Noam Chomsky on Republicans and Democrates


March 16, 2016

Noam Chomsky on Republicans and Democrats

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet

Professor Chomsky was interviewed in Boston by the writer and activist Simone Chun for the Hankyoreh newspaper. Here is the English translation of the interview, courtesy of Ms. Chun. She was accompanied in her first meeting with Prof. Chomsky in November 2015  by Christine Ahn, the founder of Women Cross DMZ, which led a historic march across the North-South Korean border last May (full disclosure, Ms. Chun, Ms. Ahn and myself are all affiliated with the Korea Peace Institute). 

Ms. Chun’s interview recently took place, at Professor Chomsky’s office at MIT. Here is the Q&A. 

Chun: Do you feel that there will be any significant change in the foreign policy of the United States after President Obama?

Chomsky: If Republicans are elected, there could be major changes that will be awful. I have never seen such lunatics in the political system. For instance, Ted Cruz’s response to terrorism is to carpet-bomb everyone.

Chun: Would you expect that Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy would be different from President Obama’s?

Chomsky: Judging by the record, she is kind of hawkish—much more militant than the centrist democrats, including Obama. Take for instance Libya: she was the one pressing the hardest for bombing, and look at what happened. They not only destroyed the country, but Libya has become the center for jihad all over Africa and the Middle East.  It’s a total disaster in every respect, but it does not matter.  Look at the so-called global war on terror. It started in 15 years ago with a small cell in a tribal sector in Afghanistan.  Now it is all over, and you can understand why. It’s about comparative advantage of force.

Chun: How about Bernie Sanders–what do you think his foreign policy will be?

Chomsky: He is doing a lot better than I expected, but he doesn’t have much to say about foreign policy. He is a kind of New Deal Democrat and focuses primarily on domestic issues.

Chun: Some people in South Korea speculate that if Bernie Sanders gets elected, he may take a non-interventionist position towards foreign policy, which would then give more power to South Korea’s right-wing government.

Chomsky: The dynamics could be different. His emphasis on domestic policy might require an aggressive foreign policy. In order to shore up support for domestic policies, he may be forced to attack somebody weak.

Chun: Do you believe that Americans would support another war?

Chomsky: The public is easily amenable to lies: the more lies there are, the greater the support for war. For instance, when the public was told that Saddam Hussein would attack the U.S., this increased support for the war.

Chun: Do you mean that the media fuels lies?

Chomsky: The media is uncritical, and their so-called the concept of objectivity translates into keeping everything within the Beltway. However, Iraq was quite different. Here, there were flat-out lies, and they sort of knew it. They were desperately trying to make connections between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

Chun: Do you think that the Iran nuclear deal is a good thing?

Chomsky: I don’t think that any deal was needed: Iran was not a threat. Even if Iran were a threat, there was a very easy way to handle it–by establishing a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, which is something that nearly everyone in the world wants. Iran has been calling for it for years, and the Arab countries support it. Everyone except the United States and Israel support it. The U.S. won’t allow it because it means inspecting Israel’s nuclear weapons. The U.S. has continued to block it, and in fact blocked it again just a couple of days ago; it just wasn’t widely reported. Iran’s nuclear program, as U.S. intelligence points out, is deterrent, and the bottom line is that the U.S. and Israel don’t want Iran to have a deterrent. In any case, it is better to have some deal than no deal, but it’s interesting that Obama picked the day of implementing of Iran deal to impose new sanctions on North Korea.

 Chun: And do you think that the same can be said about North Korea?

 

Chomsky: You can understand why. If North Korea doesn’t have a deterrent, they will be wiped out.

Chun: What is the most constructive way to address the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula?

Chomsky: In 2005, there was a very sensible deal between the U.S. and North Korea. This deal would have settled North Korea’s so-called nuclear threat, but was subsequently undermined by George W. Bush, who attacked North Korean banks in Macau and blocked the North’s access to outside the world.

Chun:  Why does the United States undermine efforts to reach an agreement with North Korea?

Chomsky: I don’t think that the United States cares. They just assume that North Korea will soon have nuclear weapons.

Chun: Can you elaborate?

Chomsky: If you look at the record, the United States has done very little to stop nuclear weapons. As soon as George W. Bush was elected, he did everything to encourage North Korea to act aggressively.  In 2005 we were close to a deal, but North Korea has always been a low priority issue for the United States. In fact, look at the entire nuclear weapons strategy of the United States: from the beginning, in the 1950s, the United States didn’t worry much about a nuclear threat. It would have been possible to enter into a treaty with the one potential threat—the Soviet Union—and block development of these weapons. At that time, the Russians were way behind technologically, and Stalin wanted a peace deal, but the U.S. didn’t want to hear the USSR’s offer. The implication is that the U.S. is ready to have a terminal war at any time.

Chun: What do you think about U.S. “Pivot to Asia” policy?

Chomsky: It is aimed at China. China is already surrounded by hostile powers such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Guam, but the United States wants to build up more tension. For example, few days ago, a B-52 nuclear bomber flew within a couple of miles of China.  It is very provocative. Nuclear war ends everything, but the United States always plays with fire.

 Chun: What do you think about Japan? Do you think Japan is remilitarizing, and if so, does this pose a threat to the region and the world?

Chomsky: Yes, Japan is trying very hard, but it is not certain that it will succeed. Take for instance Okinawa. There is no actual military purpose, but the United States insists on maintaining a base there.

Chun: As you know, part of my work centers on supporting individual activists in South Korea who do not tend to receive media attention.  Your statements of solidarity in support of them enable them to receive much-needed attention by the Korean media.  It has been very effective.

