Read the passage carefully and without referring to the passage classify the following statements as TRUE or FALSE. (Answers provided at the Answers page)
KARL ROVE, President George W. Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff, said in an interview in 2004: “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Aptly, this forms the epigraph of Noam Chomsky's book Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance, especially because Chomsky aims to dismantle such a posture of extreme confidence and arrogance, of inequality, disenfranchisement and deceit. The functionalist logic of late imperial culture provides a basis to the current debate on this far-reaching issue and focuses on the theoretical, ideological and political assumptions that underpin it. The varied areas of media, theatre, film, photography, emphasize the reproduction of the empire's dominant self-images with the sole purpose of exploiting and oppressing weaker cultures, which continue to pay a huge price.
The hegemonic tenor of Pax Americana is audible in Rove's words ensuring that American authorship remains paramount behind histories of those nations that have experienced American interventions. The words are couched in the language of politics that is exclusionary to the extent that it assaults national sovereignty around the world through vast expansion of its powerful frame of reference and regurgitating abject disinformation. The United States' military and cultural dominance shows how imperial rule involves the control over the internal and external policy of the ‘other', the subordinate periphery. Military dominance sustains a massive capacity to influence the global economy that neither a more efficient Japan nor a united Europe can entirely overcome. To fully grasp this interaction, it is important to come to grips with the vast differences between the inadequacy of the subject and the power of the state. The culture of imperialism is not an event of the past, and much still remains in the legacy of colonial history, culturally, economically and politically.
Chomsky takes upon himself the task of unmasking American foreign policy in the context of the timing of Rove's statement, which is around 2002 when the U.S. was divided into two camps. One of them favoured intervention in Iraq which it said would finally usher in a transformation to a democratic form of government that would spread all over West Asia. Along with this, the motive of gaining from the rich oil reserves also underpinned the argument of adopting an aggressive policy against Saddam Hussein.
The other camp, which included the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), argued against the war as they were sceptical of any success. The discourse underpinned by the theory that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein would culminate in an Armageddon finally lent legitimacy to George Bush entering one of the most disastrous and expensive wars the U.S. has ever fought.
It goes to the credit of Chomsky for standing up against American intervention in Iraq, not merely because it would be costly or achieve no positive results, but because, as he argues, it is in the nature of American foreign policy to be inherently ‘evil and criminal', a feature that defines its imperial ideology. Chomsky writes: “The criticism of the Iraq war is on grounds of cost and failure; what are called ‘pragmatic reasons', a stance that is considered hard-headed, serious, moderate – in the case of Western crimes.”
It is clear that the prevalence of a war-like situation in West Asia is owing to the joint designs of Israel and the U.S. which are not ready to change their policy towards Palestine that can facilitate a solution. Nor has the U.S. played a conciliatory role between India and China or achieved much geopolitically in bringing about a more peaceful Afghanistan. As Chomsky argues: “It is an article of faith, almost a part of the national creed, that the United States is righteously unlike other great powers, past and present.”
Can we agree with Chomsky that nothing seems to have changed? The 500 years of history since Columbus has been one of subversion, aggression and brutal genocide that was inherent even during the Cold War. With the demise of the Cold War, things stand where they are though now the West is given a free reign in its imperial designs unlike the pre-Gorbachev era. The Third World escaped any interference from the West for many decades until the expiry of the Soviet Union brought about a unilateral world in which America meddles with international politics with its nefarious actions.
The Soviet Union ruled over Eastern Europe, but probably less viciously than the way the U.S. exercised its hegemony over Latin America. For example, it is a revelation to see the American hand in involving erstwhile Nazi generals in the whole exercise of terror and domination in Latin America.
And the world goes on in a state of “repressive tolerance”, a Marcusian conception that is applied globally. Chomsky is enraged by this remorseless transnational hegemony. His idea of power as violence is deep down an intellectual stance of articulating an appraisal of the existing world order where persecution and carnage have been integral and more so recently in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As generalisations and theory are not sufficient for an understanding of the evolution of imperialism, its impact at various levels of specificity has to be taken up and a painstaking attempt made to create in detail the values, the attitudes and the atmosphere of colonised societies. As societies are juxtaposed and then intermingled, it creates significant and unexpected perspectives, which are the sign of the new problems and complexities of authority and power. Chomsky sets out to deflate the celebratory tone of American self-importance by analysing and resisting the continuing imperial attitude of America with his counter-narratives to the official histories in his essays on the world financial crisis, global warming, the wars in West Asia, about the rise of China, threat of nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea and the shift towards Left politics in Latin America. He has a significant story to tell, a revisionist narrative running through the collection of essays that throw light on decades of lies behind the American foreign policy and thereby facilitating the process of retrieving histories of those who unfortunately suffer a marginalised status. Provocative and firmly written, the 50 commentaries that compose Making the Future appeared in The New York Times Syndicate over the last few years. They bring out the state of U.S. politics between 2007 and 2011, a comprehensive and an objective perspective that rewrites biased accounts of various national and international significance. An understanding and appreciation of these essays will help throw light on the overwhelming majority of the American opinion-makers and their perspectives, replete with forged documents and blatant lies.
Classify these statements as true or false. (Without going back to the passage)
1) “We're an empire now,…..… will be left to just study what we do.” are the words of George W Bush.
2) The passage is written by Noam Chomsky.
3) The passage is a book review.
4) Chomsky is critical of US role in the world’s geopolitics.
5) In 2002 Pentagon argued against the war on Iraq.
6) Soviet Union’s rule over Eastern Europe was more evil than the US control over Latin America
7) The US has played a positive role in resolving the crisis in West Asia.
8) A majority of US opinion makers have never relied on forged documents and blatant lies.
9) The US is morally very similar to other great powers in the past.