Noam Chomsky – UCL Rickman Godlee Lecture 2011

[ Silence ]>>When we settled on the title
for this talk some time ago, a few would have guessed how apt
it would be when the time came, that is, how dramatically
the world would be changing and how far reaching are the
implications and consequences for domestic and world order. The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a
spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment
to where by popular forces
coincided fortuitously and with a remarkable uprising,
also unexpected of tens of thousands of people in
support of working people and democracy in Madison,
Wisconsin and other US cities. In fact one telling event
occurred on February 20th when Kamal Abbas sent a message
from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Wisconsin workers
saying, “We stand with you as you stood with us.” Abbas is a leading
figure in the– has been in the many years of
struggle of Egyptian workers for elementary rights. What’s happened since
January 21st did– 5th did not come out of nowhere. In fact, the April 6th movement
which organised it, the movement of young people, tech
savvy young people, they took its name April 6th
from a major strike action and support action in the
big industrial centre, textile industrial centre
of Egypt Mehalla Centre with a couple of years ago. That was crushed by force but
it was April 6th and that’s– gives the name for the movement
that erupted unexpectedly under the organisers
on January 25th. He– Abbas’s message of solidarity evoked the
traditional aspiration of labor movements worldwide for
a solidarity among the workers of the world and among
populations generally. However flawed their record, labor movements have
regularly been in the forefront of popular struggles
for both basic rights, including labor rights
and democracy. Generally, in Tahrir Square,
in the streets of Madison and many other places, the popular struggles underway
right now have reached quite directly to the prospects
for authentic democracy, that means sociopolitical
systems in which people are free and equal participants in
controlling the institutions in which they live and work,
and I stress participants and not mere spectators. That’s the way democratic
theory has insisted. Is there function as its goal
the function of the public, the ignorant and
meddlesome outsiders to quote Walter Lippman, the most prominent 20th century
American public intellectual, Wilson Roosevelt, progressive. These are in his highly regarded
progressive essays on democracy and he was articulating
a standard view in which actually traces
back to the founders of the US constitution
and has upheld of course so much harsher forms elsewhere. Right now, the trajectories
in Cairo and Madison are intersecting
in a way, but they’re headed in opposite directions. In Cairo, they’re headed
towards eliminating, towards gaining basic
rights that had been denied by the western back
dictatorships. In Madison, they’re heading
towards trying to defend rights that had been won in
long and hard struggles and are now under
serious attack. They’re sure to be far
ranging consequences of what’s taking place both in the decaying industrial
heartland of the richest and most powerful country in the
world in human history in fact. And in what President Eisenhower
called the most strategically important area of the
world, a stupendous source of strategic power and probably
the richest economic prize in the world, in the field
of foreign investment, are those the words of
the state department. In the 1940s, there was a prize
of course that the US intended to keep for itself
and for its allies and the unfolding new world or
that was emerging from the ruins of the Second World War. The– there have been
plenty of changes since but despite all these dramatic
changes, there’s every reason to suspect suppose that today’s
policy makers basically adopt the same perspective. They undoubtedly still
adhere to the judgment of one of the most more
influential advisers of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and
barely on his words that control of the incomparable
energy reserves in the Middle East would yield
substantial control of the world and correspondingly loss of control would threaten the
project of global dominance. That was clearly articulated
during World War II by high level planners and that
has been sustained in the face of major changes
in the world order. Since that day, this
common understanding as is quite often the case,
articulated most frankly and clearly in the
business press in the US in The Wall Street Journal where their leading political
correspondent, Gerald Seib, commented a couple of days ago that there’s a big
problem in the Middle East. We have not yet learned how to control the new
forces that are emerging. The assumption is well of
course we have to control them, that’s our right and our duty
but we have to learn how. From the outset of the wars,
Second World War in 1939, Washington anticipated
that the war would end with the United States in a
position of overwhelming power. High level state
department officials and non-governmental
foreign policies speculate– specialist had met regularly
through the war time years. They laid out plans
for the post-war world. Now, they delineated what
they called the grand area that the US was to dominate. The grand area was to include
at least the Western Hemisphere of the entire Far East
and the British Empire which the US was planning to
take over and including the US– Middle East energy resources. The British foreign office was
aware of this if you looked at their documents,
not very happy about it but [laughter] I said we’re
gonna have to recognise you, we’re gonna be a junior
partner as they called it in the evolving world order. The– well, that was in
the early years of the war. As Russian forces started to
grind down the Nazi armies after Stalingrad, the conception
of the grand area was at large to include as much of Eurasia as possible including certain
way the industrial one, commercial centre, the
heartland of Western Europe. Now within the Grand
Area– I’m now quoting, within the Grand Area, the US was to maintain
unquestioned power with military and economics supremacy
while ensuring the limitation of any exercise of sovereignty
by states that might interfere with its global designs. That’s a life policy right now. I’ll come back to crucial
instances mentioned. Bear in mind how venerable the
doctrine is and how appropriate to the nature of the world
that was in fact emerging after remember that when
the Second World War ended, the US literally had
half the world’s wealth, of position of power, of security that was totally
unparalleled, nothing like it in history and that
was understood. It’s quite clear from
the documentary record, I’m quoting now, that
President Roosevelt was aiming at United States and Germany
in the post-war world. That’s quoting British
diplomatic historian, Geoffrey Warner, quite
an accurate assessment, and more significantly
careful were timed plans were implemented in very
much the terms in which they were
outlined during the war. They were implemented
shortly after.>>Well, it was always
recognised from the beginning that Europe might choose to
follow an independent path. NATO was partially intended
to counter this threat. And rather strikingly, as
soon as the official pretext for NATO, you know, protecting
Europe from the Russian horde, as soon as that dissolved
in 1989, reflexively, NATO was expanded. If any one had believed
the propaganda should have disappeared, instead
it expanded. And one of the interesting
things that happened in 1989 is a lot of clouds
lifted and we could sort of see policy less
concealed by ideology. So natives expanded to the east. Now that was in violation of
verbal pledges to Gorbachev which he was naive
enough to believe. He’s pretty irritated by
it but nothing he could do. And it’s since been
expanded beyond. Now it’s a US-run
global intervention force and it has an official task, the official task is controlling
the crucial infrastructure of the global energy system. That’s quite an expansive role, and that’s what NATO
is now committed to. The Grand Area doctrine
limits the sovereignty of others explicitly but it grants the United
States unrestricted rights. That’s what it means
to be a global hegemon. And that was made very
clear and explicit at once, that for example in 1946,
when the US agreeing to world court jurisdiction
but with a condition. The condition was that the
United States would not be subject to any international
treaties, meaning the UN charter, the
Charter of the Organisation of American States, later, the
Genocide Convention, and so on. That– this has come up
before the court repeatedly, and the court has accepted
and as it was required to the reservation that none of these treaties applied
to the United States. The principles also clearly
license military intervention at will, and that
conclusion has been clearly– narrowly implemented
continuously, but also pretty clearly
articulated. No one tends to think of the
Right Wing Administrations, but that’s misleading. One of the most expansive
forms of the doctrine was under Clinton, in
fact, Bill Clinton. The Clinton Administration
declared “That the United
States has the right to use military force
unilaterally to ensure uninhibited access to
key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources, and must maintain military
forces forward deployed in Europe and Asia in order to
shape people’s opinions about us and to shape events that
will affect their livelihood and our security.” That’s actually much
more expansive than the much maligned George W.
Bush doctrine that came later. The Clinton doctrine doesn’t
even require the pretexts that the Bush doctrine insisted
on but it was presented politely so therefore it [laughter]
aroused much interest. Actually that the antagonism
towards Bush was almost entirely style, not substance, the
substance is pretty standard. The classic, that’s one of the
reasons Obama was so welcomed in Europe, the style changed,
not the substance but the– [laughter] The same principles
govern the invasion of Iraq. That became clearer
as US failure to impose its will
became clearer. At that– as that
proceeded, the actual goals of the invasion couldn’t be
concealed any longer behind the pretty rhetoric about,
you know, democracy and all the sorts
of nice things. In November 2007, the
White House issued, I would have called
a Declaration of Principles concerning
Iraq at two main points. The one was that US forces must
remain indefinitely in Iraq. Big military bases, right, to
carry out combat operations. And secondly, that Iraq
must privilege US investors. Two months later, January 2008,
President Bush informed congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent
stationing of US armed forces in Iraq or US control of the oil
resources of Iraq, I’m quoting. The– that these are
demands incidentally that the United States
had to abandon shortly after in the face of Iraqi
resistance as it had been forced to back off step by step
all the way through, that’s a major triumph
of nonviolent resistance. That the US and Britain
have no trouble at all killing insurgents,
they’re very good at killing people but
they couldn’t deal with the mass nonviolent
resistance, the hundreds of thousands of people
demonstrating and protesting. So I had to back off and
finally the basic war aims were abandoned, articulated
pretty clearly as they were being abandoned. That’s a major defeat
as Jonathan Steele and other serious
analysts have recognised. In Tunisia and Egypt, today, the popular uprising has scored
quite impressive victories but as the Carnegie Endowment
reported a few days ago, its research group,
while names have changed, the regimes remain. The– as they point out,
a change in ruling elites and a system of governance
is still a distant goal. Maybe it will be achieved, maybe
not, but it’s not gonna be easy. The report discusses a
variety of internal barriers to such changes to democracy
but it ignores, as usual, the external barriers which is
always are quite significant. The Unites States and its
western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic
democracy in the Arab World. And the very simple reasons
for that to understand why, it’s only necessary to look at
these studies of Arab opinion which are conducted by the most
prestigious US polling agencies released by major institutions
like the Brooking Institution. They reveal that by overwhelming
majorities, Arabs regard the US and the Israel as the
major treats they face. The United State– in Egypt,
the United States is regarded as the major threat by
98 percent of Egyptians in the region generally,
not much less than that. Some regard Iran as
a threat, 10 percent. Opposition to US policy is so
strong that a majority believes that the region would be–
