Naomi Klein On The Iraq War, Bernie Sanders & Why The Climate Crisis Can’t Wait

Naomi Klein is one
of the sharpest minds when it comes to linking war,
capitalism and climate change. So, I thought it was
a good opportunity to sit down with a fellow
Canadian and talk about it. What do you think are
the major lessons learned from the Iraq War for
today’s anti-war movement, if we can call it an
anti-war movement? Yeah, I think our media
needs to learn the lessons of that invasion because there
was so much media credulity that brought us into war – just accepting straight-up lies from the Bush administration at face value, using anonymous sources, where journalists were being manipulated to carry administration lies to the people. And we now know. And
there were apologies, but that’s not good enough if the minute the sort of drums
of war start to beat again, we start seeing this same sort of deference to the generals on cable news or people from think tanks that are funded overwhelmingly by weapons-makers and oil companies going on television and parroting administration talking points and arguing for illegal wars. – So, you know,
we can have big marches, but we need
media responsibility. And we need a
media environment that doesn’t put people on
television whose salaries are paid for by
weapons companies. At the very least, they should be
identifying those people not as like
representing a think tank, but as a think tank that is
funded by weapons companies. Because one of the impacts of the invasion of Iraq and the occupation was that this was the most privatized war and occupation in history, which means that there is now a much larger
military-industrial complex that is able to protect
their business model and is interested in
opening up new fronts for war. Why do you think the media in 2003,
in 2002 and 2003, didn’t push back? And has it changed at all today? Has it changed at all?
I mean, I think it’s a little bit better. But you know,
we’re not in it yet, and I hope we don’t. But you know, when U.S.
missiles start falling, we start seeing that same deference. I mean, and we have already seen it in the Trump administration, right? We saw it, you know, we saw anchors quoting Leonard Cohen. – I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen, I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons. Misquoting Leonard Cohen, I might say. That’s not, he didn’t mean it in that way. Which is such an affront to all Canadians. – Exactly.
The greatest crime of all. I’m curious as to, do you
see a lot of those parallels between that lead-up
to the Iraq War and kind of what we’re seeing
right now with regards to Iran? You know, I don’t see a lot of parallels because that context
was the Bush administration really taking advantage of the
state of shock in the United States post-September 11th, of the fact that this was an unprecedented attack on U.S. soil. Americans are not used to feeling vulnerable in ways that a lot of people
in the rest of the world, unfortunately, have a lot more
experience with that state of insecurity. And in that state of shock, the Bush administration in 2001, [2002 and 2003] in the lead-up to the
invasion of Iraq took advantage of that profound sense
of insecurity to rewrite a whole bunch of laws to give, to centralize executive
power and to obtain powers that now successive governments
are able to use, right? And so I think we are still in
the long tail of that power grab. And those of us who
warned about the incredible dangers of concentrating power, of
allowing the executive branch to have as much power as they
seized for themselves in the aftermath of September 11th, you know understood. You know, I didn’t trust
them with that power. But what has allowed Trump
to escalate in the way that he has, without going to Congress,
without seeking approval, with these sort of jokes
of security briefings that even has
Republicans outraged, is all because of the
powers that were seized in the aftermath of
September 11th, right? The country has not suffered
that kind of a shock, thank God. But Trump is himself
a shock machine, right? I mean, this is something very different, but I think it does have some
similarities with what I was writing about in “The Shock Doctrine,”
where I think Trump’s political gift really is keeping the population in a state of constant disorientation, you know, what is he going to do next? It’s interesting to me that
you characterize Trump as putting American
citizens in particular in a state of disorientation. And I’m curious to hear your
thoughts on what can that mean in terms of, you know,
policies that can be enacted. You know, I think the way
that the Trump has used shock has primarily been as a
distraction away from what he’s doing on
the economic front, what he’s doing
in terms of deregulation, what he’s doing in terms
of environmental policy, his own corruption,
his own impeachment now. He has every reason to
want to change the subject to pretty much anything but the things that are going to
stand in the way of his reelection. And so I think that that’s
the way he instrumentalizes shock. What a state of shock is,
right, is, it’s event without a narrative. OK, like a state of shock is
not just something bad happening. It’s something bad happening that
you don’t really understand, right? So I think it’s that state of
disorientation that is really, really helpful to anyone
in power who wants to consolidate their power, right? And so what I think
sets Trump apart is the sort of all-out war that
he wages on reality all the time, right? This idea that truth
itself is the enemy, right? And what you want is to just
have people question facts, not believe anything, because that
sort of allows you to do anything. But, he’s not alone in that, right? You have governments around
the world who are questioning the reality of climate change. You have Scott Morrison
in Australia saying, oh, these wildfires
aren’t bigger than usual, just as Jair Bolsonaro told us that the Amazon was barely on fire, they were making it up. So, you know,
it’s all about getting people to question what’s
right in front of them because I think that that breeds a
feeling of sort of futility about any of it, and it leads people to
just kind of tune out. And that actually
helps them most, right? Is people just sort of giving up and
feeling that they can’t believe anything and just sort of throwing
their hands up in the air. Do you think there’s a possibility
for the climate disasters that we’re seeing right now
to be used to enact more of this shock doctrine? Oh, absolutely, absolutely. You know, anytime
people are afraid, right? Anytime people, the world that you think you live in now looks different the next day, right? You are going to be vulnerable. You’re going to be vulnerable
