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"Echo of Silence" by Hamid Zargarnejad
"Memories for All Sessions" by Mostafa Razzaq Karimi
"World's Best Statue" by Habib Ahmadzadeh
"Live Wave" by Habib Ahmadzadeh
"7th and 8th Holy Defense Film Students Festival" by Habib Ahmadzadeh
"23 and that One Person"
"Seven unforgivable Sins" directed by Morteza Baagheri
Washington is ignoring its own intelligence because it is hell-bent on finding nuclear weapons that do not exist, Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh told RT.
WikiLeaks has given the mainstream media yet another opportunity to vilify Iran. A typical headline, from the New York Times was: "Around the world distress over Iran." And, ironically, it is true, but not in the way the headline writer meant.
By Anthony Lawson
Parsi: Arabs concerned about own regime's survival
Cole: US should ignore Arab and Israeli advice on war
Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) on MSNBC Live speaks with and professor Juan Cole and Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council on the Wikileaks revelations on the Middle East and potential war with Iran.
Iran Propaganda Debunked in Under Seven Minutes
Featured on a panel at the University of California, Riverside, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio calmly and confidently debunks the accusations against Iran. This video gives excerpts of his comments.
During the Cold War, both the United States and Russia placed tactical nuclear weapons in certain parts of Europe. It's basically a small nuclear bomb that could demolish a major city, Russia took back to its own weapons stockpiles. However, America still has their own mini nukes out and in various parts of Europe. All this is in accordance with the new NATO mission statement but why are the weapons still there?
US and Europe face off over nuclear weapons
A draft version of NATO’s new mission statement released May 17 recommends keeping an estimated 200 US air-dropped gravity nuclear bombs on military bases throughout Europe.
Yahoo StumbleUpon Google Live Technorati del.icio.us Digg Reddit Mixx Propeller The American warheads are remnants of the Cold War, and many European states, including Germany and Belgium, want them removed.
The nuclear weapons, which are stationed in non-nuclear NATO member states, have remained in the region because they are in line with NATO’s mission to preempt any potential nuclear war.
“They are now re-classified by the US Senate and they can be used against rogue states. Iran and Syria explicitly are targeted with these mini-nukes,” said Michel Chossudovsky, the Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
The maintenance of the nuclear weapons in Europe comes at a high cost. Although the political climate in the United States is focused on the reduction of spending and cutting the deficit, this is not a program the US seems poised to cut back.
The expense is a non-issue according to Chossudovsky, who says the weapons are there for security reasons to intimidate the nations in the Middle East.
“It’s not by accident that these weapons are there. They are remnants of the Cold War, but they are deployed in relations with the war on Iran,” he said.
US President Barack Obama has been campaigning heavily for a nuclear free world and the general reduction of nuclear arms globally. Chossudovsky said there is another agenda.
“Obama doesn’t was a nuclear free world. Obama wants to control and have a monopoly over nuclear weapons,” Chossudovsky said.
Link to the video interview with Michel Chossudovsky:
FROM A CORRESPONDENT:
I did a quick google search for the “renounce being Jewish” quote. Here’s what I found: Radio Islam (whatever the hell that is) has a page that comments (favorably) on and quotes from The Holocaust Industry . On the page are some links to other Radio Islam pieces. One of them is entitled “Jews, who want to be decent human beings, have to renounce being Jewish.” If you click the link http://www.radioislam.org/gaza/macdonald.htm, you find that the quote is from some guy named Joachim Martillo, whose claim to fame is that he’s the husband of someone named Karin Friedemann. Astounding. Could not ask for better proof that this Charny guy is a complete fraud.
Dispatches investigates one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel.
Despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups which collectively are known as the pro-Israel lobby.
Political commentator Peter Oborne sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.
He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.
The pro-Israel lobby aims to shape the debate about Britain's relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it.
Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.
Hochgeladen von sefyudu-83
3 décembre 2008 - France 3
Débat après Soir 3 : "L’avenir des conflits au Moyen Orient".
Invités : Robert Baer, Frédéric Encel, Sapho, Michel Collon, Henry Laurens.
et William Godnadel.
Robert Baer, ancien responsable de la CIA au Moyen Orient.
Livre "Iran, l’irrésistible ascension" (Lattes, 2008)
Frédéric Encel, politologue.
Il a publié de nombreux ouvrages, dont Géopolitique de l’Apocalypse, Flammarion, 2002. Son ouvrage Géopolitique de Jérusalem, vient de ressortir en poche chez Flammarion. Son dernier livre : Atlas géopolitique d’Israël. Aspects d’une démocratie en guerre, Autrement, 2008.
Sapho, chanteuse et écrivain.
Elle a dirigé en 2002 un ouvrage collectif sur le Proche-Orient : Un très Proche-Orient, Paroles de paix , Editions Joëlle Losfeld-Dada, 2002. Son dernier disque, Universelle, vient de sortir chez Fremeaux et associés. Elle donnera une série de concerts les 18, 19 et 20 décembre au Café de la danse, à Paris.
