Transcript: Noam Chomsky on The Imperial Presidency | Jan 29, 2005

Noam Chomsky stands on a wooden podium on a stage and addresses an unseen audience. A hand-made banner on a nearby table reads "Dimension."
Noam is in his seventies, clean-shaven, with short white hair. He's wearing glasses and a gray sweater over a blue shirt.

He says IT GOES
WITHOUT SAYING THAT ANYTHING
THAT HAPPENS IN THE UNITED
STATES HAS AN ENORMOUS IMPACT
ON THE REST OF THE WORLD, THE
LAST ELECTION, FOR EXAMPLE,
AND, CONVERSELY, THAT'S
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, WHAT
HAPPENS IN THE REST OF THE
WORLD CANNOT HELP BUT HAVE AN
IMPORTANT, IN FACT, DECISIVE,
CRUCIAL, OFTEN, IMPACT ON THE
UNITED STATES, AND THAT HAPPENS
IN SEVERAL WAYS.
FOR ONE THING, IT SETS
CONSTRAINTS ON WHAT EVEN THE
MOST POWERFUL STATE CAN DO.
BUT IN A MORE SIGNIFICANT WAY,
WHAT HAPPENS ELSEWHERE, LIKE
HERE, INFLUENCES THE DOMESTIC
COMPONENT OF WHAT THE NEW YORK
TIMES RUEFULLY DESCRIBED AS THE
SECOND SUPERPOWER, NAMELY WORLD
PUBLIC OPINION, AFTER THE
ENORMOUS PROTESTS AGAINST THE
UH-- RIGHT BEFORE THE IRAQ
INVASION.
AND THOSE PROTESTS WERE A
CRITICALLY IMPORTANT HISTORICAL
EVENT.
WE SHOULD NOT FORGET WHY.
FIRST OF ALL, THEIR SCALE WAS
QUITE UNPRECEDENTED.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Noam Chomsky. The imperial presidency. Canadian Dimension Magazine Benefit. November 21, 2004."

