A Modest Proposal

sorabji.com: Words: A Modest Proposal

By semillama on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 09:37 am:

    A Modest Proposal
    The NY Times Internationally Syndicated Version

    By Noam Chomsky

    The dedicated efforts of the Bush administration to take control of Iraq- by war, military coup or some other means -- have elicited various analyses of the guiding motives.

    Offering one interpretation, Anatol Lieven, senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Washington, D.C., observes that the Bush efforts conform to "the classic modern strategy of an endangered right wing oligarchy, which is to divert mass discontent into nationalism" through fear of external enemies.

    The administration's goal, Lieven says, is "unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority," which is why much of the world is so frightened.

    The administration has overlooked a simple alternative to invading Iraq, however. Let Iran do it. Before elaborating on this modest proposal, it's worthwhile to examine the antecedents of Washington's bellicosity.

    Ever since the Sept. 11 attacks, Republicans have used the terrorist threat as a pretext to push a right-wing political agenda. For the congressional elections, the strategy has diverted attention from the economy to war. When the presidential campaign begins, Republicans surely do not want people to be asking questions about their pensions, jobs, health care and other matters.

    Rather, they should be praising their heroic leader for rescuing them from imminent destruction by a foe of colossal power, and marching on to confront the next powerful force bent on our destruction.

    The Sept. 11 atrocities provided an opportunity and pretext to implement long-standing plans to take control of Iraq's immense oil wealth, a central component of the Persian Gulf resources that the State Department, in 1945, described as a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history." Control of energy sources fuels U.S. economic and military might, and "strategic power" translates to a lever of world control.

    A different interpretation is that the administration believes exactly what it says: Iraq has suddenly become a threat to our very existence and to its neighbors.

    So we must ensure that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the means for producing them are destroyed, and Saddam Hussein, the monster himself, eliminated. And quickly. The war must be waged this winter. Next winter will be too late. By then the mushroom cloud that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice predicts may have already consumed us.

    Let us assume that this interpretation is correct. If the powers in the Middle East fear Washington more than Saddam, as they apparently do, that just reveals their limited grasp of reality.

    It is only an accident that by next winter the U.S. presidential campaign will be under way. How then can we achieve the announced goals?

    One simple plan seems to have been ignored, perhaps because it would be regarded as insane, and rightly so. But it is instructive to ask why.

    The modest proposal is for the United States to encourage Iran to invade Iraq, providing the Iranians with the necessary logistical and military support, from a safe distance (missiles, bombs, bases, etc.).

    As a proxy, one pole of "the axis of evil" would take on another.

    The proposal has many advantages over the alternatives.

    First, Saddam will be overthrown -- in fact, torn to shreds along with anyone close to him. His weapons of mass destruction will also be destroyed, along with the means to produce them.

    Second, there will be no American casualties. True, many Iraqis and Iranians will die. But that can hardly be a concern. The Bush circles-many of them recycled Reaganites-strongly supported Saddam after he attacked Iran in 1980, quite oblivious to the enormous human cost, either then or under the subsequent sanctions regime.

    Saddam is likely to use chemical weapons. But the current leadership firmly backed the "Beast of Baghdad" when he used chemical weapons against Iran in the Reagan years, and when he used gas against "his own people": Kurds, who were his own people in the sense that Cherokees were Andrew Jackson's people.

    The current Washington planners continued to support the Beast after he had committed by far his worst crimes, even providing him with means to develop weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and biological, right up to the invasion of Kuwait.

    Bush No. 1 and Cheney also effectively authorized Saddam's slaughter of Shi'ites in March 1991, in the interests of "stability," as was soberly explained at the time. They withdrew their support for his attack on the Kurds only under great international and domestic pressure.

    Third, the U.N. will be no problem. It will be unnecessary to explain to the world that the U.N. is relevant when it follows U.S. orders, otherwise not.

