(This is a response to what Dave wrote in the comments section of this post. Since his comment was rather long, and this response will likely be just as long, I decided to make it a post)

Dave writes that

I generally agree that the class of professional pundits in this country (conservative and liberal alike) serves no other purpose than to churn out steaming piles of self-serving dung. For a bit of insight on the function of the media in general and of pundits in particular I recommend, “Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky and “Sound and Fury” by Eric Alterman, respectively.

I’ve read Manufacturing Consent. I’ve also read superb refutations which have pointed out that Chomsky is just one shade away from being a bold-faced liar. I’ve concluded, after being forced to read the man extensively by certain teachers, that Chomsky’s popularity owes to his remarkable skill as a deceptor.

However, he has also become wont recently, to make absurd and outrageous claims without even employing his impressive skills of mendacity to lend to them even the veneer of legitimacy. I think this is a result of his popularity among certain groups, whom he knows will believe anything he says at face value. Some of these more ridiculous statements (I’m paraphrasing):

  • Not long after 9/11, he told an audience that the US was planning a deliberate genocide of 3-4 million innocent Afghanis.
  • He claimed that Israel was openly celebrating the 9/11 attacks because they thought it would give them a chance to really put the smack down on the Palestinians without anyone caring, when in fact, Israel went into a national state of mourning, while the Palestinians were actually celebrating in the streets.
  • He dismissed stories of Khmer Rouge genocide as just “a pack of lies,” and then turns around and says that if there was any genocide perpetrated in Cambodia (which there wasn’t!), it was surely the fault of the Americans.
  • He is routinely guilty of exactly those things he accuse mainstream media of (namely “manufacturing consent,” -purposefully cutting off chances for debate and instead supplying only the accepted “fascist/capitalist” perspective). For instance, in response to a question about the media’s depiction of Al Qeada being animated by a hatred for Western values (such as civil liberties, etc), he said “[The question] can simply be thrown out. It’s deliberate nonsense and its disseminators certainly know that, at least if they have some knowledge of modern history, including that of the Middle East. Naturally these are convenient assumptions that serve to distract attention from the real injustices expressed, even by the Middle East’s more pro-Western elements…”

    So, in other words, “that’s inconvenient to my position, therfore I don’t want to talk about it, so let’s throw that shit out the window!”

Chomsky is an intelligent liar and a moral idiot. I have investigated enough of his statements to conclude that most, if not all of what he writes and says is garbage. As for Eric ALterman, my knowledge of his work is limited to his “Altercation” writings. From those I have garnered avery unfavorable opinion of him, such as his praise of Carter as a worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and have written about that more than once on this site. 

In response to my paragraph about the silliness of saying that members of the White House want to create an empire, Dave writes:

Bush and Powell, perhaps not. Each in their own way is doing the job they were drafted to do. Dick Cheney and Don “Lean Forward” Rumsfeld are another matter, as are the influential defense policy ideologues Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.

No, you’re simply wrong. There is no significant difference between the ideology of what an ideal end point would be between Bush/Powell and Cheney/Wolfowitz et al. The difference is merely one of the degree to which they are willing to advocate the use of force, and what kinds of force and where.

In fact, I’ve read much of that plan that Sorensen says reads like “Mein Kampf,” and again and again, the issue that is stressed is not dominating the world, but keeping the US safe from credible threats.

>>What all of these people do want, however, and what they are in the process of bringing about, is a world where there is no power that exists that both can and would threaten us.<<

You comment here suggests that these alleged threats exist in a vacuum and that if we just show the rest of the world how powerful we are, they will patiently wait for us to eliminate them all until they will disappear forever .

It is closer to the truth to say that our actions aimed at eliminating threats, in and of themselves, actually create the conditions that give rise to threats.

I don’t suggest any such thing.

I said simply that they wish to bring about a situation where there does not exist any such entity that both has the power and the intention of threatening our security. This can be accomplished in more than one way. One of them is indeed actively eliminating threats through force, but this is only done in the most extreme cases, such as Saddam, where he has demonstarted quite clearly an almost suicidal will to power. But more often it is accomplished through diplomatic pressure and deterrence, the latter of which does indeed accomplish our goals of security by essentially “showing the world how powerful we are,” but not so that they will wait for us to destroy them, just so they will sit tight and not attack us. It’s not our goal to seek out and eradicate every lousy dictator in the world. Our goals are limted to getting rid of those that could and would attack, and if we can credibly eliminate the “would” part through deterrence, that is a much better solution than war.

>>what they really want is a world where the United States is held in check by some alternate power<<

Not exactly. What the Left wants is a world where the United States holds itself in check. A world where we don’t ally ourselves with thugs, madmen, and fanatics one day (e.g. Noriega, Saddam, Afghanistan’s mujaheddin), only to brand them as Evil the next day and deserving of extermination. The left wants to bring about a world where the U.S. recognizes the true roots of terrorism, and refrains from the simplistic and childish imposition of black-and-white, good-and-evil labels on a world that is largely gray. But since absolutism is the core defining trait espoused by conservatives, I don’t hold out much hope for that ever happening.

You imply that there is something morally suspect with allying ourselves to less-than-savory entities and then breaking that alliance for some reason.

You completely disregard any hint of the actual context present in those situations.

