Quotes from Failed States, by Noam Chomsky


- ‘Though the concept is recognized to be ‘frustratingly imprecise,’ some of the primary characteristics of failed states can be identified. One is their inability or unwillingness to protest their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction. Another is their tendency to regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and hence free to carry out aggression and violence.’ (1-2)
- ‘Among the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and one of the most important, is to look honestly in the mirror.’ (2)
- ‘Half a century ago, in July 1955, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein issued an extraordinary appeal to the people of the world, asking them ‘to set aside’ the strong feelings they have about many issues and to consider themselves ‘only as members of a biological species which has a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.’ The choice facing the world is ‘stark and dreadful and inescapable: shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?’ ’ (3)
- ‘…Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation that the United States was able ‘to exterminate the Indian race…without violating a single great principle or morality in the eyes of the world.’ ’ (4)
- ‘One clear illustration is Washington’s terrorist war against Nicaragua in the 1980s, an uncontroversial case, at least for those who believe that the International Court of Justice and the UN Security Council – both of which condemned the United States – have some standing on such matters.’ (5)
- ‘Bush I pardoned Orlando Bosch, a notorious international terrorist and associate of Posada [terrorist], despite objections by the Justice Department, which urged that he be deported as a treat to national security.’ (6)
- ‘Recent global polls reveal that France is ‘most widely seen as having a positive influence in the world,’ alongside Europe generally and China , while ‘the countries most widely viewed as having a negative influence are the US and Russia .’ But again there is a simple explanation. The polls just show that the world is wrong.’ (7)
- ‘Of the countries polled, Mexico is among those ‘most negative’ about the US role in the world.’ (8)
- ‘They discovered that the world was ‘one word away’ from the use of a nuclear weapon since Nagasaki, as reported by Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archive, which helped organize the conference. He was referring to the intervention of a Russian submarine commander, Vasily Arkhpov, who countermanded an order to fire nuclear-armed torpedoes when his vessels were under attack by US destroyers, with consequences that could have been dreadful.’ (8)
- ‘Steinbruner and Gallagher express hope that the threat the US government is posing to its own population and the world will be countered by a coalition of peace-loving nations – led by China! We have come to a pretty pass when such thoughts are expressed at the heart of the establishment. And what that implies about the state of American democracy – where the issues scarcely even enter the electoral arena or public discussion – is no less shocking and threatening, illustrating the democratic deficit mentioned in the preface. Steinbruner and Gallagher bring upChina because of all the nuclear states it ‘has maintained by far the most restrained pattern of military deployment.’ Furthermore, China has led efforts in the United Nations to preserve outer space for peaceful purposes, in conflict with the United States , which, along with Israel , has barred all moves to prevent an arms race in space.’ (9-10)
- ‘In 2004, the United States accounted for 95 percent of total global military space expenditures, but others may join if compelled to do so, vastly increasing the risks to everyone. US analysts recognize that current Pentagon programs ‘can be interpreted as a significant move by the United States toward weaponization of space [and that] there seems little doubt that space-basing of weapons is an accepted aspect of Air Force transformation planning,’ developments that ‘are in the long term very likely to have a negative effect on the national security of the United States.’ ’ (12)
- ‘Former NATO planner Michael MccGwire reminds us that in 1986, recognizing the ‘dreadful logic’ of nuclear weapons, Mikhail Gorbachev called for their total elimination, a proposal that foundered on Reagan’s militarization of space programs (‘Star Wars’).’ (13)
- ‘Reagan and associates also looked away politely while their Pakistani ally was developing nuclear weapons, annually endorsing the pretense that Pakistan was not doing so.’ (16)
- ‘The only threat remotely comparable to use of nuclear weapons is the serious danger of environmental catastrophe.’ (16)
- ‘It is important to stress government. The standard observation that the United States stood almost alone in rejecting the Kyoto protocols is correct only if the phrase ‘Unites States’ excludes its population, which strongly favors the Kyoto pact.’ (18)
- ‘The NIC [National Intelligence Council] also predicted that, as a result of the invasion, this new globalized network of ‘diffuse Islamic extremist groups’ would spread its operations elsewhere to defend Muslim lands from attack by ‘infidel invaders,’ with Iraq replacing Afghanistan as a training ground.’ (18)
- ‘This number fell to 61 percent by 2002 and plummeted to 15 percent after the invasion of Iraq, with 80 percent of Indonesians saying they feared an attack by the United States.’ (19)
- ‘In its review of the London bombings, Britain’s MI5 internal security service concluded that ‘though they have a range of aspirations and ‘causes,’ Iraq is a dominant issue for a range of extremist groups and individuals in the UK and Europe,’ while some who have traveled to Iraq to fight ‘may later return to the UK and consider mounting attacks here.’ ’ (20)
- ‘Reports by an Israeli think tank and Saudi intelligence concluded that ‘the vast majority’ of foreign fighters in Iraq ‘are not former terrorists’ but ‘became radicalized by the war itself,’ stimulated by the invasion to respond ‘to calls to defend their fellow Muslims from ‘crusaders’ and ‘infidels’ ’ who are mounting ‘an attack on the Muslim religion and Arab culture.’ A study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that ’85 percent of Saudi militants who went to Iraq were not on any government watch list, al-Qaeda members, or terrorist sympathizers’ but were ‘radicalized almost exclusively by the Coalition invasion.’ ’ (20)
- ‘Between 1980 and 2003, there were 315 suicide attacks worldwide, initially for the most part by the secular Tamil Tigers. Since the US invasion, estimates of suicide bombings in Iraq (where such attacks were virtually unknown before) range as high as 400.’ (21)
- ‘Robert Pape, who has done the most extensive studies of suicide bombers, writes that ‘Al Qaeda is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries,’ as Osama bin laden repeatedly declares.’ (22)
- ‘In the most extensive scholarly inquiry into Islamic militancy, Fawaz Gerges concludes that after 9/11, ‘the dominant response to Al Qaeda in the Muslim world was very hostile,’ specifically among jihadis, who regarded it as a dangerous extremist fringe. Instead of recognizing that opposition to Al Qaeda offered Washington ‘the most effective way to drive a nail into its coffin’ by finding ‘intelligent means to nourish and support the internal forces that were opposed to militant ideologies like the bin Laden network,’ the Bush administration did exactly what bin Laden hoped it would do: resort to violence.’ (22)
- ‘Unless enemies can be completely crushed, violence tends to engender violence in response.’ (23)
- ‘In January 2005, Senate majority leader Bill Frist justified the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that ‘dangerous weapons proliferation must be stopped. Terrorist organizations must be destroyed.’ It is apparently irrelevant that the pretexts have been officially abandoned and that the invasion has increased terrorist threats and accelerated the proliferation of dangerous weapons.’ (25)
- ‘British Middle East scholar Toby Dodge observed that ‘the documents show…that the case of weapons of mass destruction was based on thin intelligence and was used to inflate the evidence to the level of mendacity.’ ’ (26)
- ‘Seeking to provoke Iraq into some action that could be portrayed as a casus belli, London and Washington renewed their bombing of Iraqi targets in May 2002, with a sharp increase in September 2002. In the nine months leading up to the official start of the war in March 2003, US and UK planes flew almost 22,000 sorties, hitting 391 ‘carefully selected targets,’ noted Lieutenant General Michael Mosely, commander of the joint operations.’ (26)
- ‘By a 2-1 margin, the US population favors an Israel Accountability Act, holding Israel accountable for development of WMDs and human rights abuses in the occupied territories.’ (31)
- ‘In April 2004, OFAC informed Congress that of its 120 employees, four were tracking the finances of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, while almost two dozen were enforcing the illegal embargo against Cuba.’ (33)
- ‘In order to kidnap a terror suspect in Italy and send him to Egypt for probable torture, the Bush administration disrupted a major inquiry into the suspect’s role in ‘trying to build a terror recruitment network’ and ‘build a jihadist recrtuiment network with tentacles spreading throughout Europe.’ Italian courts indicted thirteen CIA operatives, and Italians are furious.’ (34)
