Hello and happy holidays...

This is a free ZNet Update. As always, you can add or remove email
addresses from our Free Update list via ZNet's top page:

In this message we have two purposes. 

      (1) We want to bring you a recent interview 
      with Noam Chomsky, which appears at the end 
      of this message

      (2) We want to urge you to help us out by taking 
      advantage of a great offer.

On the top page of ZNet -  http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm - there is a
special link for buying a one year, U.S., print subscription to Z
Magazine, our monthly periodical, which is usually $33, for only $19. 

We NEED you to use that link to become a new subscriber, now. 

You get a year's meals for the mind. It costs you the price of one night
out at a restaurant. You diet your body. You get a subscription. You
expand you mind. You insure our foundation. You save $14. And it only
takes a click and a form - under five minutes.

207,000 people receive this message. If one in five of you were to take
up our offer and subscribe to Z Magazine's print edition, the results
would be wonderful for Z and for Z's effects more broadly. We are asking
you be one of the people who makes that happen. You give us an immense
Holiday boost, and you get a year's print subscription at an amazing
discount as well.

And here is the interview with Chomsky discussing the recent Iraq
elections, Iraq motives and policy more generally, international
relations, U.S. policy making, etc. 


On the Iraq Election
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Andy Clark for Radio Netherlands 

Andy Clark: Let's start off by talking about the elections in Iraq.
Let's hear how President Bush was billing them just a few days ahead of
the vote.

President Bush: "By helping Iraqis build a strong democracy, we're
adding to our own security and, like a generation before us, we are
laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. Not far from
here, where we gather today is a symbol of freedom familiar to all
Americans - the Liberty Bell. When the Declaration of Independence was
first read in public, the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration and a
witness said: 'It rang as if it meant something.' Today the call of
liberty is being heard in Baghdad and Basra, and other Iraqi cities, and
its sound is echoing across the broader Middle East, from Damascus to
Tehran, people hear it and they know it means something. It means that
days of tyranny and terror are ending and a new day of hope and freedom
is dawning."

Andy Clark: President Bush there, speaking at the Philadelphia World
Affairs Council, just a few days ago. I mean the sentiment is very clear
there from the President, that the US is bringing hope and democracy to
Iraq and that the elections are crucial in this. After the vote, the
President has called the elections an important milestone. Professor
Chomsky, how do you see the elections? Do you see them as an important
milestone for Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: Actually I do, but before talking about that, I should
just bring up a kind of a truism. No rational person pays the slightest
attention to declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, no
matter who they are. And the reason is they're completely predictable,
including the worst monsters, Stalin, Hitler the rest. Always full of
benign intent. Yes that's their task. Therefore, since they're
predictable, we disregard them, they carry no information. What we do
is, look at the facts. That's true if they're Bush or Blair or Stalin or
anyone else. That's the beginning of rationality. All right, the basic
facts we know: when Bush and Blair invaded Iraq, the reason was what
they insistently called a 'single question.' That was repeated by Jack
Straw, by Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, everyone. 'Will Iraq eliminate
its weapons of mass destruction?' That was the single question, that was
the basis on which both Bush and Blair got authorization to use force.
Within a few months this single question was answered and the answer
came out the wrong way and then all of sudden...

Andy Clark: This was weapons of mass destruction you're talking about?

Noam Chomsky: Yes. Then very quickly it turned out that that wasn't the
reason of the invasion. The reason was what the President's liberal
press calls his 'Messianic Mission' to bring democracy to Iraq and
immediately everyone had to leap on the democratisation bandwagon and it
began to be described as the most noble war in history and so on and so
forth. Well, anyone with a particle of sense would know that you can't
take that seriously and, in fact, if you look at the events that
followed, it just demonstrated that. The US tried, in every possible
way, to prevent elections in Iraq. They offered effort after effort to
evade the danger of elections. Finally, they were compelled to accept
elections by mass non-violent resistance, for which the Ayatollah
Sistani [moderate Shi'ite leader] was a kind of a symbol. Mass
outpourings of people demanding elections. Finally, Bush and Blair had
to agree to elections. The next step is to subvert them and they started
immediately. They're doing it right now. Elections mean you pay some -
in a democracy at least - you pay some attention to the will of the
population. Well, the crucial question for an invading army is: 'do they
want us to be here?' Well, we know the answer to that. The British
Ministry of Defence carried out a poll a couple of months ago, it was
secret, but it leaked to the British Press - I don't think it's been
reported in the US. They found that 82 percent of the population wanted
the coalition forces, British and US forces to leave. One percent of the
population said that they were increasing security.

Andy Clark: But isn't this the start of a process that could see the
occupying troops from America and Britain leaving? We've seen an awful
lot of Iraqis taking part in the elections, two thirds, we're told. The
turnout was quite high...

Noam Chomsky: But hold on a second, the US and Britain announced at
once, at once, we will not have a timetable to withdraw. So yes, you can
all want us to leave, but we won't have a timetable for withdrawal. Now
of course, there's a conflict, the Iraqis have forced the occupying
powers to allow some kind of electoral process. What the occupying
powers are doing now is perfectly clear and very familiar, very
familiar. We've had a long history of this in Central America, the
British ran an empire, the Japanese ran an empire, and the Russians ran
an empire in Eastern Europe. The way they want it to work - standard
procedure - you want the local forces to run their own countries, so
Poland under the Russians, the Polish army runs it, the Polish civilians
are the bureaucrats, Russians are in the background. The same in say, El
Salvador, the US-run state terrorist forces are the military, the
civilians are local, and the US is in the background. If anything goes
wrong, they move in, the same with the British in India, the same with
the Japanese in South Korea.

