17 March, 2007

Chomsky Interview - Failed States again

Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

Sat, 17 Mar 2007 05:17:34

An Interview with Noam Chomsky

AMY GOODMAN: In this first broadcast interview upon publication of his
book, Professor Noam Chomsky joins us today from Boston for the hour. We
welcome you to Democracy Now!, Noam.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Glad to be with you again.

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. Failed States, what do you
mean?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, over the years there have been a series of concepts
developed to justify the use of force in international affairs for a long
period. It was possible to justify it on the pretext, which usually turned
out to have very little substance, that the U.S. was defending itself
against the communist menace. By the 1980s, that was wearing pretty thin.
The Reagan administration concocted a new category: terrorist states. They
declared a war on terror as soon as they entered office in the early
1980s, 1981. ?We have to defend ourselves from the plague of the modern
age, return to barbarism, the evil scourge of terrorism,? and so on, and
particularly state-directed international terrorism.

A few years later -- this is Clinton -- Clinton devised the concept of
rogue states. ?It?s 1994, we have to defend ourselves from rogue states.?
Then, later on came the failed states, which either threaten our security,
like Iraq, or require our intervention in order to save them, like Haiti,
often devastating them in the process. In each case, the terms have been
pretty hard to sustain, because it's been difficult to overlook the fact
that under any, even the most conservative characterization of these
notions -- let's say U.S. law -- the United States fits fairly well into
the category, as has often been recognized. By now, for example, the
category -- even in the Clinton years, leading scholars, Samuel Huntington
and others, observed that -- in the major journals, Foreign Affairs --
that in most of the world, much of the world, the United States is
regarded as the leading rogue state and the greatest threat to their
existence.

By now, a couple of years later, Bush years, same journals? leading
specialists don't even report international opinion. They just describe it
as a fact that the United States has become a leading rogue state. Surely,
it's a terrorist state under its own definition of international
terrorism, not only carrying out violent terrorist acts and supporting
them, but even radically violating the so-called "Bush Doctrine," that a
state that harbors terrorists is a terrorist state. Undoubtedly, the U.S.
harbors leading international terrorists, people described by the F.B.I.
and the Justice Department as leading terrorists, like Orlando Bosch, now
Posada Carriles, not to speak of those who actually implement state
terrorism.

And I think the same is true of the category ?failed states.? The U.S.
increasingly has taken on the characteristics of what we describe as
failed states. In the respects that one mentioned, and also, another
critical respect, namely the -- what is sometimes called a democratic
deficit, that is, a substantial gap between public policy and public
opinion. So those suggestions that you just read off, Amy, those are
actually not mine. Those are pretty conservative suggestions. They are the
opinion of the majority of the American population, in fact, an
overwhelming majority. And to propose those suggestions is to simply take
democracy seriously. It's interesting that on these examples that you've
read and many others, there is an enormous gap between public policy and
public opinion. The proposals, the general attitudes of the public, which
are pretty well studied, are -- both political parties are, on most of
these issues, well to the right of the population.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Professor Chomsky, in the early parts of the book,
especially on the issue of the one characteristic of a failed state, which
is its increasing failure to protect its own citizens, you lay out a
pretty comprehensive look at what the, especially in the Bush years, the
war on terrorism has meant in terms of protecting the American people. And
you lay out clearly, especially since the war, the invasion of Iraq, that
terrorist, major terrorist action and activity around the world has
increased substantially. And also, you talk about the dangers of a
possible nuclear -- nuclear weapons being used against the United States.
Could you expand on that a little bit?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, there has been a very serious threat of nuclear war.
It's not -- unfortunately, it's not much discussed among the public. But
if you look at the literature of strategic analysts and so on, they're
extremely concerned. And they describe particularly the Bush
administration aggressive militarism as carrying an ?appreciable risk of
ultimate doom,? to quote one, ?apocalypse soon,? to quote Robert McNamara
and many others. And there's good reasons for it, I mean, which could
explain, and they explain. That's been expanded by the Bush administration
consciously, not because they want nuclear war, but it's just not a high
priority. So the rapid expansion of offensive U.S. military capacity,
including the militarization of space, which is the U.S.'s pursuit alone.
The world has been trying very hard to block it. 95% of the expenditures
now are from the U.S., and they're expanding.