that security would be improved for the region if Iran
had nuclear weapons. In Egypt, that’s 80 percent. Other figures are similar. If public opinion were
to influence policy, the Unites States would not
only not control the region, but it would be expelled
from it and Britain as well, along with its ally. Now that would undermine
fundamental principles of global domination
that have been operative in their current form
since the Second World War, and as far as Britain is
concerned back long before that. In general, support for
democracy is the province of ideologists and
propagandists. In the real world, as the more
serious scholarship is conceded, the US and its allies
support democracy if and only if it corresponds to strategic
and economic objectives. Actually Stalin could
have said the same thing. Elite contempt for democracy
was revealed very dramatically in the reaction to the
recent WikiLeaks exposures. The ones that received
the most attention with euphoric commentary
were the cables that reported that Arabs support the US stand
on Iran, really important. Now the reference
was reflexively to the ruling dictators. Now the attitudes to the
public were unmentioned. The guiding principle
behind this, apart from the obvious contempt
for democracy and the part of the general intellectual
community, the guiding principle was
articulated quite clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle
East specialist Marwan Muasher, who’s formerly a high official
of the Jordanian dictatorship.>>Now the principle is
there is nothing wrong, everything is under control. In short, as long as the
dictators support us, what else could matter? The Muasher doctrine is
rational and venerable. To mention just one case
that’s highly relevant today and my opinion ought to be
in the front pages, in 1958, President Eisenhower expressed in internal discussion
since declassified. He expressed a concern about
what he called the campaign of hatred against us
in the Arab world, and not by governments,
but by the people. The National Security
Council explained at the same time
the reasons for it, this is the highest
planning body. Well they said there is a
perception in the Arab world that the United States
supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and
development, and that we do that so as to ensure control over the resources
of the region. And furthermore,
they went on to say that the perception
is basically accurate and that that’s exactly
what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher Doctrine. As long as people are
quiet, everything is under control, it’s fine. The– after 9/11, there were
internal government studies, US government studies, which
confirmed that the same is true. They responded to George
W. Bush’s plaintive plea that they hate our freedoms
and they concluded that, no, they don’t hate our freedoms. No, they hate our policies
and with good reason, the same reason they
did in the 1950s. Actually 1958 was a
particularly interesting moment because that was just 2 years after Eisenhower had
expelled Britain, France, and Israel from Egyptian
territory. And not incidentally because he
disapproved that the invasion, thought that was okay,
but the timing was bad. It interfered with the US plan
coup in Syria and he didn’t like the disobedience. That Britain, France, and Israel
are supposed to understand who is boss, and not to carry
out operations like this without informing the masters. So they were so narrowly
expelled. And you might have guessed that Arab public opinion
would be favourable to the US after this but they’ve perceived
things a little more deeply than Western ideologists. So yes, there was a campaign
of hatred for the reasons that the NSC, National
Security Council articulated. The current polls, which I
mentioned, indicate that– how little anything has changed in this regard, not
at all in fact. Well, it’s a– if we look back
a little farther to history, there are some lessons
there too. It’s quite normal for the
victors to regard history as bunk, you know, and
consign it to the trash can, who cares, let’s look ahead. It’s also quite normal
for the victims to take history seriously
for pretty good reasons. And there– just make
a few observations. These are very important matter,
I’ll just barely touch it, but it’d be useful to
think about it a little. Today is actually not the
first occasion when Egypt and the United States are in
somewhat similar situations. The– it was also true in the
early part of the 19th century. Economic historians have
argued that in that– at that times, they were on
1830, Egypt was well placed to undertake rapid
economic development about the same time the
US was beginning to do so. Both Egypt and the US had rich
agriculture that included cotton which is sort of the
oil of the 19th century, fuel of the early
industrial revolution. Although there was a
difference, unlike Egypt, the United States had to
develop cotton production and a workforce by conquest,
extermination, and slavery. The consequences are still
very much alive, you know. All you have to do is take
a look at the reservations for the survivors of the
extermination program and also at the prisons that have
expanded very rapidly since the Reagan years and
far beyond any other country. And the needed– they are needed to house the superfluous
population left over by deindustrialization as a pretty close
race-class correlation, so it ends up being largely
Black, to some extent, Hispanic. Otherwise, however, one
fundamental difference between Egypt and the United
States at that time, you know, the United States had
gained independence and it was therefore free to ignore the prescriptions
of economic theory. They were delivered at the
time by Adam Smith in terms that are quite similar to
those that are prescribed, forced sometimes
for the so-called “developing societies” today. Smith right away
urged the rhythm, time of the war independence. He urged the liberated colonies
to produce primary products for export and to import
superior British manufacturers and certainly not to
monopolise crucial goods, like particularly cotton. Any other path, he said,
would retard instead of accelerating the further
increase in the value of their annual produce,
and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country towards
real wealth and greatness. Familiar words best
of all, less– less elegantly today but
same– same prescriptions. Well, the colonies gained their
independence and so, therefore, they were free to ignore the
principles of sound economics. And they were to– able to
follow England’s own course of state-guided independent
development, as was in fact the case. And so, the colonies right away
imposed to high per high tariffs to protect the industry from
superior British exports. At first textile, almost
later steel, and others, and then range of other devices to accelerate economic
development. The Independent Republic
also proceeded to try to gain a monopoly of cotton. Now that was the primary goal
behind the conquest of Texas and conquest of half of Mexico. And the goal was quite explicit. The Jacksonian presidents
explained that if the United States could
gain a monopoly of cotton, we could place all other
nations at our feet, particularly the British enemy, which was the main
impediment to expansion. That’s why Canada is
still technically free to becoming slowly
incorporated by other means. The– for Egypt,
on the other hand, a comparable course was
barred by British power. Lord Palmerston declared that, “No ideas of fairness towards
Egypt ought to stand in the way of such great and paramount
interests of Britain as preserving its economic
and political hegemony.” He also expressed the– what
he called his “hate” for the “ignorant barbarian” Muhammad
Ali, modernising leader who dared to seek an
independent course. And Britain was able deploy its
fleet and its financial power to terminate Egypt’s
quest for independence and economic development. Its policies like
these incidentally that is substantially
responsible for the divide that developed between
what we call the first and the third world, they
were not very different in that period. After World War II, the
United States replaced Britain as global hegemon and the United
States adopted exactly the same stand. The US made it clear that
it would provide no aid to Egypt unless Egypt adheres to
the standard rules for the weak, Adam Smith’s prescriptions,
IMF World Bank prescriptions. The US of course
continued to violate them but that’s according to the
regular principles as well. So the US imposed high tariff–
high tariffs on Egyptian cotton to protect US cotton
production and it led to a terrible dollar
shortage in Egypt. Now that’s the usual
interpretation of market principles,
going back to centuries, market principles are
kinda like democracy. You appeal to them
when they’re useful, disregard them when
they’re harmful. So it’s not too surprising
that– to see the campaign of hatred
against the United States that concerned Eisenhower
over 50 years ago based on the recognition that the
United States like Britain, France, others with
the power to do so.>>Well, the United
States supports dictators, blocks democracy and
development and thus so for quite understandable
reasons. In Adam Smith’s defence,
I should mention that he recognised what would
happen to Britain if it adhered to the rules of sound
economics as this– what’s now more or less
called neoliberalism. And he warned that if British
manufacturers, merchants, and investors turned
abroad, they might profit but England would suffer. However, he felt that
they would be guided by what’s sometimes
called a home bias, they’d prefer the home country. So as if by an invisible hand, England would be spared the
ravages of the classical of economic– what’s
called economic rationality. Actually that passage in Wealth of Nations is pretty
hard to miss. It’s the only passage in
which the famous phrase “invisible hands”
appears in a critic of what we now call
neoliberalism and a warning against it. The other leading founder
of classical economics, David Ricardo, now he drew
pretty similar conclusions. He explained that he hoped
that home bias would, I’m quoting him now, “Would lead
men of property to be satisfied with the low rate of
profits in their own country, rather than seek a more
advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign
nations,” speaking of England of course and he said,
“These are feelings that I would be sorry
to see weakened.” Putting aside their
predictions, the instincts of the classical
economists were quite sound. Well, going back to–
coming back to today, the democracy uprisings in the Arab world are
pretty commonly compared to Eastern Europe in 1989, but that’s a rather
dubious comparison. In 1989, the democracy uprising
was supported by Western powers in accord with the
standard doctrine that democracy is
trying to fit– satisfies strategic
and economic interest. Furthermore, the democracy
uprisings were tolerated by the dominant power in
the region, by Russia, and almost exactly the opposite
of what’s happening now. There is no Gorbachev in the
West, quite the contrary. And Western power remains
hostile to democracy in the Arab world and
for quite sound reasons, it is the dimension. So, a more relevant comparison
and one which is never drawn, but I think it is more
relevant, would be two events that were taking
place in US domains at exactly the same time, 1989. So for example, a few days after
the fall of the Berlin Wall, an elite Salvadoran battalion, who’s fresh from
renewed training in the John F. Kennedy
School of Special Warfare in North Carolina, invaded the
Jesuit University in El Salvador and brutally murdered 6 leading
Latin-American intellectuals, Jesuit priests along with their
housekeeper and their daughter, all under orders
of the government which was very closely linked to the United States
following direct orders. That culminated a
decade of horrors in– which began when the Archbishop
who was called “the voice for the voiceless”
was assassinated by much the same hands. During that period, about
70,000 people were killed in El Salvador overwhelmingly by
the US armed and trained forces. About twice that number
were killed elsewhere in Central America the same
years, the same source. The primary targets were the
people’s organisations fighting to defend their most
fundamental human rights. This is the words of the assassinated archbishop
days before he was killed while saying mass pleading in vain in
letter to Jimmy Carter pleading for the end of US military
aid to the murderous junta. The serious scholarship
in west and of course to the victims is
well-known, I’m quoting now, that between 1960 and the
Soviet collapsed in 1990, the number of political
prisoners, the torture victims and executions of nonviolent
political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded
those in the Soviet Union and East European satellites. And I can add of course the