- ‘A Spanish court issued international arrest warrants and extradition orders for American soldiers accused of killing a Spanish reported in Iraq, along with a Ukranian cameraman. The Spanish court acted ‘after two requests to US authorities for permission to question the soldiers went unanswered, court officials said.’ ’ (34)
- ‘Gonzales further advised President Bush to effectively rescind the Geneva Conventions, which, despite being ‘the supreme law of the land’ and the foundation of contemporary international law, contained provisions Gonzales determined to be ‘quaint’ and ‘obsolete.’ ’ (40)
- ‘The United States, ‘in conjunction with key allies’ – presumably the United Kingdom – is running an ‘invisible’ network of prisons and detection centers into which thousands of suspects have disappeared without trace since the ‘war on terror’ began,’ writes British journalist and terrorism suspect Jason Burke, including a Soviet-era compound in eastern Europe (Dana Priest). Their fate is unknown but not hard to guess. In addition, unknown numbers of suspects have been sent by ‘rendition’ to countries where torture is virtually guaranteed.’ (41)
- ‘Reviewing subsequent presidential decisions, Paust finds violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal, all war crimes, as well as flagrant violations of the US Constitution.’ (42)
- ‘The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS requested in March 2002 that the United States ‘take the urgent measures necessary to have the legal status of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay determined by a competent Tribunal,’ meaning the ICRC. Washington dismissed the request on grounds that it has no binding commitment dismissed the request on grounds that it has no binding commitment to accept the commission’s decisions. Perhaps with this in mind, a year later, the OAS for the first time voted to exclude the United States from membership in the Inter-American Commission, ‘a symbolic rebuff – to show our disapproval of US policies,’ a Latin American diplomat in Washington observed.’ (44)
- ‘There should be no need to waste time on the claim that the Separation Wall is motivated by security concerns. Were that the case, the wall would be built on the Green Line, the wall would be built on the Green Line, the international border recognized by the entire world, with the exception of Israel and the United States.’ (45-46)
- ‘In November 2004, US occupation forces launched their second major attack on the city of Falluja . The press reported major war crimes instantly, with approval. The attack began with a bombing campaign intended to drive out all but the adult male population; men ages fifteen to forty-five who attempted to flee Falluja were turned back…[One journalist] described the fate of the victims of these bombing attacks in which sometimes whole families, including pregnant women and babies, unable to flee, along with many others, were killed because the attackers who ordered their flight had cordoned off the city, closing the exit roads.’ (46)
- ‘After several weeks of bombing, the United States began its ground attack in Falluja. It opened with the conquest of the Falluja General Hospital. The front-page story in the New York Timesreported that ‘patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.’ An accompanying photograph depicted the scene. It was presented as a meritorious achievement. ‘The offensive also shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants:Falluja General Hospital , with its stream of reports of civilian casualties.’ ’ (47)
- ‘ ‘Conflict’ is a common euphemism for US aggression.’ (47)
- ‘Some relevant documents passed unmentioned, perhaps because they too are considered quaint and obsolete: for example, the provision of the Geneva Conventions stating that ‘fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.’ Thus the front page of the world’s leading newspaper was cheerfully depicting war crimes.’ (48) - ‘The media accounts of the assault were not uniform. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, the most important news channel in the Arab world, was harshly criticized by high US officials for having ‘emphasized civilian casualties’ during the destruction of Falluja. The problem of independent media was later resolved when the channel was kicked out of Iraq in preparation for free elections. Turning beyond the US mainstream, we discover also that ‘Dr. Sami al-Jumaili described how US warplanes bombed the Central Health Center in which he was working,’ killing thirty-five patients and twenty-four staff. His report was confirmed by an Iraqi reporter for Reuters and the BBC, and by Dr. Eiman al-Ani of Falluja General Hospital, who said that the entire health center, which he reached shortly after the attack, had collapsed on the patients. The attacking forces said that the report was ‘unsubstantiated.’ In another gross violation of international humanitarian law, even minimum decency, the US military denied the Iraqi Red Crescent access to Falluja.’ (48-49)
- ‘The ruined city of 250,000 was now ‘devoid of electricity, running water, schools or commerce,’ under a strict curfew, and ‘conspicuously occupied’ by the invaders who had just demolished it.’ (49)
- ‘The UN Special Reporter on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, accused US and British troops in Iraq of ‘breaching international law by depriving civilians of food and water in besieged cities as they try to flush out militants’ in Falluja and other cities attacked in subsequent months. US-led forces ‘cut off or restricted food and water to encourage residents to flee before assaults,’ he informed the international press, ‘using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population, [in] flagrant violation,’ of the Geneva Conventions. The US public was largely spared the news.’ (50
- ‘The new constitution, the Wall Street Journal notes, has ‘far deeper Islamic underpinnings than Iraq’s last one, a half century ago, which was based on [secular] French civil law,’ and had granted women ‘nearly equal rights’ with men. All of this has now been reversed under the US occupation.’ (51)
- ‘Additional effects of the invasion include the decline of the median incomes of Iraqis, from $255 in 2003 to about $144 in 2004, as well as ‘significant countrywide shortages of rice, sugar, milk, and infant formula,’ according to the UN World Food Program.’ (53)
- ‘Acute malnutrition doubled within sixteen months of the occupation of Iraq, to the level of Burundi, well above Haiti or Uganda, a figure that ‘translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from ‘wasting,’ a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.’ ’ (53)
- ‘In the only poll (to my knowledge) in which [Americans] were asked to estimate the number of Vietnamese deaths, the mean estimate was 100,000, about 5 percent of the official figure.’ (54)
- ‘The second murderous regime was the US-UK sanctions (for doctrinal reasons, called ‘UN sanctions,’ though it is common knowledge that the UN administered them under US pressure). But these are off the agenda because they may have caused more deaths than ‘all so-called weapons of mass destruction throughout history,’ two hawkish military specialists estimate, surely hundreds of thousands. Summarizing a rich body of evidence, one of the best-informed American correspondents writes that after ‘the terrible years of the U.N. sanctions…incomes had dropped to one-fifth of pre-war [1990] levels, infant mortality had doubled, and only a majority of Iraqis had access to clean water.’ Furthermore, half of all sewage treatment tanks were still inoperable after having been destroyed along with power supplies by the US and UK bombing in 1991, which ‘unleashed epidemics of typhoid and cholera.’ Education and literacy collapsed, and growing numbers of Iraqis were reduced to ‘a semi-starvation diet,’ showing symptoms ‘usually seen only in famines,’ leading to a tripling of the death rate by 2003, according to UNICEF.’ (56-57)
- ‘The sanctions were bitterly condemned by leading Iraqi opposition figures. Kamil Mahdi wrote that the United States was ‘in effect acting to stain and paralyze all opposition to the present regime’ and had ‘given a discredited and moribund regime a new lease of life.’ ’ (57)
- ‘It was quickly shown that though there doubtless was UN corruption, most of the missing $20 billion consisted of illegal US-approved sales of oil to its allies Turkey and Jordan. The bulk of illegal transactions, according to the report of Charles A. Duelfer, the top US inspector in Iraq, consisted of ‘government to government agreements’ between Iraq and other countries, primarilyJordan (‘the key to Iraq’s financial survival,’ according to the report) and Turkey. All of these transactions took place outside the UN’s oil-for-food program, and all were authorized by the UN Security Council, that is, by Washington.’ (58)
- ‘Investigations by the Financial Times found that ‘the Clinton and Bush administrations not only know but told the US Congress that Iraq was smuggling oil to Turkey and Jordan,’ and that they recommended ‘turning a blind eye to it.’ The reason was that the illegal sales were ‘in the ‘national interest,’ ’ since Jordan is an important US client state, and support for Turkey, long a major US base for regional control, promotes ‘security, prosperity and other vital interests.’ ’ (59)
