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(en) Canada, Toronto, Media, (Anarchists sell papetrs?} Noam Chomsky on Selective Memory and a Dishonest Doctrine

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 22 Dec 2003 14:56:37 +0100 (CET)

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All people who have any concern for human rights, justice and integrity should be
overjoyed by the capture of Saddam Hussein, and should be awaiting a fair trial
for him by an international tribunal.
An indictment of Saddam's atrocities would include not only his slaughter
and gassing of Kurds in 1988 but also, rather crucially, his massacre of
the Shiite rebels who might have overthrown him in 1991.
At the time, Washington and its allies held the "strikingly
unanimous view (that) whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader,
he offered the West and the region a better hope for his
country's stability than did those who have suffered his
repression," reported Alan Cowell in the New York Times.

Last December, Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary,
released a dossier of Saddam's crimes drawn almost entirely
from the period of firm U.S.-British support of Saddam.

With the usual display of moral integrity, Straw's report and
Washington's reaction overlooked that support.

Such practices reflect a trap deeply rooted in the intellectual
culture generally — a trap sometimes called the doctrine of
change of course, invoked in the United States every two or
three years. The content of the doctrine is: "Yes, in the past
we did some wrong things because of innocence or
inadvertence. But now that's all over, so let's not waste any
more time on this boring, stale stuff."

The doctrine is dishonest and cowardly, but it does have
advantages: It protects us from the danger of understanding
what is happening before our eyes.

For example, the Bush administration's original reason for
going to war in Iraq was to save the world from a tyrant
developing weapons of mass destruction and cultivating links
to terror. Nobody believes that now, not even Bush's speech

The new reason is that we invaded Iraq to establish a
democracy there and, in fact, to democratize the whole Middle

Sometimes, the repetition of this democracy-building posture
reaches the level of rapturous acclaim.

Last month, for example, David Ignatius, the Washington Post
commentator, described the invasion of Iraq as "the most
idealistic war in modern times" — fought solely to bring
democracy to Iraq and the region.

Ignatius was particularly impressed with Paul Wolfowitz, "the
Bush administration's idealist in chief," whom he described as
a genuine intellectual who "bleeds for (the Arab world's)
oppression and dreams of liberating it."

Maybe that helps explain Wolfowitz's career — like his
strong support for Suharto in Indonesia, one of the last
century's worst mass murderers and aggressors, when
Wolfowitz was ambassador to that country under Ronald

As the State Department official responsible for Asian affairs
under Reagan, Wolfowitz oversaw support for the murderous
dictators Chun of South Korea and Marcos of the Philippines.

All this is irrelevant because of the convenient doctrine of
change of course.

So, yes, Wolfowitz's heart bleeds for the victims of oppression
— and if the record shows the opposite, it's just that boring
old stuff that we want to forget about.

One might recall another recent illustration of Wolfowitz's
love of democracy. The Turkish parliament, heeding its
population's near-unanimous opposition to war in Iraq, refused
to let U.S. forces deploy fully from Turkey. This caused
absolute fury in Washington.

Wolfowitz denounced the Turkish military for failing to
intervene to overturn the decision. Turkey was listening to its
people, not taking orders from Crawford, Texas, or
Washington, D.C.

The most recent chapter is Wolfowitz's "Determination and
Findings" on bidding for lavish reconstruction contracts in
Iraq. Excluded are countries where the government dared to
take the same position as the vast majority of the population.

Wolfowitz's alleged grounds are "security interests," which
are non-existent, though the visceral hatred of democracy is
hard to miss — along with the fact that Halliburton and
Bechtel corporations will be free to "compete" with the vibrant
democracy of Uzbekistan and the Solomon Islands, but not
with leading industrial societies.

What's revealing and important to the future is that
Washington's display of contempt for democracy went side by
side with a chorus of adulation about its yearning for

To be able to carry that off is an impressive achievement, hard
to mimic even in a totalitarian state.

Iraqis have some insight into this process of conquerors and

The British created Iraq for their own interests. When they ran
that part of the world, they discussed how to set up what they
called Arab facades — weak, pliable governments,
parliamentary if possible, so long as the British effectively

Who would expect that the United States would ever permit
an independent Iraqi government to exist? Especially now that
Washington has reserved the right to set up permanent
military bases there, in the heart of the world's greatest
oil-producing region, and has imposed an economic regime that
no sovereign country would accept, putting the country's fate
in the hands of Western corporations.

Throughout history, even the harshest and most shameful
measures are regularly accompanied by professions of noble
intent — and rhetoric about bestowing freedom and

An honest look would only generalize Thomas Jefferson's
observation on the world situation of his day: "We believe no
more in Bonaparte's fighting merely for the liberties of the
seas than in Great Britain's fighting for the liberties of
mankind. The object is the same, to draw to themselves the
power, the wealth and the resources of other nations."

Political activist and author Noam Chomsky is a professor of
linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His
new book is "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for
Global Dominance (The American Empire Project)"

Toronto Star

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