to somebody coming along and saying,
here’s the solution. Here’s who you should blame. You know, it’s that
immigrant over there. You know, it’s those
polluters over there. It’s anybody but you. And I’m going to take care of you, and I’m going to take care
of people like us, right? And anybody who creates
a sort of us-versus-them dynamic, and gives you permission not to
have to care about all of these people around the world in need,
and says, you know, they deserve what they have,
but you deserve to be protected. Well, how do you justify that? You
need an ideology to justify that. And the only ideology
that can justify that is some kind of
supremacist ideology. And in North America and
Europe and Australia it’s white supremacy, or
Christian supremacy or both. In India,
maybe it’s Hindu supremacy. And we’re seeing strong-men
figures like Modi, like Duterte, like Trump, like Bolsonaro using the
same kind of us-versus-them ideology in order to justify creating
these hierarchies of humanity within their countries
and on the borders. Do you think governments
are doing enough right now to respond to
the climate crisis? We have some very
powerful governments who are actively denying
that there is a crisis at all, who are walking away from the previous inadequate climate
change agreements that we had. But even the governments
that position themselves as climate champions.
Like, I’m Canadian, you’re Canadian. I have dual citizenship, so
I get to criticize both governments. But, in some ways
it’s more straightforward to be dealing with somebody
like Trump who says, it isn’t happening. It’s a hoax, you know, than to be dealing with
somebody like Trudeau who says, I’m a climate champion, this is the
most important issue in the world. But, you know, we’re going
to buy ourselves a $3 [billion] or $4 billion pipeline to bring
one of the highest carbon forms of oil in the world
and export it to Asia and triple the
capacity of that pipeline. I mean, all told,
this pipeline is going to cost about $13 billion
by some measures, and possibly even more. Why wouldn’t they invest
that money in solar and wind? And so, if that’s what a climate
champion looks like in 2020, we’re in big trouble. And this is,
after Trump was elected, I said, one of the biggest
problems with Trump is that everybody looks good
compared to Trump, right? And he’s just so lowered the bar that he has allowed the
Emmanuel Macrons of the world and the Justin Trudeaus
of the world to position themselves
as climate leaders, while doing very, very little, not nearly enough,
in the face of this crisis. So, what do you think it’s going to
take to actually push governments, whether it’s the United States,
whether it’s Canada, with or without Trump,
with or without Trudeau, what do you think it’s going
to take for governments to actually take significant
action on climate change? You know, what it’s going to take is,
is a Green New Deal. You know, I worry that
just having governments declare a state of
emergency doesn’t mean they’re going to do the right
things in the face of this crisis, right? When people are afraid,
you can do all kinds of things. And the reason why I’ve been
involved in this movement calling for a Green
New Deal is because I think it’s incredibly
important that there be a democratically articulated
plan for how to respond to this crisis
that puts social justice, economic justice, racial justice,
gender justice at the center. And we can’t wait for
politicians to do that for us. That’s a recipe for a climate
shock doctrine, in my opinion. So, what we really need, and hurry, is for the largest
economy on the planet to get themselves
a new government and have a president win
the 2020 election who runs on a platform
promising a Green New Deal, and then we need a movement
that’s going to hold that president to it. Which president do
you think that would be? Look, I mean, I’ve been open
that I think Bernie Sanders has the best Green New Deal and is the best choice
for beating Trump. I think Elizabeth Warren also
has a strong Green New Deal plan. You know, whoever it is, I’ll be
supporting them to beat Trump because this decade
that we’re entering into is, I can’t express enough the
extent to which the fates of just hundreds of millions
of people hang in the balance, whether or not we get it together
in the face of this crisis, right? The U.S. can’t do it alone. But I think if the U.S. were
to dramatically raise the bar, if there were to be
a new administration, that clearly understood
the scale of the crisis, it would force the European Union
to dramatically up its game. It would take the excuses
away from India and China who rightly say, well,
why should we do this? You know, it’s our turn to develop. The U.S. is still
continuing to pollute. It would be
a true catalyst. How do you respond to
critics of the Green New Deal who say that not only
is it extremely expensive, but that it also relies on citizens
having certain privileges? So I think what makes the
Green New Deal different is that it is a plan really
for the working class in the United States. You know, it doesn’t say, well, we all are just going to pay
more for our green products, and everybody’s going to have
their expensive electric car, and you can have
renewable energy, but you’ll pay more for it. I mean for a long time,
the types of green policies that people have experienced have
actually increased their cost of living, and so they have a
right to be cynical. But what a Green
New Deal says is, we’re going to
invest in public transit. We’re going to make it affordable. And some municipalities are
already deciding to make it free. That actively makes
life less expensive and better for
working people. The first Green New Deal
policy that was unveiled, that was articulated
beyond the framework, was a Green New
Deal for housing, for public housing by
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders. So, this is not this sort
of elite environmentalism that I think that
we’ve seen in the past. This is prioritizing low-cost,
affordable public housing, affordable public transit,
Medicare for All, universal childcare. You know, the mistake that
the environmental movement has made for a very long time is that it hasn’t
prioritized these things. And so, environmental
action has unfortunately, rightly, gotten the reputation
for being something that you can only care about if you don’t really have
anything better to care about. What a Green New Deal
is about is saying, we all have a right
to care about both. Everybody cares about
the end of the world. Everybody cares about
the end of the month. And we need to design policies
that don’t force people to choose.