- ‘…Washington’s abrupt withdrawal from the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations after the World Court ruled against the United States in the cases of fifty-one Mexicans who had been sentenced to death after the United States had violated their right to consult with officials from a Mexican consulate.’ (67)
- ‘The Vienna Convention was proposed by the United States in 1963 and ratified in 1969. The United States was the first country to invoke it before the World Court, successfully, in its suit against Iraq after the 1979 hostage taking.’ (67-68)
- ‘Contrary to what others mistakenly believe, it was quite inappropriate for Washington to refuse to pay its UN dues from the Reagan years until 2001, when Washington changed course because it then needed international support… Nor does it matter that the US share of UN dues has always been below a rate that would accurately reflect US economic strength.’ (68)
- ‘The NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] was based on two central agreements: ‘In return for renouncing the option of acquiring nuclear weapons for themselves, ‘non-nuclear weapon stats’ were promised, first, unimpeded access to nuclear energy for nonmilitary use, and second, progress on nuclear disarmament’ by the [at the time] five acknowledged nuclear-weapons states.’ (70)
- ‘A good case can be made for Washington’s call for restricting Article IV of the NPT, which grants non-nuclear states the right to produce uranium fuel for reactors, bringing them, with contemporary technology, to just a step away from nuclear weapons… One reasonable proposal to this end was put forth by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). ElBaradei suggested that all production and processing of weapon-usable material be restricted ‘exclusively to facilities under multinational control’ and should be accompanied ‘above all, by an assurance that the legitimate would-be users could get their supplies.’ ’ (70-71)
- ‘Washington’s charges about an Iranian nuclear weapons program may, for once, be accurate. As many analysts have observed, it would be remarkable if they were not. Reiterating the conclusion that the invasion of Iraq, as widely predicted, increased the threat of nuclear proliferation, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld writes that ‘the world has witnessed how theUnited States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had they Iranians not tried to built nuclear weapons, they would be crazy.’ ’ (73)
- ‘It is likely that Washington’s saber rattling is not a sign of impending war. It would not make much sense to signal an attack years in advance. The purpose may be to provoke the Iranian leadership to adopt more repressive policies. Such policies could foment international disorder, perhaps weakening Iran enough so that the United States might hazard military action. They would also contribute to Washington’s efforts to pressure allies to join in isolating Iran.’ (74)
- ‘If logic and moral truisms mattered, the US and British governments and supporters of their doctrine of ‘anticipatory self-defense’ should be calling on Iran to develop a nuclear deterrent.’ (74)
- ‘Every sane person hopes that ways will be found to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program.’ (74)
- ‘Despite the focus on Iran and North Korea, the primary reason the NPT now faces collapse is the failure of the nuclear states to live up to their obligation under Article IV to pursue ‘good faith’ efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. That requirement was further underscored by a unanimous 1996 World Court judgment that the nuclear powers are legally obligated ‘to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.’ ’ (75)
- ‘In November, the UN Committee on disarmament voted in favor of a verifiable FISSBAN. The vote was 147 to 1, with two abstentions: Israel, which reflexively sides with the US position, and Britain, which explained its abstention on the grounds that the resolution ‘had divided the international community at a time when progress should be a prime objective’ – divided it 147 to 1. A few days later, the General Assembly again reaffirmed ‘the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space and the readiness of al States to contribute to that common objective,’ and called upon ‘all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective.’ The resolution passed 178 to 0, with four abstentions: the United StatesIsraelHaiti, and Palau.’ (76-77)
- ‘Thomas Graham, Clinton’s special representative for arms control, warned that ‘the NPT has never seemed weaker or the future less certain.’ If the treaty should fail, he suggested, a ‘nuclear nightmare world’ may become a reality. Like other analysts, Graham recognized that, while the other nuclear states share responsibility, the primary threat to the NPT is US government policy.’ (78)
- ‘The likelihood of ‘ultimate doom’ is much higher than any rational person should be willing to tolerate.’ (79)
- ‘A large majority of the American public continue to take the position that states are entitled to use force only if there is ‘strong evidence that the country is in imminent danger of being attacked.’ ’ (82)
- ‘No one would argue that Japan exercised the legitimate right of anticipatory self-defense when it bombed military bases in the virtual US colonies of Hawaii and the Phillippines, even though the Japanese knew that B-17 Flying Fortresses were coming off the Boeing production lines and could read in the American press that the planes were capable of burning down Tokyo.’ (84)
- ‘The Times, they show, is ‘vigorous in its denunciation of global adversaries of the United States who contemplate aggressive wars or engage in hostile acts against American citizens’ in violation of international law, but ignores such matters in the case of US actions. As one illustration, they point out that the words “UN Charter’ or ‘international law’ never appeared in its seventy editorials leading up to the invasion of Iraq, and they find that absence to be virtually uniform in opinion columns and other articles.’ (85)
- ‘There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world – that’s the United States – when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along.’ John Bolton
- ‘Under great international and domestic pressures, Clinton informed the Indonesian generals in mid-September 1999 that the game was over. They instantly withdrew, revealing with brilliant clarity just where responsibility lies for the crimes of the preceding quarter century.’ (87)
- ‘Kissinger’s assessment was confirmed again in 2004, when the press reported the release of tapes of Nixon-Kissinger conversations. Among them were Nixon’s instructions to Kissinger to order bombing of Cambodia, as [Kissinger] did, with these words: ‘A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.’ One would be hard put to find a comparable call for monstrous war crimes, virtual genocide, in the archives of any state. It elicited no comment or reaction, as far as I could determine, even though the terrible consequences of those orders have long been known.’ (88)
- ‘The British deterrent was overcome and the United States was able to intervene in Cuba in 1989. The pretext was to liberate Cuba from Spain. The effect, however, was to block Cuba’s liberation and to turn it into a ‘virtual colony,’ as it remained until 1959.’ (93)
- ‘Kosovo was an ugly place before the NATO bombing – though, regrettably, not by international standards. According to Western sources, about 2,000 people were killed on all sides in the year prior to the invasion, many by Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerillas attacking Serbs from Albania in an effort, as they openly stated, to elicit a harsh Serbian response that could rally Western opinion in their cause.’ (99)
- ‘It is not easy task to gain some understanding of human affairs. In some respects, the task is harder than in the natural sciences. Mother Nature doesn’t provide the answers on a silver platter, but at least she does not go out of her way to set up barriers to understanding. In human affairs, such boundaries are the norm.’ (103)
- ‘Mikhail Gorbachev’s ‘public relations can be as much a threat to American interests in Europe as were [Leonid] Brezhnev’s tanks.’ Samuel Huntington (103)
- ‘To facilitate the marketing effort, doctrinal systems commonly portray the current enemy as diabolical by its very nature. The characterization is sometimes accurate, but crimes are rarely the reason for demanding forceful measures against a selected target. One of many sources of evidence for this is the easy transition a state may make from favored friend and ally (who, irrelevantly, commits monstrous crimes) to ultimate evil that has to be destroyed (because of those very same crimes).’ (103)
- ‘The first trial dealt with atrocities he had committed in 1982 – the year when the Regan administration dropped Iraq from the list of states supporting terrorism so that military and other aid could flow to the murderous tyrant.’ (104)
- ‘The famed ‘American exceptionalism’ merits some skepticism; the image of righteous exceptionalism appears to be close to universal. Also close to universal is the responsibility of the educated classes to endorse with due solemnity the sincerity of the high-minded principles proclaimed by leaders, on the basis of no evidence apart from their declarations, though it is often conceded that their actions systematically refute their noble visions.’ (105)
