NATO in 2013!
The Norwegian parliamentarians have just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. Now, Norway is one of the few Western European countries that does not belong to the EU. So we suspect that the Norwegians’ modesty held them back from nominating the organization which deep down they believe truly merits the prize, NATO, because they belong to it. The self-effacing Norwegians may have feared that such a choice would seem to be awarding the Prize to themselves. So they gave the prize to the EU as a sort of substitute.
That is laudable, and shows how much the Norwegians adhere to our common Western values.
However, we maintain that false modesty should not stand in the way of rewarding genuine merit. Therefore, we propose that all those who cherish our common values should unite behind this immodest proposal: award the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to NATO!
The wise Norwegians justify their choice by pointing out that the European Union has promoted European integration. But if one looks at the facts, it is clear that NATO has integrated even more countries than the EU, and continues to do so, well beyond the provincial limits of Western Europe. The EU has integrated Europe by economic means, which even the Nobel committee admits are collapsing. NATO, on the other hand, has used bombs and missiles, to win former Yugoslavia over to our values, whereas the EU lags behind. NATO has used its naval and air forces to democratize Libya, whereas the European Union leaders only justified the operation with mere words. And today, thanks to Turkey, NATO is actively involved in combating the Syrian dictator who murders his own people, while the EU still merely talks and sends money which it doesn’t have.
The Norwegians praise the EU for combating the evil of nationalism, which they fear is on the rise. However, in all honesty, the EU contribution to this noble cause is paltry, involving only a few declining nations on the tip of the Eurasian continent. How much more inspiring is NATO’s mission of combating nationalism by bringing its benevolent rule of democracy and human rights to the whole world! It is only when all nations and nationalisms have been brought under the governance of Western values that true peace will finally reign over our planet.
On the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, what could be more fitting than to award this prestigious Peace Prize to the organization that is truly ready and willing to END ALL WARS!
NATO in 2013!!!
Diana Johnstone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Bricmont can be reached at email@example.com
Nowhere in NATOland is public opposition to “humanitarian wars” more muted than in France. Only a few prominent voices were raised against last year’s assault on Libya. Today, the few who attempt to arouse opposition to Western military intervention in Syria are the targets of a strangely obscure and yet effective campaign of slander designed to stigmatize and silence them.
The campaign operates like this. A rather small number of obscure journalists writing on obscure websites calling themselves “anarchist” and “anti-fascist” specialize in denouncing individuals who oppose war or criticize the European Union as fascists and anti-Semites. Their targets are usually intellectuals who are normally considered to be on the left. The technique is to identify opposition to war as “supporting dictators” and serious criticism of the EU as “rightist nationalism”. It is strongly implied that reluctance to go to war to overthrow the dictator du jour is tantamount to refusing to act to prevent Hitler from exterminating the Jews.
The other technique is plain old guilt by association. The targeted leftist has been seen somewhere in the company of someone identified as on the far right, therefore…
This primitive slander goes unnoticed by the overwhelming majority of the population. However, these obscure slanders are then used to put pressure on leftist groups to silence the heretic. Amazingly, this works.
Recently, such pressure has persuaded several supposedly progressive organizations to cancel speakers who were targeted by this campaign. The leftist Belgian writer and activist Michel Collon was abruptly barred from a scheduled presentation of his latest book on media lies about the war in Libya at the Bourse du Travail, a labor union center in Paris. Other outspoken opponents of imperialist wars have had their speaking engagement abruptly cancelled, or encountered groups of “anti-fascist” militants intent on preventing them from speaking. In recent days, the writer Jacob Cohen was physically attacked as an “anti-Semite” by the Jewish Defense League, which boasted of this action on a video. A fortnight ago, the University Paris VIII (formerly Vincennes) cancelled a long-scheduled international conference entitled “Israel: a state of apartheid?” on grounds that it could constitute a “threat to public order”.
The silencing of anti-war opinion is not unrelated to the existence in France of official censorship of “racist” speech and “Holocaust denial”. In the past thirty years, the Holocaust, or Shoah, has virtually become the state religion in France, especially in the schools, where pupils are repeatedly reminded of French guilt in allowing deportation of Jewish children during the World War II Nazi occupation of France (many more Jewish children were hidden and sheltered than were deported, fortunately). An atmosphere has been created in which there is no presumption of innocence when it comes to accusations of anti-Semitism. Thus there is understandable haste to avoid such accusations by ostracizing anyone who is suspected of this gravest of sins (on a par only with pedophilia).
