Chomsky on U.S. Foreign Policy: When a Sledgehammer is the Only Tool…

Political Economist and writer C.J. Polychroniou interviews Noam Chomsky at Truthout:

The Empire of Chaos: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

US foreign policy in the 21st century has little to offer other than massive military power. Indeed, gone are the days when military might was used in order to “recreate the world in America’s image.” In the post-Cold War era, US military interventions take place in the absence of an overall strategic vision and with ideological justifications lacking force and conviction even among the United States’ traditional allies. Little wonder then that military interventions, always illegal and unjustifiable, end up accomplishing nothing more than the creation of black holes, while giving rise in turn to new and ever increasing violent terrorist organizations bent on spreading their own vision of social and political order.

In this exclusive interview for Truthout, Noam Chomsky reflects on the dynamics of US foreign policy in the 21st century and the implications of the policy of raining down destruction for world order. Chomsky also assesses the role of Russia’s involvement in Syria, the rise of the Islamic State and the apparent attraction it holds for many young Muslims from Europe, and offers a grim view about the future of US foreign policy.

CJ Polychroniou: US military interventions in the 21st century (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria) have proven totally disastrous, yet the terms of the intervention debate have yet to be redrawn among Washington’s warmakers. What’s the explanation for this?

Noam Chomsky: In part the old cliché: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The comparative advantage of the US is in military force. When one form of intervention fails, doctrine and practice can be revised with new technologies, devices, etc. There is a good review of the process from World War II to the present in a recent book by Andrew Cockburn, Kill Chain. There are possible alternatives, such as supporting democratization (in reality, not rhetoric). But these have likely consequences that the US would not favor. That is why when the US supports “democracy”; it is “top-down” forms of democracy in which traditional elites linked to the US remain in power, to quote the leading scholar of “democracy promotion,” Thomas Carothers, a former Reagan official who is a strong advocate of the process but who recognizes the reality, unhappily.

Continue to Truthout for the remainder of this interview.

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