5.0 out of 5 starsExplosive Opening, Less Satisfying Conclusion, January 5, 2014
The book explodes on page one: no bankers arrested — none, zip, nada, rein — 7,762 Occupiers arrested from the first 80 in NYC on 24 September 2001 to the two arrested in SF on 15 June 2013. Talk about GRIFTOPIA — the police work for the thieves and arrest the owners!
There are a number of key insights within this book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wishes to pulse the state of the union — Chomsky, who eulogizes Howard Zinn throughout, brackets our current situation with two trenchant observations early on:
The U.S. midterm elections register a level of anger, fear and disillusionment in the country like nothing I can recall in my lifetime. Since the Democrats are in power, they bear the brunt of the revulsion over our current socioeconomic and political situation.
More than half the “mainstream Americans” in a Rasmussen poll last month said they view the Tea Party movement favorably – a reflection of the spirit of disenchantment.
The grievances are legitimate. For more than 30 years, real incomes for the majority of the population have stagnated or declined while work hours and insecurity have increased, along with debt. Wealth has accumulated, but in very few pockets, leading to unprecedented inequality.
These consequences mainly spring from the financialization of the economy since the 1970s and the corresponding hollowing-out of domestic production. Spurring the process is the deregulation mania favored by Wall Street and supported by economists mesmerized by efficient-market myths.
Phi Beta Iota: Emphasis added above. The chapter on “Legitimate Grievances” in ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (EIN, 2008) comes in two parts–domestic grievances warranting state nullification of federal abuse, and state consideration of secession if the legitimate Constitutionally-derived Republic cannot be restored; and global grievances occasioned by a century of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism working in unison to loot the commonwealths of all nations–our elite corrupted the other elites, and between them they have come very close to destroying what should be a prosperous world at peace.
Reports are glossing over the fact that this pertains to notes from large cities, not all across America, but it is none-the-less an interesting signal of “contamination.” Noam Chomsky would say this is another indicator that the USA is moving toward “failed state” status.
We draw two different conclusions: 1) that Canada is as much if not more of a threat to the USA because of its extraordinarily ineffective policing of its borders and its illegal alien and underground criminal populations, both Arab and Asian; and 2) the cross-contamination of bills is probably as much an indicator of increasing sophistication of money-laundering by gangs, to include increasing use of halawa and other “off-banking” means of international transfer.
5.0 out of 5 starsDick Cheney Pulls Noam Chomsky to the Center (Relatively Speaking)
October 18, 2007
Edit of 15 Jun 09 to correct factual error in original review (nuclear deal with Iran under Gerald Ford, not Ronald Reagan, in 1974).
Chomsky is actually starting to win over the balanced middle with his common sense. I have long respected him, but it took Dick Cheney and his merry band of nakedly amoral and obliviously delusional henchmen to really bring home to America how much his straight talk and logical thinking can help us.
There is virtually no repetition from past works. This series of interviews took place in 2006 and early 2007, and I found a great deal here worth noting.
* In 70 New York Times editorials on Iraq, not once did they mention international law or the United Nations Charter. He uses this and several other examples to show how pallid, how myopic, how unprofessional our mainstream media has become.
* A wonderful section talks about how civil *obedience* of immoral and illegal orders is our biggest challenge in this era, and I agree. The “failure of generalship” in the Pentagon resulted from a well-meaning but profoundly misdirected confusion of loyalty to the civilian chain of command, however lunatic, with the integrity that each of our senior swore to the Constitution and to We the People in their Oath of Office.
* His knowledge of Lebanon, a country I have come to love as representative of all that is good in the Middle East, is most helpful. His many remarks, all documented, make it clear that Israel has been abducting people for decades, and that the Lebanese have quite properly come to equate US “freedom” with the “kiss of death.” I am especially impressed with his discussion of Hezbollah as having legitimacy based on providing social services to those ignored by past governments, and as having a significant strategic value to Iran as a flank on Israel. His observations on how the US consistently refuses to recognize honest elections that do not go as the policymakers (not the US public) wish, are valid.
* He reminds us that the US made an enormous strategic mistake in using Saudi Arabian extremist Islam as a counterpoint to Nasser’s natural Arab nationalism. As Robert Baer puts it, we see no evil and slept with the devil like a common whore lusting for oil.
* His comments on China and the Shi’ites who sit on most of the reserves (including Saudi reserves in one corner of that country, are provocative. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the USA needs to cede the oil to China and execute a Manhattan Project to leverage solar power from space, tidal power, air power, and–for storage–hydrogen power made with renewable resources.
* Chomsky’s comments on Chavez track with my own understanding. Chavez is a serious and well-off revolutionary who is sharing energy with his Latin American brethren, and leading the independence of Latin America from the overbearing and often hypocritical and predatory US government and US multinational corporations.
* He offers compelling thoughts on how India is sacrificing hundreds of thousands of poor rural people who now commit suicide or migrate to cities after losing their lands, for the sake of the high technology investments. I wonder why India is not doing more to teach the poor “one cell call at a time.”
* His observations on US electoral fraud are brilliant. He points out that the fact that elections are stolen is much less important than the fact that the entire electoral process in the US is fraudulent, without substance, only posturing and platitudes.
* He discusses how the US public is completely divorced from the policy choices of the dual tyranny of the US (political) government and the US corporate sector.
* At every turn Chomsky offers common sense observations, for instance, Pakistan, not Iran, is vastly more likely to leak nuclear capabilities to jihadists. In passing, he points out that it was the US that gave the Shah of Iran an entire MIT nuclear program and substantive assistance that is now being harvested by Iran, in 1975. Kissinger, Cheney,Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz as well as Gerald Ford are mentioned by name.
* He observes that Israeli influence is vastly larger than the lobbying effort, because the entire US intellectual network has “bought into” the Israeli myths and lies. The American fascists (see American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America), the Christian fundamentalists, are actually anti-Semitic, but support Israel because of their belief in the apocalypse.
* The Internet is having a pernicious effect on dialog and debate and compromise, because it creates little cul-de-sacs for lunatics of like mind to find and reinforce one another, divorced from larger realities.
* Avian flu (and our lack of preparation for it) is vastly more dangerous than a nuclear event. (See my review of the DVD Pandemic).
* Missile “defense” is actually code for allowing a first strike by the US on Russia or China, as a means to moderating their counter-strike. This is the first time I have heard it put this way, and I agree. All Americans should oppose “missile defense.”
* State secrecy is about keeping our own citizens ignorant of the crimes being done “in our name” not about keeping secrets from the enemies we a re covertly screwing over time and again.
* Darfur is being dumbed down, at the same time that the *millions* being genocided in the Congo are being ignored.
* He ends on two good notes. Like Thomas Jefferson (A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry”) he says that “educating the American people is the main thing to be done,” and love of the people is fundamental.
Great book, completely fresh and absolutely worth reading for the mainstream that might have in the past written Chomsky off as a perennial leftist, which he is not. Chomsky is what we must all seek to be: an educated engaged citizen.
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.