Noam Chomsky on War & Peace

US chartered UN & must follow UN decisions on Iraq

The debate over the Iraq crisis kept within rigid bounds that excluded the obvious answer: the US and UK should act in accord with their laws and treaty obligations. The relevant legal framework is formulated in the Charter of the United Nations, which is recognized as the foundation of international law and world order, and which under the US Constitution is “the supreme law of the land.” The Charter states that “The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression, and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken.“

There are legitimate ways to react to the many threats to world peace. If Iraq’s neighbors feel threatened, they can approach the Security Council to authorize appropriate measures to respond to the threat. If the US and Britain feel threatened, they can do the same. But no state has the authority to make its own determinations on these matters and to act as it chooses.

Source: Acts of Aggression, by Noam Chomsky, p. 15-16 Jul 2, 1999

Nicaragua: US destroyed Sandanistas & real hope for reform

    The hatred that was elicited by the Sandanistas for trying to direct resources to the poor (and even succeeding at it) [was the basis for] the US launching a three-fold attack against Nicaragua.
  1. We exerted extreme pressure to compel the World Bank to terminate all projects and assistance.
  2. We launched the contra war along with an illegal economic war to terminate what Oxfam rightly called “the threat of a good example.”
  3. We used diplomatic fakery to crush Nicaragua. The US virutally tripled CIA supply flights to the contras, and within a few months the peace plan and [a fair] election campaign were totally dead.
US achievements in Central America in the past 15 years are a major tragedy, not just because of the appalling human cost, but because a decade ago there were prospects for real progress toward meaningful democracy and meeting human needs. These efforts might have worked and might have taught useful lessons-which if course was exactly what US planners feared.
Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 43-46 Jan 13, 1991

Vietnam War about destroying “virus” of independence from US

Ho Chi Minh led the national movement of Vietnam. There was fear in the US that the Viet Minh might succeed, in which case “the rot would spread” and the “virus” would “infect” the region, to adopt the language the planners used year after year. What do you do when you have a virus? First you destroy it, then you inoculate potential victims, so that the disease does not spread. That’s basically the US strategy in the Third World. If possible, it’s advisable to have the local military destroy the virus for you. If they can’t, you have to move your own forces in. Vietnam was one of those places where we had to do it.

Right into the late 1960s, the US blocked all attempts at political settlement of the conflict, even those advanced by Saigon generals. If there were a political settlement, there might be progress toward successful development outside our influence-an unacceptable outcome.

The US did achieve its major objective in Indochina. Our basic goal was to destroy the virus.

Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 56-60 Jan 13, 1991

Israeli nukes should preclude foreign aid

Israel is the only country in the Mideast with nuclear weapons. But “Israeli nuclear weapons” is a phrase that can’t be written or uttered by an official US government source. That phrase would raise the question of why all aid to Israel is not illegal, since foreign aid legislation from 1977 bars funds to any country that secretly develops nuclear weapons.
Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 65 Jan 13, 1991

Gulf War: US refused diplomacy & forced violence in Iraq

The US was concerned that the energy resources of the Middle East remain under our control, and that the enormous profits they produce help support the US.

The US also reinforced its dominant position, and taught the lesson that the world is to be ruled by force. Washington proceeded to maintain “stability,” barring any threat of democratic change in the Gulf tyrannies and lending tacit support to Saddam Hussein as he crushed the popular uprising of the Shi’ites in the South.

Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 67-68 Jan 13, 1991

Panama: Noriega’s crime was independence, not drugs

The US government knew that Noriega was involved in drug trafficking since 1972. But he stayed on the CIA payroll. Yet, when Noriega was finally indicted in 1988, all the charges except one were related to activities that took place before 1984- back when he was our boy, helping with the US war against Nicaragua, stealing elections and generally serving US interests.

It’s all predictable. A tyrant crosses the line from friend to villain when he commits the crime of independence. One mistake is to go beyond robbing the poor and to start interfering with the privileged. By the mid-1980s, Noriega was guilty of these crimes. He seems to have been dragging his feet about helping the US in the contra war. His independence also threatened our interests in the Panama Canal. Since we could no longer trust Noriega to do our bidding, he had to go.

Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 51-52 Jan 13, 1991

Gulf War had nothing to do with principles

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the US government-media told us that Iraq’s aggression was a unique crime and merited a harsh reaction. “America stands against aggression, against those who would use force to replace the rule of law”- so we were informed by President Bush. The media and the educated classes repeated the lines.

Second, these same authorities proclaimed in a litany that the UN was now at last functioning as it was designed to. They claimed this was impossible before the end of the Cold War.

The US wasn’t upholding any high principle in the Gulf. The reason for the response to Saddam Hussein was because he stepped on the wrong toes. Hussein is a murderous gangster- exactly as he was before the war, when he was our friend and trading partner. His invasion of Kuwait was an atrocity, but well within the range of many similar crimes conducted by the US and allies and nowhere near as terrible as some.

Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 60-61 Jan 13, 1991

Peace process ignores non-US-approved efforts

Take the term peace process. The na‹ve might think that it refers to efforts to seek peace. Under this meaning, we would say that the peace process in the Middle East includes the offer of a full peace treaty to Israel by Sadat of Egypt, along lines advocated by the entire world, including official US policy; the Security Council resolution of January, 1976 introduced by major Arab states with the backing of the PLO, which called for a two state-settlement; PLO offers to negotiate with Israel for mutual recognition; and annual votes at the UN General Assembly calling for an international conference on the problem.

The peace process is restricted to US initiatives, which call for a unilateral US-determined settlement with no recognition of Palestinian rights. That’s the way it works.

Source: What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky, p. 88-89 Jan 13, 1991

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