Noam continues BUT ALSO IT
WAS THE FIRST TIME IN HUNDREDS
OF YEARS OF THE HISTORY OF
EUROPE AND IT'S NORTH AMERICAN
OFFSHOOTS, THAT A WAR WAS
PROTESTED, AND IN FACT,
MASSIVELY PROTESTED BEFORE IT
WAS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED.
AND THAT IS AN HISTORIC EVENT,
AND IT TELLS US A LOT ABOUT
WHERE WE'VE COME, AND SHOULD BE
ENCOURAGING, NOT DEPRESSING.
TAKE, SAY, BY
COMPARISON, THE WAR, WHAT'S
CALLED THE VIETNAM WAR,
ACTUALLY, THE WAR AGAINST SOUTH
VIETNAM THAT WAS LAUNCHED BY
JOHN F. KENNEDY IN 1962.
IT WAS BRUTAL AND BARBARIC FROM
THE OUTSET.
IT BEGAN WITH BOMBING OF
UNPROTECTED CIVILIAN TARGETS,
CHEMICAL WARFARE TO DESTROY
FOOD CROPS, SO AS TO STARVE OUT
CIVILIAN SUPPORT FOR THE
INDIGENOUS RESISTANCE, PROGRAMS
TO DRIVE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO
VIRTUAL CONCENTRATION CAMPS OR
URBAN SLUMS TO ELIMINATE THE
POPULAR BASE FOR THE
RESISTANCE.
BY THE TIME PROTESTS REACHED A
SUBSTANTIAL SCALE, IN '67, THE
HIGHLY RESPECTED AND QUITE
HAWKISH VIETNAM SPECIALIST, AND
MILITARY HISTORIAN BERNARD FALL
WONDERED, QUOTING HIM, "WHETHER
VIETNAM AS A historic and
cultural entity would escape
extinction, AS THE COUNTRYSIDE
LITERALLY DIES under the BLOWS
OF THE LARGEST MILITARY MACHINE
EVER UNLEASHED ON an area OF
THIS size," MOST PARTICULARLY
SOUTH VIETNAM, WHICH WAS THE
MAIN TARGET OF THE U.S.
ASSAULT, AND WHEN PROTEST
FINALLY DID DEVELOP, MANY YEARS
TOO LATE, IT WAS MOSTLY
DIRECTED AGAINST THE PERIPHERAL
CRIMES, THE EXTENSION OF THE
WAR TO THE NORTH AND INTO
INDOCHINA.
THESE WERE TERRIBLE CRIMES, BUT
LESSER ONES, AND IT'S QUITE
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER HOW MUCH
THE WORLD HAS CHANGED THROUGH
DEEPLY COMMITTED POPULAR
STRUGGLE, AND THE STATE
MANAGERS ARE WELL AWARE OF IT.
WHEN A NEW PRESIDENT COMES IN,
THE FIRST THING HE DOES, HAS
DONE, IS AN INTELLIGENCE
ASSESSMENT.
THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY, AS
IT'S CALLED, GIVES AN
ASSESSMENT OF THE WORLD
SITUATION.
AND GEORGE BUSH NUMBER 1, HE
DID IT, TOO.
SO IN 1989, THERE WAS AN
ASSESSMENT OF THE WORLD
SITUATION, AND A PIECE OF IT
LEAKED.
SOMEBODY-- USUALLY WE DON'T
HEAR ABOUT THESE THINGS FOR,
LIKE, 40 YEARS, IF EVER, BUT A
LITTLE PART OF IT LEAKED, AND
WAS PUBLISHED, AND WAS KIND OF
HUSHED UP.
AND IT WAS AN INTERESTING PART.
SOMEONE IN THE PENTAGON OR THE
CIA OR SOMEWHERE DIDN'T LIKE
IT, AND LEAKED IT TO THE PRESS.
IT WAS A DISCUSSION OF THE TYPE
OF WARS THAT THE U.S. WOULD BE
FIGHTING, WARS AGAINST WHAT IT
CALLED MUCH WEAKER ENEMIES, THE
ONLY TYPE OF WARS YOU FIGHT IF
YOU HAVE ANY SENSE.
WARS AGAINST MUCH WEAKER
ENEMIES, IT SAID, IN THE CASE
OF SUCH WARS, THE UNITED STATES
WOULD HAVE TO WIN THEM RAPIDLY
AND DECISIVELY, BECAUSE THERE
SIMPLY IS NO POLITICAL SUPPORT
FOR ANYTHING MORE THAN THAT.
IT'S NOT LIKE THE '60s, WHEN
YOU CAN GO ON FOR YEARS AND
YEARS WITH NO PROTEST, AND
DESTROY A COUNTRY BEFORE IT
SIGNIFICANTLY DEVELOPS.
WELL THAT'S SIGNIFICANT.
I MEAN THE WORLD IS A PRETTY
AWFUL PLACE, AND YOU CAN LOOK
AT IT AND GET PRETTY DEPRESSED
BUT IT'S FAR BETTER THAN IT WAS
YESTERDAY, AND THAT'S NOT ONLY
WITH REGARD TO THE
UNWILLINGNESS TO TOLERATE
AGGRESSION, BUT ALSO IN
INNUMERABLE OTHER WAYS, MANY OF
WHICH WE NOW JUST TAKE FOR
GRANTED, WHICH IS GOOD.
WE SHOULD TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED
BUT WE SHOULD ALSO REMEMBER
THAT NOT MANY YEARS AGO IT
WASN'T LIKE THAT.
WELL THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT
LESSONS, AND THEY SHOULD ALWAYS
BE FOREMOST IN OUR MIND.
IF WE HAD A LITTLE MORE TIME,
I'D INTENDED TO SAY A COUPLE OF
WORDS ABOUT CANADA'S ROLE IN
INDOCHINA WARS, WHICH IS PRETTY
INTERESTING, BUT I'LL SKIP
THAT.
I'LL SAY I'M BEING POLITE.
BUT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT,
IF YOU DON'T ALREADY.
IT'S PRETTY UGLY.
WELL, WITHOUT FORGETTING THE
VERY SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS
TOWARD MORE CIVILISED
SOCIETIES, WHICH HAS TAKEN
PLACE IN THE PAST YEARS, AND
CRUCIALLY, THE REASONS FOR IT,
NAMELY POPULAR ENGAGEMENT IN
STRUGGLE, LET'S FOCUS
NEVERTHELESS ON THE PRESENT,
AND ON THE TOPIC THAT WAS
SUGGESTED FOR THIS EVENING, THE
NOTIONS OF IMPERIAL SOVEREIGNTY
THAT ARE NOW BEING CRAFTED.
IT'S NOT SURPRISING THAT AS THE
POPULATION BECOMES MORE
CIVILISED, POWER SYSTEMS BECOME
MORE EXTREME IN THEIR EFFORTS
TO CONTROL THE "GREAT BEAST,"
AS THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF U.S.
SOCIETY, CALLED THE PEOPLE, THE
HATED AND FEARED PEOPLE.
THE CONCEPTIONS OF POPULAR
SOVEREIGNTY THAT ARE BEING
CRAFTED BY THE RADICAL, STATIST
REACTIONARIES OF THE BUSH
ADMINISTRATION ARE, IN FACT, SO
EXTREME, THAT THEY'VE DRAWN
UNPRECEDENTED CRITICISM IN THE
MOST SOBER AND RESPECTED
ESTABLISHMENT CIRCLES,
ACTUALLY, IT'S PRETTY HELPFUL
TO PEOPLE LIKE ME.
INSTEAD OF QUOTING YOU KNOW,
SORT OF, FAR OUT TYPES, YOU CAN
QUOTE THE MOST RESPECTED
MAINSTREAM JOURNALS, AND
THEY'RE SAYING MORE...
STRONGER THINGS THAN YOU MIGHT
HAVE SAID YOURSELF.
THE ADMINISTRATIONS IDEAS OF
PRESIDENTIAL SOVEREIGNTY WERE
TRANSMITTED TO THE PRESIDENT BY
THE NEWLY APPOINTED ATTORNEY
GENERAL, ALBERTO GONZALES.
AT THAT TIME, HE WAS THE
PRESIDENT'S COUNSEL, AND HE'S
DEPICTED NOW AS A MODERATE IN
THE PRESS.
HIS VIEWS ON THIS ARE DISCUSSED
BY THE VERY RESPECTED,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR,
SANFORD LEVINSON IN THE CURRENT
ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL OF THE
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND
SCIENCES.
YOU CAN'T GET MORE RESPECTABLE
THAN THAT.
LEVINSON WRITES THAT THE
CONCEPTION BEING CRAFTED BY THE
STATE DEPARTMENT AND
TRANSMITTED BY GONZALES, IS
BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT,
"THERE EXISTS NO NORM THAT IS
APPLICABLE TO CHAOS."
AND THAT QUOTE, AS LEVINSON
COMMENTS, IS FROM CARL SCHMITT,
THE LEADING GERMAN PHILOSOPHER
OF LAW DURING THE NAZI PERIOD.
LEVINSON DESCRIBES HIM AS, "THE
TRUE EMINENCE GRISE OF THE BUSH
ADMINISTRATION."
THE ADMINISTRATION, ADVISED BY
GONZALES, HAS, QUOTING
LEVINSON, "HAS ARTICULATED A
VIEW OF PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY
THAT IS ALL TOO CLOSE TO THE
POWER THAT SCHMITT WAS WILLING
TO ACCORD HIS OWN FUHRER."
ONE RARELY HEARS WORDS LIKE
THAT FROM THE HEART OF THE
ESTABLISHMENT.
THE SAME ISSUE OF THAT SUPER-
RESPECTABLE JOURNAL HAS AN
ARTICLE BY TWO LEADING
STRATEGIC ANALYSTS ON WHAT'S
CALLED, "THE TRANSFORMATION OF
THE MILITARY." THAT'S ANOTHER
COMPONENT OF THE NEW DOCTRINES
OF IMPERIAL SOVEREIGNTY THAT
ARE BEING CRAFTED, THAT'S THE
RAPID EXPANSION OF OFFENSIVE
WEAPONRY, INCLUDING THE
MILITARIZATION OF SPACE, IN
THIS CASE, JOINED APPARENTLY BY
CANADA, AND OTHER MEASURES THAT
ARE DESIGNED TO PLACE THE
ENTIRE WORLD AT RISK OF INSTANT
ANNIHILATION.
AND THESE HAVE ELICITED THE
ANTICIPATED REACTIONS BY
POTENTIAL TARGETS, RUSSIA AND
CHINA, WHO ARE DEVELOPING THEIR
OWN OFFENSIVE WEAPONRY IN ORDER
TO OVERWHELM IT.
THESE TWO ANALYSTS CONCLUDE
THAT THE U.S. PROGRAMS MAY LEAD
TO, IN THEIR WORDS, "ULTIMATE DOOM."
AND THEY EXPRESS THEIR HOPE
THAT A COALITION OF PEACE-
LOVING NATIONS WILL COALESCE AS
A COUNTER TO U.S. MILITARISM
AND AGGRESSIVENESS, A COALITION
LED BY CHINA.
WE'VE COME TO A PRETTY PASS
WHEN SUCH SENTIMENTS ARE VOICED
IN SOBER AND RESPECTABLE
CIRCLES, WHICH AREN'T GIVEN TO
HYPERBOLE.
AND WHEN THEIR FAITH IN U.S.
DEMOCRACY IS SO SLIGHT THAT
THEY LOOK TO CHINA TO SAVE US
FROM MARCHING TOWARDS ULTIMATE
DOOM.
AND IT'S UP TO THE SECOND
SUPERPOWER TO DECIDE WHETHER
THAT CONTEMPT FOR THE GREAT
BEAST IS WARRANTED.
WELL, GOING BACK TO GONZALES,
THE PRESIDENT'S COUNSEL, THEN.
HE TRANSMITTED TO THE PRESIDENT
THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT, THAT THE PRESIDENT
HAS THE AUTHORITY TO RESCIND
THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS, THAT'S
THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND,
UNDER THE U.S. CONSTITUTION,
AND THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN
INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW.
AND GONZALES, ADVISED THE
PRESIDENT THAT THIS WOULD BE A
GOOD IDEA, IN HIS WORDS, "IT
SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCES THE
THREAT OF DOMESTIC CRIMINAL
PROSECUTION, OF ADMINISTRATION
OFFICIALS, UNDER THE "WAR
CRIMES ACT" OF 1996, WHICH
CARRIES THE DEATH PENALTY FOR
"GRAVE BREACHES" OF GENEVA
CONVENTIONS.
SO HE BETTER RESCIND THEM
QUICKLY.
WELL, WE CAN SEE RIGHT ON
TODAY'S FRONT PAGES, WHY THE
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WAS RIGHT TO
BE CONCERNED THAT THE PRESIDENT
AND HIS ADVISERS MIGHT BE
SUBJECT TO THE DEATH PENALTY
UNDER THE LAWS PASSED BY THE
REPUBLICAN CONGRESS IN 1996,
AND OF COURSE, UNDER THE
PRINCIPLES OF NUREMBERG, IF
ANYONE TOOK THEM SERIOUSLY.
TWO WEEKS AGO, ON THE FRONT
PAGE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES,
PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED, WAS A
PICTURE, A PICTURE OF FALLUJAH
GENERAL HOSPITAL.
THE ACCOMPANYING STORY SAID,
"PATIENTS AND HOSPITAL
EMPLOYEES WERE RUSHED OUT OF
ROOMS BY ARMED SOLDIERS AND
ORDERED TO SIT OR LIE ON THE
FLOOR WHILE TROOPS TIED THEIR
HANDS BEHIND THEIR BACKS."
AND THAT'S WHAT THE PICTURE SHOWS, ARMED
SOLDIERS STANDING OVER PEOPLE
LYING -- PATIENTS AND DOCTORS
LYING ON THE FLOOR WITH THEIR
HANDS TIED BEHIND THEIR BACKS.
AND THAT'S DESCRIBED IN THE
STORY, IN THE FRONT PAGE STORY,
AS AN IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENT.
QUOTE, THE NEW YORK TIMES, "IT
SHUT DOWN A PROPAGANDA WEAPON
FOR THE MILITANTS."
FALLUJAH GENERAL HOSPITAL, HAD BEEN
PRODUCING A STREAM OF REPORTS
OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, AND
THESE "INFLATED" FIGURES, I
MEAN INFLATED BECAUSE OUR
LEADER SO DECLARES, WERE
"INFLAMING OPINION THROUGHOUT
THE COUNTRY."
"FIXED ESTABLISHMENTS AND
MOBILE MEDICAL UNITS OF THE
MEDICAL SERVICE MAY, IN NO
CIRCUMSTANCES BE ATTACKED, AND
SHALL AT ALL TIMES BE RESPECTED
AND PROTECTED BY THE PARTIES TO
THE CONFLICT."
SO, PAGE ONE OF THE WORLD'S
LEADING NEWSPAPER IS CHEERFULLY
DEPICTING WAR CRIMES FOR WHICH
THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP COULD
BE SENTENCED TO DEATH UNDER
U.S. LAW.
NO WONDER THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
WARNED THE PRESIDENT, AS HIS
COUNSEL, THAT HE SHOULD USE THE
CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY THAT
THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
CONCOCTED, TO RESCIND THE
SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND,
ADOPTING THE CONCEPT OF
PRESIDENTIAL SOVEREIGNTY
DEVISED BY HITLER'S PRIMARY
LEGAL ADVISER, "THE TRUE
EMINENCE GRISE OF THE BUSH
ADMINISTRATION," ACCORDING TO A
DISTINGUISHED CONSERVATIVE
AUTHORITY ON CONSTITUTIONAL
LAW, WRITING IN PERHAPS THE
MOST RESPECTABLE AND SOBER
JOURNAL IN THE COUNTRY.
WELL, THE WORLD'S GREATEST
NEWSPAPER ALSO TELLS US, "THAT
THE U.S. MILITARY ACHIEVED
NEARLY ALL THEIR OBJECTIVES IN
FALLUJAH, WELL AHEAD OF
SCHEDULE, LEAVING MUCH OF THE
CITY IN SMOKING RUINS.
BUT IT WAS NOT-- I'M QUOTING,
"BUT IT WAS NOT A COMPLETE SUCCESS."
WHY?
"THERE IS LITTLE EVIDENCE OF
DEAD 'PACKRATS' IN THEIR
'WARRENS' OR THE STREETS," NOW
THOSE ARE THEIR WORDS, NOT MINE.
THEY DID FIND A BODY OF A DEAD
WOMAN, THOUGH IT IS NOT KNOWN
WHETHER SHE WAS AN IRAQI OR A
FOREIGNER.
THAT'S THE ONLY QUESTION THAT'S
RAISED, AND APPARENTLY THE ONLY
ONE THAT COMES TO MIND.
THESE ARE ALL ON THE FRONT
PAGES OF THE WORLDS GREATEST
NEWSPAPER.
THE FRONT-PAGE ACCOUNT ALSO
QUOTES A MARINE COMMANDER WHO
SAYS, "IT OUGHT TO GO DOWN IN
THE HISTORY BOOKS," AND PERHAPS
IT SHOULD.
IF SO, WE KNOW VERY WELL, ON
JUST WHAT PAGE OF HISTORY IT
WILL GO DOWN, AND WHO WILL BE
RIGHT BESIDE IT, ALONG WITH
THOSE WHO PRAISE IT, OR FOR
THAT MATTER EVEN TOLERATE IT.
ONE MIGHT AT LEAST MENTION THE
COUNTERPARTS THAT IMMEDIATELY
COME TO MIND, LIKE, FOR
EXAMPLE, THE RUSSIAN
DESTRUCTION OF GROZNY 10 YEARS AGO.
THAT'S A CITY OF ABOUT THE SAME
SIZE.
OR SREBRENICA, WHICH IS ALMOST
UNIVERSALLY DESCRIBED AS
GENOCIDE IN THE WEST.
IN THAT CASE, AS WE KNOW IN
DETAIL FROM AN EXTENSIVE DUTCH
GOVERNMENT REPORT AND OTHER
SOURCES, THIS MUSLIM ENCLAVE IN
SERB TERRITORY, WHICH WAS VERY
LIGHTLY PROTECTED, WAS BEING
USED AS A BASE FOR ATTACKS
AGAINST SERB VILLAGES, AND WHEN
THE ANTICIPATED REACTION TOOK
PLACE, IT WAS HORRENDOUS.
THE SERBS DROVE--
DROVE OUT ALL BUT MILITARY AGE
MEN, AND THEN MOVED IN TO KILL
THEM.
THAT'S FAMILIAR, THAT'S
FALLUJAH, BASICALLY, BUT THERE
ARE DIFFERENCES.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE NOT
BOMBED OUT OF SREBRENICA, AS IN
THE FALLUJAH CASE, BUT THEY
WERE TRUCKED OUT.
AND THERE WILL BE NO EXTENSIVE
EFFORTS, WE CAN BE SURE OF
THAT, TO EXHUME THE LAST
POSSIBLE CORPSE OF THE PACKRATS
IN THEIR WARRENS IN FALLUJAH.
AND THERE ARE OTHER
DIFFERENCES, WHICH ARE ARGUABLY
UNFAIR TO THE SERBS.
WELL, IT COULD BE ARGUED THAT
ALL THIS IS IRRELEVANT.
THE NUREMBERG TRIBUNAL,
SPELLING OUT THE U.N. CHARTER,
DECLARED, AND I'M QUOTING IT,
"THAT INITIATION OF A WAR OF
AGGRESSION IS THE SUPREME
INTERNATIONAL CRIME, DIFFERING
ONLY FROM OTHER WAR CRIMES IN
THAT IT CONTAINS WITHIN ITSELF
THE ACCUMULATED EVIL OF THE
WHOLE," HENCE THE WAR CRIMES IN
FALLUJAH, ABU GHRAIB, AND SO ON.
THESE-- THOSE JUDGED TO HAVE
PLAYED ANY ROLE IN THE SUPREME
CRIME, FOR EXAMPLE, THE GERMAN
FOREIGN MINISTER, WERE
SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HANGING,
AND THE TOKYO TRIBUNAL WAS FAR
MORE SEVERE.
IN FACT, THERE IS AN IMPORTANT
BOOK ON THE TOPIC, IF YOU
HAVEN'T READ IT, YOU SHOULD, BY
THE CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL
LAWYER MICHAEL MANDEL, WHO
REVIEWS IN UNFORTUNATELY
CONVINCING DETAIL, HOW THE
POWERFUL HAVE SELF-IMMUNISED--
BECOME SELF-IMMUNISED FROM
INTERNATIONAL LAW.
IN FACT, THE NUREMBERG TRIBUNAL
ITSELF ESTABLISHED THIS
PRINCIPLE OF SELF-IMMUNITY.
TO BRING THE NAZI CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE, IT
WAS NECESSARY TO DEVISE
DEFINITIONS OF "WAR CRIME" AND
"CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY," WHICH
HADN'T EXISTED PRECISELY IN
INTERNATIONAL LAW.
AND HOW THIS WAS DONE IS
EXPLAINED CANDIDLY BY TELFORD
TAYLOR, WHO WAS THE CHIEF
COUNSEL FOR THE PROSECUTION AT
NUREMBURG, AND A DISTINGUISHED
INTERNATIONAL LAWYER AND
HISTORIAN.
SO I'LL QUOTE HIM, "SINCE BOTH
SIDES IN WORLD WAR II HAD
PLAYED THE TERRIBLE GAME OF
URBAN DESTRUCTION, THE ALLIES
FAR MORE SUCCESSFULLY, THERE
WAS NO BASIS FOR CRIMINAL
CHARGES AGAINST GERMANS AND
JAPANESE, AND IN FACT NO SUCH
CHARGES WERE BROUGHT.
AERIAL BOMBARDMENT HAD BEEN
USED SO EXTENSIVELY AND
RUTHLESSLY ON THE ALLIED SIDE,
AS WELL AS THE AXIS SIDE, THAT
NEITHER AT NUREMBERG NOR TOKYO
WAS THE ISSUE MADE A PART OF
THE TRIALS."
SO IN OTHER WORDS, IT GOES ON
LIKE THIS, "THE OPERATIVE
DEFINITION OF 'CRIME' IS,
'CRIME THAT YOU COMMITTED AND
WE DID NOT.'
AND TO UNDERSCORE THE FACT,
NAZI WAR CRIMINALS WERE
ABSOLVED IF THE DEFENCE COULD
SHOW THAT THEIR U.S.
COUNTERPARTS CARRIED OUT THE
SAME CRIMES.
TAYLOR CONCLUDES FROM THIS,
THAT "TO PUNISH THE FOE,
ESPECIALLY THE VANQUISHED FOE,
FOR CONDUCT IN WHICH THE
ENFORCER NATION HAS ENGAGED,
WOULD BE SO GROSSLY INEQUITABLE
AS TO DISCREDIT THE LAWS
THEMSELVES."
WHICH IS CORRECT, BUT THE
OPERATIVE DEFINITION ALSO
DISCREDITS THE LAWS THEMSELVES,
ALONG WITH ALL SUBSEQUENT
TRIBUNALS, WHICH FOLLOW THE
SAME PRINCIPLE.
TAYLOR PROVIDES THIS BACKGROUND
AS PART OF HIS EXPLANATION OF
WHY U.S. BOMBING IN VIETNAM WAS
NOT A WAR CRIME, AND HIS
ARGUMENT IS PLAUSIBLE, FURTHER
DISCREDITING THE LAWS
THEMSELVES.
SOME OF THE SUBSEQUENT
TRIBUNALS ARE DISCREDITED IN
PERHAPS EVEN MORE EXTREME WAYS,
SUCH AS THE YUGOSLAVIA VERSUS
NATO CASE WHICH IS NOW BEING
ADJUDICATED BY THE
INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE,
WORLD COURT.
THE U.S. WAS EXCUSED,
CORRECTLY, ON THE BASIS OF THE
ARGUMENT THAT IT IS NOT SUBJECT
TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE
COURT IN THIS CASE.
THE REASON IS THAT WHEN THE
UNITED STATES SIGNED THE
GENOCIDE CONVENTION, WHICH IS
AT ISSUE HERE, THE U.S. FINALLY
DID SIGN IT AFTER 40 YEARS, IT
