• Hi Guest: Welcome to TRIBE, the online home of TRIBE MAGAZINE. If you'd like to post here, or reply to existing posts on TRIBE, you first have to register. Join us!

Chomsky on the Iraq farce

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
Guerrilla of the Week
Editor's Pick, December 8, 2003

Europeans have philosopher stars. They smoke Gauloises, they cavort with arty fashion models and artists who cut up cows, they wear Armani, they write long, incomprehensible treatises from prison cells about the transcendental apparatus and the dialectic of empire. Here in the U.S. we have one rumpled 74-year-old linguistics professor who looks like your boring uncle who collects model trains.


His name is Noam Chomsky, and he's having something of a renaissance, despite the fact the mainstream American media won't touch him a ten-foot mic pole.


In some ways, you can't blame the network programmers. Despite his prolific body of work, Chomsky is far from ready-for-primetime, he wears the same blue sweater everyday, he speaks in a barely audible grumble, he insists on packing as much detail and historical context into every answer to make any sort of 10 second soundbite a total impossibility, and most importantly (to his detriment) he holds the media itself as accountable for the crimes of the American empire as the perpetrators themselves. Not exactly the most attractive guest for a morning talk show.

But despite the lack of media exposure, Chomsky is at the top of his game. His slim book entitled "9/11" has sold more than half a million copies. He blew away a 30,000 person stadium full of cheering anti-corporate globalization activists at last year's World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Millions of college students revere him as their hero. His new book, "Hegemony and Survival: America's Quest for Global Domination" has just been released, and the response has been heady. The influential New Yorker magazine recently ran a 15 page in-depth profile on his life and ideas, and The New York Times Magazine just ran a controversial interview that among other things insinuated he was a "self-hating Jew." Bono calls him the "Elvis of Academia." He must be doing something right.

The foundation of Chomsky's moral universe is the belief that intentions and rhetoric have no meaning outside of actions. In other words, you can talk all the bullshit you want about democracy, but when you're blowing up children, you're a fascist. Chomsky puts special emphasis on the role of the intellectual to hold those in power to the fire. That most western intellectuals fail miserably in this task is not surprising to Chomsky. In fact, little fazes him. Even being called a "terrorist lover."


Not long after 9/11, he made the mortal sin of pointing out that in the big scheme of things 3,000 American deaths, while horrible and tragic, was nothing really out of the ordinary when compared to the death and destruction that regularly is inflicted on Third World nations, often by the U.S. itself. This, not surprisingly, didn't go over well. Chomsky was attacked as an "Al Qaeda apologist." The wounds were too raw for that sort of cold historical analysis.

That the U.S. invaded Iraq largely on the exploitation of the American public's post-9/11 fears shows those wounds still haven't healed.


Having recently returned from Iraq, we headed up to Cambridge to interview the graying anarcho-syndicalist for GNN's upcoming book and film project.

The following is an excerpt from that conversation:

GNN: Bush is pushing hard to sell to the world that we're in Iraq to bring democracy? Is this a myth?

Noam Chomsky: After the invasion it became embarrassingly clear that they are not going to find weapons of mass destruction, the rhetoric began to shift and bringing democracy became the great achievement. In early November, Bush made a speech that got wonderful applause in the west, in the U.S. and England, mostly ridiculed elsewhere, saying now we're engaged in a new mission in the world, we made some mistakes in the past, now we're going to be struggling to bring democracy everywhere.


There were also reactions in Iraq. There was a poll shortly after asking people why they thought United States came to Iraq. And some people did agree with this, actually one percent in the poll.

Throughout most of the region, and in places like Latin America, the reaction was mostly ridicule. For several reasons: for one thing this sort of change of course - we did some bad things in the past now we're going to wonderful, this doctrine is in vogue every two or three years.

Furthermore, it's uniform in the history of aggression and imperialism. If you look at Hitler or Stalin, Japanese fascists, they all used that kind of terminology, certainly the British Empire used that kind of language, and others. So it basically carries no information. It is kind of the routine reflexive terminology, freedom, democracy justification that Stalin even introduced with what he called People's Democracy. No one takes it seriously, you look at the practice.

