Thursday, November 10, 2011

Of Pride and Patriotism

(or, why I try to ignore Remembrance Day and don't wear a poppy anymore) [pre-publication draft]

You'd have a difficult time finding someone who thought that a day of reflection and solemn recognition of the victims of war and fallen soldiers was a bad idea, or a waste of time. But Remembrance Day in Canada is a lot more than just that, and it always has been. I was once a patriotic, flag-waving lover like most youngsters, and enjoyed Remembrance Day, but over time have become reluctant to identify with remembrance traditions at all (including wearing a poppy), worried about endorsing what I perceived as its dangerous implicit ideological functions. Disparate social values and attitudes come together to define this holiday, that we observe (or celebrate, if you will). Deeply interwoven, these values and attitudes are also deeply contradictory.

“Nationalism, on my opinion, is nothing more than an idealistic rationalization for militarism and aggression.”
“[It] is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”        -Albert Einstein

Conferring Glory
Veterans Affairs Canada runs a program called Canada Remembers. Their website describes its mission, to help the public “come to understand and appreciate what those who have served Canada in times of war, armed  conflict and peace stand for and what they have sacrificed for their country.” You'll notice that this sentence doesn't focus so much on the people themselves, but rather on what they stand for. They go on about Canada’s reputation as a peace-loving country, and laud Canada’s ultimate reasons for fighting in wars: namely, to protect   the freedom of others, and the human rights of all. This, we are told, is what has motivated soldiers to sacrifice so much, and why we must pay our respects to their sacrifice.  As romantic an image as that all is, the history of the British Empire (and by extension, Canada) is far from one of glimmering benevolence. The blame for past wars is well shared, having historical origins in imperial struggles for dominance, and succeeded by 20th century nationalism. If we’re to have a realistic picture of past wars, we must acknowledge that the historical origins of conflict have rested in the deficiencies and vices of all sides.

“When you think of Canadian efforts in war and peace you come to realize that our desire to help was never motivated by greed, power or threats. It was in and of itself, a desire to protect human rights, all humans' rights.”   -Veterans Affairs Canada

Remembrance Day, Vancouver
I think it’s also fair to say that soldiers usually don't know why they are fighting, exactly, and that their motivations can’t be described as simply patriotic fervor. For example, what motivated a large share of enlistees in WWII was the simple prospect of employment, which was in very short supply after the devastation of the Great Depression[1]. I also think it’s fair to say that enthusiastic soldiers more often have a desire to simply rise up in defense of their nation, and care less about the overall narrative they are offered. This applies to soldiers of Nazi Germany, who undoubtedly saw their nation as oppressed by its neighbours, in the same way it does to our own. At the very least, it’s dubious to assume to know exactly what soldiers stood for and quite problematic to speak in their names. I imagine that if soldiers had sufficient insight to know the ultimate political reasons for their fight, they'd mostly be dismayed by the terrible waste of it all.

"Patriotism is a devotion to a certain place and people, contrary to nationalism which is inseparable from lust for power." -George Orwell

