Another ZNet (www.zmag.org/weluser.htm) Update, this time with a couple of Chomsky 
interviews plus...a critically important message from us.

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And for a bit more subtstance in this update mailing, here are a couple of recent 
Chomsky interviews, prepared respectively for a Kurdish and an Estonian newspaper. 

Sabahattin Atas Interviews Noam Chomsky

1. In many of your writings and speech you describe Israel like a terrorist country. I 
read once you had lived for a while at kibbutzs in the "A Life Of A Dissent". What was 
the reason for such a preference? In addition to this how do you evaluate the 
legitimate (recognition) problem of Israel in terms of world public opinion 
exclusively Islamic countries? 

I do not remember actually calling Israel a "terrorist country," though it certainly 
engages in actions of a kind that we call "terrorism" and "aggression," among other 
crimes, when perpetrated by official enemies.

It is important to bear in mind that the term "terrorism" is commonly used as a term 
of abuse, not accurate description. There are official definitions of "terrorism", for 
example, those of the US and British governments, which are quite similar. Bu they are 
not used, because they do not distinguish between good and bad varieties of terrorism. 
That distinction is determined by the agent of the crime, not its character. It is 
close to a historical universal that our terrorism against them is right and just 
(whoever we happen to be), while their terrorism against us is an outrage. As long as 
that practice is adopted, discussion of terrorism is not serious. It is no more than a 
form of propaganda and apologetics.

If we use the term in accord with its official definitions, then, uncontroversially, 
Israel (like the US, Britain, Turkey, and others) is a terrorist state by the 
standards we apply to official enemies. Scale and character of course varies from case 
to case, but none of it is attractive, to put it mildly.

I lived briefly in a kibbutz 50 years ago -- and, in fact, thought seriously about 
staying there. I was very much attracted by the style of life and the form of social 
organization, though not without serious reservations. I also had an intimate personal 
involvement, from early childhood, in the social movements of which the kibbutzim were 
a part. These movements were opposed to establishment of a Jewish state, but within 
the Zionist movement of the pre-State era.

On the matter of legitimacy and recognition, once the State of Israel was established 
in 1948, my feeling has been that it should have the rights of any state in the 
international system: no more, no less. That includes, specifically, the right to live 
in peace and security within its recognized international borders, understood to be 
the pre-June 1967 borders, with minor and mutual adjustments. These rights have been 
recognized by a very broad international consensus since the mid-1970s, including the 
major Arab states. The US and Israel, virtually alone, have opposed the international 
consensus since the mid-1970s, and still do. Since the mid-1970s the US has vetoed 
Security Council resolutions calling for a two-state settlement on the international 
border with full recognition of the rights of Israel and a new Palestinian state, has 
regularly voted against General Assembly resolutions to this effect (along with 
Israel, sometimes one or another dependency), and blocked other diplomatic efforts 
seeking to achieve this goal. The only US-Israel proposals, all informal, require that 
the Palestinian territories be broken up effectively into several cantons, virtually 
separated from one another and from some small part of Jerusalem, the center of 
Palestinian cultural and economic life. Something similar is projected, also without 
formal declaration, in the Gaza Strip. Jewish settlements and enormous infrastructure 
projects proceeded without a break right through the period of the Oslo "peace 
process," establishing these "facts on the ground" while talk continued, taking 
control of the scarce water resources and much of the valuable land. They still 
continue, at an accelerating pace. The US and Israel have demanded further that 
Palestinians not only recognize Israel's rights as a state in the international 
system, but that they also recognize Israel's abstract "right to exist," a concept 
that has no place in international law or diplomacy, and a right claimed by no one. In 
effect, the US and Israel are demanding that Palestinians not only recognize Israel in 
the normal fashion of interstate relations, but also formally accept the legitimacy of 
their expulsion from their own land. They cannot be expected to accept that, just as 
Mexico does not grant the US the "right to exist" on half of Mexico's territory, 
gained by conquest. We do not have sufficient archival evidence to be confident, but I 
suspect that this demand was contrived to bar the possibility of a political 
settlement in accord with the international consensus that the US and Israel have 
rejected for 30 years.

