don’t know if you want me to go into it, there’s not a lot of time but there have been recent revelations of options for negotiation. They’re quite serious. They were simply rejected by the United States and incidentally by the European Union.

Just to mention briefly in 2003, we now know that Iran approached the United States with proposals to negotiate all outstanding issues. Nuclear issues, a two state settlement for Israel/Palestine, which incidentally Iran supports contrary to what you read, everything. The US reaction was to censure the Swiss ambassador who brought the proposal. The end of that.

The following year, the European Union entered into negotiations with Iran and actually reached an agreement, a bargain. The agreement was that Iran would suspend the uranium enrichment which it is legally entitled to carry out, that’s agreed on all sides, but it was suspended. And in return, the European Union would provide “firm guarantees on security issues.”

Now the “security issues” is -- the term is well understood-- that refers to US-Israeli threats to attack Iran, which are of course illegal. So European Union, its side of the bargain was to provide those guarantees. Well, Europe didn’t live up to its side of the bargain probably under US pressure or so US experts on the topic argue. Anyway they didn’t live up to it. After that Iran withdrew from its side of the bargain. It’s not the way it was described in the West as Iran broke the agreement. Not exactly true. That continues.

The West adores President Ahmadinejad. Every crazy phrase comes out with big publicity. Ahmadinejad has nothing to do with foreign policy. That’s in the hands of his superior, Ayatolla Khamenei, who has—you don’t read his statements very often: for example, his statement that Iran supports the Arab League position on Israel-Palestine, namely a full normalization of relations with Israel within the framework of the international consensus on a two-state settlement, but the US and Israel have blocked for the last 30 years. I haven’t seen that reported. Actually you have a little bit, a couple of reports on the Financial Times, London Financial Times but it’s not on everyone’s lips.
And internal to Iran, if you read specialists on the topic, there’s plenty of controversy and openings. We could assist in positive developments if that were the goal. Just as actions could be taken to reduce the threat of terrorism, if that were the goal. If that was not the goal, of course you proceed with aggressive militarism which is very likely to heighten the tensions and the consequences which could be awesome.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Democracy Now! Japan

Democracy Now! JAPAN provides daily headlines and news summary of Democracy Now! translated into Japanese.
It also provides video streamings of the show with Japanese subtitle.
Chomsky is one of the regular guests of the show.
Amy Goodman's father George Goodman and Chomsky were campers together at a Hebrew Speaking Camp when they were young.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Q and A at University of Sussex part1 ( June, 2007)

Q and A at University of Sussex part 1 ( June, 2007)

1  On 9.11

Q: First, Mr. Chomsky, with their recent release of film such as “Loose Change” in 9-11 mysteries on the internet, do you think there's much way behind the claims that the US government had either inside knowledge or played a role of the attacks on 9-11, or these sideline theses may be anti republican propaganda?

Chomsky: There are two different versions of that theory. One is that the government had some information about 9-11, that an impending attack, and didn't do much to try to stop it or maybe anything. That's one idea. Another idea is that the government was actually actively involved in carrying out the terrorist attacks of 9-11.
Now, the first proposal is, first of all, in one version universally accepted. So, even if you look at the official 9-11 government report, it points out repeatedly that there were opportunities that were not taken to avert a terrorist attack. And in fact it goes back right into the Clinton years. So from—first, remember, that the first attempt to blow up the Word Trade Center was in 1993. And it came pretty close to succeeding. With the poor planning it didn't succeed. If it had succeeded with a little better planning, according to building engineers, it might have killed many thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands. And it was a much broader plot. It was an attempt to blow up the tunnels that link New York City to New Jersey across the Hudson River, blow up the FBI building and so on. It was aborted but barely. And ever since then, it's been pretty obvious that the country is vulnerable to terrorist attack.

There are technical books published through the 90s, by MIT Press for example, which are almost cookbooks of how to carry out a terrorist attack. And very little was done to avert this danger. The leading official in the CIA, who was responsible for tracking Osama Bin Laden, wrote several books anonymously but finally identified himself as Micheal Scheuer, has been very bitterly, writes bitterly about the failure of the Clinton and particularly the Bush administration to take steps that could avert a terrorist attack.
And incidentally, we know very well that Bush and Blair and their colleagues just don't care very much about terrorist attacks. We know this from what they’ve been doing in the last few years. And they are consciously acting in ways which increased the threat of terror significantly.

So, the invasion of Iraq, for example, was taken with the anticipation that it would probably increase terror and nuclear proliferation. We know that from the reports of--actually it was known at the time, but there's more now--from released reports of intelligence agencies from strategic analysts and others. And the dynamics are pretty clear.
Well, it did so. According to the latest study that just came out from two terrorism specialists, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank in the United States using mostly government data, the “Iraq effect,” as they called it, the effect of the Iraq war on terror was to increase it by sevenfold. It's quite an increase and focused on countries and places involved in the war. London is familiar with this despite attempts by Blair to deny the obvious. And that continues.

And I mean there are now threats to, serious threats to attack Iran. The “Iran effect” is likely to be far greater than the Iraq effect. We can give many other examples. It's not that governments want terror, they just, it’s not their high priority. Protecting their own citizens from terror is simply not a high priority. So it's not all that surprising that from 1993 up till September 11th 2001, there were very limited precautions taken to avert a threat of terror that was anticipated by intelligence agencies and so on.
So that version of the theory is, in a sense, not controversial and it’s the problem. The issue is much deeper than these theories indicate and goes right on till today.

As for the other aspect that the government actually was involved in planning and implementing the attacks, I think that lacks credibility. For one thing, they would have to have been almost insane to try anything like that. The chances of it—consider the range of conspirators that would have to be involved, the Airline companies and plenty of people in the federal government and so on. The chances of a leak would be substantial and the effect of the leak would be simply to line them up before firing squads and terminate the Republican party forever. Furthermore, it’s a really chancy operation. You wouldn’t know if it’s going to succeed.
If they were planning it, the planning would have had to be kind of half crazy. If the goal was to lay the basis for the invasion of Iraq, why not implicate Iraqis? Why implicate Saudis, therefore endangering the closest US relation with any country in the region, Saudi Arabia, which is where the oil is, the oldest most valued ally? I mean that would have been semi-insane planning. There is evidence proposed but I can’t review it here. But I suggest you take a careful look at it.

The evidence roughly is in two categories. Some of it is physical evidence, you know, arguments that the buildings couldn’t have fallen if they were hit by an airplane and so on. Well, you know, technical arguments have to be evaluated on their merits. It’s-- you can’t get this specialist knowledge required for evaluating them by spending an hour on the Internet. That’s why they have civil mechanical engineering programs at places like MIT and others. It takes some serious knowledge and understanding.

When proposals are made about an alleged discovery of concerning physical evidence, there’s a standard way to proceed: submit an article on it to a recognized scientific journal, scientific engineering journal. Then others can evaluate it. So far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been single submission, accepted to a real journal, that is.

