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<nettime> Fw: Chomsky on Saddam capture - Dictators R Us
Fatima Lasay on Tue, 23 Dec 2003 16:30:16 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Fw: Chomsky on Saddam capture - Dictators R Us

American intellectuals know hell of a lot and say them in the most 
resplendent prose. But the way things are headed and with American heritage 
becoming more a theat to everyone on the planet, these intellectuals should 
muster mind over body to just shut the fuck up and be proactive. Like 
Filipino eco-activist Obet Verzola, they can all go on hunger strike and 
even put those silly weight-loss ads out of business. Better yet, they can 
light themselves up in flames like the buddhists or blow themselves up like 
(as Bush eloquently puts it) suiciders who hide in caves. So maybe next 
time Chomsky can actually show the Americans the way out of intellectual 
masturbation by burning his topselling books and blowing himself up at the MIT.


Dictators R Us

By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet
December 22, 2003

All people who have any concern for human rights, justice and integrity
should be overjoyed by the capture of Saddam Hussein, and should be
awaiting a fair trial for him by an international tribunal.

An indictment of Saddam's atrocities would include not only his
slaughter and gassing of Kurds in 1988 but also, rather crucially, his
massacre of the Shiite rebels who might have overthrown him in 1991.

At the time, Washington and its allies held the "strikingly unanimous
view (that) whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West
and the region a better hope for his country's stability than did those
who have suffered his repression," reported Alan Cowell in the New York

Last December, Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, released a
dossier of Saddam's crimes drawn almost entirely from the period of firm
U.S.-British support of Saddam.

With the usual display of moral integrity, Straw's report and
Washington's reaction overlooked that support.

Such practices reflect a trap deeply rooted in the intellectual culture
generally ­ a trap sometimes called the doctrine of change of course,
invoked in the United States every two or three years. The content of
the doctrine is: "Yes, in the past we did some wrong things because of
innocence or inadvertence. But now that's all over, so let's not waste
anymore time on this boring, stale stuff."

The doctrine is dishonest and cowardly, but it does have advantages: It
protects us from the danger of understanding what is happening before
our eyes.

For example, the Bush administration's original reason for going to war
in Iraq was to save the world from a tyrant developing weapons of mass
destruction and cultivating links to terror. Nobody believes that now,
not even Bush's speech writers.

The new reason is that we invaded Iraq to establish a democracy there
and, in fact, to democratize the whole Middle East.

Sometimes, the repetition of this democracy-building posture reaches the
level of rapturous acclaim.

Last month, for example, David Ignatius, the Washington Post
commentator, described the invasion of Iraq as "the most idealistic war
in modern times" ­ fought solely to bring democracy to Iraq and the
region. Ignatius was particularly impressed with Paul Wolfowitz, "the
Bush administration's idealist in chief," whom he described as a genuine
intellectual who "bleeds for (the Arab world's) oppression and dreams of
liberating it."

Maybe that helps explain Wolfowitz's career ­ like his strong support
for Suharto in Indonesia, one of the last century's worst mass murderers
and aggressors, when Wolfowitz was ambassador to that country under
Ronald Reagan.

As the State Department official responsible for Asian affairs under
Reagan, Wolfowitz oversaw support for the murderous dictators Chun of
South Korea and Marcos of the Philippines.

All this is irrelevant because of the convenient doctrine of change of

So, yes, Wolfowitz's heart bleeds for the victims of oppression ­ and if
the record shows the opposite, it's just that boring old stuff that we
want to forget about.

One might recall another recent illustration of Wolfowitz's love of
democracy. The Turkish parliament, heeding its population's
near-unanimous opposition to war in Iraq, refused to let U.S. forces
deploy fully from Turkey. This caused absolute fury in Washington.

Wolfowitz denounced the Turkish military for failing to intervene to
overturn the decision. Turkey was listening to its people, not taking
orders from Crawford, Texas, or Washington, D.C.

The most recent chapter is Wolfowitz's "Determination and Findings" on
bidding for lavish reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Excluded are
countries where the government dared to take the same position as the
vast majority of the population.

Wolfowitz's alleged grounds are "security interests," which are
non-existent, though the visceral hatred of democracy is hard to miss ­
along with the fact that Halliburton and Bechtel corporations will be
free to "compete" with the vibrant democracy of Uzbekistan and the
Solomon Islands, but not with leading industrial societies.

What's revealing and important to the future is that Washington's
display of contempt for democracy went side by side with a chorus of
adulation about its yearning for democracy. To be able to carry that off
is an impressive achievement, hard to mimic even in a totalitarian

Iraqis have some insight into this process of conquerors and conquered.

The British created Iraq for their own interests. When they ran that
part of the world, they discussed how to set up what they called Arab
facades ­ weak, pliable governments, parliamentary if possible, so long
as the British effectively ruled.

Who would expect that the United States would ever permit an independent
Iraqi government to exist? Especially now that Washington has reserved
the right to set up permanent military bases there, in the heart of the
world's greatest oil-producing region, and has imposed an economic
regime that no sovereign country would accept, putting the country's
fate in the hands of Western corporations.

Throughout history, even the harshest and most shameful measures are
regularly accompanied by professions of noble intent ­ and rhetoric
about bestowing freedom and independence.

An honest look would only generalize Thomas Jefferson's observation on
the world situation of his day: "We believe no more in Bonaparte's
fighting merely for the liberties of the seas than in Great Britain's
fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object is the same, to draw
to themselves the power, the wealth and the resources of other nations."

Political activist and author Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His new book is "Hegemony
or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance" (The American Empire

This piece originally appeared in The Toronto Star.

Fátima Lasay http://digitalmedia.upd.edu.ph/digiteer/

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