USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Noam Chomsky on Iran, Lebanon, and Latin America

Posted by uscsjp on November 6, 2006

Solution in Sight:

The urgency of halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and moving toward their elimination, could hardly be greater. Failure to do so is almost certain to lead to grim consequences, even the end of biology’s only experiment with higher intelligence. As threatening as the crisis is, the means exist to defuse it. A near-meltdown seems to be imminent over Iran and its nuclear programmes.

Before 1979, when the Shah was in power, Washington strongly supported these programmes. Today the standard claim is that Iran has no need for nuclear power, and therefore must be pursuing a secret weapons programme. “For a major oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources,” Henry Kissinger wrote in the Washington Post last year.

Thirty years ago, however, when Kissinger was secretary of state for President Gerald Ford, he held that “introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals”. Last year Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post asked Kissinger about his reversal of opinion. Kissinger responded with his usual engaging frankness: “They were an allied country.”

On the US-Israeli Invasion of Lebanon:

Though there are many interacting factors, the immediate issue that lies behind the latest US-Israeli invasion of Lebanon remains, I believe, what it was in the four preceding invasions: the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the most important case, the devastating US-backed 1982 Israeli invasion was openly described in Israel as a war for the West Bank, undertaken to put an end to annoying PLO calls for a diplomatic settlement (with the secondary goal of imposing a client regime in Lebanon). There are numerous other illustrations. Despite the many differences in circumstances, the July 2006 invasion falls generally into the same pattern.

Among mainstream American critics of Bush administration policies, the favored version is that “We had always approached [conflict between Israel and its neighbors] in a balanced way, assuming that we could be the catalyst for an agreement,” but Bush II regrettably abandoned that neutral stance, causing great problems for the United States (Middle East specialist and former diplomat Edward Walker, a leading moderate). The actual record is quite different: For over 30 years, Washington has unilaterally barred a peaceful political settlement, with only slight and brief deviations.

Latin America Declares Independence:

Five centuries after the European conquests, Latin America is reasserting its independence.

In the southern cone especially, from Venezuela to Argentina, the region is rising to overthrow the legacy of external domination of the past centuries and the cruel and destructive social forms that they have helped to establish.

The mechanisms of imperial control – violence and economic warfare, hardly a distant memory in Latin America – are losing their effectiveness, a sign of the shift toward independence. Washington is now compelled to tolerate governments that in the past would have drawn intervention or reprisal.

Throughout the region a vibrant array of popular movements provide the basis for a meaningful democracy. The indigenous populations, as if in a rediscovery of their pre-Columbian legacy, are much more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador.

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