The difference posited by critics of Chomsky, for example Christopher Hitchens, is that though the USA has committed Imperial Crimes as in Indo-China in the 1960s and 1970's, the USA is capable of renewing itself, as it is a democracy with a history of liberation too.
Chomsky, on the other hand, sees both Republican and Democrats as not that much different when it comes to US Imperial Ambitions and that linear continuity dating back to the USA's history of extreme violence in building up its hemipherical power has been constant.
Lucas argues in his version that "anti-Americanism" as an ideology is the glue that holds together remnant of the Old Left in defence of Russia against the USA through hatred only of the USA and who prefer to ignore the Putin regime's domestic repression.
Yet Lucas, though having a genuine point here, tends to do the usual trick of lumping together the worst Hard Left apologists of the USSR as though they were typical of the mindset of such people whilst using curious terminology like "leftists" who value progressive politics.
In 2008 Lucas overstated his case by writing a polemic To Russia with Love ( The Guardian 3 September 2008 ) where rather than actually deal with the complexity of geopolitics he put forth a rather neoconservative "you're either for us or against us" position.
'On Russia, at least, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg think alike. Belatedly and perhaps emptily, all three party leaders have condemned the invasion of Georgia and demanded a tough response'.Naturally, because of the UK's depleting North Sea Oil and the need for energy diversification, protection of the BTC pipeline in Georgia is a key geostrategic goal of all political leaders without any wise politicians pointing out the dangers in such a strategy.
Lucas then tries to have it that those who were opposed to what was later proved to be Mikheil Saakashvili's aggressive attack on South Ossetia were all part of the same mindset, a common propagandistic trick.
'Yet a different and even odder alliance is taking shape on the other side. Its members include such unlikely figures as Andrew Murray of Stop the War Coalition, David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, and historian Correlli Barnett, as well as anonymous but influential City bankers and lawyers.Such lumping mechanisms of propaganda simply do not take into account that each writer has his own very different opinions as to the Russo-Georgian War. As a pure propagandist, Lucas simply is not interested in outlining them. The Hard Left and Realpolitik Right are in League. "Progressive politics" is threatened.
The overlay of pseudo-idealism is a distortion of the the position of those like Norman Davies and Timothy Garton Ash in the 1980s who were entirely correct to emphasise that "hard headed realists" giving out loans to Eastern Europe and those who had still not given up on believing the USSR was a workers state formed a motley "alliance".
In fact, there is not such an 'alliance' in 2010. Lucas has just tried to impose the situation of Poland in the 1980s taken from Davies' classic Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present and Ash's chapter in The Polish Revolution 1980-1982, 'Under Western Eyes', and grafted it on to the post-Cold War world for pure propaganda.
These "leftists" are well known as not being the sharpest tools in the shed when, like Andrew Murray of the 'Stop the War Coalition', the idea is, even if his own propaganda is read, designed to ramp up nihilistic hatred for the UK Establishment as an ex-CPGB member instead of suggesting positive reforms so that catastrophes like the invasion of Iraq cannot happen.
The Kremlin's most constant allies are the old pro-Soviet left: people such as Bob Wareing, the veteran leftwing MP for Liverpool, West Derby. He recalls warmly the wartime alliance with Stalin's Soviet Union, and the promise of social justice in the communist system.
In the Morning Star, Andrew Murray blames the war in Georgia on American imperialism and contrasts it with the success of "Soviet nationalities policy" in promoting "the cultural, linguistic and educational development of each ethnic group, no matter how small or how historically marginalised".
Actually, Lucas correctly points out that "Chechens, Crimean Tatars and other victims of Stalin's murderous deportation policies presumably don't count". But presumably nor does the fact that these deportations were carried out by the USSR and not by "Russia" which is conflated in to one seamless existential threat. Russia is not the Soviet Union.
But Murray, despite his repugnant defence of the democidal regime of Stalin, is not entirely wrong in drawing attention to the role of US Imperialism in creating a Potemkin like pro-US client state with Saakashvili as a far right nationalist who has maintained his role as controller of this pipeline transit state.