But to repeat, Israel and a new Palestinian state should be accorded the rights of all 
states in the international system, no more, no less. That option will soon be 
excluded, if the US and Israel continue to carry out the development projects in the 
occupied territories in such a way as to render the Palestinian region a "permanent 
neo-colonial dependency" -- the goal of the "peace process," according to Prime 
Minister Ehud Barak's chief negotiator. Many Israeli and Palestinian analysts are 
coming to regard those developments as irreversible, in which case an entirely new 
situation emerges.

2. What do you think about the road map USA wants to put in life among Israel and 
Palestine? For some it is only an attempt to propitiate (ateno for) the Arabs for the 
USA's Iraq occupation. How real can this claim be?

I have written about it elsewhere, can cannot repeat the details here. In brief, the 
"road map" of the Quartet (Europe, Russia, the UN, the US) requires Palestinians to 
terminate all forms of resistance to the Israeli military occupation, but is 
sufficiently vague in other respects so that the US-funded Israeli settlement and 
development programs in the occupied territories can proceed, guided only by President 
Bush's "vision," which remains unspecified. The nature of these programs suggests an 
outcome that resembles to the establishment of "homelands" for the black population by 
the apartheid regime of South Africa 40 years ago, a comparison often drawn in Israeli 
commentary. The US blocked the release of the "road map" for some time, finally 
releasing it, one may plausibly conjecture, as part of its efforts to reduce the 
enormous opposition to its invasion of Iraq by appearing to offer something to the 

3. In your opinion, what are the plans of America for Iraq and the future of Middle 
East? How will the situation effect the Middle East if America is exposed to the same, 
which was in Vietnam, also in Iraq? May the Middle East get more confused or may a 
calmness take place?

The US presumably seeks to establish a powerful position right at the heart of the 
world's major reserves of energy, thereby strengthening its control over this 
"stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in 
world history," as the State Department described the Gulf region at the end of World 
War II. Formal democracy in Iraq and elsewhere would be acceptable, even preferable, 
if only for public relations purposes. But if history is any guide, it will be the 
kind of democracy that the US has tolerated within its own regional domains for a 
century. Here the US has sought to bring about democratic change but only if it is 
restricted to "limited, top-down forms of democratic change that did not risk 
upsetting the traditional structures of power with which the United States has long 
been allied," maintaining "the basic order of quite undemocratic societies"; I am 
quoting Thomas Carothers, a Latin America scholar and an official of the Reagan 
administration who worked in its "democracy enhancement" programs. The historical 
record amply supports that judgment, in the Middle East as well. The rich and 
instructive historical record will be disregarded only by those who have blind faith 
in powerful states. And of course the US is by no means alone in these practices.

There is little likelihood, I think, of the kind of resistance that the US faced in 
Vietnam, under very different circumstances and at a different historical moment. The 
long-term effects may be to stimulate terror, proliferation of weapons of mass 
destruction, and general turmoil, much as Western intelligence agencies and many 
analysts among the foreign policy elite have predicted. But human affairs are not 
predictable with any confidence: too much depends on will and choice.

4. According to the common opinion in the world is it the turn of Iran after Iraq, do 
you think it is turn of Iran?

Iraq was an appropriate target because it was completely defenseless, having been 
reduced to the edge of survival by a decade of murderous sanctions, primarily 
targeting the civilian population, with a toll of hundreds of thousands dead by 
conservative estimate, and leaving most of the country in ruins. This followed brutal 
and destructive wars and horrendous internal terror, most of it with the backing of 
the US and Britain, including those now running Washington, facts regularly 
suppressed. Iraq had also been virtually disarmed by rigorous inspections, and such 
limited defenses as it had were destroyed by regular US-UK bombing attacks. By the 
time of the invasion, Iraq was one of the weakest states of the region, with military 
expenditures about a third those of tiny Kuwait and far below the US allies in the 
region, let alone the US and its British client. It is astonishing that there has been 
any resistance at all. Iran is a different story. It is, I think, unlikely that the US 
will invade Iran, though it will presumably continue to try to isolate it and perhaps 
to undermine it from within.