hundreds of thousands of people who were simply slaughtered. All of these supported
or tolerated by Washington included many
religious martyrs, such as those who framed the horrible
decade in El Salvador and the mass slaughter as well. Well actually I’m quoting a
well-known Latin Americanist John Coatsworth, in the recently
published Cambridge History of the Cold War. Coatsworth picks the year
1960 for good reasons. There had been of course many
similar horrors in earlier years but the US crusade against
democracy and human rights in the western hemisphere
escalated very sharply right at that the time, right
after Vatican II in 1962. In 19– that was a
historic event in the words of distinguished theologian Hans
Kung, it ushered in a new era in the history of
the Catholic Church. The– there was an effort
to restore the Christianity of the gospels that had
been what Christianity was in its first few centuries which is why Christians
were persecuted but ended when the Roman Empire
took it over and turned it into the church of
the persecutors, not the persecuted
in the 4th century. So this was an attempt to restore the Christianity
of the gospels. And inspired by that, Latin American bishops
adapted what they called “the preferential
option for the poor.” The priests, nuns, laypersons, tried to take the radical
pacifist message of the gospels to the poor and the
persecuted of the hemisphere, people who were– and try to
organise them in what are called “base communities”
and urged them, tried to help them take their
faith in their own hands and worked together to
overcome the misery of survival in the harsh realms of US power. This was recognised at once
to be an intolerable hierarchy and the reaction was very swift. The Kennedy administration
immediately helped install vicious national
security state in Brazil, plagued then spread
throughout the continent in ways which should be familiar
that culminated exactly when the Berlin Wall fell. These events have
been “disappeared”, to borrow the terminology
used in Latin America. Now, they suffer from a fallacy,
the fallacy of wrong agency that we carry them out. Therefore, they cannot
be in history. And you don’t study them
in school, you know, read about them, people
write about them, and so on. And we write about our nobility in supporting the Eastern
European dissidents who surely suffered
but not even remotely like what was going
on in our domains. And I should add that
horrible as these events were, they’re barely a pea on
a mountain as compared with other crimes
in that period. Notably, the Indochina wars that
followed from Kennedy’s invasion of South Vietnam almost
exactly 50 years ago. That’s also been
disappeared for same reasons, fallacy of wrong agency. A careful look reveals that the
Grand Area doctrines continue to apply to contemporary crisis. Let’s take what’s
considered the main one. In Western policy-making circles and among political
commentators, the Iranian threat is considered
to pose the greatest danger to world order and hence
must be the primary focus of US foreign policy. Europe’s trailing along
politely, as usual. This year is called “The Year
of Iran” because of the danger of that enormous threat. Which does raise a question, what exactly is the
Iranian threat? If you read the public
commentary, you don’t get much of an answer, but there actually
is an authoritative answer which is ignored. The authoritative answer is
provided by the regular reports to congress by the Pentagon. And US intelligence
agencies come every year, reports on the global security and of course they
include a section on Iran, most recent was almost
a year ago. Other– reports make
it very clear that whatever the
Iranian threat is, it’s not military,
it’s all quote.>>Iran’s military spending
is relatively low compared to the rest of the region, in
fact, it’s less than a quarter of that of Saudi
Arabia, and minuscule as compared to the US of course. It’s Iran’s military doctrine
is strictly defensive, a design to slow an invasion and to force a diplomatic
solution to hostilities. Iran has only limited capacity to project force
beyond its borders. They of course bring up
the nuclear option and say that Iran’s nuclear program and
its willingness to keep open to possibility of developing
nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy. Well, the brutal clerical regime in Iran is undoubtedly a major
threat to its own people, though it hardly outranks
US allies in that regard. But the threat lies
elsewhere, and it’s ominous. One element of the
threat is Iran’s potential deterrent capacity. Notice that that’s an
illegitimate exercise of sovereignty because it
might interfere with US freedom of action in the region, and it’s of course glaringly
obvious why Iran would seek a deterrent capacity. Just take a look at the
disposition of forces in the region including
nuclear forces. Seven years ago, one of Israel’s
leading military historians, Martin van Creveld, wrote that the world has witnessed how
the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned
out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried
to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy,
particularly when they’re under constant threat by– constant threat of attack by
the United States of course in violation of the UN charter. But remember that that doesn’t
apply to the United States. Whether they are in fact
developing a nuclear capability, we don’t really know
but perhaps so. Well the Iranian threat is
described in the documents and the reports goes
beyond deterrents. Iran is also seeking
to expand its influence in neighbouring countries
and thus, to destabilise the
region as it’s called. Notice that when the
US invade and occu– invades and occupies
Iran’s neighbours, that’s stabilisation. When Iran tries to
expand its influence at commercial relations
with its neighbours, that’s destabilisation. That is absolutely routine usage
in foreign policy commentary. So for– sometimes, it
becomes almost comical. Here’s a prominent foreign
policy analyst James Chace, former editor of
Foreign Affairs, rather on the liberal
side incidentally. He was properly using
the term stability in it’s technical sense when
he explained that in order to achieve stability in
Chile, it was necessary to destabilise the country
[laughter] namely by, in overthrowing the elected and the government installing
a vicious dictatorship. It sounds contradictory
but it isn’t if you understand the
technical meaning of the terms. Well, other concerns about
Iran I– no time to go into. They’re interesting to explore,
but I think they simply showed– underscored what the
guiding doctrines are and their discontinuing
status in imperial culture. Well, that’s very much in
accord with the doctrines that were laid down by
FDRs planners back in– during the Second World War. The United States cannot
tolerate any exercise of sovereignty that interferes
with its global designs. And the United States and
Europe are of course engaged in punishing Iran for its
threat to stability and trying to get it to become a
more civilised country. But it’s useful to recall how
isolated the US and Europe are. The non-aligned counties,
which is most of the world, they have for years been
vigorously supporting Iran’s right to enrich uranium. Within the region
as I mentioned, the irrelevant public even
strongly favours Iranian nuclear weapon. Now the major regional
power, Turkey, voted against the latest
US sanctions motion and the Security
Council, along with Brazil which is the most
admired country of the south as polls show. Turkey’s disobedience led to
sharp censure at that point but not for the first time. Turkey was bitterly condemned
in 2003 when the government– it committed a major crime. It followed the will of 95
percent of the population and refused to take part in
the US brash invasion of Iraq and that demonstrated its
very weak grasp of democracy which led to sanctions
and sharp [inaudible]. Same today, after the 2010
Security Council misdeed, Turkey was warned by Obama’s top
diplomat on European affairs, Philip Gordon, that it must
demonstrate its commitment to partnership with the West,
follow orders in other words. A scholar with the Council
on Foreign Relations asked, “How do we keep the Turks in
their lane, they’re departing, you know, something
wrong in their lane, means following orders
like good democrats, [inaudible] style democrats.” Brazil’s Lula, it was admonished
in the New York Times headline, he was warned that
his effort with Turkey to provide a solution to the uranium enrichment
issue outside the framework of US power is a spot on the
Brazilian leader’s legacy. In brief, do what we say,
that’s your function. It was kind of interesting
so I’d like to all of these which has been effectively
suppressed. The Iran, Turkey, Brazil deal
had been approved in advance by President Obama
presumably on the assumption that it wouldn’t fail and that
would provide an ideological weapon against Iran. That was revealed by the
British Foreign Office which released the
letter of support for it after Brazil was censured. When the efforts succeeded,
approval quickly turned to censure and Washington ran through a Security Council
resolution which was so weak that China readily signed and
is now chastised for living up to the letter
of the resolution but not following Washington’s
unilateral directives which go far beyond it. That’s the current issue
of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment
Foreign Affairs Journal. Well, while the US can
tolerate Turkish disobedience, though with dismay, China
is harder to ignore. And so the press,
New York Times, warns that China’s investors and
traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses
from many other nations, especially in Europe pull out
in fear of the United States. And in particular, it’s
expanding its dominant role in Iran’s energy industries. All of this is quite in
accord with the UN resolutions but inconsistent with the
more extreme US demands that which have no legal
authorisation other than what’s granted by power. The– it’s interesting to
watch the Washington reactions reacting with a touch
of desperation. So the State Department
warned China that if it wants to be accepted in the
international community, that’s incidentally another
technical term that refers to the US and whoever happens
to agree with it at the moment. If China wants to be accepted
in the international community, it must not skirt and evade
international responsibilities which are clear,
namely follow US orders. China, unlikely to be
impressed but suspect this led to some amusement in the
Chinese foreign offices. There’s also a lot of concern about the growing
Chinese military threat. A Pentagon study that
recently came out warned that China’s military budget
is now approaching one-fifths of what the Pentagon spends to
operate and carry out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s of course a small fraction
of the US military budget. China’s expansion of
military forces points out, might deny the ability of
American warships to operate in international waters off
its coast, off its coast, China’s coast, it’s
yet to be a– I haven’t come across a proposal that the US might
eliminate military forces that would deny the
ability of Chinese warships to operate in the Caribbean. Of course that’s
fundamental asymmetry.>>Now China’s lack of
understanding of the rules of international civility
is illustrated further by its objections to US plans to send the advanced aircraft
carrier, George Washington, to take part in joint naval
operations a few miles off China’s coast, apparently,
allegedly with capacity to strike Beijing
with nuclear weapons. In contrast, the US understands that such operations
are undertaken to defend stability
and US security. And this is discussed in the
strategic analysis literature. It’s pointed out that this
is what they call a classic security dilemma. Each side sees vital interest
stake off the coast of China. The liberal New Republic
expresses its concern about the hard liners who now
run China’s Foreign policy and the most severe charges
that China sent 10 warships through international waters. They’re just off
the Japanese island of Okinawa while Chinese naval
helicopters flew dangerously close to Japanese ships, and
that is indeed a provocation. Unlike the fact, unmentioned that Washington has
converted the island into a major US military base
in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa
who are as irrelevant as the people of the Arab world. That’s not a provocation
by the standard principle that we own the world. Well, putting aside
deep-seated imperial doctrine, there’s good reason for China’s
neighbours to be concerned about its growing military
and commercial power. And although Arab public opinion
supports the Iranian nuclear weapons program, I don’t
think we should do so. Actually, the foreign policy
