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Noam Chomsky is considered a rogue commentator in the United States. His critiques of power illustrates the gross realpolitik that runs the US government and its foreign policy. Traditionally, we tend to think of ourselves as the “good guys”. In reality though, we seldom have that role. A look at the recent history of the Middle East confirms this hypothesis, excerpt from Alter.net.
Q: Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?
NC: The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources — the main concern of U.S. planners — have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.
Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.
The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism — mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.
Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, U.S. policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining.
Democracy, human rights, humanitarian intervention all fall at the wayside when it comes to the West supporting “stability” in the Middle East. We wonder why the residents are so pissed off at us and cheer when bad things happen to the West. I’m guessing it has a little something to do with the fact that while promoting “human rights and democracy” worldwide we simultaneously support vicious authoritarian regimes that cater to our interests while grinding their populace to dust.
Noam Chomsky summarizes the process quite nicely on article excerpted from Alter.net. Here are some of the highlights:
“So that wasn’t very pretty, but what about the other countries? Well, the countries that are most significant to the United States and the West, generally, are the oil dictatorships and they remain very stable. There were efforts to try and join the Arab Spring, but they were crushed, very harshly, with not a word from the Western powers. Sometimes it was quite violent, as in eastern Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain, which were Shiite areas, mostly, but it resulted in at most a tap on the wrist by the western powers. They clearly wanted the oil dictatorships to remain. That’s the center of their power.
In Tunisia, which had mostly French influence, the French supported the dictatorship until the very end. In fact, they were still supporting it after demonstrations were sweeping the country. Finally, at the last second, they conceded that their favorite dictator had to go. In Egypt, where the United States and Britain were the main influences, it was the same. Obama supported the dictator Mubarak until virtually the last minute – until the army turned against him. It became impossible to support him anymore so they urged him to leave and make a transition to a similar system.
All of that is quite routine. That’s the standard operating procedure for dealing with a situation where your favorite dictator is getting into trouble. There is case after case like that. What you do in that case is support the dictator to the very end, regardless of how vicious and bloody he is. Then when it becomes impossible, say because the army or the business classes have turned against him, then ease him out somewhere (sometimes with half the government’s treasury in his pocket), declare your love for democracy, and try to restore the old system. That’s pretty much what’s happening in Egypt.“
Chomsky called it. How long before we can get back to “business as usual?”
Just to darken your day a little -
“The Obama campaign greatly impressed the public relations industry, which named Obama ‘Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008,’ easily beating out Apple computers. A good predictor of the elections a few weeks later. The industry’s regular task is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices, thus undermining markets as they are conceptualized in economic theory, but benefiting the masters of the economy. And it recognizes the benefits of undermining democracy in much the same way, creating uninformed voters who make often irrational choices between the factions of the business party that amass sufficient support from concentrated private capital to enter the electoral arena, then to dominate campaign propaganda.”
Sometimes you get the that feeling that your vote won’t really matter in an election. It would help if the US was actually a democracy.
Political theatre harms us all. Issues that are important to public are marginalized while supposedly “important” issues take the spotlight. (Yes, you women, under the bus, stat!)
“Elections are run by the public relations industry. Its primary task is commercial advertising, which is designed to undermine markets by creating uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices – the exact opposite of how markets are supposed to work, but certainly familiar to anyone who has watched television.It’s only natural that when enlisted to run elections, the industry would adopt the same procedures in the interests of the paymasters, who certainly don’t want to see informed citizens making rational choices. The victims, however, do not have to obey, in either case. Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honorable one.”
Call to arms or maybe just maybe a little of Mr.Jackson’s “wake the F**k up”, whatever it takes but for goodness sake cut through the noise and get people thinking for themselves again.
Essentially, it would be for the laughs because as Chomsky explains, the Office of President is largely a ceremonial role.
The overarching apparatus of state is plainly evinced by the actions of one president elected on Hope and Change.