Monday, November 13, 2006

Hegemony or Survival
Chapter 2a: Imperial Grand Strategy

See Chapter 1.

So far I have only read through page 36, which seems a good half-way point for this chapter. Geez this book is heavy...but enlightening as well. This chapter seems to focus on the US operating as rogue state and utilizing the UN for it's own ends as opposed to submitting itself to it.

Chomsky begins by quoting the White House's National Security Strategy:

Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.

He goes on to define the Iraq war (and really all wars on terror at this point) not as preemptive, but as preventive...very different. [Read that again.] In fact, he says that preventive might be too charitable a way of putting it.

Quoting from Arthur Schlesinger (historian and Kenedy adviser):

The president has adopted a policy of "anticipatory self-defense" that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor...The global wave of sympathy that engulfed the United States after 9-11 has given way to a global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism [and even in friendly countries the public regards Bush] as a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein.


Wow.

Chomsky goes on to show how the powerful write the rules. The US government has used international law when it suited them...and disreguarded it when it was inconvenient, often choosing military action over diplomacy or international law because it was considered expedient for "the national interest." When the UN fails to serve as "an instrument of American unilateralism" on issues of elite concern, it is dismissed.

After the Iraq war, the UN again proved "irrelevant," because its "complicated trade system for Iraq" caused problems for US companies granted contracts under US military rule.
Here's some recent information about contractors and oversight.

I wish to interact with these thoughts as a follower of the Way of Jesus, who seemed to have some things to say about retaliation...on personal, communal, and, I'd say, societal levels. He pointed to a higher way of being...a truer way.

Now I understand that different folks understand differently how Jesus' teachings intersect with culture. I still find a strong case for thinking that Jesus was calling humanity (not Christianity) to a higher way. This Kingdom (the way the world could work if truly right/good) was for all, his temple a house of prayer for all nations.

The ideas of preventive war seem nothing more than empire-building to me, amassing unmatched power and exerting it through force...how can these things be ethical? I understand that self-defense is being called into question (How did Christ respond to that?), but not just self-defense. It is going after anyone who the US government would consider a threat to their position as head of the human household. Can this really even be called self-defense under any sort of ethical definition?

And what of setting up democracies? One principle remains invariant: the US must end up in effective control of Iraq, under some fa├žade of democracy if that proves feasible.

The US will "enforce the just demands of the world" even if the world overwhelmingly objects.

Could things change? Perhaps the US is at a place to take stock of its place in the world. Dr. Bello has some interesting thoughts about where we could go from here.

2 comments:

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

Anyone gonna comment? Anyone else reading along?

EmmA...er...Pamela said...

okay ryan, i am going to comment tomorrow. i can't find my book and i can't comment without it alongside. however, I will say Dr. Bello rocks :)