The rest of evidences are kind of circumstantial. You know, odd coincidences, why didn’t this happen and so on and so forth. The problem that is, that’s the kind of evidence that you can accumulate just by any complex event. I mean by that kind of evidence you could probably prove that the White House was bombed yesterday. In fact that’s why scientists do experiments instead of taking video tapes of the world. Video tapes of the world are just too complicated, too many things happening. You can’t figure out, you can’t learn anything much from them. Even in controlled experiments, you do find odd coincidences, unexplained phenomena and so on. If you want to get a sense of that, take a look at the letters journal, the letters articles, the letters in any reputable scientific journal. And you find critical discussion of controlled scientific experiments that were reported in earlier issues which sometimes still turn out be wrong. So I’m not—I don’t think that this---the odd pictures are credible. The first one is not even debatable.

Friday, September 21, 2007

On the Situation in the Middle East August 20, 2006

Left Field (KCAA August 20, 2006)

The interview starts at 7:07.

Barry Gordon: First, we have one of the extraordinary minds of the 20th and 21st centuries. And he has agreed to give us some time to discuss what is going on right now in the Middle East. He was one of the signatories to a letter along with Harold Pinter and John Berger, Jose Saramago and others. There was a letter that was printed about the Israeli-Lebanese conflict. And it says, one of the paragraphs says that “Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.”
I want to warmly welcome MIT’s professor of linguistics and philosophy, Noam Chomsky to Left Field. Dr. Chomsky, thank you for joining us.

Chomsky: Glad to be with you.

Barry: You signed this letter and also you have a wonderful chapter in your book “Failed States” dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, in the letter and also in an interview that you gave, your position is actually that the provocation, the most recent provocation was not Hezbullah’s attack on the two military humvees that killed three soldiers in which two were captured, but was actually on June 24th, the Israeli capture of two Gaza civilians, Osama and Mustafa Muamar. Was that the beginning of this conflict in your mind?

Chomsky: No. The current escalation of violence began a day later, after Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit right at the border of Gaza, Israel border. That elicited huge outrage and which in support for a major escalation of Israeli attack on Gaza, you can see it just in the casualty figures, 36 Palestinians were killed in June, and that more than quadrupled over 170 in July but that was the beginning. The current upsurge of violence started then after June 25th. What’s striking and dramatic and teaches us quite a lot about ourselves, which is an important topic, is that there was no reaction to the capture of the two civilians the day before. Now, kidnapping of civilians is a far more serious crime than capture of a soldier by any criteria. Nevertheless, when that crime is committed by our side, there’s no reaction. And that’s standard.
Now let’s go to Lebanon as far as back, you know last February, months before this war, about 70% of Lebanese supported—you know, they’re not the supporters of Hezbullah, they supported capture of Israeli soldiers for prisoner exchange. Kidnapping of Lebanese has been a regular Israeli practice for decades, many of them held literally for decades, some as hostages. The Lebanese are not happy about that, there is no reaction in the West, we don’t make a fuss about it. Certainly, no one has ever suggested that Israel should be invaded and partially destroyed in response to this regular practice or in response to the kidnapping on June 24th. On the other hand, the West, the United States particularly and of course Israel, and the most of the West, regard capture of Israeli soldiers is a major atrocity which justifies the invasion and killing thousands of people destroying half of Lebanon and so on. While we may prefer not to see the cynicism and hypocrisy but you can be sure that other people will see.

Barry: Dr. Chomsky, you’re a professor of linguistics. I guess I want to ask you a question about language. What is a terrorist, how would you define a terrorist?

Chomsky: I have been writing about this for 25 years ever since the Reagan administration came to office declaring that war on terror would be a centerpiece of its foreign policy. What I’ve been using consistently and still do is the official US government definition of terror, which I think is perfectly fine, it’s a good definition. In brief, it’s “the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence” primarily against civilians in order to intimidate, coerce, affect on policy so on and so forth. That’s spelled out in more detail. That’s a good definition.
And one of the top counterterrorist specialists of the Reagan administration, Edward Peck, recently revealed that an internal discussion, they were having problems in the Reagan administration with this official definition because if you follow it, if you accept it, it follows almost at once that the United States is a leading terrorist state. And you can’t have that conclusion so they were having problems with this definition. And there have been similar problems for the last 25 years, efforts to revise that definition so it doesn’t lead to obviously an unacceptable conclusion. That’s impossible but the only way you can do is to say terrorism is terrorism that they carry out against us, but not terrorism that we and our clients carry out against them. You can’t be that honest so therefore there’s no definition to replace the official US government definition, which is very similar to the official British definition. But I use them consistently and I think they are pretty accurate definitions.

Barry: But it seems to me that the way we are treating all of this, as if you wear uniform you are not a terrorist, if you don’t wear uniform, you are.

Chomsky: No, that’s not the way we use it. So for example we don’t call, we are perfectly happy to call Iran a terrorist state. (Barry: That’s true.) We call Russia a terrorist state. I mean Cuba is on the list of terrorist states although its relation to terrorism primarily is that it’s the target of US terrorism starting 47 years ago. It’s not a distinction between states and civilians either as victims or perpetrators. The United States is the only state that’s been condemned by the World Court for what amounts to terrorism, unlawful use of force as the technical term. That’s either aggression or terrorism, giving Reagan the benefit of the doubt, it’s just terrorism. And we have no— in fact the Reagan war was against what they called “state-directed international terrorism,” terrorism by terrorist states. That’s why we have a list of states supporting terrorism.

Barry: Do we make a distinction, I don’t make a distinction, but do we make a kind of a fine distinction between terrorism in the sense that targets are generally civilians versus collateral damage in which the target is something else but a whole lot of civilians may get killed in the process?

Chomsky: Every aggressor makes that distinction. (Barry: Exactly.) And of course it’s meaningless. I mean if you bomb a city, who you’re going to hit?
In fact in this case, if you just take the case of Lebanon, there was a rather surprisingly strong a Human Rights Watch report, and an even stronger statement by its leading investigator International Herald Tribune, describing what he called just purposeful, conscious, attacks on, murderous attacks on civilians of a kind that he said he’d never seen in covering other wars, gave a whole list of other horrible wars. He also pointed out that they investigated carefully the pretense that Hezbullah was hiding its weapons in civilian areas, and couldn’t find anything except in a sense that the US and Israel actually accept namely that, since Hezbullah is deeply integrated into the population and had an enormous support among the population, then we’re all terrorists. So there are no innocent victims.

Barry: According to your book, we came very, very close to peace, not at Oslo but at Taba. (Chomsky: Right.) And of course there is the 2002 Arab League Declaration, which in essence, accepts a two-state solution, doesn’t it?

