[R-G] How America determines friends and foes - Chomsky
menecraj at shaw.ca
Wed Mar 17 18:32:43 MST 2004
Mar. 14, 2004. 01:00 AM
How America determines friends and foes
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
Every self-respecting president has a doctrine attached to his name.
The core principle of the Bush II doctrine is that the United States
must "rid the world of evil," as the president said right after 9/11.
A special responsibility is to wage war against terrorism, with the
corollary that any state that harbours terrorists is a terrorist state
and should be treated accordingly.
Let's ask a fair and simple question: What would the consequences
be if we were to take the Bush doctrine seriously, and treat states
that harbour terrorists as terrorist states, subject to bombardment
The United States has long been a sanctuary to a rogues' gallery of
people whose actions qualify them as terrorists, and whose
presence compromises and complicates U.S. proclaimed principles.
Consider the Cuban Five, Cuban nationals convicted in Miami in
2001 as part of a spy ring.
To understand the case, which has prompted international protests,
we have to look at the sordid history of U.S.-Cuba relations
(leaving aside here the issue of the crushing, decades-long U.S.
The United States has engaged in large- and small-scale terrorist
attacks against Cuba since 1959, including the Bay of Pigs invasion
and the bizarre plots to kill Castro. Direct U.S. participation in the
attacks ended during the late '70s - at least officially.
In 1989, the first president Bush granted a pardon to Orlando
Bosch, one of the most notorious anti-Castro terrorists, accused of
masterminding the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976. Bush
overruled the Justice Department, which had refused an asylum
request from Bosch, concluding: "The security of this nation is
affected by its ability to urge credible other nations to refuse aid
and shelter to terrorists, whose target we too often become."
Recognizing that the United States was going to harbour anti-Castro
terrorists, Cuban agents infiltrated those networks. In 1998,
high-level FBI officials were sent to Havana, where they were given
thousands of pages of documentation and hundreds of hours of
videotape about terrorist actions organized by cells in Florida.
The FBI reacted by arresting the people who provided the
information, including a group now known as the Cuban Five.
The arrests were followed by what amounted to a show trial in
Miami. The Five were sentenced, three to life sentences (for
espionage; and the leader, Gerardo Hernandez, also for conspiracy
to murder), after convictions that are now being appealed.
Meanwhile, people regarded by the FBI and Justice Department as
dangerous terrorists live happily in the United States and continue
to plot and implement crimes.
The list of terrorists-in-residence in the United States also includes
Emmanuel Constant from Haiti, known as Toto, a former
paramilitary leader from the Duvalier era. Constant is the founder
of the FRAPH (Front for Advancement of Progress in Haiti), the
paramilitary group that carried out most of the state terror in the
early 1990s under the military junta that overthrew president
At last report, Constant was living in Queens, N.Y.
The United States has refused Haiti's request for extradition. The
reason, it is generally assumed, is that Constant might reveal ties
between Washington and the military junta that killed 4,000 to
5,000 Haitians, with Constant's paramilitary forces playing the
leading role. The gangsters leading the current coup in Haiti include
For the United States, Cuba has long been the primary concern in
the hemisphere. A declassified 1964 State Department document
declares Fidel Castro to be an intolerable threat because he
"represents a successful defiance of the United States, a negation of
our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half," since
the Monroe Doctrine declared that no challenge to U.S. dominance
would be tolerated in the hemisphere.
Venezuela now presents a similar problem. A recent lead article in
the Wall Street Journal says, "Fidel Castro has found a key
benefactor and heir apparent to the cause of derailing the U.S.'s
agenda in Latin America: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez."
As it happens, last month, Venezuela asked the United States to
extradite two former military officers who are seeking asylum in the
United States. The two had taken part in a military coup supported
by the Bush administration, which backed down in the face of outrage
throughout the hemisphere.
The Venezuelan government, remarkably, observed a ruling of the
Venezuelan supreme court barring prosecution of the coup leaders.
The two officers were later implicated in a terrorist bombing, and
fled to Miami.
Outrage over defiance is deeply ingrained in U.S. history. Thomas
Jefferson bitterly condemned France for its "attitude of defiance" in
holding New Orleans, which he coveted. Jefferson warned that
France's "character (is) placed in a point of eternal friction with our
character, which though loving peace and the pursuit of wealth, is
France's "defiance (requires us to) marry ourselves to the British
fleet and nation," Jefferson advised, reversing his earlier attitudes,
which reflected France's crucial contribution to the liberation of the
colonies from British rule.
Thanks to Haiti's liberation struggle of 1804, unaided and almost
universally opposed, France's defiance soon ended. But, then as
now, the guiding principles of American outrage over defiance
remain in place, determining friend and foe.
Author and political activist Noam Chomsky is a professor of
linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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