29 June, 2007

Chomsky -- eliminate nuclear weapons, a binding legal obligation

ZNet | Mideast

Imminent Crises: Threats and Opportunities

by Noam Chomsky; Monthly Review; June 27, 2007

Regrettably, there are all too many candidates that qualify as imminent
and very serious crises. Several should be high on everyone's agenda of
concern, because they pose literal threats to human survival: the
increasing likelihood of a terminal nuclear war, and environmental
disaster, which may not be too far removed. However, I would like to focus
on narrower issues, those that are of greatest concern in the West right
now. I will be speaking primarily of the United States, which I know best,
and it is the most important case because of its enormous power. But as
far as I can ascertain, Europe is not very different.

The area of greatest concern is the Middle East. There is nothing novel
about that. I often have to arrange talks years in advance. If I am asked
for a title, I suggest "The Current Crisis in the Middle East." It has yet
to fail. There's a good reason: the huge energy resources of the region
were recognized by Washington sixty years ago as a "stupendous source of
strategic power," the "strategically most important area of the world,"
and "one of the greatest material prizes in world history."1 Control over
this stupendous prize has been a primary goal of U.S. policy ever since,
and threats to it have naturally aroused enormous concern.

For years it was pretended that the threat was from the Russians, the
routine pretext for violence and subversion all over the world. In the
case of the Middle East, we do not have to consider this pretext, since it
was officially abandoned. When the Berlin Wall fell, the first Bush
administration released a new National Security Strategy, explaining that
everything would go as before but within a new rhetorical framework. The
massive military system is still necessary, but now because of the
"technological sophistication of third world powers"—which at least comes
closer to the truth—the primary threat, worldwide, has been indigenous
nationalism. The official document explained further that the United
States would maintain its intervention forces aimed at the Middle East,
where "the threat to our interests" that required intervention "could not
be laid at the Kremlin's door," contrary to decades of fabrication.2 As is
normal, all of this passed without comment.

The most serious current problem in the minds of the population, by far,
is Iraq. And the easy winner in the competition for the country that is
the most feared is Iran, not because Iran really poses a severe threat,
but because of a drumbeat of government-media propaganda. That is a
familiar pattern. The most recent example is Iraq. The invasion of Iraq
was virtually announced in September 2002. As we now know, the
U.S.-British invasion was already underway in secret. In that month,
Washington initiated a huge propaganda campaign, with lurid warnings by
Condoleezza Rice and others that the next message from Saddam Hussein
would be a mushroom cloud in New York City. Within a few weeks, the
government-media propaganda barrage had driven Americans completely off
the international spectrum. Saddam may have been despised almost
everywhere, but it was only in the United States that a majority of the
population were terrified of what he might do to them, tomorrow. Not
surprisingly! , support for the war correlated very closely with such
fears. That has been achieved before, in amazing ways during the Reagan
years, and there is a long and illuminating earlier history. But I will
keep to the current monster being crafted by the doctrinal system, after a
few words about Iraq.

There is a flood of commentary about Iraq, but very little reporting.
Journalists are mostly confined to fortified areas in Baghdad, or embedded
within the occupying army. That is not because they are cowards or lazy,
but because it is simply too dangerous to be anywhere else. That has not
been true in earlier wars. It is an astonishing fact that the United
States and Britain have had more trouble running Iraq than the Nazis had
in occupied Europe, or the Russians in their East European satellites,
where the countries were run by local civilians and security forces, with
the iron fist poised if anything went wrong but usually in the background.
In contrast, the United States has been unable to establish an obedient
client regime in Iraq, under far easier conditions.

Putting aside doctrinal blinders, what should be done in Iraq? Before
answering, we should be clear about some basic principles. The major
principle is that an invader has no rights, only responsibilities. The
first responsibility is to pay reparations. The second responsibility is
to follow the will of the victims. There is actually a third
responsibility: to bring criminals to trial, but that obligation is so
remote from the imperial mentality of Western culture that I will put it

The responsibility to pay reparations to Iraqis goes far beyond the crime
of aggression and its terrible aftermath. The United States and Britain
have been torturing the population of Iraq for a long time. In recent
history, both governments strongly supported Saddam Hussein's terrorist
regime through the period of his worst crimes, and long after the end of
the war with Iran. Iran finally capitulated, recognizing that it could not
fight the United States, which was, by then, openly participating in
Saddam's aggression—something that Iranians have surely not forgotten,
even if Westerners have. Dismissing history is always a convenient stance
for those who hold the clubs, but their victims usually prefer to pay
attention to the real world. After the Iran-Iraq war, Washington and
London continued to provide military equipment to their friend Saddam,
including means to develop weapons of mass destruction and delivery
systems. Iraqi nuclear engineers were even being brought to t! he United
States for instruction in developing nuclear weapons in 1989, long after
Saddam's worst atrocities and Iran's capitulation.

