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(en) UK Solidarity Federation - DA #27 - Chomsky On Terrorism

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 24 Jun 2003 15:05:09 +0200 (CEST)


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Chomsky's most anticipated lecture ever, delivered a month after
9/11, and still just as razor-edge relevant.
Starting with the atrocities of September 11th and the even worse and
much larger scale atrocities which followed in Afghanistan, inflicted
by the US State, Chomsky presents a clear, accessible, incisive and
uncompromising view of the world. If you have heard or seen Chomsky
speak, you know what I mean, if not, this would be an excellent place
to start. In fact, even if you are weary of the whole Middle East
analysis thing, this CD is likely to re-inform and re-invigorate on this
crucial part of global history in the making.

On familiar territory, Chomsky starts by charting the background; the
US State’s slaughter of indigenous people and excursions into
slaughtering other populations, such as Mexico and the Philippines.
He also highlights 9/11 as the day the backlash hit the US mainland.

In more detail, he summarises the US State-sponsored carnage in
Nicaragua, how Nicaragua went to the world court and the UN
security council. The US State is the only organisation to have been
found guilty of international terrorism by the international court. After
the judgement, the US State treated it with contempt and ignored it.
Then, Nicaragua took their case to the UN Security Council, and
asked it to call on all states to observe international law. The US
vetoed the resolution, thus becoming the only country to have rejected
the idea that the world community should observe international law.
The US responded to these legal issues by immediately escalating the
war and turning its attention to ‘soft targets’ (i.e. unarmed
civilians), such as agricultural collectives, etc. Of course, the result
was a long and deadly campaign which left Nicaragua in a permanently
disabled state.

Terrorism works. The US has proved this - it uses terrorism more than
anyone else, and it remains the prime superpower. Terrorism is held to
be a weapon of the weak, but it has always been the weapon of choice
of the strong. The strong not only do most terrorism, but they also
control what is described as terrorism, so they choose not to refer to
what they do as ‘terror’, only the actions of their enemies. All
regimes have always done this - the Nazis justified their actions as a
war against the terrorism of communism and the allies – and of
course, to them, the allied resistance movements were terrorists using
terrorist methods. The Nazi manuals and methods of
counter-insurgency were of course subsequently captured and have
been applied by the US State since the Second World War.

The war against terrorism is "a struggle against a plague, a cancer,
which is spread by depraved barbarians and opponents of civilisation
itself." These are the words of the Reagan administration. He followed
this up by creating a huge terrorist network never before seen; the
core of US foreign policy. Now, according to the US army manual,
terrorism is; "the calculated use of violence, or the threat of violence,
to attain political or religious ideological goals through intimidation,
coercion, or instilling fear." The problem with this is that if you follow
this definition, the US chosen method of foreign policy, what they call
low intensity warfare, is almost exactly defined in the same way. In
December 1987, the UN passed a strong resolution on terrorism,
calling on all states to oppose it. Only the US and Israel voted against
it. Why? Because there was one paragraph in it saying that people
retain their rights to struggle and continue their resistance against
racist, colonialist regimes or foreign military occupations, and that
they could enlist the help of other countries in this. Enough said. So,
the US State, as the world superpower, is the only agency which can
decide what is terrorism and what is ‘legitimate’ military
action - since the US is the only and final arbiter as to what legitimacy
is.

Having assembled his historical evidence base, Chomsky then comes
back to 9/11 and talks of the direct agents and the wider causal links
behind the attacks. While he highlights the lack of evidence for the
alleged direct agents, he also goes into detail into the background - the
way in which the US created and sponsored the development of the
global network of radical Islamists, collectively now best known as Al
Qaeda. From here, he then articulates the recent history of the Middle
East and background to Iraq. As per usual Chomsky form, the detail is
stunning, yet the message is neither too complex nor demanding to
listen to.

A central plank of US State foreign policy is to assume that in the
‘war against terrorism’, the perpetrators are mad and nothing
the US State does will make any difference to their actions. This
allows it to bury its collective heads in the sand, and go around
murdering, bombing and whatever, while pretending that its actions do
not create reactions, such as escalating the cycle of violence. This is
perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of post-war US foreign
policy today, since it highlights the fact that the US State is like a
destructive, angry 8-year-old boy, complete with ‘I’m not
listening’ headphones on. The difference is it has all these buttons
to press, and millions die as a result.

In fact, violence has been the leading principle of European States
(and latterly, the US) for hundreds of years. Why? Because it works.
The problem with the alternative – following justice and
evidence-based channels – reveals too many skeletons in the
cupboard, not to mention raising questions about the legitimacy of the
agenda and of the nation state itself.

The message is clear; the US State does its own analysis - cost
benefit analysis - i.e., it balances the costs in terms of likely loss of
lives and carnage created, against the chance of a US-friendly regime
being created or other positive benefits accruing to the US State. If
the analysis balances up in favour, then the US embarks on the terror
operation. This is summarising and paraphrasing Chomsky, which is a
disservice, as he is far more eloquent and persuasive.
one by making students pay more
through increased loans. She also mentioned that these loans are
‘only about £13,000’, and assumed that we are becoming
used to going into debt and that loans don’t count against public
expenditure, whereas grants do. She did accept that there is
resistance to loans from the poorer students; therefore, there will be a
sliding scale of means tested grants, from nothing up to £1,000.
Institutes will also be able to charge ‘variable fees by 2006’.
There will be bursaries for the young people of low-income families.
This will, therefore, ‘open up access’. They can’t afford to
go back to grants ‘as in her days at university’, as there only
used to be 6-7% of young people in HE, and now they want 50%.
Loans are the tool to extend and widen participation.

She didn’t say what happens to the other 50% of 18-30 year olds
or those over 30. Nor did she mention the ‘foundation
degrees’. I began my questioning with the over 30s aspect. She
replied that they would still be able to access low-income grants and
so on, and would not be pushed out, as she has a strong belief in
‘lifelong learning’. On reflection, I can only assume that when
a major proportion of young people gain degrees, then there is an
assumption that there will be less need for older people to take them
as the years go by.

I then got onto the key question of the nature of the new degrees by
quoting the White Paper and its ‘work focused’ nature. She
confirmed this to be the case, saying that they were ‘more like the
old HND’s’, i.e. over two years, but based on the ‘skills
and competencies’ needed by the local and regional economies.
The White Paper makes it clear that the curriculum will be guided by
large corporates and companies through the RDAs, and, clearly, far
from having a problem with this, she is enthusiastic about it.


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