• Erik
    579
    Do Americans have a feeling of superiority over others, or a sense of Manifest Destiny to this day?René Descartes

    Some clearly do buy into the idea of American exceptionalism, but it doesn't seem nearly as pervasive as it once was.

    Why do Americans need to be so involved in other nations affairs?René Descartes

    We don't need to, but the assumption is that we're a force for freedom and democracy in the world, and if we didn't take on the role of global guardian then tyranny and oppression would be widespread.

    Why is America a hypocritical country?René Descartes

    The United States is made up of people and people are generally hypocritical. Politicians more than most I'd imagine, and I wonder if there's ever been a powerful nation that willingly let go of power or didn't justify its aggressive policies through appeals to higher values.

    It's hard to see the double standards on a personal and collective level--I hate to admit it but I can be a hypocrite--given the subtle workings of the mind. Maintaining a positive self-image seems to require a significant level of self-delusion for most of us.

    I think an important distinction to make, though, is that many average Americans are oblivious to the hypocrisy you outlined whereas most of the political, economic and military "elites" are not.

    When will America cease it's Imperial ambitions?René Descartes

    When the people in other countries overcome their differences and band together to drive them out. Or when those of us who are American citizens become aware of the situation and call on our leaders to act according to principles which supposedly ground our own political system. It does seem like there will always be specific groups within any country (typically the wealthy) that benefit from the American imperialist situation, so the temptation will be there on both sides. I'm pretty sure most of those who object to the pro-American relationship would gladly call in foreign allies as well if it were possible and if it served their interests. So maybe this is a wider human phenomena of greed, corruption, lust for power, etc. rather than something specific to the USA.

    Are we much different than the Persians, Athenians, Macedonians, Romans, Mongols, Turks, Iroquois, Aztecs, Spaniards, French, Dutch, English, Soviets, Imperial Japanese, Nazis, etc., etc., etc.? I appreciate attempts to distinguish between the "goodness" of America and the evil of other expansive powers like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and I think there are differences to be found in the way they use their power, but I also wouldn't completely dismiss points of convergence shared by aggressive and expansive powers as proponents of the above view are wont to do.

    Who will take over from America IF they ever collapse?René Descartes

    China seems to be the consensus among educated opinion, right? Interestingly, they apparently had opportunities to expand beyond East Asia at previous points in their history and chose not to do so, so perhaps they could serve as a good counter-example to the notion that all powerful peoples and nations have imperialist ambitions.

    I'm not knowledgeable enough to say for sure, but (relatively) recent actions seem to suggest that the more current Chinese government has larger global aspirations than their predecessors. This shift in perspective from isolationist to imperialist may just be a pragmatic response to the Hundred Years of Humiliation they suffered at the hands of Western powers not so long ago.

    When will Americans realise what they are doing is wrong?René Descartes

    I think it was much easier to justify US internationalism--including supporting oppressive dictators--within the context of the Cold War. We supported bad guys because the alternative was much worse sort of thing. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism we needed a new enemy to justify continued military, political, and economic influence around the world. 9/11 came just in time for the Neocons and we had our new justification for foreign aggression and influence. Now that political Islam seems to be waning a bit it's swinging back to the Russians. Same group of intellectuals agitating for the use of American power against foreign adversaries, just a different target.

    Trump spoke of a new sort of American isolationism--insincerely of course--and it really pissed them off. What's crazy to me is that many progressives have fallen for the bait. They dislike Trump so much that literally anyone who opposes him for any reason is seen as a true patriot of the real America predating Trump, including hawkish Neocons (redundant expression) like Max Boot and Bill Kristol who clearly don't share most of their "progressive" values.

    As usual that's not meant to support Trump in any way but simply to show how manipulative some of those opposing him are. If you can even get political progressives to support American global hegemony by contrasting this vision of, say, Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's America with Trump's racist populist one, then you're pretty damn clever. I'll give that to them. Hell, even Reagan and Dubya are seen in a favorable light by many on the Left these days. Insanity.