Immediately after the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and the United
Kingdom returned to their support for Saddam when they effectively
authorized him to use heavy military equipment to suppress a Shi'ite
uprising that might well have overthrown the tyrant. The reasons were
publicly explained. The New York Times reported that there was a
"strikingly unanimous view" among the United States and its allies,
Britain and Saudi Arabia, that "whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he
offered the West and the region a better hope for his country's stability
than did those who have suffered his repression"; the term "stability" is
a code word for "following orders."3 New York Times chief diplomatic
correspondent Thomas Friedman explained that "the best of all worlds" for
Washington would be an "iron-fisted military junta" ruling Iraq just the
way Saddam did. But lacking that option, Washington had to settle for
second-best: Saddam himself. An unthinkable option—then and now—is that !
Iraqis should rule Iraq independently of the United States.

Then followed the murderous sanctions regime imposed by the United States
and Britain, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, devastated
Iraqi civilian society, strengthened the tyrant, and forced the population
to rely on him for survival. The sanctions probably saved Saddam from the
fate of other vicious tyrants, some quite comparable to him, who were
overthrown from within despite strong support from the United States and
United Kingdom to the end of their bloody rule: Ceausescu, Suharto, and
quite a rogues gallery of others, to which new names are being added
regularly. Again, all of this is boring ancient history for those who hold
the clubs, but not for their victims, or for people who prefer to
understand the world. All of those actions, and much more, call for
reparations, on a massive scale, and the responsibility extends to others
as well. But the deep moral-intellectual crisis of imperial culture
prevents any thought of such topics as these.

The second responsibility is to obey the will of the population. British
and U.S. polls provide sufficient evidence about that. The most recent
polls find that 87 percent of Iraqis want a "concrete timeline for US
withdrawal," up from 76 percent in 2005.4 If the reports really mean
Iraqis, as they say, that would imply that virtually the entire population
of Arab Iraq, where the U.S. and British armies are deployed, wants a firm
timetable for withdrawal. I doubt that one would have found comparable
figures in occupied Europe under the Nazis, or Eastern Europe under
Russian rule.

Bush-Blair and associates declare, however, that there can be no timetable
for withdrawal. That stand in part reflects the natural hatred for
democracy among the powerful, often accompanied by eloquent calls for
democracy. The calls for democracy moved to center stage after the failure
to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so a new motive had to be
invented for the invasion. The president announced the doctrine to great
acclaim in November 2003, at the National Endowment for Democracy in
Washington. He proclaimed that the real reason for the invasion was not
Saddam's weapons programs, as Washington and London had insistently
claimed, but rather Bush's messianic mission to promote democracy in Iraq,
the Middle East, and elsewhere. The media and prominent scholars were
deeply impressed, relieved to discover that the "liberation of Iraq" is
perhaps the "most noble" war in history, as leading liberal commentators
announced—a sentiment echoed even by critics, who objected ! that the
"noble goal" may be beyond our means, and those to whom we are offering
this wonderful gift may be too backward to accept it. That conclusion was
confirmed a few days later by U.S. polls in Baghdad. Asked why the United
States invaded Iraq, some agreed with the new doctrine hailed by Western
intellectuals: 1 percent agreed that the goal was to promote democracy.
Another 5 percent said that the goal was to help Iraqis.5 Most of the rest
took for granted that the goals were the obvious ones that are
unmentionable in polite society—the strategic-economic goals we readily
attribute to enemies, as when Russia invaded Afghanistan or Saddam invaded
Kuwait, but are unmentionable when we turn to ourselves.

But rejection of the popular will in Iraq goes far beyond the natural fear
of democracy on the part of the powerful. Simply consider the policies
that are likely to be pursued by an independent and more or less
democratic Iraq. Iraqis may have no love for Iran, but they would
doubtlessly prefer friendly relations with their powerful neighbor. The
Shi'ite majority already has ties to Iran and has been moving to
strengthen them. Furthermore, even limited sovereignty in Iraq has
encouraged efforts by the harshly repressed Shi'ite population across the
border in Saudi Arabia to gain basic rights and perhaps autonomy. That is
where most of Saudi Arabia's oil happens to be.

Such developments might lead to a loose Shi'ite alliance controlling the
world's major energy resources and independent of Washington, the ultimate
nightmare in Washington—except that it might get worse: the alliance might
strengthen its economic and possibly even military ties with China. The
United States can intimidate Europe: when Washington shakes its fist,
leading European business enterprises pull out of Iran. But China has a
three-thousand-year history of contempt for the barbarians: they refuse to
be intimidated.

That is the basic reason for Washington's strategic concerns with regard
to China: not that it is a military threat, but that it poses the threat
of independence. If that threat is unacceptable for small countries like
Cuba or Vietnam, it is certainly so for the heartland of the most dynamic
economic region in the world, the country that has just surpassed Japan in
possession of the world's major financial reserves and is the world's
fastest growing major economy. China's economy is already about two-thirds
the size of that of the United States, by the correct measures, and if
current growth rates persist, it is likely to close that gap in about a
decade—in absolute terms, not per capita of course.

