We have all been ignorant of what happens in foreign lands and now we don’t seem to understand what is happening to our country, something that is hard to explain in sound bites or skimming the Internet. Long articles help, but extensive reading of unconventional books from writers who do not have establishment or government ties always do a much better job in telling us the truth as do many great novels such as the Civil War in The March by E.L. Doctorow about Sherman’s March to the Sea.
Tom Engelhardt at www.tomdispatch.com often has long articles by various writers who reveal real history that we do not get the American Corporate Press and Media. .
Max Blumenthal, author of Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party recommended to me by my friend Allan. It is both funny and tragic. What Blumenthal reports is truly frightening. The second excerpted article is by Noam Chomsky, the second most quoted writer in the world next to the Bible. http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/noamchomsky
Jim Kawakami, Dec 20, 2010, http://jimboguy.blogspot.com
Tomgram: Max Blumenthal, The Great Fear Moments of imperial and economic decline -- according to a recent poll, 65% of Americans now believe this country to be “in a state of decline” -- can also be periods of cultishness, even of madness incarnate. Such a mood now seems to be spreading through the United States. It’s not so surprising, really. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, fear has been injected into this “homeland” like a drug and a penumbra of official secrecy has settled over the land in a way that makes the secrecy of the Cold War years (when this country faced a superpower, not a ragtag set of jihadis, guerrillas, and terrorists) seem like an era of sunshine.
In an atmosphere of swirling fears and hysteria amid declining living conditions, “explanations” that at other times might have remained confined to tiny crews of conspiracy-mongers can suddenly gain a patina of plausibility and so traction. No wonder then that, as hard times hit, as the financial system seemed on the verge of collapse, as unemployment soared and a massive wave of home foreclosures swept into view, increasing numbers of Americans became prey to any wacky explanation for our troubles, none more so than the idea that Islam was somehow responsible, that mosques and Islamic centers meant for a sliver of a minority here were capable of imposing anything, no less a way of life on this country, or that Sharia law (of all things) might somehow worm its way into state legal systems, or that YouTube was a hotbed of terrorism worthy of suppression, or... well, you name it.
Max Blumenthal, author of the bestselling book Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, has done the necessary legwork to take us deep into one of those crews of conspiracy-mongers who, at another time, just about no one would have paid much attention to, but in twenty-first-century America have gained a remarkable audience. They are a chilling barometer of the changing weather in America. Tom
The Great Islamophobic Crusade
Inside the Bizarre Cabal of Secretive Donors, Demagogic Bloggers, Pseudo-Scholars, European Neo-Fascists, Violent Israeli Settlers, and Republican Presidential Hopefuls Behind the Crusade
By Max Blumenthal
Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country. With it has gone an outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed). This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith. And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005.
Erupting so many years after the September 11th trauma, this spasm of anti-Muslim bigotry might seem oddly timed and unexpectedly spontaneous. But think again: it’s the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives who first focused on Islamophobia soon after the September 11th attacks, but only attained critical mass during the Obama era. It was then that embittered conservative forces, voted out of power in 2008, sought with remarkable success to leverage cultural resentment into political and partisan gain.
This network is obsessively fixated on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in America. Its apparatus spans continents, extending from Tea Party activists here to the European far right. It brings together in common cause right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, and racist British soccer hooligans. It reflects an aggressively pro-Israel sensibility, with its key figures venerating the Jewish state as a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror and urging the U.S. and various European powers to emulate its heavy-handed methods.
Little of recent American Islamophobia (with a strong emphasis on the “phobia”) is sheer happenstance. Years before Tea Party shock troops massed for angry protests outside the proposed site of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, representatives of the Israel lobby and the Jewish-American establishment launched a campaign against pro-Palestinian campus activism that would prove a seedbed for everything to come. That campaign quickly -- and perhaps predictably -- morphed into a series of crusades against mosques and Islamic schools which, in turn, attracted an assortment of shady but exceptionally energetic militants into the network’s ranks.
Besides providing the initial energy for the Islamophobic crusade, conservative elements from within the pro-Israel lobby bankrolled the network’s apparatus, enabling it to influence the national debate. One philanthropist in particular has provided the beneficence to propel the campaign ahead. He is a little-known Los Angeles-area software security entrepreneur named Aubrey Chernick, who operates out of a security consulting firm blandly named the National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has served as a think tank for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a frontline lobbying group for Israel, Chernick is said to be worth $750 million.