    Solid progressives are now ready to go to war with Russia and reclaim America's place as sole global superpower. It's not pitched like that, of course, but Noble Lies are always needed, even if they're being peddled to a more educated and affluent segment of the population than the perceived simpletons that form Trump's base.

    Someone like Chomsky, i.e. someone who's been documenting international abuses of the US and the media's shameless complicity in this hegemonic arrangement, is too knowledgeable to be taken in by the most recent attempts to justify global supremacy through contrast with Trump. I know it's hard for some to fathom, but one can vehemently disagree with Trump's vision for the United States while also refusing to long for a return to what preceded him.

    Unfortunately many are falling for the false dilemma of supporting either a racist and nationalist America or an internationalist one under the leadership of oligarchic elites. This is clearly a false dilemma, and it appears as though a justified hatred of Trump is blinding a large number of otherwise decent people to other possibilities. Without exaggerating one bit, this position I just laid out could be (mis)interpreted as pro-Russian propaganda and I could be accused of being a Russian agent. More insanity of the sort that was previously confined to the Right.

    Lots of intelligent people even here at TPF spend a great deal of time fulminating against Trump for supposedly destroying America, more specifically, his destroying what America stands for. American history doesn't support such simplistic narratives, although I also think us critics should point out the redeeming qualities. Not doing so also presents a simplistic and distorted image, and I haven't done those aspects of the nation's history justice here. My bad.

    Maybe I'll try to think about those legitimate (non-propaganda) good things and respond later.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    780
    Ah, Noam Chomsky. When has someone with specialized knowledge of a relatively narrow, limited field more relentlessly, and successfully, promoted himself as expert, and indeed wise, in so many others? He's remarkable. They say that Talleyrand was such an inspired and artful master of duplicity that even his enemies couldn't help but admire him as a kind of colossus. I think I have a similar regard for Chomsky, though for the life of me I don't know why he's accepted so readily as an authority in anything but linguistics and cognitive science.

    As for God's favorite country and imperialism, I see nothing surprising in the fact that Americans commonly think of America as exceptional and as force for good in the world. Most of the citizens of very powerful nations have always thought of their country as just that. In the West, all nations pretending to great power look back to the Roman Empire. The Romans thought of themselves as having a noble destiny. In Virgil's words:

    Roman, remember by your strength to rule
    Earth’s peoples—for your arts are to be these:
    To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
    To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.

    So did the British during their imperial period. The Germans never were imperial, really, not in the same sense as the Romans and the British, or the French for that matter. But imperial powers look on themselves as a civilizing force. Here, we look on ourselves as making the world safe for democracy. We view those who think otherwise as ungrateful (listen to Randy Newman's song "Political Science). That's just the way of it. It will change when human beings change.
  • LD Saunders
    314
    The comment above regarding Chomsky is a classic!
  • Saphsin
    141
    Going over Chomsky's political work is really really broad.....so here are my recommendations:

    Read this book, and then the following articles (back and forth reviews of the book):

    https://www.amazon.com/Chomskys-Challenge-American-Power-Critical/dp/0826519482/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520386116&sr=8-1&keywords=anthony+greco

    http://newpol.org/content/greco-chomsky

    http://newpol.org/content/noam-chomsky-american-power-reply-shalom

    http://newpol.org/content/rejoinder-greco-chomsky

    And yes, prominent people working in academia and activism take his politics very seriously (though they diverge from the mainstream) The idea that he's only well respected in linguistics and his outside political work only amounts to popular polemics is just being a silly ignoramus. He's done joint discussions and interviews with people like Yanis Varoufakis, Ha-Joon Chang, Stephen Zunes, Richard Falk, and many others.
  • Saphsin
    141


    Erik

    "Some clearly do buy into the idea of American exceptionalism, but it doesn't seem nearly as pervasive as it once was."