Michel Collon, journaliste
Journaliste et écrivain belge.
Il est notamment membre de la conférence « anti-impérialiste » Axis for Peace. Il a publié Attention, médias ! Médiamensonges du Golfe , EPO, 1992, Monopoly, L’Otan à la conquête du monde, EPO, 2000, L’Empire en guerre, Le Temps des Cerises, 2001 , Bush, le cyclone, Oser dire, 2005 .
Henry Laurens, historien
Historien, titulaire de la chaire d’histoire contemporaine du monde arabe au collège de France. Grand spécialiste du Moyen-orient, il a publié de nombreux ouvrages sur la question comme Paix et guerre au Moyen-Orient, l’Orient arabe et le monde de 1945 à nos jours (Armand Collin 1999) ou 3 tomes sur La question de Palestine (Fayard). Son dernier ouvrage L’empire et ses ennemis. La question impériale dans l’histoire sortira le 15 janvier 2009 au Seuil.
Gilles-William Goldnadel, avocat
Avocat, président-fondateur d’Avocats Sans Frontières, il préside également l’association France-Israël. Il a écrit Le Nouveau Bréviaire de la haine (Ramsay 2001) ou Les Martyrocrates (Plon 2004). Son dernier ouvrage Conversation sur les sujets qui fâchent (Jean-Claude Gawsewitch 2008) est une confrontation de points de vue avec le journaliste Alexandre Adler.
February marks the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. One of the most significant events in the Middle East in the 20th century, it dramatically changed the balance of power in the region and created ongoing challenges for US policy. The revolution caught Western intelligence agencies off-guard. The Shah's monarchy, characterized by President Carter a year earlier as ‘the Island of Tranquility,' disappeared and a new form of revolutionary government took over from what used to be the most valuable US ally in the Persian Gulf.
US-Iran relations have turned from bad to worse over the past three decades. During the same period Iran has gained great influence in the region, particularly in Iraq and Palestine. Many foreign affairs analysts believe that normalizing relations with Iran is critical to the stability of the Middle East, others warn about Iranian nuclear developments.
Henry Precht entered the Foreign Service in 1961 and spent most of his career on assignments in the Middle East: in Egypt (twice), at the State Department's Arab-Israel Desk and in Tehran (1972-76). Precht was the Chief of the State Department's Iran Desk during the revolution and hostage crisis. Blamed for the loss of Iran, he was blocked from an ambassadorial appointment by Senator Jesse Helms. He is the author of A Diplomat's Progress, Ten Tales of Diplomatic Adventure in the Middle East. He co-chaired the Gulf 2000 project at Columbia University, which studies security and strategic developments in the Persian Gulf.
Muhammad Sahimi is the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In addition to his scientific research, which has resulted in over 270 published papers and five books, Muhammad has written extensively on Iran's political development and its nuclear program for example with articles published in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Harvard International Review, as well as a blog on Huffington Post. In particular, Muhammad has concentrated on the legal and technical aspects of the dispute between Iran and the Western powers regarding Iran's nuclear energy program. He is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization dedicated to making the public aware of the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, as well as polluting the environment.
Prominent experts speak about the prospects for nuclear disarmament under the new US leadership.
Paul Jay, CEO of The Real News Network, is interviewed by Daljit Dhaliwal, host of PBS Foreign Exchange
World-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky discussed the meaning of President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory and the possibilities ahead for real democratic change at a speech last week in Boston. It was his first public appearance since the election. Chomsky has been a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over a half-century and is the author of dozens of influential books. [includes rush transcript]
Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over a half-century and is the author of dozens of influential books on US foreign policy, the role of intellectuals, and the function of mass media.
AMY GOODMAN: President-elect Obama and vice president-elect Joe Biden are holding a news conference in Chicago to formerly announce their team of economic advisers and their plans to rebuild the faltering economy. But as Obama assembles his cabinet and prepares to take over the reins from President Bush, more questions are being raised about the kind of change he will bring to Washington and the world.
Progressives who supported Obama’s candidacy and celebrated his historic victory are dismayed by his consideration of Clinton-era figures as his key advisors, many of whom championed financial deregulation and are hawkish on foreign policy.
World-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky discussed the meaning of Obama’s victory and the possibilities ahead for real democratic change at a recent address in Boston. Chomsky has been a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over a half-century and is the author of dozens of influential books on US foreign policy, the role of intellectuals, and the function of mass media. In his first public appearance since the election Professor Chomsky spoke last week to a packed audience in Boston at an event organized by “Encuentro 5.” His talk was titled “What Next? The Elections, the Economy, and the World.”
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, let’s begin with the elections. The word that the rolls off of everyone’s tongue is historic. Historic election. And I agree with it. It was a historic election. To have a black family in the white house is a momentous achievement. In fact, it’s historic in a broader sense. The two Democratic candidates were an African-American and a woman. Both remarkable achievements. We go back say 40 years, it would have been unthinkable. So something’s happened to the country in 40 years. And what’s happened to the country- which is we’re not supposed to mention- is that there was extensive and very constructive activism in the 1960s, which had an aftermath. So the feminist movement, mostly developed in the 70s-–the solidarity movements of the 80’s and on till today. And the activism did civilize the country. The country’s a lot more civilized than it was 40 years ago and the historic achievements illustrate it. That’s also a lesson for what’s next.