All of these measures bring about a completely predictable reaction on the
part of the likely targets. They don't say, you know, ?Thank you. Here are
our throats. Please cut them.? They react in the ways that they can. For
some, it will mean responding with the threat or maybe use of terror. For
others, more powerful ones, it's going to mean sharply increasing their
own offensive military capacity. So Russian military expenditures have
sharply increased in response to Bush programs. Chinese expansion of
offensive military capacity is also beginning to increase for the same
reasons. All of that threatens -- raises the already severe threat of even
-- of just accidental nuclear war. These systems are on
computer-controlled alert. And we know that our own systems have many
errors, which are stopped by human intervention. Their systems are far
less secure; the Russian case, deteriorated. These moves all sharply
enhance the threat of nuclear war. That's serious nuclear war that I'm
talking about.

There's also the threat of dirty bombs, small nuclear explosions. Small
means not so small, but in comparison with a major attack, which would
pretty much exterminate civilized life. The U.S. intelligence community
regards the threat of a dirty bomb, say in New York, in the next decade as
being probably greater than 50%. And those threats increase as the threat
of terror increases.

And Bush administration policies have, again, consciously been carried out
in a way, which they know is likely to increase the threat of terror. The
most obvious example is the Iraq invasion. That was undertaken with the
anticipation that it would be very likely to increase the threat of terror
and also nuclear proliferation. And, in fact, that's exactly what
happened, according to the judgment of the C.I.A., National Intelligence
Council, foreign intelligence agencies, independent specialists. They all
point out that, yes, as anticipated, it increased the threat of terror. In
fact, it did so in ways well beyond what was anticipated.

To mention just one, we commonly read that there were no weapons of mass
destruction found in Iraq. Well, it's not totally accurate. There were
means to develop weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and known to be in
Iraq. They were under guard by U.N. inspectors, who were dismantling them.
When Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest sent in their troops, they neglected
to instruct them to guard these sites. The U.N. inspectors were expelled,
the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors continued their work by
satellite and reported that over a hundred sites had been looted, in fact,
systematically looted, not just somebody walking in, but careful looting.
That included dangerous biotoxins, means to hide precision equipment to be
used to develop nuclear weapons and missiles, means to develop chemical
weapons and so on. All of this has disappeared. One hates to imagine where
it's disappeared to, but it could end up in New York.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Professor Chomsky, in your book you also talk about how
Iraq has become almost an incubator or a university now for advanced
training for terrorists, who then are leaving the country there and going
around the world, very much as what happened in the 1980s in Afghanistan.
Could you talk about that somewhat?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Actually, that's -- actually, these are just quotes from the
C.I.A. and other U.S. intelligence agencies and analysts. Yes, they
describe Iraq now as a training ground for highly professionalized
terrorists skilled in urban contact. They do compare it to Afghanistan,
but say that it's much more serious, because of the high level of training
and skill. These are almost entirely Iraqis. There's a small number of
foreign fighters drawn to Iraq. Estimates are maybe 5% to 10%. And they
are, as in the case of Afghanistan, are expected to spread into throughout
many parts of the world and to carry out the kinds of terrorism that
they're trained in, as a reaction to -- clearly reaction to the invasion.
Iraq was, whatever you thought about it, was free from connections to
terror prior to the invasion. It's now a major terror center.

It's not as President Bush says, that terrorists are being concentrated in
Iraq so that we can kill them. These are terrorists who had no previous
record of involvement in terrorism. The foreign fighters who have come in,
mostly from Saudi Arabia, have been investigated extensively by Saudi and
Israeli and U.S. intelligence, and what they conclude is that they were
mobilized by the Iraq war, no involvement in terrorist actions in the
past. And undoubtedly, just as expected, the Iraq war has raised an
enormous hostility throughout much of the world, and particularly the
Muslim world.

It was the most -- probably the most unpopular war in history, and even
before it was fought. Virtually no support for it anywhere, except the
U.S. and Britain and a couple of other places. And since the war itself
was perhaps one of the most incredible military catastrophes in history,
has caused utter disaster in Iraq and has -- and all of that has since
simply intensified the strong opposition to the war of the kind that you
heard from that Indonesian student of a few moments ago. But that's why it
spread, and that's a -- it increases the reservoir of potential support
for the terrorists, who regard themselves as a vanguard, attempting to
elicit support from others, bring others to join with them. And the Bush
administration is their leading ally in this. Again, not my words, the
words of the leading U.S. specialists on terror, Michael Scheuer in this
case. And definitely, that's happened.

