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    • Dear Frank:
      Very kind of you to offer some support.
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      Brewster NY 10509-1028

      Please make out any checks to: “Patrice Greanville /TGP”

      Many thanks, again!
      P. Greanville
      For the editorial team

  1. Hello Gaither, hope all is well!!! i’m still in Italy until the 24th. We were down in Calabria without internet for a time — to vote! My mother in law was operated on last week so we have postponed our departure.
    All the best!
    Michael

  2. This is one of the more sane articles recently apart from the black and white extremism so endemic amongst American commentators. Needless to say Chomsky answered in an incoherent and aggressive way on znet.

    Making the Future by Noam Chomsky – review

    In demonising America, Chomsky has fallen into the same trap as the neocons

    John Gray

    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 8 February 2012 09.00 GMT
    Article history

    Unhinged by hubris? George W Bush addresses coalition forces near Kuwait City, January 2008. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    “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.” Reported in October 2004, this statement from a senior adviser to George W Bush – often attributed to Karl Rove, Bush’s deputy chief of staff until his resignation in 2007 – forms the epigraph to Noam Chomsky’s latest collection of articles. Though the context is not explained, the statement was made in the summer of 2002 in an interview with the Pulitzer prize-winning author Ron Suskind, in which the Bush aide mocked the writer and others like him for belonging in “what we call the reality-based community”, a group composed of people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality”.

    Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance
    by Noam Chomsky

    Buy it from the Guardian bookshop

    Search the Guardian bookshop
    Tell us what you think: Star-rate and review this book

    The date of the statement is of some importance. By the summer of 2002 military action to secure regime change in Iraq had been under active consideration for some time. Those in the administration who were pushing for war did so for a variety of reasons – neoconservatives because they believed regime change would trigger a “democratic revolution” in which an American model of government would be embraced throughout the Middle East, others, such as vice-president Cheney, being apparently more interested in the country’s rich oil reserves. Whatever their goals, the forces that engineered the war had no doubt that Iraq could be reshaped in pretty much any way they wanted.

    Other branches of government had deep reservations. The state department, much of the uniformed military in the Pentagon, sections of the CIA and even – if some reports are to be believed – George Bush Snr appear to have been opposed to the invasion, or at least highly sceptical about its prospects of success. But these voices from the reality-based community were ignored. Less than a year after the aide’s delusional rant, the US was embroiled in its most disastrous military intervention for a generation and one of the most gruesomely pointless wars of modern times.

    To his credit, Chomsky opposed the war from the very beginning. His attitude to other critics of the war is more problematic. He has nothing but scorn for those in the American political mainstream who criticised the war on the grounds that it would likely be too risky or costly, or was simply unnecessary. Dismissing Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, 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”. For Chomsky, it seems there can be no place for error or mixed motives in American policies. The war was not a mistake that might have been avoided if its opponents had been better organised and more effective. Invading Iraq was just one more example of American imperialism, an expression of a regime that is quintessentially criminal and evil.

    Reading these articles, published between April 2007 and October 2011, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that, for Chomsky, America is virtually the sole obstacle to peace in the world. Crimes committed by other powers are mentioned occasionally, but only in passing. Nowhere does he acknowledge the fact that many regions have intractable conflicts of their own, which will persist whatever the US does.

    For Chomsky, conflict in the Middle East is exclusively the work of America and Israel. There is no struggle for hegemony between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or if any such struggle does exist it can be easily resolved so long as the US is ready to alter its policies. Again, unending war in Afghanistan does not reflect that unfortunate country’s internal divisions and its long history as a focal point of geopolitical rivalry, which now includes a stalemate between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. War in Afghanistan could be ended very simply, if only the US withdrew its forces and brokered a grand diplomatic bargain.

    Looking further ahead, there is the prospect of antagonism between China and India. But since there is no major conflict that America has not caused, or at any rate seriously aggravated, there is none that America cannot end. It does not occur to Chomsky that the US may not have the ability to perform these miracles. The fact that America has not brought peace throughout the world only confirms its position as a uniquely powerful force for evil.

