Noam Chomsky is an American philosopher and political thinker. According to the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Noam Chomsky was the most frequently cited scholar in the world from 1980 to 1992 and he is currently the 8th most frequently cited source in the history of mankind. Together with my two good friends, Yiannis Rogan from Greece and Gonçalo Pereira from Portugal, we went to MIT to interview Mr. Chomsky although it was not easy to get an interview with him and we need to wait on a waiting list for over 4 months. Below is the transcript of our interview:
Egypt and the Middle East
Noam Chomsky: What happens in Egypt is up to the Egyptians. The Muslim Brotherhood is organized. The dictatorship that the U.S. supported crashed all the secular and labor movements. So what are left are the remnants. Bear in mind that the U.S., Britain, France traditionally supported radical Islam. Consistently they supported radical Islam against secularism. The most dramatic case is Saudi Arabia. It is a center of radical Islam and fundamentalism. The center of funding for jihadi terror and it is the leading ally of the West. The U.S. relations with Israel reached its current stage in 1967. What happened then? There was a war between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, a proxy war in Yemen. And it was basically a conflict between radical Islamic fundamentalism and secular nationalism. The U.S. and the West generally supported radical Islamic fundamentalism. They didn’t like secular nationalism because secular nationalism, as we think about it, does speak about and implements a notion of using the natural resources of the region mainly for the region. […]
The second major center of radical Islam is Pakistan. Why? Well, that’s another of Ronald Reagan’s legacies. Zia ul-Haq, who was the most awful of Pakistan’s many dictators, was radically Islamizing the country with Saudi funding and U.S. support. In fact it relates to the nuclear issue too. The Reagan Administration pretended that they didn’t know that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons so they could continue support for his radical islamization of the country. Now we’ve got a situation in Pakistan where, as the WikiLeaks revealed, the American ambassador is warning Washington that U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are raising the threat that radical Islamists may gain access to fissile material. Where does that come from? It comes from the U.S. policies in the 80’s. Those things don’t come out of nowhere. So now when you hear the West worrying about the Muslim Brotherhood you must laugh. Especially Britain and the United States, but France too, because they were supporting radical Islam for years.
Noam Chomsky: China is a poor country obviously. Have a look at the human development index. I think China is ranked around 90. It would be probably lower if you cloud investigate it. They have a closed society and we don’t pretty much know what’s going on in the peasant areas. 90 is pretty low, India another possible threat is 120 something. These are poor countries, very poor countries with a lot of internal problems. Very severe internal problems. China has some of the worst inequality in the world. According to official statistics, which I’m sure are underestimated, China has some 50-60 thousand labor actions every year. So there is a lot of turmoil going on in the labor movement. The government tolerates them when they are targeting foreign corporations like FoxConn, but these are not problems which they can handle easily. They have tremendous environmental problems which are going to get only worse because of the global warming. It is certainly a powerful economy, which is taking control of the commodities prices around the world. Take a look at Saudi Arabia, at the moment half of its oil goes East not West. That’s a big change. So the Chinese are slowly building up a system of influence and power. For example, the United States is deeply concerned about what they call “the Chinese aggressiveness and military buildup”. Pentagon recently reported that Chinese military has now reached the level of one fifth of U.S. expanses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, it’s a real threat they say. The Chinese are trying to expand their control in the waters off China to 200 miles limit. Recently there was an article that China is getting very aggressive in the waters off the coast of Okinawa. They have warships going around Okinawa. The U.S. has a large military base over there, which the population of Okinawa has been trying to get rid of for 50 years now. But that’s not aggressiveness. The U.S.’s principle is “we own the world”. And since we own the world, if anybody is disturbing anything anywhere that’s called “aggressiveness”. So if Iran is trying to expand its influence in Iraq we call it “aggressiveness”. But when we invade Iraq and destroy it, we call it “stability”. It’s the same thing with China. If they have war ships off the coast of Okinawa they are “aggressive”. If we have a huge military base in Okinawa that the local population hates that’s “stability”. That’s the way imperial ideology works. Take for example France. The current uprising wave in the Arab world actually began in Western Sahara last November, before the Tunisia revolt. Western Sahara was conquered and occupied by Morocco. It was a brutal, violent occupation, pretty much like in the East Timor. Western Sahara always wanted independence but Morocco wouldn’t permit it and the main supporter of Morocco was France. When the uprising took place in Western Sahara last November, the Moroccans went in and smashed it. There was an effort for UN inquiry but it was blocked by France, which would not allow Morocco to be investigated. That’s another example of imperial ideology and still France is not as powerful as the United States. […]
Remember that China has a big demographic problem. The big Chinese growth period last 20-30 years has been helped enormously by the fact that there was a boom in young workers. This big boom of people 20-30 years old is declining because of one child policy. So China is moving towards a decline in human component that created this growth. China is a significant power that wants to have a role in the world. And it is a military threat as well. Countries in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, have been frightened by China for a thousand years. It is something that the United States never understood. Actually, I visited Hanoi in 1970 when there was a bombing pause and they invited me to lecture right in the middle of the war. As soon as I got there, the first thing they told me to do was to go to a war museum. And in that museum you spend 3 very boring hours watching re-enactment of every battle with the Chinese starting since 12th century. So what they tell you is simple. They don’t care about the Americans because we are across the Ocean, they care about the Chinese. And they still care about the Chinese and so is every other country in the region.
Human rights in U.S. foreign policy
Noam Chomsky: U.S. is very much in favor of human rights in the enemy countries. So U.S. is greatly in favor of human rights in Iran or in Eastern Europe, but not in the Western domains. Take Eastern Europe and Central America and compare them in the 70’s and 80’s and the post-Stalin era. In the post-Stalin era, human rights were protected much better in Eastern Europe than in Central America. In 1989 the Berlin Wall went down and one week after it 6 leading Latin American intellectuals had their brains blown out by the Salvadorian Special Forces which just came out of the military training at Fort Bragg. Those were people trained to commit several thousands of assassinations in El Salvador beginning with the assassination of the Archbishop. And that was just El Salvador. Guatemala was much worse. But nothing like that happened in Eastern Europe. Havel was punished but his brain never was blown out by the Special Forces trained by the Russians. But we don’t see that, we are not allowed to see that. We are expected to believe and worship our leaders. But if you pay attention to the facts it is pretty obvious. And Obama has changed practically nothing about it. He just made a rhetorical change.