China is also the center of the Asian Energy Security Grid and the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes the Central Asian
countries, and just a few weeks ago, was joined by India, Iran, and
Pakistan as observers, soon probably members. India is undertaking
significant joint energy projects with China, and it might join the Energy
Security Grid. Iran may as well, if it comes to the conclusion that Europe
is so intimidated by the United States that it cannot act independently.
If Iran turns to the East, it will find willing partners. A major
conference on energy last September in Teheran brought together government
officials and scholars from Iran, China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Egypt,
Indonesia, Georgia, Venezuela, and Germany, planning an extensive pipeline
system for the entire region and also more intensive development of energy
resources. Bush's recent trip to India, and his authorization of India's
nuclear weapons program, is part of the jockeying over how ! these major
global forces will crystallize. A sovereign and partially democratic Iraq
could be another contribution to developments that seriously threaten U.S.
global hegemony, so it is not at all surprising that Washington has sought
in every way to prevent such an outcome, joined by "the spear carrier for
the pax americana," as Blair's Britain is described by Michael MccGwire in
Britain's leading journal of international affairs.6

If the United States were compelled to grant some degree of sovereignty to
Iraq, and any of these consequences would ensue, Washington planners would
be facing the collapse of one of their highest foreign policy objectives
since the Second World War, when the United States replaced Britain as the
world-dominant power: the need to control "the strategically most
important area of the world." What has been central to planning is
control, not access, an important distinction. The United States followed
the same policies long before it relied on a drop of Middle East oil, and
would continue to do so if it relied on solar energy. Such control gives
the United States "veto power" over its industrial rivals, as explained in
the early postwar period by influential planners, and reiterated recently
with regard to Iraq: a successful conquest of Iraq would give the United
States "critical leverage" over its industrial rivals, Europe and Asia, as
pointed out by Zbigniew Brzezinski, an i! mportant figure in the planning
community. Vice President Dick Cheney made the same point, describing
control over petroleum supplies as "tools of intimidation and blackmail"—
when used by others.7 He went on to urge the dictatorships of Central
Asia, Washington's models of democracy, to agree to pipeline construction
that ensures that the tools remain in Washington's hands.

The thought is by no means original. At the dawn of the oil age almost
ninety years ago, Britain's first lord of the admiralty Walter Hume Long
explained that "if we secure the supplies of oil now available in the
world we can do what we like."8 Woodrow Wilson also understood this
crucial point. Wilson expelled the British from Venezuela, which by 1928
had become the world's leading oil exporter, with U.S. companies then
placed in charge. To achieve this goal, Wilson and his successors
supported the vicious and corrupt dictator of Venezuela and ensured that
he would bar British concessions. Meanwhile the United States continued to
demand—and secure—U.S. oil rights in the Middle East, where the British
and French were in the lead.

We might note that these events illustrate the actual meaning of the
"Wilsonian idealism" admired by Western intellectual culture, and also
provide the real meaning of "free trade" and the "open door." Sometimes
that is even officially acknowledged. When the post-Second World War
global order was being shaped in Washington, a State Department memorandum
on U.S. petroleum policy called for preserving absolute U.S. control of
Western hemisphere resources "coupled with insistence upon the Open Door
principle of equal opportunity for United States companies in new areas."9
That is a useful illustration of "really existing free market doctrine":
What we have, we keep, closing the door to others; what we do not yet
have, we take, under the principle of the Open Door. All of this
illustrates the one really significant theory of international relations,
the maxim of Thucydides: the strong do as they can, and the weak suffer as
they must.

With regard to Iraq today, talk about exit strategies means very little
unless these realities are confronted. How Washington planners will deal
with these problems is far from clear. And they face similar problems
elsewhere. Intelligence projections for the new millennium were that the
United States would control Middle East oil as a matter of course, but
would itself rely on more stable Atlantic Basin reserves: West African
dictatorships' and the Western hemisphere's. But Washington's postwar
control of South America, from Venezuela to Argentina, is seriously
eroding. The two major instruments of control have been violence and
economic strangulation, but each weapon is losing its efficacy. The latest
attempt to sponsor a military coup was in 2002, in Venezuela, but the
United States had to back down when the government it helped install was
quickly overthrown by popular resistance, and there was turmoil in Latin
America, where democracy is taken much more seriously than in! the West
and overthrow of a democratically elected government is no longer accepted
quietly. Economic controls are also eroding. South American countries are
paying off their debts to the IMF—basically an offshoot of the U.S.
Treasury department. More frightening yet to Washington, these countries
are being aided by Venezuela. The president of Argentina announced that
the country would "rid itself of the IMF." Rigorous adherence to IMF rules
had led to economic disaster, from which the country recovered by
radically violating the rules. Brazil too had rid itself of the IMF, and
Bolivia probably will as well, again aided by Venezuela. U.S. economic
controls are seriously weakening.

Washington's main concern is Venezuela, the leading oil producer in the
Western hemisphere. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that its
reserves might be greater than Saudi Arabia's if the price of oil stays
high enough for exploitation of its expensive extra-heavy oil to become
profitable. Extreme U.S. hostility and subversion has accelerated
Venezuela's interest in diversifying exports and investment, and China is
more than willing to accept the opportunity, as it is with other
resource-rich Latin American exporters. The largest gas reserves in South
America are in Bolivia, which is now following much the same path as
Venezuela. Both countries pose a problem for Washington in other respects.
They have popularly elected governments. Venezuela leads Latin America in
support for the elected government, increasing sharply in the past few
years under Chávez. He is bitterly hated in the United States because of
his independence and enormous popular support. Bolivia just had! a
democratic election of a kind next to inconceivable in the West. There
were serious issues that the population understood very well, and there
was active participation of the general population, who elected someone
from their own ranks, from the indigenous majority. Democracy is always
frightening to power centers, particularly when it goes too far beyond
mere form and involves actual substance.