And it's not the only case. I mean, in case after case, the Bush
administration has simply downgraded the threat of terror. One example is
the report of the 9/11 Commission. Here in the United States, the Bush
administration didn't want the commission to be formed, tried to block it,
but it was finally formed. Bipartisan commission, gave many
recommendations. The recommendations, to a large extent, were not carried
out. The commission members, including the chair, were appalled by this,
set up their own private commission after their own tenure was completed,
and continued to report that the measures are simply not being carried out.

There are many other examples. One of the most striking is the Treasury
Department has a branch, the Office of Financial Assets Control, which is
supposed to monitor suspicious funding transfers around the world. Well,
that's a core element of the so-called war on terror. They've given
reports to Congress. It turns out that they have a few officials devoted
to al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, but about -- I think it was -- six times
that many devoted to whether there are any evasions of the totally illegal
U.S. embargo against Cuba.

There was an instance of that just a few months ago, when the U.S.
infuriated even energy corporations by ordering a Sheraton Hotel in Mexico
City to cancel a meeting between Cuban oil specialists and U.S. oil
companies, including some big ones, seeking to explore the development of
offshore Cuban oil resources. The government ordered -- this OFAC ordered
the hotel, the U.S. hotel, to expel the Cubans and terminate the meeting.
Mexico wasn't terribly happy about this. It?s a extraordinary arrogance.
But it also reveals the hysterical fanaticism of the goal of strangling
Cuba.

And we know why. It's a free country. We have records going from way back,
and a rich source of them go back to the Kennedy-Johnson administrations.
They had to carry out a terrorist war against Cuba, as they did, and try
to strangle Cuba economically, because of Cuba's -- what they called
Cuba's successful defiance of U.S. policies, going back to the Monroe
Doctrine. No Russians, but the Monroe Doctrine, 150 years back at that
time. And the goal was, as was put very plainly by the Eisenhower and
Kennedy administrations, to make the people of Cuba suffer. They are
responsible for the fact that the government is in place. We therefore
have to make them suffer and starve, so that they'll throw out the
government. It's a policy, which is pretty consistent. It?s being applied
right now in Palestine. It was applied under the Iraqi sanctions, plot in
Chile, and so on. It?s savage.

AMY GOODMAN: You mention Israel, Palestine, and I wanted to ask you about
this new study that's come out. A dean at Harvard University and a
professor at the University of Chicago are coming under intense criticism
for publishing an academic critique of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
The paper charges that the United States has willingly set aside its own
security and that of many of its allies, in order to advance the interests
of Israel. In addition, the study accuses the pro-Israel lobby,
particularly AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, of
manipulating the U.S. media, policing academia and silencing critics of
Israel by labeling them as anti-Semitic. The study also examines the role
played by the pro-Israel neoconservatives in the lead-up to the U.S.
invasion of Iraq.

The authors are the Stephen Walt, a dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of
Government, and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. They,
themselves, are now being accused of anti-Semitism. In Washington, a
Democratic congressman, Eliot Engle of New York, described the professors
as dishonest so-called intellectuals and anti-Semites. The Harvard
professor, Ruth Wisse, called for the paper to be withdrawn. Harvard Law
School professor, Alan Dershowitz, described the study as trash that could
have been written by neo-Nazi David Duke. The New York Sun reported
Harvard has received several calls from pro-Israel donors, expressing
concern about the paper, and Harvard has already taken steps to distance
itself from the report. Last week, it removed the logo of the Kennedy
School of Government from the paper and added a new disclaimer to the
study. The report is 81 pages. It was originally published on Harvard's
website and an edited version appeared in the London Review of Books.

The controversy comes less than a year after Harvard law professor Alan
Dershowitz attempted to block the publication of Norman Finkelstein?s book
Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.
Now, this goes into a lot of issues: the content of the study, what you
think of it, the response to it and also the whole critique. In this
country, what happens to those who criticize the policies of the state of
Israel? Noam Chomsky.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the answer to your last question is well described in
Norman Finkelstein's quite outstanding book and also in the record of
Dershowitz?s attempts to prevent its publication. Some of the documents
were just published in the Journal of Palestine Studies. Finkelstein's
book gives an extensive detailed account, the best one we have, of a
frightening record of Israeli crimes and abuses, where he relies on the
most respectable sources, the major human rights organizations, Israeli
human rights organizations and others, and demonstrates, just
conclusively, that Alan Dershowitz's defense of these atrocities, based on
no evidence at all, is outrageous and grotesque.