What’s next will depend on whether the same thing happens. Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below. And the answer to what’s next depends on people like you. Nobody else can answer it. It’s not predictable. In some ways, the election—the election was surprising in some respects.
Going back to my bad prediction, If the financial crisis hadn’t taken place at the moment that it did, if it had been delayed a couple of months, I suspect that prediction would have been correct. But not speculating, one thing surprising about the election was that it wasn’t a landslide.
bq. By the usual criteria, you would expect the opposition party to win in a landslide under conditions like the ones that exist today. The incumbent president for eight years was so unpopular that his own party couldn’t mention his name and had to pretend to be opposing his policies. He presided over the worst record for ordinary people in post-war history, in terms of job growth, real wealth and so on. Just about everything the administration was touched just turned into a disaster. [The] country has reached the lowest level of standing in the world that it’s ever had. The economy was tanking. Several recessions are going on. Not just the ones on the front pages, the financial recession. There’s also a recession in the real economy. The productive economy, under circumstances and people know it. So 80% of the population say that the country’s going in the wrong direction. About 80% say the government doesn’t work to the benefit of the people, it works for the few and the special interests. A startling 94% complain that the government doesn’t pay any attention to the public will, and on like that. Under conditions like that, you would expect a landslide to a opposition almost whoever they are. And there wasn’t one.
So one might ask why wasn’t there a landslide? That goes off in an interesting direction. And other respects the outcome was pretty familiar. So once again, the election was essentially bought. 9 out of 10 of the victors outspent their opponents. Obama of course outspent McCain. If you look at the—and we don’t have final records yet from the final results, but they’re probably going to be pretty much like the preliminaries a couple of months ago. Which showed that both Obama and McCain were getting the bulk of their financing from the financial institutions and for Obama, law firms which means essentially lobbyists. That was about over a third a few months ago. But the final results will probably be the same. And there is a—the distribution of funding has over time been a pretty good predictor of what policies will be like for those of you who are interested, there’s very good scholarly work on this by Tom Ferguson in Umass Boston, what he calls the investment theory of politics. Which argues essentially that elections are moments when groups of investors coalesce and invest to control the state and has quite the substantial predictive success. Gives some suggestion as to what’s likely to happen. So that part’s familiar. The—what the future is as I say, depends on people like you.
The response for the election was interesting and instructive. It kept pretty much to the soaring rhetoric, to borrow the cliché, that was the major theme of the election. The election was described as an extraordinary display of democracy, a miracle that could only happen in America and on and on. Much more extreme than Europe even than here. There’s some accuracy in that if we keep to the West. So if we keep to the West, yes, it’s probably true. That couldn’t have happened anywhere else. Europe was much more racist than the United States and you wouldn’t expect anything like that to happen.
On the other hand, if you look at the world, it’s not that remarkable. So let’s take the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti and Bolivia. In Haiti, there was an election in 1990 which really was an extraordinary display of democracy much more so than this.
In Haiti, there were grassroots movements, popular movements that developed in the slums and the hills, which nobody was paying any attention to. And they managed, even without any resources, to sweep into power their own candidate. A populist priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That’s a victory for democracy when popular movements can organize and set programs and pick their candidate and put them into office, which is not what happened here, of course.
I mean, Obama did organize a large number of people and many enthusiastic people in what’s called in the press, Obama’s Army. But the army is supposed to take instructions, not to implement, introduce, develop programs and call on its own candidate to implement them. That’s critical. If the army keeps to that condition, nothing much will change. If it on the other hand goes away activists did in the sixties, a lot can change. That’s one of the choices that has to be made. That’s Haiti. Of course that didn’t last very long. A couple of months later, there was military coup, a period of terror, we won’t go through the whole record. Up the present, the traditional torturers of Haiti, France, and the United States have made sure that there won’t be a victory for democracy there. It’s a miserable story. Contrary to many illusions.
Take the second poorest country, Bolivia. They had an election in 2005 that’s almost unimaginable in the West. Certainly here, anywhere. The person elected into office was indigenous. That’s the most oppressed population in the hemisphere, those who survived. He’s is a poor peasant. How did he get in? Well, he got in because there were again, a mass popular movement, which elected their own representative. And they are the source of the programs, which are serious ones. There’s real issues, And people know them. Control over resources, cultural rights, social justice and so on.
Furthermore, the election was just an event that was particular stage in a long continuing struggle, a lot before and a lot after. There was day when people pushed the levers but that’s just an event in ongoing popular struggles, very serious ones. A couple of years ago, there was a major struggle over privatization of water. An effort which it would in effect deprive a good part of the population of water to drink. And it was a bitter struggle. A lot of people were killed, but they won it. Through international solidarity, in fact, which helped. And it continues. Now that’s a real election. Again, the plans, the programs are being developed, acted on constantly by mass popular movements, which then select their own representatives from their own ranks to carry out their programs. And that’s quite different from what happened here.
