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This is a ZNet Free Update. Below there is a ZNet interview with Noam Chomsky 
about his latest book "Interventions" and below that are two excerpts from the 
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And now for the Chomsky interview and book experts...  

INTERVENTIONS is published by City Lights Books.
City Lights Books / Open Media Series
Foreword by Peter Hart | Editor's note by Greg Ruggiero
234 pages | $15.95
ISBN - 13: 978-0-87286483-2
Pub date: July 2007
www.citylights.com  

Z-NET INTERVIEW 

As one of the foremost political intellectuals and dissidents in the U.S. it's 
not surprising that Noam Chomsky's political work is often relegated to the 
margins of mainstream media in this country. It is surprising though, to learn 
that for the past few years the New York Times Syndicate has been distributing 
concise, approx. 1,000 word op-eds by Chomsky that the New York Times, the most 
powerful and influential paper in the U.S., did not touch. Despite wide 
distribution internationally, these essays have barely, if at all, seen light 
of day in the U.S. press. "Interventions," Chomsky's latest book, is a 
collection of these op-eds published by City Lights Books as part of their Open 
Media Series founded in opposition to the first Gulf War. Here Noam Chomsky 
answers Z-Net questions about the book. 

  

(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book, INTERVENTIONS  is about? 
What is it trying to communicate? 

The book is a collection of op-eds distributed worldwide by the New York Times 
syndicate.  They were written over the past several years (more coming along 
since), dealing with topical events, trying to present an analysis and 
background that seems to me pertinent and informative, typically from a 
perspective different from that of mainstream commentary. 

(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content 
come from? What went into making the book what it is? 

The idea for the op-eds came from John Stickney, editor of the syndicate.  
Op-ed style does not come very naturally to me.  The format requires scant 
reference.  That is not a problem when one stays within the framework of 
conventional assumptions, including many that are readily refutable, but is a 
serious problem when one does not accept them, so that readers can quite 
appropriately ask why they are rejected.  Thus if someone writes that Iran is 
an aggressive state or that the positions of Hamas are objectionable or that 
the US bombed Serbia to stop ethnic cleansing, they do not need evidence, 
because these are doctrines of what we may fairly call the Party Line.  They 
are reiterated over and over, rarely if ever questioned, so why shouldn't they 
be believed?  Suppose however than one were to tell the truth.  For example, 
it's the US, not Iran, that is an aggrsesive state; the positions of Hamas, 
however objectionable, are less radical and extreme than those of the US and 
Israel; the bombing of Serbia was the cause, not the consequence, of the ethnic 
cleansing, and the anticipated cause, and we learn from the highest level of 
the Clinton administration that the bombing was not undertaken out of concern 
for the plight of Kosovar Albanians but because Serbia was not carrying out the 
socio-economic reforms demanded by the Clinton administration.  And so on, 
endlessly.  Someone reading such statements would, reasonably, call for 
extensive evidence, which cannot really be provided in this limited format.  
For such reasons, I've always found it difficult to write op-eds. 

Stickney solved this problem for me by taking material mostly from talks and 
interiews of mine, and putting them in an appropriate format.  We then go 
through an up-and-back process of editing, modifying, providing sources, etc.  
The result is the op-eds that are collected in the book, on a wide range of 
topics. 

(3) What are your hopes for the book? What do you hope it will contribute or 
achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, 
what will you deem to be a success?  

I hope that the pieces will encourage readers to look at the world in ways 
different from those of conventional doctrine, and to determine for themselves 
whether a serious corrective is needed.   And that they will suggest ideas and 
information that readers find worth pursuing.  To the extent that that works, 
it will be a success. 

### 

  

 More on Z-Net about Chomsky's INTERVENTIONS 
1) Chomsky Interviewed by Sonali Kolhatkar:
 http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=21&ItemID=13019

2) Chomsky: Columnist Without a Place by Mumia Abu-Jamal:
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=21&ItemID=13018  

The following is the first excerpt from Noam Chomsky's new book  INTERVENTIONS 
published by City Lights Books. 

City Lights Books / Open Media Series 
Foreword by Peter Hart | Editor's note by Greg Ruggiero 234 pages | $15.95 ISBN 
- 13: 978-0-87286483-2 Pub date: July 2007 www.citylights.com  

   

What is at Stake in Iraq 

January 30, 2007 

In the West, some of the most important information about Iraq remains either 
ignored or unspoken. Unless it is taken into account, proposals about U.S. 
policies in Iraq will be neither morally nor strategically sound. 