Chomsky: It does and in fact that the Palestinians said who agreed to that one had accepted it formally long before although it isn’t reported here. Iran accepts it. What they call “the Supreme Leader” Ayatolla Khamenei, who is Ahmadinejad’s superior, he’s the one in charge. He reaffirmed recently Iran’s support for the Arab League provision which you referred to, which is for full normalization of relations with Israel, if they agree with the two-state settlement.
Actually I had an interview with Nasralla, head of Hezbullah when I was in Lebanon a couple of months ago among a number of others. And he reaffirmed, I asked him specifically, he reaffirmed what he had said before that there were a couple of other people with me, elite scholars who can affirm this, he reaffirmed that Hezbullah doesn’t regard Israel as a legitimate state but if Palestinians accept two-state settlement, Hezbullah won’t disrupt it.
Hamas has indicated for a couple of years now its willingness to negotiate for a two-state settlement if the hostilities can stop. In fact it held to for a year and a half, it kept a ceasefire despite regular Israeli attacks. The only barrier to this, a serious barrier to this is the United States and Israel. It’s correct that you said that it came close to a settlement in Taba in January 2001. And in their final press conference, the two sides, Israel and Palestine, in the final press conference they said if they had a little more time they thought they could settle it. But Israel called off the negotiations four days early, and we don’t know whether there could have been an outcome.

B: Is there an Israeli peace movement? I mean I do read Gideon Levy and I’ve read Uri Avnery, there seem to be figures who are writing about the peace movement. But is it in fact active, because my understanding is that the army, the IDF basically has control of the minds and hearts of the Israeli people?

Chomsky: The two people you mentioned, Gideon Levy and Uri Avnery are fantastic. Gideon Levy is a regular reporter for Haaretz, major newspapers. My opinion of Gideon Levy is an outstanding reporter in the world, marvelous reporter and a person. And Uri Avnery has been an active, dedicated peace activist for decades. And there are others. Gush Shalom, which is sort of a peace group of.. however you translate, it is a substantial group not huge in numbers, but it’s an important group inside this society.
And there are others around them, I mean there’s women’s groups for example, very courageous and actively joining trying to protect Palestinians engaging in nonviolent resistance against the wall that’s cutting through the West Bank and provide food and so on. There are other groups like that. But numerically there -- in fact it varies with the times. You know for example, at the time of Taba, there’s probably a majority of the population who would have accepted the peace settlement in accord with international consensus. And that continues like a year later, after the Taba negotiation ended, the informal negotiations continued with pretty high level negotiators though not formal. And they reached a detailed agreement.
The Geneva Accord was released in December in 2002, which was, at least in my opinion, basis for real agreement, very close. It was ( ) a little… but it was very close. So that probably would have had the majority support in Israel. It was rejected officially by Israel and in the United States just dismissed. There were barely any comment on it.

Barry: My colleague on the show, Ellen Snortland has a question.

Ellen: Mr. Chomsky, just curious, the press in the United States, the mainstream press frequently leaves out important movements including women’s movements and peace. I’m just wondering the Israeli press, are they more open to exposing different points of view than the US press?

Chomsky: Oh yeah, no question about it. I mean for example, a couple of days ago I had a long interview in a very critical interview in the mass-circular, the most read mass circulation journal, pretty right-wing journal “The Yediot Ahronot “ and I had long interviews in the other mass circulation journal Maarive, even longer than Haaretz, That’s you know almost inconceivable here. And just an illustration, take someone like Gideon Levy. What he writes, try to take his articles and submit them to US journal.

Barry: I really want to thank you so much for spending some time with us here. It’s a critical, critical subject, I think it’s particularly a critical subject for the Jewish people. And I’ve taken part in a couple of rallies out here for a small group unfortunately, called LA Jews for Peace. I hope it expands, I know that they are great admirers of yours. And I really want to thank you and I hope you’ll join us again. We have a little more time because we have so much wisdom to draw from you.

Chomsky: I hope we can work it out.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Imminent crises: paths toward solutions

Imminent Crises: Paths Toward Solutions March 8, 2006
At Binghamton University

Professor Herbert Bix: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Herbert Bix. Before the evening lecture begins, I wish to say first of all, thank you to Peter Mileur, Dean of Harpur College of Art and Sciences. Thank you to the sponsoring organizations: the Binghamton Political Initiative, the Students for Peace and Justice, the Latin American Students Association, the Caribbean Students Association, the Black Student Union, the Fernand Braudel Center and the Women Center.
If you are opposed to the methods in the current paths of US foreign policy and if you want to change them, there are many things that can be done. Two simple ways of not keeping silent: to sign the petition that is being passed down the rows as I speak. And two weeks from today on March 19th, join the afternoon rallies against illegal wars and occupations at the Memorial Bridge at the Federal Building on Henry Street in Binghamton.
Now it is a great honor for Binghamton University and a joy for me personally to welcome Noam Chomsky, who needs no introduction. Let us applaud him for all the work he’s done for peace and justice over 45 years and for bringing the light of reason to so many world issues. Thank you.

Chomsky: Thanks. Herb’s timing was very good. It was exactly enough time to get me wired up. So you should be able to hear I hope.
The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern is naturally a subjective matter, but there are at least two that demand high priority because they are literally matters of survival.
One of them is the threat of the nuclear war and the second is environmental disaster both of which are very real.

One of the many respected strategic analysts warning of the increasing threat of nuclear war is a former NATO planner Michael MccGwire. Writing in Britain’s leading journal “International Affairs,” he warns that under current US policies, “a nuclear exchange is ultimately inevitable.” And unless these policies are sharply changed, “we’re virtually certain to see a return to nuclear arms racing, involving intercontinental ballistic systems and space-based assets reactivating the danger of inadvertent nuclear war,” with the probability that “will be extremely high.” Comparing the two crises that literally threaten survival, MccGwire has this to say “By comparison with global warming, the cost of eliminating nuclear weapons would be small. But the catastrophic results of global nuclear war would greatly exceed those of progressive climate change, because the effects would be instantaneous and could not be mitigated. The irony of the situation is that it is in our power to eliminate the threat of global nuclear war, but climate change cannot be evaded.”

Well, he’s right on both counts that means are available and are well-known to eliminate the threat of instantaneous nuclear destruction and while the timing of climate change can be debated, there’s no escaping the fact, unless maybe you’re in the White House, that the longer we delay in confronting it, the worse it’s likely to be.

These considerations bring up a third crisis. Namely the government of the world’s leading power is increasing the likelihood of the two threats to survival. And it’s important to stress government because the population does not agree, not very surprisingly.
So just take one example, the standard observation which you all read, that the United States is almost alone in rejecting the Kyoto Protocols is correct only if the phrase "United States" excludes its population, which strongly favors the Kyoto pact. In fact the support is so strong that the majority of Bush voters believe that he, too, favors US participation in the treaty because it is such an obvious thing to believe.

More generally, this is just one illustration of the fact that voters were seriously deluded about the positions of the political parties in the last election. In fact only 10% even knew what the stand was, 10% of the voters, and that’s not because of lack of interest or mental deficiency but because elections are designed that way purposely. Issues like these and there are many of them bring up the fourth crisis that should be of particular concern to us.