    The stronger version is less pervasive then it once was. But there's a more subtle version that's implicitly pervasive in American liberal politics.

    "I appreciate attempts to distinguish between the "goodness" of America and the evil of other expansive powers like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and I think there are differences to be found in the way they use their power, but I also wouldn't completely dismiss points of convergence shared by aggressive and expansive powers as proponents of the above view are wont to do."

    I would say Stalin was worse than the United States at that time, but for the rest of the Soviet Union's history in terms of external influence, the United States collectively have done much more crimes in the third world while Soviet Union's imperialism reached only around its peripheries. But internally, the Soviet Union was much worse. Nazi Germany was definitely worse than the United States. (I'm playing this game, but there's no point in talking about "goodness" and "evil" of countries. The United States government and corporations inflict so much damage because it is simply much more powerful than that of other countries. If another country switched places, it would do similar things.)

    "China seems to be the consensus among educated opinion, right?"

    Yes, they are most likely candidate for the next dominant power. Though there's a lot of good commentary by well respected China Experts on why they're unlikely to become the next Empire (Jonathan Fenby is one, Ho-fung Hung is another). Too many deteriorating internal problems that make their indefinite economic growth unsustainable, and there are all sorts of issues in the way they're pursuing economic growth that prevents independent development.

    I agree with most of the rest of what you wrote in your post but adding some more things. If there are progressives that support Trump because they hate Hillary Clinton or favor non-intervention, I'm quite sure they're a tiny minority to the point of non-existent. Both from my personal observations and if you look at the Gallup Polls & Pew Research Center on a regular basis. Maybe you've met too many of them in your life, but I don't think they're that many.

    Also Trump was never really isolationist in his rhetoric during the campaign, that's an exaggeration floating around if you don't take into account everything he said. He literally said everything across the spectrum, advocating everything from "bombing the hell out of ISIS" to speaking at AIPAC calling for expansion of settlements.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    [/quote]My main questions:[/quote]

    I'm feeling oppositional and obstructive.

    Do Americans have a feeling of superiority over others, or a sense of Manifest Destiny to this day?René Descartes

    Many Americans feel superior to many other people. This is typical of people in general. Manifest Destiny has pretty much been fulfilled, so might as well be for it rather than agin it.

    Why do Americans need to be so involved in other nations affairs?René Descartes

    Because we live on a relatively small planet, and the affairs of one nation affect the affairs of other nations. That said, it isn't clearly to me exactly what we are doing in Afghanistan. Presumably we were in Iraq to have some say over how their oil was disposed of. That didn't seem to work out very well. Vietnam didn't work out very well either. On the other hand, WWII seems to have been entirely worth it from our perspective.

    Why is America a hypocritical country?René Descartes

    For god's sake, can we please get over our shock when somebody is hypocritical!!! Look, René, everybody on earth is hypocritical: it's a vital tool to get through life, and it just isn't natural for human beings to be gracelessly honest all the time -- or maybe ever.

    When will America cease it's Imperial ambitions?René Descartes

    How about never? Does never work for you? I suppose when we are one of the many crushed, pureed, and canned countries that once were strong and dynamic, we'll stop being imperialistic.

    Who will take over from America IF they ever collapse?René Descartes

    Whoever it is, you will find them hypocritical. If the dire warnings about peak oil, global warming, and economic collapse come true, there may not be another imperialistic power for quite some time. It may be that people will be praying for a strong country to take control of the chaos.

    When will Americans realise what they are doing is wrong?René Descartes

    How about never. Does never work for you?

    Imperialism has its good points. The British Empire did screw a lot of the natives out of a good deal. On the other hand, they dragged them out of the shadowy superstitious pagan past into the bright sunshine of 19th century enlightenment and progress. So that was a good thing. The trouble with some of Britain's colonies was that the British didn't impose civilization on them quite long enough.