- ‘We then face a puzzling paradox, which is miraculously resolved in the United States by proclaiming a sudden ‘change of course’ – an event that takes place every few years, effacing inappropriate history as we march on to a glorious future. One of its constant themes is the dedication to bring justice and freedom to a suffering world, recently resurrected as the driving passion for ‘democracy promotion’.’ (105)
- ‘By the end of the millennium, ‘total [US] military and police assistance in the hemisphere exceeded economic and social aid.’ This is a ‘new phenomenon,’ the analysts point out: ‘even at the height f the Cold Ware, economic aid far exceeded military aid.’ Predictably, the policies ‘strengthened military forces at the expense of civilian authorities, …exacerbated human rights problems and generated significant social conflict and even political instability.’ ’ (107)
- ‘In September 1989, just as the Berlin Wall was about to crumble, Bush I redeclared the ‘war on drugs’ with a huge government-media propaganda campaign. It went into effect right in time to justify the invasion of Panama to kidnap a thug who was convicted in Florida for crimes committed mostly when he was on the CIA payroll – and, incidentally, killing unknown numbers of poor people in the bombarded slums, thousands according to the victims.’ (107)
- ‘Washington firmly supported Pinochet’s regime of violence and terror and had no slight role in its initial triumph.’ (111)
- ‘Eisenhower approved economic sanctions in the expectation that ‘if [the Cuban people] are hungry, they will throw Castro out.’ Kennedy agreed that the embargo would hasten Fidel Castro’s departure as a result of the ‘rising discomfort among hungry Cubans.’ ’ (113)
- ‘Washington backed the installation of Europe’s first postwar fascist government in Greece in 1967 continuing its support until the dictatorship was overthrown in 1974.’ (116)
- ‘In 1948, George Kennan, head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, warned that if Indonesia fell under ‘Communism,’ it could be an ‘infection [that] would sweep westward’ through all of South Asia. For such reasons, Kennan held, ‘the problem of Indonesia [is] the most crucial issue of the moment in our struggle with the Kremlin’ – which had little to do withIndonesia, apart from serving to create misimpressions. The threat of a ‘Communist Indonesia’ was sufficiently severe for the Eisenhower administration to support a military rebellion, primarily out of fear and democracy: what scholarship calls a ‘part of the poor’ was gaining too much political support for comfort. The threat of democracy was not overcome until the 1965 Suharto coup and the huge slaughter that immediately followed, establishing one of the most brutal regimes of the late twentieth century. There was no further concern about democracy, or about awesome human rights violations and war crimes. Suharto remained ‘our kind of guy,’ as the Clinton administration described him.’ (117)
- ‘Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy railed about ‘internal aggression’ and an ‘assault from the inside…manipulated from the North.’ By the North, they meant the northern half of Vietnam, divided by the United States after it undermined the 1954 international agreement on unification and elections (which, it recognized, would have come out the wrong way).’ (117)
- ‘The public and internal record until Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 reveals no hint of departure from his insistence that the United States must stay the course until victory was achieved over ‘the assault from the inside.’ After the war became highly unpopular in the late 1960s, particularly after the 1968 Vietnamese Tet offensive turned elite sectors against the war, memoirists radically revised their accounts, while they and others produced ‘recollections’ to support the doctrinally more acceptable view that Kennedy and others were secret does. Very secret. There is no credible trace of it in the record.’ (118)
- ‘The real reasons for the US assault on Indochina are conventional. Washington feared that an independent Vietnam might be a virus infecting others, perhaps even resource-rich Indonesia, and eventually Japan – the ‘superdomino,’ as Asia historian John Dower termed it – to accommodate to an independent Asian mainland, becoming its industrial center.’ (119)
- ‘The virus was destroyed by demolishing Indochina. The broader region was then inoculated by the establishment of harsh military dictatorships in the countries susceptible to infection.Indonesia was protected by the ‘staggering mass slaughter’ of 1965, a ‘gleam of light in Asia,’ the New York Times exulted. The reaction captured the undisguised Western euphoria over the outcome of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly landless peasants, and the destruction of the only mass-based political party, the Indonesian Communist Party, as the country was opened up to free Western exploitation by crimes that the CIA compared to those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.’ (119)
- ‘During World War II, Joseph Stalin became an ally, the beloved ‘Uncle Joe,’ as Russia first endured and then beat back the Nazi wave. ‘It cannot be overemphasized,’ historian Omer Bartov writes, ‘that however criminal and odious Stalin’s regime surely was, without the Red Army and its horrendous blood sacrifice, the Wehrmacht would not have been defeated and Nazism would have remained a fact in Europe for many generations.’ Roosevelt scholar Warren Kimball concludes that ‘when military assessments pointed out that only the Red Army could achieve a victory over Hitler in a land war, aid to the Soviet Union became a presidential priority’ on the assumption that the Russian army would grind Germany down and keep US soldiers out of a land war.Roosevelt’s strategy was for the United States to be the reserves, he confided privately.’ (121-122)
- ‘In the early stages of the war, Harry Truman’s view was simple: ‘if we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible.’ ’ (122)
- ‘The basic continuity of policy was illustrated again when the Soviet Union collapsed, offering new opportunities along with the need for new misimpressions. The assault on Cuba was intensified, but reframed: it was no longer defense against the Russians, but rather Washington’s sincere dedication to democracy that required strangulation of Cuba and US-based terror.’ (125)
- ‘Asked why they thought the United States invaded Iraq, 1 percent felt that the goal was to bring democracy and 5 percent that the goal was ‘to assist the Iraqi people’ Most of the rest assumed that the goal was to take control of Iraq’s resources and to reorganize the Middle East in US and Israeli interests.’ (131)
- ‘The criteria distinguishing the categories were sharp, clear, and highly instructive. One distinguishing criterion illuminates the operative concept of democracy: Old Europe consists of the countries in which the government took the same stand on the war as the large majority of the population, whereas in New Europe governments overruled even large majorities and took orders from CrawfordTexas. Therefore Old Europe is to be disparaged and New Europe lauded as the hope for democracy and enlightenment.’ (132-133)
- ‘Suharto, Wolfowitz’s favoriate, meanwhile earned ‘the dubious title of being the most corrupt world leader in recent history,’ a ‘clear winner, according to British-based Transparency International,’ having amassed a family fortune ‘estimated at anything between fifteen billion and thirty-five billion US dollars.’ ’ (134)
- ‘Chávez has repeatedly won monitored elections and referenda despite overwhelming and bitter media hostility, that his popularity ratings are at 80 percent…’ (137)
- ‘The country now leads all countries in Latin America in support for its elected government.’ (137)
- ‘In Venezuela, where an oil company has over the decades produced a sparkling elite of super-rich, a quarter of under-15s go hungry, for instance, and 60 per cent of people over 59 have no income at all. Less than a fifth of the population enjoys social security. Only now under President Chávez, the former parachute colonel elected to office in 1998, has medicine started to become something of a reality for the poverty-stricken majority in the rich but deeply divided – virtually non-functioning – society. Since he won power in democratic elections and began to transform the health and welfare sector which catered so badly to the mass of the population progress has been slow. But it has been perceptible – not least because Venezuela has joined with Cuba in a joint health strategy which has brought perhaps 20,000 Cuban doctors and other health professionals here and spread them around the country from Caracas to remote spots where Venezuelan doctors refuse to serve.’ Hugh O’Shaughnessy (137-138)
- ‘US policy is not much focused on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship… Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one-party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom.’ British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray (140-141)
- ‘These are also among the many reasons why comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq are so misleading. In VietnamWashington planners could fulfill their primary war aims by destroying the virus and inoculating the region, then withdrawing, leaving the wreckage to enjoy its sovereignty. The situation in Iraq is radically different. Iraq cannot be destroyed and abandoned. It is too valuable, and authentic sovereignty and even limited democracy would be too dangerous to be easily accepted. If at all possible, Iraq must be kept under control, if not in the manner anticipated by Bush planners, at least somehow.’ (147-148)