That is the very visible decline of functioning of democracy. More generally, the ominous drift of the world’s dominant power towards becoming a failed state. That’s a fashionable term. It’s conventionally applied to states that are regarded as enemies or portrayed as potential threats to our security or as needing our intervention to rescue the population, often by demolishing them in the process.

A primary characteristic of failed states is their inability or unwillingness to protect their citizens from violence. They are furthermore what are sometimes called “outlaw states” which regard themselves as beyond the reach of international law in norms of civilized behavior. And if they have democratic forms, they suffer from what’s called the democratic deficit, which deprives the formal democratic institutions of any real substance. It’s not hard to recognize those characteristics are painfully nearby. And more important, all of this is surely under our control, if we’re not content to observe passively and obediently. I’ll return to some simple steps at the end.

But the first step, transparently, is awareness and understanding. Without that we can’t proceed.
So to begin with the most serious and imminent crises, apart from specialist circles, very little attention is paid to the threat of nuclear war and more importantly, to our own world and escalating the threat. Now of course we can’t say the threat is unknown. We’ve just passed the 50th anniversary of an appeal to the people of the world by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, extraordinary appeal. They posed the choice that in their words is “Stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race or shall mankind renounce war?”
Well, war has certainly not been renounced in the last half century quite the contrary. By now the world’s hegemonic power accords itself officially the right to wage war at will under a doctrine of what’s called “anticipatory self-defense” with unstated bounds. As we all know, the doctrine is now being applied in Iraq and is being threatened in Iran.
The US is backed in that stance by “the spear carrier for the pax-Americana.” That's MccGwire’s term for Blair’s Britain in the journal of Royal Institute of International Affairs. For the warrior and the spear carrier, international law, treaties, rules of world’s order are double-edged. They’re sternly imposed on others with much self-righteous posturing, but they’re dismissed as irrelevant for themselves. Throughout history, that stance has been familiar among states that have or at least believe they have unchallengeable power. The consequences are also well known, but historical analogies don’t have much force, because the stakes now are so much higher, literally survival of the species.

MccGwire is not alone, he’s joined by many others in fact most specialists, in warning of the virtual inevitability of nuclear war.
One of them is Kennedy/Johnson Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who recalled that the world “came within a hair’s breath of nuclear disaster during missile crisis of 1962” and he goes on to say that the threat is once again severe. According to McNamara now, he warns of “Apocalypse soon,” unless there’s a sharp change in current US nuclear weapons policy which is “immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous,” creating “unacceptable risks to other nations and to our own.” Both the risk of “accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch” which is “unacceptably high” and is terminal, and of nuclear attack by terrorists. He endorsed the judgment of Clinton’s defense secretary William Perry, that “there’s greater than 50% probability of nuclear strike on US targets within a decade.” That’s referring to a dirty bomb, not the ultimate disaster.

The threats are well understood and they’re being consciously enhanced. The Iraq invasion is only the most glaring example. Harvard University strategic analyst Graham Allison reports what he calls “the consensus in the national security community” of which he’s been a part, that “a dirty bomb” attack is “inevitable” and an attack with nuclear weapon, a terminal attack, highly likely if fissionable materials which are the essential ingredient are not retrieved and if their further production is not terminated. I’ll come back to the crucial question of controlling production. On retrieving fissionable materials, there has been some success since the early 1990s. That’s under the initiatives of senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. But Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest put to the side their programs to avert inevitable nuclear terror just as they sideline the war on terror generally, so that they could devote their energies to driving the country to war and then their efforts to contain somehow the catastrophe that they created in Iraq.

In the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the ultimate in respectability and not given to hyperbole, two well-known strategic analysts warn that the Bush administration, military programs and its general aggressive stance carry in their words “an appreciable risk of ultimate doom.” The reasons are straightforward. “Pursuit of total security by one state entails the insecurity of others and they are almost certain to react. They’ll make use of the terrifying technology that’s being developed in Rumsfeld’s transformation of military,” which “will assuredly diffuse to the rest of the world” and in the context of “competition and intimidation,” the familiar action-reaction cycle creates “rising danger, potentially unmanageable one,” hence, transformation as currently being practiced carries “an appreciable risk of ultimate doom.”

The authors expressed the hope that the threat that the US government is posing to its own population and to the world will be countered by a coalition of peace-loving states led by China.
We’ve come to a pretty pass when thoughts like that are expressed at the heart of the establishment. What they imply about the state of American democracy is no less startling. So the authors don’t even consider the possibility that the American people could have anything to do about this. We’d have to wait for China to do it.
They bring up China because, as they point out, of all the nuclear states it “has maintained by far the most restrained pattern of military deployment.” Furthermore, China for some years has been leading the efforts at the United Nations to overcome the unilateral US refusal to reserve space for peaceful purposes. The Clinton administration refused to join the rest of the world, apart from Israel, in a renewal and extension of the outer space treaty of 1967 and they also immobilized the UN disarmament commission by barring any moves towards prevention of an arms race and outer space. And they gave the reasons explicitly, we should all know them.

Clinton’s Space Command called for “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment much in the way armies and navies did in earlier years,” but now with a sole hegemon which must develop “space-based strike weapons, enabling the application of precision force from, to and through space.” US intelligence and the space command agreed in the Clinton years that such measures will be needed because “globalization of the world economy” will lead to ”widening economic divide” along with “deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation.” Hence unrest and violence among the “have-nots” much of it directed against the United States. The US therefore must be ready for “precision strike from space as a counter to the worldwide proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” by unruly elements. That’s a likely consequence of the recommended military programs just as a “widening divide, deepening economic stagnation” and so on are the anticipated consequences of the specific form of international integration that is misleadingly called globalization and free trade in the doctrinal system.

The space program falls within the framework of the officially announced 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.” Notice that taken literally, that’s far more extreme than anything that comes out of the Bush administration. Clinton’s strategic command added to that that Washington should portray itself as “irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked” including the threat of first strike with nuclear weapons against non nuclear states. Furthermore, “nuclear weapons always cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict” that extends the reach of conventional power. That strategic doctrine is not new and it’s shared across the narrow political spectrum.
Though President Carter’s defense secretary Harold Brown had called on Congress to fund strategic nuclear capabilities because with them, “our other forces become meaningful instruments of military and political power” available for use throughout the Third World, he used such means only against defenseless targets of course.

It’s worth remembering that while Bush and company are extreme in their reactionary statist radicalism, they’re at the extreme of a dangerously narrow spectrum of the political class. That’s why all these things are kept quiet, there’s nothing the population are supposed to learn about, though technically they are public.

The threats are becoming much more serious as the Bush planners extend Clinton’s doctrine of control of space for military purposes to “ownership” of space which “may mean instant engagement anywhere in the world.” They emphasize these phrases so that their meaning will be clearly understood. That purpose is to put any part of the world at risk of instant destruction, thanks to sophisticated global surveillance and lethal offensive weaponry in space. Right now, the US is responsible for 95% of the total world spending for militarization of space and it’s only to be expected that potential target will react, increasing the danger to everyone. And that’s in fact already happening. As was expected, Russia reacted to Bush’s vast increase in offensive military capacity by sharply increasing its own capacities aimed at the United States. China is following suit expanding offensive capacities to preserve its deterrent, it's very small now but it’ll grow.

