June 15, 2007
Other speakers have pointed out, as the book's foreword does as well, that most of Chomsky's Op Eds are widely published overseas but not in the US. I completely agree with the general view among intelligent people that the mainstream print and broadcast media, including NPR which now works for Otto Reich, Karl Rove's best post-Nazi pal, are worthless. As Joe Trippi says, “the revolution will not be televised,” nor will it be discovered by any “news hole” reporter whose column inches are subordinate to advertising and info-mercials from the powers that be. I recall with anger that $100,000 full page ads, cash offered up front, were REFUSED by the NYT, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Shame!
As I usually do with Chomsky's works, I start with the last item, and then go back to the beginning. The heart of this book in my view is two-fold:
1) American intellectuals on both left and right, are timid, ignorant, lazy, and generally a pitiful mess. They have all fallen prey to ideological fantasy or agnostic oblivion. Absent Chomsky, Sy Hersh, and a few others (not counting authors like Francis Moore Lappe and others in the transpartisan mode), our media–broadcast, print, and web–is completely lacking and totally distorted in its failure to be a responsible fourth estate.
2) We the People have the power to change all this. Interestingly (at least to me), as Chompsky's book arrived via UPS I was reading the introduction by Lawrence Goodwyn to “The Populist Movement: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America” (Oxford, 1979). Both Chomsky and Goodwyn see clearly that there is a corporate dominance of “the national interest” that is completely at variance, 180 degrees contrary to “the public interest.” This may well be the single most significant political concept we must communicate to every American eligible to vote in 2008.
Chomsky makes much–and in my mind very properly so–of how the people and the varied organizations subordinate to the banks, corporations, and puppet government (both federal and state) have been “domesticated” to believe that the existing system is “as good as it gets” and that nothing can come of a popular revolt. However, and here I draw on Goodwyn, it is clear that the people can reach a breaking points, a point beyond which their suffering cannot be explained by “hard times” or “genetic sloth” or any of the other propaganda terms used to try to keep the 90% that do all the work still for their screwing by CEOs and Wall Street and the Federal Reserve.
Reading Chomsky is like a bracing splash of cold water. Early on in the book, an item dated 1 November 2002 (the dates for each Op-Ed are always present and much appreciated), he offers a modest proposal: that if the US insists on toppling Hussein, that it simply commission Iran to do so, and offer all the support it previously offered to Iraq against Iran. What an insane idea, he points out at the end, only to pointedly suggest that the only idea MORE insane is for the US to go it alone and lightly.
This morning I was re-reading Adda Bozeman's introduction to her brilliant work, “Strategic Intelligence & Statecraft,” and recalling how in 1992 (the same year that I tried to get the USG to take open sources of information seriously) she was very pointedly stating that the heart of strategic intelligence lay in understanding the cultural and religious values of others. Not something CIA has a clue about, especially today when 4 out of 5 “analysts” (more like junior butts in seats) have less than five years experience.
Chomsky is gifted at speaking truth to power, and it is significant that more and more people are reading what he writes–just as more and more people are reading my non-fiction reviews–the American public is now “engaged” and emergent from its slumber. Sadly, when other try to replicate his truth-telling, citing chapter and verse from “Sorrows of Empire,” or “War is a Racket” or “The Fifty Year Would,” or “Why the Rest Hate the West,” we get slammed down. Just yesterday I was told that a superb monograph on Intelligence & Information Operations (I2O) would be published officially, but only if I took out all the “conspiracy theory” quotes. The first one, on page 3, quoted General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his era, saying he did not like being an enforcer for corporations. So much for speaking the truth in Pentagon circles (where I usually get fairly free rein, to their credit).
Chomsky's other oft-repeated theme, but with all new words in all new Op-Eds tailored to the post 9/11 era, is that it is America that is the global terrorist, America that is the evil-doer. Let me be among those who stand with Chomsky. I declare, as the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction; as a former Marine Corps infantry officer, clandestine spy for the CIA, founder of the Marine Corps Intelligence Command, and devoted citizen and father with roots in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chomsky is correct. We are losing the global war of belief systems because we refuse to recognize our grotesque migration from a free people to an evil empire in which the people have no say over what is being done “in their name.” Sun Tzu knew that only those who know BOTH themselves, AND their enemy, will be victories. We know NEITHER ourselves nor our enemies, most of them of our own making. There are reasons for this, but the most important reason lies with our own failing as a public willing to demand the public interest in lieu of special interests.
No one need fear Chomsky, who loves America as much as I do. We need to fear only our inertia as disciplining those who have committed high crimes and misdemeanors, relying on our apathy. The list is long.
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America's Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception : How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Bush's BrainWhy We Fight