    Somebody has to maintain order in the world. The Romans did it. The Brits did it. The Americans are doing it. Naturally the Romans, Brits and Americans have all maintained order in their own interests. Why the hell would they do otherwise? Little 10th century Rus expanded from a batch pf peasant huts to a great empire reaching from Eastern Europe all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Probably all the petty kingdoms and half-assed sheikdoms of Central Asia were better off as part of the Russian Empire than fending off hordes of invaders themselves.

    Had the American Indians been the beneficiaries of guns, germs, and steel the way the Europeans were, history would have been different. Alas for them, fortunately for us, they weren't. Nothing wrong with American Indians -- all of them from the Arctic to Terra Del Fuego. But the fact is, they didn't know we were coming, hadn't exploited the mineral resources below their feet, and weren't able to fend us off. So, the Spanish, Portuguese, British, and Americans (mostly us 4) just rolled over them.

    Life is not fair. As a rule, nations do not apply personal religious standards to their own actions. Like, nations don't have friends. They have interests. What is in the interest of the State of France? Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood for Algerians and SE Asians? In a pigs eye.

    Should America pursue it's interests in the world as if it were a Quaker Meeting? No.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    I'm fine if America invades a country, just don't make up bullshit to justify it. Simply say: "We would like to invade this country because we feel like it. There are lots of materials, human labour and strategic positions, and we want all of it. We also want to press the native people as we are superior to them and we need them to make computers and fridges for us. We also have a more powerful army, so its easy for us to invade this country as they can't do anything about it. That's why we want to invade this country. We have no care for local populations, and collateral damage means nothing to us, it's just a statistic."René Descartes

    This is, of course, an excellent example of "graceless honesty".

    We had become an imperialistically minded state well before WWII, but after WWII we discovered we were the replacement of the British and the French empires. We pursued military, economic, and political agendas which we preferred -- just like the Romans, Spanish, Portuguese, Hapsburg, German, Russian, French, and British empires had done before us.

    There is no other rational basis for a powerful country to act, really, except in its own best interest. Our best interest lay in organizing the world to suit our economic, military, and political needs. The foreign policy of a nation, or empire, may very well be immoral by individuals standards (there are numerous examples). But nations have interests, and that's what they pursue.
  • ssu
    774
    There is no other rational basis for a powerful country to act, really, except in its own best interest. Our best interest lay in organizing the world to suit our economic, military, and political needs. The foreign policy of a nation, or empire, may very well be immoral by individuals standards (there are numerous examples). But nations have interests, and that's what they pursue.Bitter Crank

    Bitter, your a reasonable person, so help me to understand this:

    Why cannot people understand the above?

    Because I find there to be this tendency to "be for and against" when looking at countries. So if your critical about the US, that means people aren't going to be critical about those countries opposing the US (or vice versa). Why is it so? As if somehow that would undermine your criticism of the US as obviously you would then agree on something that the US uses to push it's agenda. And this is somehow so bad, that people become apologists of the other.

    Now I might understand it if one is a media professional, one won't bite the hand that feeds you, but ordinary people have nothing to gain by this.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    You've gone to bed, but let me expand a bit on why some think that nations can not be judged by personal, individual standards.

    A nation may be composed of 10 million, 300 million or a billion. More and less. The government represents the varied interests of its citizens. The government also contains separate interests such as the judicial system, the military, health agencies, economic agencies, and so forth. The citizens carry out all sorts of business, cultural, industrial, agricultural, activities, just to mention a few.

    They who represent a nation in the world represent a vast array of interests. Somehow they must act to benefit as many of the particular interest the people have as possible. Every other nation has the same situation.

    So, if a powerful nation (like Great Britain--back when it was great, or France, or the Soviet Union, or the United States can advance the good of its people's varied interests, it should and it will. That may mean empire; it may mean military dominance; it may mean financial dominance, and so on.