Last month, Jean Bricmont received a series of questions for an interview from a young journalist who had already attacked him under a pen name in the context of the “antifascist” campaign against anti-war advocates. Just this week her slanders and threats of disruption caused a Paris church center to cancel a program on intervention in Syria. This young woman is suspected by at least one of her targets of being a US agent, and a law suit against her has been filed. However, Jean Bricmont, who as a matter of principle accepts debate with all adversaries, answered her questions in detail. Unsurprisingly, she chose not to publish them.
Letter to A French Journalist
By Jean Bricmont
You have asked me about my “support for dictators” (especially Assad). You suggest that this amounts to interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and pose questions about my “links with the far right” as well as with what you call “conspiracist” websites and the rationalist and progressive “support” that I allegedly thereby provide them.
Here is my answer:
You raise two important questions: my “support for dictators” and my “links with the far right.” These questions are important, not because they are pertinent (they are not), but because they are at the heart of the strategy of demonization of the modest forms of resistance to war and imperialism that exist in France . It is thanks to such false identifications that my friend Michel Collon (who runs the website http://www.michelcollon.info/) was banned from speaking on NATO propaganda about the Libyan war at the Bourse du Travail in Paris, after a campaign led by self-styled anarchists.
First of all, since you mention rationalism, let us think of the greatest 20th century rationalist philosopher, Bertrand Russell. What happened to him during the First World War, to which he was opposed? He was, of course, denounced for supporting the Kaiser. The trick consisting in denouncing the opponents of a given war as supporters of the other side is as old as war propaganda itself. Thus, in recent decades, I have allegedly “supported” Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, Gaddafi, Assad… and maybe tomorrow Ahmadinejad.
Actually, I do not support any regime. I support a policy of non-intervention, that is to say, I not only reject the “humanitarian” wars, but also the purchase of elections, the color revolutions, the coups organized by the West, the unilateral sanctions, etc.(see http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/20/the-case-for-a-non-interventionist-foreign-policy/). I propose that the West endorse the policy of the Non-Aligned Movement, which, in 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, wanted to “strengthen international cooperation to solve international problems of a humanitarian character in full compliance with the Charter of the United Nations” and reiterated “the rejection by the Non-Aligned Movement of the so-called right of humanitarian intervention that has no basis either in Charter of the United Nations or in international law.” This is the constant position of the majority of mankind, of China, Russia, India, Latin America, the African Union. Whatever you think of it, this position is not on the far right.
As I have written a whole book on this subject (Humanitarian Imperialism, Monthly Review Press, 2006), I will not explain in detail my reasons, but I will simply note that, if the Westerners are so capable of solving the problems of Syria, why do they not solve first those of Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia? I will also note that there is a basic moral principle when one is interfering in the internal affairs of other countries – suffer yourself the consequences of that intervention. Westerners of course think they are doing good everywhere, but the millions of victims caused by their wars in Indochina, Southern Africa, Central America and the Middle East probably see things differently.
Concerning my relationship with the far right, there are two distinct questions: what do we mean by “relationship” and what does “far right” mean? I’d love to protest alongside the entire left against interventionist policies. But the left in the West has been almost completely persuaded by the arguments in favor of humanitarian intervention and, in fact, often criticizes Western governments for not intervening as rapidly or as often as they should. So, on the rare occasions when I protest publicly, I can do so only with those who agree to protest, who are not all on the far right, far from it (unless, of course, one defines opposition to humanitarian wars as being on the far right), but who are not on the left in the usual sense, since the bulk of the left support the policy of intervention. At best, a part of the left takes refuge in the “neither-nor” position: neither NATO nor the country being attacked at the time. Personally, I consider that our duty is to fight first against the militarism and the imperialism of our own countries, not to criticize those who defend themselves against their onslaught, and that our situation, as citizens of the attacking countries, is anything but neutral, contrary to what the rhetoric of the “neither-nor” position suggests.
Moreover, I feel that I have the right to meet and talk with whomever I want: I sometimes talk with people whom you would describe as being on the far right (although, in most cases, I would disagree with this characterization), but more often with people on the far left, and even more often with people who are neither one nor the other. I am interested in Syrians who oppose the policy of intervention, since they can provide me with information about their country that goes against the dominant discourse, while of course I know, through the media, the discourse of the pro-intervention Syrians.
