Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World
a book by Noam Chomsky
(our site's book review)
Noam Chomsky is a philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, logician, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes described as "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy, and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He has spent more than half a century at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is Institute Professor Emeritus, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. (Source: Noam Chomsky)
An MIT professor, Chomsky is the West's most prominent critic of US imperialism, the closest thing in the English-speaking world to an intellectual superstar, the most widely read American voice on foreign policy on the planet today
In Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, Chomsky asserts that the 2003 invasion of Iraq demonstrates a new doctrine he defines as preventative war where the U.S. moves to destroy any perceived challenge to its domination and in order to create this norm Saddam Hussein was falsely portrayed to the American people as a threat to their existence (by people who knew they were lying). Dubya was behind the instigation of a propaganda campaign to instill fear in the American populace with false claims about Iraq and the campaign was also to portray Dubya as their saviour ("I'm declarin' victory!") so that they will accept a domestic policy that goes against their own interests, as well as accepting permanent warmongering from all present and future presidents.
Without question, the Bushes and Obama and the shadow government see themselves as heroic warriors and conquerors that are building an empire which they hope will outshine the 500-year reign of the British Empire. However, the nations of the world do not see themselves as willing colonies in such an empire (which is why Cuba in 1959, and Iran in 1979, and Latin America in the late 20th and early 21st centuries told the U.S. they were not going to play the "exploited colony of the U.S. corporatocracy" game anymore).
U.S. is building an empire which they hope will outshine the 500-year reign of the British Empire—however, countries today do NOT want to be colonies
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged.
So we have a disconnect between the U.S. conquerors and the rest of the world, and a disconnect between reality and American empire builder wet dreams that the U.S. globalists plan to resolve via military force, propaganda, and trickery. (Most non-U.S.A. people would much prefer if these arrogant bullies would simply see shrinks and deal with their disconnects with reality. But absolute power corrupts absolutely, and whenever a leader gets such power, historically, they seem to go a little nuts and act out all their childhood issues on the world stage, much to the chagrin of the world.)
British imperialist empire building was accomplished by a trade in which British aristocrisy got resources from the colonies in return for the British soldiers "watching out for them"—i.e., protection. There seems to have been a variety of reactions to these soldiers insisting on their cooperation. Fighting back (which the American colonies eventually did) and gaining freedom, bewilderment, passive acceptance, and probably sabotage and covert rebellion. Since this colonialization began way back in 1497, no one can be entirely sure, but there are historical records demonstrating the variety of colonialization responses. Even Americans were basically loyal subjects of the Crown. At first. But the Empire got greedy—as empires are wont to do—and the colonists got fed up with being taxed and pushed around. And they rebelled, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Saddam Hussein was falsely portrayed to the American people as a threat to their existence, so Bush could look like an heroic savior
The author examines the U.S.'s long-standing policy of instigating regime change back to the 1953 Iranian coup and then he looks at Iraq's U.S. installed regime. There were many assassinations, rebellion instigations, and dictator propping-ups in Latin America which put ruthless, corrupt dictators in place that supported the U.S. imperialistic corporatocracy and that installed expensive infrastructure paid for by loans the countries could not afford, all of which was to get them indebted to us so we could walk off with some of their resources as payment. Economic hit men, jackals (assassins), and U.S. military were utilized for these purposes. Happily, most of these countries have tossed out their dictators and opted for democracies or partial democracies or at least populist governments in the 1990s and into the 21st century. Columbia is still oozing violence, however. Needless to say, the U.S. is quite unpopular in Latin America!
Mausoleum of assassinated president Omar Torrijos of Panama, killed by U.S. empire building insanity
Chomsky tells us that "Imperial occupation is actually quite costly although these costs are in effect gifts from the U.S. taxpayers to private corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton. The United States is now regarded as the greatest threat to peace in the world by a large number of people, probably the vast majority of the population of the world. George [Dubya] Bush has succeeded within a year in converting the United States to a country that is greatly feared, disliked, and even hated."
"Much of the world regards the United States as a 'rogue superpower,' and 'the single greatest external threat to their societies.'" Except for England, the world does not buy the U.S. propaganda, most of which is self-serving lies.