    You and I can personally apply our ethical standards to our own situations and behave accordingly. We are only responsible to ourselves and several others, while the state executive is responsible to millions, or billions.

    This sounds somewhat a-moral, and perhaps it is. But large nation states are at the top of the moral food chain, and who above them can judge? Only other large nation states are in a position to judge in a way that will possibly make a difference. Holland could denounce Nazi Germany, but UK, the USSR, and the USA were in a position to punish Germany for invading Poland. (Yes, I realize we didn't join the war just then.)
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    You are asking a deeper question than I may be able to answer.

    Is it that people can not understand that the US and Iran, for instance, can both pursue reasonable self interest--which happens to be opposed by its opposite? I can think of several reasons why Iran might wish to have nuclear weapons: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and us. And there are several reasons why we might not want Iran to have nuclear bombs: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and us.

    Iran has good reason not to trust the USA -- given our interventions in their affairs during the 20th century. We were probably pursuing our self interest in interfering with their affairs but it backfired. Untoward outcomes is a possibility every nation's foreign policy has to contend with. Foreign policy operatives have to ask themselves "Just how much value will this devious piece of maneuvering have for us? Is it worth it? What if it blows up in our faces? Do we have plausible deniability?"

    Foreign policy in the middle east seems to be governed by the US Government's stated policy that "Our self interest is staked on controlling middle eastern oil supplies." Marching in and just seizing the oil is bad manners, (and the marching in can back fire badly -- see IRAQ) so let's just install a conveniently pro-American government, and then we can have the oil.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Another problem in people's thinking about foreign policy (among other things) is that they 'personalize the behavior of nations'. "The United States is a bully." Syria is crazy." "France is snobbish." "Italians aren't serious." and so on. Diminishing a nation by characterizing it as an annoying person gives one simple objects to think about, but gets in the way of a complex nuanced view of reality.

    Let me be the first to admit -- I too have difficulty remembering that nations have interests, not friends. It's just easier to think about world affairs in simplified form.

    In the Noam Chomsky - William F. Buckley interview I posted above, Chomsky demonstrates the way we should think. IF only I could think like Chomsky.
  • Erik
    579
    I think one practical reason to pitch empire in humanitarian terms is that it would be much harder, almost impossible in fact (unless the pay and benefits were exceptional), to get average folk to enlist in the military and potentially sacrifice their lives without doing so.

    If it were acknowledged that the primarily goal is to expand the economic (and other) advantages of the already wealthy and powerful within the imperialist country, then you'd not only have difficulties finding people to sign up, but there'd likely be more anger towards how much taxpayer money is spent in the endeavor and how they've (hoi polloi) been lied to for so long.

    I'm not going to risk my life for some oligarchs who don't typically send their kids to fight in these wars, but if it's for freedom, democracy, and other elevated values that I think my country stands for and that I've become emotionally attached to, then I may be willing to make that sacrifice. A good deal of effort is expended by those in power on maintaining the illusion through continuous manipulation of the feelings and perceptions of the populace.

    So, as I mentioned last time, it appears as though the masses aren't generally aware of the blatant hypocrisy that their country is guilty of. This scenario not only helps push the imperialist agenda but it also shields the "elites" who benefit most from the arrangement from resentment on the domestic front. They play a profitable but dangerous game and keeping control of the narrative is vital.

    I was a patriotic fool until my early twenties when I began to learn a little bit about the wider world and noticed the distinction, to put it mildly, between the actions and the rhetoric of the U.S.A. I'm still a fool but not foolish enough to think that "we" really care about values beyond self-interest. Even here I'd question the notion that there's a unified national interest to be found, but I'll once again admit my ignorance and defer to the wisdom of fellow posters.

    Average people in the U.S. have seen their standard of living decline in recent decades while imperialism and the further enrichment of the already wealthy has continued unabated.
  • Erik
    579
    Another problem in people's thinking about foreign policy (among other things) is that they 'personalize the behavior of nations'. "The United States is a bully." Syria is crazy." "France is snobbish." "Italians aren't serious." and so on. Diminishing a nation by characterizing it as an annoying person gives one simple objects to think about, but gets in the way of a complex nuanced view of reality.