For example, one of the least noticed recent news stories from the tortured 
land of Iraq was among the most illuminating: a poll in Baghdad, Anbar, and 
Najaf on the invasion and its consequences. "About 90 percent of Iraqis feel 
the situation in the country was better before the U.S.-led invasion than it is 
today," United Press International reported on the survey, which was conducted 
in November 2006 by the Baghdad-based Iraq Center for Research and Strategic 
Studies. "Nearly half of the respondents favored an immediate withdrawal of 
U.S.-led troops," reported the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon. Another 20 
percent favored a phased withdrawal starting right away. (A U.S. State 
Department poll, also ignored, found that two-thirds of Baghdadis want 
immediate withdrawal.) 

Generally, however, public opinion-in Iraq, the United States or elsewhere-is 
not considered relevant to policy-makers, unless it may impede their preferred 
choices. These are just further indications of the deep contempt for democracy 
on the part of planners and their acolytes, standard accompaniments of a flood 
of lofty rhetoric about love of democracy and messianic missions to promote it. 

U.S. polls show majority opposition to the war, but they receive limited 
attention and scarcely enter into policy planning, or even critique of 
planning. The most prominent recent critique was the report of the 
Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, widely acclaimed as a valuable critical 
corrective to the policies of the George W. Bush administration, which 
immediately dismissed the report to oblivion. One notable feature of the report 
is its lack of concern for the will of the Iraqi people. The report cites some 
of the polls of Iraqi sentiment, but only in regard to the safety of U.S. 
forces. The report's implicit assumption is that policy should be designed for 
U.S. government interests, not those of Iraqis; or of Americans, also ignored. 

The report makes no inquiry into those guiding interests, or why the United 
States invaded, or why it fears a sovereign and more or less democratic Iraq, 
though the answers are not hard to find. The real reason for the invasion, 
surely, is that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, very 
cheap to exploit, and is at the heart of the world's major hydrocarbon 
resources. The issue is not access to those resources but control of them (and 
for the energy corporations, profit). As Vice President Dick Cheney observed 
last May (2006), control over energy resources provides "tools of intimidation 
or blackmail"-in the hands of others, that is. 

Buried in the study is the expected recommendation to allow corporate (meaning 
mostly U.S.-U.K.) control over Iraq's energy resources. In the more delicate 
phrasing of the study, "The United States should assist Iraqi leaders to 
reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise, in order to 
enhance efficiency, transparency, and accountability."  

Because of its systematic unwillingness to discuss such crass matters, the 
Study Group is unable to face the reality of U.S. policy choices in the face of 
the catastrophe that the invasion has created, already discussed. 

The Baker-Hamilton report's central focus is withdrawal of U.S. forces from 
Iraq: more specifically, their withdrawal from direct combat, though the 
proposals were hedged with many qualifications and evasions. The report has a 
few words urging the president to announce that the United States does not 
intend a permanent military presence in Iraq, but without a call to terminate 
construction of military bases, so such a declaration is not likely to be taken 
seriously by Iraqis. 

The report appears to assume (by omission) that logistics, the backbone of a 
modern army, should remain under U.S. control, and that combat units must 
remain for "force protection"-including protection of U.S. combat forces 
embedded in Iraqi units-in a country where 60 percent of the population, and 
many more in Arab Iraq where forces are actually deployed, regard them as a 
legitimate target, the soldiers in their units for example. 

There is also no discussion of the fact that the U.S. will, of course, retain 
total control of airspace and therefore might be tempted to resort to the 
tactics it used in the later stages of the Indochina wars as troops were being 
withdrawn, an ominous prospect discussed in a very important article by two 
leading Cambodia specialists, Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan (director of the Yale 
University Genocide project), "Bombs over Cambodia," Walrus (Canada), October 
2006. It was well known that reduction of ground forces from South Vietnam was 
accompanied by acceleration of the merciless bombing, particularly of northern 
Laos and Cambodia. But they provide startling new information about its scale 
and consequences. The new data reveal that the bombing of Cambodia was five 
times as great as the incredible level that had been reported earlier, meaning 
that the bombing of rural Cambodia exceeded the total bombing by allied forces 
throughout World War II. The new material substantially reinforces earlier 
estimates of the impact of the bombing. In the authors' words, "Civilian 
casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency 
that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in 
motion . . . the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian 
genocide." Nixon's orders for the bombing attack were transmitted by Henry 
Kissinger, with the words "Anything that flies, on anything that moves"-one of 
the most explicit calls for genocide in the archives of any state. Kissinger's 
orders had been mentioned in the New York Times (Elizabeth Becker, "Kissinger 
Tapes Describe Crises, War and Stark Photos of Abuse," May 27, 2004), eliciting 
no detectable reaction. Silence also greeted the horrendous new revelations. 
The null reactions provide additional evidence of the actual concern for 
Cambodians on the part of those in the West who were gleefully exploiting their 
plight for personal gain and in the service of power while the Khmer Rouge 
atrocities were underway, with no suggestion as to what to do about them-in 
sharp contrast to their reaction to comparable massacres for which we had 
primary responsibility and could therefore terminate, if we chose.1  

One can hardly dismiss lightly the Owen-Kiernan concerns about what might 
unfold in Iraq, in the light of such recent precedents as these. 