Nevertheless, Finkelstein comes under tremendous attack for being
anti-Semitic, and so on. Now that's pretty normal. It goes back, I
suppose, to the distinguished diplomat, Abba Eban -- it must be thirty
years ago -- wrote in an American Jewish journal that ?the task of
Zionists,? he said, ?is to show that all political anti-Zionism? ? that
means criticism of the policies of the state of Israel ? ?is either
anti-Semitism or Jewish self-hatred.? Well, okay, that excludes all
possible criticism, by definition. As examples of neurotic Jewish
self-hatred, I should declare an interest. He mentioned two people. I was
one; the other was Izzy Stone.

Once you release the torrent of abuse, you don't need arguments and
evidence, you can just scream. And Professors Walt and Mearsheimer deserve
credit for publishing a study, which they knew was going to elicit the
usual streams of abuse and hysteria from supporters of Israeli crimes and
violence. However, we should recognize that this is pretty uniform. Try to
say a sane and uncontroversial word about any other issue dear to the
hearts of the intellectual elite that they've turned into holy writ, you
get the same reaction. So ? and there's no lobby, which does raise one of
a few minor points that raises questions about the validity of the
critique.

It's a serious, careful piece of work. It deserves to be read. They
deserve credit for writing it. But it still it leaves open the question of
how valid the analysis is, and I notice that there's a pretty subtle
question involved. Everyone agrees, on all sides, that there are a number
of factors that enter into determining U.S. foreign policy. One is
strategic and economic interests of the major power centers within the
United States. In the case of the Middle East, that means the energy
corporations, arms producers, high-tech industry, financial institutions
and others. Now, these are not marginal institutions, particularly in the
Bush administration. So one question is to what extent does policy reflect
their interests. Another question is to what extent is it influenced by
domestic lobbies. And there are other factors. But just these two alone,
yes, they are ? you find them in most cases, and to try to sort out their
influence is not so simple. In particular, it's not simple when their
interests tend to coincide, and by and large, there's a high degree of
conformity. If you look over the record, what's called the national
interest, meaning the special interests of those with -- in whose hands
power is concentrated, the national interest, in that sense, tends to
conform to the interests of the lobbies. So in those cases, it's pretty
hard to disentangle them.

If the thesis of the book ? the thesis of the book is that the lobbies
have overwhelming influence, and the so-called ?national interest? is
harmed by what they do. If that were the case, it would be, I would think,
a very hopeful conclusion. It would mean that U.S. policy could easily be
reversed. It would simply be necessary to explain to the major centers of
power, like the energy corporations, high-tech industry and arms producers
and so on, just explain to them that they've ? that their interests are
being harmed by this small lobby that screams anti-Semitism and funds
congressmen, and so on. Surely those institutions can utterly overwhelm
the lobby in political influence, in finance, and so on, so that ought to
reverse the policy.

Well, it doesn't happen, and there are a number of reasons for it. For one
thing, there's an underlying assumption that the so-called national
interest has been harmed by these policies. Well, you know, you really
have to demonstrate that. So who's been harmed? Have the energy
corporations been harmed by U.S. policy in the Middle East over the last
60 years? I mean, they're making profits beyond the dream of avarice, as
the main government investigation of them reported. Even more today ? that
was a couple years ago. Has the U.S. ? the main concern of the U.S. has
been to control what the State Department 60 years ago called ?a
stupendous source of strategic power,? Middle East oil. Yeah, they?ve
controlled it. There have been ? in fact, the invasion of Iraq was an
attempt to intensify that control. It may not do it. It may have the
opposite effect, but that's a separate question. It was the intent,
clearly.

There have been plenty of barriers. The major barrier is the one that is
the usual one throughout the world: independent nationalism. It?s called
?radical nationalism,? which was serious. It was symbolized by Nasser, but
also Kassem in Iraq, and others. Well, the U.S. did succeed in overcoming
that barrier. How? Israel destroyed Nasser. That was a tremendous service
to the United States, to U.S. power, that is, to the energy corporations,
to Saudi Arabia, to the main centers of power here, and in fact, it's in ?
that was 1967, and it was after that victory that the U.S.-Israeli
relations really solidified, became what's called a ?strategic asset.?

It's also then that the lobby gained its force. It's also then,
incidentally, that the educated classes, the intellectual political class
entered into an astonishing love affair with Israel, after its
demonstration of tremendous power against a third-world enemy, and in
fact, that's a very critical component of what's called the lobby. Walt
and Mearsheimer mention it, but I think it should be emphasized. And they
are very influential. They determine, certainly influence, the shaping of
news and information in journals, media, scholarship, and so on. My own
feeling is they're probably the most influential part of the lobby. Now,
we sort of have to ask, what's the difference between the lobby and the
power centers of the country?