SIGNED IT WITH A RESERVATION,
SAYING THAT IT IS INAPPLICABLE
TO THE UNITED STATES, AND THE
RULES OF THE WORLD COURT SAY
THAT THEY CAN ONLY DEAL WITH
SOMETHING IF BOTH SIDES ARE
SUBJECTED TO ITS JURISDICTION.
NOW THERE WAS AN OUTRAGED
COMMENT ON THE EFFORTS OF
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAWYERS TO
DEMONSTRATE THAT THE PRESIDENT
HAS THE RIGHT TO AUTHORISE
TORTURE.
A COMMENT BY THE DEAN OF YALE
LAW SCHOOL, HOWARD KOH SAID
THAT "THE NOTION THAT THE
PRESIDENT HAS THE
CONSTITUTIONAL POWER TO PERMIT
TORTURE, IS LIKE SAYING HE HAS
THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER TO
COMMIT GENOCIDE."
WELL, THE PRESIDENT'S LEGAL
ADVISERS, AND THE NEW ATTORNEY
GENERAL, SHOULD HAVE LITTLE
DIFFICULTY ARGUING THAT THE
PRESIDENT INDEED DOES HAVE THAT
POWER, IF THE SECOND
SUPERPOWER, THAT'S US, PERMITS
HIM TO EXERCISE IT.
LET'S LOOK AT THE PRETEXT FOR
THE U.S.-BRITISH AGGRESSION IN
IRAQ, THE SUPREME INTERNATIONAL
CRIME THAT ENCOMPASSES
EVERYTHING THAT FOLLOWS.
THE PRETEXT WAS THE RIGHT OF
WHAT'S CALLED "ANTICIPATORY
SELF DEFENCE," AND NOW IT'S
SOMETIMES CALLED "PRE-EMPTIVE
WAR," IN A RADICAL PERVERSION
OF THAT CONCEPT.
THIS RIGHT OF ANTICIPATORY
SELF-DEFENCE WAS PROCLAIMED
OFFICIALLY IN THE BUSH
ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL
SECURITY STRATEGY OF SEPTEMBER
2002, WHICH DECLARED
WASHINGTON'S RIGHT TO RESORT TO
FORCE TO ELIMINATE ANY
POTENTIAL CHALLENGE TO ITS
GLOBAL DOMINANCE.
ANY POTENTIAL THREAT IF YOU
LIKE.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY
WAS VERY WIDELY CRITICIZED
AMONG THE FOREIGN POLICY ELITE.
RIGHT AWAY, THERE WAS AN
ARTICLE WITHIN WEEKS, IN THE
MAIN ESTABLISHMENT JOURNAL,
"FOREIGN AFFAIRS," WHICH WARNED
THAT WHAT IT CALLED, "THE NEW
IMPERIAL GRAND STRATEGY" WOULD
BE--
COULD BE VERY DANGEROUS FOR THE
UNITED STATES.
AND THE CRITICISM CONTINUED,
AGAIN AT A COMPLETELY
UNPRECEDENTED LEVEL, RIGHT AT
THE CORE OF THE MAINSTREAM, BUT
ON NARROW GROUNDS.
IT WAS NOT THAT THE DOCTRINE
WAS WRONG, BUT RATHER ITS STYLE
AND MANNER OF IMPLEMENTATION.
CLINTON'S SECRETARY OF STATE,
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SHE SUMMED
UP THE CRITICISM PRETTY
ACCURATELY, ALSO IN "FOREIGN
AFFAIRS, THAT'S YOU KNOW, A
MAIN ESTABLISHMENT JOURNAL.
SHE POINTED OUT THAT EVERY
PRESIDENT HAS SUCH A DOCTRINE,
BUT KEEPS IT IN HIS BACK
POCKET, AND IT IS SIMPLY
FOOLISH TO SMASH PEOPLE IN THE
FACE WITH IT, AND TO IMPLEMENT
IT IN A MANNER THAT IS GOING TO
INFURIATE EVEN ALLIES.
THAT IS THREATENING TO U.S.
INTERESTS, AND THEREFORE WRONG.
ALBRIGHT KNEW, OF COURSE, THAT
CLINTON HAD A SIMILAR DOCTRINE.
THE CLINTON DOCTRINE, I'LL QUOTE IT,
"ADVOCATED UNILATERAL USE OF
MILITARY POWER TO DEFEND VITAL
INTERESTS, SUCH AS ENSURING
UNINHIBITED ACCESS TO KEY
MARKETS, ENERGY SUPPLIES AND
STRATEGIC RESOURCES."
THAT'S WITHOUT EVEN THE
PRETEXTS THAT BUSH AND BLAIR
DEVISED.
YOU TAKE LITERALLY, THE CLINTON
DOCTRINE IS MORE EXPANSIVE THAN
BUSH'S NATIONAL SECURITY
STRATEGY.
BUT UNLIKE THE BUSH STRATEGY,
THE MORE EXPANSIVE CLINTON
DOCTRINE WAS BARELY EVEN
REPORTED, IN FACT I'M NOT SURE
IT WAS REPORTED AT ALL, AND NOT
CRITICISED.
THE REASON IS, IT WAS PRESENTED
WITH THE RIGHT STYLE, AND
IMPLEMENTED LESS BRAZENLY.
THAT'S THE WAY YOU SHOULD DO
IT, IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A
CAREER IN DIPLOMACY.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues HENRY KISSINGER DESCRIBED THE
BUSH DOCTRINE AS, IN HIS WORDS,
"REVOLUTIONARY."
HE POINTED OUT THAT IT
UNDERMINES THE 17th WESTPHALIAN
SYSTEM OF INTERNATIONAL ORDER
AND SOVEREIGNTY, AND OF COURSE
HE DIDN'T EVEN BOTHER
MENTIONING IT UNDERMINES THE
U.N. CHARTER AND CURRENT
INTERNATIONAL LAW.
KISSINGER APPROVED OF THE
DOCTRINE BUT WITH RESERVATIONS,
THE USUAL RESERVATIONS ABOUT
STYLE AND TACTICS, AND WITH A
CRUCIAL QUALIFICATION.
HE SAID, "IT CANNOT BE A
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE AVAILABLE
TO EVERY NATION."
RATHER, THE RIGHT OF AGGRESSION
MUST BE RESERVED TO THE UNITED
STATES, PERHAPS DELEGATED TO
CHOSEN CLIENTS.
SO WE MUST FORCEFULLY REJECT
THE PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY,
THE PRINCIPLE THAT WE APPLY TO
OURSELVES THE SAME STANDARDS WE
APPLY TO OTHERS, MORE STRINGENT
ONES IF WE ARE SERIOUS.
BUSH AND BLAIR, WHO WE'RE TOLD
READ THE GOSPELS RELIGIOUSLY
ALL THE TIME, MUST KNOW THE
FAMOUS DEFINITION OF THE
HYPOCRITE IN THE GOSPELS,
REPEATED A COUPLE OF TIMES, BUT
MAYBE IT DIDN'T GET FROM THE
EYES TO WHAT LIES BEHIND OR
WHATEVER.
AND KISSINGER, I THINK, IS TO
BE PRAISED, AS OFTEN, FOR HIS
HONESTY IN VERY FORTHRIGHTLY
ARTICULATING THE PREVAILING
DOCTRINES, WHICH ARE USUALLY
CONCEALED IN PROFESSIONS OF
VIRTUOUS INTENT AND TORTURED
LEGALISMS.
AND KISSINGER ALSO UNDERSTANDS
HIS EDUCATED AUDIENCE.
AS HE DOUBTLESS EXPECTED, THERE
WAS NO REACTION.
WELL, HIS UNDERSTANDING OF HIS
AUDIENCE WAS ILLUSTRATED AGAIN,
RATHER DRAMATICALLY, JUST A
COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, LAST MAY.
LAST MAY, I DON'T KNOW IF IT
WAS REPORTED HERE, SOME
KISSINGER-NIXON TAPES WERE
RELEASED, OVER KISSINGER'S
STRONG OBJECTIONS.
AND THERE WAS A REPORT IN THE
WORLD'S LEADING JOURNAL, THE
NEW YORK TIMES.
THE REPORT MENTIONED IN PASSING
THE ORDERS TO BOMB CAMBODIA,
THAT KISSINGER TRANSMITTED FROM
NIXON TO THE MILITARY
COMMANDERS.
IN KISSINGER'S WORDS, "A
MASSIVE BOMBING CAMPAIGN IN
CAMBODIA. ANYTHING THAT FLIES
ON ANYTHING THAT MOVES."
DID YOU GET THAT?
"ANYTHING THAT FLIES ON
ANYTHING THAT MOVES."
WELL I THINK THAT'S UNIQUE IN
THE ARCHIVAL RECORD.
AT LEAST I'VE NEVER COME ACROSS
A CALL FOR GENOCIDE IN SUCH
EXPLICIT TERMS.
THE PUBLICATION WOULD CERTAINLY
CALL IT GENOCIDE IF ANYBODY
ELSE WERE RESPONSIBLE.
AND THIS IS A CALL FOR IT.
THE PUBLICATION ELICITED NO
REACTION, AND THAT,
INCIDENTALLY, REFUTES DEAN KOH
OF THE YALE LAW SCHOOL.
IT IS SIMPLY TAKEN FOR GRANTED
IN THE ELITE INTELLECTUAL
CULTURE THAT THE PRESIDENT AND
HIS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER
DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO ORDER
GENOCIDE, CONTRARY TO KOH'S
OUTRAGED CLAIM.
WELL JUST IMAGINE IF THE
PROSECUTORS AT THE MILOSEVIC
TRIBUNAL COULD FIND ANYTHING
EVEN REMOTELY SIMILAR.
THEY WOULD BE OVERJOYED, YOU
KNOW, THE TRIAL WOULD BE OVER,
SEVERAL LIFE SENTENCES, THE
DEATH PENALTY IF IT ADHERED TO
U.S. LAW.
BUT REMEMBER, THAT IS THEM, NOT
US, AND THE DIFFERENCE IS A
CORE PRINCIPLE OF THE ELITE
INTELLECTUAL CULTURE IN THE
WEST, AND IN FACT, THROUGHOUT
HISTORY RATHER GENERALLY, IF
YOU LOOK.
THE PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY
IS THE MOST ELEMENTARY OF MORAL
TRUISMS.
IT IS THE FOUNDATION OF "JUST
WAR THEORY" AND IN FACT OF
EVERY SYSTEM OF MORALITY, WHICH
IS WHY IT'S REPEATED OVER AND
OVER AGAIN IN THE GOSPELS.
REJECTION OF MORAL TRUISMS IS A
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF
INTELLECTUAL CULTURE, SO DEEPLY
ROOTED AS TO BE INVISIBLE.
AND JUST TO ILLUSTRATE AGAIN
HOW DEEPLY ENTRENCHED IT IS,
NOW THAT'S THE WORLD IN WHICH
WE LIVE, INCIDENTALLY, IT'S NOT
SOME EXOTIC THING ON MARS --
LET'S RETURN TO THE PRINCIPLE
OF "ANTICIPATORY SELF-DEFENCE,"
WHICH IS ADOPTED AS LEGITIMATE
BY BOTH POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS
IN THE UNITED STATES, AND
ACROSS VIRTUALLY THE ENTIRE
SPECTRUM OF ARTICULATE OPINION,
LESS THE USUAL MARGINS.
THE PRINCIPLE HAS SOME
IMMEDIATE COROLLARIES.
SO IF THE UNITED STATES IS
GRANTED THE RIGHT OF
"ANTICIPATORY SELF-DEFENCE."
AGAINST TERROR, THEN,
CERTAINLY, CUBA, NICARAGUA, IN
FACT A LONG HOST OF OTHERS
HAVE BEEN ENTITLED FOR YEARS,
TO CARRY OUT TERRORIST ACTS
WITHIN THE UNITED STATES.
BECAUSE THERE
IS NO DOUBT ABOUT U.S.
INVOLVEMENT IN VERY SERIOUS
TERRORIST ATTACKS AGAINST THEM,
EXTENSIVELY DOCUMENTED IN
IMPECCABLE SOURCES.
IN THE CASE OF NICARAGUA, EVEN
CONDEMNED BY THE WORLD COURT
AND THE SECURITY COUNCIL, IN
TWO RESOLUTIONS THAT THE U.S.
VETOED, WITH BRITAIN LOYALLY
ABSTAINING. THE CONCLUSION THAT
CUBA AND NICARAGUA, AMONG MANY
OTHERS, HAVE LONG HAD THE RIGHT
TO CARRY OUT TERRORIST
ATROCITIES IN THE U.S. THAT
CONCLUSION, IS OF COURSE
UTTERLY OUTRAGEOUS, AND
ADVOCATED BY NO ONE.
AND THANKS TO
OUR OWN SELF-DETERMINED
IMMUNITY FROM MORAL TRUISMS,
THERE IS NO FEAR THAT ANYONE
WILL DRAW THE OUTRAGEOUS
CONCLUSIONS THAT FOLLOW FROM
OUR DOCTRINES.
AND THERE ARE ACTUALLY STILL
MORE OUTRAGEOUS ONES.
SO I DON'T KNOW ANYONE, FOR
EXAMPLE, WHO GOES OUT IN THE
STREETS EVERY DECEMBER 7th, TO
CELEBRATE PEARL HARBOR DAY BY
APPLAUDING THE FASCIST LEADERS
OF IMPERIAL JAPAN.
BUT BY OUR STANDARDS, THAT'S
EXACTLY WHAT WE SHOULD BE
DOING.
THE BOMBING OF MILITARY BASES
IN THE U.S. COLONIES OF HAWAII
AND THE PHILIPPINES WAS
ENTIRELY LEGITIMATE AND
PRAISEWORTHY, ACCORDING TO OUR
STANDARDS.
THE JAPANESE LEADERS KNEW VERY
WELL THAT B-17 FLYING
FORTRESSES WERE COMING OFF THE
BOEING PRODUCTION LINES, AND
THEY WERE SURELY READING THE
U.S. PRESS, AND VERY FAMILIAR
WITH THE VERY PUBLIC
DISCUSSIONS IN THE UNITED
STATES, AT THE TIME, EXPLAINING
HOW THESE PLANES COULD BE USED
TO INCINERATE JAPAN'S WOODEN
CITIES IN WHAT WAS CALLED A WAR
OF EXTERMINATION, FLYING FROM
HAWAIIAN AND PHILIPPINE BASES,
AND THAT'S A FAR MORE POWERFUL
JUSTIFICATION FOR ANTICIPATORY
SELF-DEFENCE THAN ANYTHING
CONJURED UP BY BUSH AND BLAIR
AND THEIR ASSOCIATES, AND
SUPPORTERS.
WELL, FORTUNATELY, WE ARE ONCE
AGAIN PROTECTED FROM SUCH
CONCLUSIONS BY THE PRINCIPLED
REJECTION OF ELEMENTARY MORAL
TRUISMS.
IT'S VERY EASY TO CONTINUE, BUT
TOO EASY, IN FACT, SO I WON'T
GO ON WITH SOME OTHER EXAMPLES
I WAS GOING TO GO INTO.
BUT ALL OF THIS, YOU KNOW, I
COULD CITE EXAMPLES AT LENGTH.
IT'S HARD TO FIND AN EXCEPTION.
IT DOES LEAVE OPEN A CRUCIAL
QUESTION.
HOW DOES THE GREAT BEAST REACT?
THAT IS, THE DOMESTIC U.S.
COUNTERPART OF THE SECOND
SUPERPOWER?
WELL, THERE'S A CONVENTIONAL
ANSWER.
THAT IS THAT THE POPULATION
APPROVES OF ALL OF THIS, AS WAS
JUST SHOWN AGAIN BY ELECTION OF
GEORGE BUSH, LEADING TO WHAT IS
IT, 150,000 PEOPLE TRYING TO
COME NORTH.
BUT THEY'RE MISUNDERSTANDING
WHAT HAPPENED, AND AS IS OFTEN
THE CASE, A CLOSER LOOK IS
HELPFUL, SO LET'S TAKE A
SLIGHTLY CLOSER LOOK.
THE WINNING CANDIDATE LAST
NOVEMBER RECEIVED ABOUT 31 percent OF
THE ELIGIBLE VOTE, THE LOSER
29 percent. THE RESULTS WERE VERY
CLOSE TO WHAT THEY HAD BEEN IN
THE YEAR 2000, THE SAME --
VIRTUALLY THE SAME RED AND BLUE
STATES, AS THEY'RE CALLED.
A FEW PERCENTAGE SHIFT IN VOTE
WOULD, WHICH IS ALMOST A RANDOM
EVENT, WOULD HAVE MEANT THAT
KERRY HAD WON, ALSO TELLING US
NOTHING ABOUT THE COUNTRY AND
THE ELECTORATE.
THE REASON IS THAT ISSUES OF
SUBSTANCE WERE VERY CONSCIOUSLY
KEPT OUT OF THE CAMPAIGN.
YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT
POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS ARE
DESIGNED BY THE SAME INDUSTRIES
THAT SELL TOOTHPASTE AND CARS,
AND SO ON.
THAT'S NOT AN EXAGGERATION,
THEY'RE RUN BY THE PUBLIC
RELATIONS INDUSTRY.
WHAT IS THEIR PROFESSIONAL
CONCERN IN THEIR REGULAR
VOCATION?
WELL IT'S NOT TO PROVIDE
INFORMATION.
THEIR GOAL, RATHER, IS DECEIT,
AND THAT'S NOT A SECRET.
EVERY TIME YOU TURN ON THE TUBE
YOU SEE IT.
HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
A YEAR ARE SPENT ON WHAT'S
CALLED ADVERTISING, WHICH DOES
NOT, SAY, LISTING THE
PROPERTIES OF NEXT YEAR'S CARS,
AS WOULD HAPPEN IN AN
UNIMAGINABLE MARKET SOCIETY,
BASED ON WHAT YOU STUDY IN
ECONOMICS COURSES, INFORMED
CONSUMER CHOICE.
THAT'S A TOTAL MYTH.
RATHER, WHAT-- JUST TAKE A LOOK
AT THE ADVERTISING, IT TELLS
YOU WHY.
THE POINT IS NOT TO PRESENT
INFORMATION, IT'S TO DECEIVE
YOU.
THAT'S WHY THE CAR -- LIKE GM
DOESN'T TELL YOU, HERE'S WHAT
I'M GOING TO PRODUCE NEXT YEAR.
IT TAKES ONE MINUTE AND NO
MONEY.
WHAT IT DOES, IS SHOW THE CAR
WITH A SEXY MODEL IN IT, OR A
SPORTS HERO, YOU KNOW, DOING
SOME RIDICULOUS THING LIKE
CLIMBING UP A SHEER CLIFF OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues AND IT'S SOME--
THE POINT IS, AND IT'S TRUE, OF
THE WHOLE HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS
OF DOLLARS, IS TO PRESENT SOME
KIND OF AN IMAGE THAT MIGHT
DECEIVE THE CONSUMER INTO
BUYING THIS CAR INSTEAD OF THE
VIRTUALLY IDENTICAL ONE
PRODUCED BY A COMPETITOR.
THAT'S THE PRIME COMMITMENT OF THE PUBLIC
RELATIONS INDUSTRY, AND A WAY-
ONE OF THE MANY WAYS OF
UNDERMINING THE MYTH ABOUT
MARKETS, WHICH NOBODY BELIEVES
IN, UNLESS YOU CAN FORCE THEM
ON SOMEONE ELSE.
AND THE SAME IS TRUE OF
ELECTIONS, WHICH ARE RUN BY THE
PR INDUSTRY.
THE GOAL IS TO
PROJECT IMAGES, AND TO DECEIVE
THE PUBLIC INTO ACCEPTING THEM,
WHILE SIDELINING ISSUES, FOR
GOOD REASONS, TO WHICH I'LL
COME BACK, AND THE POPULATION
KNOWS IT, THEY'RE NOT STUPID.
ABOUT 10 percent OF VOTERS SAY THEIR
CHOICE IS BASED ON THE
CANDIDATE'S -- READING THE
POLLING QUESTION, ON THE
CANDIDATE'S "AGENDAS, IDEAS,
PLATFORMS, GOALS."
THAT'S 6 percent OF KERRY VOTERS, AND
13 percent OF BUSH VOTERS, ESSENTIALLY
NOBODY.
THE REST RELY ON WHAT THE
INDUSTRY CALLS "QUALITIES" AND
"VALUES."
SO, DOES THE CANDIDATE PROJECT
THE IMAGE OF A STRONG LEADER,
THE KIND OF GUY YOU'D LIKE TO
MEET IN A BAR, OR SOMEBODY WHO
CARES ABOUT YOU AND IS JUST
LIKE YOU?
MY GUESS, I HAVE NO EVIDENCE,
BUT I'M JUST GUESSING, IS THAT
BUSH IS VERY CAREFULLY TRAINED
TO SAY THINGS LIKE "NUCULAR."
AND "MISUNDERESTIMATE" AND THE
OTHER SILLINESS THAT
INTELLECTUALS LIKE TO RIDICULE.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues THAT'S PROBABLY ABOUT AS REAL
AS THE RANCH THAT WAS
CONSTRUCTED FOR HIM, AND THE
REST OF THE FOLKSY MANNER.
AFTER ALL, IT WOULDN'T DO TO
PRESENT HIM AS A SPOILED FRAT
BOY FROM YALE, WHO BECAME RICH
AND POWERFUL BECAUSE OF HIS
RICH AND POWERFUL CONNECTIONS
AND FAMILY.
RATHER, THE IMAGERY PROJECTED
HAS TO BE A GUY JUST LIKE US,
YOU KNOW, NOT ONE OF THESE
FANCY TYPES.
A GUY WHO'LL PROTECT US, WHO
CARES ABOUT US, WHO SHARES
ABOUT OUR "MORAL VALUES,"
THAT'S THE IMAGERY THAT'S ABOUT
AS REAL AS IN TOOTHPASTE ADS.
NOT SURPRISINGLY, IT'S DONE BY
THE SAME PEOPLE.
BUSH, IN THAT CASE, THE POINT
IS TO UNDERMINE MARKETS, IN
THIS CASE, THE POINT IS TO
UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY.
IT'S THE SAME PRINCIPLE.
BUSH, IF YOU LOOK, RECEIVED A
LARGE MAJORITY AMONG VOTERS WHO
SAID THEY WERE CONCERNED
PRIMARILY WITH "MORAL VALUES."
AND "TERRORISM."
NOW AS FOR BUSH'S MORAL VALUES,
THERE'S AN EASY WAY TO FIND OUT
WHAT THEY ARE.
READ THE BUSINESS PRESS THE DAY
AFTER THE ELECTION.
IT DESCRIBES WHAT IT CALLED THE
"EUPHORIA" IN CORPORATE BOARD
ROOMS, AND SO ON.
THAT'S NOT BECAUSE CEOs ARE
OPPOSED TO GAY MARRIAGE.
MOST OF THEM ARE WHAT ARE
CALLED LIBERALS.
I MEAN THEIR SOCIAL VALUES ARE
ABOUT THE SAME AS YOU KNOW, THE
CANADIAN DIMENSION, PROBABLY.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT
THEIR MORAL VALUES, THE BUSH
MORAL VALUES, JUST OBSERVE THE
PRINCIPLE, THE BASIC PRINCIPLE,
WHICH IS NOT CONCEALED.
THE PRINCIPLE IS THAT COSTS ARE
TO BE TRANSFERRED TO OUR
CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN, NOW
THAT'S ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS,
FISCAL COSTS, AND THE REST.
IT'S NOT CONCEALED, AND THOSE
ARE INDEED, THE MORAL VALUES.
NOW THE POINT OF THE PR
INDUSTRY IS TO PREVENT YOU FROM
SEEING ANYTHING AS OBVIOUS AS
THAT.
WHAT ABOUT TERROR?
WELL, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS
THAT BUSH'S PLANNERS ESCALATED
THE THREAT OF TERROR, AND
PRETTY CONSCIOUSLY.
IT HAD BEEN PREDICTED, EVEN BY
THEIR OWN INTELLIGENCE
AGENCIES, THAT WOULD BE THE
CONSEQUENCE OF THE WAR IN IRAQ,
AND IT TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE.
AND THEY DID IT, BECAUSE IT'S
JUST NOT A HIGH PRIORITY FOR
THEM, SURELY AS COMPARED WITH
MUCH MORE SERIOUS GOALS, SUCH
AS ESTABLISHING SECURE MILITARY
BASES IN A DEPENDENT CLIENT
STATE RIGHT AT THE HEART OF THE
WORLD'S ENERGY RESOURCES.
WELL, YOU KNOW, THAT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT, IT'S CRITICALLY
IMPORTANT TO ENSURE THAT THE
HUGE PROFITS -- ONE HISTORIAN
OF THE INDUSTRY CALLS THEM,
"PROFITS BEYOND THE DREAMS OF
AVARICE."
IT'S IMPORTANT TO ENSURE THAT
THEY GO INTO THE RIGHT POCKETS.