- ‘Occupying armies have no rights, only responsibilities. Their primary responsibility is to withdraw as quickly and expeditiously as possible, in a manner to be determined primarily by the occupied population. Unless there is strong popular support for their presence, they have no right to remain.’ (148)
- ‘The General Assembly, less directly controlled by the invaders, is preferable to the Security Council as the responsible transitional authority. The disgraceful economic regime imposed by the occupying authorities should be rescinded, along with the harsh antilabor laws and practices of the occupation. Reconstruction should be in the hands of Iraqis, not designed as a means of controlling them in accord with Washington’s announced plans. Reparations – not just aid – should be provided by those responsible for devastating Iraqi civilian society by cruel sanctions and military actions, as well as for supporting Saddam Hussein through his worst atrocities as well as beyond. That is the minimum decency requires.’ (148-149)
- ‘The elite unit responsible for the worst crimes in Honduras was Battalion 3-16, organized and trained by the United Stats and Argentine neo-Nazis, the most barbaric of the Latin American killers that Washington had been supporting. Honduran military officers in charge of the battalion were on the CIA payroll. When the government of Honduras finally tried to deal with these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Reagan-Bush administration refused to allow Negroponte to testify, as the courts requested.’ (151)
- ‘It is not even controversial that the United States often overthrew democratic governments, often installing or supporting brutal tyrannies: IranGuatemalaBrazilChile, and a long list of others. The Cold War pretexts regularly collapse under investigation. What we do find, however, is the operative principle that Carothers describes: democracy is a good thing if and only if it is consistent with strategic and economic interests.’ (152)
- ‘Woodrow Wilson invaded Haiti, the prototypical ‘failed state,’ in 1915, sending his troops to dissolve the National Assembly ‘by genuinely Marine Corps methods,’ in the words of the marine commander, Major Smedley Butler. The reasons was the assembly’s refusal to ratify a US-designed constitution that gave US corporations the right to buy up Haiti’s lands – regarded by the invaders as a ‘progressive’ measure that Haitians could not comprehend. A marine-run plebiscite remedied the problem: the constitution was ratified by a 99.9 percent majority, with 5 percent of the population participating. Thousands of Haitians were killed resisting Wilson’s invaders, who also reinstituted virtual slavery, leaving the country in the hands of a vicious National Guard after nineteen years of Wilsonian idealism. Horrors continued unabated, along with US support, until Haiti’s first democratic election in 1990.’ (153)
- ‘Washington moved immediately to reverse the scandal. Aid for ‘democracy promotion’ sharply increased, directed to antigovernment, probusiness groups, mainly through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), also the National Endowment for Democracy and AIFLD (the AFL-CIO affiliate with a notorious antilabor record throughout the Third World).’ (153-154)
- ‘In February 2004, with French support, the United State spirited Aristide out of the country, which fell back into the hands of the traditional predators, including elements of the army that Aristide had disbanded.’ (154)
- ‘Meanwhile the main Haitian architect of the terror, who bears major responsibility for thousands of deaths, lives peacefully in New York (Emmanuel Constant, who headed the terrorist force FRAPH). Repeated requests by the elected government of Haiti for his extradition were rejected by Washington, or simply ignored – in one striking case, right in the midst of the furor over the unwillingness of the Taliban to follow Washington’s orders to turn over 9/11 suspects without evidence. The reason, it is widely assumed, is concern that, if tried, Constant might reveal CIA connections during the terror.’ (154-155)
- ‘The GuatemalaWashington’s destruction of the elected government ‘triggered a ghastly, four-decade-long cycle of terror and repression that led to the death of perhaps two hundred thousand Guatemalans.’ ’ (155)
- ‘The Nicaragua, the US military occupation created the National Guard that brutalized the population for decades under the rule of the murderous Somoza family dictatorship, which Washington supported until the last tyrant was overthrown by an internal revolt in 1979. When Somoza could no longer be sustained, Washington tried to preserve its National Guard, then turned to a terrorist war, which raged until 1990, when voters chose a candidate of Washington’s choice with ‘a gun to their heads,’ as Thomas Walker writes in his standard history.’ (155-156)
- ‘Health officials reported in 2003 that 60 percent of children under two [in Nicaragua] suffer from anemia due to malnutrition, with likely mental retardation. In 2004, malnourishment increased, mainly among children, while life expectancy declined. Close to 70 percent of rural inhabitants live in a state of chronic or extreme hunger, with more than 25 percent unable to eat more than one meal a day, and 43 percent unable to eat more than two meals. The public health system is in a state of collapse, and environmental catastrophes resulting largely from desperate poverty (deforestation, and so on) made Nicaragua ‘worthy of the title the ultimate of social vulnerability’ in 2004, the year-end summary in La Prensa observed. Sixty percent of children and adolescents are not in school.’ (156)
- ‘The miserable conditions in Nicaragua could be significantly alleviated in very conservative ways. A start would be for the United States to pay the reparations ordered by the highest international authorities, the World Court and Security Council. That would more than overcome the debt strangling the county since the years of the US terrorist attach, though much more would have to be done to restore a viable society from the wreckage of the Reaganite assault.’ (157)
- ‘The occupation authorities worked assiduously to avert the threat of democracy, but were compelled, with great reluctance, to abandon their plans to impose a constitution and to prevent elections. Few competent observers were disagree with the editors of the Financial Times that ‘the reason [the elections of January 2005] took place was the insistence of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who vetoed three schemes by the US-led occupation authorities to shelve or dilute them.’ Middle East scholar Alan Richards observes that ‘although the United States initially opposed early elections in Iraq, after Ayatollah Sistani turned huge numbers of his followers out in the street to demand such elections, Washington had little choice but to agree.’ ’ (160)
- ‘Washington complains that Al-Jazeera inflamed opinion by direct reporting that ‘emphasized civilian casualties’ during the US destruction of Falluja, and that it ‘reports passionately about the Palestinian conflict.’ Another departure from journalistic standards is that the channel showed ‘taped messages by Osama bin Laden,’ which are apparently considered newsworthy in the Muslim world, as they are among people everywhere concerned with the threat of terror.’ (161)
- ‘Returning to the January 2005 Iraq election, it was, ‘in effect,’ an ethnic census,’ with Shiites mostly voting for Sistani’s Shiite list, Kurds for the Kurdish list, and Sunnis by boycotting. Nevertheless, the election was a major triumph of mass nonviolent resistance to the US occupation, celebrated on election day with great enthusiasm and courage by Shiites and Kurds, who saw themselves as coming to the polls ‘to claim their rightful power in the land.’ ’ (162)
- ‘Washington’s problem was summarized by Wall Street Journal correspondent Yochi Dreazen: ‘the men likely to lead Iraq’s next government promise to demand withdrawal as soon as they take power after Sunday’s national elections.’ ’ (162)
- ‘Perhaps the Lebanese have not consigned to oblivion the most horrendous car bombing in Beirut, in 1985, a huge explosion killing eighty people and wounding two hundred, mostly women and girls leaving the mosque exit where the bomb was placed. The attach, aimed at a Muslim cleric who escaped, was traced to the CIA and Saudi intelligence, apparently operating with British help. Accordingly, it is out of Western history.’ (166)
- ‘Rather than welcome Hezbollah’s transformation into a political party, thus supporting Lebanese democracy, Congress preferred to follow the president’s lead, continuing to punish Hezbollah for its real crime. Organized in 1982 in response to Israel’s US-backed invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah drove the invader from the country.’ (168)
- ‘For Washington, democracy promotion ranks low in comparison with the need to punish Iran for overthrowing the murderous tyrant, the shah, imposed in 1953 by the US and UK coup that destroyed the Iranian parliamentary system.’ (169)
