In zijn afscheidstoespraak, vijftig jaar geleden, waarschuwde de Republikeinse president generaal b.d. Dwight D. Eisenhower al tegen de ongebreidelde politieke invloed van het militair-industrieel samenstel in de VS:
PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: My fellow Americans, this evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Three-and-a-half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. The total—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development, yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist..
..Eisenhower was speaking particularly about the military aspect, what’s called "defense," though in fact it’s mostly aggression, intervention, subversion. It doesn’t defend the country; it harms it, most of the time. But that’s separate from the—not, of course, unrelated, but distinct from the Middle East problem. There, what Eisenhower and the National Security Council were describing is a persistent pattern. He was describing—they were describing it in 1950. And I’ll repeat the basic conclusion: the United States does support brutal and harsh dictatorships, blocks democracy and development; the goal is to maintain control over the incomparable energy resources of the region—incidentally, not to use them. The U.S.—one of the things that Eisenhower was doing at exactly the same time was pursuing a program to exhaust U.S. energy reserves, rather than using much cheaper Middle East energy, for the benefit of Texas oil producers. That’s a program that went on from the late ’50s for about 15 years. So, at the time, it was not a matter of importing oil from Saudi Arabia, but just ensuring the maintenance of control over the world’s major energy resources. And that, as the National Security Council concluded correctly, was leading to the campaign of hatred against us, the support for dictators, for repression, for violence and the blocking of democracy and development.
Now, that was the 1950s. And those words could be written today. You take a look at what’s happening in the Middle East today. There’s a campaign of hatred against the United States, in Tunisia against France, against Britain, for supporting brutal, harsh dictators, repressive, vicious, imposing poverty and suffering in the midst of great wealth, blocking democracy and development, and doing so because of the primary goal, which remains to maintain control over the energy resources of the region. What the National Security Council wrote in 1958 could be restated today in almost the same words.
Right after 9/11, the Wall Street Journal, to its credit, did a—ran a poll in the Muslim world, not of the general population, of the kind of people they are interested in, I think what they called the moneyed Muslims or some phrase like that—professionals, directors of multinational corporations, bankers, people deeply embedded in the whole U.S.-dominated neoliberal project there—so not what’s called anti-American. And it was an interesting poll. In fact, the results were very much like those that were described in 1958. There was tremendous—there wasn’t a campaign of hatred against the U.S. among these people, but there was tremendous antagonism to U.S. policies. And the reasons were pretty much the same: the U.S. is blocking democracy and development; it’s supporting dictators. By that time, there were salient issues that—some of which didn’t exist in 1958. For example, there was a tremendous opposition in these groups to the murderous sanctions in Iraq, which didn’t arouse much attention here, but they certainly did in the region. Hundreds of thousands of people were being killed. The civilian society was being destroyed. The dictator was being strengthened. And that did cause tremendous anger. And, of course, there was great anger about U.S. support for Israeli crimes, atrocities, illegal takeover of occupied territories and so on, settlement programs. Those were other issues, which also, to a limited extent, existed in ’58, but not like 2001.
So that—and in fact, right now, we have direct evidence about attitudes of the Arab population. I think I mentioned this on an earlier broadcast, strikingly not reported, but extremely significant. Now, last August, the Brookings Institute released a major poll of Arab opinion, done by prestigious and respected polling agencies, one of them. They do it regularly. And the results were extremely significant. They reveal that there is again, still, a campaign of hatred against the United States. When asked about threats to the region, the ones that were picked, near unanimously, were Israel and the United States—88 percent Israel, about 77 percent the United States, regarded as the threats to the region. Of course, they asked about Iran. Ten percent of the population thought Iran was a threat. In the list of respected personalities, Erdogan was first. I think there were about 10. Neither Obama or any other Western figure was even mentioned. Saddam Hussein had higher respect.
Now, this is quite striking, especially in the light of the WikiLeaks revelations. The most—the one that won the headlines and that was—led to great enthusiasm and euphoria was the revelation, whether accurate or not—we don’t know—but the claim, at least, by diplomats that the Arab dictators were supporting the U.S. in its confrontation with Iran. And, you know, enthusiastic headlines about how Arab states support—the Arabs support the United States. That’s very revealing. What the commentators and the diplomats were saying is the Arab dictators support us, even though the population is overwhelming opposed, everything’s fine, everything’s under control, it’s quiet, they’re passive, and the dictators support us, so what could be a problem? In fact, Arab opinion was so antagonistic to the United States in this—as revealed in this poll, that a majority of the Arab population, 57 percent, actually thought the region would be better off if Iran had nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the conclusion here, and in England and the continent, was it’s all wonderful. The dictators support us. We can disregard the population, because they’re quiet. As long as they’re quiet, who cares? People don’t matter. Actually, there’s an analog of that internal to the United States. And it’s of course the same policy elsewhere in the world. All of that reveals a contempt for democracy and for public opinion which is really profound. And one has to listen with jaws dropping when Obama, in the clip you ran, talks about how, of course, governments depend on the people. Our policy is the exact opposite…
Saudi Arabia is an interesting case. Saudi Arabia—the king of Saudi Arabia has been, along with Israel, the strongest supporter, most outspoken supporter of Mubarak. And the Saudi Arabian case should remind us of something about the regular commentary on this issue. The standard line and commentary is that, of course, we love democracy, but for pragmatic reasons we must sometimes reluctantly oppose it, in this case because of the threat of radical Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood. Well, you know, there’s maybe some—whatever one thinks of that. Take a look at Saudi Arabia. That’s the leading center of radical Islamist ideology. That’s been the source of it for years. The United States has—it’s also the support of Islamic terror, the source for Islamic terror or the ideology that supports it. That’s the leading U.S. ally, and has been for a long, long time. The U.S. supported—U.S. relations, close relations, with Israel, incidentally, after the 1967 war, escalated because Israel had struck a serious blow against secular Arab nationalism, the real enemy, Nasser’s Egypt, and in defense of radical Islam, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Egypt had been in a proxy war just before that, and there was a major conflict. And that’s quite typical.