In 1926, the white poppy was suggested by the No More War Movement (of which Einstein was a prominent member) as an alternative symbol to dissociate the military aspect of remembrance. It was to add meaning of a hope for the end of all wars and recognize casualties of all wars, including civilians. The white poppy is covered occasionally by the Canadian press, lately noting that the Royal Canadian Legion considered suing the distributors of the symbol for violating their trademark. Many say that the red poppy is "already a symbol of peace" and that another symbol "denigrates remembrance". We may want to believe this is true, but given the nationalist nature of Remembrance Day celebrations and the state's official adoption of the poppy as a symbol, this is a bit optimistic. It's also worth noting that the poem from which the symbol derives (Flanders Fields by Lt. Col. John McCrae) could hardly be called a lamentation on war. Sure, it is a solemn tribute to the tragedy of soldiers' deaths--but only to be used as a call to arms to continue to take the fight to the enemy.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Lamenting war, as such, it does not. Cultural and literary historian Paul Fussell actually further described this stanza as “recruiting-poster rhetoric”, which, “first appearing in the early stages of World War I, would have, at that time, served to denigrate any negotiated peace which would end the war.”[2] In describing this "propaganda argument”, he said, "words like vicious and stupid would not seem to go too far."
Of course, we're all entitled to our own interpretations of symbolic meaning. For me however, the notion is a bit of a stretch.
Veterans Affairs was basically accurate: Remembrance Day’s primary purpose is about creating a national narrative to future generations about why wars are fought. So let's face it, Remembrance Day is not about remembering fallen soldiers. At least not primarily, at any rate. Actually I think it's fair to say that Remembrance Day would be best described as the celebration of Canada's war efforts and an assertion of Canadian identity. The paying of respects to fallen soldiers and veterans is a ritual within a much more important overall narrative which implicitly tells the inhabitants of Canada a story of our wars. That story is one of a great nation, motivated by noble ideals, which reluctantly sacrificed its brave, young soldiers in the name of peace, justice and democracy. We celebrate the great victories that those patriotic young men helped our proud nation achieve and recognize their selfless contribution.
This yearly ritual serves to rationalize in the minds of soldiers that what they did was a good thing and that it was not a waste of their lives and energies. More importantly, it is also a tale, to be taught and repeated to all Canadians, of what Canada is, what ideals and values it stands for, and what its role was in historical conflicts (all in a positive light, of course). It's hard for me to imagine this description being untrue. After all, I can’t imagine this yearly celebration, a long part of Canadian tradition and identity, being, say, a call upon all Canadians to reflect on the young men whose lives were cut short by wars of debatable value and necessity, and to recognize what a tragic waste of lives war always is. I imagine we would all find this emphasis rather demoralizing, particularly the veterans. And I think that's why we don't focus too much on it, and instead in our solemn dedications to our troops, note Canada’s moral superiority and imply that to support our nation at war, by itself, was a fine deed. I don’t think that to feature the more outspoken Canadian vets prominently, who forcefully call for no more war (and who might even criticize the state), would really be in the spirit of things. And that is why this spirit is a problem.

“You see, my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions, or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, … To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags--this is loyalty to unreason, it is pure animal.”
- from “A Connecticut Yankee in king Arthur's court” by Mark Twain

For the Fallen?
The specific purpose of my article in expressing my strong dislike of how Remembrance Day is celebrated is not necessarily to pass judgment on past conflicts and our participation in them (for that would be beside my point). Nor is it intended to dismiss or trivialize the nature of effortful exertions and experiences of veterans in war. Quite the opposite, in fact. Precisely because we recognize the gruelling and arduous demands of war, in addition to its downright traumatizing nature, we must ensure that any remembrance of it should focus primarily on recognition of its victims and not its victors. I can't help but think that if we really wanted to recognize their ordeal, and do justice to the Canadian (or other) soldiers of the past, present and future, the majority of discussion on this day would reflect on the tragic waste that war is. In so honouring the soldiers whose lives were devastated or cut short, maybe we can protect our descendants everywhere from a similar fate. We should not allow celebration of nationalist militarism to in any way distract from this goal. Current Canadian remembrance practice tends to obscure the true nature of our war-fighting nation and what it stood for, and also to distort our role in history by framing our actions in terms of “us and them” (with “us” being the good guys, naturally).
To support nationalism is to support the very divisive force which has driven nations to hate and to make war on their enemies. I’m not hopeful that this approach will help our human race learn to co-exist in peace. It is time we stop indoctrinating ourselves and our children with simplistic and romantic caricatures of ourselves and of our past, and give them a more realistic picture of politics and war. It is the responsibility of all to prevent war, without loyalty to a nation, and without allowing our pride and investment in our own national identity to divide us from our extended human family.

Suggested reading:
White Poppy (Wikipedia) 
[1] "Six War Years", many personal accounts of the war, through interviews. Certain notions of how patriotic people felt or why they became soldiers are challenged by some interviewees.
“Canada Remembers” - description of the program - Some highlighted fallacies of the “Canada Remembers” program

Author’s note: In sharing my reasons to not wear the red poppy, I acknowledge that to some it is deeply, personally meaningful. I don’t mean to denigrate the significance of any individual’s feelings which may be related to it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Propaganda case study: how government surveillance is treated by mainstream media

I compare the mainstream media's take in an article on new government surveillance measures and their function, vs. an article detailing the experiences of radical movements being targeted and surveilled by the FBI. Should we be concerned about a future of mass political surveillance in America? The mainstream media doesn't seem to notice anything potentially omious...