Commentary on what is happening reveals the nature of the fears. London's
Financial Times warned that President Evo Morales of Bolivia is becoming
increasingly "authoritarian" and "undemocratic." This is a serious concern
to Western powers, who are dedicated to freedom and democracy everywhere.
The proof of his authoritarian stance and departure from democratic
principles is that he followed the will of 95 percent of the population
and nationalized Bolivia's gas resources, and is also gaining popularity
by cutting public salaries and eliminating corruption. Morales's policies
have come to resemble the frightening leader of Venezuela. As if the
popularity of Chávez's elected government was not proof enough that he is
an anti-democratic dictator, he is attempting to extend to Bolivia the
same programs he is instituting in Venezuela: helping "Bolivia's drive to
stamp out illiteracy and pay[ing] the wages of hundreds of Cuban doctors
who have been sent to work there" among the p! oor, to quote the Financial
Times' lament.10

The latest Bush administration's National Security Strategy, released
March 2006, describes China as the greatest long-term threat to U.S.
global dominance. The threat is not military, but economic. The document
warns that Chinese leaders are not only "expanding trade, but acting as if
they can somehow 'lock up' energy supplies around the world or seek to
direct markets rather than opening them up."11 In the U.S.-China meetings
in Washington a few weeks ago, President Bush warned President Hu Jintao
against trying to "lock up" global supplies. Bush condemned China's
reliance on oil from Sudan, Burma, and Iran, accusing China of opposition
to free trade and human rights—unlike Washington, which imports only from
pure democracies that worship human rights, like Equatorial Guinea, one of
the most vicious African dictatorships; Colombia, which has by far the
worst human rights record in Latin America; Central Asian states; and
other paragons of virtue. No respectable person woul! d accuse Washington
of "locking up" global supplies when it pursues its traditional "open door
policy" and outright aggression to ensure that it dominates global energy
supplies, firmly holding "the tools of intimidation and blackmail." It is
interesting, perhaps, that none of this elicits ridicule in the West, or
even notice.

The lead story in the New York Times on the Bush-Hu meeting reported that
"China's appetite for oil also affects its stance on Iran....The issue [of
China's effort to 'lock up' global supplies] is likely to come to a
particular head over Iran," where China's state-owned oil giant signed a
$70 billion deal to develop Iran's huge Yadavaran oil field.12 That's a
serious matter, compounded by Chinese interference even in Saudi Arabia, a
U.S. client state since the British were expelled during the Second World
War. This relationship now threatened by growing economic and even
military ties between China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, now China's
largest trading partner in West Asia and North Africa—perhaps further
proof of China's lack of concern for democracy and human rights. When
President Hu visited Washington, he was denied a state dinner, in a
calculated insult. He cheerfully reciprocated by going directly to Saudi
Arabia, a serious slap in the face to Washington that was! surely not

This is the barest sketch of the relevant global context over what to do
in Iraq. But these critical matters are scarcely mentioned in the ongoing
debate about the problem of greatest concern to Americans. They are barred
by a rigid doctrine. It is unacceptable to attribute rational
strategic-economic thinking to one's own state, which must be guided by
benign ideals of freedom, justice, peace, and other wonderful things. That
leads back again to a very severe crisis in Western intellectual culture,
not of course unique in history, but with dangerous portent.

We can be confident that these matters, though excluded from public
discussion, engage the attention of planners. Governments typically regard
their populations as a major enemy, and keep them in ignorance of what is
happening to them and planned for them. Nevertheless, we can speculate.
One reasonable speculation is that Washington planners may be seeking to
inspire secessionist movements that the United States can then "defend"
against the home country. In Iran, the main oil resources are in the Arab
areas adjacent to the Gulf, Iran's Khuzestan—and sure enough, there is now
an Ahwazi liberation movement of unknown origin, claiming unspecified
rights of autonomy. Nearby, Iraq and the gulf states provide a base for
U.S. military intervention.

The U.S. military presence in Latin America is increasing substantially.
In Venezuela, oil resources are concentrated in Zulia province near
Colombia, the one reliable U.S. land base in the region, a province that
is anti-Chávez and already has an autonomy movement, again of unknown
origins. In Bolivia, the gas resources are in richer eastern areas
dominated by elites of European descent that bitterly oppose the
government elected by the indigenous majority, and have threatened to
secede. Nearby Paraguay is another one of the few remaining reliable land
bases for the U.S. military. Total military and police assistance now
exceeds economic and social aid, a dramatic reversal of the pattern during
Cold War years. The U.S. military now has more personnel in Latin America
than most key civilian federal agencies combined, again a sharp change
from earlier years. The new mission is to combat "radical populism"—the
term that is regularly used for independent nationalism that does n! ot
obey orders. Military training is being shifted from the State Department
to the Pentagon, freeing it from human rights and democracy conditionality
under congressional supervision—which was always weak, but had some
effects that constrained executive violence.