China’s so far reluctant reaction will have a ripple effect in India first, and then Pakistan in response to India then beyond. Both US and Chinese analysts recognize that almost in the same words that current US plans are likely to set off an arm race in space. That includes what’s euphemistically called “missile defense,” which is understood on all sides to be a first-strike weapon. The program of missile defense is commonly criticized as a colossal waste of money because it won’t work. That’s the good news. It’s far more dangerous if there is any sign that it might work. Adversaries have to make a worst case analysis and if there is any sign it might work, they will react by developing means to overwhelm or bypass it, which are a lot more easy than constructing it. And that will greatly increase the threat to survival. In fact it’s already happening.

In the current issue, in March issue of the bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which is a sort of standard monitor on these things, they report that “Emerging US anti-ballistic missile defense system has provoked direct Russian response, including advanced missiles and new more sophisticated warheads” so exactly as was predicted several years ago, the authors also point out.

Senator Nunn, as I said has been a lead of the conservative senator, been a lead of these anti-war efforts for a long time, he wrote recently that “the chances of an accidental, mistaken or unauthorized nuclear attack might be increasing.” Because of current policy choices, “we’re running an unnecessary risk of Armageddon of our own making.” Like the others, Nunn is referring to the sharp expansion of US military programs which tilt the strategic balance in ways that make “Russia more likely to launch upon warning of an attack, without waiting to see if the warning is accurate.” That’s no joke. The threats are enhanced by the fact that “the Russian early warning system is in serious disrepair and more likely to give a false warning of incoming missiles.”

And US systems are very dangerous, US reliance on “the high-alert, hair-trigger nuclear pasture allows missiles to be launched within minutes” forcing “our leaders to decide almost instantly whether to launch nuclear weapons once they have the computer warning of an attack robs them of the time mainly to gather data, exchange information, gain perspective and discover an error and avoid a catastrophic mistake.”

And we know in own systems, that there are hundreds of such errors just caught on time. The anticipated Bush-Russian reaction to Bush administration aggressive militarism, Nunn says, increases the risk of an “Armageddon of our making” well beyond even the current intolerable level.
These dangers are being consciously escalated by the threat and use of violence, which, just as predicted, is stimulating nuclear proliferation and is also stimulating the jihadi terrorism which traces back to Reagan administration programs to organize, arm and train radical Islamists, not for defense of Afghanistan as it was proclaimed, but for the usual and ugly reasons of state with grim consequences for the tormented people of Afghanistan and for Pakistanis and for the world.

As the Reaganites cheerfully tolerated Pakistan’s slide toward radical Islamic extremism under the rule of Zia ul-Huq, who is one of the many brutal dictators supported by the current incumbents in Washington and their mentors then and today, we may recall that one of them has the familiar name Saddam Hussein. And they were also Reagan and associates that looked away politely while their Pakistani ally was developing nuclear weapons, annually endorsing the pretense that Pakistan was not doing so. And as we should know they were also helping their friend, Saddam Hussein, to do the same. That continued long after Saddam’s worst atrocities and also long after the war, the end of the war with Iran. And we also know the reasons at least if we want to, because they were kind enough to tell us interesting reasons all worth remembering.

MccGwire reminds us of something that is barely known. So “remind” isn’t quite right. The fact is that in 1986, recognizing what he calls “the dreadful logic” of nuclear weapons, Mikhail Gorbachev called for their total elimination. That proposal foundered on Reagan’s militarization of space programs, what are called "Star Wars." NATO doctrine at that time--MccGwire points out as I said he was one of the planners--was “explicitly premised on the credible threat of first use of nuclear weapons and that continues to be policy today.”

Russia kept to the same doctrine until 1994, when it reversed its stand adopting no-first-use policy and calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. That was a very hopeful step. But Washington’s reaction and our inaction, which is worth remembering, quickly brought these quite hopeful prospects to an end. Russia reverted to NATO doctrine and abandoned its call for abolition of nuclear weapons. That was in response to Clinton’s expansion of NATO in violation of Washington’s “categorical assurance” to Gorbachev that if he “would agree to a reunited Germany remaining in NATO, then the NATO alliance would not expand eastward to absorb former members of the Warsaw Pact.” That was the assurance violated by Clinton.

In the light of recent history, not to speak of strategic truisms, Clinton’s violation of these firm pledges posed a very serious threat to Russia, serious security threat. Clinton’s violation of these assurances also explains why NATO rejected Russian proposals for nuclear-weapons-free-zone including central Europe from the Arctic to the Black Sea. That would have interfered with Clinton’s plans to extend NATO eastward in violation of the firm commitment not to do so. All of this, of course, enhanced the likelihood of “Apocalypse soon,” which is rarely a high priority for planners.

Actually the low priority assigned to national security is so abundantly illustrated that it takes real effort to miss it. So take the war in Iraq. It was undertaken with the expectation that it would probably increase terror and nuclear proliferation. Now, US and other intelligence agencies and analysts confirm that that’s exactly what happened. So take just one of many examples, last May the CIA reported “Iraq has become a magnet for Islamic militants similar to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan two decades ago and Bosnia in the 1990s.” and also that “Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in al Qaeda’s early days because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.” The invasion of Iraq also had the predicted effect of “greatly strengthening the popular appeal of anti-democratic radicals such as those of al Qaeda and other jihadi salafis” throughout extremist Islamic fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world.

Terrorism specialist Peter Bergen says that “President Bush is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism but this is a front that we created.” As “the Iraq war has expanded the terrorists’ ranks, the year 2003 saw the highest incidence of significant terrorist attacks in two decades and in 2004, astonishingly that number tripled.” In response to Donald Rumsfeld’s search for what he calls “metrics to know if we’re winning or losing the war on terror,” Bergen suggests that “an exponentially rising number of terrorist attacks is one metric that seems relevant.” In fact it is very relevant since it was anticipated.

Sometimes the threat is accelerated in quite remarkable ways. So it’s common to say that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after exhaustive search. But that’s not quite accurate. There were WMD facilities found in Iraq, namely those that were provided to Saddam in the 1980s by the US and Britain and others. The storage sites had been secured by UN inspectors who were dismantling the weapons. But the inspectors were dismissed by the invading armies and the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors did continue to carry out their work using satellite imagery. They discovered massive looting of these installations in over a hundred sites. Sophisticated careful massive looting that included-- they knew it was there--that included equipment for producing missiles, bio-toxins, other materials usable for chemical and biological weapons, high-precision equipment, capable of making parts for nuclear and chemical weapons. Where they went, we preferred not to guess.

