Thursday, April 26, 2007


"Our own respectable doves share some fundamental assumptions with the hawks. The U.S. government is honorable. It may make mistakes, but it does not commit crimes. It is continually deceived and often foolish...but it is never wicked. Crucially, it does not act on the basis of the perceived self-interest of dominant social groups, as other states do. 'One of the difficulties of explaining [American] policy,' Ambassador Charles Bohlen explained at Columbia University in 1969, is that 'our policy is not rooted in any national material interest of the United States, as most foreign policies of other countries in the past have been.' Only those who are 'radical' or 'irresponsible' or 'emotional' -- and thus quite beyond the pale -- will insist on applying to the United States the intellectual and moral standards that are taken for granted when we analyze and evaluate the behavior of officially designated enemies, or, for that matter, any other power.

"It is a highly important fact that the majority of the American people strayed beyond the bounds of legitimate criticism, regarding the war as immoral, not merely a tactical error. The intellectuals, however, generally remained more submissive to official ideology, consistent with their social role. This is evident from commentary in the press and academic scholarship. The polls revealed a negative correlation between educational level and opposition to the war -- specifically, principled opposition, that is, advocacy of withdrawal of American forces. The correlation has been obscured by the fact that visible and articulate opposition to the war, not surprisingly, disproportionately involved more privileged social strata. The greater subservience of the intelligentsia to state ideology is also demonstrated in a recent study of the 'American intellectual elite' -- if one is willing to tolerate this absurd concept for the sake of discussion. The study reveals, as should have been anticipated, that these more subtle thinkers generally opposed the war on 'pragmatic' grounds. Translating to more honest terms, the intellectual elite generally felt that we couldn't get away with it...or that the cost was too high."

-- Noam Chomsky, "The Remaking of History" (1975)

(Thankfully, things have changed in the thirty years hence. Completely.)