You have to be pretty dumb not to notice that the countries that were praised in Bush's speech for their progress towards democracy [Algeria, Morocco, Yemen] were the ones that are following orders and the ones that were condemned were the ones that aren't following orders. This is completely independent of any steps towards democracy, human rights and so on.

GNN: Do you believe that America is an empire? We like to think of ourselves as a free republic, is there a myth about ourselves that rubs against the empire notion?


Chomsky: Personally, I don't particularly use the word empire. It doesn't really matter. It has all kinds of connotations like having administrators running the country, and so on. There are all sorts of forms of imperial domination. The U.S. from its origins has had imperial ambitions and has implemented them. Why are you and I sitting here? There were people here after all. Well, when the English colonists came they wiped them out, or drove them out, and then expanded over the continent over millions of people. Sometimes we made treaties with them, but we violated the treaties and kicked them out anyway.


That's the way the continent was conquered, half of Mexico was conquered, Cuba was "liberated" from Spain, in fact the U.S. intervened in 1898 to prevent Cuba from liberating itself from Spain to insure that it would be a colony in effect as it was until 1959. Since then, the U.S. has been carrying out a large-scale war of terrorism and economic strangulation. Cuba liberated itself - that's not allowed.

Hawaii was stolen from its population by violence and guile, the U.S. invaded the Philippines because President McKinley told us he got a message from God saying we have do this, and that makes it OK. A couple of hundred-thousand people were slaughtered, and to this day the country remains basically subjugated.

Other mechanisms are used so in the backyard, as its called, in Central America and the Caribbean you just have to follow orders or else, or you get repression, invasion, strangulation, destruction, including by the people now in Washington, who are some of the worst gangsters.


It's kind of interesting. The heads of the war on terror are the same people in the administration that declared a "war on terror" back in 1981. On the diplomatic side at the UN who have John Negroponte who was at that time the U.S. ambassador to Honduras who was overseeing torture and violence in Honduras, but more importantly this is where the bases were for the U.S.-run mercenary forces that were attacking Nicaragua. And that's what the U.S. was condemned for by the World Court, to stop and to pay reparations. But of course the U.S. disregarded it. Now without any flicker of an eyelash, he is running the diplomatic side of the war on terror.

The military side of the war against terror, you have Donald Rumsfeld, who was Reagan's emissary to the Middle East who was sent to restore relations with our friend Saddam Hussein knowing perfectly well he was a complete monster and he was using chemical weapons. Iraq was taken off the list of terrorist states in 1982 so the U.S. could then provide him with arms, aid, establish relations and so, and since there was an empty stop on the list of terrorist states they introduced Cuba, as a terrorist state at the time.


It goes right down the list. Elliot Abrams who was responsible for Latin America, was a major sponsor of state terrorism and atrocities, and, in fact, was convicted of misdemeanors for lying to Congress, but got a presidential pardon. He's now back in charge of Middle East Affairs on the National Security Council.

You don't know whether to laugh or cry.

And educated opinion is so disciplined so astonishingly disciplined that all of this passes without comment, that that's wrong. You can go on and on. Look at Colin Powell, he's the "moderate." What's his record as a moderate? I mean he was national security advisor in the last couple of years of the Reagan administration when the administration was successfully evading a congressional ban against supporting South Africa, they were finding ways around it because they didn't want to accept it. They declared Nelson Mandela's African National Congress to be one of the more notorious terrorist organizations in the world - that's on Colin Powell's watch.

They were also supporting massive South African atrocities in Angola and Mozambique which were killing hundreds of thousands of people - that's "moderation."


Paul Wolfowitz at the time was ambassador to Indonesia praising the monstrous Suharto, before that he was in charge of high up in the State Department office of Asian affairs where he was overseeing support for Marcos, a vicious, brutal, corrupt dictator who the U.S. supported almost up to the very last minute until he was overthrown by the army.