Actually what happened here is understood by elite elements. The public relations industry which runs elections here-quadrennial extravaganzas essentially- makes sure to keep issues in the margins and focus on personalities and character and so on–and-so forth. They do that for good reasons. They know- they look at public opinion studies and they know perfectly well that on a host of major issues both parties are well to the right of the population. That’s one good reason to keep issues off the table. And they recognize the success.
So, every year, the advertising industry gives a prize to, you know, to the best marketing campaign of the year. This year, Obama won the prize. Beat out Apple company. The best marketing campaign of 2008. Which is correct, it is essentially what happened. Now that’s quite different from what happens in a functioning democracy like say Bolivia or Haiti, except for the fact that it was crushed. And in the South, it’s not all that uncommon. Notice that each of these cases, there’s a much more extraordinary display of democracy in action than what we’ve seen–important as it was-here. And so the rhetoric, especially in Europe is correct if we maintain our own narrow racist perspective and say yeah, what happened was in the South didn’t happen or doesn’t matter. The only matters is what we do and by our standards, it was extraordinary miracle, but not by the standards of functioning democracy. In fact, there’s a distinction in democratic theory, which does separate say the United States from Bolivia or Haiti.
Question is what is a democracy supposed to be? That’s exactly a debate that goes back to the constitutional convention. But in recent years in the 20th century, it’s been pretty well articulated by important figures. So at the liberal end the progressive end, the leading public intellectual of the 20th century was Walter Lippman. A Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy progressive. And a lot of his work was on a democratic theory and he was pretty frank about it. If you took a position not all that different from James Madison’s. He said that in a democracy, the population has a function. Its function is to be spectators, not participants. He didn’t call it the population. He called it the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders. The ignorant and meddlesome outsiders have a function and namely to watch what’s going on. And to push a lever every once in a while and then go home. But, the participants are us, us privileged, smart guys. Well that’s one conception of democracy. And you know essentially we’ve seen an episode of it. The population very often doesn’t accept this. As I mentioned, just very recent polls, people overwhelmingly oppose it. But they’re atomized, separated. Many of them feel hopeless, unorganized, and don’t feel they can do anything about it. So they dislike it. But that’s where it ends.
In a functioning democracy like say Bolivia or the United States in earlier stages, they did something about it. That’s why we have the New Deal measures, the Great Society measures. In fact just about any step, you know, women’s rights, end of slavery, go back as far as you like, it doesn’t happen as a gift. And it’s not going to happen in the future. The commentators are pretty well aware of this. They don’t put it the way I’m going to, but if you read the press, it does come out. So take our local newspaper at the liberal end of the spectrum, “Boston Globe,” you probably saw right after the election, a front page story, the lead front page story was on how Obama developed this wonderful grassroots army but he doesn’t have any debts. Which supposed to be a good thing. So he’s free to do what he likes. Because he has no debts, the normal democratic constituency, labor, women, minorities and so on, they didn’t bring him into office. So he owes them nothing
AMY GOODMAN: M.I.T. professor, author, political dissident, Noam Chomsky. We’ll come back to this interview in a minute. You can get a copy of our show at democracynow.org. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman. As we return now to professor Noam Chomsky’s address in Boston. The election, the economy, and the world.
NOAM CHOMSKY: What he had was an army that he organized of people who got out the vote for Obama. For what the press calls, Brand Obama. They essentially agree with the advertisers, it’s brand Obama. That his army was mobilized to bring him to office. They regard that as a good thing, accepting the Lippman conception of democracy, the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders are supposed to do what they’re told and then go home. The Wall Street Journal, at the opposite end of the spectrum, also had an article about the same thing at roughly the same time. Talked about the tremendous grassroots army that has been developed, which is now waiting for instructions. What should they do next to press forward Obama’s agenda? Whatever that is. But whatever it is, the army’s supposed to be out there taking instructions, and press work. Los Angeles Times had similar articles, and there are others. What they don’t seem to realize is what they’re describing, the ideal of what they’re describing, is dictatorship, not democracy. Democracy, at least not in the Lippman sense, it proved- I pick him out because he’s so famous, but it’s a standard position. But in the sense of say, much of the south, where mass popular movements developed programs; organize to take part in elections but that’s one part of an ongoing process. And brings somebody from their own ranks to implement the programs that they develop, and if the person doesn’t they’re out. Ok, that’s another kind of democracy. So it’s up to us to choose which kind of democracy we want. And again, that will determine what comes next.
Well, what can we anticipate if the popular army, the grassroots army, decides to accept the function of spectators of action rather than participants? There’s two kinds of evidence. There’s rhetoric and there’s action. The rhetoric, you know, is very uplifting: change, hope, and so on. Change was kind of reflective any party manager this year who read the polls, including the ones I cited, would instantly conclude that our theme in the election has to be change. Because people hate what’s going on for good reasons. So the theme is change. In fact, both parties put both of them, the theme was change. So the theme is change. In fact both parties, both of them the theme was change. You know, break from the past, none of old politics, new things are going to happen. The Obama campaign did better so they won the marketing award, not the McCain campaign.