AND EVEN MEANING U.S. ENERGY
CORPORATIONS, AND IN FACT MUCH
MORE THAN THAT, THE U.S.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, HIGH TECH
INDUSTRY, WHICH SELLS WEAPONS
AND SO ON, CONSTRUCTION
CORPORATIONS, AND SO ON,
BECHTEL AND THE REST OF THEM.
AND EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN
ENSURING THAT THE HUGE PROFITS
BEYOND THE DREAM OF AVARICE GO
TO THE RIGHT PLACE, CERTAINLY
NOT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE
REGION, THAT'S OUT OF THE
QUESTION, BUT NOT TO
COMPETITORS EITHER, MOSTLY TO
THE U.S.
MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT, IS THE UH,
WHAT IS CALLED THE STUPENDOUS
STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF THE
MIDDLE EAST REGION, BACK 60
YEARS AGO, AND IT'S BEEN
UNDERSTOOD EVER SINCE.
NAMELY, HAVING
A HAND ON THE SPIGOT GUARANTEES
WHAT PLANNERS 50 YEARS AGO
CALLED "VETO POWER" OVER
OTHERS.
THAT'S GEORGE KENNAN, FAVOURED
IT OF COURSE, JUST HIS
SUCCESSOR, ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI
WROTE A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO,
THAT CONTROLLING IRAQ GIVES THE
UNITED STATES CRITICAL LEVERAGE
OVER EUROPEAN AND ASIAN
ECONOMIES, VETO POWER, IN OTHER
WORDS, AND CONTROLLING THOSE
RIVALS HAS BEEN A MAJOR CONCERN
OF POLICY PLANNERS EVER SINCE
WORLD WAR II.
THEY ARE, TO QUOTE HENRY
KISSINGER, THEY ARE "TO KEEP TO
THEIR REGIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES
WITHIN THE OVERALL FRAMEWORK OF
ORDER, MANAGED BY THE UNITED
STATES."
THAT'S WHAT KISSINGER
INSTRUCTED EUROPEANS, IN HIS
"YEAR OF EUROPE" ADDRESS 30
YEARS AGO, AND SOMETIMES THEY
GET OUT OF LINE, SO YOU CAN USE
THE CRITICAL LEVERAGE.
THAT IS NOW MUCH MORE URGENT
THAN IT WAS IN THE PAST, AS
THEY KEEP THREATENING TO MOVE
IN AN INDEPENDENT COURSE, MAYBE
EVEN UNITED.
SO THE EUROPEAN UNION AND CHINA
BECAME EACH OTHER'S LEADING
TRADING PARTNERS LAST YEAR, AND
THESE TIES ARE BECOMING EVEN
TIGHTER.
IT NOW INCLUDES--
IT, OF COURSE, INCLUDING THE
WORLD'S SECOND LARGEST ECONOMY,
JAPAN.
SO CRITICAL LEVERAGE IS MORE
IMPORTANT THAN EVER FOR WORLD
CONTROL IN WHAT'S SOMETIMES
CALLED A TRIPOLAR WORLD, THREE
MAJOR POWER CENTRES, THAT HAS
BEEN EVOLVING FOR 40 YEARS, AND
NOW MUCH MORE SO.
IN COMPARISON TO THIS, THE
THREAT OF TERROR IS A PRETTY
MINOR CONSIDERATION, ALTHOUGH
THE THREAT IS KNOWN TO BE
AWESOME.
LONG BEFORE 9-11 IT WAS CLEARLY
UNDERSTOOD AND WRITTEN ABOUT IN
TECHNICAL PUBLICATIONS, THAT
THE--
THAT SOONER OR LATER, THE
JIHADIST TERROR THAT WAS
ORGANISED BY THE U.S. AND ITS
ALLIES IN THE 1980s, IS LIKELY
TO COMBINE WITH WEAPONS OF MASS
DESTRUCTION, WHICH COULD HAVE
HORRIFYING CONSEQUENCES, BUT
IT'S JUST NOT A HIGH PRIORITY.
THOSE WHO THOUGHT THEY WERE
VOTING FOR SOMEBODY WHO WAS
GOING TO PROTECT THEM FROM
TERROR, AND HAS THEIR MORAL
VALUES, ARE SEVERELY DECEIVED.
WELL, U.S. PUBLIC OPINION IS
ACTUALLY STUDIED WITH GREAT
CARE AND DEPTH, WE KNOW A LOT
ABOUT IT, THERE WERE MAJOR
STUDIES RELEASED BY THE MOST
PRESTIGIOUS OUTFITS JUST BEFORE
THE ELECTION, AND THEY SHOWED
THAT PEOPLE PLANNING TO VOTE
FOR BUSH ASSUMED THAT THE
REPUBLICAN PARTY SHARED THEIR
VIEWS, EVEN THOUGH THE PARTY
EXPLICITLY REJECTED THEM, AS
WAS SHOWN.
AND PRETTY MUCH THE SAME IS
TRUE OF KERRY SUPPORTERS.
JUST MODIFIED SLIGHTLY IF YOU
GIVE A VERY SYMPATHETIC
INTERPRETATION OF OCCASIONAL
VAGUE STATEMENTS THAT MOST
VOTERS HAD PROBABLY NEVER EVEN
HEARD.
THE MAJOR CONCERNS OF KERRY
SUPPORTERS WERE THE ECONOMY AND
HEALTH CARE, AND THEY ASSUMED,
FALSELY, AS IT TURNED OUT, THAT
HE SHARED THEIR VIEWS ON THESE
MATTERS, JUST AS BUSH VOTERS
ASSUMED, FALSELY, THAT THE
REPUBLICANS SHARED THEIR VIEWS.
SO, TO SUMMARISE ALL THIS,
AMONG THOSE WHO BOTHERED TO
VOTE,
THEY MOSTLY ACCEPTED THE
IMAGERY THAT WAS CONCOCTED BY
THE PR INDUSTRY, JUST AS IN THE
NONEXISTENT MARKETS THAT WE'RE
TAUGHT ABOUT IN ECONOMICS
CLASSES, AND THE IMAGERY HAD
ONLY THE VAGUEST RESEMBLANCE TO
REALITY.
THAT'S , OF COURSE, APART FROM
THE MORE WEALTHY, WHO TEND TO
VOTE THEIR CLASS INTERESTS.
APPARENTLY EVEN MORE SO IN 2004
THAN IN 2000, WHICH PROBABLY
ACCOUNTS FOR MOST OF THE SMALL
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO
YEARS.
WELL WHAT ABOUT ACTUAL PUBLIC
ATTITUDES?
THAT'S CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT,
ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO WANT
TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
WELL, AGAIN, RIGHT BEFORE THE
ELECTION, IN OCTOBER, MAJOR
STUDIES WERE RELEASED REPORTING
PUBLIC ATTITUDES IN THE UNITED
STATES.
THE MAJORITY BELIEVES THAT THE
UNITED STATES SHOULD ABANDON
THE SECURITY COUNCIL VETO, AND
FOLLOW U.N. DECISIONS EVEN IF
IT DOESN'T APPROVE OF THEM.
THE MAJORITY AGAIN BELIEVE THAT
DIPLOMATIC--
THAT THE U.S. SHOULD RELY ON
DIPLOMATIC AND ECONOMIC
MEASURES MORE THAN MILITARY
ONES IN THE SO-CALLED "WAR ON
TERROR," AND HERE'S A CRUCIAL
ONE, THE U.S. SHOULD USE FORCE
ONLY IF, AND I'M QUOTING,
"THERE IS STRONG EVIDENCE THAT
THE COUNTRY IS IN IMMINENT
DANGER OF BEING ATTACKED."
THAT MEANS A LARGE MAJORITY
REJECT THE BIPARTISAN CONSENSUS
ON SO-CALLED "PRE-EMPTIVE WAR."
AND ADOPTING A RATHER
CONVENTIONAL INTERPRETATION OF
THE U.N. CHARTER.
OVERWHELMING MAJORITIES OF THE
PUBLIC FAVOUR THE EXPANSION OF
PURELY DOMESTIC PROGRAMS,
PRIMARILY HEALTH CARE, IT'S
80 percent.
BUT ALSO EXPANDED AID TO EDUCATION AND
EXPANDING SOCIAL SECURITY, ALSO
LIKE, 60 percent-70 percent.
THAT'S OFTEN -- THAT'S BEEN
FOUND FOR YEARS IN THE SAME
STUDIES, CARRIED OUT BY THE
MOST REPUTABLE ORGANIZATIONS
THAT MONITOR PUBLIC OPINION.
IN OTHER MAINSTREAM POLLS, 80 percent
FAVOUR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE.
THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S ALSO BEEN TRUE
FOR A LONG TIME.
THE NUMBERS VARY DEPENDING ON
EXACTLY HOW THE QUESTIONS ARE ASKED.
OCCASIONALLY THE PRESS
DISCUSSES THIS, AND SAYS, YEAH,
EVERYBODY SEEMS TO WANT IT, BUT
THERE'S A PHRASE FOR IT, IT'S
CALLED "POLITICALLY
IMPOSSIBLE."
THAT'S WHY THE NEW YORK TIMES
DESCRIBES--
HOW THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS
DESCRIBED IT IN THE PAST.
JUST AGAIN, A COUPLE OF DAYS
BEFORE THE ELECTION, THE NEW
YORK TIMES HAD AN ARTICLE ON
THIS, AND HERE'S WHAT IT SAID.
IT SAYS, "THERE IS SO LITTLE
POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR
GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN THE
HEALTH CARE MARKET IN THE
UNITED STATES," THAT'S NOT
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, BUT ANY
GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN THE
HEALTH CARE MARKET.
"THERE'S SO LITTLE POLITICAL
SUPPORT FOR IT, THAT JOHN KERRY
TOOK PAINS IN A RECENT
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, TO SAY
THAT HIS PLAN FOR EXPANDING
ACCESS TO HEALTH INSURANCE
WOULD NOT CREATE A NEW
GOVERNMENT PROGRAM."
THAT IS, WHAT THE LARGE
MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION
WANT, BUT IT IS POLITICALLY
IMPOSSIBLE AND THAT'S CORRECT.
IT'S OPPOSED BY THE INSURANCE
COMPANIES, THE PHARMACEUTICAL
INDUSTRY, AND WALL STREET, SO
IT'S THEREFORE POLITICALLY
IMPOSSIBLE, IN A COUNTRY WHERE
THE ELITE DOESN'T--
NOT ONLY DOESN'T PRETEND THAT
IT'S A DEMOCRACY, BUT DOESN'T
WANT IT TO BE.
SO, LIKE IF 80 percent OF THE
POPULATION WANTS SOMETHING,
IT'S POLITICALLY IMPOSSIBLE AND
HAS NO POLITICAL SUPPORT IF
IT'S NOT SUPPORTED IN THE
PLACES THAT MATTER.
WELL, I COULD GO ON WITH THESE
STUDIES WHICH ARE QUITE
INTERESTING, BUT ONE
INTERESTING THING ABOUT THEM IS
THAT THEY ARE HELD BY PEOPLE IN
VIRTUAL ISOLATION.
THEY RARELY HEAR THEM, THEY
PROBABLY REGARD THEM AS
IDIOSYNCRATIC, LIKE I'M THE
ONLY PERSON IN THE COUNTRY WHO
THINKS THIS.
THEY DON'T ENTER INTO POLITICAL
CAMPAIGNS.
THEY ONLY ENTER VERY MARGINALLY
INTO ARTICULATE OPINION IN THE
MEDIA AND JOURNALS.
AND THE SAME EXTENDS TO OTHER
DOMAINS, AND IT RAISES QUITE
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT
WE CALL A "DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT."
WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
OTHERS.
SOME OF THESE CASES ARE VERY
REVEALING.
SO YOU REMEMBER THAT LAST MARCH
SPANISH VOTERS VOTED OUT A
GOVERNMENT WHICH HAD GONE TO
WAR IN OPPOSITION TO ABOUT 90 percent
OF THE POPULATION.
WELL, WHEN THE SPANISH
GOVERNMENT DID GO TO WAR,
JOINING THE U.S. OVER HUGE,
ALMOST UNIVERSAL OBJECTION, IT
WAS VERY HIGHLY PRAISED IN THE
UNITED STATES AND BRITAIN AND
MUCH OF THE WEST.
IT WAS DESCRIBED, AS YOU
REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS CALLED,
THE NEW EUROPE, THE HOPE FOR
THE FUTURE, THE HOPE FOR
DEMOCRACY, NAMELY COUNTRIES
THAT, IF YOU LOOK AT THE
CRITERION THAT DISTINGUISH THE
GOOD GUYS, NEW EUROPE, FROM THE
BAD GUYS, OLD EUROPE, IT'S VERY
STRAIGHTFORWARD, ALMOST
IMPOSSIBLE TO MISS.
IT TOOK REAL DEDICATION TO THE
PARTY LINE TO MISS IS, AND IT
WAS UNIVERSALLY MISSED, ALMOST.
THE CRITERION WAS THAT IF A
GOVERNMENT TAKES THE SAME
POSITION AS AN OVERWHELMING
MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION,
IT'S OLD EUROPE, THE BAD GUYS.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues DOESN'T HAVE DEMOCRATIC
CREDENTIALS.
THAT WAS THE TERM THAT WAS
ACTUALLY USED.
ON THE OTHER HAND, IF THE
GOVERNMENT FOLLOWS THE ORDERS
FROM CRAWFORD, TEXAS, AND
OVERRULES THE VAST MAJORITY OF
THE POPULATION, AROUND 90 percent IN
SPAIN'S CASE, THEN IT'S THE
HOPE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC FUTURE.
TELLS YOU A LOT ABOUT THE
CONCEPTION OF DEMOCRACY.
WELL, LAST MARCH, SPANISH
VOTERS VOTED OUT THAT
GOVERNMENT, AND THEY WERE
BITTERLY CONDEMNED FOR
APPEASING TERROR, AND YOU KNOW,
YOU REMEMBER ALL OF THAT.
I DIDN'T SEE ANYBODY POINT OUT
THAT THE VOTERS IN SPAIN TOOK
ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME
POSITION AS ABOUT 70 percent OF
AMERICANS -- SOUTH OF THE
BORDER, ABOUT 70 percent OF PEOPLE IN
THE UNITED STATES WERE IN
FAVOUR OF WHAT I JUST SAID,
TRANSFERRING AUTHORITY FOR
RECONSTRUCTION, SECURITY
POLITICAL TRANSFER IN IRAQ, TO
THE UNITED NATIONS.
IN FACT THAT HAD BEEN TRUE FOR
ABOUT A YEAR AT THAT TIME, AND
THAT'S WHAT THE SPANISH VOTERS
VOTED FOR.
THEY DIDN'T VOTE FOR PULLING
OUT THEIR TROOPS, THEY SAID
LEAVE THEM THERE, ONLY UNDER
U.N. AUTHORITY.
WELL THERE'S A DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN SPAIN AND THE UNITED
STATES.
IN SPAIN, PEOPLE KNEW WHAT
PUBLIC OPINION WAS.
IN THE UNITED STATES, TO FIND
IT OUT, YOU'VE GOT TO DO A
RESEARCH PROJECT.
IT'S THERE, YOU KNOW, BUT
YOU'VE GOT TO DO SOME WORK.
AND IN SPAIN, PEOPLE COULD VOTE
FOR IT, IN THE UNITED STATES,
COMPLETELY OFF THE ELECTORAL
AGENDA.
IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO KEEP
ISSUES OUT OF THE ELECTORAL
AGENDA, BECAUSE OF POPULAR
ATTITUDES.
WELL, YOU COULD ASK, WHAT WOULD
THE RESULT BE, IF THE PARTIES,
LET'S SAY EITHER OF THEM, HAD
BEEN WILLING TO ARTICULATE
PEOPLE'S CONCERNS, EVEN ON THE
ISSUES THAT PEOPLE PICK AS MOST
IMPORTANT, OR WHAT WOULD HAPPEN
IF SUCH ISSUES WERE ALLOWED TO
ENTER MAINSTREAM DISCUSSIONS.
WELL ABOUT THAT, WE CAN ONLY
SPECULATE, BUT WE DO KNOW THAT
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN, AND THAT THE
FACTS ARE BARELY EVEN REPORTED.
IT SEEMS REASONABLE TO SURMISE
THAT IT'S FEAR OF THE GREAT
BEAST THAT LIES BEHIND THAT,
AND IT'S PRETTY DEEP.
WELL, THE OPERATIVE CONCEPTION
OF DEMOCRACY IS ALSO REVEALED
VERY CLEARLY IN THE
INTERNATIONAL ARENAS IN THE
CASE I MENTIONED AND OTHERS.
LET'S TAKE A CURRENT CASE, THE
DEATH OF YASSER ARAFAT.
THE LEAD THINK-PIECE IN THE NEW
YORK TIMES, BY THEIR KIND OF
HOUSE LEFTY INTELLECTUAL, ON
THE DEATH OF ARAFAT, THE LEAD
STORY, THINK-PIECE, OPENED BY
SAYING THIS, "THE POST-ARAFAT
ERA WILL BE THE LATEST TEST OF
A QUINTESSENTIALLY AMERICAN
ARTICLE OF FAITH, THAT
ELECTIONS PROVIDE LEGITIMACY
EVEN TO THE FRAILEST
INSTITUTIONS."
AND YOU READ
DOWN TO THE LAST PARAGRAPH, ON
THE CONTINUATION PAGE, AND YOU
READ, "WASHINGTON RESISTED NEW
NATIONAL ELECTIONS AMONG THE
PALESTINIANS BECAUSE ARAFAT
WOULD WIN AND GAIN A FRESHER
MANDATE" AND THEY MIGHT HELP
GIVE CREDIBILITY AND AUTHORITY
TO OTHER PEOPLE AMERICA DOESN'T
LIKE.
IN OTHER WORDS, DEMOCRACY IS
FINE IF YOU'RE SURE THAT THE
RESULTS ARE GOING TO COME OUT
THE RIGHT WAY.
THAT'S THE QUINTESSENTIAL
FAITH.
NOW WE SEE THAT VERY
DRAMATICALLY RIGHT NOW IN THE
CASE OF IRAQ, VERY
DRAMATICALLY.
A YEAR AGO, AFTER ALL THE OTHER
PRETEXTS HAD COLLAPSED, BUSH'S
SPEECH WRITERS CAME ALONG WITH
A NEW ONE TO REPLACE THEM.
IT'S WHAT THE LIBERAL PRESS
CALLS "THE PRESIDENT'S
MESSIANIC VISION TO BRING
DEMOCRACY TO IRAQ," THE MIDDLE
EAST, THE WHOLE WORLD.
THE REACTIONS WERE INTRIGUING.
THEY RANGED FROM RAPTUROUS
ACCLAIM IN THE LIBERAL NATIONAL
PRESS, FROM PRAISE FOR THE
UH...
THERE WERE-- IT RANGED FROM
THERE TO CRITICS.
NOW THE CRITICS AGREED THAT THE
VISION WAS NOBLE AND INSPIRING,
BUT THEY SAID IT MIGHT BE
BEYOND OUR REACH.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT IRAQI
CULTURE IS JUST NOT READY FOR
SUCH PROGRESS TOWARDS CIVILIZED
VALUES.
BUT IT WAS INTERESTING, IT WAS
PRESUPPOSED ACROSS THE SPECTRUM
THAT THIS WAS THE GOAL OF THE
INVASION.
WELL, THERE'S EVIDENCE FOR
THAT, ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE.
OUR LEADERS PROCLAIMED IT.
WHAT MORE COULD BE NEEDED?
THE CRITICS SAY NOBLE VISION,
BUT WE HAVE TO TEMPER THE
MESSIANIC IDEALISM OF BUSH AND
BLAIR WITH SOBER REALISM,
THAT'S THE LONDON FINANCIAL
TIMES, PROBABLY THE MOST
SERIOUS NEWSPAPER IN THE WORLD.
WELL, ACTUALLY, THERE IS--
YOU CAN TELL ME WHAT THE
CANADIAN PRESS SAID, YOU KNOW,
I CAN MAKE A GUESS, BUT YOU CAN
VERIFY IT FOR ME.
WELL THERE ACTUALLY WAS ONE
SECTOR OF OPINION THAT HAD A
DIFFERENT VIEW -- IRAQIS.
AS THE VERY SAME TIME AS THE
MESSIANIC VISION WAS
PROCLAIMED, IN WASHINGTON TO
REVERENT APPLAUSE, THERE WAS A
U.S.-RUN POLL IN BAGHDAD.
AND IT TURNED OUT THAT SOME
PEOPLE THERE, ALSO BELIEVED
THAT THAT WAS THE GOAL OF THE
INVASION -- 1 percent.
A MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION
TOOK THE OBVIOUS VIEW, THE U.S.
INVADED IRAQ TO GET CONTROL OF
ITS RESOURCES, AND ORGANIZE THE
REGION IN U.S. INTEREST, THE
VIEW THAT YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO
EXPRESS IN THE UNITED STATES,
OR YOU'RE A CONSPIRACY THEORIST
OR A MARXIST OR SOME OTHER BAD
WORD.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues IN FACT IRAQIS AGREE THAT THERE
IS A PROBLEM OF CULTURAL
BACKWARDNESS, THAT STANDS IN
THE WAY OF THE MESSIANIC
VISION, BUT THEY THINK IT'S
HERE, NOT IN IRAQ.
ACTUALLY, THEIR VIEWS ARE A
LITTLE MORE NUANCED, IF YOU
LOOK.
SO 1 percent THOUGHT THE U.S. INVADED
TO RESTORE-- ESTABLISH
DEMOCRACY, BUT 50 percent SAID THE
U.S. WANTS DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ.
THAT MAY LOOK LIKE A
CONTRADICTION, UNTIL YOU GO ON.
50 percent SAID THE U.S. WANTS
DEMOCRACY, BUT IS GOING TO
INFLUENCE IT TO ENSURE THAT IT
COMES OUT THE RIGHT WAY.
IN OTHER WORDS THEY UNDERSTAND
VERY WELL, THE QUINTESSENTIALLY
AMERICAN FAITH, AND PERHAPS
BECAUSE IT WAS ALSO THE
QUINTESSENTIALLY BRITISH FAITH
WHILE BRITAIN'S BOOT WAS ON
THEIR NECK, SINCE THE FIRST
WORLD WAR.
AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO KNOW THE
HISTORY OF WILSONIAN IDEALISM,
AS IT'S CALLED, OR BRITAIN'S
NOBLE COUNTERPART, OR THE
FRENCH CIVILIZING MISSION, OR
THE EVEN MORE EXALTED VISION OF
JAPANESE FASCISTS, AND MANY
OTHERS, THAT'S PRESUMABLY CLOSE
TO A HISTORICAL UNIVERSAL.
THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE IS ENOUGH.
AND IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR THOSE
AT THE WRONG END OF THE CLUB TO
HAVE A CLEARER PICTURE OF
REALITY THAN THOSE WHO ARE
WIELDING IT.
THAT'S TRUE IN PLENTY OF
DOMAINS.
WELL, AT THE OUTSET I MENTIONED
VERY BRIEFLY, THE VERY NOTABLE
SUCCESSES OF POPULAR STRUGGLES
IN THE PAST DECADES, IT'S
PRETTY CLEAR IF YOU THINK ABOUT
IT A LITTLE -- VERY RARELY
DISCUSSED, FOR REASONS THAT
AREN'T HARD TO DISCERN.
BOTH RECENT HISTORY AND PUBLIC
ATTITUDES SUGGEST SOME PRETTY
STRAIGHTFORWARD AND QUITE
CONSERVATIVE STRATEGIES FOR
SHORT-TERM ACTIVISM ON THE PART
OF THOSE WHO DON'T WANT TO WAIT
FOR CHINA TO SAVE US FROM
"ULTIMATE DOOM."