literature is full of proposals as to how to counter the threat
of an Iranian nuclear program. One obvious way to do
so is not discussed, namely work to establish a
nuclear weapons free zone in the region. Now that issue has
risen repeatedly. It arose again at the Non-Proliferation Treaty
Review Conference last May. Egypt, which was chair of
the Non-Aligned Countries, in their name it proposed
that the conference call for negotiations on a Middle
East nuclear weapons free zone, as indeed had been agreed by
the West, including the US at the 1995 review conference. Nothing had been done. Actually, international support
for this is so overwhelming that President Obama
was compelled to agree formally
while insisting that this is not the
right time and insisting that Israel be exempted,
and of course the US which is self exempted from
international obligations as I already mentioned. So, the Washington
informed the conference that it’s got nice
idea but not now, has to wait for a
comprehensive peace settlement. And furthermore, no
proposal can call for Israel’s nuclear programs
to be placed under the auspices of the International
Atomic Energy Agency or [inaudible] call– or can call for a
release of information about Israeli nuclear
facilities and activities. Other than these
conditions, it’s a fine idea. It’s rarely noted
that the United States and Britain have a very
special responsibility to work to establish a nuclear weapons
free zone in the Middle East. When the US and Britain tried to concoct a [inaudible] legal
cover for the invasion of Iraq, they appealed to the
Security Council Resolution, Resolution 687 in 1991
which called on Iraq to terminate its development
of weapons of mass destruction. Well, we can put aside the claim but the resolution
does committed signers, the US and Britain, to work to establish a nuclear weapons
free zone in the Middle East. So the US and Britain have a
special unique responsibility for this. Parenthetically– parenthetically we can
add that US insistence on maintaining nuclear
facilities and Diego Garcia undermines
another nuclear weapons free zone, the African one. They regard that
as part of Africa. Now Diego Garcia as you
should know is a particularly important case. Britain obediently
followed orders and expelled the
population from the island so that the United States could
set up a major military base which is used, in fact it’s used for bombing the Middle
East and Central Asia. It’s been expanded under Obama to accommodate nuclear
submarines and also deep penetration
bombs aimed at Iran. Now that’s a program that
languished under Bush but was taken up with enthusiasm
as soon as Obama took office and have been considerably
accelerated. Well, Grand Area
doctrine still prevails. The capacity to implement
it has declined. Now the peak of US power was
after World War II and when as I said, the US had
literally has the world’s wealth that naturally declined. Other industrial
countries reconstructed from the devastation of the war. The colonisation took its
rather agonising course. By the early 1970s,
the human share of global wealth had
declined to about 25 percent. That’s still huge but not half. Now the industrial world had
become what was called tripolar, US based North America, Europe,
East Asia and Japan based. And there was also a very
sharp change in the US economy in the 1970s namely
towards a financialisation and export of production. No time to go into the details
but they’re very significant. Now what happened is that a
variety of factors converged to create a vicious cycle of
radical concentration of wealth and mostly in a top fraction
of 1 percent of the population. It’s a very small, it’s
huge concentration, that means mostly CEOs and
hedge fund managers and so on. That’s the real source of the tremendous inequality
in the United States. It’s like a tenth of the percent of the population has an
enormous impact on this. Now that carries with it
concentration of political power and that in turn leads to
development of state policies to increase the concentration,
includes fiscal polices, tax policies designed
to that end, rules of corporate governance,
deregulation and a lot more. Meanwhile the same year, the
cost of election skyrocketed and that has an effect that
drives both political parties, they’re much deeper into the
pockets of concentrated capital. It’s increasingly
financial capital. Now republic [inaudible]
for them is reflexive. There’re the democrats
who are by now what used to be called moderate
republicans. Now they are not far behind. Well, while wealth and power, political power had very
narrowly concentrated thanks to the vicious cycle. And for most people, their
real incomes have stagnated for about 30 years. Now they’ve been getting by but with a sharply increased
work hours way beyond Europe now, the debt and
the asset inflation which is regularly destroyed by
the crisis that began as soon as the regulatory
apparatus was dismantled. There weren’t any as long as the new deal regulatory
apparatus remained enforced through the ’50s and ’60s,
and that’s extremely serious. Well, none of this
is problematic for the super wealthy. In fact they benefit from a
government insurance policy which has the name
too big to fail. And that’s very important. It means the banks and
the investment firms, and which make virtually
no contribution to the actual economy as far as anyone knows [inaudible] be
finally beginning to be studied by economists who even
looked at it before. But the banks and the investment
firms can make very risky transactions, make a
risky transaction you get rich rewards. The system is gonna
crash inevitably. But when it crashes, they
can run to the nanny state and clutching their copies
of Hayek and Milton Friedman and the taxpayer will
halfway bail them out. That’s been the regular
process since the Reagan years and each crisis is more extreme
than the last, for the public that is, and the coming crisis
which is almost inevitable, probably be still worse.>>The real unemployment in
the United States is literally at the level of the depression
for much of the population. And meanwhile Goldman
Sachs, which is one of the main architects of the current crisis
is richer than ever. Just a couple of weeks ago
it quietly announced 17 and a half billion dollars in
compensation for last year. CEO Lloyd Blankfein gets 12 and
a half million dollars bonus and his base salary was tripled. I should say that he tripled his
based salary [laughter] ’cause the rules of corporate
governance by the government
have been designed so that CEOs can pick the
panels and set their salaries with of these consequences. Well, same thing is
happening in England. Just I’ve been here a couple
days every days front page describes another
comparable scandal. Well it– actually it
wouldn’t do to focus attention on such things as these and accordingly the propaganda
system has to blame others. In the past several months, it’s been an interesting
propaganda campaign blaming public sector workers
and their fat salaries, exorbitant pensions and so on. All total fantasy, it’s on the
model of Reaganite imagery of– some of you are old
enough to recall of black mothers being driven
in their chauffeured limousines to welfare offices to
get the checks and so on. In a culture where lying is
honoured, you can get away with this kind of thing. And it has its effects
and there are other models which I need not mention,
not pretty pleasant ones. The conclusion is we all
have to tighten our belts. They’re not wall
exactly, some exceptions. The teachers are particularly
good [inaudible] target, and everyone is being
targeted now. That’s part of a deliberate
effort which I thinks is going on here too to destroy the
public education system, and it’s from kindergarten
right through the universities by privatisation in
one form or another. Now that’s again fine for
the wealthy, it’s a disaster for the population and
it’s also a disaster for the long-term
health of the economy. But that’s a, you know, what’s called an externality
in economic theory. It’s something that’s put to
the side in decision making as long as– and as far as
market principles prevail. Well, elections have
become, in the United States, almost a complete charade
and other countries are sort of following couple
of decades behind and the US [inaudible]
completely run by the public relations
industry. After his 2008 victory,
Obama won an award from the advertising industry
for the best marketing campaign of the year [laughter] and that
they understood what was going on, you know, no
hope and change. In the business press, financial
times, executives were euphoric. They described that they had
been marketing candidates like toothpaste ever
since Reagan and this was the greatest
success they’d ever had and said it would
change the style and corporate boardrooms
and so on. The 2012 election is expected
to cost 12 billion dollars. That’s mostly corporate funding, of course there’s
no other source. And it’s not surprising but Obama right now is
selecting business leaders for top positions. No other way to get the money. The public is very angry
and frustrated but as long as the Muasher principle
prevails, it doesn’t matter. Well, I’ve barely skimmed the
surface of these critical issues but I don’t wanna end without
at least mentioning another externality that’s
dismissed in market systems. That’s the fate of the species. That’s an externality as far
as decisions are concerned. [Inaudible] the financial system
is plagued, as well understood by what is called systemic risk. Namely it’s gonna
crash if it’s– works the way I had described. And systemic risk is
problem but it can be remedy. It can be remedied
by the taxpayer. But nobody is gonna
come to the rescue if the environment is destroyed, that it must be destroyed is
virtually an institutional imperative and it’s worth
bearing that in mind. The business leaders in the
United States are conducting, openly announcing that they are
conducting massive propaganda campaigns to convince the public that anthropogenic global
warming is a liberal hoax. The– and it’s having an effect. You can see it in polls. The executives are running these
campaigns know perfectly well that it is not a hoax. It’s very grave, but
they have no option of following that understanding. In their institutional
role, they must ignore that externality and
act of maximised profit and market share if one of them
decides not to do it, his out and somebody who has
entered, does do it. These are properties of institutions not
the individuals. And this particularly
vicious cycle could well turn out to be lethal. Just to see how grave the danger
is, you should have a look at the new Congress
in the United States which has propelled into power by business funding
and propaganda. Almost all of them
are climate deniers. They have already begun to
cut funding for measures that might mitigate
environmental catastrophe and that’s likely
all to disappear. Where still some of
them are true believers so for example one of the new
head of one of the subcommittees on the environment explained that the global warming
cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that
he wouldn’t have another flood so that takes care
of that problem. Well, we can, you know,
if this was happening in some small remote country,
you know, we might laugh but not when it’s happening in the most
powerful country in the world. And before we laugh we
might also bear in mind that the current economic
crisis is traceable and no small measure to a
fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market
hypothesis, and in general to what Nobel laureate Joseph
Stiglitz about 15 years ago that are called the religion
that markets know best. Given that dogma
it was unnecessary for the Federal Reserve
and central bank for fully economics profession
which extremely rare exceptions. It was unnecessary to
pay attention to the fact that there was an 8 trillion
dollar housing bubble which had actually no relation
to any economic fundamentals and was completely off the
course of a hundred years of statistics on this but
you don’t have to notice that because markets know
best so it will be fine. Of course it devastated
the economy when it burst. Well, all of this is fine,
much more and proceed as long as the Muashar doctrine
prevails. As long as the general
population is passive, apathetic, diverted to the
consumerism or to hatred of the vulnerable, but then the
powerful can do as they like, and those who survive can
contemplate the outcome. Thanks. [ Applause ]>>Wonderful. Thank you so much. Hi, I’m Gay, I’m a student here
at UCL and I took part last time in the UCL Occupation along with a quite number
of students I met. [ Applause ]>>And you mentioned that the
attack on public education in this country and the
privatisation of education, we will very happy