    Fourth, Iran surely has far better credentials for war-making, and for running a post-Saddam Iraq, than Washington. Unlike the Bush administration, Iran has no record of support for the murderous Saddam and his program of weapons of mass destruction.

    One might object, correctly, that we cannot trust the Iranian leadership, but surely that is even more true of those who continued to aid Saddam well after his worst crimes.

    Furthermore, we will be spared the embarrassment of professing blind faith in our leaders in the manner that we justly ridicule in totalitarian states.

    Fifth, the liberation will be greeted with enthusiasm by much of the population, far more so than if Americans invade. People will cheer on the streets of Basra and Karbala, and we can join Iranian journalists in hailing the nobility and just cause of the liberators.

    Sixth, Iran can move toward instituting "democracy." The majority of the population is Shi'ite, and Iran would have fewer problems than the U.S. in granting them some say in a successor government.

    There will be no problem in gaining access to Iraqi oil, just as U.S. companies could easily exploit Iranian energy resources right now, if Washington would permit it.

    Granted, the modest proposal that Iran liberate Iraq is insane. Its only merit is that it is far more reasonable than the plans now being implemented -- or it would be, if the administration's professed goals had any relation to the real ones.

    The above has already appeared internationally via the NY TIMES Syndicate. An early response follows...


    Chomsky's "A Modest Proposal" Causes Head scratching among Policy Planners

    Lyle Jenkins

    Alternative Press (AP) - 12/02/02

    Planning for the war in Iraq was thrown topsy turvy today, as planners feverishly studied a new plan put forward by former Bush administration critic, Noam Chomsky.

    Chomsky, the latest convert to the doctrine of Pax Americana, dropped a bombshell into the laps of war planners today, in a brief paper on strategic planning entitled "A Modest Proposal." The proposal calls for the U.S. to "encourage Iran to invade Iraq," with the U.S. providing logistic support and weapons.

    William Kristol, of the American Enterprise Institute, hailed Chomsky's paper. "I think that Chomsky now realizes that shibboleths like 'do unto others as you would have done unto you,' laudable as they may have been in a biblical economy, are hopelessly outdated in our new global economy." Asked to elaborate, Kristol pointed to studies ongoing at the American Enterprise Institute that show that the "do unto others" policy is fiscally irresponsible. E.g., Vice President Dick Cheney received a 20 million dollar golden parachute along with 6 million dollars in stock options for his five years of work in the oil industry. "Macroeconomic calculations show that it would be unfeasible to share the oil wealth in the Mideast to improve living standards there. There simply aren't enough stock options to go around," Kristol noted.

    Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, commented on the military implications of "A Modest Proposal." "A welcome side-effect of Chomsky's proposal," Cordesman said, "is that it will help us to avoid an unpopular draft in this country, so that we don't risk life and limb of young red blooded Americans." Cordesman added that it would also spur U.S. arms sales to Iran, which have languished ever since the missiles-for-hostages scandal.

    Christopher Hitchens, formerly of the Nation, noted: "Chomsky's proposal has the added advantage of not only canceling our moral debt to Iraq, but also our moral debt to Iran for overthrowing their democracy and installing the murderous regime of the Shah" [1].

    Thomas Friedman of the New York Times cautiously lauded Chomsky's hard-headed proposal. "The plan to partition Iran afterwards sounds intriguing," said Friedman, "but without knowing more about Israel's role in the administration of post partition Iran, skepticism is in order."

    Most enthusiastic about the Chomsky plan was Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had proposed attacking Iran immediately after attacking Iraq in an interview for the London Times Online [2]. Sharon also pledged to liberate South Africa next from the "Negro terrorist" Nelson Mandela and to resurrect apartheid and restart exports of Israeli atomic bomb technology to white supremacists there [3].

    Asked if the President had seen Chomsky's proposal, Ari Fleischer, Bush's press secretary, said that although the President had not actually read the paper, he did release the following statement: "My feeling is that Chomsky's plan probably suffers from the same flawed idealism of similar humanitarian plans in the past, such as the ill-conceived effort in 1729 to aid the children of poor people in Ireland, now in the dustbin of history [4].