- ‘It charges that the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the US occupation of Iraq, and Arab terrorism have ‘adversely influenced’ human development.’ (170)
- ‘In the past, the Bush administration resisted new national elections among the Palestinians. The thought then was that the elections would make Mr. Arafat look better and give him a fresher mandate, and might help give credibility and authority to Hamas.’ (171)
- ‘Along with arable land, the most important of these resources is water, leaving Palestinians under occupation ‘the most water-deprived people in the entire region; indeed one of the most deprived in the world,’ while Israel takes for itself 80 percent of the water extracted from West Bank aquifers, arrangements now consolidated by the “Separation Wall’.’ (174)
- ‘The basic facts are clear. It was not the villain Arafat who was ‘the prime obstacle to [the] realization’ of a Palestinian state, but rather the United States and Israel, with the help of media and commentary that suppressed and distorted what was taking place. That conclusion is even more sharply drawn when we look at the actual record since the issue of Palestinian national rights reached the international agenda in the mid-1970s. In 1976, the United States vetoed a Syrian-initiated resolution calling for a  two-state settlement on the international borders backed by the major Arab states and Arafat’s PLO, and incorporating the crucial wording of UN Security Council Resolution 242, recognized on all sides to be the basic diplomatic document. In the years that followed, the United States, virtually alone, blocked the very broad international consensus on a similar diplomatic resolution, while supporting Israel’s expansion into the occupied territories. The legal status of the takeover of lands and resources is not seriously in question. The prominent Israeli legal scholar David Kretzmer, professor of international law at the Hebrew University, observes that the illegality of the settlements ‘has been accepted by the United Nations Security Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the states parties to the Geneva Conventions,’ along with foreign governments and academic writers and, more recently, by the International Court of Justice, unanimously, including US justice Buergenthal. The United Statescontinues to block a diplomatic resolution. One important recent example was the presentation of the Geneva Accord in December 2002. These detailed proposals for a two-state solution, formulated by unofficial but prominent Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, were supported by the usual broad international consensus, with the usual exception: ‘The United States conspicuously was not among the governments sending a message of support,’ the New York Times reported in a dismissive article. Israel rejected the accord.’ (176)
- ‘The same day that Washington announced its renewed endorsement of Israel’s extreme rejectionism, the UN General Assembly once again called for an international peace conference under UN supervision. Its announced goal was to lay the basis for a diplomatic settlement on the international (pre-June 1967) borders, with guarantees for the security of all states in the region ‘within secure and international recognized borders,’ and with the new Palestinian state ‘under the supervision of the United Nations for a limited period, as part of the peace process.’ The vote was 153 to 3, with the United StatesIsrael, and Dominica opposed and one abstention (Belize).’ (177-178)
- ‘The goals of the Israeli doves were outlined in a 1998 academic publication by Shlomo Ben-Ami, who went on to become Ehud Barak’s chief negotiator at Camp David in 2000. The ‘Oslopeace process,’ Ben-Ami wrote, was to lead to a ‘permanent neocolonial dependency’ for the Palestinians in the occupied territories, with some form of local autonomy.’ (178-179)
- ‘ ‘It is only against this background,’ Pedatzur adds, that one can comprehend the decision of occupation authority official Pliya Albek, who, with the support of the courts, rejected the appeal of a Palestinian man for compensation after the border police had killed his wife, on the grounds that he ‘only gained from his wife’s death because when she was alive he had to support her, but now he does not, and therefore the damage to him is at most zero.’ Benny Morris writes that ‘the work of the military courts in the territories, and the Supreme Court which backed them, will surely go down as a dark age in the annals of Israel’s judicial system.’ (187)
- ‘ ‘The West Bank settlement enterprise has become a means of socioeconomic advancement for many Israelis,’ who, thanks to government subsidies, can obtain lovely houses that they could never afford in Israel.’ (187)
- ‘ ‘Travel on the roads of Gaza, closed to Palestinian traffic for years, exposes the full dimensions of the physical destruction Israel left behind,’ Hass writes. ‘A thousand words and a thousand images cannot describe it. That’s not because of the weakness of words and photos, but because of the ability of most Israelis not to see and not to grasp the extent of the vineyards and groves and orchards and fields that the people’s army of Israel turned into desert, the green that it pained yellow and gray, the sand turned over and the exposed land, the thorns, the weeds. To ensure the safety of the settlers…the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] spent five years uprooting the green lungs of Gaza, mutilating its most beautiful areas and cutting off the livelihood of tens of thousands of families. The Israeli talent for ignoring  the enormous destruction that we caused leads to the wrong political assessments. Ignoring it enables the IDF to continue destroying Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Along the [separation] fence, around the settlements, in the Jordan Valley, the destruction goes on as a means to continue creating facts on the ground and to guarantee that the future Palestinian entity remains as divided and split and territory-less as possible.’ (188)
- ‘The record of Security Council vetoes concerning Israel is another illustration. Bush II’s seven vetoes of UN resolutions related to Israel match the seven under Bush I and Clinton combined (but do not reach Reagan’s nineteen). The resolutions vetoed include the call for a UN observer force in the territories to reduce violence, condemnation of all acts of terror and violence and establishment of a monitoring apparatus, expression of concern over Israel’s killing of UN employees and destruction of a UN World Food Program warehouse, reaffirmation of the illegality of deportation, expression of concern over the Separation Barrier cutting through the occupied West Bank, condemnation of the assassination of the quadriplegic Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (and half a dozen bystanders) in March 2004, and condemnation of an Israeli military incursion into Gaza with many civilizans killed and extensive property damage.’ (189-190)
- ‘ ‘Every journey in the West Bank’ is ‘a continuous nightmare of humiliation and physical anxiety.’ When settler are not traveling, ‘most of the roads in the West Bank are desolate, with no people or cars…ghost roads… If you strain your eyes, you will notice at the sides of the road the traffic lanes assigned to the Palestinians: pathways through the terraces winding up the hills, goat paths on which cars are sputtering, including those carrying the sick, women in labor, pupils, and ordinary citizens who decide to place their life in their hands in order to travel for two to three hours to reach the neighboring village.’ ’ Gideon Levy (192)
- ‘Because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to ordinary people who, growing up in society, learn to cope, as children born to untouchables in India acquire the skills and attitudes necessary for survival in the miserable roles they are destined to fill.’ Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan Ambassador to the UN (201)
- ‘The concept of democracy promotion at home may seem odd or even absurd. After all, the United States was the first modern (more or less) democratic society, and has been a model for others ever since. And in many dimensions crucial for authentic democracy – protection of freedom of speech, for example – it has became a leader among the societies of the world.’ (205)
- ‘I worry about the immediate future of the United States, the country that gave haven to German-speaking refugees in the 1930s,’ [Fritz Stern, the author] included. With implications for here and now that no reader can fail to discern, Stern reviews Hitler’s demonic appeal to his ‘divine mission’ as ‘Germany’s savior’ in a ‘pseudoreligious transfiguration of politics’ adapted to ‘traditional Christian forms,’ ruling a government dedicated to ‘the basic principles’ of the nation, with ‘Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.’ ’ (209-210)
- ‘When neoliberal-style programs began to take shape in the 1970s, real wages in the United States were the highest in the industrial world, with incomparable advantages. The situation has now dramatically changed. Real wages for the majority have largely stagnated or declined and are now close to the lowest level among industrial societies; the relatively weak benefits system has declined as well. Incomes are maintained only by extending working hours well beyond those in similar societies, while inequality has soared.’ (211)