to receive a message of support from you last time. I was just sent to the occupying
students, so I just want to say thanks for that firstly. And secondly, I mean what we’re
seeing I think is the kick started by the student movement
is hopefully was becoming a much more broad based movement
against the austerity in this country then cap
with Trade Unions building to a big demonstration in the
Central London on March 26. Now obviously, that’s parallels
of what’s happening in Wisconsin where there’s, the economic
crisis is being used to carry through politics and
world depression, and you’re saying fight back
against them, that as well. So, I just wanted to ask what
do you think are the prospects for this kind of emerging
movements against austerity. And what do you think the
lessons that can be learn from earlier sort of
fights the economic justice?>>Well, you know in the
economic theory there’s a name for the policies that
Europe is following, England too namely
imposing austerity in the middle of recession. It’s called the Herbert
Hoover principle. That’s exactly what led
to the world depression. It was reinstated again
in 1936 under the advisory onto business pressure
led to another recession.>>One well known
economist observed that European leaders
might perhaps be charged with violating an ethical and in fact the legal
principle namely experimentation with human beings
that cannot be taken without their consent, okay. This is an experiment to
see if the kind of policies which have always been
a disaster in the past and which are likely to be
disaster for good reasons again or whether these
policies which have humans as their experimental subjects, whether they should
be permitted. Well, that’s up to the people who don’t believe Muashar
doctrine too, respond to. As far as education
is concerned, I don’t really feel qualified
to talk about situation here. You obviously know much
more about than I do. In the United States,
it’s quite interesting. As I think I may have mentioned
in that letter of support that you brought up about,
I guess about a year ago. By accident, I happened to be
giving some talks in Mexico at the National University
and I went straight from there to the California, to the
Bay area with more talk. These were kind of, you know,
they’re not the exact opposite in terms of the economy and California should be the
richest place in the world. Mexico is not the poorest
country in the world but it’s a pretty poor country. The National University in Mexico has a couple
hundred thousand students, quite a higher level, good
facilities, engaged students. Salaries of course are much
lower than the United States but it functions
quite well, it’s free. 10 years ago there was an
attempt by the government to raise tuition slightly,
it was a students strike, the national student strike, the government back
down, still free. Okay, that’s one of the
poorer countries in the world. When you go to California,
one of the richest places in the world, it had the
greatest public education system in the world. It was excellent you know. It’s being systematically
destroyed. This has been going
on since the 1970s, very systematically
deliberately for reasons that in fact had
been articulated. It has nothing to with
economic necessity. These two comparisons
should suffice to show that and there are many
others like them. So, it’s not economic
necessities but other reasons, the reasons having to do
with the vicious cycle that I described and
it’s having its effects. Next year for the first
year, the public universities like the great universities
in Berkley, UCL and so on, they’re getting more of
their income from tuition than from the state, and
in fact that’s true most of those state universities
in the country, in Massachusetts too where I am. Well, these are deliberate
policy choices. Designed, they are
designed essentially to privatise the
major universities so very likely the stars in the
system like in Berkley and UCLA and maybe San Diego, they’ll
probably be privatised there. They’re almost like Ivy
League universities today, huge tuition, big
endowments, and so on. So, they’ll probably be
privatised and the rest of the system will just shrink. And it was a very good
system and of course that has direr effects
for the future economy but again that’s an externality. And so far as market systems
applied they do to an extent, you don’t consider that. Short term gain is what matters. And that’s happening
all over the country and the same is happening
with the public school. So there’s major pressure which
Obama is contributing to as well to privatise the
public school system, what are called charter
schools which, you know, still paid for by the
public but they’re out of the public
education system. There’s a plenty
of studies of them. They do roughly as well as comparable public schools
even though they have many advantages like they don’t have to run special education
programs. They don’t have union
honest teachers and so on but no special performance
gained. And that’s way of
undermining public education which has a kind of a
deep purpose behind it. It’s very much like the effort
to destroy social security. There’s a major efforts that’s
been going on for years to try to destroy the social
security system. It’s claimed when you
open the newspaper and say read the New York Times,
the editorials will tell you, we got this huge deficit
problem and so we have to deal with the entitlements. The Social Security,
Medicare, and the Medicaid and not waste our
energy on other things. Social Security contributes
zero into the deficit, zero. It comes out of payroll
taxes, okay. It’s got, first of all and furthermore it’s pretty well
funded for decades in advanced. And a little tinkering
would fund it forever but that’s gotta be killed. Medicare and Medicaid,
it’s true but the reason for that is something that
they won’t mention that’s because of the privatised
health care system which is extremely inefficient. Now the US spends about
twice as much per capita as every other comparable
country on healthcare, and the outcomes are
among the poorest. And if you look at the privatised
unregulated health care system, you can see why but
you’re not allowed to touch the financial
institutions, the insurance companies and so on so that’s kinda
like off the agenda. If the United States has
health care system comparable to other industrial countries,
now they will not be deficit, they’re actually will be a
surplus about half of deficit. In addition to that is military
spending but those things are, you know, off the
agenda, you have to go after Social Security. Why Social Security? It’s extremely efficient. And the administrative of course
are practically in Europe. But it has a couple
of deficiencies. It’s no use whatsoever
to privilege people. [ Laughter ]>>No. So you get it, you know, some billionaire gets
another small amount of money to make any difference,
you can’t even notice it. But it’s an assessment for most of the population especially
those who have been wiped out by the physical catastrophe. It don’t pay that much but
it pays enough to get you by. Beyond that, it has
idealogical problem which is never discussed, but
I think it’s quite crucial. Actually it has to do
with that message from– from Alabaster [phonetic],
the workers of Wisconsin that I have mentioned. Social securities based on
the principle of solidarity. You’re supposed to care
if the disabled widow across the town has enough
food to eat and that has to be driven out
of people’s head. You’re supposed to be
concern just about yourself, same defect in the
public education system like I don’t have kids
in school anymore. So, if I follow the
rules, I’m not supposed to care if there’s a public. I don’t want to pay taxes
for public education. But if you’re infected by
this disease of solidarity, you care if the kid across
the street can go to school. Now that’s gotta be driven
out of people’s head, the same reason for
the attack on unions. So you get these massive
attacks and I think that what’s happening to
the public education system, you know, better than I
whether that applies here, but I wouldn’t be surprised.>>Okay, other question. Yes sir, at the front. [ Noise ] [ Applause ]>>Thanks for your
talk professor. You’ve been a major
inspiration for me so thank you for your work as well. I did have a question
to ask you with regards to popular resistance
in the Middle East say, correct me if I’m wrong but
your position regarding the BDS movements is one
of the ambivalence. I think you actually
opposed an aspect of it. And if I’m correct there’s some
of the grounds that you feel that if we should be
applying that standard to Israel we should be applying
it to American good as well, and it appears to me that,
you know, there’s a question of feasibility that surely
comes into play here. I think it’s feasible to boycott
Israeli goods but, you know, life would be practically
unimaginable without American goods. And, so I would like to know,
in your opinion how you balance that aspect when
you’re making those–>>The BDS movement, in
case some of you aren’t, and then there’s the
boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement
about Israel. There is a story that circulates
which is what you have repeated that I’m opposed to it, and
that’s kinda of understandable. That’s an interesting. It’s interesting fact about
the popular movements. We kinda of living in a Twitter
generation where anything that goes beyond the 180
character doesn’t exist, [background laughing] and it
can’t be understood literally. Actually, I was involved in the BDS movement before it
even crystallised 10 years ago, 5 minutes before it started. I think it’s extremely
important. I’ve always supported, I
always advocate it, I still do but any tact– it’s a
tactic, it’s not a principle.>>And if you’re serious
about choice of tactics, you ask a couple of questions. One question you asked is, “What’s the effect
on the victims?” That’s not the only question but you certainly have
to ask at least that. Well, in some cases, the choice of tactics is helpful
to the victims. For example if the EU, which
is a major importer of goods from the settlement, if the EU
were to stop importing goods from the Israeli settlements which are illegal
uncontroversially, if it, and hence participating in
illegal act, they would that, it’ll be good for the victims. Similarly, if they
would follow the advice of Amnesty International
and declare an arms embargo in Israel, that would be good for the victims even more
so for United States. So these are fine tactics. On the other hand,
supposed that you, say I’m gonna boycott
Tel Aviv University. Well, there’s an obvious
response that’s gonna come to that and once
you boycott Harvard? And Harvard has a much worse
record than Tel Aviv University and that’s gonna be
the immediate response and it’s unanswerable, you
know, it’s basically correct. And the effect is that you’re
giving a gift to hard-liners. That’s harmful to the victims. You don’t pick your tactics
in such a way that it’s going to be a gift to the
most hard line advocates of regression and violence. Well, that should be automatic. And you know, these
are debates that go on in activist movements
all the time. Let us go back to say the 1960s
and most of you’re enough, old enough to remember,
but some of you are. In the activist movements in
the United States in late 60s, there were groups like the
famous weatherman who decided that the way to express their
opposition to the war was to go out and break windows, and
you know, beat people up and so on and so forth. The Vietnamese were very
strongly opposed to that. What they advised all
the time is to carry out nonviolent tactics. In fact, what they favoured and
they said so, was things like, you know, women standing
quietly in front of the graves of
American soldiers. That’s what they wanted. Now those are tactics
that helped but they don’t make
you feel good. It makes you feel good
apparently if you can go out and break windows of banks. But as far as the victims are
concern, that’s just harmful. All it does is it build
up support for the world which is exactly what it did. So, and those questions
were asked consistently. You have to distinguish
“feel good” tactics from “do good” tactics. If you can’t make that
distinction, don’t even pretend to be involved in
solidarity movements. I mean that’s kind of
the minimum, you know, then come other questions. And I think those
questions arise in the BDS movement too
unless if it, you know, they’re kinda suppressed
in a slogan based system in which you had
cataclysm and you repeat it. But if you think
about the matter, these questions are always
gonna arise anywhere, you know, whatever tactical choices
you’ve [inaudible]. Maybe you can have debates
about what the consequences are, but at least you
have to recognise that those issues arise, and I think that’s
critical in this case.>>We have time for a
