Events continue to unfold at an accelerated pace. Amid an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we asked Norman Solomon for his latest thoughts. Focusing on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time, we specifically address the US role in the tensions and its ability to defuse them.
Norman Solomon is an American journalist, media critic, activist, and former US congressional candidate. He is a long-time employee of the Media Watch Group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy, which works to provide alternative sources for journalists and serves as its executive director. Solomon is co-founder and national director of RootsAction. He was a delegate for Bernie Sanders of California at the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions and is the author of a dozen books, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Twist Us to Death (2006) and Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State (2007).
We are looking for paradigm shift ideas to improve the prospects for peace. His answers below are exactly as he stated.
Here’s what Norman had to say.
We hear a lot of terms and acronyms. “Deep State”…”MIC”…”FIRE Sector”…”ruling elite”…”oligarchy”…”neocons”. Who defines and sets America’s geopolitical priorities and determines our foreign policy? Not official”. Not constitutional. But in fact?
Defining the boundaries of dominant discourse—with repetition and omission—is critical to directing and defining US foreign policy and preventing the spread of dissent. The mere notion that US military spending is “defense spending” throws any discussion off to a highly skewed start. I wouldn’t be against spending that’s genuinely dedicated to defense, but right now, only a small portion of the Pentagon’s budget deserves to fall into that category. The US maintains and is currently involved in about 750 military bases abroad Military operations in 80 countries. As I recently did in a article to the truth, “Leaders of the US government never tire of reaffirming their commitment to human rights and democracy. At the same time, they insist that an inexhaustible supply of adversaries are out to harm the United States, which must not run away from a violent struggle with the world. But the real US agenda is to run the world.” It is an agenda largely driven and implemented by corporate power, with huge profits being made – mostly by big corporations; Military contracts are a sacred cash cow for the oligarchy. The war state is a corporate state.
We have decades of international tensions behind us. Recent developments have seen a sharp escalation in the potential for a major war. The US apparently cannot find peace. “Threats” against the homeland are said to be increasing in number and severity. The evolution of our relations with the rest of the world seems to be more confrontations, more enemies, more crises, more wars.
Is the world really so full of aggressors, bad actors, ruthless opponents? Or is there something in our own policies and attitudes toward other countries that brings us into conflict with them, making war inevitable and peace impossible?
It has been said that the United States is in search of enemies, and certainly there is an infinite supply – especially when trying to rule the world as much as possible. Of course, the world is full of many people and forces striving to concentrate undue power and oligarchic wealth in the hands of a few, and the United States is hardly responsible for this reality. That being said, the US government is the leading international lawbreaker and killer in this century – this is really not a debatable fact, just look at the death toll in the US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. “Do what we say, not what we do” has never been a very persuasive message. What the world needs is a uniform standard of human rights and international law. Hypocrisy in Washington does not justify Russia’s murderous war on Ukraine, or vice versa.
Our leaders speak relentlessly about our “national interests” and our “national security” and warn that both are under constant attack. Yet we spend more than the next nine countries combined on our military. Why does such colossal spending never seem to be enough?
Well, like capitalism itself, militarism is insatiable. The results of the pursuit of profit, no matter how satisfying they may be at the moment, are never enough. It’s a kind of pathological gluttony. The greed for personal wealth and power is intertwined with similar institutional greed; When does a company say profits are too high or that there is no need to increase them in the future? Never. Meanwhile, people around the world are suffering and dying on a massive scale from preventable diseases, a lack of health care, malnutrition or outright starvation, and an environmental crisis, including a climate catastrophe, that is only getting worse.
It is evident that you and the many people who follow you and support your work believe that America’s direction, both in the diplomatic arena and in the current zones of conflict, represents a misuse of government power gone wrong. Can you outline for us the specific changes in our national priorities and policies that you believe are necessary for the US to peacefully coexist with other nations while protecting us from malicious attacks on our security and rightful place in the world? community?
Collective security among nations is the only hope for international peace and stability in the best sense of the word. The economic, environmental and health crises currently afflicting humanity truly know no bounds. The US government should practice what it preaches and stop enforcing with action the prerogative to continue crossing borders and killing people. As the United States vastly increases its spending to meet human needs with a wide range of social programs, it could instantly halve its military budget and be not only just as safe, but safer. A good example is the US ICBM force of 400 nuclear missiles in underground silos, on constant alert. As Daniel Ellsberg explained this year: “No other strategic weapons other than ground-launched ICBMs require a national leader to absurdly decide within minutes whether to use them or lose them. They shouldn’t exist… No other specific, concrete American action would immediately go so far as to reduce the real risk of a false alarm in a crisis causing near-human extinction.”
The general public clearly wants less war and militarism, preferring more peaceful alternatives on the world stage, and a greater focus on solving problems at home, especially when aware of the self-sabotaging results of our current foreign policy and military posturing. As peace activists, we are therefore more aligned with the majority of citizens than with the current rulers on issues of war and peace.
What happens when we find that those shaping current US policy don’t care what the public thinks, just don’t listen to us? What if, for example, we came to the conclusion that our Congress is completely deaf to the voice of the people? What do we do? Then what are our options? As a thought leader and advocate for comprehensive reform, what do you propose?
Well, any thoughts that I or anyone else has, no matter how valuable, will be of limited value without the kind of grassroots organization that can bring about meaningful change. Democracy has always been a combination of mirage and reality, even in the best of times in the United States. Virtually every change for the better that we can be proud of in US history has come from the bottom up, not the top down, of the existing power structures. The struggle for democracy never ends. Joe Hill said, “Don’t grieve, organize!” There is no better advice in a few words. (I’m very happy to be collaborating with colleagues at RootsAction, which now has 1.2 million online supporters, and I invite all readers to sign up for action alerts at RootsAction.org.) Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the urgent need for militant non-violent action. Progressive social movements that organize effectively with such an approach have tremendous potential to help create a truly better world.