    Let me be the first to admit -- I too have difficulty remembering that nations have interests, not friends. It's just easier to think about world affairs in simplified form.
    Bitter Crank

    But Crank, after making that great point about erroneously personalizing nations' behavior you seem to do that very thing by talking about a nation's interests. Nations don't have interests (or friends), people do. I'd imagine there are times when consensus arises -- e.g. when class and race and other differences between citizens are temporarily set aside in the face of a threatening foreign enemy -- but it seems like these various interests don't always, or even often, fall into perfect alignment without a significant amount of propaganda. Again, it seems like controlling the patriotic narrative is key.

    Maybe I've become too cynical these days, but I find it odd that I should have more in common with absurdly rich and well-connected people living in the US than with other working class stiffs abroad. There are obviously linguistic, geographic, and other commonalities that unite U.S citizens beyond their socio-economic status, but IMO the discrepancy on that front is so massive these days that it renders those other things somewhat insignificant by comparison.
  • Londoner
    54
    They who represent a nation in the world represent a vast array of interests. Somehow they must act to benefit as many of the particular interest the people have as possible. Every other nation has the same situation. — Bitter Crank

    'Somehow' indeed!

    Just because people share a nationality there is no reason to think they have common interests, so to say that a nation will act in its own interests begs the question. In all the historical examples of empires there were sections of the population who were opposed to that empire; who would have derided the manifest destiny or civilizing mission slogans as just that; slogans, the equivalent of 'America First'. In other words, imperialism was always just politics.
  • ssu
    774
    Diminishing a nation by characterizing it as an annoying person gives one simple objects to think about, but gets in the way of a complex nuanced view of reality.Bitter Crank
    You are correct that this characterization creates the flawed oversimplified perception: as if nations and their governments, even those run by despots, would have one specific agenda or idea what is best for the nation and hence somehow would behave in that manner as coherently as a person. Even a dictator cannot steer one countries actual policies and it's outcomes how he wants it. Every dictator has his powerbase that he has to keep "happy", which likely isn't agreeing in everything even if it's appearing to give thunderous applause to everything the dictator does. In every country there are competing factions with different agendas.

    Russia with it's slavophiles and zapadniks is a good example of this.

    And even if people take into account this, even then the cacophony of these different factions and the complexity is typically sidelined with a very simplistic narrative that looks for culprits for things we consider bad: it's the moneyed interests, the military-industrial establishment, or some other people we usually don't like (on the other side the right-wingers would talk about liberals and "cultural marxists" etc.) that are behind the bad things America does and that evil cabal somehow sets the agenda.

    In some cases a small lobbying group or faction can indeed grab power and set a specific policy, best example that comes to my mind is the rise of the neocons and the continued influence even after Bush administration, yet many times things aren't so simple.
  • CuddlyHedgehog
    459
    gone to bed, but let me expand a bit on why some think that nations can not be judged by personal, individual standards.

    A nation may be composed of 10 million, 300 million or a billion. More and less. The government represents the varied interests of its citizens. The government also contains separate interests such as the judicial system, the military, health agencies, economic agencies, and so forth. The citizens carry out all sorts of business, cultural, industrial, agricultural, activities, just to mention a few.

    They who represent a nation in the world represent a vast array of interests. Somehow they must act to benefit as many of the particular interest the people have as possible. Every other nation has the same situation.

    So, if a powerful nation (like Great Britain--back when it was great, or France, or the Soviet Union, or the United States can advance the good of its people's varied interests, it should and it will. That may mean empire; it may mean military dominance; it may mean financial dominance, and so on.

    You and I can personally apply our ethical standards to our own situations and behave accordingly. We are only responsible to ourselves and several others, while the state executive is responsible to millions, or billions.

