Noam Chomsky – Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance

Posted: Vilis Normanas Date: 2014-01-22 11:28

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After 9/11 which Slavoj Žižek called “arrival to the desert of reality” the world experienced a major turn in politics –  America legitimated all its invasive and military actions as necessary defensive measures against outer enemies and called it a fight against terrorism. Examples of such defence are wars in the Middle East which were perceived by the US as an attempt to bring peace to the world.

Radical leftist philosopher, linguist, and critic of politics Noam Chomsky sees not only the desert of reality but also a start of the completely new (compared with wars in the past) war of the USA.

“In September 2002 the Bush administration announced its National Security Strategy, which declared the right to resort to force to eliminate any perceived challenge to US global hegemony, which is to be permanent. The new grand strategy aroused deep concern worldwide, even within the foreign policy elite at home. Also in September, a propaganda campaign was launched to depict Saddam Hussein as an imminent threat to the United States and to insinuate that he was responsible for the 9 – 11 atrocities and was planning others.” [1]

USA claimed that the objective of this strategy is to convince potential enemies to not reinforce their military power in order to surpass the power of the USA or to be equal with it. [2]

“Though Bush planners are at an extreme end of the traditional US policy spectrum, their programs and doctrines have many precursors, both in US history and among earlier aspirants to global power. More ominously, their decisions may not be irrational within the framework of prevailing ideology and the institutions that embody it. There is ample historical precedent for the willingness of leaders to threaten or resort to violence in the face of significant risk of catastrophe. But the stakes are far higher today. The choice between hegemony and survival has rarely, if ever, been so starkly posed.” [3]

In this context the rhetorical question of hegemony or survival sounds like an alert which warns us of the USA. A country which spends more money on the military expenses than all world countries combined, the USA does not only ignore the resolutions of the UN Security Council but proceeds to convey a message to the world that America is not willing to get rid of its hegemony and will do anything to keep it.

Chomsky reveals in detail how the USA step by step got to the strategy of Bush administration. Having in mind all the complex military operations of the USA – from Vietnam to Kosovo and East Timor – the philosopher asks:  wasn’t it clear before even if only few spoke of it?

The author points out that all the previous military actions of America were clear support or condemnation of certain states. Meanwhile, the war against terrorism gives the US a chance to stride across the sovereign states. It is easy to find enemies, N. Chomsky says, they can be found in Iran, Syria and even in the region of Andes. In other words, the USA finds a reason which is suitable for any aggression to justify.

The problem is much deeper than the fact that US became a threat to states which have no possibilities to resist: Within establishment circles, there has been considerable concern that “America’s imperial ambition” is a serious threat even to its own population. Their alarm reached new heights as the Bush administration declared itself to be a “revisionist state” that intends to rule the world permanently, becoming, some felt, “a menace to itself and to mankind” under the leadership of “radical nationalists” aiming for “unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority.” [4]

This threat even to “itself” is not an abstract philosophical assessment of the situation. Author relentlessly points out that Bush’s question “Why do they hate us?” has a very clear answer – because they are afraid of you as well as the rest of the world and even your own citizens.

Media did not completely cover incidents in Columbia which were supported by the US. The bombing of Kosovo being under the guise of the idea to help to Albanians and many more similar cases have been like an experimental laboratory in which America “played war”.

After 9/11Bush had decided that it was not necessary to support chemical war and genocide pretending that what happens there is a “fight against drug dealers”. It looks like America has been waiting for a chance to administrate the “justice”.

For many commentators the war in Iraq associated with the USA ambition to take advantage of the country’s oil resources but Noam Chomsky sees a much lively interest and in particular, an ambition to form a pro – American Iraq government. Bush simply hoped that Iraq will be forced to become the satellite state of America and then to take over the entire region.

Everything happened the other way around – the hate towards Americans in the region has increased and WMD became a goal of any potential USA victim.

Nowadays, the biggest problem is the WMD. The more America tries to consolidate its hegemony, the stronger resistance it evokes – those potential victims of super state understand that having no WMD means their destruction.

Chomsky believes that it is only a matter of time when the Middle East will get WMD and start threatening other states.

The philosopher does not say what USA should do in order to reduce the tension which originated from the 9/11. Instead of recipes which are convenient and appropriate for rapid consumption, an author of a book suggests to understand how the American hegemony system works and where it leads. He recalls that before the Second World War, the USA supported both Mussolini and Hitler.

Philosopher proposes that the hegemony or survival of the USA is one of the most important issues in today’s political philosophy and reality which is impossible to bypass because it directly affects all of us. It sounds somewhat like Hamlet – to be or not to be.

[1] Noam Chomsky Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. 2011. P. 9.

[2] P. 19.

[3] P. 11.

[4] P. 52.