If the Queen during the 18th century French Revolution said: "Let them eat cake," then in the last half of the 20th century an analogous expression from rich U.S. bankers to Latin Americans would be "Let them eat loans!"
Map of Latin America
Invading Americans were 'taming the West' when they were slaughtering Native Americans—this was an extreme prettification of their actions
Over the years, empire builders have used doublespeak, misinformation, propaganda and outright lies to rationalize murderous actions to their own people as well as to the conquered "natives." Genocide by France when they exterminated natives in Algeria was "carrying out a civilizing mission." Britain used similar lingo when responding to resistance to their empire building. Even the Nazis used this type of deceitful, lying rhetoric. When the Japanese fascists were conquering China and carrying out huge atrocities like the Nanking Massacre, they were "creating an earthly paradise." Crusader murderers were "Christianizing," in actions that Christ Himself would have wanted no part in. Invading Americans were "taming the West" when they were slaughtering Native Americans.
The Crusaders were murderers who were "Christianizing," in actions that Christ Himself would have wanted no part in
Dubya the Crusader
US dropping a little democracy on some country
And the USA has a real knee-slapping corker for the unprovoked, criminally murderous invasion of Iraq to control the Mideast: "democritizing." And Iraqis who expressed dislike for bombs dropping on their heads—killing their friends and relatives, and wrecking the infrastructure so they had trouble getting water or electricity—these Iraqis were seen as "terrorists" or al Qaeda sympathizers! The fact the most of these people were NOT "terrorists" until they got murderously assaulted by the USA is not mentioned by the mainstream media, since the mainstream media are not allowed to stray outside the boundaries of CIA talking points. (Fact, not opinion. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.)
"Empires are costly. Running Iraq is not cheap. Somebody's paying. Somebody is paying the corporations that destroyed Iraq and the corporations that are rebuilding it. In both cases, they're getting paid by the U.S. taxpayer. Those are gifts from U.S. taxpayers to U.S. corporations," says Chomsky. And US citizens never had a say in the matter. So it was more like we were robbed by these multinational corporations (e.g., Halliburton)—by the corporatocracy. Not a gift, and never willingly. At least with the Nigerian Princess Scam, one gets to decide whether or not to send a little money to Nigeria "so that one can get back a fortune. Or not!" With the shadow government instigated empire building involving mass murder in Iraq, we never got a choice. Fear and prejudice were whipped into a frenzy by CIA propaganda in the mainstream media until the public would support ANYTHING just to have the heroic military save us from the big bad Iraqis who were going to be throwing nukes at us any minute and killing us horribly. The only scam bigger than the Nigerian Princess scam is the Iraq War scam!
Here's the REAL 'Nigerian Princess,' and note that 'she' is laughing at you
No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War!
"You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month."—CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor of the Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories to the mainstream media. (Source: Katherine The Great, by Deborah Davis, New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)
You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month
"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media."—William Colby, former CIA Director, cited by Dave Mcgowan, in the book Derailing Democracy.
"There is quite an incredible spread of relationships. You don't need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are Central Intelligence Agency people at the management level."—William B. Bader, former CIA intelligence officer, briefing members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is from Carl Bernstein's Rolling Stone article published on October 20, 1977: The CIA and the Media.
9/11 terrorist attack
Chomsky outlines how propaganda works in the USA to make the dumb American sheep believe whatever the elites want them to believe, using the bought-and-paid-for mainstream media as tools. Our citizens were convinced by intense untrue propaganda that Saddam's Iraq was behind 9/11 and Iraq was now a huge threat to the USA. Right after 9/11 only 3% of the U.S. believed that, but just prior to the invasion of Iraq nearly 2/3 of the U.S. had drunk this Kool-Aid. The elites presented no actual evidence to back up these preposterous claims, but the propaganda campaign was so merciless that it didn't matter. It sadly boils down to the fact that American sheep believed it because they were told they should. The shadow government's elite oligarchs wanted to control Iraq and get that oil so they attacked them—a clear act of criminal aggression in the service of American empire building.
This is how the shadow government propagandists see the American public—to which we say 'baaaahhhhh!'