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues WE DO ENJOY GREAT PRIVILEGE AND
FREEDOM, IN FACT, UNIQUELY SO,
BY COMPARATIVE AND HISTORICAL
STANDARDS.
NOW THAT LEGACY WAS NOT GRANTED
AS A GIFT FROM ABOVE.
IT WAS WON.
IT WAS WON BY HARD AND
DEDICATED STRUGGLE, WHICH DOES
NOT REDUCE TO PUSHING A LEVER
EVERY FEW YEARS.
WE CAN OF COURSE ABANDON THAT
LEGACY, AND TAKE THE EASY WAY
OF PESSIMISM, YOU KNOW,
EVERYTHING IS HOPELESS, I QUIT.
OR WE CAN MAKE USE OF THAT
LEGACY AND WORK TO CREATE, IN
PART TO RE-CREATE, THE BASIS
FOR A FUNCTIONING DEMOCRATIC
CULTURE, IN WHICH THE PUBLIC
PLAYS SOME ROLE IN DETERMINING
POLICIES, AND NOT ONLY IN THE
POLITICAL ARENA FROM WHICH IT
IS LARGELY EXCLUDED, BUT IN THE
CRUCIAL ECONOMIC ARENA, FROM
WHICH IT IS EXCLUDED IN
PRINCIPLE.
NOW THOSE ARE
NOT PARTICULARLY RADICAL IDEAS.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY WERE
ARTICULATED VERY CLEARLY, BY
THE LEADING 20th CENTURY SOCIAL
PHILOSOPHER IN THE UNITED
STATES, JOHN DEWEY, WHO'S AS
AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE, IN THE
FAMILIAR PHRASE.
HE POINTED OUT
THAT UNTIL WHAT HE CALLED
"INDUSTRIAL FEUDALISM" IS
REPLACED BY "INDUSTRIAL
DEMOCRACY, POLITICS WILL REMAIN
THE SHADOW CAST BY BUSINESS
OVER SOCIETY."
NOW DEWEY WASN'T BEING
PARTICULARLY ORIGINAL IN THAT.
IN FACT HE WAS DRAWING FROM A
LONG TRADITION OF THOUGHT AND
ACTION THAT HAD DEVELOPED
INDEPENDENTLY IN WORKING CLASS
CULTURE, FROM THE ORIGINS OF
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION,
ACTUALLY WHERE I LIVE, IN AN
AREA NEAR BOSTON IN THE MID
19th CENTURY. THOSE IDEAS
REMAIN JUST BELOW THE SURFACE,
AND THEY CAN BECOME A LIVING
PART OF OUR SOCIETIES, AND OUR
CULTURES, AND OUR INSTITUTIONS.
BUT LIKE OTHER VICTORIES FOR
JUSTICE AND FREEDOM OVER THE
CENTURIES, THAT'S NOT GOING TO
HAPPEN BY ITSELF.
ONE OF THE CLEAREST LESSONS OF
HISTORY, INCLUDING VERY RECENT
HISTORY, IS THAT RIGHTS ARE NOT
GRANTED, THEY ARE WON.
AND THE REST OF IT IS UP TO US.
THANKS.