But the barriers were overcome. Israel has performed many other services
to the United States. You can run through the record. It's also performed
secondary services. So in the 1980s, particularly, Congress was imposing
barriers to the Reagan administration's support for and carrying out major
terrorist atrocities in Central America. Israel helped evade congressional
restrictions by carrying out training, and so on, itself. The Congress
blocked U.S. trade with South Africa. Israel helped evade the embargo to
all the ? both the racist regimes of Southern Africa, and there have been
many other cases. By now, Israel is virtually an offshore U.S. military
base and high-tech center in the Middle East.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Professor Chomsky, in your book you have a fascinating
section, where you talk about the historical basis of the Bush doctrine of
preemptive war, and also its relationship to empire or to the building of
a U.S. empire. And you go back, you mention a historian, John Lewis
Gaddis, who the Bush administration loves, because he's actually tried to
find the historical rationalization for this use, going back to John
Quincy Adams and as Secretary of State in the invasion by General Andrew
Jackson of Florida in the Seminole Wars, and how this actually is a record
of the use of this idea to continue the expansionist aims of the United
States around the world.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah, that's a very interesting case, actually. John Lewis
Gaddis is not only the favorite historian of the Reagan administration,
but he's regarded as the dean of Cold War scholarship, the leading figure
in the American Cold War scholarship, a professor at Yale. And he wrote
the one, so far, book-length investigation into the roots of the Bush
Doctrine, which he generally approves, the usual qualifications about
style and so on. He traces it is back, as you say, to his hero, the great
grand strategist, John Quincy Adams, who wrote a series of famous state
papers back in 1818, in which he gave post facto justification to Andrew
Jackson's invasion of Florida. And it's rather interesting.

Gaddis is a good historian. He knows the sources, cites all the right
sources. But he doesn't tell you what they say. So what I did in the book
is just add what they say, what he omitted. Well, what they describe is a
shocking record of atrocities and crimes carried out against what were
called runaways Negros and lawless Indians, devastated the Seminoles.
There was another major Seminole war later, either exterminated them or
drove them into the marshes, completely unprovoked. There were fabricated
pretexts. Gaddis talks about the threat of England. There was no threat
from England. England didn't do a thing. In fact, even Adams didn't claim
that. But it was what Gaddis calls an -- it established what Gaddis calls
the thesis that expansion is the best guarantee of security. So you want
to be secure, just expand, conquer more. Then you'll be secure.

And he says, yes, that goes right through all American administrations --
he's correct about that -- and is the centerpiece of the Bush Doctrine. So
he says the Bush Doctrine isn't all that new. Expansion is the key to
security. So we just expand and expand, and then we become more secure.
Well, you know, he doesn't mention the obvious precedents that come to
mind, so I'll leave them out, but you can think of them. And there's some
truth to that, except for what he ignores and, in fact, denies, namely the
huge atrocities that are recorded in the various sources, scholarly
sources that he cites, which also point out that Adams, by giving this
justification for Jackson's war -- he was alone in the administration to
do it, but he managed to convince the President -- he established the
doctrine of executive wars without congressional authorization, in
violation of the Constitution. Adams later recognized that and was sorry
for it, and very sorry, but that established it and, yes, that's been
consistent ever since then: executive wars without congressional
authorization. We know of case after case. It doesn't seem to bother the
so-called originalists who talk about original intent.

But that aside, he also -- the scholarship that Gaddis cites but doesn't
quote also points out that Adams established other principles that are
consistent from then until now, namely massive lying to the public,
distortion, evoking hysterical fears, all kinds of deceitful efforts to
mobilize the population in support of atrocities. And yes, that continues
right up to the present, as well. So there's very interesting historical
record. What it shows is almost the opposite of what Gaddis claims and
what the Reagan -- the Bush administration -- I think I said Reagan -- the
Bush administration likes. And it's right out of the very sources that he
refers to, the right sources, the right scholarship. He simply ignores
them. But, yes, the record is interesting.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, I wanted to ask you a question. As many people
know, you're perhaps one of the most cited sources or analysis in the
world. And I thought this was an interesting reference to these citations.
This was earlier this month, program, Tim Russert, Meet the Press,
questioning the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace.
That's General Peter Pace, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, being
questioned by Tim Russert, talking about Jaafari, who at this very moment
is struggling to be -- again, to hold on to his position as prime minister
of Iraq. Your response, Noam Chomsky?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I, frankly, rather doubt that General Pace recognized
my name or knew what he was referring to, but maybe he did. The quote from
Tim Russert, if I recall, was that this was a book that was highly
critical of the Iraq war. Well, that shouldn't surprise a prime minister
of Iraq. After all, according to U.S. polls, the latest ones I've seen
reported, Brookings Institution, 87%, 87% of Iraqis want a timetable for
withdrawal. That's an astonishing figure. If it really is all Iraqis, as
was asserted. That means virtually everyone in Arab Iraq, the areas where
the troops are deployed. I, frankly, doubt that you could have found
figures like that in Vichy, France, or, you know, Poland under -- when it
was a Russian satellite.