The press faces powerful pressures that induce it, and often almost compel it, to be anything but free, because of corporate advertising. Chomsky somehow fails to mention Operation Mockingbird or 1915 or the Congressional Record. These are key words to understand how the U.S. press has been controlled by the shadow government elites (which they've admitted and which is documented in the Congressional Record), and how the CIA has installed a system in the mainstream press whereby all items reported on about foreign policy must follow CIA talking points. (Fact, not theory—and they admit it. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.)
In the Nuremberg trial after WWII, it turned out that the operational definition of a war crime often got down to whether the Allies (including the USA) did it or the Germans or Japanese did it. Actions the Allies did were immune but if the Germans and/or Japanese did the same thing, they were often called war crimes. So it turns out that might makes right after all (although the ONLY country that agrees with this de facto international rule is the U.S.). The author looks at the irony and outright hypocrisy of it all and tells us that in the world today, the U.S. gets away with war crimes because it is bigger and tougher than other countries. And the U.S. refuses to cooperate with war crimes investigations as well as forcing countries' leaders to sign agreements that the USA will be immune from prosecution when its military and its CIA operates in their country.
"The United States is invading Iraq. It's as open an act of aggression as there has been in modern history, a major war crime. This is the crime for which the Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg, the act of aggression. Everything eise was secondary. And here's a clear and open example. The pretenses for the invasion are no more convincing than Hitler's," says Chomsky.
Might Makes Right or Might Makes Stupid?
The author looks at Bush's, Cheney's and Obama's war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and shows that if the U.S. does it, it's okay, but when others do the same thing, it's a war crime. Also, if elites do something, it's okay, but if a poor person does the same, they get a 6 by 8 cell with bars in the front and an amorous 7-foot 300-pound thug named Bubba for a roommate. The elites can count on never meeting Bubba! This double standard, this reality where elite-contolled countries (U.S.) and elites in our country are above the law is a disgrace to the USA and to our people, and it's an insult to the international community of neighborhoods as well as the U.S. justice and court systems.
Prisons furnish lovely roommates
Foreign Affairs responded to the Bush Doctrine's preventative attack revelation by publishing a critical article on what it called the "new imperial grand strategy," a.k.a., the Bush Doctrine. Even the hawkish, globalist CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) is skeptical about Bush's overreaching empire building, although they try not to show it. Conversely, Kissinger approved of the doctrine, but said it needed a qualification: the doctrine Anticipatory Self-Defense needed to apply only to the USA, not to other countries. The USA can use force whenever we like against anyone we regard as a potential threat, but no one else can get "bully permission" but us. Again, U.S. hypocrisy at its finest! By that same token, U.S. de facto policy, although not admitted, is that we can be terrorists and we can harbor terrorists, but other countries cannot. Chomsky gives examples.
In the U.S., due to the CIA innundating the mainstream media with lies and propaganda, the majority of citizens drank the Kool-Aid about democratizing Iraq at first
One percent of Iraqis, in polls, said that the goal of our Iraq invasion was to establish democracy. Seventy percent said that the goal was to take over Iraq's resources and to reorganize the Middle East. Only 1% had drunk the Kool-Aid in our CIA-controlled propaganda in Iraq, while over 2/3 knew better. (As Chomsky said, "Iraqis understand that the United States wants democracy in Iraq only if the U.S. can control it.") Yet in the U.S., due to the CIA innundating the mainstream media with lies and propaganda, the majority of citizens drank the Kool-Aid at first. But the thing about the shadow government is that they really don't stay awake nights worrying about whether Americans buy the baloney they are spreading. Even if the public doesn't buy the conventional "wisdom" (which is a far cry from wisdom), what can it do about it? Vote them out of office? The shadow government is neither elected nor appointed—in fact, we don't even know who they are! Therefore they're untouchable even by our elected leaders.
Trying to ram democracy down Iraqi throats was a bad idea, especially since they knew we'd only honor their decisions as long as we found a way to control them
In The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up, Don Eberly lays out the case for why trying to ram democracy down Iraqi throats was a bad idea. It's simply not how democracy works. These Islamics—many of whom are fundamentalists—are no more eager for democracy than we are ready for a Nationalist Theocracy.