And notice incidentally on the side that the institutions that run the elections, public relations industry, advertisers, they have a role—their major role is commercial advertising. I mean, selling a candidate is kind of a side rule. In commercial advertising as everybody knows, everybody who has ever looked at a television program, the advertising is not intended to provide information about the product, all right? I don’t have to go on about that. It’s obvious. The point of the advertising is to delude people with the imagery and, you know, tales of a football player, sexy actress, who you know, drives to the moon in a car or something like that. But, that’s certainly not to inform people. In fact, it’s to keep people uninformed.
The goal of advertising is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. Those of you who suffered through an economics course know that markets are supposed to be based on informed consumers making rational choices. But industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to undermine markets and to ensure, you know, to get uninformed consumers making irrational choices.
And when they turn to selling a candidate they do the same thing. They want uninformed consumers, you know, uninformed voters to make irrational choices based on the success of illusion, slander, and effective body language or whatever else is supposed to be significant. So you undermine democracy pretty much the same way you undermine markets. Well, that’s the nature of an election when it’s run by the business world, and you’d expect it to be like that. There should be no surprise there. And it should also turn out the elected candidate didn’t have any debts. So you can follow Brand Obama can be whatever they decide it to be, not what the population decides that it should be, as in the south, let’s say. I’m going to say on the side, this may be an actual instance of a familiar and unusually vacuous slogan about the clash of civilization. Maybe there really is one, but not the kind that’s usually touted.
So let’s go back to the evidence that we have, rhetoric and actions. Rhetoric we know, but what are the actions? So far the major actions are selections, in fact the only action, of personnel to implement Brand Obama. The first choice was the Vice President, Joe Biden, one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq in the Senate, a long time Washington insider rarely deviates from the party vote. In cases where he does deviate they’re not very uplifting. He did break from the party and voting for a Senate resolution that prevented people from getting rid of their debts by, individuals, that is, from getting rid of their debts by going into bankruptcy. It’s a blow against poor people who’ve caught in this immense debt that’s a large part of the basis for the economy these days. But usually, he’s a, kind of, straight party-liner with the democrats on the sort of ultra naturalist side. The choice of Biden was a, must have been a conscious attempt to show contempt for the base of people who were voting for Obama, or organizing for him as an anti-war candidate.
Well, the first post-election appointment was for Chief of Staff, which is a crucial appointment; determines a large part of the president’s agenda. That was Rahm Emanuel, one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq in the House. In fact, he was the only member of the Illinois delegation who voted for Bush’s effective declaration of war. And, again, a longtime Washington insider. Also, one of the leading recipients in congress of funding from the financial institutions hedge funds and so on. He himself was an investment banker. That’s his background. So, that’s the Chief of Staff.
The next group of appointments were the main problem, the primary issue that the governments’ going to have to face is what to do about the financial crisis. Obama’s choices to more or less run this were Robert Rubin and Larry Summers from the Clinton--Secretaries of Treasury under Clinton. They are among the people who are substantially responsible for the crisis. One leading economist, one of the few economists who has been right all along in predicting what’s happening, Dean Baker, pointed out that selecting them is like selecting Osama Bin Laden to run the war on terror.
Yeah, I’ll finish. This saves me the problem of what’s coming next, so I’ll finish with the elections. Let me make one final comment on this. There was meeting on November 7, I think of a group of couple, of a dozen advisers to deal with the financial crisis. Their careers were, records were reviewed in the business press, and Bloomberg News had an article reviewing their records and concluded that these people, most of these people shouldn’t be giving advice about the economy. They should be given subpoenas.
Because most of them were involved in one or other form of financial fraud, that includes Rahm Emanuel, for example. What reason is there to think that the people who brought this crisis about are some how going to fix it? Well, that’s a good indication of what’s likely to come next, at least if we look at actions. We couldn’t, but it won’t. You can bring this up. Ask what we expect to see in particular cases. And there’s evidence about that from statements from Obama’s website. I’ll mention just one thing about Obama’s website, which gives an indication of what’s happening. One of the major problems coming is Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s pretty serious. Take a look at Obama’s website under issues, foreign policy issues. The names don’t even appear. I mean, we’re supposed to be ignorant and meddlesome outsiders. We’re not supposed to know what Brand Obama is. So you can’t find out that way. The statements that you hear are pretty hawkish. And it doesn’t change much as you go through the list. I’ll wrap up here. So it’s up to you to continue.
UNKNOWN: There you go.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, MIT. Professor, world-renowned linguist, author of more than 100 books, his first major address since the elections. He gave it last week in Boston.
People in Iraq send first wishes to new U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
On the streets of Baghdad a call for his withdrawl of U.S. troops:
1. (English) BAQEE NAQED, JOURNALIST, SAYING : "I as an Iraqi, I am asking Obama to keep his promise about withdrawing the U.S. security forces here from our land and we want friendly ties with Iraq people and government. We do not need an occupation here, we need people to help us to improve security situation and services."