Andy Clark: So you see this is a step to set up a sort of puppet
government and not something that's really representative of ordinary

Noam Chomsky: That's what they are trying to do, but there's always a
conflict about that. Many of the Western backed or Russian or Eastern or
other backed tyrants rose up. However, it is as clear as a bell that the
US, and Britain behind it, are doing everything they can to prevent a
sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. And they are being dragged into
it step by step. Now there's a good reason why the US cannot tolerate a
sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. We're not allowed to talk about
it because there's a party line. The party line we have to rigidly
adhere to says you're not allowed to talk about the reasons for invading
Iraq. We're supposed to believe that the US would've invaded Iraq if it
was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main exports were pickles and
lettuce. This is what we're supposed to believe. Now the truth of the
matter, obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, is that Iraq
has huge oil resources, maybe the second in the world, mostly untapped,
that it's right in the middle of the main energy-producing region of the
world and that taking control of Iraq will strengthen enormously the
US's control over the major energy resources of the world. It will, in
fact, give the US critical leverage over its competitors, Europe and
Asia, that's Zbigniew Brzezsinski's [President Carter's national
Security Adviser] accurate observation. That's the reason. Now suppose
that Iraq were to become sovereign and democratic, what would happen?
Just think of the policies they would undertake. I mean, we can run
through them, it would be a nightmare for the US.

Andy Clark: You maintain that they would want to maintain control. This
is an email from a listener, sent to us on the eve of the elections from
Iraq, who just simply calls himself Mohammed:

Mohammed's email: "Tomorrow it's going to be us who decide and I can
feel the greatness of the responsibility because the result will draw
the shape of our future and will determine how long it will take till we
can announce victory in this war; our war against the past, against the
past's illusions and the past's mistakes."

Andy Clark: What would you say to a comment like that? We hear that a
lot from Iraqis. I spoke to some people from the Iraqi community here in
the Netherlands just a few weeks ago and they were expressing very
similar sentiments that they felt they were in some way having their
destiny in their own hands for the first time.

Noam Chomsky: That's exactly what I've been saying for the last three
years and I just said it again here. The victory of the non-violent
resistance in Iraq, which compelled the occupying forces to allow
elections, that's a major victory. That's one of the major triumphs of
non-violent resistance that I know of. It wasn't the insurgents that did
it - the US doesn't care about violence, they have more violence. What
it can't control is non-violence and the non-violent movements in Iraq,
partially with Sistani as a kind of figurehead, but it's much broader
than that, it compelled the occupying forces to allow elections and some
limited, very limited degree of sovereignty. And yet we should be trying
to help them in these endeavours.

Andy Clark: In that sense you see that there's a positive influence from
these elections and you see that those forces can grow out of these
elections and take more control in Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: I certainly hope so, but they're going to have to be
fighting Britain and the US tooth and nail all the way. The question is
what Westerners will do about it. Will we be on the side of the
occupying forces, which are trying to prevent democracy and sovereignty?
Or will we be on the side of the Iraqi people, who want democracy and
sovereignty? But in order to ask that question we first have to free
ourselves of the doctrinal blinders, which prevent us from understanding
what is actually happening.

Andy Clark: OK, let's hear some more messages from listeners. This is an
argument we hear an awful lot.

Listener in Canada Reg Pollock's email: "I don't think the Americans had
any right to go into Iraq, but now there are there and removed the
government they are stuck until there is a body which can maintain the
country. As bad a Saddam was he did control three peoples. It's not the
same as Vietnam. They (the US) have a tiger by the tail."

Listener Mark Humphreys from Ireland: "The 'anti-war' movement destroyed
Vietnam, and far from being ashamed of it, they are proud of it, and
they want to do the same thing to Iraq. They want to abandon Iraq to the
Jihadis and the Baathists and civil war. All they care about is that no
white people are involved."

Andy Clark: That's an argument we hear an awful lot of. You know, the
Americans have to now see the job out as it were. What's your reaction
to that?

Noam Chomsky: That's like saying the Russians invaded Afghanistan and
they can't just leave it to the Jihadis so therefore they have to stay
there. I mean I was strongly opposed to that, I assume every listener
was, and that we should be. An invading army has no right whatsoever,
none. It has responsibilities. Its primary responsibility is to act in a
way that the population of the country demands. They are to keep to the
will of the population. They don't have any right to stay there because
they want to. Well as far as we know, and there's fair amount of
information. The Iraqi population wants the occupying forces to leave.
As I mentioned, as shown by the last British Ministry of Defence poll,
one percent think the occupying forces are contributing to security;
most of them think they're increasing insecurity. So yes, they should be
withdrawing, as the population wants them to, instead of trying
desperately to set up a client regime with military forces that they can
control. That's what's happening. As for the comment on Vietnam, yes
that's probably...probably you would've heard that from some super
Stalinist in Moscow in the case of Afghanistan. The fact of the matter
is the US invaded South Vietnam in 1962, practically destroyed it, then
expanded the war to the rest of Indochina. It ended up killing maybe
three or four million people in Indochina, destroying the country. The
anti-war movement succeeded in building up enough opposition so that the
country at least survived, barely, although the US won a tremendous
victory by destroying the country. Yes, you will find the equivalent of
Stalinists in the US who will give that party line, but simply just take
a look at the facts; they're well known and well understood.

Andy Clark: But what do you think would happen if the process now goes
forward and the Iraqi government is formed and the new parliament turns
around and passes a majority motion for the coalition-led troops to
withdraw within six months? What do you think would happen?

