Noam Chomsky - UCL Rickman Godlee Lecture 2011


Uploaded by UCLTV on 15.03.2011

Transcript:
[ 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 ]