What it means essentially is that virtually everyone wants a timetable for
withdrawal. So, would it be surprising that a prime minister would read a
book that's critical of the war and says the same thing? It's interesting
that Bush and Blair, who are constantly preaching about their love of
democracy, announce, declare that there will be no timetable for
withdrawal. Well, that part probably reflects the contempt for democracy
that both of them have continually demonstrated, them and their
colleagues, virtually without exception.

But there are deeper reasons, and we ought to think about them. If we're
talking about exit strategies from Iraq, we should bear in mind that for
the U.S. to leave Iraq without establishing a subordinate client state
would be a nightmare for Washington. All you have to do is think of the
policies that an independent Iraq would be likely to pursue, if it was
mildly democratic. It would almost surely strengthen its already developed
relations with Shiite Iran right next door. Any degree of Iraqi autonomy
stimulates autonomy pressures across the border in Saudi Arabia, where
there's a substantial Shiite population, who have been bitterly repressed
by the U.S.-backed tyranny but is now calling for more autonomy. That
happens to be where most of Saudi oil is. So, what you can imagine -- I'm
sure Washington planners are having nightmares about this -- is a
potential -- pardon?

JUAN GONZALEZ: I would like to ask you, in terms of this whole issue of
democracy, in your book you talk about the democracy deficit. Obviously,
the Bush administration is having all kinds of problems with their -- even
their model of democracy around the world, given the election results in
the Palestinian territories, the situation now in Iraq, where the
President is trying to force out the Prime Minister of the winning
coalition there, in Venezuela, even in Iran. Your concept of the democracy
deficit, and why this administration is able to hold on in the United
States itself?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, there are two aspects of that. One is, the democracy
deficit internal to the United States, that is, the enormous and growing
gap between public opinion and public policy. Second is their so-called
democracy-promotion mission elsewhere in the world. The latter is just
pure fraud. The only evidence that they're interested in promoting
democracy is that they say so. The evidence against it is just
overwhelming, including the cases you mentioned and many others. I mean,
the very fact that people are even willing to talk about this shows that
we're kind of insisting on being North Koreans: if the Dear Leader has
spoken, that establishes the truth; it doesn't matter what the facts are.
I go into that in some detail in the book.

The democracy deficit at home is another matter. How have -- I mean, they
have an extremely narrow hold on political power. Their policies are
strongly opposed by most of the population. How do they carry this off?
Well, that's been through an intriguing mixture of deceit, lying,
fabrication, public relations. There's actually a pretty good study of it
by two good political scientists, Hacker and Pierson, who just run through
the tactics and how it works. And they have barely managed to hold on to
political power and are attempting to use it to dismantle the
institutional structure that has been built up over many years with
enormous popular support -- the limited benefits system; they?re trying to
dismantle Social Security and are actually making progress on that; to the
tax cuts, overwhelmingly for the rich, are creating -- are purposely
creating a future situation, first of all, a kind of fiscal train wreck in
the future, but also a situation in which it will be virtually impossible
to carry out the kinds of social policies that the public overwhelmingly
supports.

And to manage to carry this off has been an impressive feat of
manipulation, deceit, lying, and so on. No time to talk about it here, but
actually my book gives a pretty good account. I do discuss it in the book.
That's a democratic deficit at home and an extremely serious one. The
problems of nuclear war, environmental disaster, those are issues of
survival, the top issues and the highest priority for anyone sensible.
Third issue is that the U.S. government is enhancing those threats. And a
fourth issue is that the U.S. population is opposed, but is excluded from
the political system. That's a democratic deficit. It's one we can deal
with, too.

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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, March 17, 2007

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