Wednesday, May 21, 2008


...The analogy between Chile and Iraq cuts both ways. After arguing that Chile was a laboratory for Friedman’s free-market ideals, Klein has to acknowledge the inconvenient fact that Pinochet refused to reverse Allende’s nationalisation of the copper mines. This suggests that Chile’s military rulers were not the lackeys of foreign companies, did not view nationalisation as a step on the road to Communism and were nationalists before they were neoliberals. At one point, Klein herself admits that Pinochet’s Chile was not a laboratory for Chicago School ideals. But this concession is soon forgotten and she continues to hold up the Chilean analogy as evidence that torture in Abu Ghraib, too, had a primarily economic rationale and, indeed, was part of the same ‘crusade to liberate world markets’.

Klein argues that the invading forces deliberately allowed the National Museum in Baghdad to be looted and the National Library burned. These apparent acts of criminal negligence were in fact a form of cultural lobotomy, a collective shock treatment meant to ‘depattern’ the minds of the Iraqis and reduce their capacity to resist free-market reforms. She never explains why ancient manuscripts stored in a library would have fortified Iraqi resistance to a radical economic agenda. Indeed, this example shows how far Klein is willing to go to deny the decisive role of imbecility and obliviousness in the making of the Iraqi disaster.

The supposed primacy of neoliberal ideology and business interests in the Iraq war is also thrown into doubt by another consideration. Nothing we know about Dick Cheney suggests that he wanted to ‘redeem’ Iraq or make it into a model society of any kind. If he followed any example in his dim plans for post-invasion Iraq, it was not Milton Friedman’s but Ariel Sharon’s. No one would suggest that Sharon aimed to ‘redeem’ the Palestinians or create a model market society in the West Bank and Gaza. What he aimed for, and achieved, was managed anarchy: a weak, internally divided and festering society unable to project power outwards but susceptible to periodic violent intrusions. Free-market orthodoxy was not on Sharon’s mind, or on Cheney’s either...
-- from a review by Stephen Holmes of The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

Klein may sometimes project and distort, but for outrageous manipulation nothing beats the 'mainstream', as Nick Turse shows.

[P.S. another interesting review of The Shock Doctrine here]

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