The United States is a global power, and its policies should not be viewed
in isolation, any more than those of the British Empire. Going back half a
century, the Eisenhower administration identified three major global
problems: Indonesia, North Africa, and the Middle East—all oil producers,
all Islamic. In all cases, the concern was independent nationalism. The
end of French rule in Algeria resolved the North African problem. In
Indonesia, the 1965 Suharto coup removed the threat of independence with a
huge massacre, which the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and
Mao. The "staggering mass slaughter," as the New York Times described it,
was greeted in the West with unconcealed euphoria and relief.13 The
military coup destroyed the only mass-based political party, a party of
the poor, slaughtered huge numbers of landless peasants, and threw the
country open to Western exploitation of its rich resources, while the
large majority tries to survive in misery. Two yea! rs later, the major
problem in the Middle East was resolved with Israel's destruction of the
Nasser regime, hated by the United States and Britain, which feared that
secular nationalist forces might seek to direct the vast energy resources
of the region to internal development. A few years earlier, U.S.
intelligence had warned of popular feelings that oil is a "national
patrimony" exploited by the West by unjust arrangements imposed by force.
Israel's service to the United States, its Saudi ally, and the energy
corporations confirmed the judgment of U.S. intelligence in 1958 that a
"logical corollary" of opposition to Arab nationalism is reliance on
Israel as "the only strong pro-Western power in the Middle East," apart
from Turkey, which established a close military alliance with Israel in
1958, within the U.S. strategic framework.14

The U.S.-Israeli alliance, unique in world affairs, dates from Israel's
1967 military conquests, reinforced in 1970 when Israel barred possible
Syrian intervention in Jordan to protect Palestinians who were being
slaughtered during Black September. Such intervention by Syria was
regarded in Washington as a threat to its ally Jordan and, more important,
to the oil-producers that were Washington's clients. U.S. aid to Israel
roughly quadrupled. The pattern is fairly consistent since, extending to
secondary Israeli services to U.S. power outside the Middle East,
particularly in Latin America and southern Africa. The system of
domination has worked quite well for the people who matter. Energy
corporation profits are breaking all records. High-tech (including
military) industry has lucrative ties with Israel, as do the major
financial institutions, and Israel serves virtually as an offshore
military base and provider of equipment and training. One may argue that
other policies wo! uld have been more beneficial to the concentrations of
domestic power that largely determine policy, but they seem to find these
arrangements quite tolerable. If they did not, they could easily move to
terminate them. And in fact, when there are conflicts between U.S. and
Israeli state power, Israel naturally backs down; exports of military
technology to China are a recent example, when the Bush administration
went out of its way to humiliate Israel after it was initially reluctant
to follow the orders of what Israeli commentator Aluf Benn calls "the
boss-man called 'partner.'"

Let us turn next to Iran and its nuclear programs. Until 1979, Washington
strongly supported these programs. During those years, of course, a brutal
tyrant installed by the U.S.-U.K. military coup that overthrew the Iranian
parliamentary government ruled Iran. Today, the standard claim is that
Iran has no need for nuclear power, and therefore must be pursuing a
secret weapons program. Henry Kissinger explained that "For a major oil
producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources." As
secretary of state thirty years ago, Kissinger held that "introduction of
nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy
and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to
petrochemicals," and the United States acted to assist the Shah's efforts.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, the leading planners of
the second Bush administration, worked hard to provide the Shah with a
"complete 'nuclear fuel cycle'—reactors powered by an! d regenerating
fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis. That is precisely the
ability the current administration is trying to prevent Iran from
acquiring today." U.S. universities were arranging to train Iranian
nuclear engineers, doubtless with Washington's approval, if not
initiative; including my own university, the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, for example, despite overwhelming student opposition.
Kissinger was asked about his reversal, and he responded with his usual
engaging frankness: "They were an allied country."15 So therefore they had
a genuine need for nuclear energy, pre-1979, but have no such need today.

The Iranian nuclear programs, as far as is known, fall within its rights
under Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which grants
non-nuclear states the right to produce fuel for nuclear energy. The Bush
administration argues, however, that Article IV should be strengthened,
and I think that makes sense. When the NPT came into force in 1970, there
was a considerable gap between producing fuel for energy and for nuclear
weapons. But with contemporary technology, the gap has been narrowed.
However, any such revision of Article IV would have to ensure unimpeded
access for nonmilitary use, in accord with the initial bargain. A
reasonable proposal was put forth by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the
International Atomic Energy Agency: that all production and processing of
weapon-usable material be under international control, with "assurance
that legitimate would-be users could get their supplies."16 That should be
the first step, he proposed, towards fully implementing th! e 1993 UN
resolution calling for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (called FISSBAN,
for short), which bans production of fissile materials by individual
states. ElBaradei's proposal was dead in the water. The U.S. political
leadership, surely in its current stance, would never agree to this
delegation of sovereignty. To date, ElBaradei's proposal has been accepted
by only one state, to my knowledge: Iran, last February. That suggests one
way to resolve the current crisis—in fact, a far more serious crisis:
continued production of fissile materials by individual states is likely
to doom humanity to destruction.