The ironies are almost inexpressible and they should be front-page headlines everyday in the newspaper. The official justification for the US-UK invasion was to prevent the use of WMD that did not exist. The invasion provided the terrorists who had been mobilized by the United States and its allies with the means to develop WMD, weapons of mass destruction, namely the equipment that they had provided Saddam, caring nothing about the terrible crimes, they later invoked to whip up support for the invasion. It’s as if Iran were now making nuclear weapons using fissionable material provided by the United States to Iran, which may indeed be happening.

That brings us to another imminent crisis: Iran’s nuclear programs. That’s a serious problem. No sane person wants Iran to develop nuclear weapons. There are constructive steps that can be taken to prevent that. But first, again we have to pay some attention to what is in fact happening.
Those who hold the clubs typically take the position that history is bunk, old-fashioned, irrelevant. We don’t have to waste time on it. The victims don’t have the luxury nor do those who want to understand the world, instead of just having a blind faith in their “Dear Leaders,” to borrow the North-Korean expression, which applies all too aptly, I’m afraid.

Let’s have a quick look at a little recent and current history that Iranians know very well and rightly regard as highly pertinent, though it’s swept under the rug here.
To begin with, Iranians remember very well that the policies that Washington is now condemning are the very same policies that the US advocated before the 1979 overthrow of the Shah. That is the tyrant who was imposed by the US-UK military coup in 1953 that destroyed parliamentary democracy in Iran.
Today the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power; so it must be pursuing a secret weapons program. So Henry Kissinger explains that “for an oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources.” That’s now. When the Shah was in charge, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger held that “introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals.” And the US acted to assist these efforts with Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld also playing significant roles.

US universities were arranging to train Iranian nuclear engineers doubtless with Washington’s approval, probably Washington’s initiative: my own university, MIT, for example, where that was done over enormous student opposition when the news leaked.
Kissinger was asked about his reversal and he responded with his usual engaging frankness. He said, well, then “they were an allied country.” So therefore they had a genuine need for nuclear energy pre-1979, but today they are an enemy so of course they have no such need. Iranians may not be impressed by the logic.

Washington’s charges about an Iranian nuclear weapons program may, for once, be accurate. Many analysts have observed that it would be remarkable if they were not accurate, even though we have no evidence for it. Well as I mentioned, it was anticipated that the US-British invasion of Iraq would increase not only terror but also nuclear proliferation. And it’s now widely agreed that both predictions were confirmed.
Reviewing these conclusions, one of Israel’s leading military historians Martin van Creveld writes that after the invasion of Iraq, “Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy.” The reasons are straightforward. Washington has gone out of its way to instruct Iran on the need for a powerful deterrent, not only by invading Iraq but also by strengthening the offensive forces of its Israeli client, which already is a regional superpower, already has hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as air and armored forces that are larger and technologically more advanced than any NATO power outside the US, small country but as an offshoot to the United States, that can happen and it does.
And for several years Israel has been receiving the biggest shipment in its history of advanced US jet bombers very publicly advertised as capable of bombing Iran and also equipped with unspecified “special weaponry,” --a term that's meant for the ears of Iranian intelligence--and deep-penetration bombs.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been criticized rightly for outrageous statements. But I’ll just try to imagine what the reaction would be if he would go on to announce that Iran is preparing to bomb the United States and Israel and taking very credible steps to do so. Well, the country will be won away. But the imperial mentality that’s been instilled by centuries of history ensures that western leaders are exempt from many such strictures and are free to act as they like when dealing with the lower orders, that’s just extinctive so requires no comment.

It’s agreed on all sides that Iran’s current activities, at least as far as they are known, fall within its legal rights as a sign of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is the central part of a thin thread on which survival hangs. Article 4 of the NPT grants non-nuclear states the right to produce fuel for reactors. Washington demands that Article 4 should be revised and restricted. And in fact a good case can be made for that.
The Article 4 option made sense in 1970, when the NPT came into force. But with contemporary technology, producing fuel for reactors is just a step away from nuclear weapons. So restriction of Article 4 is perfectly sensible. However, any such provision of Article 4 would have to ensure unimpeded access, that’s the treaty says, for non-military use. That’s part of the NPT bargain.

Actually reasonable proposals for that was put forth by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, last year’s Nobel peace laureate. His proposal was that all production and processing of weapon-usable material should be restricted “exclusively to facilities under multinational control” accompanied "above all, by an assurance that legitimate would-be users could get their supplies. "That should be the first step," he proposed, "toward fully implementing the 1993 UN Security Council resolution calling for what’s called “a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty,” (FISSBAN) which “could cap and make public all inventories of fissile material still available.”

ElBaradei’s proposal which was quite reasonable was dead in the water. The US political leadership, surely in its current stance, would never agree to abrogate its unique exemption from international law and treaty obligations. So Washington’s call for restricting Article 4 is regarded by much of the world quite rationally as the cynical intention to convert the NPT to “a convenient instrument of US foreign policy.” (MaccGwire)

To my knowledge, there’s the only country that has officially accepted ElBaradei’s proposal, namely Iran. On February 16th, Iranian spokesman and top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani stated that “should a credible international system for providing nuclear fuel be in place, the Islamic Republic of Iran would be ready to procure its nuclear fuel from that system.” That would terminate the crisis and be a great advance forward and preserving the species.
Does Iran really mean it? There’s only one way to find out. But that path can’t be taken as long as the facts are suppressed, I doubt any of you heard them, including Washington’s flat rejection of ElBraradei’s proposal in fact any proposal that would limit its unique authority to do whatever it likes.

Article 4 is one of two paired Articles of the NPT. The other is Article 6, which obliges the nuclear powers to make “good faith efforts” to eliminate nuclear weapons. That’s a binding legal obligation as the World Court determined a decade ago. None of the nuclear powers have lived up to their commitments but the US is far in the lead in rejecting them and is alone in officially rejecting.

There’s a regular five-year review of the NPT. The last one was last May, it was a total disaster. There was a press coverage but it kept to Washington’s agenda blaming the failure on Iran. In the real world, the primary reason for the collapse of conference was Washington’s rejection of all serious prior commitments--that was explicit--and its announcement that it is exempt from Article 6. Let’s not speak of its open plans to develop new nuclear weapons, apparently underway. If that’s not abrogated, that stand essentially terminates the NPT with awesome consequences for proliferation.

Another central part of the NPT compact was the commitment of the nuclear powers to act and implement additional treaties. It includes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was rejected by the Republican Senate in 1999 and declared off the agenda by Bush. The ABM treaty, which Bush rescinded, and most important, a verifiable FISSBAN, which would prevent any further additions of nuclear bomb material to the vast amount already existing.

