Chomsky: Americans frustrated at Obama
Sun Nov 7, 2010 5:56PM
Press TV interviews Professor Noam Chomsky regarding the mid-term elections.
Professor Noam Chomsky at his desk
The following is an exclusive Press TV interview with American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and political activist Professor Noam Chomsky.
Chomsky shares his insights on the recent mid-term elections and how US citizens are in a state of hopelessness with their country's leadership.
Press TV: To shed more light on that, I'm luckily joined by Professor Noam Chomsky. He is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. It's an honor to have you on the show with us Professor Chomsky. The world will be watching to see how difficult of a task it has become for Democratic President Barack Obama to manage the country with the new Republican majority. Please comment Professor Chomsky.
Chomsky: Well, I think it's quite difficult. Part of the reason is that the electoral campaign which just finished is remarkable in that there was almost no discussion, no comment on the major problems facing the country; either domestic or international.
For example, there was discussion of the fact that the country or majority of the population doesn't approve of Obama's health care reform, which is correct. But if you take a look at the polls, you would discover the reason is that by virtually close to two to one, the population thinks that the changes didn't go far enough.
They should have gone much further. So people feel frustrated. In fact, his base feels extremely frustrated. They feel they were sold out. They are joined by a majority of the population. An overwhelming majority thinks that the cost of health insurance is just too high. The cost, and the health care insurance companies make far too much money, the pharmaceutical corporations make far too much money and so on.
Those are judgments based on objective reality. Health care costs in the United States are approximately twice as high as comparable countries. Health outcomes are among the lowest of industrial societies and people know that. Obama did nothing about it.
His health care reforms may be a slight improvement over what existed before. But they by not means met the aspirations of the population and in particular within his own base which deserted him.
In international affairs, almost nothing was discussed. I mean there after all are major wars going on, which the population is opposed to strongly. That was barely discussed. Obama didn't discuss it in his press conference.
There is a huge build up of military force in the Arabian Sea. In fact, about 1/4 of the world's aircraft carriers are there. They are almost all American and one French.
All the super aircraft carriers are American; almost all the nuclear powered ones. An aircraft carrier means a battle group. It's a tremendous military force that is stationed there. It's being used and it's being threatened for use. It's being used in Central Asia and what is called AFPAK (Afghanistan and Pakistan). It is designed as a threat against Iran, and it's a very visible threat. These are really serious issues.
On this issue, the United States happens to be quite isolated. But it is pursuing the military threat not only in the Arabian Sea, but also on the crucial island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, where Britain following the demand of the United States kicked out the population, so the US could establish a major military base. This has been extensively reinforced by Obama with facilities for nuclear submarines; hence, submarines that are undetectable and carry nuclear tipped missiles.
There was a sharp increase in numbers. The largest bomb in the American arsenal short of atomic weapons, are the deep penetration weapons. All of this is aimed at Iran. Iran is surrounded by US military bases.
On this issue the United States happens to be quite isolated. Though you wouldn't know it from the commentary here or the presidential reelect oral campaign where the issue never arose.
The non-aligned countries, which are most of the countries, have long been opposed to the American policy. It's in violation of the Security Council resolutions calling on a settlement of issues within the framework of the UN charity and non-nuclear proliferation treaty, which barely uses the threat of force.
It's opposed by Turkey, the nearest major regional power, which has just announced sharp increases in trade with Iran. It's opposed by Brazil, the most important country in the South and even the European Union, which has been pretty loyal to the United States.
The EU is now announcing that it's not going to observe US sanctions. The big actor in this story is China, which simply dismisses US sanctions. It says it will observe UN sanctions, because they are basically toothless, but it disregards the much harsher US sanctions.
That has led to certain desperation in the state department. They have recently issued a warning to China, that if they want to be admitted into the international community, a phrase that means the US-run world system, they have to meet their international responsibilities, which are defined as following US orders.
Well, China, I suppose that elicited some chuckles in the Chinese foreign office. But they are not doing it. All of these are very significant issues and not a hint of them in the electoral campaign or any major foreign policy issue. And nothing was said at Obama's press conference.
The American population is not at all supportive of these measures. Since they are not really discussed, they are kind of independent of any formal electoral or democratic process. These and many other things are quite crucial issues. The whole election that just took place illustrates a very sharp and very ominous deterioration of democratic culture in the United States.
As virtually all commentators have noticed, the election was based on the voting in the election. The dominant mood in the country was one based on anger and frustration, disillusionment and contempt for virtually all institutions.
About two-thirds of the population thinks that congress should simply be disbanded and replaced by other people. Corporations are hated, banks are hated, and the government is hated.
Scientists are dismissed as some type of liberal elitists. This is just a general feeling of disillusionment, hopelessness and separation from any conception that a democratic process could lead to constructive change. That is extremely dangerous.