Chomsky et al miss the point

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Sat Sep 11 21:22:49 MDT 1999

Jared Israel writes:

>Based on all this the left thinks the US will side with the Indonesian
>military, etc., etc.  But history permits alteration.  This is not 1966 or
>even 1990.  This is the new age and the world is a big buffet, and all bets
>are off.


AS I pointed out a few days back, the whole trend of Western imperialist
policy  these days is *against* the old dictatorships which used to be its
clients (and were generally its creations).

It is rather disappointing to see that so much of the left is about a
decade behind the play.  For instance, the piece that Louis posted with the
Noam Chomsky interview showed even Chomsky, who's usually fairly up with
the play, to be rather out of touch on this one.  Although I think he did
mention Camdessus and Albright laying down the new rules to Suharto during
the old dictator's last days in power.

It must certainly be quite a confusing time for the West's old stooges.  No
doubt they are having problems understanding how it is that they are now
out of favour when they aren't really doing anything differently from the
past 20 years when they were in favour.  (But then look at poor old Saddam.
One day the US is giving him the nod to invade Kuwait; then when he does,
they turn around and demonise him and try to reduce Iraq to rubble.)

The reality is that new times require new policies by the imperialists.
Moral imperialism is in.  At the risk of making some people bristle, there
was actually a good little book written on the subject about 1992 by one
Frank Furedi, called 'The New Ideology of Imperialism: renewing the moral
imperative' (London, Pluto Press).  He basically argued that a new version
of the old 'white man's burden' was being developed in the late 80s/early
90s as a cohering framework for Western policy globally and that new
interventions would be carried out under this umbrella.

I also occasionally take a look at the US foreign policy establishment's
in-house journal, 'Foreign Affairs', and there has been a discussion in
that, ever since the Cold War ended, about developing a new global mission
for Washington in the post-Cold War world.  Moral interventionism is a key
theme.  The people calling for humanitarian intervention by Western powers
- whether in Kosovo or East Timor, or anywhere else - are therefore
knocking on an open door and helping provide legitimacy for the
imperialists to do what they want to do anyway.

Philip Ferguson

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