Chernick’s fortune is puny compared to that of the billionaire Koch Brothers, extraction industry titans who fund Tea Party-related groups like Americans for Prosperity, and it is dwarfed by the financial empire of Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media baron who is one of the largest private donors to the Democratic party and recently matched $9 million raised for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces in a single night. However, by injecting his money into a small but influential constellation of groups and individuals with a narrow agenda, Chernick has had a considerable impact. … http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175334/tomgram%3A_max_blumenthal%2C_the_great_fear_/
… The Threat of Radical Nationalism
Noam Chomsky, Z Magazine, July 2010, The U.S. Empire, the Mideast, and The World, Part I
… So in 1953, the Iranian threat was secular nationalism. After 1978, it's religious nationalism. In 1953, it was taken care of by overthrowing the parliamentary regime and installing a dictator who was highly praised. It wasn't a secret. The New York Times, for example, had an editorial praising the overthrow of the government as an "object lesson" to small countries that "go berserk" with radical nationalism and seek to control their own resources. This will be an object lesson to them: don't try any of that nonsense, certainly not in an area we need for control of the world. That was 1953.
Since the overthrow of the U.S.-imposed tyrant in 1979, Iran has been constantly under U.S. attack—without a stop. First, Carter tried to reverse the overthrow of the Shah immediately by trying to instigate a military coup. That didn't work. The Israelis—in effect the ambassador, as there'd been close relations between Israel and Iran under the Shah, although theoretically no formal relations—advised that if we could find military officers who were willing to shoot down 10,000 people in the streets, we could restore the Shah.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security advisor, had pretty much the same advice. That didn't quite work. Right away, the U.S. turned for support to Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran—which was no small affair. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians were slaughtered. The people who are now running the country are veterans of that war and deep in their consciousness is the understanding that the whole world is against them—the Russians, the Americans were all supporting Saddam Hussein and the effort to overthrow the new Islamic state.
It was no small thing. The U.S. support for Saddam Hussein was extreme. Saddam's crimes—like the Anfal genocide, the massacre of the Kurds—were just denied. The Reagan administration denied them or blamed them on Iran. Iraq was even given a very rare privilege. It's the only country other than Israel which has been granted the privilege of attacking a U.S. naval vessel and getting away with complete impunity. In the Israeli case, it was the Liberty in 1967. In Iraq's case it was the USS Stark in1987—a naval vessel which was part of the U.S. fleet protecting Iraqi shipments from Iran during the war. They attacked the ship using French missiles, killed a few dozen sailors, and got a slight tap on the wrist, but nothing beyond that.
U.S. support was so strong that they basically won the war for Iraq. After the war was over, U.S. support for Iraq continued. In 1989, George Bush I invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in nuclear weapons development. It's one of those little things that gets hushed up because a couple of months later Saddam became a bad boy. He disobeyed orders. Right after that came harsh sanctions and so on, right up till today.
The Iranian Threat
Coming up to today, in the foreign policy literature and general commentary what you commonly read is that the major policy problem for the U.S. has been and remains the threat of Iran. What exactly is the threat of Iran? Actually, we have an authoritative answer to that. It came out a couple of months ago in submissions to Congress by the DOD and US intelligence. They report to Congress every year on the global security situation. The latest reports, in April, of course have a section on Iran—the major threat. It's important reading. What they say is, whatever the Iranian threat is, it's not a military threat. They say that Iranian military spending is quite low, even by regional standards, and as compared with the U.S., of course, it's invisible—probably less than 2 percent of our military spending. Furthermore, they say that Iranian military doctrine is geared toward defense of the national territory, designed to slow down an invasion sufficiently so it will be possible for diplomacy to begin to operate. That's their military doctrine.
They say it's possible that Iran is thinking about nuclear weapons. They don't go beyond that, but they say, if they were to develop nuclear weapons, it would be as part of Iran's deterrence strategy in an effort to prevent an attack, which is not a remote contingency. The most massive military power in history—namely us—which has been extremely hostile to them, is occupying two countries on their borders and is openly threatening them with attack, as is its Israeli client.
That's the military side of the Iranian threat as reported in Military Balance. Nevertheless, they say, Iran's a major threat because it's attempting to expand its influence in neighboring countries. It's called destabilization. They're carrying out destabilization in neighboring countries by trying to expand their influence and that's a problem for the U.S. because the U.S. is trying to bring about stability.
When the U.S. invades another country, it's to bring about stability—a technical term in the international relations literature that means obedience to U.S. orders. So when we invade Iraq and Afghanistan, that's to create stability. If the Iranians try to extend their influence, at least to neighboring countries, that's destabilizing. This is built in to scholarly and other doctrine. It's even possible to say without ridicule, as was done by the liberal commentator and former editor of Foreign Affairs, James Chase, that the U.S. had to destabilize Chile under Allende to bring about stability, namely obedience to U.S. orders.