[Long applause]

Now a man from the audience rises and speaks into a microphone. He's in his fifties, bald and clean-shaven.

He says WHAT VERY, VERY
PRACTICAL IDEAS OR SUGGESTIONS
YOU CAN GIVE US, WHICH WE IN
THIS HALL CAN TAKE WITH US AS
WE GO OUT OF THIS HALL, TO
CHANGE THE TREND OF GOVERNMENTS
THAT HAS TAKEN US TO THE
PRECIPICE OF DISASTER.

Noam says I THINK IT'S
PRETTY SIMPLE.
AND IN FACT I THINK WE ALL KNOW IT.
WE HAVE TO CREATE, AND IN PART
RE-CREATE A FUNCTIONING
DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY IN WHICH
PEOPLE'S OPINIONS MATTER, IN
WHICH PEOPLE PARTICIPATE IN
DECIDING MATTERS THAT ARE
IMPORTANT TO THEM, WHETHER IT'S
IN THE POLITICAL ARENA, OR
SOONER OR LATER, THE ECONOMIC
ARENA.
AND IT'S NOT SOMETHING YOU DO
EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS, WHEN
THERE'S SOME PERSONALISED
ELECTORAL EXTRAVAGANZA GOING ON
TO DIVERT YOUR ATTENTION.
THAT'S SOMETHING YOU DO EVERY
DAY IF YOU WANT TO BUILD--
ONE OF THE PARTS OF THESE
EFFORTS IS TO BUILD ELECTORAL
ALTERNATIVES.
IT'S NOT THE WHOLE STORY, IT'S
ONE PART OF IT.
BUT THAT'S SOMETHING YOU HAVE
TO BE DOING EVERY DAY, YOU
KNOW?
AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, REGIONAL
LEVELS ON ALL KINDS OF ISSUES
AND SO ON, WHEN YOU GET ENOUGH
OF THAT HAPPENING, YEAH, YOU
GET AN ELECTORAL ALTERNATIVE.
AND YOU KNOW, THAT'S NOT A
VERY--
IT'S NOT A VERY EXOTIC
SUGGESTION.
IN FACT, FOR US IT'S
PARTICULARLY EASY.
I MEAN, AND IT HAPPENS IN OTHER
PLACES.
LET'S SAY IN THE SECOND BIGGEST
COUNTRY IN THE HEMISPHERE, A
COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, THEY HAD A
DEMOCRATIC ELECTION THAT WAS
DEMOCRATIC AT A LEVEL THAT WE
CAN'T EVEN DREAM OF.
I MEAN, THE POPULATION ELECTED
A PERSON FROM THEIR OWN RANKS.
YOU KNOW, A PRETTY IMPRESSIVE
FIGURE, HAD NO HIGHER
EDUCATION, HE HASN'T-- A UNION
LEADER, A STEEL WORKER.
AND THEY WERE ABLE TO DO IT
BECAUSE THERE WERE MASS POPULAR
ORGANISATIONS FUNCTIONING.
NOT EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS WHEN
THE EXTRAVAGANZA TAKES PLACE,
BUT CONSTANTLY.
LIKE SAY, THE LANDLESS WORKER'S
MOVEMENT -- I'M TALKING ABOUT
BRAZIL.
THE LANDLESS WORKER'S MOVEMENT
IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT
POPULAR MOVEMENT IN THE WORLD,
AND IT'S THERE ALL THE TIME,
YOU KNOW, DOING--
UNDERTAKING ITS ACTIVITIES.
THE WORKER'S PARTY HAS ALL
KINDS OF DEFECTS AND FLAWS, BUT
IT'S A MASS POPULAR
ORGANISATION WHICH IS WORKING
ALL THE TIME, AND YOU CAN
PARTICIPATE IN IT.
AND THE SAME IS TRUE OF OTHER
ORGANISATIONS, THE UNIONS,
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND
OTHERS.
WELL, YOU KNOW, THAT'S THE
BASIS FOR DEMOCRATIC CULTURE.
AND IT'S A LOT HARDER TO CREATE
IN BRAZIL THAN HERE.
I MEAN THEY HAVE TO FACE THINGS
WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT,
LIKE A VERY REPRESSIVE AND
VIOLENT STATE, A HUGE AMOUNT OF
EXTREME POVERTY, YOU KNOW, HIGH
LEVELS OF ILLITERACY.
THE... THE THREAT FROM
INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CAPITAL
WHICH WANTS TO DESTROY THE
COUNTRY IF IT GOES IN THAT
DIRECTION, AND WE DON'T HAVE TO
FACE ANY OF THOSE PROBLEMS.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE SENT TO
TORTURE CHAMBERS OR
ASSASSINATED AND SO ON AND SO
FORTH.
FOR US, IT'S EASY.
IF WE DON'T DO IT, IT'S OUR OWN FAULT.

Now a clean-shaven and balding man in his forties rises and reads a question.

He reads YOU STATED THAT
ELECTIONS PROVIDE LEGITIMACY TO
EVEN THE FRAILEST INSTITUTIONS.
WITHOUT THE LEGITIMACY OF
LEGITIMATE ELECTIONS, ARE
DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS ARE
FRAIL INDEED.
I'M SURE YOU WOULD AGREE WITH
THAT.
SO I'M WONDERING, SINCE THERE'S
WIDESPREAD EVIDENCE THAT THE
RECENT ELECTION IN THE UNITED
STATES WAS STOLEN BY THE
REPUBLICAN PARTY, WHAT DO YOU
THINK IT WILL TAKE FOR THE
MEDIA, OR POSSIBLY THE
DEMOCRATIC PARTY, TO INTERVENE
AND RECOUNT THE VOTE, AND IF
THIS PROVED TO BE TRUE, THAT
THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN, WHAT
WOULD YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN.

Noam says WELL, FIRST OF
ALL, JUST TO REMIND YOU, IT
WASN'T -- I WASN'T THE ONE WHO
SAID THAT LEGITIMACY IS GIVEN
TO THE FRAILEST OF INSTITUTIONS
BY ELECTIONS.
THAT'S WHAT THE BIG THINK-PIECE
IN THE NEW YORK TIMES SAID, AND
DESCRIBED AS THE QUINTESSENTIAL
AMERICAN FAITH, THAT
ELECTIONS--
BUT AS THEY POINTED OUT, MAYBE
INADVERTENTLY IN THE SAME
ARTICLE, THAT'S NOT THE
QUINTESSENTIAL AMERICAN FAITH.
THE QUINTESSENTIAL FAITH, IF
YOU READ THE LAST PARAGRAPH, IS
THAT ELECTIONS GIVE LEGITIMACY
IF THEY COME OUT THE RIGHT WAY,
OTHERWISE NOT.
SO IT WASN'T ME, THAT WAS THE
NEW YORK TIMES.
UM, ABOUT THE-- THERE'S KIND OF
AN INDUSTRY DEVELOPING NOW
TRYING TO SHOW THAT THE
ELECTION WAS STOLEN IN THE
UNITED STATES, AND A LOT OF MY
FRIENDS ARE INVOLVED, AND CLOSE
ASSOCIATES AND SO ON.
I THINK THEY'RE BEING SERIOUSLY MISLED.
FOR THE REASONS THAT I MENTIONED, THE
ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
HAD ABOUT AS MUCH SIGNIFICANCE
AS FLIPPING A COIN TO PICK THE
KING, BECAUSE ISSUES WERE KEPT
OUT AND THE PUBLIC WAS KEPT OUT.
NOW IF IT
TURNS OUT THAT YOU'RE FLIPPING
A COIN, AND THE COIN WAS A
LITTLE BIT BIASED, WELL, THAT'S
NOT NICE, BUT IT'S NOT THE PROBLEM.