Noam Chomsky: In other words, suppose that the parliament, instead of
being an elite force, dominating the population, suppose the parliament
represents popular will, say the popular will of 80 percent of Iraqis
who want the occupying forces to withdraw, according to the British
Ministry of Defence. Suppose that happens? Well then the occupying
forces should immediately initiate withdrawal and leave it to the
Iraqis. Now there's a good reason why Washington and London are not
contemplating that. It has nothing to do with the fate of the Iraqis,
quite the contrary. Just think for a minute. What would an independent
Iraq be likely to do, an independent, more or less democratic Iraq?
Think. I mean if you're going to have a Shi'ite majority. Therefore the
Shi'ites will have a lot of influence in policy, probably a dominant
influence. The Shi'ite population in the south, which is where most of
the oil is, would much prefer warm relations to Iran over hostile
relations to Iran. Furthermore they are very close relations already,
the Badr brigade, which is the militia that mostly controls the south,
was trained in Iran. The clerics have long-standing relations with Iran;
the Ayatollah Sistani actually grew up there. Chances are pretty strong,
they'll move towards a some sort of a loose Shi'ite alliance, with Iraq
and Iran. Furthermore right across the border in Saudi Arabia, there's a
substantial Shi'ite population, which has been bitterly oppressed by the
US-backed tyranny in Saudi Arabia, the fundamentalist tyranny. Any move
towards independence in Iraq is likely to increase the efforts to gain a
degree of autonomy and justice. That happens to be where most of Saudi
Arabia's oil is. So you can see not far in the future a loose Shi'ite
alliance controlling most of the world's oil, independent of the US.
Furthermore, it is beginning to turn toward the East. Iran has pretty
much given up on Western Europe, it assumes that Western Europe is too
cowardly to act independently of the US, well it has options. It can
turn to the East. China can't be intimidated. That's why the US is so
frightened of China. It cannot be intimidated. In fact, they're already
establishing relations with Iran and in fact even with Saudi Arabia,
both military and economic. There is an Asian energy security grid based
on Asia and Russia but bringing in India, Korea and others. If Iran
moves in that direction, having abandoned any hope in Europe, it can
become the lynchpin of the Asian energy security grid.

Andy Clark: And you say that this may be part of an attraction for the
Shi'ite groups in Iraq as well to sort of join this movement away from
the Western world influence as it were?

Noam Chomsky: Yes, they have every reason to. In fact it might even
happen in Saudi Arabia. From the point of view of Washington planners,
that is the ultimate nightmare.

Andy Clark: And that's why you say they won't be prepared to leave...

Noam Chomsky: That is why they're fighting tooth and nail to prevent
democracy and sovereignty in Iraq. The Iraqi people have resisted and
it's a very impressive resistance. I'm not talking about insurgency. I'm
talking about popular, non-violent resistance under bitter conditions.
There's a labour movement forming, which is a very important one. The US
insists on keeping Saddam's bitter anti-labour laws, but the labour
movement doesn't like it. Their activists are being killed. Nobody knows
by whom, maybe by insurgents, maybe by former Baathists, maybe by
somebody else. But they're working. There's the basis of a popular
democracy being developed there, much to the horror of the occupying
forces, but it's going on and it could have very long term consequences
in their national affairs, which is why Bush and Blair have so
desperately been trying to prevent democracy and any form of sovereignty
and have been forced to back off step by step. This is also going on
with the economic arrangements. The US moved in and immediately tried to
open up the economy to foreign take-over by imposing outrageous and in
fact illegal laws for privatisation. You know, Iraqis don't want that,
they want to take control of their own economy and resources. There's a
battle going on about that.

Andy Clark: Let's hear another message from a listener. This is from
Miguel C. Alvarez, who is a Spanish ex-patriot living in the UK:

Miguel's email: "Forget about the US and EU governments: they're
hopeless. Where to for 'the people?' How can the insanity be stopped? Or
will it have to run its course and get much worse before it can get

Andy Clark: What's your take on that?

Noam Chomsky: The violence in Iraq is a serious problem for the Iraqis
and I tend to agree with, apparently the majority of Iraqis, that it's
the occupation forces that are stimulating the violence. The fact that
an insurgency even developed in Iraq is astonishing. I mean it's an
amazing fact that the US has had more trouble controlling Iraq than the
Germans had in controlling occupied Europe or the Russians in
controlling Eastern Europe. After all, the countries under Nazi or
Russian occupation were run by domestic forces, domestic police,
domestic armies, and domestic civilian forces. The Nazis and the Kremlin
were in the background and if needed, they came in, but mostly it was
domestically run. There were partisans in Western Europe and they were
very courageous, but they would've been wiped out very quickly if it
hadn't been for enormous foreign support and, of course, Germany was at

Well, in Iraq none of these circumstances prevailed, there was no
outside support for the resistance. The little support that has arisen,
and it is very slight, is mostly engendered by the invasion. But there's
no outside support. The country had been devastated by sanctions. The US
was coming in with enormous resources to rebuild it and they have turned
it into a total catastrophe. It's one of the worst military catastrophes
in history. You look at figures for something like, say malnutrition;
malnutrition is way up since the US took over, that's unbelievable. It's
one of the few wars that can't be reported, not because reporters are
cowards, but because it's too dangerous. Reporters are mostly in the
Green Zone or else they go out with a platoon of marines. There are
some, like Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and a couple of others who are
independent and brave it, but not many. This is an incredible
catastrophe. But it's very likely, and I tend to agree with apparent
opinion of most Iraqis on this, that it's the invading armies themselves
that are engendering the violence. Well, they're carrying out plenty of
it, but the violence of the insurgents would probably recline if they
left and allowed Iraqis to be on their own.

Andy Clark: Another message, this is from Charles Harlich, from New
Jersey in the US:

Charles' email: "I have a relative who is now serving as a soldier in
Iraq. What advice would you give to him?"

