Monday, August 06, 2012

In Hiroshima's Shadow

By Noam Chomsky

August 6, the anniversary of Hiroshima, should be a day of somber reflection, not only on the terrible events of that day in 1945, but also on what they revealed: that humans, in their dedicated quest to extend their capacities for destruction, had finally found a way to approach the ultimate limit. . .

. . .There is much to think about on August 6. . . 

The war against Iran is already well underway, including assassination of scientists and economic pressures that have reached the level of, "undeclared war," in the judgment of the Iran specialist Gary Sick.

Great pride is taken in the sophisticated cyberwar directed against Iran. The Pentagon regards cyberwar as, "an act of war," that authorizes the target, "to respond using traditional military force," The Wall Street Journal reports. With the usual exception: not when the U.S. or an ally is the perpetrator. . . 

The current escalation of the, "undeclared war," against Iran increases the threat of accidental large-scale war. Some of the dangers were illustrated last month when a U.S. naval vessel, part of the huge deployment in the Gulf, fired on a small fishing boat, killing one Indian crew member and wounding at least three others. It would not take much to set off a major war.

One sensible way to avoid such dread consequences is to pursue, "the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons," the wording of Security Council resolution 687 of April 1991, which the U.S. and U.K. invoked in their effort to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq 12 years later.

The goal has been an Arab-Iranian objective since 1974, regularly re-endorsed, and by now it has near-unanimous global support, at least formally. An international conference to consider ways to implement such a treaty may take place in December.

Progress is unlikely unless there is mass public support in the West. Failure to grasp the opportunity will, once again, lengthen the grim shadow that has darkened the world since that fateful Aug. 6.

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate,
 © 2011 Noam Chomsky


We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world. 

But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?

Forget that only half of eligible voters typically vote in quadrennial presidential elections... Forget that the government is increasingly trampling on the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, with a burgeoning surveillance program and a growing militarization of the police.

The US government doesn’t even do what the majority of the citizens want. In fact, these days it flat out ignores what we the people want.

Consider the polls, and what they show public sentiment to be on key issues, and then look at what the government, composed of supposedly elected representatives and an elected president, actually does: . . . 

Certainly Americans have the right and the ability to vote for candidates, but that alone appears not to produce what President Abraham Lincoln, back in 1865, called a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Dave Lindorff is an award-winning American investigative journalist. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a BA in Chinese language. He then received an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1975. He served for five years as a correspondent for Hong Kong and China. He is a founder of the online newspaper

This article was originally published at PressTV


Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.

By Glenn Greenwald

Why don't American oligarchs fear the consequences of their corruption, and how can that be changed?

August 05, 2012 "Salon" -- 

The Nation‘s Editor-at-Large and MSNBC’s weekend host, Chris Hayes, recently published a book documenting the fundamental failure of America’s elite institutions and exploring the causes and solutions: Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

What makes this book genuinely outstanding, and so rare, is that it is actually difficult to decide whether one agrees with many of its arguments. That’s because, as is typical of Hayes, he is more interested in grappling with complex questions in novel, non-obvious ways than he is in eliciting pat answers and easy agreement.
The highest compliment one can give a writer is not to say that one wholeheartedly agrees with his observations, but that he provoked — really, forced — difficult thinking about consequential matters and internal questioning of one’s own assumptions, often without quick or clear resolution. 

That achievement, at its core, is what defines Twilight of the Elites, and it’s what makes it so genuinely worth your time to read and think about. 

Provoking that type of questioning in people is a much more difficult task, and a much more valuable one, than inducing clear-cut, unequivocal agreement (which is often, though not always, accomplished by simply validating someone’s already held convictions). 

For that reason, Hayes’ book stays with you long after you are done reading it. . . .

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