    This sounds somewhat a-moral, and perhaps it is. But large nation states are at the top of the moral food chain, and who above them can judge? Only other large nation states are in a position to judge in a way that will possibly make a difference. Holland could denounce Nazi Germany, but UK, the USSR, and the USA were in a position to punish Germany for invading Poland. (Yes, I realize we didn't join the war just then.)
    Bitter Crank

    Then cut out the bullshit justifications and call it what it is. Oh, and quit chastising other countries for doing the same as you, i.e pursuing their own interests.

    "You" is addressed to your politicians and their sympathisers. Kindly pass the message please. Thank you.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Because I find there to be this tendency to "be for and against" when looking at countries. So if your critical about the US, that means people aren't going to be critical about those countries opposing the US (or vice versa)ssu

    For the last time, who said this? Who?René Descartes

    Perhaps not in these hallowed halls one does not hear this, but I hear it in conversations quite often. For instance, if one talks about Syria, someone will say "The Americans are bombing women and children (men apparently don't count) again; we are military bullies. We should leave Syria alone. The Syrians don't deserve what we are doing to them... and so on." In their haste to condemn the US for being a military imperialist racist sexist regime, they overlook the horrors of what Syrians various factions are doing, and what the Assad regime is doing to Syrians. At least we are not dumping barrels of chorine gas on neighborhoods.

    Of course, the badness of the Assad regime doesn't make the badness of US policy in Syria better.

    The same thing is true in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our failures in these two countries do not redeem the failures of these two countries within their own borders. And their failures don't redeem ours either, of course.

    Yet another example is the unlawful immigration conflict. People who are advocates for undocumented unlawful immigrants argue for the legitimacy of the immigrants presence here, as if the citizens of this country had no stake in how many immigrants get here, or how much illegality is involved.
  • ssu
    774
    In their haste to condemn the US for being a military imperialist racist sexist regime, they overlook the horrors of what Syrians various factions are doing, and what the Assad regime is doing to Syrians.Bitter Crank
    Hear, hear.

    The only reason I come up to this happening is the following: people think that if they admit that the Assad regime is behind horrors, means that US maybe correct in something this in turn casts doubt to their criticism of the US. Which in my view doesn't make sense (especially with the utterly flawed Syria policy, there's a lot to critisize). It's just such a stop gap reaction: "Country X has done this bad thing" - "Meh. The US is responsible for far worse!"

    Being this way "critical" in this sense makes them quite open to believe the other sides information warfare. That propaganda typically doesn't care at all if the true comes up let say 6 months to years afterward, it only tries to dominate the present discourse.

    I remember the times on the old PF when Bush was preparing for his Iraqi invasion, there were a lot of people believing the lies then and being very angry about it if you said something against them. That's the power of a good information campaign.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.8k
    Then cut out the bullshit justifications and call it what it is. Oh, and quit chastising other countries for doing the same as you, i.e pursuing their own interests.CuddlyHedgehog

    British singer Billy Bragg wrote a new version of the Internationale, the worldwide worker's communist anthem: these lines...

    In our world poisoned by exploitation
    Those who have taken now they must give
    And end the vanity of nations
    We've but one earth on which to live

    express the idea that ordinary working people the world over [are said to] have a common transcending interest over and above the interests of 'nations'. This is true in some respects and not true in other respects.

    Small farmers in France and small farmers in Germany or England certainly have a similar problem -- getting a good price for their crops. The EU attempts to work out an equitable solution for small farmers. Between small farmers in France and small farmers in the United States (as if there were any small farmers left in the US) have the common problem of getting enough return on their crops -- without the EU to work out a solution.

    Workers in the US auto industry have the same interests as the workers in the EU. Japanese, and South Korean auto plants. The interests of manufacturing companies are represented by trade negotiators; the interests of the workers (in every country) get short shrift.