Two stories came out around the same time in December 2010:
A Washington Post article on mass domestic surveillance, emphasizing the “lack of useful information” from America’s new program and conveys an image of well-intentioned but ineffective outcomes in the  “fight against terrorism”:
An interview with an activist who has been targeted by the FBI and treated as belonging to “domestic terrorist” organizations, a label applied liberally to environmental and social justice groups. This is the real face of domestic repression and surveillance. COINTELPRO never ended.
    Most would agree that terrorism is worth stopping and that it may be justifiable to give police power to keep terrorism at bay. This will not be the main function of the Department of Homeland Security's massive new information-gathering apparatus, however. I will compare the two articles above on their takes on government surveillance. 
    Soon after the start of the Washington Post's article on the topic, it begins discussing the 9/11 attacks and refers to violent acts repeatedly, setting the tone for the article before it analyzes the program itself. This implicitly tells the reader that the new survillance systems are designed to keep us safe from terrorists. In reality, the new system will be used to target domestic activist groups in the US. Some domestic movements being primarily targeted by government counter-terrorism efforts are "eco-extremists" like the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation front. The FBI has described the ELF as one of the "top domestic terrorist groups in the country". Other, mainstream activists who do not use property destruction as a tactic are also being targeted by three-letter agencies even though they do not engage in property desutrction or illegal acts, but nevertheless represent a threat to the social order.
Judging from the Post's article, the reader would assume that DHS's program will primarily help fight violent extremists (and may well succeed if the right bureaucrat can get things running smoothly). But ELF and other activist groups would hardly frighten the average citizen the way dirty bombs or chemical attacks might. In this light, it should seem absurd to many that these groups would be grouped in the same category as violent threats, let alone be priority targets for those charged with "keeping us safe from terrorism".  
    Criticism of the information-gathering programs does of course exist in the Post's article, but within a narrow framework of debate. The program's usefulness and shortcomings are discussed in the article and the cost of the new system and its lack of useful information are lamented. Also mentioned is the unavoidable fact that there just don't seem to be many terrorism cases within the US to justify mobilization of police forces everywhere for preparedness to terrorist attacks. The mass accumulation of information in  Fusion Centers also suffers from a lack of justification with respect to terror since reports of minor criminal activity are the majority of content in the databases. Despite this, the article treats the program with kid gloves, minimizing privacy issues and other concerns. One way the new measures are implicitly defended is by the article echoing the false dichotomy between claimed to exist of "long-standing privacy principles [... ] under challenge by these new efforts to keep the nation safe". The notion frequently mentioned but rather unquestionedin media, where officials and other commentators tell us that there must be sacrifices of personal liberty in order to guarantee our safety. This quote also implies that the primary goal of the program is the serious concern felt by top bureaucrats with our safety.
    The fact that mostly petty criminal reports are in the system hints at the likely intended real function of the system, which is to be a domestic surveillance tool for criminal activity, as well as their legitimate political activity. This could be intentional design or simply a result  function creep which inevitably occurs when government bureaucracies are given big budgets, broad yet poorly defined missions, high hopes for untested and potentially ineffective technology (at mega-project scale), and unchecked power. Either way, political repression will be a major service the database provides to government agencies, for example the FBI, which has traditionally repressed progressive social movements
    Nowhere is it mentioned in the Post's article any concerns that social justice groups are being targeted by three-letter agencies in the name of counter-terrorism, despite this information being available online. These omissions, along with the the article's relatively neutral tone and lukewarm criticisms of privacy concerns in effect amounts to media complicity in government use of police powers. From a perspective of class conflict, the article performs a function of white-washing a potentially dangerous program instead of offering the real critical analysis that one would (perhaps naively) expect from investigative reporting. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NATO's "concern for human rights" should never be taken seriously.

    Right now we are starting to hear calls for an air war against Libya to "prevent human rights abuses". NATO is basically the United States, and it has one of the worst records for human rights abuses in the 20th century, including supporting military dictatorships which kill thousands of dissenters, aiding and abetting genocide and massacring civilians. Whenever a great power starts expressing "concern about human rights", should we really take them seriously? Ever?