Some observers fear that a U.S. pullout from Iraq would lead to a full-fledged 
civil war and the country's deterioration. As for the consequences of a 
withdrawal, we are entitled to our personal judgments, all of them as 
uninformed and dubious as those of U.S. intelligence. But these judgments do 
not matter. What matters is what Iraqis think. Or rather, that is what should 
matter. 

If the consistent results of many polls are considered insufficient, the 
question of withdrawal could even be submitted to a referendum, conducted under 
international supervision to minimize coercion by the occupying forces and 
their Iraqi clients. 

Now, contrary to the Baker-Hamilton report (and to Iraqi and U.S. public 
opinion), the Washington plan is to "surge"-to introduce more troops into Iraq. 
Few military analysts or Middle East specialists expect such tactics to 
succeed, but that is plainly not the primary issue, unless we agree that the 
only question that can be raised is whether U.S. aggression can succeed in its 
goals. No one should underestimate the force of the long-standing goal of U.S. 
foreign policy to sustain its control over this region's crucial resources. 
Authentic Iraqi sovereignty will not easily be tolerated by the occupying 
power, nor can it or neighboring states tolerate Iraq's deterioration, or a 
potential regional war in the aftermath. 

notes 

1.For a review of this sordid episode of intellectual history, and many others 
like it, see Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (1988, 
updated 2002) and sources cited, particularly our Political Economy of Human 
Rights, two volumes (1979). 

  

Here is the second excerpt... 

The Cold War Between Washington and Tehran  

March 5, 2007 

In the energy-rich Middle East, only two countries have failed to subordinate 
themselves to Washington's basic demands: Iran and Syria. Accordingly both are 
enemies, Iran by far the more important. 

As was the norm during the Cold War, resort to violence is regularly justified 
as a reaction to the malign influence of the main enemy, often on the flimsiest 
of pretexts. Unsurprisingly, as Bush sends more troops to Iraq, tales surface 
of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Iraq-a country otherwise 
free from any foreign interference, on the tacit assumption that Washington 
rules the world. 

In the Cold War-like mentality that prevails in Washington, Tehran is portrayed 
as the pinnacle in the so-called Shiite Crescent that stretches from Iran to 
Hezbollah in Lebanon, through Shiite southern Iraq and Syria. And again 
unsurprisingly, the "surge" in Iraq and escalation of threats and accusations 
against Iran is accompanied by grudging willingness to attend a conference of 
regional powers, with the agenda limited to Iraq-more narrowly, to attaining 
U.S. goals in Iraq. 

Presumably this minimal gesture toward diplomacy is intended to allay the 
growing fears and anger elicited by Washington's heightened aggressiveness, 
with forces deployed in position to attack Iran and regular provocations and 
threats. 

For the United States, the primary issue in the Middle East has been and 
remains effective control of its unparalleled energy resources. Access is a 
secondary matter. Once the oil is on the seas it goes anywhere. Control is 
understood to be an instrument of global dominance. 

Iranian influence in the "crescent" challenges U.S. control. By an accident of 
geography, the world's major oil resources are in largely Shiite areas of the 
Middle East: southern Iraq, adjacent regions of Saudi Arabia and Iran, with 
some of the major reserves of natural gas as well. Washington's worst nightmare 
would be a loose Shiite alliance controlling most of the world's oil and 
independent of the United States. 

Such a bloc, if it emerges, might even join the Asian Energy Security Grid and 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), based in China. Iran, which already 
had observer status, is to be admitted as a member of the SCO. The Hong Kong 
South China Morning Post reported in June 2006 that "Iranian President Mahmoud 
Ahmadinejad stole the limelight at the annual meeting of the Shanghai 
Co-operation Organisation (SCO) by calling on the group to unite against other 
countries as his nation faces criticism over its nuclear programme." The 
non-aligned movement meanwhile affirmed Iran's "inalienable right" to pursue 
these programs, and the SCO (which includes the states of Central Asia) "called 
on the United States to set a deadline for the withdrawal of military 
installations from all member states.1 

If the Bush planners bring that about, they will have seriously undermined the 
U.S. position of power in the world. 

To Washington, Tehran's principal offense has been its defiance, going back to 
the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy. 
The grim U.S. role in Iran in earlier years is excised from history. In 
retribution for Iranian defiance, Washington quickly turned to support for 
Saddam Hussein's aggression against Iran, which left hundreds of thousands dead 
and the country in ruins. Then came murderous sanctions, and under Bush, 
rejection of Iranian diplomatic efforts in favor of increasing threats of 
direct attack. 