Iran was fairly democratic before we pulled an ugly coup and installed the Shah back in 1953 because Mossadegh wouldn't let us have their oil nearly for free. The U.S. overturned the conservative parliamentary democracy led by Mohammed Mossadegh and the Iranians have hated the U.S. ever since, and some think they're obsessed with radical Muslimism just to spite us just like they pulled the hostage crisis to spite us. Under Khomeini, in 1979, the Iranian religious and political landscapes were dramatically transformed, making Shia Islam an inseparable element of the country's political structure. Many people feel that the Mideast embracing Islamic fundamentalism as a political force (that would change Muslim politics from Morocco to Malaysia) killed the Arab Spring and undermined the possibility of democracy in the Mideast, and its anti-West context even laid the groundwork for ISIS, which Obama finished laying due to colossal bungling in that area of the world.
The USA installed the corrupt Shah in Iran in 1953, so they paid us back with the 1979 hostage crisis and reactionary anti-Western radicalism: here the hostages return to USA
The idea behind imperialism is to, as the author says, "have independent states, but with weak governments that must rely on the imperial power for their survival. They can rip off the population if they like. That's fine. But they have to provide a facade behind which the real power can rule. That's standard imperialism." This is what Britain did, and what the USA is doing—albeit lamely and with limited success.
The biggest problem is that even though our mainstream media can lie to the American people about what's going on in the world (e.g., Nicaragua in the 1980s in which Reagan supported murderous Contra thugs), it fools U.S. citizens but is ridiculed and laughed at in the rest of the world. Also, as more people learn the truth about the world from the parts of the internet the shadow government cannot control, they abandon the mainstream media or at least stop believing them. Empire building in the 21st century is an uphill battle. The British Empire was from 1497 to 1997 so they've learned that nothing lasts forever. But the Bush and Obama administrations think that this uphill battle is worth fighting, so they'd like their own 500-year reign as masters of the universe. This sounds like jealousy, not sound strategic planning, to us. We ran an empire racket on Latin America in the last half of the 20th century, but they've (happily) kicked us out and started democracies, or at least populist governments with elections. Like we said, the 21st century will (happily) not be kind to empire builders.
But we have a great suggestion for the shadow government's empire builders that like to hang out in the Council on Foreign Relations headquarters in New York City, cackling evily while they rub their hands together greedily with wicked smiles on their faces, thinking nefarious thoughts: drop the U.S. empire building plans and instead buy lots of Monopoly™ games. Have the main Empire obsessed globalists sit around game tables, smoking expensive cigars and drinking expensive champagne and playing Monopoly™. They'll have all the fun of empire building with none of the costs (unless you count Monopoly™ money!) or guilt (unless they cheat!).
Endless wealth: the main wet dream of warmongering empire builders; and the cash in the bag? —that ain't Monopoly™ money!
When Bush and Obama said their wars on terror may go on indefinitely, you can just imagine these fat cats rolling around in huge money bins laughing just like Scrooge McDuck
According to Chomsky, ". . . the Reagan years were a period of devastation and disaster in El Salvador. Maybe seventy thousand people were slaughtered. The decade began with the assassination of the archbishop. It ended, rather symbolically, with the brutal murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, by an elite battalion, trained, armed, and run by the United States, which had a long, bloody trail of murders and massacres behind it." And that was just El Salvador—there were plenty more. See A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption.
There was an artificially generated cult of Reagan worship created through a massive propaganda campaign, but the truth was more about a lot of empire building murders that happened on his watch—but was he even aware of it? Who knows?
The author tells us that there was an artificially generated cult of Reagan worship created through a massive propaganda campaign, utilizing the best public relations firm in the world and CIA talking points which no one dared to ignore. Reagan's regime was one of murder, brutality, and violence, which devastated a number of countries and probably left two hundred thousand people dead in Latin America, with hundreds of thousands of orphans and widows. But this can't be mentioned here in the USA.
Chomsky spends a lot of time looking at declassified government documents. They primarily have to do with "ensuring that the major enemy—namely, the domestic population—is kept in the dark about the actions of the powerful." And that's because people in power, whether it's business power or government power or doctrinal power, are afraid that people do care, and therefore you have to consciously manipulate their attitudes and beliefs.