couple more questions. I think, the lady
out there, yeah. Yes, you.>>Hello, sorry I’m
a bit nervous. You mentioned the nuclear
weapon’s free zone as well as the situation when the
military bases and Diego Garcia, but obviously here in the
UK and in the United States, the arms companies, defence
industry is very closely link to defence ministries. And I guess my question
is in light of this week, Henry Kissinger saying that
deterrence is a useless system, obviously apart from the United
State’s maintaining their nuclear weapons until everyone
else gets rid of those. And I guess in light of Kissinger who’s a very
strong voice for previously for military kind
of intervention, him saying deterrence
is a useless system, how does that fit
we’d say the US or essentially the UK adhering
to their NPT commitments and potentially diminishing
the link between the military and defence industries?>>Well, Kissinger is one
of several political leaders and George Schultz, the former
secretary state under Reagan. Sam Nunn who in the congress has
been a conservative congressman but he is the, he’s now out
of congress, he was the leader and one of the leaders in trying to restrict nuclear
weapons proliferation. Now the three of them and
somebody else I forgot who, have come up with this
repeatedly US statements saying that we should think seriously about honouring our
own NPT obligations. The nonproliferation
treaty obligates signers of the 5 nuclear powers
have signed it to carry out good faith efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons
entirely, that’s article six. And this group, Shultz,
Kissinger, and others, they said, look, we gotta
think about that seriously. I don’t think that the issue
for them is deterrence. The issue is elementary
rationality, they understands something
which we all should understand. As long as nuclear weapon
exists, the chances of survival of the human species
are quite slight. And there have been repeated
occasions over and over again when we’ve come very
close to nuclear war. In fact, we have
declassified US records, Russian systems are obviously
much worse, so, whatever is true of us, it’s got to
be worse for them, but there are literally dozens
of occasions when automated. The nuclear weapons are on
automated response systems, so, if you know, automated
systems detect something going on somewhere, the
computer’s calculating, you got an order to
fire the weapons. There are literally dozens
of cases where it came up to within a couple of minutes of
sending off nuclear missiles, it was aborted by human
intervention, okay, that’s the US side, Russian
side undoubtedly is a lot worse ’cause they don’t have– the
systems are no good and so on. Well, you know, that’s
just playing with fire. Sooner or later there’s
not going to be a human intervention. Furthermore, there are explicit
cases where we’ve come literally within instance of nuclear war,
one of the most extreme case which should really be
studied carefully is 1962, the missile crisis. That’s been intensively
investigated now for one reason because the people involved
like Robert McNamara and others recognised
how crazy it was. Arthur Schlesinger
was in the government and called the most dangerous
moment in human history. There was actually
a moment there when one Russian submarine
commander prevented what could have been a nuclear war. At one point in the
missile crisis, Kennedy had established
an embargo of Cuban. You know, no ships could come
within a certain distance and Russian ships were
approaching that line, there were also a turn
nobody knew at that time, but there were Russian
submarines there which had nuclear
tipped missiles. They were attacked by US
destroyers, depth chargers. And the commanders of the
submarines who had authority to fire nuclear missiles
same as through US systems, they thought a war had started. There were three commanders,
two of them decided to send off the missiles, okay,
the third who is Vasili Arkhipov who should get 20 novel piece
prizes, he rejected the order and they had to have all three
agreeing so he didn’t fire. I mean if they fired, these
are not nuclear, you know, big, huge nuclear weapons, but instead fired
nuclear tipped missiles, the US reaction we know from the
internal plans was, you know, if they do something like
that we take out Moscow, they take out London and
there goes on from that, you should read the
studies that we know that they were came that close. Actually, there was another
moment in the missile crisis which amazingly is
described as one of John F. Kennedy’s great
achievements, I mean, it might be as one of the
worst crimes in human history that what happen and the facts
are known and not debated. At the peak moment of the
missile crisis, you know, just coming to its peak. Khrushchev wrote a
letter to Kennedy in which he offered
a way to end it. The offer was that Russia would
remove the missiles from Cuba and in return the United
States wouldn’t remove missiles in Turkey. Now the missiles in Turkey are
much more of a threat to Russia than the missiles in Cuba
were to the United States, but that’s the usual
asymmetry, we’re allowed to do things that
others can’t do. Now, Kennedy was kinda surprised
when he got that letter because he had already given an
order to withdraw the missiles from Turkey because
they were obsolete.>>They were being replaced by much more destructive Polaris
submarines in the Mediterranean. So he had– he pointed out
that in internal discussion, this is going to be a hard
offer to refuse, you know. It’s not gonna sell
on the [inaudible]. But he decided to refuse it
just to preserve the macho image and to show that we run things. So in fact, they did withdraw
the missiles from Turkey but secretly, you know. That was part of the process
of humiliating Russia. And to reach that
goal, he was willing to face what he himself
considered the probability of about 1/3 of nuclear war. I mean these are what goes on– these are things that go on in
the minds of, you know, the best and the brightest as
they call themselves, just to think of the rest. Well, Kissinger, Schultz
and others have been right in the middle of this and they
know that we’re on the verge of catastrophe, so
they’re saying, “Look, we gotta do something to get rid
of this destructive capacity.” So really, it doesn’t have to
do with deterrence so much. I mean as far as
deterrence is concerned, there are interesting
discussions that one of the most interesting is a
very important book written by one of Israel’s
leading strategic analysts, [inaudible] Zeev
Maoz, it’s in English. It’s I think it’s called “Defending the Holy Land”
I think it was through, it’s about, you know, thousand
pages of detailed analysis of Israel’s strategic
objectives since 1948. And he’s very judicious because
the arguments on both sides, he’s careful, he knows
what he’s talking about. Now, his basic conclusion is that Israel’s policies
have been selected in ways which harm its security. Actually, that’s not unusual. That’s true of the policies of most states including it’s
written in the United States. So if you bothered to look
at the [inaudible] inquiry, you’ll have noticed
that the head of British intelligence
testified that when they decided to go to war against Iraq,
it was on the assumption that it would sharply increase
the terrorist risk to Britain. And she points out that the
CIA had the same assumption. Okay, we already served, and
do that from other sources, but this is the highest
level of confirmation. And that’s correct and they
decided to go ahead anyway. And the reason is the security
of the people of Britain and the United States is not
a high priority for planners. So low priority, there’s
plenty of evidence for that. Now, other countries
are similar. Well, in the case of Israel,
that’s his conclusion. When he gets to nuclear, he
has chapter on nuclear weapons which is worth reading. And he argues I think pretty
judiciously and convincingly that Israel’s nuclear weapons
program has harmed its security. It’s a good argument. And if security were
the top concern, I think that argument
will be taken seriously. It’s that kind of
consideration that Kissinger and the others have in mind. You know, Kissinger and these– especially that these guys
have worked all their lives on deterrence theory
and they understand that this does not
contribute to security. And in fact, that those
contribute very likely to long term, maybe not
so long term destruction. Incidentally, not so long term. If you’ve taken a look
at WikiLeaks, you know, most of it doesn’t tell you
much but there are things that do tell you some
interesting things. Now, some of the most important
have to do with Pakistan. The American Ambassador in
Pakistan, Ambassador Patterson, she was regularly warning
Washington that US actions in Afghanistan which you
generally approve those but she was warning them
that these actions are– having a dangerous
effect in Pakistan. They’re contributing to the
possible fracture of Pakistan and its radicalisation. They have to– the reason is
that, you know, like drone– for public opinion Pakistan
is overwhelmingly possible for the United States. The military doesn’t
like what we’re doing. They’re being humiliated,
you know. When they’re– when the US urges
them to attack the tribal areas, you know, that’s interfering
with their prerogatives and they don’t like it. They know it’s not
the thing to do. The drone attacks are the same. What she was arguing is that,
she’s warning Washington in the cables that these
actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are threatening
the stability of Pakistan. Now, Pakistan is a
very dangerous country, the most dangerous
place in the world. Now, Pakistan has a huge
nuclear weapon system which is expanding rapidly,
expanding more rapidly than any other country
in the world. It’s– it has a radical Islamic
element which is in the majority but it’s real, you know. If you remember when [inaudible]
was assassinated a couple of months ago for, you know, objecting to a blasphemy
[inaudible]. There was strong support for
the assassins and it wasn’t just from the, you know, tribes. It was if you in the pictures in the newspaper showed
black suited lawyers, young lawyers demonstrating
in support of the assassins. Now, these are the same
lawyers who were demonstrating to overthrow the
[inaudible] dictatorship, they are the reformists. But they were demonstrating
in support of the assassin. Alright, these are all
consequences of actions that were taken in the Reagan
administration with two, two clear consequences. One was to allow -to
help Pakistan develop nuclear weapons. Reagan was supporting
[inaudible] dictators in Pakistan. And the US pretended they didn’t
know these developing nuclear weapons so they can keep
supporting of course it was. The other was radical
Islamization. With [inaudible] funding as
it was carrying out a program of changes in the educational
system, these famous madrasahs in which people only study
the Koran and become Jihads. That was all going
on from the ’80s. It’s extended. That’s now had a big effect,
and so you now have a situation with a radical Islamist
movement, nuclear weapons, you’re provoking the
military, the only stable force in the region which might crack. Punjabi mostly, you
know, a lot of problems. And it might achieve more and
lead to some materials leaking into the hands of Jihadis. Those are our actions
in Afghanistan. Okay, there’s actually an
interesting article by– just came out a couple
of weeks ago in a journal called
the National Interest, kind of conservative
national affairs journal in the US by Anatol Lieven. He’s one of the specialists
on Pakistan. The way he goes through a lot
of this and his conclusion is that the US and British soldiers
are dying in Afghanistan to make the world more dangerous for the United States
and Britain. Well, if you think it through, that’s probably what’s
happening. So yeah, that’s–
it’s right in front of our eyes, going on right now. US and Britain are
continuing, or contributing to it and it’s not unusual. I mean it’s a striking fact
if you look over history that state actions are often
taken with the understanding that they may very
well harm security. When you take a look
at the history of wars, those who started the
wars very often lose them with disastrous consequences. And the, you know,
it’s taken into account because they’re higher
priorities and I think that’s
the kind of thing that this group you’re
talking about has in line. And I think basically
they’re right, we just take it seriously.>>Well, I think on that
notes, sovereign as it was, we must end this evening. I invite you all to retire
to the general events room in the main [inaudible] college
for some refreshments if– to lighten one’s spirit and also
to digest some of the profundity that we’ve heard this evening. But I would also like
you all to thank– thank Professor Chomsky
again this evening. [ Applause ]