Libya is the latest ugly incarnation of the
(invoking the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect", 
or R2P), essentially a pretext to justify imperial
adventures, such as the Kosovo war in 1999
    Make no mistake: whenever you hear the U.S. clamoring for military intervention, you must always ask what the real geo-political reasons underlying it are. Wars are expensive and risky (particularly, public opposition to the war back home, or loss of prestige if defeated). A human-rights abusing power like the United States will not enter a conflict for such flimsy reasons as "protecting human rights". These are always excuses, pretexts for the real reasons underlying war.
    The Obama administration's reaction to the uprisings in Egypt and Libya have been the same, and what you'd expect from an imperial power. The U.S. wants to support the dictator but does so quietly and hopes things blow over. When things become agitated, Obama expressed some meaningless words expressing concern over the situation but remaining noncommittal, taking a "wait and see" approach. If it becomes clear the leader has lost, America's leader will pretend they supported the revolution all along. It is important for the U.S. to make sure that whoever is in power, they work as a client of the United States. For this reason, it would be unwise to take sides before you know will end up on top.
    I do not know exactly what U.S planners are thinking about Libya right now, but I suspect they believe Gaddafi's days are numbered and they want to make sure that when he falls, the right person will take over his position. U.S. interests in the Middle East fear independent, democratic and secular Arab states. The existence of one might inspire Arab populations in other countries living under oppressive U.S.-backed regimes to agitate for change--a real threat to U.S. dominance in the region. This is especially true for Saudi Arabia, America's #1 ally, and a completely undemocratic, theocratic dictatorship. Popular Arab democracies might undermine America's strategy of controlling the world's oil supplies.
In Libya, activist movements called
for no intervention (Mar. 2011)
    We should definitely oppose any military action in Libya without United Nations approval. We must make it clear to our leaders we oppose unilateral military action and that we won't fall their appeals to emotion when they say they just want to defend human rights.

Edit: This article discusses western dependence on oil from the region and how Libya's oil disruption can affect our economy. This may underlie our real reasons for intervening, getting the oil flowing again.

Update: The UN has since authorized military force in Libya, with Russia and China abstaining on the motion in the Security Council. While minimal adherence to international law is favorable, the structure of the UN as it stands is admittedly imperfect and endorsement of intervention should not necessarily be taken to mean that the cause is just. The matters at hand are the fact that the Obama administration wants "regime change" in Libya, first and foremost, and is not looking at other solutions; neither are the Eastern rebels' provisional government, who rejected outright the possibility of a diplomatic solution (which may or may not have been serious, but that's beside the point) with Qadaffi (who suggested he was willing to entertain the possibility of leaving the country). While one can be sympathetic with notions the Qadaffi should be "brought to justice", as it is claimed by some in the East, it is worth remembering that the stated reason for intervention of intervention was to save lives. It is rather ironic to pursue a war that will end up with many more deaths, when another potential solution existed. Needless deaths seem a high price to pay just to bring one man, criminal though he may be, to justice. How essential is this "justice" when a country would be better off ending a conflict and move forward in relative peace? How many deaths is this kind of honor worth?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Technical Terms of the Intelligentsia

    Have you ever noticed the in media repeating words like "stability", "democracy" and "religious extremism" used in political discourse? It's an effective form of propaganda because who could possible be against stability and democracy? But these words are generally used in a way that is different or opposite to their generally understood meaning. How will one de-code doublespeak codewords you hear on the news? Read on...
Typical propaganda narrative on  fear  of
"religious fundamentalism" in Egypt, which
means "independence from the United States")
    These terms have been used a lot lately referring to Egypt and fears in our society's elite class of the consequences of their recent revolution. When commentators say "the recent revolution may allow religious extremists to take over, undermining democracy and stability in the middle east", they really mean something different. I hope this helps you understand the next news broadcasts a little better once you memorize what Noam Chomsky calls "words with a technical meaning".
Onward with some examples!

"Promoting Democracy" verb (use w/ target country) installing a government friendly to our interests in another country.
"Freedom Fighters" noun a proxy terrorist army that we support
"National Interest" noun the interests of the ultra-rich, especially those in the U.S.A.
Stability noun (referring to other countries) subordination to US power interests (or "the national interest"). Usually achieved through war against the population.
Example: "We should promote democracy by supporting the freedom fighters in Nicaragua because it is in America's national interest to promote stability in Central America."
Translation: "We should send weapons to a proxy terrorist army that murders civilians to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua, for the benefit of U.S investors and to intimidate other countries into doing what we say."

