Dr. Noam Chomsky, a scholar who taught classes on US foreign policy at MIT and whom International Business Times notes is “one of the world’s most eminent academics and political commentators”, gave a more than one hour-long interview this week to Democracy Now. In it, he points out that while the US government and oligarchy (see below) encourages US citizens to be outraged over alleged Russian interference in the US election, US citizens are not supposed to react similarly (or accept that citizens in other countries have a right to react similarly) when the US government carries out more extreme acts against other countries, including Russia, where the US interfered heavily, and to mass, deadly effect (contributing to millions of years life lost), in the 1990s.
Thus, while the US public is supposed to be outraged and support retaliatory measures in response to alleged Russian acts today, it is not supposed to view those acts as a legitimate and fair Russian retaliatory response to earlier and more extreme US interference in Russian elections and society. Russians do not have a right to be outraged or retaliate, or so the US public is intended to accept, and the US public should certainly not call for any punishment of US officials who previously interfered against Russia and elsewhere.
Likewise, the US public is not supposed to accept that any other countries might feel outraged, let alone have a right to retaliation, in response to more extreme US interference in their elections and politics. (Historian William Blum notes the US has overthrown more governments, mostly democracies, than any other country in history. See his book ‘Rogue State’.) While the US is supposed to be outraged and retaliate against such measures, US victims are not. Hence US public opinion is conditioned to support “jungle law” – the strong can do what they want, the weak can do nothing – a rather convenient stance for the most powerful global military power in world history.
The US oligarchy’s encouragement of the embrace of this philosophy by the US public may be a factor in US-run global opinion polls that Chomsky notes find the US considered by far the greatest obstacle to world peace, with no other country coming close.
Chomsky further notes that in the US, as has been found over and over in political science studies, the lower “70% of voters” on the income scale “are literally disenfranchised”; they have no effect on US government policy, which is essentially determined, Chomsky notes, by the top 0.1% on the income scale. Thus, for example, while the majority of the public has polled for decades, he points out, as desiring the same kind of healthcare system that exists in all economically comparable countries – namely a universal healthcare system – this is blocked.
Who is preventing its implementation? The government/corporate complex, or oligarchic form of government, which dictates to the majority the type of system that is put in place (as well as virtually every other policy), and then uses its press outlets (what Norman Solomon calls the “billionaire’s press”, which is one third of what the NYT boastfully calls the “iron triangle” of the US political system) to assure the public, through massive propaganda campaigns, that this is “democracy” – a term that literally means public control over government policy, though this is the opposite of what is displayed. (Note, for example, in Washington Post and NYT articles, how often the US is flatly referred to as a “democracy”, a country where the citizens control government policy.)
Chomsky adds regarding the Russia/Trump collaboration “joke” that it is “paradoxical” that the so-called issue of the Trump regime having pre-inauguration contacts with Russians, which he says is one of the only sensible things Trump has done (as it might reduce extremely high war-tensions), has been the overwhelming obsession of the Democratic opposition.
(Journalist Robert Parry finds this obsession less paradoxical than Chomsky, noting, in an article on Trump’s general ineptitude, that “wielding the anti-Russia stick has been so tempting” for opposition activists because it provides “a way to both bludgeon Trump and beat to death any nascent détente with Russia, which would give new hope for more ‘regime change’ wars. For the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks, that would be a win-win-win.” Taking another view, journalist Mark Ames has pointed out that Trump may have intentionally encouraged the Russia conspiracy theory hysteria, knowing it was a dead end that would distract from other policies he is carrying out.)
In an earlier interview with Democracy Now regarding chemical weapons attacks in Syria (specifically a 2013 attack that was found to have likely been perpetrated by Saudi-backed al Qaeda insurgents, though Obama never corrected initial US government propaganda blaming the attack on the Syrian government), Chomsky said that people should look at the pictures of chemical weapons victims in Syria, as well as the pictures of victims of chemical weapons attacks perpetrated by the US (Chomsky has condemned both the US and Syrian governments, and the jihadist elements driving the opposition in Syria, as morally monstrous).
Similar to the self-serving dynamic promoted by the US government/corporate complex regarding election/political interference, the complex likewise encourages US citizens to be outraged over alleged attacks carried out by groups or nations the US is attempting to overthrow or conquer (even before responsibility is determined – facts are generally of only minor relevance to propaganda), but to ignore similar or worse attacks carried out by the US and its collaborators.
For example, the US population is not encouraged to call for the arrest and punishment of war criminals like Henry Kissinger, who have perpetrated massive chemical warfare (which continues to cause deaths and birth defects today) and targeting of civilians in Indochina – Kissinger, for example, is on record calling for US bomb-throwers to murder “anything that moves”. Nor should the US public call for the arrest of US officials and private citizens who worked together to provide Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons production agents, blueprints for building chemical weapons facilities, and equipment for filling chemical warheads, then continued to support him through the gassing of the Kurds and the killing of an estimated 1 million Iranians, including with Western-provided chemical weapons, in a war of aggression against Iran. (Iran refrained from using chemical warfare in retaliation.)
Likewise, according to US propaganda, the US public should never call for the arrest of Bush 1, Bush 2, or Clinton regime members for chemical weapons attacks including napalm, white phosphorous, and the use of munitions made of radioactive nuclear waste, which cause birth defects and remain radioactive for millions of years (not to mention other devastating and illegal attacks such as the killing of an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children, and later at least 1 million more Iraqi citizens, the conservative estimate based on a meta-study by Nobel-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility).
Nor should the US public call for the arrest or punishment, or even the cessation of support, of Israeli government members who carried out chemical weapons attacks against civilians during Obama’s presidency, and also targeted (as the UN secretary general put it) “sleeping children” in UN facilities, which the UN had informed Israel 17 times not to bomb. After these attacks and other massacres, rather than calling for unilateral action to apprehend the criminals, the Obama government increased US aid flowing to Israel, already a rich country and the biggest recipient of US aid, beyond the level of any previous administration. Aid to Israel has been declared illegal by human rights groups because of Israel’s human rights violations and ongoing colonization of Palestinian land.
None of the US officials who ordered or participated in the above atrocities (and unmentioned ones, such as experimentation on unknowing US troops with chemical weapons including mustard gas; see Blum, ‘America’s Deadliest Export’) has been punished.
Thus, to achieve logical consistency and international credibility, Chomsky and many others have pointed out, if US citizens agree that perpetrators of atrocities should be apprehended, they would then need to make efforts to arrest war criminals in their midst and on their tax-dollar payroll.
However, in the current system, the government/corporate complex is able to overwhelmingly saturate the US market with propaganda that encourages citizens to condemn only people in areas the complex seeks to conquer. Thus, as Bertrand Russell pointed out in 1922, “liberal virtures” are strategically, self-servingly invoked to suit the oligarchy’s “imperial” and “financial interests”.
I asked professor Chomsky if he thinks that, in addition to capping political contributions, democracy would also require a cap on the amount of money that can be spent by or on any media outlet, since oligarchs currently can so effectively saturate the market by dumping billions into integrated or favored “news” corporations.
Chomsky said this would be a “very good idea”.
Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the US film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. He begins work on a Master’s Degree in American Studies in the fall.