Even more ironically, criticising Hard Left dinosaurs for defending the USSR, ignores the fact that Abkhazia and South Ossetia were incorporated into the Georgian SSR by Stalin who was Georgian, Commissar for the Nationalities at the time and supported by his henchmen who by the time of the ethnic transfers were mostly from the Caucasus-Beria was a Mingrelian.
The next mechanism of propaganda, aside from conflation, is that of the Old Cold War technique of switch and bait: do not look at what George Bush II is doing but look over there to what Putin and his alliance with Venezuela could achieve. This Stalinoid tactic is rank hypocrisy coming from somebody like Lucas who flaunts his anti-communist credential.
A simpler approach is pure Russophilia: people who love Russia's culture or language, and rejoice in what seems to be a national rebirth under Vladimir Putin.The fact is that the two are not mutually exclusive as they form a universal tendency towards national security states whether in the USA or in Russia. The difference is that the USA is supposed to be a democracy. In practice it is more of an oligarchy with two factions representing the same economic interests or competing for their funds.
A wider group is sparked chiefly by anti-Americanism. If you hate George W Bush then you may cast a friendly glance on the people who make life difficult for him, such as Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, or Putin in Russia.
It is countries such as Russia, however spiky and unattractive, that can derail the new world order. Yet that's odd. If, say, you feel that Muslims get a hard deal from America, then surely the Russian torture camps in Chechnya should make your blood boil?
By Lucas' singular devotion to promoting repellent double standards, what the USA does in its foreign policy, no matter about extraordinary rendition, the napalming of Fallujah in 2005 or the entirely predictable collapse of the artificial Iraqi state and collusion of the US in allowing ethnic cleansing to occur to bring stability, is not to be compared because its a "democracy".
It is precisely the scale of US double standards globally that are dangerous even to "the West". It means as Robert Service emphasises in Comrades: A Global History of Communism, that transcendental hypocrisy has a history of being seized on by those who can use it to claim that the USA is a threat to rationalise domestic repression with a degree of consent.
Lucas' mentioning of human rights abuses in Russia is not mere propaganda. The use of the words Putin's authoritarian regime are the correct ones and if he was not expropriating human rights to back expedient realpolitik, he could have written a much better a braver work without hyperbole designed to advance not the interests of ordinary Russians but Great Power
If Putin has used the USA's double standards to call it a menace, then US foreign policy has to take a radical change of course. And under Obama, the course has been a more subtle one of acceding to certain Russian interests whilst trying on the same plans to fund US based NGO's like Maria Gaidar's "Da!" and The Other Russia who are simply just loathed in Russia.
That is because Lucas in the New Cold War has never bothered to look at the blame IMF economists have for advising Russian under Yeltsin to embark of shock therapy. Lucas does not mention that in his work nor the motely and even weirder coalition between "liberals" in Russia and Eduard Limanov's Fascist National Bolsheviks.
Certainly many wish to derail 'The New World Order' without indulging in what George Orwell called in Notes on Nationalism, the mental vice of transferred nationalism. But that's precisely what Lucas does in his uncritical deflection of criticism of US foreign policy into criticism of Putin and Russia.
Oddly enough , there are those who by default play into the hands of authoritarian populists by portraying, as Noam Chomsky does, the USA as akin to The Third Reich. This lunatic comparison allows Chavez to make his corny criticisms in the UN of the USA whilst himself indulging in strategic alliances with mass murdering tyrants like Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, despite Chomsky's rhetorical excesses, he makes the valid point that Chavez is accepted as being freely and fairly elected. The fact that he does deals with Castro's totalitariab Cuba is restricted much to the exchange of finance and oil for well trained Cuban doctors who are providing good health care to the poor in Latin America.
Even so, Chomsky could at least criticise Chavez for not attaching strings to the aid and asking for political liberalisation of Cuba, one still run by a military junta without elections and supported in the West by cigar chomping apologists for dictators such as the ranting and raucous demagogue George Galloway.