Noam Chomsky: Look, I have plenty of correspondence with soldiers in
Iraq and all you can do is offer them your sympathy. You hope that they
make it safely and that their leaders will get them out of there. The
same kind of advice you would've given to Russian soldiers in
Afghanistan. You have to sympathize with them; it's not their fault.
It's the fault of their commanders. I don't mean their military
commanders, I mean the civilians in the Pentagon, in the White House and
their counterparts in England.

Andy Clark: This is from Steve Brown in Mexico:

Steve's email:" No one is talking anymore about oil. Isn't that still
the main reason the US invaded Iraq and are Iraq's large reserves now
under control of US corporations?"

Noam Chomsky: Nobody was talking about oil all along if you look. It was
considered outrageous to talk about oil. If anyone talked about oil,
Tony Blair would have a tantrum about conspiracy theories.

Andy Clark: Plenty of the protestors said it was a war for oil all

Noam Chomsky: Protesters did, but take a look at the mainstream. It was
considered a conspiracy theory, Marxist, delusional and so on to talk
about oil. Although every sane person knows that that was the reason, if
Iraq had been producing pickles and lettuce, would they have been
invaded? I mean, let's be serious. Of course it's oil. Furthermore the
Iraqis know that. Right after the president gave his dramatic speech at
the National Endowment for Democracy, announcing his 'Messianic Mission'
to bring democracy to Iraq, after the collapse of the 'single question,'
right after that a poll was reported. Gallup, the main polling
organisation in the US, took a poll in Baghdad and asked people in
Baghdad why they think the US invaded, about one percent agreed, with
100 percent of educated Western opinion, to bring democracy, one percent
agreed to bring democracy, five percent said to help Iraqis. Most of the
rest said the obvious: to take control of Iraq's resources and to
strengthen the US strategic position in the region. And incidentally,
going back to the writer, it's not so much a matter of gaining access to
Iraq's resources, you can get access even if you don't control a
country. I mean the oil market is something of a market. What matters is
control, not access. It's a very big difference. The main theme of US
policy since the Second World War has been to control the resources of
the Middle East, the energy resources. That would give what George
Cannon, one of the early planners, called 'veto power' over their
allies, they wouldn't get out of line because we'd have our hand on the
spicket. Now at that time, for about 30 years, North America was the
major oil exporter. The US wasn't using any Middle East oil, but it
nevertheless was dedicated and it was the main theme of US policy to
maintain control over it. If you look at US intelligence projections for
the future, they project that the US must control Middle East oil, but
that it itself will rely on more stable Atlantic Basin resources,
Western Africa, Western Hemisphere resources. Europe and Japan will rely
on the less stable Middle East resources, but the US will control them.
That's the way you prevent independence from developing. That's why the
Asian Energy Security Grid and the Shanghai Cooperation Council are
regarded as such a threat by the US. The meetings right now, the
Malaysian meetings, East Asian meetings, that's a threat, it's a
coalescence of power moving independently of the US. You look back
through the history of the Cold War, and it was the same with regard to
Europe, a major concern throughout the Cold War was what was called
European Third Force, which might find a way independent of the US in
Europe, and there was every effort made to prevent that. A long story,
and that makes sense if you want to run the world, you want to make sure
there are not independent forces out of your control.

Andy Clark: This is a message from L. Douglas Raymond in the US:

"With the war in Iraq, it seems we are viewing the US's engagement in
some bold, in your face, strategic geopolitical chess. In your opinion,
what is the US's next likely international move?"

Noam Chomsky: My own guess frankly, was that the invasion of Iraq would
be over in about three days and that the US would install a stable
client regime. It should have been one of the easiest military victories
in history. But they did turn it into a catastrophe. My guess back at
that time was that the next place the US would move would be the Andes
in the Western Hemisphere. This is a traditional region of US
domination, but from Venezuela down to Argentina, the region is pretty
much out of control and that's a very serious worry for US planners.
They expect the Western Hemisphere to be obedient and placid. And if you
look at modern history the US has intervened violently and brutally
throughout the Western Hemisphere for a long time to ensure obedience,
overthrowing democratic governments, installing murderous military
dictatorships, carrying out large-scale terror and it goes on pretty
much to the present. It is somewhat out of control. Venezuela is
increasingly going on an independent path and Venezuela is very
important, the US took it from the British in 1921, kicked the British
out at the time of the beginning of the oil-based economy because it was
recognized that Venezuela had enormous oil resources, also others. And
it has been one of the main oil suppliers under US control ever since,
but it's moving towards independence. Chavez is enormously popular in
Venezuela; in fact, support for the elected government is higher in
Venezuela than in any other Latin American country. Venezuela is
beginning to diversify its international relations; it's starting to
export oil to China and may do so even more soon. The same is true of
the other raw materials exporters, Brazil and Chile, not to the extent
of Venezuela, but increasing. Furthermore, the region has left of centre
governments. All through the regions, a few exceptions but almost all of
them, and some of them are defying the IMF. Argentina simply defied IMF
orders, told them to get lost, and did very well as a result.
Furthermore, there's a large Indian population in Latin America from
Bolivia up to Ecuador, very large, and they're beginning to organise and
become independent. They may actually win an election in Bolivia [left
wing leader Evo Morales has now won that election]. They've overthrown a
couple of governments in Ecuador. They're also calling for an Indian
nation throughout this region. Now, they do not want their resources
taken from them, they have plenty of resources, a lot of oil. They want
either to control their own resources, rather than having it taken over
by foreigners, or - many of them - don't even want resources to be
developed, so there are plenty of indigenous people in Ecuador who don't
particularly want their lifestyle disrupted so that people drive SUVs in
New York City.