Moderate adjective (referring to political leadership) a technical term, meaning 'they do what we say'
Anti-semitism noun opposition to the Israeli state's agenda.
"Fundamentalist Religious Zealotry" noun independent nationalism in a state that doesn't follow U.S. orders. Threatens stability.
Synonyms: radical nationalism or radical populism.
Example: "We must support moderate forces in the middle-east so that fundamentalist religious zealotry and anti-semitism do not threaten stability in the region."
Translation: "We must prop up brutal dictators who follow U.S. orders and crush independent nationalism so that the economic and military interests of America and Israel dominate the region."

"Internal Security" noun war against the population to protect our favored regime
Democracy noun (referring to other countries) a society with markets open to U.S. investors.
Terrorism noun violence against us, our allies or client states. Violence done by us is "counter-terrorism", by definition.
A university education will help a student 
internalize prevailing values while thinking 
of themselves as independent thinkers
Example: "We must be sure that Iraq and Afghanistan have the adequate internal security needed to protect their fragile democracies from terrorism".
Translation: "War on the population of American colonies must be continually maintained to protect governments friendly to our investors and global economic agenda, from violent opposition."

"Humanitarian Intervention" a pretext for naked aggression against an enemy, for geo-strategic reasons.
Example:Bill Clinton: "Slobodan Milošević has got to go. Yugoslavia has to come into the fold and become part of the West's economic system. How should we take him out?"
Tony Blair: "I've got it! We'll stage a humanitarian intervention in Yugoslavia and oust him!"

Neo-Liberalism noun colonialist-style economic domination of weaker countries
Democratic adjective a state with no barriers to foreign ownership and investment
Globalization noun corporate controlled world economy
Example: "Democratic states adopt neo-liberal capitalism because they have the wisdom to support economic liberty. Besides being the most efficient economic system known to man to allocate resources and capital, it will also unite the world with a rapidly globalizing economy."
Translation: "Countries accept our economic policies, because they know if they refuse, we use force to open their markets to our investment. Economic warfare like IMF "restructuring plans", unregulated currency speculation, and protectionism create economic collapses so that our corporations can loot and pillage."

"Jobs in the United States": corporate profits
Example: "The person Obama selected to be in charge of creating jobs is Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, which has more than half their workforce overseas. And, you know, I’m sure he’s deeply interested in jobs in the United States."  
-Noam Chomsky

* The US has supported military dictatorships which kill thousands of dissenters, aided and abetted genocide and massacred civilians. Whenever a great power starts expressing "concern about human rights", should we take them seriously?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How America Attacks Countries: 3 Examples of the Modern Formula

    The United States has a typical pattern it follows when it wants to attack other countires (with its own military). This list is by no means exhaustive but a summary of recent conflicts. It would be wise the next time you hear increasing hysteria in the media about a threat to world peace to ask yourself what the real reasons are that your government and its subservient intellectual class are preparing you to accept war.
    The following 3 steps are typically followed:
  • Generate hysteria - A propaganda campaign, manufacturing a crisis or threat (and obscuring the true war agenda.) Newspapers and other media dutifully oblige by parroting official rhetoric, and don't ask too many serious questions. 
  • Fake diplomacy - Appear to seek a peaceful resolution, to appease your citizens's sense of decency.
  • Finally, Use military force - to achieve unstated geo-strategic goals. 

Don't worry! They're just
trying  panic you into
supporting war...
    In 1999, NATO countries led by the United States attacked the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Since attacking a country without justification would offend the sensibilities of Western populations, a pretense had to be manufactured. Western leaders obliged and invented claims that "ethnic cleansing" in huge proportions was going on, that thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of people were being killed and displaced in the Kosovo region of that country. The numbers were made up and subsequent attempts to find mass graves only yielded about 2,000 bodies, most of them killed after the war had begun. At least an even number of the atrocities before the conflict were actually by ethnic Albanians, according to the OSCE's own intelligence reports. These actions were initiated by the Kosovo Liberation Army, with the support of the US. The deliberate lies were necessary to garner support for the air offensive, coupled with the threat of ground invasion, to force Yugoslavia to capitulate. The NATO ultimatum was: give the Kosovo region autonomy, as well as allowance for an international presence, or face attack. While these demands were made, the real reasons for the conflict were to integrate the FRY into the Western economic and political sphere.(1)
    Gestures of peaceful diplomacy were offered, but as Chomsky writes, "the Rambouillet ultimatum, though universally described as the peace proposal, was also kept from the public, particularly the provisions that were apparently introduced in the final moments of the Paris peace talks in March after Serbia had expressed agreement with the main political proposals, and that virtually guaranteed rejection."(2)
    Eventually Yugoslavia accepted conditions for market reforms stipulated by the International Monetary Fund, resulting in an economic shock which impoverished the working class of that nation and brought the region into the U.S. economic system, to be dominated by foreign investors who would now own the country.