As for websites, I write wherever I can – again, if the mainstream left want to listen or even to debate with me on the policy of intervention, I am quite willing to do so. But this is not the case. I note that the “conspiracist” websites, as you call them, are far more open, because they accept me even though they know in general that I disagree with their analyses, particularly on September 11. Moreover, the people I know who publish on these sites are not on the far right, and simply being skeptical about the official story of September 11 is not, in itself, a far-right position.
The world is far too complicated to keep a “pure” attitude, where one only meets and talks with people from “our side”. Let us not forget that in France it was the Chamber elected at the time of the Popular Front which voted to grant full powers to Pétain in 1940 (after the exclusion of the Communist deputies, and with the assistance of the Senators). And the opposition to the collaboration brought together the Stalinists (at the time, all the Communists revered Stalin) and the Gaullists, many of whom were, before the war, definitely on the right. The same thing happened during the Algerian and Vietnam wars, since the opposition to these wars included, among others, Communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Christian leftists, pacifists. By the way, were Stalin, the Algerian NLF and Ho Chi Minh democrats? Was it wrong to “support” them, that is, to fight Nazism or colonialism alongside them? And in the anti-Communist campaigns of the 80s, did not the human-rights left make common cause with a variety of nationalists or anti-Semites (Solzhenitsyn, for example)? And today, do not supporters of intervention in Libya and Syria make common cause with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and a number of Salafist movements?
I also have a problem with the definition of “far right”. I know what you mean by that, but, for me, what matters are ideas, not labels. Feeling free to attack countries that do not threaten you (which is the essence of the proclaimed right of intervention) for me is a far right idea. Punishing people because of their opinions (as do the laws punishing “Holocaust denial”), for me is a far right idea. Depriving countries of their sovereignty and therefore of the very foundation of democracy, as is increasingly done by the “construction of Europe”, for me is a far right idea. Saying “Israel is sharply criticized because it is a great democracy,” as if there were no other reason to criticize Israel, to quote the person for whom most of the left will vote in the second round of the French presidential elections (François Hollande), for me is a far right idea. Simplistically opposing the West to the rest of the world, particularly Russia and China (as much of the left does today in the name of democracy and human rights), for me is a far right idea.
If you want to find a place where I would unhesitatingly agree with the “left”, travel and go to Latin America. There, you will find a left that is anti-imperialist, popular, pro-sovereignty and democratic. Leaders like Chavez, Ortega or Kirchner are elected and reelected with scores unthinkable here, including for the “democratic left”, and they face a media opposition far more dangerous than “Holocaust revisionists” (their opposition actually does support military coups), but they never consider banning them.
Unfortunately, in Europe and especially in France, the Left has capitulated on many fronts: peace, international law, sovereignty, freedom of expression, the condition of workers, and the social control of the economy. The left has replaced politics with moralizing: it decides, in the entire world, who is democratic and who is not, what is the far right and whom one can meet. They spend their time swelling out their chest, “denouncing” dictators and their accomplices, politically incorrect phrases, or anti-Semites, but they have no concrete proposals to offer that would meet the concerns of the people they claim to represent.
These multiple betrayals of progressive causes do indeed open a boulevard to a part of the far right, but the fault lies with those who have accomplished and accepted these changes, not with those trying modestly to resist the world order.
This letter has appeared in French (http://www.legrandsoir.info/lettre-a-une-journaliste.html) and in Spanish (http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=145117).
- The Case for a Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- An Exchange on “Humanitarian” Intervention with Rocky Anderson (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Why Hate Gilad Atzmon Pt. 2: “He’s WRONG!” (Or Is He?) (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Judge dismisses claims of “anti-Semitic climate” at UC Berkeley (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Infected Scalpel
A few days back I received an announcement from Rocky Anderson, announcing his presidential bid as the candidate of the newly formed Justice Party. Although social justice was mentioned prominently along with the desperate economic plight of many in the U.S., I was struck by the fact that the struggle against war was not prominently mentioned and the question of the U.S. Empire and overseas bases seemed to get no mention. “Human Rights,” an increasingly plastic category at least in the hands of the U.S. ruling elite, figures prominently in Anderson’s campaign literature and world view. I was further surprised that “High Road to Human Rights,” an organization founded by Anderson, counted on its board of advisers, Elie Wiesel, a defender of the Apartheid Israeli regime. On the other hand, Anderson was a staunch opponent of the war on Iraq and even the war on Libya, the latter because it lacked Congressional approval.
