Friday, January 06, 2006

The Last Word: Noam Chomsky

The Last Word: Noam Chomsky - Newsweek: International Editions -

I disagree with many of Noam Chomsky's ideas, but he does make this point succinctly:
Hastings: Where do you see Iraq heading right now?
Chomsky: Well, it's extremely difficult to talk about this because of a very rigid doctrine that prevails in the United States and Britain which prevents us from looking at the situation realistically. The doctrine, to oversimplify, is that we have to believe the United States would have so-called liberated Iraq even if its main products were lettuce and pickles and [the] main energy resource of the world were in central Africa. Anyone who doesn't accept that is dismissed as a conspiracy theorist or a lunatic or something. But anyone with a functioning brain knows that that's not trueƂ—as all Iraqis do, for example. The United States invaded Iraq because its major resource is oil. And it gives the United States, to quote [Zbigniew] Brzezinski, "critical leverage" over its competitors, Europe and Japan. That's a policy that goes way back to the second world war. That's the fundamental reason for invading Iraq, not anything else.

Once we recognize that, we're able to begin talking about where Iraq is going. For example, there's a lot of talk about the United States bringing [about] a sovereign independent Iraq. That can't possibly be true. All you have to do is ask yourself what the policies would be in a more-or-less democratic Iraq. We know what they're likely to be. A democratic Iraq will have a Shiite majority, [with] close links to Iran. Furthermore, it's right across the border from Saudi Arabia, where there's a Shiite population which has been brutally repressed by the U.S.-backed fundamentalist tyranny. If there are any moves toward sovereignty in Shiite Iraq, or at least some sort of freedom, there are going to be effects across the border. That happens to be where most of Saudi Arabia's oil is. So you can see the ultimate nightmare developing from Washington's point of view.

As I've blogged before... I hope Iraq moves toward a moderate, inclusive society over the next decade. But given the history of oppression in the region -- and the cultural propensity to hold grudges -- I see violence continuing for some time... and I see Iraqi Shia aligning themselves with Iran's interests more closely than with ours.

So how many billions are we paying for this outcome? How many lives?


bombsoverbaghdad said...


Even within your own views, I detect the same rosey red glass American view that somehow our white asses are going to bomb people into being like us. IT WON'T HAPPEN.

"I hope Iraq moves toward a moderate, inclusive society over the next decade." (You sound like Bush!) "But given the history of oppression in the region -- and the cultural propensity to hold grudges -- I see violence continuing for some time... (Do you know that these are ancient grudges?? We can't change them, as silly as they seem to us.) "and I see Iraqi Shia aligning themselves with Iran's interests more closely than with ours." (Why would Iraqi Shia want to side with an oppressor? It makes no sense. They favor their kin, in Iran, over the US. We can't forget that our sanctions killed 500,000 CHILDREN in Iraq.

Chomskey is on point. Iraq is a total loss. The new Manifest Destiny.

Reign of Reason said...

That's the first time I've ever been accused of sounding like Bush!!

But holding out hope (now that that is about all that is left) isn't a bad thing. I do think we should start drawing down our presence there immediately, but there are moderates in Iraq -- and some of them are actually in the government. Our presence there is helping to drive the insurgency however…

But yes -- the animosity between the various religious and ethnic groups goes back a long way. It will not disappear just because a new government is sitting in Baghdad. However there is also a lot of religious and nationalist hatred in the Balkans – and with a reasoned policy we were able to mediate an end to the violence.

Of course the animosity is still there: but there’s a lid on it – for now.

Maybe something like that can be accomplished in Iraq. It is a reasonable goal – as opposed to dear leader’s goal of making Iraq a westernized model of democracy in the region. Of course we’ve horked things up so badly that we (the US) can’t negotiate that settlement… we’d need the surrounding nations to work with the Iraqi’s to bring some type of stability to the country.

bombsoverbaghdad said...

You statements are contradictory if you really think about it. If the mission was about oil, then, by deduction, you must believe that the 'democracy' equation is merely a media prop, correct? (Because that's what it is.) You are incorrecly presuming that the US gov't is really interested in a democracy.

check out a book called "Addicted to Militarism." It's on the net.

Reign of Reason said...

I don't deny that we went into Iraq for oil -- but that doesn't rule out a positive outcome for the people in the country...

As I said, I think the premise of 'bringing' democracy to Iraq is naive... and it was not the reason for going in.

Another way of putting it: yes we went in for oil but that is completely orthogonal to the future governmental situation in Iraq. Just because we went in for the wrong reason doesn't mean something good CAN'T happen -- it's just very unlikely to turn out well (for one reason) because of our naive and inept leadership.

We can still hope something good comes of it... Saddam is out: the genie is out of the bottle... Iraq has changed. I just wish we’d start down a path that has more of a chance of brining some stability to the region. That would involve getting the other Arab states in the region more directly involved.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

I'm with BOB on this one. If there is no clearer sign that "democracy" in Iraq is nothing more than a p.r. headline for Bush, look at Chalabi's prominence in the cadre of dictators the U.S. is supporting to lead the country. Yeah, Saddam is out and he is being replaced with exactly the same type of dictators. I am sure the Iraqis will be thrilled that they lost thousands of people to get another dictator, whether they get to vote for him or not.

Do you know Chalabi is wanted for defrauding and bankrupting 2 banks in Jordan? He's a satan-worshipping piece of garbage and the Bush junta loves him. Birds of a feather...

Reign of Reason said...

I agree -- democracy in Iraqi is essentially a PR headline for Bush... But again, that doesn't mean anything good will come of the change (i.e. - removing Saddam).

Yeah - the US backed that crumb Chalabi, but the Iraqi people wanted nothing to do with that phony ex-patriot...

They'll vote in a majority Shia government... I just hope the moderates in government can come to some reasonable accommodation with the Sunni. If they can the country has a chance at relative stability.

I honestly don't see that happening -- but I think we differ in that I see it as a possibility.

bombsoverbaghdad said...

Dude, you're not as far off from Bush as you may think. . .

Croaky said...

Reign of Reason,

I really like the thoughts in this thread as they correspond to many of the debates I've had with others and with myself.

I want something good to come out of the war in Iraq, for all this effort to not be worthless, but the best reason I can come up with is the one you have: stability and American-institutionalized democracy in the Middle East.

As others have commented here: this is exactly the same logic the Bush administration has used.

The war is not directly about oil. It is indirectly about it. The war in Iraq is a military move to secure an American presence in the Middle East, which will make it safe for American economic interests, most notably America's oil interests.

I posted the same Chomsky article on my blog, and would love to hear some of your thoughts there.