  • Saddam: He was a counterweight to Iran, which at the time was the biggest threat in the Middle East and the largest supporter of terrorism against Americans in the world. We gave him significant military aid because he was a secular, non-extemist ruler in a place that was threatening to be engulfed by Muslim extremism. We didn’t have any naive notions about him not being evil, but when you have two shitty options, you go with the one that is slightly less shitty, and it was a perfectly strategic conclusion to support Saddam. 

    It seems that you’re upset over some supposed perception that we dishonestly portrayed him as a great, stand-up guy at one time and then turned around immediately and started screaming “evil! evil!” Nothing of the sort happened.

    True, most criticism of his brutality was muted, but that is another consequence of having two options that ain’t so great, and having to choose one. It simply wouldn’t do to speak of someone who was at least a tentative ally as being brutal and evil, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean we suggested that he loved puppies and babies.

  • The Mujahudeen: At the time, these people were rebels willing to fight against the Soviets because they had perpetrated an expansionist invasion of another country. 

    Now, some of those same people are trying to destroy us, when we didn’t invade their countries.

    Notice the difference? We supported them in what was a justified cause. Just because they turn around and pursue a new, unjustified one later one does not cast any kind of moral or strategic pale onto our actions.

    Saying that they attacking us is somehow just desserts for our aid to them during the 80’s is akin to saying that we should not have given massive aid to the Soviets during WWII because they weren’t very nice people either, and that Soviet aggression post-WWII was just “the chickens coming home to roost .”

>>They want someone, something out there that is able to threaten us, because the US needs to be restrained in its evil, capitalistic behavior.<<

No we don’t, and yes we do. Surrendering everything to the whims of the free market makes no more sense than surrendering it to the whims of an all-powerful state and is nothing short of insanity.

Actually it’s about 50 miles or so short of insanity. The diffence between the market and the state is that people choose in the marketplace. That’s what is the fundamental worry of Islamists, especially since they see it happening right now, under the noses of the mullahs in Iran.

>>And what keeps them up at night is the idea that this will happen without us even trying to do it.<<

What keeps us up at night is the thought that our leaders will continue to equate consumerism with democracy and will continue to push that on the rest of the world without seeing how it is creating the fundamentalist backlash that we are now fighting in our doomed to fail War on Terror.

You seem to think that we’re shoving McDonalds and Pepsi down these people’s throats, whether they like it or not. That just isn’t true. There is a minority segment of their society (a very vocal, and sometimes violent one) that objects to the presence of Western economic and cultural entities in the Middle East, but it is not the sentiment of the population as a whole, because if it was, the market would consign those “intruding Western elements” to oblivion. McDonalds doesn’t want to spend the money putting restaurants in Riyadh if no one is going to visit them.

A useful example of this minority phenomenom is France. Because of the actions of a few arrogant jerks trashing some McDOnalds restaurants, there was a widely disseminated perception that there was a popular revolution against Mickey-D’s growing among the Gauls. But this is bullshit. France has more McDonalds per capita than its European neighbors, and its individual retaurants there are usually much more profitable than elsewhere on the continent. In fact, last year, at a time when McDonalds profits worldwide fell 17%, in France they rose by 9%.

I somehow doubt that it was the American tourists eating all those BigMacs.

>>I always wonder how sincerely they believe their own rhetoric about clandestoine efforts to economically and culturally enslave the entire world.<<

Probably with the same degree of sincerity with which you believe that inside every living breathing person on the planet is merely an American screaming to get out.

If by “American” you mean someone who is allowed the maximum amount of freedom in deciding the course of their life, then yes, I do sincerely believe that the vast majority of the people in this world would take that chance, were it freely given to them.

>>Do they really refuse to realize that the rest of the world, if given the honest choice, would like to become like we are, and that this will happen just by itself eventually?<<

You obviously believe that the noble ideals upon which this country was founded are still the principles that govern it today.

I do indeed believe that. In fact, I believe the level of democracy in this country and the adherence to those founding principles has expanded considerably in the last 200 years. Sure, I could do without gun control, the welfare state, the income tax, the department of education and a bunch of other things that have accompanied us in our march from the 18th century, but overall, our history has been one of increasing freedom and enfranchisement, and people who say otherwise often need to adjust their tin-foil hats.

Do you really believe that someone living in some shack in some random corner of the world and whose life is still imbued with tradition, meaning, and reverence would trade that in for the opportunity to live in a place where the only true freedom we enjoy is the freedom to shop, to consume and to pick from over 2 dozen different kinds of toilet paper?

I think that person would opt for, in 2 shades of a second, the chance to live in a heated home and sleep in a soft bed and not have to worry about dysentery or malaria or starvation and know that they’re most likely going to live beyond 45.

It’s idiocy to suggest that you have to give up the metaphysical in order to enjoy those physical comforts. I’m a Catholic, and I see God working in every corner of my world, and revernce for that mystical world is a fundamental part of my existence. So if you’re suggesting that because I can choose between toilet paper brands that I’m a soulless cog in the machine of capitalism, you’re a fool.

Update: Heh … I just reviewed this post and after reading my first paragraph, something struck me sorta queer: “Chomsky’s popularity owes to his remarkable skill as a deceptor.”“Deceptor,” huh? Didn’t know that word existed.

last update : 26-5-2018

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