The U.S. State Department admitted that the claim they'd made in their report, Patterns in Global Terrorism, that terror had been reduced thanks to Bush was a lie (more CIA propaganda). As everyone knows, terrorism has increased markedly because of Bush/Obama's "War on Terror," which includes the U.S.'s criminal act of invading Iraq. See Terrorism.
Bush made us the least safe we've ever been, provoking Islamics to terrorism all over the world by terrorizing the Mideast and calling it 'spreading democracy'
Chomsky observes that "The people around Bush are real fanatics. They're quite open. They're not hiding it; you can't accuse them of that. They want to destroy the whole array of progressive achievements of the past century. They've already more or less gotten rid of the progressive income tax." The bottom line is that rich oligarchs that get their values from the shadow government (which some of them are a part of) do not represent the people any more than a burglar represents the people in the houses he robs. They represent themselves and their greedy buddies and show no concern for the welfare of the citizens in any country—including the USA. But they're extremely talented at lying to the TV cameras and to the people and telling them what they want to hear.
The American people wanted to know they'd be safe and well taken care of, so that is what both Bush and Gore claimed they'd do. Gore actually meant it—at least marginally. Bush probably had all he could do to keep a straight face—but his "straight face" was more effective than Gore's. Bush made us the least safe we've ever been, provoking Islamics to terrorism all over the world (and Obama aggravated the situation with his bungling so that ISIS resulted) as he reduced taxes on the rich and dug us into the deepest debt hole ever—which O'Bomb'em couldn't wait to exacerbate. Gore would never have invaded Iraq at all. That's called Integrity, Dubya—look it up!
Our nation has ordered and carried out a genocide, and not on a country like Japan which had attacked us. At one point Nixon informed Kissinger that he wanted to launch a major assault on Cambodia under the pretense of airlifting supplies. He said, "I want them to hit everything." And Kissinger transmitted the order to the Pentagon to carry out a "massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves." (From 1969 to 1972, the United States began a four year long carpet-bombing campaign over Cambodia, devastating the countryside and causing socio-political upheaval that eventually led to the installation of the Pol Pot regime. About a half a million people were slaughtered. And the new Khmer Rouge regime slaughtered millions more from execution, hunger and forced labor. [Source: U.S. Secret Bombing of Cambodia])
By about 1969, around 70 percent of the population in the United States described the war as 'fundamentally wrong and immoral'—Chomsky was an anti-war activist then
The author talks about the Vietnam War, during which he was an anti-war activist. By about 1969, around 70 percent of the population in the United States described the war as "fundamentally wrong and immoral . . . " To Chomsky the planners in Washington are the real war criminals, not the soldiers in the field. The chain of command starts with the civilians sitting on their butts in air-conditioned offices in Washington. Those were the people who were charged at Nuremberg and at Tokyo. But American leaders seem to all be immune. What kind of morality is that when we threaten to jail or shoot people if they don't do atrocious things against an innocent population and then when the press gets word of the matter the shadow-government-controlled mainstream media focuses on the poor grunt they coerced to murder innocents?
In 2004, polls showed that a large majority of the U.S. population supports signing the Kyoto protocol, as well as accepting the International Criminal Court (which would lead to war crimes charges), and the U.S. population also supports relying on the UN to take the lead in international crises, and the American people also support the U.S. leaving Iraq if they ask us to. A majority is even in favor of dumping the U.S.'s Security Council veto power about preemptive war, a.k.a. the right of aggression. I.e., the population of the USA is very strongly opposed to preemptive war even though both political parties are in favor of it. The results were so astonishing that the press couldn't even report them since the warmongering elites and CIA are the ones actually controlling what the mainstream media reports. (See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.) So propaganda prevented the population from learning that hardly anyone supported the warmongering Bush and Cheney thugs. The politicians were supposed to represent the people, yet the people and the leaders had opposite views on warmongering. This brings up the logical issue of "which should be replaced, the people or the politicians?" Guess who did NOT get replaced by politicians who would represent their constituents like they were supposed to?
We in the U.S. "are being subjected to domestic policies that are frightening. Conservative economists are tearing their hair out watching the Bush administration purposely drive the country into incredible debt. The idea of the Bush administration is to transfer costs to future generations. That's basically their plan. Their values are to serve the rich and the powerful, and to transfer the costs to the general population in the future generations," says Chomsky.
Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo