Not for U.S. consumption

February 15, 2008

IN APRIL 2002, between the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, then-National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University peppered with flowery rhetoric about defending freedom and democracy.

Rice outlined the thinking of the American ruling class in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of the previous year: "[A]n earthquake of the magnitude of 9/11 can shift the tectonic plates of international politics...Before the clay is dry again, [we] must move decisively to take advantage of these new opportunities."

Over the course of 2002--from Bush's declaration of the "axis of evil" in his January State of the Union address to Congress' passing of the resolution authorizing an invasion of Iraq in October--Rice's outline asserting American dominance in the post-9/11 world became policy.

In a new book of essays, Noam Chomsky explains what such "opportunities" entailed. "The message was that the Bush administration intends to rule the world by force, the one dimension in which it reigns supreme and to do so permanently, removing any potential challenge it receives," writes Chomsky.

Review: Books

Noam Chomsky, Interventions. City Lights Open Media, 2007, 232 pages, $15.95.

Through this period and since, Chomsky has led the pack of opposition thinkers monitoring and explaining U.S. efforts to consolidate its 21st century empire as it brutalizes and immiserates the world's people along the way.

Needless to say, such contributions have not won him many fans within the establishment. For example, the New York Times, whose international syndicate company distributes Chomsky's writings to be published abroad, has always considered those same writings too dangerous for their U.S. audience.

Interventions is a collection of 43 such articles written since September 11. In it, Chomsky closely follows the consequences of U.S. attempts, as spearheaded by the Bush administration, to assert and make permanent its status as the world's only super-power.

Explaining the strategy shift away from the Cold War policy of containing enemies in favor of what has come to be known as the Bush Doctrine of aggressive interventionism to "rid the world of evil" through pre-emptive war and endless occupation, Chomsky documents the groundwork laid by the Clinton administration in the 1990s.

"The Clinton doctrine was that the United States reserves the right to use military force 'unilaterally when necessary,' to defend vital interests such as 'ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources,' according to a 1997 Pentagon report to Congress."

Detailing America's anti-terrorism hypocrisy, Chomsky, listing "the terrorists-in residence in the United States," goes through the first President Bush's pardoning of Orlando Bosch from accusations of planning the bombing of a Cuban airliner which killed 73 people; President Clinton's protection of Emmanuel Constant, leader of the FRAPH, a right-wing Haitian paramilitary group charged with killing thousands of Haitians in the early 1990s; and the current President Bush's refusal to extradite two leading officers of the 2002 coup to overthrow Hugo Chávez which was successfully fended off by mass mobilizations of the Venezuelan people.

Taking up the endlessly morphing justifications for occupying Iraq, Chomsky writes, "It takes impressive faith in power to assume that because our leaders have announced their vision of democracy for Iraq after the collapse of official pretexts, they really mean it."

As he explains elsewhere in the collection, "Functioning democracy in the Middle East would have outcomes inconsistent with the U.S. goal of reinforcing its dominance there."

The list goes on. From Bush's hostile footing toward Iran to the background of America's divide-and-conquer strategy in Iraq to America's reliance on repressive proxies throughout the world, Chomsky's interventions are necessary to understanding the empire we are setting out to dismantle.

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