My transcript of part of a public lecture “The Emerging World Order: its roots, our legacy” given by Noam Chomsky at Politeama Rossetti in Trieste, Italy on September 17, 2012.
The basic reason for the concern [over the possibility of Iran building nuclear weapons] has been expressed succinctly by General Lee Butler, the former head of the US Strategic Command, which is in charge of nuclear weapons and the strategic policies involved. He writes, “it is dangerous in the extreme, that in the cauldron of animosities, that we call “the Middle East”, one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which may inspire other nations to do so.”
General Butler, however, was not referring to Iran. He was referring to Israel. That’s the country that ranks highest in polls of European public opinion, as the most dangerous country in the world, right above Iran. But not in the Arab world. In the Arab world, the public regards the United States as the second most dangerous country after Israel and that goes back quite a while. Iran is generally disliked, but it ranks far lower as a threat – among populations, that is. Just not the dictatorships.
Western media and commentary keep almost entirely to the views of the dictators, so we constantly hear that the Arabs want ‘decisive US action against Iran, which is that’s true of the dictators, and you may recall that a while ago, WikiLeaks released the diplomatic documents quoting Arab dictators – Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – as calling for strong US action against Iran.
The commentary about that was interesting. It was almost euphoric: “Isn’t this wonderful? The Arabs support US policy against Iran!” which is true of the Arab dictators. At the very same time, Western-run polls were coming out, showing that it’s quite the opposite, that though again, they don’t like Iran, they’re not regarded as a threat. The United States is regarded as a threat. In fact opposition to US policy was so strong, that a majority – and in some countries like Egypt, a substantial majority, thought that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons. They don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but if the United States and Israel have them and are there, that’s what’s needed.
That was almost never mentioned. And that reaction is pretty striking. It illustrates the contempt for democracy among Western elite opinion: it doesn’t matter what the population thinks, that’s derided as the “Arab street” – who cares what they think? What matters is what the dictators think. That’s a commentary about us, not about the Arab world.
Unlike Iran, Israel refuses to allow [IAEA] inspections, refuses to join the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). It has hundreds of nuclear weapons and advanced delivery systems, and it also has a long record of violence and repression (it has annexed and settled conquered territories illegally in violation of [UN] Security Council orders and court decisions), and many acts of aggression: it has invaded Lebanon five times with no credible pretext, and much more.
Meanwhile, severe threats of attack continue, from the United States and particularly Israel. Daily, there are strong threats of attack, and there’s reaction from US Government. The Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, reacted to the threats from Israel by saying, ‘we don’t want them to attack Iran, but they’re a sovereign country, they can do what they like’. If Iran was making comparable threats about Israel – and it isn’t – the reaction would be quite different.
You may remember there is a document called the United Nations Charter. The key provision in the UN Charter is a ban against the threat or use of force in international affairs. But now there are two rogue states, the United States and Israel, that pay no attention to this, and are constantly issuing severe threats. And the European Union goes along, politely. The threats are not just words: there is an ongoing war – or at least what we would regard as an ongoing war, if it was directed against us – and there are regular assassinations of scientists and terrorist acts, there’s a very severe economic war.
The US threats, which are unilateral, have cut Iran out of the international financial system. The European countries don’t disobey the United States so they’ve gone along. Five high-level former NATO commanders have recently released what they call a ‘new grand strategy’, which identified various acts of war that justify a violent response. One of them is ‘weapons of finance’ – that justifies a military reaction, when it’s directed against us. But cutting Iran out of the global financial markets, is different.
The US Government is very proudly announcing that it’s undertaking extensive cyber-warfare against Iran. The Pentagon has identified cyber-warfare as a serious military attack, which justifies our military response. But that’s the difference between what we do to them and they do to us. Israel has an enormous lethal armoury, not just nuclear. Only recently, in the last few months, Israel has received advanced submarines provided by Germany. These are capable of carrying Israel’s nuclear tipped missiles, and they’re sure to be deployed in the Persian Gulf, or nearby. They may already be there. Certainly, if Israel proceeds with its plan to bomb Iran, the US has a vast array of nuclear weapons surrounding the region, from the Indian Ocean, all the way to the West. In the Persian Gulf itself, the US has enough fire-power to destroy the world many times over.
Full lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BK0XIm0DXE