I wondered about Anderson’s commitment to anti-interventionism and his view on “humanitarian” interventions, something that should be crystal clear from someone running for president and appealing to progressives. The following email exchange resulted:
From JW to RA: Hello Rocky,
I wish that you would spell all this out a bit more clearly.
Are you for “humanitarian” interventions as in the Balkans? Have you read Jean Bricmont’s great (and short) book “Humanitarian Imperialism”?
Are you for getting rid of all our overseas bases and devoting a limited military to purely defensive purposes?
Many pwogs*, for example, Amy Goodman and CIA “consultant” Juan Cole, were cheerleaders for the Libyan intervention, despite Libya having had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa before NATO destroyed its infrastructure and reduced it to rubble in the name of human rights.
We have two versions of imperialism – the “tough guy” Dick Cheney brand and the “humanitarian” Susan Rice version. Both are the same in reality whatever the words attached to them. We must break with them both and cease viewing the world solely through the very arbitrary lens of “human rights,” a good sell among the pwogwessives.
But what good are human rights to a starving illiterate woman in India, a category that Mao consigned to the dust heap of history in China?
From RA to JW: Yes, so long as we are in compliance with the War Power Clause of the Constitution and the U.N. Charter, I favor the U.S. working with the international community in putting to an end massive atrocities. I strongly believe in living up to the promise of “Never Again.” Given all my work in this area, I don’t know how you would have any doubt about my position. I don’t think political boundaries should control our moral obligations to our brothers and sisters elsewhere.
I recommend to you A Problem From Hell, by Samantha Power.
Your reference to Susan Rice was a curious one. She sat on her hands (as you apparently would have had her do) when she was with the NSC and failed to take any action to stop the genocide that led to the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days. According to an article in The Atlantic by Samantha Power, Susan Rice was apparently more concerned with the political implications in the mid-term elections in 1994 than she was about the horrendous fate of the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Those who stood by when their action could have ended the atrocities are, in my view, complicit.
From JW to RA: I think the Samantha Powers of the world are a big part of the problem.
I recommend that you read Humanitarian Imperialism by Jean Bricmont.
From RA to JW: I think isolationist nationalists who don’t care about the suffering of other people who happen to be in other parts of the world are “the problem”. Sorry, John, we’re on completely different moral planets here.
I’ll try to read the book you referenced. Have you read A Problem From Hell? It’s heart-breaking — and a real indictment of the failure of the US to do what is required to stop the atrocities.
From JW to RA: I cannot agree, Rocky. The “international community” is a euphemism for NATO and the US. The UN foolishly went along with the destruction of Libya – and we can now see that Russia and China are finally drawing a line in the sand at Syria.
You fail to see that the US is the most ruthless Empire in the history of humankind, and it will cover up its atrocities with appeals to “human rights.” It is the biggest lie of all. Would you favor military intervention to end apartheid in Israel? Will you take that position on the campaign trail?
For those of us living in the heart of Empire there is no alternative to being principled anti-interventionists. The Empire is incapable of waging a “good war,” whatever that may be. An anti-interventionist is not an “isolationist nationalist.” That is simply a smear.
Samantha Power has not written a heart rending account of what has been done to Iraq, I notice.
Finally, the Empire has always cloaked its wars in virtue, from the White Man’s burden to “human rights,” and it always will. The path to hell is paved with naiveté.
From RA to JW: Samantha Power has not written that account of Iraq because we did not intervene on humanitarian grounds. It was an illegal war of aggression, at odds with the War Power Clause and with the UN Charter. You paint with a very misleading, broad brush. You can advocate abandoning people during genocides and other mass atrocities. I will always be on the other side. I share your anti-imperialistic views; I do not share your willingness to turn a blind eye to humanitarian disasters.
You will never convince me of what I perceive to be an extremely selfish, heartless isolationist position. I would always advocate doing what I would want the U.S. and international community to do if I were in the position of a victim of genocide. To advocate doing what is right is hardly naïve. And it is hardly countenancing wars of aggression. No one has a stronger record of opposition to the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq than I.
From JW to RA: You are well meaning as far as I can tell, but you hold very dangerous views IMHO.
If people want to help those in far off lands, let them form their Abraham Lincoln brigades, something the US Empire also opposed. Of course, that means putting one’s body on the line, not someone else’s body.
First do no harm.
From RA to JW: So you would advocate repeal of the Genocide Convention? We couldn’t be further apart in our views on this.