91 thoughts on “Noam Chomsky – UCL Rickman Godlee Lecture 2011

  • Chomsky has been an apologist for the Libyans, the Venezuelans (he's been invited to hang out with Chavez's thugs multiple times) and is now trying to change the subject back to the Israeli / Palestinian problems, just after the Palestinians committed an awful atrocity. How he gets away with this is a mystery- he's no better than the guys who apologized for Pol Pot or Stalin. Look up his speeches on these topics, most of it's on YouTube. His credibility is nil.

  • He spends nearly 5 minutes defending the Arab street opinion that Iranians armed with nukes would "make things safer". He quotes Adam Smith at this protectionist best, and then has the gall to describe the economy of the early 19th Century as "state-guided". He then claims that we own Canada (ask any Canadian- we certainly don't) and lauds Mohammed Ali (who, for all of the good things he attempted, was a very poor economic planner, and put Egypt deeply into debt). Such amazing distortions.

  • @Zabeson 18:13-18:52 "if public opinion were to influence policy, the United States would not only not control the region, but it would be expelled from it". And, "in general, support for democracy is the province of ideologists and propagandists". Coming from one of Qaddafi's apologists, that's rich.

    The very Pew poll he drew that 'fact' from is largely contradicted by other results in that poll and elsewhere, as well.

  • Why don't we get more people like Chomsky influencing world politics, it would save us one or two centuries of ill intentioned guidance from uniA llkplm

  • 1. I love how I provided factual and accurate arguments, without any cursing or derogatory statements, and with only 2K views, somebody found time to censor my comments. This is the "democracy" of the True Left.

    2. I dispute the idea that "Chomsky NEVER supported Qadaffi". This is actually quite false. Chomsky has always defended Libya, claiming that it was just a convenient scapegoat for the West, not the horrible regime it has shown itself to be. Listen to his old lectures…

  • @xenoargh Sure he defended Libya… He is quite fond of America too… just not the government that presides over it's policies.

