By Jeffrey Newholm
Here at the Inscriber, we often report on how the political elites of both parties amass great wealth and power for themselves while the masses mindlessly give them their approval. But everyday Americans have themselves been the beneficiaries of the wrongdoing of their leadership.
Noam Chomsky’s 2010 book Hopes And Prospects details how America has benefitted from aggression in the Americas and Middle East, and how the U.S.’s empire has come at the expense of the blood of millions. By now, the cruelty of the conquistadors and other European settlers is well known, but Chomsky makes pains to emphasize that the South American societies history books depict as primitive were actually quite enlightened.
More relevant to today’s times is how the U.S. has supported numerous tyrannies in the region over the years, keeping multitudes virtually enslaved. Haiti is an illustrative example.
Woodrow Wilson’s 1915 invasion led to the takeover of the country by US corporations, which lasted up to the Reagan era (Chomsky reveals the “conservative” Reagan was one of the worst supporters of foreign dictatorships).
In 1990, there appeared to be a glimmer of hope for the impoverished nation when populist Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President. This clearly wouldn’t do, so he was ousted in 1991 by a coup suspected to be backed by the CIA. Similar methods have been used by the US to try to appoint stooges in Venezuela and Honduras.
The first four chapters of the book repeat different variants of this imperialism, under shoddy pretexts of “stopping drug trafficking” and “promoting democracy”. The following chapters tell a similar tale about our involvement in Iraq and Palestine, although these campaigns were clumsier. Chomsky states Iraq is “a land of ruin and wreck” with Opinion Research Business estimating over a million deaths since the Bush II invasion.
Meanwhile Israel, backed by the U.S., waged an unjustified was against Gaza, leaving the country desperately poor and completely cut off from the outside world. Chomsky finds Greek philosopher Thucydides’ maxim true up to this day: “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.
When discussing US politics, Chomsky finds political campaigns are now based on marketing a candidate’s image, rather than promoting a platform. The 2008 election pitted McCain, whose campaign spent twice as much on Sarah Palin’s hair stylist than on his foreign advisor, versus Obama, who earned millions of votes with promises of “hope” and “change”.
Chomsky sees through those platitudes for what they were: mere bluster (Trump takes Obama’s approach to an absurd extreme). In the end Obama proved to be very friendly to Wall Street cronies while he allowed a (popularly favored) single-payer and public option to be removed from his health care legislation, resulting in what Business Week calls a big win for the insurance industry, without meaningful reform for a poorly functioning system.
Chomsky’s most concerning issues he addresses in Hopes And Prospects aren’t just concerns for unfortunate chaps overseas, but rather for every human on the planet. Man’s unabashed use of fossil fuels invites future disasters that could devastate the planet. America’s unwillingness to scale back its nuclear arsenal leaves the door open to annihilation, especially given our current hostility with Russia and North Korea.
Chomsky quotes a leading biologist who thinks that intelligence is an evolutionary fluke, bound to extinction after a short time. If we care about mankind’s future, common Americans need to wake up and speak up. Man is blessed with a supreme intelligence, but too many Americans waste it on trivialities like football and television. There is a better path going forward for our species, if only we could open our eyes to see it.