Probably the most—going back to WikiLeaks, maybe the most significant revelation has to do with Pakistan. In Pakistan, the WikiLeaks cables show that the ambassador, Ambassador Patterson, is pretty much on top of what’s going on. There’s enormous—the phrase "campaign of hatred against the United States" is an understatement. The population is passionately anti-American, increasingly so, largely, as she points out, as a result of U.S. actions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the pressure on the Pakistani military to invade the tribal zones, the drone attacks and so on. And she goes on to say that this may even lead to the—what is in fact the ultimate nightmare, that Pakistan’s enormous nuclear facilities, which incidentally are being increased faster than anywhere else in the world, that these—there might be leakage of fissile materials into the hands of the radical Islamists, who are growing in strength and gaining popular support as a result of—in part, as a result of actions that we’re taking.
Well, this goes back to—this didn’t happen overnight. The major factor behind this is the rule of the dictator Zia-ul-Haq back in the 1980s. He was the one who carried out radical Islamization of Pakistan, with Saudi funding. He set up these extremist madrassas. The young lawyers who were in the streets recently shouting their support for the assassin of the political figure who opposed the blasphemy laws, they’re a product of those madrassas. Who supported him? Ronald Reagan. He was Reagan’s favorite dictator in the region. Well, you know, events have consequences. You support radical Islamization, and there are consequences. But the talk about concern about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, whatever its reality, is a little bit ironic, when you observe that the U.S. and, I should say, Britain, as well, have traditionally supported radical Islam, in part, sometimes as a barrier to secular nationalism.
What’s the real concern is not Islam or radicalism; it’s independence. If the radical Islamists are independent, well, they’re an enemy. If secular nationalists are independent, they are an enemy. In Latin America, for decades, when the Catholic Church, elements of the Catholic Church, were becoming independent, the liberation theology movement, they were an enemy. We carried out a major war against the church. Independence is what’s intolerable, and pretty much for the reasons that the National Security Council described in the case of the Arab world 50 years ago.
AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, I wanted to read to you what two people are writing. One is Ethan Bronner in the New York Times, saying, "Despite [Mr.] Mubarak’s supportive relations with Israel, many Israelis on both the left and right are sympathetic [to] the Egyptians’ desire to rid themselves of his autocracy and build a democracy. But they fear what will follow if things move too quickly." He quotes a top Israeli official saying, "We know this has to do with the desire for freedom, prosperity and opportunity, and we support people who don’t want to live under tyranny, but who will take advantage of what is happening in its wake?" The official goes on to say, "The prevailing sense here is that you need a certain stability followed by reform. Snap elections are likely to bring a very different outcome," the official said.
And then there’s Richard Cohen, who’s writing in the Washington Post. And Richard Cohen writes—and let me see if I can find this clip. Richard Cohen writes that—let’s see if I can find it—"Things are about to go from bad to worse in the Middle East. An Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is nowhere in sight."
Noam Chomsky, your response?
NOAM CHOMSKY: The comment of the Israeli official is standard boilerplate. Stalin could have said it. Yes, of course, the people want peace and freedom, democracy; we’re all in favor of that. But not now, please. Because we don’t like what the outcome will be. In fact, it’s worth bearing—in the case—it’s the same with Obama. It’s more or less the same comment. On the other hand, the Israeli officials have been vociferous and outspoken in support of Mubarak and denunciation of the popular movement and the demonstrations. Perhaps only Saudi Arabia has been so outspoken in this regard. And the reason is the same. They very much fear what democracy would bring in Egypt.
After all, they’ve just seen it in Palestine. There has been one free election in the Arab world, exactly one really free election—namely, in Palestine, January 2006, carefully monitored, recognized to be free, fair, open and so on. And right after the election, within days, the United States and Israel announced publicly and implemented policies of harsh attack against the Palestinian people to punish them for running a free election. Why? The wrong people won. Elections are just fine, if they come out the way we want them to..
In fact, a part of the reason why there is such strong support for Israel in the military lobby, in the military-industrial lobby in the United States, is that the massive arms transfers to Israel, which, whatever they’re called, end up essentially being gifts, they go from the U.S.—the pocket of the U.S. taxpayer into the pocket of military industry. But there’s also a secondary effect, which is well understood. They’re a kind of a teaser. When the U.S. sends, you know, the most advanced jet aircraft, F-35s, to Israel, then Saudi Arabia says, "Well, we want a hundred times as much second-rate equipment," which is a huge bonanza for military industry, and it also recycles petrodollars, which is an important—a necessity for the U.S. economy. So these things are quite closely tied together.
And it’s not just military industry. Construction projects, development, telecommunications—in the case of Israel, high-tech industry. So, Intel Corporation, the major—the world’s major chip producer, has announced a new generation of chips, which th
ey hope will be the next generation of chips, and they’re building their main factory in Israel. Just announced an expansion of it. The relations are very close and intimate all the way through—again, in the Arab world, certainly not among the people, but we have the Muasher principle. As long as they’re quiet, who cares? We can disregard them..
The rest of the interview is in video form.