Andy Clark: This is an area, you think, that will be an area of concern
for the US?

Noam Chomsky: It's of deep concern. There are more US military in Latin
America today than at the height of the Cold War. For the first time the
number of US military in Latin America exceeds the combined number of
civilians in key federal agencies, aid, state departments and others.
Furthermore, the training of the Latin American military, which has
always been under US control, has recently shifted; the Congress shifted
it from the State Department to the Pentagon. Now that's quite
important. The State Department has a terrible record of atrocities and
torture and crime - everyone should know about that - but under the
State Department, military training was under some Congressional
supervision, had some human rights conditions, some democracy
conditions. Under the Pentagon, it has no conditions. Furthermore, the
military is now being trained to deal with, what are called social
problems, social unrest.

Andy Clark: It plays into an e-mail we received from somebody in Peru.

Gonzalo Alvarado, Peru: "Do you see any serious alternative to the Bush
administration for next elections, in order to change the US foreign
policy? How do you think the US will deal with the regimes in Venezuela
and Bolivia? In Peru, we have a presidential candidate with the same
profile, Humala. He is growing in the polls for next presidential
elections. His tactic? Blaming imperialism and the free market for
making us poorer."

Noam Chomsky: It certainly doesn't like them [the regimes in Bolivia and
Venezuela]. Incidentally, we should stop talking about the free market,
that's another ideological trick. The US does not believe in a free
market. The US itself is a largely state-based economy. You use
computers and the Internet and telecommunications and lasers and
aeroplanes and so on, most of it comes out of the dynamic state sector.
The economy is handed over to private businesses if they make some
profit out of it, but mostly state-based and same is true of
pharmaceuticals and biology-based industries and so on. So, we should
have no illusions about this. Even the free trade agreements, so-called,
are highly protectionists, the extra-ordinary intellectual property
rights go way beyond anything existed in the past those are purely
protectionist. They are designed to maintain monopoly rights for major
corporations. If the currently rich countries had ever been faced with
such rules, the US would now be exporting fish and fur. So there's no
free market. But how the US is planning to deal with it, well we know.
Let's take Venezuela; there was a military coup in Venezuela in 2002.
The US supported the military coup, the US had to back down very quickly
because there was an overwhelming uproar in Latin America, where
democracy is taken much more seriously than it is in Washington and
there was great protest about US support for a military coup
overthrowing a democratic government, so Washington had to back down and
the military coup was quickly reversed. The US then moved into the next
step, which is subversion; if you can't carry out a military coup, try
to subvert the government. So the US had been pouring in aid into what
are called officially 'anti-Chavez, pro-democracy elements.' That's
where the money is going. The implication is: you can't be a pro-Chavez,
pro-democracy element; you can't because the US says so. The fact that
Venezuela leads Latin America in support for democracy and support for
the elected government, going up very sharply since Chavez took over in
1998, that's just irrelevant, we decide what's democracy, not the people
- that's just subversion. We saw it in the last election just a couple
of days ago. It was clear the US candidate was going to do very badly,
so the opposition, almost surely with US initiative or support, pulled
out of the election to try to de-legitimate the election, well, that's a
very standard tactic, the US used the same tactic in Haiti a couple of
years ago. It was clear that Aristide, who they didn't like, was going
to easily win the election, so they got together with the opposition and
got the opposition, which was quite small, to pull out and then they
could say, well look it's not legitimate, he's a tyrant. The most
striking example of this was 1984 in Nicaragua. There was an election in
Nicaragua in 1984, we're not allowed to admit that, but there was one.
It was very heavily observed including a Dutch government team, very
hostile, rightwing Dutch government observation team. There was a big
delegation of Latin American scholars and US and British parliamentary
human rights group and others. Probably the most heavily monitored
elections in history and they regarded it as a pretty fair election, not
magnificent, but fair by Latin American standards. Well Washington
didn't want that election, so it got its own candidate to pull out. He
happened to be on the CIA pay roll, it turned out, to de-legitimate the
election and claim that the election didn't take place. You take a look
at American press and journals and the same in Western Europe, they say
there was never any election, the first election was in 1990. That's the
way you de-legitimate elections when you know you're going to lose them.

And that's what just happened in Venezuela. My guess was if Iraq had
been successful, the US would simply have invaded. But by now they have
lost the capacity to carry out military action.

Andy Clark: There's been a lot of talk recently about how far the US
should go in questioning suspected terrorists. If we can talk a little
bit about the War on Terror. You know persistent allegations have been
made of torture, and allegations were also made that there were secret
CIA prisoners in Eastern Europe. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
was keen to dispel the torture allegations during her recent trip to

We've also seen the Bush Administration accepting the bill put forward
by Senator John McCain within the past few days, which will ban US
interrogators from using, and I quote: 'cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment of detainees in the war on terror.' Earlier,
Vice-President Dick Cheney had lobbied to try and have an exception for
the CIA from this, but the government has now backed away from that.
Professor Chomsky, what do you make of the McCain bill being accepted?

Noam Chomsky: To the extent the McCain bill is accepted, which hasn't
happened, that is saying that what Condoleezza Rice just said is a lie,
she claimed it wasn't happening. The discussion of the McCain bill is
saying, yes it did happen, but we won't do it any more. OK, that allows
us to dismiss Condoleezza Rice's statement.

Andy Clark: Are they saying that really, or are they saying "we want a
safeguard against it happening in the future?"