    In 2001, the United States attacked Afghanistan, on the pretense of "fighting terrorism" and punishing the Taliban for harboring terrorists. The United States' diplomatic demands started out with demanding Osama Bin Laden be turned over to U.S. justice. The Taliban said it would consider it, but first asked for evidence. The U.S. did not provide any, probably because they did not have any. Still, they re-iterated their demand and threatened the use of force (a war crime) if Bin Laden was not handed over. Eventually the Taliban relented and said they would turn him over without any evidence, but it did not matter and the U.S. invaded anyway. Explanations vary as to why the U.S. wanted control of Afghanistan, including control of proposed pipeline routes, but what is clear is that the U.S. strategy has been to support client regimes in the region to gain total control, thereby encircle its main enemies in the region, Iran and China.

I hope you feel like enough of a fool from
being suckered into the WMD story so
that this doesn't happen again.
    In 2003, the United States had been beating the war drums for a long time in the news media, loudly accusing Saddam Hussein of having weapons of mass destruction or programs to produce them, as well as intimating that he was involved with terrorism by mentioning him in the same sentence as 9/11 repeatedly. Intense hysteria was generated in the States by saying that we could not wait for the evidence of his programs, which would come in the form of a mushroom cloud over New York.
    Neo-conservative intellectuals expressed a desire to invade and occupy Iraq before the beginning of the W. Bush administration. Paul Wolfowitz said, "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on", which might suggest to the observant that there were other strategic reasons besides WMD underlying going to war. From this it would follow that diplomatic overtures insisting on Saddam's diarmement were political theatre. The Azores conference took place just before war with Iraq, which the mainstream media described as an ultimatum to Saddam, a last chance to avoid war. In reality the administration admitted in the 48 hours before the invasion that even if Saddam disarmed his non-existant weapons, "that it didn't matter whether Saddam Hussein and his cohorts stayed in Iraq or not, ... we're going to invade anyway"(2). The goal of the war was to have military control over the world's oil supplies in this key region. Control over energy has been described as giving "veto power" over the world to those who control it. Dick Cheney has described control over oil distribution as “tools of intimidation and blackmail”. He was referring to potential threats from our evil enemies when he said that, but the same principle applies to the U.S., that if they control the world's oil, it will give them a strategic advantage over emerging rivals like China.

Iran... and other future official enemies
     Cries in the media about the dire threat that Iran and its nuclear enrichment poses to the West have existed since 2005 or earlier. While the United States does not seem quite ready to invade Iran, the same pattern is being followed: hysteria is being generated over an enemy which is being demonized and labelled as dangerous and a threat to world stability in editorials everywhere. This of course requires the complicity of intellectuals in the media, who act as cheerleaders for the cause. The United States has engaged in diplomacy with Iran to discourage its development of nuclear weapons as Iran continues to enrich Uranium under the ausipces of international inspectors (as is their legal right). The ultimate goal of the U.S. is to overthrow the regime and install a client friendly to American business and military interests so that the U.S. has effective control over the oil and natural gas supplies of the region.
"To drag a people to war, simply
convince them of a mortal threat
and accuse the opposition of
exposing the country to danger."
     Whenever you hear politicians warning of a "grave threat" to the U.S. or one of its allies, one ought to ask, is there a nation that would actively seek a military conflict with the lone superpower of the world? It is right to approach such claims of great dangers with healthy skepticism. They are generally simple pretexts for war. You can avoid the fear that this kind of propaganda may instill in you once you understand that there are other reasons underlying a war, and that what you are being told about the threat another country poses is a lie. In the end, it's the underlying geo-political motivations of the attacking power that truly dictate policy, not what you hear on the news.

3. - Chomsky seems to misattribute the quote to Bush, when it was actually Ari Fleischer who said "that even if Saddam was ousted, or left the country voluntarily, the U.S.-British forces would still invade Iraq in a "peaceful entry" to search for "weapons of mass destruction"." (
Bush and Blair actually said at the Azores press conference that Saddam had a last chance for peace--to disarm or face invasion, implying peace was still possible. The mainstream media reported that this was a final overture to avoid war, but in reality it was political theatre, and the US had already committed to an invasion.