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Web Letter

In addressing torture (and terror), Chomsky focuses on the distinction for those writing history, that torture and terror are the acts of non-state actors and certainly not the acts of major and distinguished nation-states, like the United States our exceptional "city on the hill." The type of terrorist and non-state actor, who can strike with 9/11-style asymmetrical warfare below the level of traditional nation-states, conveniently provides the sense of fear which the Bush administration was able to fan into this "global war on terror" (GWOT).

However, Chomsky seems to be suggesting that there are really two levels of non-state actors: one below the level of modern nation-states, and the other perhaps beyond our definition of a traditional nation-state--a non-state actor, which is an empire.

In fact, Chomsky proceeds to describe the historical and continuing actions of America as imperialist, starting as an "infant empire"--as George Washington called it. However, today, the United States, while it maintains the image and illusion of merely being a very powerful nation-state, has actually morphed into that higher level "non-state actor" of a disguised global empire, only posing as a traditional nation-state.

Certainly, if our country (our former nation-state) is now controlled by a ruling-elite, global "corporate financial Empire," which hides behind its two-party "Vichy" facade of democracy, then Chomsky's suggestion that non-state actors, which torture and terrorize beyond the internationally accepted bounds of laws and conventions of normal nation-states, would seem to include both the type of radical or revolutionary non-state actors that Bush tagged as terrorists, and the super non-state actor of global empire.

This suggests that we might accurately use the acronym of GWOT to both define a global war on terror, and a much more ominous imperial global war of terror.

One is reminded of the old comment of the cold war era that "if we did not have the Soviet Empire as an enemy, we would have had to invent it."

Alan MacDonald

Sanford, ME

May 28 2009 - 10:15pm

Web Letter

Several months ago, I commented in a Nation posting, a version of the old "be careful what you wish for..." I said that the popular mood on handling terrorists might not be to the anti-Bush forces' liking.

The people who have pushed to raise the issues around America's defense against terrorism are getting what they asked for, with a public debate. VP Cheney's speech on the subject hit quite a nerve and resonated with millions of people. I predicted that they might wind up sorry that they did not let the question go at the proper time.

A majority of Republicans versus a majority of Democrats. How will it play out?

Don't be too hard, though, on Pelosi. Dealing with the truth just might be an unfamiiar concept to her.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

May 21 2009 - 8:20pm

Web Letter

Do you remember a few years back when the American agents visited Thailand on official business and while they were there visited a brothel full of under age hookers? And Colin Powell was outraged. "I fully expect all Americans to obey American Law when they are traveling abroad and if they do not they will be brought to justice." Something like that.

Personally, I don't think Americans should be sleeping with under -ge girls, but let's look at the broader implication of what he said. "I fully expect Americans to obey American law whey they are traveling abroad." This means if there is a law on the books against torture in the US, then it is also against the law when traveling abroad. Apparently Powell also believes he can pick and choose which laws Americans are supposed to obey while overseas.

Point two: There were soldiers at Abu Graib that went to prison for torturing suspects and prisoners. Now Dick Cheney is running around the country saying torture is just fine, it's what keeps us safe! Without torture, we might get attacked again. So if it is OK for Dick Cheney to sign off on torture, then why did the soldiers go to jail?

Gary Amstutz

Lake Isabella , CA

May 20 2009 - 5:59pm