2. (Arabic) MOHAMMED AL-SHABIKY CITIZEN, SAYING: "We hope from Obama to hold talks with neighbouring countries and represent new U.S. policy in Middle East and more specifically in Iraq."
3. (Arabic) FADHIL AL-SHAMREE, BANKER, SAYING: "We call upon Mr. president Obama to hold good relations with Iraq and pullout U.S. and multi-national forces from iraq as soon as possible."
Andrew Bacevich is a conservative historian who spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army. He also lost his son in Iraq last year. In a new book titled The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich argues that although many in this country are paying a heavy price for US domestic and foreign policy decisions, millions of Americans simply continue to shop, spend and satisfy their appetite for cheap oil, credit and the promise of freedom at home. Bacevich writes, “As the American appetite for freedom has grown, so too has our penchant for empire.” [includes rush transcript]
Andrew Bacevich, Retired colonel who spent twenty-three years in the US Army. He is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and writes for a wide spectrum of publications including The Nation, Foreign Affairs, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative. He became a staunch critic of the Iraq war and Bush’s foreign policy and is the author of several books, including The New American Militarism. His latest book is called The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.
AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest is Andrew Bacevich. He’s a conservative historian. He spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army. He also lost his son in Iraq. Andrew Bacevich writes, “In joining the Army, my son was following in his father’s footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time.”
Andrew Bacevich holds both parties accountable for the Iraq war. As he writes, “To be fair, responsibility for the war’s continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party. After my son’s death, my state’s senators, Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, telephoned to express their condolences. Stephen F. Lynch, our congressman, attended my son’s wake. Kerry was present for the funeral Mass. My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures. But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war, I got the brushoff.” Bacevich goes on to write, “To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove—namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.”
Andrew Bacevich has just published a new book. It’s called The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. He joins me here in the firehouse studio.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Bacevich.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you very much for having me.
AMY GOODMAN: How hard was it to write this book after your son’s death? This is not theoretical for you.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I try not to talk about my son’s death, because it’s a private matter, and to tell you the truth, I don’t want to do anything that even looks like it might be exploiting his memory. I would say that I imagine that some of the energy that informed the writing a book came from the emotional response to my son’s death. But the content, the critique, is unrelated to that tragedy.
The content of the book very much reflects my dismay at the direction of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. There’s a lot in the book that tries to hold the Bush administration accountable for recent events, but I would not for a second want to suggest that the crisis in which we find ourselves today ought to be laid simply at the foot of the Bush administration or the Republican Party, because it’s been a long time coming.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by “exceptionalism”?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, this is not an idea that’s original with me. It’s clear that from the founding of the Anglo-American colonies, from the time that John Winthrop made his famous sermon and declared that “we shall be as a city upon a hill” a light to the world—it’s clear that, from the outset, there has been a strong sense among Americans that we are a special people with a providential mission.
In the twentieth century, probably going back to roughly the time of Woodrow Wilson, certainly since the end of the Cold War, this concept of a providential mission, a responsibility to the world, has translated into a sense of empowerment or prerogative to determine the way the world is supposed to work, what it’s supposed to look like, and also, over the last twenty years or so, an increasing willingness to use military force to cause the world to look the way we want it to look. And I think that that expression of American exceptionalism is one that’s not only utterly false, but is greatly at odds with own interests as a country.
AMY GOODMAN: You write, “Recalling how Washington saw the post-Cold War world and America’s place in or atop it helps us understand why policymakers failed to anticipate, deter or deflect the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean-–and again, this is very much not something that one would lay at the foot of the Bush administration, but you recall that at the end of the Cold War, when history had supposedly ended, when globalization, which really was a synonym for Americanization, was thought to be sweeping the world and creating a new order, when Democrats and Republicans alike declared with great confidence that not only was the US the sole superpower, but that the US possessed military might such as the world had never seen, well, an attack on Manhattan killing 3,000 Americans wasn’t something that was supposed to happen.
So the focus in the ’90s in the Clinton era and the focus into the first nine months we saw of the Bush era was very much out there somewhere, you know, where we were going to sort out the problems of the world. Nobody was paying attention to the possibility of actually having to defend the United States of America. So, there we were, spending on defense—well, “defense” in quotes—defending on our military probably as much as the rest of the world was spending on their militaries, and yet our military simply wasn’t prepared to perform what ought to be its primary mission, and that is defending the people of the United States of America.
AMY GOODMAN: You say the Department of Defense didn’t actually do defense. It was prepared—it specialized in power projection.
ANDREW BACEVICH: It still doesn’t do defense. I mean, it is a remarkable thing, I think, that the reflexive response to 9/11 is, first of all, to create a new bureaucratic entity that supposedly does defend the country—that’s the Department of Homeland Security, as we call it—but to continue to see the purpose of the Department of Defense, so-called, as power projection.