Noam Chomsky: Yes that meant it happened in the past, they're conceding
it. Of course they don't have to concede it, there's overwhelming
evidence for it. Just read American legal journals, full of discussion
on it. Take a look at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch,
extensive evidence. Of course they've been torturing. Condoleezza Rice
was very careful to say we don't send people to countries where we
believe they're going to be tortured, so we send them to Egypt and
Syria, but we don't believe they're going to be tortured there. How can
you listen to that without laughing? What are they sending them there
for? Why aren't they sending them to Holland? But why aren't they
leaving them in the US? Do we have to even know what's going on in
Guantanamo? I mean Guantanamo is a horror chamber - there's plenty of
evidence, but did we need that evidence? Why are they even in
Guantanamo? Why aren't they in a prison in New York? There's no security
reason for that. The reason they're sent to Guantanamo is elementary,
any child can understand it, Guantanamo they can claim, is not under US
judicial jurisdiction, so therefore they can do to people whatever they
want, without habeas corpus, without judges and so on. If they weren't
torturing them, they would put them in New York, where they'd be under
the legal system and the rendition, which is a shocking crime, is
obviously to send people to places where they can be tortured. What
Condoleezza Rice actually said is: 'we take the word of the countries to
which we're sending them that they're not going to torture them,'
meaning we know they torture everybody, but we're going to take their
word they're not going to torture these people. We're just sending them
there for a vacation because we want them to have a good time, you know
at a ritzy resort. How can we even listen to these words?

Andy Clark: Let's hear from two listeners on torture. 

Noel Smyth, Dublin, Ireland: "Can the people of this country believe
anything that the US says about torture not being committed on their
behalf in EU countries?"

R. Kurt, Oak Ridge, Tennessee: "Why isn't Europe more critical of the
Bush administration's policy on torture and human rights?"

Andy Clark: What about that second question and Europe not being more
forthright in that listener's viewpoint?

Noam Chomsky: When you talk about a country you have to differentiate.
Do you mean the elite sectors, the political class?

Andy Clark: I guess he does, he's talking about the European Union, I

Noam Chomsky: Well, talking about the elite sectors, the reason they
don't protest is they more or less agree. The general population doesn't
agree. The question: can you believe what the US says? Of course not,
you don't believe what any government say, you don't believe what
corporate leaders say. The role of people in power is to deceive, it's
not just the US, I mean, we all know that. When you look at an ad on
television, do you believe it's telling the truth? I mean, after all,
systems of power are dedicated to deceit and delusion, to maintain power
and to pursue their interests. That's elementary; we should learn that
in elementary school. So sure, you don't believe what, you know, the
benign, grandiose statements that are made by leaders. As I said before,
they're predictable, they carry no information, it doesn't matter
whether it's the US or anyone else. You look at the practices, when you
look at the practices, it stares you in the face, even without the
volumes of evidence that we have. As for why Europe accepts it, I don't
think that Europe does. If you mean by Europe, the people of Europe. In
fact, the US doesn't accept it, if you mean the people of the US, they
don't like these policies. In fact, there's an enormous gulf in the US
between public attitudes and public policy, not just on this issue, but
on a host of issues. Take another one, which is right on the front pages
now, the Montreal Conference, the Kyoto protocols, you read everywhere
that the US refused to accept Kyoto and broke up the Montreal meetings.
Well, that's true if you understand the US to exclude its population.
The population of the US is overwhelmingly in favour of those
agreements. In fact, so strongly that a majority of Bush voters think
that he's in favour of them because it's so obviously right to be in
favour of them. But when you have an enormous gulf between public policy
and public opinion, we can mislead ourselves by saying Europe doesn't
want, the US doesn't want and so on. No, we mean sectors that happen to
concentrate power and keep the population out of their hair. What that
means there's a very serious democratic deficit in western countries,
the US in particular. The population plays a very little role in policy
and is often very strongly opposed to it.

Andy Clark: Professor Chomsky, your outspoken comments always provoke
equally outspoken criticism. And when people have been e-mailing into
our web page, there was, of course, criticism, too. So let me put some
of these e-mails to you. I'm sure you've heard these arguments many a
time before but it's always interesting to hear your answer to them as

Michael Molluck, who is in Philadelphia in the US: "Noam Chomsky has a
pathological hatred for the United States. Like all haters, he is
blinded to everything that does not support his bigotry. It must kill
him and his followers to constantly be so smart, so wrong and
consistently on the wrong side of history."

Andy Clark: That is an accusation that's levelled against you that you
are unpatriotic and that you have a hatred of the US What do you say to

Noam Chomsky: Well, since it's just a tantrum, there's nothing that you
can say. If people want to have tantrums, that's fine. There is a
history of that; the writer should at least know what company he's
keeping. He's keeping the company of Stalinist commissars, that's
exactly what they said about every dissident. So, Sakharov and the rest
had a pathological hatred of Russia, they were on the wrong side of
history and so on. That's the stand of the commissars. In fact, it's the
stand of their counterparts in every country. It has a long history. I
don't know if the writer has religious education, but maybe he's heard
of something called the Bible, which is the source of this. The Bible is
the source of the concept of hating your country. At that point, it
meant hating Israel. King Ahab, who was the epitome of evil in the
Bible, condemned the prophet Elijah as a hater of Israel. What did he
mean by that? What did he mean by saying Elijah had a pathological
hatred of Israel? What he meant is Elijah was condemning the acts of the
evil king, not of the people of Israel, but of the evil king. And the
king, like every totalitarian, identified himself with the people, the
society, the country and so on. So you can love your country more than
anyone else, but you have a pathological hatred of it if you criticize
the acts of leadership. That's the attitude of those who totally
subordinate themselves to power, like Soviet commissars and others. So
yes, it's a familiar complaint, it goes through history, as in this
case, it's not presented with any argument or evidence, because there
isn't any, it's presented as a tantrum, like King Ahab.