- ‘Edward Wolff, the leading specialist on wealth distribution, writes that ‘living conditions stagnated in the 1990s for American households in the middle, while rapid advances in wealth and income for the elite briskly pulled up the averages.’ From 1983 to 1998, average wealth at the top 1 percent rose ‘a whopping 42%,’ while the poorest 40 percent ‘lost 76 percent of their (very modest) wealth.’ He concludes that even ‘the boom of the 1990s has bypassed most Americans. The rich have been the main beneficiaries.’ ’ (211)
- ‘The number of [Americans] who go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food rose to over 38 million in 2004: 12 percent of households, an increase of 7 million in five years. As the government released the figures, the House Agricultural Committee voted to remove funding for food stamps for 300,000 people, and cut off school lunches and breakfasts for 40,000 children, only one of many illustration.’ (212)
- ‘Another device that is regularly exploited is the fear of imminent destruction by an enemy of boundless evil. Such perceptions are deeply rooted in American popular culture, coupled with faith in nobility of purpose – the latter, as close to a universal as history provides.’ (213)
- ‘Support for equal or greater social expenditures was about 80 percent in 1980, and increased in 1984. Cuts in Social Security were opposed with near unanimity, cuts in Medicare or Medicaid by well over 3 to 1. The public preferred cuts in military spending to cuts in health programs by about 2 to 1. Large majorities supported government regulations to protect worker health and safety, protection of consumer interests, help for the elderly, the poor, and the needy, and other social programs.’ (215)
- ‘The 2004 electoral campaigns were run by the public relations industry, which in its regular vocation sells toothpaste, lifestyle drugs, automobiles, and other commodities. Its guiding principle is deceit.’ (220)
- ‘Australia’s health care system is perhaps the most efficient in the world. In particular, drug prices are a fraction of those in the United States: the same drugs, produced by the same companies, earning substantial profits though nothing like those in the United States, where such profits are commonly justified on the dubious grounds that they are needed for research and development (R&D). Economist Dean Baker finds that savings to consumers would be immense if public funding increased to 100 percent of R&D, thus eliminating the drug companies’ justifications for monopoly pricing rights.’ (221-222)
- ‘Even with what is counted, corporate R&D concentrates more toward the marketing end: major US drug companies spend more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration as on any kind of R&D, while reporting huge profits.’ (222)
- ‘One reason for the efficiency of the Australian system is that, like other countries, Australia relies on the practices that the Pentagon employs when it buys paper clips: the government uses its purchasing power to negotiate prices, actions barred by legislation for drugs in the United States. Another reason is Australia’s reliance on evidence-based procedures: ‘In order to charge the Australian Government a high price for a new drug,’ the US pharmaceutical corporations ‘actually have to provide evidence that the new drug has demonstrable benefits, [which] is considered to be a barrier to trade by the US.’ The US drug industry also objects to the Australian requirement that the companies ‘must demonstrate significant clinical advantages’ and ‘satisfactory cost-effectiveness’ in comparison with available drugs, as well as to Australia’s ‘overriding focus on cost-effectiveness’ generally.’ (222)
- ‘Pollster Daniel Yankelovich reported that ‘the views of Americans who frequently attend religious services and the views of Americans who do not mirror those of Republicans and Democrats, respectively.’ Churchgoing white evangelical Protestants are a particularly powerful Republican voting bloc. ‘This constituency sees the president as a man of strong character: honest, simple, straight-talking, determined, no-nonsense, God-fearing,’ a man of ‘sincerity and clarity of moral purpose’ who is ‘on the side of good.’ ’ (223)
- ‘An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that ‘over 2/3 of all Americans thought the government should guarantee ‘everyone’ the best and most advanced health care that technology can supply’; a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent regard universal health care as ‘more important than holding down taxes’; polls reported in Business Week found that ‘67% of Americans think it’s a good idea to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27% dissenting’; the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of Americans favor the ‘U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes’ (30 percent opposed).’ (225)
- ‘The will of the public is banned from the political arena.’ (225)
- ‘A large majority of the public believe that the United States should accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the World Court, sign the Kyoto protocols, allow the United Nations to take the lead in international crises, and rely on diplomatic and economic measures more than military ones in the ‘war on terror.’ Similar majorities believe the United States should resort to force only if there is ‘strong evidence that the country is in imminent danger of being attacked,’ thus rejecting the bipartisan consensus on ‘preemptive war’ and adopting the rather conventional interpretation of the UN Charter reiterated by the UN’s High-level Panel of December 2004 and the UN World Summit a year later. A small majority of the population even favors giving up Security Council vetoes, so that the United States would follow the UN’s lead even if it is not the preference of US state managers. On domestic issues, overwhelming majorities favor expansion of government programs: primarily health care (80 percent), but also funding for education and Social Security.’ (229)
- ‘The United States has fallen off the map in other respects as well. One well-known example is the dramatic increase in incarceration during the past twenty-five years. The United States began the period with incarceration rates resembling Europe’s and has ended it with rates five to ten times as high, targeting mainly blacks, and independent of crimes rates, which remain mostly at European levels. The US prison population is the highest in the world, far higher than China’s or Russia’s. It increased again in 2004, particularly among women. Over half of those in federal prisons are there for drug-related crimes. Also familiar is the fact that the United States is virtually alone in the industrial world in granting the power the state the power to kill prisoners – oddly called a ‘conservative’ position, in fact a radical statist one. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that the United States is alone in the world in locking up juveniles without possibility of parole. They counted 2,225 such juvenile in the United States, and a dozen in the rest of the world combined, restricted to South AfricaIsrael, and Tanzania. Some US states permit such sentencing for children as young as ten; the youngest currently serving is thirteen… Such practices are in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by every member state except the United States and Somalia (which has no functioning government).’ (230-231)
- ‘Popular attitudes toward social programs, stable for a long time, strongly suggest that the public supports the socioeconomic provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirm that ‘everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control’… If so, then the public once again firmly opposes the ‘moral values’ of the Bush administration, which has effectively rejected these rights even though formally accepting them, again the April 2005 as ‘the sole dissenter in separate votes of 52 to 1 on [UN] resolutions on the right to food and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.’ ’ (231)
- ‘By April 2003, a few weeks after the invasion, a large majority of Americans felt that the UN should take the lead in ‘civil order and economic reconstruction’ in Iraq. By December 2003, 70 percent held that the UN should also ‘take the lead to work with Iraqis to write a new constitution and build a new democratic government.’… These figures suggest a simple ‘exit strategy,’ if the administration had any interest in pursuing this course: follow the will of the American public, and transfer the authority to the uN – assuming, as always, that Iraqis favor this option.’ (233)
- ‘The deepest cut called for by the public was in the defense budget, on average 31 percent.’ (234)
- ‘Furthermore, ‘a clear majority (63%) favored rolling back the tax cuts for people with incomes over $200,000.’ (234)
- ‘In percentage terms, by far the largest increase [the public wished to see] was to conserving and developing renewable energy – an extraordinary 1090% or $24 billion – which also had the highest percentage of respondents (70 percent) favoring an increase.’ (234)
- ‘IN brief, the public called for the deepest cuts in the programs that are most rapidly increasing, and for substantial increases in areas that are shortchanged. Once again, these results provide very significant information for the population of a functioning democracy. Fortunately, the United States is a very free society, so it is possible to obtain the information. Unfortunately, an individual research project is required to discover it. Media coverage appears to have been zero.’ (235)