Chomsky: I hope that my support has been helpful. Is there any hope or mood in Korea in support of Sunshine Policy?

Chun: It is difficult due to the incumbent right-wing government.

Chomsky: How about South Korean public opinion?

Chun: As you know, successive conservative governments have obstructed engagement with the North, and this has greatly deflated the public mood on the matter. Opposition parties remain divided and ineffective, and the current government exercises tight control over the media and represses any activists who would express criticism. South Korea appears to be heading back to the authoritarianism of the 1960s and 1970s.

Chomsky: Part of the reason why the United States doesn’t care about North Korea is that the North Korean threat provides justification for the right-wing conservative regime in the South.

Chun: Yes, many people argue that the biggest obstacle in dealing with North Korea is South Korean right-wing politics.

Chomsky: Relaxation with North Korea would mean conservatives losing power in the South. That’s why, for instance, we have to keep the war on terrorism.

Chun: Professor Chomsky, thank you again for your time and your support.

 

10 thoughts on “Noam Chomsky on Republicans and Democrates

  1. Noam Chomsky is not the foremost public intellectual in the US. He is a linguistics professor with little training in history and politics. He has close to zero credibility within US, and a mention of his name in any serious discussion will make the person who mentioned him sounds lunatic. The reason he is popular outside US is because he is an American who speaks ill of US based on the assumption that US has evil intention, which is the most popular assumption among conspiracy theorists, and which is the assumption of the above interview. He gives many people a voice.
    _________________
    Your view of him is mainstream American Enterprise Institute position. He has remained consistent since I met him in 1970 together with Howard Zinn in Washington DC. –Din Merican

  2. http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Jill_Stein_Foreign_Policy.htm
    Chomsky’s foreign policy likely to coincide with Jill Stein’s who is running for President as a GreenParty’s candidate.
    Alas, bernie sanders is unlikely to win nomination, as it goes. Democractic Party would not allow it.
    Hopefully, Jill Stein would get Bernie Sanders’ momentum to at least show case that there is always a second option (since both Republican and Democratic are so close in their foreign policies).

  3. “He has close to zero credibility within US, and a mention of his name in any serious discussion will make the person who mentioned him sounds lunatic. ”

    Seriously Shiou, either you are ignorant or just plain lying when you make a statement like this. Whether one subscribes to Chomsky’s view, he has been a leading public (left) intellectual most sought for interviews or debates.

    He has debated everyone from William Buckley Jr (the leading Conservative public intellectual) to Sam Harris and even Christopher Hitchens. He has always been on the most sought after guest lists (in polls by viewership audiences including right wing or non-aligned viewers) for media outlets interested in sparking debate or just plain trolling their base.

    The only people who don’t take him seriously are Right Wing nut jobs who themselves are not taken seriously.

    But you are right about him giving marginalized people a voice. When did this become a bad thing, I wonder ?

  4. /// Chun: What do you think about U.S. “Pivot to Asia” policy?

    Chomsky: It is aimed at China. China is already surrounded by hostile powers such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Guam, but the United States wants to build up more tension. For example, few days ago, a B-52 nuclear bomber flew within a couple of miles of China. It is very provocative. Nuclear war ends everything, but the United States always plays with fire.

    Chun: What do you think about Japan? Do you think Japan is remilitarizing, and if so, does this pose a threat to the region and the world?
    Chomsky: Yes, Japan is trying very hard, but it is not certain that it will succeed. ///

    Yes and yes.

  5. Coming away from listening to Chomsky answers to qestions raised during just a few interviews, his views are always profondly impressive, yet simple to understand and accurate.

    In one of Q& A sessions, following his talk, he was asked ” Why politicians lie?”
    His answer simply is, ” Because we let them”. How universally true and pertinent.
    That is Noam Chomsky.

  6. “But you are right about him giving marginalized people a voice. When did this become a bad thing, I wonder ?” Conrad.

    Here is my answer. When Emperor Meiji wanted to learn from the West in mid 19th century, do you think he was more likely to say this to Japanese students traveling to the West:

    “Learn the best of the West, and adapt to Japanese culture.”

    Or this:

    “Learn from the ardent and die-hard critics of the West, and adapt to Japanese culture.”?

    Also, which one was a more likely attitude of Lee Kuan Yew when he put aside his responsibility of the hard-fought Prime Minister position in order to undertook a multi-months sabbatical in USA.

  7. “Here is my answer. When Emperor Meiji wanted to learn from the West in mid 19th century do you think he was more likely to say …. ”

    I have no idea.

    Learning involves being exposed to a multitude of views. Discarding preconceived notions of what one think makes a culture great and considering in a rational manner foreign values that could be assimilated to ones own culture.

    I would hope that’s what the Emperor tells those students.

    “…which one was a more likely attitude of Lee Kuan Yew when he put aside his responsibility of the hard-fought Prime Minister position in order to undertook a multi-months sabbatical in USA.”

    Again I wouldn’t presume to know. I know what Harry thought of the West and his fears that his own hegemony would be dismantled if authentic Western ideas influenced his sheep. That’s why superficial Western ideas are present in Singapore now but the hard stuff, the stuff that makes America what it is, is not allowed in.

  8. Under the spirit of appreciating different view points, I would recommend “Who We Are” by Samuel P. Huntington who examined the core of American culture.

  9. Oh I agree Shiou, about reading about different views.

    Indeed in the book Huntington argues that multiculturalism is anti European civilization and also anti Western ideology .

    Sound familiar ? Yeah, right wing Malay types believe the same thing only they substitute Islam/Malay, in the “anti” part.

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