Andy Clark: This is from Jude Kirkham from Vancouver in Canada:

Jude's email: "My problem with Mr Chomsky and the left in general
regarding Iraq is that they oversimplify and fail to put forth realistic
solutions. When I see a crowd of hippies parading around with giant
paper-mace puppets of George Bush and Tony Blair, how on earth am I
supposed to take them seriously? The invasion went well, insofar as it
overthrew Saddam Hussein. The occupation was and is a disaster. Simply
withdrawing is not going to happen because it would be political
suicide. The answer is to reform the occupation, taking more a Colin
Powell approach rather than Rumsfield one."

Andy Clark: What's your reaction to that?

Noam Chomsky: Well, forget about the hippies and so on and so forth. The
person who proposed it has an idea, it's the very same idea that was
proposed by moderate communists in Russia during the Afghanistan years.
They said Russia was originally successful, the invasion, took it over,
it turned into a disaster. We obviously can't leave; it would be
politically impossible for the Kremlin. So there we have to reform it,
it doesn't matter what the Afghans want. That's a point of view, to say,
what he calls, the left doesn't have a point of view is completely
wrong, they have a clear point of view, he just doesn't like it. The
clear point of view is what I said before: let the people of Iraq
decide. An invasion is a crime, in fact it's the supreme crime, which
includes, with it supreme international crime, which contains within it,
all the evil that follows, I'm quoting from the Nuremberg judgements.
Yes, it's a supreme crime. I'm not saying we should hang the criminals
who carried out the crimes, as it was done at Nuremberg, rather we
should get rid of them. But once the crime has been committed, a very
clear policy, whether the writer likes it or not, is to recognise that
the invaders have no rights. They have responsibilities. There is the
prime responsibility, one responsibility is to pay huge reparations to
the people invaded for all the destruction they caused and that would
include the sanctions, which were monstrous. The second one, as much as
you can, is to keep to their will. If the large majority of the
population, let's say the British Defence Ministry poll is more or less
accurate, if 80 percent of the population wants the invaders to leave,
good, they should be preparing to leave. That's a plan. When the writer
said it's politically impossible, meaning in Washington and in London,
well if so, that's a problem in Washington and London. That's a problem
in the US and Canada and England, we should deal with that problem
because it's our problem. Our problem is we can't control our leaders.
Iraqis don't have to suffer for that. But the solution, the proposals
that are coming from what he calls the left, are very clear, precise,
belief in democracy, belief in freedom. He just doesn't happen to like
them. That doesn't mean the proposals aren't there.

Andy Clark: Another criticism that is sometimes levelled against you
goes back to Cambodia and some of your writings there. This is from Noah
Cooperman from Florida in the US

Noah's email: "Does the Professor harbour any feelings of guilt for
acting as an apologist for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge during the period
of the genocide in Cambodia. Or is mass murder by leftwing extremists
still acceptable?"

Noam Chomsky: I would ask the listener whether he harbours any guilt for
having supported Hitler and the Holocaust and insisting the Jews be sent
to extermination camps. It has the same answer. Since it never happened,
I obviously can't have any guilt for it. He's just repeating propaganda
he heard. If you ask him, you'll discover that he never read one word I
wrote. Try it. What I wrote was, and I don't have any apologies for it
because it was accurate, I took the position that Pol Pot was a brutal
monster, from the beginning was carrying out hideous atrocities, but the
West, for propaganda purposes, was creating and inventing immense
fabrications for its own political goals and not out of interest for the
people of Cambodia. And my colleague and I with whom I wrote all this
stuff simply ran through the list of fanatic lies that were being told
and we took the most credible sources, which happened to be US
intelligence, who knew more than anyone else. And we said US
intelligence is probably accurate. In retrospect, that turns out to be
correct, US intelligence was probably accurate. I think we were the only
ones who quoted it. The fabrications were fabrications and should be
eliminated. In fact, we also discussed, and I noticed nobody ever talks
about this, we discussed fabrications against the US. For example a
standard claim in the major works was that the US bombings had killed
600,000 people in 1973. We looked at the data and decided it was
probably 200,000. So we said let's tell the truth about it. It's a
crime, but it's not like anything you said. It's interesting that nobody
ever objects to that. When we criticize fabrications about US crimes,
that's fine, when we criticize and in fact expose much worse
fabrications about some official enemy, that's horrible, it becomes
apologetics. We should learn something about ourselves. If you're
interested in the truth, which you ought to be, tell the truth about
yourself and tell the truth about others. These fabrications had an
obvious political purpose. Incidentally, we continually criticize the
Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese invasion. After the Vietnamese
invasion, which finally threw them out thankfully, the US and Britain
immediately turned to support Pol Pot. Well, we criticized that, too, we
said, no, you shouldn't be supporting this monster. So yes, our position
was consistent throughout. There's been a huge literature trying to show
that there was something wrong in what we said. To my knowledge,
nobody's even found a comma that's misplaced. And therefore what you
have is immense gossip. My guess is that the person who just wrote this
in has never seen anything we wrote, but has heard a lot of gossip about

Andy Clark: This is from Jeremy Raskin in Los Angeles:

"What then do you make of the trend currently underway in the Middle
East to move towards more democratic national institutions - for
example, the growing strength of the anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon
and the recent elections in Egypt and Iraq? Can we succeed in remaking
the states of the Middle East by encouraging this trend? Or does America
give up 'spreading the gospel' of democratic institutions?"