So, what has the Department of Defense been doing for the last seven years since 9/11? Well, been fighting a war in—where? Afghanistan. And a second one in Iraq. Now, I think you can make the case for Afghanistan, at least in terms of you can make a case for the necessity of holding the Taliban accountable for having given sanctuary to al-Qaeda. You can’t make any case for the invasion of Iraq as related to the global war on terror. And frankly, it’s becoming rather difficult, I think, to make a case for the continuation of the Afghanistan war as part of the global war on terror.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, you identified me as a conservative, and I don’t deny that label, but I think in this particular context what conservatism means is to be realistic in understanding how the world works and being respectful of history and taking care not to overstate one’s own capacity to influence events.
And I think, in that regard, if we look at Afghanistan today, we have to see a country that historically, at least as I understand Afghan history, has never really functioned as an integrated and coherent nation state. It’s never been ruled from Kabul. It’s always been ruled from the—in the provinces by people you might call tribal chiefs. You might call them warlords, you can call them local bosses, but authority has been widely distributed. But we are engaged in a project in which we insist that we’re going to transform Afghanistan into something more or less like a modern, coherent nation state, and indeed, we insist that it has to conform to our notions of liberal democracy.
Were we able to actually do that, I think it would be a wonderful thing. But seven years or so into this project, I’m not sure we can do it. Matter of fact, I’m increasingly persuaded that we can’t do it, and therefore—and I think in your news summary you made reference to this—you know, for somebody like Senator Obama to say, “Elect me. I’ll win the global war on terror by sending more troops to Afghanistan,” I think ought to give people pause and, frankly, ought to cause them to wonder how much change an Obama administration would make with regard to a foreign policy. That’s not an argument for voting for McCain, by a long shot, but it suggests the narrowness of the debate over foreign policy.
AMY GOODMAN: So how is this narrowness taking place? I mean, yes, you have McCain saying we’ll be in Iraq for a hundred years. You have Obama speaking out against the war, but he votes with McCain for funding for the war all through the years—
ANDREW BACEVICH: Right, right, right.
AMY GOODMAN: —as a senator, and then he says we’ll send thousands more, we should send thousands more troops to Afghanistan.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Right, right. I think there are differences between the two, but I think we should see the differences as differences in operational priorities. McCain insists that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror and that it must be won, and it’s clear that if we, the American people, elect him, that we will be engaged in Iraq for a long, long time. Senator Obama says, “No, Afghanistan is the central front in the global war on terror. Elect me and will shift our military effort to Afghanistan.” It’s a difference, but it’s a difference in operational priorities; it’s not a difference in strategy.
Both of them—McCain explicitly, I think Obama implicitly—endorse the notion that a global war on terror really provides the right frame for thinking about US national security policy going forward. A real debate would be one in which we would have one candidate, and certainly it would be McCain, arguing for the global war on terror and an opponent who was questioning whether the global war on terror makes sense. I don’t think it makes sense.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this, the global war on terror.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, the phrase itself is one that really ought to cause people to have their heads snap back a little bit, because President Bush and others around him—Rumsfeld was certainly very clear on this—it’s a war, it’s global, and how long is it going to go on? Well, they said from the outset it’s going to go on for decades. In the Pentagon, there’s a phrase that gets used, “generational war,” a war that lasts a generation or more.
Well, we need to ask ourselves whether that really makes sense? What are the costs entailed by waging war for a generation? Where does the money come from? What are we not doing because we’re spending all this money on war? And in a very human sense, who actually pays the cost? I mean, who serves? Who doesn’t serve? Whose social needs are getting met, and whose are not getting met, as a consequence of having open-ended global war be this national priority?
It seems to me that were we to accurately gauge the actually existing threat—and there is a threat. I mean, 9/11 happened. There are people out there who want to kill us. But were we to actually gauge that threat in a realistic way, we would see that open-ended global war is not only unnecessary, but it’s probably counterproductive, that there are better ways to go about keeping us secure than to engage in global war.
AMY GOODMAN: And I want to talk about those ways after break. We’re talking to Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel, spent twenty-three years in the US Army, now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He’s just written the book The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Professor Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel who spent twenty-three years in the US Army, now a professor at Boston University. And his latest book is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.
Could you talk about the cost of war and how the militarists learned from your war, from Vietnam, how we are insulated from the true cost?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Yeah, this is not something people intended to happen, but it’s an unintended consequence that we today really need to intend to. This is the way I would tell the story. President Nixon ends the draft and creates the so-called all-volunteer force, which really is a professional army. When Nixon ends the draft, he doesn’t do it because he thinks having a professional army would be in the nation’s interest. What Nixon is trying to do is to basically cut the antiwar movement off at the knees, and his calculation was that by ending the draft, kids would get out of the streets and go back to class. And to some degree, he actually was right. It’s worth remembering that the JCS at the time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were opposed to ending the draft, because they felt that they could never find enough volunteers to fill the force.