The second threat of Iran is its support for terrorism. What's terrorism? Two examples of Iran's support for terrorism are offered. One is its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the other its support for Hamas in Palestine. Whatever you think of Hezbollah and Hamas—maybe you think they're the worst thing in the world—what exactly is considered their terrorism? Well, the "terrorism" of Hezbollah is actually celebrated in Lebanon every year on May 25, Lebanon's national holiday commemorating the expulsion of Israeli invaders from Lebanese territory in 2000. Hezbollah resistance and guerilla warfare finally forced Israel to withdraw from Southern Lebanon, which Israel had been occupying for 22 years in violation of Security Council orders, with plenty of terror and violence and torture.
So Israel finally left and that's Lebanese Liberation Day. That's what's considered the main core of Hezbollah terrorism. It's the way it's described. Actually, in Israel it's even described as aggression. You can read the Israeli press these days where high level figures now argue that it was a mistake to withdraw from South Lebanon because that permits Iran to pursue its "aggression" against Israel, which it had been carrying out until 2000 by supporting the resistance to Israeli occupation. That's considered aggression against Israel. They follow U.S. principles, as we say the same thing. That's Hezbollah. There are other acts you could criticize, but that's the core of Hezbollah terrorism.
Another Hezbollah crime is that the Hezbollah-based coalition handily won the latest parliamentary vote, though because of the sectarian system of assigning seats, they did not receive the majority. That led Thomas Friedman to shed tears of joy, as he explained, over the marvels of free elections, in which U.S. President Obama defeated Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Lebanon. Others joined in this celebration. The actual voting record was never reported, to my knowledge.
What about Hamas? Hamas became a serious threat—a serious terrorist organization—in January 2006 when Palestinians committed a really serious crime. That was the date of the first free election in any country in the Arab world and the Palestinians voted the wrong way. That's unacceptable to the U.S. Immediately, without a blink of an eye, the U.S. and Israel turned very publically towards punishing the Palestinians for that crime. You can read in the New York Times, in parallel columns, right afterwards—one of them talking about our love for democracy and so on and right alongside it, our plans to punish the Palestinians for the way they voted in the January election. No sense of conflict.
There'd been plenty of punishment of the Palestinians before the election, but it escalated afterwards—Israel went so far as to cut off the flow of water to the arid Gaza Strip. By June, Israel had fired about 7,700 rockets at Gaza and all sorts of other things. All of that's called defense against terrorism. Then, the U.S. and Israel, with cooperation from the Palestinian Authority, tried to carry out a military coup to overthrow the elected government. They were beaten back and Hamas took control.
After that, Hamas became one of the world's leading terrorist forces. There's plenty of criticisms you can make of them—the way they treat their own population, for example—but Hamas terrorism is a little hard to establish. The current claim is that their terrorism consists of rockets from Gaza that hit Israel's border cities. That was the justification given for Operation Cast Lead (the U.S./Israeli invasion of December 2008) and also for the Israeli attack on the flotilla last June in international waters where nine people were murdered.
It's only in a deeply indoctrinated country that you can hear that and not laugh in ridicule. Putting aside the comparison between Qassam rockets and the terrorism that the U.S. and Israel are constantly carrying out, the argument has absolutely no credibility for a simple reason: Israel and the U.S. know exactly how to stop the rockets—by peaceful means. In June 2008, Israel agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas. Israel didn't really live up to it—they were supposed to open the borders and they didn't—but Hamas did live up to it. You can look it up on the official Israeli website or listen to their official spokesperson, Mark Regev, and they agree that during the ceasefire there wasn't a single Hamas rocket fired.
Israel broke the ceasefire in November 2008 when it invaded Gaza and killed half a dozen Hamas activists. Then there was some rocket fire and far greater attacks from Israel. A number of people were killed—all Palestinians. Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire. The Israeli cabinet considered it and rejected it, preferring to use violence. A couple of days later came the U.S./Israel attack on Gaza.
In the U.S. and the West generally, it is taken for granted, even by human rights groups and the Goldstone report, that Israel had the right to force and self-defense. There were criticisms that the attack was disproportionate, but they're a secondary matter as Israel had absolutely no right to use force in the first place. You have no justification for the use of force unless you've exhausted peaceful means. In this case, the U.S. and Israel had not just not exhausted them, they had refused even to try peaceful means, which they had every reason to believe would succeed. The concession that Israel had a right to attack is just an amazing gift.
In any case, according to the DOD and U.S. intelligence, Iran's efforts to extend its influence, as well as its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, are what constitute, for the U.S. and its allies, the Iranian threat.
Noam Chomsky is Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at MIT and author of dozens of books on U.S. foreign policy.http://www.zcommunications.org/u-s-savage-imperialism-by-noam-chomsky