But, then, I recognize the concerns with US empire that drive your views on this. We need to strive to be better on all counts. That’s why I have worked so hard in all of these areas over the years — and a large part of why I’m doing what I am now.
From JW to RA: I never said that I wanted to repeal the Genocide Convention. Why do you conclude that?
But what is being done to the Palestinians is a slow genocide. Do you advocate military action against Israel to get rid of the Apartheid regime there? You should be explicit about that.
Noam Chomsky points out that the slaughter in the Balkans, greatly exaggerated, took place AFTER NATO’s bombs started falling. And that was not really a genocide either.
Nor is Darfur a genocide either – a brutal war on both sides apparently but not a genocide. In fact, only the US and that outrageous liar Susan Rice label it as such.
And then there is the slaughter in Libya a country that once had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa. The concrete reality is that the US is always up to no good and will kill and kill to get its way. We should not be in the business of providing cover for that.
I do not think that you really appreciate that the formerly colonized peoples of the world do not want Western interventions. They have had quite enough of the benefits of such neocolonial acts.
From RA to JW: You are so incredibly wrong. The people (at least the Tutsis) of Rwanda, and of Kosovo, view the U.S. as heroically coming to their aid and stopping the massacres. You would have been content with sitting back after the massacre at Srebrenica. To me, that is the greatest moral cowardice.
And how can you maintain that you would not seek the repeal of the Genocide Convention? It creates a legal obligation to take action to stop genocides wherever they occur.
I cannot countenance the U.S. continuing to build its empire; neither can I countenance people — or our nation — turning a blind eye to mass atrocities when they can be stopped.
This will be my last email on this topic. I’m dismayed that any person can be so insensitive toward victims of genocide or other mass atrocities. (I’m curious. What have you done, if anything, to help stop wars of aggression or mass atrocities?)
Good luck -
At this point someone on the list of those cc’d to this exchange jumped in, J.A., an Israeli expat who as a young man was swept into the Yom Kippur war and saw many of his friends needlessly killed. He left Israel in part to save his son from future slaughters of this sort and has vowed never to return. He wrote:
From J.A. to RA and JW: Rocky, humanitarian intervention is a slippery slope argument, and is being used for imperialistic ambitions (The latest example is Libya, and still Afghanistan – freeing the Afghan women. I remember well, Samantha Power supported this view) and, in general, being used to justify our military power. (Humanitarian aid via aircraft carriers, being the good policeman of the world, etc).
BTW, you wrote “illegal invasion”; is there a legal invasion?
Here is a question: Since you support “humanitarian” intervention, do you support attacking Israel and freeing the Palestinians from the Israeli harsh occupation? You must know about the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli Apartheid and the stealth genocide by Israel, so should we invade Israel?
(It is a rhetorical question to demonstrate how absurd is the “humanitarian” intervention view).
From JW to RA: You did not answer whether you would advocate in your campaign a military expeditionary force led by the US to end Israeli apartheid and the slow genocide of the Palestinians? Why can you not answer that?
And will you launch another expedition to restore the Tibetan theocracy? It will probably take a few million persons under arms and a return to the draft. Or how about an occupation of India where the most dire poverty continues and the farmers driven from their agriculture by agribusiness commit suicide in huge numbers? Or is that OK because “democracy” reigns?
And a second point. The greatest stimulus to nuclear proliferation is the huge conventional military force which the US has. That is the force that you need to preserve in order to save the world. The only protection for a small nation is nukes.
Long ago when the US was trying to take down the Chinese revolution and waging a war on Vietnam, Mao Zedong opined that US imperialism is the number one enemy of the peoples of the world. I am afraid that remains true.
And you are proof positive that the progressive movement, so called, is no longer anti-interventionist or anti-Empire.
As they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
At least you admit it outright – and that amount of honesty deserves credit. I suggest that you openly proclaim the new humanitarian interventionism as part of your platform. Now if only other progressives would also do that, we could separate wheat from chaff more readily.
P.S. As a medical student I learned that there are some things that are beyond one’s control and that when one tries to control them the only thing that results is harm — sometimes fatal harm.
John V. Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A derisive term for a political progressive. First appeared in the 1960s as a term for old guard leftists of Jewish background. Derived from the tendency of Jews of Eastern European heritage to pronounce ‘R’ as ‘W’, in keeping with Yiddish pronunciation. Now can be used as a term for all progressives, regardless of ethnicity.
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