Last July (2006), Israel invaded Lebanon, the fifth invasion since 1978. As 
before, U.S. support for the aggression was a critical factor, the pretexts 
quickly collapse on inspection, and the consequences for the people of Lebanon 
are severe. Among the reasons for the U.S.-Israel invasion is that Hezbollah's 
rockets could be a deterrent to a potential U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran. 

Despite the saber-rattling, it is, I suspect, unlikely that the Bush 
administration will attack Iran. The world is strongly opposed. Seventy-five 
percent of Americans favor diplomacy over military threats against Iran, and as 
noted earlier, Americans and Iranians largely agree on nuclear issues. Polls by 
Terror Free Tomorrow reveal that "Despite a deep historical enmity between 
Iran's Persian Shiite population and the predominantly Sunni population of its 
ethnically diverse Arab, Turkish and Pakistani neighbors, the largest 
percentage of people in these countries favor accepting a nuclear-armed Iran 
over any American military action." It appears that the U.S. military and 
intelligence community is also opposed to an attack. 

Iran cannot defend itself against U.S. attack, but it can respond in other 
ways, among them by inciting even more havoc in Iraq. Some issue warnings that 
are far more grave, among them by the respected British military historian 
Corelli Barnett, who writes that "an attack on Iran would effectively launch 
World War III." 

The Bush administration has left disasters almost everywhere it has turned, 
from post-Katrina New Orleans to Iraq. In desperation to salvage something, the 
administration might undertake the risk of even greater disasters. 

Meanwhile Washington may be seeking to destabilize Iran from within.2 The 
ethnic mix in Iran is complex; much of the population isn't Persian. There are 
secessionist tendencies and it is likely that Washington is trying to stir them 
up-in Khuzestan on the Gulf, for example, where Iran's oil is concentrated, a 
region that is largely Arab, not Persian. 

Threat escalation also serves to pressure others to join U.S. efforts to 
strangle Iran economically, with predictable success in Europe. Another 
predictable consequence, presumably intended, is to induce the Iranian 
leadership to be as harsh and repressive as possible, fomenting disorder and 
perhaps resistance while undermining efforts of courageous Iranian reformers, 
who are bitterly protesting Washington's tactics. It is also necessary to 
demonize the leadership. In the West, any wild statement of Iran's president, 
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, immediately gets circulated in headlines, dubiously 
translated. But as is well known, Ahmadinejad has no control over foreign 
policy, which is in the hands of his superior, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali 
Khamenei. 

The U.S. media tend to ignore Khamenei's statements, especially if they are 
conciliatory. For example, it's widely reported when Ahmadinejad says that 
Israel shouldn't exist-but there is silence when Khamenei says that Iran 
"shares a common view with Arab countries on the most important Islamic-Arabic 
issue, namely the issue of Palestine," which would appear to mean that Iran 
accepts the Arab League position: full normalization of relations with Israel 
in terms of the international consensus on a two-state settlement that the U.S. 
and Israel continue to resist, almost alone.3 

The U.S. invasion of Iraq virtually instructed Iran to develop a nuclear 
deterrent. Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld writes that after the 
U.S. invasion of Iraq, "had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, 
they would be crazy." The message of the invasion, loud and clear, was that the 
U.S. will attack at will, as long as the target is defenseless. Now Iran is 
ringed by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and the Persian 
Gulf and close by are nuclear-armed Pakistan and particularly Israel, the 
regional superpower, thanks to U.S. support.  

As already discussed, Iranian efforts to negotiate outstanding issues were 
rebuffed by Washington, and an EU-Iranian agreement was apparently undermined 
by Washington's refusal to withdraw threats of attack. A genuine interest in 
preventing the development of nuclear weapons in Iran-and the escalating 
warlike tension in the region-would lead Washington to implement the EU 
bargain, agree to meaningful negotiations and join with others to move toward 
integrating Iran into the international economic system, in accord with public 
opinion in the United States, Iran, neighboring states, and virtually the 
entire rest of the world. 

  

NOTES 

1.See M. K. Bhadrakumar, "China, Russia welcome Iran into the fold," Asia 
Times, April 18, 2006. Bill Savadove, "President of Iran calls for unity 
against west," South China Morning Post, June 16, 2006; "Non-aligned nations 
back Iran's nuclear program," Japan Economic Newswire, May 30, 2006; Edward 
Cody, "Iran Seeks Aid in Asia In Resisting the West," Washington Post, June 15, 
2006. 

2.See, among others, William Lowther and Colin Freeman, "US funds terror groups 
to sow chaos in Iran," Sunday Telegraph, February 25, 2007. 

3.For Khamenei's statement, see "Leader Attends Memorial Ceremony Marking the 
17th Departure Anniversary of Imam Khomeini," June 4, 2006. 
http://www.khamenei.ir/ EN/News/detail.jsp?id=20060604A.

Purchase INTERVENTIONS... from City Lights Books or from AK Press  or from 
Amazon.com www.citylights.com  


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