5. There are some evidences that a Kurdish State will be established in the Northern 
Iraq with the pioneering of America and Israel. Do you agree with this ? 

I think that is extremely unlikely. Israel can do very little without US 
authorization, and the US does not want to see a Kurdish state established, under 
current circumstances.

6. As you know the second memorandum which would let American troops pass through 
Turkey was rejected in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and Turkey didn't join 
the invasion of Iraq with America. Can this be the begining of the cold term 
relationships between America and Turkey as it is widely claimed? 

Washington and US elites were infuriated that the Turkish government took the same 
position as 95% of the population rather than following orders. The influential 
Pentagon planner Paul Wolfowitz even went so far as to condemn the Turkish military 
for its weakness in permitting the government to conform to the will of the 
population. This was one element of an extraordinary demonstration of bitter of hatred 
and contempt for democracy, without any counterpart that I can recall. Attitudes 
towards democracy were also demonstrated with unusual clarity in the distinction that 
was drawn between "Old Europe" and "New Europe," the former bitterly condemned, the 
latter praised. The distinguishing criterion was sharp and clear: the governments of 
"Old Europe" took the same stand as the great majority of their populations, and were 
therefore reviled; the leaders of "New Europe" overrode even larger majorities (as in 
Spain and Italy) and took their orders from Crawford Texas, and were therefore hailed 
for their courage and grand qualities. Meanwhile media and intellectuals were 
proclaiming their deep commitment to democracy and intentions of establishing it 
throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. This has been a most remarkable performance. 
George Orwell would have observed it with astonishment. To anyone capable of thinking, 
the performance explains rather clearly what "democracy" means in the elite 
intellectual culture in the US (and the West generally): democracy is fine, as long as 
you do what we we say.

The lesson in democracy that Turkey taught to the US is deeply resented by US elites, 
and may elicit retaliation, but that alone is unlikely to lead to a significant 
cooling of relations. However, many other processes are underway. The worldwide US 
military basing system has always been oriented in large measure towards the Middle 
East oil-producing region, and in the last few years the US has been positioning 
military bases nearer to that region. European military bases are being shifted from 
Central Europe to the east, to former Russian satellites. The Afghan war provided the 
US with new military bases in Afghanistan and Central Asia. And if the US can 
consolidate its control over Iraq, it will be able to establish reliable military 
bases right at the heart of the oil producing region for the first time. Previously, 
the closest reliable base was in the island of Diego Garcia, a British possession from 
which the population was expelled, and not permitted to return, despite the orders of 
the British Courts, a situation that is not unfamiliar in Diyarbakir. Iraqi bases will 
lessen Washington's dependence on the Turkish basing system that has been a core 
feature of the US-Turkey military alliance. Furthermore, Turkey has independent 
reasons to improve relations with Iran -- in many ways a natural trading partner. 
These are steps that the US will strongly oppose, as long as Iran retains some measure 
of independence. There are many possible sources of tension.

7. In one of your interviews you had talked about a local media and you had added that 
" if I did not see this with my eyes I would never believe this." Do you think that 
the same local media movements belong to the public can be formed in other parts of 
the world? Or otherwise was that movement only special to Brazilia? Because as you 
know like -in the example of Port Alegro -Brazilia has an exceptional place on earth.