[Applause and Laughter]

Noam continues I MEAN THE PROBLEM IS, I MEAN,
IF THE COIN HAD BEEN, SAY,
BIASED THE OTHER WAY, AND SAY,
KERRY WAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE,
IT DOESN'T SAY ANYTHING MORE
ABOUT THE COUNTRY.
THE ELECTIONS ARE STILL
ILLEGITIMATE.

The man in his forties says
SO THERE'S NO
DIFFERENCE IF GORE HAD WON THE
ELECTION IN 2000, WE'D STILL BE
EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE WE ARE
TODAY, SIR?

Noam says THERE'D BE DIFFERENT--
NO, THERE ARE DIFFERENT
POLICIES, BUT YOU FLIP A COIN
FOR TWO KINGS, THEY MAY HAVE
DIFFERENT POLICIES, TOO.

The man says I WOULD SAY THAT BUSH
IS ACTING LIKE A KING.
I DON'T THINK KERRY WOULD BE
DOING THE SAME THING, I DISAGREE.

Noam says AND THAT'S
TRADITIONAL, THAT'S TRADITIONS.
FOR EXAMPLE, DID THE POPULATION
VOTE FOR THE CLINTON DOCTRINE,
WHICH SAYS THAT WE HAVE THE
RIGHT TO USE FORCE UNILATERALLY
TO PRESERVE ACCESS TO MARKETS
AND RESOURCES?
NO, IN FACT THE PUBLIC IS
OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSED TO THAT.
AND SO ON DOWN THE LINE.
YOU TAKE A LOOK AT PUBLIC
ATTITUDES, THEY ARE SO FAR TO
WHAT WE CALL THE LEFT OF BOTH
PARTIES, THAT THEY CAN'T EVEN
BE REPORTED, LET ALONE ENTER
INTO THE DISCUSSION, OR UH,
ELECTIONS, AND THAT TELLS US
THAT THE ELECTIONS-- I MEAN,
YES, PARTIES DIFFER, AS TWO
KINGS MAY BE DIFFERENT, BUT
THAT'S NOT THE ISSUE.
THE ISSUE -- I MEAN IT IS AN
ISSUE, BUT A MINOR ONE.
THE REAL ISSUE IS, CAN WE
CREATE A FUNCTIONING DEMOCRATIC
SOCIETY, SO WE DON'T HAVE TO
WAIT FOR CHINA TO SAVE US FROM
ULTIMATE DOOM, FOR EXAMPLE.

Now a woman in her twenties with long wavy brown hair rises and says
I WANTED TO ASK YOU
ABOUT THE POLITICAL DEFINITION
OF TOTALITARIANISM, AND HOW
CLOSELY IT CAN CURRENTLY RELATE
TO THE SITUATION IN THE STATES,
AND I'M TALKING ABOUT THE SENSE
OF ALIENATION A LOT OF PEOPLE
HAVE WHEN THEY HAVE NO TIME TO
GET TOGETHER AND FEEL A SENSE
OF COMMUNITY, AND THE PATRIOT
ACT, WHICH I THINK IS QUITE
SIMILAR TO THE FIRE DECREES OF
GERMANY, 1933.

Noam says LOOK, I MEAN,
LET'S TALK ABOUT BOTH OF THOSE THINGS.
I MEAN THE PATRIOT ACT IS A BAD
THING, ALL RIGHT, BUT LET'S
LOOK AT IT IN CONTEXT.
BAD AS IT IS, IT DOESN'T COME
EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT WOODROW
WILSON DID, IT WAS CALLED
WILSONIAN IDEALISM, WHICH JUST
CRUSHED THE LABOUR MOVEMENT,
INDEPENDENT THOUGHT, KICKED
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE OUT OF THE
COUNTRY, AND SO ON, AND REALLY
PRETTY MUCH SILENCED THE
COUNTRY FOR TEN YEARS.
IN FACT, IT DOESN'T COME CLOSE
TO WHAT THE KENNEDY JOHNSON AND
NIXON ADMINISTRATIONS DID, NOT
THAT FAR BACK, WHAT WAS CALLED
CO-INTEL-PRO, THE PROGRAMS
CARRIED OUT BY THE NATIONAL
POLITICAL POLICE, THE FBI,
UNDER PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTION,
WHICH WERE AIMED AT REALLY
SILENCING, SERIOUSLY SILENCING
DISCUSSION AND CRITICISM ALL
ACROSS THE BOARD.
IT STARTED, OF COURSE, WITH THE
COMMUNIST PARTY, WENT TO THE
PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE
PARTY, YOU KNOW, WENT ON TO THE
YOU KNOW, GOING THROUGH THE STEPS.
ENDED UP WITH THE WOMEN'S
MOVEMENT, THE NEW LEFT --
EVERYTHING HAD TO BE STOPPED.
NOW THOSE PROGRAMS WENT AS FAR
AS POLITICAL ASSASSINATION, YOU
KNOW, GESTAPO STYLE
ASSASSINATION, LITERALLY IN
CHICAGO IN 1969, AND MANY OTHER
THINGS.
WELL, YOU KNOW, COMPARED WITH
THAT, THE PATRIOT ACT IS A CUP
OF TEA.
IT'S A PROBLEM IF YOU HAVE TO
SURVIVE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS,
OR IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE THROWN
INTO A TORTURE CHAMBER OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
WE DON'T HAVE THOSE PROBLEMS.
THE PATRIOT ACT IS UNPLEASANT,
AND WE COULD GET RID OF IT, BUT
WE SHOULD PUT IT IN CONTEXT,
EVEN IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT, AND
THE SAME IS TRUE OF THE NOTION
OF TOTALITARIANISM.
WE DO NOT LIVE IN TOTALITARIAN
SOCIETIES.
WE LIVE IN REMARKABLY FREE
SOCIETIES.
IN FACT THERE'S NO HISTORICAL
ANALOGUE TO THEM, THERE'S NO
COMPARATIVE ANALOGUE, AND THAT
WAS WON, AND WE SHOULDN'T GIVE
IT UP, AND WE SHOULDN'T
DESCRIBE IT AS TOTALITARIAN.
TAKE A LOOK AT THE
EXTRAORDINARY FREEDOM THAT WE
HAVE.
WE DO, AND IT WASN'T GIVEN BY
ANYONE.
I MEAN IT WAS WON, AND IT WAS
HARD TO WIN.
I MEAN, TAKE RECENT THINGS,
LIKE, SAY, WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
OKAY, BY NOW, A LOT OF WOMEN'S
RIGHTS ARE JUST TAKEN FOR
GRANTED.
THAT'S NOT-- THAT DOESN'T GO
BACK VERY FAR.
AND IF YOU HAD ASKED MY
GRANDMOTHER IF SHE WAS
OPPRESSED, SHE WOULDN'T HAVE
EVEN KNOWN WHAT YOU WERE
TALKING ABOUT.
IF YOU'D ASKED MY MOTHER
WHETHER SHE WAS OPPRESSED, SHE
WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD IT, AND
RESENTED IT, BUT SHE DIDN'T
IMAGINE YOU COULD DO ANYTHING
ABOUT IT.
AND IF YOU ASK MY DAUGHTER IF
SHE'S OPPRESSED, SHE'LL KICK
YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues YOU KNOW, OKAY, THOSE THINGS
HAVE BEEN WON, AND THEY'RE NOW
LARGELY TAKEN FOR GRANTED AND
THAT'S CHANGED THE SOCIETIES,
AND IT DIDN'T HAPPEN BY ITSELF,
AND THAT'S GOING TO BE THE SAME
WITH ANYTHING YOU LOOK AT.
AND WE SHOULD NOT FORGET THAT
WE HAVE THOSE RIGHTS, BECAUSE
PEOPLE FOUGHT FOR THEM.

Now clean-shaven long-haired man in his twenties rises and says
PROFESSOR CHOMSKY, I UH...
I'M--
ONE OF THE-- YOU MENTION ALL
THE TIME ABOUT OMISSIONS IN THE
MAINSTREAM PRESS.
ONE OF THE MAIN OMISSIONS THAT
I AM CONSTANTLY AWARE OF, IS A
DISCUSSION ABOUT THE FACT THAT
ISRAEL IS A NUCLEAR SUPERPOWER
IN THE MIDDLE EASTERN CONTEXT,
AND WHEN I READ ABOUT THE
IRANIAN GOVERNMENT TRYING TO
DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS, AND I
THINK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE
IRAQI GOVERNMENT, TRYING TO
DEVELOP NUCLEAR WEAPONS, I
OFTEN WONDER IF THAT ISN'T
UH... CAUSED BY ATTEMPTS TO
RECTIFY THE IMBALANCE OF POWER
THAT'S CREATED THERE.
ANYWAY, I JUST WANTED TO KNOW
WHAT YOUR IMPRESSION IS ABOUT
THAT PARTICULAR ISSUE.