Washington also strenuously opposes a verifiable FISSBAN treaty, regarded
by specialists as the "most fundamental nuclear arms control proposal,"
according to Princeton arms control specialist Frank von Hippel.17 Despite
U.S. opposition, in November 2004, the UN Disarmament Committee voted in
favor of a verifiable FISSBAN. The vote was 147 to 1, with 2 abstentions:
Israel, which is reflexive, and Britain, which is more interesting.
British ambassador John Freeman explained that Britain supported the
treaty, but could not vote for this version, because he said it "divides
the international community"—divided it 147 to 1.18 A later vote in the
full General Assembly was 179 to 2, Israel and Britain again abstaining.
The United States was joined by Palau.

We gain some insight into the ranking of survival of the species among the
priorities of the leadership of the hegemonic power and its spear carrier.

In 2004, the European Union (EU) and Iran reached an agreement on nuclear
issues: Iran agreed to temporarily suspend its legal activities of uranium
enrichment, and the EU agreed to provide Iran with "firm commitments on
security issues." As everyone understands, the phrase "security issues"
refers to the very credible U.S.-Israeli threats and preparations to
attack Iran. These threats, a serious violation of the UN Charter, are no
small matter for a country that has been tortured for fifty years without
a break by the global superpower, which now occupies the countries on
Iran's borders, not to speak of the client state that is the regional

Iran lived up to its side of the bargain, but the EU, under U.S. pressure,
rejected its commitments. Iran finally abandoned the bargain as well. The
preferred version in the West is that Iran broke the agreement, proving
that it is a serious threat to world order.

In May 2003, Iran had offered to discuss the full range of security
matters with the United States, which refused, preferring to follow the
same course it did with North Korea. On taking office in January 2001, the
Bush administration withdrew the "no hostile intent" condition of earlier
agreements and proceeded to issue serious threats, while also abandoning
promises to provide fuel oil and a nuclear reactor. In response, North
Korea returned to developing nuclear weapons, the roots of another current
crisis. All predictable, and predicted.

There are ways to mitigate and probably end these crises. The first is to
call off the threats that are virtually urging Iran (and North Korea) to
develop nuclear weapons. One of Israel's leading military historians,
Martin van Creveld, wrote that if Iran is not developing nuclear weapons,
then they are "crazy," immediately after Washington demonstrated that it
will attack anyone it likes as long as they are known to be defenseless.19
So the first step towards ending the crisis would be to call off the
threats that are likely to lead potential targets to develop a deterrent—
where nuclear weapons or terror are the only viable options.

A second step would be to join with other efforts to reintegrate Iran into
the global economy. A third step would be to join the rest of the world in
accepting a verifiable FISSBAN treaty, and to join Iran in accepting
ElBaradei's proposal, or something similar—and I repeat that the issue
here extends far beyond Iran, and reaches the level of human survival. A
fourth step would be to live up to Article VI of the NPT, which obligates
the nuclear states to take "good faith" efforts to eliminate nuclear
weapons, a binding legal obligation, as the World Court determined. None
of the nuclear states have lived up to that obligation, but the United
States is far in the lead in violating it—again, a very serious threat to
human survival. Even steps in these directions would mitigate the upcoming
crisis with Iran. Above all, it is important to heed the words of Mohamed
ElBaradei: "There is no military solution to this situation. It is
inconceivable. The only durable solution is a neg! otiated solution."20
And it is within reach. Similar to the Iraq war: a war against Iran
appears to be opposed by the military and U.S. intelligence, but might
well be undertaken by the civilian planners of the Bush administration:
Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and a few others, an unusually dangerous

There is wide agreement among prominent strategic analysts that the threat
of nuclear war is severe and increasing, and that the threat can be
eliminated by measures that are known and in fact legally obligatory. If
such measures are not taken, they warn that "a nuclear exchange is
ultimately inevitable," that we may be facing "an appreciable risk of
ultimate doom," an "Armageddon of our own making."21 The threats are well
understood, and they are being consciously enhanced. The Iraq invasion is
only the most blatant example.

Clinton's military and intelligence planners had called for "dominating
the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and
investment," much in the way armies and navies did in earlier years, but
now with a sole hegemon, which must develop "space-based strike weapons
[enabling] the application of precision force from, to, and through
space." Such measures will be needed, they said, because "globalization of
the world economy" will lead to a "widening economic divide" along with
"deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural
alienation," hence unrest and violence among the "have-nots," much of it
directed against the United States. The United States must therefore be
ready to plan for a "precision strike from space [as a] counter to the
worldwide proliferation of WMD" by unruly elements.22 That is a likely
consequence of the recommended military programs, just as a "widening
divide" is the anticipated consequence of the specific vers! ion of
international integration that is misleadingly called "globalization" and
"free trade" in the doctrinal system.

A word should be added about these notions. Both are terms of propaganda,
not description. The term "globalization" is used for a specific form of
international economic integration, designed—not surprisingly—in the
interests of the designers: multinational corporations and the few
powerful states to which they are closely linked. An opposing form of
globalization is being pursued by groups that are far more representative
of the world's population, the mass global justice movements, which
originated in the South but now have been joined by northern popular
organizations and meet annually in the World Social Forum, which has
spawned many regional and local social forums, concentrating on their own
issues though within the same overarching framework. The global justice
movements are an entirely new phenomenon, perhaps the seeds of the kind of
international that has been the hope of the workers movements and the left
since their modern origins. They are called "antiglobalizati! on" in the
reigning doctrinal systems, because they seek a form of globalization
oriented towards the interests of people, not concentrated economic power—
and unfortunately, they have often adopted this ridiculous terminology.

