1. What are US motives in international relations most broadly? That is, what are the over arching motives and themes one can pretty much always find informing US policy choices, no matter where in the world we are discussing? What are the somewhat more specific but still over arching motives and themes for US policy in Middle East and the Arab world? Finally, what do you think are the more proximate aims of US policy in the current situation in Libya?
A useful way to approach the question is to ask what US motives are not. There are some good ways to find out. One is to read the professional literature on international relations: quite commonly, its account of policy is what policy is not, an interesting topic that I won’t pursue.
Another method, quite relevant now, is to listen to political leaders and commentators. Suppose they say that the motive for a military action is humanitarian. In itself, that carries no information: virtually every resort to force is justified in those terms, even by the worst monsters — who may, irrelevantly, even convince themselves of the truth of what they are saying. Hitler, for example, may have believed that he was taking over parts of Czechoslovakia to end ethnic conflict and bring its people the benefits of an advanced civilization, and that he invaded Poland to end the “wild terror” of the Poles. Japanese fascists rampaging in China probably did believe that they were selflessly laboring to create an “earthly paradise” and to protect the suffering population from “Chinese bandits.” Even Obama may have believed what he said in his presidential address on March 28 about the humanitarian motives for the Libyan intervention. Same holds of commentators.
- Noam Chomsky: Responsibility and Integrity: The Dilemmas We Face (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Get Your (Tongue) Twist On With Noam Chomsky! + Chomsky answers questions from Chris Hedges, others (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Noam Chomsky: The Fate of the Human Species (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Noam Chomsky: Obama is Worse (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Noam Chomsky: Stability means obedience to US domination (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)