    Chomsky cites Godfrey Hodgson’s book The Myth of American Exceptionalism, where the former Washington correspondent concludes that the US is “just one great, but imperfect, country among others”. But Chomsky shows no sign of having digested this wise judgment. “It is an article of faith, almost a part of the national creed,” he writes, “that the United States is righteously unlike other great powers, past and present.” So it is, but in this as in other ways, America is no different from other countries. In their short-lived imperial heyday, Britain, France, Spain and Portugal viewed themselves in much the same way. All great powers see themselves as exceptional until history proves otherwise.

    The picture Chomsky presents of the US is, in effect, a negative version of exceptionalism. For him as much as for the neocons, America is the centre of the world. Chomsky views global politics through the same Manichean lens: you are either for America or against it. The fact that much of humankind has aspirations that have nothing to do with America is not even considered. Anti-Americanism is fading along with American power, but Chomsky hasn’t noticed. Bemusement at the rancorous divisions of American politics and schadenfreude at the humbling of America’s much-touted model of capitalism are the most common reactions to the US today. Among increasing numbers of people the main response seems to be a lack of interest. The world has moved on from the time when the US could be described as the “last remaining hyper-power”. Though it still has an awesome military capability, America’s capacity to impose its will in any enduring fashion has been diminished irreversibly. A condition of perpetual warfare has left the US more or less bankrupt, a state of affairs that can be sustained only as long as China chooses to fund the federal debt. Stagnant for a generation, the standard of living of the majority is falling and the country’s infrastructure rotting away. Increasingly the US resembles Latin America some decades ago. The predominant response has been denial, with the Republican party degenerating into a squabbling apocalyptic cult and Obama’s principal weakness seeming to be his palpable sanity. The best that can be hoped for is that voters do not opt for a kind of elective psychosis.

    Chomsky accepts that America is in retreat. “The US was at the peak of its power in 1945,” he writes – a characteristically hyperbolic assessment. Elsewhere he notes that it has not always been easy for America to sustain its “system of global control”. Yet America’s centrality in the world is taken for granted throughout the pieces that are collected here. In March 2009 Chomsky tells the reader that developments in Latin America “threaten not only America’s domination of the hemisphere, but also its global dominance”, while a piece on “America in Decline” in August of last year turns out to be largely about the role of money in shaping legislation in Congress, a legitimate concern but hardly news. The gridlock that has seized Washington on issues such as the budget deficit is a far more important factor in America’s loss of authority. The lesson of history is that bankrupt states do not remain great imperial powers for long.

    During the past 20 years America has been unhinged by ideological hubris – a disorder that Chomsky cannot analyse or even properly comprehend, since he embodies it himself. As an unsparing critic of American policies, he has at times been useful – there has, after all, been plenty to criticise. But like the neocons, he belongs in an Americo-centric world that has already passed away. In any larger view, Chomsky’s view of the US as the fountainhead of human conflict is as absurd as the Bush aide’s belief that America can create its own reality.

    • John Gray’s The Immortalization Commission is published by Penguin

  3. I’m from your neck of the woods. I travel all over country passing out my “PEACE DOLLARS” (at cdmag.us) which are mini newspapers about what is happening. What are your feelings about my hooking up w/ you guys on a volunteer basis? -jm

  4. Shouldn’t the Greanvile Post group be organizing and running a political party?

    Everybody has lots of good words, and we only get solicited by politicians who half the time work for the other side as well…

  5. I just learned about Cyrano’s Journal. The editor, Rowan Wolf, whom I’ve not met, is in Portland, not far from my Eugene, OR home. I just learned of her successful heart surgery, and intend to contact her for the first time. I have written and been published on a number of the subjects that occupy you and her. I would like to submit to you some samples, as I will to her. Send me your E address. I think we can have a shared impact to cure some of the cancers of wealth that afflict our nation.
    George Beres
    geosilberes@q.com
    541-344-0282
    1990 Dogwood Drive
    Eugene, OR 974045

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