Official globalization is committed to so-called neoliberalism, also a
highly misleading term: the regime is not new, and it is not liberal.
Neoliberalism is essentially the policy imposed by force on the colonies
since the eighteenth century, while the currently wealthy countries
radically violated these rules, with extensive reliance on state
intervention in the economy and resort to measures that are now banned in
the international economic order. That was true of England and the
countries that followed its path of protectionism and state intervention,
including Japan, the one country of the South that escaped colonization
and the one country that industrialized. These facts are widely recognized
by economic historians.

A comparison of the United States and Egypt in the early nineteenth
century is one of many enlightening illustrations of the decisive role of
sovereignty and massive state intervention in economic development. Having
freed itself from British rule, the United States was able to adopt
British-style measures of state intervention, and developed. Meanwhile
British power was able to bar anything of the sort in Egypt, joining with
France to impose Lord Palmerston's doctrine that "No ideas therefore of
fairness towards Mehemet [Ali] ought to stand in the way of such great and
paramount interests" as barring competition in the eastern
Mediterranean.23 Palmerston expressed his "hate" for the "ignorant
barbarian" who dared to undertake economic development. Historical
memories resonate when, today, Britain and France, fronting for the United
States, demand that Iran suspend all activities related to nuclear and
missile programs, including research and development, so that nuclear ene!
rgy is barred and the country that is probably under the greatest threat
of any in the world has no deterrent to attack—attack by the righteous,
that is. We might also recall that France and Britain played the crucial
role in development of Israel's nuclear arsenal. Imperial sensibilities
are delicate indeed.

Had it enjoyed sovereignty, Egypt might have undergone an industrial
revolution in the nineteenth century. It shared many of the advantages of
the United States, except independence, which allowed the United States to
impose very high tariffs to bar superior British goods (textiles, steel,
and others). The United States in fact became the world's leader in
protectionism until the Second World War, when its economy so overwhelmed
anyone else's that "free competition" was tolerable. After the war,
massive reliance on the dynamic state sector became a central component of
the U.S. economy, even more than it had been before, continuing right to
the present. And the United States remains committed to protectionism,
when useful. The most extreme protectionism was during the Reagan years—
accompanied, as usual, by eloquent odes to liberalism, for others. Reagan
virtually doubled protective barriers, and also turned to the usual
device, the Pentagon, to overcome management failures a! nd
"reindustrialize America," the slogan of the business press. Furthermore,
high levels of protectionism are built into the so-called "free trade
agreements," designed to protect the powerful and privileged, in the
traditional manner.

The same was true of Britain's flirtation with "free trade" a century
earlier, when 150 years of protectionism and state intervention had made
Britain by far the world's most powerful economy, free trade seemed an
option, given that the playing field was "tilted" in the right direction,
to adapt the familiar metaphor. But the British still hedged their bets.
They continued to rely on protected markets, state intervention, and also
devices not considered by economic historians. One such market was the
world's most spectacular narcotrafficking enterprise, designed to break
into the China market, and also producing profits that financed the Royal
Navy, the administration of conquered India, and the purchase of U.S.
cotton—the fuel of the industrial revolution. U.S. cotton production was
also based on radical state intervention: slavery, virtual extermination
of the native population, and military conquest—almost half of Mexico, to
mention one case relevant to current news. When! Britain could no longer
compete with Japan, it closed off the empire in 1932, followed by other
imperial powers, a crucial part of the background for the Second World
War. The truth about free trade and economic development has only a
limited resemblance to the doctrines professed.

Throughout modern history, democracy and development have had a common
enemy: the loss of sovereignty. In a world of states, it is true that
decline of sovereignty entails decline of hope for democracy, and decline
in ability to conduct social and economic policy. That in turn harms
development, a conclusion well confirmed by centuries of economic history.
The work of economic historian M. Shahid Alam is particularly enlightening
in this respect. In current terminology, the imposed regimes are called
neoliberal, so it is fair to say that the common enemy of democracy and
development is neoliberalism. With regard to development, one can debate
causality, because the factors in economic growth are so poorly
understood. But correlations are reasonably clear. The countries that have
most rigorously observed neoliberal principles, as in Latin America and
elsewhere, have experienced a sharp deterioration of macroeconomic
indicators as compared with earlier years. Those that have i! gnored the
principles, as in East Asia, have enjoyed rapid growth. That neoliberalism
harms democracy is understandable. Virtually every feature of the
neoliberal package, from privatization to freeing financial flows,
undermines democracy for clear and well-known reasons.