The popular media I observed were not in Porto Alegre, but in huge suburban slums 
outside Rio de Janeiro. And they were quite remarkable. If these achievements were 
possible under such conditions, they could be duplicated in many other places. What is 
required is energy, will, commitment. It is never easy. Every repressive society has 
its own barriers to freedom and justice. But what has been achieved in Brazil is 
impressive, just as the struggle for human and civil rights in Turkey is truly 
inspiring. In many respects I know of nothing like it elsewhere. Every place on earth 
can be truly exceptional in its own ways.

8. You have mentioned that in your second conversation in Diyarbakır. "Once, on the 
one hand I was opposing the American State policies on the other hand I used to work 
at the projects which were financed by Pentagon in my University. So they used to pay 
my salary." If we evaluate the subject from this point; How must be the relationship 
between an intellectual and a University where is the one of the place in which the 
system renews itself. Because there is not 'a paradoxal democracy perspective' in the 
other most of the world countries and much time the intellectual may choose to hide 
his truths for his sake. 

Intellectuals can choose to hide their beliefs and to serve power, or they can follow 
the model of prominent writers, artists, journalists, publishers, academics and others 
in Turkey and stand up courageously for freedom and justice. There are rewards for 
conformity and often punishment for honesty and decency, varying in ways that reflect 
the nature of the society. That is true for slaves, and for everyone else. Because 
many people throughout history have resisted these pressures, humanity has been able 
to move to a higher plane of existence -- slowly, painfully, with frequent regression, 
but over time with unmistakable progress. There are no general formulas I know of that 
can be simply applied. And there is no reason to believe that the process has come to 
an end, or, for that matter, that it ever will.

9. It is claimed that Turkey is successful about securalization, democratization and 
the process of the securalization, and it is believed to be a good model for the other 
Muslim countries. What do you think about this?

Turkey has been successful in some ways, and has seriously failed in others. I am in 
no position to hand out grades for good and bad behavior. It is for the people of 
Turkey to make their country a model that others may seek to follow, insofar as it is 
appropriate for them.

10. For the last, May I have a general evaluation of Your feelings, thoughts about 
Diyarbakır and the time you Passed in Diyarbakır? 

Visiting Diyarbakir several times last year was a very moving experience. Though the 
visits were unfortunately very brief, I was able to meet quite a range of people, 
including human rights activists, students, political leaders, writers, families 
living in caves outside the city walls, many others, and to get at least a little 
sense of life in the semi-official capital of the Kurdish regions. I had a glimpse of 
another element of the same tragedy and heroism in the miserable slums of Istanbul 
where Kurdish refugees try to survive in tiny rooms in condemned buildings, and to 
create a life for themselves with the little they have, awaiting a chance to return to 
their destroyed villages in peace. The bravery of people who have suffered gravely, 
and their dedication to gain their rights and their freedom, is a remarkable tribute 
to what the human spirit can endure, and to achieve. To be able to share even a bare 
moment with them is a wonderful gift, which I will always cherish, along with others, 
among them a Kurdish dictionary with a touching inscription given to me by students at 
a public meeting, one of many acts of great courage and principle that I was 
privileged to witness. These are truly unforgettable experiences. I hope to be able to 
return in happier times, when the just demands of the Kurdish people are coming to be 
fully realized.

Estonian newspaper Eesti Ekspress 
Argo Riistan Interviews Noam Chomsky

1. Considering all the circumstances, what is your opinion on the US plan to bring 
democracy and peace to Middle East, starting with Iraq? 

The question is based on a presupposition: that the US plans to bring democracy and 
peace to the Middle East. The presupposition is partially correct. US planners surely 
do hope to bring peace, but so does everyone; even Hitler hoped to establish peace. 
The question always is: On what terms? The same is true of democracy; Stalin and his 
cohorts, even in internal discussion (now available in released archives), called for 
protecting "true democracy" from Western attack. The question always is: What kind of 
democracy? To answer this question for the Kremlin, we look at their record in the 
regions under their control. Similarly, in the US case, the rational way to proceed is 
to investigate the record of the past century, until today, in the regions that have 
been under US control. 

