Sunday, March 07, 2004

Cause And Effect

As one of my new years resolutions, I decided to read one book a month. The books I chose for January and February seem to create a "cause and effect" look at US foreign policy.

My book for January was dissident author Noam Chomsky's Hegemony Or Survival. I am familiar with Chomsky and his ideas; I read a trilogy of his works in college, a book he wrote on the attacks of September 11th, and have pulled articles of his off the web for personal enjoyment.

To begin with, Chomsky states that, in the post Cold War world, he sees two superpowers; the United States and the rest of the world. According to Chomsky the US, under control of an elite, seeks to control both it's population(PATRIOT Act), and the world.

From here Chomsky goes into an in-depth look at the US's strategy, the centerpiece being the idea of "preventive war", what we American's now know as "Pre-emptying". To make this doctrine work, international laws and perhaps even the Constitution must be abridged.

A look at US foreign policy, with its record of support of despotic regimes in the name of stopping the spread of empire.

To Chomsky, the current situation conjures up memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Could the world be closer to Armageddon? According to Chomsky the answer is yes.

Of course, the role the US played in creating Iraq, as much as the [corporate]media would like to ignore, needs to be put into focus. And Chomsky does so.

Of course, empire has its downsides. Especially dealing with dissenting in the countries under control and dealing with that "Second Superpower" called "World Opinion".

Of course, the "War on Terror" has roots in the Middle East conflict. And Chomsky takes a look at how our virtually blind support of radical Zionists in Israel may be only adding fuel to the fires there.

Of course, what happens when the US is placed under the mirror that it places other nations under. The answer, according to Chomsky, is that we don't measure up well.

But Chomsky does see hope as well. In the growing international dissent and dissenters(like myself) here in America. Chomsky sees another world possible, a world where power rests with the people and not the powerful. It's a world that I believe can be attained, but may take work.

February brought me to Blowback, Chalmers Johnson's look at American imperialism in Asia. Though I see many parallels to what's going on in the Middle East, and hope that Johnson may take a look at this too.

This book focuses on US actions in Japan, the Koreas' and China. And how the US used military and economic power to keep these countries in line, and in the case of North Korea, how these policies may have actually worsened a problem. I personally saw parallels in the Middle East to Okinawa, where the US created a military branch office.

Johnson also looks at the effects of this imperialism here in the US. I saw these effects first-hand as I saw the steel mills that powered my home region go under one by one due to foreign steel.

Many would say that Johnson advocates "Isolationism", I beg to disagree. There is a middle ground between imperialism and isolationism. It's called "internationalism"; where the US works with the rest of the world, not as an imperial superpower.

Are these books for everyone? No, those who get their news and ideas from AM-Radio and FOX News will find the books almost heretical. But those people who are willing to ask questions and accept some hard answers are in for an enlightening experience.