Friday, October 24, 2008

Authors@Google(part2): Noam Chomsky

Authors@Google: Noam Chomsky

(continued)43:50 And then you can ask a further question. What’s the US doing in Guantanamo? I mean actually…that the reason they chose Guantanamo is because they can pretend that the US just doesn’t have jurisdiction because it’s in Cuba. OK, so the courts don’t have jurisdiction and there’s big debates about that. But the debates are ridiculous of course.

What is the US doing in Guantanamo in the first place? Well, it turns out, if you look back, that there’s a treaty between the US and Cuba, which Cuba signed at gun point. It was under military occupation. And the treaty, hence, has absolutely no validity by any standard that you can think of. And the treaty allowed the United States to use Guantanamo-it’s a big port-as a calling station for the Navy. It didn’t say anything about their keeping prisoners there. So we’re violating the illegal treaty that we forced on Cuba. In fact, why does the United States― it leads a further question―why does the US hold onto Guantanamo altogether?

Well, for one thing, it is the major port, you’d need a naval base for controlling the Caribbean and South America. But there’s another reason: it prevents Cuban development. That means that the eastern end of the island is blocked from development. So if you want to strangle and destroy Cuba, which we’ve wanted to do since 1959 for reasons that are explained in the internal record. Because, if you go back to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, because of its “successful defiance” of US principles going back to the Monroe Doctrine. No Russians.

The Monroe Doctrine stated that we are going to run the hemisphere, that was the goal of the founding fathers. As I said, Jefferson, it’s the nest, we’re the nest from which the people will hold the whole continent getting rid of, you know, the red man and the Spanish speakers. And Cuba is carrying out “successful defiance” of this. And that’s intolerable. So therefore we have to seriously punish the people of Cuba, as we’ve been doing with terrorism, economic strangulations and so on, incidentally in opposition to popular will here. A large percentage of the American population, usually around two-thirds, think we ought to enter into normal relations with Cuba. Holding on Guantanamo is part of the strangulation of Cuba, ensuring that they can’t develop the end of the island, which would be base for trade with Europe, so on and so forth.

Well, all these questions are the ones that would be in the headlines, in free press. Not whether this particular 15-year-old who shot an American soldier invading his country. So yes, there’s a lot hidden behind the word “enemy combatant.”
And in fact if you just take about almost any word of political discourse, pick up at random, it has two meanings. And it has its literal meaning and it has its doctrinal meaning. And the two have usually almost nothing to do with each other.

So, take say “aggression,” an important term, which has a technical meaning. It was defined at the Nuremburg tribunal. And that was accepted internationally. What it means is―the obvious thing―sending military forces into another country, you know, not at their request or something. OK, that’s aggression. And that’s the term we use applied to anyone else like the Nazi war criminals. The primary reason that they were hanged was because of the crime of aggression. And incidentally, which is defined more carefully. The Nuremburg tribunal defines aggression as “the supreme international crime,” which “encompasses,”―which differs from other crimes-in it, it “encompasses all of the evil that follows.” So, the initial aggression in Iraq encompasses the sectarian warfare, the destruction of antiquities, millions of refugees. Everything that happened since is encompassed in the initial act of aggression.

 Justice Jackson, the American Justice at Nuremburg, gave a passionate declaration to the tribunal. He said that we are handing the defendants “a poisoned chalice,” and if we ever sip from it, meaning if we are ever guilty of the same crimes, we must suffer the same punishment, or else the whole trials are farce. OK? Again, those should be the headlines except for one problem. The United States cannot commit aggression. By definition: we don’t commit aggression.

Take a look at the front page of the Wall Street Journal today. Big lead article: “The US claims Iran is still sending arms to Iraq.” Maybe true. Is Iran the only country sending arms to Iraq? Well, Condoleezza Rice, a little while back, was asked on television, “what is the solution to the Iraq problem?” She said “Simple. Just end the flow of foreign fighters and foreign arms. Then it’s over.” Nobody batted an eyelash for a good reason. Our forces are not foreign. They are indigenous. Wherever they are, they are indigenous. If we invaded Canada, we would be there by right. And if a Canadian 15-year-old kid threw a stone at an American soldier, he’d be an enemy combatant and we’d send him to Guantanamo.

And it follows from a very elementary principle that’s the one on which the country was founded: we are a nascent empire, expansion is the path to security, we are indigenous everywhere. We own the world. You know, so therefore, the questions can’t be asked. If you look at commentary, debate and discussion, you’ll find that that’s internalized. Nobody points to it. It’s just part of our picture of the world. And that is in fact in everything. That’s why every term, like the terms you use, from an outside point of view, sounds like you’re talking about a bunch of mad men.

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