    Agriculture in South America has been penetrated by European and American seed/fertilizer/herbicide/pesticide manufacturers who have gradually shaped their agricultural practices to resemble the industrialized model.

    In one hand, we have the stateless, borderless ideals of the old-fashioned communists--workers of the world unite. In another hand we have international capitalism--whatever it takes to maximize return for shareholders. In a third hand you and me are both observing what goes on in the world and trying to describe it.

    You and I may not approve of what is going on. In point of fact, I believe you don't, and I don't either. I do not approve of many of the "interests" pursued by the American state, and numerous other states as well. But it seems to me true that states, and international conglomerate corporations, are the contenders in the international arena. They are all pursuing a batch of interests that match the interests of only some of their people. Peasants, industrial workers, foot soldiers, fishermen, municipal workers, nurses, old people--all sorts--just don't register in international affairs.

    So, when I say "countries have interests, not friends" only some of reality is described. If you have a better way to capture the complexities of multi-level competing interests around the world, let's hear it.
  • CuddlyHedgehog
    459
    "Country X has done this bad thing" - "Meh. The US is responsible for far worse!"ssu

    This is not the argument. One wrong does not justify another. The argument is that the US cannot play the moral judge who steps in to put things right and restore order when its own track record is as despicable if not worse.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    780
    And yes, prominent people working in academia and activism take his politics very seriously (though they diverge from the mainstream) The idea that he's only well respected in linguistics and his outside political work only amounts to popular polemics is just being a silly ignoramus. He's done joint discussions and interviews with people like Yanis Varoufakis, Ha-Joon Chang, Stephen Zunes, Richard Falk, and many others.Saphsin

    How could "prominent people working in academia and activism" not take his politics seriously? It's not possible to consider politics (of a sort) without acknowledging at least the presence of Chomsky and his often-stated views. He's inserted himself into virtually every political/social/cultural issue imaginable, repeatedly. He's ubiquitous, omnipresent. He's made himself a gargantuan figure in the political landscape of opinion. And he's done so in a manner which redounds to his credit and standing. For the most part; his defense of the notorious Holocaust denier, Faurisson, for example, was a lapse in his extraordinary pursuit and acquisition of prominence. He's a marvel.

    Even The Onion has recognized his hard-earned significance:
    https://entertainment.theonion.com/noam-chomsky-announces-las-vegas-residency-1819578692
  • Saphsin
    141
    Yeah he has a very strict standard of supporting Free Speech. There are people who think his involvement in the affair was naive, but the whole business of him being sympathetic to the guy is ridiculous anyways. I don't see the point of talking about it unless we are to suspect that he's anti-semitic, a Jewish guy who grew up in a family passionate about Hebrew Studies and who later lived in a kibbutz. And who's a close friend of Norman Finkelstein whose parents were Holocaust Survivors and whose work was endorsed by Raul Hilberg, the father of Holocaust Studies. That's really the end of it, let me know if you want to have a serious discussion about politics.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    780
    I certainly wouldn't call him anti-Semitic. I note only that he made a mistake in that instance, or more properly a misjudgment. If one is intent on voicing one's opinion in as public a manner as possible, regardless of whether it's solicited, chances are that now and then it will have unanticipated and undesirable consequences.

    If it's possible to have a serious discussion about politics without involving Noam Chomsky, perhaps we'll have one some day. But I confess I'm inclined to poke fun at self-appointed guardians of morals,
    of any stripe.
  • Saphsin
    141
    Personally I think he should have been more careful, but I'm sympathetic to his support for free speech, which is apparently unpopular among the Left these days. If its mistaken in any form, I seriously doubt its the moral heresy worth mentioning that somehow decreases his credibility.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    780
    I tend to side with J.S. Mill when it comes to speech, so we may have similar views on that issue. But I acknowledge that restriction is appropriate in some instances (e.g. those exceptions to the protection of the First Amendment when government restriction is involved).
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