In July 2004, Washington announced its opposition to a verifiable FISSBAN on the grounds that effective verification “would compromise core national security interests.” Nevertheless in November 2004, the UN Committee on Disarmament voted on a verifiable FISSBAN. The vote was 147 to 1, with two abstentions: Israel, which is reflexive, and Britain, which is more interesting. The British Ambassador explained that Britain supports a verifiable FISSBAN, but had to abstain because this version “had divided the international community,” namely 147 to 1. That gives us some insight into the ranking of survival of the species among the priorities of the leadership of the hegemonic power and its spear carrier and their information systems, too. This is probably maybe the most important vote in history of the UN. As far as I can determine, it was not even reported outside of specialist journals and the whole matter is unknown to the only people who can do something about it, namely the general public.

A few days later the General Assembly again called upon all states “to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective.” The resolution passed 178 to 0, with 4 abstentions: the United States, Israel, Haiti, and Palau. The vote again reveals priorities as does the coverage in the United States so far as I can determine, zero. These are very good ways to march on following our leaders to “an Armageddon of our own making.”

Let’s go back to Iran. Several years ago, the European Union and Iran as you know reached an agreement on Iran’s uranium enrich programs. That we know, but not what the agreement was. Here’s an account of it by one of the most respected specialists on this topics, Selig Harrison, writing in world’s leading business journal, the London Financial Times.
He writes that “the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union were based upon a bargain that the European Union, held back by the United States, has failed to honor." Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment efforts temporarily. The EU promised to put forward proposals for economic incentives and security guaranties. The language of the joint declaration was "unambiguous," he says. Here’s what it was. “A mutually acceptable agreement" would not only provide "objective guaranties" that Iran’s nuclear program is “exclusively for peaceful purposes” but would “equally provide firm commitments by the EU on security issues.”

Everyone understands the meaning of the phrase “security issues.” It refers to the very credible US-Israeli threats and preparations to attack Iran, which is no joke for a country that’s been tortured by the global superpower for 50 years, including Washington’s support for Saddam Hussein’s murderous war against Iran. The superpower that now occupies the country on Iran’s border, that’s not to speak of the regional superpower, that’s its client state.

Iran lived up to its side of the bargain. But the EU, under US pressure, rejected its commitments and refused to discuss "security issues." Iran then abandoned the bargain as well. That’s where we are now, not quite the way it’s portrayed. The background was extended by British physicist Norman Dombey, who has long been active in efforts to implement Russell-Einstein’s plea. He reviews the same picture. And he adds that the United States turned down Iran’s offer to discuss security matters including the nuclear program in May 2003.

And as he points out, the Bush administration followed the same course with North Korea when he took office in January 2001. It refused to confirm that it was bound by the no-hostile-intent statement of earlier agreements then went on to issue serious threats. And it abandoned the promised fuel oil shipments and the reactor project. North Korea withdrew from the NPT, locked out the inspectors, started up its plutonium producing reactor processing plant and later announced it possessed nuclear weapons. All as anticipated.

It is clear enough how to reduce these grim prospects, in both cases in fact: a call off the threats that is practically urging Iran to develop nuclear weapons, join with the rest of the world, most of it in taking steps to reintegrate Iran into the, within the global economy, accept the FISSBAN treaty which leading specialists here regard as “the most fundamental nuclear arms proposal.”--that’s Princeton physicist in Arms Control specialist Frank von Hippel--and then move on to the legal obligation to close down the nuclear arsenals. In fact even steps in those directions would mitigate the upcoming crises.
We’re not asked why Washington’s so intent on punishing Iran that is even willing to increase nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear war. Actually that should come no surprise to anyone familiar with the record of internal planning and history.
So why did the United States insist on bombing Serbia in 1999? Well, there’s a standard claim that the goals were humanitarian. That was once exploded even by a rich documentary record provided by official western sources. But by now the real reasons have been provided by high officials of the Clinton Administration who were in charge of the enterprise. “It was Yugoslavia’s resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform, not the plight of Kosovar Albanians, that explains NATO’s war.” In brief, Serbia was not following orders. That’s familiar too.

So why has the United States been torturing Cubans for over 45 years? The internal record from the early 1960s, this is quite explicit. The reason was that what they called Cuba’s “successful defiance of US policies going back 150 years.” That means going back to the Monroe Doctrine--no Russians but the Monroe Doctrine--which declared that the United States has to be the ruler of the hemisphere. Then you don’t tolerate successful defiance of that. If you don’t understand why, just ask your favorite Mafia Don he’ll explain it to you. Iran falls into the very same pattern. So it’s a familiar one.

Another factor accelerating the threat of terror and nuclear war is the US-Israeli rejection of the broad international consensus on a diplomatic settlement of the Israel-Arab conflict. It’s now been going on for 30 years, the rejection. The first US veto of the Security Council resolution calling for a two-state settlement on the international border was in January 1976. And the record continues. And it continues as we meet with ongoing US-Israeli programs to take over the “valuable lands” and resources in the West Bank, leaving unviable cantons which are virtually separated from one another and from whatever fragment of it will be left, of Arab East Jerusalem, which is the center of Palestinian’s cultural, educational, commercial life and institutions.
All of these are now to be imprisoned within Israel with US backing as always. As Israel proceeds--it’s now official, it’s already being clear but it’s now official--that Israel will proceed to take over the Jordan Valley and gradually expels its inhabitants leaving the cantons imprisoned basically. Just take a look at the map and you’ll see what all this means. There’s a lot more to say about that and about the Hamas victory, but time is pretty short, that would take us too far out field, so maybe we’ll return to it.

The critical question today is of course Iraq. There has been a lot of talk about exit strategies. But none of that can be taken seriously unless it faces some fundamental issues. They are sort of kept out of sight for doctrinal reasons but surely dominate the thinking of policy planners. We hear plenty of impressive rhetoric about Washington’s dedication to a sovereign and democratic Iraq. But a moment of thoughts suffices to show that any such outcome would be a nightmare to Washington planners. That’s why the occupying authorities fought so hard to prevent elections. When they couldn’t prevent them, turned at once to trying to subvert them. We should remember and be impressed by the fact that the elections took place at all was a real triumph of non-violent popular resistance that the occupying armies couldn’t handle.

The reasons are pretty obvious. Just consider the policies that a sovereign and moderately democratic Iraq will be likely to adopt. Iraqis may have no great love for Iran but they would prefer friendly relations with their powerful neighbor to antagonism and conflict.
Furthermore, the Shiite religious and political leadership has very close traditional links with Iran and these are now expanding. Shiite success in Iraq is already invigorating the pressures for freedom and rights among the bitterly oppressed Shiite populations right across the border in Saudi Arabia. These tendencies will only increase if Iraq gains some major sovereignty, which that happens to be a region where most of Saudi oil is.

So the outcome, to think it through, could well be a Shiite-dominated alliance comprising the major oil producing regions of Iraq, which are enormous: Iran and the major oil regions in Saudi Arabia all independent of Washington and controlling the bulk of world energy resources. That could mean that the United States would lose control over the world’s major energy supplies. These have long been recognized to be (from the documents in the 1940s,) “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” A “strategic power” means what’s called “critical leverage” over industrial rivals. That’s Zbignew Brzezinski’s observation recently in referring to the hopeful benefits of the invasion of Iraq.