Now there's a kind of revisionist history being constructed that the U.S. was really working behind the scenes to achieve these results but try to find some record of it and it's exactly the opposite. And it's completely consistent. It doesn't matter. One of the beautiful things about this doctrine of change of course which is evoked every two or three years, is you can wipe out the past.

There is nothing exceptional about this. This is the way power systems behave. They like to think of themselves as mythologies.

GNN: What is it about the paradigm of the media that makes it so afraid to deconstruct them as you do?


Chomsky: For the most part educated intellectuals are subservient to power, and there is nothing new to that. You can go back to classical Greece and the Bible and you find the same story.


Take the Bible, we're all supposed to be very Bible worshipping. There were people in the Bible who we would call intellectuals, then they called them a word that is translated as "prophets," but they weren't prophesizing anything. They were basically intellectuals, they were giving geo-political analysis, they were calling for moral behavior, treating orphans and women properly and so on. They were public intellectuals criticizing power and calling for moral behavior and they also predicting that the efforts of the kings trying to extend their power would led to destruction - all the things that critical intellectuals are supposed to do. How were they treated? Where they praised? No, they were imprisoned, driven into the desert, despised.

Hundreds of years later they were honored. Not then.

The ones that were honored were the flatterers who courted the king, and praised those in power.

Those intellectuals are now called false prophets.



http://www.guerrillanews.com/human_rights/doc3566.html
 

SlipperyPete

TRIBE Member
Chomsky said:
Take the Bible, we're all supposed to be very Bible worshipping. There were people in the Bible who we would call intellectuals, then they called them a word that is translated as "prophets," but they weren't prophesizing anything. They were basically intellectuals, they were giving geo-political analysis, they were calling for moral behavior, treating orphans and women properly and so on. They were public intellectuals criticizing power and calling for moral behavior and they also predicting that the efforts of the kings trying to extend their power would led to destruction - all the things that critical intellectuals are supposed to do. How were they treated? Where they praised? No, they were imprisoned, driven into the desert, despised.

Hundreds of years later they were honored. Not then.

The ones that were honored were the flatterers who courted the king, and praised those in power.

Those intellectuals are now called false prophets.
Always interesting to hear what he has to say. Thanks BH.
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
The U.S. from its origins has had imperial ambitions and has implemented them.
So are the American people being duped by corporate media and lazy intellectuals? Or do Americans inherently support the imperial ambitions on which their nation was founded, and the imperial policies of their government? I find Chomsky's statement to be contradictory.
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by AdRiaN
So are the American people being duped by corporate media and lazy intellectuals? Or do Americans inherently support the imperial ambitions on which their nation was founded, and the imperial policies of their government? I find Chomsky's statement to be contradictory.
I don't understand where the contradiction is coming from? Maybe you're the one being lazy? :confused:

Chomsky never said the nation was founded on imperial ambitions, he said that imperialism can be defined a lot of ways, but if you observe American history, some of the actions might be considered imperialist. Where's the contradiction?

If you're trying to determine whether the "imperialism" that we can observe in American history is achieved through popular support or deception, then it would be worthwhile if you put some thought into the alternatives, and also into some of his writing, for a better understanding.

I see no contradiction.
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~
If you're trying to determine whether the "imperialism" that we can observe in American history is achieved through popular support or deception, then it would be worthwhile if you put some thought into the alternatives, and also into some of his writing, for a better understanding.
I know where Chomsky stands. His perspective on media and U.S. foreign policy stems from the assumption that self-serving governments and corporations manipulate public opinion to further their imperialistic goals. That's why I found it interesting that he would reference American imperialism stretching back to the nation's origins, since it seems to suggest an inherent cultural foundation.