And the answers are quite unambiguous. As the more honest advocates of "democracy 
projects" recognize, the US has sought to bring about democratic change, as long as it 
was "limited, top-down forms of democratic change that did not risk upsetting the 
traditional structures of power with which the United States has long been allied," 
maintaining "the basic order of quite undemocratic societies" (Thomas Carothers, Latin 
America scholar and official in the Reagan administration's "democracy enhancement" 

The historical record amply supports that judgment, in the Middle East as well. The 
conclusion is confirmed further by the display of brazen hatred for democracy in the 
past few months, which has no counterpart that I can recall. Attitudes towards 
democracy were demonstrated with unusual clarity in the distinction drawn between "Old 
Europe" and "New Europe," the former bitterly condemned, the latter praised. The 
distinguishing criterion was sharp and clear: the governments of "Old Europe" took the 
same stand as the great majority of their populations, and were therefore reviled; the 
leaders of "New Europe" overrode even larger majorities (as in Spain and Italy) and 
took their orders from Crawford Texas, and were therefore hailed for their courage and 
grand qualities. 

Paul Wolfowitz, hailed as the "visionary" who seeks to bring democracy to the Middle 
East, denounced the Turkish military because they permitted the parliamentary 
government to follow the will of 95% of the population, instead of intervening by 
force to ensure that Turkey would "help Americans," and called on them to apologize 
for this shocking failure. It takes real discipline not to perceive what all of this 
means. Fortunately, the intellectual classes are well-disciplined, so it all passes in 

Like British and French rulers in their day in the sun, the US will be happy to 
establish formal democracy in Iraq and elsewhere, as long as proper discipline is 
maintained. And there are many ways to ensure that "democracy" will keep to its 
assigned path: by force, by economic strangulation under the neoliberal regimes 
designed this purpose, or in other ways.

History is of course not science. It is possible that some dramatic change will take 
place, for which not the slightest evidence exists -- apart from the noble rhetoric of 
leaders and the acclaim of their acolytes. But dramatic change can be expected only by 
those who prefer blind faith to rationality and the evidence of history.

2. A common opinion is that since the US is a dominating power it should continue it's 
current foreign policy and stay in the business of managing the affairs of other 
countries. Do you agree with that? How, in your opinion, should the US do that?

The opinion is a very strange one. By the same logic, one could have argued at one 
time that Stalin and Hitler should "stay in the business of managing the affairs" of 
the countries subject to their rule, and then ask "how should they do that"? For those 
who regard freedom, democracy, and elementary justice as ideals worth upholding, the 
question simply does not arise.

3. New countries, including Estonia, are about to join the NATO and EU. What kind of 
an impact do you expect this expansion to have on the future of these organizations?

That is a choice for the people of Estonia and other new members. US planners and 
elites have made it reasonably clear what they hope the impact will be. As the Western 
business press has explained with much joy, they expect that Eastern Europe will 
provide cheap and disciplined labor that will undermine the hated European social 
market system, enabling business leaders and governments to "hammer away at high wages 
and corporate taxes, short working hours, labor immobility, and luxurious social 
programs" and to impose the US-UK model of low wages and benefits, the longest working 
hours of the industrial world, and other such "market reforms" that are resisted by 
the "pampered" workers of the West. 

In the political sphere, US planners hope that Eastern Europe will be more subordinate 
to Washington's will, and will serve as a "Trojan Horse" that will impede European 
moves towards an independent role in world affairs. That is a concern shared by 
Washington and Moscow during the Cold War years. For the US, it persists, and now 
extends to Northeast Asia as well. But the answer to the question is for the people of 
the "new countries" to provide.

4. There have been several serious diplomatic and political crashes between the 
governments of European countries and the US government. What can be done in order to 
improve the relationships between Europe and the US?

