I’m approaching a short trip, so posting will be light. But I want to put this up before I head out. Not that this — the headline statement — is surprising, but that it’s said out loud.
This is from a recent set of pieces by Noam Chomsky printed at Alternet. I believe these are excepted from his new book, Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance, a collection of commentaries on U.S. politics and policies, written between 2007 and 2011.
The piece at Alternet is in two parts. Its subject is America’s self-inflicted decline and covers a lot of topics — George Kennan and the 1948 foreign policy decision; Vietnam; Iraq; South American democracy; China; the twins Israel & Palestine; and Iran. Here’s Part 1; and here’s Part 2.
This is from near the end of Part 2. It deals with Iran and includes some of the conclusion (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
Let us turn finally to the third of the leading issues addressed in the establishment journals cited earlier, the “threat of Iran.” Among elites and the political class this is generally taken to be the primary threat to world order — though not among populations.
In Europe, polls show that Israel is regarded as the leading threat to peace. In the MENA [Middle East/North Africa] countries, that status is shared with the U.S., to the extent that in Egypt, on the eve of the Tahrir Square uprising, 80% felt that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. The same polls found that only 10% regard Iran as a threat — unlike the ruling dictators, who have their own concerns. …
Why exactly is Iran regarded as such a colossal threat? The question is rarely discussed, but it is not hard to find a serious answer — though not, as usual, in the fevered pronouncements. The most authoritative answer is provided by the Pentagon and the intelligence services in their regular reports to Congress on global security. They report that Iran does not pose a military threat. Its military spending is very low even by the standards of the region, minuscule of course in comparison with the U.S. …
It makes very good sense to try to prevent Iran from joining the nuclear weapons states, including the three that have refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty — Israel, India, and Pakistan, all of which have been assisted in developing nuclear weapons by the U.S., and are still being assisted by them. …
[But] the primary threat to the U.S. and Israel is that Iran might deter their free exercise of violence. A further threat is that the Iranians clearly seek to extend their influence to neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, and beyond as well.
Those “illegitimate” acts are called “destabilizing” (or worse). In contrast, forceful imposition of U.S. influence halfway around the world contributes to “stability” and order, in accord with traditional doctrine about who owns the world.
Then, after discussing the U.S. rule about coastal waters (we can come near yours; you can’t come near ours), we find this (natural) conclusion:
This “classic security dilemma” makes sense, again, on the assumption that the U.S. has a right to control most of the world, and that U.S. security requires something approaching absolute global control.
Who can argue that this is how the U.S. and its military-minded supporters think? Chomsky and the militarists differ only in their justification (or lack of it) for these acts.
This is, after all, the fact assumed by American Exceptionalism, the belief that rocks many domestic boats, swells many heads with pride. In fact, this idea is almost mainstream, and usually applauded in its more carefully worded forms.
Noam Chomsky is not a popular guy, but (or because) it’s hard to say where he’s wrong. Read through and see if you don’t agree with most or all of what he says.
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