Comments 23

  • Mass media is owned by corporations that profit off war.

  • The government has control over weather…geoengineering is proof, HARP is proof, governments own admission is proof, Australia is no accident. Government is evil not safety and security. Does not matter who the next president is will not stop the US tyranny train to stop. Government can not give anything without taking it from someone else. You are advocating for more force and violence to be put upon peaceful innocent people. All in the name of your safety and security. Statism is the most digusting disease in the world, stop supporting it.

  • Naomi Klein a true hero

  • War is perhaps the worst thing we could imaginably do for the environment.

  • Wow… This was the words I haven't heard in a long while… We need more of this, please.
    My conclusion: Cooler temperature as prevailing in Canada has a positive real impact on the human mind. Could we trade Trump for Trudeau and officially call our World, a Really Better place?!
    Love you Sana. You are the Girl we want to trust.

  • There is a fool born every minute. Their fools and we are for putting up with their BS

  • Scott Morrison: these fires aren’t any bigger than usual.

    Actual experts: these fires have burned more than the last fifteen fire seasons COMBINED, and we aren’t anywhere near finished with this years fire season.

    Hmm, who do I believe? Also- ScoMoFo went to Kangaroo Island, which was absolutely devastated by bushfires (it’s basically a big wildlife reserve and most of it burned, killing too many animals to count, and likely resulting in the extinction of at least one species). He gets there and says “well it’s a good thing no one died”

    Kangaroo Island locals replied immediately- “two people died here”

    ScoMoFo: “oh I meant firefighters”

    Ugh. Though quote note- the two men who died were fighting the fires. Also, the whole manhandling pregnant women and firefighters for handshakes they didn’t want to give, and turning his back and walking away on that pregnant woman when she tell him “we need help”

    He’s probably the worst PM we’ve ever had. The only problem is that if he does get rolled (and he did make it harder for that to happen after he got in), the person waiting in the wings to take over is none other than Herr Dutton, the Gestapotato, Adolph Kipfler (we Aussies like our nicknames). And he’s so much worse than ScoMo. He’s like Voldemort, only less charismatic and more evil.

    We’re so screwed.

  • Man-made climate change is a myth.

  • Simply by touching, King Midas can turn rock to Gold. King Trump can too, but turn INTEGRITY TO CORRUPTION, along with his family leeches . FOR A BETTER WORLD, GET RID OF TRUMP!!!

  • I did not know Sana Saeed was Canadian. Cool!

  • Green new deal . What a joke . Why should we bite the bullet when India and China are destroying the planet. The more carbon the better for plants . Global warming isn’t mans fault. Solar and wind energy doesn’t work. These fools are communist globalists.

  • Release the full and unedited interview.

  • I don’t think the majority of people, from every camp, are lying about climate change. I think they absolutely believe what they are saying and are ready to do whatever they think they must to save the world.

    This is the result of decades of bad science. The vicious competition and politics that run everything have created a climate of lies and disbelief, and science needs a paradigm of success different from monetary gain in order do its work.


  • Brought to you by Al.

  • Disorientation don't give you the feeling of not knowing what's coming next, FFS! It's known as The Element Of Surprise! Disorientation is when Trump slaps you up the side of the head and you have no clue where the fu*k you are!

  • What do you expect from a Middle East propaganda media? A Left leaning Canadian perspective.
    NB:When your embassy is under attack, you can’t pre-announce a retaliatory response.

  • USA has so much resources it has to use, bush obama and Clinton wasted so much $$$.
    USA has no option but to use old resources in order to kick start green tech!

  • The issue is not the end of the world. It is the end of our species. Don't give the alt right a viable argument by confusing the two.

  • Drop a bomb on trump!

  • The media, science, religion, & politics have all been manipulated by BIG $$$. The truth is hidden, the propaganda is spread, the division of the have nots is manipulated all while their wealth grows and the environment and all earthlings suffer. There will be a revolution. The meek shall inherit the earth 🌍

  • In answer to your question, because the media is owned by the same people who MAKE MONEY OFF OF WAR. The mainstream represents the ruling, war mongering class. It is their job to say that which will further their interests. And the "reporters" are VERY WELL PAID and hired because they will go along with this agenda. The real journalists jump ship and go to TYT, the Intercept and the other actual media outlets.

  • So 1984. War is Peace. Love is Hate. Climate change isn't real. Mexicans are the root of our economic problems. Ye gods.

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