We have to begin by identify the basis for these clashes. The US leadership and 
intellectual classes (including elite media) are bitterly resentful that the 
governments of "Old Europe" -- that is, the industrial and financial heartland of 
Europe -- did not assist the US in pursuing its goals. Relations will improve, from 
this point of view, if Europe recognizes its responsibility to follow Washington's 
lead. "Old Europe" sees the matter differently. Its governments joined the vast 
majority of the population of Europe, and the rest of the world (insofar as evidence 
exists), in objecting to the Bush administration declaration in September 2002, in its 
National Security Strategy, that it intended to control the world indefinitely, by 
force if necessary; and in objecting to the exemplary action selected to establish 
that "new norm in international relations," the invasion of Iraq. 

Like most of the rest of the world, Europeans also objected to the Bush 
administration's dismissal of international institutions and international law, and 
its undermining of treaties designed to reduce threats of destruction that are quite 
serious: the Kyoto Protocols, the Biological Weapons Convention against Germ Warfare, 
bans on militarization of space, crucial arms control agreements, and so on. 

There are more long-standing concerns, for example, those expressed lucidly by Henry 
Kissinger 30 years ago when he addressed Europeans during the "Year of Europe," 
advising them that they must keep to "regional interests" within an "overall framework 
of order" managed by the United States. These are real differences, not to be wished 
away. They can be overcome, but only by dedicated commitment of people who care about 
the world that they are leaving to their grandchildren.

5. Do you have any predictions about the results of 2004 Presidential election in the 
United States? 

The incumbents have great advantages, primarily overwhelming financial resources, 
thanks to the gifts they have showered on the wealthy and powerful. They also have the 
ability to conjure up threats to frighten the population, with the support of the 
loyal media. And other advantages as well. However, they face serious problems. Their 
domestic programs are highly unpopular. That is not surprising. The programs are 
designed to create what economists call a "fiscal train wreck," by vast increases in 
government spending (benefiting largely the wealthy, often under the pretext of 
"defense") and sharp tax cuts primarily for the very rich. 

Vast unpayable bills, they assume, will enable them to "starve the beast," to borrow 
the rhetoric of their first tenure in power during the Reagan years; the present 
incumbents are largely drawn from the more reactionary jingoist sectors of the Reagan 
and Bush Senior administrations. Their phrase "starve the beast" refers to the 
openly-declared intention to undermine government services that benefit the general 
population: the limited health care programs that exist, social security, schools, 

But these policies are, naturally, opposed by the general population, just as they 
were during the Reagan years; Reagan ended up being the most unpopular living 
president, ranking alongside of Nixon. There is only one known way to hold political 
power under such circumstances: press the panic button. And at least in the short 
term, it often works, as many other unscrupulous leaders have understood throughout 
history. During the Reagan years, the population was regularly frightened by a series 
of concocted demons: Libyan hit-men wandering the streets of Washington, trying to 
assassinate the bold cowboy leader barricaded in the White House; an air base in 
Grenada that the Russians could use to bomb us (if they could find it on the map); the 
grave threat of the Nicaraguans only "two-days driving time" from Texas; black rapists 
in the streets; hispanic narcotraffickers; and on, and on. The same measures are 
adopted today. 

The vast propaganda campaign initiated in September 2002 succeeded quickly in 
convincing Americans that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to their existence and 
that he was responsible for the 9-11 atrocities, beliefs held nowhere else in the 
world, even in Kuwait and Iran, brutally attacked by Saddam. How long such will work, 
no one can predict. There have always been strong and healthy currents of independence 
of thought and resentment of illegitimate authority among the general population, and 
they constantly reveal themselves in unanticipated ways. A great deal is uncertain -- 
meaning, subject to will and choice.

6. You and Susan Sontag were two intellectuals seriously attacked because of your 
statements after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Were you surprised? What do you 
think caused these furious reactions? 

It is a familiar experience for me, or for anyone who does not reflexively line up in 
the service of power, not just in the United States but almost everywhere, and 
throughout history. Why should there be any surprise?


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