Review: The Umbrella of U.S. Power–The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback

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5.0 out of 5 stars Big Money Buys Poverty and Kills, Citizens Being Looted,

March 10, 2002
Noam Chomsky
This is one of Noam Chomsky’s most interesting pamphlets (actually a quarter-size booklet of 78 pages). It has a special relevance and importance to citizens in the aftermath of 9-11 because he directly links our corporate criminality (“Justice Department estimates the cost of corporate crime as 7 to 25 times as high as street crime”) to our national policies against human rights (poverty pays, for the corporate class that strives to liquidate Third World nations in their predatory roving of the planet).He pointedly identifies the U.S. arms industry as being among the worst violators, but even more importantly, points out that U.S. policies favoring our arms dealers are opposed by 96% of the U.S. population. While that number might be high, I believe there is no question but that Washington is being instructed by corporations rather than its citizens on this vital point of policy. It is time for citizens to take the power back.

Chomsky notes that in 1996 the World Health Organization characterized extreme poverty as the world’s most ruthless killer and the greatest cause of suffering on earth. This ties in with the United Nations finding that human suffering is now a legitimate basis for intervention, and with George Soro’s observation in The Washington Post of 24 February 2002, that “We can’t be successful in fighting terrorism, unless we fight that other axis of evil–poverty, disease and ignorance.”

This little gem of a book also includes well-footnoted observations about how nations seek to carry out trade negotiations in secrecy, in part because they are agreeing to overlook if not actively participate in the looting of poor countries as a condition for prosperous trade among the already developed nations.

The book begins and ends with thoughts from Chomsky on the intellectual discipline he founded, the relationship between linguistics, ethics, and action. He begins with pointed observations on how the most horrible crimes are allowed to go without comment because of *self* censorship, and ends by noting that our citizens do not need to be forbidden to speak of these monstrous deeds that our corporations and government are secretly agreeing to perpetuate, because we have chosen to remain ignorant and silent.

U.S. policy today is *not* founded on moral values, and it is *not* representative of the will of the people in so far as it is carried out in secret collaboration with major corporations and in opposition to the minimal mandatory needs of developing nations for water, food, disease, and economic security.

This is not about political ideology–Ralph Nader, the ultimate spoiler, has one thing right: the parties are irrelevant, this is now about the people versus the corporations. Absent a huge popular turn-out *prior* to each election, to make it clear to candidates that they will be held accountable by the people for keeping all trade and other negotiations in the public domain, and for voting on issues mindful of the will of the people rather than their corporate Enron-like paymasters, then we are the ones ultimately responsible for U.S. policy’s misdirection.

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