Noam Chomsky: US policy in these countries has always been and remains
to deter democracy. There are a lot of popular democratic forces, all
over the Middle East, they've been there for a long time and they're not
just starting now. We should stop preventing them. Take; say Egypt, the
Kafiya movement is significant. The US is opposed to it. The Kafiya
movement began with ... its immediate roots were outrage over the US
backed Israeli atrocities in the West Bank in 2000, which were extreme.
That's the origins of the Kafiya movement. Of course it has deeper
origins and Egyptian democratic tendencies, which go far back. That was
the origins of Kafiya and then it gained even more strength from the
enormous opposition to the US invasion of Iraq. Now, it's trying to
break through to give some opening to the US backed Mubarak
dictatorship. And yes, I think that instead of opposing Democracy in
Egypt, as we've always been doing and still are, we should be supporting
it. In Lebanon, there's a long history. The issue right now is the
Syrian involvement in Lebanon. Syria entered Lebanon in 1976 with the
approval of the US and Israel, open approval because their task at the
time was to murder Palestinians. They stayed there. In 1990, George Bush
no 1, gave them further authorisation to stay in Lebanon because he
wanted them as allies in the war against Iraq. By the early part of this
millennium, they were becoming the one state in the region, which was
not obeying US orders, so the US turned against them and wanted them
out. Well how did they get out? I think they should've been out all
along. Congress passed legislation to condemn Syria and impose sanctions
and so on and in that resolution, if you look at it, here you see the
ultimate cynicism. They appeal to a UN resolution, correctly, which said
every country should allow Lebanon to run its own affairs and that all
foreign forces should get out. That was the resolution they appealed to.
Take a look at that resolution, it was directed against Israel in 1980.
It said Israel should get out of Lebanon. Instead, Israel invaded
Lebanon again and extended its role in Lebanon and stayed there until
the year 2000. So here we use a resolution that was directed against
Israel for its occupation of Lebanon for 22 years, parts of Lebanon. And
we say that resolution says Syria should get out. Not a word in the
Congressional discussion, not a word in the debate. I mean the cynicism
is just mind-boggling. Yes, Syria should get out; of course, they should
have been out in 1976, when we helped bring them in. The immediate
impetus for getting Syria out was a car bombing of Rafik Hariri. Unless
the CIA was involved in that bombing, the US has nothing to do with
getting Syria out of Lebanon. There was a very important development in
Lebanon of democratic forces, complex. One of the strongest forces in
Lebanon is Hezbollah, which has a strong Shi'ite support. The US, of
course, is opposed to it. But yes, we should permit for the first time,
we should permit democracy to function in Lebanon, meaning getting our
dirty hands out of their affairs. You could say the same about Iraq.
Iraq has a long democratic tradition, goes back a century. It was
crushed by the British invasion, but it continued to function in many
different ways. There was some hope for it with the 1958 revolution,
which was a kind of populist revolution which threw out the British and
began to introduce social measures and so on and so forth. It introduced
the constitution, which is far more liberal than the current one. Well
the US and Britain couldn't stand that, so they backed and maybe
initiated a coup, a military coup to put the Baath party in. That
crushed Iraqi democracy for years. We should let Iraqi democratic
forces, which go way back, to flourish and develop internally. We can
say the same thing right throughout the region.

Andy Clark: One final email, we're almost out of time, this is from

"Politicians are rarely great minds or intellectuals, they are
'scoundrels' as Samuel Johnson said. So my question to Mr Chomsky is,
what effect do intellectuals or great minds have in the politics of
today, and has he ever been able to influence any major decision of the
political leaders in the past few decades?

Noam Chomsky: First of all, we should have no illusions. History is
written by intellectuals, almost by definition. So if you look at
history intellectuals look pretty good. On the other hand, if you look
at the actual history, the role of intellectuals has typically been
awful. I mention the Bible as an example, but it's a good example that
pattern replicates. There were people in the biblical period who we
would call dissident intellectuals, they're called Prophets. It's a bad
translation of an obscure Hebrew word. But if you look at what the
Prophets were saying, it's what we would call dissident intellectuals.
Geopolitical critique, a call for justice and freedom and so on. Yes,
that's dissident intellectuals. How were they treated? Well? No, they
were denounced as haters of Israel. They were driven into the desert,
they were imprisoned, reviled. Now, there were intellectuals at that
time who were very highly respected, namely the flatterers at the court.
Hundreds of years later they were called false prophets. That's the way
it works. It's the flatterers at the court who are typically the
mainstream of the intellectuals. It runs all the way through history,
very few exceptions. So, you don't look to intellectuals to influence
policy. Dissident intellectuals often have many things to say, but
they're usually pretty badly treated, varying in different societies.
What makes things better is popular movements. That is what effects
policy, that's how we've gained the freedoms that we have and we have a
lot of freedom, but it didn't come from above and it didn't come from
intellectuals. It came from organised popular movements, which demanded
more freedom, like the non-violent resistance in Iraq, which forced the
US and Britain to permit elections. That's how we got the right to vote
here. That's how we got women's rights, that's how we got freedom of
speech and so on. Constant struggle, that's why there are such efforts
to break up popular movements and to atomise people and separate them
from one another and to create enormous gulfs between public opinion and
public policy. It's a constant battle and, yes, that's the way to make
things better as in the past, plenty of concrete ways to do it. We're
much more able to than in the past because of the freedoms that have
been won. We have a legacy of freedom, which has been won. We can use
it, improve it, carry it forward or we can abandon it. But you're not
going to look to intellectuals to save you.

Andy Clark: Professor Chomsky, as ever, a pleasure talking to you. Thank
you very much for joining us.

Noam Chomsky: Good to be with you.

===================================This message has been brought to you by ZNet 
(http://www.zmag.org). Visit our site for subscription options.

Reply via email to