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I have read much of what Mr.Chomsky has written, his historical accuracy and meticulous fact checking make him a great resource to better understand how our world works.  This is a long interview, but worth every second of your time.

I found the transcripts and can highlight a few of the more poignant parts of the interview:

ES: You say one of the great hypocrisies here is that the United States, as you say, is a leading terrorist state…

Chomsky: Well, these two examples illustrate it. And these are minor ones. You know there are much more serious ones than this.

ES: The question that arises is if the United States is a leading terrorist state, if as you say, Britain is another example of a terrorist state, how do you distinguish between what you describe as terrorism and what they are saying — Osama Bin Laden who’s a terrorist? Make the distinction.

Chomsky: It’s very simple. If they do it, it’s terrorism. If we do it, it’s counter-terrorism. That’s a historical universal. Go back to Nazi propaganda. The most extreme mass murderers ever. If you look at Nazi propaganda, that’s exactly what they said. They said they’re defending the populations and the legitimate governments of Europe like Vichy from the terrorist partisans who are directed from London. That’s the basic propaganda line. And like all propaganda, no matter how vulgar, it has an element of truth. The partisans did carry out terror, they were directed from London. The Vichy government is about as legitimate as half the governments the US has installed around the world and supports, so yes, there was a minor element of truth to it, and that’s the way it works. If somebody else carries it out, it’s terror. If we carry it out, it’s counter-terror. I think perhaps one of the most dramatic examples right at this moment is a place where I just was a couple of weeks ago, southeastern Turkey. Southeastern Turkey is the site of some of the worst terrorist atrocities of the 1990s.

—–

ES: Robert Kaplan writes about foreign policy. I spoke to him recently about his book Warrior Politics, and I put some of your points to him and he said, about the distinction between the terrorist states that you call Israel, America, and the terrorist states that America calls the Taliban, “I wish Noam Chomsky had been with me in Romania in the 70s or the 80s, just one of the seven or eight Warsaw States, with just one of the 7 or 8 prison systems with 700,000 political prisoners. Adult choice of foreign policy is made on distinctions. The argument that Chomsky makes has no distinctions because there’s a difference between the quantity and the kind of dictators that America supported and the quantity and the kind of things that went on in the Communist world for 44 years.”

Chomsky: OK, so let’s take his example, Romania under Ceausescu. Hideous regime, which he forgot to tell you the United States supported. Supported right until the end, as did Britain. When Ceausescu came to London he was feted by Margaret Thatcher. When George Bush the First came into office, I think the first person he invited to Washington was Ceausescu. Yes, Romania was a miserable, brutal regime supported by the United States right to the end, as Robert Kaplan knows very well, so the example he gave is a perfect example.

ES: It wasn’t supported by the States in the 70s though?

Chomsky: In the 70s, in the 80s, right to the end of Ceausescu’s rule. It was supported by the United States. The reasons had to do with great power politics. They were sort of breaking Warsaw Pact policies and so on, but the very example he picks illustrates it and we can proceed onward.

So the very example he gives shows the absurdity of his position and it’s a small example because we support much more brutal regimes. It has nothing to do with Cold War issues.

I gave an example in South Eastern Turkey, several million refugees, tens of thousands of people killed, a country devastated, that’s rather serious.

Nobody accused Milosevic of that in Kosovo.

Suharto was one of the worst killers and torturers of the late twentieth century. The United States and Britain supported him throughout. He’s “our kind of guy,” as the Clinton administration said in 1995. Horrible atrocities, in fact, when he came into office in 1965 with a coup the CIA compared it to Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

It led to total euphoria in the United States and Britain, and massive support when he carried out even worse atrocities, comparable atrocities in East Timor —  over 200,000 people killed — full support continued right through the end of his rule, in fact, continued past his rule. In late 1999 when they were rampaging and destroying what was left of East Timor, the US and Britain continued to support him and I can continue through the world like this…

—–

ES: Should there be an organizing hegemon, do we need a constabulary, a force, a central force? In this case it’s America because it’s a superpower. Sometimes it use unjust means in the service of just causes.

Chomsky: What are the just causes? What was the just cause in, for example, slaughtering Kurds in southeastern Turkey? What was the just cause in supporting Suharto? When he killed a couple hundred thousand landless peasants in Indonesia, went on to become one of the biggest torturers in the world and slaughtered one-third of the population in East Timor, what was the just cause?

What was the just cause when we invaded South Vietnam 40 years ago? This is the 40th anniversary of the public announcement of the U.S. attack on South Vietnam, ending up killing millions of people, leaving the country devastated. They’re still dying from chemical warfare. What was the just cause?

What was the just cause when we fought a war to a large extent against the Catholic Church in Central America in the 1980s, killing hundreds of thousands of people, every imaginable kind of torture and devastation, what was the just cause? The just cause for people like Kaplan was yes, we did it, therefore it’s a just cause. You can read that in the Nazi archives too.

Can Trust be Restored?

ES: It’s no great secret that we function by self-interest. Self-interest is part of foreign policy. We’re here to protect our policy, protect the interests of our policy, in this case of the Americans.

Chomsky: Was the self-interest of the American people served by slaughters in southeastern Turkey, or by destroying Vietnam, or by turning El Salvador and Guatemala into cemeteries?

Was the self-interest of the American people served by that? No. The self-interest served by that is foreign policy elites and the power-centers they represent, which are not protecting the American people, they’re protecting their own power, profit, dominance and hegemony, like others around the world.

And they count on intellectuals of the Robert Kaplan type to applaud any atrocity they carry out.

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