By the time we get into the 1980s, those JCS concerns have been proven incorrect, and we do end up with, I think, a magnificent professional army. In terms of what you want an army to be like and to do, they are competent, they are disciplined, they know their business. Alas, after the end of the Cold War, we have a political elite—and again, I would emphasize both parties—who decide that, gosh, with this great army we have, shouldn’t we go find some use for it? And the post-Cold War period, beginning with the elder Bush, sees this pattern of interventionism—you know, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, on and on and on—mostly small conflicts, mostly brief conflicts, conflicts in which we, the people, sit on the sidelines and mostly applaud, and the all-volunteer force seems like the most successful federal program of the recent decades. Until you get to Iraq, because Iraq turns out to be not a short war, not a clean war, protracted, ugly, rightfully, I think, controversial and unpopular.
But what we have found is that we, the people, have so distanced ourselves from the professional army that unless you have a family member serving in uniform—and most people don’t—you don’t know where this military is, you don’t know what it’s like, and you really don’t have much say in the way it’s used.
President Bush exploits that after 9/11. He decides he knows how it wants to be used. And, of course, for the first time in our history, when we go to war, instead of a president turning to the Congress and turning to the country and say, “We’re going to have to change the way we do business, because we’re at war,” President Bush actually says, “Go to Disney World. Go shopping. Go back to doing what you have been doing for the last ten years, and I’ll take care of everything.” And I have to say, the great majority of the American people—I don’t think listeners of your show or of yours or your show—but the great majority of the American people basically did what Bush said and in tuned the war out and allowed the burden to fall on a very small percentage of the population, which I find, frankly, morally objectionable.
AMY GOODMAN: Who benefits, Andrew Bacevich?
ANDREW BACEVICH: From the war? There are obviously corporations, contractors who benefit, and I would not—never want to dismiss that, but I don’t really think that that provides us an adequate explanation of how we got into this fix. I think who really benefits or what benefits is the political status quo. The national security state, the apparatus of the national security state benefits. It’s gotten larger since 9/11, immensely larger. The tacit bargain between our political leaders and the American people, which basically assumes that our culture of consumption, our refusal to save, our addiction to oil, as President Bush himself described it, that all of these things can be sustained indefinitely, if we can simply employ our military power in ways to shape the world to our liking.
Now, of course, what we found over the past five, six years is, our military power is really not nearly as great as many people imagined it to be back in the 1990s, and war has not become an effective instrument of politics, as many people imagined back in the 1990s.
AMY GOODMAN: You talk about massive amounts of money that go into the military, and yet it can be stopped by an IED.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it’s an interesting thing. I mean, the military’s self-image, or the image of the military that many national security experts had developed during the 1990s, was that because our military was so adept at exploiting information technology, that in every respect we were faster than any prospective opponent: we could think faster, we could decide faster, we could see faster, we could use our weapons faster.
One of the great ironies, I think, of the Iraq war is that our adversary, who in a technological sense, we would say, has been fairly primitive, our adversary has actually acted much more quickly than we have. In the competition between the improvised explosive devices as a major weapons system that they have used and our efforts to defeat that system, they have repeatedly acted more quickly than we have. And there’s an important lesson there, I think. And the lesson is, technology is not all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to military affairs.
AMY GOODMAN: The first meeting of Barack Obama and McCain was with an evangelical reverend, Rick Warren, in California, and they talked about evil and good, and they talked. And McCain said he will go to the gates of Hell and back to get Osama bin Laden. Your thoughts?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I’m a conservative, and this is another one of those things that leads me to believe that not only is President Bush not a conservative, but Senator McCain is not, either.
Of course there is evil in the world and there is good in the world, but guess what? Some of the evil is right here. I mean, to view international politics through this lens of good and evil leads you to vastly oversimplify and I think also leads you to make reckless decisions. Bush’s—I do believe President Bush genuinely—not cynically, genuinely—saw Saddam Hussein as evil, and I think he actually genuinely believes that—again, consistent with this notion of American exceptionalism—that we were called upon to bring democracy to Iraq. But what a ludicrous way to view US-Iraqi relations over the past twenty or thirty years, because if you really look at US-Iraqi relations or US policy in the Middle East over the last twenty, thirty, fifty, sixty years, it’s impossible to see the question as simply one of good versus evil. It’s not black and white; it’s grey. And you need to see the world as grey if you’re going to be a sensible statesman.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you see all this heading? Your last chapter is “The Limits of Power.” Why don’t people on the ground, overwhelmingly opposed to the war, have a say now?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think we have. Again, I don’t mean to make this as a statement that applies to 100 percent of the American people, but I think the great majority of us basically have allowed ourselves to become seduced by this culture of consumption, of not taking seriously the notion that someday the bills come due, that you can’t simply run up a line of credit that stretches from here to infinity. We don’t want to look ourselves in the mirror. We don’t want to recognize the need to make some changes in the way we live.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you see the end of American empire?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Yes, I do. And I think the key question is, will the American empire end catastrophically because of our blind insistence that we will not change? Or will we be able to disengage ourselves from and dismantle the American empire in a sensible, reasonable way that will do the least damage to the world and the least damage to ourselves?
AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Bacevich, I want to thank you very much for being with us. His book is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.
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