We live in a world facing existential threats while extreme inequality is tearing our societies apart and democracy is in sharp decline. The U.S., meanwhile, is bent on maintaining global hegemony when international collaboration is urgently needed to address the planet’s numerous challenges. In the interview that follows, Noam Chomsky, our greatest public intellectual alive, examines and analyses the state of the world with his usual brilliant insights, while explaining in the process why we are at the most dangerous point in human history and why nationalism, racism, and extremism are rearing their ugly heads all over the world today.
Chomsky argues that the world is at the most dangerous point in human history due to the climate crisis, which he says is unique in human history and is getting more severe year by year. He warns that if major steps are not taken within the next few decades, the world is likely to reach a point of no return, facing decline to indescribable catastrophe. In addition to the climate crisis, Chomsky notes that weapons systems steadily become more dangerous and more ominous, and that we have been surviving under a sword of Damocles since the bombing of Hiroshima. He adds that the sociopolitical and cultural conditions that constrain their use are breaking down, as evidenced by the 1962 missile crisis, which he describes as the most dangerous moment in world history. He warns that we may soon reach that unspeakable moment again in Europe and Asia.
Chomsky explains that the MAD system (mutually assured destruction) enabled a form of security, lunatic but perhaps the best short of the kind of social and cultural transformation that is still unfortunately only an aspiration. However, he notes that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the MAD system of security was undermined by President Bill Clinton’s aggressive triumphalism and the Bush II-Trump project of dismantling the laboriously constructed arms control regime. He argues that this triumphant unilateralism and open contempt for the defeated enemy has been a significant factor in bringing major war to Europe with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the potential to escalate to terminal war. He warns that there are also ominous developments in Asia, where with strong bipartisan and media support, Washington is confronting China on both military and economic fronts.
Chomsky notes that the U.S. and China must find ways to accommodate, as great powers with conflicting interests often did in the past, or else we are all lost. He explains that historical analogies have their limits, but there are two pertinent ones that have repeatedly been adduced in this connection: The Concert of Europe established in 1815 and the Versailles treaty of 1919. The former is a prime example of the “Old Diplomacy.” The defeated aggressor (France) was incorporated into the new system of international order as an equal partner. That led to a century of relative peace. The Versailles treaty is a paradigm example of the “revolutionary” concept of global order instituted by the triumphalism of the ‘90s and its aftermath. Defeated Germany was not incorporated into the postwar international order but was severely punished and humiliated. We know where that led.
Chomsky argues that currently, two concepts of world order are counterposed: the U.N. system and the “rules-based” system, correlating closely with multipolarity and unipolarity, the latter meaning U.S. dominance. The U.S. and its allies (or “vassals” or “subimperial states” as they are sometimes called) reject the U.N. system and demand adherence to the rules-based system. The rest of the world generally supports the U.N. system and multipolarity. Chomsky explains that the U.N. system is based on the U.N. Charter, the foundation of modern international law and the “supreme law of the land” in the U.S. under the U.S. Constitution, which elected officials are bound to obey. However, he notes that its core principle bans “the threat or use of force” in international affairs, except in narrow circumstances unrelated to U.S. actions.
Chomsky argues that the preferred rules-based system is determined by the hegemonic power, which took the mantle of global dominance from Britain after World War II, greatly extending its scope. One core foundation stone of the U.S.-dominated rules-based system is the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, he notes that the U.S. is alone in its capacity to impose sanctions, which are third-party sanctions that others must obey, or else. And they do obey, even when they strongly oppose the sanctions. He warns that this system is highly problematic and that the U.S. must find ways to accommodate with other great powers in order to avoid catastrophe.
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News Source : Common Dreams
Source Link :Opinion | Noam Chomsky on Why This Is the Most Dangerous Point in Human History/