Intriguingly enough, not only do some conservatives believe this, but some liberals as well. While the occasional conservative voice mourned what they believed was the birth of anti-American and anti-Israel governments, liberals rejoiced at the idea that American imperialism was finally dying.
Enter John Pilger and Noam Chomsky. Pilger is a filmmaker who has been to Israel what Michael Moore has been to America. Avidly pro-Palestinian, Pilger’s work has been the subject of critical feedback by the likes of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
In late February Pilger wrote a column about what he believed was behind “the Arab revolt.” After talking about the buildup to the Iraq War, Pilger argued that Arab populations across the Middle East overthrowing their dictators went beyond the immediate oppressor:
“The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against a resident dictator but a worldwide economic tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day.”
So they are rebelling against the US Treasury? Where amongst the protestors were ther signs demanding the resignation and exile of Timothy Geithner? Last I checked, Libyan rebels have yet to demand that the Secretary be brought to justice. Did any of the Tunisian rebels or the Egyptian reformers put as part of their cause the end of the great American banker empire? Given the absence of visual or audio evidence, I can only conclude that Pilger has the ability to read minds.
Then there is Chomsky. The controversial Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor whose contributions to the study of linguistics includes, fittingly enough, the concept of meaningless sentences. In a column published by the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper, Chomsky argued that concern in the United States over the happenings in the Middle East was because the American government fears the idea of Arabs gaining independence. As Chomsky writes,
“A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence.”
Chomsky then proceeds to denounce America for doing what every country on earth does: supporting governments and political movements that are in their best interests. I challenge Chomsky to find a single government or nation in all of history that acts differently. At the very least, find one that prevailed and acted differently.
Continuing his criticism of American foreign policy, Chomsky ignores that while the occasional Middle Eastern dictatorship benefited from American support plenty of democracies have also benefited. Currently major antagonists for the US in Latin America are Venezuela and Cuba, nations whose governments frequently attack political freedom. In East Asia our allies include the democracies of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan and our antagonists are the dictatorships of China and North Korea.
Another problem Chomsky and others who believe American imperialism is being destroyed in the Middle East are the same inconsistencies that burden commentators who believe jihadism is moving through the popular uprisings. Why is Gaddafi, longtime enemy to the West and funder of jihadist terrorism, threatened with an end to his rule? Why is Syria, ally to Iran and staunchly anti-Israel, having to put down demonstrations against the Assad family? How come these upheavals have yet to existentially threaten the US-backed governments of Israel and Iraq?
It is common for partisans to use the same dubious information to paint very different images of a given entity. This has happened plenty of times before. When some conservatives expressed concern about the rise reactionary Islamic organizations in the Middle East uprisings, Pilger and Chomsky turned the reasoning around to paint this as the people finally destroying the vile American foreign policy. No matter how well argued, but sides are still working off of false information. It’s a tie, they both lose.