Noam says WELL I SHOULD
TELL YOU THAT YOU'RE NOT THE
ONLY ONE THAT'S CONCERNED ABOUT
ISRAELI NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
ISRAELI STRATEGIC ANALYSTS ARE, TOO.
IF YOU READ
WHAT THEY WRITE, THEY SAY THAT
ISRAEL'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE
VERY DANGEROUS, NOT ONLY TO THE
REGION, BUT TO ISRAEL, BECAUSE
THEY'RE GOING TO CALL FORTH,
NATURALLY, REACTIONS, JUST LIKE
THE BUSH TRANSFORMATION OF THE
MILITARY WHICH CANADA IS
PARTICIPATING IN, MISSILE
DEFENCE AND--
IT'S CALLED MISSILE DEFENCE,
REALLY IT'S AN OFFENSIVE
WEAPON, AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT.
YEAH, THAT CALLS FORTH
REACTIONS.
AND YOU CAN READ THE SAME FROM
THE FORMER CHAIR -- YOU CAN'T--
OF THE U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND,
UNDER CLINTON, YOU KNOW, YOU
CAN'T TALK WHEN YOU'RE IN
THERE, BUT THEY CAN TALK AFTER
THEY LEAVE.
GENERALLY LEE BUTLER, WHO
DESCRIBES ISRAELI NUCLEAR
WEAPONS AS, "DANGEROUS IN THE
EXTREME," NOT ONLY IN
THEMSELVES, BUT BECAUSE THEY
LEAD TO PROLIFERATION AND
REACTION.
BUT LOOK, ISRAEL IS A SMALL
PART OF THIS.
I MEAN THERE'S SOMETHING -- I
MEAN NOBODY WANTS IRAN TO HAVE
NUCLEAR WEAPONS, ME EITHER, BUT
THERE'S SOMETHING KIND OF
GROTESQUE ABOUT THE FACT THAT
THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE
WHICH ARE IN GROSS VIOLATION OF
THE NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY,
PARTICULARLY THE UNITED STATES,
ARE CONDEMNING IRAN BECAUSE
IT'S OBSERVING THE NON-
PROLIFERATION TREATY.
I MEAN, WHAT IRAN IS BEING
CHARGED WITH NOW, HAPPENS TO BE
IN ACCORD WITH THE NON-
PROLIFERATION TREATY.
OKAY, THEY SHOULDN'T BE DOING
IT, THEY SHOULD STOP IT -- IT
SHOULD BE STOPPED SOMEHOW, BUT
THE U.S. AND ALL THE NUCLEAR
POWERS ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE
NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION
TREATY, WHICH WAS FOUNDED ON
THE PRINCIPLE -- IT'S ONE OF
THE ARTICLES OF THE TREATY,
THAT THE NUCLEAR POWERS WILL
MAKE WHAT ARE CALLED, "GOOD
FAITH EFFORTS," TO ELIMINATE
NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
DO YOU SEE ANYBODY DOING IT?
IN FACT THE U.S. IS CREATING
NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
THAT'S THE MOST SERIOUS
VIOLATION.
SO YEAH, THERE'S SOMETHING KIND
OF GROTESQUE ABOUT THIS.
AND IF YOU WERE IN IRAN -- JUST
PUT YOURSELF IN THE POSITION OF
AN IRANIAN STRATEGIC ANALYST,
TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO
DEFEND THE COUNTRY.
I MEAN, THE COUNTRY IS
ESSENTIALLY UNDER ATTACK BY THE
GLOBAL SUPERPOWER, IN EVERY
POSSIBLE WAY, ECONOMIC, YOU
KNOW, THEY'RE WORRIED THEY'LL
GO BEYOND.
THE NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES ARE
UNDER MILITARY OCCUPATION BY
THEIR SUPERPOWER ENEMY.
OKAY, THERE ARE NUCLEAR WEAPONS
RIGHT NEARBY, LIKE IN PAKISTAN,
THE REGIONAL SUPERPOWER, AS YOU
SAY, ISRAEL IS VIRTUALLY AN
OFFSHORE U.S. MILITARY BASE.
AND FURTHERMORE, THEY KNOW,
EVEN IF IT'S NOT REPORTED HERE,
THEY KNOW WHAT'S REPORTED IN
THE ISRAELI PRESS, AND THE
MILITARY JOURNALS, NAMELY THAT
FOR THE LAST YEAR OR SO, THE
U.S. HAS BEEN SENDING ISRAEL,
IT'S OFFSHORE MILITARY BASE,
OVER 100 OF ITS MOST ADVANCED
JET BOMBERS, OPENLY DESCRIBED,
IN FACT AS PUBLICLY AS
POSSIBLE, AS CAPABLE OF BOMBING
IRAN AND RETURNING, AND
EQUIPPED WITH WHAT THE HEBREW
PRESS CALLS, "SPECIAL WEAPONS,"
WHATEVER THAT'S SUPPOSED TO
MEAN, BUT ISRAELI-- IRANIAN
ANALYSTS WILL MAKE A WORST CASE
ANALYSIS OF IT, AND THEY ALSO
KNOW THE ESTIMATES OF THE
ISRAELI MILITARY, EVEN A COUPLE
OF YEARS AGO, THAT THEIR AIR
AND ARMOURED FORCES ARE NOW
MORE READY THAN BEFORE THIS
BUILD UP, MORE POWERFUL THAN
ANY NATO POWER OUTSIDE THE
UNITED STATES, BIGGER AND MORE
EXTENSIVE.
NOT BECAUSE ISRAEL IS A
POWERFUL STATE, IT'S A TINY
LITTLE COUNTRY, BUT BECAUSE
IT'S AN OFFSHOOT OF THE
PENTAGON IN MANY RESPECTS, AND
A BASE.
WELL, THEY KNOW ALL THOSE
THINGS, AND HOW DO YOU EXPECT
THEM TO REACT.
IN FACT IT'S POSSIBLE THAT A
GOOD DEAL OF THIS IS AN EFFORT
TO PROVOKE THEM INTO DOING
SOMETHING THAT WILL BE A
PRETEXT FOR AN ATTACK.
AND THEY SHOULDN'T BE DOING IT,
AND IT'S VERY DANGEROUS FOR THE
WORLD IF THEY DO.
IN FACT THE EXISTENCE OF
NUCLEAR WEAPONS IS A HORRENDOUS
DANGER.
IT'S COME VERY CLOSE TO
DESTROYING THE WORLD SEVERAL
TIMES, VERY CLOSE -- I MEAN
LITERALLY WITHIN MINUTES.
IN FACT BACK AT THE CUBAN
MISSILE CRISIS, THE WORLD WAS
LITERALLY ABOUT 1 WORD AWAY
FROM DESTRUCTION.
IT WASN'T KNOWN AT THE TIME,
BUT IT'S NOW KNOWN.
AT THE PEAK OF THE MISSILE
CRISIS, WHICH WAS PROVOKED BY
KENNEDY'S TERRORIST OPERATIONS
AGAINST CUBA TO A LARGE EXTENT,
BIG, INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST
OPERATIONS.
ANYWAY, THE MISSILE CRISIS CAME
ALONG.
RIGHT AT THE PEAK OF IT, THE
TENSEST MOMENT, THE U.S. WAS
IMPOSING A QUARANTINE AROUND
CUBA, AND THERE WERE RUSSIAN
SHIPS APPROACHING, THAT WE KNEW
WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, AND THEY
WERE ACCOMPANIED BY RUSSIAN
SUBMARINES.
AND WE NOW KNOW, IT WAS NOT
KNOWN THEN, THAT THOSE
SUBMARINES HAD NUCLEAR TIPPED
MISSILES.
AND, AT ONE POINT, THE
SUBMARINES CAME UNDER ATTACK BY
U.S. DESTROYERS, AND THE
COMMANDERS HAD TO MAKE A
DECISION, IS A NUCLEAR WAR
GOING ON, AND IF SO WE'VE GOT
TO FIRE OUR NUCLEAR ARMED
MISSILES, AND THEY HAVE COMMAND
AUTHORITY, PROBABLY SIMILAR TO
THE U.S. AND BRITAIN AT THAT
LEVEL.
WELL, THE RUSSIAN RULES OF
ENGAGEMENT WERE THAT THREE
COMMANDERS HAD TO AUTHORISE
USING NUCLEAR TIPPED MISSILES,
AND TWO AGREED AND ONE SAID NO.
VASILI RAPOPOV, HIS NAME IS, HE OUGHT
TO HAVE ABOUT 50 NOBEL PEACE
PRIZES.
SO THEY DIDN'T USE THEM, AND IF
THEY HAD USED THEM, THE U.S.
WOULD SURELY HAVE RETALIATED,
AND YOU KNOW, THEN IT GOES ON
KIND OF LIKE AUTOMATICALLY, UP
TO WHAT EISENHOWER HAD CALLED,
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE NORTHERN
HEMISPHERE."
AND THAT'S NOT THE ONLY TIME WE
WERE THAT CLOSE.
I MEAN THE CURRENT
MILITARIZATION OF SPACE
PROGRAMS, LIKE WHAT'S
RIDICULOUSLY CALLED MISSILE
DEFENCE, FIRST STRIKE WEAPONS
AS EVERYONE KNOWS.
THOSE SYSTEMS ARE COMPELLING
THE RUSSIANS AND SOON THE
CHINESE, TO BUILD UP OFFENSIVE
NUCLEAR FORCES.
RUSSIAN MILITARY EXPENDITURE
HAS PROBABLY TRIPLED DURING THE
BUSH YEARS.
TO BUILD UP OFFENSIVE MILITARY
WEAPONRY OF NEW AND MORE
SOPHISTICATED KINDS, WHICH IS
ON HAIR TRIGGER ALERT, THAT
MEANS UNDER AUTOMATED, COMPUTER
CONTROL.
WELL THOSE SYSTEMS JUST DON'T
WORK.
U.S. SYSTEMS WHICH ARE FAR MORE
SOPHISTICATED GET A HUGE NUMBER
OF FALSE MESSAGES AND THEN
THERE'S A COUPLE OF MINUTES FOR
HUMAN INTERVENTION, LITERALLY A
FEW MINUTES FOR HUMAN
INTERVENTION, AND SO FAR IT'S
ALWAYS STOPPED THE PROGRAM'S
RESPONSE.
WELL, YOU KNOW, THE RUSSIAN
SYSTEMS ARE DETERIORATING, AND
ARE NOWHERE NEAR AS
SOPHISTICATED, AND WE'RE
FORCING THEM TO PUT US UNDER
EXTREME RISK OF DESTRUCTION.
YEAH, THAT'S UH, YOU CAN READ
ABOUT IT IN THE BEST PLACES,
BULLETIN, ATOMIC SCIENTIST,
ANYWHERE YOU LIKE.
IN FACT THE HUGE U.S. MILITARY
BUILD-UP, AND THIS IS THE
REASON THESE STRATEGIC ANALYSTS
ARE TALKING ABOUT ULTIMATE
DOON, AND HOPING CHINA WILL
STOP IT.
THE U.S. EXPANSION OF MILITARY
FORCES INCLUDING SO-CALLED
MISSILE DEFENCE, ARE COMPELLING
THE RUSSIANS WHO ARE WAY BEHIND
MILITARILY, TO TRANSFER NUCLEAR
MISSILES AROUND THE COUNTRY.
YOU KNOW, FROM VLADIVOSTOK TO
YOU KNOW, TO THE WEST, TO
COUNTER THE OVERWHELMING
PREPONDERANCE OF NUCLEAR
WEAPONRY THAT THEY'RE FACING.
WELL, YOU KNOW, THOSE MISSILES
ARE GOING BY RAILROAD TRAINS.
IT WOULDN'T TAKE A VERY
SOPHISTICATED TERRORIST TO STOP
THEM AND TAKE THEM.
AND WE'RE KIND OF ASKING FOR
THAT.
YOU KNOW, WE'RE ASKING FOR THAT
TO HAPPEN BY THE TRANSFORMATION
OF THE MILITARY.
YEAH, SO ISRAEL'S MILITARY
WEAPONS ARE CERTAINLY
THREATENING, BUT YOU KNOW,
WE'VE GOT THINGS A LOT CLOSER
TO HOME TO WORRY ABOUT.

Now a clean-shaven man in his late twenties with short brown hair rises and says
I'D LIKE YOU TO
PREDICT, ALTHOUGH YOU ADDED
THAT IRAN IS SORT OF ENDANGERED
BY THE AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ
BEING OCCUPIED BY AMERICANS,
I'D ALSO LIKE TO ADD THAT IT'S
OCCUPIED BY A FUNDAMENTALIST
GROUP OF RELIGIOUS CLERICS WHO
ARE A DUPLICATE OF BUSH.
BUT I'D JUST LIKE TO KNOW, AS
AN IRANIAN MYSELF, HOW DO YOU
PREDICT THE SCENE?
DO YOU THINK THIS NUCLEAR--
THE WHOLE ISSUE WOULD BECOME
ANOTHER EXCUSE FOR AN
INTERVENTION IN IRAN, SINCE
THERE'S A LOT OF ANXIETY AMONG
IRANIANS.

Noam says LOOK, MY
PREDICTIONS ARE NO BETTER THAN
YOURS, AND IN FACT THE PEOPLE
IN THE PENTAGON CAN'T PREDICT IT.
YOU REALLY CAN'T PREDICT--
THERE'S A LOT OF OPTIONS, AND
SOME OF THEM MIGHT HAPPEN.
WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE DOING IS
WORKING TO LOWER THE THREAT OF
THE WORST OPTIONS.
THERE'S NOT A LOT OF POINT
SPECULATING ABOUT IT.
MY OWN SPECULATION, FOR THE
VERY LITTLE THAT IT'S WORTH,
AND DON'T PAY ANY ATTENTION TO
IT, IS THAT THE CHANCE OF A
U.S. ATTACK AGAINST IRAN HAVE
BEEN MUCH REDUCED BY THE
EXTRAORDINARY FAILURE OF THE
MILITARY OCCUPATION OF IRAQ.
I MEAN THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN
ONE OF THE EASIEST MILITARY
OCCUPATIONS IN HISTORY, AND MY
GUESS WAS THAT THE WAR, SO-
CALLED, WOULD BE OVER IN ABOUT
THREE DAYS, AND AFTER THAT,
THERE WOULD BE NO PROBLEM
RUNNING THE COUNTRY.
BUT IN FACT, WHAT'S HAPPENED,
AND THIS IS ASTONISHING, IS
THAT THE U.S. AND BRITAIN ARE
HAVING WAY MORE TROUBLE THAN
THE NAZIS HAD IN OCCUPIED
EUROPE.
AND THEY WERE IN THE MIDST OF A
WAR.
BUT IF YOU GO BACK TO SAY,
VICHY AND NORWAY AND DENMARK
AND SO ON, UNDER NAZI
OCCUPATION, I MEAN THEY WERE
RUN BY DOMESTIC GOVERNMENTS.
AND DOMESTIC SECURITY FORCES.
I MEAN THE GERMAN ARMY WAS IN
THE BACKGROUND IF ANYTHING WENT
WRONG, BUT THEY DIDN'T RUN IT,
IT WAS MOSTLY RUN BY THE LOCAL
AUTHORITIES, WHO HAD PLENTY OF
POLITICAL SUPPORT YOU KNOW,
UNDER THE COLLABORATIONIST-- I
MEAN NOW, WE CONDEMN THEM, YOU
KNOW, COLLABORATIONIST
GOVERNMENTS, BUT THEY WERE
REGARDED AS PRETTY LEGITIMATE
BY MOST OF THE POPULATIONS.
SAME WITH THE RUSSIANS IN
EASTERN EUROPE.
I MEAN, THOSE COUNTRIES WERE
BASICALLY RUN BY RUSSIA, JUST
LIKE THE MIDDLE EAST WAS RUN BY
BRITAIN, BUT THEY HAD THEIR OWN
GOVERNMENTS, THEIR OWN SECURITY
FORCES, THEY DID ALMOST
ANYTHING.
IF ANYTHING TOTALLY GOT OUT OF
HAND, LIKE IN HUNGARY OR
CZECHOSLOVAKIA, THE RUSSIAN
ARMY WOULD MOVE IN, BUT NOT
MUCH TROUBLE, NOTHING LIKE WHAT
THE U.S. AND BRITAIN HAVE
SUCCEEDED IN STIRRING UP IN
IRAQ.
IT'S TOTALLY UNEXPECTED, NOBODY
COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT, AND
IT HAPPENED, AND I THINK THAT'S
KIND OF CLIPPED THEIR WINGS.
I THINK IT'S THE WEEKEND REVIEW OF THE
TIMES, I REMEMBER KIND OF A BIG
STORY ABOUT HOW THE HAWKS IN
WASHINGTON, THERE AREN'T-- YOU
KNOW, SOME NICE HEADLINE, WHICH
I FORGET, ABOUT HOW YOU KNOW,
THE HAWKS IN WASHINGTON AREN'T
FLYING THE WAY YOU THINK THEY
ARE.
WELL, THAT'S PROBABLY TRUE,
BECAUSE THEY'VE RUN INTO SO
MUCH TROUBLE THAT THEY'VE GOT
TO BACK OFF.
SO, SPECULATION, NOT WORTH
MUCH, IS THEY'RE NOT GOING TO
CARRY OUT THE ACTIVITIES THAT
THEY WERE PLANNING.
I MEAN I SUSPECT, MY OWN GUESS
BACK BEFORE THEY WERE-- RIGHT
AT THE EVE OF THE IRAQ WAR, WAS
THAT IT WOULD WORK LIKE A
DREAM, KIND OF LIKE THE NAZIS
IN EUROPE, AND THEN THE NEXT
PLACE THEY WOULD ATTACK WOULD
BE THE ANDES.
I MEAN THE WHOLE ANDEAN REGION,
FROM VENEZUELA DOWN TO ARGEN--
IT'S MORE THAN ANDEAN, FROM
VENEZUELA DOWN TO ARGENTINA IS
OUT OF CONTROL.
ALL KIND OF THINGS ARE
HAPPENING THAT THE U.S. DOESN'T
WANT, AND THAT'S THE HISTORIC
REGION THAT YOU'VE GOT TO
CONTROL.
IT'S ALSO A REGION THAT THE
U.S. IS COUNTING ON FOR
RESOURCES INCLUDING OIL, JUST
AS IT'S COUNTING ON CANADA,
ALTHOUGH CANADA IS NOW MORE OR
LESS UNDER CONTROL, THANKS TO
NAFTA.
REMEMBER ONE CRUCIAL PART OF
NAFTA IS THAT CANADA CAN'T USE
ITS OWN RESOURCES AS IT
CHOOSES, THE U.S. HAS TO HAVE
WHAT'S CALLED EQUAL ACCESS TO
THEM, BUT YOU KNOW, A GIANT AND
A-- WHAT WAS THE TERM, AN
ELEPHANT AND A MOOSE OR
SOMETHING.

[Audience Laughter]

Noam continues YOU KNOW, THE ELEPHANT GETS
WHAT IT WANTS.
IN FACT THE ANDEAN REGION, AND
IN FACT THAT WHOLE REGION FROM
VENEZUELA DOWN, IS CONSIDERED A
MAJOR POTENTIAL RESOURCE FOR
OIL AND OTHER THINGS.
THE U.S. HAS MILITARY FORCES
ALL OVER THE PLACE, MORE THAN
DURING THE COLD WAR, MILITARY
TRAINING AND AID IS SHOOTING
WAY UP.
THE-- AND THAT LOOKED LIKE A
PLACE THAT THERE MIGHT BE A--
THERE ARE NEW MILITARY BASES, I
MEAN IT LOOKED LIKE THAT MIGHT
BE A NEXT TARGET OF
INTERVENTION, BUT NOW I DON'T
THINK IT'S TOO LIKELY, THEY'VE
GOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE ON THEIR HANDS.
THANKS.

[Sustained applause]

Watch: Noam Chomsky on The Imperial Presidency