I guess my question is -- does Chomsky believe that media manipulation has been going on since the birth of America? You'll have to forgive me if my knowledge of Chomsky is limited to his analysis of 20th century foreign policy.
 

wyrm

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Boss Hog
[he insists on packing as much detail and historical context into every answer to make any sort of 10 second soundbite a total impossibility
That's the reason anti-intellectualism is rampant. It doesn't 'mesh' well with TV.
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by AdRiaN


I guess my question is -- does Chomsky believe that media manipulation has been going on since the birth of America? You'll have to forgive me if my knowledge of Chomsky is limited to his analysis of 20th century foreign policy.
Well now that's a better question. ;)

I think that his thesis stems from a cynical view of how democracy has effectuated itself under the reigns of large, powerful administrations. He feels that France, Russia, Germany, etc are all equally as guilty, however his responsibility as a citizen is to criticize the United States....so he does.

So the answer is: yes, sort of. Yes, because we've seen the same problems as he identifies throughout history, sort of, because the same problems manifest themselves in different forms...that's my best guess.
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Chomsky... what a guy...

Who else can consciously make their strings of words into what cannot be made into a 10-second sound bite? Hundreds of hours of conversation with him, and he always answers in a way that can't be edited down to a sound bite...how fucking smart is that?

Too smart for the pinheads, duh.
 

Deep_Groove

TRIBE Member
Chumpsky did a Q&A for readers of the Independent recently too.

http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiles/story.jsp?story=469811

I especially like this exchange:

Q: Where is the "silent genocide" you predicted would happen in Afghanistan if the US intervened there in 2001?
- Mike Dudley, Ipswich

A: That is an interesting fabrication, which gives a good deal of insight into the prevailing moral and intellectual culture. First, the facts: I predicted nothing. Rather, I reported the grim warnings from virtually every knowledgeable source that the attack might lead to an awesome humanitarian catastrophe, and the bland announcements in the press that Washington had ordered Pakistan to eliminate "truck convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civilian population".

All of this is precisely accurate and entirely appropriate. The warnings remain accurate as well, a truism that should be unnecessary to explain. Unfortunately, it is apparently necessary to add a moral truism: actions are evaluated in terms of the range of anticipated consequences.

Here's what Chumpsky said on Oct. 18, 2001:

http://www.leftwatch.com/articles/2001/000143.html

"After the first week of bombing, the New York Times reported on a back page inside a column on something else, that by the arithmetic of the United Nations there will soon be 7.5 million Afghans in acute need of even a loaf of bread and there are only a few weeks left before the harsh winter will make deliveries to many areas totally impossible, continuing to quote, but with bombs falling the delivery rate is down to 1/2 of what is needed. Casual comment. Which tells us that Western civilization is anticipating the slaughter of, well do the arithmetic, 3-4 million people or something like that. On the same day, the leader of Western civilization dismissed with contempt, once again, offers of negotiation for delivery of the alleged target, Osama bin Laden, and a request for some evidence to substantiate the demand for total capitulation. It was dismissed. On the same day the Special Rapporteur of the UN in charge of food pleaded with the United States to stop the bombing to try to save millions of victims. . . .

Well we could easily go on . . . .but all of that . . . .first of all indicates to us what’s happening. Looks like what’s happening is some sort of silent genocide. It also gives a good deal of insight into the elite culture, the culture that we are part of. It indicates that whatever, what will happen we don’t know, but plans are being made and programs implemented on the assumption that they may lead to the death of several million people in the next few months . . . .very casually with no comment, no particular thought about it, that’s just kind of normal, here and in a good part of Europe."
---------------------------------------------------------

Riiiiiggggghhhhht. So because the NY Times quoted some UN source, (neither of which know the first thing about U.S. military policy or strategy), Chumpsky can just make the blithe assumption of an American-caused genocide" in a public speech - which never actually happened - and then excuse himself by saying "oh, poor me, I was just misled by that nasty NY Times"

It's the same thing Chumpsly did when defending the Cambodian regime of the early 1970's. Constantly brushing off any accusations of massacres or genocide, and then when the evidence of the crimes of the Pol Pot regime became too well-known to deny, he just totally shut up about it and never mentioned it again.

This is a pattern Chumpsky follows CONSTANTLY, in EVERY ISSUE.

Blogger Damian Penny has commented on this:

http://www.damianpenny.com/archives/002022.html

"Strictly speaking, Chomsky didn't predict a "silent genocide". He said it was already happening.

