1 November 2007 **** Etusivulle

Making the world more dangerous

By Tapani Lausti

Noam Chomsky, Interventions. Hamish Hamilton 2007.

One clear theme emerges from Noam Chomsky's latest collection of articles: The United States government is doing everything in its power to make the world a more dangerous place. Strangely, this fact has not entered in any meaningful way into the Finnish security debate which revolves around a possible NATO membership.

It is common in Finland to see George W. Bush's actions as an unfortunate exception to normally "benign" US policies. One prominent pro-NATO commentator expressed this attitude by writing: "The United States governments come and go but Finland has to do its best to take care of its security policy and influence independently of the fact whether we like the policies of the United States or some other NATO member country: these are separate matters." (Olli Kivinen: Nato ilman tunteilua, Suomen Atlantti-Seura in 2007 — in English: NATO without sentiments, published by The Finnish Atlantic Society.)

The writer's sympathies are clear: "The United States is one of the countries who share our values in broad outlines." He praised the US post-World War II leadership: "Many people speak of Pax Americana which means democracy, market economy and free trade exercised under the umbrella of the United States' military power."

This demonstrates how far the pro-Washington elite in Finland has allowed itself to be indoctrinated to be able to swallow the US elites' propagandist self-image. Even worse is the fact that this Finnish elite has got into its head that the US and NATO are the ultimare guarantors of Finnish security.

This laughable opinion completely ignores the fact that the US is more likely to provoke conflicts with Russia, conflicts which Finland has nothing to do with. Russia has no imaginable interest in attacking Finland. The last thing Finland needs is to have the US parading as a champion of Finnish security, thus drawing Finland into military equations which have nothing to do with the country's real security.

As to "Pax Americana", Chomsky has charted the terrible price which has been paid during the last few decades by so many Third World countries thanks to American aggressions, whether outright warfare or economic strangulation. What was so significant about September 11 was that "[f]or the first time in history, a Western power was subjected to an atrocity of the kind that is all too familiar elsewhere". (p. 35) Chomsky notes that "September 11 shocked many Americans into an awareness that they had better pay much closer attention to what the US government does in the world and how it is perceived". (p. 1)

As to the US being a promoter of security, Chomsky reminds readers: "The National Security Strategy declared that the United States — alone — has the right to carry out 'preventive war': preventive, not preemptive, using military force to eliminate a perceived threat, even if invented or imagined. Preventive war is, very simply, the 'supreme crime' condemned at Nuremberg." (p. 36)

And, yes, things have become even worse under George W. Bush : "... there is a strong reason to believe that real threats are becoming more severe as a result of Bush administration lawlessness and violence." Chomsky quotes the ex-head of Israel's General Security Service, Ami Ayalon, who observed that "those who want victory" against terror without addressing underlying grievances "want an unending war." (p. 38)

In fact, beating terror is not the most central element in Washington's aims: "The willingness of top planners to risk increase of terrorism does not of course indicate that they welcome such outcomes. Rather, they are simply not a high priority in comparison with other objectives, such as controlling the world's major energy resources." (p. 135)

And then the question of conflicts with Russia. Chomsky notes how in "reaction to accelerated U.S. militarization from well before 9/11, Russia has sharply increased its offensive military forces". (p. 73) Later he adds: "Russian political and military leaders made clear that this arms-race revival was a direct response to Bush administration actions and programs — especially U.S. development of low-yield nuclear weapons, the so-called bunker busters. As strategic analaysts on both sides know, these weapons can target the bunkers, hidden in mountains, that control Russian nuclear arsenals." (pp. 87-88)

As to US domestic policies, Chomsky has this to say: "The people around Bush are deeply committed to reversing the achievement of popular struggle during the past century. A short list of targets would include health care, job security and progressive taxation. The prospect of a government that serves popular interests is being dismantled." (p. 76)

And what do the Americans want? "The public calls for sharp cuts in military spending along with sharply increased spending for education, medical research, job training, conservation, renewable energy, and other social programs, as well as for the United Nations and economic and humanitarian aid, along with the reversal of Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. Overall, popular preferences are virtually the opposite of the government's budget decisions." (p. 121)

The editor of this collection of Chomsky's articles tells readers that although they have been distributed by the New York Times Syndicate as op-eds, none of them have been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post or Boston Globe. Only a few regional papers in the US have used them. In other countries around the world, however, they have been widely picked up.

The limited visibility of critical material on US foreign policy is perhaps one reason why the Finnish pro-Washington elite has a very poor understanding of the US reality and the criminal nature of not only the Bush administration but of its predecessors as well. Unfortunately, most of the Finnish media also fails in its duty to point out the discrepancy between elite perceptions and reality. But, then again, believing in the benign nature of US policies has ultimately little to do with facts, it is an ideological choice.

 

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