[Marxism] Marxist critique of Chomsky, and the current crisis in the Middle East

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Thu Jun 24 11:18:24 MDT 2004

Okay, so what Chomsky wrote, was:

"That principle has guided US policy towards Iraq throughout. Until his
first transgression, in August 1990, Saddam Hussein was a trusted friend,
whose "iron fist...held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the
American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia," as Times chief diplomatic
correspondent Thomas Friedman reported Administration thinking in the months
after the war. But Saddam's disobedience could not stand unpunished, so the
US sought to find a general who might topple Saddam, "and then Washington
would have the best of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam
Hussein" -- in effect, a return to the status quo. For similar reasons, the
US always dismissed the Iraqi democratic opposition with disdain, including
its most conservative elements, such as London-based banker Ahmed Chalabi,
who observed in March 1992 that Washington was "waiting for Saddam to
butcher the insurgents in the hope that he can be overthrown later by a
suitable officer," an attitude rooted in the US policy of "supporting
dictatorships to maintain stability." As Friedman later reported, he had
perceived State Department reasoning quite accurately. (Here and below, see
"Afterword," Deterring Democracy, 1992 edition; for more details, my article
in Cynthia Peters, ed., Collateral Damage (South End, 1992))."

His article began as follows:

"For some time, I've been compelled to arrange speaking engagements long in
advance. Sometimes a title is requested for a talk scheduled several years
ahead. There is, I've found, one title that always works: "The current
crisis in the Middle East." One can't predict exactly what the crisis will
be far down the road, but that there will be one is a fairly safe
prediction. That will continue to be the case as long as basic problems of
the region are not addressed." http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199305--.htm

I am not aware that Chomsky ever promoted Chalabi in any way. His attitude
towards Chalabi is quite clear from his text. As US citizen, Chomsky is
quite entitled in ordinary speech to talk about "we", and given a definite
foreign policy, he is also quite entitled to say how he thinks it should be
changed. Do you have a problem with that ?

Chomsky stated his view clearly in a recent issue of The Guardian:

"Occupying armies have responsibilities, not rights. Their primary
responsibility is to withdraw as quickly and expeditiously as possible, in a
manner determined by the occupied population. It follows that the orders
issued by Proconsul Bremer are illegitimate and should be rescinded,
including those designed to place the economy effectively in the hands of
western (mostly US) banks and multinational companies, and the 15% flat tax
which, apart from its injustice, bars the way to desperately needed social
spending and reconstruction. Without economic sovereignty, prospects for
healthy development are slight, and political independence verges on
formality. It also follows that Washington should end the machinations to
ensure its long-term military presence and control of Iraqi security forces
in defiance of the will of Iraqis, who call for Iraqis to control security,
according to western-run polls. These record only minuscule support for the
occupying military forces and their civil counterparts (the CPA) or the
US-appointed governing council. With a decision, however reluctant, to
transfer authentic sovereignty to Iraqis - not just the traditional facade
for Great Power domination - there will be no justification for the huge
diplomatic mission, apparently the world's largest, announced by the
occupiers. Such steps entail abandonment of plans to establish the first
secure military bases in a client state at the heart of the world's major
energy reserves - a powerful lever of world control, as has been understood
for 60 years, a means to subordinate the region more fully to US interests
and the prime motive for the invasion, according to western polls in
Baghdad. Some of those polled agreed with articulate western opinion that
the goal was to establish democracy (1%) or to help Iraqis (5%). A large
majority of Americans believe that the UN, not the US, should take the lead
in working with Iraqis to transfer authentic sovereignty as well as in
economic reconstruction and maintaining civic order. That is a sensible
stand, if Iraqis agree, as seems likely, though the general assembly, less
directly controlled by the invaders, is preferable to the security council
as the responsible transitional authority. Reconstruction should be in the
hands of Iraqis, not delayed as a means of controlling them, as Washington
has indicated. Reparations - not just aid - should be provided by those
responsible for devastating Iraqi civilian society by cruel sanctions and
military actions, and - together with other criminal states - for supporting
Saddam Hussein through his worst atrocities and beyond. That is the minimum
that honesty requires.

That's about as far left as you can go, in practical reality. I mean, you
could demand that President Bush pulls his pants down in public, but that is
not likely to happen, is it ?


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