“Only a stable, prolonged U.S troop presence and a weak Iraqi army will allow us to nurture democracy.” (Wolfowitz)
Noam Chomsky is back, and he’s in fine form in all three sections of this DVD. In Part I, Chomsky delivers a lecture at the University of Manchester on 22 May 2004. The approximately 140 minute lecture Imperial Grand Strategy focuses on the war in Iraq, and argues that the U.S occupation there is part of an overall strategy and doctrine. Chomsky stresses that the current Bush administration is not the originator of the idea of the right to use pre-emptive force to “ensure access to markets and resources,” and he traces the doctrine back to 1941. Chomsky examines Clinton’s interpretation of the doctrine, as well as Kissinger’s acknowledgment that while the doctrine was theoretically fine, it certainly shouldn’t be “universalized”–in other words, dominance through military power should not extended as a ‘right’ to all countries.
Chomsky also argues that the current war in Iraq–which ostensibly was supposed to stop or at least corral terrorism–has served to acerbate terrorism, and quotes John Schlesinger’s observation that while 9-11 created a “global wave of sympathy” for America, the invasion of Iraq created “a wave of hatred.” Indeed, Chomsky argues, recruitment for terrorism has increased, and apparently the Iraq War has served as a marvelous recruitment opportunity for al-Qaeda.
So what is this “war on terror” all about then if it doesn’t stop or squash terrorism? Well Chomksy has plenty of answers to that question–“the point is controlling the resources,” he argues, and it’s a “demonstration” of the Imperial Grand Strategy. Chomsky backs this argument up by examining America’s often erratic, illogical treatment of terrorism–the bizarre and continued focus on Cuba (4 people track the financial resources of al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, yet 21 are assigned to Cuba, for goodness sake!).
This is an intense lecture packed with information, and Chomsky also covers “the chain of violence” that led from the Israeli assassination of Yassin straight to the murder of 4 contractors in Fallujah, and onto the U.S assault on Fallujah. He also covers the arrest of protesting Iraqi labor union leaders, and Bush’s Messianic Vision to bring ‘democracy’ to Iraq. Democracy is a splendid noble word, but it evidently has been hijacked to mean something else. But then again, I suppose it might be more difficult to get Americans to swallow a war that was spreading “imperialism in the Middle East.”
The second lecture The Assault of Freedom and Democracy was delivered December 3, 2003 at Merrimack College and lasts for about an hour. Chomsky examines ‘the assault’ which he argues is conducted by Bush Administration reactionaries. He stresses that policies created by this administration (Patriot Act I and II) must be kept in perspective by remembering what other societies face, and he also discusses some of the less pleasant U.S domestic policies enacted in the past–such as the nefarious COINTELPRO. Chomsky again dissects inconsistent U.S. policies on terrorism noting that self-admitted terrorist Orlando Bosch was given a presidential pardon and allowed to live in the U.S. Also America doesn’t seem to have a problem with the undemocratic, despotic ruler of Uzbekistan who boils his enemies alive–something apparently a British ambassador recently objected to and was recalled for.
The third section on the DVD Questions about Anarchism is an hour-long informal interview held between Chomsky and Barry Pateman and recorded on Feb 17, 2004. With Pateman posing questions, Chomsky offers his views on a range of issues such as primitivism, the control of attitude and opinion, class politics, violence, and modes of peaceful change. This is an extremely enlightening interview, and Chomsky’s statements are startlingly thought provoking. He remains–in spite of current, bleak global events–guardedly optimistic about the future, and as always, his lectures are delivered with his characteristic dash of dry humour.