The crises we face are real and imminent, and in each case means are
available to overcome them. The first step is understanding, then
organization and appropriate action. This is the path that has often been
followed in the past, bringing about a much better world and leaving a
legacy of comparative freedom and privilege, for some at least, which can
be the basis for moving on. Failure to do so is almost certain to lead to
grim consequences, even the end of biology's only experiment with higher

1. See Aaron David Miller, Search for Security (Chapel Hill, NC:
University of North Carolina Press, 1980); Irvine Anderson, Aramco, the
United States and Saudi Arabia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
1981); Michael Stoff, Oil, War and American Security (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1980); Steven Spiegel, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 51.
2. National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington DC: The
White House, March 1990).
3. Alan Cowell, "Kurds Assert Few Outside Iraq Wanted Them to Win," New
York Times, April 11, 1991.
4. Nina Kamp and Michael E. O'Hanlon, "The State of Iraq," New York Times,
March 19, 2006.
5. Walter Pincus, "Skepticism About U.S. Deep, Iraq Poll Shows; Motive for
Invasion Is Focus of Doubts," Washington Post, November 12, 2003; Richard
Burkholder, "Gallup Poll of Baghdad," Government & Public Affairs, October
28, 2003.
6. Michael MccGwire, "The Rise and Fall of the NPT," International Affairs
81 (January 2005): 134.
7. Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Hegemonic Quicksand," National Interest 74
(Winter 2003/2004): 5-16; Stefan Wagstyl, "Cheney Rebukes Putin on Energy
'Blackmail,'" Financial Times, May 4, 2006.
8. See Ian Rutledge, Addicted to Oil (London: I. B. Tauris, 2005).
9. See Multinational Oil Corporation and U.S. Foreign Policy, Report to
the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, January 2, 1975
(Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1975).
10. Hal Weitzman, "Nationalism Fuels Fears over Morales' Power," Financial
Times, May 2, 2006.
11. National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington DC: The
White House, March 2006), 41.
12. David E. Sanger, "China's Rising Need for Oil Is High on U.S. Agenda,"
New York Times, April 18, 2006.
13. Editorial, New York Times, August 25, 1966
14. Mark Curtis, The Great Deception (London: Pluto Press, 1998), 133.
15. Darna Linzer, "Past Arguments Don't Square with Current Iran Policy,"
Washington Post, March 27, 2005.
16. Mohamed ElBaradei, "Towards a Safer World," The Economist, October 16,
17. Frank von Hippel, "Coupling a Moratorium To Reductions as a First Step
toward the Fissile-Material Cutoff Treaty," in Rakesh Sood, Frank von
Hippel, and Morton Halperin, "The Road to Nuclear Zero," Center for
Advanced Study of India, 1998, 17.
18. See Rebecca Johnson, "2004 UN First Committee," Disarmament Diplomacy
79 (April/May 2005), and Jean du Preez, "The Fissban," Disarmament
Diplomacy 79 (April/May 2005), http://www.acronym.org.
19. Martin van Creveld, "Sharon on the Warpath" International Herald
Tribune, August 21, 2004.
20. Jeffrey Fleishman and Alissa Rubin, "ElBaradei Asks for Restraint on
Iran Sanctions," Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2006.
21. Michael MccGwire, "The Rise and Fall of the NPT," International
Affairs 81 (January 2005), 127; John Steinbruner and Nancy Gallagher,
"Constructive Transformation," Daedalus 133, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 99; Sam
Nunn, "The Cold War's Nuclear Legacy Has Lasted too Long," Financial
Times, December 6, 2004.
22. National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2015 (Washington DC,
December 2000); U.S. Space Command, Vision for 2020 (February 1997), 7;
Pentagon, Quadrennial Defense Review, May 1997.
23. See Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot, Egypt in the Reign of Muhammad Ali
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 240; Harold Temperley,
England and the Near East (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1936).

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics Emeritus
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This article is based on a
talk delivered May 12, 2006, in Beirut, two months before Israel began its
military campaign against Lebanon on July 13, 2006. It appears in Inside
Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky (just
published by Monthly Review Press, order online at www.monthlyreview.org

or call 1-800-670-9499).

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, June 29, 2007


Blogger Professor Matt said...

Please view below the Top Internation Nuclear News events for discussion, thanks:

Gordon Brown backs nuclear now
The Prime Minister said that the security of our future energy supply is best safeguarded by building new nuclear power stations.

click here for more information

Uranium price dips slightly after staggering rise

The spot price of uranium fell back $3 on Wednesday, but this was the first significant dip after steady gains for nearly four years.

Increasing speculation that a resurgence in nuclear energy and concerns over supplies has see the price of uranium rise almost tenfold to $135/lb.

Though there may be a small correction, no major reduction is expected. Despite these increases in the price of uranium the cost of nuclear power has hardly been affected, because nuclear power stations use so little fuel the cost of uranium is only a small part of overall generation costs.

click here for more information

Nuclear Report's Arguments "Fatuous"

The conclusions of the Oxford Research Group "Too Hot to Handle? The Future of Civil Nuclear Power" report has been described as 'fatuous' by a senior industry expert.

The report suggested that the fact that France 'only' built around 3-4 reactors a year during its peak build phase meant that the world couldn't build 4 a month, which would be needed if nuclear energy were to supply a third of electricity by 2075. However, that's comparing the build rate in one country France to the potential build rate across the world. If you consider the larger population of OECD countries the reactor build rate could be easily achieved.

click here for more information

Fri Jul 06, 09:47:00 am GMT  

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