  • @Zabeson: Don't kid yourself. Read Chomsky's past statements in re: North Vietnam (who committed countless atrocities), Cambodia (Pol Pot, need we say anything more), and then further in defense of Libya (in the 1980's he gave multiple speeches defending Qaddafi, again at least two of these are on YouTube).

    Most of Chomsky's past defense of totalitarian states that claimed to be Leftist are either public records or easily available via Google. Educate yourselves- this is a foul creature.

  • @MrSocialDemocrat : Since when do the "rights" of tyrants supercede the rights of humans to live under regimes that are decent and just? Since when should the U.S. have to be apologetic about defending liberty?

  • @xenoargh How about when The US gov helped and funded Pol Pot and his country Cambodia because they were being attacked by the N.Vietnamese? Chomsky never "defended" any state What does that mean anyway defended? If Gaddafi ordered a the bombing of a airliner over the UK, so did the US allowed Posada Carilles to blow up a Cuban airliner, killing 200 and odd people.

  • why dont people stay the fuck home when they have a cold. shouldn't have to listen to them coughing and hacking the whole time.

  • My god… who's the one clown that would dislike what this man has to say? Chomsky has been labelled as "the conscience of America"…

  • @monkeymagic544576 "let's go out and do something about this!!!" You're absolutely right of course, instead of having "a debate on youtube with 'ultra-intellectuals'". But you now have to suggest exactly WHAT people should be doing. Mass protests outside the White House and various embassies (Israeli, British, Saudi, for instance)? BTW: I'm from New Zealand so I don't know what I can do, although I'm open to suggestions.

  • I know the dislike commenting is getting old, but how can people frown on getting educated? Not to mention from one of the most humble intellectuals in this world!

  • 0:59:16 '' no economic contribution ''.. any idea what would happen if they didn't provide liquidity to markets?.. manipulation.. volatility etc
    0:59:27 '' can make risky transactions ''.. why? free money from the government from 0% interest rates, high rates would curtail risk, once again government is the problem not the free market/capitalism/wall street
    0:59:40 '' clutching Hayek and Friedman '' .. who actually promote no government intervention.. not bailouts!

  • 01:07:35 trying to blame the free market for the recession. in reality banks were only able to lever up because of an easy CENTRAL bank, government institutions were some of the largest buyers of mortgage debt and government policy including the fha encouraged home ownership at teaser rates

  • 01:09:03 '' more broad based movement against austerity '' … the UK 10 year yield is 3.75%.. wait until it gets near 8%.. the cuts are going to have to get much deeper.. unless your happy to go bankrupt

  • 01:09:50 Austerity is not what lead to the great depression… read Murray rothbards book on the depression

  • they want america to be hated. to use it as an example of what happens when they give us freedom, just watch america will fall

  • Noam, dear friend, please stop referring to the UK/Britain as just "England". Adam Smith's comments then, as a Scot, referred to the whole of the UK.You make THIS Scot cringe every time you say only England. Otherwise, here's tae ye!

  • how did we ever let things get this bad? I have a hatred for America I can't stand them greedy bullying Basterds. they won't stop until they have complete control of the earth and all it's resources but I have to keep reminding myself that they are the lesser of 3 evils at the very least America has to been seen to be telling the truth and doing the right thing. if Russia or china had Americas power it would be a very different story at least I can type these words legally and freely

  • Unbelivable how this man is lieing striat to face.

    He needs to seek for help. second thought – it's too late.

    I feel sorry for him.

  • @TheDrunkenTrooper If the civil rights movement and the women's movements aren't very important to you then yea, the 50's were great.

  • I do agree with everything Chomsky proclaims, BUT- with one exception- why does he say that 'too big to fail' go to government for help clutching copies of Milton Friedman?!?!!? He supported neither intervention nor regulation by government. I'd say Chomsky is a 100% accurate in describing the global hegemony and deception of the U.S, but he should not go into economics! I bet Friedman would be flabbergasted to hear what type of outlook is being ascribed to him :O

  • @hazan1951 you feel sorry for whom? what the hell are you talking about or referring to? It just seems like you don't know very much.

  • @hazan1951 That's the spirit! somebody says something you disagree with, don't address their points, just dismiss them as insane and move on!

  • @mrbrianmoran Only if the Russians or Chinese were hypocritical, as both those countries dominated and suppressed indigenous ethnic minorities and had slavery. The difference is that, indeed, the bulk of the population of the US was quite free in world historical terms–to read uncensored newspapers, to own guns, to have public trials, to follow the religion of their choice, to be free of arbitrary police searches, not at all just in a small window around the 50's.

  • @string22

    2 things:

    A: Rothbard is not a great economist

    B: Rothbard's book on the great depression sucked

  • "and when the system inevitably crashes, they can run to the nanny state for a taxpayer bailout, clutching their copies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman"

    I hope that this was a humourous attempt to point out the hypocrisy of the corporatists and 'freemarket' advocates who run to the government for bailouts. Hayek and Friedman were dead against government help for big business.

    You can never tell if Chomsky is telling a joke. He's so deadpan

  • @puffinonindo look at micheal moore. I'm not saying he's a bad guy, but he has an agenda and knows how to work media to get people on his side the same way the other side does. I think chomsky just talks because he's done the research and looks at things collectively and logically. Just my opinion, I would say too that he's pretty old.

  • @MrBeautifulmountain Wow, that is exactly what I've been trying to sort out in my mind. That's why Ron Paul, sincere as he may be, is actually having a deleterious effect on the country. He was in large part responsible for the beginning of the Tea Party movement, which has now become a powerful political element in Washington. Tax cuts for the rich, slanderous propaganda against the poor for daring to request their Social Security not be wiped off the books.

  • this man is a planted hoax. he is part of false opposition. he knew very well that 911 was an inside job. elites give them the status of being intellectual so; people like him could take advantage of people being ignorant and misguide them. there is no left and right. they are all on the same team.

  • @pabnaful Chomsky has never, ever claimed to be part of the left -right spectrum, He is an anarchist and has stated countless times that he believes all power systems are inherently illegitimate and should be dismantled. So if the 'elites' have given him such status as you claim, why would they tolerate the man speaking out against them for the last 50 years?

  • the interesting thing about chomsky is, right or wrong, he adds an entire new dimension to contemporary discourse, intelligent and one which should be discussed; what his detractors fail to see, in my experience, is that the world is shades of grey and that truly there is no 'right' answer in many regards. What Chomsky insists upon, is that we hold ourselves to the same standards as we do our 'opponents' and that moralistically, many of the things that go on in the world are indefensible…

  • Wow, I've been learning so much from Noam over the past week. Mr Chompsky has granted me a whole new view on U.S policy

  • @Laxer1313 Hey, at least you are listening to Chomsky at the age of 16. I knew of him when I was 16, but was too stupid to pay any attention till 3 years later. So in a way, you are a smarter 16 year old than I was.

  • @jookyle – There is. You can find it in two places – as an MP3 download on the UCL iTunesU channel (search for 'ucl chomsky' on iTunes) or on our Soundcloud channel. I have included the Soundloud link under the video above.

  • @keatsblake100
    Look at what the radical sociopolitical views and actions of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, et al. got us.

  • @mrttwo It depends on the generation, I think. Most of my parents' generation give him a kind of pass due to the whole getting his head blown apart; also, he did work with a lot of pain. But that being said, I think less people see him as a 'great' president (certainly not Professor Chomsky!) or even a very good one.

  • @mrttwo Yea and he isn't the only one, all US presidents since WW2 and even many before could have been tried as war criminals according to the standards decided at Nuremberg after WW2 against the Nazis. But obviously they would never adopt the same standards on themselves because they are the 'leaders' and too hypocritical to do so.

  • This man is without doubt on of the most brilliant minds of our time. Just brilliant. I love his straight forward views of the world politics and interstate relations. Hat off to you sir!

  • @Laxer1313 A noob? You a baws. All I cared about at sixteen was tossing off, eating and music 'cause every time I wanted to start about politics the conversation fell silent.

    You should check out Ha-Joon Chang, John N. Gray, Norman Finkelstein & Slavoj Žižek if you're interested in these kind of public intellectuals (last 2 are definitively not without controversy b.t.w.).

  • @Laxer1313 he's been at this a long, long time. his books are amazing, heavy but amazing. this is also good, different but connected:

  • Why don't they give him a chair to sit down in, like the French university did? He's an elderly man. Have some respect.

  • thank you SO much!!! 7 hours of free Chomsky material to add to my 8gig audio collection!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • it's all good – Noam prefers to stand for his major presentations. he lays out his various printed and hand written notes and keeps a pad or laptop in eye
    shot as well. great sentiment all the same.

  • There is no-one at the moment with quite the depth and bredth of Chomsky's influence and knowledge, though he has influenced many. George Galloway shares many of Chomsky's views, and has done for a while. I've also heard about Slavoj Zizek, but don't know enough about him to comment.

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