Obama is a right-wing jingoist
– By Noam Chomsky
Sat Nov 17 04:12:46 GMT 2012
Presidential election in America does not have much to do with the political process. Instead, it has to do with the public relations industry and its innovations.
The PR industry has a great deal at stake in governance because of its links with the dominant sectors of the American society. After the 2008 election, the advertisement industry gave its annual awards to the Barack Obama campaign. The industry is in the business of how to delude consumers—in this case voters—from making an informed decision. Thanks to the PR industry, voters are taught to make irrational choices. The only thing that emerges from these elections is a spectacle to divert people from their real problems. At the end of it, the powerful in the US get one successful model. Currently, the Obama model of campaigning is being proved as successful.
Great economists like Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman were available for Obama at the time of his arrival in 2008, but finally who did he take? Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, who created the crisis in the first place. The financial crisis was created because the US refused to turn away from the economic policy of Ronald Reagan, a vicious thug who introduced the element of endless consumerism.
The election voting map that appeared in the media soon after the results shows the US is in a civil war. The voting was clearly on racist lines, with the whites voting for Mitt Romney and the non-whites voting for Obama. That apart, white single women voted for Obama but white married women seem to have voted for Romney. US history is full of unfair treatment of women. Till 1975, women were not allowed to serve in the federal jury. There is a feeling that a wife will reflect the electoral choice of her husband as the husband is her owner.
The red-and-blue map of the voting pattern is exactly the same as it was in the 1860s, when the civil war had broken out. During the civil war, states like California and a few others were not yet part of the Union. That is the only distiction between then and now. That apart, the map of voter behaviour reflects the same pattern as of the civil war. Go south, and you will find that white men who have always demanded universal health care are suddenly saying they do not want it. These are the people who voted for Romney. There is no reason for them to change their mind but for racism. They will not take it from a black president.
The silent civil war will make life in the US very difficult. The polity has become such that, often, it cannot voice those opinions that have to be voiced. The most important issues are filtered out as the less important issues are prioritised. There is a big gap in public policy and public opinion. Academic works show that nearly 70 per cent of the population does not have any influence on public policy. As you go towards the top 30 per cent, ability of the public to influence policy increases.
Both Obama and Romney are right-wing jingoists who believe the US should rule the world. Obama has launched a global assassination campaign with drones. But you will not hear a single word about it in the US media. Once in a while, when they end up killing their own citizens, like in the case of Anwar Al-Awlaki, for being alleged terrorists, we can hear something about the drone attacks. Otherwise, for killing of innocent people in AfPak, the Arab world and the rest of West Asia and Africa, you will not see a report from the US.
The conservatives are trying to strike out legislation brought out by Richard Nixon and Reagan, as they find these two figures to be too much towards the centre. Eisenhower for them is almost a communist. To me, Nixon is responsible for fighting racism in the south with more racism and Reagan vilified welfare. As a result, people tend to imagine the government as a monster that is waiting to enter their house and take away everything they have. The conservatives have become so far-right that even outright right-wingers like Reagan and Nixon appear better in comparison.
The truth is many of the Republican positions are basically social-democratic positions; but they continue to hold on to them as they are unable to come to terms with the US of the 21st century. It is ironical that the more people benefit of government help, the more they become hostile to
the welfare policies of the government. Indeed, 70 per cent of Americans need some kind of welfare support at
The Florida debate showed that two countries matter to the US more than any others. First is Israel and second is Iran. The latter is a threat because it poses a threat to Israel. But is there no way to deal with the Iranian threat without a war? There is one: the US should sit and discuss all issues with Iran. But, so far, the US has not shown any such inclination. A conference is coming up in Helsinki; all stakeholders in the region have been invited and Israel, too, should come there. But as far as I know, the US will not come out full in support of the conference.
Iran needs deterrence as it has the US army on two sides of its borders. What is stopping them from starting a round of talks on a nuclear-free zone in West Asia? Iran is mainly an American and European obsession, which clearly does not have the support of the likes of China and India.
As told to Kallol Bhattacherjee