As you can see, he basically pulled "the slaughter of 3-4 million people" out of his ass, with just a casual reference to a New York Times story which made no such claim. And now, two years later, he's trying to disown his dire predictions and say other people misled him. I call that cowardice.

And if we take Chomsky's response in The Independent at face value, it shows that he was simply repeating what he heard from "virtually every knowledgeable source" without applying even a hint of skepticism to it. In other words, the same allegation he levels at plebes like us."

If the Chomsky cultists were capable of thinking on their own instead of unquestioningly accepting everything their hero says, they'd be disappointed.

The best quote about Chumpsky is this:

"...he dissembles constantly, he apologizes for the worst regimes on earth while painting everything America does as worse yet on specious evidence, and he sees everything in the shades of black and white that sell well to the cheaply cynical, heavy metal political attitudes of college undergraduates who've just come out from under mommy and daddy's intellectual wings. He is a serious political philosopher and historian the way Tom Robbins is a serious novelist and M.C. Escher is a serious artist, and the sooner you graduate from him, the sooner you may learn something useful."

- Deep_Groove
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Basically, guys, what Deep_Groove is saying is that because Chomsky was unable to predict something he claimed might very well be happening, his entire argument becomes invalidated. What's immediately obvious from an observation such as Deep_Groove's, is that either a) they read Chomsky and missed his entire point or b) they didn't read Chomsky and missed his entire point.

Of course, looking at what Chomsky said, he observed that Afghanistan was turning into a humanitarian disaster; the fact that this didn't happen (at least not to the extent that Chomsky suggested might happen) has no bearance on Chomsky's arguments (which, incidentally, are the only points people like Deep_Groove are capable of identifying), because in Chomsky's own words, "the warnings remain accurate as well, a truism that should be unnecessary to explain". The fact that his not so unreasonable warning turned out to be untrue only make Afghanistan a slightly less keen example of American foreign policy doing serious harm to other countries. It still, however, doesn't make the American's actions right, which is what Chomsky is arguing, and which is what, as we can clearly see, is being missed by Deep_Groove and the rest of the ditto monkeys.

The rest of Deep_Groove's post, which consisted of words not written by him, is really a Chomsky-hating-fest, something that Deep_Groove enjoys doing...hating, that is.
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~
Basically, guys, what Deep_Groove is saying is that because Chomsky was unable to predict something he claimed might very well be happening, his entire argument becomes invalidated. What's immediately obvious from an observation such as Deep_Groove's, is that either a) they read Chomsky and missed his entire point or b) they didn't read Chomsky and missed his entire point.

Of course, looking at what Chomsky said, he observed that Afghanistan was turning into a humanitarian disaster; the fact that this didn't happen (at least not to the extent that Chomsky suggested might happen) has no bearance on Chomsky's arguments (which, incidentally, are the only points people like Deep_Groove are capable of identifying), because in Chomsky's own words, "the warnings remain accurate as well, a truism that should be unnecessary to explain". The fact that his not so unreasonable warning turned out to be untrue only make Afghanistan a slightly less keen example of American foreign policy doing serious harm to other countries. It still, however, doesn't make the American's actions right, which is what Chomsky is arguing, and which is what, as we can clearly see, is being missed by Deep_Groove and the rest of the ditto monkeys.

The rest of Deep_Groove's post, which consisted of words not written by him, is really a Chomsky-hating-fest, something that Deep_Groove enjoys doing...hating, that is.
No my greater arguiment with Chomsky comes from him being a drama queen for drama queens. he screams the sky is falling more often than not and more often than not he is in fact dead wrong. His military and foriegn policy comments are poorly researched and then he makes grandious statements to cause his audiance to get angered. He is the equivilent of Rush Limbaugh (how do you spell his name anyway).
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much
No my greater arguiment with Chomsky comes from him being a drama queen for drama queens. he screams the sky is falling more often than not and more often than not he is in fact dead wrong. His military and foriegn policy comments are poorly researched and then he makes grandious statements to cause his audiance to get angered. He is the equivilent of Rush Limbaugh (how do you spell his name anyway).
Really? ...maybe he's just more compassionate?
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~
Really? ...maybe he's just more compassionate?
Or maybe he makes his money on the public speaker circuit and on book sales and being a drama queen is part of his sales method.