That outcome is Washington’s ultimate nightmare, almost, could get worse. It’s not unlikely that an independent bloc of this kind might develop major energy projects jointly with China and India, perhaps even aligning with the Asian Energy Security Grid, the Shanghai corporation organization, those are based in China and Russia, perhaps will incorporate India, which has been developing joint projects with China aimed at Asian integration and independence.
Bush’s visit to India over the last couple of days, is one of the many efforts to impede these clear tendencies which are likely to continue anyway. It’s likely, almost certain, that South Korea and Southeast Asian countries will also join, Japan is a kind of uncertain but it might. The prospect that Europe and Asia might move towards greater independence has seriously troubled US planners ever since World War Two. Those concerns have considerably increased in the last several decades as what's called “the tripolar world” has continued to evolve three major centers: North America, Europe, mainly Northeast Asia.

In addition now, there are for the first time quite important South-South interactions mainly Brazil, South Africa and India. There is also rapidly growing European Union engagement with China, which are perhaps now, or very soon each other’s largest trading partners. Loss of “the critical leverage” would be a serious blow to plans for global dominance that trace right back to the beginning of World War Two.
US intelligence has projected that the United States would control Middle East oil for the traditional reasons but the United States itself would rely mainly on what it called “more stable Atlantic Basin” resources that means West Africa and Western Hemisphere. Control of Middle East oil is now far from a sure thing, and these expectations are also threatened by very important developments of Western Hemisphere, which in fact are being accelerated by Bush administration’s policies which have left the United States remarkably isolated in the global arena.

The Bush Administration even succeeded in alienating Canada. That’s a really impressive feat, takes genius to do that. The reason is Washington’s brazen rejection of NAFTA decisions favoring Canada. The US government just told them to get lost. Well, that may accelerate establishment of closer Canada-China relations, in fact that’s what Canadian officials have been saying in reaction. A Canadian official has said that Canada may shift a significant portion of its trade, particularly oil exports from the United States to China. In a further blow to Washington’s energy policies, the leading oil exporter in the hemisphere, Venezuela, has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country and it’s planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China. That’s part of its effort to reduce its dependence on the very openly hostile US government.

In fact Latin America as a whole is increasing trade and other relations with China, there are some setbacks but likely expansion. That’s particularly true for the major raw material exporters, Brazil and Chile.
Meanwhile, for the first time, since the Spanish Conquest, Latin America is moving towards closer integration, independent of Washington. Venezuela just joined the South American Customs Union: Mercosur. That’s a move described by Argentine President Kirchner as “a milestone” in the development of this trading bloc and it’s welcomed as opening “a new chapter in our integration” by Brazilian president Lula da Silva.
There was a meeting in Uruguay convened to mark Venezuela’s formal entry into Mercosur. Venezuelan president Chavez said that “We cannot allow this to be purely an economic project, one for the elites and for the transnational companies.” That's not a very oblique reference to the US-sponsored “Free Trade Agreement for the Americas,” which is highly unpopular in Latin America. Venezuela also supplied Argentina with oil to help stave off energy crisis and it bought part of Argentina’s debt. That’s one element of a very important region-wide effort to free the countries from the controls of the IMF after two decades of disastrous effects of conformity to the rules imposed by the US-dominated international financial institutions.

“The IMF has acted towards our country as a promoter and a vehicle of policies that cause poverty and pain among the Argentine people,” President Kirchner said in announcing his decision to pay almost $1 trillion to rid itself of the IMF forever with the help of Venezuela. Radically violating IMF rules, Argentina did enjoy a substantial economic recovery from the disaster left by IMF policies.

Steps towards regional integration advanced further with the elections of Evo Morales last December. He was the first president coming from the indigenous majority. Morales moved quickly to reach a series of energy accords with Venezuela. Its gas reserves are second only to Venezuela in South America. And Morales too committed himself to reversing the neoliberal policies that Bolivia had pursued rigorously for 25 years leaving the country with a lower per capita income than at the outset.

Much of the region from Venezuela to Argentina has left-centered governments. The indigenous populations have, for the first time, become very active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador, both major energy producers where they either want oil or gas to be domestically controlled, or in some cases, oppose production altogether.
Many indigenous people apparently don’t see any reason why their lives and societies and culture should be disrupted or destroyed so that New Yorkers can sit in their SUVs in traffic jams. In fact some are even calling for an Indian nation in South America.
This internal economic integration that is underway is reversing the patterns that trace right back to the Spanish Conquests. Ever since then, Latin American elites and economies have been linked to the imperial powers but not to one another. Washington’s traditional mechanisms of control, namely violence and economic strangulation, they’re losing their effectiveness. For many reasons, the system of global dominance is fragile, even apart from the damage that’s been inflicted on it by Bush planners.

Looking back over the actual record of policy, extricating itself from its rhetorical frame, we find the guiding principles are clear and simple enough. Abroad, democracy is fine but only when it takes a form that does not risk popular interference with the primary interests of power and wealth. And at home, much the same doctrine prevails. There’s no time to go into that critical matter but I’d like to end with just a couple of words about the topic because it provides some useful and simple ideas as to how to approach and deal with very grave problems that confront all of us. So here are a couple of suggestions.

1. Accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court.
2. Accept the Kyoto protocols and carry them forward.
3. Very important, let the UN take the lead in international crises.
4. Relying on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting the grave threats of terror.
5. Keep to the conventional interpretation of the UN Charter, meaning use of force is legitimate only “when ordered by the Security Council or when the country is under imminent threat of an attack until the Security Council can act.”
6. Give up the veto to the Security Council, and have a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind” as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centers disagree.
7. Cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending meaning health, education, renewable energy and so on.

These are actually very conservative suggestions for quite a simple reason. They are the opinions of the majority of the population, in almost all cases the overwhelming majority of the population. They are the overwhelming majority also wants to rescind Bush’s tax cuts for anyone with incomes over $200,000, which means practically all of them.

In all these cases and plenty of others, public opinion is in radical opposition to public policy. And both political parties are well to the right of the general population.
Few people are even aware of these facts for a simple reason. The regular in-depth public opinion studies by the most prestigious institutions are scarcely reported or not reported at all. When they reveal such facts as these as they regularly do, that records are highly instructive. These are far from only constructive suggestions one can think of, but they are a pretty good start.

There are also some simple truths that can be quite useful. One of them is to take democracy seriously and another is to pay attention to fact and elementary moral principles, another is to refuse to accept the self-serving contention of the powerful that what happened in the past can be forgotten because we’re undergone a miraculous change of course, something which happens every few years as easily demonstrated.

And other simple truths they don’t answer every problem by any means but they do carry us a long way towards developing more specific and detailed answers as they’re constantly done. And more important, they open the way to implementing them. These are opportunities that are readily within our grasp in a society that is as free as ours, if we can free ourselves from the shackles of doctrine and illusion. Thank you.