    [1] On canceling "the moral debt" to Iraq by removing Saddam, see Chistopher Hitchens, "So Long, Fellow Travelers," Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2002.

    [2] On Sharon's proposal to attack Iran, see Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson and Danielle Haas, "Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Israel," London Times Online, Nov. 5, 2002,
    [3] On Israel's support of apartheid in South Africa and Sharon's role,see A. and L. Cockburn, Dangerous Liaison, HarperCollins: New York,1991.

    [4] On the proposal to aid "the children of poor people in Ireland," see Jonathan Swift, "A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick," 1729,http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

By patrick on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 11:42 am:

    *scratches head*

By semillama on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 12:10 pm:

    My dad sent that one to me. If you think about it, it's not a bad idea, no worse than the current game plan. Of course, if you think harder, it is utterly silly. Not unlike the current game plan.

    I keep telling myself I won't post anything remotely political. What's wrong with me?

By patrick on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 12:14 pm:

    oh what are you afraid of? its fun.

    i kept thinking that Chomsky was being a cheeky bastard. the response is even more cheeky

By patrick on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 02:00 pm:

By J on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 02:17 pm:

    It is crazy,just what we did to the japaneese.

By patrick on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 02:27 pm:

    a former camp, for the japanese was recently re-opened as a museum dedicated to that ugly part of past. didnt clinton officially apologize to the Japanese.

    Notice that the Saudi's and Pakistani's have an extended date to comply.

    my blood is boiling. me and a colleague had to go smoke after reading this.

    i have to get down there and protest.

By trace on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 03:09 pm:

    add this to the fact that today the Pentagon has officially claimed Iraq to be in material breach, all I can say right now is buckle up, here we go again.

By semillama on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 04:09 pm:

    Those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it.

    Truer words never spoken I guess.

    I just wish that the voting public didn't have such short memories, since we've got a couple years yet before the opportunity to correct the mistake of 2000 crops up.

    It's going to be interesting to see the White House spin on this one.

By semillama on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 04:24 pm:

    speaking of spin, note how the wording changed. I had to search for this story when I went through Yahoo news. However, the BBC had it as one of the two stories under their Americas heading on their front page.

By semillama on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 04:27 pm:

    plus on another "George W. Bush presents a special producion of George Orwell's 1984"

By wisper on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 05:56 pm:

    who MAKES logos like that?!
    It always makes me wonder, because those things have to go through so many people before we see them.
    Can you imagine? The original art director gets THAT idea and finds someone to design it? And then the designer gets a sketch from him and says "oh yeah, creepy pyramid with an eye and a beam of light on the globe.....looks great! Let's do it! I'm not freaked out at all! nice job, Gary" And then he does, and it gets okayed by god knows how many suits, and then coloured and scanned and formatted for print and screen. And that takes another 10 people seeing it or so, STILL thinking it's great, not saying anything, and then the web designer sees it "Looks good!" and puts it on the site...NO QUESTIONS. It's all cool.
    50+ people thought THAT was a good logo.


By patrick on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 06:00 pm:

    the fucking Masons. who else.

By semillama on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 08:36 am:

    Yeah, I have to say I'm disappointed. They are getting SO sloppy nowadays.

By patrick on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 01:15 pm:

By J on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 03:46 pm:

By patrick on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 05:08 pm:

    the military/police establishment has been taking photos of protestors for the last year now. its absurd and a violation of the Constitution.

    If you see someone taking your picture, turn it around and take theirs. fuckers.

By trace on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 06:23 pm:

By trace on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 06:29 pm:

By Platypus on Friday, December 20, 2002 - 11:41 pm:

    They've been doing it for longer than that, Patrick--I have a red flag from some 3 & 1/2 years ago.

By Antigone on Saturday, December 21, 2002 - 12:52 pm:

    Just wait until these cameras have face/pattern recognition software behind them.


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