Guy you like motives are presumed good, guy you don't like motives are presumed bad!

In the end I find he screams the sky is falling far to often to be credible. His predictions simply don't come true as a sooth sayer he isn't worth the dime!
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much
Or maybe he makes his money on the public speaker circuit and on book sales and being a drama queen is part of his sales method.

Guy you like motives are presumed good, guy you don't like motives are presumed bad!

In the end I find he screams the sky is falling far to often to be credible. His predictions simply don't come true as a sooth sayer he isn't worth the dime!
I don't get it Ditto. He isn't known for making predictions. Why are we talking about predicitions? His arguments have NOTHING to do with predicitions; his arguments are founded on criticism of American foreign policy, present and past, primarily.

His "drama" is not drama at all, especially in a historical context, when he discusses Nicaragua for example, or Palestine and Israel. His more serious books (9/11 is a flighty bit of fluff, but good as an introduction to others who know very little) are HEAVILY documented with references and supported research, all of which have been analyzed and debated...the result of which has consistently been criticisms of Chomsky on a personal level, or criticisms of his inability to "predict", which bear little relevance to Chomsky's arguments, and demonstrates to me that his logic has stood the test of time and scrutiny.
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
I realize these are not Chomsky's own words, but just look at this excerpt from the description for his new book (from Hot Type):

"Chomsky warns that the end of the world is coming unless the U.S. stops trying to be universally dominant."
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~
I don't get it Ditto. He isn't known for making predictions. Why are we talking about predicitions? His arguments have NOTHING to do with predicitions; his arguments are founded on criticism of American foreign policy, present and past, primarily.

His "drama" is not drama at all, especially in a historical context, when he discusses Nicaragua for example, or Palestine and Israel. His more serious books (9/11 is a flighty bit of fluff, but good as an introduction to others who know very little) are HEAVILY documented with references and supported research, all of which have been analyzed and debated...the result of which has consistently been criticisms of Chomsky on a personal level, or criticisms of his inability to "predict", which bear little relevance to Chomsky's arguments, and demonstrates to me that his logic has stood the test of time and scrutiny.
No but he regularly says what the outcome of actions will be down the road which are in essence predictions.

Chomsky criticizes others on a personal level so he opened that door himself in my opinion!! But although accurate in facts the whats he draws from them is misleading. Just as misleading as Bush just as misleading as others. He also has a bad habit of taking a holier than though approach and assuming that his backwards analysis of events are legitimate without determining the level of information and misinformation that lead to the decision being made. I consider him interesting but little more, his versions of history I find regularly disputable and the parallels he draws I tend to disagree with.

you can like him if you want, personally I think he is a drama queen for pseudo intellectuals.
 

triplem

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much
Or maybe he makes his money on the public speaker circuit and on book sales and being a drama queen is part of his sales method.

Guy you like motives are presumed good, guy you don't like motives are presumed bad!

In the end I find he screams the sky is falling far to often to be credible. His predictions simply don't come true as a sooth sayer he isn't worth the dime!
sorry...I know this is a thread on Chomsky, but I would like to divert this to another person on the circuit, Michael Moore.

Recently, we rented his movie "Bowling for Columbine" to help one of my kids with a school project, analyse the movie.

We watched the movie while two children from other families where here.
Both were pre-teens. I was taken aback that they held such negative views of American foriegn policy.

But back to the point, one of Micheal Moore's points was that Americans are afraid.

They are afraid of everything.

Spoke with an American on another board and he says he needs a gun to protect himself. He does not trust his neighbours, his police, or his government.

This concerned me, I trust my neighbours, my police and my government.

I may not agree with them, but I don't think I should own a gun to protect my family from them.
 
Top