The rationalisation of Venezuela's "mini-imperialism" is curiously defended by Chomsky as these countries following their "comparative advantage" which in Venezuela's case is oil. Yet what Venezuela chooses to do with it is their business and not for the USA to dictate by trying to coalition anti-Chavez forces through the Sumate or supporting coups as in 2002.
States and those who elect governments must learn from their own mistakes and the USA would, indeed, be better off focusing on trying to reform their own financial system, the trillions of debt, rebuilding US industries instead of outsourcing everything to China, a disastrous policy which proves the decadence and impending decline of the New Rome.
Moreover though Chavez is concerning himself in the affairs of other states like post IMF stricken Argentina after 1998 by building pipelines down there and thumbing his nose at the US's "sphere of influence" in Latin America since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, he hasn't tried to dictate the authoritarian choice: vote for pro-US parties or we will hurt you economically.
That strategy is not only failing in Latin America but it has zero impact on Russia where the IMF Washington Consensus created a terrible immiseration for which many outside the hired pro-US elite in Moscow find unforgivable. The denial of the link between shock therapy and Russia's collapse is a proven one: it did not cause it but it deepened the collapse.
Lucas's casuistic arguments about "correlation" not amounting to "causation" is just mendacious. Shock therapy deepened the crisis inherited as the Soviet Union's command economy collapsed. So no, it did not cause it, but made a bad situation worse which is the case nearly everywhere where Utopian neoliberal "reforms" were imposed.
This is not some hard left political position, though Naomi Klein is of a libertarian social democratic or socialist bent. Yet The Shock Doctrine has been praised by conservatives such as Professor John Gray and intelligent political liberals who also point out the ethical realities ignored by cheap second rate propagandists such as Lucas.
When Lucas writes hysterical sentences such as this, "Russia is an oil-fuelled fascist kleptocracy ruled by secret police goons and their cronies", it is clear that the Anglo-American moralism and revival of a "New Imperialism" in the Anglobalisation sphere of interests will distort and exaggerate truth to justify its claims to global hegemony.
Compared to the USA and UK, how many lives have been prematurely ended by the invasions of Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq, how many lives cut short by the catastrophic war on drugs compared to that which Russia has visited upon places like Chechnya ? Which should not be allowed to let Putin off the hook with regards undoubted domestic repression.
Moreover, the US need not murder political opponents: it saves that for other countries as does it's erstwhile client Israel. The spoils of Empire and Oil Colonies in the Middle East ensure enough people have been able to collude in sharing a degree of nationalism with the Washington elites.
When challenged, the US National Guard has always been ready to shoot people. It did so during the anti-war protests of the 1960's. Nothing of similar magnitude or comparison happened in Britain or Europe. The question, as New Labour introduced a crackdown on civil liberties, is whether that will always be the case. The decline of liberty in Britain is worrying.
If the global pathology of nations increases, authoritarianism returns in what were democracies and increasingly managerial micromanaged oligarchies in the USA, UK and which is seen as a model to export to Georgia. And as in Georgia, Saakashvili was prepared to use ammunition and tear gas to repress protestors in Tblisi in November 2007.
As John Gray bleakly puts it in Straw Dogs the impact of shock therapy on Russia not only failed but,
..this does not mean Russia is not modern. Quite the contrary, it has pioneered what may prove to be the most advanced form of capitalism. A hypermodern economy has arisen from the ashes of the Soviet state-a mafia based anarcho-capitalism that is expanding throughout the West.
The globalisation of Russian organised crime occurs at a moment when illegal industries-drugs, pornography, prostitution, cyber-fraud and the like-are the true growth sectors in the most advanced economies. Russian anarcho-capitalism shows mant signs of surpassing Western capitalism in this new phase of development'
BibliographyEdward Lucas, The New Cold War.
From Russia with Love ( The Guardian ).
John Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
Noam Chomsky, Failed States
,What We Say Goes