Introductory summary of this article
President Obama recently sent his new jobs proposal to Congress with a plan to pay for the $447 billion package by raising taxes on the wealthy. The healthcare system, the huge military spending as a result of 9/11 and the stupid foreign policy that provoked it, the very low taxes for the rich and corporations -- are fundamental problems that have to be dealt with if there's going to be anything like successful economic and social development in the United States, he points out. As Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls Social Security a "Ponzi scheme," and Democrats buy into the narrative that the program is in crisis, Chomsky notes that "to worry about a possible problem 30 years from now, which can be fixed with a little bit of tampering here and there, as was done in 1983, makes absolutely no sense at all -- unless you're trying to destroy the program."
The origins of 9/11 according to Ron Paul, with a follow-up from Chomsky
Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas recently drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from other candidates on the podium when he criticized U.S. foreign policy in pointing out the roots of 9/11 that most Americans don't want to face:
We're under terrorist threat because we occupy so many countries, he said. We're in 130 of them. We have 900 bases around the world. And we're going broke because of it.
The purpose of al-Qaeda was to attack us so that we would go over there where they can target us more easily. And they have been doing exactly that and have been bleeding our economy of resources and bankrupting our country at the same time. They have initiated more attacks against American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11. But what would you expect them to do? Our troops are there, in the hundreds of thousands, occupying their land! And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we are deluded.
To be honest with ourselves we must squarely face the obvious question: What would we do if another country, say China, did to us what we are doing to all those countries over there?
This idea that the whole Muslim world is 'responsible' for attacking us just because we're "free' and prosperous is silly. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda clearly told us that they attacked America because, a) we had military bases on their holy land in Saudi Arabia, b) we militarily and financially assist the Israelis in their persecution of the Palestinians, and c) we have been bombing and otherwise killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Iraq, including thousands of children, for more than a decade, with sanctions as well as bombs.
If this had been done to America, what would your reaction be? So how can we blame them for their reactions, without being stupid?
Chomsky responds to what Ron Paul said
I think what Ron Paul said is completely un controversial. You can read the same thing in government documents. You can find it in polls. Maybe people don't like to hear it, but, as I've mentioned before, it goes back to the 1950s.
Right after 9/11, the Wall Street Journal, to its credit, did a study of privileged Muslims, sometimes called "monied Muslims" -- people in the Muslim world who are deeply embedded in the U.S. global project: lawyers, directors of multinational corporations and so on, not the general population. And their concerns were very much like what Eisenhower and the National Security Council were concerned about in the 1950s: Then as now, there was a lot of antagonism to U.S. policy in the region, partly because of its support of dictators that are blocking democracy and development, just as the National Security Council concluded in 1958.
And by 2001, there were much more specific things: particularly a lot of anger about the U.S. backing for Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories, settlements, the bitter oppression of the Palestinians, and also, something that isn't discussed much here but that meant a lot there--and remember, these are privileged Muslims, leaders, i.e. those who kind of carry out, implement the general U.S. economic and social policies in the region. That other thing, besides the U.S. support of Israeli crimes, was the sanctions against Iraq. This was 2001, remember. The sanctions against Iraq were brutal and destructive. They alone killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, many of them children who died because of the filthy drinking water that resulted from the U.S. blockade on equipment and chemicals necessary to repair and reestablish functional water filtration systems. Both of the international diplomats who administered the Oil-for-Food program -- distinguished international diplomats like Denis Halliday, and then Hans von Sponeck -- resigned in protest because they regarded the sanctions as genocidal. The sanctions were, in effect, a kind of a mass slaughter of Iraqis. And were actually strengthening Saddam Hussein. They were compelling the population to rely on him just for survival. These then were major U.S. crimes of the 1990s. And privileged Muslims, monied Muslims, in the Saudi Arabia, elsewhere, were bitterly opposed to this, not because they hate our freedoms, but because they despised America's murderous and brutal policies.
How U.S. foreign policy helped bin Laden and hurt the USA
According to at least one CIA analyst, the U.S. actually became Osama bin Laden's biggest ally by allowing itself to be drawn into so many wars abroad. Bin Laden wanted to draw the United States into what intelligence agencies called a trap, which would inflame and incite hostility in the Muslim world, which he hoped would help mobilize people to his cause. I don't think that happened to the degree he wanted it to, but it did help, and is still helping, to bankrupt the U.S. There was a recent estimate, in a study out of Brown University, which estimated the cost just of the two wars at about $4 trillion. If you count in the costs of homeland security, which now employs a million people all across the country, the total cost is probably double that. So, between the wars, the housing bubble, and the Bush tax cuts for the rich, . . our leaders, our banks, and our big corporations have created the economic crisis we're now in.