The renowned linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky gave a grim prognosis on international politics at a webinar hosted by Massachusetts Peace Action on April 26.
Chomsky told the audience that he was dismayed to read in the pages of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, that we “can have a small nuclear war with Russia…who cares.”
This kind of talk, said Chomsky, is “beyond insanity.” A nuclear war will result in mass suffering and destruction of much of the planet—as whoever strikes first will engender retaliation.
Chomsky said that Albert Einstein was once asked what weapons would be used to fight World War III. He responded that he didn’t know, but that “World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.” Which appears to be where we are headed.
U.S. generals, who Chomsky said should know better, are talking openly about war with China, almost as if it is a fait accompli.
The U.S. is encircling China militarily as the Biden administration is in the process of a) building up the U.S. military base network in the Philippines; b) fortifying the U.S. military alliance with South Korea and Japan; c) sending nuclear-armed submarines and precision weapons to Australia aimed at China; and d) sending B-52 nuclear-armed bombers to Guam.
The ongoing U.S. economic war on China was apparent in U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s remarks that all Western countries must cooperate in preventing Chinese innovation and development—implying that China should be strangled economically.
The Biden administration has stipulated that no U.S. ally can send anything to China without U.S. components, including the Netherlands, a leader in the lithographic industry key in the development of computer chips.
According to Chomsky, the U.S. is now essentially trying to de-industrialize Europe by cutting it off from the China market and from Russian minerals as a result of the war in Ukraine.
European allies are partially submitting, though partially refusing, to comply with Washington’s designs, while much of the rest of the world is committed to asserting their independence from the U.S.-dominated global system, trading more and more in non-U.S. currencies and improving commercial relations with China.
According to Chomsky, Washington was recently humiliated by China when it brokered a major peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which counteracted the long-standing U.S. policy of trying to build up a bloc of reactionary Arab states to counter Iran.
The destructiveness of U.S. policies in the Middle East is emblematic of a failed empire whose days seem more and more to be doomed.
With the looming threat of environmental disaster, Chomsky said that peace movements must demand an immediate shift from confrontation with China and Russia to cooperation—otherwise we will all go off the precipice together.
Seoul’s Growing Integration into U.S. War Planning
Chomsky’s talk occurred during a week when South Korea’s conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol was visiting with President Biden at a special summit to discuss the further integration of Seoul into U.S. war planning and the military integration of the two countries.
At a joint press conference after the summit, Biden and Yoon announced a new U.S. commitment to deploy a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea for the first time since the early 1980s.
This was part of a set of new steps designed to boost U.S.-South Korean cooperation on military training, information sharing and other forms of strategic collaboration, with General Kenneth Wilsbach, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, suggesting that the U.S. may soon be landing nuclear capable B-52 bombers at South Korean air bases.
In an interview published on April 19, Yoon laid out the agenda for his trip, stating that Seoul could potentially begin sending lethal military aid to Ukraine and backing Washington’s campaign to start a war with China over Taiwan. Yoon has also recently taken measures to normalize relations with Japan in order to better facilitate a tripartite alliance with the U.S. against China.
The RAND Corporation characterized Yoon as Biden’s “perfect South Korean partner” because he supported an expansion of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the U.S. military training in order to “deter North Korean aggression,” along with membership in the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, whose main purpose is to isolate China.
Yoon was honored during his Washington visit with a state dinner, the highest diplomatic honor, in which celebrity chef Edward Lee whipped up a Korean-inspired menu, Broadway performers provided entertainment, and Yoon was seated at a table with Hollywood starlet Angelina Jolie and her adopted son Maddox who attended a university in South Korea.
The great pomp and light mood—Yoon sang a rendition of “American Pie” after being given an autographed guitar by its late songwriter Don McLean—obscured what the dinner was all about: the wooing of a hard-line leader in order to get him to betray his own people by turning his country into a launching pad for potential future war with North Korea and China that could destroy much of humanity if nuclear weapons are used.
The U.S. has long justified its military buildup in South Korea as being necessary to deter North Korean aggression when it was the U.S. which artificially divided the two Koreas after World War II, imposed a brutal client government in the South, obliterated much of North Korea in a massive bombing campaign, and hatched a plan to launch a nuclear attack on China.
In Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, harshly denounced the U.S.-South Korea agreement, stating that “the more the enemies are dead set on staging nuclear war exercises, and the more nuclear assets they deploy in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula, the stronger the exercise of our right to self-defense will become in direct proportion to them.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said that the nuclearization of the U.S.-South Korea military alliance “will do nothing but escalate tensions, whip up crises in the security sphere and provoke an arms race.”
Simone Chun of Code Pink noted at the Massachusetts Peace Action webinar that 80% of South Koreans oppose the degree to which President Yoon—who won elections last year by a rail-thin margin and enjoys only a 19% popularity rating—has capitulated to Washington’s imposition of an anti-China policy on South Korea.
South Koreans overwhelmingly support balanced foreign relations with Russia and China, reconciliation with Japan and peace with North Korea, whose realization has been inhibited by the U.S.
Chomsky noted that, since the Korean War in the early 1950s, South Korea has been an “occupied country,” subject to U.S. domination and control, which could only change if a peace treaty with the North were signed—something most South Koreans want.
Chomsky lauded efforts of peace activists attending the webinar who protested Yoon’s visit to the Harvard Kennedy School and were organizing a mobilization in Washington in July and conference as part of a growing movement for a transformation of U.S. foreign policy.
Chomsky also said he drew inspiration from the peace activists of Jeju Island off South Korea who had valiantly tried to resist the recent building of a U.S. naval base on a world heritage site.
Chomsky recalled his travels to North Vietnam during the height of the Vietnam War where many of the areas he visited were like moonscapes.
Things would be even worse today if war broke out again, Chomsky said, with new military technologies, and a level of destruction even more total. And so the madmen and women in power need to be stopped.
- See Bruce Cumings, The Korean War: A History (New American LIbrary, 2011); and Jeremy Kuzmarov, “The Korean War: Barbarism Unleashed,” https://peacehistory-usfp.org/korean-war/. ↑