- ‘One will search in vain for evidence of the superior acumen of those who have the major influence on policy, apart from their skill in protecting their own interests, much as Adam Smith observed.’ (235)
- ‘Also missing is an obvious way to estimate the scale of the anti-Israel extremism that is alleged to have taken over faculties: conduct a poll to see how many believe that Israel should have the same rights as any state in the international system. Easy, but better avoided, for reasons that the organizers of the campaign understand very well.’ (238)
- ‘National Guard troops who had been sent to Iraq ‘took a lot of needed equipment with them, including dozens of high-water vehicles, Humvees, refueling tankers and generators that would be needed in the even a major natural disaster hit the state,’ the Wall Street Journal reported.’ (241)
- ‘The rapidly escalating costs of health care are threatening a serious fiscal crisis, along with immeasurable human costs. Infant mortality is one major index. The UN Human Development Report 2005 reveals that ‘since 2000 a half century of sustained decline in infant death rates [in the United States] first slowed and then reversed.’ By 2005 the rates had risen to the level aMalaysia, a country where the average income is one-quarter that in the United States.’ (245)
- ‘The press reports that 30 percent of health care costs go for administration, a proportion vastly higher than in government-run systems, including those within the United States, which are far from the most efficient. These estimates are seriously understated because of the ideological decision not to count the costs for individuals – for doctors who waste their own time or are forced to misuse it.’ (246)
- ‘The Bush administration response to the health care crisis has been to reduce services to the poor (Medicaid).’ (246)
- ‘Social Security is of little value for the rich, but is crucial for survival for working people, the poor, the dependents, and the disabled. For the wealthy, it is an irrelevant pittance. But for close to 60 percent of the population it is the ‘major source’ of retirement income, and the most secure. Furthermore, as a government program, it has such low administrative costs that it offers nothing to financial institutions.’ (249)
- ‘The medical system, in contrast, works very well for the substantial people, with health care effectively rationed by wealth, while enormous profits flow to private power for superfluous bureaucracy and supervision, overpriced drugs, and other useful inefficiencies.’ (249)
- ‘ ‘The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union were based on a bargain that the EU, held back by the US, has failed to honor,’ Harrison observes. The bargain was that Iraqwould suspend uranium enrichment, and the EU would undertake security guarantees. The language of the joint declaration was ‘unambiguous. ‘A mutually acceptable agreement,’ it said, would not only provide ‘objective guarantees’ that Iran’s nuclear program is ‘exclusively for peaceful purposes’ but would ‘equally provide firm commitments on security issues.’ ’ ’ (252-253)
- ‘During a visit to Iran, the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned that his militia would defend Iran in the case of ay attack, ‘one of the strongest signs yet,’ the Washington Postreported, ‘that Iraq could become a battleground in any Western conflict with Iran, raising the specter of Iraqi Shiite militias – or perhaps even the U.S.-trained Shiite-dominated military – taking on American troops here in sympathy with Iran.’ The Sadrist bloc, which registered substantial gains in the December 2005 elections, may soon became the most powerful single political force in Iraq. It is consciously pursuing the model of other successful Islamist groups, such as Hamas in Palestine, combining strong resistance to military occupation with grassroots social organizing and service to the poor.’ (253)
- ‘One of the most horrendous tragedies of recent years was the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. In addition to the huge toll, unknown numbers of survivors have to face brutal winter weather with little shelter, food, or medical assistance. One has to turn to the South Asian press to read that ‘Cuba has provided the largest contingent of doctors and paramedics to Pakistan,’ paying all the costs (perhaps with Venezuelan funding), and that President Musharraf expressed his ‘deep gratitude’ for the ‘spirit and compassion’ of the Cuban medical teams. These are reported to comprise more than one thousand trained personnel, 44 percent of them women, who remained to work in remote mountain villages, ‘living in tents in freezing weather and in an alien culture’ after the Western aid teams had been withdrawn, setting up nineteen field hospitals and working twelve-hour shifts.’ (257)
- ‘Venezuela also supplied Argentina with fuel oil to help stave off an energy crisis, and bought almost a third of Argentine debt issued in 2005, one element of a region-wide effort to free the countries from the effects of conformity to its rules. The IMF has ‘acted towards our country as a promoter and a vehicle of policies that caused poverty and pain among the Argentine people,’ President Kirchner said in announcing his decision to pay almost $1 trillion to rid itself of the IMF forever. Radically violating IMF rules, Argentina enjoyed a substantial recovery from the disaster left by IMF policies.’ (257)
- ‘Venezuelan ‘subversion,’ as it is described in Washington, is extending to the United States as well. Perhaps that calls for expansion of the policies of ‘containment’ of Venezuela ordered by Bush in March 2005. In November 2005, the Washington Post reported, a group of senators sent a letter to ‘nine big oil companies: With huge increases in winter heating bills expected, the letter read, we want you to donate some of your record profits to help low-income people cover these costs.’ They received one response: from CITGO, the Venezuelan-controlled company. CITGO offered to provide low-cost oil to low-income residents of Boston, later elsewhere. Chávez is only doing it ‘for political gain,’ the State Department responded; it is ‘somewhat akin to the government of Cuba offering scholarships to medical school in Cuba to disadvantaged American youth.’ ’ (258)
- ‘Hamas’ formal commitment to ‘destroy Israel’ places it on a par with the United States and Israel, which vowed formally that there could be no ‘additional Palestinian state’ (in addition to Jordan).’ (261)
- ‘…if Hamas were to agree that Jews may remain in scattered areas in the present Israel, while Palestine constructs huge settlement and infrastructure projects to take over the valuable land and resources effectively breaking Israel up into unviable cantons, virtually separated from one another and from some small part of Jerusalem where Jews would also be allowed to remain. And they might agree to call the fragments ‘a state.’ If such proposals were made, we would – rightly – regard them as virtually a reversion to Nazism, a fact that might elicit some thoughts.’ (261)
- ‘In Haiti, the Bush administration’s favorite ‘democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute,’ worked assiduously to promote the opposition to President Aristide, helped by the withholding of desperately needed aid on grounds that were dubious at best. When it seemed that Aristide would probably win any genuine election, Washington and the opposition chose to withdraw, a standard device to discredit elections that are going to come out the wrong way: Nicaragua in 1984 and Venezuela in 2005 are examples that should be familiar. Then followed a military coup, expulsion of the president, and a reign of terror and violence vastly exceeding anything under the elected government.’ (262)
- ‘It pursues the strategic and economic interests of dominant sectors of the domestic population, to the accompaniment of rhetorical flourishes about its dedication to the highest values. That is practically a historical universal, and the reason why sensible people pay scant attention to declarations of noble intent by leaders, or accolades by their followers.’ (261-262)
- ‘A few simple suggestions for the United States have already been mentioned: (1) accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court; (2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols; (3) let the UN take the lead in international crises; (4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror; (5) keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter; (6) give up the Security Council veto and have ‘a decent respect for the opinion of mankind,’ as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centers disagree; (7) cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending. For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population, in most cases the overwhelming majority. They are in radical opposition to public policy.’ (262)
- ‘Another conservative suggestion is that facts, logic, and elementary moral principles should matter.’ (263)
- ‘Though it is natural for doctrinal systems to seek to induce pessimism, hopelessness, and despair, reality is different. There has been substantial progress in the unending quest for justice and freedom in recent years, leaving a legacy that can be carried forward from a high place than before. Opportunities for education and organizing abound.’ (263)

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