Ireland has robbed poor working people of tens of trillions of dollars

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Source: The Irish Times

Noam Chomsky is one of the world’s most prominent critics of American foreign policy and global inequality. The 92-year-old author and academic joined Hugh Linehan for this week’s Inside Politics podcast to discuss the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the morality of Ireland’s tax regime and whether the human race can avoid the twin catastrophes of global warming and nuclear war.

Could I ask you first about the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, after almost 20 years in that country? Given everything that you have written about the way the United States uses its power around the world, what’s your view on how that intervention finally came to an end and what it might mean?

“Well, the United States usually has a strategic purpose in carrying out its military actions around the world. You may like them or not like them but at least there’s some rationale to them. That was not true of the invasion of Afghanistan.

“Probably the best explanation of why the United States did it was given by the most respected leader of the anti-Taliban Afghan resistance, which was functioning well at the time, Abdul Haq.

“He said, ‘the United States knows they’re going to kill a lot of Afghans, they’re going to undermine our efforts to overthrow the Taliban from within but they don’t care. They want to show their muscle and intimidate everyone.’ That’s probably the right answer. It was pretty much verified by Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence.

“The Taliban very quickly offered total surrender: let us go back to our villages and forget it. Rumsfeld’s answer was, ‘We do not negotiate surrenders’. That was confirmed by president Bush. ‘We don’t negotiate surrenders. We’re going to use force and violence.’ For no special purpose, it’s nothing to do with al-Qaeda. We wanted to show our muscle and intimidate everyone, which is exactly what happened.

“It’s happening right now in the South China Sea. What is the purpose of sending a fleet of advanced nuclear submarines to Australia, which then get folded into the US naval command and aren’t even operational? Which will compel China to develop its own military forces further to counter this new threat in addition to the many others? Can you find a strategic purpose in that?”

Some observers see a continuity between the foreign policies of the Trump and Biden administrations – although they’re obviously very different in some ways – which marks a break with the multiple military interventions of the past 25 years and a refocusing on, as you’ve just mentioned, the contest for power and possibly for supremacy with China.

“There’s a shift in focus as world affairs shift. So now the challenge to US global dominance is China. So, you shift to China. But the policies remain basically the same. After all, it’s the same policymaking group that’s forming the policies.

“There are some variations. Under George W Bush, the so-called neocons – neo-conservatives – had a much stronger voice. So, you had the invasion of Afghanistan to show our muscle, the invasion of Iraq, plans to go far further openly declared – plans which had to be pulled back because it had all turned into such a disaster. That’s the neocons.

Trump was famous for the fact that every word that came out of his mouth was a lie. But occasionally there were true statements that sneaked through

“On the other hand, it’s not all that different when you move to the Democrats. Obama pretty much followed the same policies, although instead of sending special forces to break into people’s homes and smash them up and recruit for the Taliban, as was being done immediately after the invasion, let’s shift to killing them with drones. More polite. So greatly escalate the drone attacks. Recruit for the Taliban by bombing a village, smashing up whatever’s there, killing a family so that the husband will join the Taliban.

“Trump greatly extended the use of drones and bombings, withdrew any effort to determine who was being killed. So, it’s a more vulgar, harsh version of it. It’s now going to continue in other ways.

In 2017, when then president Trump was being interviewed on Fox News , Bill O’Reilly put it to him that Vladimir Putin was a killer. Trump responded as follows: ‘There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?’ That caused a lot of blowback against Trump, but in a way he was going halfway down a road which you have charted in your critique of the way that America uses its so-called moral exceptionalism to justify all kinds of behaviour, except Trump drew the opposite conclusion, because he was seeing it as a charter for power to be untrammelled and for the powerful to do whatever they want to the weak.

“That’s his policy. But it was a good statement. I praised him for it. Trump was famous for the fact that every word that came out of his mouth was a lie. But occasionally there were true statements that sneaked through. Even the worst, most committed liar may by accident come out with true statements now and then and this was one.

“Are we so innocent? No, we’re not. In fact, the United States is one of those rare countries – maybe the only country – that’s been at war, almost always aggressive war, from the first moment of its founding. It’s always in defence, of course. Everything is in defence. When Hitler invaded Poland, it was in defence against what he called the wild terror of the Poles. When Britain conquered India, it was in defence.”

If I could turn to domestic US policy, another phenomenon of recent years, alongside the rise of the radical anti-democratic right in parts of the Republican Party, is the rise of an alternative on the left wing of the Democratic Party, as exemplified first of all by Bernie Sanders, but also more recently by figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We’re right in the midst now of Congress considering whether or not it’s going to pass these large investment bills. How do you think that project is going from the point of view of those progressive Democrats?

1 comment

  1. owlishdog October 16, 2021 11:41 pm 

    Where’s the rest of it?

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